Hey folks, FireClan here. I'm very happy to bring you, after a long time of nothing, the third installment in Arc 3 of my FireClan series! As always, I hope you enjoy, and here's the blurb!
In a time of happiness, the clans of the lake are met with a great tragedy. The death of Smokestar took the clans away from ThunderClan's throat and made way for the reign of the young deputy, Morningdawn. Toadstar's three sons find something off about this, and decide to investigate. The three however must also deal with their own problems; Goldenpelt must come to terms what what lies in store for his future, Blazeheart must fight to protect those he loves, and a hauntingly familiar face begins to stalk Clawstripe from the shadows. The three must couple those things with a new breakthrough.
The prophecy of Three may actually contain a Fourth.
Toadstar - Dark Brown Tabby Tom with Green Eyes, Missing Most of His Left Ear
Shrewfur - Long-Haired Reddish-Brown Tom with Amber Eyes
Stormspots - White Tom with Ginger Spots and Green Eyes
Heavypelt - Fairly Plump Gray Tom with a White Muzzle and Yellow Eyes
Gingerstep - Ginger She-Cat with Green Eyes
Clifftail - Long-Furred Dark Brown and White Tabby Tom with Blue Eyes
Bramblefoot - Dark Brown Tabby She-Cat with Green Eyes and Darker Paws
Mossfeather - Dark Gray Tabby Tom with Green Eyes
Emeraldgaze - Dark Brown Tabby She-Cat with Green Eyes
Chestnutpelt - Pale Brown She-Cat with Black Splotches and Green Eyes
Thistlebelly - Large Gray Tom with Amber Eyes
Rocketblaze - Ginger Tom with Green Eyes
Frogtail - Dark Brown Tabby Tom with a Striped Tail and Green Eyes
Lichenwhisker - Pale Gray Tabby Tom with Green Eyes
Sparkpelt - Golden She-Cat with Darker Flecks and Amber Eyes
Lemonleaf - Golden She-Cat with Green Eyes
Whiskernose - Brown and Cream Tabby Tom with Amber Eyes and Long Whiskers
Boulderstripe - Stocky Gray Tabby Tom with Amber Eyes
Adderflight - Brown She-Cat with White Splotches and Amber Eyes
Darkfeather - Black Tabby She-Cat with Amber Eyes
Goldenpelt - Golden Tabby Tom with Amber Eyes
Blazeheart - Small Ginger Tom with Green Eyes
Clawstripe - Dark Brown Tabby Tom with Amber Eyes and Large Front Claws
Rocktooth - Large Dark Gray Tom with Blue Eyes
Wildblaze - Light Brown Tabby Tom with Amber Eyes and Spiky Fur
Whitefoot - Small Black Tom with Blue Eyes and A Single White Paw
Nightpaw - Black She-Cat with Blue Eyes (Mentor: Lichenwhisker)
Badgerpaw - Brown and Black Tom with Amber Eyes (Mentor: Boulderstripe)
Mousepaw - Golden Brown She-Cat with Amber Eyes (Mentor: Clifftail)
Tangledwhisker - Long-Furred Gray She-Cat with Crooked Whiskers and Blue Eyes, Mother of Heavypelt's Kits
Ripplekit - Pale Gray Tabby Tom with Blue Eyes, Son of Heavypelt and Tangledwhisker
Eelkit - Black Tom with Long Whiskers and Blue Eyes, Son of Heavypelt and Tangledwhisker
It was a dark night in the territory of StarClan. Every cat was in a panic, and didn't know what to do. It had been made clear before that the Dark Forest had been gaining in numbers again and exerting their power to the lake, but they had pulled off something completely unprecedented.
A large circle of cats sat up atop a high cliff overlooking StarClan's territory. The panic below caused Thunderstar to cringe up; he hated seeing the cats he cared for in such pain.
A blue-gray she-cat stepped forward, her like piercing shards of ice. "As I'm sure you all are aware, the Dark Forest inadvertently launched an attack on the clans of the lake earlier this night. We've watched as they've begun to recruit living cats to their side, and we all know that we must do something!"
"But what can we do?" asked a tom named Skywatcher, "Breezestar is willing to go to any length to get what he wants, and sacrifice as many cats as it takes. Are we really prepared to handle that?"
Thunderstar came forward next. "Breezestar's group is small for the time being. But if left unchecked, he will soon command an army of unstoppable killers. He will destroy the clans around the lake with no mercy if we don't do something." Thunderstar shook his head. "However, now he has a cat on the inside. With Morningdawn to soon be leading ThunderClan, there will be a Dark Forest warrior having influence over an entire clan."
"But Smokestar is yet to come to StarClan," stated Jayfeather, "If he has, he must be rather shy."
Firestar stepped forward next and addressed everyone. "As his mentor, Smokestar and I share a special bond. When I heard the news of his death, I sought him out, trying to find him. And I've yet to find anything. I think we all know what is really happening right now."
Everyone in the group just sat there, looking at the ground in silence.
"Cats of the Great Council."
An old, raspy mew made Thunderstar look up. To his complete and utter shock, he saw the ancient clan leaders standing before his group, led by none other than the original Thunder himself.
"The Ancients?!" A former RiverClan leader named Crookedstar stepped back, "In all my moons of living in StarClan, I've never heard of a single occasion where you leave the Cave of The Moon!"
"Before now, we have had no reason to do so," Thunder began, "but this tension between the clans and the Place of No Stars got us all thinking. And from that thinking, came a vision."
"A vision? A vision of what?"
Thunder looked back at the other Ancients, before taking in a long, deep breath.
"Before the dawn leaves and the stars come, smoke will surround the lake, brought on by a fiery blaze."
Thunderstar sat back, confused. "Are you saying there's to be another fire?"
"Well, what do you mean about the dawn leaving?"
"That is for us to know, and us alone."
"So, you're just going to leave us wondering what's happening?" Jayfeather snarled at the ancient cats, "Are you even aware what's going down back on Earth? Our clans will die off if we stay here doing nothing!"
Thunder brushed off Jayfeather's harsh tongue. He motioned to the other leaders to return to their cave den. As he padded away, he turned back to the Great Council and spoke.
"I have said this once, and I shall say it again. This is all happening for a reason."
Chapter One - Blazeheart
"I-It's Smokestar! He's dead!"
Blazeheart couldn't believe what he had just heard. The ThunderClan warrior Pantherstrike had come charging into camp only moments before to deliver the shocking news.
Blazeheart watched as his father's eyes widened more than he had ever seen them, and his fur stood up on end. "What? What happened?!"
"He was out hunting by the lake, and he fell in! Everyone tried to get him out but he wont surface!"
"Pantherstrike, take me there, please."
"O-Okay! Just follow me!"
Toadstar didn't ask for anyone to accompany him and the ThunderClan warriors, but cats did anyway. As Blazeheart ran after the small group, he could see Goldenpelt and Clawstripe following suit, as well as Shrewfur and Stormspots. Pantherstrike led the group of FireClan cats through the forest past ThunderClan territory and along the shores of the lake. Blazeheart could see a huge commotion up ahead. It looked as if all of ThunderClan had come out to see the truth for themselves.
When Blazeheart and the others reached the group, it was already too late. Cats joined with their families to mourn their seemingly forgotten leader.
"Morningdawn!" Toadstar padded over to the deputy; he had a large cut across his face and looked soaked down to the bone. "What happened here?"
"Sm-Smokestar and I were h-h-hunting... He just sunk like a r-rock... I couldn't save him..."
Despite everything Morningdawn had done in the past, Blazeheart couldn't help but feel sorry for him. The poor tom look legitimately terrified, like a lost kit without a mother to guide them.
"So you're just going to give up the search? Just like that?"
The ThunderClan warrior Bronzespots came forward to Toadstar. "Toadstar, he's been under for a long time. Not even a RiverClan cat can swim to the bottom of the lake, there's nothing we can do."
Toadstar fell silent. Blazeheart watched as he padded over to the shore and stared out into the torrent of the lake. The normally confident and lively leader seemed broken. Blazeheart had been told stories of his father's life as a kittypet, and how Smokestar was one of his closest friends during that time.
Blazeheart turned to Bronzespots. "What actually went down here?"
"Well, Smokestar and Morningdawn were out hunting by the shore; there are a few rabbit burrows we like to hit up around here. Morningdawn says Smokestar lost his balance and went in. He called for us but by the time we got here, he was struggling to get himself out of the lake, seemed like he went in after him."
"And he just lost all his lives at once?"
"Unless he suddenly grew gills, yes. And he's not a RiverClan cat. You know we aren't good swimmers."
Blazeheart thought back to when Rocktooth broke his jaw playing in the river, or when Goldenpelt and Darkfeather went over a waterfall in the mountains.
"Believe me, I know what you mean." Blazeheart shuddered. "So what happens now?"
In the background, Morningdawn suddenly sprang up, an intense look on his face.
"I'll tell you what happens. I won't let Smokestar's death be in vain! I won't allow my clan to panic without a leader." He turned to a young cat standing not too far away, "Cloudpaw, go fetch Starfall. I'm going to the Moonpool tonight!"
The sunrise came slowly over a silent FireClan camp. This had been the first death of a leader since the clans were reformed. Cats were out in the clearing, but none spoke, especially Toadstar, who seemed very broken up over the loss of his old friend. However, later in the day he came to his perch and spoke.
"All cats old enough to leave camp gather under the perch for a clan meeting!"
Blazeheart was shocked to finally hear the silence broken, but he followed the rules and went under the perch with the rest of his clanmates.
"As some of you may know, the ThunderClan deputy Morningdawn went to the Moonpool last night to receive his nine lives. I've decided that I'd like to gather a small party and greet him as his equal."
"But why?" Bramblefoot piped in from the audience, "We don't owe Morningdawn anything, not after he killed Tawnysoul!"
"Yeah!" shouted Rocketblaze. "What has he ever done for us?"
"While it's true Morningdawn can be quite troublesome, and our experiences in the past have not been ideal, I believe this position will guide him down the path of maturity. And perhaps a friendly meeting will allow us to restore ties with ThunderClan again and destroy any bad blood between us. Not to mention that a healthy relationship with our neighbors has been vital in keeping peace for all these moons. Anyone interested in joining me may meet me at the foot of camp in a short while. Dismissed."
After the meeting, Blazeheart padded over to his usual group of friends consisting of his brothers Goldenpelt and Clawstripe, Stormspots and his sister, Wildblaze and his brother Rocktooth, and the young warrior Whitefoot.
"So," started Rocktooth, he spoke with a slight impediment due to his crooked jaw, "Any of you guys going to go with Toadstar to ThunderClan."
"No way," gravely mewed Stormspots, "I'd sooner put a pawful of ticks in my father's pelt." He took in a deep breath. "However, as Toadstar's medicine cat I'm obligated to go, no matter how much I don't want to."
Blazeheart thought back to not too long ago, when Morningdawn killed Stormspots' mentor and FireClan's medicine cat Tawnysoul in a border dispute. The white tom had a good reason to feel bitter.
"I'm going to give him a shot," mewed Goldenpelt. "It's like Toadstar said, maybe this will send him down a better path. If he changes, good. If he doesn't, then nothing's really changed."
"I guess I'll tag along too," noted Clawstripe. "Why not. It could hurt."
Blazeheart sighed. "Well if you guys are gonna play me like that I suppose I have to come."
Blazeheart didn't like Morningdawn; it had been that way since he met him as a kit near the thunderpath. But he felt like this would give him a reason to be closer to ThunderClan, and closer to Sandwhisker.
Whitefoot pushed his way forward. "Hey, get me in on this too!"
Blazeheart chucked. "You must really like Morningdawn if you're this enthusiastic to see him."
"Nope, hate his guts. I'm just hoping he's a nervous wreck when we get over to ThunderClan. Oh, I'd kill to see the look on his smug, little face!"
The group laughed for a moment, before Stormspots chimed in. "Well, I guess you four can just follow me. I think Toadstar's getting the group around now.
Toadstar's "group" was a pitiful sight to behold. Blazeheart knew Morningdawn didn't have the best reputation in FireClan, but besides Toadstar, Shrewfur and Stormspots, Blazeheart, his brothers and Whitefoot were the only members.
The group traveled along the trees and rocky terrain of FireClan territory until meeting a part where the trees and foliage grew thicker; the ThunderClan border. The stench of another clan surged in Blazeheart's nostrils and made him a little dizzy. When he and Sandwhisker used to secretly meet up as apprentices, he had grown used to it, but that had all changed in her absence.
Once at the edge of the border, Toadstar stopped and tried to see if there was a nearby patrol he could flag down to escort the group to ThunderClan camp. After a short time of waiting he came upon a patrol consisting of Hammerclaw, Gophertooth and an apprentice named Quickpaw.
"Hey, Hammerclaw! Over here!"
The large brown tom quickly darted his head over in Toadstar's direction. "Toadstar? Is there something I can help you with?"
"I come in peace, Hammerclaw. I simply wish to extend a paw of friendship and greet Morningda-- Morningstar on his reign of leadership."
Hammerclaw glanced over to Gophertooth, then back to Toadstar. "Alright, follow me."
With Toadstar in the lead, Blazeheart and the rest of the group traveled farther into ThunderClan territory, the treetops above blocking the sun from touching the ground.
Chapter Two - Clawstripe
The remainder of the trip through ThunderClan territory was a nightmare for Clawstripe. He had been around ThunderClan cats in the Dark Forest for moons at this point, and while their scent stung his nostrils like a bee sting whenever they were near, it was at least tolerable in small doses.
Now, it was no small dose. It was everywhere. It clung to the trees and rocks like moss, it hung in the air like flies around crowfood. Needless to say, Clawstripe hoped this would be over soon.
The walk to ThunderClan camp was just a short walk from the border. Hammerclaw led the FireClan patrol down the rocky slope to the foot of the quarry. After all the brash things he had heard about Morningdawn; how arrogant and self-centered he could be, Clawstripe was surprised to note how peaceful things looked. At one end of the camp a senior warrior trained a group of apprentices, closer towards the dens a number of warriors sat and chatted about, and the fresh-kill pile looked incredibly well stocked. Clawstripe was certainly impressed.
Smokestar was a fine leader, Clawstripe thought, but maybe Morningstar was just what ThunderClan needed.
"Morningstar," Hammerclaw called out, "you have company!"
From a rocky den overlooking the camp, Morningstar and his deputy, Witherfoot emerged. Clawstripe recognized Witherfoot as a former BloodClan rogue that was taken in after their leader's death, much like Lemonleaf and Whiskernose.
"By StarClan, look at that deputy..." Whitefoot hissed under his breath.
Witherfoot limped behind Morningstar, surprisingly keeping up well. It was then that Clawstripe finally noticed; the deputy was completely missing one of his legs. All that remained was an ugly, uneven, fleshy stump, as if it had been hastily gnawed off in one of BloodClan's nightmarish hazing rituals.
"FireClan? What are you doing here?"
Toadstar padded up to meet Morningstar's gaze, "I've come on behalf of my clan to offer the birth of a new friendship. And while we have had problems with ThunderClan in the past..." Toadstar narrowed his eyes a bit, "I hope that we can put them all behind us for the sake of our futures. You will have FireClan's support in your efforts for the future."
"Support? What makes you think ThunderClan needs your help?"
"Well, I just thought that you might need help getting things running after Smokestar's death, that's all."
Morningstar flicked his tail in disgust. "Then you thought wrong. ThunderClan is stronger than it ever was under Smokestar's rule. We don't need your help, and I would appreciate it if you didn't bother us with this again."
Clawstripe was confused; he could understand having a desire for independence, but it seemed pretty risky for Morningstar to just brush off Toadstar like this.
"Then in that case," Toadstar turned to his clanmates, "we will take our leave. Come along, everyone."
Clawstripe sighed, "Come on, fellas, let's get out of he--"
Clawstripe turned to his brothers and Whitefoot. Goldenpelt and Whitefoot were walking alongside Toadstar as expected, but Blazeheart was frozen in place, his green eyes fixated on a ThunderClan queen, Sandwhisker. Clawstripe knew he had met her before, but he couldn't place where.
Probably just some random I met at a Gathering, he thought, She looks awfully pampered. Morningstar's mate perhaps?
"Blazeheart? Blazeheart! Snap out of it!"
Blazeheart reeled back with a jump, "Oh, uh, sorry Clawstripe."
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Blazeheart quickly scurried away to meet up with the rest of the group. "Just staring off into space..."
Clawstripe and the rest of the patrol made it back to camp shortly after Hammerclaw escorted them to the border. Darkfeather, Rocktooth, and Wildblaze quickly rushed him, his brothers, and Whitefoot for details.
"So? How'd everything go?" asked Darkfeather.
"It was entirely pointless," hissed Stormspots. "We showed up and Morningstar kicked us right out."
"Typical," Wildblaze flicked his tail, "At least now we know his arrogance followed him through all nine lives."
"Great StarClan, imagine that. We've gotta put up with Morningstar for nine whole lives."
Clawstripe shrugged, "Maybe thing's will get better in the future."
"Yeah, and maybe I'll lose my legs and turn into a snake," Goldenpelt groaned. "What do you think about this, Blazeheart?"
Blazeheart again stared silently into space, his body completely motionless.
"Blazeheart?" Goldenpelt prodded his side with a paw, "You awake in there, pal?"
"Yeah!" Blazeheart wildly shook his head, "Sorry, I'm just a little tired is all."
"Well, speaking of tired, I think I'm going to take a nap for a spell," mewed Darkfeather.
"I take it you're free for the day then?"
"Yep, next patrol doesn't head out until sunhigh, so I've got enough time for a quickie."
Goldenpelt chuckled, "Well, I'll spot you if something suddenly comes up."
"Thank you~!" Darkfeather nuzzled up to her mate, "I'll see you tonight!"
As Darkfeather padded away toward the warrior's den, Clawstripe smirked. "Well, well, well. Things are really heating up for you two, aren't they?"
"Oh, shut up."
"Hey, no need to be embarrassed! After all, I get all mushy with Lemonleaf."
"Yeah, take pride in it, brother," meowed Whitefoot, "You and Clawstripe are the first of our group to have mates."
"It's just..." Goldenpelt sighed, "She's just so perfect you guys. I've never been happier."
Stormspots butted Goldenpelt on the shoulder, "I'm glad my sister really makes you that happy."
"No kidding!" yowled Clawstripe, "You've really come a long way from hating her guts, haven't you?"
Suddenly, an idea popped into Clawstripe's head. All this talk about Darkfeather, coupled with the idea of sleep got Clawstripe to plotting.
"You know, fellas, I think I'm gonna take a quick nap too."
"What, did Darkfeather's sleepiness rub off on you?" asked Rocktooth.
"What can I say?" Clawstripe turned toward the warrior's den, "Must be contagious."
Spiderstorm's yowl rung out among the hollow trees of the Dark Forest. Clawstripe had been tasked with joining her in yet another training session. Not many cats had been able to sneak in naps during the day, so the turnout was pretty small.
"Good, very good everyone. Now, horizontal arc!"
Each of the cats in the training session slashed their claws in unison; all except for a little ShadowClan apprentice named Cricketpaw. He was fairly new to the Dark Forest, having only joined a few days prior, but Breezestar insisted he had a potential none had yet to notice yet.
"Come on, Cricketpaw!" Darkfeather padded over to him and rested her tail on his shoulder. "You just need to move a little faster and I know you'll pull this off!"
"I don't know," the little cat mewed, "my legs hurt from yesterday still. I just can't swing my arm that well."
"Don't worry, I'll walk you through it again nice and slow..."
Clawstripe smiled. The only reason Darkfeather was already a mentor was because Spiderstorm had exerted her influence over Breezestar; but he had to admit, she did a pretty good job. It only made him wonder what kind of mentor she would be to a FireClan apprentice.
"Darkfeather!" Spiderstorm hissed out and padded over to her daughter, "What's going on? You were in charge of demonstrating the next technique."
"Oh, sorry mother, I was just helping Cricketpaw get this last move down a little better."
Spiderstorm raised her brow, "Cricketpaw, you've been lacking a bit too much for my liking recently. Explain yourself."
"I-I'm sorry, Spiderstorm. It's just... I've been really tired lately. What with all of this, coupled with the training from my WindClan mentor. I'm just really sore."
"Hmm..." Spiderstorm's eyes narrowed, "Perhaps you could use a change in education. Darkstripe!"
The dark-colored tabby padded over to Spiderstorm, "What do you want?"
"I think Cricketpaw could use a new mentor, would you be interested?"
"Meh," the tom shrugged, "I guess I cou--"
"No, wait!" Darkfeather interjected, "I'll do better, mother, I promise!"
"Calm down. I'm not just going to give Cricketpaw to Darkstripe. You and Darkstripe will fight, and the winner will be proven the better warrior, and more fit to mentor Cricketpaw."
"O-Okay..." Darkfeather seemed unsure about herself, but her mood quickly improved, "You'd better watch yourself, Darkstripe! I'm not just some pretty, little she-cat!"
Without another word, the two cats lunged at each other. Their dark colored pelts mingled together so well, Clawstripe couldn't even tell who was who. The other cats training in the hollow quickly took a break and cheered on either of the cats.
Something seemed... off about this battle, though. Clawstripe understood that during real battles in the Dark Forest, anything was fair game, but this seemed far too mismatched. Darkstripe was probably twice Darkfeather's size, and easily over powered her into the ground. His thick pelt acted as a shield to every one of Darkfeather's strikes, while he raked his claws across her slender form.
"Darkstripe!" Darkfeather could barely squeeze out words, "Get off! I c-can't breathe!"
"Shut up, brat. This fight ain't over!"
"Spiderstorm!" Clawstripe screeched out, "You have to stop this! He'll kill her!"
Spiderstorm flicked her tail tip in response, but refused to take her eyes off of the fight.
Clawstripe couldn't handle watching his friend get torn apart anymore. Unsheathing his claws, he latched himself onto Darkstripe's back and attempted to rip him off of Darkfeather.
"Get off of her, you foxheart!"
Darkstripe hissed. He paused his fight with Darkfeather to whip around and swing at Clawstripe. Clawstripe yowled in pain as Darkstripe's claws met with the flesh around his eyes.
"Who do you think you are stopping my fight like that, you little..."
As if he had jumped from the shadows, Breezestar suddenly appeared in the clearing, his amber eyes glistening like embers.
"What do you think you are doing? Attacking some of our best warriors, and with all these other cats watching! Think of the example you're setting!"
"W-Well... I just, look boss I was just..."
"Shut up, just shut up." Breezestar raked Darkstripe across the cheek. "Get out of here before I lose my temper."
Disgruntled, Darkfeather stormed away into a darker part of the forest.
"And as for all of you, there's nothing to see here anymore. Leave."
At Breezestar's call, all of the cats in the hollow scattered away; some headed back to their nests, others lying down and preparing to return to the real world.
Despite the pain he was in, Clawstripe was only focused on Darkfeather. She was just barely scraping herself off of the forest for, her pelt lined with cuts and matted with the blood of her and her opponent.
"Are you alright?"
Darkfeather coughed, "I'm fine, I'm fine. You didn't have to make such a fuss, that was nothing I couldn't handle."
"I couldn't help but worry about you. He looked like he really had you there."
Darkfeather scoffed, "Well it looks like he really got you too!"
Clawstripe groaned, the mention of his eye only made the thought and feeling of pain rush through his head again. "How's it look?"
"Well... You didn't take pride in your looks too bad, did you?"
"Ugh, is it really that bad?"
"I'm afraid it's definitely going to leave a scar, but I don't think you'll have to worry about going blind at least."
"Well, this is just great. I'll have fun explaining this to Stormspots when I wake up."
Darkfeather chuckled, "Speaking of which, I'm gonna turn in now. See you back at camp."
As Clawstripe turned around to do the same, he noticed a pair of eyes glaring at him from the ragged bushes. It was Ravenflight, the mysterious tom he had met a few moons prior; the cat who first showed him The Rift.
"Hey, it's you."
Ravenflight stayed silent, but Clawstripe was used to that with him.
"Do you need something?"
As Clawstripe padded forward, Ravenflight retreated slowly back into the bushes before completely darting off.
Clawstripe sighed. Now he was in pain, tired, and confused. Finally giving in, he curled up into a ball and prepared to return to his cozy nest in the warrior's den and take on the rest of the day.
Maybe I should take Lemonleaf out...
Chapter Three - Goldenpelt
For quite a while, Goldenpelt sat outside the warrior's den waiting for Darkfeather to awake from her nap. Shrewfur hadn't assigned him on any patrols or hunting parties, but his friends weren't as lucky, so he was left to himself for the night.
Staring into the early sunset, he managed to hear rustling around from the den until Darkfeather emerged.
"Good morning, sleepyhead."
Darkfeather jumped, "Jeez! Have you been waiting here this entire time?"
Goldenpelt shrugged. "I missed you. Everyone ditched me, so it's not like I had anything better to do. Besides," Goldenpelt sat up and padded over to his mate, "I was thinking we could do something tonight. Dinner, maybe?"
Darkfeather sighed and giggled, "You're lucky you're so cute, or else I pummel you."
"Yeah, I bet."
Goldenpelt asked around camp to make sure everyone had already picked something from the fresh-kill pile before grabbing a weasel and bringing it over to where Darkfeather sat. She eagerly took big bites from it before Goldenpelt could even sink his teeth in.
"Nothing changes with you, huh? That's not a very ladylike way to eat."
Darkfeather swallowed her mouthful of food, "I'm sorry. I've just been really hungry lately."
"I understand, it's all good. Go ahead and chow down."
As Darkfeather began tearing more chunks of meat from the prey, Goldenpelt could sense something off. He could smell blood, cat blood, and it smelled very close.
"Are you bleeding?"
"Are you bleeding? Did you like cut yourself in your sleep or something?"
"Oh," Darkfeather gulped down another mouthful, "probably just a thorn in my nest, I swear Boulderstripe can be worse than an apprentices sometimes!"
Goldenpelt had no reason not to believe her, but he wasn't convinced that this was the case. Without warning he used his paws to spread apart flaps of Darkfeather's pelt. What he found chilled him to the core.
Lots of scars, some old and healed up and others still fresh and red. They crisscrossed the she-cat's pelt like thunderpaths. A few especially deep cuts still seeped with a small trickle of blood, seemingly the source off the strange scent.
"Darkfeather... What are these?"
Darkfeather let out a nervous chuckle, "I guess I get a little serious during training."
"Training? Who's your training partner, a badger?"
"It's nothing, Goldenpelt," she scoffed, "It's just a few little scra--"
"Let all cats old enough to leave camp gather under the perch for a clan meeting!"
Toadstar's yowl made both Goldenpelt and Darkfeather jump. For the time being, they would have to put this conversation on hold and do as their leader told.
Every cat in camp quickly gathered under Toadstar's perch for the spontaneous meeting. On the perch sat Toadstar and Shrewfur, nothing unusual, but also Heavypelt. The heavyset warrior's gray pelt shimmered silver in the setting sunlight.
"Cats of FireClan, I seldom thought this day would come so soon, but I'm afraid it has arrived. I bring you all together today to announce that Heavypelt will be retiring to the elder's den early."
The cats in the clearing gasped. Goldenpelt was especially shocked, Heavypelt was getting pretty long in the tooth, but he was in no sense "old".
"To clear up some confusion as to why he is taking this early retirement, I will allow him to elaborate."
Heavypelt replaced Toadstar's spot on the perch, it bent slightly under his weight. "As I'm sure you've noticed, I'm quite a... hefty cat. It's been like this since before I was even a warrior, back when I lived as a kittypet. I've done my best to provide for my new family, to protect you all, but I'm afraid my body just can't keep up. And so, Stormspots decided it would be best for me to take my leave and become an elder. It isn't a thought I'm very fond of, but if I must then I must." Heavypelt bowed his head, "Thank you all for allowing me to be a part of your lives. I only hope my sons will grow to be warriors you all can be proud of."
The cats of FireClan whooped and cheered on the large tom as he stepped down from the perch once more.
"Thank you, Heavypelt," mewed Toadstar, "for your moons of service to our clan, and your honor of the warrior code. Rest easy, my old friend; you deserve it."
With one loud screech, Toadstar dismissed the warriors to go back to their prior duties.
"Who would've thought Heavypelt was going to retire?" asked Darkfeather.
"No kidding, I expected he had at least a few more years left in him before retiring."
"Well," Darkfeather brushed up against Goldenpelt, "his warrior legacy lives on in the best cat in the clan. And his kits of course."
"Oh, stop. You're gonna make a young tom blush."
Darkfeather giggled. "Speaking of kits, Bramblefoot's are pretty close to become apprentices, aren't they?"
"Hey, you're right. They've probably got a few more days until Toadstar makes it official."
"It's about time FireClan got some new apprentices. You think you'll be one of their mentors?"
"Yeah, why not? Heavypelt trained you into a fine, young warrior; I'd say you're a shoe-in for being a mentor!"
Goldenpelt grinned, "Well gosh, I guess I never really thought about being a mentor so soon."
"And Eelkit and Ripplekit will hit six moons in no time, there's two more apprentices."
"You're right about that too. So many kits, FireClan's going to need to expand at some point!"
Darkfeather was suddenly silent, and just stared into space ahead of her.
"Darkfeather? You alright?"
"Can I ask you something? Something serious?"
"Sure, what on your mind?"
Darkfeather flattened her ears a bit. Her jaw quivered as if she struggled to get words out of her mouth. "Do you want kits?"
Goldenpelt's eyes widened to the size of large pebbles. "K-Kits?"
"Yeah, kits." Darkfeather met Goldenpelt's gaze, her eyes like pools of honey. "Would you want to start a family with me?"
Goldenpelt cringed up a little. He indeed wanted to have a family, even more so if it was a family with Darkfeather. But could he handle having a family? Being a father?
Two nights ago I took a thorn in the pad and I cried like a kit, can I really be dad material?
"I..." Goldenpelt swallowed his pride, "Absolutely."
"I can't think of a better mother for my kits than the most special cat in my life. I totally want kits."
"Then..." Darkfeather ran her tail tip across Goldenpelt's flank. "Let's go for it."
"H-Here? Now?" Goldenpelt gulped.
The moon hung over FireClan camp like a perched bird as Goldenpelt and Darkfeather reentered the clearing. Their little excursion in the forest had been... eventful, to say the least.
Darkfeather purred, "I'm gonna turn in back in the warrior's den, maybe sleep some of this off." The dark-furred she-cat winked at him, "See you in the morning, tiger."
As Darkfeather padded off into the warrior's den, Goldenpelt's eyes wandered off his mate and over to the elder's den. Heavypelt seemed to be having a peaceful enough night on his own, but he decided to pay his old mentor a visit.
As Goldenpelt approached, Heavypelt's ears pricked up. Clearly, he still retained all of his sharp perception.
"How're you doing over here, old timer?"
"I could be doing better. Like I said, I don't feel as young as I used to."
"I didn't realize you were that sick, Heavypelt."
Heavypelt shook his head. "I'm really not. I'm not dying, but I'm not exactly living it up either."
"Well... How about I keep you some company? For the night at least."
"I'd like that. Tangledwhisker brought the kits over earlier, and I like relaxing, but I'd be lying if I said this wasn't dreadfully boring. I know some elders like the peace and quiet of retirement, but put me in your paws and I'll run laps around the lake any day."
Goldenpelt chuckled. "Perhaps I'll take a few laps for you. And then, when your sons become warriors, they can run a few too."
"Oh, I can't wait to see those two as warriors. So full of energy, everyone will love them."
"Wonder where they got that from? Sure as StarClan wasn't you."
"Hey now," Heavypelt nudged Goldenpelt, "Out of shape as I may be, I could grind you to a pulp any day!"
Goldenpelt chuckled. "I'm just kidding. I'm sure you could."
"Oh, speaking of kits, I believe I saw you and your mate leave camp just before the sun fell, and you just came back mere moments ago..." Heavypelt raised his brow, "Any idea what you two were up to?"
"Oh... You saw that?"
Heavypelt let out a hearty laugh. "Don't worry, I'll keep it our little secret. Deal?"
"Deal. I definitely don't need my parents finding out about this just yet. StarClan forbid my mother finds out, she'll go ballistic."
"I think it's a wonderful thing; relationships like you and Darkfeather you mean."
"What do you mean?"
"It's just... Being alone in this den for a while got me to just kind of watch the activity around camp. I certainly had a good view of it. And as I watched, I saw Clifftail playing with his kits, Clawstripe chatting up his mate, and of course I saw you and Darkfeather." An ear to ear smile grew across Heavypelt's face. "Seeing everyone like that, it really gives me hope. Hope that FireClan will remain a strong clan far into the future. You all are our future after all."
"Huh," Goldenpelt slouched back, "I guess I never really thought of it that way."
"When you live as long as me, you tend to think about a lot of things. And don't worry about your parents. You and Darkfeather are adults now. Should you find out one day that you're going to be a father, no doubt your friends and family will be on call to help you out."
"I hope you're right. I'm just afraid Rocketblaze will lay the hurt on me."
"You'll be fine. You'd make a fine father, despite how young you are. You're an extraordinary warrior, one of the best in the clan. You'll teach those kits some fine skills."
"Well I learned from the best."
Heavypelt chuckled once more. Now, It's comments like that that make me feel moons younger."
"It's true. I had my doubts at first, but you proved to be an excellent mentor. It's a shame you couldn't pass your wisdom on to any other cats."
"Guess you were the chosen one, eh? My only hope now is that Eelkit and Ripplekit live up to the expectations being set for them. But your father's a smart cat, I'm sure he'll pick fine mentors for them both."
"Yeah..." And idea popped into Goldenpelt's head, "He will, won't he..." Before he could think any further, he turned to the old tome. "Well, this has been pretty nice, Heavypelt."
"It has, hasn't it? I appreciate you taking the time to give this old fur sack a visit, what with you toms always living life on the edge and whatnot."
Goldenpelt smiled. "Y'know, how about I come and visit you again tomorrow. It was nice talking to you again after so long." Goldenpelt stepped out of the elder's den. "Now be good, eat your veggies, make sure to wash behind your ears and check for ticks."
"Oh, be quiet you!"
Goldenpelt laughed. "Goodnight, Heavypelt."
"Have a good night's sleep, tiger," A mischievous smirk appeared on Heavypelt's muzzle, "From what Darkfeather says, you could use it."
Chapter Four - Clawstripe
Clawstripe darted through the winding narrow paths of the Dark Forest as fast as his legs would take him. His visit with Stormspots had taken far longer than expected, what with the medicine cat scolding him on being more careful coupled with his lack of a proper explanation as to why he had a scar across his face.
By StarClan, I hope Breezestar isn't a stickler for being on time!
Just as he had expected, Clawstripe found Breezestar waiting for him in the shadowy hollow where training usually took place. He expected some sort of punishment from the black tom, even just a stern talking to. To Clawstripe's surprise, however, Breezestar had a comfortable serene look on his face; it was the most laid back he had ever seen him.
"Clawstripe, you've come; good, very good."
"Yeah, sorry I'm late, Breezestar. I just got caught up in some stuff with my medicine cat and it wa--"
"No need to explain, I understand that you have a life in the waking world to attend to."
Clawstripe cocked his head in confusion. Breezestar never acted like this.
"If you don't mind me asking, sir," he asked, "what's going on? You seem to be acting different?"
Breezestar like out a quiet chuckle. "You could say I'm in a rather good mood tonight. Because tonight is special. Tonight, you will complete your training fully."
"Wow," Clawstripe felt flattered, "I didn't realize you thought so highly of me, Breezestar."
"Oh, Clawstripe," Breezestar stepped closer, "you are more important than you could ever know. This is a day I've been waiting for for countless moons."
Clawstripe couldn't believe what he was seeing. Breezestar looked at him the way Toadstar did on the day of his warrior ceremony. He could just detect a glimmering hint of pride in the ghostly cat's eyes.
"So, I guess I'm ready for my final exam then. What do I need to do?"
"Ah, yes," Breezestar turned and padded towards a thick copse of trees. "Follow me deeper into the hollow and we can continue..."
Clawstripe was led further into the Dark Forest than he had ever been before. The warped trees and mushrooms grew far thicker and closer together compared to the training hollow, giving the new area a very secluded vibe. Specifically, this portion of the new area was very flat and smooth; the trees formed nearly a perfect ring around it.
"Clawstripe," Breezestar began, "this will be where your final assesment will take place."
"Great!" Clawstripe looked around, expecting something like an obstacle course to be present. "Uh, what do I have to do?"
Suddenly, Breezestar unsheathed his claws and readied a battle stance. "Your final task will be to defeat me. in a fair fight. You may have held your own fairly well against Darkstripe, and you may be one of my best warriors, but don't except me to go easy on you."
"I wasn't planning on it." Clawstripe unsheathed his claws and met the dark leader's gaze.
"Should you defeat me in this fight, you will be made a full Dark Forest warrior effective immediately. Should you lose..." Breezestar's amber eyes drifted away for a moment before returning to Clawstripe, "But should you lose... Well, you will lose something very precious to you."
"Like... My status as an apprentice here?"
Breezestar paused, "Something like that..."
Cryptic as Breezestar was, Clawstripe was too hyped up to really think. Had Breezestar not shown up to break up the fight earlier, Darkstripe would have probably ground him into the dirt. Could he really take on Breezestar?
"You seem quiet. Are you ready, then?"
"Um... I guess so."
I'm really going into this with confidence, aren't I?
Like a flash of light, Breezestar zipped across the clearing and lunged into Clawstripe, knocking the wind out of him in one blow. Clawstripe was shocked; Breezestar had a very slender build, yet he was almost unbelievably strong. Despite this, he was still rather light, and easy for Clawstripe to throw off to regain his bearings.
Breezestar continued to move like a shadowy blur in circles around Clawstripe. There had to be some way of slowing him down a little, at least to even up the fight.
Carefully watching Breezestar's figure dash around, Clawstripe timed his strike just right. Just as Breezestar passed him, he thrust himself forward, knocking the black tom off of his feet. Finally, he managed to fire blow after blow across Breezestar's pelt before he managed to get up. The two warriors dived towards each other and thrashed about on the ground. If someone had walked in on them fighting without knowing the context, they might thought the two were trying to kill one another.
Once more, Breezestar managed to pin Clawstripe to the ground with his claws. This time, he managed to even out his weight enough to keep him down. Suddenly, Clawstripe could feel Breezestar's fangs pierce the soft flesh of his neck. Horrified, he watched as a red puddle slowly pooled together on the ground. Breezestar kept up his attack, thrashing his head back and forth, tearing more at Clawstripe's skin. He wanted to shout something that could get Breezestar's attention, to stop the fight, the the tom's teeth closed down on his throat.
As Clawstripe gasped for air, his vision slowly faded in and out. The warm sensation on his neck covered his whole body now, each cut felt like a searing fire. He could no longer find the strength to go on, so he closed his eyes and tried to wake up. It was the only way he could get out of the fight now.
When Clawstripe awoke, he was still on the ground. Blood still coated his pelt, yet he felt no pain as if his wounds had healed instantly. He was immediately taken aback by the lack of anything around him. He was still in the secluded hollow, yet there were no trees, no bushes, and no Breezestar. The only other thing he could see was a thick mist mingling with the red sky.
Am I dead? Did Breezestar kill me in that battle? No, what reason would he have to do that?
"Hello?" Clawstripe's voiced seemed to echo out farther than he could comprehend.
"Hello-o-o-o-o-o?" He yowled out again.
Clawstripe jumped. From the mist, a low voice called out to him. He could just barely make out the shape of another cat; too stocky to be Breezestar. Clawstripe couldn't really recognize the voice, though he felt as if he had heard it before.
"Hello? Can you help me? Can you tell me where I am?"
"Help?" The mysterious cat chuckled. "You don't need any help."
The tom continued forward until he had fully revealed himself from the mist. Clawstripe was confused. This tom looked almost exactly like him! The other tom was quite a little bit larger than he was, and his pelt contained many more scars than Clawstripe had received, but everything else was a perfect match; from the design of their stripes, to pelt color, eye color, even the unusual thickness of their claws. It was like looking at a reflection.
"I... I know you." Memories began flooding back to Clawstripe. "Yeah, you were that cat I met in the Rift!"
The tom nodded. "You certainly have a good memory."
Clawstripe let out a weak chuckled. Something about this cat seemed inviting, yet intimidating.
"Who are you anyway? What am I doing here?"
"Such is not important," the strange tom crouch a bit, enough to look Clawstripe in the eyes, "what is important is that you must realize your full potential. You must be what you are, what you truly are."
"Be what I am... What? That makes no sense!"
The stranger sighed, before narrowing his eyes and looking deeply at Clawstripe. "You view yourself as nothing more than Clawstripe, an average warrior of FireClan. But, young warrior, you are so much more than that."
Suddenly, water began to pool around Clawstripe's paws, and a small puddle was formed. The water was vastly different to any other water found in the Dark Forest; mainly because it was clear as the water in the lake.
"Look into the puddle, Clawstripe."
Following the stranger's instructions, Clawstripe looked into the puddle. He wasn't sure what he was supposed to see; it was just his face. It was the same face he saw every time he went out for a drink, or when he caught a glimpse of the lake water at a Gathering.
The stranger appeared next to Clawstripe in the puddle. The two were so similar in appearance, it seemed as if the two faces could blend together perfectly.
"You and I are connected, young warrior. You and I are one and the same. Your strength is my strength, and my strength is yours." The stranger turned and rested his tail on Clawstripe's shoulder. "You were not born to simply exist. You were born to rise up above all else and show them your true power!"
Just as when Breezestar was clamping down on his throat, Clawstripe's vision began to flicker as he stared deeply into the tom's amber eyes.
"Remember, no matter what, the spirit of the tiger will flow within you..."
With a flash of light, Clawstripe regained his vision. Everything was as it had been before; he was in the shadowy hollow, the trees and bushes were back, and Breezestar still pinned him to the ground. Something felt different, however. The would across his neck, the slashes on his body, they still bled but he didn't feel them. His entire felt hot, like the blood in his veins could boil over and burst.
Catching a second wind, Clawstripe managed to throw Breezestar off of him. He felt incredible, like the strength of ten cats surged within him. He and Breezestar lunged at each other once more; this time with Clawstripe grabbing the dark tom by the neck. Using only his jaws, Clawstripe spun Breezestar around and around before letting go, sending the cat flying into a nearby tree.
"Okay..." Breezestar called weakly, "Okay, I yield."
Clawstripe had no idea what came over him, but the hot feeling under his pelt hadn't subsided. He padded right over to Breezestar and latched on to his ear. With on powerful tug, Clawstripe tore a large chunk off. Finally, the rage subsided with a little dizzy spell.
Clawstripe looked down at Breezestar in horror. The shadowy tom had been completely ripped apart. Did he really do that? What even happened?
"Clawstripe..." Breezestar looked up at him, amber eyes glowing, "You really are all we could have ever wanted. That was incredible!"
"By StarClan! Breezestar, are you alright? I completely shredded your ear!"
The dark tom laughed, "Think nothing of it, young Clawstripe. This is the best thing that has ever happened to us!"
"It is?" Clawstripe cocked his head, "Why?"
Breezestar shook his head, "That's not important now. What is important is that you are now a full member of the Dark Forest. This place is as much your domain as it is mine. You can say and do whatever you want."
Clawstripe was overfilled with pride for himself. Defeating Breezestar and becoming a full warrior was no easy feat! But that dream he had while he was under, it still swirled in his head like rivers feeding into the lake.
"I think... I'm gonna go for a quick walk. Y'know, survey the place."
Breezestar nodded. "Very well. Remember to meet up with me at the beginning of tomorrow night, and I'll assign you higher duties." The shadowy tom turned and padded off through the ragged bushes.
Heading in the opposite direction as Breezestar, Clawstripe was able to head deeper into the Dark Forest. The sky seemed to get darker and darker, the trees grew more barren and gnarled. The place just looked grimy and gross. Farther in, he somehow managed to make a u-turn and wind up near the training hollow. He saw Darkstripe in the middle of demonstrating a battle move to Cricketpaw.
Looks like Breezestar handed over his apprenticeship. Poor Darkfeather...
Speaking of Darkfeather, Clawstripe could just barely hear her voice a little ways away. Curious, he sneaked closer to where he thought the voice was coming from. Peering through a bush, he saw Darkfeather and Spiderstorm speaking in a small enclave. He could only faintly understand them.
"It's not a that big of a deal; I want it, he wants it, what's problem?" asked Darkfeather.
"Not a big deal? How naive could you be?"
"You did the same thing with dad. I'm telling you, it's fine."
"I was a different she-cat when I met your father," Spiderstorm hissed, "But that's all in the past. You want to be a good warrior, right?"
"Yes, but I'm also going to do what I want, mother!"
"I'm telling you, Darkfeather, this is a very bad idea!"
Clawstripe leaned his head in a little closer to hear better, but suddenly felt warm breath on his back. Shocked, he quickly turned his head to see Ravenflight.
"Jeez, Ravenflight! You nearly scared me out of my pelt!"
"Tomorrow," the tom began, "meet me a little ways east of the training hollow, by the river. Please."
"Uh, okay. But wh--"
Without another word, Ravenflight turned and padded away in silence. Clawstripe was left just as he had been earlier; tired and confused.
Chapter Five - Goldenpelt
Goldenpelt returned from his patrol the next morning in fear. He remembered what he had done last night, and wondered how he could be so stupid.
When I was on patrol, I wandered off and needed Mossfeather to stop me from falling into the river! And I'm supposed to take care of a baby?
No matter how dumb he thought his actions were, it was done and over with. If Darkfeather really was pregnant, there would be no turning back. Goldenpelt needed help or advice from someone, anyone; but had no idea who to ask.
My parents? No, I don't want them finding out.
The guys? No, they wouldn't understand! None of them have kits!
Stormspots? No, it's his sister, he'd probably let it slip out to her somehow!
What Goldenpelt needed was a cat with experience, a cat he could trust, a cat with plenty of years under their pelt, and a cat with kits to boot. Glancing over towards the elder's den, he noticed Heavypelt sitting in the morning sun with Clifftail's kits.
Bingo! Thank you StarClan!
Goldenpelt rushed across camp over to the elder's den. It seemed Heavypelt was in the middle of telling the kits a story.
"Hey, Heavypelt, might I have a quick word with you?"
"Sure, Goldenpelt," Heavypelt swished his tail, "run along, kits, I'll tell you all the rest of my story later." With an annoyed sigh, the three kits padded away back towards the nursery. "So, what did you need?"
"Well," Goldenpelt took his place next to Heavypelt, "I'm sure you remember our little... secret from last night?"
"I'm aware. It did only happen last night."
"Yeah. Well, now that I'm really thinking about it, I think it was a huge mistake."
"You hadn't put much thought into it before? Fathering kits is a big decision."
"It was just a spur of the moment kind of thing, Darkfeather rushed into it, it was just out of my paws." Goldenpelt sighed, "So, I figured maybe you could give me some sage advice or something like that."
Heavypelt shrugged, "I'm afraid it's really not my place to give advice. Have kits, don't have kits; that's completely up to you and your mate."
"C'mon, there has to be something you can tell me?"
Heavypelt grunted, "You want my advice? Come clean to Darkfeather, let her know that you're nervous about becoming a father. If you two put your heads together, I'm sure you'll be able to come up with something. But in the meantime, just relax. Don't let this get to you so mush, or it's going to drive you batty."
"How am I supposed to relax?"
The pudgy tom shrugged, "Spend time with your friends, talk to your brothers, go for a walk, go out for a drink; anything you can use to calm your nerves."
Goldenpelt let out a sigh of relief. "I drink actually sounds pretty good right about now. Thank you, Heavypelt. It's like you've becoming my mentor all over again."
As Goldenpelt sat up to walk away, he was approached by Shrewfur, the FireClan deputy.
"Toadstar would like to see you, Goldenpelt. He says it's urgent."
Following Shrewfur, Goldenpelt made his way up the rocky ledge to Toadstar's den. Inside sat his father's closest friends; the FireClan council, consisting of Gingerstep, Shrewfur, Mossfeather, and Emeraldgaze. He remembered Heavypelt used to be a member of the council before his retirement.
"You wanted to see me, dad?" asked Goldenpelt.
Toadstar's green eyes shimmered in the soft light of the den. "I'm glad you're here, Goldenpelt. As I'm sure you are aware, Clifftail and Bramblefoot's kits will become apprentices tonight. After further discussion with the council, as well as the parents of the kits, we've decided we want you to mentor Mousekit."
"M-Mentor? Me? What about Clawstripe and Blazeheart?"
"Well, we all found you the most suitable for the job at the moment. Clawstripe seems like he wants to just sleep his days away nowadays, and Blazeheart's mind just seems... elsewhere. It really wouldn't be wise to give him an apprentice at a time of such a stupor."
Goldenpelt thought about what Toadstar was asking. Perhaps this could be a good thing, being a mentor. After all, experience with an apprentice could help him take the next step to becoming a father. On the other hand, his mind was brought back to an idea he had thought up the night before.
"Actually," he began, "if it's okay with you, I'd like to mentor one of Heavypelt's kits."
"Heavypelt's kits? You mean Ripplekit and Eelkit?"
"Yeah. He's been helping me with some... things recently, and I feel like I owe it to him."
Toadstar glanced at the members of his council and nodded. "If that's what you want, very well. We will have to assign another warrior to Mousekit's apprenticeship, and we will discuss your involvement in the education of Heavypelt's kits." Toadstar flicked his tail, "That's all we needed."
Goldenpelt decided to take up Heavypelt's idea for a drink. Leaving camp, he walked a short ways south to the shore of the lake. He preferred water from the river, but with tensions still high with ThunderClan, he decided not to take his chances and upset Morningstar. Bending down to lap at the water, Goldenpelt took a nice look at himself.
I've definitely come a long way from the runt of the clan.
He was surprised at just how mature he looked. His fur had grown longer, his shoulders grew broader, and his journey through the mountains seemed to have hardened his face into looking like a rough and tough veteran of the clan.
I really am like a spitting image of Thunderstar.
The thought of Thunderstar crashed through Goldenpelt's mind like a wave from the lake. He had completely forgotten about the next step of the prophecy! Stormfur had told him that the next piece of the puzzle would happen back by the lake, but nothing had yet to happen. Goldenpelt searched his mind for any bit of extra information the ancient tribe cat had told him, but found nothing.
Maybe I should ask Blazeheart. After all, he's the one who sent us up to the mountains in the first place.
Goldenpelt found Blazeheart in the shade next to the warrior's den. He was just moping about by himself; something everyone had grown used to by now, not really doing anything. Blazeheart's ears perked up as he saw his brother approach.
"Hey, Blazeheart," Goldenpelt mewed, "you mind if I ask you a question?"
The orange tom grunted, "I guess not, no. What's up?"
"You haven't heard anything else about that little prophecy starring us, have you? Any weird dreams? Visions? Anything?"
"No, I don't think so."
"Well, don't you think that's weird?"
"I don't know. We just got back from the mountains a little while ago; I'm sure these things take time for StarClan to set up and whatnot."
Goldenpelt sighed, "Stormfur said that the next part of the story would happen here by the lake, and we've gotten nothing so far! Aren't you just the least bit curious about all of this? I mean, all this stuff about us and Thunderstar and Firestar?"
Blazeheart shrugged, "It hasn't really crossed my mind the past few days. I haven't been in the mood to worry about it."
Goldenpelt groaned louder than a monster's roar when he realized what was happening. "This is about Sandwhisker, isn't it? I saw her when we went to Morningstar's camp; pregnant with his kits. You can't tell me you're upset over that."
Blazeheart buried his muzzle into his paws. "Well, you don't have to rub it in."
"Oh, for the love of StarClan! Blazeheart, I know you liked her, but it couldn't have worked out even if we didn't leave for the mountains. She's a ThunderClan cat; you being her mate would have broken the warrior code!"
"I know that, Goldenpelt!" Blazeheart's fur bristled, "I just... I was really happy spending time with her; I didn't care if it was against the code. And now she's gone. Of course, the only she-cat I've ever cared about is not only a ThunderClan cat, but also the mate of that dirt stain Morningstar!"
Goldenpelt rested his tail tip on his brother's shoulder, "I'm sorry, okay? I know that you're really upset, and I understand. But you need to look at the bigger picture here; there was just no way for you two to become an item."
"Surely some cats from opposite clans became mates some time in the past. I mean, there were generations of warriors that came before us."
Goldenpelt shrugged, "Doubt it. Doesn't seem like a common occurrence." He leaned closer to the ginger tom, "I'm telling you this to help you. You need to just let this go and focus on the things that are the most important; and right now, that's figuring out the rest of this story. Are you willing to help me?"
Blazeheart sighed, "Alright. I guess I'll let it go." He looked up to his brother, his green eyes already looked more vibrant than they had been for while, "So what should we do?"
"Well, I thought that over on the way here. We seem to receive these dreams and visions and stuff directly from StarClan, right?"
"Yeah, I guess so."
"Okay, so what cat in our clan has the biggest connection to StarClan? A cat who can talk to them whenever he wants!"
"Come on, Stormspots, please!" Goldenpelt pleaded, "You're the only cat that can help us!"
"Absolutely not! The Moonpool is a place sacred to all clan cats, I can't just send a couple of warriors there all willy nilly!"
"Oh, come on Stormspots," Goldenpelt hissed, "you know we aren't just a couple of warriors! This is important!"
The medicine cat hissed, "Not a chance. I'm way too busy here in camp, a trip to the Moonpool and back will take most of the day at least." Stormspots turned back to his herbs, "Rocketblaze wrenched his shoulder out hunting, I'm going to have to deal with that, Nightkit has kitten-cough, that will take some time to fix, and I need to get Heavypelt's medicine around."
The mention of his former mentor peaked Goldenpelt's interest. "What's the matter with Heavypelt?"
Stormspots turned, "Goldenpelt, he's really sick. That's why he had to retire, remember? I need to prepare a weeks worth of a special herb blend so he doesn't grow weaker each day."
Goldenpelt's heart sank. He didn't know Heavypelt was so sick. He wasn't going to die, was he?
"I understand that you're busy, but we'd be really grateful if you could give us a hand."
Looking back at Goldenpelt, Stormspots narrowed his eyes and sighed. "Alright, I'll throw you two a bone just this one. This had better not come back to bite me in the rear later." The medicine cat unsheathed his claws and drew scratches into the earth of his den, "I can give you two directions there, but you're on your own after that; I've got to stick back here."
"Fair enough, just show us what to do."
Stormspots pointed to a pebble he had placed next to the scratches. "This is camp. You're going to want to head east until you hit the river at the border." He made a circular motion with his paw, "Some wild garlic usually grows around here, you'll need it to mask your scent when you cross through ThunderClan territory. If that doesn't work, try rolling in some mud or the herbs I've got growing at the old Twoleg den." Stormspots then ran his claw across another line, "Then, follow the river north until you hit the Moonpool."
"You're doing us a huge favor, big guy."
"Don't mention it," Stormspots returned to mixing herbs together, "consider us even after what happened in the mountains."
Goldenpelt and Blazeheart followed Stormspots directions the best they could, even going as far as to hunt down a patch of garlic to roll in. The walk through ThunderClan territory was perilous, and the two had to dodge a number of patrols. Finally, the found themselves headed upriver to the Moonpool, completely in the clear.
"So what do you think we're gonna find when we get to the Moonpool?" asked Blazeheart.
Goldenpelt shrugged, "I'm not really sure. I mean, I don't really know what to expect anymore. We've run into foxes, StarClan warriors, tribal cats, ghosts; what's next, a talking badger?"
Approaching the Moonpool, Goldenpelt was starstruck at how the water shimmered in the sunlight. He was certain it looked better under the light of the moon, but it was still a sight to behold. He thought about how medicine cats would reach StarClan; by touching the tip of their nose to the pool and dozing off.
"We need to have the same dream," muttered Blazeheart.
"The last time we had a dream about this whole prophecy thing, I was the only one who had it. We need to make sure we both have the same dream, and both see the same things."
"Okay... Any ideas on how we do that?"
Blazeheart brought his tail tip to his chin, "We could try linking ourselves together."
Glancing at his tail, an idea seemed to spur in the ginger tom's head. "When we touch our noses to the pool, let's intertwine our tails. Maybe that could connect the two of us."
Goldenpelt gave a skeptical look, "Seriously? That sounds like something Darkfeather and I would do when we cuddle up in the sun."
"Do you have a better idea?"
Goldenpelt sighed; he obviously didn't. "Fine. Just keep your paws to yourself, I only love you as a brother."
The two toms huddled together above the clear water of the Moonpool. They wrapped their tails together in a dual-helix of orange and gold. Nodding to one another, the bent down their heads and touched the cool water of the pool.
A shock went through Goldenpelt's body as a freezing chill rushed through his veins before he blacked out.
Chapter Six - Blazeheart
The chill of the Moonpool's water began to slowly fade away as Blazeheart opened his eyes. He still shivered, but his body appeared to return to normal. Looking next to him, he was relieved to see Goldenpelt slowly twitching as he came to as well. Lifting his head, he saw a fairly bleak sight; just a large, grassy clearing that seemed to stretch out as far as the eye could see.
"You're little theory worked, good job Blazeheart," Goldenpelt mewed. So... Do you have any idea where we are?"
Blazeheart glanced around the clearing. There really wasn't any point of reference he could use to pinpoint himself. "Afraid not. Maybe somewhere in WindClan? I hear they have a bunch of big fields."
Suddenly, a faint orange glow appeared in the distance. It was small, but it stood out against the dark blue sky.
"Hey," Blazeheart brought the glow to his brother's attention, "let's go check that out."
As Blazeheart and Goldenpelt padded closer to the glow, the sun slowly rose across the horizon, bringing light to the sky. Soon, the two found themselves right in front of the glow. Upon further inspection, Blazeheart realized the glow was emanating from a small ball of fire.
Goldenpelt reached his paw out to the ball of fire and poked it. He jumped and reeled back in pain. "Augh! That burns!"
"Well, I guess that means it's real fire. But what could it mean?"
"It's a little tiny fire," Goldenpelt hissed, clutching his burnt paw, "I don't really think there's a lot to interpret here."
Blazeheart leaned closer to the fire; he swore he could see the reflection of a cat in it. As he drew closer, the ball dropped to the floor and set the entire clearing on fire in an instant. The grass seemed an effective fuel, and rising smoke blocked out the sky and covered the sun.
"Great!" Goldenpelt yowled, "What are we supposed to do now?"
"Relax! This is just a dream, it can't really hurt us!"
"That doesn't separate the fact that everything is on fire, Blazeheart! How are we supposed to get out?"
Blazeheart squinted as the smoke burned his eyes. "It looks like there's a clear bit just on the other side! We're going to need to rush through it!"
"Seriously? Run through fire?"
"Again, do you have any better ideas?"
Goldenpelt hissed, "Fine, but this had better work!"
Bracing themselves, the two warriors lunged into the flames. Blazeheart's pelt burned as if he had been slashed by hundreds of claws at once. Thankfully, his assumption was correct, and he and his brother came out on the other side safely.
"Oh, thank StarClan." Blazeheart let out a sigh of relief with his face buried in the soft grass. It was comfortable, almost akin to his bed in the warrior's den.
Goldenpelt's frightened mew made Blazeheart's head snap up off the ground. Before him stood a cat. He looked familiar, but different as well. This strange cat had a completely black pelt with a single white paw.
The strange cat didn't reply. It simply narrowed its icy-blue eyes down at Blazeheart and Goldenpelt. The cat seemed to have something pointed wrapped around its neck.
Thorns? Blazeheart thought. No, they look too unnatural. Those look like... teeth?
Blazeheart realized the thing around his neck was called a collar, a word he learned from his father, studded with large and yellowed teeth.
"Why are you here?" Goldenpelt asked the strange cat.
The cat unsheathed its huge claws, and opened its mouth. Its voice was a shrill as crackling ice.
"I've come home."
Blazeheart and his brother awoke with a start. The rush of the cold water suddenly reappeared and caused the two cats to whip their heads up.
"Wh-What was that? Who was that cat?" asked Goldenpelt.
"You think I know? I mean, he looked like Whitefoot but... bigger and mean. Also, Whitefoot's never worn a kittypet collar."
"Well, how about that dream? What do you think it could mean, it just seemed so nonsensical."
"Yeah, with the fire and the smoke. I'm not sure what it could mean." Blazeheart brought his tail tip to his chin, "Maybe we should talk to dad about this. After all, he has a better connection with StarClan than we do. Besides, he knows far more stuff about the past than we do."
"Alright then, I guess we had better go home and talk to him."
Stepping away from the Moonpool, Blazeheart and Goldenpelt traveled downstream back into ThunderClan territory. The made sure to be more cautious, as the garlic they had rolled in earlier seemed to have worn off. The two made it deep into ThunderClan territory before Goldenpelt seemed to find something off.
"Something's wrong here," Goldenpelt sniffed the air, "do you smell ThunderClan?"
"Of course I smell ThunderClan, we're in ThunderClan territory."
"No, I mean do you really smell it? It's really concentrated around he--"
Goldenpelt was cut off in a flash of white. He was tackled by the ThunderClan warrior, Winterbreeze. Quickly, the warriors Eggclaw, Dewfrost, and Duskfall stepped out from the surrounding bushes and surrounded Blazeheart. They had been captured by an entire patrol.
"Thought you could trespass on our territory, did you? spat Winterbreeze.
"You don't understand," hissed Goldenpelt, "we were just on our way back from the Moonpool. We weren't tresspassing!"
"You two don't look like medicine cats, that law doesn't apply to you." Winterbreeze hauled Goldenpelt off the ground, "We're taking you two to see Morningstar. He'll decide what to do with you. Get a move on."
The four warriors shoved Blazeheart and Goldenpelt all the way to ThunderClan camp. Shocked eyes and dirty looks met the two cats as they marched down the path into the stone quarry. The ThunderClan cats seemed far more... aggressive than they usually did.
From his den upon a high, rocky ledge, Morningstar appeared; his deputy Witherfoot followed quickly behind.
"Well, well; FireClan warriors, why am I not surprised," hissed Morningstar.
"Morningstar," Goldenpelt mewed, "this is all just a big misunderstanding. We were simply on our way back to camp from the Moonpool. No tresspassing, no prey-stealing. No nothing. Okay?"
Morningstar scoffed, "A likely story! You really think I'd allow such irrational behavior in my clan? What if you had brought a fox with you, hot on your trail? What if a dangerous sickness broke out in FireClan, and you infected us by travelling through our territory?"
Blazeheart looked at Goldenpelt, "Seriously? Those are some pretty big 'what-ifs'."
"Silence! You seem to forget that you are the one in trouble here." The ThunderClan leader narrowed his eyes, "My deputy and I will discuss what to do with you two. In the meantime, you will be held in our elder's den. Eggclaw, guard the both of them. Make sure they don't escape."
"Get going," hissed Eggclaw.
"Paws off the merchandise, pal," Goldenpelt spat, "We're going."
Blazeheart and Goldenpelt were placed in a sparcely populated elder's den, which made sense since the only ThunderClan elder was Stormwhisker, their former deputy.
"Just wait here until Morningstar is done," mewed Eggclaw, "And don't even think about leaving."
With a grunt, Blazeheart rested his head on the ground next to his brother.
"What did you kids do?"
Blazeheart's ears perked up as a gruff mew came from next to him. Stormwhisker was looking at him; intently, but not menacingly.
"Uh... My brother and I were coming back from the Moonpool and got caught."
The blue-gray elder scoffed, "If I was still deputy, I'd have just let you both off with a warning. But Morningstar's so intent on setting an example he can't even let the littlest things go."
Blazeheart cocked his head in confusion. "You seem a bit more mellow than the other warriors."
"Yeah, that's all Morningstar's doing. He's barely been leader for a moon, and he's practically brainwashed them all into xenophobic mousebrains."
"Well, what's your deal then?" asked Goldenpelt.
"You kids must not have been born when this happened, but I was the cat who was in the scandal with WindClan's leader. I've got kits in FireClan, WindClan, and ShadowClan. I regret it now, but it's taught me to not bother with prejudice."
"Oh! You must be Darkfeather's grandfather then!" Blazeheart saw Goldenpelt's face light up, "Her and I are actually mates. It's nice to meet you!"
Stormwhisker winked, "Pleasure's all mine, kid."
Blazeheart smiled. After all the crude glances the other ThunderClan cats had given him, Stormwhisker seemed like a pretty nice cat.
Suddenly, the old tom yowled in pain and reeled back.
"Great StarClan," screeched Blazeheart, "what was that?"
Stormwhisker grunted, "It was my leg. Darn thing creaks and aches whenever I move it now. I swear, Morningstar's lucky that I'm not..."
Morningstar's name caught Blazeheart attention. "What? What happened with Morningstar?"
The elder's amber eyes were wide as a monster's paws when he looked away from the two young warriors. "Nothing. Nothing happened with Morningstar, everything's a-okay."
Goldenpelt seemed to pay no mind, but Blazeheart wasn't convinced.
"No, I think there is something that happened with Morningstar." Blazeheart rested a paw on Stormwhisker's shoulder, "We may be from different clans, but we're all connected by the warrior code. If something happened, we're on your side here."
Stormwhisker's jaw seemed to quiver a bit before his mouth opened. "I... I..."
Eggclaw stuck his head into the Elder's Den, "Get on out here, Morningstar's ready for you."
Goldenpelt did as he was told and left the den. As Blazeheart began to sit up, Stormwhisker quickly pulled him close. His grave tone sent chills down Blazeheart's spine.
"Listen to me, young one. Whatever you do, don't trust Morningstar. He isn't as he seems."
Stormwhisker frantically looked around, "Tonight. Come to the abandoned twoleg nest, please."
"O-Okay. Yeah, sure."
Stormwhisker let go of Blazheart and went back to just staring into space. Blazeheart stepped out of the elder's den and met with Goldenpelt, who was standing before Morningstar.
"Now, I'm afraid that because you are FireClan warriors, I don't have the authority to discipline the two of you," Morningstar began. "But, I will take both of you back to your camp myself, present you to Toadstar, and let him decide what to do with you."
Blazeheart grunted, "Whatever."
A searing pain shot up Blazeheart's backside. Witherfoot had used his good leg to rake his claws across his flank.
"You don't talk to Morningstar like that."
Blazeheart cursed the deputy under his breath, but said nothing.
"Thank you, Witherfoot," remarked Morningstar, "Now let's go you two."
Blazeheart and Goldenpelt followed Morningstar across the remainder of ThunderClan territory to the edge of the FireClan border. Suddenly, the ThunderClan leader just stopped at sat there, staring at the expanse of the territory.
"Well?" asked Blazeheart, "What're you waiting for?"
"See, I don't break the warrior code. I'm waiting for some FireClan warriors to come around and invite me into their territory."
"You've got to be joking."
Morningstar glared at Blazeheart, "I'm not doing this for my health."
Blazeheart sighed and forced a smile onto his face, "Morningstar! What a surprise! Why don't you come into our territory, take a load off, have a nice home-caught meal?"
"Yeah, and kill our other medicine cat while your at it," hissed Goldenpelt.
"I don't need the sarcasm, but I will accept your offer. How very generous of you."
He's got nine lives, right? I wonder how easy it would be to take a couple of them right now.
Blazeheart fought the urge to go off on Morningstar and led the leader all the way to FireClan camp. In contrast to ThunderClan, the FireClan warriors looked simply confused. Stormspots, on the other hand, looked disgusted.
"Morningstar," Toadstar stepped out to the edge of his perch and looked down at the ThunderClan leader, "what is the meaning of this? What are you doing with my sons?"
"I caught your sons trespassing on my territory. I felt it only right to return them to you."
Toadstar narrowed his green eyes at Blazeheart and Goldenpelt, "Well, I thank you for this. I'm not sure what they were thinking."
"Perhaps you should keep a better eye on your clanmates," Morningstar hissed. "Just because you're the great FireClan doesn't give you the right to do whatever you want."
"Face it, your warriors seem to be bending the rules constantly. You take in outsiders, you cross borders, start fights. Yet you get no repercussions all because you're the mighty Toadstar."
Toadstar opened his mouth to reply, but was cut off by Heavypelt, who had gotten up from his nest in the elder's den and slowly padded over to the ThunderClan cat.
"You're wrong about Toadstar," the old tom began, "He doesn't break the rules. Ever. He's one of the noblest cats to walk these woods. He saved all of our lives in the battle against BloodClan." Heavypelt narrowed his eyes, "What right do you have to talk down to him like that?"
"I'm entitled to my opinion. You can't take that away from me, old man."
Blazeheart jumped as Shrewfur suddenly appeared next to Morningstar, eyes like yellow slits. "You need to leave, now."
Morningstar scoffed, "I was just leaving anyway." The ThunderClan leader turned and walked out of camp.
Shrewfur turned his head and looked up at Toadstar, "I'll see him to the border, don't worry about a thing boss."
As the commotion around camp settled down, Blazeheart nodded to Goldenpelt and slowly tried to sneak back into the warrior's den.
"Blazeheart. Goldenpelt. My den, now."
Blazeheart groaned as he drug his feet up to the den near the perch. Inside, Toadstar was already sitting on his nest in the dark.
"Why don't you boys tell me exactly what you were doing in ThunderClan territory?"
"This was all my idea, dad," remarked Goldenpelt. "When we were in the mountains, a warrior named Stormfur told us that the next bit of our prophecy would happen here by the lake. We figured it would be beneficial to go to the Moonpool for answers."
"Yeah," mewed Blazeheart, "we didn't mean to trespass. You understand, right?"
Toadstar sighed, "I understand what you were doing, but I'm still very disappointed in the both of you. If you continue to be so reckless, it will raise suspicion. And if there's anything I learn from Bloodstar, it's that anyone can be listening at any time, so you need to be careful."
Blazeheart nodded, "Yes father."
Toadstar leaned back in his nest, "I'm not upset with you two, but I can't allow my sons to set an example for breaking the rules. I want both of you in the warrior's den for the rest of the day. No but's."
Blazeheart sighed, "Okay."
Leaving Toadstar's den, Blazeheart and Goldenpelt made their way directly to the warrior's den and into their nests. Goldenpelt quickly fell asleep, but Blazeheart sat awake thinking about what Stormwhisker had said.
Sorry dad, he thought, but I've got other plans tonight...
Chapter Seven - Blazeheart
Blazeheart pretended he was asleep for the remainder of the day. Once the sun had fully set, and all other cats in camp had gone asleep, he crept out of the warrior's den and searched for some kind of breach he could use to sneak out.
It's no use... I'm going to have to be clever.
Blazeheart decided his best idea was to simply use the front exit to leave camp. He padded over to it until he was stopped by Thistlebelly, who was standing guard.
"Hold it," the gray tom mewed, "where are you off to this late?"
"I'm just going to make dirt and get a drink. I won't take too long."
"Hmmm," Thistlebelly narrowed his eyes in thought, "Well, alright. Just hurry back."
Blazeheart thanked the stars he was able to leave camp without opposition. Rather than rolling in garlic, he decided mud would be best to hide his scent. Not to mention, his flame-colored pelt stood out in a dark forest, so mud could give him better camouflage. The thick, earthy mixture reeked like fish from the river, but it did its job.
At least I don't have to worry about any patrols at night.
The darkness served perfect cover as Blazeheart made his way to the abandoned twoleg nest completely undetected. Memories of his time with Sandwhisker rushed back to him, as this used to be their favorite meeting place. Stepping inside, he realized Stormwhisker had yet to arrive. He took his place on an old, torn up chair in a corner of the den and wait. In time, Stormwhisker managed to limp his way into the den.
"You came," the old tom's eyes lit up, "you actually came!"
"Yeah, I told you I would. You know, you didn't have to come all the way out here; especially with your leg. We could have met closer to your camp if you wanted."
"No, it's fine. I'm not a paw in my grave just yet. Besides, the farther I get from camp, the better."
"What's gong on in your camp anyway?" Blazeheart knew he had something to say, but Stormwhisker still looked hesitant, "Don't worry, you can trust me."
Stormwhisker looked at Blazeheart for a moment and sighed, :"Okay, but you need to make sure that no cat hears what I will tell you."
"You have my word."
"Okay... If you haven't noticed, Morningstar's leadership has brought a number of problems to ThunderClan."
"Yeah, I could glean that."
"Well, he shouldn't really be leader right now. Not on any accounts. If anything, that cat should be burning for what he's done."
"Burning?" Blazeheart was confused. "What's he done to deserve that."
Stormwhisker held moved forward his limp leg, "This. He did this to me. I knew he had his eyes on my position since the moment he became warrior, but I was a young and healthy cat. I wasn't going anywhere anytime soon."
"So what happened?"
"Our medicine cat Lotuspetal declared it to be a hunting accident. According to her, I fell out of a tree trying to nab a hawk." The warrior shook his head, "I've hunted these woods for moons. I don't just fall out of trees. No, Morningstar did this. I was in a tree when it happened, but he had shoved me off a branch. Once I hit the ground, he told me that if I told anyone what had happened, he would finish the job."
"So you didn't do anything?"
"If I could go back and say something, I would. Sure, I probably would be taking a dirt-nap right now, but at least Smokestar would still be in charge." Stormwhisker looked back at Blazeheart, "Then, he manipulated his way to deputy. That little skirmish he got in with your old medicine cat? He told Smokestar that he had run off a trespassing FireClan patrol. Smokestar was so proud, he made Morningstar deputy on the spot."
Blazeheart narrowed his eyes. Morningstar had killed their old medicine cat, Tawnysoul, a trusted friend of FireClan for countless moons, and used it for his own gain.
"But that's not the worst of it."
Blazeheart cocked his head, "What happened next, then?"
"Morningstar... Morningstar killed Smokestar."
"Smokestar is dead, and the blood is on Morningstar's paws. I saw it with my own eyes." Stormwhisker settled back in his seat, "It was a few days after I had to retire. Smokestar had just gone out on a hunting patrol with Morningdawn and a number of other warriors. I thought that if I could get out there and show him that I was still physically able, he would let me come out of retirement. So I limped my way out there and followed Smokestar's scent. When I found him, he and Morningdawn were already fighting. It was gruesome, the kind of fight that only one cat walks away from."
"What did you see? Stormwhisker, I have to know."
Stormwhisker took in a deep breath, "Morningdawn slashed Smokestar across the neck. While Smokestar was recovering from losing a life, Morningdawn dumped his body into the lake and sent it downstream. When he got up to call for help, he saw me hiding in the bushes. He pinned me to the ground and told me if anyone found out, he would kill me."
Blazeheart's mind was racing. Morningstar had crippled Stormwhisker, killed Tawnysoul, and murdered Smokestar! He needed to be stopped.
"Don't you see, Stormwhisker? We need to tell somebody! We can get Morningstar exiled, executed, we can get rid of him!"
"No! He knows that I'm the only other cat who knows about this. If he finds out I talked, he'll hunt me down; exile or not. This just needs to stay between us."
"Morningstar killed Smokestar! This is big news, we can't just keep this to ourselves."
"If you value your safety, I'd suggest you do as I ask. If Morningstar finds out you know all about this, consider your brothers, your mother, and Toadstar all as good as dead. Because he'll spend all nine lives making sure this doesn't get out."
Blazeheart sighed, "Well, now that I know all this, what am I supposed to do?"
"Just go on as usual. Meet me here again in a few days, we can discuss how to handle this better."
"Thank you." Stormwhisker stepped up from his seat and limped over to the entrance of the twoleg den, "And remember; our little secret."
Chapter Eight - Goldenpelt
Chapter Nine - Clawstripe
Chapter Ten - Goldenpelt
Chapter Eleven - Blazeheart