|New Generation Series|
|Preceded by: |
|The Hunt||Succeded by: |
The greatest promise is made to a friend but it can be broken by the thorns of betrayal....
High in the cold mountain air, a silver cat snarled. His whole group of cat had been decimated, only 10 remaining. The Tribe had easily beat them with help from those...reeking Clan cats. A small tortoiseshell with lightning streaks down her face came up behind him, "Stripe?"
"What?" he sighed. His daughter came behind him, green eyes glinting. Stripes knew this had to be good. His daughter was a prime strategist and she had come up with amazing plans. They hadn't always worked but still.
Lightning sat down, "Well, I was thinking. You know how we are losing cats? They want to leave and get away from the Tribe? Whose fault is that?"
Stripes thought. His daughter wanted him to think hard and guess but he wasn't in the mood.
"Tell me." he commanded. Lightning's tail fell unhappily but she said, "The Clans mouse brain!" Stripes breathed out, "Of course!"
Then he stopped, "Only 3 cats of the Clans managed to drive us from our dens when we fought, remember?"
Lightning smiled, "But that is why you have me." she said in a sweet voice.
"And I have a plan....."
Brightshadow complained for what felt like the tenth time, "Why do we have to skip the daylight gathering for a meeting?!"
A brown tabby she-cat hit him with her one black paw. "Shut up! Besides, the contest is over! The cats are just gathering on the island to report winners."
A dappled she-cat spoke for the first time, "It's amazing! We are the only ones in this still and silent forest." Everyone was silent and the air seemed to grow still. Then a silver cat said, "Why does it matter? We shouldn't even be meeting! There should be 6 of us!" her face bore scars and her eyes were hollow with grief. Bramblepath looked unusually gentle, "Mossnight. We all miss Raincloud. But life goes on. She was your best friend but you need to let her go. We are your friends to." Mossnight nodded but her eyes were far on the horizen.
The fifth cat spoke up. She was a ginger cat with tabby stripes that looked like wounds, "I wish we could have gone but-" she cocked her head. "What was that?"
Bramblepath was on her feet in an instant, "What's wrong Scarshade?!"
The ginger she-cat looked at them, blue eyes wide, "Can't you hear it?" she asked frightened. All the cats sitting listened hard. Brightshadow was the first to speak, "Well I don't hear-"
Leopardheart shushed him and that was when they heard the terrified yowls of cats who had just been attacked.
Stirpes looked around. Besides him, Flora, and their daughter, Lightning, there were ten other cats. He made sure that each of then was there before he gave the signal.
Dragonfly, Splash, Luna, Vesper, Vestis, Aria, Linette, Clove, Flower, Poppy....we're good to go!
He flicked his tail and the cats began to slink down the slope towards the island where Stripes could see the silhouettes of many cats moving. He knew this was there destination , recalling words a Clan cat had once said, "We always have truce on the full moon....". He looked up. The moon was high in the sky, as full as it could be.
He turned to the cats who had stopped behind him, "You all know the plan. Lightning, Flora, myself, Vesper, and Vestis are to take the island. Luna, Aria, Linette, guard the log they use to cross. Dragonfly and Splash...get a couple hostages, would you? And finally Flower, Clove, and Poppy will secure the perimeter. Got it."
The cats nodded. A misunderstanding meant you were off the team. They understood the plan and were eager to fulfill their masters wishes. They wanted revenge, to hear cries of terror, begging for mercy. The stench of blood and death.....
Stripes knew what his cats were thinking. He licked his muzzle. This was going to go wonderfully. Every cat on the island.
Bramblestar was attempting to sit high and keep his head up as Russetstar explained the brilliant new hunting stratagies she had come up with. Bramblestar stifled a yawn. He was getting a bit cramped. In fact, all the cats were. Well. he thought It doesn-t matter-
The clearing exploded. 2 cats had leaped onto Bramblestar's back. They rolled him of the Great Oak and he tumbled down...down...down. He landed with a thud and felt nothing but the 2 cats leaped on him again and he knew this could be it. He had known for a while now, one life left...
Bramblestar wasn't the only one being attacked. A silver cat hurtled himself at Russetstar and Mistystar while a brown she-cat jumped on Ashstar. A young tortoishell was terrorizing cats. 2 more cats were slinking, hidden by shadows, towards the kits.
The Truce had been broken.
The night exploded with yowls of pain and rage as the rogues quickly killed and wounded any cat in there way. Most of the cats were still alive but bodies littered the ground. The rogues paced, seeing if any cat was going to act hero. Nothing stirred.
The silver cat let out a yowl of triumph as the defeated Clan cats gave in. The other rogues joined in while StarClan looked on helplessly.
Bramblepath listened to the yowls, frozen by horror. Her friends were the same. Then she heard one yowl that was cut off shortly, "FATHER!!" she began to run, fearing the worst.
Leopardheart followed along with the others. They got to the Tree Bridge. Three she-cats were standing there, a couple of apprentices squirming beneath them. Bramblepath let out a yowl of outrage and bowled over one of the cats. They tumbled into the lake and Scarshade went to help. The other 2 she-cats stood their ground but as the other 3 cats began to approach them, they yowled loudly in terror. The other noises on the island stopped and all Bramblepath could hear was her heart beating for her father and her victim screeching.
Scarshade swam into the lake where both her best friend and enemy, were drowning. She picked up Bramblepath who, reluctantly, latched on to her opposer. Scarshade dragged the other 2 back to shore and the 3 she-cats jumped up. They fanned out, nearest to the island, causing the 5 other cats to step in the lake.
The cats were breathing heavy and suddenly, the 3 she-cats cocked their heads and listened. Bramblepath strained to hear too. But all she heard was the ferns in the wind. Then the 3 she-cats smiled and stepped into the shadows. Leopardheart made to follow them but Bramblepath blocked her way.
Then the cats emerged. But they were not alone.
10 other cats were with them.
Lightning looked at the new Clan cats with obvious irritation. Her father looked at her, "Plan?" she muttered something and said, "One sec...." Lightning thought but she knew these cats were probably a match for them and so- wait. She smiled, it might not work but...."Dad, I've got an idea. Leave this to me." She stepped past the lines of her warriors so she was in between the Clan cats and the rogues. She licked her jaws and said, "Congratulations Clan cats! You have managed to wreck my otherwise seemless plan! But we still have your queens, kits, leaders, warrriors, elders, and.....What am I missing" she asked Brightshadow. The tom replied, "Deputies and Medicine cats?" Lightning smiled, "Ah yes. We have them too. Now, I do like a contest so......if you want to see the Clans again...you will have to play a game with us."
Bramblepath and Leopardheart looked at each other. They were puzzled but had to save their Clans, "Go on." Bramblepath growled. The tortoiseshell cat smiled, "Excellent. So here's what we'll do." she looked at the sky for a minute and continued, "If our warriors can capture but one of you before sun rise, we kill you and most of the Clans. If they can't then you all go free. Deal?" the cats nodded reluctantly. "Oh and the rules are there are no rules!" Lightning proclaimed.
She told them they had until Moon high to hide themselves and then they would be tracked by the rogues. Bramblepath nodded but her heart and mind were clouded. The Clan cats ran off when Lightning was done and they stopped at ThunderClan camp to eat so they had some energy.
Bramblepath was about to say something when the bushes in front of her exploded.
Bramblepath growled. She was tired, hungry, angry, and now this. She prepared to spring but stopped as 3 small cats entered the clearing. "Maplepaw, Cinderpaw!" she exclaimed. Then she saw her own apprenitced. "Spottedpaw." she growled, "What did you do?"
Spottedpaw looked up at her, blue eyes wide. "It was awful on the island! So we-"
"Swam?" inquired Scarshade. "No." said Spottedpaw. She glared at the ginger warrrior, angry at being interupted. Then she went on, "We found a log and we drifted over here. We were so scared!" Bramblepath sighed. She would have to take her young sisters with her now. None of her friends seemed that happy either but they couldn't let the young cats die. Bramblepath looked up, "Where are we hiding?" no one seemed to have thought about that until Maplepaw ventured, "Maybe we should split into pairs?" Bramblepath snapped back, "There are 5 of us! Some one would be alone!"
Cinderpaw retorted drily, "I see 8 cats. How about you Spottedpaw?" before the tiny tortoiseshell could say anything, Bramblepath growled. "Fine. I take Spottedpaw. Brightshadow and Leopardheart. Maplepaw and Scarshade. Cinderpaw and Raincl- I mean Mossnight." the cats all gathered and began to set off except for the injured Mossnight who gazed at the stars in sadness.
Bramblepath turned to her sister, apprentice, and traveling partner. "Well, where should we go?" she asked. She wanted to make this seem like a game. Spottedpaw wasn't stupid but if she was happy, so would Spottedpaw. Spottedpaw gazed at her sister, eyes gleaming, "Well I have a few ideas...."
The rogues returned to the island and surveyed the cats. Russetstar and Mistystar were in a small cave at the base of a tree, guarded by Dragonfly. Ashstar was walking around, checking pulses, listening to heartbeats that weren't there. Bramblestar was lying on the oak, his hind legs dangling off. With the help of her twin, Vestis pushed him off. Silver looked around happily. He chose Clove, Linette, Aria, Soledad, Vesper, and Vestis to go and track down the younger cats.
Lightning came up behind him. He asked her, "Will it work?" she smiled, "They don't know what's hit them." Stripes smiled and Flora approached her mate and daughter. "I have an idea." she said carefully.
The 2 other cats looked at her with surprise. Flora was a great fighter and hunter but she was not a strategist. Flora sighed and said, "We didn't promise those cats anything, right?"
Stripes nodded, unsure where his mate was going with this. "Well, since they will fail" continued Flora, "We don't have to wait til they come back to start taking care of cats." her eyes were gleaming and her tail curled up. Flora was obviously very pleased with her plan.
Stripes was too. "Genius!" he exclaimed. Turning to Lightning he said, "Order the remaining cats to line up. Get some of our cats to help you sort through them. Any weak cats send to the trees, we will be mericful Warriors and others, you may do what you have to."
Lightning smiled and ran towards Dragonfly and Splash who were still terrorizing the kits.
This thought Stripes Is more fun then I've ever had before!
Bramblepath was beginning to get annoyed. Spottedpaw had only had 2 moons of training and she had hardly gotten to know the territory. After explaining to her that they could not just go to the bottom of the lake and wait there or go quickly to the mountains and come back. Spottedpaw seemed dejected but Bramblepath told her, "You did well! And I think one of your ideas is good!" the 2 cats raced to WindClan and beyond.
Spottedpaw was out of breath, "Which....idea...was....it?" she panted. Bramblepath replied, "We are going to the ridge. It was where the Clans were first discovered and it is high above our home." Spottedpaw fell into silence and they trekked for a while without speaking. Finally they got to the ridge.
Spottedpaw collapsed and staggered to meet her sister as Bramblepath looked out over the peaceful looking lake. How peaceful it looks... thought Bramblepath.
She was brought back to their present situation when Spottedpaw said, "What are we going to do?" she had regained her breath and now had time to think, and fear, about their situation.
Bramblepath tore her gaze away from her home and her memories and looked at her sisters big and frightened eyes.
"I don't know." she admitted. Spottedpaw began to say something but Bramblepath hushed her, "We wait." she told her little sister. The 2 cats sat on the ridge and looked at their home.
Brightshadow sighed. He didn't want to get paired with the calculating and serious Leopardheart. She could be great fun but still. He would have rather been with Bramblepath. Now there was a cat who could make him happy.....
Leopardheart growled and Brightshadow got the feeling she knew exactly what he was thinking. He sighed, "So where are we going to go?" Leopardheart was thinking different thought. She was wondering where to go, she knew that Brightshadow needed her to think. She sighed. Then she said, "I don't-" a sudden idea popped into her head, "The tunnels!" Brightshadow echoed her, "The tunnels..?" Leopardheart nodded.
"These rogues have done some serious thinking but not even most of the normal cats know about the tunnels." Brightshadow saw her logic and nodded. They headed for the secret entrance that was in the shallows of the lake.
The cats dived down and entered it. They got to the cavern and Leopardheart jumped on a rock. She sat, her paws tucked under her. Her expression was unreadable and Brightshadow wished she would open up a bit. If they were going to be stuck here they could at least have a conversation. Then a horrifying thought struck him. What if Leopardheart had been wrong and the rogues did know about this place? The thought shook him up and he pushed it away.
Little did he know, Leopardheart was having the same thought.
Scarshade and Maplepaw had been walking for what felt like an eternity. They were now on the marshes on RiverClan territory. Maplepaw kept stopping to looks at the abundance of herbs. She sniffed at a a clump of goldenrod and continued. She looked up at her companion, "Scarshade, where are we going?" Scarshade stoppped, "We are going to meet Bramblepath and Spottedpaw on the ridge" she answered carefully. Maplepaw noddded.
Within moments, the 2 had hiked the ridge and were standing with their friends. The cats were all looking down when they saw 2 cats climbing the ridge. One was Lightning and one was Stripes. Bramblepath shoved Spottedpaw in a bush and Maplepaw received the same treatment. Then, Scarshade and Bramblepath turned to face the enemy.
Scarshade fought Lightning. The young tortoishell was a formidable fighter, but as she had learned long ago, the skill of a Clan cat conquered all.
Scarshade was holding Lightning down when they heard a fearsome shriek. Scarshade turned and time seemed to slow.
She watched Stripes snarl something at Bramblepath. Bramblepath shrieked and leapt at the rogue. They tussled but Scarshade watched.
Bramblepath was holding Stripes down, her claws glinted in the weak dawnlight and she brought them down.
Stripes was dead.
Lightning howled and ran off. Scarshade asked, "What'd he tell you?" Bramblepath looked up. Her green eyes blazing.
"One of the leaders is dying. They might be dead already."
Mossnight was hollow. she had not recovered from the traitorious effects that Raincloud had made her feel. Cinderpaw was energetic, she hopped and pranced and gabbled on and on and on.....
Finally they reached the ridge where all the cats had agreed to meet. Mossnight could see 4 cats standing around something lying on the ground. Cinderpaw rushed ahead and Mossnight had no choice but to follow her.
Panting, Cinderpaw reached the group, nuzzling her sisters before staring at their item of speculation. It was a body.
A cat's body.
Cinderpaw gasped and Spottedpaw nudged her, "The leader of the rogues. Bramblepath killed him. He or one of his warriors wounded one of our leaders. Fatally."
Cinderpaw looked at her in horror and then looked around. The other cats were beginning to get up and head down the hill, towards the lake and the island where their Clans were being held. They were beginning to hear more noises, it sounded like some members of the Clans were beginning to revolt. But the rogues kept yowling and then it would start again.
Mossnight looked at her friends, "We have to get down there!"
Bramblepath raced down the slope. Her friends thundered after her. They reached the tree bridge. Two cats stood there, they looked exactly like the other and each was smiling. The female said, "If you'd like to pass, you'll have to get through us, right Vesper?" the other cat nodded and said in a silky voice, "You are so right Vestis." the cats began to stalk towards them but Bramblepath was in no mood for games. With a flick of her paw, she sent Vesper into the lake and Spottedpaw gave the same treatment to Vestis.
They crossed the tree bridge. Bramblepath ran into the clearing. There were only 10 cats pacing around. Dragonfly and Splash saw her and began to prowl closer but Maplepaw and Cinderpaw attacked them. 8 cats. Flora gave Bramblepath a look and said, "My daughter told me what you did. You have murdered my mate and taken down 4 of our cats with ease. We are in fear of you. Allow us to leave in peace, please."
Bramblepath was about to say no but then she saw Flora's eyes glowing with hate. Her pride had been hurt and her mate was dead. She had not gotten the revenge she came for. That was enough. Bramblepath sighed and stepped aside. The rogues fled into the night.
Bramblepath looked around. Some cats stirred now that their captors had gone but others remained motionless.
Bramblepath gulped and knew that her job now was going to be sad and unpleasent. She turned to her friends, a look of sadness in her eyes. "We have to find the survivors." she murmured, fighting to keep her voice calm. They nodded and fanned out
Bramblepath was still looking at the endless rows of cats, helping passing out herbs and searching for the bodies of cats who had left them to walk with Silverpelt. She gulped back tears as she turned over Mousefur. The dusky brown she-cat had a look of defiance on her face and she was barely breathing. Longtail was not so lucky. His legs splayed out, his eyes as sightless as they had been in life. Bramblepath remembered the elders kindness to them as kits and she bowed her head before she called Maplepaw.
She dragged Longtail's body to where the other dead cats were. Mothwing, Foxleap, Snowbird, and Breezepelt were among the other cats who had died. Mossnight will be sad, Bramblepath said remebering Breezepelt was her father. Then she remembered the incident at the daylight gathering and changed her mind.
Now she had the hard task. Which leader had lost all 9 lives? She looked around. Ashstar was slowly standing up. She had obviously lost a life but was still alive. Russetstar was lying on the ground, twitching slightly and Mistystar was no where to be seen.
Where was Bramblestar? The ThunderClan leader was not only ThunderClan's beloved leader but also Bramblepath's father. She wanted to find him. to lick him, tell him she was so scared. She remembered when she was a kit she had run to him everyday and tell him all the things that had happened. And he had listened even though Dusksky scolded later. And he had been a great mentor, he teased her and made her better.
She would not forgive herself if he had died. She looked around and finally spotted him, later she wished she hadn't seen him.
His body was in the Great Oak, hanging limpy with many wounds. His long tail was swaying in the wind.
She gave a wail and ran towards his body, hoping for a last good bye.
A slim gray cat entered the shadowy clearing. Her speckled fur was barely visible in the weak light. She seemed to be searching for something. She finally found what she was looking for.
2 tabby toms were standing in the center of the clearing. One had his head and tail drooping slightly and the other, a happy glint in his eyes. The cat approached them, "What is it?"
It was the bigger tom that answered, his eyes gleaming, "We have a new plan!"
The gray cat brightened, "What is it?"
"It has been almost 3 moons since we have had contact with the forest last." he began. "Those forest fools have forgotten about us!"
The she-cat hissed, "They will learn to differ!"
The tabby smiled, "Exactly." the other tom whimpered and the bigger cat shot him a look and he was silenced.
The larger tabby continued, "We have decided to prove to those fools that we are still here, and stronger then ever! You must show them to fear us again!"
The dappled cat nodded and bent down, "I will!"
The tabby tom gave her last words before she sprinted down the path and returned to the word of the living, "You will return!"
Returning Traitor is the sequel so read it!!!