This story is for Cinderstar's Writing Contest, and the two main characters are as follows:
Dovefeather: Fluffy gray she-cat with blue eyes. She is sweet and caring and compationate. Many cats believe she should be a medicine cat, but she truly has the heart of a warrior. Many toms have a crush on her. She wants to have kits someday, but feels now just isn't the right time, seeing as she's only been a warrior for a few moons
Bluepaw: Gray she-cat with blue eyes. She is fiesty, sarcastic, but kind if you're close to her heart. She loves to hunt and fight, and most toms dislike her, which she believes is good because she has no plans about taking a mate or having kits.
"What, in StarClan's name, is that thing doing here?" The she-cat's snarl rippled through the oblivion blanketing her three companions, who blearily raised their heads from their sleep. An old gray tom blinked dolefully at his ginger comrade, letting out a yawn as he stood up lazily to stretch his paws.
"Relax, Firecloud," the tom soothed. When he turned to look at the aforementioned thing, however, he gave a slight start, noticed by none except for Firecloud, who gave a small smirk, soon replaced by fear as the russet shape at their feet began to move, unfurling like a great snake. A slightly feline shape rose to its paws, with the lithe body of a cat but the sharp snout of a dog. Its eyes, dark amber, sparkled in the dim light of the starry clearing, and it swiped a pink tongue over its white muzzle.
Firecloud bristled. "I will not relax in the presence of a...of a fox, Jaynose!"
"It's not like it's going to kill you," a young tabby she-cat said, giving her shoulder a lick. She turned to face Firecloud, her gaze even. "We're already dead, if you haven't noticed." Firecloud opened her mouth, a stinging retort on the tip of her tongue, but they were interrupted by Jaynose, who shouldered them both aside and moved closer to the fox.
Jaynose murmured softly under his breath, his words becoming a jumble of guttaral noises, sounds both Firecloud and the tabby couldn't understand. At the fox's lack of response, Jaynose cursed quietly, and then raised his voice, speaking again in the language Firecloud and the tabby understood.
"Who are you?" Jaynose demanded.
"That's--" the tabby began to interrupt, but Jaynose flicked his tail across her mouth, a thick, fluffy, spindly gray twig of a tail.
"Hush, Mousewing," he said, and gently turned back to the fox, giving a smile, as though to tell it that he really meant no harm. "I heard of you from Applestar. You can speak our language, can you not?" The fox seemed to inhale sharply, and then nodded. Jaynose gave a satisfied smile. "Tell me instead, why have you come? Have you a prophecy to deliver?"
The fox took a shuddering breath, and then began to speak. Its words drew a gasp from Mousewing, but only stunned silence from Firecloud, who looked more frightened than appalled that one of cats' longest enemies was speaking to them in a tone not threatening, but afraid.
"When thrown against the eternal blue sky, the feather of the dove shall die. Blue and dove, together united, must search for a cat with a pelt whiter than snow, for he will destroy not only them, but the Clans as we know them."
Chapter One - Dove
"Dovefeather! Dovefeather! Dovefeather!"
The cheers rose to a crescendo as Dovefeather shuffled her paws, avoiding the gazes of the exuberant toms who flocked around her, calling her name as though praising StarClan for the pretty she-cat's mere existence. Blushing furiously, Dovefeather tried to push her way gently through the throng of admiring toms, but found herself stuck in the middle as a ginger tabby tom named Finchear pushed his way up to her.
"Dovefeather," he purred, "what a lovely name for a lovely--" He was shoved out of the way by a gray tom named Marshwing, who was knocked out of his orbit of Dovefeather by a paler tom named Moonclaw. Smiling in slight embarrassment, Dovefeather plowed her way unceremoniously to where her sister, the newly named Echogaze, was seated. Echogaze stared somewhat wistfully at the trail of toms Dovefeather had left behind.
"I wish I had a bunch of loving toms crooning after me," Echogaze said bitterly.
"I'm sure there are a couple who are already head over heels for you," Dovefeather suggested weakly, noting the nose-dive the conversation had already taken. She pointed to the toms who were gazing, moony-eyed, at the pair of sisters. Dovefeather gave a small smile, and the tabby tom started to pad towards them in a sort of trance, before he was knocked comically over by a passing caravan of kits and queens.
"But Acornfeather isn't," she replied sadly. "It's not fair that you're the prettiest."
Dovefeather hadn't always been the prettiest she-cat in the Clan, of course. Her beauty had only begun to shine after her mother died - a beautiful tortoiseshell cat with eyes the color of the leaves in Greenleaf. Most said it was her sadness that made her beautiful - the muted glow in her eyes, the way she held herself high even after suffering such a blow to her dignity. Echogaze, however, had let herself go, never grooming herself and lurking around the den for eons. She had to be coaxed out for a single meal, and even then would refuse.
Dovefeather's father had moved to the elders' den after her death, despite his age. The two sisters knew that Breezeheart couldn't bear to live without their mother and that depression might soon take him to be with his mate.
Opening her mouth with a stinging retort on her tongue, Dovefeather was cut off by a yowl of frustration across camp.
"I still...can't...get it...right!" Without consciousness that she was doing so, Dovefeather threw a quick glance around camp, searching for the source of the voice she had already mentally recognized. Now just to find the small, white tom--
"I can't believe you like him," Echogaze said dispassionately, pointing at Winterpaw with her paw. Dovefeather followed her sister's line of sight, and found Winterpaw struggling, on his hindpaws, in front of an elderly ginger cat, who was bending closer and mumbling under his breath. "He's so...odd. Weird. Different from the rest of us, if you get what I mean."
Dovefeather swung her head around to face her sister, and Echogaze was shocked to find a spark of anger in them. "I know what it feels like to be him. When Mother died, there was no one to love us. Breezeheart's love had gone to StarClan with Spottedsong, and he distanced himself from his own two daughters! We were loved out of pity, and then--"
"Then you rose to the top with your beauty," snapped Echogaze.
"I wouldn't expect you to know," Dovefeather growled. She stalked away from her sister, fluffy tail waving, and rushed to assist Firebreeze in the mentoring of his apprentice.
The apprentice in question was pressed to the ground beside a thick tree forming a portion of the wall of the camp, his tail stick-straight in the air and his face screwed up in concentration. Dovefeather gave a slight smile, and pushed gently past Firebreeze to where the apprentice was crouched.
"Lower your tail a tad," Dovefeather suggested. Winterpaw's eyes widened, and he obeyed, his stance easing up and the pose becoming less stressful on his muscles.
"Thanks," Winterpaw said, sitting up after a moment. "I'm glad you didn't choose to be a medicine cat. There's no way I would have ever learned that pose without a men--helper like you!" he said, shooting a pointed glance at Firebreeze, who was mumbling under his breath.
Dovefeather nodded, biting her lip.
Chapter Two - Blue
"Lower you tail a bit."
"I know!" Bluepaw snapped, she straightened her tail and pressed it close to the ground - so close she could feel the pine needles tickling the hairs on her tail.
"I was just trying to help," mumbled Shimmerpool. Bluepaw rolled her eyes, and crept forward.
Shimmerpool, Bluepaw's mentor, was perfecting Bluepaw's hunting crouch.
Bluepaw had been an apprentice for eleven and a half moons already, and she was greatly anticipating warrior ceremony. She had been thinking about names, and was hoping for something fierce - not too she-cat-y. Bluepaw was clever, tough, and not afraid to use her claws.
Bluepaw emerged from the pines a few moments later, carrying a feathery bird in her jaws. She dropped it at her mentor's paws and spat out a few streaked feathers. "Ick."
Shimmerpool stifled a mrow! of laughter, which earned her a glare from her apprentice. Instead of reacting, the silvery tabby flicked her tail, and gestured for Bluepaw to follow her back to camp. Bluepaw retrieved her prey and followed Shimmerpool.
When they arrived in the ShadowClan camp, Applestar was grooming herself in front of her den, her cream-colored paws heavily contrasting against the darkness and gloom in the camp. Bluepaw was surprised at how graceful her leader looked, and caught the leader's amber gaze as her eyes swept the camp.
Later that day, Bluepaw was in a training session with a few other apprentices. A cat named Tawnywhisker was just beginning to speak.
"Now," began Tawnywhisker. "I am going to give you a lecture--"
"This should last for only twenty-six moons," muttered Bluepaw under her breath, and tuned out her brother's mentor. Lakepaw was listening avidly to Tawnywhisker, as were the other apprentices. Bluepaw scoffed at their eagerness, and drew a few haphazard lines in the dirt with her claws. She then filled each trench-type-line with a pine-needle.
"What a marvelous masterpiece, Bluepaw," Tawnywhisker mewed dryly a bit later, jolting Bluepaw from her reverie. She grinned.
"I think the elders will like it. Why don't you check with them when you're cleaning their bedding for the next moon?"
Bluepaw narrowed her eyes as the other apprentices roared in laughter. "Good one, Tawnywhisker," bellowed Lakepaw as though the joke were hilarious.
"Would you like me to ask them to start making your nest, Tawnywhisker?" snarled Bluepaw. The other apprentices instantly quieted, and watched as the infuriated mentor stalked up to the old apprentice. Bluepaw looked at him appraisingly.
"You," growled Tawnywhisker, "have gone too far. Your warrior ceremony will be delayed four moons!"
"I think that's up for Applestar to decide," Bluepaw replied through clenched teeth. Despite her punishment, she did not wish to take back the words she had said to her arrogant half-brother.
By the time it was moon-high, Bluepaw was lying, shivering, in her nest in the farthest corner of the apprentices' den. Lakepaw, Darkpaw, and Jumppaw were cloistered in the center with the other apprentices whispering excitedly around them. Bluepaw felt a bit lonely - something she'd never admit - and felt as though an invisible barrier was keeping her from interacting with the other cats her age.
A barrier that could never be breached.
Bluepaw spent the next day cleaning out the elders' den, making sure to give them the softest and dryest moss. Bluepaw rolled up the dirt-stained moss into balls and let them tumble out of camp. She partially enjoyed doing tasks for the elders, for they enjoyed her company and were often disappoving of Tawnywhisker, Shimmerpool, and Applestar's decisions about Bluepaw's apprenticeship.
"Why would they delay your warrior ceremony?" rasped a tabby elder named Brambleflower. "You're a perfectly wonderful young she-cat."
"I hope so," Bluepaw replied gloomily. She felt so much...different around the elders. She felt the need to be kind - and the want to be kind as well. She enjoyed their company.
"Was it something you said, Bluepaw?" asked Littlepoppy quietly. The ginger tom's graying muzzle was not just a sign of age - but wisdom as well. He was one of the youngest elders, and the most 'in-the-loop'.
"Yes," mumbled the apprentice.
"Tawnywhisker?" guessed Littlepoppy. Bluepaw nodded miserably, and Littlepoppy continued. "What did you say?"
"Nothing, at first. He was making one of his speech-lectures...you know...and then...I got bored. So I was drawing in the dirt...and then he punished me by saying that I had to clean your dens. Then I.." Bluepaw trailed off, not wanting to dislcose the last bit of information.
Littlepoppy seemed to understand, for he patted the older apprentice on the back. "Go eat some fresh-kill, Bluepaw. I'm sure you'll feel better."
Not likely, thought Bluepaw miserably.
Not likely at all.
Chapter Three - Dove
Dovefeather's sleep that night was fitful. She shivered in her nest, then her fur grew hot and she was out of breath. She kicked, her foot striking the bleary Finchear. He smiled dreamily and slumped back over, snoring. Dovefeather was unconscious of every move she made - and unconscious of the fact that she was being watched.
Dovefeather was dreaming.
A rabbit was twitching in front of her, its fluffy-tailed rear end facing her. Dovefeather could see its tiny paws working as it washed its face, and she had to admit, it was a bit cute. The rabbit began to hop away, and Dovefeather crept after it, hoping to bring this large prey home to the elders.
It didn't make much sense to give the toms another reason to fawn over her, but it could feed half of the Clan and prove she was a great warrior.
The rabbit began to hurry, gaining speed, until Dovefeather was racing after it going faster than she ever had before. Her leg muscles were rippling beneath her glossy pelt, and her lungs were on fire. Her pelt was being buffeted by the wind that was sweeping over the changing landscape.
She had never felt better.
"Fox-dung!" yowled Dovefeather as the rabbit gave a burst of speed and hared into the trees. Dovefeather sat back on her haunches and glared at the close-weaving branches and trunks. There was no way she'd be able to fit in there after the rabbit. Sure, she was one of the smallest (and youngest) warriors, but she wasn't the size of an apprentice anymore.
"Are you Dovefeather?"
Dovefeather whipped around as the voice spoke. She saw a dark gray cat sitting calmly behind her, licking a paw and swiping it over his head like the rabbit. Dovefeather dipped her head in embarrassment, then froze. This cat was mocking her.
"Are you...who are you?"
"My name is Jayfeather," the cat said slowly, as though Dovefeather were stupid. The she-cat forced herself to remain calm at the StarClan cat's insolent tone.
"Hello," Dovefeather replied, with an air having forced herself to be calm. Jayfeather smirked at her struggles, and began to pace around her.
"Yes. You are..the one."
"When thrown against the eternal blue sky, the feather of the gray dove shall die," recited Jayfeather. His blue eyes glttered mischeivously.
"Well, I'm never going to fly, if that's what you mean," snapped Dovefeather. "And...and..." She struggled to find a retort, but, finding none, gave up, rolled her eyes, and began to pad away.
Dovefeather kept walking until Jayfeather caught up to her, apologetic.
"I'm...I'm sorry." He said the two words as though they cost him his life.
"Okay," Dovefeather said irritably. "You're sorry. I'm going home."
"You are home," Jayfeather told her, keeping up. "You're just...you know, in StarClan."
Dovefeather stopped walking, and Jayfeather took a few steps before realizing that his companion had halted. "I'm what?"
"You're in StarClan," repeated Jayfeather. He rolled his eyes when he understood her point. "You're not dead, Dovefeather."
"I...I knew that!"
"And I can leave any time I want," retorted the pretty she-cat. "Just watch me!"
"Okay, okay, Dovefeather, this has to stop. I'll just...I'll just tell you what to do, all right?"
"Good. Enough puzzlement."
"Is that even a word? Okay, okay, you don't have to give me that look, I got it from my brother and sister enough when I was a kit. I can't tell you the exact meaning of the prophecy - that's for you to figure out - but I can tell you the gist of it."
"Go on," Dovefeather said curtly, settling down across from Jayfeather. He sat as well.
"You have to find this cat. This...this 'blue sky'."
"There's no cat named Bluesky," Dovefeather answered automatically.
"Not in ThunderClan," corrected the former medicine cat. "And not yet. But you two...you'll meet....and...you'll have...you'll share the same problems. There's a trickster in your midst, an outsider. He's already struggling to fit in, but you have to find him. He's got a secret, a secret that could ruin you and destroy the Clans forever."
"O-Okay," Dovefeather stammered.
Jayfeather stiffened, his ears perking. "Wake, Dovefeather. There's something going on."
Dovefeather squeezed her eyes shut as Jayfeather whispered, "Wake up, wake up, wake up!"
Dovefeather blinked her eyes open to the smell of blood sizzling on the air, screams rending the dark night. All around her, the camp was erupting into shrieks of pain as their attackers plunged towards the camp.
Chapter Four - Blue
"Huh?" Bluepaw jerked wake, and froze when she noticed her surroundings - a place nowhere near ShadowClan territory.
There were tall oak trees towering far above her head, and damp earth cushioned her paws. A stream wove between the trunks, and leaves littered the ground like little suns, flapping in the breeze that seemed to be blowing in from the moor. She appeared to be in ThunderClan territory - with a mix of RiverClan and WindClan as well. Frogs croaked in the distance, and Bluepaw's ears perked.
Bluepaw turned around at her name, and saw a small, yet sleek, russet-colored she-cat sitting in front of her. Her dark green eyes glittered with amusement as Bluepaw tripped over her tail in an attempt to please the starry cat.
"W-Who are you?" the large apprentice whispered when she regained her footing.
"I am Russetfur, young one." Bluepaw dips her head in respect, though doubt flashed in her eyes.
"Why have you come to me? I'm an apprentice...ugly and unwanted."
"Do you really believe that?"
Russetfur's sharp tone jerked Bluepaw out of her self pity, but the apprentice nodded, no trace of uncertainty in her gaze. Russetfur clucked disapprovingly, and flicked Bluepaw with her tail to get her attention.
"You're special, Bluepaw."
"Right." Bluepaw was still disbelieving, and it was infuriating Russetfur.
"Listen," snapped the StarClan cat. "I've left the comfort of StarClan to come and tell you a prophecy that could kill you and the rest of your Clan, my Clan, but if you're not going to listen because you're too busy wallowing in your own self-pity - then fine! I don't need to waste my time on self-pitying, overgrown apprentices."
Russetfur's tail was lashing with anger, her jaw was set, and her teeth were clenched. Her eyes seemed to burn a hole right through Bluepaw, and Bluepaw realized this wasn't just another warrior she was talking to - this was a regal, proud, former ShadowClan deputy, and she had better realize it.
"I'm sorry," Bluepaw said, meaning it - for once.
"You better be," replied Russetfur, though her voice had lost some of its edge. "I've got a prophecy to deliver, 'paw. Listen up."
Bluepaw perked her ears and shuffled her paws.
"When thrown against the eternal blue sky, the feather of the gray dove shall die."
"So...when...some cat - this 'feather of a gray dove' flies...she'll die?"
"Not quite," Russetfur cautioned. "There's more. Blue and dove, together united, must search for a cat with a pelt whiter than snow, to save not only the Clans, but each other."
"What does that mean?" Bluepaw inquired, confused.
"That...Bluepaw, I cannot say. Good luck."
"Good luck?" echoed Bluepaw incredulously. "Good luck, that's all you're telling me? I have to search for this 'feather of a gray dove', unite, find this cat, and then I'll...blue sky will kill this cat? What, does she have to stay in shelter all the time?"
"That is for you to figure out," Russetfur said, her voice containing a hint of smugness. She began to fade, with Bluepaw calling after her.
"Mm," said Bluepaw. Brambleflower was mumbling about some battle or another, while Pinewing snored. Fallowcloud, a former warrior, had just joined the elders and demoted Littlepoppy to second youngest elder.
"Bluepaw! Training!" Bluepaw rolled up the last of the soiled moss and pushed it outside of the den, before following Shimmerpool out of camp.
Tawnywhisker, Larkpaw, Jumpaw, Darkpaw, Silverclaw, and Scorchhawk were waiting.
"How's the old apprentice," sneered Darkpaw, her face contorting with amusement, licking Larkpaw's ear. Bluepaw shivered, and mimed throwing up to Shimmerpool, who laughed. Silverclaw and Scorchhawk narrowed their eyes at the young mentor, who grinned back at them.
"Enough of this banter," Silverclaw said briskly. "Darkpaw and Bluepaw, and Jumpaw and Larkpaw. Do the swipe attack. Feel free to add on some surprises." Silverclaw's eyes glinted with cruel laughter.
Darkpaw smirked as she faced off with Bluepaw. Bluepaw braced herself for the dark-pelted apprentice's attack. Having grown up around Darkpaw, Bluepaw knew how intelligent she was - but how blantantly overt. Darkpaw was aiming for Bluepaw's front paws, and Bluepaw easily dodged, lashing out with a paw and hooking Darkpaw's foot out from under her. Darkpaw snarled and began to swipe at Bluepaw - the swipe attack.
Bluepaw calmly let Darkpaw swipe her way closer (enjoying the amusing stance in which Darkpaw was standing) until the other apprentice was right in front of her. Darkpaw grinned maliciously, and reared onto her hind legs to bat at Bluepaw's ears. She was obviously expecting Bluepaw to go for her hindlegs, at which point she would collapse on top of Bluepaw and crush her.
So Bluepaw did the opposite.
Bluepaw reared onto her hind legs to meet the other apprentice, and clapped her paws around Darkpaw's head, pushing her to the side and flicking her paw out from under Darkpaw so that the apprentice collapsed onto the ground. While Darkpaw recovered, Bluepaw whipped around to Darkpaw's other side and rammed the muscular apprentice's flank with her shoulder. Darkpaw flipped, landing on a bed of pine needles. She moaned.
"Surrender?" growled Bluepaw.
"Never!" Darkpaw leaped onto Bluepaw, and sent the slimmer apprentice reeling.
Bluepaw was barely surprised when she felt a warm trickle of blood slide down the side of her face, but kept her own claws sheathed. Darkpaw could get in trouble, but Bluepaw wouldn't harm her - she'd save that for later.
Bluepaw and Darkpaw continued to battle, both oblivious to their audience. The two apprentices and their mentors were staring, mouths agape, and were soon joined by a passing hunting patrol.
Eight cats now stood watching the brawl, as Bluepaw steadily grew more scratched and bloodied, Darkpaw remaining unharmed. Both seemed unwilling to give up, and all of the watchers were unwilling to intervene.
"In the name of StarClan, stop!"
The two apprentices kept rolling, until the cream-colored Applestar and her new deputy, Dawnfur, pushed through the gathered cats.
"Darkpaw! Bluepaw! Explain yourselves," growled Applestar. Bluepaw was panting, but her tiredness didn't keep her from deflecting Darkpaw's evil glares.
"Bluepaw! You're...you're hurt. What--Darkpaw, what's the meaning of this?"
"She unsheathed her claws," spat Darkpaw, the lie evidently not convincing the deputy and leader. "So I unsheathed mine."
"And yet you remain unhurt." Applestar's words contained a concealed question.
"Y-Yes," stammered Darkpaw, her fur beginning to bush up in embarrassment as she realized she was caught. "I--she pierced my pad, see?"
"Mm," mumbled Featherflight, the medicine cat. "Oh." She grasped Darkpaw's paw and said, "Hold still. This might hurt a bit, but it's the only remedy for a pierced pad."
Darkpaw panicked. "Okay, okay, I clawed her a few times, she didn't hurt me!"
Applestar let loose a torrent of curses and angry words that pelted Darkpaw as the shamed apprentice padded back to camp. Shimmerpool smiled at Bluepaw.
Who, for once, wasn't in the wrong.
Chapter Five - Dove
Warriors were pouring out of the dens like ants, and the three badgers were soon covered in a writhing mass of attacking bodies. Dovefeather saw Froststar sink his teeth into the ear of one of the badgers, and she watched, frightened, as it wailed in pain.
Suddenly, Dovefeather felt herself flying through the air, and time slowed down.
Three toms' shocked glances met hers, and she tried to tell them she was all right - but her mouth wouldn't move. She couldn't move her front legs or her hind legs, and she was paralyzed as the giant badger bore down on her. She flattened her ears, attempting a hiss. It came out as a sick, almost-dead-sounding gurgle. The badger seemed to laugh as it raised a heavy, lumbering paw.
Three simultaneous yowls pierced Dovefeather's ear drums, and she was able to regain her sense long enough to scramble away from the now confused giant animal. It swung its pointed head around and glared at the three cats clinging to its head, tail, and back.
The badger let out a roar, and Dovefeather leaped at its face. The badger wasn't expecting the move from such a small cat, and tried to bite her tail. Dovefeather flicked it tauntingly in front of the badger's sharp teeth, but scrambled up its snout onto the top of its head, where she clawed at its eyes. She felt a tail on her shoulder, and turned to see Winterpaw hissing at an advancing badger.
Dovefeather nearly lost her balance as a high, piercing caterwaul hit her ears. Most of the cats cringed at the high frequency, but the badgers perked their ears and began to amble away. The cats that were perched on heads and backs hopped nimbly off, and watched the badgers retreating to their young.
"No cat for breakfast," Froststar said smugly, before flicking his tail and turning to his Clan. "Anyone hurt?"
"My tail," called Dovefeather, inspecting the bloody and scabbing tip with disgust on her face. Finchear and Moonclaw hurried over to her in anxiety, but she waved them away, wincing. Winterpaw hesitantly stepped up to her. She gave him a brief nod, and he inspected her tail, before hurrying to get Hazelwhisker.
Maplepad and Windcreek padded wearily out of the nursery, brushing themselves off before turning to Froststar with dismal faces.
"Blossomkit's dead," Maplepad mewed hoarsely. Windcreek, Blossomkit's mother, was still speechless from the shock. The whole Clan inhaled in synchronization, and were silent for the next few moments. Maplepad lay the dappled brown scrap of fur in the middle of the clearing, while Windcreek and Sedgefeather rested their muzzles on their only daughter's fur.
"We hold a vigil for her tonight," Froststar said, his voice laden with grief.
Hazelwhisker arrived at Dovefeather's side, and the gray she-cat jumped as the medicine cat laid down a leaf on top of her tail. "It hurts," Dovefeather whispered, before angling her head to listen to her leader.
"We hold a vigil for Blossomkit," repeated Froststar. "But it is the Gathering. I will list the cats going - Windcreek? Would you or Sedgefeather like to come?"
Windcreek numbly shook her head. Froststar eyed the black and silver tabby queen with pity, and turned to the rest of his Clan, raising his voice. "Finchear, Moonclaw, Echogaze, Winterpaw, Firebreeze, Breezeheart, Dovefeather, Brambleflower, Maplepad, Littlepoppy, Fernstripe, Furzestripe, Flatpaw, Palmsplash, Nightpaw, Featherface, Dawnpaw, and Morningshine."
The cats nodded, those who weren't chosen returning to their dens. It was going to be a while yet until the Gathering - and until then, it was just any other day. Fernstripe began to organize patrols, and Dovefeather was selected to go hunting with Finchear, Moonclaw, Maplepad, and Morningshine.
Morningshine, the leader of the patrol and Froststar's daughter, led them a way from camp and began to direct them. Dovefeather tuned her words out for a bit, and listened to the birds warbling their tunes and singing their songs. She heard prey scuffling in the underbrush, and heard a dog barking in the distance.
"Dovefeather?" Morningshine's soft voice gave Dovefeather a start, and Morningshine smiled kindly. "It's all right, I just asked if you would mind hunting by the Sky Oak? I don't think any of the patrols are covering that far out, and you're a good rodent-hunter."
Dovefeather blushed at the kind compliment, and nodded. "I can do that."
"Of course you can," Moonclaw said dreamily. "No one would ever doubt you."
"Shut up," Finchear snarled to Moonclaw. "She's mine." The last two words were barely a whisper, but enough to start Moonclaw and Finchear growling at each other. Maplepad and Morningshine rolled their eyes.
"Come on. You two, split up. Maplepad, could you take Finchear that way? I'll lead Moonclaw over here, into this section of the forest. Dovefeather - the Sky Oak."
Maplepad bounded away, flicking her honey-colored tail. Finchear cast an angry glance over his shoulder to Moonclaw, who stuck out his tongue as he moved away with Morningshine.
Dovefeather grinned at the two toms' silliness, and bounded toward the Sky Oak. Despite her mood, she felt a pang of sadness in her heart, grief for Windcreek and Sedgefeather's loss. Out on he horizon, the sun began to rise, casting shadows over a dismal day.
"We have two new warriors," Froststar called loudly, and the cats that had been chattering like starlings quieted. "Dovefeather and Echogaze!"
"Dovefeather! Echogaze!" chanted the Clans.
"Today, however, we mourn the loss of Blossomkit - she was killed in an attack by badgers early this morning. Windcreek and Sedgefeather are at our camp, still grieving. On a somewhat-brighter note, prey is running very well." Froststar stepped back to indicate he was done, and Applestar, the ShadowClan leader, stepped forward.
"We pity ThunderClan for their loss." There was a hint of a satisfied snarl in Applestar's voice, but if Froststar heard it, he didn't acknowledge it.
"Bit hostile, don't you think?" Dovefeather whispered to her sister, who was still a bit grumpy.
"Mm," Echogaze grunted. "Do you think Acornwhisker--"
"Hush!" Fernstripe turned and bid them be quiet. Dovefeather fell silent, but Echogaze continued to mutter about Acornwhisker.
"But we have three new warriors, and they are here tonight! Larkclaw, Jumpclaw, and Darkclaw!"
"Larkclaw! Jumpclaw! Darkclaw!" cheered the Clans. Dovefeather raised her voice half-heartedly, eying Darkclaw's smug expression with distaste. The three new warriors began to whisper to each other, already plotting their next excursion.
"I don't like the look of that Darkclaw," hissed Dovefeather. Echogaze nodded.
"What about Bluepaw?"
Applestar ignored the call from the WindClan cats, but Dovefeather froze.
Chapter Six - Blue
Bluepaw froze when the new warrior's name was called. She almost didn't hear the recognition of her brother and former denmates, and merely shuffled her paws when the WindClan cat acknowledged her.
Applestar ignored the comment, and beckoned for Barkstar, the WindClan leader, to make his announcement.
Barkstar was a very old mottled tom, and had tufts of white fur coming out of his ears. His eyes were milky, and some said hew as half blind, but he had a voice as sharp as the leaf-bare wind. "WindClan is thriving, prey is definitely running well, however, one of our warriors, Firewing, was injured chasing a fox off of our territory. Frondpaw is at camp tending to her."
"Which way did the fox go, Barkstar?" Froststar asked quietly. Barkstar turned slowly to the younger leader.
"Out of Clan territories," he mewed slowly, as though Froststar were dumb as a mouse. Bluepaw had to stifle a laugh, and Tawnywhisker hissed at her.
"Shut up, you little--" Bluepaw gazed back at him, unaffected by the insult. Tawnywhisker narrowed his eyes and was about to make a comment when a ThunderClan she-cat, Maplepad, flicked his ear with her tail. He fell silent and slowly turned back around to face the leaders. Frozenstar had stepped forward to make her announcments.
"Prey is...swimming well, in RiverClan," she said with a laugh that the other leaders didn't share. After a somewhat awkard silence, she continued, her voice fast with embarrassment. "We have two new apprentices, Swiftpaw and Troutpaw, and their mentors are Creekbloom and Palefeather."
"Swiftpaw! Troutpaw!" Bluepaw joined in the cheer, the mysterious cat named Dovefeather still on her mind.
The four leaders jumped down to join their Clanmates, and Bluepaw jumped up to move away from her Clanmates. She gently pushed her way through the ThunderClan cats, and stopped when she met the pretty golden she-cat who had hushed Tawnywhisker, Maplepad.
"Hello," Bluepaw said politely, and Maplepad turned around in surprise.
"Are you Bluepaw?" Maplepad asked curiously. Bluepaw nodded. "What can I do for you, Bluepaw?"
"Do you know where Dovefeather is?"
"Yes, dear, she's just over there."
"Thank you, thank you very much," Bluepaw said graciously, and frisked away. It wasn't that hard being polite, she realized, you just had to start out being polite to the...right cats. Other polite cats, like Maplepad. Then you could move onto the big, mean cats.
Sort of like catching prey, Bluepaw mused. You start small, and work bigger.
Bluepaw caught sight of the fluffy gray she-cat, and was shocked to see Tawnywhisker amongst the toms swarming around her. A few WindClan cats and a lot of RiverClan toms were offering to get her drinks, or offering to take her for a swim, or offering to catch her a rabbit, or a frog (in Tawnywhisker's case), but Dovefeather rejected them all, blushing furiously.
Bluepaw settled down under a shady tree to wait for Dovefeather. After a few moments, however, it became quite apparent that the she-cat was not going to be escaping the toms anytime soon, so Bluepaw began to move away.
When a mass of fluffy gray fur collided with her.
"Watch where you're going!" the apprentice spat automatically, and then furiously attempted to make amends. "I mean, I'm really sorry for crashing into you, I must not have looked where I was going--"
"Relax, it's all right. Bluepaw, right?" Bluepaw nodded, and blinked a few times to clear her vision.
"Yes," the she-cat replied, her voice soft.
"Did you receive a prophecy too?" Bluepaw asked hesitantly, and was rather relieved when the she-cat nodded.
"When thrown against the eternal blue sky, the feather of the gray dove shall die."
"Blue and dove, together united, must search for a cat with a pelt whiter than snow, to save not only the Clans, but each other," Bluepaw finished.
Dovefeather's eyes widened in shock. "So...so you're...blue sky?"
"I'm guessing so," Bluepaw said quietly, then added with amusement, "Feather of gray dove."
Dovefeather swiped at her playfully, and Bluepaw rolled onto her back, batting at Dovefeather with sheathed claws. The two laughed.
"Bluepaw!" Applestar's shout startled Bluepaw, and she muttered quick goodbye to Dovefeather.
"Meet me at the border tomorrow at sunhigh," called Dovefeather. "We've got to talk!"
"Will do," Bluepaw shouted over her shoulder, and hurried away to join her Clan, Dovefeather's piercing blue gaze still on her back.
Chapter Seven - Dove
"Can I please go on the sunhigh patrol. Please?" Dovefeather begged Froststar. The young leader looked down at the eager warrior with amusement, before waving his tail and nodding, calling after the departing patrol.
"Furzestripe! Dovefeather's going to tag along, if that's all right. Eager to lay your first scent mark as a warrior?" Froststar asked Dovefeather. He got no answer, however, for Dovefeather had already whisked away after the patrol. The leader sighed, and padded back into his den to where his breakfast was waiting.
Dovefeather hared along Furzestripe, bouncing in excitement. The pale tabby she-cat laughed at Dovefeather's eagerness. "Having fun, Dovefeather? Anything I don't know about?"
"Nope!" Dovefeather said, but the excitement in her eyes betrayed her, and Furzestripe grew serious.
"You're not meeting someone, are you?"
"I--" Dovefeather caught herself. Could she tell the senior warrior, and risk being exposed? "No, Furzestripe. Of course not."
Furzestripe looked unconvinced, though mewed, "Well, you've never lied before, Dovefeather, so you must be telling the truth." She padded on ahead of Dovefeather, and the gray she-cat was left to stand, dumbfounded, until the rear of the patrol caught up with her and she was forced to pad on.
By the time the fivesome reached the ShadowClan border, it was a bit after sunhigh, and a ShadowClan patrol was doing the same as the ThunderClan one.
Larkclaw, a large, burly new warrior, growled at the ThunderClan cats from across the border, and Darkclaw cooed beside him. "That's my love, isn't it? Scaring away puny ThunderClan cats. Don't waste your energy, dear," she simpered, though her claws flexed in and out. The ThunderClan warriors just rolled their eyes and padded on, marking the border ever so often.
Dovefeather's mind was whizzing. Bluepaw hadn't been with that patrol...but she said meet at sunhigh! Had she left already, was she--
"Oi, you! Watch where you're going, will you?" The familiar mew jolted Dovefeather out of her uncertain thoughts, and she caught sight of the gray pelt that almost matched her own.
"Bluepaw!" she cried. Bluepaw recoiled, hissing. Though Bluepaw's voice was mean and rude, her eyes told Dovefeather, Not here. Not now. Not when my Clanmates are around. Dovefeather understood, and hastily stepped back.
"I-I'm sorry. I didn't know...I..."
"Enough excuses," snarled Bluepaw. "Just stay on your side of the border and we...might...stay on our side."
"Good job, Bluepaw," crowed Larkclaw. "For an apprentice, that's a pretty spectacular job, being a ShadowClan cat."
"Are you questioning my loyalty?" Bluepaw asked, her voice so quiet that Larkclaw bent down to hear her.
"Sorry, little apprentice. Didn't catch that. Come again?"
"Are you questioning my loyalty?" Bluepaw repeated, her voice still low. Larkclaw straightened up, and smirked at her.
"Possibly. After all, kindness to a ThunderClan...well, can we really call them cats? Accepting so many kittypets, I mean--"
"If they're a bunch of kittypets, then what are you? A toad?"
While the ShadowClan cats roared with laughter, save for Bluepaw, Larkclaw, and Darkclaw, the ThunderClan cats shared a knowing glance, shook their heads, and began to pad away.
"OI!" yelled Larkclaw. "Stay here!"
"What's the matter with him?" Maplepad hissed to Furzestripe as they hurried away. "Is he intoxicated, or something?"
"Bluepaw told me he's always like that," Dovefeather mewed, unthinking. She quickly caught herself, and added, "at the Gathering, that's when she said it."
Furzestripe turned her head. "Bluepaw? That rude, loud apprentice that should be a warrior?"
"Wonder what she did to delay her apprenticeship. Word is that it's four moons delayed."
"That's horrible," Dovefeather protested. They were almost at camp again, and yet the she-cats had not communicated enough on where to meet, and when to meet next.
"Mmhmm. Just goes to show how heartless Applestar is," mewed Furzestripe.
How heartless, indeed.
It was moonhigh, and Dovefeather couldn't sleep. Ignoring the shadow that seemed to be stalking her, she hurried out of her den and out ofthe ThunderClan camp, into the forest where everything smelled fresh, and she felt free. No Clanmates to cloister around her and claim her as their mates. Nope. Just trees, undergrowth, and prey.
Dovefeather found herself moving towards the ShadowClan border, but didn't want to encounter any of the nasty warriors when she was alone. She decided to backtrack and head toward the WindClan border, where the large Twolegplace was.
Dovefeather had been told that in the time of Firestar, the great ThunderClan leader, there never was a Twolegplace by the WindClan border. There never was really anything there, but things had changed, and now a massive Twolegplace sat, separated from the forest by a long, wooden barrier called a fence.
Dovefeather now paced along this fence, thinking hard about her meeting with Bluepaw.
A twig snapped somewhere in the distance, and Dovefeather whipped around, eyes wide. Her ears were pricked, senses alert. She could smell nothing, only the faint, repulsive smell of otter dung. Wrinkling her nose and trying to move silently, the warrior crept towards the bushes. Cursing as her paw scuffed a dry leaf, she froze, listening. A faint rustle in the bushes again told her whatever had been loitering had vanished.
She sighed, padding back to the camp.
Chapter Eight - Blue
Bluepaw stood up, stretching. The warm sun beat down upon her back, and though the feeling was pleasant, Bluepaw was starting to feel like she was being boiled within her own pelt. She blinked blearily.
The whole of ShadowClan was lazing about, flopped over rocks on their backs, their tongues hanging out of their mouths, panting like some sort of dogs. Tawnywhisker was breathing heavily, and the heat was also obviously affecting Larkclaw - he was irritable, and was snapping at Darkclaw when she tried to groom him. Bluepaw stifled a laugh as she padded up to Applestar and asked permission to go hunt.
"Sure," Applestar said weakly, her amber eyes dim. Her cream pelt had seemed to darken with the heat, but Bluepaw wasn't worried, and neither was Featherflight.
Bluepaw flicked her tail and headed out of camp, racing through the wooded territory as soon as she left the camp. The ShadowClan camp was nice, but was very hot and stuffy in the Greenleaf months. Bluepaw was glad to escape it.
Though she had gone to hunt, Bluepaw ignored the enticing smells of the chattering prey around her. Three squirrels were arguing over a nut high in a tree, which was, effectively, ThunderClan's domain. A few voles were snuffling in the roots of the nearest pine, and a chorus of bullfrogs was croaking loudly a few tail-lengths away. A silly smile was plastered on Bluepaw's face, but she did nothing to dispel it as she slowed her pace to a cheerful bound as she wove through the trees.
Deciding that maybe she could catch Dovefeather and have a chat with her, Bluepaw switched directions and headed towards the ThunderClan border. As Bluepaw drew nearer towards the border, she began to realize that even though ThunderClan were slightly crazy, they weren't insane enough to be out and about in this weather.
But Bluepaw had gotten lucky, and she ducked behind a tree as the ThunderClan patrol drew closer to the border. She pricked her ears, catching a few snippets of their conversation.
"...are a bunch of rogues and idiots thrown together to call a Clan. They don't even patrol, just laze about when it's too hot, almost as bad as RiverClan..."
Bluepaw stayed hidden, but she could smell Dovefeather's scent - something sweet mixed with eternal uneasiness, a bit of bitterness thrown into the mix. As the rest of the ThunderClan patrol headed farther down the border, Dovefeather hurried the other way, calling out, "I'll get this bit over here!"
Bluepaw slipped out, and waded through the pine needles toward Dovefeather. "Hi," she said. "What's up?"
Dovefeather shrugged. "Nothing much. From what I've gathered, you seem to be the 'blue sky' of the prophecy, huh? Guess that makes me the feather of the gray dove. Wish it could have been something cooler, personally, but I suppose I'm satisfied. At least it's not 'pile the color of dung' or something ridiculous like that." She gave an embarrassed grin when her joke didn't elicit a smile from Bluepaw. "Anyways, were you told about this snow-colored cat who will 'destroy not only us, but the Clans'?"
Nodding, the apprentice replied, "Yeah, I--"
A sudden yowl broke through their conversation, and Shimmerpool burst into the clearing. "Bluepaw! There you are, you little furball." The silver she-cat purred affectionately, looking ready to burst with excitement. "The elders were complaining and Applestar overheard. She's going to give you your warrior name - right now."
Bluepaw turned, looking for Dovefeather, but the ThunderClan she-cat had alredy disappeared. "I'm coming."
"Your name will be--"
"Bluesky," Bluepaw murmured, just as Applestar mewed the same thing. The leader looked slightly confused - baffled, as though she had heard the new warrior's words - but smiled politely as the Clan let out a weak cheer for the new warrior. Bluepaw - Bluesky - flashed everyone a look of faux gratitude and turned back around to touch noses with her leader.
The Clan dispersed rather quickly, none too eager to stay and congratulate the cat whose warriorhood was long overdue. Bluesky wasn't particularly perturbed; she would have preferred to return to her and Dovefeather's meeting place to sort out this cat with a pelt as white as snow business and find out what they could do to stop it.
Curious as to whether Dovefeather had waited, Bluesky trotted back to the place they had designated for meeting. She was astonished to find the gray she-cat still seated there, but this time accompanied by another ThunderClanner. A tom this time, he had long, well-groomed white fur and startlingly blue eyes. He turned to look at Bluesky, as though he had heard or scented her, but quickly swung back around in time to laugh at Dovefeather's cheesy joke. Bluesky had to force a smile before padding away.
And then it struck her.
Chapter Nine - Dove
"This is it, Dovefeather."
The she-cat jerked upright, peering around in the gloom. She was sure she had heard something, and yet...no one was there. Every cat was curled up in a nest; Moonclaw was drooling and Sedgefeather was making weird noises, but no one was awake. Dovefeather swiveled her head to see if anyone around her had uttered a word in his or her sleep, but everyone was absolutely silent. Echogaze was splayed out, limbs extended and twitching ever so often. Dovefeather smiled affectionately at her sister and stood up to stretch before padding out of the den.
She'd already been out once at night; it hadn't ended well. She recalled someone - or something - lurking behind her and then proceeding to scare the dung out of her, but she'd gotten back to her nest unscathed and overall quite safe and sound.
The forest nightlife was abuzz with action. Nocturnal birds called low, eerie cries to each other in the faded light of the moon, shrieking warnings and then taking flight, flapping their wings until they vanished in the cool, midnight air. There was the patter of tiny paws through the gnarled branches of the trees over her head as small rodents scuttled from predators. The scent of prey flooded Dovefeather's mouth and she was tempted to chase after just one succulent mouse - but there was a loud crack behind her that jerked her from her prey-induced reverie.
Dovefeather went still. Around her, the birds' chirps went silent and prey froze in its trees, frightened that another predator might be lurking in the cover of the night. They were right - but this time, they weren't the prey. Dovefeather was.
Silently, the fluffy she-cat crept backwards, praying to StarClan that she wouldn't crash into anything or attract any attention to herself. She held her tail out, sweeping the ground behind her to check for any impediments. If she was correct in knowing where she was, there was a break in the trees up ahead. She'd have to skirt around it, but there was little way that her stalker could, if he was any bit bulkier than she was.
Overestimating the distance until the clearing, Dovefeather stumbled backwards and tumbled towards the slight dip. The ground around her was startlingly light, lit by the benevolent moon overhead. Cursing internally, Dovefeather scrambled to her feet.
The cat who had been following her stepped gracefully into the moonlight. True to the prophecy, his pelt glowed with the color of the snow. His eyes were still hidden in shadow, but his paws revealed unsheathed claws that sparkled maliciously. It might have been Dovefeather's overactive imagination, but it looked like blood flecked his paws.
In an unfamiliar voice, the cat began to speak.
"It was so easy, Dovefeather," the cat purred delicately, weaving around the outskirts of the clearing but staying hidden in the tree cover. He moved with ease, twining around the tree trunks as though he was as small and slender as an apprentice. No full-grown warrior, no tom could stay hidden with as little land as there was between the trees and the hollow. The tom must have been an apprentice - yet his voice betrayed his age, no younger than a middle-aged warrior.
"So easy," he reiterated. His voice came from every edge of the clearing until Dovefeather was spinning, terrified of where he might jump out. "You were so trusting, so willing to bask in the attention of every tom. And yet, somehow, I was different. I treated you as an equal, and you returned my love with a passion stronger than I had ever anticipated. It makes my job so much easier, trust me. Thank you, Dovefeather, for that. I would never have even imagined my project would be so willing to meet her assassin.
"You see, Dovefeather, being a loner is more than it's cracked up to be. The Clans think they're so mighty, the only organized form of cats in the forest. They've seen the Tribes, sure, but they haven't seen the loners. We will soon overtake these Clans - but first, we must unhinge them. First, we must destroy everything they hold dear until it will slowly eat them from the inside out. We will defeat them, but we will first destroy them."
The words of the prophecy came back to Dovefeather - When thrown against the eternal blue sky, the feather of the gray dove shall die. Blue and dove, together united, must search for a cat with a pelt whiter than snow, for he will destroy not only them, but the Clans as we know them.
"Who are you?" Dovefeather whispered.
She didn't get her answer. The cat remained silent - and then chaos erupted. Something slammed into Dovefeather from behind, knocking her to the cushioned floor of the clearing. It was a quick fight, but when the dust cleared, two cats came into her line of sight.
One was Bluesky, shaking sand from her ears and gazing beseechingly at Dovefeather.
The other was Winterpaw.
Chapter Ten - Blue
She needed to tell Dovefeather
Night had already fallen before Bluesky managed to sneak out of camp. Using the thick of night to mask her pelt, she slipped from the ShadowClan camp through the dirtplace. The warrior could only hope that the stench of dirt would be able to conceal her scent as she raced toward ThunderClan territory, muscles burning and her mind racing.
Nothing made sense, that much she knew. Well - some of it did. She and Dovefeather, a mysterious white cat...all she knew was that every component of the prophecy was there. Bluesky just hoped that she and Dovefeather would be able to piece together the entire thing and figure it out before the snowy white ThunderClan cat did. Otherwise...well, they knew how the prophecy went. Blue and Dove, together united, must search for a cat with a pelt whiter than snow, for he will destroy not only them, but the Clans as we know them.
This was so not how Bluesky had envisioned spending her first few sunrises as a warrior.
Bluesky was nearing the ThunderClan border when she heard the gloating voice carrying from a nearby hollow. ShadowClan had seen ThunderClan cats emerge from the place enough to know that it was used as a training sort of place or fighting ground or whatnot, so Bluesky knew exactly where she was headed. She slowed down a bit as she crossed the border, wrinkling her nose as ThunderClan scent bathed her tongue. She would never get used to it.
"...will defeat them, but we will first destroy them."
Padding a bit to the left, two pelts came into focus, soaked in moonlight. A silvery gray pelt, fluffed up with fear. Bluesky parted her jaws and could taste Dovefeather's scent. She crept a few tail-lengths closer - and then her heartbeat hitched and she was racing into the clearing.
She hit Dovefeather with as much force was used to attack opponents. Dovefeather struggled for a moment, rolling around, but soon relaxed when she realized who it was. The spray of sand that had been shot up when Bluesky pounced cleared, and a lean, white tom strode before the two breathless she-cats. A smirk curled his cruel lips and his eyes were like chips of ice. Bluesky's heart sank.
Dovefeather scrambled off of Bluesky, her eyes stretched wide. "Winterpaw?" she said in horror.
Winterpaw's smirk widened until it could only be described as a sort of grotesque grimace. The cat before them purred savagely, fangs barred and tail held erect. He rolled his neck and shoulders before strolling closer to the pair, blue eyes surveying them lazily. Beside Bluesky, Dovefeather looked astonish. The ShadowClan warrior felt sympathy for her: clearly, this Winterpaw was someone she trusted. To be betrayed like that must feel...well, awful.
"Winterpaw, what are you doing?" Dovefeather said, taking a step back. She pressed close to Bluesky.
"I'm sorry, Dovefeather," Winterpaw growled, circling his Clanmate. "Really, I am. When I heard you were one half of the prophecy...well, it shook me a little bit inside." He nodded thoughtfully, as though he was concerned for himself. Bluesky hissed. Winterpaw focused his narrow gaze on her. "This one, on the other hand. Well, I can't say much other than that it will be a pleasure to see ShadowClan fall. Everything you hold dear, Bluesky, will come crumbling down around you. And there will be nothing you can do to stop it."
Bluesky knew that both Winterpaw and Dovefeather expected her not to reply, to be terrified, mortified into submission. They expected her to cower, to surrender, to give in because there was no hope. Instead, Bluesky laughed.
"You think you can hurt me with that sort of threat? My parents are dead. No Clan, no Clanmate, no Twoleg, no piece of prey in this entire forest that you could kill to unhinge me. You can't hurt me by hurting someone else. There is no one left that I love."
Winterpaw recovered quickly from his astonishment. "I think I can fix that."
Before either of the she-cats had time to react, Winterpaw was sprinting forwards. He barreled into Dovefeather, throwing her off-balance with one shoulder. The fluffy gray she-cat stumbled for a moment, tring to regain her balance, and then toppled, bringing Bluesky down with her.
Huffing, Bluesky tried to push a struggling Dovefeather off of her. She could barely breathe, and Winterpaw's blows to Dovefeather's head and shoulders were doing nothing to keep Bluesky from suffocating. Growling under her breath, Bluesky heaved up with her shoulders and wriggled from beneath Dovefeather.
Pivoting, Bluesky made to attack Winterpaw - but stopped dead.
Right where she had fallen, Dovefeather lay. Her crystalline eyes were glassy, her mouth open and blood leaking from one corner. Bluesky crept forward, apprehension burning through her veins like adrenaline, and touched her nose to Dovefeather's pelt; it was as cold as the look in Winterpaw's eyes. Without waiting to inspect any of Dovefeather's wounds or try and save the she-cat, Bluesky leapt over the fallen body of the ThunderClan warrior and bowled Winterpaw over.
The ShadowClan cat yowled furiously, caterwauling and screeching so loudly that all of ThunderClan might have heard. Winterpaw sank beneath her onslaught of teeth and claws, the pair of them wrestling and grappling until one would seem to emerge the victor. Bluesky reared onto her hindpaws as Winterpaw managed to squeeze from beneath her, and smacked the ThunderClan tom in the head. Growling furiously, he dropped onto all four of his paws and raced for Bluesky's mid-section.
Unprepared, Bluesky found herself flung back towards Dovefeather. She hauled herself to her feet and shook out her pelt. All she could see was Winterpaw, all she could hear was the roar of blood in her ears as she braced for attack - one that never came.
Opening her eyes, it was to find that a pair of cats was pinning the snowy tom to the dusty floor of the clearing. The entire place reeked of ThunderClan, Bluesky noted, and still more cats were streaming from the forest. Her plea for help had succeeded - until she realized that a trio of cats were barreling towards her with such anger in their eyes she was surprised she wasn't killed on the spot.
"Relax, Moonclaw," a frosty-white tom called. "We've found the perpetrator of the crime. You can let that young she-cat go. She has done no harm."
Bluesky was about to let slide a stinging comment to the cats who slunk away from her, but she couldn't find it in her to be so unkind when her life had just been spared by none other than the ThunderClan leader himself.
She was somewhat surprised by the night's events, if she was being honest. She had expected to be called a killer by the ThunderClan cats - to be told she had been the one to kill their beloved Dovefeather. She expected, as soon as she saw Dovefeather's body in the dust, that that was how the prophecy would play out. Winterpaw was only needed to get the moss ball rolling - then, ThunderClan and ShadowClan would turn against each other. A war would tear apart the forest, and WindClan and RiverClan would take sides until no cat remained. But now, she realized that not all prophecies were fulfilled. Some were destined to die out - like this one.
Bluesky shook her head to clear these thoughts as the conversation between the cats around Dovefeather broke off. Bowing her head graciously and respectfully, Bluesky looked up when Froststar padded from the restrained Winterpaw over to her.
"Bluesky, I presume?" She nodded. "Well, Bluesky, I would like to thank you for all that you have done for ThunderClan. Together, you and Dovefeather managed to keep the Clans from suffering a horrible fate. We may never be able to repay you, but we can only beg of your thanks. If there is anything you need, just ask."
Bluesky couldn't quench her curiosity. "Just one thing - did you know about the prophecy?"
Froststar looked somewhat nervous, but nodded.
"Then why didn't you do something about it?" Bluesky couldn't keep the accusatory tone from her voice. "You heard the prophecy! You heard my name at the Gathering, you named Dovefeather yourself! You knew she was going to die, you knew that this white cat, this...Winterpaw was going to be the one to kill her! To destroy the Clans! From what I heard, it sounds like hew as taken in as a loner - why didn't you stop that?! You...you killed her." Bluesky was crying now, tears leaking from her blue eyes and through her gray fur. "You...killed her."
Gravely, Froststar sighed. "I learned of the prophecy after Winterpaw had been accepted into the Clan. It wasn't my fate to interfere...it was against StarClan's will."
"That's a load of fox-dung!" Bluesky cried. "You could have saved her. She was the closest thing to a friend I've had and now she's gone, all because you couldn't 'interfere.' You knew it was going to happen, you--it's not--it's not...fair." She could barely choke out the last word, her throat was too clogged with tears.
"She will be mourned by all of the Clans. She was a valuable warrior. But everyone has their time, Bluesky. And if I knew Dovefeather, she wouldn't have wanted you to spend too long mourning her."
Long after she had returned to her nest in ShadowClan, slinking back through the dirtplace and rolling in some of the dust to rid her pelt of the ThunderClan smell, Bluesky lay awake. In her bed of moss and bracken, blanketed by shadows, she couldn't quite fall alseep. Adrenaline still pumped through her veins and blood still roared in her ears. She had just seen a cat die before her - and then listened to the cat's leader as he admitted to knowing about the death of that cat.
Bluesky realized then, that maybe the prophecy had been fulfilled. Winterpaw had destroyed her. The moment Bluesky realized that some of her harshness had melted away, that maybe she had found a friend, was the moment that friend was ripped from her. The moment everything she had been waiting for was destroyed. The moment Dovefeather's body hit the floor of that clearing was the moment Bluesky felt was most heartbreaking. And though not all of the Clans would be torn up over the loss of the pretty she-cat, ThunderClan would mourn their warrior for ages. They would be torn apart by grief.
Bluesky was wrong - maybe all prophecies were meant to be fulfilled.