|Destiny of the Clans Series|
|Preceded by: |
|The Journey Begins||Succeded by: |
Bolta woke early the next morning. She and Jay had planned and planned about how they were going to do it. Finally they had decided how they were going to find them. First they would go to the lake. Jacob had talked about it often, how he had lived there for a while. He had also mentioned the Clans that lived there. Bolta had told Jay how dangerous their journey would be but the tabby she-cat didn’t listen. Jay was determined to go with her. Bolta stretched and padded out into the hallway. Jay was already waiting by the crack in the wall. Bolta studied the tabby cat. She had grown a lot since the first time they had met. With her still kit-soft grey fur and delicate tabby markings, her clear blue eyes and the black tips of her ears Bolta thought she was most unlike her mother. Not just in looks but in personalities as well. Jay was a trusting cat, a wise cat, despite how young she was, but most of all, Jay was a kind cat. She cared. That was what Bolta liked so much about Jay. Tawny however was a rough cat; she found it hard to trust anybody else and probably would never endanger her life to help Bolta find her missing kits. Of course Tawny would have cared. Just not as much as Jay.
“Are we going then?” Jay asked. Bolta nodded and followed Jay outside. She wished it would rain, that way it would hide their scent trail and the others would never be able to find them. To her greatest surprise, big drops of water began to fall from the sky. Soon it was pouring with rain and the wind had risen. It was almost impossible to see, but that was good. The rain would wash away the evidence that they had ever been there. Bolta wrapped her tail around Jay’s neck so that she didn’t lose her. This was where the journey began... They went at a steady pace down the deserted street and into the forest. They stopped to rest at the same sheltered clearing were Bolta had once lived.
“Right,” Bolta mewed, realising that Jay had never been hunting before. “I’ll teach you the hunter’s crouch first.” Bolta dropped down into a low crouch, her belly brushing the wet leaves and tail just skimming the ground. Jay just stared at the spot where Bolta was. It took a while for Bolta to realise she couldn’t see.
“Let’s try a different way,” she suggested. “Crouch down for me.” Jay crouched. Bolta moved forwards and laid her tail on her back, pressing her closer to the ground. “Make sure your tail doesn’t touch the floor.” Jay lifted her tail up. Bolta nodded. “Now scent the air. See what you can find. I’ll go and try for something further into the forest.” Bolta left Jay crouching to the ground and scenting the air. Closing her eyes, she drew in the familiar forest smells. There was a mouse scuffling in a bramble bush right beside her. She dropped down and stalked forwards. It was an easy catch, the rain had disguised her scent. Bolta decided to catch something else, just in case Jay hadn’t managed. She buried her mouse by the bramble bush. Bolta closed her eyes and let her senses explore the forest. Excitedly, Bolta dropped back into her hunter’s crouch, moving as lightly as possible. She moved quickly through the forest to a small grassy clearing, unsheltered by trees. A small rabbit was nibbling at the rough and springy grass. Bolta moved forwards but the rabbit it heard. It looked around and then ran off. Frustrated, Bolta chased after it for a while. She could see it just ahead, just a few tail-lengths out of reach. Then a grey furry thing leaped out of the trees. Bolta watched in astonishment as Jay leaped perfectly onto the rabbit and killed it with one swift bite.
“Wow!” Bolta meowed, leaping forwards to join Jay. “That was... Brilliant!” Though at the same time Bolta felt a surge of disappointment. If she’d only taken her time she could have caught the rabbit. Now all she had was a mouse.
“Let’s share,” Jay offered. “We won’t need anything else after this.”
“Thanks,” mewed Bolta. Together they carried the rabbit back to the clearing and settled down to eat it. “We should just sleep here. It’s nice and sheltered and we’ve gone far enough for today. I don’t want to tire you.” Jay nodded gratefully and curled up in a tight ball under the shelter of an overhanging branch. Bolta curled up beside her and pretty soon she was asleep as well.
Bolta’s dreams were confused. At first she was staring into a familiar face. He had holly-leaf green eyes and flame-coloured ginger fur. Rory was staring back at her and for a bit they just sat in the moonlit clearing. Then Bolta got to her paws and huge puddles of water began to fall from the sky. Rory ran. Bolta followed but the puddles followed her, leaving a stream of water behind her.
Then the dream changed. She was sitting in the same moonlit clearing but she wasn’t staring at Rory. She was staring at a handsome grey tabby tom with clear jay-blue eyes.
“Bolta,” he meowed. Bolta jumped. How did this cat know her name? “The Dark Forest is rising. They’re breaking through into your world.” Bolta stared at the tom.
“Who are you?” she demanded. “What do you mean?”
“I’m Jayfeather,” he replied. “And I’ve come to help you. There used to be four Clans of wild cats living by the lake; ThunderClan, ShadowClan, RiverClan and WindClan. Now only ThunderClan and ShadowClan remain. They’re dying, Bolta, and you have to help them.” He couldn’t keep the plead out of his voice. Bolta just stared. Jacob had often spoken of the wild Clans he had used to live with. Jayfeather continued. “When a Clan cat dies they go to StarClan. When I lived StarClan made a prophecy. There will be three, kin of your kin that will hold the power of the stars in their paws.”
“How can any cat have the power of stars in their paws?” Bolta wondered. Jayfeather ignored her.
“At first we thought it was me, and my brother and sister; Lionblaze and Hollyleaf,” Jayfeather meowed. “But we were wrong. Hollyleaf wasn’t the third cat. She was crushed in the caves under the lake. Then Dovewing came along and at last we had all of the three. StarClan thought that we could defeat Tigerstar, an evil cat that lived in The Dark Forest. They were wrong. Me, Lionblaze and Dovewing died and the prophecy died with us. Now StarClan have made another prophecy; three will come again, the bright-eyed Jay, the prickly Holly and the brave Bolta. StarClan have made even more powerful cats. Bolta, I need you to take Jay safely to the lake. That is where Holly lives. We need you to defeat The Dark Forest. The fate of the Clans rests in your paws.”
“What do you-?” her question was cut short.
“Bolta!” Jay prodded her side. Bolta felt a wave of annoyance and frustration.
“What?” Bolta demanded.
“I can scent them,” Jay cried. “They’re here! They’re coming! The Dark Forest has broken through into our world!”
The next few moons went by in a blur. Hollypaw spent most of her time inside the Sky Oak, breathing in the scents of Snowpaw and the three unknown cats, trying to figure out what it meant. The obvious thought was that this queen, this queen that was not Cloverpool, had given birth to her. But who was this queen? Why hadn’t Cloverpool told them that she wasn’t their mother? Maybe, a sudden idea struck Hollypaw, this cat was a cat outside of the Clans. Maybe she had abandoned Hollypaw, Snowpaw and the two other cats Hollypaw assumed to be her brother and sister. Maybe Cloverpool found them and pretended that they were her own. But the longer Hollypaw sat and thought the idea through, the more unlikely it seemed. Why would a queen abandon her kits? Unless she was scared, or had to or something terrible had happened to her. There was about a million different theories, each as unlikely as the next.
“Hollypaw,” a quiet voice called her name. Hollypaw had not heard this voice for moons. She ducked out of the hollow trunk and padded over to Rowanberry. Hollypaw’s eyes widened as she got closer to her former mentor. Her dark ginger fur was mud streaked and ungroomed, every one of her ribs were showing and the sparkle that used to be in her eyes was replaced with a dull, sad glow that made her look dead and lifeless. “I think you need to know why I haven’t been teaching you.”
“But you’re ill!” Hollypaw protested. “You should go back to camp!” Rowanberry shook her head.
“Not ill exactly,” she meowed. “Just...”
“Ill!” Hollypaw cried. “Get back to camp before you make yourself ill!” Green eyes met green as Rowanberry looked Hollypaw in the eyes. Something told Hollypaw not to interrupt.
“I’m going to tell you something I’ve never told any other cat,” Rowanberry declared. “Maybe then you will understand.” Rowanberry sat awkwardly on the mossy roots of the Sky Oak. Hollypaw sat as well.
“When I was a known as Rowankit I was a WindClan cat,” she began. “I had two siblings, Rabbitkit and Nightkit. My father was Smokefoot and my mother was Goldenstream. Goldenstream was a lovely cat, a great mother, until I reached five moons. The WindClan leader, Galestar, died and Goldenstream was at last the most powerful cat in WindClan. She banished Nightkit from WindClan when he said that he thought Galestar was a much better leader and I went with him. I refused to stay if Nightkit went. Goldenstar didn’t care and announced that from now on she only had one kit; Rabbitkit. My sister was a lot like her mother and loved power. She stayed loyal to Goldenstar until the very end.
Meanwhile, me and Nightkit were lost. Without a Clan or a mother to look after us we didn’t know what to do. Until, that is, we came across a cat named Jacob. He seemed nice at first, he really did. First he told us to change our names. So we did as we were told and became Rowan and Night. Then he told us about a shelter not far from where we were and led us to it. It was a broken twoleg shed. We were nervous at first but we soon got used to us. Then Jacob left us. I think he knew really.
In the morning we woke up and these dogs were trying to get in. They were vicious creatures, huge things. Night and I were terrified. We managed to escape out of the broken window and ran for it. We were still running when we bumped into Jacob again. He apologized about the dogs and swore he had never known that they had lived there. Then he asked me to go and help his mate. She was having kits you see. He told me to come straight back here when they were born. So I did as he said again and followed his instructions on how to get to an old abandoned twoleg nest.
His mate was on the very top floor and she was weak. I helped as best I could but I had no idea what I was doing. Then, once the three kits were born, I left and went back to the place where I had left Jacob and Night. Jacob told us that his mate, Bolta had moved to a safer place and we had to move her kits for her. Again, we did as we were told and went to collect the kits. When we got back to the twoleg nest we only found two kits but guessed Bolta had taken the third with her. We took the two kittens to were Jacob had said.
But Bolta wasn’t there. And neither was Jacob. We waited for him but somehow, we both knew he wouldn’t come. So there was only one place that we could go. Carrying the two tiny kittens and trying to make sure they ate bits of fresh-kill, we went back to the lake. But we didn’t go back to WindClan. We would never go back there as long as Goldenstar was leader. ThunderClan took us in. What harm could four kits be? Runningfox nursed Bolta’s two kits that I believe were called Flora and Finn. Lionstar made Night and I Nightpaw and Rowanpaw. As soon as we were known as Nightfall and Rowanberry, Flora and Finn decided to leave. ThunderClan waved them off.
But I don’t believe Flora left for good. You see, she was expecting kits. Nightfall’s kits actually. When she left, I don’t know if she even made it out of ThunderClan territory. I think she would have stayed. But it was Finn that desperately wanted to leave. And every cat knew that Flora and Finn never left each other’s side.” Rowanberry looked at Hollypaw. Hollypaw shook her head.
“I still don’t understand,” she meowed. “How does that story make you ill?”
“It’s not the story,” Rowanberry meowed patiently. “Didn’t you hear at the last Gathering that Goldenstar died? Now Nightfall’s desperate to go to ShadowClan, were all his old clanmates are now. And after we had been banished we swore that we would never leave each other.” Hollypaw stared at Rowanberry.
“You mean Nightfall wants to go ShadowClan?” she demanded. “Why? What about Cloverpool?” Rowanberry smiled.
“Remember what I told you about Flora and Nightfall?” she mewed. “And remember at the last Gathering Lightstar announced that a new warrior had joined their ranks?”
“She was called Windwhisker,” Hollypaw meowed uncertainly. “Wasn’t she?”
“Well I don’t think that’s quite true,” Rowanberry meowed. “You see, Windwhisker was at the Gathering and she looked very familiar. I believe that Windwhisker is Flora.” Something clicked inside Hollypaw’s mind.
“That’s why Nightfall wanted to go to ShadowClan!” she exclaimed. “Because he wanted to see her!” Hollypaw wrapped her tail along Rowanberry’s neck and urged her forwards. She led her former mentor into the hollow trunk of Sky Oak.
“Sniff,” she mewed. Rowanberry, looking bewildered, scented the air. Her green eyes widened and she gasped.
“B-But,” she gawped. “That’s Flora’s scent! And yours! And Snowpaw’s!”
“And...” Hollypaw continued. “I think my brother and sister’s scent too.”