This is my and Tangle's first collab together... So let us begin.
It was a few moons after The Great Battle with the Dark Forest. ThunderClan, ShadowClan, RiverClan, and WindClan were only just recovering from their wounds and their dead; this included ThunderClan having new leadership. However, leaf-bare came harder than ever before to the warrior Clans. This leafbare was even worse than the one Bluestar had given up her kits; whereas the RIVER froze over in the forest, the entire lake froze up, save the very center of it.
This particular leafbare was harsh on ShadowClan especially. Jayfeather, Kestrelwing, and Mothwing were doing fine on supplies; their greencough bouts were surprisingly minor. But Littlecloud's supplies were running extremely low. No catmint meant no way to cure Greencough, especially as he hadn't gotten a chance to find chickweed. Greencough was running ravage through the ShadowClan camp, claiming two of Blackstar's lives; with two lives left for him, he knew he'd have to send out one cat... just one, to look for catmint.
Smokefoot's apprentice, Icepaw, was the most experienced apprentice, almost ready to become a warrior. She was the oldest cat that wasn't trapped in her nest, sick with a sickness that was killing ShadowClan within. And this sickness could easily spread to the other Clans. Unable to spare the Clan medicine cat, this was their only opportunity.
"Icepaw-" Blackstar broke off with a cough. "Icepaw, you are the fittest one in the Clan... you must go out and find us catmint. Somewhere out there, there must be catmint..." Breaking off coughing, Blackstar backed off into his own nest again. The leader had told Icepaw what she had to do.
And she would do it.
Chapter 1 ~Tangle~
Blackstar's order was weighing heavily on Icepaw's young mind. Where am I supposed to go to find catmint? She wondered. There's only one place we can get it here, but there's none left!
With no other options, she slid in to the Medicine Den to talk to Littlecloud.
For the first time, she began to notice how old and tired Littlecloud was looking. His eyes were half-closed from exhaustion and his pelt looked more grey than normal. Poor Littlecloud. He's getting old and has no apprentice; can he really cope with this sickness?
"Littlecloud?" She called. "May I have a word?"
At first, she wasn't sure if Littlecloud had heard her, but then his ears flicked, and he turned to face her. "Oh, Icepaw, don't tell me you're sick too! Oh, StarClan, what have we done to deserve such a sickness?" He meowed hoplessly.
"No, Littlecloud, it's not that at all!" Icepaw gasped. "It's something completely different.
"Oh, well, what is it?"
"Um..." Icepaw shifted from paw to paw awkwardly, not knowing how to tell Littlecloud. "Can we not do it here? Too many cats will hear us. This is something for you and only you, Littlecloud."
A dark expression formed on Littlecloud's face and his eyes clouded with worry. For a moment, he was slient, and Icepaw wondered if she'd just pushed the old tom over the edge, but after a moment longer, he said "Fine, Icepaw. Come in to my Herb Store, and don't go near any of the others."
Icepaw followed Littlecloud in to his herb store, cautious not to make any physical contact with any of the sick cats in the Den. If Blackstar had sent her on a mission to save the Clan, the last thing she needed was to get sick.
When they had reached the Herb Store, and were away from earshot of the others, Littlecloud sat down and invited Icepaw to do the same. "Okay," he meowed, his voice hoarse, "you wanted privacy, you've got it. Now, what was so important that you couldn't tell me in front of any cat?"
"Well," Icepaw sighed. "Littlecloud, Blackstar has ordered me on a mission to find catmint to cure the sickness."
"I see," Littlecloud mewed. "Go on, little one."
"But I'm worried about the Clan, you see. Firstly, I have no idea where to go, and secondly, I'm worried about ShadowClan. I'm one of the strongest cats left. Without me, who's going to hunt? Who's going to protect the border? Elders? Kits?"
"I see where you're going. Icepaw. But you must decide: Do you go and try to find a cure for the Clan's sickness and risk getting yourself killed, and risk the Clan's death, or do you stay, and watch your Clanmates die around you, knowing that you could have done something to prevent it?"
"But I don't know!" Icepaw wailed. "That's why I came to you!"
"I cannot give you an answer. This is for you to decide, Icepaw."
"It's too hard!" Tears formed in Icepaw's eyes and she let one roll down her cheek. "Littlecloud, I can't decide by myself!"
"Well, then there is only one option. You must seek the guidence of StarClan."
Icepaw sighed. "Okay, I'll do it."
"Good. Now, close your eyes, Icepaw, and let your spirit be guided to the wise cats in StarClan..."
Soon enough, Icepaw and Littlecloud were in StarClan. Icepaw padded forward, until she heard Littlecloud sit down. She turned around. "Are you tired? Should I wait for you?" She asked.
Littlecloud shook his head and purred. "No, Icepaw, I'm not coming with you. I'll wait here."
Icepaw gasped. "Not coming with me? Why?"
"Because this is your mission, Icepaw. I've nothing to do with it."
"But, what if I get lost?"
"There's no getting lost in StarClan. Some cat will find you sooner or later," Littlecloud reassured her, giving her ear a comforting lick.
Icepaw smiled. "Okay, bye, Littlecloud."
And so, Icepaw set off in to the unknown grounds of StarClan, trying to brace herself for what she might be given.
Chapter 2 ~Loudclaw~
Icepaw padded forward slowly and nervously, the unfamiliar territory around her. The starry forest seemed to be open, yet it was closing in on her. It was similarly laid out to the ShadowClan territory, this part at least. Icepaw almost ran right into a tree when she was looking to the right. Veering right, she grew even more lost. However, as Littlecloud had predicted, a cat did find her. This cat was a small gray-and-white tom. What's more, this tom had a constantly running nose.
"Welcome, Icepaw. We know why you are here."
"Wh... Who are you?" Icepaw stammered. The cat had a similar scent to Littlecloud, yet different.
"I am Runningnose, former medicine cat of ShadowClan. You are here because of the quest that has been set for you?" the starry tom asked.
Icepaw gulped. "Yes, I... I am." she mewed with a small voice.
"ShadowClan is plagued by a sickness worse than ever before... if you stay, you risk them dying. The best thing you can do to help them is to go find some catmint... outside the Clan territories. However... you risk them dying of hunger and disease if you leave..."
"Then what am I supposed to do?" Icepaw asked Runningnose.
"You will find the answer within..." Runningnose replied.
But... Icepaw thought, and was about to say it, then she realized... The answer had been within her all along. She would go to try to save the Clan if possible. No matter what it took.
Runningnose looked at her and gave a tiny nod, as if to acknowledge her thoughts, as the starry forest faded.
Icepaw jerked awake, with Littlecloud watching her.
"I... I'm going to do it." Icepaw told Littlecloud. "I'm going to go find the catmint."
"Then you'll need traveling herbs." Littlecloud replied, dipping into his den to collect the necessary herbs. He reappeared a moment later with various herbs such as sorrel, daisy, and burnet.
Chapter 3 ~Tangle~
Icepaw took her first steps on the journey. This was it; she was well and truly on her way. She was either going to find the catmint and save everyone, or fail, and watch her beloved ShadowClan die around her.
Glancing behind, she could still see Littlecloud. He was staring in to the distance. Is he asking StarClan to grant me safe passage? she wondered. She took the last steps out of ShadowClan territory, ready to venture in to the unknown.
Icepaw had only just passed the WindClan border when she realised she had no clue of where she was meant to go. If she didn't know where to go, how was she going to find the catmint? And if she didn't find the catmint? How was she going to save ShadowClan? She'd just have to figure it out on her own. Obviously, StarClan weren't going to give her a straight answer. This was StarClan, they never gave straight answers to any cat, especially not apprentices. Although, maybe they had given her a straight answer, and she was just too stupid to figure it out. I'm going to have to take a chance she thought. As she glanced ahead of her, she saw that there were two paths to take. For the love of StarClan, why are there two paths!? Why are things never easy? She opened her mouth and tasted the air. She could detect the faintest scent of catmint, but it smelled like it was coming from both directions. Which path should I take? Somehow, Icepaw knew that there was a right and a wrong path. She knew that she would face dangers on either path. However, she also knew that if she picked the wrong path, it would be the single decision responsible for the extinction of ShadowClan, and that simply could not happen. Thoughts whirled inside Icepaw's young mind. For a moment, she felt as if it was too much to bear. She wanted to wail for her mother. She wanted to be a kit again, curled up in the safety of her nest in the ShadowClan Nursery. She wished, oh, how she wished, that this responsibility was not hers. She wished that it was the responsibility of a cat more wise and experienced than she was. Out of all the cats in ShadowClan, why did Blackstar have to choose me?
She shook herself. Stop stalling, Icepaw! There isn't time! She told herself crossly. She knew that she had to make a decision right now. She knew this decision would either save or destory ShadowClan, but there was no more time to think about it. She took a deep breath and headed for the path on the right.
Icepaw glanced at the sky. She didn't know how long she had been travelling, but the moon had risen, so she knew it had been quite a while. She suddenly thought of how tired she was. She stretched her jaws in a yawn. I need to find a place to sleep...
She padded around, looking for a suitable place. She saw a tree that would hide her from the view of most cats or anything that would try to attack her. She padded over to the tree slowly, and felt like her paws were about to drop off by the time she sat down to rest. She closed her eyes. She was upset with herself for not covering much distance, but she would make it up the next day. She was too tired now.
She was woken up by a paw jabbing her hard in the ribs. She blinked open her eyes and stared at a tortoiseshell she-cat, whose fur was stranding on end. "You!" Came the furious shriek. "What are you doing under my tree!?"
Author's Note: From now on, Tangle and I, Loudclaw, will both have an equal role in all chapters. We will be doing them on Google Drive together (I have given him permission on it) and then pasting them here. Because of this, we will be having some longer chapters. Enjoy~
"Well?" the rogue growled at her. Any trace of sleep from Icepaw's eyes was gone instantly when she saw the rogue.
"I... I..." she stammered, backing away from the advancing rogue.
"Did you not scent my markers?"
"N-No!" Icepaw squeaked, honestly. She'd been far too tired to scent anything in her exhaustion.
"...Then you're ignorant, like all KITS." the tortoiseshell growled, launching an attack; this attack clipped her ears, but otherwise didn't deal much damage to Icepaw. Although this one clip was enough to snap her focus in the here and now; Icepaw launched her own attack, this one more direct, launching herself over the she-cat's head and landing on her back.
At least, that was how she intended to do it.
Instead, when she leaped, the rogue flipped one paw at her hind paw and flung her off balance, sending her against the nearest tree. "Ooh!" she grunted, struggling back to her paws, and right on time too. The rouge was advancing upon Icepaw aggressively. “Did you really think,” she hissed, “that you could just come in here and try to take over my territory without a fight?”
“N...No. I didn’t… I didn’t…”
“You didn’t know?” The rogue snarled. “That’s what they all say! How dare you come and try to take my territory! And now,” she added, beginning to laugh, “it’s time for you to pay with your life.” The rogue leaped at Icepaw, claws outstretched, and snarling louder than a Twoleg monster (at least that’s what it sounded like to Icepaw). Icepaw wanted to wail and run for her life, but she knew her mentor would be telling her to fight this rogue, so she did. Before the rogue could leap at her, Icepaw rolled out of the way. The rogue landed right where Icepaw should have been and hissed in disgust. She whipped around to face Icepaw, her eyes narrowed in disgust. “Fight me, you worthless scum!” She hissed.
At that moment, rage began to build up inside Icepaw. She was tired of this rogue’s taunts, she was tired of this rogue thinking she was better than her. Then, all common sense was gone. “You want a fight?” She screeched. “You have one!”
Icepaw leaped at the rogue and bowled her over. The rogue shrieked in surprise and struggled to fight back. Icepaw felt all her rage pouring out, clawing the she-cat again and again. Even though she was enjoying this, she knew she would tire eventually. Looking down, she saw that the rogue had exposed her throat. Taking advantage, Icepaw bit down, mere mouse-lengths from the rogue’s throat.
“Okay, okay!” The rogue shrieked. “You win! I give up! I quit! Just let go!”
Icepaw wanted to keep fighting, but she wasn’t heartless. She let go of the rogue.
“You put up a fight,” the rogue mewed. “You surprised me.” The rogue began to wash her wounds.
Icepaw smiled. “Thanks. You seem fierce too.”
“I’m Leaf,” the rogue mewed. “What’s your name?”
“Icepaw,” Icepaw mewed.
“Icepaw? Odd name.”
“I’m from the Clans,” Icepaw mewed. “We all have names like this.”
“Odd. So why are you out here and not with your Clans?”
...Should I tell her? I don’t want her invading because we’re weak… But common sense kicked in and Icepaw meowed instead, “Because I’m exploring.”
“Exploring… on your own?”
...I have to get moving, now! There’s no choice...ShadowClan could be being killed as we speak!
Blackstar was in the Medicine Den, hacking, gasping for breath. His case of Greencough had taken a turn for the worse, meaning he now had to sleep in the Medicine Den where Littlecloud could keep an eye on him. Littlecloud’s orders, of course. Blackstar would never go willingly. After the nasty coughing fit was over and he’d gained his breath back, he mewed to Littlecloud, in a hoarse voice “Littlecloud, do you believe that I have done the right thing by sending our healthiest cat away to find catmint?”
The question took Littlecloud by surprise and he took a while to register it. He thought about it deeply, Icepaw;s visit to StarClan still weighing on his mind. I promised I wouldn’t tell any cat, but should I? Hm…
Blackstar must have thought that Littlecould had not heard. “Littlecloud?” He mewed again.
“What? Oh, Blackstar, don’t doubt yourself. You… you did the right thing.” He broke off awkwardly, not wanting to discuss it further in fear that he might give away Icepaw’s secret about the visit to StarClan.
Blackstar must have noticed too, because he narrowed his eyes suspiciously and glared at Littlecloud. “Littlecloud, is there something that you are not telling me? You’re acting strange. Don’t forget that I’m your leader, Littlecloud. If you are holding something back from me…”
Littlecloud sighed. Blackstar had figured him out. Now he would have to come clean.
“Blackstar,” Littlecloud began, “before she left, Icepaw came to me. She said she wanted to visit StarClan for guidance,” Littlecloud meowed.
“What?” Blackstar rasped. “Why was I not informed?”
“She asked me to keep it from you,” Littlecloud mewed. “Anyway,” he continued, before Blackstar could open his mouth to speak further, “She visited StarClan, and they influenced her decision to go. Of course you have done the right thing, Blackstar,” he mewed. “StarClan gave her permission to go, so StarClan will guide her.”
“I hope you’re right,” Blackstar meowed. “Our Clan grows sicker every sunrise.”
Littlecloud nodded. “She hasn’t got much time left. If she does not hurry, then I fear the age of ShadowClan will come to an end.” A frown formed on Littlecloud’s aging face. He was more worried about Icepaw now than he had ever been. Please, StarClan, guide her to the catmint safely!
Back in the unknown forest, Icepaw was trying to get out of this discussion. “...I’m sorry… but I need to go find my own nest…” Indeed, it was just after moonhigh. In actuality, Icepaw wanted to get moving. The rush of adrenaline had forced her awake, and she didn’t feel in the least bit sleepy.
“...You might as well.” Leaf meowed to the apprentice. “Farewell.”
“...Farewell.” Icepaw replied, padding away. She still smelled the Clans to the south, so she moved North in order to progress away. She’d need to be able to find catmint, and if possible, any other cure for greencough symptoms.
ShadowClan’s fate lay on her shoulders.
Author's Note: I, Loudclaw, am writing this chapter (at least, a start on it XD) in Tangle's absence. We have to keep this story going.
Icepaw kept moving. The thick forest soon gave way to an open moor as the sun rose. It occured to her that she hadn't had a meal (decent or not) in a few days, her stomach was growling. It was due to this that she decided to stop her travels momentarily when she was just at the boundary of the forest to the moorland in order to hunt for a mouse or vole. Something told her that one by one, her Clan, ShadowClan, was soon to die. She wasn't sure when, but she needed to keep fit for the travels. It had been a long time since any Clan had had an epidemic this bad; before, it was ThunderClan, and even so this bout was even worse than ThunderClan's had been.
Soon she scented a mouse to her left and turned silently enough, and began to stalk it. Sneaking closer and closer, downwind, Icepaw was eventually (almost literally) right on top of it when she pounced.
Needless to say, she caught it and had a somewhat decent meal. Soon after she buried the bones and continued going through the moor. She didn't know why, but she suddenly scented catmint. It was all around her, but it was all faint, as if it was coming from a ways away. As she traveled, it grew stronger, and a Twolegplace gradually filled up the horizon.
Where she saw some catmint, it was in a Twoleg garden. Plucking some up, Icepaw didn't even realize that the garden belonged to an active Twoleg den. A shadow creeped over her white pelt, and turning, she hissed. No sooner had the hiss left her mouth when she was suddenly bowled over by a large black shape. It was a tom. It had to be a tom. There was no mistaking the scent. All the same, Icepaw noted he was rather muscly for a kittypet.
"Hey, you!" The kittypet spat. "What are you doing in my garden?"
"I-" Icepaw choked out, "I didn't know it was yours! Honest!"
The tom snorted. "Yeah, right! As if you wouldn't know it was my garden! That's what they all say." He lifted his paw and raked his claws down her pelt. "I'd say to stay out of my garden next time, but there won't be one!" He hissed. He purred with amusement. "How about you just lay back and take it? There's no use fighting. No one's ever beaten me, and judging by the size of you, I'm guessing you won't be changing that!"" All of a sudden, without warning, he snapped for her throat, missing it by mere tail-lengths.
This is one messed up kittypet! Icepaw thought. But I need to beat him. I can't be defeated, not now. Not after coming this far.
That was when her defence kicked in and, using all her strength, she hurled the tom off.