At dawn's first call, the rain shall fall, and dust will be charred black. Beware thunder's first crack.
Rainspeckle is your average, fiesty she-cat. She's an avid hunter and a clever fighter, but could care less about taking on a mate. Dustflight is the son of the Clan leader. He could have any she-cat he wants, but he's been crushing on Rainspeckle ever since the two were kits.
But when the two get captured by Twolegs...everything they know, every opinion they have, is about to change.
Note: Rainspeckle's point of view is written by Nighty, and Dustflight's is written by Red.
A loud shriek came from the nursery, matched by a low moan. A cream-colored she-cat carrying assorted herbs hurried into the small, cramped den and dropped the leaves at the sight of the two queens. One, a black and white patched she-cat named Blossomflight, was breathing heavily. Next to her, in a nest of moss and bracken, a queen whose name was Icewing was was mumbling incoherently to the sandy-gold tom next to her, her ice-blue eyes glazed with pain.
Dawnpaw, the cream she-cat, bustled between the two, depositing a few herbs here and there and persuading the toms beside either she-cat to keep their mates calm. "It won't do her any good," Dawnpaw said reproachfully to Sunstar, Icewing's mate. She directed her attention to the small tabby tom crouched beside Blossomflight. "Snowpatch, make sure she eats that borage!"
"Yes, Dawnpaw," Sunstar replied hurriedly, running his tail along his mate's swollen flank and giving her a comforting lick on the ear. Snowpatch did the same, murmuring in quiet tones to Blossomflight, putting a bit of borage on his paw and bringing it closer to his mate's mouth.
Blossomflight let out a yowl. "Her kits are coming!" Snowpatch cried.
"You think I can't tell when my own mother is giving birth?" snapped Dawnpaw irritably, racing over to Blossomflight. She rested a small paw on the queen's flank, then nodded. "You're right, though, Snowpatch. They are coming, so just--oh, great StarClan, really?"
The apprentice tore back across the den to Icewing. The white queen was panting heavily as well, and a screech had just torn itself from her throat. Both she-cats moaned simultaneously, in pain, while Dawnpaw stood at the center of the den, torn between her mother and the other kitting she-cat.
"Oh, great StarClan!" Dawnpaw muttered to herself. She raised her voice, still shuffling in the middle of the den. "On the next spasm--Blossomflight, Icewing, the both of you--push!"
There were soft coos from both of the she-cats' mates, Sunstar poking cautiously at his tiny newborn kit, while Snowpatch expertly nipped open the sac and released the minute little kit - a speckled gray she-cat, from the looks of her. Sunstar and Icewing's kit was a tom, with dusty brown tabby fur and a long tail fluffier than a squirrel's. Both pairs of mates purred at their new children.
Blindly, the tom kit stumbled away from his mother, drawn by the stronger scent of Blossomflight's milk. As soon as the small kit got close to the queen, however, the female kit swatted him away with a powerful paw and a tiny hiss.
The tom mewled.
Sunstar plucked his son up and dropped him by Icewing, where he proceeded to drink his fill of milk before falling asleep, eyes never opening, tail curled around his tiny pink muzzle. Likewise, the she-cat had fallen asleep in the soft belly fur of her mother.
"What about Sandkit?" Icewing suggested tiredly, her eyes already drooping half-closed. Sunstar shrugged, and eyed Snowpatch and Blossomflight's kit.
"You know...Snowpatch, Rainkit would be a nice name for her," he told them.
Snowpatch perked up. "Thanks, Sunstar! Rainkit it is." He bent his muzzle to lick his small but strong daughter on the head, and purred. He refocused his gaze on Sunstar. "Yours looks like a perfect Dustkit."
"Dustkit it is then," Sunstar replied, jokingly copying his friend. He gave his snoozing mate a lick on the head, then padded out into the camp, stretching at the sudden release and ample room to move. Picking up a small piece of fresh-kill, he padded into the medicine den. Dawnpaw was sorting through herbs, her eyes already drooping, and he tossed the plump shrew to her. She looked up.
"Thanks," Sunstar said brightly. He frowned after Dawnpaw refrained from replying, and let out a mew of shock when her body went rigid.
"At dawn's first call, the rain shall fall, and dust will be charred black. Beware thunder's first crack."
"I-I'm sorry?" Sunstar asked, eying his medicine cat with apprehension. She shook herself suddenly, body relaxing and eyes losing their strange glint.
"I don't...I don't know what happened," Dawnpaw replied, blinking. "I'm sorry, Sunstar, what were we saying?"
"Nothing," Sunstar mewed. "Nothing."
He turned to leave, her words - a prophecy, he was sure of it! - still ringing in his ears.
At dawn's first call, the rain shall fall, and dust will be charred black. Beware thunder's first crack.
Chapter One - Rain
"All cats old enough to catch their own prey join at the TallReeds for a Clan meeting!"
My ears pricked at Sunstar's booming voice, and my tail flicked back and forth in excitement as I quickly exited the apprentices' den. Today was a very special day, obviously.
I sat down at the back of the crowd of cats, quickly giving myself a last-minute groom. My mentor, Autumnpelt, sat beside me, a proud gleam in his green eyes.
"Today, two apprentices will become warriors," Sunstar meowed. I lifted my head, filled with pride. "They have learned the ways of the warrior code, how to hunt and fight, and are ready to move to the next level of Clan life. Rainpaw and Dustpaw, will you please step forward."
My grin disappeared when I heard Dustpaw's name. Dustpaw never took being an apprentice seriously--of course, no-one cared since he was Sunstar's son. The brown tabby tom preffered to sit quietly by himself and think or something. He never took action. He didn't even fight very well!
Remember, Rainpaw, you're becoming a warrior! Dustpaw won't mess up your day, I scolded myself. Smiling again, I padded towards the TallReeds and Sunstar. After flashing me a glance Dustpaw padded beside me. I ignored him and continued forward.
"You first, Dustpaw." Of course. Dustpaw first. "Dustpaw, do you promise to defend the Clan with your life in battle, bring back as much prey as to your ability, and be the best warrior you can be?"
"I do," Dustpaw replied solemnly.
"Then by the powers of StarClan invested in me, I name you Dustflight, warrior of ReedClan!" Sunstar exclaimed.
"Dustflight! Dustflight! Dustflight!" the cats below chorused, ecstatic.
"Now you, Rainpaw." My attention snapped back to the leader of ReedClan as my blue eyes shone with excitement. "Rainpaw, do you promise to defend the Clan with your life in battle, bring back as much prey as to your ability, and be the best warrior you can be?"
"I do!" I replied, excitement rolling off me in waves.
Sunstar smiled gently at my excitement. "Then by the powers of StarClan invested in me, I name you Rainspeckle, warrior of ReedClan!"
"Rainspeckle! Rainspeckle! Rainspeckle!" the crowd was less ecstatic than when they had proclaimed Dustflight's new name, but I didn't care. Finally, I was a warrior. Finally!
"Clan dissmissed!" Sunstar meowed, and stepped away from the TallReeds. I bounded away from them as well, searching for Dawnfrost, my half-sister. Quietly, I slipped inside of the medicine den and saw her sorting herbs in a corner.
"Dawnfrost!" I meowed. She turned to see me standing at the den entrance and smiled.
"Ah, so you're a warrior now!" she meowed, still smiling as she moved towards me and rubbed my flank with her tail.
"Yeah! Stinks that my ceremony had to be with stupid Dustflight though," I mumbled. Dawnfrost blinked and stepped back, as if scared of something.
"What?" I replied.
"Stay away from him," she meowed, a hint of warning in her sweet voice. I blinked in surprise but quickly shook it off.
"That won't be a problem," I replied jokingly. But something in her voice...
I quickly said goodbye and exited the medicine den, going towards the camp entrance to sit my vigil.
Chapter Two - Dust
"...Shadewhisper, Mothfur, Rivertail, Autumnpelt, Rainspeckle, and Dustflight."
I smiled as my name was called, an expression shared by my father, who was perched beside his deputy, Fallownose, at the front of the camp. He flicked his tail as Fallownose finished listing the names of the chosen cats, then repeated the last few and gestured for us to follow him out of camp.
Rainspeckle, who was seated at the rear of the group and the main focus of my gaze, shot to her paws and trotted after her former mentor, tail waving in excitement. I trailed behind, curious to hear a bit of her conversation.
"...and he always follows me around, it's a bit annoying to be honest, and he seems to ruin everything," she was complaining, shaking her head emphatically. Autumnpelt clucked sympathetically, his auburn pelt sicking out like a sore paw amongst the silvery blues and golds that blended in with ReedClan's surroundings.
"Ah, it's fine. Maybe now that you're both warriors he'll be less clingy," Autumnpelt suggested helpfully.
Rainspeckle shrugged her muscular shoulders. "I sure hope so. And everyone cheered for him so much, and my cheer was--well, I don't really mind, I guess."
Whoever that tom is, I'll pummel him to bits! I vowed.
As we trundled down the well-worn path to the Three Rocks, three massive rocks at the mouth of the river that carved away all three Clans' territories, I sped ahead of Rainspeckle and Autumnpelt, casting an interested gaze back at her. She made a rude face when she saw my face, but I just shrugged and hared away, making a beeline for my father's yellow tabby pelt at the front of the procession.
He was deep in conversation with Fallownose, who was just replying.
"Yeah. Wouldn't want PondClan to step up their border patrols either," she said grimly. "It's either us or nothing, and I don't want it to have to come to a battle."
Sensing that this was most definitely not a conversation to disturb, I dropped back to pad alongside Mothfur. She had been made a warrior only a moon and a half earlier, and took great pride in her new position. She pretended as though she was leader, but really, I didn't mind much. She never got to the point where she was unbearable, though I could tell she annoyed the dirt out of Rainspeckle.
Instead, the dusty, gray-blue she-cat flounced ahead with a falsley chipper smirk. Her tail waving, she padded right up to walk next to Sunstar's shoulder.
If there was one thing I knew about my father, it was that he was increasingly claustrophobic. Two she-cats, both talking, on either side of him, one pressing closer so as to obtain the upper hand in the conversation, wasn't going to make him happy - at all. I could see his shoulders tensing, but when he turned to Mothfur, his eyes held no glimmer of anger, or fear. Instead, his face, normally broken into a cheerful, toothy grin, was lined with age and exhaustion. I frowned, my pace slowing unintentionally, and Autumnpelt and Rainspeckle bumped into my rear. Rainspeckle muttered about toms, earning a playful retort from Autumnpelt. The two bickered good-naturedly all the way to Three Rocks.
When we arrived, Dapplestar was already seated on her rock. Three Rocks was set up so that each cat's territory had one of the rocks in it - and that was the rock their leader sat on. It was quite simple, really, but Mumblestar always seemed to muck it up.
Today, however, the feeble, yellow-gray leader with the sagging belly and rhuemetatic eyes was replaced by a tall, muscular tom with neatly groomed silver fur and eyes like sapphires; just as blue but twice as hard. They glittered coldly down at the rest of us.
Sunstar leaped onto his rock.
"Let the Gathering begin!" he yowled, and the cats cheered.
Mumblestar's replacement suavely announced that Mumblestar had passed away in his sleep (though secretly, it sounded like an assassination), and he was now Icestar. No one could recall him as deputy, but then again, LilyClan mostly kept to themselves. Icestar gave a quick recount of the past moon, avoiding the battle we had fought with them (and won.). Sunstar stepped forward after, and with a flicker of pride in his eyes, mirrored by a warm glow in my chest, he announced the names of ReedClan's newest warriors.
There was a frosty silence from LilyClan, before PondClan and ReedClan erupted into cheers, screaming our names. PondClan glowered reproachfully at LilyClan, but Icestar still had his own Clan's attention trained on him, and a smirk was curling his features.
Dapplestar stepped forward to address the assembled Clans. Her tortoiseshell pelt, common amongst those in PondClan, stood out against the stark-gray granite of the Three Rocks. Deepset emerald eyes shone from behind a very prominent nose. She cleared her throat for a minute, waiting for the mumbled chatter amongst LilyClan to die down before she continued, her voice ringing clearly througout the small hollow. "This impacts all three Clans," she annoucned, shooting a pointed glare at LilyClan before continuing. "Twolegs have been sighted in our territory."
Whispers swept through the gathered cats, and I looked to my left, opening my mouth to discuss this - and saw Rainspeckle, her face already turned towards me, gaze steely. I diverted my eyes.
"On the other hand, Fallowsplash has given birth to a new litter of kits..."
The words she had said before, though, I couldn't get out of my head. Twolegs. We almost never heard about them, and coming even remotely near our territory was positively absurd. Their arrival had something to do with everything - everything was interlinked, you had to learn if you were to live with the Clans. So much happened, but when you got to the bottom of it, it really was just StarClan's will. StarClan killed cats, gave birth to more, and led Twolegs to us.
But we always recovered from it.
Chapter Three - Rain
The pitter-patter of rain against the roof of the warriors' den would have lulled any normal cat to sleep. It was a soft, gentle sound. Tiny strings of water ran off the den's entrance, giving it a curtain-like appearance. The warriors' den was the only den inside of a cave, except for Sunstar's and Dustflight. The father and son both slept in the leader's den (which was quite roomy), after there had been an outbreak of leader assassinations and Sunstar had become fearful for his son's safety. The other dens were made of woven reeds.
All around me cats were snoring contentedly, their loud grunts accompanied by the downpour's soft sounds. The peace was broken by a stab of lightning from the roiling clouds, quickly followed by thunder's roar. The sleeping cats didn't seem to notice.
A soaking wet cat came padding towards the den. She stepped out of the downpour and shook herself grumpily. It was Snowpetal--she was easily distinguished from her rare white coat. "Your turn for watch, thank goodness," Snowpetal grumbled, and plopped down in her nest. I grinned and patted her flank with my tail, stepping out into the rain. My body grew heavy as my dappled gray fur pressed against my sides, wet with the rain. Shivering slightly, I sat beside the camp entrance and prepared for a long watch.
Something grazed my side. I squealed in surprise, whipping around to face the mystery cat with a snarl on my face. Dustflight sat beside me, his eyes boring into mine. I frowned at him.
"What are you doing?" I meowed. "It's my turn for watch."
Dustflight shrugged, his normally brown tabby pelt mud-colored with the rain. Water streamed down his sides in rivets. "Just felt like getting up," he meowed nonchalantly.
My blue eyes briefly met his amber ones, and he looked away nervously. I turned my head back towards the camp entrance. We sat in silence like that for a while as the awkwardness grew and grew.
Finally, he dared to speak. "So," he mewed, "what do you think about Icestar?"
I snorted. "He sounds like some kind of power-hungry supervillain." Dustflight laughed, and nodded.
"What about the Twolegs he mentioned?"
"Nobody's taking them seriously," I meowed, anger tinging my voice. Twolegs were no laughing matter--Troutstar, Sunstar's predecessor, had been captured by them. As far as we knew he was dead or, even worse, a kittypet.
The brown tabby's face turned serious, and he nodded. "I'll talk to Sunstar," he meowed determinedly. I looked at him, and once again, our eyes met and separated. Awkwardness returned like an old enemy that refuses to be defeated.
I could practically feel his amber eyes burning into me. He swallowed, flicked his tail, and meowed something I never thought he would say,
"Rainspeckle, I...like you."
I blinked. "Like? As in, friends?"
"Like-like. As in...like like."
I blinked again, trying to process his jumbled words, when it clicked--"What? No way, lover tom!"
Dustflight swallowed and looked down. I felt a little bit of regret for my words, but it quickly disappeared. That was just gross, plus, I didn't have time for romance. I had to be the best warrior I could be.
After a while, he got up and padded away. I sat alone and watched the storm rage, staring at the golden spider-threads of lightning clawing the sky, which perfectly reflecting my extremely confused emotions.
Chapter Four - Dust
"Dustflight! It's your turn to lead a patrol," Sunstar's voice stretched through the branches of the den like the first probing rays of sunlight except, unlike sunlight, his words did nothing to brighten the darkness laying over the camp like fog.
I extricated myself - with some difficulty - from between two snoring cats, and cautiously wound my way through the mass of snoozing fur. I reached the edge of the den, yawning, and turned to my father.
"Dawn patrol, I presume," I grumbled. Sunstar nodded, and I turned to face the den, squaring my shoulders as though preparing for a battle. All cats despised the dawn patrol, it was a trek through darkness as thick as fog and as black as night, and only towards the end of the patrol could you see the vestiges of dawn peeking over the distant, rocky clumps that signified the Three Rocks. I raised my voice. "Autumnpelt! Shadwhisper!" There were loud mutters of annoyance, and the two cats pushed themselves out of the den. "Rainspeckle!" I added as an afterthought. That episode last night, she deserved the dawn patrol.
I wasn't a spiteful cat, but Rainspeckle had been harsh. Not that I cared or anything, but--
"Rainspeckle!" Shadewhisper yowled furiously, her tortoiseshell pelt fluffed against the breeze, her amber eyes mutinous. "Get your fat behind out here so we can start the patrol!"
I slapped my forehead with one paw. "Rainspeckle, I don't give a mouse tail if you're tired, you're a warrior and this is your duty to the Clan!"
"You're not Sunstar!" she cried back, still stubbornly refusing to come out.
"I don't have time for this," I said furiously to Autumnpelt and Shadwhisper. "Let's just go." Both bowed their heads in nods, and followed me out of the camp. I could hear Sunstar's raised voice, probably ordering Rainspeckle out of her den. On the contrary, no Rainspeckle was probably better than an ornery Rainspeckle. I mean, I liked her and all, I really did, but sometimes she got to be a bit...livid.
We were halfway to the LilyClan border, and Shadewhisper had just picked up the scent of Twolegs when thrumming paws reached our ears. A speckled gray pelt, belonging to none other than Rainspeckle herself, lurched to a halt beside us.
The three of us, Autumnpelt, Shadewhisper and I, paused for a moment, but Rainspeckle began to speak as though nothing had happened. "I can smell Twoleg," she declared, shooting a sideways glance at me. "Fresh, mixed with the scent of their montsters from the Thunderpaths. What should we do? Dustflight?" She focused her eyes on me, full-force this time. I quailed a bit under the intensity in her gaze.
"Erm...we should probably go back and tell Sunstar," I said firmly, glancing back towards camp. Already, the sun was beginning to rise, meaning we had wasted time and would probably receive a scolding anyways.
Rainspeckle grinned. "You don't want to track them? See where they're hiding out? They could be in LilyClan land, and then we needn't talk to Sunstar. Plus, we'd be finishing up the patrol then, and we wouldn't get berated for coming back so late. We could always tell him - truthfully - that we were investigating a suspicious scent, and he'd probably be fine with it."
Shadewhisper was nodding in appreciation, all anger at Rainspeckle's lack of punctuality having vanished. Autumnpelt raised an eyebrow but said nothing in my defense.
"Right, then, let's get going."
Chapter Five - Rain
I padded through the thick undergrowth, cautiously stepping over knotted roots that spread over the ground like veins. Dustflight padded right behind me, noisily sniffing the air. I whipped my head around to glare at him.
"You're not a dog, idiot," I muttered. Didn't he have at least a tiny bit of common sense.
He blinked and stopped, instead opening his mouth to drink the scent in. I did the same.
Suddenly, a froze, my fur fluffing up and my ears flattened to the back of my head. Dustflight ran right into my butt, but I didn't notice him. "Twoleg scent," I whispered, grinning, "and close."
Shadewhisper hissed and backed up, while Autumnspeckle crouched down. Dustflight growled deep in his throat, lashing his tail. I could see the gleam of fear in their eyes. A spike of the deadly emotion prodded me, but I shoved it away, resuming my confidence. "Come on, you sissies," I meowed, my voice low. I continued to creep forward.
The pungent scent of LilyClan flooded into my mouth. Resisting the urge to gag, I continued forward, following the scent. Warning hisses flooded from the patrol behind me, but I ignored them. Suddenly another smell reached my nose. Mouse. And fresh.
Slinking forward, I followed the scent. Something smelled...off about it. Placing one dappled gray paw in front of the other, I finally came upon the scent, barely aware of Dustflight right behind me.
Finally, I realized what was happening. I started to warn Dustflight, to tell him to get back, but by then it was too late.
He saw the mouse, dashed forward to retrieve it, and stepped inside the two-leg web of shiny silver, and grabbed the prey.
The door clanged shut behind him.
Dustflight whipped around, panic filling his eyes. Instinctively, I ran towards him, stepping into a trap myself.
A metallic clang, and I was trapped too. Shadewhisper and Autumnspeckle were nowhere to be found. Two twolegs came out of the bushes beside the traps, grasped their handles, and picked Dustflight and I up, carrying us to StarClan knows where.
Trapped. Being taken to an unknown place.
Chapter Six - Dust
(once Red gets off her butt and decides to write, obviously.)