The tomcat moved swiftly through the reeds, stopping only to check behind him for the younger she-cat that followed. She seemed to be struggling, but the tom was not impeded by his lack of sight or the muddy pond floor.
The two splashed through the water, the she-cat crying out once or twice in surprise as a reed slapped her in the face, but eventually the two reached their destination: a small island hidden by the reeds. There was a short line of trees right down the middle.
"Quiet," the tom commanded in a whisper as the she-cat plodded up to him. "Listen." He crept closer to the trees and, blocked by the foliage, began to listen intently. The she-cat followed more hesitantly.
A tom on the other side of the trees said, "And who would kill their leader?" Anger filled his voice and the two cats hidden on the other side of the treelike could smell his anger-scent. The tom continued, "They're overrunning us, and the only solution is to kill the leader. Without a leader, they won't have direction at all. They'll be confused and lost."
Another tom asked, "Isn't it reasonable to at least try to reach a diplomatic solution, Briartooth? Killing a leader seems very drastic, with all the protection that they get."
The first tom, apparently named Briartooth, snapped back, "It's completely reasonable, Cougartail! Look what they've been doing to us! They nearly killed our leader, for StarClan's sake!"
A she-cat's voice came in at this point. "Cougartail, I agree with Briartooth. This war of ours has been going on far too long. They have killed too many of our cats. ShadowClan must not lose!"
The she-cat and the tom could hear Cougartail's small sigh. "Yes, Featherstar. I guess I must go find more herbs, then, this war has really depleted our stock."
"We'll come too," Featherstar said with authority. The she-cat and the tom heard the three cats walking away, plodding through the shallow water through the annoying reeds.
The tom listening in on the conversation spun to his companion. "Bramblepaw, they're going to kill Troutstar!"
Bramblepaw stammered to her mentor, "Forestheart, let's be reasonable. We're not in a war with ShadowClan."
"That patrol yesterday might have convinced them otherwise," Forestheart muttered. Bramblepaw remembered that Woodtail had provoked a ShadowClan patrol into a fight and had ended up killing one of their warriors. "True," she conceded to Forestheart.
Forestheart said, "Bramblepaw, I need to warn Troutstar. Come on."
"We just got here," Bramblepaw whined pathetically, pressing her belly to the cold, moist ground. "You said you would train me in battle today!"
Forestheart looked sharply at her. "When ShadowClan are plotting to kill our leader on our territory, some things are important than training," he said.
Bramblepaw dipped her head to the gray tom. They walked quickly through the reeds again, Bramblepaw holding her tongue back as she got slapped in the face with a few reeds. Forestheart didn't look back for her as he ran across the field between them and the RiverClan camp.
Bramblepaw could hear Forestheart's loud announcement before she pushed into the camp: "ShadowClan are planning to kill Troutstar!"
She entered the camp to a flurry of movement as the Clan reacted to Forestheart's dramatic news. From atop a rock, Troutstar called, "Now, RiverClan, calm down."
The Clan stopped in its tracks and stared at its leader, every set of eyes boring into his. Bramblepaw couldn't understand how he stayed calm.
"Forestheart, how do you know?" Troutstar asked calmly.
Bramblepaw's mentor related the story as quickly as he could. When he was finished, the Clan sat in silence for a few moments.
"I will lead a patrol to ShadowClan's camp to speak to Featherstar about this," Troutstar decided. "Forestheart, Bramblepaw, and Creamfur will come with me."
A white she-cat looked up from where she was sitting with many of the other warriors. Her gaze hardened with determination as she nodded to her leader.
Troutstar nodded toward a reddish tom. "Redpelt will be in charge until I leave." He jumped from his rock and headed toward the exit. Bramblepaw passed a shocked look to Forestheart, who wasn't looking, before following.
The four crossed RiverClan territory in a brisk silence. As they crossed the scent line, which was very strong, Troutstar murmured, "Whatever you three do, stay calm."
"It smells weird," Bramblepaw murmured to Forestheart. "This isn't really ShadowClan's scent."
Forestheart shook his head. "This scent is fox. There must be one nearby."
Halfway to the camp, they met a ShadowClan patrol, which was covered in blood and cuts. Their hair stood up on end, they hissed, they snapped. Troutstar said, "We come in peace. May we speak to Featherstar, please?"
They looked alarmed. "I swear on StarClan, everything looks like foxes. All we've been doing lately is fighting foxes," a brown tom commented. "We've been trying to come up with a solution to these ridiculous invasions."
Bramblepaw jolted and stared wide-eyed at Forestheart. Forestheart seemed determined not to look at her.
"Yeah, you can talk to Featherstar, come on," the brown tom continued. "As long as Woodtail isn't hanging around?"
Troutstar twitched his whiskers in apparent amusement. "No, he's still at camp. He was duly punished, I promise you."
The ShadowClan patrol showed the RiverClan patrol through the territory to their camp, where there was one weary-looking guard. He looked at the RiverClan cats with surprise, but then shrugged and looked away again.
"The foxes seem to be a problem," Bramblepaw murmured to herself. The conversation she and Forestheart had overheard was starting to make more and more sense.
"Troutstar, what are you doing here?" Featherstar asked. She didn't look angry, or annoyed, but rather she looked a bit confused.
Troutstar said pleasantly, "One of my warriors claims to have overheard a conversation on our territory."
Featherstar looked confused.
"My warrior thinks that the subject matter was that of trying to kill me," Troutstar continued.
Something dawned on Featherstar and she snorted. "No," she explained, "we've been overrun by foxes and we can't seem to get rid of them."
Forestheart sighed next to Bramblepaw. "Why am I so dumb?" he asked.
"We had the conversation on your territory in case the foxes were listening," Featherstar went on.
Creamfur said, "Foxes don't understand cats."
"Sorry to bother you," Troutstar said pleasantly, "but thank you for explaining. I pass along RiverClan's best wishes and Woodtail's deepest apologies." He dipped his head respectfully toward the ShadowClan leader and turned to leave.
As they reached the edge of ShadowClan territory without encountering any foxes, Forestheart said, "I'm sorry, Troutstar."
"Better safe than sorry!" Troutstar quipped. "Besides, I was having a boring day. Forestheart, why don't you train Bramblepaw before you come back to camp?"
Forestheart stopped in his tracks, as did Bramblepaw, as they watched Troutstar and Creamfur make their way back to the RiverClan camp.
Bramblepaw purred at her mentor. "How about battle training, eh?"
Forestheart purred right back. "Absolutely."
Wow, guys, it's been so long since I wrote here! I want to wish everyone a happy 2014.
I won't be coming back, but I had this idea out of the blue on a boring Saturday night and decided I wanted to share.
Happy writing! Forestpaw13
01:52, January 5, 2014 (UTC)