Sequel to Loyal Seas
As a war goes on between ShadowClan and RiverClan, Hiddenkit, Duskkit, and Berrykit find themselves stuck in the middle. Between custody battles on which clan the three of them should belong to and the feeling that they belong nowhere, they begin to wonder exactly who they are. Things are made worse when a prophecy tells them of a curse that will follow them through life for their adoptive father, Seatail's, misdeeds.
The wind blew gently on the pine trees that surrounded Seatail. The gray tom twitched his white-colored ears, listening closely. The comforting scent of Shinescale washed over him. He smiled and turned to look. The beautiful she-cat was standing just tail-lengths away. She smiled back, the soft barely moving her shining, calico fur.
Suddenly, the stentch of ShadowClan surrounded Seatail. He leaped to his paws, looking around. "Are they invading?" he whispered fearfully.
"No." Shinescale kept smiling, not flinching as she watched the scared tom. "You're invading. Why are you always assuming others are wronging you instead of the other way around?"
"W-what do you mean?" Seatail asked, confused.
Shinescale fell to the ground, blood soaking her fur. "No." Seatail gasped, suddenly frozen where he was standing. "No, I didn't kill you!"
"It's your fault." a black tom with white spots appeared. Marshfur. "You got her killed. You admit it, it was your fault. You killed her, as much as you killed me."
"I'm s-sorry!" Seatail raced backwards. He tripped over a branch and found he was suddenly near a river. He was rolling, rolling, moving closer and closer to the edge. He splashed into the water, feeling a sharp pain on his head.
Claws dug into his fur and he was dragged from the waters. He lay on the shore, unable to move. He saw a black she-cat moving clsoer and closer to him, whispering something. He strained his ears, and heard a few words. "...all around you, death death death. All around them, death death death..."
"Seatail, wake up!" Seatail blinked his eyes open. He was curled up in his nest, warm and safe. A tortiseshell she-cat sat beside him, a look of concern on her face. Between them, three bundle of fur quietly slept.
"Le-leafwave?" Seatail mumbled.
"You looked like you were having a nightmare." Leafwave said kindly. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, it's good. I mean, I'm good." Seatail sighed and packed the moss and feathers of his nest back in where they had fallen out. "I've just had trouble sleeping lately."
Leafwave frowned. "No wonder. It can't be very easy for you."
"I don't deserve easy, that's the point of the punishment." Seatail laid his head back down and closed his eyes. He heard Leafwave returning to her own nest. She's trying to comfort me, be my friend through this. I can't let her, I don't deserve friends. I'm the one who who started the war with ShadowClan, lied to Shinescale, and got her and Marshfur killed. Not to mention Raindrip. Lakestar was too kind when he made me a loner sheltered by the clan instead of exiling me.
Before he knew it, all this negative thinking had woken him fully. Now wide awake, he had no choice but to occupy himself. Careful not to wake up his kits, he climbed out of his nest. There were only two other grown cats in the Nursery, one was Leafwave and the other was an orange and gold tom. Two kits slept next to each of them. Next to Leafwave was her two brothers, Splatterkit and Softkit. After their mother died, Leafwave ahd moved to the Nursery and taken care of them. They were nearly apprentices now. Next to the tom was Chirpkit and Goldkit, Raindrip's kits. The tom was Fishtail, Raindrip's mate, who had taken care of their kits since Raindrip and Shinescale had died last moon in a battle Seatail had started.
This place is full of loss. I'm the cause of most of it. Seatail turned to leave the den when he heard a voice.
"Peace will never come to your hurting hearts. Not until their lives and minds have come apart. In the midst of fear and darkness, one will run, one will kill, and one will search. No matter how they try, cats will fall like a rotten birch. All you all love will die, no matter how you cry. It can only get worse, that is life's curse."
Seatail had no time to process this rhyme, for after it ended his eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed to the ground.
"He's fine, Leafwave." Flowerspot flicked her tail in annoyance. "You told me he hasn't been sleeping well, his body probably just gave out from exaustion." The medicine cat turned to walk away.
"No, he hasn't been having that much trouble sleeping!" Leafwave ran around and blocked Flowerspot's path. "I know Lakestar said not to waste any herbs on him, but-"
"But he's a loner now." Flowerspot shoved Leafwave out of the way rudely. "Seatail's fine. Now stop bothering me, I have some clan cats to heal."
Leafwave felt a growl rise in her throatand her claws begged to slice at the medicine cat, but she stepped aside. Flowerspot padded back into her den, leaving Leafwave feeling even worse. She looked over her shoulder to the Nursery, where she knew Seatail was resting. Cats don't just collapse like that. she thought.
A gray and brown tom with ragged fur padded across camp, carrying a fish with him. He dropped it on the ground in front of Leafwave. "Leaf, what's on your mind? You've got that look."
"What look, Scatterfur?" Leafwave pushed the fish away.
"That look you always got when I was sent to battle as an apprentice and you had to stay behind." Scatterfur smirked. "Someone pull your tail?"
"Seatail just passed out or fainted or something earlier and I can't get Flowerspot to look at him." Leafwave glared at the entrance to the Medicine den.
"Maybe because she's not allowed to." Scatterfur pointed out. "Lakestar said that she couldn't treat him before any RiverClan cat, and with Jaytail sick-"
"Jaytail's taken care of for now, she doesn't need to spend all her time with him." Leafwave flicked her tail. "She's just using this whole thing as an excuse to not treat him. Maybe she's hoping he'll die."
"I doubt she'd let him die." Scatterfur said. "But you can't really blame her if she's got a grudge against him."
"Yes I can!" Leafwave hissed. "He made a mistake, that's all! If everyone in this clan had treated him like an actual cat instead of shunning him because they didn't agree with his ideas-"
"Shinescale didn't shun him, where did that get her?" Scatterfur gave Leafwave a stern look. "He's gotten cats killed and started a war. Don't let your personal feelings for him get in the way of your judgement."
"This has nothing to do with me or my feelings."
"Really? Because your claws are out." Scatterfur shook his head. "I just have the feeling that being close to him or those kits isn't going to end well for anyone."
Leafwave ignored Scatterfur and walked past him. The camp was almost empty; most cats were out on patrols. She was about to go back to the Nursery to check on Seatail when something caught her attention. A flash of black fur out of the corner of her eye. She tasted the scents on the air. "ShadowClan!" she shouted, spinning so her back was to the Nursery. On the edge of camp was a brown tom with black ear-tips and tail, grinning in an overly-kind way that chilled the she-cat to the bones.
"I'm not here for a battle." the tom said, noticing that Scatterfur and two other warriors were baring their claws. "I'm here to deliver a message."
"And what would that message be?" Scatterfur asked, padding towards the intruder. The other warriors, Splashfoot and Lilypelt, spread out to the sides to surround the ShadowClan cat.
He laughed a little. "This has nothing to do with the war, though it might make us fight harder." He stepped closer to Leafwave, who slid out her claws and shifted so she was sure she was blocking the entrance to the Nursery. "We are to understand that Shinescale had no littermates, and that her parents walk in the stars. Therefore, as Marshfur's brother, I am their closest living relative."
"No you're not, they have a father, Darkear." Leafwave hissed.
"Rogues don't make good fathers." Darkear flicked his tail angrily, though his fur didn't stand up. "Seatail killed their real father and as a result got their mother killed."
"If I remember correctly, you led that battle that killed Shinescale. I was on the other side of camp at the time, but I also hear that you may have killed Shinescale yourself." Scatterfur stepped between Leafwave and Darkear.
"Her death wasn't my fault. I was there, but didn't land the final blow."
"Seatail didn't land the final blow on Marshfur, either. Marshfur fell into the river. Both of you are equally responsible for the deaths of these kits' parents." Splashfoot stated.
Darkear didn't turn to look at Splashfoot. "Those kits are half ShadowClan and I am their only kin. I knew you wouldn't let us take them without a fight, that's why I'm just here to deliver the message. We'll come in 7 sunrises with our strongest warriors if you don't bring us the kits before then."
"Then be prepared for your strongest warriors to get some more scars, Darkear. Those kits are RiverClan and they belong here." Scatterfur said. He jerked his head in the direction of ShadowClan territory. "Splashfoot, Lilypelt, escort him back to his territory."
Darkear left, Splashfoot on one side and Lilypelt on the other. After they were gone, Scatterfur turned to Leafwave. "This is bad." he meowed. "We're in no shape to fight. We're low on warriors, and Jaytail might get others sick."
"Lakestar must have some solution." Leafwave sheathed her claws and let her fur lie flat. "But we're not just handing over the kits to Darkear."
Scatterfur frowned and shuffled his paws a bit. "Leafwave... remember what I said about not letting your personal feelings get in the way of your judgement?" He sighed. "I won't worry you now. I'm sure Lakestar can think of something. I'll go find him, I think he's on border patrol by the WindClan border. Keep watch while I'm gone, and send an apprentice to fetch me if Darkear comes back."
"Seatail?" Leafwave's voice came from the entrance to the Nursery. A few hours had passed since Seatail had first heard the commotion going on outside, and as far as he knew, Lakestar nor Scatterfur had returned yet. "Seatail, are you okay?"
"L-Leafwave..." Seatail whispered. He was stricken. So many emotions swirled around in his head, but he could only name one; fear. He curled his tail around the kits, who were still asleep. He was having trouble processing anything. All he could even think was, I'm going to lose my kits. I can't lose my kits. They're the only reason I'm here. "I-I don't k-know what to do..."
He saw some orange fur out of the corner of his eye and knew Fishtail had reentered the den. He didn't bother looking at the tom. He knew that the only thing he would see in Fishtail's blue eyes would be pure hatred. Will anyone even fight for me and my kits?
This thought was immdeiately tossed aside when he felt claws slice at the side of his face. He was knocked away and looked at Fishtail in surprise. The orange tom had never even looked his way since Raindrip had died, but now he stood next to him, claws dripping with a bit of blood. Seatail looked into his eyes and instead of hatred he found... annoyance?
"Since when do you stammer?" Fishtail spat. "You know what I hate most about you?"
"Fishtail, what are you doing?!" Leafwave pushed into the den, but Fishtail waved his tail to tell her to stay back. She stopped, but kept her claws out.
"I hate how no matter how much everyone around is bored or annoyed, you just keep talking. Ideas and thoughts are always just pouring out of you, and you never stammer. You stay confident and think up huge, complicated plans." Fishtail grabbed Seatail's scruff and pulled him to his feet. "And just because the losses might be huge doesn't stop you. So don't stop now. Where are your ideas and plans? Work that brain that started this whole mess, and maybe if it gets us out of it I'll feel bad about wishing you would have been killed in that battle." He licked the blood off his claws and sheathed them. "I speak for just about everyone who wanted your punishment to be worse when I say this. If you're going to stay in this clan, you need to help us and take this second chance to prove us all wrong. You can do that by using that brain of yours to keep these kits here, because half-clan or not, they are RiverClan kits and we need them." Fishtail turned and disappeared from the den again.
Seatail couldn't do anything other than blink in surprise for several moments. Then he heard a soft voice.
"He's right, you know."
Seatail looked to see Duskkit, one of his adoptive kits, awake and staring up at him. "He's right. You're a smart cat, hated or not, and you can help the clan a lot by keeping us here. you just need to think of a plan, like you always do."
"I didn't want you to find out about Darkear by overhearing it." Seatail immeidately snapped out of his trance and wrapped his tail around his kits again. "But don't worry. I'll think of a plan, like I always do. I won't let him take you. I'll die before I do."
Hiddenkit padded in circle around her brother. Duskkit stood completely still, ignoring her as she traced circles in the gravel they were standing in. There was silence, only broken by the concerned whispering coming from camp. The kits were a little upstream from camp, close enough to be safe on their own but far enough to be out of the din.
Berrykit, a white she-cat with some calico markings on her shoulders and sister of Hiddenkit and Duskkit, appeared from the water. She shook the water from her fur and splashed onto the gravel shore to Hiddenkit.
"Did you find anything out?" Hiddenkit asked, feeling a little bit of excitement rise in her. The excitement died when her sister shook her head.
"Nothing we didn't already know. Darkear hates Seatail and is our only living blood relative so he wants to steal us for ShadowClan." Berrykit sneezed. "And I think a minnow went up my nose. Hiding in water and spying is hard."
"Great, we can't even help. I wanted to have some cool plan and save the day, like daddy did when he lured the ShadowClan cats into traps." Hiddenkit frowned.
"But we could still have a plan." Berrykit stopped in front of Duskkit and gently poked his nose with her paw. He didn't even flinch. "How long's he been frozen?"
"Awhile." Hiddenkit stood beside Berrykit and poked her brother in the nose as well. Duskkit still didn't react. He was completely still, like a statue. the only thing that showed he wasn't stone was barely noticable moving of his chest as he breathed.
"Uh-oh, Duskkit's frozen? What's he thinking about?" The sisters jumped when they heard a voice. Seatail was standing behind them, smiling in an overly cheerful way. It was a transparent kind of cheer made Hiddenkit sure that her adoptive father was worried.
"Just thinking." Hiddenkit said quickly. "Not about anything really."
"Oh come on, Duskkit only freezes when he thinking really deeply about some great idea." Seatail licked the top of Duskkit's head. "Last time I remember him freezing like this was when he got the idea that you coulld sneak out of camp if you distracted everyone and escaped through the river."
"It would have worked if Berrykit hadn't screeched." Hiddenkit muttered.
"The water was cold, sis..." Berrykit mumbled.
"Well, you kits can't sneak out of camp. Or leave the sight of a warrior... or-or me, until this whole thing is cleared up, okay?" Seatail looked very seriously at the kits. "I know you kits, and I know you shouldn't cook up any of the mischief you usually cook up. I don't know what would happen if Darkear kitnapped you while my back was turned. I just want you safe, so just stay out of trouble, okay? And tell Duskkit what I said when he wakes up."
"Yes, daddy." Hiddenkit and Berrykit said in unison.
Seatail nodded. "Good kids. How about you go play with Splatterkit and Softkit while I talk with Lakestar, okay? He wanted to see me after that meeting we just had."
"But we wanna help!" Berrykit whined.
"You don't need to, we can handle it ourselves. Go have some fun." Seatail licked the she-kit's ear affectionately. He glanced at Duskkit. "Maybe I should help carry him back to camp, I'm not sure he's snapping out of it any time soon."
"Hiddy, over here!" Softkit bounced up and down. Hiddenkit raced over.
"What is it?" she asked, excitedly.
"It's a tunnel or something!" Softkit pushed aside a branch to reveal a small hole behind the Nursery wall. Hiddenkit, Splatterkit, Softkit, and Duskkit were sneaking around the camp, hoping they could find something to do.
"Do you think it leads outside?" Splatterkit asked, sticking his head into the opening. His voice muffled as he stuck his head inside. "Woah, it's dark."
"Of course it's dark, it's a tunnel you minnow-brain." Hiddenkit said playfully. "By the way, Softkit, don't call me Hiddy."
"Hiddy, Hiddy, Hiddy." Softkit stuck his tongue out.
"And this tom is two moons older than us." Duskkit muttered. Suddenly, he stopped and looked all around him. "Where's Berrykit? Wasn't she just with us moment ago?"
"Probably got scared we would get in trouble and hid somewhere." Hiddenkit muttered. "Or she just fell asleep where she was standing and we left her behind."
"Sounds like Berrykit." Splatterkit pulled his head out of the tunnel. "Come on, what are we waiting fo-rAAHHH!" Suddenly, Splatterkit reared onto hid hind legs, grabbing his head with hsi forepaws and falling backwards onto his back.
"Splatterkit! Splat, what's wrong?" Hiddenkit raced to her friend's side. Splatterkit kept clawing at his head, like there was a thorn or a burr in his forehead fur.
"Cats... rotten birch...all you love will die... life's curse..." he hissed in a fearful and insane tone.
"Splat, is this a joke? It's not funny!" Hiddenkit felt fear build up in her. She wasn't quite sure what the other feelings racing through her mind were, though. Worry? Obviously she was worried, but that wasn't it. Anxious? No, that's the same thing... is it guilt? Why do I feel like... this is somehow my fault?
Splatterkit stopped hissing and clawing. After an odd moment of silence, he just stood up and padded towards the Medicine den. Hiddenkit glanced at her brother and found that he had an odd look on his face as well. Did he feel guilty somehow as well? "Softkit, go with him to Flowerspot and tell her what happened. I... think Hiddenkit and I need to find Seatail and Berrykit." He meowed, then he turned and raced towards the center of camp.
Seatail and Leafwave stood side-bye-side in the Medicine den, each annoying Flowerspot equally. It seemed like the she-cat would start throwing things if they asked, "Will he be okay?" one more time, so Seatail asked a different question. "What exactly happened?"
Flowerspot flicked her tail. "Ask the kits. Softkit was the one that brought him and Duskkit said he and Hiddenkit were there too."
"He just collapsed and started hissing nonsense words..." Softkit whispered, staring in horror at his brother.
"Do you remember what he said? Did he describe any sort of pain?" Leafwave's voice was full of fear and stress. Seatail couldn't imagine what pain the poor she-cat would feel if Splatterkit didn't make it. She had already lost their parents, now her brothers were her only family.
What if she blames herself for not keeping him safe? I hope she won't, blaming yourself can't solve anything. Seatail thought. He smirked a little at himself. They always say that, but I guess you never really choose to blame yourself.
"He said..." Softkit shuffled his paws as he tried to remember. "Scary stuff. Something about a rotten birch and... loved ones dying... and 'life's curse'."
"Did something fall on his head? Like a branch or a rock or something?" Flowerspot asked. "Head injuries can make cats delirous."
"N-no... He was just talking then he fell and started- Seatail? What's wrong?" Softkit noticed that Seatail was suddenly stiff.
"All you all love will die, no matter how you cry. It can only get worse, that is life's curse." Seatail echoed, remebering the words he had heard just before he had passed out earlier. "Is that what he said?"
"Y-yeah. Well, just bits and peices that I could understand, but yeah." Softkit nodded.
"Flowerspot," Seatail ran right up to the medicine cat's side. "I heard a voice, someone I didn't recognize, say that right before I passed out this morning. It's like whoever spoke wasn't actually there, but just in my head. I thought it was just a nightmare, but-"
Flowerspot, who usually ignored everything Seatail said, actually looked concerned. "I've never heard of a disease that would make you hear a rhyme then pass out."
"Do you think it's a StarClan prophecy?"
Flowerspot shook her head. "Why wouldn't they come to me or Lakestar? StarClan has given messages to specific cats before, but only in their dreams as I've heard. And I don't know why they would make you pass out."
"Seatail?" Berrykit poked her head into the medicine den. "Can we talk to you?"
"Of course." Seatail padded out of the den, stopping for a moment beside Leafwave to whisper, "I'm sure he'll be fine." When he was out of the den, he saw Hiddenkit, Duskkit, and Berrykit looking worried. "What is it?" he asked.
"Berrykit was off sleeping somewhere just a moment ago, when Splatterkit collapsed." Duskkit explained. "She says she dreamed something weird."
"It was just a voice, but it said the same thing Splatterkit said." Berrykit said quietly. "Something about 'life's curse'."
"I've heard that, too." Seatail told them. "This may be something important. Tell me if anything like this happens again, okay?" And he padded away.
Hiddenkit, Duskkit, and Berrykit glanced at each other. "Peace will never come? Curse? Guys, what's going to happen to us?" Berrykit asked.
"Tomorrow's the deadline." Berrykit said, staring up at the sky. "When the sun rises, Darkear's gonna come for us..."
"But we won't have to go." Hiddenkit meowed reassuringly.
"But RiverClan just doesn't have enough warriors to fight for us." Berrykit said. The three of them were sitting outside the Nursery, which was empty. Lakestar was holding a meeting on the other side of camp. Seatail was also talking; he was in charge of planning and organizing of the battle. "Cats could get really hurt, and we might be taken anyway..."
Hiddenkit looked over at the meeting as well. She wanted to be confident to make her scaredy sister feel better, but she just couldn't. There were only five warriors who were fit to fight. Jaytail was still too sick and Flowerspot refused to let him out of the medicine den. Lilypelt had fallen sick as well, leaving only Carpfoot, Scatterfur, Splashfoot, Leafwave, and Fishtail. Seatail would fight, but he wasn't even really considered a warrior. The only apprentices, Splashpaw and Leafpaw, would also fight, but as backup.
"I can't let these cats die for us." Duskkit sighed. "I need to think of something." Before his sisters could say anything, the small tom had zoned out of reality and was staring off into space as he thought deeply.
"He's out." Hiddenkit waved her tail in front of her brother's face. He didn't react.