My entry for Hollyleafisawesome's contest
Cover by Raindroprose
Seatail is very weird. He acts unlike the rest of the warriors in RiverClan, and though he is loyal and a good warrior he's not easy to get along with. Aside from this, he is the perfect warrior. He follows the warrior code, he hunts well, he's strong, and he does chores when the apprentices can't. Though, when a friend of his, Shinescale reveals to him her secret, he's not sure what to do. She's breaking the warrior code and he must do something, but is his reasons for revealing her secret pure? Could he even stand to see her heartbroken if her secret was found out?
A golden ray of sunlight settled on the grass below, illuminating the muddy ground. A few mice scuttled around, enjoying the warmth of the early Greenleaf day. A large, gray, male mouse sat in the center of the beam of light, munching away at some seeds. Another mouse, a female who was white, moved closer to it and squeaked. Almost as if they were talking.
A smaller, female black mouse had wandered away from the others. She was sniffing the ground, seemingly following a scent. She stopped when she found a small pile of berries and seeds. She squeaked and the other mice joined her, feasting on the goods she had found. She glanced up for a moment, and it seemed almost like the tree above them was moving. She felt a sharp pang of dread, dropped the berry she was eating, and ran.
The other mice weren't so lucky. A large leaf fell from the tree with unusual force, trapping them beneath it. They raced around in panic until part of the leaf was lifted. A big, dark gray paw reached through the opening and the prey's life was ended.
After the mice were dead, the cat kicked the leaf away and smirked. He was a strong, dark gray tom with white ears, yellow eyes, and a blue-gray tail. He licked the blood off his claws showingly, turning his smirk to the other cats with him. The other two, one a calico she-cat and the other a brown tabby tom, were not amused.
"And what was the point of that?" the calico she-cat asked, irritated.
"Seatail, that trap took longer to set up than it would have to catch twice this many mice." the brown tom shook his head.
"Ungrateful!" the dark gray tom muttered, gathering the mice. "We could set these traps up all over, and we wouldn't even have to hunt on our own! All I get is disapproval."
"But it only works for mice! I repeat, what's the point? We don't even eat mice, usually. And this trap only works if the mice are always as dumb as that." the calico grabbed a smaller mouse and tossed it onto her back. "It's just stupid, Seatail. Why do you always have to try and make yourself look smarter than the rest of us?"
"I don't!" Seatail growled. He picked up as much of the catch as he could carry and turned away. "Sorry for trying to help the clan." And he disappeared among the trees.
The she-cat sighed. "What is up with him, always trying dumb things like this?" she poked the leaf with a claw.
The tom shrugged. "I dunno, Lilypelt, but it's getting annoying."
"Welcome back, Seatail. Did you bring some prey?" a tortoiseshell she-cat asked. Her tail, fluffier than the rest of her body, was wrapped around two kits. Seatail dropped one of the mice he was carrying and kicked it over to her. The she-cat looked concerned at his cold attitude, but he ignored her and kept walking.
He was in RiverClan camp, and he stopped by the fresh kill pile to drop the rest of the mice. The tortoiseshell had been Leafwave, a young she-cat who had recently suffered a lot of pain. Her mother had died only a moon ago, and she was now taking care of her little brothers, who were still young at the time. Seatail ignored the stab of guilt he felt at being cold to her. I'm just in a bad mood, she'll know I didn't mean it.
He felt something touch his tail. He turned around to see a she-cat standing behind him, grabbing some prey from the pile. She was a calico cat. The white parts of her fur shined beautifully, in a way that always struck Seatail's heart. Her calico patches stood out in a shimmery way that made her glow with beauty. She picked up a mouse he had just set there and smiled at him.
Seatail couldn't help but be cheered by the sight of the cat. "Hi, Shinescale. I haven't seen you all day, where have you been?"
Shinescale seemed to glance at her own paws in worry for a moment, then her gaze flicked back up to Seatail. "Nowhere. Well, just out hunting by myself. You seem upset," she changed the subject much too quickly, "want to share this with me and tell me what happened?"
Seatail nodded and followed Shinescale to a quiet corner of the camp. When she laid down, he lay next to her and started talking. "I want to catch some mice, since you have developed a taste for them." he explained. "Since we're not really good at hunting on land, I made a trap near a group of mice. I found the biggest leaf I could and held one side of it while Carpfoot held the other, and we waited in a tree. I had picked some berries to attract all the mice to one spot, and when they were all together Carpfoot and I jumped down from the tree. They were trapped under the leaf, and we easily got five mice."
"But if you were successful, why are angry?" Shienscale asked.
"Because Lilypelt and Carpfoot thought it was stupid." Seatail bit angrily into the mouse. He didn't really like the taste, but he didn't care. "Too much work for too little prey, and too much sitting around for the mice to come. But I could set it up for it to go off automatically! Something like, they have to move a rock to get to the berries and that triggers a trap. They didn't care." He noticed Shinescale looked a bit distracted. "Are you listening?"
"Yeah." Shinescale blinked. "They didn't care about your trap, right?"
Seatail frowned. "Is something wrong?"
Shinescale stared around the camp, making sure no one was within hearing distance. "I have something to tell you, but it's a secret. You can't tell anyone."
Seatail nodded immediately. "Of course, tell me."
"Do you know that ShadowClan tom, Marshfur?" she asked. Seatail nodded. "Well, we've run into each other a lot and... well, we've been meeting every night." she giggled girlish-ly. "I think I'm in love with him."
"W-what do you mean?!" Seatail stuttered, surprised. "You can't be in love with a cat from another clan!"
Shinescale flicked her tail. "Of course I can. It's happened before. And keep your voice down."
"Yes, it's happened before. It never ended well, that's why there's a rule against it!" Seatail whispered.
"It's love, Seatail. You can't control it, or make a rule against it." Shinescale took another bite out of the mouse. "And you better not tell a soul, you promised me you'd keep it a secret."
"Shinescale!" Seatail couldn't believe how innocent she seemed to feel about this. She was breaking the warrior code without the slightest bit of guilt! "This is a bad idea, you can't just keep this a secret. You have to stop before this gets any worse."
"I told you so you could share in my secret, not tell me what to do." Shinescale kicked the rest of her mouse over to Seatail. "I'm going for a walk."
"You just got back!" the tom rolled his eyes, then realized. "Wait, is that why you've been missing? Are you going to see him now?"
"I'm not sure I should tell you any more. you don't trust me as much as I thought you did." Shinescale glared at him, then turned and streaked out of camp.
Seatail glared after her. How could she be so casual about committing a crime? He kicked the mouse away and padded over to sit in front of the warriors' den. Three cats were already sitting there; one was a young, ragged tom, one was Lilypelt, and the third was Leafwave.
"So, is Raindrip watching Splatterkit and Softkit?" Lilypelt asked Leafwave as Seatail laid down beside them.
Leafwave nodded. "She volunteered to take them for the afternoon, so after I get my energy back I think I'll go hunting farther upstream."
"I saw some big fish there earlier." the ragged tom meowed. "Big enough they nearly dragged Splashpaw under. Be careful."
"I'm not as small as Splashpaw, Scatterfur." Leafwave's whiskers twitched.
"Why not hunt in the lake?" Seatail asked.
"Because I actually want to catch something, all the good fish in the lake stay in the middle." Leafwave said, then rolled her eyes. "I know that look, Seatail. Are you about to give some crazy idea on how to make hunting 'easier' again?"
Seatail smirked. "Earlier, I baited some mice with berries. If we could find something the fish in the middle like to eat, like worms or something, we could lure them out."
"How?" Lilypelt asked, though she didn't seem interested at all. "Fish don't just come when you yell 'dinner!'."
"We could attach the bait to the ends of sticks and poke them into the water!" Seatail jumped to his paws as he explained. "We pull the sticks back and they follow the bait, then we just catch them like normal!"
"But why waste time catching big fish in the lake with sticks and worms when we could just catch them normally upstream?" Scatterfur shook his head. "Fleabrain."
Leafwave jumped up and stood beside Seatail. "Don't call him a fleabrain, Scatterfur! He's just trying to help."
Seatail's fur fluffed up. "Doesn't anyone care what I have to say?!"
"You're overreacting, Seatail. Of course we care-" Leafwave started, but Seatail was already storming out of camp.
Seatail found himself padding along the edge of the river, walking in the direction of the ShadowClan border. He followed a path that veered away from the river, making sure to stay out of wind that might blow his scent about. As he expected, he picked up Shinescale's scent. He snuck up a little further, and when he spotted her calico fur he ducked behind a tree and hid among the leaves.
He smiled when he saw the she-cat stop and look up at the sky. The way she was lit with the afternoon sun and way the wind blew her pelt... She was beautiful. Her sleek fur was shining and her white patches were like snow. She's gorgeous. Seatail thought. I might love her, but I can't let myself be in love with her. She's breaking the warrior code, and going against her own clan. He glared towards the ShadowClan border, which wasn't more than a tree-length away. Such a beautiful she-cat, and she ends up falling in love with a rat-eating ShadowClan tom.
Almost as if summoned by Seatail's thoughts, a black tom slipped out from a patch of grass on the other side of the border. He padded over the border and met Shinescale, rubbing her pelt and purring in greeting. The concealed RiverClan tom felt his claws slide out, but he forced himself not to jump out. He strained his ears to hear what they were saying.
"Visiting again so soon?" Marshfur asked, sitting beside Shinescale.
"I just needed someone to talk to." Shinescale meowed. "I tried to talk with Seatail, but... well, you know him. He's arrogant and oblivious. He's smart and really nice most of the time, but... you know what I mean."
Seatail held back a growl. Arrogant and oblivious? He was about to reveal himself, when he came up with another plan. His mouth curled into a smile and he backed away. Too lost in thought, he barely noticed when he ran right into Leafwave.
"Seatail, are you okay? You just ran off..." the she-cat asked, looking concerned.
Leafwave had followed him all the way out here, just to see if his feelings were still hurt? Seatail wiped the grin off his face. "I'm fine. While I was out I scented ShadowClan scent on this side of the border, so I'm going to go warn Lakestar."
Leafwave frowned. "ShadowClan scent? I patrolled that border earlier and didn't scent anything."
"It's fresh. I'll show you after I tell Lakestar." Seatail trotted past her and returned to camp.
A few moons passed. Seatail kept spying on Shinescale and informing Lakestar, the RiverClan leader, on ShadowClan scent wherever they met. Sometimes he would take leaves and such with ShadowClan scent, kill land prey, and spread the scent over them. Lakestar seemed to be falling for it, and talked to the ShadowClan leader about it at Gatherings. The ShadowClan leader, a tom named Treestar, insisted that he sent no cats over the border and that RiverClan cats were instead passing into ShadowClan territory.
Many cats were insisting that Lakestar go to battle. Seatail volunteered to lead a patrol of warriors to watch the border and attack the first ShadowClan cat they saw. Lakestar declined, but after awhile the leader decided to take him up on his offer. By then, Seatail knew Shinescale and Marshfur's schedule, and knew they would meet at sunrise the following day.
"I'll take the patrol then, and I'll take it where most of the crossing has been." Seatail told Lakestar.
Lakestar nodded. "Take Scatterfur, Carpfoot, Jaytail, Splashfoot, and if it's okay with Splashfoot, take Leafpaw."
"Alright, sir." Seatail left the leader's den, and exited into the warm Greenleaf air. Leaf-Fall was late this year, and he certainly wasn't complaining. He scanned the camp, looking for Shinescale. He had apologized to the she-cat and was trying to be very nice to her lately. They had repaired their friendship, and Shinescale suspected nothing of him being the one to tell about the ShadowClan scent. In fact, she was convinced it was someone other than Marshfur crossing, as she knew he had never hunted on this side of the border.
Seatail saw the calico she-cat, looking a bit nervous as she entered camp. He thought she would head right to him, but was surprised when she ignored him and ran right to the nursery. Curious, he followed her and stuck his head into the den.
Raindrip, a gray she-cat with white paws and tail-tip, was ushering four kits outside. Two were her own kits, Chirpkit and Goldkit, and the other two were Leafwave's brothers, Splatterkit and Softkit. He slipped inside the nursery as the four kits ran outside, then looked at Shinescale. Before he could ask, Raindrip spoke.
"Why, Shinescale, are you expecting kits?"
Shinescale smiled, though it look forced. "Yes. I wanted to let you know you will have new denmate soon."
Raindrip looked excited. "Oh, It'll be great if one of them's a she-kit! Chirpkit's been so lonely with only silly toms to play with." then she looked at Seatail. "No offense."
Seatail ignored her, too stunned to speak. Shinescale's... going to have kits? He stared silently while Shinescale and Raindrip talked, then left along with the newly pregnant she-cat a few minutes later. "Are they...?" was all he could manage to ask. Shinescale knew what he meant.
"Yes." she whispered, looking around to make sure no one was listening in. "They're Marshfur's. I'll tell him tomorrow." she paused. "I know what you're going to say, but Marshfur and I will figure it out. And we'll do it without getting caught."
"I'm going to lead a patrol to battle ShadowClan tomorrow morning." Seatail blurted.
Shinescale blinked. "You're... what? You're going to battle them?!" her fur pricked up. "How could you attack them now?"
"I'm loyal to RiverClan, and they've been crossing the border!" Seatail defended himself. Shinescale glared at him then stalked off. Pawsteps approached behind him and he saw Leafwave walking up. "Oh, did you hear?"
"I've known about this whole thing for awhile now." Leafwave meowed, sitting beside him and looking out at the nearly deserted camp. "If you know she loves Marshfur, why do you insist on being the one to attack his clan?"
Seatail frowned. "Because, like I said, I'm loyal to RiverClan."
"But don't you care about her?"
"Then you need to wonder if this is just an excuse. Is your loyalty to your clan, or is this just jealousy?"
Seatail's claws slid out in anger. "Jealousy?! I'm not the one breaking-"
"I'm just saying, it's something you need to consider." Leafwave stood and backed away, in case Seatail struck. "I'm here if you need anyone to talk to." and she padded away to join her brothers and the other kits in play. Seatail glared after her, then decided to get some rest.
My plan is important to carry out, now more than ever.
Seatail sat outside the warriors' den, his ears pricked and listening to the inside. He tucked his paws underneath him and his gaze turned to the rising sun. He and the patrol would have to leave soon. As little sound came within and the sun rose higher, he started to grow nervous that his plan had snagged. Just as he was about to sneak inside and see, he heard a groan of pain. He quickly stood and started padding towards the center of camp, making himself look busy.
Shinescale exited the den, some blood on her side. Seatail faked surprise. "What happened?" he asked.
"Thorn in my nest." she licked at the dripping blood. "The apprentices must have got some in with the moss."
"Eh, that's why I prefer nests made out of feathers instead." Seatail walked over to her and pointed her in the direction of the medicine cat den. "That looks kinda big, you should stay with Flowerspot so it doesn't get infected."
Shinescale looked worried. "Stay in the medicine den? But what about my meeting with Marshfur?"
"Don't worry about it, he can wait for another time." Seatail waited until she had padded away to Flowerspot, the medicine cat's, den. He smirked. Everything's working out according to plan. Shinescale's safe at camp, and we're going to send ShadowClan a message in a matter of hours. He turned to the warrior den to wake the members of his patrol.
Seatail sniffed the air. Marshfur was in the usual meeting place, hiding near a tree. The battle patrol was behind him. "Walk with your claws out, I smell ShadowClan nearby." he meowed, a bit louder than necessary. Surely, he thought, if Marshfur heard that and sees a bunch of strong, threatening warriors headed to the border he would run to warn someone. His ears strained to pick up sounds of movement, and he thought he heard quiet pawsteps creeping away. Perfect.
"Are we just going to wait by the border?" Carpfoot asked. "I was expecting something more elaborate, considering it's you."
Seatail shrugged. "No complicated plans needed. We just attack the first ShadowClan paw that steps towards us."
The others, satisfied with this, lined up along the border and waited. It seemed like forever, but Seatail knew someone would come. This was confirmed when he heard the clack of cats running with their claws out. Up ahead, he saw a patrol of five cats plus Marshfur, baring their teeth. One of them was Darkear, a brown tom with black ear-tips and tail, that Seatail knew was Marshfur's brother. This tom was the one that gave the loud order. "Attack!"
"RiverClan, attack!" Seatail commanded. He saw Carpfoot lunge for Darkear. The ShadowClan tom ducked and let the large warrior fly over him, then pinned him. Carpfoot kicked him off. Seatail was knocked to the side by a brown she-cat, but he pushed her away. He stood on his hind legs, swiping at her ears. Blood splattered over her face, and she backed away. She seemed to be retreating, then surprised him by rushing back and slicing at his belly. He dodged before she could make the wound too deep, and he pushed her away. She fell onto Scatterfur, who rolled out from under her and started taking over the battle for Seatail.
Seatail took a second to look over the battle. It was one-on-one mostly, but Jaytail was fending off both a big, ShadowClan tom and the slightly smaller Marshfur. Seatail ran over and threw himself at Marshfur, rolling them both away from the battle and into a tangle of a bush. Seatail recovered quickly, pushing them both out of the bush. On the other side was a thin strip of land, then the roaring river.
Marshfur recovered and saw who his attacker was. "Seatail? But, why are-"
Seatail pushed the ShadowClan tom to the ground and pinned him there. "Shinescale deserves better than a filthy ShadowClan cat." he hissed. "She's not an horrible rule breaker, it's all you! Leave her alone, and let her be a good, loyal cat!"
Marshfur looked confused for a moment, then he realized. "What, did you plan this battle just to yell at me? You could have done that at a Gathering."
"No, I couldn't." Seatail smirked at his own cleverness. "Because I couldn't do this at a Gathering." he sliced at Marshfur's ears, taking the tip of his right one clean off. The ShadowClan tom hissed with pain and struggled, but Seatail was stronger and kept him pinned.
Marshfur stopped struggling. "Listen, Seatail. I don't care what crazy idea you have in your head about me brainwashing Shinescale, but it's not true. She chooses to be with me, and forcing her no to be would just be abuse to her. I don't mean to sound egotistical, but if it's what she wants, shouldn't you be more concerned of her feelings than your own?"
"I'm not just worried about my own feelings!" Seatail snapped. "I'm worried about her!"
"If you're worried about her and how she feels, then why ruin her life by refusing to let her make her own decisions? If she wanted you to help her, she would ask."
Seatail was silent for a moment, thinking about this. Could he really break Shinescale's heart by forcing her mate to leave her? It was her decision who she loved, wasn't it? Then his anger returned. He couldn't let the she-cat he loved be torn between two clans like this, all because of dumb rat-eater!
His lapse in attention was long enough for Marshfur to get out of the hold. Seatail pounced at him again. They rolled, both reaching out with claws in an attempt to harm the other. They both got spurted with blood as they rolled. A thought reached through Seatail's madness. We're too close to the river! He struggled from the fight in just enough time. However, it was too late for Marshfur.
The black tom rolled over the edge, falling a tail-length into the water. There was a sickening thunk, and Seatail ran to the edge. He saw blood and black fur on some of the sharp rocks below. His heart sank with fear and he hopped down. Landing safely in the water, not wanting to think what would have happened if he had fallen on the rocks instead of landing safely on his feet, he swam a bit.
He couldn't find Marshfur anywhere. He swam around, searching through the water. Then, a tree-length down, he saw a flash of black fur. He kicked off from the rock he was nearest to and swam and quickly as his legs allowed. Which was very fast. His forepaws reached out, and he hooked fur. His hind paws kicked until they could touched the bottom, and he dragged Marshfur out of the river. The tom had a big, red gash across his head from where the rocks had hit him. Seatail pressed his ear to the cat's chest. He heard no heartbeat.
He barely noticed the yell from behind him. A brown ball of fur bowled him over, and through the haze of his horror, Seatail recognized Darkear. The tom was hissing and yelling, slicing at him in fury. I've just killed his brother. Seatail realized. Someone pulled Darkear away, but Seatail just lay on the ground, trying to forget what had just happened. What have I done?
Carpfoot had pushed Darkear back towards his gathered patrol by the time Seatail had gained his senses. The fighting had stopped, and now the cats were standing in two groups. "An eye for an eye, Seatail!" Darkear hissed. "RiverClan killed one of our warriors unprovoked, I won't let you live!"
"Enough!" Carpfoot stood in front of Seatail. "Marshfur was killed by the river, not Seatail."
"He could have pushed him in!" Darkear glared at the RiverClan tom.
"And it's not unprovoked, ShadowClan's been hunting in our territory!" Scatterfur added.
"We haven't!" one of the ShadowClan cats retorted.
"We've found dead land prey with ShadowClan scent all over it near the border." Jaytail pointed out.
"Why would we hunt in your territory only to leave the prey there?"
Carpfoot shook his head and signal for the patrol to back away. "Remove your dead and return to your clan, Darkear. This fight is over."
"This battle is over, but not the fight." Darkear hissed, backing away a few pawsteps. "This'll be war."
Seatail felt horrible dread. I've caused a war... I planned this, and now it's gotten out of my control. I may not have killed Marshfur with my own two paws, but I started this battle and this whole fight, so him and any other deaths caused by this are my fault. Do I tell them, and stop this now? He shivered. No, I'll be exiled, or killed. I can't.
Seatail stood and left with the rest of the patrol, glancing over his shoulder at Marshfur's body. Guilt filled him and he stared at his paws and he walked home.
Seatail walked slowly behind Carpfoot. He didn't mind that the other warrior had sort of taken over the patrol, he didn't feel much like a leader right now. They walked into camp, and he moved away from the group and sat by himself. He only looked up when he heard Shinescale's voice from the group.
"Why does everyone look so grim? What happened?" she asked.
"Darkear's sworn war on us." Carpfoot told her. "A ShadowClan cat was killed in the fight. His brother, Marshfur, fell in the river and hit his head on a rock. Seatail dragged him out, and now They're convinced Seatail killed him."
Shinescale was horror-struck. Seatail saw that she tried to hide it, but there was grief and fear in her eyes when she turned to face him. She padded up to him, and whispered so the others couldn't hear her. Her voice was shaky. "Wh-what happened? Tell m-me exactly what h-happened."
"We were going along the border when Marshfur and a patrol of ShadowClan warriors came. We fought, and I pulled Marshfur away from Jaytail. We fell into a bush by the river, and when we got untangled Marshfur fell backwards into the river. I jumped after him and tried to save him, but he hit his head on the sharp rocks." Seatail explained, modifying the story a bit to make it sound like he was not to blame.
Shinescale's eyes watered and she looked down at her paws. "He's really gone, isn't he? Oh, I could have seen him today! I could have told him I loved him and that I'm carrying his kits..." tears fell from her eyes.
"Come on, let's go for a walk." Seatail stood and moved her towards the exit of camp with his tail.
The two of them left camp unnoticed, and walked for a bit. They ended up next to the lake, sitting under a low-hanging tree. Shinescale lay on the ground, staring out over the water and crying. Seatail curled his tail over her shoulders and sat beside her. After crying for a long, timeless day, the sun crept beneath the horizon.
Shinescale stood up, wiping away her tears. "We should head back to camp. It's dark and I need sleep."
Seatail nodded and padded alongside her. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked.
"My mate is dead and I can't let anyone know I'm grieving. Of course I'm not going to be okay."
Seatail mentally slapped himself. That was a stupid question. "I meant, do you want me to stay with you? It's nice to have someone who actually knows why you're crying to comfort you."
Shinescale considered it for a moment. "...yeah. I mean, yes, I want you to stay with me."
As they neared the camp, Seatail noticed Shinescale still looked upset. I caused her this pain. "I-i'm sorry." he blurted.
"For what?" Shinescale tilted her head in confusion.
"I... I should have led the patrol in another direction. If I had, Marshfur wouldn't even have been in the fight. I should have checked..." It's the closest I can get to an apology without her knowing the truth.
Shinescale butted him on the shoulder with her head. "Please don't blame yourself. It's not your fault."
But it is. Seatail thought.
Two moons later, Seatail sat in the center of camp, by the fresh-kill pile. He and Shinescale had barely spent minutes away from each other since Marshfur had died, and as a result, most of the clan assumed Shinescale's kits were his as well. They did nothing to correct them.
Shinescale had moved to the nursery now, and was quite close to having her kits. She got out for walks often, but now Flowerspot had ordered that she stay in camp. As a result, Seatail only spent a few minutes out of camp at a time. Unfortunately, he had been assigned for a hunting patrol today. He felt nervous about leaving Shinescale alone, and he hated spending too long working and away from the joy of her company. That's why, when the rest of the cats on his patrol emerged from their dens, he glared at them.
"You've got to do work eventually, Seatail." Leafwave meowed, padding up to him. "I'm personally happy to get out of the nursery for a few hours."
"You don't have anyone to worry about getting hurt or sick while you're gone." Seatail said bad-temperedly.
"Yes I do! I worry about Shinescale too, plus Splatterkit and Softkit. But I know that Shinescale can look after herself and has others there for her until you or I return to her, and I trust both Shinescale and Raindrip to keep my brothers out of trouble."
"But I still want to be here for Shinescale."
"She'll be fine on her own, and she understands that all cats have to work for the clan." Leafwave stated. Seatail was shocked at how suddenly cold her voice sounded, but didn't particularly care enough to ask why.
The other two members of their patrol, Bubblefur and Jaytail, padded over. Seatail stood, and waved his tail towards the exit. "Come on, warriors. Let's bring back lots of prey."
Seatail felt even more grumpy than he had before he had left, if that was possible. Although the rest of the patrol urged him not to, he had worked on his stick idea for catching fish. They had spent a long time just waiting, and after they gave up Jaytail and him had started fighting. By the time Leafwave had broken up the fight, they had only caught a few fish (with claws) and it was time to return to camp.
However, his anger quickly turned to panic when he noticed a crowd gathered around the nursery. He dropped his prey on the ground, not taking the time to carry it to the pile, and ran over to the crowd. When they saw him, the cats all said in unison, "Shinescale's kitting!"
Seatail ran to the entrance, only to be stopped by Sugarpaw, who was the medicine cat apprentice. "Flowerspot says no one can come in."
"I have to come in, I have ot be there!" Seatail tried to push past the apprentice, but Sugarpaw stood her ground. He was about to knock her away physically, when he heard a voice from inside.
"I'm fine, Seatail. Just stay out there for now, there isn't enough to have anyone else in here." Shinescale said, her voice strained with pain. Reluctantly, Seatail backed away and sat with the crowd.
Seatail stood quickly when Flowerspot left the den. The medicine cat turned to him. "She's perfectly fine, and so are the kits. Why don't you go meet them?"
Seatail smiled and rushed inside the nursery. Shinescale was curled in her nest, three small kits pressed to her belly. Raindrip, the only other cat in there, left the den after Seatail entered, saying something about talking to Chirpkit. Shinescale moved her eyes away from her kits when Seatail entered.
"They're so beautiful." she said, her eyes glowing with joy. There were two she-cats and a tom. One of the she-cats was white with a few black and orange patches around her shoulders and haunches. The tom was gray with some black patches. However, the third she-cat was black with a few white patches; exactly like Marshfur.
"Have you named them?" Seatail asked. He tried to avoid looking at the small she-kit that so resembled the tom he had killed.
"No, I want you to help name them." Shinescale grinned up at him.
"B-but... I'm not their father." Seatail blinked with surprise.
"Their real father is dead." a shadow of pain shone in her eyes for a moment. "But I love you, and I know you can be a great father to them in his place."
Seatail felt even more guilty. I'm the reason their real father is dead. I killed him because I was petty and wanted Shinescale to myself. How horribly selfish am I, to force a father to leave his kits because of my own feelings? And to cause such pain to the cat I love? He mentally erased these thoughts for now, and concentrated on names. "For this she-kit... how about Berrykit? Those little patches remind me of those orange berries that grow just on the other side of the ShadowClan border."
"Perfect." Shinescale purred. "Now, how about Duskkit for the tom? Dusk is when I first met Marshfur, and his dark colors make the name suit him."
"I like it." Seatail frowned and continued not looking at the last she-kit. There was silence as Shinescale waited for a suggestion. "I say we name her Blackkit."
"That's a bit uncreative." Shinescale frowned. "We can't name her Shadowkit, obviously, and Marshkit plus her colors would be too obvious."
"What about... Hiddenkit?"
"That's an odd name. Why?" Shinescale moved her paw to stop Berrykit from squirming away.
"We can ask Lakestar for her warrior name to be Hiddenheart, for your love you had to keep secret." Seatail hid the fact he felt miserable while saying this.
"I love it." Shinescale's head looked over Seatail's shoulder as Raindrip and Leafwave returned, the rest of the kits with them. Chirpkit ran over, but Raindrip grabbed her scruff.
"Don't bother them, they need rest for now. When they're bigger, you can play with them."the mother said kindly.
Chirpkit groaned. "But I wanna meet the new kits!"
"You can, just do it quietly and don't hurt them."
Chirpkit and the other three kits moved slowly towards Shinescale's nest. "What are their names?" Splatterkit asked.
"This one is named Berrykit, this one is Duskkit, and this one is Hiddenkit."
"Those are odd names." Raindrip commented. "They don't have much to do with water."
"Not all names have to do with water." Shinescale laid her head down, still smiling as her kits mewed and curled up against her.
Chapter 9:Slipped the Truth
Nearly three moons later now, Seatail and Shinescale were sitting beside a shallow pond outside the medicine cat den. Duskkit was paddling around in the pond, learning to swim. Hiddenkit wailed as her brother swam by where she was sitting on the shore. "Mommy, Daddy, Duskkit keeps scaring away my minnow!"
"Just go fish on the other side, so the scared fish go towards you." Seatail suggested.
"Wow, that's a great idea!" Hiddenkit ran over to the other side of the pond.
"Where's Berrykit?" Duskkit asked, sinking a little as he stopped swimming.
"She's playing with Chirpkit." Shinescale answered. She waved her tail to get the attention of Raindrip. The other she-cat said something to Chirpkit and Berrykit, then the three of them padded over. "Raindrip, can you watch the kits for a bit?"
"Yes, of course." Raindrip padded over to the water's edge and talked with the kits. Seatail and Shinescale padded off.
"I think we should go for a walk. It's been a long time since we just walked together." Shinescale said cheerfully, looking up at the sky. Seatail looked up at the slightly cloudy sky as well, feeling so happy.
I'm so lucky. I'm mates with the she-cat I've loved forever, we're raising three beautiful kits, and I haven't seen any repercussions of that battle. He thought. Darkear hadn't shown up to the five gatherings that had passed since Seatail had killed Marshfur. There had been talk of Marshfur's death, but not much and no threats. But I don't deserve to get off so easily. I've done something horrible, and no one even knows...
"Why are we here?" Seatail stiffened as they neared the spot along the river where Marshfur had died. He immediately stepped in between Shinescale and the drop into the river.
Shinescale tilted her head in confusion. "I was just going to visit the spot where Marshfur and I used to meet. What's wrong with this spot?"
Seatail realized, then, that Shinescale had no idea where the battle had actually taken place. "Well..." his eyes betrayed him as he glanced down at the sharp rocks.
Shinescale looked from the drop, to the rocks, to the ShadowClan border. "Was... the battle actually right where Marshfur and I were supposed to meet? ... But I thought... but you made it sound like you stayed away from this spot and Marshfur saw from a distance."
Seatail saw her eyes, and his heart felt like it burst through his chest from the weight of his guilt. "It's my fault, all of it!" he blurted out. Shinescale opened her mouth like she was going to say something about him blaming himself for now reason, but he kept speaking. "No ShadowClan cats were really hunting in our territory. All the scents I said I'd found were Marshfur's, or from random leaves I'd found on the other side of the border. I'd killed the land prey and put ShadowClan scent on it. I set the whole thing up, and none of it was actually ShadowClan."
Shinescale was stunned. Her mouth was wide open, and she took several steps away from the cat she had just considered her mate. "B-but... why? Why did you set that all up?"
"Because I loved you, and I'd always loved you." Seatail was looking down at his paws, but was still speaking with volume. "And it burned me up that you could be taken by some ShadowClan tom. I tricked you into staying in camp, then I led the patrol right to Marshfur. I set it up so I could talk to him, threaten him to leave you and never talk to you again. He and I fought, and when we rolled towards the river... he didn't stop rolling."
"Y-you set... all.." Shinescale looked like nothing was processing. Then, something clicked, and her fur stood. "You started a WAR because of your OWN, jealous, petty feelings?!" she was shouting, and padding closer to Seatail. He backed up with each step she took closer. "Y-you have all this knowledge you could be using to help the clan, and instead you direct it at cheating your way to getting me! You could have caused more deaths than just Marshfur's in that battle. You could have lost clanmates, or even more ShadowClan cats, just because of your own selfish desires!"
"I-I know w-"
"No, you don't! You don't know what could have happened! Do could have caused so much damage. But think of poor Darkear, so felt sadness enough to challenge us to war? How many nights did he feel that incredible sadness that comes with the loss of a loved one pierce his heart? How much did he cry, or stay away from others, or hide his face, after that? How many lonely nights did his mother spend crying, or his clan weighed by his loss?" tears fell from her eyes as she kept shouting. "If you love me, how could you deceive me? How could you make me feel that pain?"
"Shinescale, I'm so sorry-"
"There is no sorry you can give to make up for what you have done. Who knows if you'd ever do it again, for another she-cat, or another reason? Even when you're not plotting something like this, every use of that knowledge you use selfishly. You make stupid inventions that may never work just to put yourself above your clanmates! Your clanmates don't hate you because of your inventions, they hate you because all of your inventions are meant to prove you're better than them!" Shinescale kept walking forward, and Seatail kept walking backwards. He reached the edge of the drop, and could back up any farther. "You never had any loyalties to RiverClan. All your loyalty is to YOURSELF! You are nothing but a danger to your clan! To all the clans!"
Her claws slid out and she sliced at Seatail's face. The tom ducked to avoid a cut nose, but wasn't fast enough. The tip of his ear was sliced off, and blood slid into his eardrum. He tilted his head so the blood flowed out, and Shinescale took that moment to slice his right eye. She missed the ball, but did manage to get a nice claw-shaped cut down his muzzle.
"STOP!" Both cats paused in their fighting and turned to see Leafwave racing over to them. "Please, stop! I don't know what you two are fighting about, but we need you back at camp!"
Chapter 10:Smart Solider
Seatail returned to find the camp in chaos. ShadowClan cats were all over, driving RiverClan cats out of dens and attacking them viciously. He was about to dive in and help, when Leafwave tapped him on the shoulder with her tail. "Darkear's leading this, Seatail." she warned. "You know you're dead the moment he has you under his claws. Are you willing to jump into this fight, knowing this very well might be your last?"
Shinescale's words echoed in his head. A danger to your clan! To all the clans! "Of course." then he smiled. "But my way. Shinescale, I know you don't trust me, but can you trust Leafwave? Because she knows a safe way to sneak the kits out of camp. You should get the kits to safety while I work on this."
"Seatail, I want you to know that no matter what happens in this fight, I'm going to tell the whole clan about what you've done. All of it, including my relationship with Marshfur." Shinescale's voice was cold and filled with pure hatred. Seatail's heart ached, but he forgot his feelings for now.
"Leafwave, before I go, you need to get whatever cats you can out of camp and follow these instructions." he meowed. He quickly gave her the instructions, then dived down the small hill and into the fray.
Claws raked his ears as he tried to dodge the ShadowClan attackers. Shouts of "Darkear! Darkear, he's here!" rang in his ears. As he had expected, most of them went after him.
Of course, they only want me. he thought. That just makes this easier. He stopped for a moment and turned around. He faked shock and fear at the amount of cats after him, and pretended to run from cowardice. He was actually running towards a small clump of trees just outside camp. He was faster than the ShadowClan cats, and he managed to slip into the cover of the trees easily.
He clawed his way up the slippery bark, making sure to stay hidden from the approaching mob. Just stay hidden for now. They won't give up, and they know how to climb tree better than you, but if you stay hidden it'll be alright. He repeated this to himself for what seemed like ten moons. Finally, he heard movement in the branches above him, and a large twig fell to the ground on the far side. The signal.
He jumped into the air and landed hard on the branch he was perch upon. It cracked, but still held on by some strong bark. Since it was barely attached, the part of the branch he was on swung down. He clung to it as he waved back and forth through the air. Bait on a twig. He heard yowls as the ShadowClan cats spotted him. He was close enough to the ground that he could have touched it with his hind paws, so he knew none of them would try to climb the tree itself.
He saw the ShadowClan cats run up, almost to attacking range. He felt fear course through him, making him clutch the branch harder. However, they got no closer. More yowls filled the air as it seemed to rain RiverClan cats from the branches above. There were eight, each in pairs of twos, falling with giant leaves in their paws. It was so unexpected and quick, the ShadowClan cats didn't have time to run away.
Seatail dropped from the branch, relieved to see all the attackers were trapped under the leaves. However, once they came to their senses, they'd be able to easily get out. Seatail ran over to one of the leaves, which had two warriors trapped beneath. The two cats holding down the leaf were elders, Moonrain and Wavefur. He nodded to them and they let go of the leaf.
The two ShadowClan warriors burst out, still a little disoriented. Instead of blocking or dodging their attacks, Seatail launched himself into them. He took them flying, and the three of them rolled into the nearby river. Seatail quickly found up from down and swam to the shore. He did the same with the others, pushing all the ShadowClan cats into the river.
The water-scared cats were stuck in the middle of the river, clinging to a rock. And they had moved upstream, so Seatail knew they wouldn't be swimming in either direction. "Of course!" Scatterfur, who had a long cut along his belly, limped over. "There are large fish upstream! They'll go underwater and get their toes nibbled. How did you ever think of such a small detail so fast?"
"It doesn't matter right now." Seatail shook his head. "It's a bit of a risk, but I'm willing to bet that if they swim anywhere it's homewards. I hope we got enough cats away to give the camp a fighting chance. Let's head back."
Seatail raced into camp, fearful at the silence. He was relived to find the silence was no because they had lost, but because they had won. Most of the ShadowClan cats were gone, but a few were in the center of camp. RiverClan cats circled them, keeping them put. Darkear was one of them.
"There he is!" Darkear hissed. "Seatail! All we want is to kill him, sacrifice him and we leave you alone!"
"You're not in a position to be making such offers." Lakestar hissed. The leader turned to Seatail. "Leafwave explained what you were doing. Good job, and smart idea. It took a lot of courage and intelligence. You are perhaps the reason any of us are alive right now."
"I reject your praise." Seatail said, staring his leader in the eye. Lakestar looked taken aback, but the warrior didn't pause for any questions. "Where is Shinescale?"
Lakestar hung his head, and pointed with his tail to two bloody lumps of fur. "While she was escaping with the kits, they broke into the nursery. She got all the kits out, but she and Raindrip were killed."
"No..." Seatail whispered, racing over to the two bodies. Raindrip's mate, Fishtail, was already by her body, Leafwave was sitting a little ways away from both bodies, looking horrified.
He sat near Shinescale's body. Her body had been curled into a sleeping position with her eyes closed. She was still covered in blood, but she would be cleaned up that night when they would all say goodbye to her. Even with spots of blood on her, her fur still had that beautiful shine that always struck Seatail's heart. She still had those multi-colored calico patches on her back and chest, that stood out so brilliantly and made her glow with beauty. A few tears fell from his eyes as he realized something. I'm the reason she's dead. I have to stop this before it goes any farther.
"Everyone, I have something to say." Seatail forced his voice not to shake as he spoke loudly, to everyone in camp. He stood, his head down. He wiped his tears and looked up to see Leafwave with wide eyes. He moved towards a bush and carefully climbed the branches until he sat on the top, overlooking the crowd. "I have something to say that everyone needs to hear."
Every pair of eyes moved to Seatail, even the ShadowClan cats'. He took a deep breath and glanced back at Shinescale's body. "I have done something so very wrong, and because of it three cats are now dead. Nearly three seasons ago, maybe a full four, Shinescale told me a big secret of hers. She was in love with a ShadowClan cat. She was secretly mates with Marshfur." He held up his tail for silence when he heard shouts of surprise. "I had always loved Shinescale, and it made me so angry to think that such a beautiful and kind she-cat was in love with a filthy ShadowClan cat." He ingored the protests from the ShadowClan cats. "So, Shinescale said, I used my intelligence for my own gain. Without thinking of the possible loses, I caused a battle. All the ShadowClan scent on our territory was me, taking leaves and such from their territory and putting it on ours.
"I had organized the battle so I could threaten Marshfur, convince him to leave Shinescale. I thought it would be better than let my love be scorned for loving a cat from another clan or let everyone know that her kits would be half-clan. But, I... I honestly didn't mean to kill him. As we battled, we rolled towards the river. I fought free of the battle, but he kept rolling into the river.
"After that, of course, Darkear declared war. I took Shinescale as my mate, and we pretended her kits were also mine. Right before this battle, I had told her the truth. After this battle, she was going to tell you all what I had done. She hated me right before she died, and I deserve it. All of this death, this blood... it is all from my horrible, selfish act. My loyalty wasn't to my clan, or even my love, but myself. Whatever my punishment, I want you all to know I'm so sorry. But more importantly, Shinescale is not to blame at all. She was the most perfect cat I have ever had the privledge to know. She was always kind and had a good idea of what was right and wrong. She was brave. Even though I was hard to get along with, she tried her best. She deserved much more than me. She is not evil for loving Marshfur, nor are her kits mutants or- or wrong for being half-clan."
Seatail woke up in his nest the following day. He didn't want to get up, or to move at all. To move was to admit he was awake and had to face whatever was outside. Would they exile him? Or something even worse?
Finally, he couldn't stand waiting anymore. He rolled out of his nest and pushed himself to his paws. No other cat was in the warriors' den. He stumbled out, his paws heavy and his head hung. Whispering was hushed when he appeared in the center of camp. He ignored the staring eyes and headed to the nursery. The walls had been ripped down from the attack last night, but they had been repaired well enough that Leafwave and the kits could still sleep inside.
Poor Leafwave. No real queens in the clan right now, so she has to care for her brothers, Raindrip's kits, and Shinescale's kits. Seatail thought. He found Leafwave already awake, but all the kits asleep. He looked over to Berrykit, Duskkit, and Hiddenkit. Lakestar had forbidden him from sleeping with them in their nest that night, and Seatail felt horrible about it. He felt as if they were his kits, and he should have been able to comfort them after the loss of their mother.
"Lakestar's going to make the announcement soon." Leafwave muttered sleepily, as quietly as she could so she didn't wake the kits. "I really don't think you deserve too bad..." she laid her head down and fell asleep again. Seatail didn't want to wake her and tell her he felt differently, so he turned to leave.
"Daddy, Daddy wait." he turned to see Hiddenkit awake. The little black she-kit slipped out of her nest and rubbed against his foreleg. "A lot of the warriors are saying you're leaving forever. You're not going to leave us, are you?"
Seatail felt like crying again. He licked the kit affectionately on the head. "I don't know, Hiddenkit. I've done something very bad, and Lakestar might think it's best I leave."
"But it's not!" Hiddenkit cried. "You're not a bad cat! You take care of us, and feed us, and play with us! We can't lose you too, Daddy!"
"Don't worry about it yet, kitty. We don't know for sure." he touched her nose with his. "You do know I'm not your real Daddy, don't you?"
"But you are! You're our Daddy, the best Daddy!" Duskkit hopped up, joining in.
"We don't care they say our real father's gone. You're our Daddy." Berrykit rolled out of her nest too.
Seatail curled all the kits in his tail and held them close. "Thank you, kits. It means a lot. I love you three."
"We love you too." the kits said in unison.
"May all cats in RiverClan gather here to hear my words?" Lakestar's voice called from outside.
Seatail took a deep breath, and turned to face the opening. "Wake up Leafwave then come on out, okay?" he told the kits. His paws felt like they were filled with lead as he walked out of the den. He had to force each paw to move.
Outside, all of RiverClan were gathering. Lakestar sat on the same bush Seatail had sat in the day before. His expression was hard to read. Flowerspot, however, was sitting next to him and was obviously nervous and sad.
Seatail moved towards the front of the crowd and sat, looking back to the nursery. After a few minutes, the kits and Leafwave emerged. No one looked cheerful.
"Treestar has offered me a deal." Lakestar began. "They will call off the war if Seatail is exiled." He flicked his tail, irritated. "I'm not one to accept this kind of agreement. Nor, do I feel, will I ever be."
Seatail's heart leapt. Did this mean he wasn't exiled?
"Nor am I one to separate a father from his kits, whether they are his blood kin or not." Lakestar continued. There were yowls of protest, but he ignored them. "Seatail has done a lot of good for RiverClan. If it weren't for him and his quick thinking, we would have been driven out of our camp."
"If it weren't for him, we wouldn't have even been in danger!" a random cat meowed.
"Regardless, Seatail appears to have learned from his mistakes." Lakestar was silent for a moment. "But he should not go unpunished. I have not decided fully on what shall happen to him, but until his kits are apprentices, he shall be considered a loner."
Seatail's heart sank again.
"He will not be allowed to leave camp without a warrior with him, and the clan should not feed him. Flowerspot nor Sugarpaw should heal him before any RiverClan cat." there were some cheers, and he glared. "We shouldn't cheer for the loss of a clanmate. You are more malicious than he was when he planned this all by doing so."
Lakestar hopped down the bush and faced the onslaught of protests and praise. Seatail was surprised none of the cats who had begged for his exile were over threatening him. He was left alone as the group move. Except for his kits and Leafwave. My kits. He smiled. I don't have to leave them. Then his smile grew wider as the three kits pounced at him. And I have a second chance. I may have deserved a fate worse than exile, but my kits didn't deserve losing their father. And no I can make it up to my clan.
He glanced up at the sky. It was pretty and blue, just like Shinescale's eyes had been. I'm sorry you hated me, and died before I could make it up to you. But I'm going to make it up to you now, by becoming the cat you thought I was. And by raising your kits into fine warriors.
Author's Note: I am SO Done with the Letter 'S'
Seriously, I don't know exactly when I decided the two main characters would have names starting with 's' or when I started naming chapters with 's' words, but I hate it. That was so annoying.
Anyway, as I said at the beginning of the story, this was written of Hollyleafisawesome's contest. I hope people like it. :)
This was also a bit of a challenge to me because of the kind of character I choose to write. I wanted to write a story where the main character himself was the villain and the source of all his own troubles. Seatail really was selfish and thinking of only himself, and thus I tried to write him as not even thinking of others. Obviously I couldn't outright say he didn't care for others, because he's not supposed to realize how selfish he is until Shinescale screams it at him. Seatail is smart, strong, doing what he thinks is best, but he didn't think of how anyone else would feel, and that was the real center point of the story.
If you're wondering about how open that ending seemed, yes, there may be a sequel. I don't know for sure yet, because I want to finish The Night Race before I get into any more big projects. This is also the first time I've written a story where the main character doesn't die in the end. Be grateful.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed Loyal Seas. Thank you for reading! - Cutekaboo