What Is Love
When You Can Have All The Power In The World?
Nightfall has always loved Sunsetfur. Sure she's the most popular she-cat in the Clan, with many followers, and a perfect life.
But is Sunsetfur as perfect as she seems? And if the seemingly Mary-Sue has a dark side, what will happen to those who get consumed by it?
Chapter 1 ~Damaged~
"Nightfall! Featherpelt! Sunsetfur!"
The Clan cheers as our warrior names are shouted. My sister, Featherpelt turns to me, her long gray fur swaying in the wind. "We're warriors!" She mews in excitment.
I nod in agreement, and Sunsetfur blinks. "Yes. I wish Rockpaw, Shoalpaw and Mistypaw could have been here for this."
I hang my head in memory on Sunsetfur's siblings. They disapeared about 2 moons ago. No cat knows where they are. Most believe that they walk with StarClan, but Sunsetfur still clings to the hope that they're still alive. It's a lost cause, but inside, I hope she's right.
We don't want to lose our Clanmates forever.
"Psst! Wake up!"
I jerk my head up, and see that I fell asleep during my vigil. Featherpelt stands next to me, and my pelt burns in shame. She flicks her fluffy tail. "Don't worry. Sunsetfur fell asleep as well."
The white she-cat blushes. "I was so tired. I closed my eyes for just a second. Then..." She trails off, and looks into the rising sun.
Featherpelt blinks. "Well come on. Darksong said we could go into the warriors den and get some sleep, not that you two need it." She mews.
Sunsetfur flicks her tail at Featherpelt is a joking manner. "Let's go then. And let's try to get nests away from Snakefang. He'll kill us if we put one paw onto his perfectly symmetrical nest.
We all laugh, and pad into the den. It's a small hole between some boulders, but inside, the sheltered cave makes a perfect den, especially in the scorching heat that SpottedClan receives in green-leaf.
Featherpelt lies down in the first empty nest, at the back of the den. I lie in the one next to her, and Sunsetfur lies down on my left. Her beautiful white pelt glows in the dark, while the brown patches by her green eyes melt into the shade of the den.
It pains me. I want her so much, but I know she'd never look my way. She's more into toms like Tigerstrike, or Hazelfoot.
But no matter where she goes, or what does, I will always love her.
I poke my head out of my nest. The rising sun is streaming through the brambles near the top of the den.
"Nightfall! Hurry up!"
Snakefang's loud yowl finally makes me drag myself out of my nest. The brown tom growls at me. "Took you long enough. Poppysong wants you on a hunting patrol."
I nod, and pad up to the creamy gray she-cat. "Ah there you are, Featherpelt, Hazelfoot and Sunsetfur are waiting for you."
Sunsetfur turns my way, and blinks softly. Without a second thought, I fly to the group. But before I can get close to Sunsetfur, Hazelfoot blocks my path. "This is a hunting patrol, not a social outing. It's your first one as warriors, so don't mess around."
I gulp, and nod sheepishly to Hazelfoot. He turns tail, and leads us into the forest. I fall in beside Featherpelt. She leans over and mews, "Why do you follow her like a lost kit?"
I stare at her. "Featherpelt, I love her. You know that."
She shakes her head. "Only too well. Something's up, and I think it has to do with her." Seeing my look of disbelief, she adds, "I don't trust her. I'm sorry Nightfall, but I don't. She's dangerous. And I don't want you to be the first to fall into a trap she sets."
I snarl at my sister. "You're just jealous that maybe I could have another cat in my life besides you. I'm allowed to love who I want, and that's final!" I stalk away from her, leaving her in the dust.
"Alright everyone. Let's split up." Mews Hazelfoot.
Featherpelt walk over to him. "How about we hunt together?" She mews innocently. Hazelfoot looks over, and nods. "Sure." He mews gruffly. "We'll go upstream, you go downstream."
I nod to him, and pad into the trees, with Sunsetfur at my side.
"Race you to the bank!" She mews, and tears off. I bolt after her, matching her stride for stride. We stop at the riverbank, and look down at the rushing water.
"It's beautiful." She mewed softly. I purred. "Yes. It makes me want to freeze this moment, and live in it forever." Sunsetfur blinked, and looked away. "Come on. Let's find some prey."
"Sure. I'll go see if i can find some squirrels." I replied. Sunsetfur acknowledges me words with a flick of her tail, and pads off.
I stare at the water wondering. Does she like me? Will she ever like me? Am I nothing to her? Or everything?
Finaly I give up, and attempt to find some prey.
The last thing I hear before catching a small, black squirrel, is Featherpelt's hysterical scream.
My vison blurs, and the ground seems to sway.
This is no ordinary scream.
This is her death-scream.
Chapter 2 ~Broken~
Eyes blurred, I race in the direction of her scream. Her voice was choked, and I know if I don't get there soon she'll die. She doesn't scream like that normally. She's only done it once before.
She only screams like that, if she knows she's going to die.
Don't make me lose you now.
I screech to a halt, as I stop beside the wide rushing part of the stream. Featherpelt's gray body pokes out of the haze of water, along with Sunsetfur. But unlike my sister, Sunsetfur was clearly alive, and dragging Featherpelt's body out of the stream.
"I'm sorry." She mews. "I got there too late." Her green eyes brim with tears.
I lean down and lick my sister's fur. For one small moment, she opens her eyes. "Nightfall, too late." She croaks. Then she shuts her eyes, her breathing stops, and her body grows cold.
"No! Featherpelt!" I screech. But I know I'm too late. She's dead.
Sunsetfur licks my cheek. "Come on. Let's find Hazelfoot, and we'll take her back to camp for the vigil.
I blink the tears out of my eyes. "Of course. You find him. I need to stay with her."
The white she-cat nods and scampers off, and I press my face into her soft, wet pelt. I'm so sorry Featherpelt. I never should have gotten mad. If I'd stayed with you, this wouldn't have happened.
I swear I can hear her soul telling me that it's too late now.
The rising sun warms my black fur. I blink my bleary eyes, as I see Featherpelt for the last time. Birdpaw, Tabbypaw and I will be burying her soon. But I don't want them to come yet. I need just a little bit longer.
A little longer to explain how sorry I am.
How sorry I am for letting her die.
"Nightfall? Are you ready now?" Mews Tabbypaw gently. I nod quietly, and pick up my sister. Birdpaw and Tabbypaw hoist her up, and we make out way the the burial grounds. Our elder, Clovergaze, is much too old to be out for the cermony, so I whisper the words to send my sister to StarClan.
If I could change this day, I would.
This is my biggest mistake.
But what I didn't know then, is that I had worse mistakes to come.
Sunsetfur's calm, quiet words pull me from sleep. "Yes?" I mew softly.
She blinks her green eyes. "I need to talk to you, in private. Will you come?"
I nod. Maybe she does like me. It could never make up for Featherpelt's dealth, but I could feel less damaged. Less ready to lose myself in greif.
So I follow her behind the nursery, where she looks at me, her eyes full of fear. "I don't have much time." She mews. "I think I'm-" She breaks off as a rustle of leaves lets Hawkstrike into the scene.
"There you are Sunsetfur!" She mews. "I've been looking for you everywhere!"
Sunsetfur cringes. "I need to talk to Nightfall, alone. Can this wait?"
Hawkstrike shook her head. "Come on! It'll be fun!"
Sunsetfur sighs, and looks at me. "Can I talk to you later?" She mews.
I nod, and she tears after her best friend. But her words still fill my mind.
The look of fear in her eyes.
And I start to wonder what's really going on.
"Jayclaw has kitted!"
The yowl echoes through the camp, and I stick my nose out of the warriors den. Riverblaze is clearly happy, as the proud father he is.
I pull myself outside, and the heat of the day hits right off the bat. I wince as the heat bakes my black fur. But I shake myself, and pad up to Riverblaze. "Can I see the kits?" I mew. He nods, and I stick my head into the sheltered nursery.
Jayclaw raises her head. "Hello Nightfall." She mews. "Come to see the kits?" I nod, and she holds her tail over the kits in turn. "The brown tom is Rowankit, the tortie is Tawnykit, the brown she-cat is Blossomkit, and the small gray she-cat is Featherkit."
Seeing my widened eyes, she mews, "I know Nightfall. I thought the same thing."
I look down, and I almost see my sister suckling at Jayclaw's belly. I feel like she could almost be living a second life.
Jayclaw looks me in the eyes and mews, "Let us hope this Featherkit gets to see life go on."
Ashwhisker's mew of panic, makes me turn right around. Her face is gaunt with worry. I pad up to her. "What's wrong Ashwhisker?"
The gray medicine cat dips her head. "He's missing. I sent Littlepaw out to collect some lavender, but he's still not back yet. I think something's happened to him."
I think about her statment, concerned. "I'll go look for him. He probably got side-tracked."
Ashwhisker nods, and I race away, in hopes of finding the lost apprentice. I expect to see him asleep, or chasing mice.
What I don't expect, is his dead body lying in a pool of blood, neck broken, eyes wide with fear.
But that's exactly what I see.
StarClan help me.
Chapter 3 ~Suspicions~
"L-Littlepaw?" I mew, heart pounding. I can't believe that he's just there, somehow dead.
This can't be happening.
But it is. And I'm almost ready to call for help, when out of the blue, Sunsetfur, Poppysong, Mountainpelt and Laurelpaw step out of the bushes. They see Littlepaw right away, and Mountainpelt snarls. "What did you do to my son?!"
I try to mew my way out, but Sunsetfur leans down. "Look! There's golden brown fur stuck between his claws!" She mews. With one movement she leans down and plucks it out. "Nightfall is a black cat. There's no way he did this."
I nod a silent thank you to her. She blinks, and Poppysong nods. "I'm so sorry Mountainpelt. But this fur does not belong to any of these cats here. We'll take this back to Cranestar. He'll know what to do."
Mountainpelt finally nods, and we head back. I stick close to Sunsetfur, at the back. "Thank you." I mewed softly. She shrugged. "I would prove any cat's innocence."
I nodded, and we quietly walked back.
But my mind is a whirl as bits and pieces put themselves together.
Sunsetfur was there when Featherpelt died. Claming to have tried to save her.
She was here today on the patrol, Littlepaw being dead.
And she had wanted to speak to me privatly.
Something doesn't add up here, and I'm starting to believe it's her alibi.
I don't want to believe this, but my suspicions seem to make sense.
My only clear thought rises, and makes me feel scared.
Did Sunsetfur kill Featherpelt and Littlepaw?
And if so, am I next?
"Something just feels wrong." I mew to myself. "It just doesn't all add up."
Blueflower turns around. "Something you'd like to share with everyone, Nightfall?"
I shake my head, and pad away, heart heavy. Sunsetfur couldn't have killed them. I refuse to believe it.
But the evidence speaks for itself, and I can't help but feel like my death is just around the corner.
"Let all cats old enough to hunt, gather to here my words!'
Cranestar's words bring me out of my thought, and I gather with the rest of my Clanmates. Poppysong must have convinced him to finally hold the Clan meeting.
To explain how Littlepaw died.
"I'm sorry to say that young Littlepaw has been found dead." He mews. Willowfrost lets out a cry of pain. "My son..." She mews softly to herself.
Cranestar blinks, and continues. "From now on, no cat my leave camp alone, and all apprentices must be accompanied by a warrior."
Cats nod quietly, then Raindapple calls out, "How did Littlepaw die?" Thrushheart nods. "We need to know. Was he murdered?"
Cranestar nods sadly. "He would have been a great medicine cat. SpottedClan will mourn him well."
Every cat dips their head in sadness. But my mind is a whirl as everything tries to place itself together.
One conclusion is still cooking in my head. I can feel it burning in my mind. Sunsetfur's all too innocent face keeps thrusting itself into me.
I can't stop myself rom getting suspicious, and all too well, I remember Featherpelt's words to me.
"I don't trust her. I'm sorry Nightfall, but I don't. She's dangerous. And I don't want you to be the first to fall into a trap she sets."
I feel myself falling from the sky, and ground swaying, as the cat I love becomes a cruel and demonic monster in my head.
StarClan help me
"Nightfall? Can we talk?"
I turn, and once again see Sunsetfur. She looks around nervously. "It's really important."
I sigh. "Sure. What is it?"
She presses herself close to me, and starts to whisper. "I think that your life might be in danger." She mews.
I do a double-take. "What?"
She looks around, fear in her eyes. "I didn't want this, but-" She cuts herself off as Poppysong passes by.
"If you have nothing better to do than sit around and gossip, join the hunting patrol." She mewed.
Sunsetfur looked pained. "Okay. I'll tell you later Nightfall." With that, she raced away.
What in the name of StarClan does she need to tell me?
And why does it make her so nervous?
"Cranestar! Poppysong! Ashwhisker! It's an emergency!" Laurelpaw shrieks.
Cranestar leaps down from his den in worry. "What's going on?" He mews.
Laurelpaw caught her breath. "Our hunting patrol has been attacked! Willowfrost told me to go back for help!"
Cranestar nods, fear blazing in his wild blue eyes. "Blueflower, Riverblaze, Nightfall!"
The called for cats assemble, and I shake any pains out of my mind. Sunsetfur was on that patrol. Two options spin around as Laurelpaw leads us to a battle. Either she's evil, and helping with this attack, or she's innocent, and could be dying as we speak.
I don't know which one is true, but I just keep running. There's nothing else we can do.
"Time is running out Laurelpaw! Are you sure this is right?" Mews Cranestar.
Laurelpaw nods. "We'll be there soon!" With that she trips over a tree root, and stumbles down into a valley in the heart of the forest. Sure enough, there is the patrol. Coated in blood, matted fur, and yet they don't look too awful.
Willowfrost pads up to Cranestar. "We just beat the last one off. I'm sorry we dragged you out here."
I look around the scene, and there is Sunsetfur. I race over to her. She blinks her green eyes. "There you are." She mewed. I let out a sigh of relief. "You're okay!"
She sighs. "Everyone but Snakefang." With that, she steps aside, and sure enough, Snakefang is lying dead in front of us. Don't get me wrong, I hated him, but I can't help but feel remorse at the sight of his motionless body.
Sunsetfur sighs. "He was brave. A little too brave."
I lean down, and look at his wound, a simple slit across his throat. And in his claws, a tuft of golden brown fur. Only Sunsetfur could have left that there. With a hiss, I turn around and spit at her. "It was you!"
She looks at me, her eyes full of fear. "W-what?"
I growled. "Don't play innocent! You killed Featherpelt. You killed Littlepaw. Now, you killed Snakefang!" My eyes turn to slits as I pace towards her. "What happened to you? Why have you started killing our Clanmates? How could I have ever loved you?"'
Sunsetfur widens her eyes at my last remark. But she flashes her eyes, and snarls. "I didn't kill them. But since you're so quick to think that, go report me to Cranestar."
With that, she stalks away. "You're not the cat I thought you were."
That's when I realize what I've done.
And just how wrong I've been.
Chapter 4 ~Accusations~
My words still float through my head. My cruel accusation of Sunsetfur, 6 moons ago. I still can't believe how malicious I was. Why did I suspect her?
I don't know if she's forgiven me. We barely talk. But no cat has died, so it makes me think. Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it was just a coincidence.
But one part of me still refuses to believe that.
"Let all cats old enough to hunt, gather to hear my words!"
Cranestar stands on Leader's Rock, looking older than ever. He nearly needs Poppysong to lean against him. I gulp. Don't let him die now.
"Cats of SpottedClan! Today we are here to welcome 4 new apprentices to SpottedClan. Rowankit, Featherkit, Tawnykit and Blossomkit, come forward."
The 4 kits nervously stepped forward.
Wheezing, Cranestar mews, "Until you recieve your warrior names, you will be known as Rowanpaw, Featherpaw, Tawnypaw and Blossompaw. Your mentors in turn will be Mountainpelt, Sunsetfur, Nightfall, and Ashwhisker."
Confused, I look up. I'm supposed to be a mentor?
Tawnypaw squeaks, and touches her nose to mine. Her green eyes are alight with happiness.
"Rowanpaw! Tawnypaw! Featherpaw! Blossompaw!"
The siblings quickly crowd us mentors together. "Can we explore the territory?" Mews a very excited Featherpaw.
Sunsetfur says yes, and I'm transported back to when we were apprentices, and Featherpelt was so excitable, and so eager to learn. Her sudden maturity was shocking to me. The very day our parents died in battle, at the very instant Featherpelt knew, she changed. Suddenly mature, and self serving. Didn't rely on anyone.
And it scared me more than anything.
"This is the valley. It's in the heart of the forest, and has plenty of prey."
I zone out as Mountainpelt lectures the apprentices. I'm still sorting out my thoughts. Featherpelt said Sunsetfur was dangerous, and I trusted my sister more than anyone. And yet I'm still reluctant to believe she's a killer.
After everything I said her, all those moons ago, I'm not about to open that subject again.
We decend into the valley, and the pine aroma is nearly overwhelming. I blink, and shake my head. I squirm as a thick was a fur toches my side, and turn to see Sunsetfur.
"I'm sorry." I say right away. "I wasn't thinking straight, and I was still greiving for Featherpelt. I lost control."
"It's okay." She mews. "If the roles were reversed, i might have said the same things about you." Her green eyes drop to the ground. "Did you really love me?"
I nod. "Yes. Since we were kits. But I never thought you'd ever like me."
Sunsetfur almost replies, when suddenly, a roar of terror fills the valley. Mountainpelt's fur stands on end. "Badger! Run!"
We're running, and Sunsetfur's screaming. "It's Blade!" She shrieks. From the nursery tales!"
I don't stop to think, only remembering the fierce badger, that killed ruthlessly. And I realize just how important it is that we get away.
Mountainpelt and Tawnypaw leap over the stream, with Sunsetfur, Rowanpaw, and myself behind. We just make it over, when I hear Featherpaw's scream. "Help me!"
Blade is coming for her, and I'm forcing myself not to see Featherpelt in her scared blue eyes.
Just then, Rowanpaw jumps back over the stream, and pulls his sister up. "Run!" He mews. She scurries over the stream, and is just over, when a crunch of bone is heard. And Rowanpaw is picked up by Blade and carried back into the forest.
"No!" screams Featherpaw. "He can't die! No! He has to be alive! He saved my life!"
I can hear the other cats assuring her that he'll be fine, but I've lost any and all hope.
He saved her.
Could I have done the same for Featherpelt?
Tawnypaw and Featherpaw are silent as we return to camp. I can see that Mountainpelt is blaming himself, and Sunsetfur is trying not to cry. How could we let this happen? I think to myself, feeling guilt pile in my stomache.
Poppysong looks to us as we return, and pads up to us. "What's going on? And where is Rowanpaw?"
"He's dead." Croaks Mountainpelt. "Blade got him."
Poppysong gasps. "No! Oh Riverblaze and Jayclaw will be devesated."
Jayclaw steps out of the warrior's den. 'What? I heard my name."
Sunsetfur sighs. "Jayclaw, your son is dead. We encountered Blade. We ran, and Featherpaw tripped. Rowanpaw went back to get her, before any of us could. She escaped, but he didn't."
Jayclaw lets out a wail. "He was so young!"
I shut my eyes, and ignore Sunsetfur's pelt as it brushes against mine.
How can SpottedClan survive, if our Clanmates are dying all around us?
Chapter 5 ~Betrayal~
It is cold at the vigil.
The first one with no bodies present, since Rockpaw, Shoalpaw, and Mistypaw vanished.
I'm not sure how to react to this.
As much as I want to grieve for Rowanpaw, I still feel that something is wrong. As much as I believe Sunsetfur, Featherpelt didn't trust her. Of course, Featherpelt didn't trust most cats, but I trusted her more than any cat, after our parents died.
Featherpelt could read a cat. She could feel their emotions.
It scared me, but it scares me even more now.
I try to shake it off. Featherpelt is dead. And I love Sunsetfur.
That's when something hits me.
How did Sunsetfur get to Featherpelt before me? Why was she dragging her out of the river? And where was Hazelfoot during all this?
I think, totally conflicted, and try to come to a plausible conclusion.
Dawn comes much before a conclusion can form.
Poppysong sends out the dawn patrol, trusting Laurelshine and Birdfeather to lead some of the other warriors.
I shut my eyes, and imagine Featherpelt.
I wish she was here. She'd know what to do.
It hasn't rained in ages. Wincing as i step on the cracked ground, I make my way to the stream.
The place where my sister died.
I lean down, and lap the cool water, letting my paws sink into the muddy ground.
As I drink, a soft wet thing washes onto my nose. I open my eyes, and spot a tuft of silver fur. Featherpelt's fur. It's clung to the river all this time, and I snatch it up with my teeth. I carry it back to camp, and drop it in my nest. A fragment of my lost sister.
But I need it.
"Hey Nightfall! Can we go hunting?"
I groan and roll over on my back. Tawnypaw is standing right outside my den. "In a moment. I need to wake up first."
"Okay!" she mews, and races into the clearing.
I stand up, and shake the sleep out of my pelt. Then I pad out of the sheltered den, and into the heat. The hot sun burns into my fur, and I try to ignore the blazing heat. Tawnypaw's already ahead, bouncing on her paws.
"Alright, slow down. Yes we'll hunt, but not near the valley. Let's not have a repeat of before."
She nods, and we walk into the forest. Against my better judgement, we stop near the river. "Are we hunting now?" she mews. I nod. "I'll stay with you the whole time."
She drops into a hunters crouch, and starts creeping along the bank. Her feet touch the ground lightly, and she creeps towards a mouse, that's nibbling on a nut. With a swift leap, she lands on the mouse, and bites into it's throat.
"Was that good?" she mews. "I was worried it was bad."
I shake my head. "That was wonderful! I didn't think any apprentice could make a catch on their first day. We'll take that back to camp. I'm sure Clovergaze would love it."
Tawnypaw nods, and grabs her mouse. Holding her head hight with pride, we walk into camp, and she puts her mouse on the top of the pile. She heads off to brag to Featherpaw, and I sit down. My own appretice days were so lighthearted.
I wish it was like that now.
Sunsetfur pads up to me, her soft fur pressed against me. "Nightfall, you know the hill? Where you can look over the territory? I want you to meet me there tonight, so we can watch the sunset."
I turn around, and nod. "I'll meet you there tonight."
Through the day, I think about why Sunsetfur wants me to meet her. Many reasons fly into my head, each as unlikely as the next.
Eventually I eturn to camp, looking for Sunsetfur. I spot her next the the fresh-kill pile, and walk to her. The fading light on her fur turns it even more beautiful, as the white and gold merge together. She turns to me. "Are you ready to go? We don't want to miss it."
I nod, and she scampers away. I chase after her, feeling a cool breeze in my fur, and hear her laugh in the wind. We stop as we get to the hill, and she climbs up it, like she's done it a thousand times before.
"What are you waiting for Nightfall?"
I shut my eyes, and start up after her.
I climb to the top of the hill, where Sunsetfur waits. Her green eyes gleam in the setting sun. "There you are." She mews. "I like to watch this, and I thought I could share it with you."
The mountains seems to be alight with fire as the sun descends into the red sky. "It's beautiful." I comment quietly.
Sunsetfur nods. "I was hoping it would be beautiful."
"Yes." I mew. "A beautiful sunset like this was how Blueflower named you. She was stumped until the saw the light falling onto your fur, and then she knew."
Sunsetfur purrs and shuffles close to me. "I wanted it to be beautiful. You had to see this one. You had to see how beautiful it really is."
I nod gratefully. "I wish I'd come to this place sooner. It's wonderful."
Offhand, Sunsetfur mews, "I'm glad it's a beautiful sunset you got to see." She sighs. "Because after all, it's going to be your last."
"What?" I turn to her, and her gentle face is full of sorrow. "I'm sorry it had to be like this Nightfall."
Before I can run, her face twists into utter rage. She snarls, and her eyes are dark. Sunsetfur leaps at me, claws extended. She drives them into my neck, and I feel them ripping into my flesh.
Why would you do this Sunsetfur?
The world flashes black and white, and the last thing I see is Sunsetfur's rage, twisted in an unatural way.
Then I give in to StarClan's calling words.
I blink open my eyes, and see wispy trees and starlit ground everywhere. Scared, I pad forward. "Is this StarClan?"
A misty shape steps out of the distance. "Nightfall! It's me! Featherpelt!"
I race to me sister, and greet her in an embrace. "I've missed you so much." I murmur. "You were right. She is dangerous. I should have listened to you."
"Nightfall," she mews. "There's something I need to tell you."
I shake my head. "It can wait. Right now, I need to apologize for being such a mouse-brain."
She shuts her blue eyes and pulls herself close to me. "It's okay."
We stay close, but I can't shake this feeling. The fact that I'm dead.
That Sunsetfur, the love of my life, has murdered me.
Her betrayal hurts more than anything.
Chapter 6 ~Secrets~
Featherpelt leads me over to the Pool of Memories. She fog waves around the pool, and the present appears. Sunsetfur is returning to camp, and I automatically hiss at her.
Featherpelt puts her tail up to keep me from leaping into the pool, trying to kill her. "Just watch this." She mews.
I sit down, and let my mind clear as I look into the portal.
Sunsetfur approaches a bush, and mews, "Okay, I did it. I don't know why it had to be him. Can I see them now? Please?"
The bush shakes, and out steps Hazelfoot and Hawkstrike. Hazelfoot sighs. "Is he really dead? Can you prove it? How do we know you didn't just tell him to run off, so you could keep him safe?"
Sunsetfur's eyes glisten with tears. "He's dead. I brought his body." She turns, and drags my lifeless body in front of them. "See? I killed him. I didn't want to, but I did."
Hazelfoot nods. "Good good. I'm surpirsed you followed orders so easily. You killed both of them. It's funny."
Sunsetfur shakes her head. "No. I didn't kill Featherpelt."
Hazelfoot laughs. "Do you think I'm stupid? Of course you killed her! She's dead isn't she?"
Sunsetfur growls. "She drowned. I tried to save her, but she did before I could get the water out of her."
Hawkstrike rolls her eyes. "Sure you did. Pass me the body. We'll bury it later."
She leans down and tears drop onto my body. "I'm sorry." she whispers. "I wanted to save you."
She licks my fur, and passes the carcass to Hawkstrike. The brown she-cat snorts. "You really loved that fool."
"He was not a fool!" spits Sunsetfur.
"Whatever." mews Hawkstrike.
Sunsetfur shuts her eyes. "Can I see them now? I've held up my half of the bargain. For much longer than intended."
Hawkstrike looks to Hazelfoot. "What do you say boss? She did kill the love of her life, and her own father for us. I think we can give her siblings back to her."
Her father? She killed Sandspots?
Hazelfoot nods. "I think she's done enought for now."
Sunsetfur sighs, and Hazelfoot walks back into the bushes.
I stare at the fur quivering on Sunsetfur's pelt, and I realize how real her fear is. And that she did love me. The compassion is odd, and I'm almost alright with her killing me to save her siblings.
It sounds crazier when I actually think about it.
Hazelfoot returns, and with him are two skinny, gray cats. Sunsetfur runs towards them. "Shoalpaw! Mistypaw! You're alright." She lifts her head, and looks around. "Where's Rockpaw?"
Shoalpaw shuts her green eyes. "He-he didn't make it."
"What?" mews Sunsetfur. "Hazelfoot, what's going on? You promised you wouldn't hurt them!"
Hazelfoot shrugs. "It's not my fault. He struggled too much. He died trying to escape."
"No..." murmurs Sunsetfur. "He can't be."
"Well, he is." mews Hawkstrike. "Get over it."
Sunsetfur shuts her eyes. "This is all my fault."
"Yes it is." Hazelfoot mews. "We had to. If he didn't die, you would rebel. Now you know our power. We will not stop easily."
Mistypaw sobbs. "It was so quick, and their laughter was so cruel. Oh what are we going to do, Sunsetfur?"
She sighs. "We'll head back." She turns to Hazelfoot and Hawkstrike. "Can we go back now?"
"Yes." Hawkstrike smirks. "Though you better come back to work, or else we'll take those two again, and end their little, puny lives." Hazelfoot let out a cackle as Sunsetfur's tears stain the earth. "Fine."
They pad away, flattening their ears against the cruel laughter that rang in the empty clearing.
I sit up, and Sunsetfur vanishes. "She-she's innocent?" I choke out.
Featherpelt nods. "She was only protecting her siblings. I was wrong about her."
I sigh. "Neither of us were right. She had her secrets. And they were for the better."
Featherpelt shuts her eyes. "I wish we could have helped her, but it's far too late." She curls up. "I guess there's no way now."
I lie down beside her, and think of her. And I wish I could have helped Sunsetfur.
I wish I could have fixed this mess, before it ever happened.
I yawn as I open my eyes. The apprentice den feels stuffy, and I cough to clear my throat.
Featherpaw rolls over on her side. "Tawnypaw? Are you awake?"
I turn. "Yes. Featherpaw, do you feel nervous?"
"What do you mean?" inquires my sister,
"Something feels wrong today." I mew. "Like, everything is different."
"My fur is prickling." She admits. "But is anything actually wrong? Maybe it's just the heat?"
I shake my head. "Something worse than that."
Featherpaw shrugs. "Go back to sleep Tawnypaw. It's dawn. We need our sleep. Nightfall and Sunsetfur said we might have our first assessment soon." She yawns, and turns around. Soon her snores fill the den.
I roll over, and realize that I can't sleep. I stand up, and shake all the dust out of my fur. Then I exit the den.
The humid air makes my fur feel heavy, and I walk as quickly as I can, feeling hot and heavy. I wait by the warriors den for Nightfall, in hopes that we can start early today. I'm just about to give up, when Sunsetfur comes into camp, her eyes full of tears.
"He's dead!" She screeches. "He's dead!" Then she collaspses on the ground.
I run over to her, and shriek as I spot the body on the ground.
I stand in shock. There is really nothing I can say. Featherpaw on the other paw is screaming her head off. "Cranestar! Poppysong! Ashwhisker!"
I just look at my former mentor, still catching my breath. Nothing seems to croak out, but the tears that fall down my face.
This is what impossible looks like.
Poppysong clears everyone out, as she and Ashwhisker examines Sunsetfur. I sit quietly, and watch as Poppysong half comforts, half interrogates Sunsetfur.
"How did this happen?" She mews sharply.
Sunsetfur chokes. "We-we were watching the sunset. Nightfall saw something, and he went to look. I-I never asked what it was. I went looking for him, when he didn't come back. He-he was dead. I carried him back, when I ran into Hazelfoot and Hawkstrike. They-they said that they found my siblings. They had gone hunting rouges." She coughs, and falls over. "I didn't want him to die." She mews, her eyes hollow, and throat dry.
Poppysong licks her face. "Alright. Some cat, get Blueflower. She'll want to see her children again."
Darksong races off, and I look at Sunsetfur. Her green eyes are full of grief, longing, and something I can't quite place. Guilt?
I quietly look for Featherpaw, who's spent the last hour hyperventilating. "Are you okay?" I mew.
She shakes her head. "This can't be happening. This is not real."
I sigh. "Then why does the pain feel so real?"
After a while, Sunsetfur is released from the medicine den. Featherpaw races up to her, but the she-cat flicks her tail, and whispers something in her ear. Right away, my sister bounds up to me. "We're supposed to meet her in the training clearing." Then she runs off.
I look after her, but don't question it. Followering her odd instructions, I leave camp, and head to the clearing. I'm clearly early, but I don't bother to sit down. Something tells me that I won't be waiting long.
Shortly after I arrive, Shoalpaw, Mistypaw, Featherpaw and Sunsetfur join this mysterious meeting. Sunsetfur's eyes are cold, and scared.
"What's going on?" mews Featherpaw. "Is this a training session?"
Sunsetfur shakes her head. "It's more of a life-saving skill."
Mistypaw shrinks, and I gulp. "What do you mean?"
Sunsetfur winces. "Mistypaw and Shoalpaw weren't kidnapped by rouges. They were taken by Hazelfoot and Hawkstrike. They're dangerous. I was forced to work for them." Her eyes go bleak. "They made me murder cats, against my will. I killed my own father."
Featherpaw gasps. "Why didn't you just tell Cranestar?"
Sunsetfur cries. "They had my siblings. If I said anything, they'd kill them. Now, they're going to do something bad. They'll probably involve me. You need to hide from them. Aviod them. I will not let you be hurt by them."
Mistypaw looks at me, her blue eyes heavy. "Please. Don't trust them."
I nod quietly. "I just don't understand why they would do that. Killing off random cats."
Sunsetfur opens her eyes. "It's just one of those things." she mews. "And that Featherpaw, is how not to stalk a bird, courtesy of Shoalpaw." she added, much louder.
Confused, I tilt my head, only to spot the bushes moving. Sunstefur tenses, then relaxes as Darksong enters. "There you are!" she mews. "Cranestar's going to call a meeting soon. Clovergaze just died."
I lock eyes with everyone, and the 5 of us return to camp.
Cranestar stands upon Leader's Rock. His eyes are tired, and he looks older than any cat I've ever seen. But his voice is clear when he calls out for SpottedClan to gather. "Cats of SpottedClan, we have much going on. First off, Clovergaze has passed. She will be hunting with StarClan, and I hope she receives eternal rest."
The crowd dips their head to mourn for the elder. My eyes flicker around, and I notice that Hazelfoot's eyes are narrowed. I gulp, and turn back to Cranestar.
"In other news, as most of you know, Nightfall is dead. He was killed by rouges in the area. Sunsetfur tried her hardest, but was unable to save him. However, she was able to rescue Shoalpaw and Mistypaw, her siblings. Rockpaw has not turned up, and we are assuming he is dead."
Shoalpaw chokes back tears, and Mistypaw stifles a sob. I hang my head, unable to think of words.
Cranestar clears his throat. "Now, I hope to apprentice Shoalpaw and Mistypaw back to thier original mentors. Willowfrost and Mountainpelt step forward. I hope you can still teach them everything you know."
Willowfrost nods. "It would be an honor."
Cranestar nods. "And Tawnypaw is without a mentor. I must give her to one who can teach her well."
I swallow nervously. Nightfall will always be my mentor. It wouldn't be right if another cat took his place.
"I want Hazelfoot to mentor her." mews Cranestar.
Sunsetfur gasps. "What? No!"
Her voice is drowned out by the cheering of my name. Sunsetfur looks at me, her face full of worry. But I don't have time to say anything, as Hazelfoot pads over to me.
"Hello Tawnypaw. I hope I can teach you much." he mews.
I nod and bump noses with him.
I just hope he can't feel the terror running through my veins.
Chapter 7 ~Plea~
"Faster! If you don't fight like a warrior, then you'll die before you get to be one!"
I gulp, and charge at Hazelfoot. The large golden tom is clearly powerful, and I could easily die right here in this session. No cat would ever know.
Hazelfoot looks away, bored, as I leap at him, and slam into his solid ribcage. My head aches, but I pull myself to my paws.
"Look Tawnypaw. You'll never get anywhere in life, with a technique like that." he spits out the words.
I nod. "Yes Hazelfoot. I'll try again."
He nods. "This time, don't try to hit me directly."
I step back, and dart through his legs, raking my paw across his side. I can almost hear him rolling his eyes.
"Tawnypaw, listen to me." he mews. "No enemy will be scared of that. Unsheathe your claws when you fight!"
"But we're just training!" I protest. "It's not like I'll be fighting you!" I turn away and mutter under my breath. "Nightfall would have never been like this."
Hazelfoot growls. "You want to see how that move is really done? I'll do it on you."
Before I can say anything, he darts at me, knocks me off my feet, and rakes his claws across my side. I scream in pain, and writhe in pain on the ground. The sight of my blood is scary. It's much darker than I've expected, and I collapse. Behind me, Hazelfoot scampers off yelling, "Medicine Cat! Tawnypaw's hurt!"
I lie down, and wait for StarClan to take me.
I'm so sorry.
I awake in the medicine den, Blossompaw standing over me. "Are you alright?" she mews. "Ashwhisker said you might not make it."
I gulp. I almost died. All because of Hazelfoot. Aloud, I mew, "I'm fine now, just a little tired. Where is Ashwhisker?"
"That's probably the poppy seeds." Blossompaw mews. "She's off collecting borage. We're running quite low."
I nod. "Thank you." My sister shrugs, and returns to sorting herbs. I don't understand this facination she has with the herbs. But if it's a life she wishes to pursue, then she should go for it.
"Am I allowed to leave? I need to talk to Featherpaw." I mew.
Blossompaw nods. "Tell her I say hi. I don't get to see her very much anymore."
I flick my tail, and exit the den. I stumble a little bit, as I make my way across the clearing. Featherpaw spots me, and races over. "Tawnypaw! You're okay!" She embraces me. "Hazelfoot said you injured yourself in training. I doubt that. Did he attack you?"
I nod. "Yes. Ashwhisker didn't think I'd wake up."
She growls. "I hate them. Sunsetfur says they're trying to meet with her tonight, and she's going to try and report them. She's finally standing up to them, or trying."
"You seem on edge though." I mew.
She nods. "I am. Shoalpaw and Mistypaw got this idea. Today, when the pair of them return from 'hunting', we attack them. I don't really want to do this, but Shoalpaw thinks if we catch them off guard, we can end this." She shudders. "I'm not sure it's a good idea, but I want to get this over with."
I look at my paws, and weigh the options. "I think we should do it. We have to get rid of them."
Featherpaw sighs. "Alright then. Come on, I promised we'd meet them if we made the decision."
My sister races off, and I follow her blindly, unable to understand what's going to happen, and what the consequences will be.
I awkwardly lurk in the long grass, my tail stiff. Mistypaw and Featherpaw stand next to me, eyes alight with fear and excitment. I'm not sure which one I feel.
Shoalpaw is listening hard, ears cranned, face determined. "They have to be there." she mutters. "They'll come."
I gulp, and we wait. Eventually, Featherpaw mews, "I think it's a lost cause. Do you really think they'll come?"
Shoalpaw sighs, and steps away, when suddenly I hear paws stepping across hard dirt. A female voice chokes out a murmur, and continues walking.
"It's Hawkstrike!" Shoalpaw mews. "I'm going to get her."
Mistypaw nods, and growls, when Featherpaw stops. "No!" she mews. "Don't! It's not Hawkstrike!"
But Shoalpaw is already leaping out, her claws extened.
"Stop!" Screams Featherpaw. "It's Ash-" She breaks off as Shoalpaw crashes to the ground.
"Shoalpaw you idiot!" mews Featherpaw. "That was our medicine cat! I told you, but you didn't listen to me!"
Shoalpaw looks at her paws, embarressed. "I-I didn't mean to. I really thought she was Hawkstrike."
Mistypaw licks her sister's ear. "It's okay. The question is, what do we do with her body? We can't just leave it out here.
I nose the ferns nearby. "If we roll her body in them, and then carry it back to camp, we can say we found her out here."
"Would they believe us?" mews Mistypaw.
"I hope." I reply.
"She's heavy!" grunts Featherpaw.
We mutter, and continue dragging Ashwhisker towards camp. I long stick has snagged through her neck, and we all have to take our time to avoid it.
Shoalpaw says nothing, but her eyes are full of tears. It's almost as if her heart is broken, despite no relationship with the former medicine cat.
As we drag her into camp, cats let out cries of despair. "What's going on?" mews Poppysong.
I gulp. "We were hunting, when we ran into her. She had the branch snared through her neck. We thought we shiuld carry her back."
Poppysong nods. "How can SpottedClan survive? We're dying from the inside out!" Poppysong sighs. "This forest just isn't safe anymore."
She drags Ashwhisker away, to prepare her for the vigil.
Shoalpaw lets out a sigh, and Sunsetfur comes up behind us. "How did she really die?" she whispers in my ear.
I lower my voice. "Shoalpaw accidently killed her, thinking she was Hawkstrike."
Sunsetfur sighs. "I'm talking to them tonight. I'm finally standing up to them. Cranestar will know, and this forest will be safe."
I nod, and the she-cat slips away.
Featherpaw looks at me. "Do you think we can do this? Survive?"
I sigh. "I wish I knew Featherpaw. I really wish I knew."
The vigil is cold. Blossompaw's tears are leaking on to her mentor's coat. She doesn't know what she'll do without her. As much as i want to greive, my mind is on other things.
Things that threaten our survival.
I see Sunsetfur slip away through the corner of my eye, and motion to Featherpaw to follow me. Her blue eyes are sparked with fear, but she says nothing as we creep over to the firefly lit clearing. Hazelfoot and Hawkstrike sit waiting.
Sunsetfur stalks up to them, her green eyes narrowed in determination. "Don't get any ideas. This is all over. I'm not working for you, I'm not helping you, and I don't believe your lies."
Hazelfoot laughs. "And you thought you could just get away with it? Unlikely." His eyes narrow. "You'll do what we say. You might have your siblings now, but we can take them again in the blink of an eye."
Hawkstrike nods. "And your mother too. Did you really think we'd let her live forever? She's clearly corrupt."
Sunsetfur snarls. "The only corrupt ones are you! I can't believe I was stupid enough to believe you! I killed my own father, because I was foolish enough to trust you."
Hawkstrike narrows her eyes. "Just remember that I was the one who kept Blueflower alive. I could have let Hazelfoot kill her, but I saved her! All because I thought it would be to cruel for you to lose both your parents, the way I did!"
Sunsetfur stiffens. Then she snarls at Hazelfoot. "What is with you? Why do you want all this power? You'll never get it like this!"
Hazelfoot shrugs. "Only because you keep interfering. We can fix that easily. Hawkstrike, kill her."
Sunsetfur backs away, but Hawkstrike unsheathes her claws, and leaps onto Sunsetfur. Her amber eyes are fired with intensity.
"No please!" Sunsetfur mews, But Hawkstrike just raises her claws. I'm about the screech, by my voice has caught in my throat. I'm about to watch her die.
The bravest ones always leave us first.
Hawkstrike is just bring down her claws, and I'm shutting my eyes, trying to block out all this. Thinking that if I stand still, I can stop this all from being true. That everything is just a dream.
And that's when Featherpaw sneezes.
Hawkstrike whips around. The she spots my golden pelt, and Featherpaw's shaking tail. "So." Hawkstrike mews. "We finally meet your spies. I just can't believe it's the apprentices. They're useless."
Hazelfoot glares at us. "Thought you could interfere with our plans? Run off to Cranestar? Not going to happen. Hawkstrike, kill Featherpaw. She'll never be anything. Then continue onto Sunsetfur. I think Tawnypaw might make an excellent recruit for us."
"No!" I mew. "I'll never do that! I'll never be like you!"
Hazelfoot shrugs. "You will. After you watch your sister die." He flicks his tail. Hawkstrike pads over to Featherpaw. I'm just about to sink my teeth into Hawkstrike's neck, when a brown blur knocks over the tabby.
Jayclaw snarls at Hawkstrike, her eyes full of fury. "You will never hurt my daughters! Never!"
Hawkstrike laughs. "You and what army?"
Jayclaw shrugs, when Riverblaze tackles Hawkstrike. "This one." he snarls.
Hawkstrike pulls herself to her paws. "Good luck and good ridance." she mews. The she lifted her claws, and struck Jayclaw. "There is no escape."
Riverblaze's eyes flared, and he sunk his claws into Hawkstrike's back. She whipped around, and slashed her claws across his throat.
It hits me as I watch my parents bleed out in front of me.
They're gone. Before I can stop myself, I run into the clearing, screaming my head off. "Cranestar! Cranestar! Hawkstrike and Hazelfoot are traitors. My parents are dead, and my sister could be going the same way right now!"
This gets everyone's attention. In a matter of moments, they've been dragged out, bound by vines. Sunsetfur and Featherpaw are together, shuddering, and my parents are dead.
The more I think about it, the crazier it seems.
Cranestar looks more alive than ever, upon Leader's Rock. "So, cats of SpottedClan. We finally know why our cats are dying. It is because of them. Warriors I trusted. You are warriors no more, as I banish you. You are charged with treason and extreme murder. Never return!"
Hazelfoot shrugs and walks out, Hawkstrike close behind. "We'll be back you know. This isn't over."
"Yes it is." mews Sunsetfur. "You will never hurt us again!"
Hazelfoot narrows his eyes. "I have something special planned for you Sunsetfur. You've interfered with us far too much"
Then they turn tail, and exit the camp.
That's when Sunsetfur breaks down.
Chapter 8 ~Silence~
I creep through the forest, the eerie silence among me. Hazelfoot and Hawkstrik have only been gone for 3 days, but it seems odd. They said they would be back. And they know the forest better than I ever will.
A mouse scurries among the roots, and I crouch, in hopes of catching it. With a small leap, the mouse is history.
"Nice catch." Comes a voice from behind. I whip around, and then relax at Raindapple's presence. My new mentor is taking a bit of getting used to. But she's certainly nice.
Raindapple looks at me. "We should get back to camp. Cranestar said he would call a meeting soon."
I nod, and we head back to camp, the mouse's tail swinging.
Cranestar stands of Leader's Rock, his vivid blue eyes full of determination. "Cats of SpottedClan!" he mews. "We watched traitors walk away from our Clan. Now, we will find them, and destroy them. They mentioned plans. I intend to find out what they are, and stop them."
Featherpaw shudders. "I hope it's nothing bad."
Cranestar continues. "I want a patrol of about 2 cats to go and find them. I want this menace stopped. Are there any volunteers?"
Sunsetfur raises her voice. "I'll go."
Cranestar nods. "Anyone else?"
That's when I suprise myself more than anyone. "I'll go too."
Sunsetfur is slinking through the undergrowth. She's had much more practice than me, and I feel that I'm just tromping around.
Eventually, we reach a once beautiful glade. The dying grass, dead trees. It just looks sad.
"They'll be here." mews Sunsetfur. "Keep an eye out."
I nod, and we diverge off into the silence. There are scent traces, and prey bones, but nothing that suggests they're currently there.
It's spooky, and almost seems like something is watching me.
By the time night falls, I'm struggling to stay awake. But I force myself to keep watch for any signs of life. Then, as I creep around the sandy bank, I hear Hazelfoot and Hawkstrike talking. I crouch low, and listen carefully to their conversation.
"You just don't get it!" mews Hawkstrike. "I've been a fool! We can't keep killing innocent cats! Don't have have any morale?"
Hazelfoot snarls. "You are so useless. You don't seem to understand. Hawkstrike, you really are a fool."
Hawkstrike sighs. "Yes. I am a fool. The fool who fell in love with you. Even after you killed my family."
I gasp, but Hazelfoot just growls. "Love is a foolish sentiment. All I love is power. And I will get it, with or without your help."
Hawkstrike is crying now. "I wanted to be like you. I believed in you. But now, all I want is to be loyal to SpottedClan. I don't want to be like this!"
"You should of thought of that before. They cast you out! Do you really think they'll take you back? You are such an idiot. You're either with me, or you're out alone. There will be no one that cares about you." spits Hazelfoot.
Hawkstrike looks at him, her eyes empty. "So you don't care about me. All you care about is ruling the Clans. That would have been nice to know, before I was stupid enough to love you."
"You should have figured it out yourself. I'm going to get the recruits, and give a message to SpottedClan. Feel free to leave. I don't need you anymore." Then the golden tom stalks away.
Watching Hawkstrike break down right in front of me makes me feel so hollow. Like I should reveal myself, and bring her back. But another part of me still hates her for killing my parents. It's what makes me back away, and run back to the pine copse, outside the dead glade.
Sunsetfur is waiting for me. "There you are! Did you find something?"
I nod, and spill everything I just heard. Sunsetfur's eyes grow wide, and she stares at me. "She really feels that way?"
I sigh. "I don't know what to do. I think our best option is to go and report to Cranestar. It sounds like they want a battle."
Together, we run, and return to SpottedClan, where there is a cluster of cats in The Clearing.
"What's going on?" I mew.
Poppysong looks at me, her eyes tired. "Cranestar is dead. Hazelfoot came, he killed him. We tried to stop him, but he had some crazy group of rouges with him. They want a battle. A war."
Sunsetfur goes pale. "No..."
Poppysong sighs. "We fight them tomorrow morning. This is the one battle we can't afford to lose."
I stare at Cranestar's empty body. My heart is thumping, and my breath is caught in my throat.
StarClan. Please help us. We need you.
Chapter 9 ~War~
The cold dawn air breathes through the sky. The eerie feeling of being watched is all around. My eyes try to focus on the hazy field ahead, but the rising sun blurs my vision.
Poppysong stops and turns to the gathered cats. "This is a battle we must win! A battle that cannot be lost!"
Willowfrost stands nervously to the side. As the new deputy, she's taking her job seriously. I just worry for her.
Shoalpaw and Mistypaw stand together. "I want to end this." mews Mistypaw. "After what they did to Rockpaw."
Featherpaw nudges me. "We'll make it. I promise."
I sigh, looking at the field. I hope she's right.
Our battle line stands out in the center, Hazelfoot's army glaring back at us. The golden tom steps out of line, and up to Poppysong. His amber eyes are glinted.
"This doesn't have to be a battle." he mews. "You and your foolish 'warriors' can leave. You can spare so many lives."
Poppysong growls. "Never! If SpottedClan goes down, we'll go down fighting this menace to the forest!"
"Have it your way." Hazelfoot mews. "Attack!"
Soon, the field is full of screeching, fighting, cats. I throw myself into the thick of things, sparring side by side with Featherpaw.
A shot of searing pain comes down my side, and I whip around to spot a ginger she-cat. Her eyes are dark, and her mouth is curved in a creul smile. "Time to die, foolish one. Hazelfoot will rule all."
"Not likely!" I shoot back, and leap onto her scruff. I bite down hard, and try to keep her scrambling, but she throws me off. Her claws are sinking into my side, when Featherpaw knocks her over, power motivated by pure rage.
"You will never hurt my sister!" she screeches, and quickly ends the she-cat's life. She stumbles, and I hold her up.
"Zoey!" mews a dark brown tom. "No!" He runs over to her body. "We were going to be mates, and have beautiful kits. Wake up Zoey! Wake up!"
Featherpaw and I quickly lose ourselves in the crowd, in case the tom wants to take out his anger on us.
Suddenly Mistypaw lets out a screech. "Help me!" I spin around, and see Hawkstrike has her pinned down, teeth going for her throat.
I let out a yowl and run at her, striking Hawkstrike just before she kills Mistypaw. The apprentice rolls away, and I pin down Hawkstrike. I expect her to throw me off, or to fight, but instead, she goes weak. "Go ahead." she mews. "Kill me. I know you heard that conversation, your scent was everywhere."
I stop. "I can't. Hawkstrike, if you want to be loyal to SpottedClan, I'm sure they would take you back. Poppysong would make an exception if she knew."
Hawkstrike shakes her head. "There's no point. I've followed Hazelfoot for too long. I couldn't be loyal if I tried. I'm not good enough. Just kill me, please. I can't do this anymore."
"Are you sure?" I mew, unable to figure this out.
Hawkstrike nods. "I just hope StarClan is as forgiving as you are."
I gulp, and quickly slice my claws across her throat. She nods, stumbling, and bleeding. "Thank you. It's all up to StarClan now. May they bless you Tawnypaw. May they bless you well."
Then she collapses on the ground.
I tell myself it was what she wanted. But I can't shake the horror of knowing that I killed her.
The fight shows no sign of ending. My head pounds, and my paws ache, but I can think of nothing that means an ending. The rouges just keep on fighting, though for what I'll never know. This forest is not theirs.
While searching for Featherpaw, I collide with a gray tom. He grins at me, and pins me down. I push, and struggle, but it's no use. He's just too strong. I can't move, in fact, I can hardly breathe. It's killing me from the inside out. The tom breathes tom on my neck, and starts to drag his claws down my stomache.
I shut my eyes, and wait for the embrace of death.
But it never comes.
In fact, the weight of the tom if lifted off me. My eyes fly open, and I spot a black tom, fighting with fury. He matches the gray tom, blow for blow, and soon the gray tom runs off. The misty aura around the mysterious tom in almost blinding. But when he looks at me, I see the familiar glint in his blue eyes.
"Nightfall?" I mew, still stunned.
He nods. "Did you think StarClan would just stand aside, during the final battle for the forest? Impossible." Nightfall pads over to me, and helps me up. It's been so long since he was here, and I try to make the most of his visit.
"Is Featherpaw okay?" I croak out.
Nightfall nods. "She's fine. And you will be too. You have a long life ahead of you, and I want to see you enjoy it." With that, he scampers off into the thick of things.
I'm about to think this is hopeless. That it's foolish to even try. That's when I hear Sunsetfur growl in rage, and Hazelfoot screech in pain.
Every cat turns around, to see Hazelfoot and Sunsetfur sparring, circling eachother like prey.
"You want a battle Sunsetfur?" mews Hazelfoot.
Sunsetfur nods. "Anything to rid this forest from your evil."
Hazelfoot laughs. "Then let the battle begin." He leaps upward, and Sunsetfur copies this motion.
All I can think is one jumbled thought.
Let Sunsetfur get out alive.
Chapter 10 ~Resolutions~
The battle is long, and crazy. Both cats have equal fighting skills. But it is clear that Sunsetfur has more to fight for. That she is determined to defeat Hazelfoot, and finally avenge all those dead cats.
Finally, Sunsetfur gets the upper paw. She slams her paw into Hazelfoot's side. "This is for every cat you and Hawkstrike have ever killed."
She twists and slashes her claws into his side. "This is for Rockpaw." Sunsetfur growls.
Before Hazelfoot can react, she pulls herself up, and shreds his ear to pieces. "This is for Sandspots."
He snarls weakly, but Sunsetfur cuts him off with a strong blow to the chest. "This one is for Snakefang."
Hazelfoot is clearly weakened, and feebly tries to swat her, but she knocks him aside. Her eyes are filled with a wild fire as she snarls, bringing her claws down at the same time. "And this is for Nightfall." She sigs her claws into his throat, tearing it apart.
"Good one little angel. I knew you were the smart one." croaks Hazelfoot. Sunsetfur growls, but then stops at Hazelfoot's eyes glaze over.
Silence falls over everyone
Hazelfoot is dead.
Around me, cats start to cheer, as Hazelfoot cronies slink away. I start chanting her name, and Featherpaw joins in with me. But Sunsetfur doesn't look triumphant. She looks empty.
"Cats of SpottedClan, don't thank me. I don't want this." she ducks her head. "All my life, I've been a coward. Hid behind the strong, and hurt the weak. I don't deserve to be a warrior."
"No way!" I mew. "You deserve this more than any cat! You've saved countless lives today!"
She sighs. "And i could have saved so many more if I had just spoken to Hailstar and Cranestar in the first place." Sunsetfur looks out at us, pain in her green eyes. "Today, I'm going to be brave. I do not want to be a coward anymore. I just hope StarClan will forgive me."
I realize what she's about to do, right before she does. A scream escapes me, and I have no idea if I'm silent, and loud. "NOOOOOOO!"
Sunsetfur brings her claws to her throat, and I can hear Nightfall screaming too. He's running towards her, and just as he reaches her, Sunsetfur slices her claws through her throat. He stands next to her, clearly depressed. Then he fades back into the air.
Poppysong steps out of the crowd. "SpottedClan, today we have won a battle, but lost a brave warrior. She will be remembered!"
"Sunsetfur! Sunsetfur!" cries the crowd. The group disperses, except for me and Featherpaw. "You coming?" mews Featherpaw. I nod. "I'm going to carry her body back."
Featherpaw mews, "Okay, I'll see you back home."
I walk over to Sunsetfur's still body. "You didn't have to die." I whisper softly. "You were already the bravest cat I've ever known. I will make sure they remember you. On my honour."
I step back, and for a moment, I watch Sunsetfur's spirit rise from her body, and slowly float into the sky. When she dissapears, I pick up her body, and carefully carry her home.
You were already brave.
Chapter 11 ~The Last Sunset~
“Tawnyflower! Feathershine! Shoalstem! Mistyflight!”
My eyes light up, as I turn to my sister. “We’re warriors!” I mew happily.
Shoalstem looks at her paws. “I never thought they’d let me be one. Not after what happened with Ashwhisker.”
Mistyflight shoots a look at me that says, I never told them.
Feathershine sighs. “I wish that Sunsetfur and Nightfall could have been here for this.”
I shut my eyes. Sunsetfur just wanted to be brave. She always was, and always will be.
We’re congratulated, and thanked, and yet I still feel that something is missing. I think back to Sunsetfur, and how she felt that she couldn’t be brave. How she thought that StarClan would never accept her. Yet, as the moon rises, I spot a new star. Bright, and playful. Sunsetfur.
I’ll never know why she thought she was a coward. She did braver things than any cat I’ve ever met.
I just hope she knows how brave she truly is.
I look around, rather nervous. Will she be here? Will StarClan let her in? Then I spot a bright ginger and white pelt. Running towards her, I see her green eyes. They haven’t been that vibrant since we were little. Before any of us knew what would happen.
“Nightfall!” she mews, and races to me. We collide, and fall on the cloud covered ground. She looks at me, and I see the light in her face. For so long, it’s been dark, and hidden, hiding secrets that could never be uncovered. She looks bright, and alive now. “Nightfall.” Sunsetfur mews. “It’s been so long.” She purrs, and rubs her face against mine. I’m about to whisper to her, when I hear paws thumping, and turn around to see Featherpelt. Sunsetfur steps back. “I’m sorry.” she mews right away.
Featherpelt shrugs. “It’s fine. You didn’t mean any of this.” she turns to me. “Nightfall, I found Dapplestorm and Pebblefur. I want to talk to them.”
Our parents. I nod. “Of course! Can you just… give us a minute?”
Featherpelt nods. “Sure. You lovebirds have some catching up to do.”
I blush, and watch as Featherpelt scampers away.
Sunsetfur looks at me. “I didn’t want to hurt you, I never did, and I never hurt your sister.”
I rub against her. “I know. It’s okay. But my question is, do you care about me? I’m still not sure, and no matter what… I want to be with you.” I stammer awkwardly.
Her eyes light up, and she purrs. “Nightfall, of course. I’ve loved you every second, of every hour, of every day. I had no idea…” She trails off. We stand up, and start walking towards Featherpelt. Our tails entwine, and our hearts are aligned. Finally united as one.
In that one moment, I realize something.
It may have been the last sunset.
But it was certainly the best.
Great StarClan, that took forever. But it's finally over. I can't really think of too many questions I can answer, but there will be a prequel. It'll be called Scarlet Paws, and I have no clue when I'll start it. XD
Anyway, I hope you guys liked it.