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|The Soaring Wren Series|
|A Shaded Heart||Succeded by: |
This is a short story for The Soaring Wren Series. This story is a prequel - don't be afraid to read this first. :)
Soaringkit always wanted to do the best for his Clan - and have a mate and kits, too. Ever since he was born, he knew he liked the mysterious - and popular - Flowerkit. However much the young cat loves her, she doesn't love him back. And when tragedy befalls, Soaringkit makes a promise that he vows not to break...
A Shaded Heart
The warm greenleaf sun beat down on the WillowClan camp, the sun making dappled shadows under the willows. On one side, small portions of cats were talking in groups, others below a brambly rock. On the other side of the camp, there was no-one, but a ginger tom pacing the entrance to one of the dens.
Yowling split the air, but none of the cats reacted. This had been going since dawn, and it was sunhigh now. The ginger tom paced quicker.
Inside, a yellow tabby she-cat, young and strong, was bending over a brown tabby. The cat below had her face twisted with pain.
"I assure you, it won't be long, Treerunner," meowed the yellow tabby, as her paw moved onto Treerunner's belly. "I'm pretty sure you only have one kit."
"One kit?" Treerunner managed to pant under the stress of you kitting. "Yellowlight, I was pretty sure you said there'd be -" She broke off with another yowl of pain.
"Yes, yes, I know," Yellowlight relied sarcastically, the fur on her dark gray scruff bristling. "Just be patient. The kit's coming."
For one moment, there was silence. Then Treerunner gave a yowl of pain, and a pale bundle slipped onto the moss. At once, Yellowlight moved over to it.
"Is it over?" asked a voice from the outside. A ginger tom poked his head into the den, his green eyes shining.
"Yes," Yellowlight puffed, as she looked up. The ginger kit was now at Treerunner's belly, suckling. "You have a tom, Sandleaf."
Sandleaf purred in delight as Yellowlight moved away. He moved towards his mate, who was looking at their kit fondly.
"You name him," Treerunner insisted to Sandleaf. "He looks like you."
Sandleaf looked thoughtful for a while as he considered his decision. "He looks like one day, he could climb the willows like me, soaring through the skies..." Sandleaf took a deep breath, and paused. "His name will be Soaringkit."
"I thought he would've opened his eyes by now."
"Be patient, Feathershine. He'll open them in his own time."
"I don't know... Flowerkit and Lizardkit opened them quicker."
Soaringkit squirmed in his nest, against his mother's belly. He didn't want to open his eyes... well, not yet, anyway. He was perfectly content in the dark right now.
A scuffling made him twitch. High-pitched voices drifted into his ears:
"Bet you can't catch me!" meowed one cat. Its paws thrummed on the ground.
"No fair, Lizardkit! You're faster than me!" yowled another in reply.
"Try catch me!" Yowled the first, and Soaringkit heard his pawsteps falter as he ran away.
"No fair!" squeaked the second, and they moved away as well.
Well, what even is out there? Soaringkit thought suddenly.
This was the limit. He didn't want to be in this world of darkness anymore! What was out there?
Stretching open his eyes, he marveled at the sight above him. Patches of blue dotted the place above him. This place he was in - whatever it was - was bigger than he thought it was.
But there has to be more than this, surely. Where had those other cats gone?
'What?" The brown tabby beside him - Soaringkit's mother, Treerunner - shuffled over slightly. Looking around, he noticed that the other cat in this palce - a silver tabby, most likely Feathershine - was staring intently at him.
"Soaringkit's opened his eyes!"
"Get off," Soaringkit huffed. "I'm trying to sleep..."
"What, don't you want to see a warrior ceremony?" asked Lizardkit in mock surprise. "I'd always thought you'd wanted to see a warrior ceremony."
"Well, why didn't you say so?" Soaringkit replied, blinking open his eyes. "I'm coming..."
Two moons had passed since Soaringkit had been born. Nothing much had happened with the Clan, but leaf-fall had dawned on the willows. Leaves, golden, red, and auburn, scattered the ground of the camp.
Lizardkit leapt in the distance in front of him. Soaringkit envied the sleek gray tom. The kit was bigger than him - and two moons older.
"Wait up!" Soaringkit sprinted to catch up with Lizardkit, who had slipped under a shady part of the camp near the elder's den.
When he finally arrived, Lizardkit and Flowerkit were waiting for him. Lizardkit's tail flicked in the direction of Bramblethorns.
"Look over there," he mewed. "Rubblestar's about to give Ashpaw and Cinderpaw their warrior names!"
Soaring stared in the direction Lizardkit told him to. Sure enough, Rubblestar was standing on Bramblethorns. The dark gray tom was staring at his Clan with icy blue eyes.
"Today," Rubblestar mewed, "we gather here to give two young cats their warrior names."
Below Bramblethorns, Soaringkit could see Ashpaw and Cinderpaw squirming excitedly.
"Ashpaw and Cinderpaw, come forward."
The two pale cats stepped forward. Darker flecks dotted their pelts like dark stars. Rubblestar lifted his head to the sky, and mewed:
"I, Rubblestar, leader of WillowClan, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on these two apprentices. They have learnt the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as warriors in their turn. Ashpaw and Cinderpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code, and to defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
I can't wait until my warrior ceremony, Soaringkit thought.
"I do," Ashpaw mewed, his gray tail flicking.
"I do," added Cinderpaw, after her brother.
"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior names." Rubblestar beckoned Ashpaw forward. "Ashpaw, from this moment you will be known as Ashsky. StarClan honors your determination and courage, and we welcome you as a full warrior of WillowClan."
Ashsky licked Rubblestar's shoulder, and then returned to his place beside Cinderpaw. The young gray she-cat trembled as Rubblestar called her forward.
"Cinderpaw, from this moment you will be known as Cinderdust. StarClan honors your spirit and compassion, and we welcome you as a full warrior of WillowClan."
Cinderdust was purring as Rubblestar - the father of Ashsky and Cinderdust - licked her shoulder. Cinderdust then went back to sit next to Ashsky.
The Clan started cheering for Ashsky and Cinderdust: "Ashsky! Cinderdust! Ashsky! Cinderdust!"
"That'll be us one day," Flowerkit hissed, her green eyes shining. Her brown tabby fur bristled with excitement.
Soaringkit looked at Flowerkit, and agreed silently. And at that moment, Soaringkit realized how much he wanted to have kits of his own.
I want Flowerkit to be my mate someday.
"Soaringkit, from this moment on, you will be known as Soaringpaw."
Soaringpaw puffed his chest out in pride. How great did it feel, to finally become a WillowClan apprentice!
"Your mentor," Rubblestar mewed solemnly, his blue gaze darkening. "Soaringpaw, I have thought about this for a while... your mentor will be Tansynight."
Tansynight? Why did Rubblestar give me Tansynight for? Soaringpaw thought scathingly. The black-and-cream she-cat was a well-respected warrior. It was rumored between the cats of WillowClan that she would succeed Rubblestar as leader - after the deputy, Redleap, had retired - obviously.
Tansynight padded through the throng of cats to meet Soaringpaw. Her tail lifted high as she looked at Soaringpaw with an intense green gaze.
Is she curious? Soaringpaw thought, as he thrust his head towards Tansynight reluctantly. In response, he felt Tansystar's black nose touch his.
Cheers of his new name broke the silence: "Soaringpaw! Soaringpaw!"
He could see the cats cheering for him: Lizardpaw and Flowerpaw, who had been apprenticed two moons before; his parents, Sandleaf and Treerunner; Ashsky and Cinderdust, even Redleap was cheering. The only cat that stayed silent was Yellowlight, whose amber gaze was burning into Soaringpaw's pelt.
"Come on." Tansynight's voice brought Soaringpaw out of his trance. "Time to explore the territory."
"This is the far border. This is the border that surrounds the larger part of WillowClan's territory - and where we have the most trouble with rogues."
Soaringpaw twitched his ears as Tansynight explained the far border. Why did she have to explain all of that stuff? All he wanted to do was to start his training. However, the mention of rogues had interested him.
Tansynight nodded. "That's right. A couple of rogues have been scented around our borders lately - luckily, they haven't gone into our territory." Tansynight's chest puffed out with pride. "WillowClan is strong enough to defeat anything."
Soaringpaw nodded vaguely. He wasn't really paying attention. What was that weird smell that was coming from nearby?
To Soaringpaw's dislike, Tansynight had smelt it too. "Get behind me," she hissed.
"Why?" Soaringpaw complained, as he moved behind Tansynight reluctantly.
Tansynight flicked her tail at Soaringpaw, and he fell silent. It felt like forever that he was behind Tansynight. Just then, the smell of the stench increased, and two cats stepped out from behind one of the willows.
There was a tom and a she-cat. The tom was dark gray, with lighter gray paws and belly, the she-cat was a small light brown tabby. They stared in shock as Tansynight hissed: "You'd better not step on our territory."
"This is someone's territory?" questioned the dark gray tom. His ears flicked nervously.
"Yes," Tansynight hissed. "Stay away!"
The light brown she-cat licked her belly nervously as her dark gray friend bent over to her. With one fleeting look at the two cats, they went away.
"Why didn't we fight those rogues?" Soaringpaw complained.
Tansynight shot a fierce gaze at Soaringpaw. "They didn't go on our territory, Soaringpaw," she mewed. "The most important thing about rogues is to not attack them if they're outside you're territory. Warriors need to show some mercy, Soaringpaw."
Warriors need to show some mercy, Soaringpaw.
Tansynight's words rang in Soaringpaw's ears. Was that really important?
Yes, it is, whispered a voice inside his mind.
Three moons had passed since Soaringpaw had become an apprentice. Despite his first misgivings about Tansynight, he had learned a lot from her.
It really did help, when your mentor was the Clan deputy.
A moon after Soaringpaw had been apprenticed, Redleap had decided to step down from his deputy duties. Now he was an honoured elder, sharing his stories to all the cats of WillowClan. The three new kits - Smallkit, Slightkit, and Oakkit, the kits of Finchfeather and Ashsky - especially enjoyed him.
"Soaringpaw!" The same cat spoke again.
"What do you want?" Soaringpaw hissed, his tail flicking angrily. Turning, he saw Yellowlight's amber gaze burning into him.
"Come," Yellowlight meowed, her gaze unwavering.
"But -" Soaringpaw stammered. "Tansynight w-wants to take me on a -"
"No time for that," Yellowlight hissed, cutting off Soaringpaw. "I want to talk to you now. Tansynight's patrol can wait."
Sighing, his tail trailing in the dust of the camp, Soaringpaw reluctantly padded into Yellowlight's den.
The stench of herbs immediately hit Soaringpaw's throat. He didn't like being in this den. He felt like he was choking on the stench -
Yellowlight's voice snapped Soaringpaw back to reality, back to the medicine cat - who for some reason, wanted to speak to him. Soaringpaw's throat tightened in apprehension.
"You're wondering why you're in here?" the yellow tabby cat growled.
Soaringpaw nodded stiffly, trying to meet Yellowlight's gaze.
An interested look, yet a look of anger and fury, swept onto Yellowlight's face. Her amber gaze darkened. "You have a special destiny, Soaringpaw," she meowed.
Soaringpaw didn't reply. He didn't believe Yellowlight. Sometimes the she-cat could be a bit freaky, unpredictable -
"When danger comes, the skies will be soaring, but the flowers and rubble will fall." Yellowlight meowed. Her gaze was still fixed on Soaringpaw. "What do you think this means?"
Soaringpaw was taken aback. "I'm not a medicine cat -" he began.
"Don't you see?" Yellowlight's gaze was wild. "This involves you! You are the cat destined to save WillowClan! A danger of the unknown is coming, and you will save us all." Yellowlight paused, then continued: "I don't know what the threat is. But you're not allowed to tell anyone what I have just said to you."
Soaringpaw nodded. He was never going to tell anyone - he didn't half-believe that Yellowlight was telling the truth.
"Soaringpaw!" Tansynight called from nearby. "Where are you? Patrol!"
"You'd better go," Yellowlight hissed. "But don't forget: you are destined to save your Clan. You have a twisted path, Soaringpaw."
Soaringpaw ignored the medicine cat as he trotted out of the den. Why had she told this to him? He didn't need to know, didn't he?...
... Or maybe, for once Yellowlight was telling the truth to him?
Blood roared in Soaringpaw's ears as he sprinted through the willows. He didn't recognize this section of WillowClan territory. In fact, there was no scent of a WillowClan cat he recognized at all...
Soaringpaw, a cat's voice whispered. Dark eyes peered out. The threat you dread is looming...
"There's no threat coming!" Soaringpaw snarled, thrashing wildly. "Stay away from me!"
"Soaringpaw! What in the name of StarClan are you doing!"
Soaringpaw's eyes snapped open. Tansynight's head was poking into the den. The black-and-cream she-cat was obviously irritated.
"Have you forgotten?" Tansynight huffed.
"What...? Soaringpaw mewed hazily. He couldn't remember if there was anything extra he had to do.
He had been alone in the apprentice's den for nearly two moons, ever since Flowerheart and Lizardsplash had become warriors. It had been hard work, trying to care for the elders on his own - but sometimes Rubblestar and Tansynight would force Flowerheart and Lizardsplash to help out, as they were the youngest warriors.
"You've got your final assessment, remember?" Tansynight hissed. "Haven't you forgotten?"
"Oh, yeah..." Soaringpaw mewed, his words misty. Slowly getting to his paws, he made his way unsteadily out of the den.
What did that vision mean? What was the point of it? Soaringpaw pushed it to the back of his mind as he followed Tansynight out of the camp. He had a warrior assessment to do.
"I, Rubblestar, leader of WillowClan, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has learned the ways of your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn. Soaringpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code, and to defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?
A thrill rushed through Soaringpaw as he sat in the sunset light, below Bramblethorns. Finally, the day had come when he would receive his warrior name!
Confidently, Soaringpaw raised his head, and uttered the ritual words: "I do."
All the cats of WillowClan were staring at him - from Yellowlight, to Tansynight - even the Clan's newest kits, Toadkit, Tinykit, and Sparrowkit, were watching eagerly. All of their gazes were locked on him or Rubblestar.
Rubblestar pounced down from Bramblethorns, and an unnatural silence followed. Finally, Rubblestar opened his mouth to speak -
"I have thought long and hard on your warrior name, Soaringpaw." Rubblestar's eyes shone with hidden emotion that Soaringpaw didn't know. "I have decided, that from now on, you shall be known as Soaringsky.
Soaringsky stared silently at his leader, and silently agreed. Soaringsky... like how I can soar through the willow trees.
Purring, Rubblestar rested his head on Soaringsky's shoulder. Soaringsky licked Rubblestar before backing away slightly.
Cheers broke the air, starting with Treerunner: "Soaringsky! Soaringsky!" Her amber eyes - the only resemblance Soaringsky bore to his mother - shone with pride.
The rest of the Clan joined in: "Soaringsky! Soaringsky!"
I am a WillowClan warrior at last, Soaringsky thought. Finally.
Padding through the forest of willows, Soaringsky breathed a sigh of relief. The greenleaf air was crisp and clean, the smells so nice. Soaringsky wished it could be like that forever...
Suddenly, he crashed into something fluffy. Dazed, he stepped back.
It was Flowerheart. Her cold gaze was staring at him accusingly.
"Oh, sorry, Flowerheart," Soaringsky mewed apologetically. "I just wasn't looking -"
"More like dawdling, more like," Flowerheart hissed. "You're so arrogant - strutting around the camp as if you're Clan leader! Will you just quit it?"
Soaringsky's mouth fell open. I do not!
"Yes, you do," hissed Flowerheart. "Stop thinking you're so great." The brown tabby shot one last scornful gaze at him, before disappearing among the willows.
"But Flowerheart..." he mewed, but she was gone.
I love you...
"Let all cats gather below Bramblethorns for a Clan meeting.
Soaringsky shivered as Rubblestar mewed gravely to the WillowClan cats. The future did not look bright right now.
Rogues had started to invade WillowClan land. They were vicious, and cruel. Ashsky's kits were left without a mother - their mother, Finchfeather, had been killed by them. The black-and-white she-cat's fur was covered in clawmarks when her body was being prepared for her vigil.
It was a relief that her kits, Smallkit, Slightkit, and Oakkit didn't see it. They had become very curious to their mother's killing. Four moons old, they were always looking for trouble - and enjoyed picking on the Clan's newest kits, Sparrowkit and Toadkit.
As the cats gathered, Rubblestar did not make a sound. The dark gray tom's icy blue eyes kept on travelling from cat to cat in worry.
When the cats of WillowClan finally gathered, at last Rubblestar started speaking. "Cinderdust's border patrol have been threatened dangerously by the intruding rogues," he mewed. "We have decided that we are going to attack on the new moon."
Cheers erupted from some cats. Meanwhile, Ashsky gasped: "New moon? That's barely a quarter moon away!"
Rubblestar nodded gravely. "We need to get rid of these rogues as soon as possible. They eat our prey and hog up our land."
"We need to teach those filthy rogues a lesson," Lizardsplash called out.
And how are you going to do that, Lizardsplash? Soaringsky thought sarcastically. By putting thorns in their nests? I don't think so.
Rubblestar was nodding thoughtfully. "Tansynight will be ordering extra battle training for all cats in preparation for this," he meowed. "That is all."
Rubblestar leapt down from Bramblethorns, and all the cats started to break off, talking in groups.
For once, Soaringsky was quiet, and he had nothing to say. However, he knew that some cats were going to die.
Flowers and rubble will fall... Yellowlight's words echoed in his mind. Were those the cats who were going to die?
Night enclosed around Soaringsky. Darkness took his vision away.
He didn't like doing watch. Tomorrow, the battle was going to be fought. Tomorrow, WillowClan would have their revenge on these rogues.
I can't wait, Soaringsky thought.
A rustle in the trees brought Soaringsky to attention. Then a cat's voice mewed:
"Should we attack them?"
"I'm sure about it. They're weak, anyway. We're sure to win."
Soaringsky's fur bristled. Were these rogues thinking of attacking them now?
"I smell one of them," the first cat hissed suddenly. "Follow the trail!"
Soaringsky froze. They were going to attack!
"Rubblestar!" he yowled as loud as he could. "Wake up! We're under attack by those rogues!"
"Mouse dung! We've been spotted!" hissed one of the rogues. Behind Soaringsky, the WillowClan cats started to stumble sleepily out of dens.
"They're attacking?" Rubblestar asked, as he got near the front of the group.
Soaringsky nodded gravely. We weren't meant to fight this early!
"Then we will go and fight," Rubblestar mewed. Flicking his tail to gather up his cats, he led all of them - including Soaringsky - out of the WillowClan camp.
A slashing of claws and yowls of fury surrounded Soaringsky. These rogues were truly vicious. Most of the WillowClan cats had nasty scratches on them - thankfully, no cat had died - as of now, anyway.
A huge tabby rogue leaned over him, his amber eyes blazing with fury. "You!" he spat. "You were the cat who let off our cover!"
The cat made a leap at Soaringsky, aiming for his throat. There was no time to move. Soaringsky closed his eyes, waiting for claws to hit flesh, waiting for him to meet his end -
But there was none. A yowl of pain sounded at Soaringsky's paws. Forcing himself to open his eyes, he saw a sight that made him fell delighted, yet saddened.
The tabby rogue's body was lying on the ground nearby, unmoving. He was dead. Soaringsky looked down at his paws, and saw the cat who had taken his blow for him. She was still alive - but her breathing was faltering, and more blood oozed out of her as every second passed.
Soaringsky swore he felt his heart break. The cat was Flowerheart.
Blue eyes met amber for a moment. Flowerheart opened her mouth to speak, but nothing came out. At that moment, she collapsed to the ground, the light fading from her eyes.
Flowerheart was dead.
One of the rogues yowled retreat, and the forces that were near him moved away. Picking up Flowerheart by her scruff, Soaringsky dragged the she-cat's body to where the WillowClan cats had gathered in a circle.
Soaringsky gasped in shock, letting Flowerheart's body crash to the ground. The body of a dark gray cat was in the middle of the group of cats. Tansynight was weeping over it, tears in her eyes.
"You can't go..." the black-and-cream she-cat whispered. "You can't go yet... I'm not ready... please come back..."
"It's not worth it," Lizardsplash mewed solemnly. "Yellowlight said this was his last. You're leader now, Tansynight."
As well as Flowerheart, Rubblestar was dead.
And at that moment Soaringsky, in his thoughts, vowed something he wasn't going to forget:
I promise not to love another she-cat again. Love has torn me in so many directions, and I can't give it another chance. Goodbye, Flowerheart - and goodbye love. I will never see you again.
The brightness of the stars almost blinded Soaringsky. It was hard to believe that he was there now.
But here he was.
After many moons of her serving her Clan loyally, Tansystar had died. Her three kits, born when she was the Clan leader - Rosefall, Specklewing, and Shadebreeze - had grieved for her, as well as the rest of the Clan. As being Tansystar's third deputy, behind Feathershine and Lizardsplash, after Tansystar met his end, it was his turn to lead WillowClan.
Six cats had been so far. Redleap had been the first cat. Finchfeather had been the second. Yellowlight, Rubblestar, Treerunner, and Sandleaf followed them. It had been bittersweet for Soaringsky to see them again - they had both died of greencough during Tansystar's first leaf-bare as WillowClan leader.
A brown tabby now got to her paws, and padded towards Soaringsky. Her pelt, her sparkling blue eyes, were all too painful for Soaringsky.
Flowerheart purred. "It is good to see you again, Soaringsky."
Soaringsky shifted uneasily. "You know the day you died?"
"Yes?" Flowerheart's eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"Why did you end up sacrificing your life for me?"
Flowerheart's gaze softened. "I realized that I loved you, Soaringsky. I regretted those words that I spoke to you that day."
She loved me? Soaringsky was taken aback. "But... I vowed after your death to not love another she-cat. I thought you never loved me..."
"Maybe some vows can be broken," Flowerheart said softly. "You still have a life, Soaringsky. Make the most of it while you can."
Make the most of it while you can. Flowerheart's words echoed in Soaringsky's mind. Yes - I'll make the most of it that I can.
I won't make the wrong choice like I did for Flowerheart.
Arrgh I love the ending <33333333 So heartwarminggggg
Anywho, this is the end of A Shaded Heart. To read what happens next (and includes more POV's from Soaringsky (he'll be Soaringstar eeeee!), read Wren's Flight. I do warn you that it is my first fanfic, and it is a bit noobish.
Until next time,