|Hidden Spirit Series|
Secret To Keep
|Over The Horizon||Succeded by: |
No Coming Back
Prologue - The Revenge - Thornstar
"Thornstar. Your spies have come back." the dark gray she-cat meowed slowly as soon as she padded inside the den. Her eyes showed anxiety and her small smile that ran along her face was the sign of success.
The huge tabby tom turned around to look at the she-cat. His face was expresionless and his eyes shone brightly, reflecting the light from outside, in the darkness of the cave. He stood up, showing off his muscles and gave a quick shake. "Bring them in. Oh and get me Crowsong to bring me some prey. Tell her to bring me the usual."
The dark gray she-cat nodded politely and ran off outside. Her meows were heard and soon after two cats came inside. One was a cream-coloured tom and the other was a pale silver tom with black spots all around him. Both toms took a few steps after enterring, afraid of getting too close and sat down, ready to speak at their leader's command.
"I suppose you have good news or else it would be a pity for such good warriors to let their lives go to waste." Thornstar simply meowed and flicked his tail for them to start talking.
"They're located just where they've always been. The old DeathClan territory is unhabited. Apparantly, none of them dare to go into it." the cream-coloured tom meowed.
"Though we've seen a few cats steal prey from there. But as leaf-bare left, the number of tresspasers decreased." the other tom meowed, his voice showed how nervous he was and he looked at the leader with questioning eyes.
Thornstar nodded and after a few minutes of silent he stoop up. "That's it? And the gatherings? Their territory? Is it all the same?" he snarled at them.
"Ye..yes. It's all the same. The clans have kept their rituals and everything." the cream tom quickly meowed. "Everything is the same."
"Alright then." Thornstar flicked his tail and both toms quickly rushed out of the den. A muscular ginger tom, who had been sititng on the entrance all along, finally padded in followed by a skinny black she-cat carrying prey and some herbs.
"Everything is in order Thornstar. I've given the order to start gathering travelling herbs and get themselves ready. Kits, elders, everyone." the ginger tom meowed and lay down on a rock.
"You're already giving commands without my permission, Stealthclaw? Keep it up and the clan will think you're their new leader." he meowed, his voice sounding annoyed. The black she-cat placed the fat squirrel she had brough in in front of Thornstar and started making a new nest with the moss that was stacked away at the end of the den.
"The clan thinks nothing. They just follow your oders. I have a right to give orders, you know?" Stealthclaw meowed, grabbing a fat mouse the black she-cat had left for him be the stack of moss.
"Only because you have Deathstar's blood running through your veins means that you have a right to be my deputy. Don't give me an excuse to kill you." he growled.
"Kill me and you're killing Deathstar's only alive descendant. That is something you have no right of doing. According to Deathstar's and GhostClan's law, you shall be punished if you do kill the last descendant." Stealthclaw simply meowed as he took bites of his mouse.
The black she-cat placed the wet moss she had brough in on Thornstar's pelt. She then padded to the moss stack and grabbed a few berries, and placed them beside Thornstar's fat squirrel. As soon as she was done, she gave a quick look at Stealthclaw and rushed outside.
Thornstar growled at his deputy's words and took a huge aggresive bite of his prey. "Yeah. So why don't you just make Crowsong your mate and have kits. That way I can kill you and get it over with." he meowed nudging his head over to where the black she-cat, Crowsong, had left. "I've seen you two. You're just jealous she's my servant."
Stealthclaw laughed. "Don't think you're getting rid of me that easily. Just focus on killing those three clans and then we'll see and talk about my future descendants."
Chapter 1 - Lethal Sickness - Hiddenpaw
"I'm sorry Hiddenpaw. Right now I can't help you." Fairheart meowed and rushed as fast as she could outside of the medicine cat's den. I sighed feeling a little lightheaded. Both Fairheart and Sweetpaw had been so busy these past days. So many cats had been feeling sick with coughs and pain in their throats. It seemed like greencough, but Fairheart had said that wasn't it. She said it was something else that wasn't part of her knowledge.
I padded outside looking desperately for another way to solve at least one of my problems. Each of them brough serious trouble and I couldn't help but feel my head in pain. I saw many cats padding around camp and lots of confusion going on. The sickness was getting worse and worse as every heartbeat passed.
I felt dizzy for a second and decided to lie down. I stretched my paws and looked at the rush of cats. Wildpanther was nowhere to be seen, so for the first time I tried to relax. It didn't work. Three things were in my mind; Blackrock - who might possibly be my father, the mysterious black she-cat who dies and who also seems to have a bond with Wolfpaw and last but not least the prophecy.
Sweetpaw said she was going to help me with the prophecy. It had felt weird when she told me but I felt relieved. I knew I couldn't tell anyone about the prophecy so Sweetpaw's support felt good. We had never been good friends - or even friends - but I needed her help. After all, she was the medicine's cat apprentice.
I closed my eyes as I felt a sudden urge to sleep and as soon as I opened them, I was in the entrance of camp. I looked around, scared. What had happened? Suddenly, my nose caught a scent I couldn't refuse to pay attention to. PuzzleClan! I quickly recognized the scent. They were heading this way. But suddenly, I scented someone else with them. MysteryClan escorts.
With a blink of my eyes, I was lying down where I had been all along. What? I started breathing really fast, trying to understand what was going on. The picture and scents were stuck in my head as clear as if it had really happened. I quickly spinned around to face the entrance and a loud yowl came from outside.
Arcticmask suddenly came in with two cats that I couldn't quite recognize but surely knew which clan they had come from. PuzzleClan. I padded over to Arcticmask who had now stopped in the middle of the clearing and was telling something to Stormstrike. Stromstrike nodded and ran to Freedomstar's den.
"Freedomstar will be here shortly." Arcticmask meowed to them. One was a bronze tabby tom with pale brown eyes and a torn ear and the other was a golden coloured she-cat with green eyes. Both cats nodded.
"PuzzleClan cats! That is a surprise. We haven't had another clan's visitors in moons! Welcome!" our leader meowed form behind me and I sat down, trying to listen to their conversation.
"Thank you Freedomstar. Wildstar has sent us here with a very urgent message and news." the bronze tabby tom meowed.
"Very well Bronzestripe. You and Goldenfox, please follow me." he meowed and both cats nodded and followed him to his den. "Stromstrike, go get Wildpanther and tell him to meet me in my den as soon as possible." Stormstrike nodded and rushed out of camp.
I approached Arcticmask as soon as the three cats had disapeared. "Do you know what's going on?" I asked her.
"No. They just told me they had some urgent news. They also have SecretClan scent on them so it must be about all of us." She meowed and then padde dover to Starseeker and into the warriors' den.
"What was that about? You're already talking to my mom?" Bearpaw meowed as he got out of the apprentices' den. "I know we're friends and all but that's a little weird, don't you think?"
I laughed. Bearpaw had this thing that would always cheer me up. "Very funny. Actually didn't you just see what happened?" I asked him, going back to my serious face. He shaked his head.
"Some PuzzleClan cats just came to talk to Freedomstar about something that seemed serious." I told him making his face darken and his shoulders tense up. "What's wrong?"
"Do...do you think it's about Wolfpaw? Did they find out?" he asked and I suddenly remembered. Wolfpaw had been sneaking off to meet with a PuzzleClan apprentice.
"Don't worry. I bet it's something else. Arcticmask said they went to SecretClan too."
"Maybe they're looking for the cat she's been seeing! We gotta do something!"
"They probably alreday figured out-"
"Bearpaw! Just calm down for a moment. There is a million things other than that, that they could be telling Freedomstar. Don't jump to conclusions. Maybe just go hunting to get your mind off things. Worrying about something that might not even happen will only make things worse."
"Yeah, I guess so..."
"Hey! Have any of you seen Wolfpaw? Him, our mentors and I were suppose to go on a hunting patrol." Muddypaw meowed very annoyed. "I am seriously thinking of killing him if he keeps being late!" she meowed, storming off.
"Do you think...?" I asked but Bearpaw was already looking down.
"He'll just keep meeting her. Not even I can do anything." he meowed sadly. I looked around, trying to say something that would make it better but I had nothing.
"Hiddenpaw!" I jumped as soon as my name was called. I turned around and saw Wildpanther rushing through camp. "Get ready, we might be going on patrol." he meowed and dissapeared into Freedomstar's den.
"Oh well. At least I kinda had a mentor-free morning." I meowed.
"Did he even bother to show you the territory?" Bearpaw asked and I knew he was remembering that afternoon when he had showed me the whole territory. It had been a fun time even if it had started a little rough.
I shaked my head. Bearpaw suddenly yerked his head upwards and I saw his eyes follow some movement from behind me. I curiously turned around and spotted Wolfpaw coming in. Muddypaw rushed towards him, clearly mad.
"Where have you been? We were suppose to go on a hunting patrol long ago!" she loudly meowed at him.
"Whatever. I don't give a mouse about the hunting patrol. Just go without me." he simply meowed and started to make his way to the apprentices' den but Muddypaw got in his way.
"I don't care what excuse you have, I want to go on a hunting patrol and you can't stop it from happening! Nettletangle will make you go." she meowed, sitting down but her eyes burning with anger. Muddypaw wasn't the kind of patient cat or the one who would let others boss her around. She clearly shared Littlepaw's bad personality.
But that's when Wolfpaw's bad mood got the best of him. He growled and threw himself on Muddypaw, clearly scaring and surprising her. He showed his teeth with another growl and pushed her against the outside wall of the apprentices' den. I gasped.
Wolfpaw then, without even glancing over to the watching cats, made his way inside, not caring about anything else. I looked over to Muddypaw who was just trying to get up.
"He's so going to get it!" she spat.
"Muddypaw! Enough, get over here." Redfoot meowed on perfect timing. Muddypaw glanced one last time where Wolfpaw had dissapeared and padded towards her mentor. "Bearpaw!" he called. "As soon as Wildpanther is done with his meeting, tell him what just happened and I'm sure he'll deal with your brother. Just don't try anything yourself, we don't want it to end like last time."
I realized that Bearpaw had been heading inside until Redfoot had told him not to. "What do you think got him this mad? Do you think it's the she-cat?" he whispered to me.
"I wish I knew."
A sudden yowl echoed through the whole camp. I quickly turned around and saw Freedomstar looking down at the leaving PuzzleClan cats.
The clan quickle started to gather around, waiting for their leader's announcement. Surely, everyone was whispering among themselves, trying to guess what the PuzzleClan warriors had come to tell him.
Beam sighed. "Here it comes..." he meowed, keeping him focus on Freedomstar.
"I'm sure most of you are already realizing that something is wrong. A sickness veyr much like greencough is spreading, but not quite that. I've been informed by PuzzleClan that their medicine cat, Airwhisker, received a dream from SpiritClan about a journey to find the medicine." he stopped and looked around.
"Nothing is certain for now, but SpiritClan is trying to tell us something. Therefore tonight, every medicine cat from everyclan will go to Free Mountain and try to learn what SpiritClan is really trying to tell us. I ask everyone, if you are feeling the slightest bit different or sick, tell our medicines. We dont' want this disease to spread. Thank you."
Chapter Two - The Message - Hiddenpaw
The forest was completely destroyed. There was nothing left. The trees looked thin and black. The grass was gone. The land was dry and hard. Lifeless. There was no life here. The cats around me were astonished by the destruction caused by one of our greatest and unstopable enemies. I couldn't feel anything. Couldn't breath. The place that I once had a life in. The place where someone I loved had lived. It was all gone. And I hadn't even said a proper goodbye.
"Hey! Hiddenpaw!" I felt a paw on my shoulder. "Wake up! Hurry or we'll miss the assembly!"
I turned around to face the darkness of the apprentices' den. It was very early. Or it seemed to be and my body felt so tired that I didn't even want to open my eyes. I didn't even want to think about the horrible nigthmare I just had. It hurt thinking about who I left behind, but seeing my old home destryoyed like that was unbearable.
"The medicine cats came back late last night! Freedomstar is going to announce what's going to happen! C'mon!"
I flipped open my eyes. They came back! I got on my paws and tried my best to run outside; with Bearpaw beside me, not even trying to walk fast. I sat and that's when I noticed the silence and everyone's worried face. Freedomstar was trying hard not to show expression but his face gave away the seriousness of the sickness.
"Our medicine cats came back yesterday very late with SpiritClan's message. I don't want anyone to fear this strange sickness. Its not like anything we haven't faced before and our ancestors have given us our solution." He sighed, "The end to this horrible plague lies in the healing powers of an herb. One that we must travel farther than any cat has ever traveled to acquire."
"It has been decided that every clan will send four cats each. This journey is very mysterious and not even SpiritClan knows what is to happen. I will be in my den deciding which cats will be sent. That is all. Thank you and please do not worry, because there is nothing to worry about." With those last words, he nodded and went to his den, followed by his Wildpanther, Fairheart and Cindersky.
"I can't tell you anything about what they showed me. It's suppose to be a secret, but I know that Fairheat believes it has something to do with the prophecy." Sweetpaw told me, as if expecting something from me. "It has death in it, which she thinks can be connected to this disease. I thought you'd know something about it. The prophecy clearly has you involved in it."
"I don't know what you want me to say. I don't understand anything about the prophecy other than that it scares me."
"I know... but you do realize that Fairheart is probably going to request you be part of the group that goes get the herb."
It hadn't even occured to me. I didn't exactly want to go, mostly because I was scared - really scared of having to leave again. Leave a place I was starting to call home. But I felt like it somehow needed me to go. I couldn't quiet understand it. Less alone explain it, so I just kept it to myself. "When...when do you think they'll pick the cats to go?"
"Probably will announce it today. We need the cure as fast as possible. Soon there will be too many cats for us to handle. You better go now, I'm sure Wildpanther will give you something to do soon." She smiled and turned around, back to the medicine cats' den.
"What's going on?" Bearpaw asked my mentor. Wildpanther looked at him but remained silent.
"I'm sure you have a few suspicions on why I have called you here. You are the chosen cats from our clan to take part in this journey to bring back the herb. We cannot afford to send to many warriors, they are the strongest but many are still being affected by the sickness and we need the rest to protect our camp." Freedomstar meowed.
He then turned to look at Wolfpaw and Bearpaw. "You two are almost ready to become warriors. This journey can be considered as your final test. I will consider you as warriors in this journey and I trust that you won't fail MysteryClan."
He then turned to me. "Fairheart has chosen you, for reason I believe you already know. And since your mentor is going, I see no reason why you shouldn't. It is decided that it shall be you four that will go. It's a great honor, I will announce it very soon to the clan and you will meet the rest of the cats on FreeMountain, where you will be escorted by me and the medicine cats. There the herb will be explained to you and your path will be shown."
He nodded and we all stood and padded out.
"Whoa this is so huge!" Wolfpaw meowed, out of his ordinary state.
Bearpaw laughed. It seemed they were now getting along just fine. I understood their excitement. I shared some of it. But I couldn't keep the prophecy out of my head. Death will shadow the forest...
"Alright. Here is some Burnet and Daisy leaves. They will help you keep your strength up. Remember how they look. The oval-shaped leaves of Burnet. They usually have large clusters of small flower buds on top." Fairherat gave some to the four of us
"Then the Daisy Leaves. They are thick, dark green, oval shaped leaves; you will see them with white flowers like these. The leaves are the only thing that are of use. You must first chew them into paste; it will be very useful to remember their appearance, since in your journey you might not always find prey. That is all. Freedomstar is waiting for us on the camp entrance. Say goodbye to your clan mates and meet us there." She meowed and they all followed her outside the den.
I hesitated. I had to see Orangemask. She had been sick for a few days now and I couldn't leave without saying goodbye. I knew that I would see her again. I hoped I would. She might be an elder but she was still young and had much strength in her. SpiritClan wouldn't take her away from us.
"Orangemask?" I softly meowed.
"Oh...don't get too close dear, I don't want you to get sick too." She smiled.
"I came to say goodbye. Well more like a see you later. Im going to get the medicine to make you and the rest of the cats better. You just stay here and be strong. I promise you'll be better in no time."
"You are very brave...my little one. I'm...very proud of you. One day you'll make an excellent warrior. Goodbye my dear, may SpiritClan light your path." I nodded, gave her one last smile and turned around.
Most cats were on the clearing even though it was almost Moonhigh, waiting to show us their respect and thanks. Bearpaw and Wolfpaw were with their parents and I quickly made my way to where Vinecloud, Darkbranch and Skylight were.
"We're so proud of you Hiddenpaw. I know we can never replace your real family, but we love you just as if you were our own." Vinecloud approached me and nuzzled me.
"We know you're going to do just fine Sunny Hiddenpaw." Skylight said in his cheering meow.
"You are one strong cat. Remember that Hiddenpaw. This journey ahead might prove to be tough, but don't give up. It'll be like climbing a mountain, once you reach the top, the rest of it will be super easy. Don't worry about it." Darkbranch meowed.
"Thank you. I will see you all soon, promise me to save me a fat squirrel when I come back." I joked.
"Goodluck Hiddenpaw! Imagince it's one of our adventures like when we were kits!"
"Thanks kestrelpaw! I got it right this time." I laughed. "Take care of him Littlepaw." I meowed to her, as she stood beside Kestrelpaw. She made a small nod and that's when I knew we were good. Still enemies, but better.
"Good luck!" I heard Shimmerpaw say, and I gave her a smile in thanks.
"You all ready?" Freedomstar asked. "Alright, let's go."
"Greetings Freedomstar. Greetings Wildstar." Hawkstar meowed as him and five SecretClan cats arrived. The one right behind him was a cream she-cat with ginger paws and muzzle, with heather-blue eyes, the next one was a delicate ginger she-cat with wise amber eyes and white tail which I quickle recognized as the SecretClan medicine cat, Foxtail.
"These are my chosen cats." meowed Hawkstar. "Hollywood." he said, pointing at the cream she-cat with his tail, "Jayscar." he pointed at the dark blue-gray tabby tom with ice-blue eyes and a scar across his eye. "His apprentice Hawkpaw." he pointed at the slender dark orange tabby and white she-cat with bright green eyes and a ripped ear, "And Badgerpaw." finally pointing at the black and white tom with icy blue eyes.
Wildstar stepped forward in her turn to prsent the cats from PuzzleClan. "This is Summitclaw," she nodded towards the dark brown tabby tom. "Echopaw," nodding towards beautiful silver tabby she-cat with large, startlingly green eyes. "Darkpaw," nodding towards a handsome black tom with sad amber eyes. "Finally, Breezepaw." giving a final nod towards a dark gray tom with black stripes and green eyes.
"Are you sure that having only one warrior is a good decision, Wildstar?" Hawkstar asked.
"I need my warriors to protect and stand strong against this disease. These aren't just-made apprentices, they will become warriors soon. I do not see the difference." The black she-cat explained and Hawkstar nodded in understandment.
"I too have chosen only one warrior. My explanation is the same as Wildstar's. I have chosen my deputy, Wildpanther." At the mention of his name my mentor flicked his tail. "His apprentice Hiddenpaw." nodding towards me. I didn't know how to repond, so I just gave a weak smile. "Wolfpaw", nodding towards him. "And his brother Bearpaw." Bearpaw nodded in response.
"Now that you all know each other, hopefully, let's give them the message shall we my friends?" Airwhisker, the pale grey tom, medicine cat of PuzzleClan meowed.
"SpiritClan has told us that you will find the Lunar Flower at the peak of a Mountain, located behind the Clover Lake. Your journey will start by travelling through the PuzzleClan border and keep heading staright, following the Spirirt Lights that your ancestors will show you along your way." Fairheart explained.
Foxtail stood up. "The Lunar Flower is very much alike to a lily flower, but it has a deep indigo colour with white specks on the inside and only blooms at night. Therefore when you reach the mountains, you must wait until nigthfall to look for the flower."
"Now all of you be careful. SpiritClan has warned us of some obstacles and dangers you will have to overcome. Don't be reckless or try to be a hero. Work together and you'll be fine." Fairheart finished off and gave us a smile of good luck.
Chapter Three - The Destruction - Hiddenpaw
As soon as we all had say our final goodbyes, the beautiful Spirirt Lights shone brightly on the horizon sky. Their stunning colours distracting everyone for a few brief seconds before we started to make our way into this unknown journey. Twelve Cats. I think. It was quite the big number and I wondered why. It would be simpler to send fewer cats, like two per clan, but I sensed the clans were afraid to lose some of us. That some wouldn't make it through the journey. And that scared me.
"I'll lead from here. That is if none of you mind?" Summitclaw meowed, stepping to the front of the groups, clearly talking to Wildpanther, Hollywood and Jayscar.
"I don't see why not. It is your border." Wildpanther replied, not falling too much behind Summitclaw.
As we neared the bottom of Free Moauntain, PuzzleClan's smell was clearly noticable and annoying. Even though it was very dark, the thick pine trees looked ever darker.
"I've heard that they have mazes withing their territory for protection from enemies." the dark orange tabby she-cat behind me meowed, noticing my stare towards the PuzzleClan forest. I gave a small startled jump and turned around. "I'm Hawkpaw by the way." she said, smiling. "I think I've seen you at a gathering, Hiddingpaw right?"
"Hiddenpaw." I corrected. "Nice to meet you. So is it true? They have mazes?"
"I think so, but they only way to be sure of it is to ask one of them. I wouldn't ask a warrior though. They can be pretty defensive." She looked at the PuzzleClan apprentices behind her and headed towards the black tom.
"Hello, I'm Hawkpaw." she said in a friendly meow but the tom didn't even bother looking up. She looked at me with a questioning look and I shrugged and nodded towards the dark gray tom. She nodded and introduced herself.
"I'm Breezepaw and he's Darkpaw." he replied, motioning towards the black tom who had ignored Hawkpaw earlier. I padded towards them.
"Hey, I'm Hiddenpaw."
"Hi. He's not going to be much fun. He recently had a loss. His...his sister died from the sickness. She was so young, an apprentice like us, Nightpaw, and she had been so strong a few days back, none of us understand how it's possible that she was affected so strongly." He explained looking up at the night sky. It was clear that her loss had affected more cats than only her brother.
"I'm sorry to hear that." I meowed, not knowing what else to say. I looked around and noticed Wolfpaw's blank expression. He had made a sudden stop and as he looked up and we met eyes, I thought for a second I saw a tear in his eye.
"Hey...are you okay?" I asked the blue-gray apprentice. I had never seen such sadness in Wolfpaw and that worried me. What could have caused him to be so sad? He had seemed happy to be chosen for the quest.
"I'm fine." He replied in a cold tone and padded faster to catch up with the warriors at the front.
"What was that about?" I heard a she-cat ask form behind me. "Wasn't that your brother?"
"Yeah...I have no idea. He gets like that sometimes." Bearpaw replied trying to sound normal, but I knew him too well to know that he was worried about Wolfpaw. He had been so unpredictable and weird these past days that nobody knew what was going on. "Hiddenpaw?" I turned. "What happened?"
"It's nothing, don't worry." I meowed and bumped into a dark blue tabby tom and almost tripped.
"Carefull there." Jayscar meowed with a smile. "We don't want anyone getting hurt on the first night."
"On the subject of night, I say we travel only by night. That way we will get used to this schedule and be alert when we see the flower." Wildpanther meowed.
"That. Is. Just. Ridiculous! Do you not know how many dangers or things are out there? Your medicine cat even said it! Don't be reckless! Some of us do wish to be able to see our clans again. Travelling during the day would be safest and wisest." Hollywood said.