Beneath the mountainside
There is a choking darkness
This is the story
of the cats who could either surpass it
Or fall to it
The silence of the mountains was almost shocking.
Pink dawn light streamed between the jagged peaks, along with the orange glow of the sun. Even the masses of cats remained tranquil, except for the occasional squeal of a frightened kit, or the whisper of a young warrior.
Finally, one powerful she-cat bounded forward. One would think that she was a normal cat with a mate and kits, until they looked into her eyes. They were almond-shaped, with a slight curve around the edges, and a striking dark amber color. Her pelt was a blinding white.
"We have arrived!" she yowled. A chorus of cheers echoed from the rock sides of the mountains. But a few cats among the mass remained silent.
"StarClan have directed us here, with a flash of moonlight and whisper of wind. Now we have come to our true home. Clans will thrive, and cats shall carry on with a new beginning."
A disdainful mutter was heard. The she-cat's face darted around the crowd, willing to find who had spoken.
To every cat's surprise, a small cream tom stepped out from the crowd. His blue eyes flickered with worry.
"Froststar. You are making a mistake," he rasped.
"Silence Brackenclaw!" she hissed, "StarClan itself have come to me with the message to relocate here."
He turned to the crowd. "She lies."
Frightened hisses rose from the crowd.
"Wait. But why should we believe him?" a silver tom growled.
Brackenclaw met his gaze without hesitation, then spoke, "StarClan have sent me a sign. Jagged peaks shall cast us into the shadows of ourselves."
"It's a sign," he concluded, "A dark omen."
Anxiously, cats gasped, and wrapped their tails around their kits.
"Froststar has led us into darkness for her own reasons. Have Silverstar, Pricklestar, and Lilystar spoken yet? Have they separated themselves from the crowd? No."
"Quiet, fool! You do not speak for the Clans!" Froststar yowled.
Brackenclaw laughed, although he sounded truly sad. "Froststar, you have been speaking for the Clans." He turned to the other cats. "She hungers for power. That is why she has led you here."
"That's treason!" she hissed. There were angry shouts from the crowd. Froststar bared her teeth in a threat.
"You will see our new home. It's just over the horizon. We have traveled through thick and thin together, what makes you think that you should listen to him?"
Pricklestar glanced at her, his ginger fur rippling with anger. "Froststar, what he says is true."
"Remember the omen," Brackenclaw said distantly.
"What about this," Lilystar mewed, "Let's see this new home, and consider the sign."
A few cats murmured agreement. But other still looked at Froststar, hostile.
But they had no choice. They had to follow Froststar to see where she had brought them. Her eyes were a blaze with a horrific fury.
As the cats gathered along the ridge, their breath was taken away. A huge mountain rose up from the valley, with a huge silver rock side, with pines growing in clumps along the side. A river lazily flowed along the side of the mighty mountain, then finally turned into rapids and a waterfall. There were potential camp spots everywhere, and by the excited gazes of all the cats, there was no more fear of the dark omen.
Froststar's mouth stretched into a dazzling smile, happy that she had succeeded. Out of the corner of her eye, she could still see Brackenclaw kneading the ground, and whispering. The other medicine cats came to his side. Froststar was able to catch the words "Jagged" and "shadow". Angered, she gritted her teeth.
The other medicine cats left, and she saw her chance. Her heart pounded. She looked over her shoulder, and saw the cats still talking in hushed voices, and staring in awe at their new home. And then she had to act.
Swiftly, she crept up behind Brackenclaw, whos eyes were closed, his head tilted in despair.
"Brackenclaw, you were wrong," Froststar muttered. He turned his head slightly. And with a simple shove, he slid off of the ledge, and plummeted through the air.
Remorse pulsed through her, but Froststar shook it off, and gave her downy white fur a smooth lick.
She could see Brackenclaw's broken body on the rocks below, then washing away in the stream. But that was done now. It was time for her to lead the Clans into their new home.
Jagged peaks shall cast into the shadows of ourselves.
Out of the corner of her eye, there was still a cream splotch, bobbing up and down in the rapids of the river.
Chapter 1-- Dawny
Tansypaw and Foxpelt clawed their way through a mount of rocks. "Looks like we had another land-slide." The apprentices mentor studied the pile of rocks, then lookede around for any scent of cat.
"What if Stormberry and Fangpaw got caught in this?" Tansypaw questioned him. She was thinking about the sudden death of they're former medicine cat Brackenclaw.
Foxpelt shook his head and sprang off the mount.
"Foreststar has ordered us to look for Stormberry and Fangpaw, not to see if she was dead or not."
Tansypaw nodded in agreement and followed the tom.
"I see paw-prints!" She exclaimed and sniffed around them, but found nothing.
"Foxpelt, what if we can't find her?"
"We will try, Tansypaw, don't give up so easily."
Tansypaw nodded and padded faster, anxious to find Stormberry. Her claws retracted as they heard paw-steps, and the sound was close.
It was Stormberry and Fangpaw, they both had their mouth full of herbs.
"We've been looking everywhere for you two!" Foxpelt growled, an angry look in his amber eyes.
But before Foxpelt could say anything else, a rumble was corrupted under they're paws.
"Lets get back to camp and report to Foreststar." Tansypaw mewled and walked off with her little group.
Foreststar arose from her den and cleared her throat. "Cats of CloudClan! There has been more and more landslides by the the week, which worries me and my medicine cat! But you need not to worry! Its only a minor problem at the moment!"
"But what if it crushes one of us? What if it kills us!" Yowls of disagreement started to sound out.
Foreststar narrowed her eyes and silenced her clan.
She puffed out her white chest and growled, her yellow eyes glowing.
"They is NO need to worry!" She roared and exited the highledge.
Chapter 2-- Stormy
Ivystorm was surprised that Foreststar was even showing her face after earlier. "Clanmates, I have exciting news for all of you," Foreststar mewed. Her Clan greeted her with excited mutters.
She couldn't deny that she was curious. But it was plain for any cat to see that Foreststar was only giving them this "surprise" because she wanted to calm her Clan down after the landslide incidents. Ivypetal flicked her pinkish ginger tail, as if to tell Foreststar exactly what she knew.
"Tomorrow I will be sending out a patrol to talk to the other Clans."
Ivypetal nearly leaped into the air with surprise. She was expecting some sort of lame feast in the camp, where all of the kits would be free to roam, so the queens would leave them to get under every cat's paws.
But the other Clans? Unheard of. She only knew that they were called PebbleClan and FrostClan, just from nursery tales that her mother used to tell her.
Ivystorm closed her eyes softly, washed in memories. Her mother was a small, fragile she-cat. Beautiful, too. Her fur was the same shade of pinkish ginger as hers, only softer with a more pretty flow to it. Her name was Blossomstream.
Right after Ivystorm had become an apprentice, and passed her first assessment, Blossomstream just disappeared into thin air. There were some scents belonging to other Clans closer than usual, but they weren't anywhere near where her mother's scent faded away. It was a mystery, only unsolvable. Ivystorm was able to face the fact that her mother was probably dead, even if it was painful.
After remembering all of those warm days in the sunlight as an apprentice, laying by her side...
Whatever. It was over now.
"Who do you think will go on the patrol?" a young apprentice by the name of Tansypaw whispered. Ivystorm twitched her ears. Foreststar and Mistyshade would take the obvious picks. Thistlepelt, Rosedapple, and Specklefoot would all be chosen to visit the other Clans as a wonderful representation, blah blah blah.
But Foreststar seemed to have other plans.
"Cats of CloudClan, there will be four spots on this patrol. If you would like to join, raise your tail in the air."
Nearly every cat in the Clan's tail rose up. Ivystorm hesitated. Admittedly, she would be embarrassed if she was turned down for the patrol. But she had pride and loyalty in her Clan, why not show it?
Finally, her tail drifted upwards, it's plumy fur blowing lightly.
After several tense moments, Foreststar spoke again.
"Rosedapple, why do you feel the need to go on this patrol to represent CloudClan?" She snorted quietly. Of course they go right to their favorites, even though they said that all cats who wanted to would be given a chance. Apparently not.
"Well Foreststar, I have pride in CloudClan, and pride in all my Clanmates. Pride that you could build this Clan up like it is today. It would just be the greatest honor for me to exhibit how brilliant our Clan and all the cats in it are. I feel that I can do this with dignity and passion."
"Some excellent words, Rosedapple. You join the patrol."
Next, Ivystorm was expecting him to call on Thistlepelt. But to her surprise, she questioned Foxpelt instead. He gave a successful response, so he got to join. Foreststar also excepted Specklefoot.
For the last opening, she was just waiting for Thistlepelt to be called on.
But the next words coming out of her mouth shocked her.
"Ivystorm, why do you think that you should join the patrol representing CloudClan?"
The first noise that came out of her mouth was something in between a gasp and a cough.
"Well--um-- I may not be the most popular cat in CloudClan," she began. This elicited a few snickers. But she continued on.
"But I don't need to pretend to be to join this patrol. I won't give them something artificial or fake to represent our Clan. But I will show what it really is. Smart, skilled, and just amazing." Ivystorm winced at her own answer. It was horrible, nowhere near as good as that suck-up Rosedapple's.
"You may join the patrol."
Ivystorm let out a gasp of relief as she blurted out, "Thank you Foreststar!"
Without further adue, the patrol prepared to leave.
"This is a pretty big deal," Rosedapple pointed out, "We haven't seen the other Clans until almost when we first came here."
"Not really," Ivystorm lied skeptically. Rosedapple shot her a you-had-better-play-along look. She just turned away, ignoring it.
She hated walking in the mountains. Simply hated it. She didn't know why, her paw pads should've gotten used to the rock by now, for she was living in the mountains since she was born.
But her pads just didn't want to.
Gritting her teeth, she tried to ignore every single stone that she stepped on. It was horrible. How and why did she ever get on this patrol?
Struggling, she finally reached the unfamiliar territory with Rosedapple, Foxpelt, and Specklefoot at her side.
"This is it," Specklefoot mewed. Nodding, she strolled after them, taking care to pick around the areas with a lot of stones.
An unfamiliar scent washed over her nose. Before she knew it, she spied a lithe brown form just over the next hill. Deliberately picking up the pace, they wasted no time in reaching him.
He seemed even smaller in person. But that could've been because he was shrinking against the ground, in fear.
"What do you want?" he growled.
Ivystorm began to talk, but was interrupted by Rosedapple. "We wish to talk to Lilystar."
"Lilystar's dead," he mewed, starting to relax slightly, "Our new leader is named Skystar."
"Well, we would like to speak to him."
"We come as friends. That's all you need to know." Jealousy twinged inside of Ivystorm, as she lacked the ability to communicate with cats so well. Now that was a quality of a leader.
The tom led them through a complicated series of twists and turns, through rocky mountain paths. She had no idea how cats of this Clan could even remember them all.
After what seemed like walking millions of fox lengths, they were standing at the edge of a valley. It dropped down, right into a lazy river.
"Um, are you sure this is safe?" she questioned.
The tom nodded. "We've been traveling this path since we arrived in the mountains. My name is Pinetail, by the way."
"Nice to meet you, Pinetail," Rosedapple interjected.
Slowly and cautiously, Pinetail lowered himself to a ledge jutting out of the side of the valley. Strangely, she was expecting some sort of tricky move that she wouldn't be comfortable doing.
But instead, he just disappeared into the stone wall entirely.
Getting dangerously close to the edge, Ivystorm peered down. Once she could see past a bush that was growing on the side, she could see a jagged hole, leading into blackness.
"I think we're supposed to follow him in there," she murmured.
"What? Are you crazy?" Foxpelt hissed, "This is exactly the kind of thing that our mothers and mentors tell us not to do."
"But they barely know us," Specklefoot pointed out, "Why would they want to hurt us?"
"Look. We never complete our mission if we never go in there," she sighed.
Rosedapple looked over the whole patrol. "All right. I'm with Ivystorm. Let's do this."
Careful as Pinetail when he was doing it, Rosedapple clambered down to the ledge. Headfirst, she slipped into the hole. Ivystorm followed suit. She was expecting the hole to be hot and muggy, but it was surprisingly cool and airy. Rosedapple was padding along just ahead of her, so she didn't feel so scared.
Sooner than expected, it opened up into a cave.
The sight of all the life was a nice greeting. Kits skittered through the warriors' paws, causing them to scold playfully. A medicine cat was showing an apprentice how to make a poultice for an infected wound.
Pinetail padded up in front of her.
"Welcome to PebbleClan."
Getting Skystar to agree to the meeting was very easy. The whole Clan, him included, seemed happy yet curious at the prospect of meeting other Clans. Their visit was even an excitement, so just imagining them meeting two whole other Clans was very unthinkable.
Saying their goodbyes to Skystar and Pinetail, they proceeded to move on to FrostClan.
It was much harder to find FrostClan than PebbleClan, since the territory was completely unfamiliar. But finally, they caught a strong scent that was similiar to PebbleClan's except... more clear and watery smelling. If that even made sense.
They searched for a cat that could take them to the camp, but saw none. The whole territory just seemed... barren. Lacking anything moving.
Something wasn't right.
But Ivystorm ignored her stupid notions, and followed timidly after Rosedapple.
Fortunately, Foxpelt was able to spy a well-trodden path.
"It looks like cats go here often," he mewed, "This would be a good place to start."
"Are you sure?" Ivystorm blurted out, "I don't know. Something seems... off."
Foxpelt raised an eyebrow at her. He was a logical thinker, never just basing things on a hunch. He had to have clear evidence of the problem, before stating that there was a problem.
"I have no idea what you're talking about. Now hurry up, before Foreststar gets worried. She was expecting us by sundown."
Muttering to herself, she followed after him through the path.
It wasn't too rocky, which was a relief for her pads, but the pine trees shaded out most of the sun that tried to enter an shine on the earth. Every now and then would be a break in the needly roof, where the sun would dapple the earth in little bits. Then it would just return to darkness.
Trees dotted the end of the path, woven so tightly together that a cat could just slip through if needed. She shrugged. This must be it. With a few confident strides, to hide her apprehension, she pushed through the pine trees.
Tons of faces turned to greet her, eyes lacking emotion, pelts hanging from their skinny frames. Rosedapple stared in shock as she sauntered through the treeline, at every gaunt cat lingering around the clearing.
"Great StarClan," Specklefoot muttered, "What happened to them?"
A somewhat healthier she-cat stepped forward, her pelt as white as the snow that capped the mountain tops.
"What do you want?" she grumbled.
But Ivystorm wasn't looking at her.
Instead, she was looking past her, at one familiar face among the crowd, her honey-colored eyes speaking of long lost memories.
No denying it. It was her mother.
Chapter 3-- Dawny
Foxpelt pelted past Tansypaw, another rock slide had come down. "Run!" Foxpelt yowled and cluched her scruff, trying to escape the swallowing darkness.
Foreststar slide past there paws, mud sliding everywhere. "Its ok, your safe now." She growled softly, flicking her tail at Tansypaw.
"We are at PebbleClan now Tansypaw." Foxpelt chimed in and bounded past the eager she-cat.
Foxpelt stared at the cats small and frail frames, which made him shudder in fear. No, CloudClan will not fall like that.
Then, he glanced at Ivystorm, who was some how caught in a gaze with another she-cat, just another pelt lost in the crowd.
"Why are you here?" The white she-cat from before reared up behind Foxpelt, her gaze burning through his ginger fur.
"Ask Foreststar, only she knows why." Foxpelt grumbled and sat down, bunching his haunches up.
A frail kit started to slowly pad up to the ginger warrior, shyly. Foxpelt paid no mind to the kit, he just watched Tansypaw and another PebbleClan apprentice play-fight. Good seathed claws.
The tom swiftly smoothed down his matted fur, glancing up at a small dapple she-cat ever few licks.
The she-cat was a small wiry tortiseshell she-cat, her eyes glittered green. But she was carrying herbs. Fox-dung. Foxpelt sighed and dropped his head into the soft wet moss.
"Hey Foxpelt! I made a new friend." Tansypaw pounced on the tom. She had only come along to Foxpelt's constant complaints and his remarks about 'how it would be good for her to learn about the other clans.'
Foxpelt smiled and flicked his tail back and forth in the moss, until Foreststar called him towards him.
"I need you and Ivystorm to find the medicine cat, alright?"
"I think I found her." Foxpelt bounded towards the tortiseshell and asked her if she was the medicine cat, of course, she nodded.
"Come with me." The tom meowed and pelted towards Foreststar, almost taking her out.
Yikes. He prayed that his leader wouldn't notice his stares towards the she-cat, he couldn't help himself.
"Now that I have you three here, I think its time we make place for a gathering." Foreststar proposed, staring at the three cats in front of her.
"Well, I see your point Foreststar, but the rock-" The leader Lilystar was interupted by Foreststar.
"The rock-slides aren't really occuring anymore." She finished.
"Well, then its a great idea, hows the top of the mountain, but the flat part? Where that one tree sprouts up?" The medicine cat, Dappleleaf, cut in after.
The four nodded and Foreststar dismissed herself. She knew she came here to represent CloudClan, and attending a gathering now, wasn't her intention, but she made a win/win either way.
Foxpelt glared at Dappleleaf as she crawled into a patch of ferns, disappearing.
"What so interesting about her?" Tansypaw cut into his thoughts as Foreststar and her patrol walked back to their camp.
"Nothing, its just- I have a feeling." He lied.
"A feeling? Well that seems inportant." Tansypaw replied quizically.
"No, its just well nothing." Foxpelt trotted farther up the path, trying to get away from Tansypaw.
But Tansypaw was getting harder to shake. "But wait, what if this feeling, what if its really important Foxpelt."
"Tansypaw!" The annoyed tom yowled and glared at her.
"Fine." She walked off angerliy.