This story is by IcewrathXFeatherswirlXCraneheart for Wafflez44's contest
Four cats. Four Clans. Four near-death experiences.
Fire Burnt Spirit
Pebblepaw purred and settled on the large stone near the lakeshore in ThunderClan territory. She quickly caught a plump vole darting between the cracks and picked it up. It was about time she got back to camp. Her mentor would be expecting her.
She padded off through the forest when she smelled an acrid scent and she turned to sniff. She saw a flame kindling in a dried bush. She padded over, examining the beauty and the mystical dance of this bright, warm substance. She was hypnotized by its radiance and she was frozen to the spot. Before long it had formed a beautiful ring around the clearing.
That was when the fear kicked in. Her heart thumped and her adrenaline surged. "Help! Help! Fire!" she yowled.
"Pebblepaw!" that was her mentor, Owlblink. Pebblepaw frantically darted left and right looking for an escape route. She skidded and slid into the fire.
Pain shot through her bones, her flesh smoldering, her fur flaming. "NOOOOO!" she yowled.
"Is she coming to?" an anxious voice asked. That was Owlblink.
"Yes," a gentle voice meowed. That was the medicine cat, Berryspots.
A sigh of relief came from her mentor as her eyes stretched wide.
"Thank StarClan!" Owlblink sighed. He gave her cheek a lick.
Pebblepaw shot upward and backed away gasping, "Y-your eyes are like... f-fire!"
Owlblink blinked his amber eyes and meowed, "No! No! Please don't think of them that way! Think of them as pools of sand, a bird's feathers!"
Pebblepaw wailed, "It's so hard!"
"She's traumatized," Berryspots meowed quietly.
Then the leader's voice sounded, calling a meeting.
She peeked out of her den, at the sun and she yelped with fear. Her head spun. "So much fire!"
Owlblink rushed to her side and meowed, "Please! Go out for me! This is your warrior ceremony! Go out for me!"
It was no secret that Pebblepaw had a major crush on Owlblink, and that Owlblink returned it.
Pebblepaw trembled, then nodded, and padded shakily outside.
"As you all know, there was a fire that swept through part of the forest yesterday, burning one of our brave apprentices." Sparrowstar scoffed the words as if they were evil. Pebblepaw had been Sparrowstar's most hated cat when she was a kit.
"So in honor of her dumbfounded state in which she watched the flame kindle and burn the forest almost killing herself in the process, I present her with her warrior name, Pebblestare. And she needn't worry about sitting vigil, she's been so traumatized."
The Clan sat in stony silence at disapproval for Sparrowstar's naming ceremony, but Owlblink shouted, "Pebblestare! Pebblestare! Pebblestare!"
As the Clan disbanded, Owlblink raced up to her and pushed his nose against hers and meowed, "You are not a useless lump of fur to me. Your name is named only for your beautiful blue eyes and gray fur."
"Thank you, Owlblink," Pebblestare purred. She shifted her gaze to the sun and she wobbled on her feet, "C-come on. Let's get some shelter."
Owlblink graciously walked with her to the warriors' den where there was much shade.
"Owlblink, can you help me?" Pebblestare meowed, "Will you..."
But Owlblink stole the words from her throat, "Of course I will be your mate and I will help you get back to normal."
Pebblestare smiled warmly, "I know you will help me get better, Owlblink! I know it."
Owlblink stretched himself next to her and meowed, "Try getting used to the sun, but if you cannot, just look at the ground. That's where all the action is anyway."
Pebblestare nodded and smiled.
"Second, just pretend pelts and eyes of a fiery color are merely a sandy or honeyish color. Honey is the opposite of fire, seeing as though it heals throats with smoke inhalation."
Pebblestare nodded again, remembering every word pouring from his mouth.
Pebblestare stared at the ground.
"Pebblestare, watch out!" a voice rang out.
Her head collided with a tree.
Owlblink rushed up to her and helped her to her feet in the moonlight.
In the past half-moon, Pebblestare kept working at looking at fire colored things, but it never worked, so she switched to Plan B. She became a night dweller. Both she and Owlblink. They had a different, smaller den, rose with the moon, set with the moon and they always stared at the ground if it was absolutely necessary that they go out during the day.
"Thanks, for sticking with me, Owlblink," Pebblestare meowed warmly.
"I'll always be there, Pebblestare."
Owlblink's tawny brown fur shone in the moonlight and they padded back to the camp, but the sun peeked over the trees, setting the sky on fire.
Pebblestare had her usual reaction. Her heart started thumping rapidly and hard. Her blood roared in her ears. Her adrenaline surged. Her paws were rooted to the spot. She teetered on her paws, starting to enter her confused, delirious state.
"Pebblestare, follow my scent," Owlblink whispered, whisking his tail over her eyes and walking toward camp.
Pebblestare followed him by scent and they were soon back into their small, dark den, falling into sleep.
Pebblestare woke in a bright starry place, the stars gleaming bright.
She stood dumbfounded, Why am I here?
A starry cat padded up to her and meowed, "There are three others of Crushed Spirit, you must find them, and you will all flourish. Your accident was meant to happen, Pebblegaze, and because of that you will save the Clans with your fears."
Pebblestare didn't speak. Her jaw dropped.
How can my fear save the Clans?
She woke with a start.
"Owlblink!" she hissed.
Owlblink stirred in his nest, "Yes?"
"We have to run away."
Pebblestare crept into the moonlight. Owlblink followed close, looking around for any ThuncerClan cats that might be on a moonhigh stroll.
"Where do we go now?" Owlblink meowed.
"Follow me," she whispered, "I feel an electric force placing my paws where we need to go to meet these other spirit shattered cats."
Pebblestare and Owlblink quietly crept through the forest, catching a vole and a mouse on the way.
"Here!" she whispered, peering into the entrance to the tunnels.
Owlblink stared in, doubt and worry entering his eyes. He pressed close to her and meowed, "I'll go first, just to be sure you're safe."
Pebblestare nodded. She understood. He only wanted her to be safe. The two padded in slowly and stumbled through dark, rocky tunnels until they stopped at a small, calm river.
Three sets of eyes, one set bright white (though not blind) on a rock, one set blue far back from the river, and one green set, hogh off the ground peered at them through the darkness. Owlblink stiffened and gasped, "Who's there?"
The owner of the impossibly white eyes stepped through the river and meowed, "Welcome. We have been expecting you."
Water Sunk Spirit
Snowdream growled in frustration.
"Snowdream!" he spat, "What kind of name is that for a tom?"
Snowdream had just recieved his warrior name the day before and had just finished his silent vigil. Now he was off to hunt.
Snowdream licked his lips at the thought of fish and shook his fluffy, white pelt and sat next to the stream. He darted his paw in the water and flipped two fish onto the shore, killing them quickly, then sitting back down, waiting for more.
Then, he heard a rustle in the bushes.
He pricked his ears and scoffed, "Come on, Stonepaw. I know it's you."
Pawsteps thundered closer. Stonepaw, his brother, was horrible about dragging his paws and he could never sneak up on anything.
Then a force exploded on his back and Snowdream's body shot forward, his face smashing against the stones. Blood flowed from his nostrils, and his unsheated claws pummeled the air as someone pressed his body far into the stones.
Water filled his lungs and small, sharp stream stones filled his nose. He started to get angry and worried. He started to writh and twist, trying to squirm free and get a good look at his attacker, but whoever was attacking him, had his paws above his vision.
Snowdream went limp with exhaustion and the attacker's weight lightened. The attacker was gone, but his heavy fur, filled with stones and even a few large fish were tangled in it, weighed him down. His shoulders could barely move and he was too tired. The water swirled and he was consumed by a strange dark.
"Come on, Snowdream, you can do it!"
Snowdream stared into the water, remembering the swirling evil that had almost killed him. "No, I can't!" he snapped, "This water almost killed me you stupid medicine cat!"
Frostface, the RiverClan medicine cat, looked rather taken aback. Then she purred, "I know Snowdream, but swimming is the skill that makes us more unique and better than all other Clans."
"I don't care if it makes me different!" he hissed.
Frostface gazed at him with her light blue eyes and she shook her head.
"Snowdream, Willowstar said that if you didn't learn to be a RiverClan cat again, you would be banished," Frostface meowed, "Nobody wants that. I don't. Stonepaw doesn't. He was devastated when he learned you almost drowned."
Snowdream sighed, "I'm afraid of the water now, Frostface. You were the one that diagnosed me with it. By the way, I'm getting very light headed." Snowdream wobbled on his paws.
Frostface frowned, "That's because you refused to drink water for a whole day. Greenleaf isn't the time to be not drinking water."
Snowdream growled, "I can drink dew! I can drink anything, so long as it's not water!'
"What are you going to do? Beg twolegs for food?" Frostface challenged him.
Snowdream stifled a sharp retort and he turned away.
"Besides, I don't think there will be dew anytime soon. There was a fire in ThunderClan territory just days ago."
Snowdream growled deep in his throat and stormed into the forest.
Snowdream woke to a strange trickle in his dry mouth, something he had not felt for days. Something he remembered put his life at stake.
His eyes shot open and he spat out the water, "What are you doing?" Frostface held a swab of moss in her jaws guiltily.
"I'm sorry, Snowdream, but you must drink water! You have a fever! You must accept the fact that even though water can kill you, it can also save your life. You were unable to participate in any patrols because you're growing weak. You are just killing yourself, Snowdream!"
Snowdream's eyes narrowed and he huffed, "Fine, give me water. But give me only a tiny bit. Be glad I'm even drinking this poison at all!"
Frostface sighed but knew that she had succeeded in getting him to drink, at least a little. It was a great victory, though. Nobody ever persuaded Snowdream. She trickled the last of the water into his mouth and gave him some feverfew with a sad glance in her eyes.
Snowdream's eyes narrowed as he moved into his solitary den he had been staying in. For days now, he had refused to do anything, but climb trees and bathe in the sunlight.
Willowstar was quite mad at him, to which he objected that if she had almost died, she, too, would be traumatized.
Frostface padded in with some damp moss, "Hello, Snowdream."
Snowdream grumbled a greeting and he parted his jaws to let her give him some water.
Frostface stared at the cloudy, gray sky and Snowdream padded out of the den to enjoy the weather.
Snowdream was for once, happy in his life. He was being pampered by the medicine cat. He had no duties. And today was a beautiful day to enjoy.
Snowdream let out a happy sigh and fell asleep on the stone.
He opened his eyes in a bright place. Bewildered he padded toward a she-cat with stars in her fur.
"Snowdream," the she-cat purred.
"Snowdream, listen. You're fear is special..."
Snowdream cocked his head, "How can that be?"
"It will save the Clans. There are three others that will help you."
"Who are they?" he demanded, his pelt growing hot.
"I cannot tell you," his mother sighed padding off into the light.
Snowdream was hurtled once again into darkness.
Snowdream felt a heavy feeling in his fur, it dragged him down and he yowled, pummeling his paws wildly. His eyes shot open and he saw that the clouds had burst and it was pouring so hard, he couldn't see his own paws.
Snowdream gazed at the sky with his blue eyes, his mouth widened in fear, his lung tightened as if he were drowning and he started yowling frantically.
Somewhere, he heard Willowstar call a meeting.
Through the pelting rain he heard, "I have decided that, due to his lack of duty to this Clan, Snowdream will be banished, but first he will sit vigil in this rain!"
Snowdream's eyes stretched wide with horror, She can't be doing this to me!
His paws rooted to the spots, rain pummeled his fur and dragged him toward the muddy ground, faceplanting into the brown matter, his shook his white pelt and tried to cry out. The rain pelted him like claws and he couldn't bear it. He ran off into the forest yowling fear, anger, and dismay.
"What has happened to me?" he cried, running to the rushing torrent of the river. He jumped...
and fell into the river.
Powerless against the strong, swirling whirlpools of water, his head bobbing up and down, breathing raggedly, he let the current sweep him away. His paws, tail, and head bobbed about, rising and falling, smacking against rocks and smashing against mud.
He struggled out of the lake and into a dark dry shed. He shook his dripping fur and started grooming it feebly, trying to dry his fur as fast as he could.
He laid on a burlap sack in the corner and a tear rolled down his cheek.
What is this water? From my eyes? Where is it coming from? Why does it happen?
His questions bobbed in his head like leaves on the lake in his water-scarred brain and he sat, watching the rain falter, then die completely.
For the next few days Snowdream fed off of barn mice and puddle water until the ground was completely dry before treading his paws on the territories of the Clans. He staggered into ShadowClan territory, past ThunderClan territory and into some tunnels that looked inviting for a wreck like him.
He hissed at a dark killer stream rushed past his paws and he jumped over, scared of the water more than ever now.
"How is this fear ever going to save the Clans?" he growled to himself, letting it echo around the tunnels, "It can barely serve RiverClan!"
"I know how," a she-cat voice meowed.
Snowdream hopped to his paws, bristling and unsheathing his claws.
"Calm yourself. I am Runningfall. Formerly of WindClan. I fear the sky and the wind. And this..." the she-cat came into a sliver of moonlight, then pointed her tail to a shining pair of green eyes high up on an old tree limb, "is Darkstone, formerly of ShadowClan. He fears the ground. And we are waiting for one more, to face our fears to save the Clans."
Snowdream let his fur lay flat and her meowed, "I am Snowdream, formerly of RiverClan. I fear the water." He snorted, "Ironic, isn't it. Of all things a RiverClan cat could hate, it hates water." He laughed dryly.
Silence fell over the cave until; two cats entered the cave. One let out a gasp. The other was a small bit behind the other.
"Who's there?" a tom's voice asked.
Darkstone stayed on his branch and Snowdream hung back, wary of the small stream. Snowdream winced as Runningfall splashed right through it and meowed, "Welcome. We have been expecting you."
The she-cat is the fourth, Snowdream realized, The one injured in the fire. We are ready at last.
Land Crumbled Spirit
Darkstone picked his way through the rocky part of territory near ShadowClan's territory. He liked exploring off the territory and out in the territory unmarked by the Clans. It gave him something to do other than do the same routines day after day, although he did like spending his time with his best friend, Blackshine.
Darkstone breathed deeply, breathing in the fresh greenleaf pine scent and padded over layers of soft, springy leaves and pine needles.
He sat, breathing deep and relaxed as he felt the ground rumble under his paws, numbing them.
His fur bristled, but he was curious. Something was happening, and it wasn't good. Shadows covered him as rocks hurtled toward the ground.
He let out a yowl as a thousand weights pushed him to the ground. Dust flew up around him as he felt pain shoot through his body.
Good-bye, ShadowClan, Darkstone thought, swallowed by blackness.
Darkstone blinked his eyes open and the first thing his eyes met was the ground.
Panic-stricken, he let out a yowl as Littleleg, the medicine cat leaned over him, trying to soothe him.
"Shhhhhh!" Littleleg purred, "It's going to be okay."
Darkstone let out a pitiful whimper as if he were still a new apprentice that had just been attacked by a fox. Darkstone turned his green gaze to her and Littleleg stood.
"Now, I'm going to be a while collecting herbs. You stay right here," Littleleg meowed before exiting the den.
Darkstone tried moving himself, but it hurt. Scars criss-crossed his pelt.
A rock fall did this! Darkstone thought fearfully, But the land won't get the best of me anymore! If I'm high up, I'll be alright.
Darkstone limped across the clearing as fast as he could, bringing a bit of moss with him. He scrambled up the tree and he put some moss into the largest hollow he could find in the branches.
He settled down in the moss, feeling safe from the rumble of rock that ground dwellers faced.
He started to drift off when he heard Littleleg's concerned voice ringing through the clearing, "Darkstone! Darkstone!"
Darkstone peered out from his branches, unwilling to go down, and called, "Here!"
"What are you doing up there?" Littleleg scolded.
"I..." he stammered. "I don't want to be on the ground," he admitted.
"Trauma," Littleleg nodded. "Fine," she mewed briskly, "Just so long as you can serve the Clan up there, I'm sure Spiderstar won't kick you out."
Darkstone smiled and hopped over to the next tree, his eyes scanning for birds or a squirrel. He spotted a thrush flapping on a branch. He charged toward it, but, unfamiliar with tree hunting, his paws slipped and he plunged back toward his greatest enemy: the ground. He let out a fearful yowl.
But his claws quickly sank into the branch, and he pulled himself back up. The thrush had flown away from his yowl, but at least he had all four paws back on his branches.
I must get used to this!
A half-moon had past and he had gotten used to living in the trees, and it felt good. Every morning, he got the first sunshine and warmth. Every morning he got the first moonlight and cool. The leaves shaded him from bad weather. Prey was plentiful in the trees and it was fun to watch as everybody else lived the ordinary life on the ground. Everyday, he would catch prey and drop it at the foot of his tree and Littleleg would bring him moss filled water.
He padded through the trees from branch to branch unaware of how the pines turned to oaks beneath his paws as he entered ThunderClan territory, unable to smell the markers. He leapt from branch to branch until he looked down to see a she-cat he didn't recognize. The she-cat was entranced by something, but he wasn't sure what. HJe decided to watch.
He took a deep breath and ThunderClan scent hit him. His eyes widened with worry at what he had done, but he continued to watch this cat anyway. Another scent hit him: the acrid tang of smoke.
He stood debating whether or not to warn this cat or to creep away slowly, but the fire was spreading quick so he leapt from branch to branch back to the pine forest of ShadowClan as fast as he could.
"Spiderstar!" a voice shouted.
It was Sparrowstar, the leader of ThunderClan.
Spiderstar padded out of his den stonily and Sparrowstar started talking, " One of your warriors were scented in our territory the other day. We have come to teach you a lesson."
Darkstone let out a fearful gulp from his tree. Oh no!
ThunderClan and ShadowClan started fighting aggressively. Darkstone watched, he wanted to serve his Clan, but how could he fight from the trees without touching paw on the ground.
Darkstone did the next best thing: he bolted from tree to tree and into ThunderClan territory and hunted as much as he pleased. The ThunderClan cats came crashing through the bushes triumphantly and Darkstone's blood ran cold.
They must have won!
Darkstone trudged through the trees and back to camp where he dropped his prey at the foot of the tree.
Spiderstar was panting and bleeding heavily, "You!" His eyes turned to Darkstone, "You were absent, unwilling to help us! You are banished Darkstone!"
"But... I hunted in their territory to teach them a lesson, since I couldn't fight!" Darkstone protested.
"Oh and why couldn't you fight? Because a few rocks almost killed you more than a half-moon ago? That chance was one in a million, and it wouldn't happen again to the same person! Leave!"
Darkstone's eyes filled with tears and he padded through the trees, his head and tail low, and into the kittypet territory.
At the foot of his new tree, a golden colored kittypet scrabbled around the roots.
Darkstone lifted his head, weak from thirst and hissed, "Hey, you down there!"
The kittypet lifted his head and turned his young amber gaze on him.
"I am in need of water!"
The kittypet cocked his head and meowed curiously, "Why can't you get water?"
"I'm not supposed to leave the trees."
The kittypet nodded, "I'll get you some, right away. By the way, my name is Lemon."
Lemon raced back into the forest, toward his nest and he brought back some mossy water.
"Here," Lemon meowed.
Darkstone drank it gratefully. "I'm Darkstone."
"Wow! A real Clan cat!" Lemon meowed excitedly.
"Yeah, but I was banished. Sit down and I'll explain everything."
"I'm sorry, Lemon, but I must leave."
"Awwww, why?" Lemon meowed, his eyes filled with sadness.
"I have a destiny, Lemon. I was told I must save the Clan with three other cats. My land fear will somehow play a role."
Lemon sighed, "I see there's no stopping you. Thanks for teaching me so much in the past few days. I promise I will see you again."
Darkstone purred, "Thank you, young one. May StarClan light your path."
Darkstone turned and padded though the trees all the way yo the lake when it started to rain. Darkstone watched as his vision was clouded by the pelting rain that had come as suddenly as the rocks and he sighed, taking refuge under a thick branch.
There he waited until the rain cleared up and he saw a dripping, white figure hobbled into the shed between ShadowClan and RiverClan territory.
That cat almost drowned!
He pushed the cat away in his mind and he fell asleep, wriggling to get comfortable as the wind ruffled the leaves.
The branch snapped suddenly and he went plunging toward the ground.
Darkstone blinked open his eyes to meet a she-cats bright white gaze. The whole place smelled of stone and he saw his surroundings in the sliver of moonlight that filtered into the cave.
"Am... Am I dead?" Darkstone asked.
"No," the she-cat meowed, "I am in your destiny!"
"Your one of the cats!" Darkstone meowed his eyes growing wide, "And I'm on the ground!" He scrambled up a rock and onto a branch, despite his pain.
"How did I get here?" Darkstone meowed curiously.
"I found you on the lakeshore after the storm," the she-cat meowed.
"By the way, I'm Runningfall. Formerly of WindClan and I fear the wind and sky. I know who you are. You're Darkstone and you fear land."
"How do you know that?" Darkstone meowed.
"I have been a loner for far longer than you have, most certainly, but that can come later. We have to wait for the prophecized cats to come," Runningfall meowed.
A tom stumbled into the cave in their silence and broke it after hissing at the stream and lying far from it, "How is this fear ever going to save the Clans? It can barely serve RiverClan!"
In the little light of the cave, Darkstone realized this was the half drowned white tom he had seen emerging from the river days ago.
"I know how," Runningfall meowed stepping forward.
The tom jumped to his feet, bristling and unsheathing his claws. Darkstone watched anxiously.
"Calm yourself. I am Runningfall. Formerly of WindClan. I fear the sky and wind. And this is Darkstone, formerly of ShadowClan. He fears the ground. And we are waiting for one more, to face our fears and save the Clans," Runningfall explained.
Darkstone nodded a greeting to the tom.
"I am Snowdream, formerly of RiverClan. I fear the water." Snowdream laughed dryly. "Ironic, isn't it. Of all things a RiverClan cat could hate, it hates water."
Darkstone didn't see anything funny about that and he gave him a sympathectic lookm as silence fell over the cave again.
Pawsteps sounded at the entrance of the tunnels and a tom and a she-cat hesitantly padded in.
"Who's there?" the tom demanded. Darkstone shrank back on his branch.
"Welcome," Runningfall meowed padding through the stream toward the cats. Darkstone puffed himself back up and he smiled, knowing that this she-cat was the one entranced by fire. And the one that feared it, too. Finally, there were four.
"We have been expecting you."
Sky Shattered Spirit
Wind ruffled Runningfall's fur as dawn roused the camp. Her silent vigil had just been completed and the sun was now peeking over the open hills of WindClan territory.
"Good watch, Runningfall," her former mentor Silverfur purred.
"You taught me, though and I promise to be the best warrior this Clan has seen." Runningfall smiled.
Runningfall padded out of camp to go hunt on the hills and bring back some prey.
She heard a purr behind her to find the apprentice who was crushing on her, Swiftpaw, "Nice ceremony, Runningfall! I get mine soon, then we can both be warriors!"
"So very true, Swiftpaw, but I think you had better hurry your tail back to camp. Your mentor is probably waiting for you."
"Ok, bye Runningfall!" Swiftpaw meowed. The light brown tom hurried back to camp.
Runningfall purred in amusement and she continued up the hill to hunt. She quickly caught two rabbits and set them on the hill to hunt more and retrieve them later. She spotted another rabbit nibbling on a stalk of grass and she crept up andsprang. The rabbit bolted and she chased it. The rabbit suddenly dissapeared and Runningfall skidded to a halt, the rabbit had fallen off the cliff and into the stream separating ThunderClan from WindClan.
Runningfall let out a sigh of relief, thankful she hadn't tumbled over the edge like the now lifeless rabbit.
She sat, letting her heart rate lower a bit, then she sat and enjoyed the dawn wind.
Her eyes narrowed. Runningfall sensed something bad. Runningfall prepared to turn around when she was thrown off the cliff.
Her stomach flipped. The breath went out of her as she yowled, letting it echo across the moor and she fell to the ground scraping against rocks, then falling into the stream where she was greeted with a mouthful of water. Her body felt like it had shattered into a thousand pieces.
Her head bobbed above surface as she spat out the water and started trying to paddle to shore. Eventually she made it and the wind whipped against her face, as if everything she had loved had turned against her. She staggered into the tunnels that led underground between ThunderClan and WindClan and she sat in the corner, away from the fierce wind. Away from the feared sky.
________________________________________________________________________________________________ Runningfall growled as she wrenched her dislocated shoulder into place with a crack. The fall had really banged her up and she vowed to live in the tunnels for as long as she could.
For the past day, she had been eating the fish and drinking thee water from the small stream that ran through the tunnels. Not really the taste of a WindClan cat but she woul do whatever she needed to survive.
Who knows how long I'll stay in here?
Runningfall drifted off to sleep on a little stone perch, letting the trickle of the river soothe her.
She was greeted by a bright forest. Calmly, she padded over to the foot of a tree.
A StarClan cat padded up to her and meowed, "Hello, my grandkit. I am sad to hear about your fall."
"I will survive, Breezefur," Runningfall meowed bowing her head, trying to block out the memory of her recent accident.
"You have a great destiny ahead of you, Runningfall. Windstar has told me that there will be three other cats that will join you in those tunnels with similar accidents of their own. Darkstone of ShadowClan will fear land. He will join you."
Runningfall was shown a dark brown tom with green eyes. She nodded.
"Snowpaw of RiverClan will join you as a warrior fearing water."
Runningfall saw another image, this time of a large, angry looking, white tom with blue eyes.
"And Pebblepaw of ThunderClan will join you as a warrior fearing fire."
This time Runningfall saw a silver-gray she-cat with blue eyes. She nodded again. "I understand, Breezefur."
"You will all save the Clans. Your fears will contribute to this, but you must defeat them. Overcome them."
________________________________________________________________________________________________ Runningfall growled. Already, for a whole half-moon, she had been living underground and nobody had come to the tunnels yet, to join forces and save the Clans. Not one scrap of fur had visited since her dream from StarClan.
"What if the prophecy was wrong?" she asked aloud.
Then she felt a faint rumbling under her paws and she narrowed her eyes. Then she realized that rocks were falling far away.
Maybe in ShadowCla- she cut of her thoughts then yowled, "Of course! It's the warrior that will fear land!"
Hope flared in her chest and she started pacing excitedly, asking herself all these questions about preparation for the other cats.
Should I go looking for Darkstone now? Should I catch prey if they arrive hungry? When will the others find their fears? How much longer will I be down here?
She decided to wait. It was the most rational thing to do, since two of the cats had not found their fears and prey would spoil when they arrived.
The underground stream flowed faster than before and it wasn't raining. Runningfall's eyes widened.
Snowpaw must be discovering his fear, yet Darkstone has not arrived? When will they come?
It had been a quarter moon since the rock fall in ShadowClan territory and there had not even been whisker sign of Darkstone.
She paced worriedly. I can't believe this!
She grew angry again. What had she been waiting for? Perhaps all these happenings were a coincidence.
No, she pushed the thought aside, They will come soon. I can feel it.
The air underground grew hot and the tangy scent of smoke floated on the stale underground air.
Pebblepaw and her fear! she realized.
Only days had passed since the rushing of the stream and she was relieved to see that the gap between the accidents wasn't long.
They will come even sooner now! There is a fire fear. There is a water fear. There is a land fear. And there is a sky fear. Saving the Clans cannot be too far off!
Thunder cracked and boomed outside and lightning illuminated the tunnels with every Flash.
Runningfall tucked her nose under her tail and tried to ignore the water everywhere and the intense light and noise out there. The cloudy day, she had known would bring rain and she had been prepared to here sky sounds, though traumatizing to her. Another few days had passed and there was still no sign of the three other cats.
Runningfall fell asleep, despite her fear of sky and woke up to the calm, strange, stillness of the air. It was dawn and it was cloudy. It had stopped raining,
I must go look for the cats, she decided. She knew that the stillness of the air and the cloudiness of the sky would blot out her fears, temporarily, but she had to be quick.
She emerged from the tunnels for the first time in almost a moon and she headed off across the territories looking for anything that would help her find the three cats: a patrol, a scrap of fur, a scent.
Then she stumbled across a huddled dark shape on the lake shore.
She grinned triumphantly and prodded him. He didn't move.
Is he dead? she wondered. Her hopes immediately vanished.
Then she noticed the faint rhythym of his breathing chest.
She smiled and picked him up by his scruff, taking him back to the tunnels.
It was dusk when Darkstone woke up.
The tom gazed at her, very confused, "Am... Am I dead?"
She smiled warmly, "No, I am in your destiny."
Darkstone's eyes widened, "You're one of the cats!" He stared at his surroundings and cried, "And I am on the ground!"
He frantically scrambled up the stone and onto an old branch despite the bruises and scratches.
How could you be so stuid? Runninfall scolded herself, You know he hates land!
"How did I get here?" the voice of Darkstone called from his branch.
"I found you on the lakeshore after the storm. By the way, I'm Runningfall. Formerly of WindClan and I fear the wind and sky. I know who you are. You're Darkstone and you fear land," she took a step toward the large, dark brown cat.
"How do you know that?"
"I have been a loner for far longer than you have, most certainly, but that can come later. We have to wait for the prophesized cats to come."
Runningfall shuffled her paws as silence fell over them and soon a white tom stumbled in grumbling, "How is this fear ever going to save the Clan? It can barely serve RiverClan!"
Runningfall looked at Darkstone who was staring in awe at the tom.
This is Snowpaw!
Runningfall stepped toward Snowpaw, "I know how."
Snowpaw leaped to his paws and unsheathed his claws, glaring aggressively at her.
"Calm yourself. I am Runningfall. Formerly of WindClan. I fear the sky and wind. And this..." Runninfall pointed her tail to Darkstone, who was still on the branch. Then she went on, "is Darkstone, formerly of ShadowClan. He fears the ground. And we are waiting for one more, to face our fears and save the Clans."
Snowpaw snorted, "I am Snowdream, formerly of RiverClan. I fear the water."
Oh, so he's Snowdream now!
Snowdream laughed in a cold tone, "Ironic, isn't it? Of all the things a RiverClan cat could hate, it hates water."
Silence fell upon them again as two more cats came in. Runningfall's eyes lit up.
This is the last one: Pebblepaw!
"Who's there?" the tom with her demanded.
Runningfall walked through the stream and forward, sympathizing the wince she got from Snowdream as she splashed through it.
"Welcome. We have been expecting you."
Good job, young one! Runningfall heard the purr of Breezefur and she swelled with pride and satisfaction.
"I..." Pebblegaze stammered, "I'm Pebblegaze."
"And I am Owlblink, her mate." Owlblink meowed.
Runningfall stepped forward, "You fear fire."
"Yes," Pebblegaze nodded.
"I... am Snowdream: fearer of water."
"And I..." Darkstone breathed from his branch, "am Darkstone: fearer of land."
Runningfall nodded to her companions and meowed, "I am Runningfall, fearer of the wind and sky and I have been planning out this meeting for almost a moon. What I decided we do first, was that we all share how we got our fears."
The cats nodded one by one and Runningfall came out front and meowed, "I fear the wind and sky because the day after my warrior vigil, I was chasing a rabbit. It fell off a cliff and into the stream but I was safe. I sat there a while enjoying the beauty of our territory when somecat pushed me off the cliff. Immediately, I can to live here. Darkstone next had his accident."
Darkstone shuffled his paws, "How did you know?"
"Because StarClan showed me all of you and what you feared. Then when Darkstone got his fear, the ground rumbled. When Snowdream got his fear, the stream ran faster. When Pebblegaze got her fear, their air got hot."
"Oh," Pebblegaze meowed.
"Ok, ummmmm," Darkstone began, his pelt growing hot, "I was exploring outside our territories and I sat to rest when... when a rock fall crushed me. I lived in the trees until I went unconcious in a rainstorm and Runningfall brought me here."
"I was sitting by the river fishing when somecat ran up behind me and smashed my face into the river and held me there until I went unconcious," Snowdream growled, "Then I was forced to leave the Clan in the middle of a rainstorm after sitting vigil in it. I didn't do it though. I ran! Once I get my claws on the cat that did this, I'll shred him!" Snowdream flexed his claws and snarled.
"I know how you feel," Darkstone purred, "I got kicked out from my Clan. And I... feel as if somecat arranged that fall. But why would somecat want to scar a normal cat like me?"
"So many questions," Pebblegaze clicked her toungue..
"I got mesmerized by fire and it spread, burning me. I wouldn't go out in daylight. And yes, I see what you mean. That fire was not miraculously started by greenfleaf since there was a really bad storm days later. On the other paw, I ran away from ThunderClan because I got the message," Pebblegaze continued.
"So what should we do, Runningfall?" Darkstone asked, shifting his paws.
"I know what we should do Landfear!" a snarl rang out.
Darkstone shrank back.
The three other cats turned to see four cats silhouetted by moonlight.
One of the four toms stepped forward and snarled, "I am Fire." Pebblegaze shivered.
Another stepped forward and growled, "I am Water." Snowdream bristled.
"I am Land," another tom squared up beside his counterparts. Darkstone ducked his head.
"And I am Sky," the last one stepped forward. Runningfall winced.
"If it isn't Firefear, Waterfear, Landfear, and Skyfear. What a surprise!" Fire snarled.
Water chuckled, "The Dark Forest said you would be here."
Runningfall gaped wide, "The Dark Forest!"
Snowdream brislted angrily, "What do you want?"
"Control of the Clans!" Land sneered, "I am taking ShadowClan!"
"I for WindClan!" Sky yowled.
"ThunderClan is for me!" Fire meowed triumphantly.
"I am taking RiverClan!" Water hissed, "And we want your pelts hanging over our dens as a trophy to show that Dark Forest cats always win."
"I pushed you off the edge, Runningfall," Sky hissed.
"I shoved you in the water, Snowdream," Water snarled.
"I caused the rock fall, Darkstone," Land smirked.
"And I started the fire, Pebblestare," Fire growled.
"Meet us on the island tomorrow at sunhigh. Do not be late!" Water hissed.
The four cats left as soon as they had come.
"In the daylight!" Pebblestare whimpered.
"Over the lake!" Snowdream yowled.
"On the ground!" Darkstone shreiked.
"In the open!" Runningfall gasped.
"We must do it," Darkstone meowed softly.
The other cats nodded because they knew Darkstone's fear was larger and more limiting than the others's fears and if he had the strength to face it, they could.
"It is decided," Runningfall shook her silver blue-spotted pelt, "We meet them tomorrow at sunhigh."
Pebblegaze took the first step in daylight in weeks and whimpered. Owlblink pressed up against her reassuringly.
Darkstone also took a step forward, cringing at the land beneath his paws.
Runningfall grudgingly let the wind blow through her fur and the sky touch her pelt.
Snowdream was alright until they got to the large tree that connected land to the island. He ran across blindly, with the others at his heels. All four Clans were gathered there all peering out nervously at the arriving four. Fire, Water, Land, and Sky stood in the middle of the circle.
"Fire," Pebblegaze murmured angrily
"Water," Snowdream growled.
"Land," Darkstone said softly, but angrily.
"Sky," Runningfall meowed venomously.
Water cackled, "You mean, Firestar, Waterstar, Landstar, and Skystar of ThunderClan, RiverClan, ShadowClan, and WindClan, don't you. We killed Sparrowstar, Willowstar, Spiderstar, and Breezestar last night and recieved our nine lives."
The four exiled cats stood agape at the new leaders.
"We were tricked!" Snowdream hissed.
"How are we supposed to beat ruthless nine-lived leaders against our elements?" Pebblegaze gasped.
"We just have to hope for the best," Darkstone murmured.
"Darkstone is right," Runningfall nodded. Then she stepped forward, "Leaders of the Clans, we request that in order to have a fair fight, we choose two helpers to battle with us."
"What?" Waterstar hissed, fury tinging his voice.
"Calm down, Waterstar. They are out against their fears and we have three times as many lives as three of them. We will still win," Skystar purred menacingly.
"Fine!" Firestar decreed, "Choose!"
Pebblegaze turned to stare at her mate and meowed, "Owlblink!" She turned to the rest of the Clan and pointed her tail at her mother, "Gorsestream!"
Snowdream turned to RiverClan and his eyes fixed in on his brother, "Stonepaw and..."
"I will do it!" a voice called from RiverClan.
Frostface, RiverClan's medicine cat, came forward with Stonepaw.
Darkstone turned to his Clan and called, "Littleleg and..." his eyes focused on a familiar young face in the hoard of ShadowClan cats, "Lemon!"
Littleleg and Lemon stepped up to him smiling.
"I choose Swiftpaw and Silverfur!" Runningfall meowed without hesitation.
Darkstone stepped up, "Can we have time to say final words to our Clanmates."
"Fine!" Landstar's tail twitched with annoyance, "Do it fast."
"Mother, I..." Pebblestare began, "I'm sorry for leaving you and for bringing you into this. It was destiny. And I..."
Gorsestream cut her daughter off with a purr, "I know, little one. When your father spurned the warrior code, I know that even though he was evil, you would have a special destiny. I am glad to fight with you, Pebblestare. I love you."
"Thank you, Mother," Pebblestare purred. She pressed her nose into her fur and meowed, "So Firestar is my father, then?"
Pebblestare turned to Owlblink.
"I love you, Pebblestare. Just remember, I will be beside you the whole time."
Pebblestare's eyes swelled with tears and she touched her nose to his, "Thank you, Owlblink."
Snowdream turned to Frostface and meowed, "Why did you come?"
"Snowdream when you were exiled, I gave up my duties to become a warrior because I recieved a dream from StarClan that involved you and I together, defeating your father, Waterstar. I loved you, Snowdream. I will fight and whatever happens we will fight, die or live together," Frostface spilled her feelings.
Snowdream purred, "Then my last act alive is to call you my mate, Frostface."
Snowdream turned to his brother, "I'm so sorry Stonepaw, for blaming you for my accident."
"I know. I forgive you. And my name is Stoneclaw now."
Snowdream pressed against his brother, "Thank you, Stoneclaw."
Darkstone stared in astonishment at Littleleg and Lemon.
"Darkstone," Littleleg purred, "I love you. I've hidden it since kithood, but I do. And I will help you defeat your dad, Landstar."
Darkstone smiled and purred, then turned to Lemon.
"I am Lemonpaw now. I joined the Clan because of your teachings and I will fight to the death to repay you for opening my eyes."
Runningfall stared warmly at Silverfur and Swiftpaw."
"You taught me so much, Silverfur, and I thank you for shaping me into a noble warrior. I don't know what to say, except that I hope you will help me to defeat Skystar, who, I presume, is my father."
"I will, Runningfall, I promise."
"I am Swifteagle now," Swifteagle purred, "And I hope you accept my request because I want you to be my mate."
"Of course, Swifteagle, of course!" Runningfalls' heart glowed.
"Alright! Enough!" Skystar hissed.
"Fight!" Firestar hissed.
As the battle started and the Clans watched, Firestar threw himself at his daughter. Pebblestare ducked and turned around, but her father was nowhere.
"Pebblestare, behind you!" Owlblink yowled.
Pebblestare jumped and rolled, but Firestar was too quick, his ginger pelt glowing in the sunlight. Gorsestream and Owlblink bowled him over and pinned him down.
Snowdream launched himself at Waterstar with Frostface and Stoneclaw flanking him. The cut off and surrounded the leader in a triangle. Snowdream nipped at him while Stoneclaw shredded his tail. Waterstar roared and threw Frostface off his back.
Enraged, Snowdream ran at his father and tackled him, rolling and rolling, biting and slashing.
Darkstone jumped over Landstar and growled. Littleleg and Lemonpaw shadowed his every move. Landstar jumped onto his son's back and started to shred it.
Lemonpaw tackled the huge tom and Littleleg delivered a fierce blow to the eye.
Darkstone got up ignoring the pain and drove Landstar against some stones, clawing angrily with his two counterparts.
Runningfall ran at her father and tackled him. Swifteagle padded up beside her and slashed at Skystar. Skystar threw them off and Runningfall, Silverfur, and Swifteagle advanced in an attack triangle.
Skystar let out a hiss and dodged the claws of Silverfur to be caught in the jaws of Swifteagle.
It went on like that, all afternoon, back and forth. At times, one would gaint he upper hand, but for the most part it stayed balanced. Blood and shreds of fur stained the battlefield until dusk, when everything changed.
Pebblestare, Owlblink, and Gorsestream had Firestar flattened against a tree trunk.
Snowdream, Frostface, and Stoneclaw had Waterstar pinned to the ground on the island's shore.
Darkstone, Littleleg, and Lemonpaw had Landstar pinned to the boulders.
Runningfall, Silverfur, and Swifteagle had Skystar flattened in the middle of the clearing.
Owlblink, Gorsestream, Frostface, Stoneclaw, Littleleg, Lemonpaw, Silverfur, and Swifteagle backed away from the four leaders in the claws of their kits.
"Father, I know this is hard for both of us to be fighting one another..." Pebblestare began, talking to Firestar in general.
"But you leave us no choice..." Snowdream growled at Waterstar.
"For mentally scarring your kit..." Darkstone murmured to his father.
"You must pay the price!" Runningfall yowled.
"You four..." Pebblestare hissed.
"This..." Snowdream growled.
"Ends..." Darkstone barked.
"Now!" Runningfall snarled.
And they raised their claws for the kills, four things happened at once, so quickly.
1. Lightning struck the tree Pebblestare had Firestar pinned against and it caught on fire.
2. A huge waved sucked Snowdream and Waterstar into the lake.
3. The stones that Darkstone had Landstar pinned against fell on them.
4. A gust of wind swept Runningfall and Skystar into a thorny tree.
"Pebbletstare!" Owlblink yowled.
"Snowdream!" Frostface cried.
"Darkstone!" Littleleg gasped.
"Runningfall!" Swifteagle shreiked.
Pebblegaze stood up and padded out of the fire, her pelt ablaze.
Snowdream came out of the water, his pelt transparent and wet.
Darkstone came out of the boulders his pelt hard and jaggedy.
Runningfall jumped out of the tree, almost invisible and light as a feather.
"They are the true leaders of the Clans!" a cat yowled.
The four cat joined in the middle as the abnormal image of their pelts vanished.
Silence fell on the Clans.
"In a few days, after our Clans get back in order..." Snowdream yowled, "we go to recieve our nine lives and leader names."
The four cats touched noses and left the island, Clan by Clan.
A few days later, Pebblestar padded into ThunderClan's camp where she was greeted by Owlblink and her mother, and new deputy, Gorsestream.
She hopped onto the Highledge and called her first meeting. As she did, her pelt was set ablaze again. The cats came out as the fire on her died down and vanished.
"I am now Pebblestar, leader of ThunderClan."
"Pebblestar! Pebblestar! Pebblestar!"
"But, I have an announcement. I will not be fighting or hunting for some moons now because, I have been expecting Owlblink's kits for some time now."
Owlblink's chest puffed up with pride.
Pebblestar's gaze swept across ThunderClan, her Clan. She smiled at the thought of her kits growing up here with her leading.
Yes, she thought, I will lead with my spirit of fire.
At that same moment, Snowstar padded into camp and called a meeting. His pelt went transparent again and quicly went back to normal.
"I, Snowstar, leader of RiverClan, promise to protect my Clan with my heart and spirit."
"Snowstar! Snowstar! Snowstar!"
Snowstar's gaze fell on Frostface, who was smiling with all the warmth and love of the sun. He dismissed the meeting and went into his den.
"Snowstar!" Stoneclaw, his deputy called, "Frostface is here."
Frostface padded in, joy and love in her expression.
"Snowstar," she purred, "I have something to tell you..."
Snowstar already knew though, he could already guess.
My kits will be born and I will protect them, my beautiful mate, and my Clan with my spirit of water.
In the bordering territory, Darkstar called a meeting. His pelt, once again, went hard and jagged, then back to his soft pelt.
"I am now Darkstar, leader of ShadowClan."
"Darkstar! Darkstar! Darkstar!"
"And my first act as leader is to giver Lemonpaw his warrior name. Lemonpaw come forward."
The golden-furred apprentice bounded up to him and Darkstar yowled, "I call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has trained hard to learn the ways of your noble code and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn. Lemonpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and protect ShadowClan, even at the cost of your life?"
"I do!" Lemonpaw's amber eyes glowed.
Darkstar's emotions brimmed as he thought of his own kits becoming warrior someday, which Littleleg was expecting and he purred, "By the powers of StarClan, Lemonpaw, you are now Lemonclaw. StarClan honors your skill and courage and we welcome you as a full warrior of ShadowClan!"
"Lemonclaw! Lemonclaw! Lemonclaw!"
As the meeting came to a close and Lemonclaw padded across the clearing, Darkstar thought deeply.
This is not going to be easy, but I will protect ShadowClan, with my claws and my spirit of land.
Across the territory, Runningstar padded back into the WindClan camp, where she was met by Swifteagle and Silverfur, who she had made her deputy.
"I am leader now," she meowed touching her nose to each of them, "And I am expecting Swifteagle's kits."
Swifteagle's eyes brimmed with pride and he licked her ear, "That's wonderful!"
Runningstar hopped called a meeting as she hopped gracefully onto her den, light as a feather and almost invisible again. It faded as she began to speak.
"I have recieved my nine lives!"
"Runningstar! Runningstar! Runninstar!"
"I will serve WindClan whole-heartedly, even with my kits. Thank you for this opportunity. I never expected this," Runningstar meowed.
Runningstar hopped off and dismissed the cats. She went into her den and reviewed what had happened exactly one moon ago, and what had followed.
So much has changed. I have made three friends. I have destroyed my fears and they have destroyed theirs. I have a mate. I am expecting kits. I am leader. she thought, I will protect my friends, my mate, my kits, my Clan with my spirit of sky.
As the four leaders looked up at the stars that night, they knew they would be forever connected in heart and spirit.
Heart of Fire.
Heart of Water.
Heart of Land.
And Heart of Sky.