|Destiny of the Clans Series|
|Preceded by: |
|The End||Succeded by: |
Jay looked down at her own crumpled, bleeding body. This was the end. She was going to StarClan now. Sure enough a blinding silver light appeared from nowhere and she felt the ground fall from under her paws. She felt as if she were being squeezed through a tiny rabbit hole. Her sides were squished and air rushed in her ears. It was all over soon. She tumbled into a clearing. It was a lot like the Moonpool clearing except the moon wasn’t red, the sand wasn’t blood-splattered and there were no fighting cats. A small breeze moved her fur and the air was nice and warm. Jay closed her eyes and sat on the sand. She was missing everything. But funnily enough it didn’t seem to bother her. It hadn’t bothered her when she had seen her own body and it didn’t bother her that she was dead. The sound of paw steps made her turn and open her eyes. There were two cats in front of her. Jayfeather and a pretty tortoiseshell she-cat.
“Turn back, Jay,” meowed the tortoiseshell urgently. Jay cocked her head to one side.
“Sorry?” she asked. “I’m dead, aren’t I? How can I turn back?”
“It wasn’t you’re time,” Jayfeather meowed, flicking his ear. “Now turn back.” Although still confused, Jay turned around. In front of her was the same silver light she had come through. She walked into it.
Jay felt as if she’d jumped off of a cliff. She was rushing down... and down... and down.
Her paws hit the ground and gulped in a huge breath. Immediately her vision blurred and went black again. She felt lightheaded and fuzzy. Really, really sleepy. Jay closed her eyes again and sleep washed over her like a black wave.
“Are you sure she’s dead?”
“Does that mean Lightstar’s alive then?”
“Lightstar is obviously dead.”
Voices were whispering in her ears. They echoed and seemed to be coming from a long way away.
“I’m not touching a dead cat!”
"She’s not dead mousebrain!”
The voices got closer and more real. Jay opened her eyes. All around her came gasps of astonishment. Paw steps came from everywhere and it made Jay even more confused. Aren’t I dead? I thought I was in StarClan... Then memories came flooding back. Memories of how she had turned away from StarClan... Her mind was a hazy swirl and senses blurry. Jay lifted her head.
Every bone in her body ached. Everything was sore and stiff and just achy. Her head fell back to the ground. She closed her eyes again and tried to pick out all of the different smells around her. Bolta!
“Bolta,” Jay purred. Jay felt a tongue lap her fur soothingly. Bolta was purring louder than Jay had ever heard her purr. Happiness came off her in waves, strong enough to knock Jay off of her paws.
“You’re alive!” Bolta mewed in delight. Jay nodded weakly.
“Is every other cat... fine?” she asked. “Did we win?”
“Yes,” Bolta mewed. “But Deathclaw, Lightstar and Hollowheart are... in StarClan now.” Jay felt relief mingled with grief wash over her. Lightstar, Deathclaw and Hollowheart had been brave cats. They had died fighting for their Clan’s freedom. A real warrior’s death.
“Shhh now,” Bolta whispered. “Sleep...” Jay nodded. It wasn’t hard. She could feel her eyelids droop and her breathing slow. Soon she had fallen into a deep and peaceful sleep.
Jay woke for the second time. Bolta’s scent was wrapped around her and she could feel the black she-cat’s warmth. It must have been dawn. The air was still and birds chirped happily from their branches that shaded the clearing. Jay got stiffly to her paws and stretched, shaking off all of her achiness. She could smell Bolta right beside her and Hollypaw was a little way off, her scent mingled with Robinsong’s. It felt nice to smell all of the fresh morning smells again.
“Jay!” whispered a voice. “You’re awake!” The voice belonged to a kit. It was jumping up and down at her paws. Jay drew in this kitten’s scent but she couldn’t recognize it. She had never come across this kit before.
“Who are you, little one?” Jay murmured.
“I’m Songkit!” the kitten mewed excitedly. Then three other kits came bounding over. They were tiny. Probably all just a week old.
“I’m Rushkit!” chirped the biggest tom. “And that’s Larkkit and Marshkit!” Jay purred down at the four tiny kittens.
“And who’s you’re mother?” she asked.
“Mama’s called Flora,” Larkkit mewed shyly. Flora? Then Jay remembered Flora mentioning it the day before they first went to the Moonpool. It seemed like ages ago now.
It was Hollypaw. Jay swung around towards her. Happiness came off of her in floods. “Oh Jay,” she purred. “I thought I’d never see you again!” Jay purred as well and pressed her nose to Hollypaw’s cheek.
“How long have I been asleep for?” she asked, glancing down at Flora’s four kits. Hollypaw looked at the kittens too.
“About a week,” she meowed quietly. “I didn’t think you’d survive.”
Jay then noticed something completely off of the subject. The way Hollypaw was looking down at Songkit, Rushkit, Larkkit and Marshkit. There was such warmth in her gaze. Warmth and... longing? Hollypaw glanced back over towards where Robinsong was still sleeping.
“When where they born?” Jay asked.
“During the battle,” Hollypaw whispered. “Flyingkit, Gemkit and Thymekit died.” Jay gasped.
“She had seven kits?” she demanded. Hollypaw nodded.
“Flightfeather and Cinderfur said they’d never seen a queen give birth to so many kits at a time,” she meowed. Jay looked back down at Songkit, Rushkit, Larkkit and Marshkit. These four were survivors. Born wild cats. They’d make it all of the way.
Bolta felt old as she trudged back to the stone hollow. She had grand kits already! She turned a corner and came to the thorn-tunnel. Then she remembered what had happened. The stone hollow had flooded! It had dried mostly but the sand was still damp as Bolta stepped inside the hollow.
A horrible sight met her eyes. The hollow was ruined. Most of the dens had collapsed, boulders had tumbled down from the cliff walls and the ledge had broken from the wall and was lying on the ground. But that wasn’t the worst of it. All around her dead bodies lay littered on the ground. Only two pairs of eyes blinked at her. It was the queen and her son Moonkit. They were crouched in the corner looking skinny and ragged.
“It’s Willowheart and Moonkit,” Jay whispered from beside Bolta, flicking her tail over to the two skinny cats. “They were in my group.” Bolta couldn’t say anything. Her gaze was still fixed on the bodies. There were five of them all sprawled out on the sandy floor, scattered around the hollow. A few warriors had begun to creep towards them.
“Riverclaw, Cloudstorm, Speckledflower, Thicket and Redstorm,” Hollypaw murmured, her voice shaking. “All gone...”
“It’s okay,” Robinsong whispered. “Everything will turn out okay.” Bolta shifted from paw to paw awkwardly as Robinsong pressed against Hollypaw’s side. She turned her gaze back to the devastated hollow. Ruined... Destroyed... This place wasn’t a home anymore. The lake wasn’t a home. From that moment Bolta had decided one thing. They had to leave now. It was the only way they could survive.
Yes. I was wondering how long it would take you to figure that out.
Bolta almost jumped a tail-length. Who had said that? It seemed to be coming from inside her head. Was she going crazy?
No. I’m Blaze.
Blaze? Who are you?
I’m a cat.
Bolta snorted. Obviously. But where are you from? Are you from StarClan?
When I was still alive I didn’t believe in StarClan. I’m where all the ordinary cats go when they die. But I can visit StarClan for a short amount of time. We ordinary spirits can get into other cats’ minds you see. We can practically control them. That’s why StarClan chose me to try and help you.
Help me? Why couldn’t StarClan do that?
Too risky. The Dark Forest have found out about their powers to control cats. So they chose Jigsaw, Ellie, Hutch and me to help you instead.
“Earth to Bolta,” Archpaw’s voice woke her up. Bolta turned to the dark grey tom that had been in her group. He flicked his ears. “Clan meeting.”
“Who called it?” Bolta asked. They had no leader. Archpaw shrugged and made his way to the broken ledge that lay on the ground.
Hollypaw and Jay called it. They’ve got a pretty smart idea.
What’s they’re smart idea? Bolta began to pad over to the group of gathered cats.
You’ll have to wait and see.
Bolta sat between Foxwhisker and Maia. Hollypaw and Jay were standing on top of the ledge and gazing at the small group of Clan cats. What surprised Bolta the most was that no cat was protesting that these small, young cats had called the Clan meeting.
“Right,” Hollypaw meowed. “Before we go any further we have to figure out who is to be our leader. The senior warriors should step forwards.” There was still no arguing and protesting. Bolta flicked her ears. Then the realisation hit her.
They all wanted to follow some cat. They wanted to be told what to do. Perhaps it would be better once they decided on their leader.
Robinsong, Seedwhisker, Rowanberry, Nightfall, Foxwhisker and Ravenflight had made a line at the front. Bolta watched each of them. All would be good leaders.
“Stand behind the cat you think would be the best leader,” Jay mewed. Every cat got up and did as they were told. Bolta went to stand beside Rowanberry though it was already obvious that Seedwhisker would be leader.
“Seedstar! Seedstar! Seedstar!”
Bolta purred. The Clan cats seemed happier now that they had a cat to look up to. Seedwhisker dipped her head, seeming embarrassed.
“I’m not leader yet,” she protested as warriors came to congratulate her. Seedwhisker bounded onto the broken ledge, gazing around with warm blue eyes.
“Robinsong,” she mewed. “You shall be my deputy. I know you will make a great leader when I am gone.” Bolta gazed up at Seedwhisker. Definitely a good choice.
I agree. A very good leader.
“But before you all leave,” Seedwhisker meowed. “I would like Hollypaw, Inkpaw and Blackpaw to step up here please.” Bolta tipped her head to one side. Hollypaw, Inkpaw and Blackpaw were glowing. Why?
“StarClan,” Seedwhisker was speaking to the sky. “I ask you to look down on these apprentices. They have trained hard to learn the warrior code and I ask you to make them warrior in return.
Hollypaw, Inkpaw and Blackpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code even if the cost is your life?”
“I do,” The three apprentices said it at the same time.
“Hollypaw,” Seedwhisker continued. “The Clan will always honour your fabulous battle skills and quick thinking. From now on you will be known as Hollyfrost.” Newly named Hollyfrost padded over to the side, catching Bolta’s eye as she went.
Good choice in name.
Do you think I’ll ever get a warrior name?
If you’re a Clan cat you will. Are you a Clan cat? Do you care enough to learn the warrior code?
Bolta closed her eyes. Did she? Was she a good cat? A proper warrior?
“Hollyfrost! Inkpool! Blackshadow!”
Bolta was jolted out of her thoughts. She made her way up to Hollyfrost but before she could open her mouth Seedwhisker spoke again.
“One more thing,” she meowed, her voice suddenly grave and eyes almost grey. “I think the best chance of us surviving is to leave. Tomorrow. We don’t know that The Dark Forest is really gone. We’re not safe here at the lake where they know where we are.”
Sorted. We’re going.
You did that? Blaze you shouldn’t mess with cats’ minds!
Who’s going to stop me? Anyway we have to go.
Read the last story in the set, Gone Forever to find out what happens to Bolta, Jay and Hollypaw when they leave the lake.