Echoing Yowls is made by IcewrathXFeatherswirlXCraneheart and won 1st place for Cinderstar of ThunderClan's contest.
Chapter 1: The Prophecy
Echopaw stretched her legs and settled beside her mentor; the medicine cat of RiverClan, Shimmereyes. They looked up at Streamstar, who had called a meeting only moments ago. The rest of the Clan assembled quickly, their bones jutting out of their fur. Echopaw sighed. If only she could heal her Clan from the sickness and hunger sweeping through her camp.
Streamstar opened her mouth and yowled, "Cats of RiverClan. We have always been the most well-fed Clan, but now we are sick and hungry while the other Clans flourish this greenleaf. I suspect ShadowClan of stealing our prey. No doubt they were jealous of our plentiful prey and decided to try some of our fish. We must attack, so we can regain our prey and get well so our queens can have kits without the dangers of sickness threatening them with their every breath. We need more warriors, have no queens or kits, and we have so few apprentices and elders."
The Clan turned to glance at her, Echopaw, and the only elder, Denseforest, who was grooming himself a few tail-length away. Echopaw ducked her head shyly.
"We shall attack ShadowClan at dawn!" Streamstar announced.
Echopaw and Shimmereyes exchanged a glance. They would have to rest up and prepare to travel with their Clan to heal them at the battle.
Streamstar joined Firebite, her deputy, and they started sorting out the attack parties as Echopaw and her mentor made her way into their den.
"Echopaw, you go rest. I will sort herbs until moonhigh and we will trade off positions until dawn," Shimmereyes meowed.
Echopaw nodded and said, "Yes, Shimmereyes." She climbed into her moss, tucked her nose under her tail, and fell asleep faster than Shimmereyes could start sorting her herbs.
Echopaw was greeted by a bright, misty place.
StarClan! she thought and she breathed deeply. She padded through, wondering why she was taken to StarClan. Could they have a prophecy for her?
A black she-cat padded from the bushes and sat in front of Echopaw, her amber eyes gleaming with sadness.
Echopaw's blood chilled and she stuttered, "Hi C-cloudynight. Do you have some-something bad to tell me?"
Cloudynight sighed an nodded. "Yes," she murmured, "I am so sorry, Echopaw. I would never want this to happen to you, but... in the future, you will experience pain beyond imagining."
Echopaw's fur stood on end. "How?" she whispered.
Cloudynight leaned in and murmured, "Like the Thunder striking the River, the River will engulf the Shadows. Eyes Shimmer in the Dark Star as the Echoing Whisper will mingle with a Shattering Yowl..."
Suddenly, Cloudynight and the rest of StarClan was torn away from her as a paw prodded her side.
It was Shimmereyes.
No! Echopaw thought in despair, I didn't hear the rest of the prophecy!
Echopaw decided to figure out what it meant so far. As Shimmereyes climbed into her nest , the prophecy ran through Echopaw's head.
She sniffed around the herb store and decided that the Echoing Whisper must be her. She thought it over again. Eyes Shimmering... Dark Star...
"Shimmereyes," she blurted out, "I know this is an awkward question, but I must know... Did something happen between you and Darkstar of ThunderClan?"
Shimmereyes sat up and sadness glimmered in them. "I knew somecat would find out sooner or later, but yes. Just after I had recieved my full medicine cat name from my mentor, Nutnose, ThunderClan attacked RiverClan."
The Thunder striking the River! Echopaw realized. And the River will engulf the Shadows! Tomorrow, the battle!
"Darkstar was a warrior when I met him. His name was Darkfur and I met him when I was waiting in the bushes for Nutnose to return with more herbs, Darkfur and I talked, and talked. So at night, we started meeting, then before I knew it we were mates, even though it was forbidden. Then, I found out I was expecting kits. Darkfur was overjoyed, even though he knew he could not father you..."
D-did she just say father me?
"Darkstar is my-my father?" Echopaw gasped.
Shimmereyes nodded and went on, hanging her head, "Then, when he became leader, I told him not to come visit me. I still loved him more than you could ever imagine, but I did not want anyone to discover our secret and take away my medicine cat duties and his leadership duties. He understood, and I kept you and your sister, Fallenberry. Your..." she broke off, "Your brother is in ShadowClan now."
Shimmereyes stared at Echopaw, who was thinking, I h-have a brother? In ShadowClan?
"I told the Clan that Fallenberry and you were found at the border and Lakeeyes took care of you before she died."
Never in all her moons of training as a RiverClan medicine cat had she expected this. She stood with her mouth open, shocked, but she padded over to Shimmereyes and mewed, "I forgive you... Mother," she added.
Echopaw smiled at her then nodded toward Shimmereyes' nest and Shimmereyes nuzzled her kit and fell asleep, looking happier than Echopaw had seen her in moons.
Cold fear fripped her again. If my mother met her mate in battle, then will I meet my mate in this battle? Or maybe a close friend? Or just somecat? But why? Why is this happening? StarClan knows medicine cats cannot take mates, but yet they are leading us on the path of our emotions. Or maybe they are just making me some friends, but why? Why?
She started sorting herbs and she let their sweet smell sooth her and push the prophecy aside until dawn light seeped throuh the camp entrance.
Chapter 2: The Battle
Echopaw padded through the dense pine forest of ShadowClan territory alongside Shimmereyes. Her heart pounded. Today, she would meet the cat her future was supposed to be intertwined with somehow and maybe even her brother.
Maybe the prophezized cat is my brother and we have to figure something out, she wondered.
Shimmereyes and Echopaw set down the leaf wraps crammed with herbs as the sounds of sleepy, screeching cats started to fill the air.
Shimmereyes turned to Echopaw and mewed, "Stay here. I must get my other leaf-wraps."
Shimmereyes ran off, back to RiverClan territory. She waited there until she heard rustling in the bushes. She peered out anxiously and she saw a dark gray cat with huge blue eyes strolling past.
Our scents are the same! This is my brother!
She padded cautiously out of the bushes, "H-hi, brother."
The tom cocked his head and mewed, "Hello, sister?"
"We are siblings," Echopaw insisted quietly.
The tom sniffed her gently, "Except for Clanscent, you are right, Echopaw."
"I know," she smiled shyly, "Stalepaw."
Stalepaw sighed, "I best be going, Echopaw. Our medicine cat sent me for herbs, even though I am in training to be a warrior. I'm sorry we are in different Clans, but I will come visit you sister, I promise."
Echopaw nodded good-bye to Stalepaw and spun around as he left. A few minutes later, another ShadowClan tom limped into the clearing. He had handsome dark brown fur and he had beautiful amber eyes. In short, he took Echopaw's breath away.
"Huh?" the tom asked, "Have you seen a stormy gray tom?"
Echopaw nodded and said, "Yes, but I think I should treat your leg. It looks bad."
The tom leaned on her shoulder willingly and Echopaw led him to her clearing.
He laid on his back and meowed, "My name is Yowlpaw."
Echopaw's eyes widened and she shivered. She turned to her herbs, "I am Echopaw."
"That's a pretty name," Yowlpaw mewed.
"Thanks," she smiled and started treating his leg.
After she patched up his leg, Yowlpaw sat up and they talked about their Clans, their families, and about their life. Echopaw was surprised how quickly she trusted this ShadowClan tom and she thought she felt an odd twinge of love prick her heart whenever he commented her. And when she looked into his amber eyes, she knew that, already, he loved her, too.
Yowlpaw bowed his head in regret, "This was a lovely time, Echopaw, but I must go. And I will repay you for my leg, someday."
"I had a good time, too," she mewed.
Yowlpaw padded out of the clearing after breifly touching his nose to her ear.
"W-wait!" she called.
Yowlpaw turned back.
"Maybe we could meet at the island."
Yowlpaw nodded, looked around, and ran off.
Why do I love a ShadowClan apprentice and why does he love me? There is so much to know!
Chapter 3: The Kits
That night, Echopaw traveled to the Moonpool with all the other medicine cats at the half-moon and she recieved her full medicine cat name, Echowhisper.
From that night on, Echowhisper and Yowlshatter, who had also been named, the night after the battles, met every night at the island.
Each night, the learned something new about each other and their love grew.
One night, moons later, Yowlshatter immediately padded up to Echowhisper and whispered, "Echowhisper, I can't keep this back any longer. I love you, and I want you to be my mate."
"Of course I will be your mate, Yowlshatter. I love you, too."
A few moons later, Shimmereyes and Echowhisper were sorting herbs in their den.
"You're eating to many fish, these days!" Shimmereyes teased her daughter, flicking her with her tail.
Echowhisper had hardly noticed her change in size until Shimmereyes drew attention to it. She went rigid and held her breath. Then she felt it! A kick!
Echowhisper's eyes widened and she smiled weakly at her mentor and mother. Her mother must know! She was a medicine cat after all!
Then how come you didn't notice? she challenged herself.
She decided to evaluate herself. She went to the other side of the den and felt her stomach. There were four kits and they were big and strong.
They could come any night now! she realized.
That night she snuck out of camp with a small parsley leaf and labored toward the island. The pain was beyond unbearable and she spotted Yowlshatter at the tree bridge that led to the island.
Yowlshatter raced up to her, his eyes wide with worry. "What's wrong?" he mewed.
"I am expecting your kits," she gasped, "and they are coming right now."
She buried her nose into his fur. "Oh, Yowlshatter!" she cried, "What are we going to do?"
Yowlshatter led her across to the island. "We'll worry about that when your kits come," he whispered.
Echowhisper looked up at him with her blue eyes filled with worry and happiness, "You mean, our kits."
What felt like moons and moons of pain later, there were four strong healthy bundles of fur suckling next to Echowhisper. She gazed down at their kits and leaned her head on Yowlshatter's chest, all signs of pain erased and were transformed into joy.
"Our kits are beautiful," she whispered.
Yowlshatter beamed with pride and nodded, licking Echowhisper's cheek.
Echowhisper looked at the two she-kits, a brown and a gray one, kneading her belly with their tiny paws for milk, "Those two will be Maplekit and Shimmerkit. The brown tom will be named Yowlkit, after you." She beamed as Maplekit started grooming Shimmerkit's light gray fur.
Yowlshatter smiled and meowed, "I would like to name the silver and brown tom Darkkit, so his warrior name will be Darkstream because a battle of our Clans is how we met."
Echowhisper relaxed then asked, "What should happen?"
"It would be nice if you could join ShadowClan. Let's stay here a half-moon and we will decide what to do."
Chapter 4: The Decision
For the next half-moon Echowhisper and Yowlshatter talked and planned.
They planned to announce their secret at the next Gathering.
Yowlshatter hunted for his family as Echowhisper thought and thought. On the day before the Gathering she started making her decision.
You could run away.
You could give the kits to a loner or another Clan.
You could give the kits to ShadowClan or keep them in RiverClan if we both agree.
You could ask to be exiled.
You could join ShadowClan, where your mate lives and your brother, Stalewind, lives.
But, the kits aren't old enough to run away with us yet.
But we would miss our kits to much
But one of our hearts may be broken.
But RiverClan needs more kits.
But you could never leave your mother, sister, birthClan, or your kits, one or all.
And Shimmereyes is getting older.
Her brain was constantly conflicting with itself, but she came to a decision.
If Yowlshatter agrees, I will raise the kits as RiverClan warriors. Shimmereyes is getting old and she hasn't time to train another apprentice. Yowlshatter and Stalewind will understand. Then I will return to my medicine cat duties.
Echowhisper felt a twinge of sadness and guilt, but she knew this was the better choice. She stood up and sat waiting for Yowlshatter to tell him her decision.
Chapter 5: The Death
Yowlshatter touched his nose to Echowhisper's and they stood enjoying the moment as all cats padded back to their Clans. The pair had told all the Clans and Echowhisper saw that Yowlshatter was sad that he had to let Echowhisper, his beloved mate, and his kits go, but he understood.
"I'll walk with you and the kits one last time and escort you back to RiverClan," he meowed.
Echowhisper purred and accepted.
They walked, sharing memories and drinking in each other's scents one last time.
Just then, a badger came out of the bushes and roared.
"Stay back!" Yowlshatter yowled in surprise and fear.
Echowhisper curled her tail around her kits protectively as Yowlshatter sprang at the beast. Echowhisper squeezed her eyes shut. She couldn't bear to watch, but she heard Yowlshatter fighing like LionClan, TigerClan, and LeopardClan combined.
She opened them again after the roar was cut off. Yowlshatter and the badger were laying on the grass of newleaf, their lifeblood bleeding out of them.
"No!" she wailed for the first time in her life, racing over to Yowlshatter's body, "It wasn't supposed to end this way!"
"Yes, it was," a mournful whisper by her ear sounded.
Yowlshatter opened his eyes and croaked, "Echowhisper, I love you and I always have. Take care of our kits."
Echowhisper bent her head and touched her nose to her mate's for the last time as his eyes went dull and his breathing stopped.
She buried her head into Yowlshatter's still-warm fur and whispered, "The pain in my heart will forever stay now, but I promise you, our kits will be great warriors. I love you, too, Yowlshatter, I always have. You saved my life and I can never put my gratitude into words, my dear mate. I will miss you."
A sweet, familiar voice ruffled her ear fur, My debt to you has been repaid, Echowhisper. I love you, and just know, I will be waiting here in StarClan for you, my love.