This is the final book in the Wishspirit Series!
It's been three months since that fateful day the kits left me to deal with the cruel casualties of life, and spend the rest of it mourning them.
It's been three moons since my life has felt like an endless horizon.
It has been three months since I realized how terribly I had been lied to.
Because nothing is better now; if anything it is all becoming worse than the state it had been in before, although I probably should have expected it.
The Clan is now in a civil was, debates over leadership continue to rage and more cats were dying than the amount that had been killed due to Sagestar.
I was infuriated with StarClan.
For letting me believe that anything could ever be fixed.
For letting me believe that it might all turn out okay.
For letting me believe I could get away with what I deserved, even if it wasn't my fault.
I had been so foolish.
And I still was. What was upsetting was that I knew I would fall for the trick again, if someone tried to use it as bait. I would kill a den of badgers, thinking it would make everything better; although I should be able to understand that it made no sense at all.
Spiritpaw and I no longer live in the same den, although we strike a conversation if we catch each other hunting once in a while.
Ever since I lost the kits, ever since I cried, I've been trying to detach from everything in my life. Wishspirit has yet to reappear in my dreams, and I would advise to her that she doesn't.
Because I will kill her the moment she does.
For giving me empty hope.
For actually letting me believe.
For taking the kits from me.
I remember when I had felt slightly empty because the kits were such and ease and they no longer gave me the loud purpose of living that they used to.
But without them, I realized, I felt duller than I might have ever been able to imagine.
I felt pointless.
I realized, with a sharp pang, that they would be six moons old now, had they still been living. They would be about to become apprentices.
Or maybe not.
Sagestar would still be the ruler, and he didn't care for ceremonies or new apprentices.
He just cared for food.
Not that the cats who were trying to take over his position were much better.
Instead of being hungry for food they craved power more than anything else.
And their Clan was suffering from it.
The forest was suffering.
But then, the forest already had been suffering. The forest had always been suffering, or for as long as I had ever known it.
The reason being that it was suffering because of me.
"It's a great catch, Spiritpaw," I gently whisper, gazing into his deep black eyes as we share a mouse, both of us terribly quiet.
"Thanks," he murmured gently, looking surprised that I had bothered to compliment his prey, and I was reminded of the time Sagestar complimented mine.
His name brought back happy memories, something I don't think I ever would have thought to be possible. The hope. The peace. The kits.
Losing them had easily been the worst thing that ever happened to me. I would have been willing to live the rest of my life in a SpiritClan ruled by Sagestar if I could avoid their death.
But I obviously couldn't.
We were silent for a few more moments as we continued to chew.
"I saw Wishspirit in my dreams last night," he finally whispered, his voice a little caitious and distant as my whiskers twitched, perhaps a little too forcefully.
"And?" I turned to him gently.
"We talked a little about the unfortunate way things turned out, but before I could press her further on the topic she brought up the Clan."
"What about it?"
"She told me it was a disaster there. Cats couldn't go to sleep without the fear or being killed in their dreams. Sagestar may have been corrupt but he kept them stable."
"I know," I nodded, "It a stupid idea to try to kill him."
I could see him wincing, but wasn't prepared to care. I had lost two young kittens to his reckless plan, and although it did work the results had not been good.
"And she told me they needed a leader. Someone who could step up and who they would listen to. Someone good enough that they wouldn't think they a better."
"They will always think they are better."
"They just want what is best for the Clan, and are terrified that SpiritClan will be ruled my a new version of Sagestar. They want a proper leader for themselves."
"Oh," I gently whispered.
"And I thought of you," he gently admitted turning towards me.
"Don't be a fool, I can't even speak. How am I supposed to lead a Clan I can't even communicate with? And even if I could, I don't think I would go back."
"Too many of them."
"That's what I thought."
There was a deadly silent hanging between the two of us for several long moments, which I couldn't bring myself to devour Spiritpaw was really a great cat. He deserved better than the attitude I was giving him.
The problem was that it was the only attitude I currently had to give.
"So you won't do it?" he doesn't sound disappointed or surprised, but I can detect a sense of lost hope. I don't even need to consider the offer, however.
"I know," I relied gently, "And I thank you for that."
"You... You're welcome," he seemed a little surprised that I was showing any gratitude towards him, and as my gaze gently traveled towards him I realized something.
He truly felt guilty.
He thought that this was his fault.
"Don't blame yourself," I gently whispered to him, "It wasn't really your fault. I blame Wishspirit for this. Besides, I agreed to the plan."
"But it was my plan," he whispered, "And I was the one who was so determined to kill him. I even sent you back to SpiritClan because I thought it might help."
"You thought it was the right thing to do. Wishspirit was the one who mislead us, by telling me that killing Sagestar would fix everything."
"But it wasn't," he sighed, "If it wasn't for me they would still be here."
"That's not true," I argued, trying to think of a way to prove him wrong.
But I honestly had none.
"I don't mind if you are angry," he whispered to me gently, "I am angry with myself too at the moment. I would switch places with the kits."
"I would switch places with Sagestar," I gently replied, turning my head up to the sky which was darkening so quickly, that the sun had almost set within moments, "Then I could still be with them."
"I'm sure they miss you too," he claimed gently, and once again I could hear the guilt gently building its way up his voice. I wanted to say something to make him feel better, but it didn't seem possible when I felt so horrible about everything myself.
"Maybe you should see Wishspirit in your dreams," I whispered, "She helped me feel a whole lot better that I was born even if it was one of the worst things that ever happened to me."
"I don't get to pick when to see her," Spiritpaw replied a little numbly, "She just shows up whenever she feels like it may be a good idea."
"Then she won't ever show up in my dreams," I claimed.
"I doubt it," Spiritpaw admitted with a shrug.
"Did she mention me?" I have to know the answer to this question.
I'm not sure if I should be glad or disappointing that the cat I hate the most at the moment didn't bother to bring me up. It both infuriated me and relieved me.
There was a tense silence.
"Well I have to go now," I whispered gently, "It's nighttime again and I don't like to wonder when there is no light to help guide me."
"I understand," he nodded, and gently licked my cheek, leaving a gentle tingling feeling there as I gently exhaled, before breathing in the cool night air.
"I guess I'll see you around," he whispered as I turned around and began to paddle away, my paws stepping in a large puddle of mud as I walked.
"I guess so," I quietly responded as I continued to paddle away.
When I woke up the sun was burning fiercely, and it took my eyes a fair amount of time to adjust to the massive sunlight, while I pulled myself up to my paws.
Another long miserable day for me to note what a horrible world I live in.
Another day for me to hate myself.
Today feels no different than the rest of them, and I can already tell it will be no different. I sometimes wonder why I even bother to get up in the mornings.
But when I think about it I realize that I really don't have much of a choice.
At least when I hunt and run I can occasionally turn my thoughts away from everything else, which the reason why I hate my den.
Because it is a place for thoughts.
And my thoughts are not the slightest bit pleasant.
I sighed, as I pushed myself out of my den, sucking in a deep and fresh breath of air before turning around, my eyes drifting in the direction of the lake, where I decided I would head hunting.
My paws gently began to carry me away, walking quickly before breaking into a run, trying to escape the wind, the trees, the life that existed in the forest.
Trying to escape the memories.
But there was no escaping the memories. They would follow me everywhere I went, even to StarClan if I actually did go there.
Which meant that I would live the rest of my life in deep pain.
For some reason I decided that it would be a good idea to stop by camp and see what shape it was in, before returning to my soft nest and falling asleep.
No, it was not a bad idea.
It was a terrible one.
Although I could not hear what the members of the Clan were rambling, arguing and screeching about I knew it was a very escalated debate.
And I didn't need to be a genius to know they were debating who should take over as the new leader of their Clan. As I watched them a sick feeling continued to creep up my stomach.
This was what Hopekit and Dreamkit had died for.
I felt a new batch of tears beginning to reach my face, crying had been something I was too lenient about ever since the death of Hopekit and Dreamkit.
"Wishpaw?" I heard a gentle voice asking me and whirled around to see Spiritpaw watching the Clan, a sustained and guilty look in his eyes, "What are you doing here?"
"I had to come see," I sighed, "What became of Sagestar's old Clan. The way they are arguing, however, it doesn't seem like they will ever agree enough on this topic to become a Clan again."
"It doesn't," Spiritpaw agreed gently, as we watched the cats continuing to fight, "They need a strong leader who can take them through this harsh time."
I could feel his gaze boring into me.
"I'm not solid and I can barely take myself through these times," I informed him a little harshly, "There is no way I can lead a Clan."
"What if it is your destiny?" he asked gently.
"Destiny no longer exists," I replied to him sharply, "It was just another stupid thing made up by Wishspirit to set me off."
"If you say so," he gave in with a reluctant sigh.
"Did Wishspirit tell you I should lead the Clan?" I asked him.
"She gave me a prophecy," he replied.
"What was it about?"
"I swore that I wouldn't repeat it to anyone, Wishpaw, particularly you. Which is what makes me more sure that you were the one she was speaking of."
"Then she will face disappointment," I replied.
"I've never seen Wishspirit disappointed before," he admitted with a shrug.
And as much as I hated to admit it, he was correct.
I've missed you Wishpaw, she gently whispered, looking so beautiful for a cat that has caused me so much pain and suffering.
"I haven't," i retorted, "I'm surprised you ever gathered the nerve to show up before me!"
Her eyes clouded with guilt, but I wasn't prepared to fall for another one of her traps.
"I didn't come here to speak with you myself," she whispered, "Instead I thought there were two other cats who you would like to see."
"Who?" I demanded dully.
There was a quiet moment, before two shy heads peeked out from behind the she-cat that had been the cause of their lost lives. They were both shy for a moment, before completely stepping out from behind her back.
And dashing up to me.
I had to sustain my tears as they quickly touched their noses with mine, excitement and joy available all over their face as they bounced around me.
"You miss them," Wishspirit gently observed.
"You took them from me," I replied, "They were the only thing I had left."
"The only thing you had," she claimed her eyes glistening, "But now you have more. You have a Clan that is no longer under the wing of Sagestar. A Clan you can fix."
"I can barely keep myself together," I responded, not wanting to make much discussion with the she-cat.
"Wishpaw, there is something you need to understand," Wishspirit sighed, "I guess I didn't tell you the whole story. Killing Sagestar is only the first step in fixing your world."
"Am I going to lose everything else I have in the next steps?" I asked her harshly.
"You just stated yourself, you have nothing else to lose."
I didn't have a witty reply.
"And..." she paused for a moment, "The whole point of killing Sagestar was to get rid of the kits. They were not a part of your destiny and they could no longer interfere with it."
"What?" I'm surprised that I don't feel nearly as mad as I know I should.
"They were supposed to die."
"I see," And just like that, I have forgiven Wishspirit. I almost wish she had stated it at the beginning. Although I feel I should be mad at her for wanting them dead, I know that can't be case.
They have a better life in StarClan anyways.
"What are the next steps?" I asked her.
"I have a prophecy to give you," she claimed.
"The one you gave Spiritpaw?" I questioned.
"Yes," Wishspirit nodded, "These are the steps you must take now that Sagestar and the kits have been removed from the path. You and Spiritpaw must work together to interpret it."
"Alright," I nodded gently.
The surviving wish has brought death and desperation to many. It had toppled the balance and made things unsteady. But the cat with the heart of stone and the memories of pain, she allow their final wish to reign.
"That's it?" As always I am terribly disappointed.
"Yes," she nodded, "Now you must wake up and find Spiritpaw. Together you two shall search for this cat and the final wish which can fix everything."
"Is this the last step?" I asked her suspiciously.
"Yes," she nodded, "You have survived three struggles Wishpaw; being "exiled" from the Clan, accepting the truth about your past and understand that it wasn't your fault, and losing the kits in the process of killing Sagestar. You have one more, which may prove to be more difficult than any of those before."
I wondered how that may have been possible while I watched the kits.
"But you will overcome it. You are strong. I have faith in you. Now wake up, find Spiritpaw and finish this long struggle once and for all."
Before I could reply I could feel the world returning to me, and Wishspirit fading away a everything is suddenly so much more clear.
I could end the mistakes that came with my birth.
For real this time.
"So you saw her in your dreams?" Spiritpaw seemed pleasantly surprised, "You don't seem to mad or worried about that, though. What did she speak to you about?"
"Killing Sagestar was only the first step," I claimed, "And it wasn't really killing Sagestar... It was killing the kits. They didn't belong by my side."
"You seem to be taking it well," he observed.
"I'm surprising myself as well."
"I see," he paused, "So what are we supposed to do now?"
"She gave me the same prophecy," I claimed, "About a cat and their wish which can finally fix everything and save the forest and fix whatever is left."
"I think that cat is you," Spiritpaw claimed.
"I disagree," I responded.
There was a tense silence.
"So how do we find this cat?" Spiritpaw finally asked.
The Clan was still a mess of fighting cats, when we returned to it. Cats were debating furiously, and when I actually stopped to properly observe I noticed blood which had stained the ground of the camp, tufts of fur scattered messily all over the place.
"They've gotten violent," I gently whispered and Spiritpaw nodded.
"Someone has to stop them," he claimed and I could feel his gaze boring into my pelt.
"Stop it," I snapped harshly, "Don't be so quick to assume things!"
"It's hard not to," he whispered, "I can't think of anyone else Wishspirit may have been talking about other than you, Wishpaw."
"There is a whole forest of cats and you probably don't know most of them," I replied, "I don't either. But I never will be able to, anyways. I can't communicate with them."
"So you want me to try to mingle with these cats?" he seemed a little bewildered.
"Try to find out if there are any that might be the new leader the Clan needs. Or the cat we are looking for. A wishful cat, probably."
"Are you sure this is a good idea?"
"Got any better ones?"
When Spiritpaw returned to his den, where I was waiting for him, as the sun began to set, I was waiting for him eagerly, ready to pester with questions.
"Did you find anyone?" I asked.
"The cats were all so closed off," he replied, "None of them would speak more than a few words to me," Disappointment was available as he spoke.
"That's what we should have expected," I sighed, "Maybe we should move back into the Clan."
"I don't know if that would be a good idea..." he hesitated, "It's dangerous there."
"I know," I replied, "But it may be our only chance."
This chapter is dedicated to Hello for being an amazing person and my fellow swifty.
"I knew this was a bad idea," Spiritpaw murmured as we gently walked through camp, and I couldn't help agreeing with him, despite the fact that it had actually been mine.
Everything was so hostile an unwelcoming I could already tell that it may have been a better choice to try something else from outside the Clan.
Because everyone was giving us the death glare.
Everyone was giving everyone the death stare.
The Clan was obviously not a very safe place at the moment.
I reminded myself with a gentle shake of the head that the Clan had never been a safe place to live, at least after my birth.
Disaster seemed to love this forest, and being in the center of it, the Clan would be sure to get a very large share of the trouble that the forest would bring.
"A body," Spiritpaw gently whispered, and I turned my head to the side, to see that there was a limp body of an old cat, scattered over the floor, which hadn't even been bothered to be picked up.
"That's sick," I whispered.
"I'm already sick," he replied, "Of this Clan. It's not easy to see why my mother wanted to leave; I'm no longer sure she even left for me."
"Don't say that!" I replied sharply, "Of course she left for you! She loved you so much that she was willing to kill another-" I cut myself off but it was too late.
Spiritpaw's eyes shone furiously, "What did you say," he hissed.
I sighed, knowing there was no way out of this through lying, "Your mother loved you enough to kill another cat for your own well-being."
"How do you know that" his tone was hostile and I couldn't help but wince at it.
"Wishspirit showed me a vision of the past, just like she showed you one. She wouldn't let you know something without a cost," I gently swallowed.
"I should have realized," Spiritpaw mumbled, "You can never trust her."
Strangely, I felt myself getting protective over the she-cat, "Wishspirit means no harm," I claimed, "She has been trying to help us for quite some time."
"I'm not so sure," he replied, and his tone was not as gentle as I may have hoped, "You just don't mind because you got the better end of the deal. You learned both your last and mine. I already knew mine."
"I sometimes wish I never learned mine," I replied.
"I wish you never learned mine he sharply retorted.
"I can't unlearn something," I whispered gently.
"It's your fault for wanting to know it."
"But you refused to tell-"
"So I thought you would be a bit understanding and understand my wishes!" He claimed, "is that too much to ask for? I thought you respected me!"
"I more than respect you," I whispered but he had already marched off angrily, leaving me feeling stranded and alone, yet again.
And as he left me, the last cat left I had to turn to, I realized something, which I gently whispered, but he never heard.
"I love you."
"Spiritpaw!" I called into the darkness of night, trying to follow his scent, barely able to pick anything up, but following whatever stale trace of it was left.
I could feel tears reaching my eyes as I continued to call for the cat that had changed my life for the better. The living cat that I cared the most about.
The only cat that would listen to me.
But he refused to reply, if he did hear my cries. I knew he had left camp, the scent of him exiting camp was quite a strong one.
"Please," I gently whispered.
Still no reply.
"Spiritpaw you can't leave me now," I heard my voice hardly croaking but couldn't bring myself to mind at that particular moment.
I sighed, finally giving up and deciding to continue my search the next day, when perhaps, he will have forgiven me for being so nosy.
When I woke up the sun was shinning too brightly for my dark mood. I had chosen to sleep in Spiritpaw's den hoping he might show up but he wasn't.
Is he trying to avoid me?
I wouldn't be surprised if that was the case.
I sighed, pushing myself back up to my paws, and trying to convince myself it would be a good idea to head back to camp, in order to seek out the cat we needed.
But without Spiritpaw is all seemed so pointless.
It wasn't that I had been trying to fix the forest and revert it to its original form because of him, but he was the only reason I dared to hope I stood a chance.
I didn't understand what made him so mad about me knowing his past. I doubted that I ever would. But I regretted it so deeply now I would take back the choice in a heartbeat if the option was presented to me.
Not that it ever would be.
Tears were still threatening to reach the edges of my eyes, as I realized I had lost the final thing that I loved. My Clan, as cruel as it may have been to me. My innocence. Hopekit and Dreamkit.
For a strange reason Spiritpaw seemed to be the most painful of all the losses, even greater than that of Hopekit and Dreamkit.
Because he had been a part of my destiny.
He was going to help me fulfill it. And I had loved him for that. I had loved him so much I didn't even realize it until I lost him.
And now it was too late.
I could still feel the tears pricking at the corner of my eyes, but this time I refused to let them come. I forced myself out of his den, and decided to try following his scent again.
He couldn't be forced to talk to me, but when I spoke to him, he would have no choice but to listen. There was no avoiding words if they were close enough for him to hear them.
Unless, of course, you are me.
By the time the sun was setting I still had not found Spiritpaw and had almost entirely ceased all hope that I might be able to do so. Still, I trudged on in hopes that I might be able to catch him. A part of me wondered if he was running away from me but if that were the case his scent would be stronger, while it hardly existed in the parts of the forest where I searched for him.
I sighed, weariness creeping up my body after a long day of searching for Spiritpaw, and I finally decided that I should rest and continue my search the nest day.
I gently began to look around, trying to detect if there was a nice place to make, a den, but what my eyes soon met was nothing quite as pleasant.
What they met was massive, almost blended into the night, and had giant teeth, as well as red eyes that glistened fiercely in the dark.
Needless to say, I turned around and ran for my life.
And although I couldn't hear the badger thundering on behind me, I could feel its hot breath behind me as I desperately tried to outrun it.
I found myself running back the way I was coming from, the moon shining brightly as I barely managed to avoid the trees under the cloak of the darkness.
Where did this come from?
The badger seemed so unpredictable and random, and terribly out of place that I couldn't imagine what in the name of StarClan it had to do with my destiny.
I found my thoughts turning back to Spiritpaw, and before I could delve too deeply into them, I realized, in horror, that I was leading the badger to camp, the soft, grassy path to it memorized by my paws.
I have to turn it in the other direction!
Before I could, however, I felt the tightness of the trees easing away and realized that it was far too late to turn to badger away from camp.
Because it was already in camp.
There was suddenly a flurry of fur, as my vision began to clear under the clear lighting of camp, which somehow managed to capture all the moonlight.
The cats were scrambling around, terrifies expressions on their face as the badger roared furiously, still chasing me as I was finally left with no choice but to turn around and face the wild beast.
Not a pleasant moment.
"Wishpaw!" I heard a loud cry from behind me and I was surprised to hear Spiritpaw's voice, as I quickly dodged a blow from the badger.
So he wasn't running from me, he was in camp.
Caught deeply in my thoughts of relief, I didn't notice that the badger had struck me again, until I felt a sharp pair of claws against my stomach, as blood continued to well from them.
I gently fell over, feeling my stomach heave with pain as blood continued to spill out of it, leaving me gasping in deep pain.
"Wishpaw!" I heard another loud cry, as Spiritpaw came rushing to my side, and the badger left it, seeing that his business to me had been attended. He didn't leave camp, however, and to my horror, rushed towards one of the other Clan cats in an attempt to hurt them as well.
I realized, slowly, that I was dying. And gazing into Spiritpaw's eyes I understood something that hurt so deeply, but should have been more predicatble. He only viewed me as someone he was working together with the fix the forest. Possibly a friend.
He didn't love me.
And I couldn't hold a budge against him for that. It was completely understandable.
"Don't worry about me," I gently whispered, "Try to save the Clan."
There was a tense moment of silence, "I wish you happiness in StarClan," Spiritpaw whispered, and I nodded gently, one word echoing over and over again in my head.
"They defeated the badger," Wishspirit smiled at me, as we gently left the world together, walking up to StarClan, "Spiritpaw lead them."
"It was him, wasn't it," I whispered gently, "The cat who would save the Clan. The cat with the wish. Spiritpaw is going to help fix everything."
"He will," Wishspirit nodded, "If everything goes as destiny planned. Not that it did last time, so I can make no promises that I am positive will be true ones."
"I guess I will be able to watch from the skies. Watch his final wish come true. The wish that I will be happy in StarClan. Happy knowing the mistakes that came with my birth were fixed. Happy knowing that the forest, which has been ruined because of a surving wish, can be revived with the aid of the final wish."