"No, Brokenpath, no! What have you done?"
"I needed to save you, my friend. You were going to die."
"Look what you've done to yourself! No... no..."
"I'm sure you would've done the same for me. You should be thankful."
NOTE: This is Book 3 of a trilogy. Bramble reckons that you should read the first book of the series, Broken Paths, first. c:
|The Paths Trilogy|
|Preceded by: |
|Darkened Paths||Succeded by: |
GrassClan and PebbleClan are now at war, and the cats that GrassClan has claimed to have stolen from them - Bluepelt and his daughter, Brokenpath - are at the center of it all.
As the battle looms, the five GrassClan outsiders that have all come someplace else before GrassClan hear of an ominous message, they have to work to solve it ahead of time. However, that doesn't always go to plan...
And when the battle does come, sacrifices are made to keep the peace, and to finally solve the issues between PebbleClan and GrassClan forever.
This is the third and final book in The Paths Trilogy.
Leader: Snowstar - big, thick-furred white tom with amber eyes
Deputy: Stoneleap - huge blue-gray tom
Medicine Cat: Brookclaw - small gray-brown she-cat
Warriors: Goldenflight - golden-brown she-cat with amber eyes, formerly of FallClan
Dustyheart - pale brown she-cat with green eyes, former rogue
Shatteredheart - gray-and-white tom with green eyes
Flutteringwing - brown she-cat with amber eyes
Lappingcreek - silver tabby tom
Ravenclaw - black she-cat with a white dash on her chest
Fernfrond - dappled gray she-cat with green eyes
Redcloud - dark ginger tom with a white patch like a cloud on his back
Brokenpath - dark brown tabby she-cat with green eyes, formerly of PebbleClan
Cloudspirit - small, thick-furred dark gray she-cat with a thin frame, and blue eyes, former rogue
Bluepelt - large blue-gray tom with blue eyes, former rogue, and of PebbleClan
Leader: Moonstar - sleek silver tabby she-cat with one black paw
Deputy: Snakewhisper - lean tabby tom
Medicine Cat: Redspeck - elderly white tom with small ginger flecks, and a ragged pelt
Warriors: Jaggedtail - gray tabby tom with a crooked tail
Pearclaw - dark tabby she-cat
Iceheart - pale gray and white tom with icy blue eyes
Pineshade - reddish-brown tom with green eyes
Jackdawwing - black tom with dark blue eyes
Jumpflame - black she-cat with long, dark ginger legs
Leader: Wavestar - big blue-gray tabby tom
Warriors: Sloedusk - black tabby she-cat with white paws
Strongfoot - dark gray tom with big, light brown paws
Leader: Daisystar - cream-and-white she-cat with green eyes
Deputy: Ferretflash - solid dark gray tom with a golden-brown face and legs
Warriors: Doedapple - very pale brown she-cat with faint white dapples on her pelt
Stagspring - very dark brown tom with yellow eyes
Turtleshine - stumpy-tailed, tortoiseshell she-cat with emerald-green eyes
Duckwater - pale brown tabby she-cat with blue eyes
The Apprentice's Training Ground
Clan Mentors: Brightfeather - orange tabby she-cat with amber eyes (PebbleClan)
Hopfoot - black tom with a single, white twisted paw (PebbleClan)
Icefur - small white she-cat with blue eyes (GrassClan)
Elderbranch - wiry, very pale brown tom with pale amber eyes (GrassClan)
Hazelleaf - brown-and-white she-cat with green eyes (StreamClan)
Littlelegs - small brown tabby tom with very short legs (StreamClan)
Leafheart - brown tabby she-cat with white markings (FallClan)
Tumblestep - pale brown tabby tom with bright blue eyes (FallClan)
The Apprentices: Flamepaw - ginger she-cat with amber eyes (PebbleClan)
Squirrelpaw - ginger-and-brown she-cat (PebbleClan)
Harepaw - large dark brown tom (PebbleClan)
Duskpaw - big dark brown she-cat (GrassClan)
Dustpaw - short-furred dark brown she-cat with dark amber eyes (GrassClan)
Clearpaw - very pale silver tom with clear, icy blue eyes (StreamClan)
Cloudypaw - smoky dark gray she-cat (StreamClan)
Furledpaw - large dark ginger tabby tom (FallClan)
Curlpaw - small white she-cat with fur-tips that curl over slightly (FallClan)
Riverpelt - blue-gray tabby tom with rippling tabby stripes and blue eyes, formerly of GrassClan
Cats Outside the Clans
Corvus - black-and-white tom with green eyes
Blanche - white she-cat with amber eyes
Oh, the stars have many messages, know all the paths,
Whether broken, merged, or darkened, they are all the same, in a way...
The small gray-brown she-cat stepped out onto the starry moor. Starlight reflected into her amber eyes as she looked up at the sky, alone. She was dull where everything else stood out: she was not filled with starlight.
She knew she had been beckoned, but for what purpose? She was about to find out.
A swirl of stars then spiralled down to the ground, seeming to touch the ground before a cat appeared. It was a handsome blue-gray tom with rippling, darker tabby stripes, and blue eyes like the river itself. He looked extremely magnificent - and like the expanse around him, his fur was - indeed - dotted with stars.
The stream of stars then looked as if it had ricocheted off the ground, as it then spiralled back into the sky and vanished, leaving the two cats alone.
The cat with no stars in her fur padded up to this cat. "Riverpelt?" she breathed. "I haven't seen you since the day..."
The blue-gray cat nodded. "Yes, Brookclaw, it is me. I am pleased that you remembered who I was." His tail flicked slowly as he looked at the gray-brown she-cat. "It is enlightening to see you again."
Brookclaw nodded curtly. "Of course, Riverpelt, it is a blessing." She then sat abruptly on the star-studded moor, and the stars that were there seemed to serve off as she sat. "Has StarClan got a message for me?"
Riverpelt sat opposite Brookclaw. "Yes, they have," he mewed once he had settled down, one of his front paws in front of the other. He then tapped the ground three times with this paws, before turning to his left. "Watch."
Brookclaw turned to her right - Riverpelt's left - as he spoke this.
Suddenly - even though they were not there before - should five, very pale silhouettes of cats. They stared at the two cats with a ghostly stare, not doing or saying anything.
Brookclaw narrowed her eyes at these shadows, narrowing her eyes as she looked at them. She recognized who these shadows were at once, and, turning back, she asked Riverpelt: "These five? Is there a reason for this?"
Riverpelt shrugged. "You'll see, Brookclaw, you'll see. Now watch, and listen what I have to say about these shadows, as they will reveal the future that GrassClan holds for itself."
Brookclaw winced slightly, feeling slightly uncomfortable about Riverpelt's words - it was obvious that something wasn't quite right with her. Eventually, she nodded slowly, meeting Riverpelt's gaze.
Riverpelt seemed pleased. "Good, Brookclaw, good. The first thing that I will say is that there will be a battle coming."
Shadows appeared behind the silhouettes, and large trees came behind from where they were standing. Brookclaw and Riverpelt could see that the trees were only in this vision, and that they were not really there.
"One cat will rise," Riverclaw continued, and as he said this, one of the cats stepped forward in front of the others, looking behind at them for a moment before standing at the head.
"Two will unite," was next, and two of the cats that remained stepped forward, their tails entwined together. They stood behind of the first cat, and looked each other in the eyes, obviously caring for each other.
"And the other two will die." And at this, the remaining two cats abruptly vanished into thin air. None of their counterparts in the vision noticed this, and continued looking forward.
Brookclaw stared at the vision, now shaking slightly as she turned - once again: to Riverpelt: "Is that all you have to tell me?"
The tabby tom nodded, his bright eyes gleaming. "Yes, it is."
Brookclaw looked back to where the silhouettes were, but by now the whole vision had vanished, and now all the gray-brown she-cat could do was stare at Riverpelt.
"All will be told in good time," Riverpelt whispered, as another band of stars touched the ground, and claimed Riverpelt in them. A second later, he was gone, and one again, Brookclaw was life alone.
One will rise, two will unite, two will die. This meant something - something that she didn't know - and Brookclaw needed to find it out.
Everyone has a different path to take,
And each has many different stages...
Still in shock over the PebbleClan warrior's actions, Brokenpath continued to stare at the black cat's body that was on the ground just a few tail-lengths away. She was so shocked that she barely even heard Ravenclaw's anguished cry at the PebbleClan cats, just watching as Crowgaze's scarlet blood seeped onto the grass.
Behind her, the other cats on the patrol also stared in horror - Brokenpath shot a look at them, and she saw their blank stares as they surveyed the body.
A shuffling noise came from nearby. Brokenpath slowly lifted her head to see an annoyed Iceheart eyeing up the GrassClan patrol. The PebbleClan warrior's icy blue eyes were emotionless as he stared at the five cats facing him. Then, he turned to Ravenclaw, seeing as she was the one who had spoken. "What did you say, GrassClan cat?" he spat.
Ravenclaw didn't hesitate to speak. The black she-cat's tail lashed irritably as she returned Iceheart's gaze. "I said, I swear vengeance on you. You... you killed my father." Ravenclaw shook as she shot a look at Crowgaze's body for a heartbeat, before looking away again. "...You're so heartless. I declare war on your stupid Clan."
Brokenpath stiffened in surprise. I didn't know Crowgaze was Ravenclaw's father, she thought as she turned back again to Cloudspirit and Bluepelt. Both cats seemed to agree with Ravenclaw's words - even Bluepelt, who was in PebbleClan previously.
However, Brokenpath was not so sure.
Sure, she was part of GrassClan now, not PebbleClan. She'd sacrificed that when she'd had her warrior ceremony. However, she still felt for her old Clan, and Brokenpath really didn't want there to be war.
Looking at the PebbleClan patrol, Brokenpath realized that they also agreed with war. Even Pineshade, who had treated her like his daughter all those moons ago, seemed to agree. A sinking feeling was in her stomach.
"Okay, then - we swear war on you losers, too," Iceheart mewed from the head of the PebbleClan patrol, resulting in cheers from the three other cats.
Silence followed, while the cats from rival Clans stared at each other, not making a sound. Brokenpath found herself staring into Pineshade's eyes. His cold green gaze seemed unforgiving, cold, merciless. What had Brokenpath ever done to do this...?
Was it because she'd been taken into GrassClan? Was that it?
Finally, Brokenpath sensed a soft movement from behind her. Breaking the eye contact between her and Pineshade, she saw that Cloudspirit had moved. "Should we head back?" the dark gray she-cat mewed softly, her blue gaze round as she shot another look at Crowgaze's body. "Tell Snowstar..." Her voice trailed off.
"Good point." Brokenpath heard Bluepelt speak, then another noise as the blue-gray cat rose to his paws.
Ravenclaw lashed her tail at the PebbleClan cats, who were still staring blankly. "We'll be back, fools." She too went beside Bluepelt, who had moved over to Crowgaze's limp and bleeding body, and Brokenpath watched as the two cats hoisted Crowgaze's body onto their backs.
"...You sure you'll be fine?" Cloudspirit mewed softly, appearing by Bluepelt's side. "I can help if you need it."
Bluepelt's tail flicked slightly, then slowly rested onto Cloudspirit's spine. "We're fine here, my sweet," he replied to the dark-furred cat, his blue eyes soft.
Brokenpath stared at Bluepelt's response. I knew they liked each other! However, she wasn't so sure about her father getting another mate - she didn't know that it was a good thing that he was thinking of leaving Brokenpath's deceased mother - Tabbyflight - behind to get a new one.
Pushing that to the back of her mind, Brokenpath and the rest of the patrol started to head back to camp. Now was not the time to be thinking of that. Now was the time to be grieving - grieving for a lost Clanmate.
It's never easy to lose,
Never easy to forget...
"Moonstar, we're at war. We're at war with GrassClan."
In front of his leader, a pale gray-and-white cat tried to pace in the shadowy den Looking at him was a silver tabby: her yellow eyes narrowed, black paw slightly above the ground.
In interest, Moonstar's ears pricked. "War?" She blinked once, twice, at her warrior. "I could see this coming. Tensions between our two Clans have been riding high since..."
"...Since the Brokenpath, thing, yeah." The gray-and-white cat flattened his ears. "StarClan knows why she was sent to GrassClan. Too late now: time to war on her new Clan." His voice gradually turned into a growl: by the end of his words, the tomcat was almost spitting the words out.
Coolly, Moonstar nodded. Then, there was silence, with the she-cat staring at the tom until he sat down. The silver tabby paused, before licking her black paw once and placing it on the ground. "Iceheart. How did this happen?"
Before replying, Iceheart's ears flattened: he knew that Moonstar wouldn't be pleased at the prospect of war. "So, I was leading my patrol along the GrassClan border, yes? We came across some GrassClan warriors." The warrior sounded confident as he spoke - his blue eyes were bright, reflecting how he felt. "Sure, there was Crowgaze and Ravenclaw on there, GrassClan cats through and through. But there was Brokenpath, and -"
"Funny that she appears," Moonstar interrupted, halting the senior warrior's words. "We just mentioned her... anyways, carry on, if you don't mind."
Nodding, the gray cat continued: "Remember how a while back, Jaggedtail had confronted this GrassClan patrol when suddenly Bluepelt came out of nowhere?"
Moonstar nodded, the leader's yellow eyes widening. "Yes, I recall that... killed a GrassClan cat being an idiot, if I recall correctly." A pause followed this, and the next word that the silver tabby cat said sounded as though she was confused. "...Why?"
Her warrior straightened up at once: the fur along Iceheart's spine seemed to prickle as he said this. The gray-and-white cat let out a hiss. "Well, Moonstar," he mewed, "I think he's a traitor. He was with that GrassClan patrol. I think... I think he might have re-joined their Clan. He- He was a GrassClan born cat, I thi -"
A snarl from Iceheart's leader made him fall silent. Moonstar didn't looked pleased with this, not in the slightest. "Traitor," she hissed. "I wonder why he got sent to PebbleClan in the first place... oh well, too late now." Her voice had turned more into a grumble as she spoke, but it was obvious that the leader was still fuming. "First we think he's dead. Then, he turns out to be alive. That's bad enough. But he just had to go and join our enemies...! Like father, like daughter, I'd say."
"Like father, like daughter," Iceheart echoed, not really sure of the words. He then looked up at his leader. "Yeah, I think that's it. Families..."
"...have bad blood sometimes," Moonstar finished brusquely. "Continue with what happened, I don't have all day to listen to you talk."
"Hmph." Iceheart let out a small huff of annoyance - it was as if he wanted to talk about Bluepelt being a traitor for the rest of the day. "Fine, I'll continue. So I challenged Crowgaze - he was leading that patrol - and accused him of stealing our warriors. He denied, and I attacked him... and killed him." He continued to look Moonstar in the eye at this - it was like he didn't regret killing the GrassClan cat at all.
"You killed him!?" Moonstar shot an appalled look at her warrior. "Iceheart, I would expect better of you - to just go and kill a warrior is not on. Did they declare a war on us because of that?"
"Yes, and sorry." The last word was said in a tone that obviously gave off no remorse whatsoever. "That Ravenclaw declared it - probably furious at her Clanmate's dea -"
"Ravenclaw, Iceheart, is the daughter of Crowgaze. Naturally, at seeing you kill her father, she declared war on our Clan." Moonstar gave an annoyed huff. "I would've rather that we didn't have to fight, as that was a little unnecessary... but it's done now. You can't change it." The silver tabby paused for a moment, pausing. "Send Snakewhisper in. I need to discuss this with him alone... and how we're going to get through this battle. Iceheart, you are dismissed once you have done that."
"Yes, Moonstar," Iceheart mewed hurriedly, quickly exiting the den to search for the PebbleClan deputy. Moonstar, while she waited, thought in silence. Her Clan had a challenge to face.
And it was all because of two Clan-switchers at their warrior ceremonies.
You can't just forget about the past,
But you can't forget about the future as well...
"Blasted, blasted PebbleClan!"
At the edge of camp, Cloudspirit crouched, her eyes narrowed. Her gaze was set on Stoneleap, who was the one complaining loudly about the now-approaching war: the usually-calm deputy looked alarmed for once.
"I can't believe that that Jaggedtail - that-" he seethed, loud enough so that the whole camp could hear him. Most cats, including Cloudspirit herself, were now just watching him angrily stomp around camp. They had also seen Snowstar approaching him... unlike the angry deputy.
"If you're going to complain angrily about what PebbleClan has done," the leader mewed, cutting off the blue-gray tom, do it outside of the camp, please. I understand that you're angry, but..."
Stoneleap opened his mouth in protest, but then fell silent. A few warriors started murmuring at that, while Cloudspirit, sitting up, twitched one ear. Lesson learnt today: Clan cats can be quite... volatile.
With an annoyed huff, Stoneleap stormed out of camp, still seething. Cloudspirit watched him leave with a sidewards glare, half-surprised at the deputy's anger. He usually seems pretty calm, right?
Maybe tensions are running high, that's all.
Why this situation was such a big deal for the Clan cats was something Cloudspirit wasn't really sure about. After all, she wasn't Clanborn, like most of the cats in GrassClan. Sure, she'd been on the patrol where Crowgaze was killed and all, and she understood her Clanmates' anger at that... but what was the big deal about this war?
"Looks like even the deputy's temper is running high." Gaze flickering to her left side, Cloudspirit saw Dustyheart approach. The pale brown she-cat sat down beside her. "I've never seen him this would up, either."
Oh, yeah, she's not Clanborn either. The thought came back to the dark gray she-cat with a pang. "...Do you get why all these cats are so angry about this?" Cloudspirit asked, dropping her voice so that only Dustyheart could hear her.
Dustyheart shrugged. "I haven't been around too much longer than you, Cloudspirit! However, I kinda get it... they're always blaming each other for something or another, these Clans. That's what I've heard, anyway."
At this, Cloudspirit wanted to groan. She thought that she'd come to the Clans to get some peace from fighting! Instead, she'd just come and found herself in another place where cats were constantly fighting over stupid things! In frustration, she sighed.
"Yeah, I know -" Dustyheart started to say something, but then she suddenly straightened up. "Uh, Cloudspirit, do you smell anything unusual?"
"Unusual?" Cloudspirit echoed, confused. However, as she tasted the air, she realized that Dustyheart was right. A GrassClan-like scent was in the air - familiar, but she couldn't quite pinpoint which cat it was. "Uh, do you mean that GrassClan-ish scent?"
"Mmmhmm," Dustyheart mewed. "Should we go and investigate quickly, or...?"
Cloudspirit opened her mouth to say that she would come, but then the entrance to the camp rustled slightly. Half-expecting it to be Stoneleap returning, she didn't think much of it, until...
"Oh!" At once, Dustyheart scrambled to her paws and bounded towards the entrance. For a moment, Cloudspirit was dazed as she watched her, wondering what the big fuss was. Then, her gaze set on the golden-brown cat who had entered the camp.
You can run,
But you can't hide from the truth...
Only StarClan, Brokenpath thought, would know where Goldenflight had disappeared to.
She'd been a little surprised when, coming back from a hunting patrol, she saw the golden-brown warrior in camp - a little disheveled, a little unkempt, but still the same cat she always knew her to be. The tabby had noted that a few warriors had asked her where she'd gone, but she wasn't opening up.
Brokenpath didn't bother asking. It was obvious that the former FallClan cat wasn't going to tell anyone of her whereabouts - not even Dustyheart, who Brokenpath thought was one of her closer friends. If she wanted to tell... she'd listen.
Now, however, was not the time. Let's focus on the task at hand. Raising her head, she pricked her head as she saw Fernfrond, the patrol leader, moving across the moor. The rest of the patrol - Shatteredheart, Redcloud, and Flutteringwing - fanned out behind her, and realizing that she was falling behind, she bounded forward to catch up.
"We're nearly there," the gray she-cat called, as Brokenpath slowed back down, nearly bumping into the back of Redcloud. "Be on the lookout. Stay alert. You know what PebbleClan's like at the moment, with our little... rivalry."
The rest of the patrol nodded. Brokenpath didn't follow suit, instead grunting as a form of response. Stupid war. I don't like this.
These are the two Clans that I've lived in. The two Clans that I know... I don't want to fight for GrassClan against them, not after I was born there, grew up there.
At that, the pine-y scent of PebbleClan hit her tongue. The dark brown warrior winced at the smell, knowing that she once had that scent on her pelt. Through the edge of her vision, she saw Shatteredheart screwing up his face at the smell, which made her want to assure the gray-and-white warrior that it wasn't so bad.
She stopped herself, however. No, I'm a member of GrassClan now. I can't do that.
Approaching the border, the patrol paused. Brokenpath could see Fernfrond tasting the air, waiting. Then, she saw the gray cat tense. "Scent's getting stronger, smells like a PebbleClan cat's nearby. We'd better -"
"More like a patrol," a voice interjected, making Brokenpath spin around.
There was a PebbleClan patrol, right in front of her. The cat who had spoken was a lean tabby, his narrow eyes seeming even narrower than usual. Snakewhisper. StarClan, not another PebbleClan patrol, but the fact that the PebbleClan deputy was on it made it worse.
Now she was bracing herself for the worst.
"Hello there, GrassClan." Snakewhisper spoke coolly to the GrassClan warriors, his tail twitching. His warriors stood behind him, watching them with narrowed eyes. "May I ask what you are doing?"
At this, Brokenpath heard Redcloud snicker from the GrassClan patrol. Her head moved sidewards to see the ginger tom, who she heard say under his breath: "That's not your business, mange-heart. I could just as easily ask what you are doing."
"We're just marking our borders." Fernfrond now spoke, her fur fluffed up in defiance as she glared at the PebbleClan deputy. "We are not going to step a paw on your Clan's land, Snakewhisper, I assure -"
"You'd better not." With a lash of his tail, Snakewhisper silenced the gray warrior. "Regardless, I was somewhat hoping to catch one of your patrols. It's not Snowstar or Stoneleap, but you will do. I have a message from Moonstar to pass on to your Clan."
Brokenpath shivered. A message? There was no way in StarClan that this was going to be good.
"A message?" Fernfrond questioned incredulously, echoing Brokenpath's thoughts. "Okay then, Snakewhisper, spit it out."
At her response, the lean tabby nodded, his snake-like tail flicking again. "Moonstar has decided that she wants to square this little argument we've had. With the... Crowgaze thing."
A pit of dread hit Brokenpath at that very moment. She felt as though she knew what was going to come next, and she shivered.
I can't. I can't.
"Yes, so?" Fernfrond queried, while Brokenpath lowered her head and flattened her ears. She didn't want to hear what she thought was going to come next. She wanted to run away, to hide, but her paws forced her to stay there.
And in that moment, that moment before, she sat there in the calm before the storm.
It better not be...
"We need to fight this out."
And when you know the truth,
You have to face it...