|Destiny of the Clans Series|
|Preceded by: |
The Journey Begins
|The Lake||Succeded by: |
Jay leaped to her paws, her fur puffed out, claws unsheathing and teeth bared. Although she could not see the attacking warriors, she their reeking scents wrapped around her. She gagged as she breathed in a mouthful of their rotting, dead smell. Beside her she could hear Bolta choking on the disgusting smells of the intruders as well. Then it happened.
A battle cry rose from an attacking cat’s throat and soon warriors were hurtling themselves at Jay. She struggled, trying to force them off of her but it was hard. She couldn’t see them. The warrior that was on top of Jay was snarling and in an instant Jay knew it was over. She squeezed her eyes shut. The warrior was lunging towards her neck... She expected blinding pain, the scent of blood and the triumphant yowls of the Dark Forest cats. But it didn’t come. Confused, Jay opened her eyes and gave a startled cry. She could see! She could see the trees that surrounded the clearing, the grass beneath her paws and the battling warriors in front of her. But to her surprise, it wasn’t just Bolta fighting against The Dark Forest cats. There were other cats, cats with stars that danced and shimmered in their fur that were driving The Dark Forest warriors backwards. Amongst them, she spotted Jayfeather, the grey tom who had visited her dreams so many times. He was fighting fiercest of all, slashing any warrior within claws reach. Then finally, the cats of The Dark Forest turned and disappeared. Jay stared at the starry cats before approaching them. They had got ridden of The Dark Forest warriors. They were on their side.
“Hello, Jay,” Jayfeather mewed, approaching the small she-cat. Jay felt a purr rise in her throat. She had finally met him. The cat that had walked in her dreams so many times. The cat that knew what it was like to be blind.
“How can I see you?” Jay suddenly wondered, looking questionably at Jayfeather.
“Because I’m not really here,” Jayfeather replied. “I’m dead.” Jay jumped back, startled. She gazed around at the other starry cats.
“Are they dead too?” she asked. But it wasn’t Jayfeather that answered. It was a shockingly handsome golden tabby tom. Jay stared at him, unable to believe her eyes.
“Yes,” the tom mewed. Jay just gawped at him, staring at his clear amber eyes. “I’m Lionblaze by the way.” Then something hit Jay. This cat was dead... She didn’t know if it was just tiredness or of the sudden realisation that this Lionblaze wasn’t real. All she knew was that she suddenly felt a surge of grief.
“You must get some sleep,” Jayfeather mewed, looking slightly disappointed that Jay’s eyes were fixed on Lionblaze. “You have a long journey ahead of you.” Jay nodded, tearing her gaze from Lionblaze. She brushed past Jayfeather and curled up under the same overhanging as before. Sleep hit her like a black wave.
It was dawn when she woke. She could hear the birds singing and smell the lovely smell of dewy grass. Bolta lay beside her. She was awake too. Jay could sense it.
“Morning,” Bolta yawned. “Sleep well?”
“Yes,” Jay mewed dreamily. “Very well.” Bolta shifted and got to her paws.
“Hungry?” she asked. Jay shook her head. Bolta nodded. “Well, let’s go.” Jay got up to and followed Bolta to the edge of the clearing. Memories of last night came tumbling back and Jay shuddered. She forced herself forwards and followed Bolta through the forest and across the grassy strip. They plunged into more forest; not speaking a word to one another. They trekked onwards. Soon they came to the edge of the forest. Beyond that was a river, full to the brim.
“Let’s hunt,” Bolta declared. Glad of something to do apart from walking, Jay dropped down into a hunter’s crouch. The mouth-watering scent of mouse came from beside the river bank. She stalked forwards, as quietly as possible, before leaping onto the mouse. Before it could squeak or struggle free, Jay bit it. She ate the mouse there, wolfing it down in two ravenous bites. She hadn’t realised how starving she was. But the mouse had filled her up for now. Jay looked up and heard Bolta coming from the forest, and imagined the remains of prey all around her mouth. Jay followed Bolta down the river bank. The black she-cat obviously knew where she was going.
They walked and hunted until nightfall. Jay could scent huge amounts of water ahead and knew that they were almost there. She was about to leap forwards when Bolta put her tail out to stop her.
“We’ll sleep here,” she declared. “And won’t go anywhere until dawn.” Jay did as she was told without questioning and followed Bolta to a sheltered bramble bush. She curled up together, grey fur mixing with black, and very soon Jay was fast asleep.
“Jay,” Bolta’s voice sounded very far away. “Jay, wake up!” Blinking open her eyes, she stared at the usual darkness ahead of her. Bolta’s scent was wrapped around her along with the scent of bramble berries and water. Getting wearily to her paws, Jay turned to the spot where she knew Bolta was standing.
“What now?” she asked. “Where will we go?” Bolta turned around. Jay scented a pine forest up ahead.
“This way,” she mewed. Jay stared around her. She could scent an even stronger scented forest behind them. It smelt of darkness and pine. She didn’t want to go in there. Across the lake she could scent a watery smell with a tang of fish. Fish... Jay had never tried fish. Along from there she could scent open smells of, heather, dirt and springy grass. Jay decided Bolta had made the right decision. The scents up ahead were the most welcoming smells. She stayed close to Bolta, making sure their fur brushed and moved further into the unfamiliar territory. They walked for only a short while until they came to a stream. Bolta moved further upstream, Jay by her side.
“There are stepping stones here,” she told Jay. “I’ll go first and check if they are safe or not.” Jay waited. She could hear the slap of Bolta’s paws as they hit the wet stone. “Its fine,” Bolta called. “The stream isn’t very deep if you fall and the water isn’t running fast.” Jay approached the stones nervously. She squeezed her eyes shut and placed a paw onto one of the wet stones. Heart beating fast, she took another step forwards. Then another. Soon she felt lush grass underneath her paws and smelt a leafy smell in the air. Bolta wrapped her tail around Jay’s neck and they moved further into the forest. With a jolt Jay realised there was a strong cat smell around here and as she stepped forwards, her paw fell into a paw print in the ground. Bolta seemed wary but not nervous. She took Jay to where the cat smell was strongest and soon she felt thorns rake through her pelt. Then yowls sounded from all around.
“Don’t move a paw!”
“We’ll turn you into crow-food!”
Bolta felt every hair on her pelt bristle as she stared into the eyes of ten hostile cats. Her claws glinted in the sunlight and her lips curled into the beginnings of a snarl. The warriors were moving forwards. If they set a claw on Jay she would fight. She would tear these cats apart. Then to her utter astonishment a pale ginger she-cat leaped through the crowd of warriors and stood protecting them. If it hadn’t been for her holly-leaf green eyes, Bolta would have thought it had been Flora. Two other cats leaped forwards to stand facing the approaching warriors. One was a hauntingly familiar dark ginger she-cat, the other a rusty brown coloured tom. Soon two grey cats joined them.
“What’s going on?” boomed a voice above the snarls and growls. Bolta looked up to see a golden tom emerge out of a cave and onto an overhanging rock. His dark eyes swept across the cats below him, taking everything in.
He must be their leader.
“There are rogues in our camp!” called a grey tom with a black tail.
“Those mouse-brains are trying to protect them!” hissed a brown tabby tom. Bolta narrowed her amber eyes narrowing to furious slits.
“We are here you know,” she hissed pushing past the cats protecting her. “And we aren’t rogues.” She stared up at the tom on top of the ledge. “We’re looking for a cat. Three cats actually.” The golden leader glared at his warriors.
“And which cats are you looking for?” he growled.
“Holly,” Bolta meowed. “Flora and Finn.”
“Flora and Finn are no longer ThunderClan cats,” snapped the leader. Before he could say more the pale ginger she-cat that looked almost exactly like Flora stepped forwards.
“I’m Holly,” she mewed. “Well, Hollypaw really.” Bolta stared at the she-cat for a moment.
“Well you need to come with us,” she announced. Hollypaw’s green eyes widened for a moment but then she nodded.
“I know,” she meowed, stepping forwards so that her fur brushed Bolta’s. She added in a whisper that only Bolta could hear, “You’re Bolta aren’t you.” Bolta nodded. This cat definitely was Holly.
“If you’re going,” mewed the dark furred ginger she-cat. “Then I think your mentors should come as well.” She stepped forwards with the rusty tom by her side. Soon the only cats that weren’t by Bolta, Hollypaw and Jay were a grey tom, a brown tabby tom, a black tom and a brown tom. The golden leader was glaring at the cats gathered around Bolta, Jay and Hollypaw.
“Well great,” he snarled. “My Clan is full of traitors.” His voice dropped claws glinted and dark eyes gleamed menacingly. “You do realise that if you go, you can’t come back.” No cat moved except for a little black and white she-cat.
“Why would we want to come back?” she hissed boldly. “When our leader is evil.” The golden tom roared in rage.
“How dare you?” he yowled. “Silentspirit, Darkstorm, Mossclaw, Forestfall and Blackpaw, over here!” The cats that were still on their leader’s side leaped up onto the overhanging ledge and followed him into the cave. Bolta turned to the cats around her.
“Let’s go somewhere were no cat can overhear,” she meowed. “Do you know of a place?”
“Yes,” mewed the dark ginger she-cat. “And we know where you can find Flora.” Bolta eyes widened in surprise.
“Where?” she demanded.
“She’s in ShadowClan,” answered a dark grey tom. “She’s calling herself Windwhisker.” Bolta began to walk forwards through the thorn-tunnel.
“Take me there,” she meowed. The following cats exchanged glances.
“I think only four of us should go,” mewed a small white she-cat.
“I agree with Icepool,” meowed an elderly ginger she-cat.
“Then it should be Hollypaw, Nightfall,” the dark ginger she-cat flicked her tail towards Jay and Bolta. “And both of you.” Bolta nodded. “When you get back we’ll be at Sky Oak,” the she-cat told her. She began to lead the rest of the cat’s forwards and Bolta watched until they disappeared from sight.
“Come on,” meowed the grey tom Bolta took to be Nightfall. She followed him forwards, making sure Jay was right next to her. They trekked forwards. Bolta wasn’t taking in anything around her. All she wanted was to be safely with her daughter, even if they could find Finn.
“We’re here,” Nightfall announced. They had come to a halt at a small sheltered clearing. “You lot stay here. I’ll go and get her.” Bolta flicked her tail impatiently and sat between Jay and Hollypaw. She gazed out into the dark pine trees, drinking in their scents and wishing time would speed up. It seemed like an age before Nightfall reappeared with a beautiful pale ginger tabby with the loveliest golden eyes. She was purring, her tail twining with Nightfall’s. Hollypaw was looking up, suddenly alert. Then she was purring too.
“Hello mother,” she mewed quietly, green eyes glowing. Flora and Bolta’s heads snapped up at the exact same moment. Mother?
“Hollypaw,” Flora breathed. She rushed forwards, lapping Hollypaw’s pale ginger fur. Jay and Bolta watched, sitting side by side with their fur brushing.
“They look happy,” Jay whispered. Bolta could see her eyes glowing, but not of happiness. She must have been thinking of her own mother.
“We’ll go back soon,” Bolta promised. Jay nodded.
“I know that,” she murmured, sighing. “I just wish Spike and Cleo could have come too.” Bolta pressed closer to Jay, and began to groom her tangled grey fur. They sat there until late afternoon when Bolta’s belly began to grumble. She pulled away from Jay and, dropping into a hunter’s crouch, she scented the air.
“Hello.” With a jolt Bolta sprang back up and turned to face the four cats in front of her. The others tensed, getting ready for battle. But it never came.
“Foxwhisker, Yewtail, Elderflower and Honeypaw,” Flora meowed. “What are you doing here?” A bright ginger she-cat narrowed her dark golden eyes.
“Are you saying we aren’t allowed to step out of our camp into our territory?” she demanded. Then her tone softened, “No. We wanted to come with you.” Nightfall nodded, and flicked his tail for them to follow.
“The other’s are waiting,” he meowed.
To find out what happens next, read Broken Truce!