This is book two of the Poisonous Perfection series. Enjoy!
I wake up to the beautiful sunset of a SnowClan leaf-fall. Yes, sunset. I had been asleep all day, preparing for I and Spiritsky's journey. Nothing can go wrong now.
A black head pokes in the den. "Here's your squirrel Ivystar."
"Thank you Thornfur. Put it down; I'll eat in a minute." The tom nods and drops it, but lingers, probably waiting for an invitation to eat with me. I dismiss him with a quick flick of my tail. I'm in no mood to play games tonight. After he's gone, I call Beetlefur, my guard for the night, inside. "Get Snowheart for me."
He dips his head hastily. "Right away, Ivystar." Turning, he scampers down into the camp. I curl my lip into a sneering smile. Let's see if my puppet of a sister has anything useful to say.
When Snowheart enters- well... maybe I was wrong to call her a puppet. Her navy eyes blaze with as much spirit and vivacity as they ever did. The silly fool. I get right to business. "What did you find out about Blackstorm?" She flushes. Her emotions are so plain to read; I almost feel sorry for her. She doesn't stand a chance against me. Almost, but not quite.
"Not much," she says, careful to evade my gaze. I turn on my snake-gaze, almost able to picture the murky green of my eyes light up with a hypnotizing light. She cannot escape. It's like playing with cornered prey. "Well..." she stammers awkwardly, "She thinks that SnowClan is doing very well under your reign." I allow myself one blissful moment of believing her. Then I'm on top of her, pinning her against the ground so fast she doesn't know what hit her.
"Don't lie to me," I hiss, pressing my nose against hers threateningly. Slowly, keeping a smile on my face, I unsheathe my claws and let them press against her throat. "Try that again Snowheart. What did you find out?" She gulps. I drink in her fear. It's something to keep me going tonight; the knowledge that I have control over her. Over the entire SnowClan.
"She..." Snowheart looks so lost it's hard to keep from laughing with glee. "She wishes you would give us more prey," she blurts. I can see from the look on her face that she's slipped. The corners of my mouth twitch sadistically. This is so much fun!
"Oh really?" I loosen my grip and then get off her, but block her escape out of my den. "Tell me more."
"There's nothing more really." She looks uncomfortable. "That's it. Since leaf-bare's coming up and all..."
"I'll see to it," I cut her off shortly. I would dearly love to play more games, but Spiritsky has appeared in the entrance to my den. "Get out of here." Looking take aback, she hurries out of my den. I poke my head out. "See that we're not disturbed," I tell Beetlefur. He nods.
"Ivystar-" Spiritsky begins.
"Are you ready?" I hiss. Her ears flatten against her head and she nods, looking scared.
"This isn't right," she tries again.
"This isn't about what you think Spiritsky. You agreed to help me, didn't you?" She opens her mouth, but I interrupt, anticipating what she's going to say. "No matter the reason, whether I forced you to or not, you said you would. You can't lie to me."
She drops her gaze, her blue eyes filling with hopelessness. "Okay."
"Good. Now let's go." I lead the way out of my den. Beetlefur glances at me, but with a single glare I silence him. I head out of camp. Snowheart, who is sharing a tiny squirrel with, who else, Blackstorm, looks up at me. For a second as our gazes meet I feel a thrill of fear. But I quickly shake it off. She's helpless, and not nearly as talented as me. She poses no threat. She's just... annoying.
Rocks skitter under our paws and bounce down the slope ahead of us, echoing through the valley. I freeze for a second. I thought I heard a kit's cry, far off in the night. It came from behind me, but farther back than the camp, and anyway, there are no kits in SnowClan anymore. Not since I got rid of that pack of worthless she-cats. For a second I let my imagination run away with me. Suppose Pinecloud and the others found a way to stay on our territory? Then I roll my eyes. I've hightened security to a peak around here. Nothing gets past my patrols.
Spiritsky reaches the bottom of the hill and waits for me. I slow my pace. If you're not faster than someone, make slow the new cool. Waving my tail airly, enjoying the way the silver-white wisps look blowing in the night breeze, I finally join her. The medicine cat takes a deep breath. "What exactly do you want me to do Ivystar?"
I glare at her. "We'll figure that out when we get there." She nods and looks away. As we walk into the pine forest, towards Lily Pond, I study her. If Spiritsky wasn't a medicine cat, I would've killed her a long time ago. She's very pretty, I'm willing to admit that. Beauty does nothing for my enemies once they're dead. Except cause their death. When Spiritsky fulfills her purpose, I'll kill her too. But for now, I analyze whether her soft blue eyes and gleaming silver-tabby-and-white coat is enough to lure a tom despite the fact that she is a medicine cat.
Then there's Snowheart. I've bested her at everything, but I can't be comfortable that she's completely submitted to me. No matter what I do, I feel like something about her... I can't explain it. The way Honeywind and Beepelt, I refuse to call them my parents, doted over her like she was an angel from StarClan. The way that even though I did better than her in hunting, training, and popularity, she never seemed to doubt herself. She was always ready to stand out, no matter what it meant.
Stop it! I say it to myself so loudly that I half expect Spiritsky to hear me, but she doesn't look up; her head continues to droop as she trudges onwards. I have no time for sentiment today. Today, everything changes.
"Is this it?" I hiss. We're at the outskirts of the pine forest, a bit out of SnowClan's territory. A crumbled pile of rocks stands in front of us, overgrown with lichen and moss, clumps of browned grass peeping out from various cracks and crevices. Spiritsky says nothing. She appears to be in some kind of trance.
"Can't you feel it?" she breathes. I glance at her. Her face, bathed in silver moonlight, seems so ethereal it unnerves me.
"So this is it," I growl. "Nothing wrong with speaking in regular terms."
"Yes there is," she whispers, as if trying to shush me. "Tonight, we speak the language of the stars." Then her reverie fades and a haunted look comes into her eyes. She gazes at me. I fidget uneasily. I can't believe how much damage one she-cat can do. After this, she's got to go. "We shouldn't be doing this. It's wrong Ivystar."
I snap. "I don't care!" I yell, my voice shattering the stillness. Even I feel the wrongness of anger and volume in this silent realm. But I won't let that stop me. Nothing can stop me. Not StarClan themselves. "Now do your job before I slit your worthless throat." I press my face into hers, smirking as I watch her pale and shrink beneath my gaze.
"Okay," she quavers. One unsteady legs, she walks over to the rock-pile and investigates. A frown appears on her face.
"What?" I hiss.
"I don't know..." She squints. "It's not what I expected. I thought we were supposed to find a cave. But there's no sign of one here."
I pad over slowly. My fur prickles the closer I get. "This place isn't right." She ignores me, scraping and rummaging among the rocks intently. "What are you searching for?"
She shrugs. "Something. Anything to let us know how to get in. It won't be out here. We need to find it." I sigh. Do all medicine cats have to be so annoying? I peer at the rocks, and a wave of anger washes over me.
"You liar! This isn't it at all!" I begin advancing on her, the hair along my spine raising. My lips peel back from my teeth threateningly. Spiritsky lets out a small gasp and backs up, brushing against a small green stone embedded between two boulders. Suddenly the ground starts to tremble.
I'm thrown off my paws as dust fills the air. The sound of crumbling rock wrenches through my ears, and bits and shards of stone rain down on me. What's going on?
When the dusty air clears, I stagger to my feet, eyes watering and coughing hard. Then I gasp. The two massive boulders have wrenched apart, revealing a small opening in the ground. A cave.
Spiritsky gets to her paws and stares at the opening dumbly. I shoulder her out of the way and stand over it, grinning. "Perfect."
Turning to her, I say, "You go in first." Before she can reply, I shove her in.
There's a muffled thump, then she calls up, "It's safe."
I scramble in after her, wincing as the dirt clumps to my coat. How will I look after this? I've got to give myself a good grooming, that's for sure. The cave is like a long, narrow passage. There's only space to go single-file, so Spiritsky leads me through it. The ground is sloping gently downward, and I can barely see the earthen walls on either side of me. Then, suddenly, without warning, it opens up into a large chamber. A rock-studded ceiling arches over our heads, but the main stunner is a giant pearly blue rock that juts out of the ground. "We've found it." I'm sure of it.
But what now? The unspoken question lingers in the air between us. Then I drop something from my jaws. I had a feeling we'd need it. The green stone. The round, smooth emerald surface sparkles even in the darkness. I blink hard. Am I just imagining the ray of blue-white light emitting from the larger blue rock to the pebble? I glance at Spiritsky and see that she sees it too. The jewel gives out its own green light, and the two collide, sending a panorama of rainbows across the cave. The ground begins to quake again, but no rocks fall. Instead, silver forms emerge, seemingly from nowhere and everywhere. Gradually, as the light dims once more, they take on the shapes and colors of cats, with pelts ranging from silver-white to ginger-gold.
With one voice they chant, "We have been Summoned."
A large ginger tom steps forward, his green eyes matching the shade of the emerald pebble perfectly. "You are the Caller." He doesn't say it as a question, but I'm still confused. Still, I raise my chin to a proud angle, ignoring my dusty, matted coat, and glare at him. That's all I have for now.
A lovely, lithe she-cat with a dense coat the color of light hazelnut steps forward. "Yes, she is." Her gaze, which is the same hue as the blue StarStone, is calm yet questioning. "What do you need help with?"
"I'll ask the questions," I say, cutting off Spiritsky with a flick of my tail. "StarClan, I presume?"
They exchange rueful glances. "What's left of it," snorts the ginger tom. The she-cat, his mate probably, flicks him on the shoulder disapprovingly.
"Why have you Summoned us?" she says in a soft voice. She looks tired. They all do. Though the silver shimmer around them is bright and captivating, closer observation reveals that their eyes are dulled and weary.
"One reason. I want more power."
I think I detect the corners of the tom's mouth twitching, and I shoot him a scornful glare. The she-cat looks surprised and saddened. "Why?" she says softly, as if she's talking to a kit, telling me something she's told me a thousand times before. It annoys me. "What do you think it will bring you?"
"That's for me to know," I snap. "And you to get me."
"How do you think we can get you power?" snaps the ginger tom. "Look around you. We're all that's left! We can barely-" His mate clamps her tail in his mouth to silence him.
"We're sorry. StarClan cannot help you, and even if we could, you aren't asking us for the right things. Good bye, and I hope you change your ways before it's too late."
"You little- Come back!" But one by one, the silvery cats are dissapating into misty vapor, then are gone altogether. Except for one. A black tom at the back. He pads forward slowly, his yellow eyes gleaming.
"I can give you what you want." I notice a look of dismay cross Spiritsky's face. I smile cunningly.
"Is that so?"
"Yes. If you are willing to pay the price. I must warn you, it is not cheap. What you are asking goes against a lot of fundamental rules that make us warriors. It won't be easy."
"I am willing. I will do anything for this. Anything." The ferocity of my hiss echoing around the chamber seems to surprise him.
"Okay. See the blue of the StarStone?" I nod. "Did you see the green of Fireblast's eyes?" I nod again, realizing that must be the ginger tom. "Now look," he says, gesturing toward a clear puddle on the floor. I peer inside and gasp. My own reflection stares back at me, green eyes glowing, but beside me is Snowheart. Her normally navy eyes are pale and ghostly, the color of the StarStone. My head jerks around. Nothing.
"H-how'd you do that?" I stammer, then immediately berate myself for sounding like a kit. Composing myself, I snap in a harsher tone, "And what does the color of my eyes have to do with power?"
"Everything," he says in a hushed voice. "First, what do I get out of this?"
"What do you want?"
"When you acquire the power, you must make me a Vessel as well."
He sighs dramatically. "I can see I have a lot to teach you. When you are a Vessel, you hold the power. You are invincible and immortal. Do you understand?"
"Why would I give you all that power then?" I hiss, flattening my ears against my head. Does he really think he can trick me?
"Because," he says impatiently. "You can't possibly hold all that power at once. You would explode."
I was about to explode with anger right then and there. "The power of what? What are you talking about?"
He is aggravatingly calm. "The power of the White Ivy."
For a few seconds I remained silent, a chill running down my spine inexplicably. Somehow, those two words seemed to hold a lot of power. I shake myself. Of course they didn't. It was just my imagination. "The White Ivy?"
"Yes," he said, his tone growing mysterious and eerie. "Some say it is a spirit, or an actual cat, others say it is a jewel or a stone. Still others say it's an actual plant. One thing everyone agrees on is: no one will ever find it, nor truly harness the power of the White Ivy."
I peel my lips back in a snarl. "That's what you think And it's probably true. Until now."
"You really want this?" he asks. I nod fiercely. The corners of his mouth tug into a smile. "Then I'll help you get it. I'll find something out and visit you in your dreams. Deal?"
I nod once more. Our eyes narrow, sizing each other up. We both know there is no honesty or honor in this promise. We're both in it for ourselves. And I'll make sure I come out on top in this deal of deciet. No matter what.
Just at the brink of the pine forest, when we're almost home, I turn on Spiritsky. She stops and gives me a small, sad smile. "I won't tell."
The evil inside me is rising like a green cloud, filling me. I know what I have to do. Unsheathing my claws, I press my face against hers. "No," I promise. "You won't." In one smooth motion, before she knows what's happening, I raise my front paw and slice open her throat.
Her blue eyes widen in shock for a split second before she topples backwards into the pines. I kick branches over her body, but not before kneeling beside her and whispering into her lifeless ear, "And that's one promise I will keep."
"Ivystar? Here's your prey." Thornfur drops a squirrel at my paws.
I grin alluringly up at him, and am rewarded by a dreamy look in his eyes. Running my tail along the ground, back and forth, I meow, "Good. Thank you Thornfur. Now, please call together the Council. I have some things we need to discuss."
He nods. "Right away Ivystar."
They arrive quickly. Beetlefur sits closest to me, Thornfur on my other side, and Weaselclaw trying to edge nearer as well. Blackfire saunters in last, and sits at the edge of the den, his golden eyes cool and calculating. I almost feel sorry for him.? No one can defy me for long. Absolutely no one.
"What do you want?" Blackfire says. The others boggle at him. It is an unspoken rule that I always speak first at Council meetings. It is also a rule that anyone who talks to me doesn't use words or tones like his.
"Excuse me?" I say in a clipped tone, fighting to keep control. Had it been any other cat, I would've plotted their death instantly. But I have plans for Blackfire. Visions. He would make a great coruler once I acquire the power of the White Ivy. Tonight, I will meet with my StarClan ally. And we shall decide what to do.
"Will there be any more interruptions?" I inquire, scanning the faces around me. The other toms shake their heads. Blackfire doesn't react. Gritting my teeth, I remind myself that he'll do anything for me once I am finally in my most-deserved throne.
"Good. Now let's get on with this. You see, there will have to be some changes very soon. Once I acquire a certain power, I will be doing something with SnowClan. Each of you has a chance to rule with me." I slowly lock gazes with each tom. In the first three I see all I want: passion, adoration, and devotion. The fourth pair... not so much. Copper-gold eyes as cool as stone, regarding me critically. Blackfire sure can mask his emotions, I'll give him that.
"What kind of changes?" he asks.
I narrow my eyes and speak through gritted teeth again. "We'll talk about when we get to that point. The point is, I want some of you to scout for possible 'captains.' You four will obviously be my ruling four, but we need disposable minions to do our dirty work. I'll tell you more when the time comes, but for now, just know that we want the best cats possible, besides you guys." I smile sweetly. "Feel free to use flattery." Like I am on you mousebrains.
"So... we just find the right cat?" Beetlefur says eagerly. I nod and he grins. "Cool."
"Except for Blackfire. I want you to watch Snowheart." He blinks at me.
I frown. Why does he suddenly look nervous? Relaxed, composed Blackfire? Nervous? Something's up here. I had thought that he being my smartest member of the Council, he could watch over my ragtag sister and make sure she doesn't cause any trouble.(I'd never make her a leader) But now, I'm not so sure. And I hate being unsure of myself. It's horrible, and the only thing worse is to show it. Throwing my shoulders back I say, "Yeah. I want you to watch her and make sure she's good material." And I'll be watching you, I add silently.
The Council breaks up, and I sit down in my nest. Oh, how much they don't know.
"What's your name?"
I bristle and glare at the StarClan tom. "Ivystar. Don't you know that already?"
He grins easily. "You'd tell me your name just like that? You obviously know nothing about underhanded scheming."
I give him my best sugary smile, tasting the sickening poison of my own behavior with relish. "You're right on the mark there buddy. I know absolutely nothing about that, but," I wave my tail under his chin with a giggle, "I'm learning."
He blinks. "You can't try that on me Ivystar. I'm immune." But I can see a flicker of uncertainty in his eyes. Not even StarClan offers protection from my charms. I curl my lip.
"Well? Aren't you going to introduce yourself? I don't think this partnership will work out long-term unless we get to know each other."
"Very funny," he snaps irritably. "I am Viperface."
I grin saucily. "Nice name. What was your mother's name?"
Viperface ignores me. We're silent for a moment. He really does deserve that name, I reflect. His black fur is banded with ruffles just like a snake's skin, and his face is narrow and pointed, with a small red mouth that parts to reveal a pair of hooked fangs. This might unnerve another cat, but to me it is just proof that I picked the right cat for the job. Finally he says, "So, the White Ivy. Do you want to learn about it or not?"
I return to my serious state. "Yes. What did you find out?"
He beckons me closer and suddenly a thick mist wraps itself around us. I cough and blink my eyes, straining to see. When it finally clears, we are no longer in my dream. I have no idea where we are. Not good. Dark tendrils curl around the surrounding trees, swaying in a cutting wind. A young she-cat runs across the forest floor, her breath coming in gasps. I narrow my eyes. There's something familiar about her.
Then she looks up and a catch my breath. One of her eyes is a deep navy blue that I know well. Snowheart. But the other is a bright, luminescent green that I only see in my own reflection. "Who is she?" I ask. Viperface signals to be quiet, and I decide to obey, knowing I'll probably soon find out.
The she-cat looks distressed. Her different-colored eyes are brimming with tears that can't just be because of the cold, and she keeps looking around wildly, as if something might be following her. The fur on the back of my neck prickles. "Can she sense us?"
"No," Viperface says, shaking his head. When my eyes fill with disbelief, he explains, "Things work differently with StarClan cats. They may have lost power, but it still has some advantages."
I frown. "They? Don't you mean-" He cuts me off, heading off at a brisk trot. I hurry to catch up as we follow the she-cat.
She stops suddenly. "I'm here. I'm ready."
Out of nowhere, silvery shapes materialize. StarClan cats. I glance at Viperface, but he shakes his head once more. "This already happened. They can't see us. This was a long time ago. That isn't StarClan, not yet anyway. The clans don't exist yet. This is the Time Before The Clans. There is no code. No honor. But one cat..." he trails off and motions to the she-cat, who is now sitting down.
"Are you ready?" asks one starry cat, whatever they are. She looks worried, no something deeper than that. Sadness. Helpless sorrow. I roll my eyes.
"Yeah." Their eyes lock and the she-cat's lip trembles. "Don't make this harder than it needs to be."
"Okay," the elder sighed. "We'll always honor you for this Aurora." Aurora shook her head.
"Don't. Please." She bowed her head. "I'm ready."
"You do understand what will happen now, don't you?" She nodded. "Okay." The elder she-cat raised a paw, and a ball of fiery energy emerged, seeming to pour from the younger's body. Aurora let out a pained whimper as the ball grew larger, two separate spheres forming. One was pale blue, the other burning green. Slowly, as the ghostly cats began to chang in low voices, the two spheres began to merge. Aurora let out a bloodcurdling scream that stopped my heart too, and I'm rarely affected by other cat's pain. Almost never, in fact.
Her body seemed to be collapsing into itself, but suddenly it righted itself. I let out a pure gasp. She was white. Pure, glowing white. I stare at her in awe. Her eyes burn brighter than ever, but something is missing. Something essential to being a cat. Still, I hardly notice that above the power I can feel seeping from every part of her. Delicious power, so real and strong I'm almost overwhelmed.
She blinks slowly. "The White Ivy has arrived."
Most of the silvery star-cats look relieved or happy. One tom says, "I can feel it. The warrior code. It is alive. The clans are ready to form." But the old she-cat bows her head.
"Aurora is gone. And as much as I hate to do this, it's time for you to go too." She gives a nod, and Aurora, or the White Ivy, is spun into a blend of pure power, pulsating half with venom and half with buttery dreams. Then she's gone, and all that remains is a smooth blue-green stone. It looks suspiciously like the StarStone, but it's bigger, and definitely part green, not pure sky. Then, Viperface whips his tail and I'm back in my cushy nest, early dawn light streaming into my den. I get up and shake myself.
"Aurora. But what happened to the White Ivy?"
"Ivystar, you'd better come hear this." Beetlefur and Weaselclaw are standing in the entrance to my den, looking nervous.
I get up and stalk over to the, just letting the feathery mane of silver fur around my neck brush them. "Yes?"
"It's... Remember that group of she-cats you banished when we did the hunting quest to prepare for leaf-bare?" Beetlefur says. I blink slowly.
"Uh, I think their names were Pinesong, Ashcloud, and Silentpelt, or something like that. And Ashcloud had a bunch of kits."
Slowly the faces emerge in my memory. The three cats I had gotten rid of to crush Snowheart's spirit. She was getting too self-confident, and I managed to rid some competition in the process of bringing her down a notch. "What about them?"
"Well... I was walking around the back of camp, and just for a minute, I thought I saw one of them," Beetlefur gulps as he says this. I freeze, and turn to him like I'm underwater.
"What did you say?"
Weaselclaw speaks up, looking scared. "It's true. I was with him. We saw one, the gray she-cat with the golden eyes. She looked different; wilder, but it was her. I know it was. I'd know her anywhere."
I scowl. Beetlefur mistakes the reason for it. "Don't worry Ivystar. We can take a patrol up there and get rid of them. A few scrawny she-cats will be no match for SnowClan's elite warriors, fed and trained under your command."
I ignore him, my gaze focused on Weaselclaw. Something faintly tugs at the back of my mind. "I'd know her anywhere."? That wasn't right. I thought back to our days as apprentices. Weaselpaw, a happy, contented smile on his face, coming in through the thorn barrier with... Ashpaw! And the kits. I'd never bothered to find out who the father was, but now I realize how stupid that was. A mother meant a father, a father who cared more about his queen than me. And we just couldn't have that.
Hiding my rage, I say, "Don't worry about it Beetlefur. I'm not worried. In fact, I'll take a patrol up there myself. You two can come. Go get Snowheart and Blackfire too. That'll be enough. And tell Thornfur he's in charge of the camp till we get back."
"You got it," Weaselclaw says as they head off. I flex my claws comfortably. I'll let the others kill off the rest, but Ashsong is mine. I'll bleed her slowly to death, and enjoy every minute of it. And if the kits are there, all the more pleasure, hearing their pained cries. That is, of course, if they've survived, which I doubt.
In a few minutes, the two toms return with Blackfire and Snowheart. Blackfire looks oddly composed, but there's a caged look in his eye. That's more than I can say for Snowheart though. She looks terrified. Fear oozes out from her even as she struggles to mask it. Does she know? Anger boils in my veins. Of course! How could I be so stupid? She's been hiding them all along. When I heard something that night with Spiritsky, I hadn't been imagining it. It was one of those sniveling kits.
I curl my lips into a snarl just thinking about it. How dare they try to decieve me? Then I freeze. It's quite likely that Snowheart won't fight on my side if I take her on this patrol. But if I decide not to take her, I won't get to observe how she and Blackfire act around each other(I have my suspicions) and it'll make me look weird. Then, a beautifully cruel idea springs into my head. I'll need to get her alone to execute it, but it just might work. No. It will work. I'll make it. After all, I am Ivystar, leader of SnowClan. I can do anything.
Perhaps we'll need an extra cat now, to make up for my traitorous sister. "Torntail," I call. "You can come with us. Beetlefur, tell him what's going on. Let's go." I lead the way out of the thorn barrier without pausing to make sure they're following. I know they are, even Snowheart. Much as she tries to rebel, the truth is, she's too scared of me to actually do anything, and we both know it. At least, I thought I knew it. Until now. If she's been keeping the fact that her friends are living right behind SnowClan's camp- I push the thought away. We're dealing with that right now, and soon they'll be out of my fur forever.
"Where exactly are we going?" Snowheart asks. Her voice is practically a squeak. I sneer and whirl to face her, seizing the opportunity.
"I don't know Snowheart. Perhaps you'd care to tell me."
"W-what?" She stumbles backwards a few steps.
I curl my lip. "You heard me. Don't play innocent with me, dearie. I'm no fool. You knew perfectly well that those dirtbag she-cats were behind our territory all this time, didn't you?" My voice rises in a crescendo as I spit the words at her, till I'm yelling. "Didn't you?"
The other cats look on, stunned. I never lose my cool like this. Feeling my fur bristle, I give it a quick lick and force a serene smile onto my face. "Take me to their hiding place and I'll spare your worthless pelt."
Snowheart gulps, her eyes shifting from me to the others, then back to me. "I don't know where they are," she tries desperately. In a flash, I bring out my claws and press them lightly to her throat.
"Oh really? I really wouldn't reccomend lying to me Snowheart. It never works out well."
Her tail droops in defeat. "Okay," she croaks. "I'll take you to them." My ears flick at what sounds like a sigh of relief. I turn and scrutinize the other cats. Was it Blackfire? The black tom meets my gaze with his normal coolness, but I detect some break in it. That irritates me. Is Snowheart the only cat that can break anyone's outer shell around here? Maybe she can break the hold I have on SnowClan too. She's definitely a threat. Yes, she has to go. Just like Spiritsky, only more urgent. That silly medicine cat was just collateral damage. Snowheart is my target. And today, she will be vanquished.
"Come on," she says, her voice heartbroken. I sneer at the pain in it, and relax my claws slightly.
"I'll be right behind you. Don't try any funny stuff." She nods miserably and begins padding ahead of me. I frown as we scramble down the mountainside, not sure where we're going. And I hate being unsure of myself. Snowheart seems to be quite confident though, and I decide not to question her, for now. Suddenly, she stops, so I almost run into her.
"Wait... I just remembered." She frowned, appearing to be lost in thought. I have no time for this.
"What?" I snap.
"They have a really good view..." she mused, half to herself. "We need to split up. I'll lead some of you guys to the hiding place, and the rest of you need to circle around, keeping out of sight. Too many of us will alert them to our approach."
"So?" Beetlefur scoffs, voicing my thoughts. "We can just overpower them anyway."
She shook her head. "They'll find a way to escape, and Ashsong will find a way to save at least her kits. I know that about her."
I frown. "How do we know that you're telling the truth? Those mange-pelts were your 'friends' once upon a time."
She sighs. "You can't know, not for sure. But think of this. If I'm lying, I have nothing to gain from it, just death and punishment at your claws. And even then, I would accomplish nothing, for you would find them eventually, and everything would be in vain. It's your call Ivystar. Can you trust me on this one thing?"
I look around, sensing the spotlight on me. For once, I don't enjoy it. Then I meet her gaze, not as sisters, but as rivals in a deadly game, and wage the costs. Taking a deep breath, I say, "Okay. Let's do it."
"Where are we heading?" I snap. Snowheart has led us around the base of the mountain, but there have been no signs of any other cats being around. I'm beginning to suspect something's up. Is she leading us around in circles?
"Okay, we can stop here." Snowheart turns to face us. "Now we split up into groups. I and-"
I cut her off. I may have agreed to her idea, but I'm still running the show. "You will take me and Blackfire up to the place. Beetlefur, stay with the others and make sure you're ready to attack when I call."
Snowheart pales visibly. I can see I made the right move by saying I would come with her; she must've had some lame little plan to run away without my ever knowing. With a taunting smirk, I take a step forward. "Well, what are you waiting for? Lead on."
"Okay..." she says nervously, shifting from paw to paw. I notice that she tries to make eye contact with Blackfire, but he ignores her. Good.
My sister starts forward, climbing up the mountain. We're on the back of it now, the opposite side of the camp. A biting wind whips through my fur, and several silky strands whip against my face. Eyes watering, I push on, unwilling to show any signs of weakness. Blackfire brings up the rear, his head down and tail between his legs. He obviously didn't want to be here, but he would understand why this had to be done once my master plan had been revealed.
We had reached a ledge now, and my sister was beginning to look desperate. "Ivystar-"
"What?" I hiss. My murderous rage must've showed in my eyes, because she took a step back, then stiffened as her paw reached the edge of the ledge we were on. She closed her eyes, as if steeling herself for something. That should've been my first warning, but I would never have credited Snowheart with bravery like she showed. Whiny persistance maybe, but not courage.
So that's part of the reason I was surprised when she let out a bloodcurdling yell and charged at me.
In my shock, I went limp, and she managed to shove me around before I went into lockdown. Digging my claws into the rock till blood emerged at the pawtips, I shoved her hard against the side of the cliff. She winced but fought back ferociously. When did she get so strong? Last time I remember fighting her, I had pinned her easily. Now her raking claws send bits of silver fur flying off the cliff like little birds.
I'm not desperate enough(nor will I ever be) to ask for Blackfire's help, but I shoot him a glare that says as much. "Serve your leader Blackfire! Attack!" It's a command, though I'll bet he can read between the lines and see that this is all for the better.
Finally, he moves into action. Rushing towards us, he launches himself into the air, claws outstretched. I step back so he can have a good aim at Snowheart, but he twists in air, and-
"What?" My words come out garbled as the black tom lands on top of me, hissing and spitting, pinning me against the wall.
"Run Snowheart! Run!"
She doesn't need to be told twice, some part of my mind notes dryly. Turning tail, she races away from me. "No!" I scream, shoving Blackfire off of me. He teeters off the ledge, falls, lands on a small outcrop of rock below, and lies there, motionless. I turn my back on him, blocking out all thoughts except one: I've got to kill Snowheart. Now!
"Coward!" I screech, my fury propelling my long legs to swallow up the ground. Pebbles and dust go flying out from under my paws. A misstep on such treacherous ground- I push that thought away. I have to catch her! "Get back here!" I spot her ahead, pinned against a dead end, where the ledge is cut off by a sheer strip of rock rising out from the cliff. Her ears flatten as I come into view, lips peeling back viciously. I unsheathe my claws, relishing the fear-scent in the air. "Time to die, little sister."
Her back straightens, and she tosses her head back defiantly, her eyes burning like a pair of hot blue coals. "I don't think so Ivystar. You'll never defeat me; if you kill me you'll never know where my friends are. It's lose-lose."
"Wrong again, weakling," I smirk. "Now that I know they're around here, I'll send patrols to find them. We'll hunt them up and down this mountain, till we capture them or those worthless kits die of exhaustion. Don't you agree that that would just break poor Ashsong's heart?" I croon. She blanches, like I knew she would. Threaten to hurt another cat that she's close to; that's what breaks her.
"You won't find them," she snaps, but it's unsure. I pounce on that.
"Oh yes I will." Twitching the tip of my tail, I narrow my eyes and drop into a light crouch, like she's a piece of prey I'm stalking. "And when I do, you'll be sorry. Oh so sorry."
Her legs tremble. Then she unsheathes her claws too. "Well, I won't give up without a fight."
Just what I've been waiting for. "Bring it on."
I advance slowly, savoring the moment. This is even better then killing Ashsong. That would just be fun. This is the real thing. Suddenly, Snowheart stiffens, her gaze locked on something behind me. She opens her mouth partway. "Don't-"
Something furry and powerful collides with me from the back. I topple over even as I try to right myself. My first thought is, Blackfire, that venomous traitor! But the face I score my claws across is feminine, yet familiar. A pair of olive green eyes... Whisperpelt?
My fears are confirmed by Snowheart's cry. "Whisperpelt! What are you doing?"
"Saving you," the gray she-cat snarls, pressing her claws to my throat. I bit furiously down on her paw, but another she-cat, Pinecloud I think, is on me.
"Let me go!" I scream, slashing out wildly. I'm rewarded by a cry of pain as Pinecloud stumbles backwards towards the edge.
"Careful!" yells Snowheart. She's coming towards the battle now too, tail twitching. I can feel my heart pulsing loudly. I can't beg for mercy or surrender. That would be horrible. But I can't die either. Not now, when I'm on the trail of the White Ivy.
A younger voice calls from somewhere above us. "Run for it! They're coming!"
I turn and see Beetlefur leading the rest of the patrol up the cliff. Yes! But wait! They can't see me like this! I fight harder to get up, and the two she-cats get off me, turning tail and scrambling up the cliffs. Snowheart freezes, and I remember how they told her to stay in SnowClan the night I kicked them out. Good. She'll stay, and I can make mince out of her.
"Snowheart!" Pinecloud yells. "Come on!" Their eyes lock, and the next thing I know, Snowheart is gone, climbing up the cliff like her life depends on it.
Knowing it would be completely futile to follow, I settle for a dramatic threat. "Snowheart, when you die, just know the last thing you'll see is my smiling face."
"That's great sis!" And then she disappears, leaving me to face the questions of my patrol.
Torntail and Beetlefur were holding onto Blackfire's scruff. The tom's body hung limply from their jaws, blood oozing from behind his ear. I study him coldly. With Spiritsky gone, we have no one to take care of the wounded. Not that I'd help this traitor anyway. "Let him go."
They drop him onto the ground, and I step over him like he's a bag of sand. As my fur brushes over him though, I whisper in his ear, "You had your chance, and you blew it. Remember me, my love, when you go to the stars." And that's the closest to romance I'll give any tom.
"We have work to do," I bark, giving the others no room for questions. "I'll tell you what happened later. For now, let's get back to camp and ready the patrols." I narrow my green eyes. "We have revenge, sweet revenge, to take."
Studying one snowy paw lazily, I draw my tongue across it, not meeting the eyes of any of the Council members. What appears to them as a mere grooming session is a time for me to put my tumultous thoughts in order. The empty spot in the Council glares at me like an open challenge. I've decided not to replace Blackfire, proving that I don't need him, in any form, not even a replacement. He was disposable. At least, that's what I hope they'll think. And I had such high hopes for that tom...
"Okay," I say, sitting up. All eyes fix on me. Good. This is much better, without that mangy black tom.
"It's time to get rid of Snowheart and her cronies once and for all. Remember that power I mentioned?" They nod their heads, and I curve my lips into a smile. "It's almost time to unleash it. If I disappear, it's because I've gone to find it. When that happens, Beetlefur is in charge. The rest of you need to help him maintain order. Watch the toms, and don't let that old pig Sageheart take too much prey." I wink knowingly. "She was a friend of my dear sister. I'm considering throwing her out of the Clan."
Beetlefur shoots me a smile, which I don't return. However, to not completely discourage the poor chap, I flutter my lashes beseechingly. It nearly knocks him off his paws. Clearing his throat, he nods hastily. "Right away Ivystar. You can trust me."
"Good. Otherwise, I really wouldn't want to be you. That's it." I flick my tail. "Council adjourned. Someone get me some fresh-kill."
As Weaselclaw hurries to do my bidding, I stretch out once more on my nest and start grooming my fur. I need to look my best for my meeting with Viperface tonight. Tonight, I decide. I will find the location of the White Ivy. And nothing will stop me.
"So. Do you finally have something useful we can use?"
Viperface arches his brows, but I'm not fooled by the front in his dark eyes. I saw how they popped when he first saw me. Shooting him a wink, I scooch closer. "Well?"
He yawns, the faint scale-like bronze ruffles in his black coat catching the light. "Oh ye of little faith. Of course I did. But... not the exact location." Before I can comment on this, he goes on. "All I managed to dig up was a prophecy. It's stupid, but it's better then nothing."
I roll my eyes. "I'll be the judge of that. Let's hear it."
In what might have been intended to be a spooky voice, he recites, "Within the purest snow, lies a traitor and a taint. Black fire burns brightest when doused with frozen flakes. Ivy must rise, yet fall at will. Together two enemies conquer the stone they both hold within snow. Yet battle must reign, again and again."
"What does that even mean?" I hiss through clenched teeth.
"I'm guessing you're the Ivy. You're going to fall at will."
"As if! I will never fall. Ever. What I want to know is where the White Ivy is! How does that prophecy have anything to do with it?"
"I figured some of it out," he smirks. "What's the name of your Clan again?"
I don't answer, lost in thought. SnowClan. Snowheart. Snow. Something clicks. "Oh no. They wouldn't be that dumb. I need her? Why?"
"Stop being such a kit," he shoots back. "You may hate her, but you need her to unlock the true power of the White Ivy. Don't forget the eyes."
"I wouldn't dream of it," I mutter. Viperface's eyes widen.
"Dream!? That's it! That's how I'll trick Snowheart into helping you. I'll come to her in a dream. You know," he adds. "I am technically still a StarClan cat. Fireblast and Creeksand will kill me if they find out-" I blink at him. "Okay... be really mad at me if they find out. How do I know you'll make this worth it?"
I hold his gaze. "Like you told me, I'll combust with all that power myself. You can be my Vessel."
"Right. Then I'll get Snowheart to come back and help. What else?"
"I think we'll find something in the SnowClan camp."
"What? Are you sure?"
"Positive. 'Within the pure snow'. That has to be our Clan. Otherwise, both me and Snowheart would've been mentioned, since we both hold some kind of link to the White Ivy. It'll be simple. I'll just plan some sort of picnic by the Lily Pond."
He frowned. "When it's almost leaf-bare?"
"It practically is leaf-bare, and the pond's frozen. They can have fun, while I attend to this. I've already assigned someone to take charge while I'm gone." I watch him carefully, expecting him to be impressed with the way I've planned ahead. He doesn't notice.
"If you're sure." With that, he turns and gallops away.
I sigh and snuggle deeper into my nest, away from the dream world. Then my eyes pop open. I grin sadistically. I'm going to enjoy this. "Time for a picnic, SnowClan. And time for me to get the White Ivy. For once and for all."
"What?" Sageheart stares at me with confusion in her dark green eyes. I narrow my eyes and smile while thinking, I hope you fall in the ice and freeze to death. "Why are we going on this 'picnic', as you call it? There are no kits in the Clan, and-"
"Because I said so!" I snap. "And my word is good enough for any loyal SnowClan cat."
Turning away, I spot Beetlefur and head over. "Is everything in order?"
He nods and opens his mouth to ask a question, but I cut him off, shooting him a glance that clearly warns he had better save it. "Good. Take the Clan out."
My eyes swivel to the back wall of the camp, where the cliff rises sheerly above us before forming an overhang to shelter the thorn bushes, searching for Snowheart. Viperface better not have failed. And my sister better not be too chicken to come.
All of SnowClan exits, though some faces, namely Sageheart and Blackstorm, the only she-cats, look less happy about it then others. "Have fun," I breathe. My breath comes out in puffs of fog; it's that cold. Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to send them out into the pine forest. Ah well. That's the price they pay for getting the amazing(er) ruler they will when I find the White Ivy.
Just then, a rock clatters, and- Whoa! When did she get there? Pausing to let my fur lie flat, I study her. Though it's only been a couple days, she looks different. Her pale silver, light-gray, and white swirled fur is glossy and thick, and she looks quietly refreshed, with a special strength about her. It unnerves me, though I try to hide it.
"So, you're here," I smirk.
She looks around. "The StarClan cat was right," she murmurs. "Everyone's gone." Her eyes flash. "What did you do to them?"
"Nothing." I lick a snowy paw. "Yet."
"What do you want Ivystar?" she hisses, her ears laying flat against her head now. "If you're going to try to capture me again-"
"Please. Would I do that? I'm here because I need your help. That's right, you heard me correctly."
"What an honor," Snowheart smirks, arching an eyebrow. I narrow my eyes and, in one bound, have my claws against her throat.
"You'll follow my orders. Got it?"
She doesn't flinch. "Got it."
"Good." I curl my tail around my paws and study her like she's a mouse I'm stalking. It's a good feeling to always be the predator. Being sweet and innocent is overrated, despite its benefits if that's all people think you are. "Snowheart, let me tell you a story. We are sisters after all. Have you ever heard of the White Ivy?"
Snowheart listens in silence as I weave a portrayal of the legendary power, leaving out certain facts of course. I don't mention Aurora, Viperface, or what I plan to do once I have it. I think she reads that last part in my face though, because her brow furrows into a frown.
"That's what StarClan wanted me to help you with?" she says doubtfully. I smirk and nod, not sure what exactly Viperface told her.
"I don't know Ivystar," she says, suspicion plain in her face. "That depends... what do we have to do?"
I study my claws nonchalantly. "Search the camp. Every nook and cranny. If you see anything that might resemble a sign, tell me."
"This is stupid-" she begins, but I leap towards her and pin her against the ground swiftly before she can say any more.
"Now, I'm sure there'll be no more interruptions," I claim, licking a few scarlet drops off my paw. She winces and staggers to her paws, not saying anything, but nodding meekly. "Good. Get to work."
"Okay." With a sigh, Snowheart heads towards the she-cat's den, situated by the most prickly part of the thorn barrier. I watch her suspiciously, then turn away and begin scanning the area. At last, I settle on my own den. Some would say that's a stupid choice, since I should already know what's inside, but the truth is, I don't really pay attention that much to the inside of it. What loser has nothing better to do then inspect every inch of their bedroom?
So, I pad towards it and enter, brushing a piece of stray lichen off my coat. Glancing about, I kick my nest across the room, landing it in a jumbled heap of grass. What dope forgot to change my bedding? Oh yeah. I sent them all on a picnic.
I decide to start by taking down all the decorations and extra clutter. First, I dump all the pretty pebbles that stud the moss around the fringe of the den out. Then, I yank down the feathers and flowers around the ceiling. The soft items crush under my paws, giving me a powerful feeling I like, despite the fact that I regret destroying all my possessions. A queen must have her riches, but on the other hand, once I acquire the White Ivy, nothing else will even matter.
That's when Snowheart calls, "Ivystar!"
I race out of my den. She's standing outside the little she-cat den, her eyes wide with awe and... regret. Of course; she doesn't want to tell me. But she did anyway. Good choice. Still, I'll keep my eye on her. As long as I need to, I'll keep her around, but as soon as she's served her purpose, I'll dispose of her. Just like Spiritsky.
"Yes?" I say, trying to conceal my excitement and eagerness. Flicking her tail, she darts back into the den. I follow, and my first thought is, This was supposed to be a punishment for all the she-cats. What happened in here? Flowers, pebbles, feathers, vines, and other adornments almost, if not as beautiful as my former ones are tucked into the walls. Instead of the thin, spidery network of branches I remember issuing to them as a den, the roof is thatched with cozy amounts of grass and twigs. But that's not the problem right now. I doubt Blackstorm did this anyway; it was probably the work of the others and Snowheart, and they don't live here anymore. They won't even be living anymore soon.
"Here," she says, touching her nose to a small crack in the wall. Just beyond, I can make out a glint of green. A stone, smooth and shiny.
"It's so small," I comment, thinking of the tiny jewel back at the cave. Where was it now? Could they be one and the same? Green and blue... I knew those two things had something to do with finding the full White Ivy, especially after seeing Aurora's eyes. But there was something missing, some hidden link that I just couldn't find. If I made that connection, I knew I would find the power.
"I don't think that's the whole thing," she says, scraping away some dirt. Sure enough, there's more green beyond it. I nod, and we both start digging. Only I stop and let her keep going. I cannot ruin my pretty, newly-sharpened claws digging and scraping against a rock. Besides, why work when you can get other people to do it for you?
Snowheart notices, but doesn't say anything. "Okay." She steps back. There's a good sized gap in the side of the cave wall, exposing the flank of a round, large green stone roughly the size of the other blue one I saw back when I visited the StarClan cats.
"How are we going to get it out?" I say, studying it intently. Snowheart evidently has other things on her mind.
Turning to me, her expression serious, she meows, "Ivystar, I want answers. What do you have planned for this? What is it going to do? The StarClan cat said that it would help us, but how?"
I glance at her, sizing her up. Though I want to just kill her now, I decide to play it dumb. "I'm not sure yet," I shrug. Then, so she doesn't get suspicous of my "niceness", I add, "But I do think it will give me power. And that's what I'm in it for."
"Of course," she mutters. Then she turns back to the rock and shakes her head. "It's in too deep. We can't possibly get it out."
I sit back and glare at the rock as if I can melt it with my gaze. Then something clicks within me. I press my paw to the clear green surface and feel a jolt of electricty. Snowheart gasps as the stone lights up, glowing brightly. Power thrums through my body, and I yell, not sure if it was out loud or in my head, in the connection I have with the stone, "Move!"
Snowheart shrieks as dirt erupts outwards, but I stand firm, wind blowing around my fur. Debri and rock cascades around me, yet it's like there's an invisible forcefield created by the stone. It yanks itself out of the crumbling den wall, hovers in midair for a minute, then plonks down dociley between my paws. A slow grin works its way across my mouth. I turn to Snowheart. "I know what we have to do."
I walk towards her, willing her to cooperate. "Imagine a stone just like this, but it's blue. Blue as the ocean, as sapphire, as the sky. Blue... Feel the power. Feel it within you." I glance at her to see if its working. Her eyes fly open, and she gasps.
"I saw it! That tom... Viperface. He was there too."
I smile cunningly and shoot a silent, Thank you, towards the ceiling. "Really? Now summon it."
Snowheart nods her head, and puffs out her chest. I don't know what Viperface told her to make her believe it was important to find the White Ivy, but it had to be good, or she would never have put up with all this.
At first there's nothing but silence. I turn to tell her to stop fooling around, but stop when I see her. Her eyes are wide open, and the pupils have disappeared, revealing only a blinding blue light, so bright I have to look away. Then, I begin hearing a distant roar, getting louder by the second. Seconds later, a blue blur races into the den, slamming into the green stone with an explosion of light. Two stones. That's all I can make out at first, but then I blink and there's only one. A sucking noise fills my ears, and then everything, the ground, the den, is gone. All I can see is an endless sea of green and blue power. What's happening?
"Where are we?!" I screech. I'm not going to just sit around and take this.
"You are In Between," a chorus of invisible voices reply. "This is the Time Before The Clans, beyond everything you know."
I hear a gasp nearby, and turn to see Snowheart hovering in space beside me, her blue eyes reverent and filled with fear. "What's that?"
Rolling my eyes, I add, "And what do you want?"
A shape materializes out of the swirling power, and I let out a gasp. It's her. That Aurora-morph cat. Her white pelt is so clear that it's tinted with the reflection of the green and blue around her, making her look eerily beautiful. Her different-colored eyes are dark pits of pure power, and her face is expressionless. Snowheart seems unable to look away, half in awe and and half in fear. I quickly close my gaping jaw and put on a bored face, hoping that I didn't look as stupid as her.
"You have Summoned me," she intoned. "Why?"
Shouldering Snowheart out of the way(somehow I manage to move even though my paws aren't touching anything solid), I take control of the situation. "Yes. We have come for the White Ivy. I'm warning you, we have special powers concerning this, and will not hesitate to use them."
"We?" Snowheart snaps. I ignore her, focusing on Aurora and wondering if she'll buy it. The two of us must have some kind of special link with this power, but I'm not exactly sure how far it goes, and I certainly don't think it runs deeper than Aurora's.
"What do you want?" Her voice remains bleak, and I try not to show my puzzlement. Doesn't she want to protect the White Ivy? Isn't that the whole reason she gave up her life, to make and protect the warrior code?
"I want the White Ivy," I repeat, with a touch of cool irritation. "I thought I'd made myself clear."
She turns to me. "You know that will be the destruction of SnowClan?"
Before I can reply, Snowheart screeches, "What?" Her face is a mask of anger, and the blue suddenly starts to disappear from the air, gathering to her like a school of hungry fish swimming to food. Her eyes glow brightly, and then, with a sucking sound, she vanishes.
"Wha-" I begin in disbelief, but then I become aware of another, even more unpleasant feeling. The remaining green is clouding around me in a thick, poisonous fog. I know I'm supposed to be able to control it, but I can't stop it. The vile-tasting gas seeps through my nostrils and mouth, making me retch and gag, and the foul fumes make my head spin. Then, suddenly, a burst of electric-hot blue bursts from Aurora. The green recedes, blending back into the "sky". "What just happened?" I demand.
She shrugs, an eloquent twitch of her shoulders. "Too much negative energy."
A plan is already formulating in my mind. I replay the scene Viperface and I witnessed, the one where Aurora became the White Ivy, over and over again, making sure I missed nothing. Then I turn to her and give a short nod. "You don't like it, do you?" She remains silent, so I press on. "It's not fair, is it? Your life is gone. Surely you had dreams. A mate. Plans for kits. Family, friends. And you lost them all because of your destiny." I spit the last word out with as much contempt as I can muster, and I can see something flicker in her face, something human and living, buried under layers and generations of not knowing, not feeling.
Finally she mews, "Yes. But it had to be done."
I arch my brow. "Did it? Is there really no way out?"
"Go on," she motions vaguely, but I've caught her interest. Perfect.
"I will take the White Ivy from you. That's right, all of it. You can... what would happen to you then?" I inquire.
"I would die," she says simply. I widen my eyes, and try to scrape together a hasty apology and cover up, but then I see the longing on her face. "I would go to StarClan. I would be at peace."
I inject a heavy dose of dreams into my voice, making it as sultry and somnolent as possible. "Yes. Peace. Isn't that what we all want, my dear?" I can't believe I'm swindling the most powerful cat in the world out of her power. I truly am a genius! If I do say so myself.
"Peace..." Her tongue lingers on that word, and I grin.
"Just hand it over. All your problems, gone." I can see how much she wants it; it's tangible in the air.
Finally, her shoulders sag, as if she's giving up a long-raging battle. One she was destined to fight with herself till the end of time. Till I came along. "Okay. But it's going to hurt."
"No problem," I say. "Wait! I have a Vessel."
Her eyes widen slightly. "Oh really? Okay. Bring them here. You'll need all the help you can get."
"Er..." How am I supposed to get Viperface here? Closing my eyes, I imagine the tom in my head, walking along in the forests of StarClan. Get over here. White Ivy. White Ivy, White Ivy, White Ivy...
There's a small puff next to me, like something materialzing out of thin air, which is basically what I think happened when I glance over, then stiffen in shock. Viperface yawns, revealing his snake-like pair of fangs, and grins, the ruffles of bronze along his ebony fur rippling and coiling like a cobra about to shed its skin. "You called me?" I wonder how he can sound so lazy surrounded by all this power. Seconds later though, I see a strained look on his face as he begins breathing in the excess negative energy. Aurora sends forth another blast of blue, but that doesn't help much. Viperface doesn't sport the same connection or immunity as I and Snowheart do.
Ordinarily, I wouldn't care, but this is different. I need a Vessel, or apparently I'll implode myself. And we do not need that happening.
Aurora seems about ready to slip out of the power, but then she freezes. "I should warn you that there are some... complications. Shall we review them? They're important and-"
"Hurry!" hisses Viperface. "I can sense Fireblast and Creeksand, and some others, coming closer. They'll find us out. Aurora, if they do, you'll lose your last chance at a semi-normal life."
"Wait!" I screech. "What about the complications-"
I'm cut off by a searing heat. Wait no, it's a freezing cold. No, it's both. Half of my body feels like it's being consumed in flames, while the other feels numb, as if it's been turned to pure ice. I open my mouth to scream, and more power floods in. My vision fades, replaced by a blinding swirl of blue-green energy. Aurora's voice echos like a roar in my head. She's saying some kind of final warning, but I only catch a few words.
"Heart... stop... Don't... connection... both... die."
Then there's silence.
I raise one paw and examine it. It looks regular but... I feel different. Getting to my paws with surprising swiftness, I look around. I'm in the SnowClan camp, but Snowheart is gone, and I can hear voices and approaching pawsteps. The rest of the Clan is coming. I smile evilly. Perfect timing.
Leaping onto Leader's Rock, I puff out my chest. I've always had a healthy amount of "self-confidence", but this is different. I can feel something vibrating within me. Vaguely, I wonder where Viperface is, and what he can possibly do with his power, but I push the thought away. It's time for SnowClan to meet their new leader. Right before they are destroyed for good.
While my subjects file in, I run over names. IvyClan? Okay, but too close to the warrior code and all that fox-dung. I'll have to think of something else. There'll be plenty of time for that once I begin my dictatorship.
Clearing my throat, I walk to the edge of the rock, preparing to give the speech of my life, and theirs.
"Cats of SnowClan..." I decide to get right to the point. "You can stop calling yourselves that right now."
A puzzled murmur arouses from the tired, but happy-looking cats(they must have had fun on their "picnic") as they exchange glances. Beetlefur, Thornfur, and Weaselclaw shrug at each other, obviously waiting for my lead. I nod and flick my tail at them, indicating they should come sit at the bottom of Leader's Rock, where the Council belongs. Since Blackfire's dead, I decide I can just use them as captains. There aren't enough cats to have several layers of authority anyway. For now. Once I exert the White Ivy in full-force, there will be no bounds to my power. Cats will flock from all reaches of the world to join me, and I can dispose of every SnowClan-loving, warrior code hugger I've ever known. Starting with the Council themselves. The fools, they'd never see it coming.
"I'm sure you're all wondering what I mean by that," I say dramatically, flicking my feathery tail in the air and enjoying the way the silver-white strands gleam in the evening light. But more importantly, I'm enjoying the feeling that with a flick of my paw, I could let loose a bolt of energy that would knock all these cats dead. Not yet, I remind myself. Bide your time. You still need followers, for the time being.
Sageheart's olive eyes emerge from the crowd. "Yes, we are," she rasps creakily. Blackstorm nods, sitting beside the elder. Do they even realize that besides me, they are the only two she-cats in the Clan left? I'd expect them to be scared, but they're not. Ah well. That just means a more painful death eventually.
"Good," I nod approvingly. The elder's eyes remain unconvinced, and I force the fur around my neck to lie flat, reminding myself to be calm again. "What I mean is, SnowClan is gone. We no longer follow the warrior code. All you follow is me. And anyone who doesn't like it, dies. Got it?"
"Well," says Sageheart, raising her head defiantly. "I'd rather die then follow you. I'm surprised I haven't broken away from your absurd rule before."
As tempting as it is to pounce of the rock and sink my claws into her throat, I have a better idea. Time for a demonstration. "Everyone get back, except Sageheart. Beetlefur, hold her there, then run when I tell you too."
The tom nods and gulps. Sageheart rolls her eyes. "Please Ivystar. Do you really think I fear death?"
"Shut up," I hiss. "This will only be slightly excrutiatingly painful. And it will be over... when I want it to be. Branchtail, Mudeye, move. Do you want to be destroyed?"
"Sageheart," whispers Blackstorm, but I still hear her. It must be the White Ivy. "Don't do it."
There is no uncertainty in Sageheart's voice as she replies, "It must be done. Ivystar has ruined this Clan. I have no wish to remain here, with the rabble she calls cats." Once upon a time, her defiance would have unnerved me. Before I had the White Ivy, I would've responded with anger, or lost my balance, at least for a little but. This time, I don't say anything, just grin. Insolence is nothing to me anymore, when I can destroy the cat who chooses to stand up to me so easily.
Still, I'm interested to see how exactly these powers work. If anything goes wrong, and I make a fool of myself... I scoff at the notion. Of course nothing will go wrong. I have this all under control. And if not, well, the key to having everything under control is acting like it is. It's all in the head.
I start by thinking of green. Slowly, the color fills my whole vision, and then the blue weaves in, less prominent, but equal in power. I open my eyes, and everyone gasps; they must be glowing by now. I can barely see Sageheart's face through the blur of energy, but when I do get a clear glimpse, I don't pause to consider the irritatingly fearless look on her face. I strike.
A bolt of pure power shoots out from me, where exactly from I'm not sure. It seems to come from all around me, and apparently you don't need to practice your aim with the White Ivy, because it hits the target squarely in the chest. Sageheart's body sails through the air, before hooking in the thorn barrier. She falls to the stone ground with a heavy thump, then lies still.
Sweat trickles down my brow, and my sides heave with effort. I try to regain my composure, but my ribs feel like they're about to heave open, my stomach hurts, and my head swims. The awed faces of my followers melt together into one big sea of colors and large, moon-shaped eyes.
Then a voice cuts through the silence. "Stop her!"
I blink furiously, just in time to see Blackstorm's black tail disappear through the barrier. Trying to muster the energy to call out some orders, I find my mouth too dry to produce more than a croak. Thankfully, Beetlefur takes his job seriously.
"Dustwhisker, Weaselclaw, come with me! We need to catch her before she rejoins with the others."
"You better catch them!" I call in a sandpaper-like tone. Then, ignoring the rest of what was once my Clan, I stagger back towards my den, or what's left of it. Without bothering to scrape together a nest, or even a comfortable spot on the churned up ground, I fall down into something between a heavy sleep and a dead faint.
"Ivystar, a group of rogues is being escorted here. Apparently, our associate, Viperface, came to them in a dream, telling them to come here and work for you. What do you want me to do? Where shall they recieve their treatment?"
I study Torntail lazily, and yawn. "Bring them here. I don't want to go outside right now."
Thanks to Viperface, my ranks had been steadily growing. To my surprise, the StarClan tom hadn't tried to pull anything. Yet. We had become good cohorts, if there could ever be such a thing. As for the "treatment" thing, it referred to the newest aspect of my White Ivy power, which was growing every day. I can use it to, up to a certain point, hypnotize cats. Not that they will jump off a cliff or anything(I would just push them off, it's more fun), but it certainly reaches far beyond what my beauty and charms have accomplished. Not to belittle that either; I truly am an amazing cat.
So why, if life is supposedly so perfect, and I have everything I want, is there an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach? I have just what I wanted, a green revelation. Cats have finally realized that I am their one true leader, and are bending to my will, with a little help. What could possibly go wrong? Surely it's just paranoia?
Once again the words of the prophecy ring in my ears: "Within the purest snow, lies a traitor and a taint. Black fire burns brightest when doused with frozen flakes. Ivy must rise, yet fall at will. Together two enemies conquer the stone they both hold within snow. Yet battle must reign, again and again."
Undoubtedly, the traitor is me. But SnowClan is gone. As is Blackfire. I will never fall. The two enemies, me and Snowheart, have already conquered the stupid snow. By the way, she still hasn't shown her face around here. And we still haven't found Blackstorm. But it's only been a week, and if I know those she-cats, they won't be able to stay away. No, they'll come back begging for trouble once again, and I'll only be too glad to give it to them. They want a battle? They can have it.