Hello! My name is Sparrowfeather, and this is my fanfic, RainClan's Beginning. I will be updating in small chunks, about one or two paragraphs per update, so don't expect to much. :P Of course, this will result in irrelevent parts and and a much too long story. Anyway, this story is about an OC Clan of mine, RainClan, and how it was formed. Enjoy!
11/23 Wetty- As of today RainClan's Beginning is the longest story on WFW
11/9 - Wow, it's been a while. But now I'm back to both RainClan and WFW. Wish me luck!
8/19 - As of today, RainClan's Beginning is the 3rd longest story on WFW!
8/6 - It's my birthday! Woo hoo!
8/4 - Thank you who replied to my poll! Tiffany's warrior name will be Mistcloud, and Daniel's will be Dustclaw. Thanks! There's another poll up, for you poll-junkies out there.
7/26 - Back from my summer vacation, so I can get going again!
6/18 - I typed a ton, then the page wouldn't save... erg... but oh well! Anyway, there's a poll on my profile for what Tiffany's warrior name should be, so please vote! Also, suggestions for Daniel are very welcome.
5/26 - ARG! The format messed up! AGAIN!
5/23 - Finally, I have returned from my vacation! Time to get writing again!
5/7 - Fixed typo in title =) -Raven
5/7 - And, 5 days after learning about apostrophes, I notice the gaping grammical error in my title. *facepalm*
5/2 - I finally learned how to use an apostrophe correctly! Wow, I feel stupid just typing that.
4/25 - Arg, format difficulties... On the bright side, I'm up to 15 chapters!
A rouge wearily padded through the twolegplace. Rain fell in buckets, splashing down onto his steely-blue pelt and covering the ground with water. The loner didn't think he could go much farther. He was hungry and weak. Suddenly, the loner collapsed onto the ground and his world went black.
The loner opened one eye. He was in a bright forest, full of cats with stars on their pelts. A blue she-cat stepped forward and spoke in a calm voice, as if this was completely normal.
"Hello. My name is Bluestar." The loner looked around in confusion.
"Where am I?"
"You are in StarClan, where all the dead Clan cats go." The loner blinked.
"What's a Clan cat?"
"Any cat that lives in the Clans, which is a group of cats."
"Oh." There was silence for a moment. "Why am I here?" Bluestar smiled.
"You're almost dead."
"Almost dead?" Questioned the tom, "If dead cats come here, why am I here if I'm almost dead?" Bluestar smiled again.
"Because we can save you from dying." The other starry cats nodded. "In fact, we can save you from dying 8 times, well, 7 if you count this one." The tom stared at her.
"And yet, here we are, offering it to you." The tom thought. Maybe this Bluestar was a little crazy, just listen to her name, but maybe she was telling the truth. However, it did seem impossible...
"Can you do it, then?"
"Only if you agree to do something for us. Start a new Clan." The tom blinked. Make his own group of cats? To be able to come back to life again? 7 times? Sounded fair to him. And even if it was impossible and he couldn't come back to life, these cats wouldn't get their Clan.
"Sounds fair to me." Bluestar smiled.
"Good." Then she took a step back and said, "I give you this life for courage, so that you will never be afraid to do what is right." She then lay her muzzle on the toms forehead and a searing pain tore though him. The others were the same. A life for love, speed, strength, honesty, intelligence, honor, faith, and loyalty. When they were done, the tom lay on the ground, writhing in pain.
"Now," Spoke Bluestar. "What is your name?"
"R-r-rain." Gasped out the tom.
"Then by the powers of StarClan, you will now be known as Rainstar!" The newly named Rainstar closed his eyes and promptly died. Moments later, he opened his eyes again and saw that he was alive. "I'm alive." Rainstar stated in wonder.
"Of course you are. You had 9 lives left! Now you're on your eighth. Go back to the twolegplace now, and start forming RainClan!" The words had barely came out of her mouth before Rainstar snapped his eyes open down at the twolegplace.
Rainstar looked down at himself. Yes, he was still alive. And he felt better! Much better. "I cant believe it!" He whispered. "She was telling the truth." Then a thought struck him. Bluestar and the rest of, um, SkyClan-no, wait StarClan, yes, StarClan, gave me 9 lives, so now I have make a Clan, like I told them that I would. Rainstar pondered this. He didn't know any other cats in this place. Well, only a rouge who didn't like him much, or probably anyone. So, where would the cats for RainClan come from?
Just then, he heard an angry meow nearby. Rainstar looked up towards the sky in question, then shrugged and went to see what it was.
Behind a pile of twoleg trash, Rainstar saw two cats fighting. One was a small brown tom who was clearly being beaten. The other was a large black she-cat. Now, Rainstar had never been one for fighting. In fact, the only experience he had ever had with fighting was being beaten up by other rouges and play-fighting with his siblings. But Rainstar did know one thing. He walked towards the two cats and said,
"Stop." The black she-cat turned to face him.
"Or what?" She hissed.
"Or I'll fight you." Rainstar answered calmly. The she-cat looked amused.
"So you came to stop us from fighting by fighting? That doesn't sound quite right." Rainstar thought for a moment.
She's right! That kind of defeats the purpose. Out of the corner of his eye, Rainstar spied the brown tom sneaking away. He smiled and then spoke. "Why were you fighting, anyway?" The she-cat hissed and answered,
"That pile of fox-dung stole my prey! It was the first piece I'd caught this- Hey, where is he?!" The she-cat looked around angrily, bristling. "He's gone!" She hissed in anger. Rainstar suppressed a smile.
"Oh, that's a shame." The she-cat sighed in response.
"I guess I'll have to go catch something else. Goodbye." She padded off, tail and head drooping. Rainstar watched her leave, a small pang of sympathy for the she-cat echoing in his chest, He shook his head and walked over to the pile of twoleg trash where he had seen the brown tom.
"Hey!" He called. "The other cat is gone now!" There was a rustling noise and a yellow eye blinked up at Rainstar from beneath the twoleg trash. The tom stood up and shook himself, flinging bits of trash through the air.
"Thanks. Mara's never been very nice to me."
"Mara?" Rainstar cocked his head.
"That black cat."
"What's your name?"
"I'm Rainstar. You?"
"Rainstar? What kind of a name is that?" The tom looked like he was trying not to laugh. In return, Rainstar tried not to attack him. Then his relaxed and shrugged.
"I used to just be Rain, but then these weird cats came to me and gave me 9 lives and changed my name to Rainstar." The tom was clearly confused.
"That's weird... Do you really have 9 lives?"
"Yep! Well, only 8 now."
"Why did you get those lives?"
"Well, those cats wanted me to make a group of cats called a Clan. Mine was supposed to be RainClan."
"RainClan and Rainstar! Hey, can I join?" Rainstar blinked. He had only talked to this tom for a few heartbeats and he wanted to join the Clan? This may be easier than I thought. He thought with a smile.
"Sure! What's your name?"
"Brownie." Rainstar smiled again.
"Well, welcome to RainClan, Brownie."
"Can we talk later, Brownie? I'm tired." Rainstar rolled over.
"No." The voice wasn't Brownie's. Rainstar looked up from where he lay. Bluestar was standing over him, along with two other starry cats.
"Oh. Hello, Bluestar. I thought you were Brownie. Who is, by the way, the first member of the Clan you wanted me to make." He added with a hint of pride.
"We are aware of this." Bluestar replied in her calm voice.
"How?" Rainstar asked. Bluestar smiled.
"Well, how do you think we found you?" Rainstar thought about this before casting the thought aside.
"Why did you call me back up here? Am I going to get 9 more lives?"
"No!" Bluestar sounded shocked. "We can't do that!"
"Well, no need to get your fur all ruffled." Rainstar snorted, amused at her shock. "Then why did you call me here?"
"Because there are a few things you need to learn before you can lead a Clan." Replied a gray tom with a crooked jaw that was sitting beside Bluestar. Rainstar perked up his ears, curiousity pricked.
"Okay. Like what?"
"Well, fighting for one thing."
"Ah. Well-hey, how did you know about that?!" The gray tom snorted in laughter.
"It was apparent as soon as I first saw you. And, if I had any doubts, your confrontation with that black she-cat - Mara, I believe her name is, cleared them." Rainstar looked down in embarrasment.
"Crookedstar!" A long-tailed black and white tom mewed. "Though it may be clear to you, fighting is not always the answer!"
"Well, fighting is often the best way to go!" Crookedstar replied indignantly.
"Name one time."
"When Scourge attacked the forest, for one. None of your non-fighting talks could have gone very far then, Tallstar!"
"Well, of course we had to fight then! However, there are several situations where fighting is not the best idea." The two toms continued to argue while Rainstar watched. At first, he was shocked, but the shock soon turned to amusement. They kept at it for a while until Crookedstar unsheathed his claws and Bluestar yowled the two
"Alright then, do you remember why we are here?"
"Of course. Right. Ready, Rainstar?" Tallstar turned away from Crookedstar and faced Rainstar.
"Ready for what?"
"Your warrior training, of course!" Laughed Tallstar. "Do you think we'll let you lead a Clan without that?"
"My what?" Bluestar stepped forward.
"Your warrior training. You must be trained in the ways of the Clans before you may lead one. Actually," Bluestar threw a glance at the two other leaders behind her. "I think that all you have to do is learn to stay alive."
"You mean, learn how to fight and hunt and such?" Rainstar felt a thrill of exitement. He felt it once more when Bluestar nodded and smiled.
"No! To the left! You dodge to the left!" Rainstar hissed in frustration as Crookedstar corrected him for the umpteenth time. He had been trying to learn all day - well, night - but it seemed fighting was not something that could be learned in a night.
"Now then Crookedstar." Bluestar lay her tail on the gray tom's shoulder. "Give the apprentice a break." Rainstar opened his mouth to ask what an apprentice was, but, sensing another fight, closed it.
"Don't be telling me what to do, Bluestar! I'm your elder!" Crookedstar hissed.
"Well that doesn't mean I can't tell you things!" Bluestar yowled in return. They then launched into a furious argument.
"Even leaders squabble sometimes." Mewed an amused Tallstar.
"From you three, I would think that's all you ever do!" Replied an even more amused Rainstar. After watching the two argue, which was now about who's mother was prettier, for a little while, Tallstar spoke again.
"Perhaps we could do some training while those two figure out the differences between RiverClanners and ThunderClanners, shall we?"
"Sure! Wait. Two questions." Tallstar nodded, urging Rainstar on. "What's RiverClan and ThunderClan?"
"RiverClan and ThunderClan were two of the first four Clans, along with ShadowClan and my Clan, WindClan. Bluestar was a ThunderClan cat, and Crookedstar was RiverClan."
"And now you're all StarClan?"
"Yes. And your other question?" Rainstar still didn't understand how this whole 'Clan' thing worked, but he asked his second question anyway.
"Can we not train fighting?" Tallstar laughed.
"I think that can be arranged."
"Hey! Rainstar! Rainstar! Wake up!" A voice echoed in Rainstar's ears.
"Erg." Rainstar groaned and rolled over. He felt so tired... "Ow!" A weight fell on him belly, knocking the wind out of Rainstar. He instictively shot up and headbutted his attacker. The other cat gave a meow of suprise and fell over. Rainstar wasted no time and pinned the brown tom.
"Hey! Get off!" The tom protested. Wait - brown - tom?
"Brownie?" Rainstar blinked and his eyesight became clear. His 'attacker' was Brownie. "Opps. Sorry." Bluestar, Crookedstar, and Tallstar must've been good teachers. He thought as he stepped off Brownie.
"What was that for?" The brown tom indignantly mewed.
"Um..." Rainstar thought for a moment. Then he told Brownie everything that had happened last night with StarClan. "And, while we're on the topic of attacking others for no good reason, why did you jump on me?"
"Well..." Brownie shuffled his paws. "That was how I always woke my siblings." Siblings? Rainstar wondered. I wonder where they are now?
"Okay then. Hey, what do you think we should do next?"
"I don't know." There was a silence in the hole that they had decided to nest in.
"Do you know any places where there are other cats? Like, a lot?"
"Yes! Sure! Well, there's, er, um, errr..." Brownie looked embarrassed. Then his face brightened. "Oh! There's BloodClan!"
"BloodClan? What's that?" BloodClan? Another Clan? There's more? I wonder how many there are?
"Well, it's this group that lives a little bit away from here. It's supposed to be very big. But... that's all I know." Rainstar thought about this for a little. BloodClan seemed to be a Clan, so the cats who lived in it probably didn't want to leave. But, on the same note, it was a Clan, and if he was also leading a Clan, then the BloodClanners should be welcoming to other Clan cats... At least, I hope. Bluestar, Crookedstar, and Tallstar didn't seem very welcoming to each other, but were welcoming enough to me... The more Rainstar thought about this, the more decided he became. Finally, when Brownie's tap on the shoulder brought him back to attention, his mind was made up.
"Do you know the way?" Brownie thought for a moment, then nodded.
"Then what are we waiting for?" Brownie smiled and bounded off, Rainstar close behind.
The allies were long and narrow, filled with the vile stench of twoleg rubbish and the squeaking of rats the size of kits. Red eyes glinted down at the two toms from shadowy corners, and the patches of light were few and far apart. Rainstar shivered.
"Is this really where BloodClan lives?" He asked the brown tom, who was carefully walking ahead.
"I don't know." Replied Brownie. "I just know they live in allies somewhere in this area." He shivered. "I don't know why anyone would want to live here, though."
"I agree." They walked in silence for a little bit longer before the path sharply turned and was flooded in light.
"Wow." Brownie meowed. "I bet they live here." Rainstar agreed.
"Now all we have to do is find their leader." Brownie mutely nodded. Just then, some voices echoed down the alley that they had walked.
"... be happy."
"Well, what was I supposed to do? Let them stay?"
"You didn't have to do that though!" The voices came closer. Acting on instinct, Rainstar dodged behind a pile a twoleg rubbish, a fairly confused Brownie behind him, just as the owners of the voices came into the light. Peaking over the top of the pile, Rainstar saw them. They were two cats, a tom and a she-cat. The tom was a dark tabby tom, and the she-cat was a creamy white color. But the two cats did have something in common. They were both covered in scars and... was that...? Rainstar gasped and pulled his head behind the twoleg rubbish.
It was blood.
"What is it?" Asked Brownie. Rainstar slapped his tail over Brownie's mouth in return. The other cats continued.
"Did you hear that?"
"Oh, nevermind. Still, what will you tell Striker?"
"I don't know."
"Think of something then! We need to report back to Striker with our finds soon."
"Then you have good timing." A new voice, deeper than the others, spoke. Rainstar risked another look. The largest tom he had ever seen had approached the two others, surrounded by various others. They seemed to be guarding the large tom.
"St-st-striker! Reporting back!" Stuttered the tom.
"Well? What do you have?" Striker regarded the tom and the she-cat with a mix of curiousity and amusement.
"We discovered a family living together." The she-cat returned his gaze.
"And what did you do about it?"
"I killed the father." She replied with the hint of a smile. Striker's amused gaze was replaced with a frown.
"Ah. Was there anyone around, so you could make that a lesson rather than a random killing?"
"No." The she-cat began to waver. "Well, there was the mother and the kits..."
"Hm." Striker looked up at the sky, contemplating. Then he looked back at the she-cat. "You are one of my best guards, Scratch. I would not like to kill you for something like this." Scratch began to tremble.
"B-b-but, they were breaking one of your rules! I had to!" Striker ignored Scratch.
"It would be a shame. But I'm afraid I must." Scratch gasped.
"Ice? Would you?" A white cat stepped forward from around Striker.
"Gladly." He stepped towards Scratch, but before he could attack, the tom spoke.
"Wait. She should not die." Striker turned towards the dark tabby tom.
"Oh? Why is that, Hiss?"
"Because we have also discovered another group who openly defy you - and BloodClan." Rainstar gasped again. Brownie looked at him quizzicly. 'BloodClan' he mouthed. Brownie jumped in surprise.
"Well, in that case, your life will be spared, Scratch." Rainstar could hear Scratch release her breath. "If you take a group of a few guards and go and deal with those who defy BloodClan."
"Yes Striker." Footsteps came towards the pile of twoleg rubbish. Rainstar flattened himself against it. The footsteps paused for a moment, then continued on. Rainstar relaxed and poked his head out from behind the twoleg rubbish again. Striker was walking in the opposite direction, the guards walking with them. Scratch had wandered off into the alley that they had came out of.
"What was going on?" Asked Brownie.
"We found BloodClan." Stated Rainstar, slightly dazed. So this is what a Clan is? A wild bunch of cats who obey the leader and are killed if they don't?
"Cool! What do you want to do now?" Brownie didn't seem to understand. About the Clans.
"We found a Clan. And this is what a Clan is." Rainstar repeated.
"Um... I know?"
"This is what a Clan is."
"Are you alright, Rainstar?"
"No. I think I need to lie down." Rainstar and Brownie dug a small hole in the twoleg rubbish and Rainstar lay down. He closed his eyes and was soon asleep.
When Rainstar opened his eyes again, he saw exactly who he had expected to.
"Bluestar. Crookedstar. Tallstar." He mewed civilly. He wasn't feeling friendly right then, but it seemed that leaders, even when already dead, are always tough.
"We know what you saw." Bluestar quietly replied.
"Good. Then - then - " Rainstar didn't know why he said what he did, but it summed up everything he was thinking. "I don't want to lead a Clan anymore!" The three StarClan cats shared a glance.
"I thought something like this would happen. You see, Rainstar, BloodClan is not a true Clan."
"It's not? Then what is it?" Crookedstar spoke this time.
"Perhaps we'd better show you."
Blood was the first thing that Rainstar saw in the misty reflection of the pool. Next, there was the the pelts of fighting cats, all colors of fur flying the the air. They all looked as if they were yowling their heads off, but no sound could be heard.
"Why can't I hear anything?" Rainstar asked Bluestar.
"Memories act strangely in the Dreampool." The Dreampool was the pool that Rainstar was looking in. Tallstar had explained it to him. Rainstar looked in again. The Dreampool was now showing three cats - a small black tom with a red collar, stuck with teeth. A dark tabby tom, amber eyes glinting with menace. And a tom with a pelt the color of flame, watching the other two in amazement.
"The black one is Scourge, the brown one is Tigerstar, and the ginger one is Firestar." Crookedstar told him. Rainstar nodded and continued watching. Tigerstar and Scourge were fighting. Scourge sliced Tigerstar's stomach - again and again and again and again and again and again and again and again. The last time, when Tigerstar didn't move, Firestar attacked Scourge and killed him quickly. Then the image faded. Rainstar looked up in amazement.
"What was that?"
"That was the great battle between BloodClan and the four Clans of the forest."
"And... why did you show me this?"
"Scourge was the leader of BloodClan. Tigerstar was the leader of ShadowClan. And Firestar was the leader of ThunderClan."
"Well, you saw how the leaders of the Clans got along? Scourge killed Tigerstar, then Firestar killed Scourge."
"I told you we'd need another example." Crookedstar whispered to Bluestar. Bluestar sighed.
"Right. Let's try the direct method - BloodClan is not a Clan, never was, never will be." Rainstar just stared at her. Tallstar sighed.
"Well, you don't have to lead a Clan if you don't want to." Rainstar sighed.
"I don't want to." Tallstar bowed his head.
"Then, farewell, Rainstar."
"Uh, bye." Rainstar turned around and headed towards the other side of the clearing.
"Wait!" Crookedstar called. "I thought of something else." Rainstar turned around and looked quizzicly at Crookedstar. "Did you notice how all of us have a 'star' after our names?" Rainstar thought for a moment. Bluestar, Crookedstar, Tallstar, Firestar, Tigerstar... Rainstar. He's right!
"You're right! But what does that have to do with BloodClan?" Crookedstar smiled.
"Did you also notice how Scourge and Striker don't?" Rainstar thought for a moment, then smiled.
"You're right!" Then, Rainstar turned to Bluestar. "I changed my mind. I will lead RainClan." Bluestar smiled quietly and Rainstar found himself back in the twolegplace once more.
When Rainstar awoke, Brownie sat next to him.
"Oh, good, you're up!" He spoke with strained happiness, as if he was forcing himself to sound happy.
"Hi, Brownie. I've got some news about BloodClan."
"Really?" The brown tom looked genuinely suprised. "I do too!"
"You go first."
"Right. Well, I was snooping around while you were sleeping, and I found out that a she-cat by the name of Scratch was going around and trying to recruit others to fight another group who will not follow their rules."
"And what was your news?"
"Well, BloodClan is nothing like RainClan or StarClan." Brownie blinked.
"Yes, I figured that."
"Oh." There was silence for a little. Then Brownie coughed and said something that he had been waiting to say the entire conversation.
"I think that we should go help them." Rainstar leapt to his feet and immeditly growled back.
"There is no way that I am helping those vicious, kit-killing, bloody, group of unstructared rouges known as BloodClan!" Brownie reeled back, startled by Rainstar's sudden outburst. Then he gave a shaky laugh.
"Don't worry, I'm not talking about helping BloodClan."
"Really?" Rainstar let the fur on his back fall flat and his snarl faded.
"Do you know where they live?"
"Yep!" Brownie was regaining the sparkle in his eye.
"...well?" Rainstar cocked his head. Brownie smiled. And the two raced off again.
"I have to say, I wasn't excepting this." Rainstar was looking at a mound of twoleg trash. There was a hole in the side, which was being guarded by another guard, who was unmistakably not BloodClan.
"What were you expecting?" Brownie asked.
"I don't know. Something, I don't know, more rebellious looking." Then he smiled. "Well, I suppose when you live in this... stuff," He indicated the twoleg trash. "There isn't much to pick from."
"Coming?" Brownie was already walking towards the guard.
"Hey! Wait up!" Rainstar chased after him. The guard turned to look at the two RainClan cats with a steely, unflinching eye. Rainstar gulped. A nervous glance at Brownie showed that he felt the same. He opened his mouth, but no words came out, so Rainstar spoke instead.
"Can we see your leader?" He asked nervously.
"Depends. Are you able to? I don't know." The guard replied seriously. Rainstar shared a glance with Brownie. Then, the guard smiled.
"Hey, it's fine with me. You two don't look very threatening, so you don't seem like you'd be a danger to him. Just head on in." Rainstar sniffed indignantly at the 'not very dangerous' part, but Brownie just looked relieved and went in.
The inside looked almost exactly the way Rainstar had thought it would. The walls were made out of twoleg trash, and so was the ceiling, but the floor was covered in scraps of the softer twoleg bedding. Other cats wandered around inside, some of them casting wary glances at the RainClan cats. Brownie shrunk back at their gazes, but Rainstar kept his head high and walked to the far end, where a white and ginger she-cat was laughing with some others.
"Excuse me?" Rainstar mewed.
"You are excused. What is it?" The she-cat replied. Are all of these cats like this? He wondered.
"Can we see your leader? And please, don't say 'I don't know.' " The she-cat smiled.
"Eagle was on guard duty, huh? Yeah, he's the big brown one over there." Rainstar dipped his head in thanks and padded over to the woody-brown tom the she-cat had indicated. When the leader noticed them, he turned and spoke before either of the RainClan cats could.
"Hello. What are you doing here?" He asked. Rainstar gulped again and dipped his head. His tone was friendly, but his narrowed eyes gave away what the leader was really thinking.
"Hello. My name is Rainstar, and this is Brownie." Rainstar decided against telling him about RainClan, on account of it was a Clan.
"And my name is Oak. Nice to meet you."
"We have come with a warning for you about BloodClan." Rainstar continued.
"Oh?" Oak looked curious and slightly angry.
"They are planning an attack soon. It will be lead by a white she-cat by the name of Scratch. She is, at this time, looking for others to join her in the attack."
"They like to attack at night, and if the leader is hurt or killed, then none of the others care." Brownie added.
Oak dipped his head, now looking thoughtful. "Thank you for this." Rainstar waited. "You two are welcome to spend the night here, if you wish."
"Thank you." As Rainstar and Brownie walked off to make their nests for the night, Rainstar turned to Brownie and asked,
"So, did this work out the way you were hoping?" Brownie smiled.
Rainstar yawned and stretched. "Good morning..." He opened his eyes. "Bluestar, Crookedstar, and Tallstar." Rainstar dipped his head, and Bluestar returned it.
"We are proud of RainClan." Bluestar mewed.
"Why?" Asked Rainstar with a cocked head.
"You helped some that you didn't have to, even though it could cause danger to yourself."
"Could?" Snorted Crookedstar. Tallstar snapped his tail over the other leaders' mouth.
"Oh, well, um..." Rainstar shuffled his paws, embarrassed.
"That is an important quality of leadership." Tallstar said.
"But, anyway, your training needs to continue." Bluestar interjected.
"Hunting or fighting?" Asked Rainstar. The three leaders shared a glance.
"Fighting. You'll need it most."
"Meh. Go'way. I'm practicing my advanced leaps." Rainstar complained as a restless paw prodded his side. "Brownie..."
"Oh, come on, Rainstar!"
"Alright, alright, I'm getting up." Rainstar yawned and pulled himself to his feet. "How is it that you're always up so early?" Brownie shrugged modestly.
"It's something you learn." Rainstar shrugged back.
"Okay then. What are we going to do now?"
"We could go look around a bit. Talk to the others. Maybe one of them could join RainClan?"
"Okay. Why not?" Brownie padded off towards the tom that had been guarding when they arrived. Rainstar watched him quickly start a conversation, and soon they were going off to see something. Rainstar smiled.
"Hello!" A cheery voice came from behind Rainstar.
"Ahh!" He jumped and whirled around to see the ginger and white she-cat that had shown them Oak. She giggled.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you."
"It's just fine, I wasn't expecting a voice to suddenly materilze behind me and scare my fur off." Rainstar smiled, and the she-cat giggled again. "I'm Rainstar. Who are you?"
"Rainstar... What an unusual name. A star made of rain?" She paused, imagining it. Rainstar thought for a moment. A star made out of rain... "It would probably be light blue, and shine like a star does." She continued.
"Like my pelt!" Rainstar exclaimed, looking at himself. Why haven't I seen this before?
"Yeah. Except I don't think it shines." The she-cat purred in amusement. "My name is Peppermint, by the way!"
"Hello, Peppermint." Rainstar dipped his head. Peppermint dipped hers. "What does a peppermint look like?"
"It's a green leaf. I'll show you!" Peppermint stood up and lead him out of the mound.
Peppermint was exactly what Peppermint had said. A green leaf. "Why are you named after that?" Asked Rainstar. "I mean, you don't look like a leaf... No offence." He added quickly. Peppermint purred in amusement.
"Smell it." Rainstar blinked in confusion, but leaned down and sniffed.
"Mm. It smells great!" He exclaimed. Minty, but sweet.
"So, you're minty but sweet?"
"No, you silly fluffball!" Peppermint laughed and batted Rainstar's ears playfully. "My parents liked that smell, so, why not?"
"Well, for one - " Rainstar began.
"Hey!" Peppermint protested.
"I was kidding!" Peppermint purred in amusement and Rainstar pulled a crooked smile. Peppermint lifted her nose to the air.
"I smell... oh!" She turned to face a large black she-cat coming towards the two. "Hey Mara!" Mara? Not that Mara? Rainstar looked at the she-cat. The large build, the black pelt, the amber eyes... Yep, it was her. The one who was fighting Brownie. Rainstar wondered if Mara knew him, too. He shuttered.
"Hello Peppermint." Mara greeted the she-cat.
"Hey Mara! This is my new friend, Rainstar. Rainstar, this is my friend Mara." Peppermint introduced. Rainstar dipped his head to the she-cat. After a moments pause, she did too.
"It's nice to meet you, Mara." Rainstar choked out, hoping that he didn't sound too nervous. Peppermint gave him a sideways glance, but Mara didn't seem to have noticed it.
"Pleasure, I'm sure." She replied politely. After a moments pause, Mara spoke again. "What are you two doing out here?"
"Oh, I'm showing Rainstar peppermint!" Peppermint replied.
"But haven't you already- oh, right." Mara saw the plant they were standing nearby. Peppermint purred in amusement, and Rainstar cracked a small smile.
"And what are you doing out here?" Asked Rainstar.
"Walking." She replied.
"You're noisy, aren't you?" Mara's eyes narrowed, as if she was trying to remember something that had just slipped her grasp.
"Oh, don't mind him!" Peppermint cut in. "He's new. Oak said he could stay." Mara's face relaxed.
"Me and my friend brought some information about BloodClan. Which is not a proper Clan, by the way." Rainstar replied.
"A what?" Peppermint asked, confused.
"Er..." Rainstar trailed off, embarrased. Of course they don't know what a Clan is! Stupid! stupid! Thankfully, Eagle came by just about then.
"Hey Mara! Hey Peppermint! Hey new guy!" He called.
"Oh, hi, Eagle." Mewed Mara meekly and looked down at her paws.
"Me and my new friend were just going to climb on the top of the den! Want to come along?" Eagle offered.
"Thanks, Eagle, but-" Peppermint started.
"Oh, I'd love to!" Mara interrupted and ran towards Eagle. Rainstar purred.
"Everybody likes Eagle, huh?"
"Yep! He's pretty well-liked." Peppermint replied. "So, what is a Clan?"
"Erm..." Rainstar looked down at his paws.
"Oh, come on! I know BloodClan isn't one. Even though it has 'Clan' in it." Peppermint presisted.
"Alright then, you win." Rainstar sighed. "Even though I'm not to sure myself." Peppermint sat down in response. Rainstar smiled and sat down, also.
"Well... it's like this." He explained everything that had happened, from the mysterious 9 lives to his arguing teachers to the mystical Dreampool to finding her and Oak. Peppermint was a wonderful auidence, listening politely and adding comments when they were approprite. When he finished, Peppermint sat, looking thoughtful.
"It's rather hard to believe." She finally said.
"I would hardly believe it myself, if it wasn't for the skills I learned." Rainstar replied and smiled. Peppermint stood up, still thoughtful.
"Well..." She mewed.
"I know." Rainstar stood up, too. "It sounds so ridiculous that I seem like I must be half-insane. If not completely." Peppermint turned to him and smiled.
"I'd think you must be, Rainstar, if the rest of our conversation wasn't perfectly normal."
"And how do you know insane cats don't normally speak normally?" Rainstar asked. Peppermint laughed.
"Come on, let's go." She started walking back to the den, Rainstar right behind her. Once they had gotten inside, Peppermint turned to him and meowed, "Tell me that part about Bluestar, Crookedstar, and Tallstar again. They're so funny when they argue!" Rainstar nodded and, with a slight smile, began to retell his starry mentors' arguements. Peppermint, though she seemed to not believe him, olviously enjoyed his story and insisted he tell it to her other friends, who were although not as good an audience as Peppermint, liked it too.
At the end of the day, when Rainstar settled into his nest, he turned to the cat lying in the nest next to him.
"Peppermint?" He asked.
"Mmm?" She replied.
"Am I still insane?" Rainstar wondered.
"Yes. Now go to sleep." Peppermint mumbled. Rainstar smiled and obeyed.
"Rainstar." Bluestar said.
"Yes?" Rainstar replied.
"Your allies need you now. You should wake them."
"And prepare for the coming battle." Crookedstar added.
"Wait... what?" Asked a confused Rainstar. One second we're were training fighting, and then this whole weird... thingy comes. Battle? Allies? What?
"Good luck, Rainstar!" Tallstar mewed.
"You'll need it." Mumbled Crookedstar.
"Crookedstar! Please!" Tallstar hissed.
"Yeah, well, he will!" Crookedstar replied. Bluestar shook her head and sighed as the two toms began arguing again.
"Rainstar, they're coming. Soon. Prepare yourself." Rainstar nodded, even though he didn't really understand. Bluestar smiled. "Good. Now, you shall wake."
Rainstar's eyes flew open down in his nest.
"Well, that was odd..." He mumbled. Bluestar's words echoed through his head. They're coming... battle... Rainstar jolted up. "BloodClan!" He practicly yowled. From beside him, Peppermint grumbled in her sleep. Allies... yes. Peppermint is my ally. I should 'wake my allies', as Bluestar said.
"Peppermint!" Rainstar shook her vigorously.
"Rainstar?" Peppermint asked sleepily.
"Bluestar... um, BloodClan is coming! You have to wake up!" Rainstar shouted. A few others around the den began to stir.
"Rainstar, it's the middle of the night. You're going to wake up everyone else." Peppermint mewed.
"They should wake up, too, then! BloodClan's coming!" He yowled. More were beginning to wake up now.
"Rainstar," Peppermint rolled over and looked Rainstar right in the eye. Her amber eyes pierced straight into his blue ones. Rainstar felt his ears starting to turn red. "You. Are. Crazy. Now let me go back to sleep."
"But..." Rainstar began. He couldn't finish, because right then Brownie came racing in, breathless and with a terrified look in his eyes.
"BLOODCLAN IS ATTACKING!" He yowled. Rainstar ran over to the second RainClan member.
"Brownie! What! Where! How!"
"Me and Eagle," He gasped for breath, "Sitting on top of the den," Gasp, gasp, "Saw something coming," Gasp, "I went to look," Gasp, "BloodClan!" He finished. Oak strode up to Brownie.
"Are you sure?" He asked, staring down at Brownie.
"Yes." Brownie collapsed onto the ground. Oak whipped around to face the rouges.
"PREPARE FOR BATTLE!" He yowled. The reaction was instantanious. Sleepers jolted up like they were waking from a nightmare, kits bristled and pretended to attack imaginary foes to be shooed away by worried mothers, every single cat in the den ran around like crazy. Within moments everyone was deathly silent. Sensing something bad was going to happen, Rainstar grabbed Brownie's scruff and pulled him into the shadows. The whole den had the an of anticipation.
"Attack!" Yowled the white she-cat Rainstar remembered as Scratch and rushed in, followed by a company of BloodClan cats. In the time he had the time to react, Rainstar guessed about twenty BloodClan cats. As soon as Scratch was in his range, Oak jumped on her, claw outstretched.
"Attack!" He yowled. Instantly all the rouges came rushing out of their places.
The whole den was a whirling mass of fur and claws. Rainstar tried to stay in the shadows and out of the way.
"How did I get myself into this mess?" He sighed after seeing a BloodClan cat run yowling outside as quickly as it could. A nearby BloodClan cat turned to face Rainstar after shaking away a determined rouge. Rainstar shrunk down, ears laid back.
"Stay away!" He hissed. The BloodClan tom laughed.
"Like fun I will." He replied and launched himself at Rainstar. Rainstar jumped back in surprise. The BloodClan tom missed, but Rainstar smacked his head into the wall.
"Ow..." The world spun. Rainstar saw a spinning image of a dark tabby tom flying at him. He slammed into Rainstar, knocking him to the ground and raking his claws across his side. Stunned, Rainstar got up, staggered to one side, and tripped over Brownie. The tabby tom laughed again.
"You are an unskilled fool. A fool of a rouge." He taunted. Burning with embarrassment, Rainstar got up and shook his head. The laughing BloodClan member came into focus. Rainstar jumped at him. The tabby tom stopped mid-laugh and toppled backwards. Rainstar, remembering a move that his mentors had taught him, ducked under the unbalanced tom and pushed upwards. The BloodClan cat fell to the ground. Rainstar pinned him to the ground and, from practice, slashed at his neck.
Blood welled up from the wound. The angry look in the BloodClan tom's eyes faded away, and was replaced by a glassy look. Rainstar stepped off the tabby and looked at him in shock. I... killed him. I killed a cat!
"I... I... I..." Rainstar stuttered. He felt something coming up in his stomach. Rainstar ran as fast as he could over to the side of the den and puked his insides out.
Rainstar spat on the ground, trying to her the horrible taste out of his mouth, as he walked back to the body of the dark tabby tom. When he looked at the body again, he felt the throw-up coming up again. Rainstar saw Scratch look over at the body from where she was fighting. Her mouth dropped open and she ran over to the tom's still body.
"Hiss! No!" She cried. Rainstar looked down at the tom. Hiss? A memory of hiding behind a pile of twoleg trash with Brownie, watching a white she-cat and a dark tabby tom talk to the leader of BloodClan. That's Hiss? Hiss saved Scratch's life! Scratch seemed to remember that, too, because the look she gave Rainstar was pure hatred.
"You monster!" She yowled. "I swear, I'll get you for this if it takes all my life!" Scratch glared at him, the pure anger burning an image into his mind forever. She whipped around and ran out of the mound of twoleg trash.
Rainstar looked around, sides heaving. It was clear that BloodClan had lost. Plus Hiss, about 15 of the cats who had charged in had died. When Scratch ran off, the last few gave one more menencing hiss and followed their leader away from the rouges. A bloody and scarred Oak called for someone to inventory the dead rouges and for someone to inventory the dead BloodClan cats. Rainstar tuned out what was happening in other places and turned to his friend.
"Hey, Brownie?" He gently called. Brownie groaned.
"Rainstar?" He asked weakly.
"Am I alive?"
"I'm fairly certain you are. At least, I hope so. Because if you're dead, then I am too, and I really hope I'm not dead." Brownie cracked a smile.
"I figure you're alive."
"Great." Rainstar purred. "Can you stand."
"I think so... I'm getting better by the heartbeat." Brownie started to pick himself off the ground, but collapsed. He tried again, this time succeding and leaned against the wall.
"Great job. Do you need more rest?" Rainstar asked.
"I think so." Brownie replied.
"Okay then, I'm going to go find Peppermint." Rainstar turned and walked off. He heard Brownie behind him ask who Peppermint was, but Rainstar kept on going. He would find out soon enough. Rainstar searched through the cats, hoping to find that friendly orange and white pelt.
"Peppermint?" He called. "Peppermint!" After running around the den once, calling for Peppermint, a voice answered his call.
"Over here! Hey, Minty, someone wants you." Rainstar couldn't figure out who it was, but came towards the voice anyway. It turned out that it belonged to Eagle, who was sitting in front of Peppermint.
"Eagle!" Eagle turned to look at Rainstar and smiled.
"Heeyyy, it's the tom who didn't know if he could stand the walk to Oak!"
"Yeah, I'm Rainstar. Brownie's my friend."
"Oh, Brownie." Eagle bowed his head. "He was a brave little mouse." Rainstar stared, then shrugged and walked over to Peppermint.
"Hey, Peppermint. It's your insane friend." Peppermint looked up at Rainstar with smiling eyes.
"It's good to see you, Rainstar." She croaked out.
"Good to see you living, too." Rainstar looked at Peppermint and gasped slightly. She had quite a few scratches, all oozing blood.
"Are you okay?" He asked worriedly.
"Yeah, I'll live. You?" Rainstar looked himself over. The only wound he had were the gashes left behind when Hiss scratched his side.
"Barely wounded. You look like you could use some rest, though." Peppermint nodded and closed her eyes. Eagle, who had been listening, spoke then.
"Hey, Rainstar, do you need anything treated?"
"No." Rainstar replied. "What happened?"
"What happened where?" Asked Eagle. Rainstar nodded towards Peppermint.
"Oh, that." Eagle gave the she-cat a wistful look, then leaned close to his ear and whispered.
"She can't fight."
"Oh." The numerous scratches on Peppermint's pelt jumped out even more starkly now. "Then why was she attacked?"
"Who knows?" Shrugged Eagle. "BloodClan members just don't care, I suppose."
"All cats able to stand on their legs, please gather for a meeting!" Called Oak from a pile of twoleg rubbish at the side of the den. Rainstar looked at Oak curiously. Eagle bumped him in the side and meowed,
"Come on, Rainstar, we'd better go."
Oak was standing on top of the pile of twoleg rubbish, surrounded by the majority of the rouges.
"As you all know," he said, "BloodClan has stopped threatening us and started doing something about those threats." There was an uneasy murmuring between the rouges. "We fought the off. We killed most of them. And we won." The rouges yowled in approval. Oak waited until they settled down. "But that was only this time. BloodClan is large, and they are strong. We lost many good cats, also." Oak looked towards an area with many bodies lying in pools of blood. Silence blanketed the room, a muted silence as the rouges waited for Oak to speak. "We must prepare ourselves for the inevitable second attack." There was another uneasy murmuring.
"Is there any other option?" Asked someone from the crowd. Oak sighed.
"We can sacrifce our freedom and give into BloodClan's rules or we can give up our home and move. There is no other option."
"Or we can go with Rainstar." Peppermint had stood up and had walked behind Eagle and Rainstar. Rainstar stared at Peppermint. What does she mean, 'go with Rainstar'? He thought.
Oak seemed to have been thinking the same thing, because he asked, "What do you mean?"
Peppermint looked Oak in the eye and replied, "I mean, I'm going with Rainstar." Eagle gasped.
"Minty! Not in your condition!"
Peppermint turned to look at Eagle. "Yes, Eagle. It's either stay here and get even worse, or," Peppermint shuttered. "die." Eagle looked at her for a second, then gave a pained smile.
"Then I'm going too." This time, Peppermint was the one to stare.
"B-b-but..." She stuttered.
"No buts, Peppermint, I'm staying with you. Family sticks together." Eagle moved to stand next to Peppermint.
"Then I'm going too." Mara stepped out of the crowd, eyes on Peppermint and Eagle, and walked over to stand next to Eagle. Rainstar watched all this with shock. They're all coming with me? But where? Oak looked down at the three.
"Anyone else?" He asked. There was no response. "Good. Prepare yourself for the next attack. This meeting is finished." He mewed and jumped down.
Peppermint, Eagle, and Mara turned to look at Rainstar.
"So, what now?" Asked Eagle.
"Erm... one second." Rainstar replied and ran over to where he had left Brownie. "Brownie!" Brownie looked out at Rainstar from the shadows.
"Hey, Rainstar. Good job!" Brownie walked over to Rainstar, completely recovered.
"Good job about what?" Asked a confused Rainstar.
"Getting Eagle and those she-cats to join RainClan, of course!" Brownie laughed.
"...join RainClan? Yeah, join RainClan." Rainstar smiled. "Thanks."
"No problem." Brownie laughed again. "Come on, I need to meet that she-cat." He padded off towards the three rouges. Rainstar followed. They had walked halfway there, Rainstar realized something that made him stop cold. "Brownie! Stop!" He commanded. "Why?" asked Brownie, but still stopped.
"Er... there's something you should know about one of those she-cats..." Rainstar mewed slowly.
"What is it?" Asked Brownie.
"One's Mara." Rainstar stated simply. Brownie jumped, then looked around wildly.
"Relax, she's over there." Rainstar flicked his tail towards the three, who were waiting patiently. Brownie sighed and let out a deep breath of relief.
"Phew! You know, I ran into her eariler, but she barely noticed I was there." Brownie said. Rainstar nodded.
"So, how are you going to get over there?"
"Um, I don't know. Can I hide behind you?" Brownie asked. Rainstar shrugged.
"I don't care one way or another. Sounds good to me!" He stepped in front of Brownie and the two went over to meet the three new RainClan members.
When they reached them, Eagle asked,
"Who's your friend hiding behind there?" Brownie peeked out of Rainstar's shadow nervously, then pulled his head back in.
"Um..." Rainstar glanced over at Mara. She wasn't currently watching them. "Brownie." Eagle's jaw dropped.
"B-b-brownie? But he's dead!" Brownie stepped out.
"No I'm not." Eagle stared at Brownie, then started purring.
"You tricky little mouse! You lived!"
"And it wasn't easy, either." Brownie purred. Peppermint was watching the two with smiling eyes.
"So this is Brownie?" Rainstar nodded.
"The one and only!"
"Brownie?" Mara whipped her head around, hearing her enemies name for the first time. She saw Brownie talking to Eagle and hissed, tail lashing. "Brownie!" Brownie turned to look at the she-cat, and backed up into Eagle.
"Mara!" He squeaked. Mara hissed.
"Woah, woah, woah, woah." Eagle stepped in between Mara and Brownie, looking strangely at them both. Mara's tail dropped and she looked down at her paws. "What is going on here?" Neither replied. Finally, Rainstar said,
"They're, um, kinda enemies." The two others looked between Brownie and Mara.
"Oh no." Sighed Peppermint.
"This is going to be a problem." Eagle muttered. He stepped back, raising the fur on the the enemies backs, but they didn't make any move towards each other.
"So, what do we do now, leader?" Asked Peppermint cheerfully, trying to lift the mood.
"Well..." Rainstar thought. "We should probably rest here for the night, then we can go in the morning." The other two nodded, Brownie and Mara too absorbed in their own struggles to notice.
"That'll work." Eagle cast a glance towards Peppermint's bloodstained pelt. "We will need the rest."
"Alright then, I'll meet you outside the den at sunhigh." Rainstar mewed and they headed off towards their nests for the night.
Rainstar watched the entrance to the rouge's den feverishly. It was sunhigh, and Eagle and Peppermint hadn't come out yet. Mara and Brownie were standing on either sides of the entrance, Brownie next to Rainstar.
"Where are they?" Grumbled Rainstar.
"I don't know." Brownie replied.
"Well, they'd better come soon." As if on cue, the two appeared in the entrance.
"I'd call that soon, wouldn't you?" Brownie laughed. Rainstar smiled.
"Ready?" He asked his Clan.
"I thought you'd never ask." Eagle joked.
"Well, should we go now?" Rainstar mewed.
"Right away, leader!" Peppermint purred and they set off. Exactly where wasn't quite clear, but Rainstar decided that it would be best if they went away from where he and Brownie had seen Striker last. The memory leader of BloodClan sent shivers down Rainstar's back. They walked on, exchanging friendly conversation and talking about where - and what - they might find.
"My favorite food is sparrow. I get it from my mother, Fluff." Peppermint purred.
"I get my preference from experience: a big, fat, juicy mouse." Eagle licked his lips. Brownie nodded and smiled.
"I agree with you completely." Rainstar smiled. The three got along so well! The only cat who wasn't occupied talking was Mara, who was marching straight ahead silently, a determined expression set on her face.
"I love a good goldfish." Rainstar added. He glanced around. The area had changed from the twoleg rubbish and tall gray nests of BloodClan. Now, there was smaller white twoleg nests around, surrounded by bushes and sweet, bright flowers. Rainstar looked at all this in wonder. Twolegs make these nests, too?
"Mmm... All this talk of food is making me hungry!" Brownie mewed.
"Yum. Do you think we could stop?" Wondered Peppermint.
"Well, we should ask the leader, shouldn't we? Rainstar?" Rainstar wasn't paying attention. "Rainstar!" Eagle shouted.
"Hmm? What?" He turned to look at the other four.
"We were wondering if we could stop to eat." Peppermint explained.
"Oh, yeah, sure." Rainstar agreed. "Let's find a good place to rest first."
"How about over there?" Suggested Brownie. He flicked his tail towards one of the twoleg nests.
"Inside a twoleg nest?" Rainstar exclaimed, looking at the nests. He was pointing towards a nest that was a pleasant shade of light blue. There were flowers surrounding the nest, and plenty of bushes and even a large tree around it. It was a nice place, for a twoleg nest, but staying there?
"No, of course not! In the little nest!" Brownie replied, smiling slightly. It was a small twoleg nest, like a mini version of the large one. I wonder what the twolegs use it for? Wondered Rainstar. After all, it looks like they could barely fit inside... Brownie, Peppermint, and Eagle were already walking towards the nest. Mara was still on the path, looking at the other three with unreadable eyes.
"Come on, fluffball!" Called Peppermint.
"Coming!" Rainstar called back and ran after them.
Inside the little twoleg nest, it was cool and shady, but by the door it was as bright and sunny as outside. Rainstar smiled and settled down in a spot by the door as Mara stepped over him and went over to lie down in the back corner.
"Hey, there's something back here!" Complained Brownie and pulled out a red twoleg object. It was circular, with a small dip in the middle and some water in the dip.
"It looks just like a little pond!" Exclaimed Peppermint.
"Oh, look, water." Rainstar walked over and took a drink. Brownie cringed.
"Why did you drink that? You don't know what it could be!" He asked.
"Well, I was thirsty." Rainstar leaned down and took another drink. "And it seems a lot like water to me."
"Oh, I want some!" Exclaimed Peppermint again and lapped up some. "Eagle, come and look at this!" Eagle stood up and walked over to the twoleg object.
"I've seen one of those before..." Eagle wrinkled up his forehead, like he was thinking hard. "It's a bowl."
"A bowl." Repeated Brownie. "Yes, a bowl. Twolegs put food and water in them for their kittypets." Eagle exclaimed. "Nothing to be afraid of." Rainstar said to Brownie and licked his lips.
"I was never worried!" Brownie exclaimed, trying to save face.
"Yes you were!" Peppermint joined the conversation.
"No I-" Eagle inturrupted Brownie. "Let's get some rest before we debate this, shall we?" "Good idea, Eagle." Rainstar purred, amused. Brownie and Peppermint nodded, Brownie relieved, Peppermint slightly smiling, and they went back to their place. Rainstar left, too, and he had just gotten settled down when Brownie mewed again. "There's something else back here!" Rainstar, sighed, stood up and walked over to Brownie again. "Where is it?" Wondered Rainstar. "Right there." Brownie pointed a claw towards a white shape on the back side.
"What is it?" Rainstar asked.
"I don't know. Why don't you drag it up to the light?" Suggested Peppermint from where she was lying next to Brownie.
"Okay." Brownie bit the object and walked up to the light. "It's a bone!" He gasped. "A big bone." Rainstar ran over to the bone.
"It is! What is that doing there?"
"I don't know, but I'm putting it back." Brownie shivered. He put it back in the shadowed side of the den. Peppermint, who had been watching this nervously, spoke up.
"I don't think I want to stay here anymore..." She stood up and headed towards the door. She was about to exit when a large creature blocked the entrance, growling angrily.
"Dog!" Peppermint yowled.
Rainstar bristled angrily and stepped in front of Peppermint. I have a lot better chance of surviving this than she does. He thought, while at the same time thinking how heroicly stupid he was being. Eagle's fur brushed Rainstar's lightly as the white and golden tom stepped up beside Rainstar. In the corner of his eye, Rainstar could see a black pelt beside Eagle.
"Run!" Rainstar whipped around his head and hissed at Peppermint. Peppermint didn't move. "I said, run!" Rainstar hissed again and rammed Peppermint to the back of the den. When he turned his head back around, the dog stuck it's head inside the den. Rainstar jumped backwards, then scratched the black nose. The dog barked and jumped backwards. This was what Eagle and Mara had been waiting for. They jumped at the dog, clawing and biting. The dog swerved this way and that, trying to shake off the two trained fighters, flinging his paws everywhere. One of the paws hit Rainstar square on the side of the head, sending him back to where Peppermint and Brownie were cowering. It took less then a second for Rainstar to decide what to do.
"I'll protect you." He said and sat down to watch Eagle and Mara fight the dog. Peppermint smiled and rolled her eyes.
"My hero." But, she made no move to make him go back into the fight.
The fight raged on. Rainstar watched, impressed, as Eagle and Mara darted around the larger, but clumsier, dog, swiping then moving away before it could hit. But the cats were taking some hits too, and getting tired.
"Hey, does it look like to you that the dog is getting closer?" Brownie asked, slightly nervous. Rainstar looked at the dog. It did look bigger... He stood up and hissed.
"Stay away!" He hissed and leapt at the dog, claws outstretched. The dog growled and lashed it's paw out.
"Brownie!" Mewed Peppermint, horrified. Rainstar twisted his head around to see Brownie, smacked against the back of the nest and bleeding out of his side. Rainstar dropped to the ground and darted over to Brownie's side.
"Not another battle, eh?" Rainstar joked quietly. Brownie looked up and smiled painfully.
"Another one spend lying on my side." He meowed.
A pained yowl from Mara brought Rainstar back to the battle. He turned back around, every hair on his pelt raised. Mara had slammed against the wall, but was soon back up and charging towards the dog. Eagle was fighting will all his might.
Wow. That's determination. Rainstar thought, impressed. He jumped at the dog again, aiming for it's face. The battle raged on, the dog taking hits and sometimes hitting one of the cats hard, the cats fighting back fiercely, and the non-fighters hoping not to get hit again. Even though Peppermint took a few minor hits. Rainstar staggered backwards. He was tired and bleeding, and by the looks of them, Eagle and Mara weren't doing much better. Rainstar took a deep breath and was about to charge forward again when a call came from behind the dog.
"Aieeeeee!" The dog yelped and turned tail, displaying a large scratch down his backside.
The thing that has caused the scratch stood in the entrance, smiling slightly. It - no, she - was a cat. Her paws, what Rainstar could see of her underbelly, and her chin was white, and everything else was black.
"Hello." She mewed, still smiling. Rainstar stepped forward. He didn't know who this she-cat was, but he had saved his life (and the life of his friends), so she should at the very least get a thank you.
"Hello. My name is Rainstar, and these are my friends. Thank you for driving away that dog." He dipped his head.
"It's not that hard, you just have to know just the right place." The she-cat replied. Her smile dropped and turned into a frown.
"You don't look very well."
"We'd been fighting for a while." Rainstar admitted.
"I might be able to help. Can they walk?"
"Certainly." Eagle spoke up at last. Mara, beside him, nodded and Peppermint agreed too.
"I think so." Brownie picked himself up and stood on wobbly feet. Eagle stood on one side of him, to help support if he should fall down. The she-cat frowned again.
"He needs help." She walked over to Brownie and stood on his other side.
"You three, head outside and find a soft place to lie down."
"You know best." Rainstar shrugged and headed out the door. Peppermint and Mara followed, and the three found a shady tree on the other side of a large white board between the nest and a patch of trees. After a little bit, Eagle, Brownie, and the she-cat came over to the three. Brownie collapsed on the ground, Eagle following his lead.
"So, what'll we need, what'll we need..." The black and white cat thought intently, skipping from foot to foot. "Ah ha! That, for sure."
"Excuse me?" Rainstar asked.
"Maybe that, no..." The she-cat thought out loud. "Hmm? What?" She finally noticed. Rainstar smiled in relief.
"What's your name?"
"Alice. Now, if you'll excuse me for a moment..." Alice ran off in another direction and disappered from view. Rainstar smiled again. There was something about this she-cat that made him feel older, more mature, like she was a kit. He would ask her about RainClan. Definatly.
Alice came charging back with a mouthful of spiderwebs.
"What do you need those for?" Rainstar asked curiously. He had seen cobwebs before, but what other use could they have other than for spiders to live in?
"I'm going to use them to help heal!" Alice exclaimed. She sat down next to Eagle and began pushing the spiderwebs onto his wounds. Rainstar turned his head to watch with curiousity and confusion.
"How do spiderwebs help healing?" He asked again. Alice continued putting spiderwebs on. "Alice?"
"Hmm? Oh, spiderwebs. They close the wound." The she-cat responded like it was the most natural thing in the world. "Shame that that's all it does, though."
"Why's that?" Brownie mewed from where he was listening.
"Because it gets infected so easily." Alice replied without looking up.
"I might be able to help." Mara spoke for the first time with Alice. Alice looked up. Mara's amber eyes were regarding Alice's yellow-green ones with interest. Alice was looking the same.
"How?" Alice simply replied.
"Goldenrod. Or horsetail." Mara mewed back. Alice held her gaze a moment longer before dropping back to Eagle.
"What does goldenrod look like?" She asked while putting cobwebs on the last of Eagle's wounds. She's right, Rainstar thought. It does help close the wound. Less and less blood was pouring out, but the webs were attaining a deep reddish tint.
"Yellow flowers, long stems, branches everywhere. Bring we some and I'll tell you if it works." Mara mewed back. Alice patted the spiderwebs on the last of Eagle's scratches, then looked up and smiled.
"Sure." She left. Rainstar turned to look at Eagle.
"Is it working?" He asked.
"It still hurts." Eagle grimiced. "But I'm not bleeding as much, that must be good."
"Must be." Rainstar agreed. There was brief silence. "Are you okay, Brownie?" He asked.
"Well, I'm alive, if that's what you mean." Brownie replied. Everyone except for Mara laughed.
"Great, It'd be tragic if you died. We'd have to bury you. I hate digging!" Peppermint replied and laughed.
"Minty!" Eagle replied with fake shock. "You're only allowed to hate digging when Brownie is already dead!" Laughed echoed around again.
"I found some yellow flowered, long stemed plants." Mumbled a voice as if it was full of something. Rainstar looked up at Alice and saw her mouth stuffed with what looked like three different kind of flowers. Alice dropped them next to Mara.
"This one." Mara pointed at one of the plants, a branch with yellow flowers jutting out all over the place.
"Okay then." Alice picked up a plant and walked towards the nearest cat, Peppermint. She tore off one of the flowers, put it on the scratch and was about to put a cobweb on when Mara shot up.
"No, no, no, no, no!" She tore off the cobweb and removed the flower. "You have to do this." Mara leaned down and bit the flower.
"What is she doing?" Rainstar asked Eagle quietly.
"I don't know." Eagle whispered back. "But I trust her with it." Mara spat out the flower. It was chewed to a paste. Alice sniffed the flower-smash.
"And what do you do with this?" She asked curiously. Mara didn't answer. Instead, she dabbed her paw into the paste and rubbed it into one of the gashes that the dog had torn open.
"Ow!" Peppermint protested. "That stings!" Rainstar felt a sudden rush to get to her, but shooed the feeling away quickly.
"Good." Mara replied and added some more.
"How is that good?" Asked Alice.
"Because then you know it's working." The black she-cat grabbed another flower in her mouth and began chewing. Alice looked at Mara and smiled.
"Okay then." She pushed some cowebs onto the gash. The two worked together in this way for a while. Rainstar began to lose interest, so he turned to Eagle. Brownie was on the other side of Peppermint, Alice, and Mara, and Rainstar didn't want to disturb them.
"Does she do this often?" He asked.
"Who, Mara?" Eagle replied. Rainstar nodded. "No, not really. But I have to say, for a group like us, it's going to be really useful."
Rainstar was completely certain that this would be true.
Not long after, Rainstar and Eagle had started a conversation.
"Do you have a lot of those healing plants around where you lived?" Rainstar asked curiously. Eagle nodded.
"Yep. Some of us knew how to use them, and some of those taught others how. Only a few, though. A lot of us never bothered. Like me." Eagle looked up at the sky and smiled, reliving old memories. Rainstar wondered why others never bothered to learn. Surely, it must be useful and not that difficult, right?
"Sounds nice." Was all he said, though.
"Yeah, it was. We learned fighting and hunting like that, too."
"The plant users taught everyone everything?" Rainstar asked, confused. Were they the ones that taught everyone?
"No, the ones who knew fighting and hunting taught that." Eagle explained.
"Oh, right." Rainstar mewed. That makes sense. What you know, you teach to others. Eagle started speaking again, back in his memories.
"We all taught each other. My parents taught me. They were the best teachers in the world."
"Your parents..." Rainstar said. His parents...
"And brothers, and sisters, and aunts, and uncles, and friends, and friends of friends... There was always someone there." The white and golden tom smiled.
"Always there..." Rainstar felt a slight ache in his chest.
"Me, my mom, my dad, and my sister. That was our family. We were very close."
"And then... Fluff died." Eagle's voice grew mournful and he turned around to face Rainstar. "Snake couldn't take the pain. As I said, we were all very close. He jumped headfirst into the next battle with BloodClan, and was killed." Eagle was silent, eyes brimming with sadness. Rainstar felt sorry for Eagle. For a family to be so close, and then to be torn away from one another... That was worse than his.
"But enough about me." Eagle said suddenly, cheering up. "What about your family?"
Rainstar rolled over so his back was facing Eagle. "I don't want to talk about it."
"But I -" Eagle started.
"I said, I don't want to talk about it!" Rainstar hissed. Eagle was silent.
"Okay then. What brought you to BloodClan in the first place, then?" Rainstar flipped himself back arund to face Eagle, thankful they were off the painful topic of families. He began telling the story from when he first met StarClan all the way up to when they first set off away from BloodClan. Eagle laughed as soon as he was done.
"What a wonderful dream. Dreams make us believe the oddest of things, don't they?"
"StarClan is real!" Rainstar protested. I have a feeling that I'm going to hear this kind of thing a lot...
"In your dreams, everything seems real." Eagle smiled. "Once I had a funny dream." He began telling a story of flying hedgehogs, ducks, and a random clump of dirt that spoke. Rainstar laughed throughout the tale.
About the time Eagle was done telling his story, Alice and Mara walked over to him.
"We finished Brownie, Peppermint, and Mara already!" Alice said happily.
"Your turn." Mara mewed and smiled.
"Okay then." Rainstar gulped and rolled so that could see his wounds. "I hope this won't hurt."
"Of course it will." Mara replied. "Just brace yourself." She began chewing up some of the yellow flowers. Alice smiled.
"Don't worry. It'll just sting. A little. Well, maybe a lot. But it could be a little. Just, don't worry!"
"Thank you, Alice. That really made me feel better." Rainstar gritted his teeth and prepared himself. A stinging pain rushed through his body.
"OW!" Rainstar jumped up and away from the herbs.
"Come back here!" Alice purred, amused.
"But it hurts!" Rainstar protested, edging backwards.
"And you have to get back here, so we can heal you!" Alice giggled.
"Because if you don't, it swells up, hurts a ton, it smells bad, and you get sick. Oh, and you bleed half to death." Mara recited with a gleam of a smile.
"Okay, fine. You win." Rainstar grumbled and reluctantly lay back down.
"Excellent." The two she-cats began applying herbs. By the time they were done, Rainstar was wondering how bad swelling up and getting sick could be.
"Are you done yet?" He asked forlornly, looking over his cobwebby pelt.
"Yes. Now, you should rest." Alice mewed gently.
Rainstar was more than happy to oblige.
Much later that day, when the sun was going down and the moon could just be seen peeking over the twoleg nests, RainClan and their helper were relaxing in the patchy shade provided by the tree, eating some various prey that Rainstar, Mara, Eagle, and Alice had managed to find.
"So, where are you going?" Alice asked curiously after a bite of robin. Rainstar glanced around at the rest of his Clan. Brownie shrugged, so Rainstar looked back at Alice and replied truthfully.
"We don't quite know yet."
"Ah, is that so?" The she-cat replied politely.
"Yep! We're going to go look for others to join us on our journey. That's our main goal for right now." Brownie explained.
"What journey?" Peppermint and Brownie were happy to answer that question, and promptly did. Oh no, Thought Rainstar. Now she's going to think I'm insane, too!
"So, you five are setting off on a dangerous journey to who-knows-where without a clue as to where your going or anything of the sort because of a dream your leader had while very, very tired?" Alice, like Peppermint and Eagle had, seemed amused by this.
"That's about accurate." Brownie replied and took a bite of his mouse. He had been pleased to get a mouse, which Eagle remembered was his favorite food. (Eagle got a mouse, too.)
"You must have a fun life." Alice replied and yawned. "Look, the sun is going down, and you're still hurt. I think you should spend the night here."
"Sounds good." Eagle mewed, but then looked at Rainstar. Rainstar smiled.
"Give me one good reason why we shouldn't."
"Instinct." Crookedstar mewed, pacing around. "That is what gives us our raw, natural abilities to hunt and fight. That is what protected you, told you what to do during the fight with the dog." Rainstar nodded respectfully. They were going through fighting for the third night in a row, and he didn't like at any more than he had in the beginning. Even if he did have more respect for it. Rainstar let his gaze drift around the clearing. Bluestar and Tallstar were sharing a rabbit over to one side. The forest was starry as usual, as long with the sky. Rainstar found himself wondering if the forest went on forever.
"Are you listening to me?" Crookedstar snapped.
"Hmm? Yes. Yes!" Rainstar replied quickly. Crookedstar growled slightly and turned around. Then he whipped around, sending his paw towards the other leader's ears. Rainstar saw it coming and ducked.
"See? Instinct." Crookedstar mewed, satisfied.
"So, if we can do things on instinct, why do I need training?" Rainstar asked hopefully. Maybe I don't need to!
"Because it's only raw. It needs to be trained more, as you've seen." Crookedstar explained. "Now attack me." They spend the rest of the night training fighting, to Rainstar's dismay, Bluestar's amusement, Tallstar's sympathy, and Crookedstar's satisfaction.
"Good morning, sleepyhead!" Alice purred as Rainstar dragged himself onto four feet. "Good morning, Alice." Rainstar yawned widely and looked around. "Where's Eagle and Peppermint?" Brownie was sleeping deeply in his nest, and Mara was sitting near a pile of plants. "Out hunting." Alice purred and flicked her tail off in a direction. "Okay, thanks. How's Brownie?" Rainstar walked over to the sleeping tom. "Getting better!" Alice mewed cheerfully. "He should be ready to go by sunhigh." "Great!" Rainstar purred and gazed down at Brownie. He was looking better, and the cobwebs on his wounds were white and clean. "What happened to the cobwebs?" "We changed them." Alice explained. "That's why they're that color." Rainstar nodded. "Okay." Alice returned to Mara and the two began talking. Brownie remained asleep. Finally, Rainstar heaved himself up and headed towards where Alice had directed. "I'm going hunting." He announced. The others nodded and Rainstar walked on. Before long, he came across Peppermint and Eagle, hunting in a patch of trees. "Found anything yet, Minty?" Eagle was shouting as Rainstar walked into the area. "Just a blackbird." Peppermint called back. "Hello!" Rainstar called to the two. Eagle jolted his head up, tense, before relaxing and laughing. "Oh, hi Rainstar. You frightened me!" Rainstar purred in amusement. "Well, at least I don't now." He bounded over. "Coming to help?" Peppermint asked, padding over with a bird. Rainstar nodded. "Great, we'll need some food before we get on the road again." "On the road again, right." Rainstar mewed back. He thought for a moment of Alice, who would be a great help along the way, but shook his head to clear the thought away. "Bring your prey here when you catch some!" Peppermint called to Rainstar while she slunk away into the underbrush. "Yep, good luck." Eagle said and went off in his own direction. Rainstar headed towards the densest patch and dropped into the hunter's crouch, like he had been taught. Before long the scent of a small furry creature hit his nose and he stalked towards the source. It was a brown squirrel, innocently nibbling away at a nut. Rainstar carefully crept forward and leapt for the squirrel. He landed squarely on top of it and bit down on it's neck, feeling warm blood run into his mouth. He caught a robin and a mouse before deciding that that was enough. Rainstar picked up the prey and walked out to the pile that Peppermint had indicated. There were two pieces already on the pile. One more and we can feed the Clan and Alice! Rainstar thought happily and settled down to wait for Eagle and Peppermint. When they arrived, there was a total of nine pieces of prey. "That seems like enough." Rainstar mewed. "Then we'll take it back." Eagle replied and smiled. Peppermint smiled at Rainstar. He felt warmth flooding through his body and smiled back. "Come on!" Eagle called and Rainstar quickly grabbed some nearby prey. The three walked back to where they had been resting and dropped the prey in a pile.
"Great, you got some food!" Alice exclaimed happily. Her eyes shone with a light that, despite her seemingly always cheerful attitude, hadn't been there before. Mara was smiling brightly, too. They must be very happy. Rainstar observed and picked up a squirrel for himself and a mouse for Brownie. He padded over to his friend and shook him gently. "Brownie. Wake up, Brownie." Brownie groaned slightly and rolled over. Rainstar grabbed the mouse in his teeth and waved it over his face. "Mmm... mouse." Brownie mumbled and opened his eyes. "Here, I got one for you." Rainstar dropped the mouse in front of Brownie and settled down to eat the squirrel. After they were finished, Alice stood up and cleared her throat. All heads turned to her expectantly. "When you first came here, I have to admit, I thought you were weird, brave, and a bit insane. I still think the last part." Alice glanced at Rainstar. Rainstar's ears turned red but he looked back at her and Alice kept on talking. "Now, I may not believe in SunClan or whatever it's called, and I may think that adding -star to the end of the leader's name is a humiliating way of making them as the leader, and I may think that half of this is the insane word of a crazy tom..." Alice took a breath and RainClan leaned forward, Rainstar ignorant of the fact Alice had just insulted him twice in a row. "But it sounds like you've had adventures - or you are going to have adventures, so I think it's about time for us to get on their way towards the next one."
Rainstar leaned back, confused. So, Alice was kicking them out? But why? While Rainstar was struggling to figure it out, Mara stood up and bumped Alice happily with her muzzle.
"I'm glad you're coming."
"It'll be useful, having you around." Eagle mewed, smiling.
"Yeah, someone needs to help Brownie." Peppermint teased.
"Hey!" Brownie protested.
"It sounds like fun, all these adventures, and there's no way you're leaving me behind!" Alice purred and bumped Mara back.
"Well, I guess you're right, Alice, we'd better get going." Rainstar sighed and heaved himself to his feet.
"Right! Should I bring the herbs, or leave them?" Alice asked happily.
"Brrrr... what?" Rainstar asked. Brownie smiled slightly and leaned over.
"She's joining RainClan, too." He whispered. Rainstar's ears turned red again.
"Right. Well, bring... what you think will be most useful and you can't find anywhere else." Alice nodded.
"Okay, then we leave at sunhigh, that's about when Brownie'll be good." This time, it was Brownie's ears which turned red and he mumbled something. Rainstar purred.
"No need to worry, sunhigh will be perfect."
Rainstar waited in the center of the clearing.
"It's like the first place all over again!" Brownie purred, waiting for the others.
"Yeah, except Mara isn't here." Rainstar purred back. There was silence, not an uneasy one, but still silence.
"Do you think we'll get that lucky with every cat we run into?" Rainstar asked.
"Lucky?" Brownie clearly didn't understand.
"Everyone that we've met so far had joined RainClan." Rainstar explained. "That seems lucky to me."
"Oh. Right, yeah, we've been pretty lucky." Brownie stood up and stretched. "Oh, look there's Alice and Eagle, back from herb collecting." He bounded over to them before Rainstar could ask what he meant. "Hey, what did you get?" Brownie asked.
"Horsetail, chevil, and juniper berries, mainly." Alice listed. "The rest I think we can find on the road."
"Oh." Brownie looked blankly at the plants.
"Peppermint and Mara are off - nevermind, here they come!" On cue, Peppermint and Mara padded into sight.
"Well, then..." Rainstar looked around at the band of cats once they had all arrived. "I guess the only thing to say is... full steam ahead!"
So, the six started their trek. There was a cheerful mood around them, ever more cheerful than before, for Mara had lost her stony mask and was chatting away with Alice. There was a pleasant breeze blowing, ruffling fur and moving leaves, and the sun shone brightly down. RainClan had just alighted upon their favorite topic, where they were going to end up, when there was a suprised yowl from behind them.
Rainstar turned around to see a sheepish Peppermint slink out of a bush.
"Hey, what was that for?" A disembodied voice mewed indignantly.
"Sorry." Peppermint replied, tail down. "I thought you were prey."
"Can't you tell the difference between prey scent and cat scent?" The owner of the voice stepped out of the voice. She was a chubby white and gray she-cat with greenish-yellow eyes.
"My name is Tiffany." The tabby mewed, sitting down heavily. "And who are all you?"
"We're RainClan." Rainstar mewed, smiling.
"Huh?" Tiffany blinked, confused. Eagle, shaking his head slightly but smiling all the same, spoke.
"I'm Eagle, the ginger and white one is Peppermint, the black she-cat is Mara, the black and white she-cat is Alice, the brown tom is Brownie, and the blue-gray tom is our leader, Rainstar." Tiffany nodded.
"And you all call yourselves 'RainClan'?" RainClan mewed confirmation.
"So, where're you going?" Brownie shrugged.
"Who knows?" "But it's going to be fun! We're going to have adventures!" Alice injected brightly.
"Adventures, huh?" Tiffany thought for a moment, eyes closed. Then she suddenly snapped open her eyes and said,
"I'm coming." Everyone stared at Tiffany for a moment. Then, Rainstar opened his mouth.
"Does this mean that you're joining RainClan, too?" Tiffany smiled.
"Yep, leader. Of course, if that's okay with you..." She looked worriedly up at Rainstar.
"Yeah, I mean, of course it's fine..." Rainstar stuttered. Just then a dusty brown tom came over to them.
"Hello sweetie!" Tiffany turned quickly to the tom, eyes dreamy.
"My little mouse, how I've missed you!" The tom said romantically, looking just like Tiffany.
"Oh great..." Mara grumbled quietly.
The two spent a while licking each other and mumbling words of adoration. Rainstar sat politely, waiting for them to finish. Mara and Alice, however, were not as polite and began whispering to each other. After a while, Brownie gave up, too, and started talking to Eagle. Peppermint scooted over to Rainstar.
"Well, this is rather annoying." She whispered. Rainstar turned his head slightly and whispered back.
"Yeah. Is this what being in love is like?" Peppermint shuttered, her fur brushing Rainstar's pelt. Rainstar shivered slightly, smiling. Why do I feel so happy? Is it something in the air? He wondered.
"I hope not..." Peppermint mewed, but she was smiling, too. Rainstar coughed quietly.
"Oh, right!" Tiffany stopped and turned to RainClan. "Daniel, fluffytail, this is RainClan. I joined them." "You what?!" Daniel stared at Tiffany.
"But why, rose blossom?"
"Because they're going to have adventures!" Tiffany's eyes grew dreamy and she looked out at nothing.
"Oh. Well, then, I'm coming, too!" Daniel proclaimed.
"What?!" Mara hissed. "You can't!" Everyone turned to look at the black she-cat.
"Be polite, Mara!" Alice hissed quietly and nudged her friend.
"But they can't!"
"And why not?" Eagle asked quietly. Mara looked up at Eagle, then promptly looked down at her feet.
"Well... um..." She stuttered, faltering under Eagle's gaze. "Because it could be dangerous!" The she-cat finally proclaimed. Rainstar turned his gaze to Tiffany and Daniel.
"Is that okay with you two?" Rainstar mewed, trying to take charge.
"Oh, yes, quite!" Tiffany announced. Daniel dipped his head.
"Then you can join." Rainstar announced, then glanced at Mara. Her face went up in a sneer for a moment, then dropped it and dipped her head. And, by an unspoken command, all eight turned back to the road and began the trail again.
By the time the sun set Rainstar was regretting his choice to allow Daniel and Tiffany to join RainClan. He had been walking next to the lovebirds all day, and had recently discovered that you can only hear 'oh, how I love you my little bumblebee' so many times before it gets really annoying.
Finally, Rainstar couldn't take it anymore.
"Let's find a place to rest. It's sundown, and we'll need it." The others agreed.
"I thought you'd never ask." Mewed Brownie jokingly and sat down with a thump.
"But where?" Asked Alice.
"Um..." Rainstar glanced around. They were still around twoleg nests, but they were much larger and looked more ornate.
"How about over there?" Suggested Eagle, flicking his tail towards an alley between two nests.
"Where in there?" Rainstar couldn't see anything in the alley, save a couple hulking brown shapes.
"In here." Eagle replied and poked his nose into one of the brown shapes. "It's a box." He explained, turning to RainClan.
"But what does it do?" Asked Alice plainly. Eagle smiled.
"Nothing much. It's like a den."
"I'm going in." Peppermint mewed and did so. Rainstar padded over to the 'box'. He pushed the side carefully. It swung back at him and Rainstar jumped back, only to see the wall swing back towards inside the box and eventually settle back where it started. Eagle laughed.
"Like this." He pushed on the wall, and when it swung inside and he followed.
"Oh." Ears burning red, Rainstar copied Eagle and found himself in darkness. He blinked, and soon had adjusted to it. The rest of the Clan came in after him, and they all settled down.
"Nice box." Brownie mewed, pushing on one of the other walls lightly. Eagle smiled and yawned.
"Just what'll do for RainClan." There were a few more mews, but soon, everyone had fallen prey to sleep.
Rainstars' eyes blinked open and he looked around, expecting to see Bluestar, Tallstar, and Crookedstar. Instead he saw the familiar pelts of his Clanmates, sleeping peacefully. Why didn't StarClan call me? Is something wrong? He worried. After a bit he stopped, realizing that worrying wouldn't help.
"I guess I should just try to sleep, then." Rainstar mewed out loud and settled his head on his paws. He closed his eyes and listened to the sounds around him. The breaths of his Clanmates, the quiet whistle of the wind, and the drum of raindrops on the top of the box. Eventually Rainstar yawned and gave up. Maybe I'll go outside, then.
Outside a sheet of rain pattered on the ground. Rainstar, used to rain, looked back at the box. It was darker than before, and rain was running off the top. He climbed on top of a nearby stone and, just for fun, stepped onto the roof of a nearby box. As soon as his paw touched it the roof collapsed. He pulled his paw back, staring wide-eyed at the box. He glanced back at the one they were sleeping under.
"Eh oh." Rainstar mewed. If this box was like their box, then it was going to collapse if any more weight was put on it. He didn't quite know about the rest of the cats, but he, for one, found water being dumped on his head along with bits of... whatever the boxes were made of dumped on his head while he was sleeping.
"Wake up!" He called to RainClan. "The roof is collapsing!" Peppermint yawned mightly and raised her head.
"Is this another warning from StarClan?"
"No, I saw one of the others fall down!" Rainstar shook his head vigorously.
"Uh huh. And does that mean that-" Peppermint was cut off by a splashing sound from outside. She stood up, yawned, and walked outside. Within heartbeats she was helping Rainstar wake up the others.
"The roof is falling down!" Before long, everyone was awake and outside. Just in time for the roof to actually fall down.
"Phew, that was close." Peppermint sighed. "But where'll we sleep now?"
"Um, well, let's look." Rainstar suggested.
"Good idea!" Eagle agreed. "Alice, Mara, and I will go that way to look." He signaled down the path.
"Peppermint and Brownie, can you go that way?" Rainstar flicked his tail in a different direction.
"Sure!" Brownie meowed.
"Great, and I'll go this way!" The searchers has just about disbanded when Daniel spoke up.
"But what about us?" He asked.
"You two can stay here, where we meet." Rainstar decided. The two nodded and Rainstar started down his path, on the hunt for a suitable den.
Rainstar broke into a steady run, stopping occasionally at promising trees and holes. The rain had started falling harder, and, Rainstar assumed, must be getting really annoying for the rest of the Clan. He was just about to head back when a certain twoleg nest caught his eye. It was large, larger than the others, and was surrounded by short grass and mysteriously tidy bushes. But it wasn't the nest that had caught his eye, it was the she-cat. She had her back to the path, and had long, elegant white fur. Maybe she knows a place to sleep. Rainstar hoped.
"Hello!" Rainstar called to the she-cat. There was no response through the rain. "Hello!" He called again, louder. The she-cat's head turned to face him.
"Hello, then." She mewed softly. Rainstar padded over to where she was sitting and jumped up.
"My friends and I are stuck in the rain. We were wondering if you knew any place to spend the night." The she-cat looked at him through blue eyes.
"Well, I sleep with my housefolk." She mewed.
"Oh. Do you think we..." Rainstar trailed off, because the she-cat was shaking her head.
"Oh no. It could never do. You're too dirty. The housefolk dislike dirtiness."
"Is there any other place you know of, then?" He asked despretely. The white cat looked at him again, then nodded.
"Yes, I suppose you could sleep below."
"Below? Where's that?"
"Down below." The she-cat answered simply and flicked her tail leisurely off the side of the wood she was sitting on. Rainstar, who was still wet, jumped down.
"On the ground?" He asked, confused.
"No, no, no. Below." She flicked her tail towards Rainstar again. He blinked and looked down to keep the rain out of his eyes. Then he saw what the she-cat was talking about. Beneath the wood was a large, grassy space enclosed by more wood and protected from the rain.
"Oh. It looks comfy. Could we stay?"
"Yes, yes." The she-cat mewed in her slow, quiet way. Rainstar, relieved, dipped his head.
"Thank you very much."
"Over here?" Peppermint asked. "Are we going inside a twoleg nest?"
"No, below." Rainstar said as the eight swiftly approached the place where the she-cat had been. The she-cat, however, was nowhere in sight.
"Below?" Brownie inquired.
"Yes, below." Rainstar repeated and ducked down under the wood.
"Oh, this looks lovely!" Tiffany gasped. "Don't you think, sweet honey?"
"Charming!" Daniel agreed. The two settled down next to each other. Brownie chose a nest near the back, and Eagle slept right in front of the entrance. Mara and Alice slept in the middle, next to each other. Peppermint joined the other she-cats, but closer to Eagle, so Rainstar made his nest by Brownie.
"What a day, huh?" Rainstar yawned.
"No kidding!" Brownie replied. They looked at each other, smiled, and then laughed.
Rainstar staggered backwards, panting. Crookedstar was fighting again. He braced himself for another attack, but instead, Tallstar stepped forward.
"You have made significant progress." Rainstar blinked.
"Oh, um, thanks." Bluestar purred.
"If you continue on the path that you're on now, then RainClan will become a strong and powerful Clan. But you must remember this..." The air was growing misty, so Rainstar had to strain his ears to hear Crookedstar's words.
"Stay with your Clan. You must stay with them."
"Huh? What do you mean?" Rainstar asked, but he was awake before the leaders could answer.
Back down on the ground, Rainstar rolled over and stood up.
"Good morning, sleepyhead!" Brownie purred from next to him.
"Good morning to you, too, Brownie. Why are you still in your nest?"
"I didn't want to leave. It's still raining out there. Eagle and Peppermint left to catch some prey, and so I've been stuck here."
"Thanks." Rainstar mewed and poked his nose out the exit. Brownie was right, it was still raining. He stepped out and jumped up onto the wooden thing, looking for the she-cat who apparently lived there. She wasn't there, so Rainstar jumped up onto a nearby twoleg object to look around. He looked around, but there was no fluffy white pelt. He turned around, just to see, and saw - nothing. There was a hole into the twoleg nest! Rainstar stepped towards it, meaning to go through, but something stopped him. Something hard. Rainstar stepped backwards, head throbbing.
"What's was that?" He exclaimed and looked at the hole. He could still see inside, so Rainstar reached out a paw. It hit something hard. He sighed. Whatever this is, it doesn't want me to come in. So instead, he just looked. It was a strange place, full of so many weird things that Rainstar almost missed it when the she-cat walked in.
"Oh, there you are!" He mewed happily. The she-cat looked around slowly, confused. "Hello? Can you hear me? I'm up here, behind the mysterious barrier!" The white head finally turned up the Rainstar. She smiled and left the area. "Oh, well, I guess if I'm being annoying..." Rainstar jumped down and sat on the wood, waiting for Eagle and Peppermint to return so they could get on the move.
"Hello." Came a semi-familiar soft voice. Rainstar jumped and turned around to find himself accidently bumping noses with the kittypet. Backing up and ears turning pink, Rainstar mewed.
"Oh, um, hi, um..."
"Arabella." The white cat mewed.
"Arabella. My name is Rainstar." The she-cat - Arabella - smiled slightly.
"Rainstar. What an unusual name."
"Unusual good or unusual bad?" Rainstar asked, keeping his bristles down.
"Unusual good." Arabella confirmed. "There are so many boring names, like Rain and Star, that seeing them put together is quite refreshing."
"Oh, then..." Rainstar felt his ears turning red. Again. In an effort to change the topic, Arabella mewed.
"Who's your friends you mentioned?"
"Well, Brownie, Peppermint, Eagle, Mara, Alice, Tiffany, and Daniel. We call ourselves RainClan."
"Wow, that's a lot!" Arabella looked impressed. "Where're you all going?"
"We don't know."
"Because we need a place to stay."
"Oh, okay. That makes sense." There was a silence.
"Would you like to meet the rest of RainClan?" Rainstar offered. Arabella smiled.
"I would like that very much."
At first Arabella hadn't wanted to come down under, but when Rainstar offered to find some stones so she didn't have to step on the mud, she smiled and said that as long as she kept her feet out of too much dirt, it should be fine. So they - carefully - went down under.
"Well, it certainly is dirty down here." Was Arabella's first comment.
"Who's this, Rainstar?" Brownie asked, standing up.
"This is Arabella. She owns this twoleg nest." Rainstar explained.
"Oh, nice to meet you, Arabella." Brownie dipped his head. Arabella gave a small, short nod in return and then turned to Rainstar.
"Can you introduce me to your... friends?" She looked around over the closely wound together Tiffany and Daniel, the acting-like-kits Mara and Alice, and the dirty Brownie.
"Those two are Daniel and Tiffany. The mainly black she-cat over there is Mara, and the one with more white is Alice. Brownie's, well, Brownie." Rainstar pointed around.
"...enchanted." Arabella mewed.
"Would you like to sit down?" Brownie said, in an effort to be polite.
"No thank you." Arabella declined. Eagle and Peppermint walked in then, loading with prey.
"We got food!" Peppermint announced.
"Fresh from the forest." Eagle smiled. "And who's this?"
"This is Arabella, she owns the twoleg nest." Rainstar repeated.
"Nice to meet you, Arabella. My name is Eagle, and this is Peppermint." Eagle dipped his head, Peppermint right behind. Arabella didn't.
"You eat... that?" She asked, repulsed.
"Yes. Want some?" Offered Rainstar, plucking a crow from Peppermint and settling down. What's wrong? He wondered.
"But that's horrible!" She screeched. Everyone jumped at the yowl. Rainstar dropped the crow and tilted his head.
"Well then, what do you eat?" He asked.
"Mainly fish paste, but sometimes pellets if the twolegs run out."
"What's that?" Eagle asked.
"Fish paste, which tastes like fish, but it doesn't have bones or scales or any of those nasty things, and pellets, which are little brown balls that taste like, well, it depends. Mainly meat." Arabella mewed.
"You mean you eat little brown balls?" Alice asked, partly in amazement, party in disgust.
"She speaks!" Eagle purred quietly.
"Yes, I do." Arabella replied. "I think my housefolk want me. I'll be going now." She picked her way carefully out of the space.
"Well, she's an interesting kittypet." Eagle mewed, sitting down with a mouse.
"Is she going to come along, too?" Brownie asked.
"She doesn't really seem like the type." Commented Alice, taking her own prey.
"How's that?" Rainstar asked, curious.
"Well, you saw the way she looked at the prey, and as for her aversion to dirt..."
"I guess you're right..." Rainstar bit into his crow, thinking about Arabella. Alice is right, she isn't quite the type to come on a journey, but she seems nice enough. I guess that anyone can try, right?
"So, some rain, huh?" Peppermint said.
"Huh? Yeah, it's raining pretty hard, isn't it?"
"We won't be able to go anywhere until it stops, either." Peppermint mewed.
"Well, do you want to walk in it?" And then, they both laughed.
A bit before sundown, Rainstar jumped headed up to the wood, hoping to find Arabella. There was no white pelt in sight, so he found the mysterious shield again and sat in front of it for a while. Still no Arabella, so Rainstar jumped down and -
"Ahh!" Arabella screeched.
"Oh! Sorry." Rainstar replied, stepping backwards quickly. He had accidently landed directly in front of Arabella, startling her into dropping what she had been carrying.
"It's okay." Arabella smiled. "I was just surprised."
"Good. What's that?" Rainstar extended a paw towards the thing that Arabella had brought.
"I'll tell you later. For now, follow me." Smiling, Arabella stooped down to pick up the thick metal hunk she had dropped. Then she walked over to the side of the nest and rounded the corner. Rainstar, following close behind, was surprised to see that the wood curved around the nest. But that wasn't the place. Arabella stepped behind an object and into a black pipe. Rainstar was familiar with these, he had seen several before, but hadn't expected Arabella, who disliked dirt, to step into one! He went in, too, and found that the pipe was angled upwards. Oh. That's why we're in a pipe. When the sunlight finally showed through the pipe, Rainstar gasped.
"We're on top of the nest!" He exclaimed, amazed.
"Beautiful view, isn't it?" Rainstar looked. It was breathtaking. Even through the drizzle of rain that made everything harder to see, there was still a view of trees. Trees and trees and trees, spanning for as far as the eye could see. In the distance, there were some mountains - snow-capped, shining gray mountains. And as a final effect, the sun was setting, sending a halo of light over everything and coloring the skies with pinks and reds and purples.
"I don't think beautiful starts to describe it." He quietly mewed. Arabella purred.
"Glad you like it. Here, I brought some real food." She leaned down over the metal. Real food? Rainstar wondered. Versus what? Fake food? Is she going to... no, it can't... but it still might be... eat the metal? It wasn't. To Rainstar's amazement, she peeled back part of the metal. "Wow, what are you going to do with that?" Rainstar asked. Arabella purred and turned the metal towards him. To his continued amazement, the peeled off part of metal revealed a pink paste that smelled of fish.
"Eat it, of course!" Arabella purred and licked up some.
"Oh." Rainstar dipped his head and carefully touched his tongue to the paste. Arabella watched him, smiling.
"How is it?" She asked. Rainstar licked his lips thoughtfully.
"Once you get past the texture, it's actually pretty good." Was his verdict. Arabella purred, and took another careful mouthful.
So they sat there, sharing the fish paste and watching the sun go down. There was a friendly quiet around the area, broken only by the chirps of birds and wind through the trees. When the twoleg food was done, Rainstar contented himself to watching the sun. After a while he glanced at Arabella. She was looking at him in a special way, in a way that made him feel like hie was the only one in the world...
"Rainstar!" Brownie's call finally broke through.
"Oh." Rainstar looked down at his paws, ears red. "Well, I guess I'd better go now..."
"Okay then. Good night." Arabella mewed quietly, also looking at her paws. Rainstar stood up, stretched, then found his way to the pipe and walked down to RainClan.
"There you are!" Brownie said in relief, noticing Rainstar. "Where were you?"
"On top of the twoleg nest." He replied, smiling. Brownie's stared at him in disbelief.
"You can climb."
"Uh, okay. Anyway, everyone's looking for you! Come on, let's go tell them you're back."
Later that night, when everyone had been found and settled down, Rainstar smiled to himself behind the others quiet talk. The day had been one to remember.
"Remember our warning." Bluestar mewed seriously.
"Huh?" Rainstar replied, confused, as the mist began to surround him.
"Stay with your Cla..." The voice was cut off as Rainstar blinked his eyes open. Stay with your Cla? He wondered and thought backwards. Last night Crookedstar said 'Stay with your Clan.' He probably meant that. But why would I not? He yawned and walked outside.
"Hey, leader!" Alice called, skipping over to him. "I think we can get going soon! Look, the rain's dried up!"
"Maybe." Rainstar yawned again. "If the rain's stopped." There was an amused purr from behind Rainstar.
"Oh, you fluffball." Peppermint laughed. "Open your eyes."
"They are - oh." Rainstar blinked and looked around. It wasn't raining, and the sun was already shining brightly.
"So, can we leave?" Alice asked.
"Is everyone ready?" Rainstar asked in reply. Not stay with my Clan? Ha!
"Well, we have to wake up Brownie, Tiffany, and Daniel, and Mara and Eagle are out hunting, but after that, we're ready."
"Did someone say my name?" Brownie said sleepily, coming up to the conversation.
"Well, there's Brownie." Peppermint purred.
"Great, then we're almost ready to go!" Rainstar meowed. Eventually, the four missing came, they ate, and were prepared to go. A small noise came from behind Rainstar. He turned around to see Arabella standing on the wood, watching them.
"One moment, please." Rainstar padded over to Arabella and jumped onto the wood.
"Are you leaving now?" She asked, voice quieter than usual.
"Yes... I'm really sorry, because I'd really like to stay, but we have to go on, and-" Rainstar started explaining, but Arabella waved her tail over his mouth.
"Oh." There was a silence. "I wish that you could..." Arabella was shaking her head again.
"I could never."
"Oh." There was another silence. "I guess I should get going now..."
"You don't have to. You could stay here, with me."
"And the twolegs?"
"And the twolegs." Rainstar stopped and thought. I can't! But wait, I can, can't I? It's not like StarClan can make me. And... I really like it here. He looked at Arabella. The answer seemed obvious. The word 'yes' was on the tip of his tongue when Rainstar looked back at RainClan. Brownie, Peppermint, and Eagle were laughing, Mara and Alice were happy, and even when trapped their own little world, Daniel and Tiffany radiated happiness. The words of StarClan popped into Rainstar's head. Stay with your Clan. Maybe I... Just then, Peppermint looked over at him and smiled. The answer had changed.
"I-i-i'm very sorry, Arabella. I can't."
"Oh." Arabella looked down sadly.
"Rainstar! Are you coming?" Eagle called.
"I guess I have to go now." Rainstar sighed.
"Well... bye." Arabella looked up, and Rainstar felt as if he was the only one in the world. "Will I ever see you again?"
"I hope so."
"Okay." She looked down.
"Thank you... for everything." Rainstar jumped down and returned to RainClan. As they walked out the gate, Rainstar cast one, long, sad look back at the twoleg nest. Arabella had gone.
"Hey, Rainstar, what's wrong?" Brownie slowed his pace to match Rainstar's.
"Huh?" Rainstar looked up. He had been absentmindly staring at it, thinking about a certain white-furred she-cat.
"You look pretty down."
"Is it that kittypet? Bella? Seemed like you two got along quite well."
"No!" Rainstar protested. Brownie smiled a sideways smile at Rainstar. "Maybe. Probably. Okay, yes."
"I thought so. So, what did you do?" Browniei asked, curious as to what could be making his leader so down.
"Well, she showed me the top of the kittypet nest, we-" Rainstar began in a dreamy voice, only to be cut off by an excited Brownie.
"No way! Top of the kittypet nest?"
"Yeah. There was a beautiful sunset." The two toms stopped talking for a while, Rainstar remembering the moments on the nest and Brownie wondering what it would be like to go up there. Rainstar opened his mouth to say something, but a gasp from farther up in the group cut him off.
"Minty? Minty, are you okay?" Eagle mewed worriedly. Rainstar ran over to the source of the gasp- appearently Peppermint, who was leaning on Eagle with her eyes closed. What happened? Rainstar wondered, mirroring Eagle's next words. "What happened?"
"Don't..." Peppermint gasped. "know..."
"Blood!" Tiffany, standing behind Peppermint, exclaimed and backed behind Daniel.
"You're... bleeding." Daniel stated in a dazed voice, as if he had never seen something like it before. Everyone looked up down to see a puddle of red beneath Peppermint's feet.
"Alice!" Rainstar called. "Can you help?"
"Certainly!" Alice called back. She and Mara were far behind the rest of the group, so she started running.
"First of all, whatever the problem, find a place to lie down!" They hunted and soon found a large pile of rubble nearby, hidden in one of the allies.
"Good." Alice had made it and was directing the Clan healing effort. "Eagle, Mara, find some infection herbs. Mara can tell you what they are. Brownie, Rainstar, find some cobwebs. Tiffany, Daniel, find some bedding. I'll stay here."
"Guys, seriously, I don't - ow!" Peppermint cut herself off by accidently knocking into a rock.
"No, Peppermint, you must rest." Alice mewed gently.
"Coming, Rainstar?" Brownie called. Rainstar purred.
"Right, coming!" He called back and padded over to Brownie. Before long the two had located a patch of spiderwebs and began gathering.
"So, what do you think happened?" Rainstar asked between mouthfuls of cobwebs.
"I dunno. I suppose old wounds just... opened up."
"Can that happen?"
"I dunno. Think we have enough?" Rainstar nodded mutely and gathered all the cobwebs in his jaws. For the journey back, both toms were silent - maybe because their mouths were full of sticky strands. Rainstar, however, wasn't talking because he was thinking. If Peppermint's wounds opened up by just walking, then what about everyone else? Rainstar glaced back at his pelt and a streak of dark red down his side glared back. That would hurt if it opened... and the rest of RainClan had probably fared worse. He shivered, and silently prayed that it would be better in the end.
"Thanks, guys." Alice gratefully accepted the mass of spiderwebs and began to carefully knead them onto the visible gash on Peppermint's flank.
"No problem!" Brownie mewed back cheerfully. Rainstar looked at the cobwebs doubtfully, remembering the time Alice had treated him.
"Aren't you supposed to clean them first?" Alice paused what she was doing and looked up at Rainstar.
"The cobwebs? Why?"
"No, the wounds."
"Just worried." Rainstar avoided Alice’s questioning gaze by looking over at Peppermint, who had been silent the whole time. He quickly saw why. With her back turned and facing the ground, it couldn’t be more obvious that she was ignoring them. The exposed gash down her flank, however, was slowly oozing red.
“She’s been in a bad way lately.” Alice dropped her voice, green-yellow eyes shining with worry. “Be careful what you say.”
"Oh, thanks, Alice." Brownie whispered and ran to the other side of the den. Rainstar looked from Peppermint to Alice to Brownie before following Brownie.
"What did you do that for?" He whispered.
"Well, I have lots of experience with bad moods," Brownie shivered in fear. "And I've found that it's best to avoid them."
"Even Peppermint?!" Rainstar exclaimed, drawing looks from the other side of the alley. He found it hard to imagine gentle, cheerful Peppermint trying to take a chuck out of Brownie's leg.
"Shh! And, you can never quite know."
Then, the bedding patrol came back.
"Hello, Daniel, Tiffany. What's that?" Alice asked, voice up to normal volume.
"Bedding!" Tiffany exclaimed, dropping the fluffy twoleg object she had found in the process.
"We got lucky." Daniel dropped his, too.
"Er, excuse me, but what's that?" Rainstar walked over to the fluffy thing. A curious prod proved it to be quite soft, and Rainstar jumped back. Tiffany laughed.
"They're called blankets, and no, they don't bite."
"Oh." Rainstar mewed and retreated back to the corner of the alley, turning red. Again.
"You were so clever to find them, bumblebee!" Tiffany exclaimed, turning to Daniel.
"No, you were, rose blossom!" There was a groan from Peppermint and she flopped over. Rainstar rushed over and stood next to Alice where she was franticly checking the cobwebs.
"Peppermint! What's wrong?" Rainstar questioned.
"So..." She groaned.
"So what, Peppermint?" Alice asked in her calm, down to earth healing voice.
"So... very... annoying!" She gasped out and flopped again. Then she was laughing. Rainstar sat down on his hind legs and purred.
"You had us really worried there for a second, Peppermint." Then he started laughing, and soon everyone was.
Except, of course, for Daniel and Tiffany, who simply looked around in confusion at all the laughter. And this only made them laugh more.
Later that night, when everyone has assembled in their makeshift camp, Rainstar looked up at the stars next to Eagle.
"Hey Eagle?" He asked.
"Hm?" The white tom turned his head.
"What do you think the stars are?" Rainstar had been thinking, and had only that night realized the connection between the sparkling points of light and the mystical cats who visited him in his dreams.
"That's a good question. My parents thought that they were where lives waited to find a new body. My best friend's family thought that they were birds that had flown so high that they landed on the sun, and now lived up there. I asked our leader once, and he said that the stars were a mystical land where strange and magical creatures roamed." Eagle replied, his amber eyes clouding over with wistfulness.
"But what do you think?" Rainstar repeated.
"I think that they're all right, in a way." There was a silence. "How about you?"
"I'm not quite sure. This is the first time I've ever really looked and thought about it." Rainstar admitted. "But I think that maybe StarClan has something to do with it."
"StarClan, huh?" Eagle smiled in amusement.
"Do you believe in StarClan, Eagle?" Rainstar asked, picking up on the smile.
"No offence on whatever answer I give you?" Eagle asked in reply.
"Well, no. But I believe that StarClan rests with you, and that's where it counts." There was another silence, but this time is was deeper, as both toms pondered this. Then Rainstar opened his mouth again.
"I know that you and Alice don't believe, but what about the rest of the Clan? What do they think?"
"I don't think that they quite believe in StarClan, either." Eagle replied, smiling again. Rainstar thought through all the members of RainClan so far - Peppermint would probably think the same as Eagle, Mara would also agree with those two, Tiffany and Daniel wouldn't give it a second thought, Eagle and Alice had confessed that they didn't believe, and Brownie... Rainstar thought about Brownie for a moment.
"I think that Brownie does."
"He took me seriously when I first told him." Eagle turned around to look at Brownie, and so did Rainstar. He was sitting next to Peppermint, trying to coax her to take a mouse. When she refused for a final time, he sighed in defeat and lay down next to the ginger and white tabby.
"Actually..." Eagle began. "Actually, I think you're right." Rainstar cocked his head, but since he was lying down, Eagle couldn't see. So Rainstar asked instead.
"Why do you think that?"
"Well, based on what you've told me, it seems like Brownie was lonely."
"Lonely? What? How? What does this have to do with StarClan?" Eagle laughed.
"You're full of questions today, aren't you?" Rainstar just kept on looking at Eagle curiously, so he went on. "Yes, lonely. He had no friends, no family - or at least none that important that he couldn't just stand up and walk away from at a moment's notice. But, you've noticed, Brownie likes everyone, so he would easily catch at the first opportunity to make a friend. And you came along, and, at least as I've heard, helped him out. So then you give him an offer to be important, get a friend or many more, he would accept that StarClan can give out magical powers if he can get that." Eagle sighed. "Personally, I think his strategy has worked very well, don't you?"
"Seems like it." Rainstar snuck another glance at Brownie. He was watching Peppermint through half-closed eyes and smiling as she finally took a bite of the fresh-kill.
"Well, whatever - wherever StarClan is, be it with the flaming birds or not, it's been doing a pretty good job."
"For Brownie, at least."
"Even better. For all of us."
"You've done well." Bluestar purred when Rainstar entered the misty forest of StarClan.
"What this time?" He asked.
"You listened, stayed with your Clan, instead of with the other." Tallstar explained. Rainstar's thoughts drifted to the other - Arabella, the snowy white she-cat...
"Hello! Rainstar!" Crookedstar yowled and the tom in question jumped. "Good, you're listening now."
"I was just saying that today we could hunt." Tallstar mewed, smiling.
"Oh, okay." Rainstar consented, but through that training bout, his thoughts kept on returning to two she-cats - Arabella and Peppermint.
Rainstar woke up with a jolt. He has just missed a mouse when Bluestar had given an annoyed sigh and said, "If you're really that worried, go and see her." Who? Arabella? She's way behind us! Rainstar glanced around at the sleeping bodies of his Clanmates, and then realized that someone was missing.
"Peppermint?" He called softly. The thick blanket nest that they had made was deserted. Rainstar decided to try tracking, and took a sniff of the blankets. The path led him around the alley, up a fence, back around and back to the alley, down the street-
"If you're looking for me, I'm up here." Came an amused purr. Rainstar looked up and saw Peppermint sitting a cat-length above him. He turned red and scrambled up next to her.
"What did you come up here for?" Peppermint asked when Rainstar was up.
"Just looking for you." Rainstar replied. Peppermint gave him a sideways look. "What are you doing up here?"
"I... I just had to get away from it all." Peppermint said, turning slightly pink. "All the special attention, all the 'Does it still hurt, Peppermint?' 'Eat this, Peppermint.' 'Go lie down and act like a helpless kit, Peppermint!' " She spat out the last part with such anger that Rainstar jumped back. "Sorry."
"It's fine." The steely-blue tom settled himself down again. "I think that they were just trying to help, though." Peppermint snorted, but her eyes were thoughtful. There was a silence, filled only by the sound of the wind and boxes crashing into each other in the nearest alley. "You know, I could teach you how to fight. Crookedstar's strict, but he's good at fighting."
"Yes, let's learn from Crookedstar, shall we?" Peppermint laughed. "Yep, sounds good."
"Alright then... uh, swipe at me." Rainstar wasn't so sure how to teach fighting - or anything, for that matter - but he was willing to try. Peppermint did.
Rainstar collapsed, laughing, onto the ground. Peppermint jumped on him and started laughing, too.
"Alright, you win." Rainstar gasped.
"Yes! I win! Take that!" Peppermint laughed and got up. Rainstar followed suit, and after a while they stopped. "Oh, I haven't had so much fun since I was a kit!"
"Yeah, really fun."
"In fact, I think that after the last time I had that much fun I was stuck inside the den for a moon, if that gives you any idea." There was a laugh from both of them, Peppermint remembering and Rainstar imagining situations where someone could get in so much trouble.
"It gives me a pretty good idea."
"Yeah, Fluff and Snake were sooo mad..." Peppermint's head dropped a little bit. "I miss them." Rainstar nodded, not knowing wheather or not to say anything. "I miss my friends and my older siblings. Well, at least I have Eagle." Peppermint sighed. "Do you ever miss your family, Rainstar?"
"No." Rainstar mewed shortly. He could only remember one time when he had ever missed his family, and that was when he was a kit.
"Really?" Peppermint mewed, curiousity in her voice. "Why not?"
"I don't want to talk about it." Rainstar replied. He liked Peppermint, really liked her, but he was trying to never think about his past again. There was plenty in the future and present to care about.
"Oh. Okay." A silence. "Are you sure?"
"Yes." Rainstar was starting to get really annoyed.
"Well, I mean, I'd really like to... know." Peppermint trailed off when she saw Rainstar standing up.
"I don't want to talk about it means exactly that." He growled. "I'm going to back to sleep now." Rainstar jumped off the wall and stalked off to his nest, waiting axiously for the sun to rise. It was only much later in the night that Rainstar realized the 'her' that Bluestar had been referring to was Peppermint. And then, he didn't really care.
The next morning, after everyone had woken up and were enjoying their mouse and drink of water that flowed down the side of the path, Rainstar glanced around at RainClan. Peppermint was looking at him. When he looked back, she gazed down at her robin and took a bite. There had been a civil silence between the two, even though he sensed that Peppermint wanted to talk. And, truth be told, he wanted to talk, too, but couldn’t bring himself to. Rainstar shook his head. What he needed to figure out was where RainClan would go next. StarClan hadn’t given him the slightest clue, and Rainstar didn’t know what to do if the path ended.
Just then, Tiffany bounded into the alley, overflowing with excitement.
“Oh, oh, oh!” The chubby she-cat exclaimed breathlessly. “Me and Daniel were having our morning walk when… when… oh, it’s so big!”
“What?” Rainstar, confused, was brought out of his worrying.
“Water!” Tiffany exclaimed. “So much of it! It was bigger than the twolegplace, at least!”
“Really?” Alice asked, fascinated.
“Oh, yes! Daniel’s waiting by where we saw it, so that everyone can come and look!” Rainstar glanced around at the rest of his Clan. Some faces were skeptical, some were excited, and one was not looking at all, but rather still at a robin.
“I say we go look.” Rainstar announced. “What does everyone else think?”
“Yes! It’s what I came to see in the first place!” Alice agreed.
“Well…” Eagle held his skeptical expression. “I can’t see how it would hurt.”
So, RainClan finished their mice, birds, and whatever else they were eating, and followed Tiffany to the place with the mythical huge water.
She led them down a winding path, in between bushes, though alleys, and over boxes until they saw the dusty brown pelt signaling they were at the tiny journey’s end.
“Come on!” Daniel called and Tiffany bounded over to him. Rainstar followed and found himself on top of a piece of rock jutting out over another twolegplace.
“Wow.” He mewed in a voice full of wonder. The nests were the size of a paw, in all the colors of a sunny field, and the twolegs were like little ants, running around in the field looking for their grain.
“It’s better.” Daniel purred and flicked his tail farther up. Rainstar looked up and saw…
“Wow.” He repeated.
The huge water was real, and huge. It was larger than the twolegplace, larger, it seemed, then all the twolegplaces in the world. Just a huge puddle of water, continuiously rippling and flowing. In the distance, there was a small sliver of land visible, with more twoleg nests and a forest.
"Can I be the first to say this?" Alice purred excitedly. "Let's go down there."
"How do we do that?" Brownie asked plainly.
"We climb down." Eagle decided after studying his surroundings.
"We walk down." Tiffany said at the exact same time after looking around. The two looked at each other, surprised. "Climb down? That's too dangerous!" Tiffany finally spoke.
"It's not to dangerous! Look!" Eagle flicked his tail towards the edge of the rock. Rainstar looked down and saw that it wouldn't be a hard climb, but it would be very bad for anyone who fell. "Plus, walking around would take a quarter moon."
"Not if we go the other way, and climbing is to too dangerous!" Tiffany replied, the hair on her back starting to rise. Okay, too far. Rainstar thought.
"Relax, you two." He mewed, stepping in between the two and lying his tail on Eagle's shoulder. Tiffany's fur went down quickly and she turned pink. Eagle, too, looked embarrassed at fighting over something like that. "We'll figure this out."
"Then how are we going to get down, o great leader?" Alice asked in a partly mocking tone, smiling. Rainstar sighed.
"We can climb down at some point, but not here..."
"How about we walk until we find a safe place to climb?" Daniel suggested. Everyone turned to look at him, semi-shocked.
"You two certainly are being helpful today!" Rainstar purred after a heartbeat.
"What are you guys stalling for? We have an adventure to go on!" Alice called, already several fox-lengths down the path. Most purred at that, and they started down to the huge water.
They walked until sunhigh, and were just getting to the point where Rainstar was wondering if it would be worth the risk of falling if they just climbed down, and if he did, who would follow him when Mara tapped Alice on the shoulder and flicked her tail towards the edge.
"Great! Good find, Mara." Alice purred. "Look, everyone, a shallow climb!" Rainstar padded over to the edge and looked down. This decent just looked like a rocky hill, slanted and covered in rocks.
"It looks like a good place." Eagle mewed, walking over. "Good find, Mara." Mara's ears turned pink and she mumbled something that no one could really make out.
"Well, Rainstar? It's your call." Brownie looked over at Rainstar hopefully.
"Sure, let's go!" Rainstar jumped down the hill and landed on a nearby rock. The Clan followed him. It was a long climb, but Rainstar had fun going down, and he was pretty sure most everyone else on the climb did too. Actually, it was less of a climb than a slide or a run down a hill, except that there were rocks to stop you if you fell too far. By the time they had all reached the bottom, Rainstar was exhausted and happy.
"Phew! That was some climb!" Alice gasped at the bottom of the hill.
"You said it!" Tiffany agreed, licking scraps of dirt and plants out of her fur.
"We should rest now." Eagle suggested.
"Good idea." Rainstar agreed and they settled down to relax a little bit.
Sadly, the relaxing didn't last very long, because not soon after everyone was lying or sitting down a huge noise, like the squack of an angry bird but hundreds of times louder, rang through the twolegplace. Peppermint was shocked into saying something for the first time that day.
"What was that?!" She gasped.
"I don't know!" Eagle replied.
"Well, I know what we're going to do about it!" Alice smiled and some groaned. But there was no stopping the she-cat, so they all stood up and prepared to find the source of the noise.
"I think that that was an angry twoleg." Daniel mewed as they walked along. "They can get really loud."
"I think it was a giant bird." Rainstar offered, because that was exactly what it had sounded like to him.
"I've only heard noises like that during thunderstorms!" Brownie gasped, still amazed.Theories were traded and discussed at such a rapid pace that by the time they were halfway to the huge water, everyone was sure of their private theory and only became more confident the more they talked. When they finally reached the huge water, there was a giant white, well, twoleg blob sitting on the water like a duck. Silence.
"Well, that looks like a duck." Rainstar said, breaking the quiet.
"Nah, ducks have beaks. Besides, how do we know - " Brownie, sure of his theory, was cut off by the honking noise, this time much louder, and everyone turned to look at the duck-blob.
"What is that?" Peppermint wondered out loud, voicing the question that everyone had been thinking."Let's go look." Alice mewed decisively and set out towards the thing. She didn't get very far, however, because a stream of twolegs walked on, some carrying or dragging huge lumps in their paws, walked up a piece of wood and into the thing.
"It's a monster! For the water!" Brownie smiled. "Of course!"
"Should we get on?" Rainstar asked, gazing up at the water-monster thoughtfully.
"Hmm..." Was the general reply. The water-monster called again and Rainstar jumped, but he was getting used to it.
"Come on, Skipper! The boat's leaving soon!" A young voice mewed behind RainClan. Rainstar turned to look and saw three cats walking across the edge of the water towards the water-monster.
"No, it always has to wait awhile for those slow uppers." Another younger cat answered.
"Well, whatever the situation, kits, we need to get on soon anyway, so move it!" The biggest of the three stopped the argument and gave a young white tom with a dark brown muzzle a lick on the head. The other young cat, a she-cat, walked over to Rainstar and looked up at him.
"Hi!" She mewed, and Rainstar looked down at the little she-cat. He didn't know where they were going next, but he got a sense that these cats would help him.
"Hi." He replied and smiled.
"Hey, Night, who'd you find?" The white tom scuttled over to the she-cat, seemingly called Night.
"I dunno, a stranger, I guess."
"Ooh, strangers! Hi, strangers! I'm Skipper, this is my sister Night, and back there is my mom, Water!" Skipper introduced. Rainstar was at a loss for words, so, with a smiling shake of his head, Eagle stepped forward.
"We're a group of travelers. We call ourselves RainClan."
"Are you all named RainClan?" Night asked in awe. "Wow! That's lucky!" Eagle chuckled.
"No, we call ourselves RainClan as a group. I'm Eagle, and this is Brownie, Peppermint, Mara, Alice, Tiffany, Daniel, and our leader, Rainstar." Eagle flicked his tail at everyone in turn.
"If he's the leader, then why isn't he the one talking?" Skipper asked, head cocked. Rainstar turned red and Eagle laughed.
"Because, erm..." Rainstar started but couldn't think of a good reason. Thankfully, he didn't need to just at that moment because of Brownie.
"Hi! You must be Water!" Brownie said. The older she-cat, a brown brindle tabby, had come forward and was standing behind her kits.
"Yes, I'm Water." Water dipped her head and Brownie dipped his back.
"Hello." Rainstar, feeling a need to say something else due to the two kits, spoke. "We're called RainClan, and we're trying to get somewhere."
"Really? Where is this somewhere?" Water asked, amused.
"We don't know, exactly. But I think it's our new home."
"Oh, well then!" Water mewed and left it at that. The water-monster called again.
"Mommy, the boat! It's leaving soon!" The black brindle she-cat called Night complained.
"Then, I guess we'd better go. It was nice to meet you RainClan." Water dipped her head and turned to go.
"Wait!" Brownie called. Rainstar turned to look at Brownie. There was an odd look in his eyes, something Rainstar hadn't seen before... or at least, not in a long time. Water, Skipper, and Night looked at the brown tom. "Can we come?" Surprisingly, there was no argument from the rest of RainClan.
"Ooh, Mommy, can they?" Night asked, excited.
"Yeah! It would be so much fun to have company on the boat!" Skipper agreed and bounced around her feet. Water looked to be thinking hard. After a few heartbeats, Rainstar added.
"If it would be a bother, then we'll go around the huge water. It's no problem." Water opened her eyes.
"Huge water? Oh, nevermind. Sure, come along. What harm could it do?"
"YAY!" Cheered the two kits in unison and, privately, Rainstar.
"You have to hurry, then, the boat will be leaving soon." Water said and bounded up the wood the twolegs came. Rainstar glanced back at his Clan. They were ready. He smiled and bounded up onto the water-monster, RainClan right behind him.
The journey across the huge water took a quarter-moon. At first sea-sicknesses was all the rage, but after a while it settled down. During that time, Rainstar learned how to fish, and in exchange, showed Night and Skipper what a cat with his tail on fire looked like. Peppermint and Rainstar made up, and spent more time running on the top of the boat together then the journey so far had taken. Alice, purring, pointed out to Rainstar how Brownie and Water spent every spare moment with each other, learning to fish, telling stories... Rainstar himself (though with help from Peppermint) noticed Eagle visiting Mara more often. They spent the day hiding from the twolegs on the boat, napping, or playing on the roof. At night, they had full run of the water-monster, which RainClan learned was called a 'boat'. One night Mara and Eagle discovered that the door to the place with the twoleg food was open. Everyone had a stomachache the next day. Rainstar learned, from Night and Skipper, that they were from a long line of boat-cats, who spent their whole life on the boats. Their father had drowned after falling off the boat in the middle of a storm. On the last night of the trip, RainClan and friends gathered on the roof of the boat and spent one final night savoring the sea air and watching the waves roll. So, it was a sad time when they had to disembark off the boat.
Rainstar balanced himself on the railing on the edge of the boat. "Hey, Peppermint, watch this!" He called. Peppermint, smiling, turned to look. He ran along the railing, gaining speed, and jumped towards a box a couple of foxlengths away. He fell just short, with only his front claws landing on the wood. Rainstar scrambled up the side, panting with the effort. Peppermint giggled.
"You certainly are accomplished." Rainstar blushed. During the boat trip, he had grown to really like the ginger and white she-cat.
"Thanks." He looked out over the water to the rapidly approaching shore. "It's too bad we're landing so soon."
"Yeah." Peppermint agreed. The two thought for a moment over the last quarter-moon. "I think I'm going to go spend some time with Water, Skipper, and Night before we land."
"Alright." Peppermint left and Rainstar was left on his own to look over at the railing and the water. I'll go practice the railing thing again. I almost got it last time! He decided and leaped over to the railing. Running back and forth, Rainstar managed to figure out how to turn around before jumping. Finally, he sat down next to the water. An odd smell entered the air.
"What's that?" Rainstar sniffed. He'd smelled it before, but just couldn't put his paw on it... Oh well. Probably some twoleg food or something. Rainstar jumped up to the railing and started practicing again. Something rocked the boat and he stopped and looked down into the water. The boat had reached the shore. Just then, Rainstar felt a something push on his back and he wobbled. Back and forth, trying to keep his balance.
"Help!" Rainstar screeched and he fell down into the water below.
He plunged beneath the surface. At first, the shock of the icy cold was too much, and he was frozen. Then when Rainstar resurfaced he sputtered and gasped for air. A wave knocked him under again.
"Rainstar!" Came a horrified voice from above. He looked up to see Peppermint and Skipper looking down.
"Help!" He yowled. Skipper vanished and Rainstar went under.
"Swim towards -" Peppermint shrieked, but he went under again and didn't hear the rest of the sentence.
"Swim towards what?" He yowled.
"Shore!" Rainstar looked around, panicked. Shore shore shore shore shore shore shore. The word kept on repeating in his head. A strip of sand bobbed in and out of his sight and Rainstar began to run towards it. The stroke came naturally, and the distance between him and the sand shrunk. But not fast enough. Rainstar found it harder and harder to breathe, and white began to gather beneath his eyelids.
"Hold on, Rainstar!" Called Night from the shore and dove in.
"We're coming!" Skipper mewed and followed her sister. Behind the two, Water bolted towards the water. Rainstar gave a terrified yowl as a huge wave crashed down on him. He flailed at the water once more and went under. THe whiteness spread. Rainstar came up one more time, but went down almost instantly. He gave one final flail and went limp just as Night reached his body.
Night dove underwater and snagged the blue-gray pelt of the leader. She turned around and swam up the surface. Skipper had reached her.
"Here, let me help." Skipper bit down on Rainstar's front leg and Night released her grip to get the other. They swam halfway to shore before meeting Water, who took the limp tom the rest of the way and lay him out on the shore.
"Is... is he alive?" Peppermint asked nervously. Alice stepped over and Mara did, too. Mara put her paws on Rainstar's chest and pushed. Water came out of his mouth. Push, squirt, push, squirt.
"Thanks, Mara." Alice mewed and looked down with sad eyes. She leaned down and put her ear down to Rainstar's chest. Her eyes grew large.
"No. Please, no." She whispered. But it was true. There was no steady thump.
"Rainstar is dead."
Meanwhile, the supposedly dead cat's vision was clearing up in the realm of StarClan. When Rainstar opened his eyes, he saw Bluestar, Tallstar, and Crookedstar.
"Am I almost dead, or sleeping?" Rainstar asked before any of the could answer.
"None of the above." Tallstar purred.
"You're dead." Crookedstar announced.
"What? I don't feel dead..." Rainstar looked down at himself, puzzled. Bluestar sighed.
"Remember when I told you you had 9 lives?"
"Oh!" Rainstar blushed. "Right! So... shouldn't I be down with my friends?"
"No, you just died." Crookedstar explained. Kinda.
"But I thought I had 8 lives left."
"Now you have 7, and yes, you should be. But you need to come up here to heal." Tallstar explained more throughly.
"Oh. Er, I have a question. How did you know I was going to die then?" Rainstar asked.
"Because we were watching." Bluestar mewed and smiled.
"The dream pool." Tallstar turned to look pointedly at the puddle of misty water a ways off.
"Er, if this isn't too much to ask, can I...?" Even Crookedstar smiled at that.
"Sure." Bluestar agreed and Rainstar walked over to look. When he looked down, Bluestar breathed out one word.
"RainClan." The water in the pool swirled and mist rose off it. Once the mist cleared, Rainstar could clearly see what was going on below. RainClan was, well, sad. Tiffany had buried her face in Daniel's fur, and he was saying something - supposedly comforting. Eagle had bowed his head and seemed silent. Alice was shaking her head as if she couldn't believe it. Mara just stared at Rainstar's dead body. Peppermint's eyes were blurred with water and she was repeating something to herself. The boat cats had bowed their heads. Then, Water lifted hers and said something. It seemed as if most of RainClan agreed.
"What are they saying?" Rainstar asked the nearest leader, Tallstar. Tallstar shrugged.
"I don't know. The dream pool does not have sound. But we're about to find out." Rainstar looked back at the pool.
The boat cats took a step towards Rainstar's body. Brownie ran over in front of it and shook his head. Water said something. Brownie shook his head harder and tears began to form in his eyes.
"Oh dear." Bluestar frowned. "It seems as if they are going to push your body into the sea."
"What?!" Rainstar exclaimed. "But I can't swim!"
"Yeah, then you'd better get down there." Crookedstar mewed.
"Alright then, I'll go down." Rainstar agreed. The starry world grew misty and suddenly Rainstar found himself back in his body by the shore.
Peppermint was looking at Brownie with sad eyes. "Oh, Brownie, I want to believe as much as you do, but we all know that StarClan doesn't really exist." She mewed quietly.
"No! You're wrong!" Brownie shook his head vigorously. "It exists!"
"We all know it doesn't." Alice sighed.
"Being sent into the sea is how the most honored of boat-cats have gone." Water explained.
"It exists! It has to! Otherwise, why would Rainstar say it did?" Brownie asked viciously.
"Well, one theory is I'm insane, another is I was taking a normal dream too seriously, but personally, I think it's because I met StarClan." Rainstar said from behind Brownie. Everyone jumped.
"R-r-rainstar! You're... alive?" Brownie stuttered.
"Well, yeah. I think so. I mean, if I wasn't alive, I couldn't be standing here, right?" Rainstar smiled at the rest of RainClan and the boat cats, who seemed even more shocked than Brownie. "Well?" He asked.
"Does this mean that Brownie was right? StarClan is real?" Alice asked, awed.
"I'm pretty sure. Anything else?"
"What is StarClan?" Night mewed curiously, the only one who wasn't shocked.
"First, let's find a place to rest. Something tells me that this is going to be a long story." Water sighed. Everyone agreed.
"So that about sums it up." Rainstar concluded his tale. He had noticed that, not only were the boat cats listening intently, the rest of RainClan was, too, like they had never heard it before. Always the fastest one to speak, Night jumped in right away with a question.
"So you saw us all in a puddle?"
"Yeah, but I think it was a very special puddle." Rainstar could imagine Night and Skipper staring into a puddle and whispering names, waiting for an image to appear.
"Uh... it showed pictures."
"But did it look any different from a normal puddle?" Night prodded. "If you saw it on the ground, for example, would you know that that was the puddle?"
"Uh... I don't think so... it was really misty..."
"Aw." Night looked down sadly. "I wanted to find it."
"Hey, Night! If we find a misty puddle, then maybe that's the dream pool!" Skipper pointed out, bouncing up and down with excitement. Here was where Water stepped in.
"Now now, kits, the puddle is only in StarClan." She mewed, eyes still glassy with surprise and wonder.
"Then we'll go to StarClan!" Night proclaimed.
"Yeah!" Skipper agreed. "We'll go to StarClan and then look at everyone in the dream pool!"
"Why not just stand over there and look at everyone?" Alice suggested and flicked her tail over to a rock. She had recovered fairly well.
"Because the dream pool is a pool!"
"Yeah! And... Hey, that rock does look like fun..." The two younger cats surveyed the nearby rock. "I'm going to beat you there!"
"Will not!" The two raced off.
"They don't seem very bothered." Rainstar noted, watching them streak over the ground.
"Well, you know kits!" Water purred.
"Excuse me for interuptting, but that was an interesting story you just told. Might I ask where you heard it?" An old-sounding voice asked from somewhere above RainClan. Rainstar looked up to see a gray tabby, going white, looking down at them from high atop another rock.
"Erm, we lived it." Rainstar said, surprised at the sudden appearance of the tabby she-cat.
"Certainly you did." The she-cat purred. "I'm going to come down now."
"Um... Okay." Rainstar looked around at his Clan and shrugged. It was then that Peppermint spoke for the first time in a long while.
"Well, we certainly have met a lot of new friends recently."
"What can I do about it?" He asked, and then smiled. Peppermint was right. They had met a lot of new friends recently, and even if they didn't come along, they would still be there. As a friend.
"I'm Milly. I was a boat cat in my younger days, and I would see the world from the front of the boat." Milly, the old tabby she-cat, introduced herself by telling them her past. "I saw everything. I lived on that boat until 20 moons ago, when I retired to sit on the shore and tell stories to those who'll listen. And who are you?"
"I'm Rainstar, and this is my Clan. Well, Water, Skipper, and Night aren't, but almost."
Sighing, Eagle stepped forward and the usual rounds of explaination was tossed around. "...and we're also currently looking for new members." He finished with.
"Ah. Well then, count me in!" Milly purred.
"Already?" Rainstar asked, surprised.
"Well, sure! It'll be just like the old days, seeing the world, meeting new faces, then retiring to do almost nothing." Peppermint giggled.
"Welcome to RainClan, then." Eagle greeted.
"Now then," Milly flopped to the ground and started speaking a buisness-like manner. "Now that that's settled, where are we off to?"
"No clue." Rainstar admitted. "Right now, we're just looking for a place to spend the night."
"That's easy. Under there!" Milly flicked her tail to a hole beneath a twoleg nest.
"Mommy, come look at this!" One of the kits broke into the conversation. Water stood up and looked over at the two, shaking her head.
"Better go see what they found." She purred and wandered off.
"Well, as long as we're here, why don't we get something to eat?" Eaglewing suggested.
"Sounds good!" Purred Milly. "Seeing as I know where all the good food is around here, I'll go get it. Rainstar, little brown tom," Brownie perked up at hearing himself mentioned. "And black she-cat, you're coming with me." Mara nodded and Milly led the three on a winding walk right back down to the water.
"Are we there yet?" Brownie asked.
"No." Mara mewed shortly.
"Ah, yes. Here we are!" Milly stopped in front of a large silver bin. "Time to eat."
"Do we eat the bin?" Rainstar asked after a moment's silence.
"No, of course not!" Milly laughed. "Follow me." She jumped up on a stack of boxes on one side of the bin, hooked a paw under the lid of it, and flipped it over. The smell of fish wafted out and Rainstar suddenly felt hungry. He was the first one up after Milly, then Brownie, then Mara. Milly reached down and brought up a sparkling silver fish.
"And this is how I hunt." Milly fished out another and jumped down. Following suit, Rainstar leaned down and, to his surprise, found his claws sinking into something soft. He picked it up.
"Hey, it works!"
"Naturally." Milly purred. "I trust you know how to make your own way back?"
"Think so." Rainstar replied, jumping down. He turned around just in time to see Mara give Brownie a tiny bump.
"Woah!" Brownie mewed in surprise and toppled over into the bin. Mara smiled quietly and picked up her fish. I guess they haven't forgotten their old rivalry yet. Rainstar thought.
"Brownie!" He darted up the boxes as the pusher went down. He looked in. Brownie was sitting on a pile of fish, cleaning himself hastily.
"I'm going to smell like fish for ages!" He complained.
"Just as well." Rainstar had to purr. "Come out now, Brownie, we should get back to everyone else."
"Okay." Brownie gave his chest a final lick and, with some difficulty, clambered out. Rainstar collected his scattered fresh-kill and the two headed back. Along the way, a conversation started up.
"So, do you think that Water, Skipper, and Night will be coming along?" Rainstar asked as they walked.
"I think..." Brownie thought. "I think... I think that maybe they will."
"Yes... They all love the ocean, but earlier, Water told me that she wanted to know what was beyond the waves. She's never been anywhere but there, you know."
"Anyway, what do you think about fish?" They happily chatted about fish VS. mice for the rest of the walk. When they got back, Eagle, Mara, and Milly had left, leaving Skipper and Night bouncing around like terrified rabbits, except not terrified, just throughly excited.
"Hey, Brownie and Rainstar!" Night called.
"Come see!" Skipper yowled, squeaking in happiness. Rainstar and Brownie exchanged an amused look and dropped off their food with the others.
"Oh, is that fish?" Water asked, smiling at the two.
"Yeah." Rainstar replied.
"We fished it out of a trash bin." Brownie admitted weakly, looking at his paws.
"Don't worry. I'll teach you how to fish." Water promised and Brownie lifted his head, looking into her eyes.
"I know how to fish." Rainstar offered, but neither of them replied for a moment. "Hello?" He asked, a little worried.
"Huh?" Brownie snapped his gaze away. "Oh, sorry." Peppermint could barely contain a laugh as she tapped Rainstar's shoulder with her tail. Rainstar looked over at her.
"I think Skipper and Night would like to show you what they found now." She suggested and they four - Rainstar, Peppermint, and the two siblings - headed towards a large rock on the edge of the twolegplace.
Night and Skipper jumped up the rock eagerly, scrambling and slipping, until they reached the top. With a smile, Peppermint followed, bounding up with grace, short ginger and white fur rippling as the wind passed through. For a moment, Rainstar just stood there. Then, Skipper's head peeked out at him, a questioning look on his face.
"What'cha waiting for, Rainstar?" Shaking himself, Rainstar followed. Once he reached the top, he looked around curiously. Rainstar was about to say he didn't see anything when Peppermint tapped him and signaled in the oppesite direction. Looking around, Rainstar saw a forest. Brown trunks somewhere uphill went on until the little light let through the leaves wasn't enough, and it turned to darkness.
"Is that what you found?" He asked.
"Yep!" Night replied, nodding vigorously. Squinting closer, Rainstar could see three small figures, coming down back towards them.
"Hey, the patrol is coming back!" Skipper said, looking at the three.
"Better go back." Peppermint purred and jumped down, Night and Skipper at her heels. Rainstar gave one final glance at the forest before following them back down to the others.
"How was it?" Alice asked Mara. Mara smiled.
"It was exactly like a forest's supposed to be." Milly explained.
"It's where we should go next." Night proclaimed. Skipper nodded vigorously.
"Why do you think that?" Eagle asked.
"Um..." Skipper's ears turned pink. "I saw it in a dream..."
"Did you?" Eagle looked at them curiously. "Why didn't you tell us?"
"Because Mommy said that only Rainstar had magical dreams." Skipper said quietly.
"Appently, only mostly." Brownie said.
"So you think that StarClan sent it, too?" Night asked, beginning to bounce.
"For what it's worth, I think that they did." Rainstar added, thinking his mentors.
"Do you?" Skipper said hopefully.
"Yeah." Rainstar replied.
"But, kits, remember, the forest is dangerous." Water tried to warn, but her kits ignored her.
"Imagine if something in there tries to attack us!" Night said, crouching low.
"We'll take care of it, won't we?" Skipper joined his sister, sneaking up on the nearest cat - Tiffany. Skipper pounced on Tiffany's tail, Night pounced on Skipper, Tiffany and Skipper yowled in surprise, and almost everyone smiled.
"Why's you do that?" Skipper complained.
"'Cause you were attacking us." Night replied, giving her chest a satisfied lick.
"No I wasn't! I was protecting us!" The two started arguing.
"Well, let's eat now, shall we?" Milly suggested. There was a round of agreement and RainClan settled down to eat before their trip into the woods.
When Rainstar woke up the next morning, Water was the only one awake. He was going to go fetch some fish when Water spoke to him.
"Good morning, Rainstar." She said, kind of sad.
"Good morning, Water." Rainstar yawned. There was a silence before he realized - Water was upset. "Um... Water?"
"Yes?" She replied.
"What's wrong?" Water didn't reply for a second.
"It's... complex." Rainstar padded over and sat down next to her, looking over the water.
"I really like RainClan and... Brownie. But I've always lived here, so I'm going to have to leave you guys."
"Well, why don't you come along, then?"
"Because this is my home." Rainstar waited for a moment longer, but nothing else came.
"Okay. I understand." He said. "I'm going to go get some fish."
"From the sea?"
"No, from the bin." Water laughed.
"Okay, fine. It wasn't horrible yesterday." The two headed off to the silver bin, successfully got some breakfast, and returned just as everyone else was waking up. There was the general morning hubbub, complaining, cheerfulness, exclaimations over the food, and other things of the like.
"Are we all ready to go?" Rainstar asked. Milly was the only one with any objections.
"Just a moment. There's someone I should say goodbye to." She said and padded off towards the shore. Following curiously, Rainstar saw her jump up on the lap of an old twoleg and purr, rub it's legs, and be very affectionate. Finally, with a rub, Milly dipped her head to the twoleg and wandered back to the group.
"I'm ready now." She said, though her eyes were getting kind of moist.
"Well, let's go!" Brownie said cheerfully. RainClan and the water cats headed up to the forest.
Getting used to the forest after the twolegplace was an odd experience for some. The hard stone that twolegplace roads are coated in was gone, replaced by moss and twigs. The colors of the twolegplace were replaced by browns and greens. The quiet that they had experienced earlier was replaced by a different kind of quiet, one that both comforted and made one nervous. After walking for a while, Rainstar noticed something - the water cats were still with them.
"Hey, Water?" She looked up from where she was talking to Brownie.
"Um... I'm not sure how to phrase this without being rude, but... why are you still with us?" Water purred.
"Brownie convinced me to at least see the forest."
"Well, I'm glad." Eagle said, smiling. "We've gotten so used to you being around, it would be boring without you!"
"Yeah." Water replied, but she adopted an expression that looked oddly like she was struggling with a tough decision in her mind. Rainstar couldn't help but hope that it was whether or not to join RainClan, because what Eagle had said was true - without them, the Clan would seem oddly empty.
The rest of the day passed uneventfully, and when darkness fell, RainClan settled down in a small clearing for the night. But the night wasn't over yet, so before he fell asleep, Rainstar went over to talk to Alice, Mara, and Peppermint.
"You know what?" Alice said, giggling.
"What?" Peppermint asked.
"I think that a certain brown tom is about to convince a certain brown she-cat to stay." Alice flicked her tail over towards Brownie and Water, who where padded out of camp, tails waving tantilizingly close.
"I hope so." Rainstar mewed, watching them leave with a smile.
"Me too." Peppermint agreed. Rainstar let his gaze drift around the clearing, finally settling on Tiffany and Daniel, who were sharing tongues. He hadn't noticed earlier, but while Tiffany had been chubby when they first met, she was huge now. The she-cats followed his gaze.
"Maybe this is rude, but wow, Tiffany's large." Peppermint said quietly, so no one could overhear her but those who were supposed to.
"Yeah." Rainstar agreed.
"Which is weird, because it almost looks like she's proud of her size." Alice meowed. Mara was gazing at the two lovebirds with narrowed eyes.
"What is she's not fat?" Mara said suddenly. The other three looked at her in surprise, partly because of what she said, partly because Mara rarely spoke at all.
"She looks fat..." Rainstar replied.
"Not fat, but expecting!" Alice exclaimed, understanding. "Mara, you're a genius." Mara's dipped her head with a small smile.
"What's who expecting?" Night, who had been listening, asked suddenly.
"Tiffany's expecting kits!" Peppermint told her excitedly.
"Really? Woah!" Night almost jumped as she raced over to ask Tiffany. "How many kits will there be?"
"We don't know." Tiffany purred.
"But I think around four. I mean, with so much space, there must be a lot." Daniel purred, looking at Tiffany's belly.
"Wow... Can I listen?" Night asked. Tiffany nodded and Night put her ear to the place where kits would be?
"When will they be born?" Rainstar asked from across the clearing.
"About a quarter-moon." Daniel said, smiling widely. "I'm so happy, aren't you, bumblebee?"
"Oh, so happy, my sweet butterfly." Mentally groaning, Rainstar returned to talking to Alice and Peppermint.
That night, Bluestar had another warning for Rainstar. "Tomorrow will bring both great joy and great sadness."
"Which will there be most of?" Rainstar asked, worried about the 'great sadness' part. The three dead leaders exchanged glances before Tallstar spoke.
"There will be mostly sadness at first, but later, it will turn to joy."
"Oh. Good to know." Rainstar replied, still confused.
"Just thought you should know." Crookedstar mewed, dipping his head in farewell as the starry world faded from view.
Rainstar woke up feeling like there was a giant rock in his stomach. Today will bring both great joy and great sadness... Looking around, there seemed to be nothing amiss. But the words kept on echoing in his ears. Great sadness. Great sadness. Great sadness.
"Good morning, Rainstar!" Brownie said cheerfully when he noticed that the blue-gray tom had awoken.
"'Morning." Rainstar replied, trying not to let his worry slip into his voice. It did, but Brownie didn't seem to notice.
"I had the best night last night." Brownie sighed.
"Uh, no reason." He said, suddenly nervous. Rainstar watched him without replying. "I'm not supposed to say." Brownie sighed, breaking.
"Why not?" Rainstar asked curiously.
"Because Water wanted to be the one to tell." Brownie admitted.
"Oh." Rainstar wanted to ask what, but Brownie looked sheepish enough for a moon's worth of fresh-kill. "Why don't we go get some prey before we start up again today?"
When they returned to camp, everything was fine. Rainstar, however, kept on looking around for Water. What did she want to say? After a while, looking on his own didn't cut it anymore.
"Have you seen Water this morning?" He asked Eagle. Eagle thought for a moment, then shook his head.
"Now that you mention it, no. Has something happened?"
"Yes... and I don't know." Rainstar replied and asked Night and Skipper. They didn't know. Neither did Peppermint, Alice, Mara, Milly, Daniel, or Tiffany.
"Brownie, have you seen Water this morning?" Rainstar finally asked when Water hadn't been seen by sunhigh.
"Huh? Well..." He thought and worry began to cross his face. "No."
"No one else has, either." Rainstar mewed.
"Where did you see her last?" Eagle asked.
"Last night, out in the forest." Brownie replied, frowning.
"Out by a cliff..." Brownie murmured, thinking.
"What were you doing?" Eagle questioned relentlessly.
"Where?" Rainstar wondered.
"By a cliff, I already said."
"Where, as in 'Can you show us?'" Eagle explained. Brownie nodded and everyone - no one willing to stay behind - followed Brownie out through the forest.
As they neared the place, a metallic smell that brought back memories of fighting drifted out to the party.
"Is that blood?" Peppermint said in the way that sounded oddly like she was in denial.
Rainstar felt a horrible feeling in his stomach and Bluestar's prophecy echoed through his mind.
'Tomorrow will bring great sadness.'
More coming soon!