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Fading Light

Essay
This page contains a fan fiction written by Rise.
This page contains the opinions of the original author(s), and is not patrolled for factual accuracy.
Remember that this story is non-canon. It may contain false characters, plots, or locations.
Responses, comments & other feedback should be made on the comments section below.

Fading Light
Preceded by:
None
Fading Light Succeded by:
Shadowed Lies


Allegiances

SkyClan:

Leader: Tawnystar- Pale brown tom with white paws and muzzle and yellow eyes

Deputy: Valleyflight- Gray tabby tom with brown patches and amber

Apprentice- Gorgepaw

Medicine cat: Peachflower- Pale orange she-cat with bright patches and vibrant yellow eyes

Warriors:

Bubbleheart- Pale gray she-cat with white and dark patches and pale blue eyes

Apprentice- Babblingpaw

Koifur- Elegant white she-cat with orange, black, gold, and gray tortoiseshell patches and green eyes

Roseleg- White she-cat with yellow eyes and a red-brown leg

Lilydream- White she-cat with brown tabby patches and pale violet eyes

Brackentail- Handsome golden tom with a white tail tip and green eyes

Whitefeather- White she-cat with green eyes

Falconfur- Dark brown tabby she-cat with a golden belly and yellow eyes

Breezefeather- Pale gray tom with white belly and pale blue eyes

Splashfoot- Gray tom with white paws that looks like water splashing and blue eyes

Gingersplash- White she-cat with dark ginger patches and yellow eyes

Duskfang- gray tom with violet eyes

Wolfsong- Long-haired silver she cat with blue eyes

Nightbreeze- Black tom with a gray streak on his side and amber eyes

Blossomwater- White she-cat with black and gray tortoiseshell patches and blue eyes and is blind in one eye

Gorsewind- Gray tabby tom with green eyes

Featherheart- Silver tom with white flash on chest and blue eyes

Apprentice- Tumblepaw

Brightdawn- White she cat with orange splashes and green eyes

Emeraldshine- White she-cat with orange back and vibrant green eyes

Amberfrost- Orange tabby tom with white legs, undertail, belly, throat and muzzle and yellow eyes

Apprentices:

Babblingpaw- Pale brown tabby she-cat with green eyes

Gorgepaw- Pale brown tom with dark mark on forehead and amber eyes

Tumblepaw- Gray tabby tom with amber eyes

Queens:

Goldencloud- Golden she-cat with a white chest and amber eyes (Mother of Amberfrost's kits, Birchkit and Beechkit)

Lilacfoot- Pale gray she-cat with one dark paw and violet eyes (Mother of Tawnystar's kits, Scratchkit and Tunnelkit)

Kits:

Birchkit- Pale brown tabby she-kit with a white muzzle and paws and yellow eyes

Beechkit- Brown tom with green eyes

Scratchkit- Brown tom with orange tabby stripes and yellow eyes

Tunnelkit- Brown tom with black chest and yellow eyes

Elders:

Tornwing- Pale gray tom with large scar running down side

Cats outside the clans:

Lava- Ginger tom with yellow eyes

Feather- Silver tabby she-cat with a torn ear

Chapter one: Fallen feather

Bubbleheart watched as Brackentail left camp with Whitefeather. She looked for a dark brown tabby. When Bubbleheart spotted the brown tabby, she noticed the she-cat was glaring at Whitefeather. "Why is she so mad?" Bubbleheart thought.

"Brackentail is Falconfur's mate. Whitefeather and Brackentail are just friends." Bubbleheart watched the dark tabby leave camp, following the sundown patrol. Bubbleheart sighs and pads to the apprentice's den.

"Babblingpaw! Wake up!" Bubbleheart calls. A head rose in the den.

"Babblingpaw's not here. She went out of camp with Gorgepaw." Bubbleheart recognized the voice of Tumblepaw.

"But they know it's dangerous!" Bubbleheart hisses, "With all the recent rouge attacks, they should know better."

Tumblepaw sighed "Babblingpaw really likes Gorgepaw..." Bubbleheart made out yet another a sigh. "I wish she liked me like that..."

Bubbleheart growled. "Anyways, I have to go find them."

With that, the pale gray she cat stormed out of the den and down into camp. Bubbleheart raced out of camp, jumping over the fallen tree by the river, and into the forest.

Just then, a screech split through the forest. "Whitefeather!" Bubbleheart recognized the yowl of Brackentail. Bubbleheart rushed after the sound. She dove through some bushes and saw Brackentail, crouched, by the limp body of Whitefeather. Whitefeather's body lied in the lake.

"Whitefeather... Why...," Brackentail whispered.

Bubbleheart came up behind him. "What happened?" She asked.

"I left for a second to chase a mouse... When I came back... I found her here," Brackentail gulped.

"Who did this?" Bubbleheart asked.

"I-I," Brackentail started to say.

Bubbleheart spotted something caught on one of Whitefeather's claws. A piece of golden fur.

Chapter two: Loss

Bubbleheart gaped at Brackentail. "You did this?!"

Brackentail mewed, shocked, "No! I would never!"

Bubbleheart looked into Brackentail's eyes. "He can't be lying... He looks- He looks so... Lost?" Bubbleheart decided. Bubbleheart shuffled her paws.

"What happened!?" A call cut through the silence.

"Babblingpaw?" Bubbleheart answered in a question.

The ferns at the edge of the forest moved to reveal Babblingpaw.

Gorgepaw emerged behind her. "We heard a screech," Gorgepaw explained. "We came to check it out."

"So what-," Babblingpaw stopped short as her gaze rested on the pale body of Whitefeather.

"We should take her body back to camp for vigil," Gorgepaw meowed quickly.

Brackentail nodded absently.

Gorgepaw padded over to the body. He beckoned for the other cats to follow.

Babblingpaw followed him.

Bubbleheart grasped Whitefeather by her scruff.

Brackentail pressed against Whitefeather's side.

Gorgepaw steadied Whitefeather's other side.

Babblingpaw took Whitefeather's flank.

The four cats padded back to camp in silence.

Chapter three: Accusations

Bubbleheart and her companions set down Whitefeather's body in the clearing.

Valleyflight was the first one to rush over to the body. "What happened?" The deputy growled. He nudged her body. "Whitefeather..." Valleyflight looked, up angrey. "Who did this to my sister?"

Tornwing hobbled from the the elder's den. "Whitefeather... My daughter..."

Bubbleheart mewed to the deputy,"We don't know who killed her... The slashes to her throat are to messy to tell who did it."

Valleyflig bristled. "Whoever did this will pay!" He roared.

Emeraldshine padded over to her mate. "Calm down, you're scaring the kits," She sighed. She flicked her tail to Beechkit and Scratchkit shaking at the entrance to the nursery.

Valleyflight pulled away. "WHY ARE YOU ALWAYS TELLING ME I'M DOING SOMTEHING WRONG?!" He roared.

Emeraldshine backed away. "I'm not!" She protested. "But you, you, make too many mistakes!"

Valleyflight flattened his ears. "If that's how you think, then I'm done with being your mate!" The deputy growled.

Emeraldshine gasped, "I-."

A gray tom rushed over to Emeraldshine. "You still have me," He soothed his mate.

Valleyflight wasn't done. "And to make matters worse, you've always had a second mate!"

Tornwing crouched by Whitefeather's body. "Who would do such a thing?"

Valleyflight turned to his father. "You're right," He sighed. "We have to find out who did this." Valleyflight searched the body.

Bubbleheart watched as he picked up the tuft of golden fur.

Valleyflight sniffed the fur. "Definitly belly fur. Who has golden fur in the clan?" Valleyflight asked.

"Koifur, Brackentail, Falconfur, and Goldencloud," Bubbleheart listed.

Valleyflight dipped his head. "Koifur doesn't have golden belly fur... So that means it can't be her. And Goldencloud was in the nursery. That means it's either Brackentail or Falconfur."

Bubbleheart protested, "It wasnt Brackentail!"

Valleyflight mewed, "Maybe not, we'll to wait for Falconfur to come back from patrol."

Bubbleheart sat down, waiting.

Soon, the patrol came back.

Falconfur padded into the clearing. She had some mud on her pelt.

Valleyflight ran over to the tabby warrior. "She missing some fur!" He meowed. Then, to check, he trotted over to Brackentail. "He does too..."

"I lost it plau fighting with Whitefeather!" Brackentail protested.

"What's going on?" Falconfur asked.

"Someone killed Whitefeather," Bubbleheart answered.

Fear flashed in Falconfur's eyes.

Bubbleheart finished,"And we found a tuft of belly fur in her claws. Golden belly fur."

Gorsewind, a tom who was on the patrol confirmed,"She snagged her fur on a thorny branch. And she only left the patrol to wash mud off her fur after falling into some. She didn't do it."

Bubbleheart nervously twitched her tail. There was no way Brackentail did it. It just couldnt have been him!

"That means Brackentail did it," The deputy concluded. "Gorsewind, get Tawnystar."

"No!" Emeraldshine cried. "You can't really believe he could have done this!"

Gorsewind was already on the move.

Featherheart glared at the deputy. "Our son would never kill! He is loyal to the clan! Don't you think a rogue could have done this?"

"The tuft has clan scent all over it. Too little to identify the cat, but enough to know a clan cat did this." Valleyflight flicked her tail.

Gorsewind rushed up the trail to Tawnystar's den.

A few moments later, Tawnystar's appeared, following Gorsewind.

"I have heard Brackentail killed Whitefeather. Is this true?" Tawnystar growled.

Chapter four: Exile

Brackentail protested,"No! I would never! I loved her!"

Falconfur looked at her mate with wide eyes. "But you said you loved me!"

Brackentail ignored her. "Please believ me, Tawnystar!"

Tawnystar sighed, "I'm sorry, the evidence proves you guilty. You were with Whitefeather at the time she died. You're missing a tuft of belly fur."

Emeraldshine let out a yowl of protest.

Featherheart gazed at his son, his eyes sad.

Bubbleheart hissed,"He would never do such a thing!"

Tawnystar glared at her. "He is to be exiled. Any cat the follows him will not be welcomed back!"

Brackentail glanced up at his leader with wide eyes.

Emeraldshine slumped onto the ground. Her eyes were glazed with shock.

Featherheart crouched down by his mate, murmuring in her ear.

Valleyflight and Gorsewind padded beside Brackentail.

"Leave," Valleyflight growled.

Brackentail turned tail and ran.

Valleyflight and Gorsewind pursued him.

"Tawnystar, how could you?" Bubbleheart whimpered.

"He killed. He had to leave. Tawnystar flicked and ear and padded back to his den.

Bubbleheart sat down. "I don't want to be exiled, but i can't just leave my friend all alone... I'll stay. For now." Bubbleheart thought. She padded into the warriors' den and went to sleep.

Chapter five: Chase

A moon later, Peachflower, the medicine cat padded over to Bubbleheart.

"I had a dream," Peacheflower begins. "You need to find Brackentail. And before you ask, I do not know who killed Whitefeather."

"But surely you heard what Tawnystar said," Bubbleheart sighed. "I'll get exiled."

"You must go! I can't tell Tawnystar where you went... It's complicate," Peachflower urges. "But don't worry, you'll be fine when you return. But you must leave now!"

"I- Okay... I'll go. For Brackentail!" Bubbleheart declared. She stood up. "But you have to tell Koifur where I went!" And with that, Bubbleheart raced out of camp.

Bubbleheart ran for what seemed like days. She finally gave up and collapse under the roots of a tree.

"Bubbleheart?" A suprised, familiar voice asked.

Bubbleheart opened her eyes to see a golden tom standping above her. "B-Brackentail?!"

Brackentail nods. "What are you doing here?"

"Peachflower sent me to find you," Bubbleheart mewed.

"Well, you should leave!" Brackentail hissed, eyes strangely filled with worry.

"Who's that?" A voice calls. A silver tabby she-cat pads over to Brackentail's side.

"N-no one!" Brackentail cried.

The tabby flicked her tail. "Do you love her? I'm the only cat you can love!"

Brackentail growled,"For the last time, I don't love you! And this is... A friend."

"Anyways, Bracken we have to get back to Lava with some prey." The tabby stretched.

"Of course Queen Feather! We can't go back empty-pawed," Brackentail meowed sarcasticly. "Oh- Bubble, you can stay with us." His gaze told her not to ask questions.

Bubbleheart nods.

Brackentail and Feather trotted out of the den.

Bubbleheart followed their paw steps. After hunting for a while, they went to a great oak.

A ginger tom climbed out of a hollow in the tree. "Who's this?"

"Lava, meet Bubble," Brackentail replied.

Lava flicked his tail. He bounded up the tree and into his hollow.

"You've been accepted," Brackentail purred.

Chapter six: Accepted

Bubbleheart confronted Brackentail for the first time after joining the rouges. "Why am I called Bubble?" She demanded.

Brackentail sighed. "They don't take kindly to clan cats."

Bubbleheart lashed her tail. "Fine. But don't forget who we really are."

Brackentail looked into her eyes."I would never."

Bubbleheart felt her pelt growing warm under his intense green gaze. She looked at her paws.

Brackentail cocked his head. "What's wrong?"

Bubbleheart looked up. "N-nothing! Why don't we go hunting or something?"

Brackentail stretched. "Why not go on a walk? I just hunted you know."

Bubbleheart gazed at him for what seemed like forever. "That would be wonderfu!" She finally purred.

Brackentail's eyes glittered. After a moment, he started out of the roots.

Bubbleheart followed him, heart pounding. Why do I feel so... Wierd...? Bubbleheart thought.

Brackentail led her through a forest. He stopped. The ginger tom padded through some towering ferns.

Bubbleheart followed him.

The ferns parted, revealing Brackentail holding them back.

"Thanks!" Bubbleheart mewed brightly. She looked around and spotted a small waterfall. Multiple clumps of flowers surrounded the glade. "It-it's beautifu!"

"I know," Brackentail purred. "Don't tell Feather. She thinks we're mates. Oh- We're not!" He quickly said when he noticed Bubbleheart's hurt gaze.

Bubbleheart shook her head. "It's not like that." She looked up at the sky. Dusk had come upon them.

Brackentail motioned with his fluffy tail to a flat rock nestled between some reeds.

Bubbleheart nodded and followed. They sat down on it, a mouse-length apart.

Brackentail gazed up at the moon.

"This is breathtakin!" Bubbleheart sighed dreamily.

Brackentail nodded. "Beautiful," He breathed. He shuffled closer.

Bubbleheart gulped. What's happening? I can't keep this up! He was exiled!

Brackentail noticed her distress. "What is it? Is it to cold?"

Bubbleheart hadn't even noticed the cold in the midst of the uncomfort. "Just a little chilly." She fluffed up her fur.

Brackentail scooted closer, pressing against her.

Before she had time to object, a bushy tail was wrapped around her flanks. She stood up. "I'm sorry, I have to go! I found another place to sleep... I'll be fine on my own!" She padded off, leaving a hurt Brackentail.

Chapter seven: Stars

After a moon of hunting, hunting with Brackentail, and avoiding Feather, Bubbleheart confronted Brackentail one night. "We need to talk!"

"O-okay," Brackentail replied.

Bubbleheart led the way to a hollow rock and crouched down. "We need to return to SkyClan!"

"But I can't leave my friends!" Brackentail protested. "And I'll be killed!"

Bubbleheart hissed,"Don't worry, Peachflower's got that covered. And you have me. I-I mean and all your friends back at camp, of course!"

Brackentail looked amused. "I guess you're right, my sister's always been one to fix things."

Bubbleheart nods. "We need to go now, or risk being followed."

Brackentail looked away. "But I won't get to say goodby!"

Bubbleheart nudged him. "Don't worry, theyll be alright." Her eyes were sympathetic, and stern.

Brackentail sighed, "Okay... Let's go." As the padded out of the rock, Brackentail reached down and pressed his muzzle to her's. "And... I-I love you too."

Bubbleheart gasped. "I-I."

"I know you love me, even if you're at a loss for words," Brackentail purred.

Bubbleheart's eyes shimmered like stars. "I love you more than anythin, but you love Falconfur! And Whitefeather!"

Brackentail sighed, "I don't love Falconfu, I stopped long ago. And Whitefeather's dead. It's time to move on."

Bubbleheart smiled. "You really do love me."

"Bubbleheart, will- will you be my mate?" Brackentail asked quickly.

"I... Of course!" Bubbleheart purred.

Brackentail purred. He looped his tail around Bubbleheart's. "Let's just rest, before we set off."

Bubbleheart nodded and sat down to watch the starlit sky.

Chapter eight: Return

Bubbleheart and Brackentail reached the camp at dusk the next day.

Bubbleheart had to be held up by Brackentai, leaning on him. The pair strolled into camp.

Tawnystar, and his mate, Lilacfoot, lied in the foot of camp.

Koifur was the first to spot them. "Bubbleheart!" the tortiseshell raced over to them. She stopped when she saw Brackentail.

Duskfang, who was sharing fresh-kill with her looked up. "Brackentail!" He yowled.

Tawnystar looked up. "What is the meaning of this?! You are sure to be killed!"

Lillydream raised her hackles.

Tawnystar beckoned for Gingersplash and Breezefeather to follow. They advanced, the warriors flanking Bubbleheart and Brackentail.

"Wait!" A voice called. It was Peachflower.

Tawnystar turned and motioned for Gingersplash and Breezefeather to stop.

"I-I had a dream!" Peachflower mewed as she raced up to them. "The bracken's soft touch did not hurt the white feather. Beware the hunter. A hole will be filled, protecting the star."

Tawnystar turned to Brackentail. "I am sorry my friend." To Peachflower he said, "What else do you know from this prophecy?"

"I-I don't know anymore. The hunter... A hole... Wait! You must be the 'star'!"

Tawnystar nodded. "But who is the hole?"

Peachflower paced around. "All will be revealed soon, I hope."

Tawnystar sighed. "I almost forgot! It's my kits' apprentice ceremony today!"

"Don't forget the other apprentices," Peachflower reminded him.

Tawnystar let out an amused chuckle.

"Do you mean Babblingpaw?" Bubbleheart asked.

Tawnystar nodded. "And Gorgepaw and Tumblepaw. The ceremony will be held at sun-down." He bounded away and sat by his mate.

Peachflower started to pad to her den but stopped. "Brackentail, could you please excuse us?"

Brackentail nodded and trotted down to camp.

"You're looking a bit swollen," Peachflower commented.

Bubbleheart flicked her tail. "The prey was nice where we were."

Peachflower nodded. "Soon, it'll be swollen with something else."

"What?"

Peachflower let out a chuckle. "I saw the was you and Brackentail pressed against eachother with that dreamy look in your eyes."

"We-we're mates now." Bubbleheart stared at her paws.

"I always knew Falconfur wasn't right for him... I am suprised though, that he found a mate so quickly after Whitefeather's death."

There conversation was interrupted by a call: "All cats old enough to catch their own prey, come to the Rockpile for a meeting!"

Chapter nine: Ceromony

Bubbleheart raced down the trail after the medicine cat.

Tawnystar was standing on the Rockpile, Valleyflight at the foot of it.

Tunnelkit, Scratchkit, Tumblepaw, Gorgepaw, and Babblingpaw were all stationed in front of the rocks.

It was sun-down, so the whole clan was here.

"Tumblepaw, Gorgepaw, Babblingpaw, step forward," Tawnystar commanded.

The three apprentices bounced forward.

"Featherheart, has Tumblepaw learned all the skills he needs to know?" Tawnystar asked.

Featherheart nodded. "He is a quick learner."

"Valleyflight, is Gorgepaw ready to become a warrior?"

Valleyflight meowed,"There's nothing else I can teach him."

Tawnystar turned to Gingersplash. "Is Babblingpaw ready?"

Gingersplash must have taught my appprentice while i was gone, Bubbleheart thought.

Gingersplash looked to Bubbleheart, surprising the pale cat. "You've taught her well, Bubbleheart."

Bubbleheart looked at her leader. "She's ready!"

Tawnystar blinked, the continue, "Young apprentices, will you protect your clan even at the cost of you life?"

"Yes," The two brothers chouroused.

"Yeah!" Babblingpaw yowled. "I mean, yes."

Gorgepaw gave her a nudge.

"Then by the powers of StarClan from this day forward, Tumblepaw, you will be known as Tumblewind. StarClan honors your spirit and loyalty."

Tumblewind bounced from paw to paw.

"Gorgepaw from this moment forward you will be known as Gorgeclaw," Tawnystar meowed. "StarClan honors your bravery and skillfullness."

Gorgeclaw lifted his head proudly.

"Babblingpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Babblingbrook. StarClan honors your determination and courage."

Babblingbrook lifted her tail.

Gorgeclaw curled his tail around the brown tabby, with a purr.

Babblingbrook nudged him affectionately.

Tumblewind turned away, feeling rejected. He seemed to brighten when Birchkit ran over to him.

"Tumblewind's a warrior!" the small tabby squealed.

Tunnelpaw and Scratchpaw were made apprentices, Brackentail Tunnelpaw's mentor, and Nightbreeze Scratchpaw's.

Bubbleheart padded to the warrior's den and found her old nest. She curled up, and drifted off to sleep.

Chapter ten: Truth

A few nights after her return, Bubbleheart was woken up by the sound of voices outside at dawn.

"Come on, I need to tell you something!" The voice of Tawnystar.

"Okay..." The uncertain voice of the medicine cat responded.

Bubbleheart slipped out of her den and followed them to the Whispering Cave. She stood outside, listening.

"I figured out part of the prophecy," Tawnystar mewed.

"You did? That's great!" Peachflower asked.

"No... The hunter is," The leader paused. "Falconfur."

Bubbleheart stifled a gasp. No! That's impossible. Bubbleheart thought a bit. The evidence did prove she could be guilty.

Peachflower shuffled, her long fur must have been brushing the cave floor.

"She's the only thing that hunts in out clan. Falcon." Tawnystar sighed.

"But wolves hunt. Wolfsong," Peachflower pointed out.

"Wolfsong was at camp at the time of Whitefeather's death." Tawnystar's voice sounded reluctant. Falconfur was a great hunter.

"What are you saying?" Peachflower asked.

"I'm saying, Falconfur killed Whitefeather. She went to the lake. Whitefeather was at the lake. She lost a tuft of belly fur. Whitefeather had golden fur in her claws. Falconfur must have sensed that Brackentail and Whitefeather were getting too close to eachother; Brackentail would never kill Whitefeather," Tawnystar explained.

Peachflower said nothing, so Bubbleheart guessed she nodded.

"Exile is the only option. We must beware the hunter! I can only guess she will 'fill the hole'," Tawnystar hissed.

Bubbleheart ran back to her den and curled up beside her mate, waiting for the meeting to be called.

Chapter Eleven: Defeat

"All cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath gather beneath the Rockpile for a meeting!" Tawnystar called.

Bubbleheart padded out of her den, a distressed look on her face.

Brackentail walked next to her. "Something wrong?"

Bubbleheart shook her head. "N-no. Nothing." She glanced at Falconfur.

"No, something's clearly going on." Brackentail looked over at Falconfur. "It's about me leaving her, isn't it?"

Brackentail had explained, Bubbleheart by his side, to Falconfur, he and Bubbleheart were mates and he no longer loved Falconfur.

"I promise. Nothing's wrong."

They sat down below the Rockpile.

"I wonder what this meeting's about?" Blossomwater mewed to Lilydream.

Lilydream blinked. "Maybe a Ceromony? No... The apprentices and kits just had one..."

Tawnystar started to speak. "As you know, Brackentail did not kill Whitefeather. But Peachflower and I know who did now." He glanced at the pale ginger medicine cat.

"Yes," Peachflower began. "We discussed a dream from StarClan I had. And, we have decided that Falconfur is the only one who could have killed Whitefeather."

Falconfur looked shocked. "What?!"

Tawnystar silenced the dark tabby with a glare. "I don't believe death is a proper punishment. But, exile will give you a chance to redeem yourself. Do you have anything to say in your defens?"

Falconfur glared up at her leader. "No. I killed Whitefeather and do not regret it."

Tawnystar dipped his head. "Leave. Now." He flicked his tail to Roseleg, Brightdawn, and Valleyflight. "Escort her to the border."

"Wait!" Falconfur glared menacingly at her former leader. "I just need to deal with some.. Buissness." She leapt at Tawnystar, claws unsheathed.

Tunnelpaw dived infrong of his father, just before Falconfur struck. "No!"

Tawnystar stood there, as the life bled out of th apprentice. "No... My son..."

Cats leapt at Falconfu, but she was to quick.

The brown tabby was on top of Tawnysta, taking advantage of his shock.

The pale leader was on the ground in an instant, losing a life.

Now, Falconfur ran, haring out of camp.

Roseleg, Koifur, and Brightdawn sped after her.

As Brightdawn's ginger tail tip disappeared after the others, Peachflower spoke. "That was not his last life, but he will be weak from the loss of it, and mourning for his son."

Lilacfoot glared at the medicine cat. "Can't you save Tunnelpaw?"

Peachflower shook her head. "It's too late. Even all the cobwebs in the forest couldn't save him."

Lilacfoot padded away to comfort Scratchpaw, her violet eyes blazing.

Tawnystar was back, his eyes distant.

Soon, the patrol made up of Roseleg, Brightdawn, and Koifur returned.

"She's gone. We lost her after she left the territory." Koifur let out a snarl.

Roseleg glanced at Tawnystar. "How's Tun-" she stopped as she saw the lifeless body. Her red-brown leg pawed the ground.

Brightdawn dipped her head in grief. "He would have made a fine warrior."

Brackentail nodded. "He was such a quick learner."

A silence crossed the camp and a light breeze swirled over Tunnelpaw's fur, ruffling it.

Chapter twelve: Silent

Bubbleheart lied in her nest that night. She glanced at Brackentail, hoping he was finally asleep.

The ginger tom was turning endlessly in his slumber.

Bubbleheart was able to fall asleep, just as the moon reached its highest.

Dawn light flooded the warrior's den as Bubbleheart sleepily raised her head.

Bubbleheart raised her head tiredly. She turned to her mate. "Sleep well?"

But he was gone.

Bubbleheart sighed and padded out of her den.

Duskfang greeted her with a flick of his gray tail. "Brackentail's on border patrol, if you were wondering."

Bubbleheart dipped her head. She glanced around the clearing and spotted Tornwing; Scratchpaw and Gorgeclaw were helping him carry Tunnelpaw's fallen body.

Bubbleheart started to pad up to Valleyflight, who was standing at the foot of the Rockpile, but stopped when he trotted up to her.

"Bubbleheart, can you take Breezefeather and Nightbreeze. I'll be coming too," Valleyflight mewed. "I want to check and make sure Falconfur's not around."

"Why can't we take Scratchpaw? His is Nightbreeze's apprentice, after all." Bubbleheart warily flicked her tail.

"Well... Tunnelpa is- er, was- Scratchpaw's brother. I don't want to cause Scratchpaw grief." Valleyflight glanced at the tabby apprentice helping Tornwing.

Bubbleheart dipped her head. "Perhaps we should take one more cat?" She glanced around camp. "Koifur, maybe?"

Valleyflight nodded and called for the cats he wanted on patrol.

Koifur raced over first. Her eyes were dull. "Yes?"

"I want you on patrol. I'll be coming, as well as some others." The deputy continued,"To see if Falconfur is still around."

Koifur's eyes brightened as she heard the deputy was going on patrol with her.

Bubbleheart glanced at the deputy, but his face betrayed nothing. "Is it possible... Is it possible Koifur has a crush on Valleyflight?"

Valleyflight flicked his ear at Koifur's eagerness.

Nightbreeze bounded over, Breezefeather at his heals.

Nightbreeze's sleek pelt shone in the green-leaf sun. "So, what are we doing?" The young tom had a sorrowful gaze.

"Making sure Falconfur has left the territory." Valleyflight dipped his head to Breezefeather. "I'm coming as well."

Breezefeather glanced warily at the entrance. "Isn't this a big patrol?"

"My goal isn't to keep the element of surprise," Valleyflight curtly said.

Breezefeather dipped his head. "Very well."

The patrol left the camp.

As they neared the border Koifur froze. "I smell something."

Valleyflight moved to stand next to her. "This is stale scent, from yesterday."

Out of the corner of her eye, Bubbleheart thought she saw a pair of yellow eyes, and a flash of tabby fur. She shook her head, as if clearing it, and the yellow eyes were gone.

Epilouge:

A few moons passed. Beechkit and Birchkit were due to have their apprentice ceremony soon. Wolfsong had moved into the nursery expecting Duskfang's kits.

Peachflower trotted up to Bubbleheart with an amused expression. "You're looking fat."

Bubbleheart glanced at her stomach. "W-what are you talking about?"

Peachflower rolled her eyes. "I forgot, you've never had kits before."

"Aree you saying I'm having kits?"

Peachflower nodded. "They're my brother's, aren't they?"

"Who else?" Bubbleheart froze. "But-but I've never had kits before! What if I die while kitting!" She wailed.

"Don't worry, you won't. My sister has treated enough queens."

Bubbleheart turned. "Brackentail?! How much did you hear?"

"Enough to know I'm going to have the most beautiful kits in the world," the ginger tom purred.

Bubbleheart rested her head on his shoulder with a purr. She glanced towards the bushes. Piercing yellow eyes glared at her, then were gone

.

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