Blind is a fanfiction by IcewrathXFeatherswirlXCraneheart with a bit of help and ideas from Avalanchestrike. A/N: *PLEASE READ* I am converting the story to first person, so PLEASE don't point out that it goes from 1st to 3rd. I am doing it in little chunks. THANK YOU!
Mysteryfeather: Mysteryfeather is a skinny, sleek, long-furred reddish-brown she-cat with lighter brown speckles on her face and bright green eyes. She is intelligent, incredibly smart, and is socially awkward, but athletic. Unlike most, she would rather spend her time learning new things instead of hanging out and she will try anything at least once. She is daring, aggressive, and has a rebellious streak, but for the most part keeps to herself. She is quite quick to anger, and has sharp wit and sharp tongue, incredibly resourcesful, and analytical. She knows most things about most cats, likes to go on missions, and nothing will stop her from getting the job done. On the other paw, she is also very shy and cautious, but if she's with her good friends or solving a mystery, all that melts away. Mysteryfeather does most things with her best friend, Strikebird, another close friend, Mapleshine, and has a small group of friends aside from them, Foxflash and Oakshard. At times, she will hang out with Swiftfrost. She has two brothers, Snakejaw and Eaglepaw.
Strikebird: Strikebird is a pretty, dainty long-furred calico and white she-cat with turquiose-colored eyes. She is very quiet, reserved, and intelligent. Because of this, she loves to watch things in nature, but kind of mysterious and fiercely independent. She has many talents, but, like her best friend, Mysteryfeather, she is kind of an outcast. She and Mysteryfeather are very close, sharing most secrets with each other and doing most things together.
Mapleshine: Mapleshine is a golden brown she-cat with green eyes and long legs. She, like her two good friends Mysteryfeather and Strikebird, is a bit socially awkward, which gets worse when she talks to toms. She is very open about her feelings and supportive of her closest friends. Mapleshine is intelligent, loyal, and funny, but can be impatient.
Foxflash: Foxflash is a long-furred, sandy-ginger colored tom with luminous blue eyes. He is kind and sweet, pretty popular, and hangs out a lot with Mysteryfeather and Oakshard. He is brave, honest, honorable, and one of the Clan's best fighters. He is responsible and respects all cats. Foxflash has a large sense of humor and loves to chat and joke around with his friends, though he does have a very shy side. He is kind of smart and incredibly charming, and will do anything to protect the ones that are closest to him.
Oakshard: Oakshard is a short, lanky, long-furred, dark brown colored tom with deep brown eyes. He is almost just like his friend, Foxflash, but is less shy than his friend. He is kind of smart, a skilled fighter, extremely funny, considerate, outgoing, and kind. His two best friends are Foxflash and Mysteryfeather. He is in a relationship with Darkmist and she is pushing for them to become official mates, but there is only one thing stopping him that nobody knows about.
Redstorm: Redstorm is a short-furred russet colored tom with amber-brown eyes. He is an athletic, intelligent and very outgoing tom. He is also headstrong, but is very reliable when it comes to something serious. He is also a natural-born leader. Even though he often likes to socialize and is rather rebellious, he likes to be independent and prefers to hang out with his best of friends, which includes his brother, Reedstone.
Reedstone: Reedstone is a short-furred russet colored tom with amber-brown eyes. He has a personality similar to that of his brother's, Redstorm. His fur is a bit shorter than his brother's which is how they are told apart to most cats.
Nightwing: Nightwing is a black tom with brown eyes. He is playful and enjoys nature, so he often listens to the birds or storms and takes walks. He is a skilled and graceful fighter, very loyal, and intelligent, though he can't keep a conversation going.
Swiftfrost: Swiftfrost is a light sandy brown colored, long-furred tom with black speckles and hazel eyes. He is athletic, strong, and agile, which makes him a dangerous opponent in battle. His recovery skills are excellent and he is very hard-working. He loves the cold and is very helpful, kind, and funny, and will sometimes hang out with Mysteryfeather.
Snakejaw: Snakejaw is a brown furred tom with green eyes. He is very shy and quiet, but a bit of a slacker. He isn't really much like his sister, Mysteryfeather, but hangs out with her a lot. He is very strong and silly, and has lots of she-cats after him. Lots of the time, he is with Mysteryfeather, or his younger brother, Eaglepaw.
Eaglepaw: Eaglepaw is a small brown-furred tom with brown eyes. He is the most popular tom apprentice in the all of the Clans. Most of the she-cats adore him. He is very aggressive, and anything can set him off, but he is also very sweet, funny, and kind. He likes to stick with his sister, Mysteryfeather, and brother, Snakejaw, but most of the time, he tries to go his own way.
Darkmist: Darkmist is a fluffy, black she-cat with brown eyes. She is very hostile and protective, and very prissy. She goes nuts if another she-cat even sits next to Oakshard. She is pressing for them to become mates, but Oakshard is holding out. She is patient, which is why she lets Oakshard delay her plans, but she senses something is amiss.
Shadestrike: Shadestrike is a short-furred black tom with brown eyes. He is quiet and mysterious, but is very friendly. He can be shy, but once you get to know him he opens up. He is also an incredible fighter. He has a half-sister, Darkmist, who is just a bit older than him. They share the same father.
The gray tabby's blue eyes flicked around wildly, every step confident, but cautious. The smell of frost hung in the air and the tom shivered, his short pelt trying to fluff up against it. He planted his paws on the ice-crusted ground and took a deep breath, letting his breath cloud the air in front of his muzzle more than the white mist that permanantly hung over his blue gaze.
"There you are," a ginger tom bounded over. His green eyes shone with youth, clear and free of the pain and frustration the gray tabby tom had felt all of his life.
"Flametail," the tom greeted the ginger cat curtly, dipping his head as guilt stabbed him. Memories swirled in his head as he remembered how Flametail had died, and he felt frustration claw at him.
"Where are the others?" Flametail asked, oblivious to the emotions radiating from his companion.
"Do I look like I know?" the gray tabby snorted, pushing away his feelings of guilt and snapping back to reality.
"Sorry," Flametail mewed apologetically, dipping his head.
The gray tabby shuffled his paws as silence fell over them, wincing as dried leaves crackled under his half-frozen paws. Again, he tried fluffing his pelt against the chill of the wind, and he waited patiently for the other two cats to arrive
Shortly, the two toms heard panting, "I'm here!" A brown-gray tom broke through the bushes, twigs criss-crossing his white splotches.
"There you are, Kestrelflight," the tom mewed, sniffing the air non-chalantly. He nodded, sure it was Kestrelflight that he was talking to.
"How did you know?" Kestrelflight asked, staring at the gray tabby tom incredulously. He took a few deep breaths, flicking his ears while waiting for the tom to reply.
"Duh, I can smell you," the tom shook his head. Flametail bit his lower lip, trying hard not to laugh at the grumpy tom cat.
"Oh yeah," Kestrelflight shook his head to clear it as his pants gradually slowed and quieted, leaving the clearing and the three cats in another silence.
"Here's Willowshine," the tabby tom announced, snapping his head up to where a beautiful dark gray she-cat emerged from the bushes.
Willowshine mewed, "Yes, I'm here now. What do you want?" She sat down between the gray tabby and Kestrelflight. As she sat, her scent wreathed around the tabby tom and a mixture of emotions prodded at his heart and mind. He closed his cloudy blue eyes, trying to push the emotions away before it drove him nuts.
Once the tom regained control he started, "Well, I have a message.... mostly it involves me and Willowshine..." The tom threw Willowshine a glance and the she-cat stiffened visibly.
"So, why did you invite us?" Kestrelflight asked, looking up in surprise at the them.
"I felt like I had to."
"So what's this whole thing about," Flametail queried. He tilted his head to one side and he studied the tom and Willowshine carefully. There was something about the way they acted, he knew, but he just couldn't pinpoint exactly what it was that he sensed.
"I was sitting by one of the pools, and I recieved something," the tom sighed. "And-"
"What did you see?" Flametail broke in excitedly, abruptly pushing aside his questions and suspicions.
"I didn't see anything!" the tom snapped, his eyes narrowing in frustration.
"Sorry, Jayfeather," Flametail apologized, wrapping his fluffy ginger tail around his paws.
Jayfeather tossed his head and continued, "I heard something. A whisper: The shining feather falls, trying to be seen in the blind hemisphere.
"What does it mean?" Kestrelflight asked.
"Willowshine, what is your input?" Flametail turned to the pretty RiverClan medicine cat.
"I... I..." she stammered.
"You and Jayfeather had kits didn't you?" Kestrelflight's eyes glittered, confirming the fiery colored medicine cat's suspicions, "You do know that it's against the medicine cat code..."
Willowshine looked away and Jayfeather nodded, rearing back as memories swirled in his mind; memories of the love and kindess he had shown Willowshine, memories of the warmth he had felt when she had his kits, memories of guilt and anxiety as he lied to his Clan. All of it came back and swelled inside of him like a raincloud.
"Aaaand now there's a prophecy about your kin?" Flametail guessed.
All the cats stayed silent for a moment, letting it all sink in. A cold breeze whistled through the trees and Jayfeather shivered.
Jayfeather turned to gaze at the three others with his cloudy blue eyes. He murmured gravely, "All I know is that something is amiss in RiverClan. And our kin is involved. There is a pawful of RiverClan cats that are blind.... blind. But not in the way that you would think..."
"Mysteryfeeeeather!" a voice echoed in my ears, slicing through the gentle swirling sounds of my dreams, "Myyysteryfeather!" I wished the voice would stop, but it kept nagging.
I finally stretched my eyes open, staring into wide, green eyes almost identical to mine. They were glowing, alert and triumphant... probably because waking me up is a big chore, so many say.
"What do you want, Snakejaw?" I groaned, rolling over in my moss nest. I pressed my ear against the dirt, hoping that Snakejaw would get bored and leave me alone so I could get some more rest.
Snakejaw poked me with a paw, "Come on! We have to go on patrol!" He now sounded slightly irritated and I stifled a growl. StarClan forbid I get enough sleep. Scrunching up into a ball, I covered my ears with my paw and tried to ignore him.
"Come on!" Snakejaw's pleading voice was muffled, then he knocked my paw from my ears and I glared up at him with a sliver of my green eyes. He smiled mischievously, then threatened, "Or I'll have to get Eaglepaw!"
"I'm up! I'm up!" I sat up quickly, groggy, but awake. Eaglepaw is the worst thing to wake up to, believe me. He will do almost anything to wake you up. It didn't take me long to figure that out.
"Good!" Snakejaw purred, padding out of the warriors' den.
I glared after him with venom in my eyes, then started to shake my head to clear it of the sleep and anger.
I would rather eat crowfood for a moon than get woken up by Eaglepaw, I thought, conjuring up the memories of earlier wake-up shenanigans. One time, early in my apprenticeship, Eaglepaw, Eaglekit then, had somehow managed to drag me into a shallow part of the stream in order to wake me up. One of the most horrible wake-up calls I have recieved from my youngest brother, was when he woke me up, frantic, claiming that I needed to investigate something about ShadowClan. I, bedraggled, yet excited ran into ShadowClan territory, climbed a pine that overlooked their camp, and started to spy.
The next thing I knew, I was being woken up by ShadowClan warriors and taken to be imprisoned in their camp. Eaglepaw must have given up the charade, and told everyone where I went, because later, my friends Strikebird, Mapleshine, Foxflash, Oakshard, Snakejaw, Swiftfrost, and Eaglepaw came to vouch for my innocence in the matter.
And I won't fall for that again! I was still a bit angry at myself for the whole ordeal, especially since I was smarter than that, and I should have known Eaglepaw by then.
"Come on, Mysteryfeather, let's go!" I heard a shout from the clearing. I shook my head one last time, then padded out into the heart of RiverClan's camp, squinting in the bright early morning light. I spotted Eaglepaw trotting around a group of warriors next to Snakejaw near the entrance of the camp, then stomped over to them.
"Finally!" Eaglepaw shouted, skidding to a halt and looking up at me with impatience in his brown eyes.
I ignored the yell of my younger, and rather loud, brother with the flick of my ears. I swung my head around to face the rest of the patrol when I heard Snakejaw's triumphant sneer next to me.
"Not the morning type, eh?" he smirked.
"Shush!" I snapped, narrowing my jade green eyes. I lifted my paw to box his ear, but he scampered away and stood by Eaglepaw before I could, and I slammed my paw back to the ground.
My two brothers burst into laughter and turned toward each other to get a grip on themselves. Once they finally stopped laughing, I rolled my eyes. Sometimes, my brothers can just be as annoying as a tick where you can't reach it.
"So, where are we going, Reedstone?" I asked, gritting my teeth in irritation.
Reedstone, the patrol's leader, swung his head around to face me, "We're headed to the WindClan border. Coldstar thinks that WindClan are gradually moving their border so they can aquire some of our territory."
I nodded, then asked, "Is all of our patrol here?"
"Yeah," Snakejaw reported, "We have you, me, Reedstone, Strikebird, and Eaglepaw." He pointed his tail to each cat he named, as if I wasn't able to tell who was who and I bit my lip. Snakejaw was probably just doing that out of habit, or might have been counting the cats for himself, so I guess I didn't have much reason to take offense, despite the fact that he did like to irritate others.
"Let's go!" Eaglepaw bounced on his toes impatiently, flexing his claws at the prospect of a fight.
"Good idea, Eaglepaw," Reedstone nodded his head at his apprentice.
I plodded out of RiverClan's camp, along with the rest of our patrol. After crossing the stream and making our way to open ground, a breeze ruffled my reddish-brown fur, and I, unable to control myself, let out a long, soft purr. One thing I love about RiverClan is that we have nice, gentle breezes, soothing, cool streams, and a mix of open land and trees, bushes, and other forest growth right at our paws. As the cool wind continued to brush past my pelt, I closed my eyes, letting the feelings of annoyance that my brothers gave me melt away.
A tap on my shoulder diverted my attention back to the patrol. I scowled, assuming it was Snakejaw or Eaglepaw coming back to rag on me a bit more, but as I turned my head and opened my eyes, I saw that it wasn’t my brothers, but Strikebird, one of my best friends.
"Do you really think there is going to be a fight?" Strikebird whispered to me, her turquoise eyes fixed on me and looking both worried and excited at the prospect.
"I don't know," I whispered back, "But it’s very possible. Have you noticed how WindClan have been giving us stony silence at Gatherings?"
"A little..." Strikebird admitted.
I thought back to when Snakejaw had received his warrior name about a moon ago. It had been announced at the Gathering the next day, and all the Clans had cheered.
All of them, that is, except for WindClan; they were as silent as an empty nursery. And I knew right then and there that something was up, but I tried not to think about it too much. If I did, I know I would try to investigate it, and if I investigated, StarClan knows how that would go.
“Mysteries are dangerous things,” my mother, Citrusdrop had told me when I was a kit, “You’re father was almost killed…” She had trailed off, since I already knew the rest of the story. I have a somewhat rebellious nature, so I solved all the mysteries I could anyway, but for once, I decided to let my mother have some peace of mind, especially with Eaglepaw being a bundle of trouble.
I bobbed my head, returning to the present and confident that I had made the right choice to keep out of the situation between RiverClan and WindClan. I looked over to Strikebird, whose nose was wrinkled in disgust.
"Rabbits..." Strikebird groaned, "Ugh..."
I chuckled at her, twitching my whiskers in amusement at her disdain for the scent.
Strikebird threw me a playful glare, “Just because you’re more accustomed to eating any type of prey from solving mysteries…”
“Cut it out!” Reedstone ordered briskly, cutting Strikebird off.
We fell silent and threw each other silent glances. I knew that she was trying to say that Reedstone would be Reedstone: brisk and focused on getting any job done perfectly.
After a few moments, our patrol stopped abruptly and I almost crashed into Reedstone. I let out an impatient sigh, “Why are we stopping, Reedstone? The border is a bit farther than this.”
Snakejaw rolled his eyes, “Well, if you were listening, Reedstone wanted to stop and check out a small fox den he saw yesterday.”
My fur prickled with angry embarrassment and I turned away from them and started sniffing along the ground, trying to keep myself occupied and useful while Reedstone was checking out the fox den.
Suddenly, a pungent scent hit me like the stream after a storm. I curled my nose at how strong it was and I shook my head. I stared at the ground, knowing it would do me no good, but I knew that something was wrong.
Could I be mistaken? I asked myself. Warily, I bent my head toward the ground again and took a good long sniff, no matter how much the smell bothered me. Nope… I decided. It was definitely…
I felt myself beginning to bristle, a hot stone of anger and despair sinking in my belly. I snapped my head up and looked at the rest of the patrol, who were basically doing their own thing.
"Where is our border?" I blurted out, deciding not to wait for my Clanmates to notice for themselves that WindClan had placed their border inside our territory.
Reedstone, Snakejaw, and Eaglepaw looked up at me. I could feel their confused gazes burning into my pelt and I knew what they were thinking: “What is that crazy Mysteryfeather talking about?” And I knew that they were answering their own questions, too, with: “Probably just imagining something else to investigate.” I have earned that stare one too many times.
"What are you talking about, Mysteryfeather?" Eaglepaw snorted, rolling his eyes as I knew he would.
"No, wait, she's right..." Reedstone said, his pelt prickling with alarm, "Our border isn't here!"
Brilliant deduction, Obviousstar, I snorted in my head.
"Maybe it's been a while since our border was marked," Snakejaw suggested, visibly trying to keep his eyes from growing wild.
I shook my head, bewildered at how clueless my brother could be, especially since this wasn’t the place where the border was.
"But that's impossible, Snakejaw! Our border isn’t supposed to be marked here, it’s supposed to be over there, and we just remarked that border yesterday at sunhigh!" I protested, waving my tail and pointing it to where our border should be.
"I went on the patrol myself!" Strikebird added. I scanned the land past the border with my sharp eyes, looking for proof of WindClan's actions. They fell on a large willow, inside WindClan's territory. I was enveloped in memories as I stared at the tree.
That was our willow! I growled inwardly, pushing away the memories of me, Strikebird, and Mapleshine hanging out in that tree during our apprenticeship. I looked away and tuned back in to our patrol and I winced when I heard Snakejaw’s and Strikebird’s arguing voices shrill in my ears.
“Hey!” I spat, barging into the argument between my Clanmates. Once it was silent and I felt the gazes of Strikebird, Reedstone, Snakejaw, and Eaglepaw on me, I meowed, a bit more quiet, “Doesn’t that willow inside of WindClan territory look familiar?”
"Our willow!" Eaglepaw hissed, rage filling his eyes. Every hair on his pelt stuck out as if he had been struck by a lightning bolt.
I saw Strikebird smirk at Snakejaw and I smiled. He had it coming!
"She and Eaglepaw, are right. That's our willow," Reedstone confirmed with a curt nod of his head, "Let's go find our old border, then report this to Coldstar."
I opened my mouth to protest and say that they should report the problem to Coldstar first, but I knew there was no arguing with the older warriors. After all, if WindClan warriors caught us and a fight broke out, wouldn’t it be wise to have more warriors with us? I sighed, bit my tongue, and tip-toed cautiously across WindClan’s new border as if any regular paw steps would alert enemy warriors. My Clanmates were already many fox-lengths across the border, so I ran to catch up, staying light on my paws.
I bent my head again, sniffing the ground like I did before and moved around quickly. Anxiety clawed at me. Surely we would be caught. I surmised that WindClan would patrol the new border more to make sure that we didn’t take back our land, and judging from the WindClan scent on the border, another patrol should come along soon.
"I found it!" Strikebird called. I looked up, ready to go report it to Coldstar. My paws twitched nervously.
“Let’s go,” I mewed quietly, my eyes flickering around.
My patrol ignored me and I pouted. Reedstone padded over to where Strikebird was standing and sniffed.
"That's our scent all right," Reedstone scowled, "On the wrong side of the WindClan border."
No! You think? I raged at Reedstone in my head, Reedstone always has to make sure… as if we are unable to do anything by ourselves.
I scented the air. WindClan cats overwhelmed my senses and I remembered that we were in a dangerous position. "Let's go!" I urged the patrol.
"Quit being so impatient, Mysteryfeather," Eaglepaw snorted. He turned back to Reedstone, who was chattering to the rest of the patrol like a bird.
I sighed and decided to make myself useful: I scanned the moors again, but this time I caught sight of a patrol. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they had already spotted us, and their fast paws carried them closer.
I knew it!
"Ummm... guys," I butted into the other cats' discussion, "WindClan!"
"Oh, StarClan," Snakejaw murmured, seeing the WindClan warriors. The enemy patrol had reached us and was beginning to circle us. Their hostility drenched the air and I could feel myself being choked by the scent, as if I was covered by a sodden pile of old moss.
I scowled at Reedstone, "What a great idea you had!" Like I had suspected, WindClan warriors had spotted us… and there were twelve of them, if I counted correctly. We were obviously outnumbered and we all knew it. Now what were the WindClan warriors going to do? Shred us? Capture us? I shuddered as I visualized the possibilities.
Reedstone growled. I’m sure it was mostly directed at me, but under that I could hear some directed at himself and the stupidity of his plan. "Now we can only try to reason with them,” he said under his breath.
Finally, after what seemed like moons, the WindClan cats spoke. "What do you think you're doing on our territory?" Fernface, the WindClan deputy, growled, her green eyes containing uneasiness and anger.
"Fernface, you know as well as I do that this is rightfully the territory of RiverClan," Reedstone said, standing in front of us. He sounded calm and totally in control, not one tuft of his russet colored fur rising.
The WindClan cats bristled and snarled as if they had just taken a major beating. I unsheathed my claws, sinking them deep into the grass and soil. I narrowed my eyes and flattened my ears, ready to fight.
"This is not your territory!" a WindClan apprentice snorted promptly. I turned on him, staring the cream colored tom in the face. I could see him wince a little, his eyes rippling with fear, but he puffed out his chest.
"Why you little...." Eaglepaw snarled, bunching his muscles to tackle the apprentice. I sprang forward and grabbed my brother by the scruff. Eaglepaw's claws slashed at the air and he continued to lunge forward, making my jaws ache with the effort of holding him back.
The WindClan apprentice smirked at Eaglepaw and I felt tempted to let Eaglepaw give the arrogant WindClan cat what he deserved, but I held on to him tight. I threw another furious glare at Reedstone. Eaglepaw was his apprentice, so he should be taking responsibility for my ill-tempered brother.
"Grasspaw is correct," Fernface meowed dryly, "This territory does not belong to RiverClan." I heard the WindClan cats around us making muffled sounds in agreement.
I stumbled to the side as Strikebird pushed her way in front of our patrol, "Come on! You can still smell our scent marks here!" Strikebird flicked her tail toward the ground.
"We're no fools," I added coldly. I felt Reedstone give me a warning glance, but I ignored it
That only flared up the tempers of WindClan. Fernface curled her lip, "Surround these liars!"
I started to panic as the WindClan warriors enclosed me in a space too small for me to bear. I was smashed against Strikebird and Snakejaw and I moaned. When I felt Reedstone stumble and fall against my flank, I got fed up and bunched my muscles to attack, but instead, I went with a far better plan. I shouted, "Eaglepaw! Run! Tell Coldstar!"
Eaglepaw didn't need to be told twice. The small, clever tom slipped under a large warrior and bolted back to RiverClan territory, disappearing into a cluster of bushes.
"Great! The little runt got away!" a WindClan warrior snarled. I smirked, knowing Fernface would send warriors after him, but I also knew that the WindClan warriors wouldn’t make it past the stream.
"Barkclaw! Harepelt! Get him! The rest of you, forget about him," Fernface snapped, confirming my guess about what her reaction would be. Two WindClan warriors sprang after Eaglepaw without hesitation. "Let's take them back to our camp before a RiverClan patrol arrives,” Fernface pointed the tip of her tail at us.
There are too many warriors, I scolded myself, Why didn't we run when we could? I threw a glare at Reedstone, my tail twitching with annoyance.
I looked up at the hills that loomed before me, tripping as a WindClan warrior thrust me forward abruptly. I curled my lip, then looked down at my paws.
I stole a glimpse back at RiverClan territory, wondering where Eaglepaw was and whether the he had escaped the enemy warriors. As much as I hated to admit it, Eaglepaw was our only hope if we were to escape WindClan unharmed.
"You thought you could just walk into our territory without us knowing?" Hillstar sneered. Howls of laughter rose from the WindClan cats in the hollow. Their voices made my ears flatten, trying to block out the tormenting sounds of our enemies enjoying our humiliation.
I bristled with anger and parted my jaws. "That was our territory!" My Clanmates yowled their concurrence.
"Oh, yeah?" one cat challenged. I snapped my head around to face the cat and saw a large, silver tabby tom apprentice. From analyzing, I guessed that he was about to become a warrior, and it would be harder to scare him with our size and strength, but I suspected I could jab at him with my words.
"Yeah!" I retorted, my scalding voice even surprising me, "Our lone willow and our border was right in the middle of your so-called territory! Or are you rabbit-breaths so stupid, that you can’t tell WindClan from RiverClan?"
I saw the silver tabby apprentice’s eyes flash and I noted several other WindClan cats bristling in fury and I smirked, pleased with myself.
"Mysteryfeather, don't make things worse," Reedstone growled. I flared my nostrils at him.
“You’re the one that got us into this mess,” I scoffed at him under my breath. If he, or anyone else, heard me, they didn’t acknowledge it.
"So what if we did take your territory?" Hillstar laughed, his voice cold and narcissistic, "It's not like you're using it."
Reedstone stayed silent, as usual. I rolled my eyes, and stepped up boldly, "Brambleclaw, Mistyfoot, Crowfeather, and Tawnypelt carved out these borders in peace! Do you think we're about to let you ruin it?" I felt Reedstone’s exasperated gaze on me, but I ignored it for about the umpteenth time today. If nobody was going to step up and defend RiverClan’s honor, I was going to do it by myself… and Reedstone wouldn’t be able to stop me.
Strikebird nodded in approval, "That's right!" I flashed a grateful smile at her, thankful that she at least stepped up to support me and defend RiverClan, despite her nature to keep to herself.
"Yeah, but they're dead! Long dead! Who knows if they even existed?" Hillstar shook his head at us, as if we were young kits that tried to live in a dream world. His words stung and my eyes widened like green moons. How dare he think that Brambleclaw, Mistyfoot, Tawnypelt, and Crowfeather had not existed? How did he think we got to the lake?
Fernface flicked her leader's shoulder with her tail, "Hillstar, if Harepelt and Barkclaw come back without that RiverClan apprentice, Eaglepaw, RiverClan will be on their way here. If we don’t prepare, we will be open to attack."
“Good thinking, Fernface," Hillstar praised his deputy. The WindClan leader started shouting orders to his warriors, which I muted out as I debated on whether I should try to run now, and get out of there as soon as possible. I decided that would be cowardly to run, and Citrusdrop would be furious if I left Snakejaw behind. As a rule, our family sticks together through anything. Besides, I would be leaving two other Clanmates behind, and I couldn’t do that.
A WindClan she-cat barged in on my side with a heavy growl. I whipped my head around to face her and I studied the she-cat quickly. She was small, but definitely a warrior, and judging from the unmistakable flash of anger, she was easy to upset, too. I think I could have overpowered her easily, but I decided to do something different. I reached out my muzzle subtly and hissed into her ear, “Eaglepaw could beat you hare-brains any day!”
The she-cat lashed her tail, amber eyes narrowing at me. I could hear a low growl beginning in her throat, and without warning, she snapped her head toward my face. Teeth closed around the space where my muzzle was just seconds before and I felt a rush of exhilaration as I swept her paws out from under her and landed blow after blow on her.
A sharp jab of pain crawled through my tail and I let out a yelp, rounding on my second attacker. A small WindClan tom scampered away from me quickly, making me realize that this was a distraction. Sure enough, my head was rammed into the grass. I lashed out with both of my front paws, hoping to grab some fur or flesh, but all I felt was empty air. There was a weight, or to be more accurate, many weights, on my back now, pressing the air from my lungs. I thrashed wildly, and I felt a sting on my cheek. Warm liquid oozed from my face and into the dust.
I don’t know how long I was lying there, but soon the mass of darkness cleared itself from my vision. Fernface, padded up to me smoothly and I looked up at her angrily.
“That’s what you get for messing with WindClan.”
Reedstone fixed a disapproving gaze on me and I held his gaze until I was shoved to my feet and pushed along. I stared at the ground, my blood dripping from my cheek and leaving a trail behind me.
“Get in there,” the WindClan she-cat growled. As I lifted my head, I looked to where her tail was pointing, to a hole in the ground. It bothered me, but it wasn’t the hole that was the problem. It was the scent that was emitting from it. The hole smelled heavily of badger and I wrinkled my nose.
I glared skeptically at the hole in the ground, then fixed the she-cat with a defiant gaze.
“Go!” she hissed and I went down into the dark and badger-scent filled hole with my tail high. If there was a badger in there, so be it. I would just lead it out into WindClan camp. My friends padded in behind me, without a sound.
I sat close to the side of the den, keeping silent like my Clanmates, and listening sharply for the soft thumps of the WindClan cats’ paws as they left, and other WindClan cats arrived to guard us.
"Who knows if we're going to get out of here!" Strikebird moaned, breaking the silence between us at last.
"I just hope Eaglepaw makes it," Snakejaw whispered, his small voice wavering in fear.
I nodded solemnly, half-heartedly scraping at the dust with my unsheathed claws.
"Quiet!" Strikebird hissed, pricking her ears. I looked up at her, stilling my paws, then pricking my ears to listen.
"Now, kits," I heard the whisper of Hillstar, "Make sure not to tell anyone what is in that cave if RiverClan warriors find you. Defend it with your lives if you have to. Stay here until a warrior comes to get you, since there might not be a battle."
"Yes, Hillstar," one kit mewed. From the sound of his voice, he was older, more mature than the other kits. I could hear the other kits acknowledging their leader’s orders with inaudible murmurs.
I felt rage swell up inside of me. How dare he think that RiverClan would hurt kits... and how dare he make kits guard something in the middle of a battle! I glanced around at my Clanmates, and, in the half-light, I could see their pelts prickling with anger and disbelief as well.
Hillstar’s paw steps thundered above me and gradually faded as a cold silence fell over us for what felt like moons. I glanced gravely at Strikebird, whose turquoise eyes glistened with some raw emotion. I could feel Snakejaw’s gaze on me, and I turned away from Strikebird and held it calmly, which Reedstone gazed at Strikebird.
I sighed and started pacing impatiently. The suspense was killing me. Where was Eaglepaw and how long were we going to be here? My claws involuntarily sank into the damp soil and I squeezed my eyes shut, trying to keep from going screaming in frustration.
What a fine mess we’re in!
I was just about to snarl when I heard an ear-piercing shriek from above ground, "Eaglepaw reached the RiverClan camp! We are under attack!"
Thank StarClan! I felt a wave of relief and triumph wash over me. "Guys!" I squeaked, unable to contain my excitement "We're going to be rescued!" Reedstone let out a deep sigh, as if he had been holding his breath, and Strikebird purred happily. I unsheathed and re-sheathed my claws, ready to fight at last, especially since this fight would be a fair one. We were no longer just four cats trapped underground, but we were a whole Clan at the heart of enemy territory.
I held my breath as I heard staunch paw steps above my head. I knew right away that our Clanmates were coming, since these steps sounded like they were from the strong paws of a swimmer, instead of the light ones of a runner.
I heard the rustle of grass just outside the entrance to the den and tiny squeals coming from the kits. A yelp of surprise escaped one of my Clanmates.
Many of the younger kits mewled pitifully with genuine fear and I flicked my ears in amusement. Did Hillstar really think the kits would be successful in guarding us?
“We’re not going to hurt you kits,” one of my Clanmates meowed gently. I heard a couple of sniffs come from my Clanmates.
“Why are you here?” another one of my Clanmates asked.
"Our mothers hid us here," one of the kits squeaked in reply, sounding sure of himself. I shook my head, wondering once again why Hillstar thought we would be safe with kits guarding us. I guessed that the badger-headed WindClan leader thought his Clan’s kits were smarter than our warriors.
Yeah, I thought disdainfully, Good luck with that, Hillstar.
"By a badger set?" the second snorted and I chuckled quietly, proud that RiverClan were not easily fooled.
"It's abandoned," I could hear the kit swallow audibly and I smirked. I just wondered how long this would go on. Just to shake things up, I snuffled at the ground, the dead foliage and soil tickling my nose. I let out a huge sneeze.
“What was that?” a third Clanmate demanded.
“That was, errrr…, a sick cat,” the kit mewed quietly.
Reedstone, Strikebird, Snakejaw, and I exchanged amused and ready glances. I felt my muscles tense, ready to go and join the fight.
"Then you won't mind if we have a look," the first cat mewed promptly, “Seeing as though it’s abandoned and there’s no one inside.” I saw the shadow of a cat’s head flit across the light filtering through the entrance of the den.
I heard a series of small thumps and scrapes. Were the kits seriously trying to attack my Clanmates?
"No! Nonononono!" one kit wailed.
"Get off us!" one of my Clanmates snarled. Yep, I guess they were…
But they won’t get far! I twitched my whiskers, trying to contain the growing laughter that was bubbling in my throat.
"Go away!" another kit hissed. This time I heard Snakejaw snicker as the kits tried unsuccessfully to turn my Clanmates away.
Finally, one of our Clanmates burst in, followed by several more. They fanned out once they were inside the den and I opened my mouth, letting the familiar scent of my Clan hit it. I glanced around at the cats on my patrol, who were finding their friends and chattering to them about what had happened and what we saw.
One cat thundered up to me and gently touched his nose to my shoulder. Even in the near-darkness, I could immediately tell who it was.
"Friend, not foe, I take it?" I laughed, feeling my eyes glow with recognition and optimism.
"You've cracked this mystery wide open," Oakshard purred. "Let's go!" He darted back toward the entrance of the den, and I pounded after him, ready to relish in the feeling of freedom.
We burst aboveground and threw ourselves into the bushes. My eyes, not yet adjusted to the light, blurred my surroundings and sent me tumbling to the ground under the bush. I pushed myself back onto my paws and shook my head. I peered out, staring at the mouth of the den, my eyes finally adjusting, and noticed that the kits were nowhere to be seen.
Probably warning some warriors... I thought. If that were so, we didn’t have much time to stay here.
Thankfully, it wasn’t long until Redstorm escorted Strikebird from the den, followed by Eaglepaw and Snakejaw, with Reedstone and Leafwhisker. Oakshard and I took a few steps farther into the bush to make room for our Clanmates, who crashed in quickly behind us.
"We're all here?" Oakshard whispered, staring directly at me, “I was with Eaglepaw, Redstorm, and Leafwhisker. Who was on your patrol?”
“They’re all here,” I confirmed, flicking my tail, “We had Snakejaw, Reedstone, and Strikebird with us, but everyone’s here.
Oakshard nodded at me gratefully, then signaled the group with his tail. I crept through the bushes next to him, with the rest of our patrol behind us. Slowly, I wound my way through the bushes until Oakshard whispered, “Stop!” in my ear.
I looked up at him and followed his gaze past me, through the leaves of the bushes. I nosed a couple aside with my muzzle, then flicked my ears to shift some twigs that were tickling my ears. I swept my gaze over the scene: WindClan cats and RiverClan cats, all fighting. I fixed my eyes back on Oakshard, who was now looking down at me.
"Ok," Oakshard’s voice was as quiet as the ruffle of fur in a gentle breeze, "You see Foxflash over there?" He jerked his nose to point through the leaves and onto the battlefield.
I looked out from inside the bush again, looking for Foxflash. In the shadows of the Tallrock, mixed with the black pelt of a WindClan tom, his sandy-ginger pelt stood out like the glitter of a precious stone, and it caught my eye immediately. I stared at him for a few moments, almost captivated by how graceful and strong he appeared, with his eyes focused and clear, his muscles rippling under his pelt which flowed like a river of amber dew.
I felt a paw on my cheek, my uninjured one, and it turned my head away. Oakshard looked back at me and lowered his paw. Embarrassment rushed through me like a flood and my cheeks burned, save the spot where Oakshard’s cool paw had been. Finally and slowly, I nodded to answer his question.
“Ok…” he sighed after a moment’s hesitation, then explained, “I’m going to run and attack his opponent. You will run with me, and Foxflash will take you back to camp. I’ll meet up with you guys later.”
"Sounds good to me," I nodded, more focused, and I turned away to stare out of the bush and back at Foxflash. Every muscle in my sore body was tensed and ready to leap out at Oakshard’s signal and I could feel his breath on my tail, slow and steady. My heartbeat thundered in my ears every couple of seconds, and I narrowed my eyes.
I could hear Foxflash’s growls, a rigid sound coming from deep in his throat, enforced by anger and authority. He had the tom pinned down on his back, his claws sinking deep into the black fur. Blood spouted out from the wound, oozing over the black fur and splashing Foxflash’s claws. The tom wasn’t wailing to be let go, surprisingly. Foxflash has some of the sharpest claws around. I know that Foxflash noticed it, too, so he sank them in harder, his face twisting in frustration. His paws shook. At a first glance, I thought it was from how hard he was tensing the muscles in his paws, but when I looked at them again, I realize they were slipping from the wound. Did Foxflash know? I wanted to yowl a warning to him, but I couldn’t give away our spot. Besides, it might distract him.
He's going to lose him! A cold rock of dread sank in my stomach, making me twitch nervously. I felt Oakshard's tail nudge my flank as an act of reassurance.
Foxflash's claws slipped from the wound a bit more, leaving only the tips of his claws touching the WindClan warrior’s skin. As Foxflash struggled to renew his hold, his opponent kicked out, sending him flying a few tail-lengths away. Foxflash scrambled to his paws, but the WindClan cat was already upon him, rolling him over and pinning him to the ground. I saw Foxflash’s blue eyes widen in surprise, his chest heaving. The black tom let out a sound, something between a sneer and a snicker, widening his mouth for the killing bite. I felt my eyes go round like an owl’s and I parted my jaws for an angry wail.
"Go!" Oakshard howled, flicking me forward by bumping me with his shoulder. We crashed out of the bushes and thundered over to the Tallrock. Foxflash’s opponent looked up in surprise, leaving him no time to react before Oakshard slammed into him, sending him sprawling on his back. Foxflash got up and shook out his pelt, sending drops of blood flying which spotted my head.
He sent me a sheepish grin, “Oops, sorry.”
I chuckled. Blood didn’t bother me. It never did. In fact, when I go off to solve mysteries, I sometimes roll in a pool of blood, and I don’t care what it belonged to, to disguise myself.
The WindClan cat screamed in agony as Oakshard sliced at his face, wriggling out of his grip, then bolting.
“Let’s go!” Oakshard shouted, disappearing through the entrance of WindClan’s camp. Foxflash and I pounded on his heels, across the open moors. I shivered, even though it was quite warm. The sun was blazing at its highest in the sky. So much had already happened today: we got kidnapped by WindClan, rescued, then one of my best friends in the whole world almost got killed, but we saved him, too.
As we passed our old border and a patrol that was remarking it heavily, I looked at Foxflash. One of his paws was leaving a trail of blood and he winced when he put his wait on it. “Are you ok?” I called.
"Yeah, are you?" he meowed, his face muscles struggling to relax against pain.
"Yeah," I nodded as we plunged into the undergrowth. I breathed in the familiar scent of RiverClan.
"I don't know," Foxflash mewed warily, "You kind of look like you're limping." His blue eyes burned into me like a cold fire.
I smiled, "I'm fine. I just stumbled a few times… And got into a fight, but no big deal."
Foxflash twitched his whiskers in amusement, “Only you would think a fight is ‘no big deal’. Come on, Mysteryfeather, leave the fighting to us toms.”
“In your dreams,” I snorted. “I saw you fight!” I teased.
A mock hurt look entered his eyes, “Oh, you saw that? By the way, Oakshard, thanks for saving me.”
“No problem,” Oakshard’s voice floated back to us, and he skidded to a halt by the stream, “But Mysteryfeather helped.”
Foxflash and I stopped beside him and my pelt prickled in embarrassment. I didn’t really do anything that contributed to Oakshard’s plan, but I took the praise anyway, since Oakshard was going out of his way to include me. Faithful, kind Oakshard. When I told Citrusdrop that we were friends, she told me to never let go of him, since I don’t make friends easily, and I don’t keep them long. The only cats who have been my friends for most of my life were Mapleshine, Strikebird, Oakshard, and Foxflash.
“Thanks,” I said, then I added, “I thought you were going to stay and fight, Oakshard.”
“I was, but I wanted to take care of something first,” Oakshard replied. Oakshard padded over to me, and turned my head with his paw so my scratches were visible to both toms. Foxflash gasped and his eyes overflowed with concern. My pelt prickled in embarrassment.
My scratches had stopped bleeding, but there was blood all over my face, shoulder, and head and the scratches were clogged with it.
“Some of it is Foxflash’s,” I said as Oakshard padded over to a tree and sliced some moss free with his claws.
Oakshard purred with amusement as he soaked the moss in the stream, “How did Foxflash manage to get his blood all over you?”
I knew the question was rhetorical, so I merely smiled as he came back over to me and gently started to dab my face with the wet moss. I stayed silent as he worked, occasionally stealing glances at Foxflash, who was looking at me with concern, but with his natural shyness as well.
Oakshard set the moss down after a while, then licked the scratches rough enough to clean them, but gentle enough to keep them from bleeding. He pulled away, and I smiled up at him. He smiled back, then mewed, “And if you’ll excuse me, I have a battle to get back to!” He disappeared into the bushes.
Foxflash shuffled his paw shyly, and looked up at me with a helpless look in his eyes.
“Sorry I didn’t help, you know…” he meowed, “I’m your friend, and I should try to…”
I laughed gently in understanding. I’m the shyest of us all, “Don’t worry Foxflash. I know you’re shy, but I’m shy, too…. so I understand how you feel.”
Foxflash laughed, too, “No argument there!”
“Hey!” I protested. He giggled and flicked me with his tail teasingly. When he stopped laughing, I said, “Let’s get back to camp. Citrusdrop’s probably worried sick about me.”
As it turns out, I was right. The second Foxflash and I bounded through the entrance Citrusdrop was fussing over me.
“Sweetie, are you hurt? Oh my whiskers, those scratches! Why did only you come back? And, ohhh, sweetie, look at your fur! Did you really go out like that?” Citrusdrop’s words came out quicker than I could process them, which was quite fast, I might add. She started rasping her tongue over my forehead and face.
“Ughhh, Citrusdrop!” I groaned, pulling away from her tongue, “My name is Mysteryfeather!”
Foxflash looked over at me, his eyes glimmering in sympathy. His mother, Vixenstep, was fussing over him, too.
“Where are your brothers?” Citrusdrop demanded, distracting me from Foxflash.
“Chill, Mom!” I sighed, “They’re at the battle!”
Promptly, she turned away and I stared back at Vixenstep, who was still licking her son’s head with such ferocity, his fur stuck up like tall grass.
Seeing me free of my mother, Foxflash’s pelt prickled with embarrassment. “Mom, stop!” he growled, pulling away from her like I did.
"So, tell me what happened," Foxflash pressed.
"We went on patrol, obviously," Mysteryfeather told him, "I noticed that the border wasn't where it shouldn't have been, so Reedstone had us check it out.... Against my wishes," she added with a scowl.
"That's annoying isn't it?" Foxflash shook his head. "So in the end that got you captured," he concluded.
Mysteryfeather nodded, "Yeah, I don't know why Reedstone thought..."
"Hey! Oakshard's back!" Foxflash cut in, angling his ears past her.
Mysteryfeather followed his gaze to the entrance where Oakshard was coming back with the battle patrol. She felt a prick of annoyance that her friend didn't seem interested in what had happened, but she supposed she couldn't blame him. Foxflash and Oakshard had been born within the same hour of each other and have been very close.
But I still kind of feel left out...
"Hey, someone never got to hear what happened on yesterday's patrol," a voice called.
Mysteryfeather looked up from her rippling reflection in the stream, breaking the gaze that she had locked on to her reflection's green eyes.
"So, what happened?" Oakshard swished his tail expectantly.
"Why do you want to know so badly?" Mysteryfeather laughed.
"Foxflash got to know!" Oakshard protested, throwing a playful glare at his ginger-gold pelted friend. Foxflash chuckled and held Oakshard's brown gaze with his deep blue one.
"What if Foxflash is better than you!" Mysteryfeather teased, narrowing her eyes.
"Ha!" Foxflash grinned at Oakshard.
Oakshard shrank down as if his feelings were upset, "Hurtful!"
Mysteryfeather and Foxflash giggled as Oakshard straightened up again.
"No, seriously, what happened?" Oakshard asked.
"Fine!" Mysteryfeather shook out her reddish-brown fur, growling good-naturedly. She saw Oakshard twitch his whiskers in triumph.
"We were on a patrol, and I noticed that our border was missing. Further evidence proved that WindClan had taken our territory, so Reedstone told us to check it out..."
"And she thought it would have been a better idea to tell Coldstar first!" Foxflash broke in. Mysteryfeather nodded.
She watched as Oakshard took it in, nodding slowly, "Then your patrol kind of crashed from there."
"Right." She unsheathed and resheathed her claws, "I don't know what WindClan has against us..."
"Let me guess: you're going to start analyzing?" Foxflash smiled.
Mysteryfeather opened her mouth to protest, but Oakshard broke in, "Hmmmm... Guess who wants to investigate?"
She let her friends' teasing go by her and she chuckled, "I'm glad you guys know me well enough to predict that our problem with WindClan won't go unnoticed... by me at least." She smiled to herself, thinking of all the different happenings she had investigated over the moons since her apprenticeship started.
"You think we wouldn't?" Oakshard snickered, "I've known you for longer than Dar-"
"Oakshard!" a she-cat's commanding voice split our humorous conversation down the middle, leaving us in a deathly silence. Darkmist padded out of the berry bushes, her black pelt smooth and shining in the late morning sun. Mysteryfeather watched warily as the she-cat padded over to Oakshard and left a single rose at his paws. She saw Oakshard stiffen and Foxflash cringe. Darkmist had always left an unpleasant feeling behind when she swept Oakshard away. Mysteryfeather didn't really blame Foxflash for recoiling.
Mysteryfeather snapped back to reality, noticing Darkmist toss her head slightly, then gliding off.
Making sure Darkmist was gone, Mysteryfeather listened for her departing pawsteps, then she rolled her eyes, "Oh, brother..."
"And.. and how could we forget the times that you dragged us on your investigations?" Oakshard's voice grew noticably more quiet and desperate with every word.
Mysteryfeather gave a weak shrug, "I thought you guys wanted to come with..."
"Yeah..." Foxflash's voice trailed off, too.
Fox dung, Darkmist! Mysteryfeather cursed silently, her paws scraping angrily at the ground. Darkmist had just ruined another good time with two of Mysteryfeather's closest friends. She wanted to get the conversation back to normal as much as she could hear that Oakshard wanted to, but she knew that Oakshard would probably have to leave.
"Yeah, I guess I have to go..." Oakshard narrowed his eyes, "I'm sorry, but I guess she wants me to spend a little 'quality time' with her." Mysteryfeather noticed his face contort in rage, "She couldn't wait..."
Mysteryfeather felt a prick of anger, but bottled it up inside her, "Yeah, see you." Foxflash gave a nod as Oakshard got up and padded away.
As soon as he was gone, Mysteryfeather turned back to the river, "Well, that blows!" She swiped her claws across the surface of the water, leaving temporary scars before they disappeared into a clear perfect surface.
"I know," Foxflash grumbled, standing up and stretching his legs.
"So, I suppose you're leaving, too?" she mewed, looking up at the older warrior.
"Nah, I think I'll stay," Foxflash shrugged, sitting down near her at the river's bank.