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Book three in the Colony of Caves series <3

CREDITS

Thanks to Dreaming-Dragon on a website called scratch <3 We would not have this story, nor the previous one or the ones to come, without her <3

Disclaimer: The only characters belonging to me are Crystalblaze, Sunset, Dusty, Lilith, and Ivy. I share ownership of Darkcloud with Owlglider <3 Fernwish and kits belongs to SilverDove777 on scratch <3

Chapter 1 - Remembrance

Darkcloud poked his head into the crack in the cavern wall that served as the nursery. Large swathes of moss coated the ground and he let out a happy purr as his eyes rested on his mate.

"Darkcloud!" Crystalblaze purred, twitching her whiskers happily. She had been despondent when she had been told to move to the nursery, but Darkcloud visited her as often as he could.

He still remembered when Rainstorm had told him why Crystalblaze had been avoiding him, right before she left for a few moons.

Rainstorm padded around the corner into the warrior's den, where Darkcloud had been lying. “Uh, hey.” He said, a bit sheepishly. “I have something to tell you.”

He lifted his head. “Hi, Rainstorm.”

Rainstorm looked a bit uneasy. “Hey, uh, I just wanted to let you know that Fernwish and I have officially become mates!” Rainstorm was obviously happy about it, but didn’t want to sound like he was bragging so he laid his tail on his brother to try to be comforting. He didn’t want his brother to be upset.

"Yeah I know...” Darkcloud sighed deeply, then smiled. "You can’t keep me away from her, though! She will just have to be my sister, and I shall always love her. I guess I’ll just have to find another cat to love ... whoever that may be.” He sighed again, head resting back on his paws morosely.

“Sorry, I know you love her, but-“ Rainstorm glanced around to make sure that Crystalblaze wasn’t there. “Crystalblaze told me she has a crush on you.” Rainstorm whispered, “But don’t tell her I told you.”

“She wha-“ His ears perked up suddenly and he shot his head up, eyes sparkly. He grinned. “No way!”

Rainstorm laughed slightly. “Yeah, she does, but keep it down a bit - I told her I wouldn’t say anything.” He pawed his brother's head playfully. “I don’t want my deputy to be angry with me.” His voice was playful but Darkcloud could tell what he said was serious.

“No. Way. She... I’ve always sorta liked her, never as much as Fernwish, though. I guess I was kind of a jerk to her when we were apprentices, wasn't I?” He sighed, changing the subject. “So when will I have more little kits running around? I can’t wait to met them!”

"Ha! We’re no older than most apprentices yet! It would be a bit early for that!” Rainstorm laughed. “Though truthfully I wouldn’t mind it at all."

“I wouldn’t either! Adorable Fernstorm kits,“ He paused. “I hope I have adorable kits one day... but with whom?” He looked worried. “What if I’m one of those cats who are destined to be alone?!"

Rainstorm laughed. “Don’t worry, you’ll find yourself a mate one day, we are all still very young, give it time!” Rainstorm just realized he sounded like an elder, and laughed.

“Oldie idiot.” He grinned. “I don’t wanna wait! I'M LOVESTRUCK!” He did a dramatic swoon and flopped onto his back. “Besides, I’m MUCH more romantic than you, as I’ve proven with my amazingly charming love speeches.”

“Ha! You should have heard how I asked Fernwish to be mate!” He laughed. “Way more romantic than something you could pull off!” Rainstorm was obviously just teasing.

He padded over to the entrance to the main tunnel of the cave, “Oh, hey, by the way - I found this cool place in the cave with a mini waterfall! I think it could be a cool nursery or or medicine den!”

“Nursery, kits would love it!” Darkcloud followed his handsome brother, tail swishing, and his fur was shiny sleek, and almost glittery. He ignored his brother's comments, chuckling.

“Excuse me! Which one of use is the one with the mate?” Rainstorm teased. “Anyways, Crystalblaze. What do you think of her?" He asked, a peculiar tone to his voice.

Darkcloud thought for a moment. "I think she'd make a great mate and a loyal deputy. In a way, I have to thank you." Rainstorm stopped, looking puzzled. "Why?"

Darkcloud answered swiftly. "Because by choosing Fernwish, you let me get over her. So... thanks."

"How are the kits doing?" He meowed, nuzzling his mate, and snapping himself back to the present.

Crystalblaze yawned. "Oh, they're doing fine. More rambunctious every day, but you know how it is with kits, even unborn ones." She gave a fond glance at her stomach.

Darkcloud let out a purr, sitting next to his mate. They began to share tongues, until Crystalblaze was fast asleep.

"You really love her, don't you?" Fernwish purred. She had just woken up from a nap, and her fur was flat and dusty on one side.

Darkcloud nodded. "I do."

"And you're happy with her?" Fernwish pressed, looking anxious.

His answer was confident, honest, certain. "I am."

Chapter 2 - Confessions

"Hey, Darkcloud, can I talk to you?" Crystalblaze meowed, prodding him with a paw.

She stood over him, smiling, and he smiled back equally. "What is it?" He meowed, getting to his paws. He shook out his fur, dusty from sleeping.

She walked to the back of the cave, looking nervous, though Darkcloud didn't understand why.

Their pelts brushed slightly as they went through a narrow bit of the cave. His fur was warm, and he looked nervous, subconsciously licking his chest every now and then.

Once they were out of earshot of the others, Crystalblaze sat down. "I wanted to tell you something..." She began, licking her chest anxiously.

He glanced around. “All right, it must be extremely important if only I can hear it,” he said jokingly his eyes gleaming, “I am so very important to cave life.”

She laughed. "I wanted to tell you that I have a huge crush on you..." she murmured, looking serious again.

He nodded slowly, picking up the pace as he nodded. “A dark damp cave is definitely a VERY romantic place to tell me, very cold and hard, was a wonderful impression on my heart.” His eyes definitely carried emotion that he thought what he was saying, “And I like you too... I just didn’t know I did ... I was so focused on Fernwish. I always thought you where pretty.” He smiled. “Now THAT was romantic.” He grinned at her and twined his tail with hers leaning his head on her shoulder.

She smiled. "I was honestly very worried about what you would say... Darkcloud, will you be my mate?" She asked.

“Of course, always, forever, yes!” He grinned, purring as loud as a monster. Crystalbaze smiled again. "Thank you, Darkcloud." Her eyes were filled with love and joy.

“Thank YOU! After Raincloud and Fernwish became mates, I thought I'd never find true love, but now I know for a fact I have. I’d always found you to be kind and thoughtful, but I was always so obsessed with Fernwish.” He meowed.

She nodded. "I've never been in love before, I was confused with all my feelings, and I was afraid you didn't love me back... I'm glad you decided to come with us, I don't know what I would have done without you." She admitted, there were tears in her eyes too, although her voice was full of love.

“I couldn’t stay in that horrid clan, and I promised I would follow Rainstorm and Fernwish wherever they went, and I’m glad you came with us. We were all so sad when Dewdrop didn’t come with us, but I’m glad you didn’t make the same mistake.” He looked at her adoringly.

She purred and nuzzled him. "I would follow you to the ends of the earth," she felt herself blushing. "Or, at least, I'd follow you to the FlowerClan border." She shuddered. "That clan was awful."

"I agree. Crystalblaze, I love you." He purred, nuzzling his new mate.

"I love you too."

"Darkcloud, wake up!" Crystalblaze prodded him, and her expression was so familiar to the one in his memory that he let out a purr of joy.

"What's wrong?" He meowed, stifling a yawn. "Spare put you on dawn patrol," She meowed.

"Dawn patrol? I spent the whole night in here?" He asked, getting wearily to his paws.

Crystalblaze nodded. "Yes, but I didn't want to wake you - you seemed so tired."

He nuzzled his mate adoringly. "I was. Thank you, Crystalblaze. For everything."

Chapter 3 - Names

"Darkcloud!" Crystalblaze purred, getting to her paws. Her belly was curving gently now, the kits growing larger in her stomach every passing day.

"Careful, now," Darkcloud meowed, fussing over his mate.

She laughed gently, sitting back down so her belly rested on the floor. "Relax, Darkcloud, I'm perfectly capable of walking the length of the nursery."

He nodded, whiskers twitching into a worried smile. "I don't doubt it, but I can't stop worrying about our kits."

Crystalblaze nodded. "Yes, I know. Flowerspetal says there will be three of them. What should we name them?" She asked, twitching her ears back.

"If one of them is a she-cat, how about Hazel?" Darkcloud offered, nuzzling Crystalblaze. She nodded. "That's a good name," She purred. "If it's a tom, then maybe Smoke?"

Darkcloud smiled. "Yes, that's perfect. Hazel or Smoke. For the other two..." He trailed off, thinking. His tail twitched pensively, and he let out a low hum of productivity.

"Could we name one Clove?" Crystalblaze meowed, licking her whiskers. She licked a paw and drew it over an ear.

"Yes, of course." Darkcloud purred. "And the last one could be... how about Rock?" He suggested, lying down next to his mate. She rasped her tongue over his ear in agreement.

"Of course," She meowed, twitching her whiskers in a rare sign of irritation, "It'll be up to Rainstorm to choose their suffixes."

"It's hard to believe that they get their warrior names as kits - though they do have to prove themselves to be considered guards." Darkcloud agreed.

"Hazel or Smoke, Clove, and Rock." Crystalblaze listed. "They're all wonderful names," She purred. "I couldn't have come up with those alone."

Emotion clouded Darkcloud's eyes. "You'll never have to do anything alone again," He vowed fiercely.

"We're apprentices!" Darkpaw chirped after Flamestar had concluded the ceremony. "I can't believe it! We'll finally be able to leave the camp and do things without Tinyfang being crazy all the time!"

Crystalpaw, who hadn't been given a mentor, let her tail droop, dragging in the earth as she padded a bit closer. "Well, you will. I'm going to have to figure out how to train myself."

"Flamestar's so mean. I can't believe she didn't give you a mentor." He meowed, butting her playfully. "Well, when Scoursoul teaches me how to hunt and fight, I can teach you, too."

Crystalpaw laughed bitterly. "Yes, you probably will. Too bad I'll have to learn everything about being a FlowerClan warrior secondhand, though." She meowed unhappily.

"Hopefully you won't have to learn it all by yourself. Maybe you can spy on a few training sessions, or sneak into a few border skirmishes." Darkpaw offered, flicking an ear.

Crystalpaw blinked. "Maybe. I sure hope I won't get involved in them. They aren't too common, are they?" She asked, swishing her long tail.

Whatever feelings of affection he had for Crystalpaw, they were dwarfed by the large part of love set aside for Fernpaw. "Yes, I think they are," Darkpaw meowed, pushing his thoughts to the side.

"Really?" Crystalpaw asked, her eyes wide. Quickly, though the fear was replaced by a determined glint. "Oh, well. I'll have to be the best FlowerClan warrior the clan has ever seen, and then Flamestar will definitely give me a mentor!" She trilled.

Darkpaw nodded, trying not to grin with amusement. The two had always been friends, though as his feelings for Fernpaw developed he had begun to leave her out of their games.

"See you, Darkpaw." Crystalpaw meowed, getting to her paws. With a wave of her tail, she bounded across camp and disappeared into the apprentices' den.

"Hey, Rainpaw! Wanna go hunting?" Fernpaw's voice carried from across camp. Darkpaw pushed aside the conversation with Crystalpaw, padding over. "I'm coming too!"

Chapter 4 - Birth

A moon later Fernwish gave birth to 4 beautiful kits, though sadly the smallest one had passed away. Now they were the first and only cat in the colony's afterlife, which had been named "the colony of the skies".

Darkcloud, lying in his den, curled into a tight ball, for a slight moment, missed FlowerClan, he missed his old home, running through the meadows. No, forget it! You hated that clan, that's why you left!

Darkcloud bit his paw to distract himself, wincing as the salty tang of feline blood rolled on his tongue.

Rainstorm, who had just padded in, looked alarmed. "Are you okay? Why did you bite yourself?"

"I deserved it - Now let's go check on your kits, wasn't one of them having strange dreams?" Darkcloud asked, trying to change the subject.

"No, we are getting you to Flowerspetal." Rainstorm demanded, "And don't bite yourself again!" Rainstorm made Darkcloud promise.

"Fine."

The next day Darkcloud went to check on his mate but was stopped at the nursery entrance.

"She's giving birth!" Flowerspetal said. "You can't come in until after." Darkcloud nodded, excitement rising in his paws.

"Okay," He meowed calmly and turned around, but inside he felt like he would explode with joy.

Chapter 5 - Hunting Patrol

"Darkcloud, Torrentpath, Embergaze, and Ivydusk, you're on patrol." Spareheart meowed from the large Rock that served as the deputy's perch. Usually, it would be Crystalblaze's, but when she started expecting kits Darkcloud had been adamant about keeping her in the nursery.

"Spareheart, wait." Darkcloud meowed, making his way towards the large outcropping of blunt stone. Spareheart, an attractive tortoiseshell she-cat, cocked her head in confusion.

"Yes, Darkcloud?" She meowed, jumping down from the Rock jutting out from the cavern's walls.

Darkcloud shook out his fur. "With Crystalblaze kitting, I'm not sure I should go. What if something goes wrong and... and I'm not here?" He meowed anxiously, flattening his ears.

Spareheart let out a low hum, flicking her tail to show she was in thought. "You should ask Flowerspetal." She meowed at last. "If she thinks Crystalblaze will need you there for her kitting, you don't have to go. Oh, and congratulations, by the way." She meowed.

"Thanks, Spareheart." Darkcloud dipped his head to the tortoiseshell, turning and padding towards the medicine den. Flowerspetal, who was standing in the

She purred in greeting. "Hello, Darkcloud." "Hey, Flowerspetal. Is it safe for me to go on patrol? I want to be here if something happens during the kitting." He meowed.

"No, I think she'll be fine. We have it under control." Flowerspetal meowed thoughtfully. "Though I suppose it's completely up to you. She is your mate, after all."

Darkcloud nodded. "I trust you. I'll go on the patrol." Flowerspetal angled her ears to the patrol. "Well, you'd better hurry. They're about to leave."

Darkcloud waved his tail in farewell, trotting over to the cluster of three cats by the entrance. "You're coming, then?" Ivydusk asked, arching her back. Darkcloud nodded. "Come on, then." She meowed, twitching her tail.

Ivydusk set off at a brisk trot, her apprentice Sunset in tow. Though the Colony technically didn't do "mentors" and "apprentices", Ivy was the one who paid the most attention to Sunset.

"Alright, let's go." Darkcloud meowed, nodding to Embergaze. She nodded, setting off briskly. Her calico fur was swept to one side, as if she had been standing on a windy hill.

"Crystalpaw, Darkpaw, Scoursoul! Patrol the border, now!" Tinyfang yowled from the HighRock. These days, Flamestar was silent, keeping to her den, and Tinyfang had taken over as leader and deputy.

"Sure, Tinyfang." Crystalpaw meowed from the other side of camp, where she'd been eating a vole by herself. She looked a bit miserable, not even glancing at Darkpaw as she padded towards the entrance of the camp.

"Sorry, I'd better go." Darkpaw meowed to Fernpaw, whom he'd been chatting with. She nodded, stretching out her front paws. "Have fun on border patrol," She meowed cheerily.

Darkpaw padded up to the bracken entrance, sitting next to Crystalpaw. She was staring at the bracken silently. "Hey," He meowed cheerfully. "She put you on patrol, that's got to mean something, right?" Half a moon had passed since their conversation.

"Sure," Crystalpaw meowed, her voice hoarse as if she hadn't used it in a while. "Something."

Darkpaw squinted at Crystalpaw; something was clearly wrong. "Are- Are you okay?" He asked her. Her paws twitched, as if she were about to unsheathe her claws, then thought the better of it.

"Yes," She meowed, "I'm fine." She turned her head away so her expression was hidden. Her short silver fur gleamed in the light and her shoulders slumped miserably.

Darkpaw was about to say something else when Scoursoul interrupted, padding up to them. "Come on, kits." He growled, cuffing them each with unsheathed claws. "Your deputy has spoken."

Darkpaw fell in line behind his mentor wordlessly, though his thoughts were churning. Was something wrong? What had he done to Crystalpaw?

Chapter 6 - Kits

Darkpaw jumped through the bracken barrier, his paws and pelt itching as if he were covered in ants. He raced towards the nursery, scrambling to duck under the overhand of Rock.

Flowerspetal was massaging Crystalblaze. She looked tired, but happy. "Darkcloud!" She purred, joy in every syllable. "Look at our kits!"

Three kits suckled at her belly. "Two she-cats and a tom." Flowerspetal reported proudly. Darkcloud nodded at her. "Thank you, Flowerspetal." He meowed thankfully.

"This is Hazel, Rock, and Clove." Crystalblaze meowed, pointing at their kits.

Hazel was a small brown she-cat, the color of warm earth, with copper tabby stripes. Rock seemed to be a mix of his parents, with long black fur and silver splotches of slightly longer fur. Clove was a gray-blue tabby she-cat with misty gray streaks.

"Oh, Crystalblaze, they're beautiful." Darkcloud purred, nuzzling his mate. Crystalblaze smiled, her eyes full of warmth. "Yes," She purred, "They are."

"She's having her kits now!" Someone yowled. Fear rushed through Darkpaw, and he dropped the mouse he had been eating. "Who?" Someone else yowled; Ashwing.

"Heatherstep!" It was Heatherstep's mate, Sootbelly. "Hurry!" Ashwing pelted out of her den, her mouth bundled with herbs. Terror flooded Darkpaw, and he flattened himself to the ground.

"It'll be okay, Darkpaw." He looked up to see Crystalpaw, plucking a sparrow off the fresh kill pile. She looked at him, and her face was devoid of emotion. "Ashwing is a good medicine cat. Heatherstep will be okay."

Darkpaw nodded. "I can't stop worrying, though. She's not even my mother!"

Crystalpaw looked away. "I don't have a mother," Crystalpaw growled, "She's dead. You're worrying for nothing."

With that, she turned, the sparrow in her jaws, and stalked off into the apprentices' den.

"Hey, Darkpaw!" Fernpaw chirped, padding over to him a few moments after Crystalpaw left. "Was that Crystalpaw? What did she want?"

Darkpaw shrugged. "I was freaking out about the birth and she calmed me down, no big deal." He answered honestly.

"Mm. I wonder why she did? It's not like you're friends, or anything. You never hang out with her - actually, I've never seen you talk with her." Fernpaw meowed.

Darkpaw flicked his ears up, suddenly on the alert. "Huh. Really? We're friends; we talk." His mind was racing. Could this be why Crystalpaw was mad at him?

Fernpaw twitched her whiskers in surprise. "Wow, really? I guess you don't spend too much time together, then. I mean, if I'm not with Rainpaw, I'm with you, so..." She trailed off for emphasis.

"No, yeah, we don't spend a lot of time with each other, but it's okay. She's cool with it." Darkpaw imagined Crystalpaw's expression as he said this, before she had been mad at him - eyes open wide with wonder, silver fur sleek and groomed, ready to take on the world.

"Uh, excuse me." Darkpaw meowed, getting to his paws. "I need to speak with Crystalpaw."

Fernpaw looked surprised. "Why? She's over there if you want to talk with her, though." She pointed her ears towards the apprentices' den.

Suddenly, Rainpaw padded into the camp, prey dangling from his jaws. Fernpaw and Darkpaw both stood up, ready to talk to Rainpaw and Crystalpaw respectively, but Crystalpaw beat them to it.

She bounded over to Rainpaw, nuzzling him. "Rainpaw!" She purred. "You're back!"

Anger lit itself in Darkpaw's chest, stronger and fiercer than anything he'd ever felt before. Rainpaw and Crystalpaw? They didn't even know each other! Fernpaw stiffened, obviously shocked as well.

Part of Darkpaw waited for Rainpaw to stare at her like she had voles coming out of her ears, while part of Darkpaw wanted to claw Rainpaw's muzzle off. But he only set down his prey at his paws, twining his tail with Crystalpaw's.

No wonder she was mad. He'd ignored her for so long, she'd developed feelings for Rainpaw; then he started to pay attention to her. It felt like MistClan cats were clawing at his heart, tearing it apart bit by bit.

"Hey, Darkpaw, er, want to go train?" Fernpaw offered, her ears pricked hopefully. Darkpaw didn't want to disappoint her, but he wasn't in the mood.

"Sorry, Fernpaw. Maybe later." He meowed. "I'm not feeling good. I'll go see Ashwing for some juniper; I ate a bad mouse earlier." He didn't feel good, but it didn't have anything to do with a bad mouse.

"Oh, okay," She meowed, her shoulders slumping. Darkpaw shook out his head awkwardly, brushing past her to the medicine den. As he walked, he was acutely aware of the gaze of a cat on his flank; he shivered.

He assumed it was Fernpaw, but when he peeked sideways, he could have sworn Crystalpaw averted her gaze.

He allowed himself a small smile of hope. Maybe he had a chance with Crystalpaw after all.

Chapter 7 - Descisions

Darkcloud played in the nursery with his kits; ever since their birth he had been insistent he take care of them so Crystalblaze could do her deputy duties. Rainstorm had not given the kits fulls names yet as he wanted to get to know them first to ensure the names fit.

Tonight was the night of the full moon, the night Rainstorm had decided to hold the ceremony, and Darkcloud was nervous for his kits; they didn't seem to care.

"Rock! Clove! Hazel! Come on, we have to get ready, tonight's a very important night. You need a bath!" Darkcloud chided, hiding a smile; he loved being a den dad.

The kits didnt want to take a bath. "But why?" Rock whined, pricking his ears. "Yeah, what's so important-able?" Clove asked "Are we going someplace?" Hazel questioned, looking worried.

"You're going to be named by Rainstorm tonight, so you need to be clean and behave!" Crystalblaze entered the den, purring.

"Your kits have been quiet the pawful," Darkcloud meowed, swiping a paw over his ear to hide a grin.

"My kits?" Crystalblaze joked "You're the one insisting on taking care of them!"

"i dont want a baaath!" Hazel squealed, and tried to run off. Darkcloud stopped her easily and brought her back to the nest.

"I can bathe myself let go!" Hazel giggled and got out of her father's grip. She started to clean her fur quite messily. "See? I can do it myself!"

"I cant wait to be a Young! I'll be runninning-ing around the territory and nobody will stop me! I can eat all the foodies I want and never share!" Clove laughed triumphantly before Rock leaped at her. "Do thats and I's will make you sleep in the rain!"

The two kits continued to playfight when Crystalblaze stopped them. "Neither of you will do such things." She said. "Have any of you kits decided what role you plan to play for the colony?"

"I'm gonna hunt all the rabbits in the forest chase all the mice into camp so well never go hungry!" Clove yelled. "I'll be a hunter!"

"Ha! I'm gonna chase the smelly MistClan warriors and tie tie tie FlowerClan's tails together! That'll show them for messing with you and daddy!" Rock said proudly.

"I wanna feed mean cats dethberr- I mean herbs to make them feel better!" Hazel laughed.

Darkcloud laughed gently. "Alright, I'm sure Flowerspetal will be thrilled to teach you."

"Darkcloud!" A meow came from outside; it was Rainstorm. "It's time."

Chapter 8 - Names

The fireflies lit the ceremony with a gentle glow, dancing above Rainstorm's perch.

"Hazel, Clove, and Rock, step forward." Rainstorm meowed evenly. Darkcloud's kits stepped forward, looking nervous.

"Hazel, for your honesty and your will to heal and help your Colony, you will be known as Hazeltuft."

Hazel's eyes widened, and the light of the fireflies was reflected in her large eyes.

"Thank you," She breathed, bowing her head.

"Clove, for your determination and agility, you will be Clovegust."

She let out a small gasp. "Thank you, Rainstorm."

"Rock, for your strength and loyalty, you will now be known as Rockfall."

Rock puffed out his chest. "Thank you."

Rainstorm nodded. "Does the Colony of Skies agree?"

Everyone's eyes went to the night sky, now lit by the twinkling of stars.

As if on cue, a large star fell through the night, disappearing on the horizon.

"They do."

chapter 9 training

¨swipe! left! down! stomp on his tail!" Darkcloud shouted commands to clovedust who was currently learning some defense before she learned to hunt.

hunters were to only learn basic defense and guards were only to learn basic hunting just in case something happened and they needed to hunt or fight.

΅rockfall! go easy on clovedust! shes only just learning!" he told rock, who slowed down but his strength didn't change.

rockfall was great with brute strength, while at times it might come in handy, clovedust was swift so she had a chance.

but rockfall was able to pin clovedust and before Darkcloud could jump in it turned into play fighting instead of training.

Darkcloud laughed "okay kits, go get something to eat, your mother will train you in basic hunting later" he instructed. rockfall and clovedust ran into the cave for dinner.

"kits will be kits" Rainstorm exited the cave and sat next to his brother. "i know mine are a pawfull" he laughed "oh yeah, how is smokefur doing?" Darkcloud asked "his visions are getting worse by the day. Flowerspetal said he should be fine though" Rainstorm replied "his sisters are doing great too, they both decided to be hunters" he smiled.

Darkcloud nodded "you wanna go hunting? its been a while since we spent time together just you and me" he asked

"sure." Rainstorm stretched "i need to get out of the cave anyway"

Chapter 10 - Prey

Darkcloud padded in, two starlings hanging from his jaws. Beside him, Rainstorm had a rabbit. He laid his birds on the fresh kill pile, and Rainstorm did the same. "Thanks for hunting with me," Darkcloud purred, nuzzling his brother.

Rainstorm laughed. "It was nothing! Besides, I needed to let out some steam; I can't remember when the last time I went hunting with you was!"

"Exactly!" Darkcloud meowed. He heard the scuffing of tired paws and turned to see Crystalblaze padding over to them; his tail shot straight up.

"Crystalblaze!" He purred, giving her shoulder a lick. "I'm so tired!" She purred. "I'll sleep for a moon after I eat. Did you catch that?" She asked, angling her ears to the starling. Darkcloud nodded. "Yeah!"

"yum!" Crystalblaze purred. She swiped one off the fresh-kill pile and took a bite, swallowing it quickly. "Ohh, so good!" She enthused, taking another bite. She narrowed her eyes as she chewed.

"Huh, this tastes weird, like... like herbs!" She meowed curiously, pawing at the starling. Darkcloud nosed the starling and it turned over to reveal a glistening red berry smeared on the feathers of the bird.

Holly berries.

Crystalblaze's eyes widened with fear, and she spat out her mouthful. "Eugh! I almost got poisoned!" She exclaimed angrily, sweeping the bird away. "Who would do this?"

"Where did you get that bird, Darkcloud?" Rainstorm asked. Darkcloud flicked his tail. "I saw it pecking at a bush with red berries, but it wasn't holly, I know that. I caught it and I brought it back." He shrugged.

"Then there was already holly smeared on the berry." Rainstorm deduced. "Where was this bush?"

Darkcloud shrugged. "Near the FlowerClan border." Blood roared in his ears. "You don't think-" Rainstorm interrupted him with a nod. "I know."

Chapter 11 - Precautions

The three rushed back to camp and Rainstorm immediately called a meeting.

"Cats of the colony!" he shouted from atop the cave when everyone was their "We just found out that FlowerClan has been poisoning our prey in an attempt to poison us."

Darkcloud listened from the bottom, rage filled his chest with every moment.

"We must start patrolling the border, twice a day five cats on each patrol, no cat is the leave this cave alone. I will not let the colony we built from the ground up be put to ashes!" Rainstorm was yelling so loud, Darkcloud thought even MistClan on the other side of FlowerClan could hear his speech.

"Hunters are to learn just as much battle as guards until we can ensure FlowerClan won't attack. Until then, train from dusk till dawn, each and every one of you." He instructed.

Rainstorm dismissed the clan and jumped down to talk to Crystalblaze and help organize patrols and where to set territory markers, as well as make sure it was clear not to hunt near the border.

They had decided on the way there to set markers just over the border; as to tell FlowerClan they wouldn't go down easily.

Darkcloud just hoped this wouldn't mean they were back to the war they tried so hard to leave.

Chapter 12 - Back to War

Darkcloud watched as another patrol came back wounded with reports of border fights with FlowerClan, skirmishes or planned ambushes.

Rockfall was on that patrol. Darkcloud gasped in horror, his claws shredding the moss under his paws. He ran up to his kit and rushed him to the medicine den, the stench of blood filling his nose.

"Are you okay? What happened? Please say they didnt hurt you too bad." Darkcloud fussed, checking over Rockfall for wounds while Flowerspetal and Hazeldust gathered herbs to treat the wounded patrol.

"Dad, I'm fine! Can't say the same for the rest of the patrol, though." He looked out the den door to see the rest of the patrol; Embergaze, Ivywhip, and Strikeshade.

Rockfall only had a few scratches, but the others were covered from nose to tail tip with wounds.

Crystalblaze, Fernwish, and Flowerspetal were tending to them, while Hazeldust was tending to rockfall who's only severe wound was on his tail; it was gone.

Darkcloud squeezed his eyes shut.

They were back to war.

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