|Linked:The First Arc|
|Preceded by: |
|Shadowed Pawsteps||Succeded by: |
Shattered Like Dewdrops
So...for the second book!
Leader: Pantherstar--black tom with piercing yellow eyes
Deputy: Flameblossom--pretty ginger she-cat with amber eyes
Medicine Cat: Ambershine--ginger-orange she-cat with blue eyes
Mistfur (Apprentice, Jaguarpaw)--silver she-cat with blue eyes
Berryleaf--tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes
Skytail--gray-blue tom with a white chest and paws
Antpetal--Mousy brown she-cat
Vinepelt (Apprentice, Bamboopaw)--gray she-cat with streaks all over her body and lime green eyes
Toucanfoot--Brown tom with long claws and ginger feet
Mothflight--Creamy brown tom with amber eyes
Streamlight--silver she-cat with dark stripes
Rainwhisper (Apprentice, Strikepaw)--grayish tom with pale blue eyes
Stormpelt--Muscular tom with a smoky gray pelt and yellow eyes
Cloudbreeze--Rather small white tom
Firetail--Ginger tom with amber eyes
Lilydrop--Striking and mysterious white she-cat with deep amber eyes
Jaguarpaw (mentor, Mistfur)--Said to be descended from the big cat itself, she has palette-shaped markings just like a jaguar and beautiful blue eyes
Bamboopaw (mentor, Vinepelt)--She-cat with a simple brown pelt and green eyes
Strikepaw (mentor, Rainwhisper)--handsome tom with a smoky gray pelt and a golden streak down his back
Whitemist (kits: Hawkkit, Splashkit--silver she-cats with black splotches and ice blue eyes)--pretty white she-cat with flecks of silver
Grayberry (kits: Waterkit, Swallowkit)--Gray she-cat speckled with black with pale green eyes
Hawkkit heard a faint buzzing in her ear. She flicked her ear to the side, trying to shake the pesky fly off.
There was now a tickling inside her ear. She let out a low hiss, and stuck her paw in her ear.
A fat, itchy bite-inflicting fly zoomed out of her ear and into the steamy air. "Good riddance," she hissed.
"First sign of insanity: talking to bugs," Splashkit teased.
"I am already insane. Insane from this trip," Hawkkit muttered. Splashkit was so not good at teasing.
"Look. I hear that Pantherstar is going to have us set up a temporary shelter in a bit."
"Yippee. I wish he had done it earlier, when the very Silverpelt seemed to be raining down on us."
"Come on, Hawkkit. You should be used to the rain by now," Splashkit nagged.
They bickered for a few moments, until Lilydrop came by their side. Hawkkit felt resentment welling up inside of her, but she knew she shouldn't scratch the messenger.
"Okay, I think we're finding shelter now," she reported.
"Thank St---I mean--Thank goodness! My legs are killing me!" Splashkit mewed. Hawkkit sighed. Why couldn't they just be like any other kit?
When they were born, they were born with a defect that had them stuck together by the flank. Inseparable. It was quite a frustration, especially with the news that it was possible they would never become warriors. The unfairness of it made Hawkkit want to tear down every tree in the jungle.
This time, the temporary shelter was sandwiched between two thick trees and some leafy bushes.
Just as soon as they settled down, Pantherstar called the Clan to a meeting.
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join beneath before me for a Clan meeting!"
Weary looking cats of all ages shuffled in front of Pantherstar, skeptically awaiting the announcement.
"The first thing that I would like to announce is that DuskClan scents have been getting increasingly closer. We must move faster, or we could get caught," he began.
"We should fight them!" Streamlight caterwauled.
"Silence! There are too many. And they have the others on their side."
Hawkkit wondered, just for a moment, if it were her and Splashkit's fault that they were going so slow. What if we're so slow that they're moving slower, making us prey for DuskClan and TwilightClan? She dismissed the thought to listen to the rest of Pantherstar's speech.
"And another thing. Rainwhisper is moving to the elders den." Respectful murmurs arose in the crowd. "Stormpelt will be the new mentor of Strikepaw."
A handsome tom with a golden streak down his back stepped forward and touched noses with her father. Then he strutted back into the crowd and took a seat. Wow. He looks conceited.
The makeshift nursery was propped up against a small rock, with flimsy branches making a fort.
Hawkkit was exhausted; this was the one night where she actually wanted to go to sleep at bedtime. Splashkit, however, had beaten her to it. As they were sitting down, her head was cocked forward and she was snoring softly.
Whitemist entered followed by Grayberry and a squealing and tumbling Waterkit and Swallowkit.
She sighed. "I have talked to your father."
Oh no. That's not a good sign, she thought.
"And we have agreed to tell you exactly what is going on tomorrow. Can you wake up your sister?"
"Gettup!" Hawkkit shouted in Splashkit's ear.
"Wha?" she groaned, "Why'd you wake me up? I was having a really good dream, I was climbing up a tree after a juicy bird--"
"Something special is going on tomorrow! And Icemist is going to tell us!" she exclaimed.
"Okay, settle down, some cats are trying to sleep," Whitemist mewed. Splashkit snorted skeptically.
"JungleClan generally has a very big territory, considering the jungle is very big. Although it has been invaded by others for many moons." She paused. "DuskClan has been pushing on our borders for a long time. And they have finally driven us to the edge."
"Why don't we just fight them?" Splashkit interjected.
"I wish we could," Whitemist sighed, "But DuskClan itself has too many cats for us to take on. With TwilightClan and the others added, we would surely lose. So our only choice is to flee."
"Can we get to the point? I'm really tired," Splashkit yawned.
"Ugh, can't you think of anything but sleep and prey? This is interesting!"
"The point being, the very edge of our territory is a wide river, full of dangerous animals. And we will be crossing it tomorrow."
"That sounds fun!" Hawkkit exclaimed.
"No, it doesn't," Splashkit complained.
"This is serious," Whitemist warned, "Cats could die. I'm talking about predators that you may never have heard of."
"Alligators? Piranhas?" Hawkkit mewed excitedly.
"This isn't fun and games," Splashkit lectured.
"Okay, okay, fine. We get it."
"Now get rested for tomorrow. This can especially be a challenge for you."
Hawkkit groaned inwardly. They weren't cripples! They could still move! But you're not healthy enough to be a warrior, said the horrible little voice in the back of her head.
"Shut up," she mumbled to herself. Then she settled into a very restless sleep, for Splashkit was jabbing her left paw into her stomach, and if she didn't stop, Hawkkit would scratch her.
The river didn't look as forbidding as Splashkit thought. It flowed lazily along, with no sign of any sort of predator. There were a few stray logs floating on the sides, and the shore was lined with pebbles.
"Okay. We're all going to cross at once, in a tight clump, with warriors on the edges, kits and apprentices in the center," Flameblossom explained.
They were packed into a tight formation, Hawkkit and her squashed in the very center beside Waterkit and Swallowkit.
"You ready?" Hawkkit whispered.
"Yeah!" shouted the two tiny kits. Splashkit just twitched her ear.
"Grrr, I'm a scary alligator and I'm gonna eat you!" Hawkkit growled playfully. The kits shrieked in laughter as they moved forward.
"Hawkkit!" Splashkit hissed, "This is serious!"
"So I have been informed," she retorted, "C'mon. Why don't we lighten up the mood? We're all acting like we're marching to our deaths or something."
"For all you know, we could be!" Splashkit hissed.
Hawkkit raised her voice to a shout. "You always have to have the last word, don't you?"
The muggy water of the river was beginning to slip up over Splashkit's paws and towards her knees, but she was much too preoccupied with her argument. Hawkkit always thought everything was all fun and games. Never anything life threatening, oh no, it's all a spectacular performance! And the fact that they were almost six moons, and Hawkkit was teaching her wayward habits to young kits!
"You think you're always right! Well, I'm proving you wrong now! Get attacked by an alligator! See if I care! You know I won't help you, because it's all peachy and you'll obviously be okay!" Splashkit shouted sarcastically.
"Whoa. Control your anger," Hawkkit mewed coolly, "Very immature."
"You calling me immature? Well, look who's talking!" Splashkit shouted, "If I ever--"
Then a jolt of pain shot through her leg. It was so extreme that her vision became dim at the corners, like she was going to pass out...
Tiny teeth stabbed into her again, this time farther up on her wet fur. She looked down, to see peals of red flowing through the water.
She groaned and stopped dead, petrified by the blood flowing in the water. Hawkkit was forced to stop abruptly.
"Come on, Little Miss Perfect," Hawkkit hissed, "You were the one going on about how dangerous this little stream is." Then her eyes widened to a look of horror as she saw the blood. "Splashkit---?"
Toucanfoot, a large warrior, bumped into Splashkit.
"Come on! This river is dangerous!"
Then he stopped in horror.
Little teeth were poking at her legs and stomach, opening new wounds. She slumped over, her face nearly engulfed in water. She choked involuntarily.
This is it then, she thought. I wonder what they'll do when I die? Will they cut my body from Hawkkit's? How would she survive that, I wonder?
Keep fighting, Splashkit, the other side of her said, You're not nearly dead yet!
She cracked open her eyes to see Hawkkit furiously slashing at silver shapes flitting around in the clear water.
And before she knew it, she was lying gasping and bleeding on the other shore.
"Quick! Get some aloe leaves!" shouted Stormpelt. Whitemist was in hysterics.
"It's okay," Hawkkit was whispering as she lay next to Splashkit, "Piranhas came, but I fought them off." She ended her last sentence with some pride.
She felt the thick juices of the leaf seep into her wounds. She exhaled deeply, Ambershine's pretty eyes the last thing saw, before she was in deep sleep.
Hawkkit grunted and shifted.
"Whitemist? Anyone? Are you there? I'm bored!" she cried.
"Ssh. You'll wake up Splashkit," her mother said as she entered their nest.
"When will she be better? I want to get up and move around!"
Hawkkit instantly realized that it was a selfish thing to say. She should be more focused on Splashkit waking up and getting better; not if she could stroll around camp.
Whitemist flared her nostrils, but made no comment. "I assume, with the proper care, she'll be okay in a few days, maybe?"
Hawkkit sighed. Icemist left.
She hated being alone.
True, she was never actually alone, but with Splashkit sleeping and no one to keep her company...ugh. She hated it.
She thought that Lilydrop would possibly stop by, but she was nowhere to be seen. She even asked Rainwhisper as he ambled by.
"Dunno. Haven't seen her. Probably out, doing whatever odd activities she likes!" he snorted with laughter, and strolled away. Hawkkit bristled. Lilydrop had told them the truth when no one else had.
It was twilight. She wished she could see the sky through the trees. Her mother said she had seen it once. She told her that it was beautiful gleaming shades of red and orange, with splashes of gold and wispy, pink clouds. She sighed and attempted to roll over.
Then, to her surprise, the last cat that she would've thought to show up arrived. It was Strikepaw, the stuck-up tom apprentice. Rainwhisper had been teaching him. No wonder.
"Hey," he mewed.
"Hey," she grumbled back.
"Nothing. Absolutely nothing."
"Do you want me to leave?" he sighed.
Hawkkit instantly jumped. "No! No! Stay here!" The loneliness was getting to her. Even Strikepaw could cheer her up at this point.
"Yeah," she murmured, once again thinking of the twilight sky she would never get to see.
"Your sister okay?"
"She should be fine."
Hawkkit peered over Splashkit. Ugly scars, red and inflammed, stood out against the gentle blowing silver fur of hers. Pus leaked from one. Hawkkit shivered.
Strikepaw scooped up a leaf with his left paw and wiped the pus. "Never been that squeamish."
"I can tell."
"Do you know if you're ever becoming apprentices? I mean, no, I don't mean it like that. Just your disability. I feel so bad for you..."
Hawkkit's head instantly snapped up. "Oh, so you've only come here to fawn over us and act like we're blind and deaf and just plain stupid! You might as well leave then, and give me some peace! I'd like to get some sleep now. Goodbye."
She fake-grinned as he scooted out of the den. "Oh. Um. Bye to you too."
"This entire Clan...ugh," she muttered to herself.
Strikepaw cast one last glance over his shoulder. She pointedly turned her head away.
He turned his sad, golden gaze away, and padded out of the den.
Hawkkit sighed. "I'm sorry..." she whispered under her breath. But it was too late. Strikepaw had already gone.
She was surrounded by those voices. Those elusive voices, that seem to be whispering over and over, yet you have no clue what they're saying, no clue if they have the intention to harm you or protect you or warn you. Just those voices.
Splashkit turned every which way, in the darkness, trying to find the source. The wind blew through her fur.
And she was standing on top of a tree branch.
A snake was uncoiling itself, its beady eyes flickering. "Beauty at a price. Skill costs your life," it whispered, "Beauty at a price. Skills costs your life."
The snake uncoiled itself more. It was about to strike.
But instead of sinking its fangs into her flesh, it just slithered of the branch of the tree and into the everlasting darkness.
But she could still hear it. "Beauty at a price. Skill costs your life. Beauty at a price. Skill costs your life. BEAUTY AT A PRICE. SKILL COSTS YOUR LIFE--"
Splashkit turned to her left. Hawkkit was there. Except it was not Hawkkit.
Her eyes were cold and beady, just like the snake's.
"Beauty at a price. Skill costs your life." She winked.
All of a sudden, darkness slammed over the jungle, covering it like a blanket.
Her fur felt hot and sticky. Oh StarClan, she didn't want to know what was in her pelt. Something seemed to drip onto her paw.
She began to scream.
And she bolted upright, the sunlight blinding.