Episode Eight, Season One, of Solitary.
This episode is dedicated to Firey, for being a great rollback (EDIT: and admin :D), and a regular commenter on Solitary. You deserve this! <3
Guilt was tugging at my paws: I didn’t want to watch this fight. Claws were unsheathed and scoring marks into every cats’ flesh. The scene reminded me of when I had fought Smallstripe, on ForestClan territory - but this was worse. This fight had a purpose to it.
Not like the first one I fought, I thought skeptically, narrowing my eyes. My paws were rooted to the spot: I couldn’t move. All around me, the battle continued: a TreeClan warrior pinning down one of Flame’s group with growls of defiance: Hawkstar and Flame battling in the center, cursing at each other.
Who’s in the wrong? The question popped into my mind with a blow. Who was the group at fault – the Clans, or Flame’s group?
More yowls continued to split the air, and enduring it, I continued to watch. The Clan cats were overpowering their opponents: I watched as a small tortoiseshell on Flame’s side run into the bushes: scratches evident on her pelt. Blood scattered the ground: scarlet, and sliding into the cracks made by clawmarks on the ground.
“Retreat!” I jolted to attention as Flame gasped under Hawkstar’s paws. “My group – retreat!”
At once, every cat broke apart. Flame’s group had their heads bowed: the TreeClan cats’ eyes were gleaming with joy, despite the battle. I turned and padded away, unable to bear the sight – who was in the right and who in the wrong?
Clan, or rogue?
I crept silently through the undergrowth, ears pricked for any source of noise. My gaze darted from one direction to another, always on the lookout. The air was strong with cat-scent – and fresh, too.
Three sunrises had passed since the battle between Flame’s rogues and TreeClan. As far as I was concerned, there had been no battles since. Now, I was lurking through the forest on the ForestClan side, eyes open for any developments in what seemed to be an evolving conflict.
I tasted the air again. Two scents were in the air. My fur started to bristle instinctively when I recognized one of them – the second; I wasn’t sure how to react. At once, curiosity tugged at me to follow the scents.
They’re both in different groups. Why would they want to meet up with one another?
Letting the sense take over, I followed the scent, staying as silent as I possibly could. The scent continued to get stronger, and stronger, until:
“So, let me clarify what you are saying. You want to join forces?”
I shifted my gaze to the nearest tree, and unsheathing my claws, I scrambled up it. As I approached a large branch – easily enough to hold my weight, yet camouflaged enough so they couldn’t see me, but still clear enough that I could still see what was going on – I moved onto it, and looked down.
“Yes, I do think we should join forces.” Flame was the cat that was speaking, her amber eyes blazing like fire. “The Clan cats don’t belong here. They need to go back to where they came from, in my opinion.”
They don’t know what happened in the Clan cats’ old home, I thought. They don’t know that they can’t return. They have to stay!
I wanted to say my thoughts out loud, but I kept my jaws shut. If this was something against the Clans, it was best that these rogues didn’t find out.
The second cat – a sleek black tom – nodded. “They’ve taken all our prey, all our land that we used to hunt on. Prey is scarcer than it has ever been before, because they have claimed our places where we hunted. We must regain them.”
You can’t! I wanted to yowl the words out, but I knew I couldn’t. You don’t know the real reason. I’m not for any cat – or against any cat, for that matter – but all I want is for there to be no war.
“Well, then, Raven,” Flame meowed. “When shall we plan this attack? The Clan cats will be so surprised when we lay siege – we’ll have the advantage, and we’ll have the land – the land which is rightfully ours – back with us!”
“The night of the new moon, it’s obvious,” Raven purred silkily to Flame. “There are no shadows. They won’t be able to see us coming.”
Flame dipped her head. “Agreed. Let’s tell your cats back at your camp, shall we? Then I will proceed to mine.”
“Of course,” Raven replied. “Come on, let’s go.”
I narrowed my eyes as Raven and Flame padded past, matching each other’s strides exactly. As soon as I was sure they were gone, I scrambled down the trees and fled, thanking the spirit-cats that Flame and Raven didn’t notice me.
But what about the Clan cats? I thought. They’ll be vulnerable without the knowledge that they have enemies. Should I tell the Clans about their looming attack?
The undergrowth rustled as I slid through it, and when I reached the other side, I gave my long fur a quick shake. The TreeClan border was in front of me, fresh with the mark of yet another patrol. I was still doubtful of what I was going to do – should I tell them, or not? The skirmish between TreeClan and Flame’s rogues was still on my mind.
A day had passed since I had seen Raven and Flame plotting an attack against the Clans. My decision was clouded with confusion once again. My mind was still battling against itself, unsure of what was the right thing to do.
All I could do was hope that I had made the right decision in doing this.
Quickly, I crept behind a tree, instantly doubting my decision. Should I tell the Clans what Raven and Flame were planning? Or should I keep this a secret, and rick many innocent lives inside the Clans?
I don’t want the Clan cats to get hurt. The thought jolted me to attention, and I was surprised that I thought that way. Why should I let their lives be at risk? It’s only fair.
At the sound of my name, I jumped. Staring through the gaps between the trees, I made out a dark gray, thickset shape. Scars covered the cats’ body, and its amber eyes glowed like suns… “Cinderfire?” I whispered softly, stepping out from where I was hiding.
At once, the dark gray she-cat rose to her paws, but didn’t budge “Who told you I joined the Clans?” she hissed.
Whoops, shouldn’t have done that. Thinking up a lie, I mewed: “Oh… I heard some of the cats in your Clan talking about you as they padded around the borders.”
Cinderfire didn’t look like very convinced with what I said, but she nodded anyway. “Whatever. What are you doing so close to TreeClan territory, anyway?” Cinderfire narrowed her amber eyes at me. “You’re not the sort of cat to be hanging around here.”
“I’ve – I’ve changed,” I stammered. “There’s war on the horizon, and now every cat will be forced to pick a side.”
“What…?” Cinderfire was silent as she realized what I had just said. “There’s going to be… war? Does this have anything to do with Flame?”
Gravely, I nodded. “And Raven’s group. They’ve united, and they’re planning to attack the Clans on the night of the new moon.”
“Oh, StarClan,” Cinderfire managed to gasp out, raising her amber eyes to the sky – which was only a few blue patches through the branches of the trees. She then turned back to me. “I believe you, Wisp. Flame’s group trespassed on our territory, and she claimed to have us trespassing on theirs.” The dark gray she-cat spat on the ground. “As if! TreeClan is honorable! Anyway, they attacked us a few days ago, and we won, but we’re still recovering.” I stared at Cinderfire, and she noticed my shocked look. “Why are you doing that?”
“Come on,” I managed to gasp out. “I must tell Hawkstar about this attack.”
“But -” Cinderfire stammered, obviously shocked. “Will she believe you?”
I raised my gaze, so that it met Cinderfire’s. “We can only try,” I whispered softly.
“Here we are,” Cinderfire murmured to me, as she approached a thorny gap between two oaks. “Don’t be afraid if my Clanmates don’t approve of you being here, or if Hawkstar sends you away. Rogues aren’t usually welcome inside our borders.”
I gave a small nod as Cinderfire led the way through the gap. I followed nervously, waiting for there to be yowls of shock. Instead, there was silence.
A mottled brown-and-white tabby tom approached Cinderfire. His icy blue eyes were full of fury as he stared at me, then at Cinderfire. “Why have you brought this rogue into our camp?” he hissed.
“He wishes to see Hawkstar!” Cinderfire snapped back, her amber eyes blazing as she stared at the brown-and-white cat. “Kestrelfeather, calm down. He’s not going to attack.”
“And how do you know that?” Kestrelfeather asked Cinderfire. I felt my fur lift as the broad-shouldered tom started to circle me, his blue eyes narrowed to slits. “I could just make him leave the camp right now! He could be a spy for Flame!”
“He’s not a spy for Flame!” Cinderfire retorted. “I knew this cat before I joined the Clan. He’s not that type of cat.”
“Well then, Cinderfire, why is he here, then?” Kestrelfeather continued, interrupting Cinderfire. “I could kick him out now – I’m the Clan deputy, Cinderfire, you know that.”
“Silence! Kestrelfeather, leave Cinderfire alone. I would like to see what this rogue has to say. I’m in charge here – you know that.”
I gave a small jump, and I turned to where the voice came from. Underneath a pile of rocks – which seemed to form a ledge above – a brown tabby padded out from a gap. I recognized Hawkstar as soon as I saw her. Meanwhile, Kestrelfeather gave a furious hiss and stalked to the back of the crowd of cats, which had formed when Cinderfire and Kestrelfeather started arguing.
“Cinderfire, explain why you have brought this rogue into your camp,” Hawkstar mewed calmly, her amber gaze flitting between Cinderfire and I.
Cinderfire stepped in front of me. “I’m sorry, Hawkstar, I know I’m not meant to be bringing rogues into the camp,” she mewed apologetically. “But I thought you’d like to hear this. My friend Wisp says that Flame’s rogue group has united with another one around the ForestClan side, and they are planning to attack both of the Clans.”
“I won’t be surprised if Flame decided to attack us,” Hawkstar mewed coldly. “But what about this other group? They’re too far away to bother us.”
“Maybe ForestClan’s having trouble with them,” a cat called from the crowd. Once again, I recognized a dark brown-and-gray – one who had appeared at the Clans’ Gathering, and who had also appeared in the fight against Flame. “Should we ask them?”
“I’ll decide that, Molefrost, when I have heard what this rogue has to say,” growled Hawkstar. At once, the TreeClan leader turned her gaze to me, and I knew that it was my time to speak.
“My name is Wisp,” I began nervously. When no cat protested, I continued on, stronger this time. “I am a rogue that lives alone, and shunned by the other rogue groups that live around your territories. Ever since you’ve come here, I’ve been interested in your ways, and all the rogues have been angry for revenge. Now, it seems, they want to put their plans into play.”
“They’ve been causing trouble since we’ve settled in,” called a white she-cat. My heart ached as I recognized her: it was Blossomheart. She now sported a long nick in her left ear and a cut down her face, narrowly missing the eye.
“Yesterday, I saw Flame, with Raven, one of the leaders of the group by ForestClan,” I continued on. “I saw them planning their attack. On the night of the new moon, Flame’s group and Raven’s group will be attacking ForestClan and TreeClan.”
At this, there was an instant reaction from the TreeClan cats:
“Should we trust him?”
“If they’re attacking, we’ll need to be prepared. Kestrelfeather better be organizing battle training…”
“It’ll be my first battle. I want to go!”
“Silence!” At this, every cat fell silent, and every cat – including myself – turned to Hawkstar, who had moved onto the pile of rocks. “I still don’t know if I can trust Wisp, but I do believe there will be a battle. Tomorrow, we will let ForestClan know. Wisp,” she added, as Hawkstar turned to me, “can you meet us at the border between us and ForestClan at sunhigh tomorrow? You’re the cat who knows about this the most.”
There were a few hisses of defiance from TreeClan cats, but I still dipped my head. “I will, Hawkstar. I’ll leave your cats in peace now. All I will say is this – I will unite with you for the battle.”
Did I just say that? I couldn’t believe what I had just said. Did I just say I’d unite with them?
Hawkstar dipped her head to me. “Your help will be greatly appreciated, Wisp,” she purred.” I nodded at Hawkstar, and then I turned and left the TreeClan camp. The incident was fresh in my mind, and I couldn’t believe what I had just done.
There will be war…