Episode One, Season Two, of Solitary.
At that moment, a feeling of disbelief washed over me. Surely, what Scorch had said was impossible? How could we be siblings – littermates, even – without only a first meeting? How did Scorch know, when I knew nothing?
As if Scorch could read my thoughts, the ginger she-cat spoke from in front of me: “Streak told me everything,” she whispered quietly. “When we were young, Streak wanted one of us, so he took me away, because I looked like him… you stayed with Stream because of that reason. Is she alive, anyway?” she added, green eyes full of hope.
I shook my head. “She was killed, by a cat I don’t know,” I murmured.
For a moment, Scorch’s eyes seemed to dull with sadness, even though she didn’t have a proper chance to know her other. They stayed that way, as she spoke again: “Streak died at the paws at that black cat you killed – Raven, I think his name was? Anyway, it was just before the Clan cats arrived, and I fled from him. I dabbled in Flame’s rogue group for a bit, but then left when she decided she was against the Clans. I watched this battle in silence, and I saw you defeat Raven – the revenge I wanted. So I had to speak to you – and now…” Scorch’s voice trailed away.
“You’ve realized you’re my brother,” I whispered. Afterwards, I couldn’t believe I’d spoken the words – I’d accepted her as my sister.
Scorch nodded. “That’s true.” The ginger cat raised one single black paw and gently rubbed her forehead with it. She looked back onto the battlefield, which was now empty, no cats in sight. “Shall we go now, then? I’ll be able to see you around the forest now.”
Reluctantly, I nodded. “May StarClan light your path,” I said softly, touching noses with Scorch. It was the first time I had actually acknowledged StarClan for something, and I actually felt proud of myself.
“And yours,” Scorch replied simply, turning her back on me and slinking away from me.
I watched Scorch for a moment, leaving the area, and then I looked over the empty battlefield once more. Then I turned back to make my way outside Clan borders – it was not my place to be there anymore.
Scorch turned and padded into the forest, letting her paws thrum against the ground. ForestClan and TreeClan scent was fresh on her tongue – she was still walking along the border, after all – but she let it overcome her. After all, even though Scorch had no desire to join the Clans, she knew to trust them.
At first, she had been cautious, making sure to keep out of Raven’s way. Flame’s group had given her protection for a while, but even that was short. Since Flame had declared war, Scorch had walked alone. But now, life would be different.
I know who my brother is now.
In her mind, she pictured Wisp, his long-furred, pale silver-gray coat thick and shiny. His sky-blue eyes were full of mixed emotions – and Scorch wanted to know why.
I still don’t know much about Wisp – I only met him today. All that I know is that he’s against those rogues – and he’s right to think that. I feel the same way.
The ForestClan and TreeClan scent faded away from Scorch, and she knew that she was out of the way of their border. Now wary that she was near Flame’s territory, she edged off towards the TreeClan side. At the moment, it was best to stay away.
But I know that they won’t give up after this, Scorch thought knowledgeably. This isn’t the end. I’m sure they’ll want revenge on the Clans after what they have done – won’t they?
For once, I felt relieved, after many days of tension still seeming to erupt after the battle. It seemed as if there would be no battles right now – there was still time to recover. And as I approached the TreeClan border for the first time in just over a quarter-moon, it seemed like a good time to return.
I’ve given them some time to recover. I won’t trespass, I’ll make sure of that – but the Clans should have started to recuperate. Besides, they didn’t send all their warriors into battle – so surely they’d still be some fit ones there?
But staying away had helped me to clear my head as well – from the battle, my parents, Scorch… it was still too much to deal with, for me. Now it seemed more manageable, and I felt a lot better.
“Hey, Wisp. I haven’t seen you since the battle. How’s the prey running where you hunt?”
Jolting out of my thoughts, I turned towards the sound. A brown-and-white tabby was there, blue eyes interested, not hostile like the first time I had seen him.
“Hi, Kestrelfeather.” I dipped my head to the TreeClan deputy, surprised by his kindness. Three other cats – a blue-gray she-cat I recognized as Waterfall, a mottled gray tabby I didn’t know the name to, but I had nearly stepped on him in the ForestClan camp, and a younger, overexcited ginger-and-brown she-cat. “Prey is -”
“Is that the rogue that helped us win the battle?” the small ginger-and-brown cat squeaked, interrupting my words to Kestrelfeather. She went and bounded in front of the deputy, green eyes staring straight at me.
“Weaselpaw, get back here,” Kestrelfeather hissed to the young she-cat. At once, Weaselpaw’s head drooped as she padded reluctantly back to her place in front of Waterfall, who was near the back of the group. Kestrelfeather turned to me again, and muttered: “Sorry about that, Wisp. Overexcited apprentices drive me crazy. Weaselpaw is mine, and she’s been going crazy ever since the battle, asking every cat who went about what happened.” He gave a sigh, and added: “What were you saying about the prey?”
“Oh, it’s fine,” I mewed. “This is the first time I’ve been by Clan borders since the battle.”
“Clearing your head, hey?” Kestrelfeather asked, tipping his head. “Anyway, it’s nice to see you. In that battle, you gained the Clan’s trust, you know that? We can help you with any issues you may face.”
“I’d happily return the favor,” I murmured, embarrassed.
Kestrelfeather gave a nod, and then flicked his tail at the patrol. “I’d better get going with this – border marking. I’ll tell Hawkstar that I saw you.”
I nodded. “See you around, Kestrelfeather.”
‘And you, Wisp,” Kestrelfeather replied, keeping his blue gaze on me. He then turned away with the patrol. Weaselpaw was trailing at the back, mewing loudly:
“Kestrelfeather! You didn’t tell me who that cat was! Who is he?”
I purred as I heard Weaselpaw’s words, and smiled to myself as I watched the patrols go. Obviously the Clan was doing well – there was nothing to worry about.
Even after the darkest of times, life goes on, I thought.
I sat up in my tree, reflecting on how much life had changed in the past two moons. Two moons ago, the forest was peaceful, I knew that much. Just over a moon ago, if I remembered correctly, the Clans came to the forest. Now, the forest was ravaged after a war between two sides.
And no cat was safe from its effects, I thought, looking into the depths beyond where I was. Only the group by TreeClan – the group that Cinderfire used to be part of – seemed to be safe. They chose a path of peace instead of war.
I chose a path of war.
For the first time, I realized what I done. I had changed what could have been for the forest. If not, the Clans mightn’t have won that battle. I would still have walked alone. I wouldn’t have met Scorch… the thought made me shiver.
Otherwise I would still believe a lie, I thought scathingly. The lie that Stream put on me when I was a kit. If Streak hadn’t taken Scorch away…
It was interesting that I had thought about my ginger sister. Since the battle, I still hadn’t seen her – maybe she roamed in another part of the forest that I didn’t visit very often. Maybe Scorch had joined the Clans, even – but I strongly doubted that idea, since Scorch didn’t participate in the battle between the rogues and the Clans.
She mentioned that she had been part of Flame’s rogue group for a while, I remembered with a jolt. Scorch was a member of Flame’s rogue group. Was that why she didn’t fight?
It’s not your place to interfere, Wisp, another voice interrupted, cutting in through my thoughts. Why should you meddle with Scorch’s business?
She’s my sister, the first voice replied again. I care for her. Shouldn’t I show an interest in what she does?
Frustrated with myself, I shut the nagging thoughts away. This wasn’t the time to argue with anything. Feeling the need to get away, I stood up on the tree branch, and edged my way to the trunk, making sure not to lose my footing and risk plummeting to the ground. As I approached the nicked substance, I breathed a sigh of relief as I edged down the gnarled tree trunk, landing steadily with all four paws on the ground.
I looked out along the forest, looking over into its depth again. For the first time, I actually wondered what was beyond the forest, and beyond the Clans.
I quickly shut that thought away as well, as I turned to pad into the forest. Another silent, bitter reply followed in my mind:
I don’t really want to know what’s beyond this place. It’s my home, and I’d never leave it for an instant.
The three cats were looking down from their starry place in the sky, looking as to where the pale silver-gray rogue had gone. They knew he was important to the Clans, and that he had much more to achieve. However, that was not their focus now.
“I wish I had gotten to know him,” a black-and-ginger tabby tom mewed. His unusually colored bright blue eyes shone with wisdom and starlight. “If I had made different decisions, maybe he would’ve had a sister to grow up with.”
“It’s too late for that, Streak,” a silver-gray she-cat, the spitting image of the rogue except that she had green eyes instead of blue, replied. “The decisions made in life we cannot change. We are dead now, and we are powerless to stop what’s coming.”
Streak turned back to the silver-gray cat. “I know that, Stream,” he hissed defiantly. “I was a bad father, declining the right for my kits to live together! I should’ve done what was right all along! I’m sorry, Stream, I should’ve listened to you that day.”
“You can’t change what’s happened now,” Stream mewed softly, green eyes set on Streak. “But I forgive you.”
“You two, will you stop talking about the life that you had outside the Clans?” snapped a gray-and-white tom, the third cat that was there. Amber eyes switched from Streak, then to Stream. “I don’t have time for this sort of thing. We need to get to talking about Wisp and Scorch.”
“Sorry, Runningclaw,” Stream replied meekly, shooting an apologetic glance at the former Clan cat. Streak said nothing, only gave a defiant snort.
“Now, what were we saying about those two?” Runningclaw mewed thoughtfully, breaking the silence that hung in the air. “Wisp and Scorch. They still have a lot to do before the Clans are at peace.”
“There will be a final battle,” Streak mewed hazily, blue eyes clouding over. “Not urgently, not that soon. But StarClan’s messages have told me that much.”
“You’re getting something from StarClan?” Stream’s eyes rounded with shock. “Tell me what they’re saying to you, Streak.”
Streak’s blue eyes were still cloudy. The black-and-ginger tom’s words were different the next time he spoke: “Forests and trees and threatened by the outside. Only a wisp and a scorch can save them from destruction, and eventually two sources will fall.”
“Wait a moment,” Runningclaw murmured slowly, after Streak had finished speaking. “Threatened by the outside… I don’t know when this will be fulfilled. But we must keep this to ourselves – like a secret.”
The three cats nodded in unison, and Streak whispered four words: “It’s a secret indeed.”