This is the third book in the Wishspirit Series!
"You never told me about this," I whispered as Wishspirit faced me gently, and I looked down to my paws with deep, rage that was so wild I couldn't even yowl.
"It would cause nothing but harm."
"I had to find out, eventually, though," I whispered, "You told me that several things couldn't be revealed because they would mess with the flow of destiny. But why should that even matter if it has already been ruined?"
"There will always be a destiny," she whispered, "With the old one we ruined, a new one was forced to come along and adapt to the world."
"So what's wrong with ruining this one and making a brand new one? Surely it's not all that bad to just have a new set of prophecies to deliver."
"You don't understand this," I heard a small crack in Wishspirit's voice but I was certainly not in the mood for sympathy with anyone but myself.
"What was the pointing of letting me live if the world I met would be such a wretched one?"
"We didn't know," Wishspirit whispered, "Believe me that if we did we would never have made the regretted choice that we did. I would undo it in a heartbeat."
"So would I," I gently whispered.
We were both silent.
"Is there any way to fix it?" I asked gently.
"No way to repair all the damage that has been done, all the cats that have been killed, and all the things that have been corrupted," she claimed, "But there is a leader of this."
"A leader?" I asked.
"He isn't aware of it, but by being the largest mistake in the world you dwell, he has come to be the leader of all your problems."
"So if I kill him..."
"We could fix whatever possible," Wishspirit nodded.
"Who is this cat?" I felt adrenaline sweeping through my body. If it would be this easy than surely I could just run off into the woods, find them and kill them, not minding what would be sure to follow.
As long as he was dead.
I should have guessed. Because just running in there and killing him would not be nearly as easy as I had hoped it might be able to.
He had cats that would kill me before I managed to take Sagestar down, as opposed to after. It would take planning and timing.
"And then everything is better?" I ask her, gently tilting my head, but she is already fading away from me and I can soon feel myself waking beside Hopekit and Dreamkit.
When I gently pull my head off my den, the two kits jump to their paws, and jump onto me, probably letting out a soft squeal of delight.
But I wouldn't know.
And just yesterday, before sunset I discovered that I was more. I was more than a useless apprentice who had been banished from their Clan, stuck in a world where nothing seemed right.
I realized that I was a reason.
A reason for it all.
Sagestar, the timing, different creatures in places they don't belong. The reason that after me no apprentices have made it past their first six months.
And I was one of the only two breathing cats who knew.
The other one was Spiritpaw, who was gently paddling towards me as my thoughts raced violently, with gently eyes, not hiding his imminent worry.
"Are you okay?" he asked me, "What I told you last night was a lot to take..."
"I'll make it," I responded, "But there is something important which I think you should know. Something which could fix this all."
"Really?" his eyes widened.
I nodded gently.
"And that is?"
I hate myself a little for giving him the answer so quickly, without hesitation or doubt on if he should know it or not, while he brought all of his secrets to me slowly.
If at all.
"Okay, then," his seemed a little startled, "How exactly did you figure this out? Was it a guess or did you get some sort of deep feeling that this is the case?"
"Wishspirit told me," I responded calmly.
"Okay, then," I could tell her was deep in thought and obviously conflicted by the different choices and the consequences they would have, "How are you thinking we should do it?" he asked, gently tipping his head to the side, "Do you just want to run in and take your chances?"
"No," I replied, "Sagestar is too well guarded. We need a proper plan, maybe one that will last a few moons before we can kill him."
He nodded slowly.
"What if we returned to the Clan?" he offered.
"No!" I shrieked, instinctively wrapping my tail around the two kits who were playing cheerfully, oblivious to the serious discussion that was taking place in the same den as them.
"It might be our best shot," he tried to reason.
"What about the kits?" I asked him harshly, "We can't leave them behind here? And SpiritClan kicked me out before. You ran away. I don't think they will be happy to see any of us."
"I don't know," Spiritpaw was silent, "They may let you back."
"They kicked me out," I responded a little frankly.
There was a tense moment, "I've been hiding something from you," Spiritpaw confessed with a shrug, "I don't think it would have made a difference, but I feel a bit guilty now."
"What?" I demanded, completely fed up with secrets.
"Well," he sighed gently, "You were never really kicked out of the Clan?"
"What?" I gave him a surprised glance, "But they kicked me out for not watching Sagestar eating his prey! They even escorted me out of camp!"
"You were punished," he claimed, "But they didn't exile you. They just claimed that until you brought another five pieces of prey for Sagestar you wouldn't be allowed back into the Clan."
"That was delayed," I commented a little dryly.
"Yes," he claimed, "But I don't think you chose to leave. They probably assume you are waiting for a day when you can finally catch that much prey."
"That's great!" I replied, my eyes sparkling a little, "Then I could probably return to the Clan if..." I slowed down, narrowing my eyes, "Are you sure it is worth five pieces of prey?"
"Do you know how much prey Sagestar has stolen from the Clan and is yet to steal before he died which may be seasons from now?" Spiritpaw questioned, "I think this will be nothing compared to the amount of prey that we will be saving for the other cats in the forest."
"Assuming we succeed."
"We will," his eyes glittered with harsh determination I had never seen in them before, even when they followed me while I still remained in SpiritClan.
"I hope so," I sighed.
"Don't lack faith in yourself," he warned me.
"How can I not?" I responded a little glumly, "I am the reason we have to go through all this thought and planning so that we can kill Sagestar."
I pulled into a hunting crouch, and gently let my breathing calm down as I took a couple soft steps towards the mouse. A couple soft moments passed before I leaped through the air.
A second later it was clutched tightly in my jaw.
"Nice catch!" I heard Spiritpaw calling to me and whirled around to see him carrying two rabbits, his mouth at an awkward angle as he struggled to carry them both.
I flicked my tail at him, indicating we should get back to the den where we would drop them off.
We could get two next two later that evening.
But we soon realized there would be no need for that, when the kits bounded up to us, each with a small mouse in their jaws, bounding up and down with excitement.
I stared at the wide-eyes while Spiritpaw grinned at them, giving each a well-deserved lick on the head.
"Who would have thought?" he whispered, as we dumped our prey, beside theirs, adding up to five which was
"They are older than we credit them for," I replied, "Time seems to fly by now that I have left the Clan. I hardly even noticed that they are almost three moons old."
"I know," he nodded.
"I wonder if time will pass as quickly in the Clan," I wondered gently, already feeling a great shadow passing over my heart.
My Clan wasn't my home anymore.
I don't think it ever had been. But maybe, if I gave up the kits, Spiritpaw and the forest I had grown so used to for a moon or so I could make it a home for other cats.
Fixing the mistake that came with being born was my first priority.
"Wishpaw, wake up," I felt a gently paw poking me and looked up to see Spiritpaw. There was a slightly concerned look on his face as he gazed at me.
I pushed myself up to my paws and gazed at him gently, "What's wrong?" I asked, cautiously.
"Are you sure?" he asked me gently, "I know this was my idea and I guess I didn't give you enough time to decide if you really want this or not. I understand that SpiritClan may not be a place where you feel comfortable and I don't want to push you there..." he whispered gently.
"It's fine," I replied gently, brushing my tail over his nose, "Don't worry about me," we met eyes for a split moment, green against blue, white against black.
"I will admire you for doing this the rest of my life, Wishpaw," he gently whispered, his tone a modest one, leaving me blushing gently.
"I didn't really have a choice," I whispered calmly.
"You always have a choice," he replied.
We were still for a moment. And then he gently leaned forward and brushed his muzzle against my cheek, leaving a strange sensation.
Now was not the time to question it, though.
I had agreed to leave before the kits woke up, because we were afraid they may decide to follow me to camp which would end terribly.
I gently paddled up to the kits, who were still sleeping and gave each of them a soft lick on the head. I then turned back to Spiritpaw and our eyes locked for a moment.
Then I lowered my head, stretched my jaws wide, as I placed the two mice on my back and the rest of the prey in my jaw, before turning around and heading out of my den, and to the Clan.
Back to hostile territories.
I swallowed the large lump in my throat as I faced a gruff warrior, one of Sagestar's guards, his gaze floating over me suspiciously.
He moved his jaw, and I couldn't tell what he was saying. This would be the hardest part of my return to SpiritClan; having cats to talk with, but not being able to talk with them.
I nodded, slowly, not sure what he was saying, but hoping that nodding was the right thing to do. If not, I realized, we may have wasted five pieces of prey.
He eyed me suspiciously for a moment, watching my head bob up and down, before emitting a loud sigh, and taking a step aside so that I could pass through.
I hid my smile of victory.
I gently stepped inside the camp, but my spirits deceased as soon as I did. There was a glum air hanging around, and it was all I could do to put one foot in front of another, as opposed to turning around and fleeing.
Small brambles loitered the floor of the camp, and I could see a couple small heads poking out of several dens. Everything seemed the same as when I had left it.
And that was not a good thing.
I let out a gentle sigh as I continued to paddle across the camp towards the apprentice den, which I realized, I probably should have been out of by now.
I just never received the proper training.
I sucked in a deep breath as I reached the apprentice den, doubting the choice I had made, yet again, before forcing myself to swallow my fear and step inside.
The den was fairly empty, as always, and I was the youngest among the apprentices once I entered. There were only two others, and I figured the others were out hunting.
Probably for Sagestar.
It still struck me as odd that I had never come across a cat from the Clan during the time Spiritpaw, the kits, and I rested in the territory.
The only time was when I came to camp in search of the kits.
Both pairs of eyes gently rested on me as I entered. I saw a flash of recognition followed by confusion entering both of them, and I already knew how I would reply to their questions.
With a simple shrug.
But they didn't ask anything, surprisingly, as I watched them fiddling with their bedding, and I felt a sharp stab of pity for them.
I hadn't even realized what a blessing it was to live outside SpiritClan.
And now it was gone.
I forced back tears of longing and regret, as my eyes continued to wander around the den. There was nothing quite special about it, except for the gloomy force hanging in the air.
Five seconds into my stay and I already couldn't stand it.
To save me, I feel a gruff head poking into the den and I remember the Clan well enough to know that this means we get to watch Sagestar eating now.
I gently pulled myself up to my paws, and followed the two apprentices out of the den, to find that the warriors' den was being emptied too.
I almost gaped in surprise, however, when I saw how few warriors remained.
I began to wonder what happened to the other ones. My greatest guess was that they had starved to death, although I was able to contemplate the chance that they had been exiled, or they had ran away, like Spiritpaw and I, which was probably the best option.
It didn't really matter, though, I reminded myself.
I wasn't here to find out the mystery of the missing Clanmates. I was here to fix what I had started and to save the world from a monster.
I was here to kill Sagestar.
Speaking of the devil...
I gently raised my head to see Sagestar waiting patiently as all the cats gathered around him, and four mouse lied beneath his feet.
I would never understand why he wanted us to watch him eating. It just didn't make any sense. Did he like eating so much that he thought it would lift our spirits to watch him doing it?
But I doubted even Sagestar could be that stupid.
I began to wonder if he was actually doing it to prove the grip he had on the Clan, as opposed to anything else. Maybe he just wanted to show the Clan that he had control over them. So much control that he could ask them to watch him eating and declining would not be an option.
I suppressed a cry of frustration.
Once all the cats had gathered, Sagestar rose to his feet. I expected him to immediately delve for his prey, but instead he turned to us.
And he began to scold us, in obvious frustration.
My mind gently began to twirl as I watched his jaw opening and snapping at each of us in great anger and frustration for reasons I didn't understand.
I gently turned my head away from Sagestar and towards the entrance to camp. The sun was still up so light was scattering through the entrance.
And I met green eyes.
I suddenly felt like my whole past was returning back to me so suddenly, and the dull feeling in my gut told me I certainly wasn't ready to face it.
I gently squeezed my eyes shut.
And when I opened them the eyes were still staring at me. But this time, it didn't feel as horrifying as it had a few moments ago.
Because the eyes actually spoke to me this time.
I could feel them gently tilting to the side as if to ask my what is going on.
I gently shrugged, indicating that I had absolutely no clue.
There was a tense moment of silence before I could feel the tension in the eyes fading and I turned my head back around to face Sagestar.
Who was still scolding the Clan for an unknown reason.
I looked at my former Clanmates trying to find a readable expression in their gazes that might give me a hint as to what was going on, but I found none.
Finally, the leader took a step back and surveyed each of the cats, letting his gaze run over them, before letting out a sigh, and dismissing us with a flick of his tail.
He didn't even eat!
My mind was whirling and I instinctively headed towards the exit to camp, and once I reached it I broke into a run, following the green eyes.
I felt myself running into another cat and looked up to see Spiritpaw, glancing at me with a confused expression on his face.
"Are you okay?" he asked me.
"No," I replied, deciding against lying to make him feel better, "but I needed to ask you what Sagestar was saying back in camp."
He was silent for a moment.
"Nothing," he finally shrugged. "Sagestar was just being his usual, greedy self."
"But he was saying something," I claimed, "and he didn't even stop to eat. What's going on?" I didn't care if I sounded too pushy.
I was the one who had to return to my former, wretched life.
"He is mad," Spiritpaw shrugged.
"About what?" I responded harshly.
"Prey," he claimed. "He said that the Clan wasn't bringing him enough prey and if they don't start to pay his stomach more they will be punished."
"What?" I gaped involuntarily.
Spiritpaw shrugged, "You know Sagestar."
"We have to hurry," I claimed, "killing him."
"We need a plan first," Spiritpaw responded.
I was silent for a few moments, "What if we could get the Clan to help us taking him down?" I offered, "I know they all must hate him..."
Spiritpaw nodded. "But you can't speak..." he claimed and we elapsed into silence. He finally sighed, "Why don't you head back to camp? Wishpaw, I will talk to you tomorrow."
I nodded, pulling myself back up to my paws and turning around, back to camp.
I reminded myself that it was he only place I deserved to be.
Because I was the one who made such a mess out of it.
I pulled into a hunting crouch, as I gently soared through the air, landing nimbly on a mouse and killing it swiftly with my teeth.
I smiled, as I gently placed the mouse in my jaws. Ever since Sagestar scolded the Clan I had realized that it would probably be wise to do some hunting for the rest of my Clanmates, since I had been eating much more than them in the past few moons of my life.
Besides, prey didn't really matter as much to me anymore. After my quick talk with Spiritpaw a few sunsets ago, I hadn't seen him at all.
It was terribly lonely, and I felt left in the dark.
Every night before I went to bed I would think about the kits, pray to StarClan that they were okay, and hope Spiritpaw wasn't struggling with taking care of them.
Sometimes I wondered if it was best that I didn't know, so that I didn't completely ditch the plan to kill Sagestar and make this a better world.
And I figured that sticking around the Clan for a little bit longer was for the best anyways.
Not for me, but for everyone else.
And I owed them, at least that much after everything I stole.
When I reached camp that day, after I dropped off the prey one of the other apprentices, whom I had named Cherrypaw, tried to strike a conversation with me.
Needless to say, it didn't go so well.
It did, however, leave me wondering if it had been a good idea to come to the Clan in order to kill Sagestar in the first place. I had addressed by that point that I would not be able to do this on my own.
But without communication I didn't see how I would be able to get help.
The rest of the day had been very confusing for me and I was itching to meet Spiritpaw so that we could have a conversation on the important matter.
The rest of the day went by normally for me and I debated sneaking out of camp at night to visit Spiritpaw before deciding against the risk.
I would only be able to speak to him when he wished to.
I woke up the next morning to a very dark day with rain pouring furiously outside of camp. I could tell, as soon as I woke up, that the weather had deflated the mood of the other apprentices.
And why shouldn't it?
They would have to hunt out in that weather to catch prey for another cat.
I wasn't in the position to complain, however.
So I didn't.
I didn't mentally complain either, especially considering I didn't have any other way to do so, unless Spiritpaw or Wishspirit showed up.
And they wouldn't do so just to hear me moaning about the weather.
Especially considering that I was partly responsible for it.
So I gently pulled myself up to my paws, flicked my tail in greeting at my denmates, and paddled out of the den, deciding to get the days hunting over with.
It was a fairly good hunt for me, too. I caught a mouse and two rabbits, and was even fortunate to find a bush full of berries which I was guilty of hogging all for myself.
I tried to tell myself that I wasn't guilty for stealing anything since I had barely eaten anything the previous day and my stomach was moaning too loudly for me to bear.
But I still did feel guilt.
Because I was the reason everyone was hungry.
And it seemed fortunate didn't like me that particular day because as soon as I returned from camp the rain faded away and the sun began to rise.
I couldn't tell whether or not it was a coincidence.
I gently turned my head up, aching to see a familiar face, one I could speak with and share the tales of my struggles and loneliness to.
But all I saw was darkness.
And then a wild swirl of colors, as if I were suddenly traveling from one world to another, my mind spinning wildly until it gently slowed down.
And the colors began to settle to reveal a scene.
It was a dark and stormy night, one that seemed a little too familiar to me, although I couldn't detect how I knew the scene so well.
And then I saw a pregnant queen running through the rain.
And I knew exactly which scene this was.
"No!" I felt myself shrieking, "I don't want to see this! I don't want to be shown this!"
I still didn't know who I was begging so desperately to. But I didn't feel it mattered. As long as my eyes were saved from the terrible scene playing out before me.
"Please!" I heard my loud voice echoing, through what I now knew was a dream.
You deserve this!
"No one deserves this kind of torture!" I could feel hot tears pricking the corners of my eyes, as my voice cracked, "Not even me!"
This is only what is fair...
"I never asked for this!"
Beneath me I could hear the loud cry of a queen, as a kitten was coming dangerously close to leaving its stomach. Not any kitten. Me.
But you got it anyways...
I tried to shut my eyes, but they were being forced open by some unknown force.
Surely not even fate would be that cruel.
"I want to fix my mistakes!" I tried again to make it stop.
Some mistakes can never be fixed...
I realized by this moment that tears were furiously crawling down my cheeks, and I felt helpless as to stopping them as they continued to come.
You deserve this...
The scene below me continued to play out as a kit was born. As I was born. As destruction was born. And as the beginning of a new forest was born.
You deserve this...
I could see the medicine cat speaking with my mom gently, her gaze soft and silent, but also sad and sympathetic. They thought I would die.
If only I had.
You deserve this...
I begged the voice yet again to stop but it wouldn't as the scene continued to play out and my eyes were somehow attached to the story in a way I couldn't explain.
You deserve this...
"Stop," I heard myself whimpering. "Stop telling me what I already know!"
But you don't know it yet, I heard the cold and lifeless voice reply, and I shall keep repeating and repeating until you do.
You deserve this.
You deserve this.
You deserve this.
You deserve this.
You deserve this.
"I know," I finally whispered. "I know..."
And it stopped.
Good, it replied, I'm glad you finally understood.
But as it gently faded away as well as the scene that laid before me of a tragic birth, which would turn out to be even more devastating than it appeared I realized something.
The voice hadn't gone away.
It might not be whichever cold, and mysterious figure had addressed me before that was whispering it over and over again, so sure it was the truth.
But it was me.
When I woke up in the apprentice den the next morning I was dripping with sweat, everything around me just a large, blurry haze.
I deserve this...
And I did.
But that didn't mean I would put up with it.
That didn't mean that I could put up with it. Maybe if I had shown the slightest sign that I may be capable of doing it, I wouldn't be so prone to give up.
But I already knew I wasn't, and I had proved it to myself too many times to doubt it.
I wasn't prepared to face the darkest secret the forest had ever seen.
The secret being myself.
And just like that, because of a simple dream, because of a simple realization I had managed to realize where exactly I wanted to go with my life.
Because StarClan surely wouldn't accept me.
And I wouldn't accept whichever land dark warriors who were of no good when they roamed the forest lived. And so, my soul would have nowhere to go.
It would just rot and fade.
And it didn't seem too different than how I was feeling at the moment. I almost felt foolish for thinking that the damage could be undone.
That I could forgive myself.
I gently pushed myself up to my paws. The sun was shinning furiously outside, no sign of the previous days rain were in sight but that was just how things were.
Thanks to me.
I sucked in a deep breath, letting my lungs fill with it for what I wondered may be last time.
What I hoped would be the last time.
You deserve this...
I tried to will my head to shut up.
The camp seemed deathly quiet. Normally it was just awkward, a sense that left me feeling very empty but as I paddled through camp that morning it had a different feel.
Like the silence was counting down my seconds.
There were a few cats awake. I could make out Sagestar's tail swaying furiously from inside his den and felt another pang of contempt towards the Clan leader.
But at that moment I had to focus all my contempt on myself.
Because I would need it.
Time seemed to soar past as I exited camp and began to walk towards the lake which was quite far away from it. I debated stopping by my old den to say by to the kits and Spiritpaw.
He seemed to be the thing I would regret leaving behind the most.
His dazzling green eyes.
His shimmering black pelt.
And his cool, calm personality.
He had been exactly what I needed in my life. And I had temporarily left him for the Clan. And now I was leaving him permanently.
For internal peace.
Or at least, as peaceful as I would ever be able to make myself.
I decided against visiting the kits, however, in fear of running into Spiritpaw because I knew that if there was something which would force me to continue my life it was Spiritpaw.
And I didn't want to continue it.
It was too soon when I was standing before the lake, looking down at my reflection and remembering the last time I had been there to make a deal with Wishspirit.
A deal I never realized could affect me so much.
I took in several deep breaths as I faced the deep, dark depths of what stood beneath me, threatening to take away everything I valued.
My eyes squeezed together tightly.
I wasn't sure if I was ready.
But I didn't have time to become ready.
So, without giving myself any time to hesitate or stop myself, I gently placed my two forepaws into the water and let it swallow me, letting my feet follow.
My first instinct was to push myself to the surface.
And it was a difficult one to resist. To force myself to keep my head beneath the surface and deny myself the oxygen that I needed.
The force myself to die.
Miraculously, I was able to keep my body beneath the water for quite a while, ignore my screaming body, which desperately wanted air.
The thought was so tempting, growing louder with each moment I spend under the surface that there was only one other thought, loud enough to counter it.
I deserve this...
Because that thought grew louder and louder each moment I spend alive and living. That thought was the reason that I wanted to live no more.
That thought was the reason I hated myself.
Because I deserved it.
As time continued to pass I began to grow impatient, the pain and dizziness taking over me, trying force my body to end it faster.
But something stopped it.
I found myself being hauled out of the water, by a cat I couldn't make out, once my face was out of the water because I was too occupied breathing, as much as I hated myself for doing it.
And the cat who had saved me for allowing me to.
"Wishpaw..." I had heard it whispering, as it pushed me around gently, "Wake up! Are you okay? Wishpaw!" A large prod had forced my eyes open.
"Are you okay?" His face was masked with concern as he stared at me, his eyes betraying his deep concern, "What were you doing there?"
"I wanted to end it," I coughed gently, feeling more tears beginning to well at the corner of my eyes, "and I was almost there until you stopped me."
His eyes widened as he realized what I had really been meaning to do, and I could see deep sympathy beginning to make their way out of them.
"Why?" he gently asked.
"I deserve it," I replied.
"No you don't," his eyes flashed indigently. "Who told you that?"
"I know it."
There was a deep, almost scary silence that lasted for long moments between the two of us.
"You didn't mean for it to end up this way," he claimed, his tone gently, although I could detect more in his gaze while he spoke.
"Does it matter?"
"To me it does."
We stood nose to nose for several long moments, and I could feel his warm breath against my cheek, until he finally broke the light spell.
"You aren't going to do any good fixing the mistakes that you previously made if you are dead," his gaze had turned to serious, "but we can still kill Sagestar."
"How?" I responded gently. "Nobody else understands me when I speak to them."
"I know," Spiritpaw claimed, "but that doesn't make this task impossible."
"In this world nothing is impossible," I replied dully.
We were contaminated by silence, which Spiritpaw soon broke.
"I have a plan," he claimed, and I turned my head to face him.
"What is it? I really hope it doesn't involve busting into the leader's den and killing Sagestar, hoping for the best to happen."
"Kinda," he paused, "you probably won't like it, but I was thinking we could lure him out of camp with bait, away from his guards where we would attack."
I was silent for a moment.
"That's wonderful!" I claimed. "It's a brilliant idea!"
"Really?" Spiritpaw seemed pleasantly surprised.
"Yeah," I nodded, feeling excitement beginning to before it was quickly shot down, as I realized a small flaw, in Spiritpaw's plan.
"I'm not sure if prey will work," he admitted gently, "I don't think we can waste more than about five pieces, just enough to lure him out of camp. After that..." he paused for a moment and I could already tell I wouldn't like what followed.
"I was thinking we could place the kits there," he finally managed to whisper.
"That's the only way, though..." I could see each word was a slight struggle for him, but I knew that it was already out of the option.
"We'll find something else," I whispered, "We can't put the kits in peril."
"You said this was your fault, and I know how terrible you feel about being born, how you would do anything to take time back. While that may not be possible, this is our closest resort."
"Anything but the kits," I whispered gently.
"I'm sure they will be fine," he was trying hard to reassure me.
"No." I repeated.
"Are you sure?" he asked cautiously.
I deserve this...
My dreams that night had been haunted with sharp cries of the kits, wailing as sharp claws slices them. I couldn't see who the claws belonged to but I realized it didn't matter.
I was putting them in danger.
But my head was telling me that I didn't deserve them. That they deserved better than me, a cat who had only created destruction.
You deserve this...
It was true that I deserved to lose them.
But it wasn't true that they deserved to die, and that was something that I could never be led to believe about the poor, innocent kittens.
They had no wrongs.
Like the previous morning, when I woke up my face was drenched in sweat and my thoughts were not good. The difference was that I wasn't about to head out to the lake to drown myself.
Instead I was going to head out to meet with Spiritpaw.
And discuss what may be the end of Dreamkit and Hopekit.
"They are really growing up," Spiritpaw remarked gently, as I peered through the bushes watching them play with each other, joyful emotions filling their gaze.
"Do they miss me?" I asked him.
He nodded, "Sometimes you would hardly notice your absence. But there have been days where they spend the whole time pestering me about where you are."
"I'm right here," I whispered gently.
"You can't appear to them now," he warned me gently, his eyes flashing with a gentle caution as I continued to gaze at the young kits.
"I know," I sighed gently, turning away from them, and back to face Spiritpaw who had a sympathetic gaze plastered onto his face.
"Are you sure about this?" he asked.
"I'm sure," I replied.
But it was just like the offer to send me back to SpiritClan.
I knew that, in reality, I didn't have a choice.
I had to fix the mistakes I had made.
"Alright, then." His nod was brisk and he quickly sat down, a thoughtful look now reaching his gentle features as his green eyes shone furiously.
"What's your plan?" I asked him gently, as I sat down as well, watching him as his claws gently clawed with the mud on the ground.
"I was thinking we could leave two pieces of prey right outside his den," Spiritpaw claimed, "which should be the right amount to lure him out. Then place another one close to them. The next one will be a little further off and the next a little further, until we are out of prey, which should lead us to the entrance to camp." His claw was furiously making scratching and drawing circles.
"How do you think the kits will get his attention?" I asked Spiritpaw, realizing, that this was the first thing I probably should have asked.
"I will instruct the kit to try to play with him," Spiritpaw shrugged, "I can imagine that making Sagestar very aggravated to a point where he would chase them... not in the way they expect."
"Alright," I nodded forcing my worries behind me, "And then?"
"Once the kits lead him far enough out of camp, we will be waiting, probably hiding behind whatever bushes or trees are located there," he shrugged, "And then we attack."
"Do you think we are strong enough?" I asked him, doubting that two young apprentices would be able to take on a full grown, well-fed tom.
"I bet he's never fought since he became leader," Spiritpaw's eyes flashed, "It's his guards that do all of his fighting for him."
"So you think we could beat him in a fight?" I questioned.
"Then I guess it's settled."
When I returned to camp, I thanked StarClan several times, when I realized that I had barely made it to watch Sagestar eating.
With the plans to murder him not settled I would have no time trying to get extra food for Sagestar.
As always, he was standing proudly over several mice. The same look of irritation and impatience hanging on his face as he had to wait for the other cats to arrive.
I tried to imagine the Clan without Sagestar for a slight moment in my head, how things may function without him there to corrupt everything.
But I couldn't.
For a moment I doubted if I was actually doing the right thing, trying to bring a new life to the Clan; one they might not be prepared to take on without someone to control them.
But then I saw the dull eyes of all the other cats as they paddled out of their dens, empty hollow stomachs, with bones poking through clearly visible.
And I was sure that it was the right thing.
Better no Clan than a bad one.
I pulled into a hunting crouch, the mouse just a tail-length away from my nose as I took soft, gently steps towards it, my breathing light.
Sucking in a deep breath I leaped, catching it in my claws moments before it could scurry away, and feeling a blossom of pride.
I gently burrowed into the ground, placing the mouse there before covering it up with dirt, and patting it down gently, deciding that I would return for it later.
"Good catch!" I heard a gentle voice muse behind me and I turned around, prepared to comment on how strange Spiritpaw's voice sounded when I found myself staring at...
"Why do you seem so surprised?" Amusement flickered across his gaze as I felt my heartbeat increasing rapidly, unsure of what was going on around me.
Since when do I understand other cats?
Since when does Sagestar care about the prey I catch?
Since when does Sagestar leave his den?
"You can..." I paused, "Speak to me."
"Yes," he shrugged, "I've always been able to. That is when I want to. Most of the time I prefer to leave you to puzzle over what I have said."
"So Spiritpaw has the ability to keep me from hearing him too?"
"Whose Spiritpaw?" I could see a confused glance flickering across his face.
"No one!" I was quick to regret my mouth which often moved too quickly for me to control, when I actually got the chance to use it.
His gaze was suspicious for a moment.
"You seem well-fed," he observed.
I could feel my heart beating loudly as I shrugged, "I'm just lucky, I suppose. I find a lot of trees with berries in them and I usually hunt in the morning so I see them before anyone else."
"So the Clan is your competition now?" I could see a disapproving look traveling quickly across his face, "The Clan is a place where all cats should take care of each other!"
It was all I could to not to say, and you do a good job of making sure that happens, but he seemed to realize it was floating through my head anyways.
"Can everyone speak to me whenever they please?" I couldn't resist the urge to ask, because it was bugging me too deeply.
"No," he commented, his eyes sparlking, "I'm special."
I had to resist the urge to kill him right then and right there. The only reason I probably didn't was because I didn't trust him to be out of camp without guards attending him.
Because Sagestar never left camp.
It worried me a little that he was willing to do so just to compliment my catch. I ignored the strange shiver creeping up my spine, and watched as he paddled away from me, hating the leader with every fiber of my being.
I reminded myself that the Clan wouldn't have to put up with him much longer.
Satisfied from that last thought I turned around and continued my hunt for prey. The hunt that was ticking down what I hoped would become the final moments of Sagestar's life.
"This is it," Spiritpaw whispered gently, his tone surprisingly calm for the large event that was rapidly approaching.
"So know what?" I could hear my voice shaking, a combination of fear, excitement and the urge to prove myself to him.
To the world.
"You drop them of in front of his den, and lead him out of camp," Spiritpaw claimed, "While you do that I will prepare the kits."
If anything happened to either of them I had no idea what I would do, or where I could be taken with my life.
They were everything to me. No cat could match how wonderful they had made me feel during our time together.
Except for Spiritpaw of course.
But I will still unsure of what kind of a relationship Spiritpaw and I possessed at the moment. Acquaintance? Friend? Or something more...
I shook my head gently, realizing it was not the time to reflect on the different figures that had ruled my life.
Rather, it was time to kill one.
"When are we killing him?" I asked gently.
"Tomorrow morning come here and pick up the prey," he claimed, "I'll have the kits waiting by the entrance halfway through the day."
I nodded, my heartbeat still threatening to jump out of my chest as the two of us stood there in a mutual silence.
Trying to make the most of some of our last moments as innocent cats. Before we killed someone, as tyrannical as they may be.
"Pray to StarClan this works," Spiritpaw whispered.
"I already am," I replied.
Welcome back, Wishpaw, I heard a gentle voice humming through the air, much unlike the one that had haunted my dreams a few days.
"Wishspirit?" I gently turned my head, trying to find where the pretty she-cat was located.
"I'm right here, young one," I turned around to find her graciously floating towards me, the air appearing to be like solid ground for her to walk on.
"Hello Wishspirit," I heard myself whispering gently.
"Much has happened since we last spoke," her eyes gleamed knowingly and I nodded my head in agreement not sure if she could have been more correct.
"We're killing Sagestar tomorrow," I paused, "And he can somehow speak to me. I thought that Spiritpaw..."
"He's not the only cat," Wishspirit sighed, "Your destiny, resulting in that of your forest, is a strange and complex one. I think when destiny arranged everything they were trying to block you out of the life of everyone else who wouldn't play a large part in it."
"They only wanted those who had a part of play in your tragic life to get hurt by the dark events of it," she whispered.
I ignores the knives to my heart, "Then the kits should be able to speak with me..." I trailed off.
"The kits don't play a part in your destiny," Wishspirits eyes shone, "They have just been somewhat of a distraction until now... Something to make you feel better."
"Really?" Although I had accepted it before I hated to think of myself as one who took care of the kits for selfish reasons.
"Yes," she nodded gently, "I have one more prophecy to give you, Wishpaw and then an important point I wish for you to understand."
I slowly nodded, not sure if I wanted to hear what was about to follow, but knowing that I hadn't been left with much choice.
"Here is your prophecy," she whispered and there was a tight but tense silence in which I prayed for the best.
And something I might possibly be able to understand.
A story can't end until the teller does as well
At the end of this struggle two lovers, will realize the truth and say farewell
But fate must be accepted, a loss must be faced and courage must be taken
If to fix a world, so deeply shaken.
"That's the prophecy?" I was unable to hide my pure disappointment and frustration in the strange words, "How am I supposed to understand that?"
"You're not," the expression on Wishspirit's face was genuinely calm, "Not until you complete the prophecy, anyways. And that is so that when you finally do, you will feel a great sense of peace that you have done what you are supposed to."
"Okay," I couldn't keep the disappointment out if my voice.
Nothing could ever be the slightest bit clear, it seemed.
"And my important point," Wishspirit sighed, obviously confused as to how to even bring up the point that she was about to propose.
"You deserve this, Wishpaw," she finally whispered.
I knew it... Was the dark, devious voice floating through my head.
"But that doesn't make it your fault," The expression in her eyes changed the slightest but as I registered what she said.
"No," sphere voice was gentle and caressing, "Ask yourself, this, Wishpaw; what wrong have you ever done."
"Been born?" I asked cautiously.
"That wasn't your choice," Wishspirit's eyes were wise and I realized as she spoke that what she said was true, "It was ours."
"How can I deserve a punishment for something I never did."
"It's not what you did, it's who you are. While we can help the choices we make we can't help who we actually are."
Her words began to echo in my head.
"It's not my fault," I gently whispered.
"No," she smiled.
When I woke up the next sunrise the same three words as those in my previous, disastrous dream were still being drawn out.
I deserve this...
But this time, they were followed by four new ones, which made me feel so much better about myself.
But it's not my fault."
I gently shook my fur, and it felt so much less heavy than it had been feeling ever since Spiritpaw told me that dark secret about myself.
But that wasn't my fault.
I couldn't help who I was.
I could only help the choices that I made.
I found my feet dragging me out of my den, and leading me out of the camp from there, to the pile of fresh-kill we had hidden as out bait for Sagestar.
It's not my fault.
This is it...
I can feel my heart beating rapidly as I take a quick step back, my gaze following the path of trail I have set to lure Sagestar out of camp. Everything looks the exact way that Spiritpaw asked me to set it up, and I don't think there would have been anything he would choose to change.
I just prayed that it would work.
After a second glance over the prey, I let out a gentle sigh, before turning around and bounding out of camp, in search of Spiritpaw.
I wasn't ready; I doubted that I ever would be.
But this was still something I would have to do now.
The grass gently brushed my paws as I ran out of camp, gently squeezing my eyes, and praying over and over again to StarClan, begging Wishspirit to let fate be kinder to me this time.
I could restore everything left to be restored...
I just needed to kill Sagestar.
The part of Spiritpaw's plan that concerned me the most was how he was positive that the two of us would easily be able to kill Sagestar.
Not only was I a rather weak fighter, but I didn't know that if the leader was placed beneath my claws, as horrible as he had been, that I would be able to lower them.
It wasn't like I could explain it, but just the thought was enough to make my head feel dizzy. And if I didn't kill Sagestar, that would mean that Spiritpaw would.
And I would hate to place such a burden on his shoulders.
"Wishpaw?" I whirled around at the sound of a familiar voice and found myself facing Spiritpaw who had a grave and slightly panicked look on his face.
"Did you take the kits?" I asked him.
Spiritpaw nodded, and I could tell that he was just as concerned about their well-being as I was, if not a little more for their death would be his responsibility.
"Where are they going to take him?" I question.
"Our den," Spiritpaw replied gently.
Great, my home is about to become a death scene.
But I didn't say anything, just tightly nodded and followed Spiritpaw as he bounded away, obviously excited for the approaching encounter with Sagestar.
I couldn't blame him.
Especially when I felt the same way.
"Alright," Spiritpaw gently whispered, "I think I hear them coming. Remember to pounce as soon as they show up. Don't worry about the kits, I told them what to do in order to stay safe."
"Okay," I whispered hoarsely, and I could feel a strong, invisible hand squeezing my heart.
"We'll be fine," he promised, "As will the kits."
"You better not be lying," I warned him.
"I dearly hope not."
We were silent some more, letting an eerie silence fill up our den, which we were gently sitting in, and what felt like sunrises but was probably only moments passed.
And then there was the growl of Sagestar.
I didn't need to look at Spiritpaw to know to tense myself, and be prepared to pounce at the first cat with a gray coat that reached my eyes.
The frustrated growling of Sagestar grew louder and louder until I was sure that I should have been able to hear footsteps if I could.
But they never seemed to pop out of the bushes. I glanced at Spiritpaw and he gave me a sharp look indicating that I should wait.
I saw two bundles of fur zooming by followed by a large gray tom with dark, long and shaggy fur, sunlight scattered clumsily over his messy pelt, red, beady eyes blazing through the massive fur with a dark tint to them, as he tried to catch up to the quick kittens.
I felt myself leaping at the same time as Spiritpaw as we soared through the air, our claws extended and our teeth bared, aiming for the leader.
He didn't even notice us until he had been bowled over.
"Wishpaw!" I heard him gasping and I sucked in a deep breath, scrapping my claws across his muzzle, as he tried to push himself back up to his feet.
"What are you doing?" I heard him choke out and it wasn't hard to tell that two scratched had put him in deep pain, like he may never have experienced before. Spiritpaw had been right.
This would be easy to do.
But not as easy as I hoped to bring myself to do.
"Killing you," I replied calmly, hating myself for being able to sound so nonchalant about killing a cat, even if it may have been for show.
I tried to remind myself that Sagestar had lead to the death of many other cats but it was no use to the identical clawmark of guilt that scratched my heart as I scratched his face.
"Why?" He replied, dodging a pair of claws for the first time.
"Maybe if you tried to think back on your life and the whole purpose of it to this point you would understand," I sharply replied.
He snarled gently, "So this is an attempt to overthrow me from my position as Clan leader?" his eyes glittered with fierce fury, as he dodged his second blow, one from Spiritpaw this time.
"Yes," Spiritpaw responded with a shrug.
"You're a group of fools," he snarled, "To think that I would leave camp unattended. Was that the point of the prey? To lure me out? My guards will always follow me."
"What?" I asked, blinking back surprise.
Suddenly the bushed behind us rattled and three muscular cats all of whom I recognized gently paddled out of them, anger flashing in their eyes.
I exchange a glance with Spiritpaw and it is enough to know he wasn't the slightest bit prepared for this, nor did he know that Sagestar valued his own security so much he couldn't throw it in the tinniest risk while chasing playful kits around his own territory.
Before I can make a comment I am bowled over by one of the large cats and one of the others quickly jump at Spiritpaw with unsheathed claws.
Blood quickly wells at my chest and I watch a smile spread across Sagestar's face.
"Find the kits," he ordered, "I know they are here somewhere."
The final tom, nodded and gently placed his nose on the grass, trying to locate the kits. I was screaming on the inside, but the impact of being bowled over and pinned to the ground had left me out of breath.
"No," Was all I could gently, whimper, wondering how Spiritpaw's thought out plan had went so wrong. I feel claws being raked down my chest and hold in a tight cry of pain.
The muscular tom lifts his claws again and I shut my eyes, waiting impatiently for them to strike me and finish off the battle. But instead of feeling the claws diving at my face, I can feel his weight being rolled, or rather, shoved, off me as I open my eyes, not sure what t expect but pleasantly surprised at what I find.
While I am clueless as to how they were aware of the plan Spiritpaw and I had to murder it seemed that most of the Clan new about it.
And they wanted to play a part.
I gently look at Spiritpaw and the expression on his face, which seems proud but not too shocked, left me wondering if he knew something I didn't.
But I couldn't bring myself to care too much, as hope surged through my body again.
While it may have only been five starved cats that showed up to help Spiritpaw and I, they were still enough to give us an advantage in numbers.
And a chance at victory.
Sagestar snarls loudly, as the five cats all work together to push the tom that had pinned me down away, and Spiritpaw quickly paddled over to us.
I could feel my heartbeat increasing all over again.
I may be presented with another chance to kill Sagestar.
And this time I wouldn't hesitate or let my guilt hold me back.
This time I would kill him.
"You can't win," Sagestar hissed at the seven of us, his lips pulled back into a vicious snarl as the two toms who had bowled us over were now sanding right beside their precious leader.
"Don't be too quick to underestimate us," Spiritpaw warned him, indignant anger flashing through his gaze which he forcefully rested on the leader.
There was a tense silence in which I was not sure if any words were spoken that may not have been from Sagestar or Spiritpaw as we all stood in a lockdown of gazes.
Finally Sagestar broke it with a flick of his tail.
"If you all leave now, I won't punish you for trying to kill me," he claimed, a cautious look pssing over his face which I couldn't determine.
I turned to Spiritpaw slowly, trying to read the expression on his face, and whether or not he thought this was a battle worth fighting.
My gaze gently shifted back to Sagestar as I realized something.
This wasn't sympathy.
He wouldn't be offering this unless he doubted that he could win in a fight.
"No," I found myself fiercely responding.
"Don't say I didn't warn you," his gaze flashed with the same emotion as before and this time I was able to recognize it as doubt.
He doubted that he could win.
Which meant that we stood a chance.
"Are you sure?" I heard Spiritpaw gently whispering right beside me, "It might be a good idea to give up now and come back to the thought later on."
"No," I responded, "We have to finish this off."
Spiritpaw nodded, and I could tell he understood as a warm feeling flashed through me. We could do this. I could kill Sagestar. I could make everything better again.
Just one more battle...
Sagestar flicked his tail at his two guards, "Kill them," he ordered, "Don't leave a single one alive or I won't leave you alive."
I was curious as to why two large and string toms would ever bow to Sagestar's threats as they made no sense at all. But then, neither did anything else.
I felt my thoughts being cut off as a sharp pair of claws barely missed my head.
"Watch out, Wishpaw!" I hear Spiritpaw gently call, as the cat who came so close to killing me for a second time began rolling over with one of the Clan cats.
I found my paws quickly moving, trying to rush to their aid, when I realized that Sagestar was calmly watching the battle, a slightly concerned expression on his face.
This is my chance.
My paws turned away from the two cats who were rolling around fiercely, as I began to dash towards Sagestar, who didn't even notice me and I realized he must not have been very observant.
What talents does he have?
Like before, he only realized that I was attacking him, once he had forcefully hit the ground with a loud thud, and I had scrapped my claws over his muzzle.
He stumbled back up to his paws quickly, and as I came back with another pair of claws, I scratched his face, before he could even begin to move it away.
I was surprised at how weak the leader had turned out to be.
He tried to swipe back at me, but his claws were so slow that I quickly moved out of their way, jumping around them as he tried to bring them against my pelt.
This is too easy.
I swiped at him again, knocking him to the ground, where he tried to pull himself off of, but was unable to when I quickly jumped onto him, pinning him down with my claws.
"It's over," I hissed.
"If you can make the blow," Sagestar gently coughed, a threatening smile spreading across his face, "But you can't do it. Can you? You've never killed a cat before."
It's not my fault.
It's not my fault.
It's not my fault.
I stammered for a moment.
But I deserve this.
I deserve this.
I deserve this.
"Yes I have," I responded a little forcefully, "I've killed more cats than you could have imagined. Maybe not directly with my claws, but by causing you to lead the Clan that is exactly what I have done."
"What?" he seemed confused by I didn't bother explaining to him.
Instead I lowered my claws quickly, shutting my eyes tight as they made contact with rough skin, and began to soak themselves in blood.
When I opened I was faced with Sagestar's limp body.
He was dead.
And now, everything had been fixed while I had fulfilled my destiny, it seemed.
"NO!" I found my head turning around, at Spiritpaw's sharp cry, expecting him to be looking at me and the kill I had made, only to find him facing the other direction.
Curious as to what he was looking at, I gently tilted my head, trying to peer over his shoulder. For a moment I saw nothing.
And then the bodies of two lifeless kittens.
And before I knew it, as I rushed up to the kits, forcing their killer aside as I prodded their bodies, wiling for any movement there were these wet drops leaking over my face.
For the first time in my life, I was crying.