My heart was beating as I stood on the HighBranch. It was an odd feeling, having everyone's eyes on you. Something they would all forget within moments.
Something you wouldn't forget in your life.
"Cats of InkClan, I have gathered you here today for a very important ceremony!" Riverstar's voice rung through camp. She was much more stable than I remembered her being during the time she broke off from Council, "The most important of ceremonies!"
I glanced at Smokepaw in excitement. The pounding of my heart, took me back to all those times I'd watch all those apprentices I knew becoming warriors. I'd turn to Pebblepaw, eyes glittering, and we'd daydream about the time when we'd get to be there. About standing before the whole Clan, our ginger pelts brushing against each other as we held our heads high.
But instead of having his light russet pelt by my dark ginger one, I felt the black, warm pelt of Smokepaw. His gaze was hard but despite his pain I could tell he was happy. He was enjoying this moment. Any cat, no matter what they went through, would thrive for this.
It was, after all, what our lives had led up to.
"I, Riverstar, leader of InkClan, call upon my Clanmates and the spirits of our ancestors to look down on these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to InkClan as a warrior in their turn."
"Redpaw and Smokepaw, do you two promise to uphold and stand by InkClan in their rebellion against Council; vowing to to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
Did I? Was I still a loyal InkClan cat?
I was quite sure I was. I had only ever left to Fire Division-now FireClan-because I needed to escape the pain of Pebblepaw's death which had been my fault. And I had been dragged back here by Smokepaw who needed to escape the pain of Graypaw being captured.
But it didn't matter, anyways. No matter how I felt there was only one answer to that question.
Smokepaw seemed more hesitant, taking the question more seriously. He shook his head back and forth then up and down, then turned to glance at Riverstar bravely. For a moment I thought he would refuse.
I could almost feel a breath of relief escaping from the Clan.
"Then by the strength of our Clan and our struggles for freedom, I give you your warrior names. Redpaw, from this moment you will be known as Redfur. InkClan honors your resistance and wisdom, and we welcome you as a full warrior of InkClan. Smokepaw, from this moment on you will be known as Smokehaze. InkClan honors your strength and honor and we welcome you as a full warrior of InkClan."
The Clan began to chant our names and I held tightly onto the moment. I hadn't got the warrior ceremony I always heard, with Council being the friend, the great rulers we had to impress, as opposed to the enemy but this almost felt better.
"Redfur! Smokehaze! Redfur! Smokehaze! Redfur! Smokehaze!"
I sucked in the chants, and when I turned to glance at Smokepaw he was taking it in greedily as well. Everything felt right during that moment.
Despite the fact that Pebblepaw was dead, Graypaw was in the captivity of Blood Council, who had also joined the rebellion as a different, third side. The only neutral side was Stone Division and that wouldn't be for long, the largest division in the whole of Clan would likely be able to made the greatest shift in strengths during the war.
But I wouldn't allow myself to worry about that during that moment. During that moment it was my warrior ceremony. During that moment, I would be happy and proud and know Pebblepaw would have felt the same way.
"Redfur! Redfur! Redfur!"
I was woken the very next morning by Harejump, one of the senior warriors. He had a grave look in his eyes that told me not to moan about my lost sleep and I wearily pushed myself up.
Once he was sure I had woken he proceeded to prodding Smokehaze, who was sleeping right next to me. His eyes were heavy but excited when he opened them, they still held the excited shine of being made a warrior.
Supposedly, by StarClan's tradition cats were supposed to hold vigil or something the night after they became warriors but Council had banned such from being done. Council didn't like spirituality, one could easily note. Council liked law and order.
And it had eventually backfired.
Once Smokehaze was on his paws as well, Harejump led us out of the warriors' den with a quick flick of his tail. Only once I was out of the den, did I realize how late it was.
Glancing at the moon which hung so high, and the nearly pitch-black night I figured it was around midnight. So either Riverstar was playing a nice prank or this was big.
Is she going to kick us out of InkClan?
I doubted it, but she had seemed hesitant to bring us-particularly Smokehaze back in, and I knew she was fearing that we might be spies from Council.
But Riverstar wouldn't let us in just to kick us out, she wasn't like that. If she really did suspect we were spies she would feed us false information or something more clever than this.
I glanced at Smokehaze questioningly and he shrugged.
"Don't worry," Harejump seemed to be guessing our thoughts, or at least some of them, "You aren't in trouble. It's just an urgent matter and we have to do it now."
This had my attention. I straightened my back, and paddled quicker as we were led outside of camp, past the entrance which I knew so well from my days as an apprentice and a kit. I could remember the first time my mother Gorsefall, now dead, had allowed me to paddle though it. I could remember the time when Pebblepaw and I had met right outside the clearing, it was where we had confessed our love for each other, where I had spent most of my time hanging out with my friends right after training sessions. It had become a part of me.
And for the first time, maybe, I was regretting the fact that I had let it go.
You didn't have a choice, I remind myself, You had to get over Pebblepaw's death and this place would only crush you more.
Once we were outside Harejump took a right turn, and led us behind a large bush, I could remember hiding behind so many countless.
There was a moment of hesitation, as he stopped before it, glanced about suspiciously, and then with a flick of his tail led us inside.
I was surprised by what I found on the other side.
Riverstar and Fishlegs were both sitting there, staring at some picture they had engraves into the cement. There were at least three apprentices, a good deal of warriors and even the medicine cat.
"So we can bring in the apprentices from here. Blood Council is ruthless and they'll love using them as bait. Then, right when they are about to take them, we can jump out, and Blood Council, realizing it's a trap, will start fighting us instead. In the meanwhile, the apprentices can easily sneak into camp where they will fight off whoever is left and then Redfur and Smokehaze will be able to easily poke through the back."
"What's going on?" Smokehaze questioned, sitting down next to the large crowd. I sat down as well, right next to him, and Riverstar shrugged.
"We're planning a rescue patrol for Graypaw."
"Do you even know where she is?" Smokehaze questioned, his eyes widening. I could literally feel the excitement, the hope, the fear radiating off him.
It was contagious.
"So," Fishlegs paused for a moment, glancing at each and every one of us, eyes serious, "This could be the most important event of this war so far. If we get Graypaw, not only do we have what could be used as a ransom back, we also prove a point. We show them that we're going to fight and we're going to win. Which is why we have gathered our strongest, fastest and wisest cats."
I felt confused. I wasn't any of those.
"And then Smokehaze and Redfur, who know and love Graypaw the most, therefor will be the quickest, the fiercest when in an instant moment where the whole patrol is put in jeopardy.
I felt a little hurt, that I actually hadn't been special, but shrugged it off as Fishlegs leaned even closer. His back arched, and I could tell from his strained ears that he was trying to make sure there was no one listening, not from Council, not from Fire Council, and not from our own Clan either.
"Alright, here's the plan..."
Smokehaze and I ate in silence. I could tell he was itching the speak about the rescue patrol, which would be taking place that day at midnight, but we had sworn to silence and secrecy.
We were not to speak of it at all.
"So...," I trailed off, taking a bite into my mouse, "Have you been missing Graypaw a lot lately?" It was the only way I could ask without bringing up the rescue mission.
"Yes," The look in his eyes was so bright, so radiant, I couldn't deny his love for the she-cat. I couldn't help hoping they would be reunited, that their story would be different than mine.
"What would you give to get her back?" I asked. I could feel Fishleg's gaze on me, but I shrugged. It wasn't like anyone could guess anything from the questions I was asking.
"Everything. My life, my Clan, my freedom, my soul," He shook his head back and forth and I could see how serious he was, "Anything to get her back."
"That's sweet," I smiled.
"I'm sure it is," I replied.
I'm sure it is.
We stalked through the dead of night, heartbeats pounding as one. One common goal, so many different causes. Some for freedom, some for nobility and some for love. All for Graypaw.
A part of me wondered why FireClan wasn't the one sending a patrol , but I didn't question it, and I wasn't complaining. I would have joined Blood Council in protest if I wasn't sent on this patrol; although I likely wouldn't have known about it.
"We're at the edge of our territory," Fishleg's whispered, although it didn't need to be said. The strong smell of Blood Division was undeniable-even the youngest kit could have known.
"We have to be really careful now," Riverstar added, as though that wasn't a given as well, "Keep in mind the plan and the signals. Stray in the shadows so you don't create your own."
She flicked her tail, something I could barely see under the lighting of the night, and we were following her into the dark, heartbeats suddenly accelerated, breathing faster, slower, louder, even more silent.
The moments were ticking.
I tried to imagine Graypaw. What was she doing. Was she hungry, cold, lonely, thirsty? Was she waiting for us or had she given up hope already, decided that these were the hands of fate and there was nothing she could do to deny them? Was she even there anymore, was she even alive?
My heartbeat held for a slight moment at the last question. What if Graypaw was dead? What if this was all for nothing? What if Blood Council could really prove themselves that ruthless? What if Smokehaze would spend the rest of his life in his own puddle of grief.
I forced myself to keep going, to throw one numb, excited, exhilarated paw before another. I kept telling myself she was alive, they wouldn't kill her. She was too precious.
I kept reminding myself that it could have been me. I could have made that me, this patrol might not be right now, I could be dead and Graypaw could be having her happily ever after with Smokehaze...
I didn't know what to think about that.
Would I have wanted it? Graypaw was getting a rescue patrol but I doubted the same would happen for me. I wasn't that well liked, I wasn't so precious to InkClan or StoneClan...
Would they have left me there to rot?
I scolded myself, yelled at myself inwardly for being so selfish. This was about Graypaw, about Graypaw, and not about me. This was about Graypaw.
Suddenly I found myself stopped alongside the cats before me. Riverstar hadher tail held up, and when I turned my head to the right and squinted just the slightest bit, I could clearly make out a camp. It was rather large too, Blood Council was tied with InkClan as the second largest of divisions. FireClan was the smallest, after Council, of course.
"It stars," Riverstar nodded, "It starts now."
I watched as the apprentices raced sneakily into the camp. Outside it was absolute chaos. The sounds of cats screaming, and tearing at each other was not mistakable. This wasn't like the previous battle. That one had been more experimentation, just Blood Council trying to show that it was a threat.
This one was war.
I didn't want to listen, wanted to close my eyes, wanted to turn around. The sounds alone were horrifying and I was grateful that I wasn't to be stuck in the battle. We were less than Blood Council in numbers-the battle patrol hadn't been all that large, but we had brought the strongest and fastest of our Clan. We stood a chance for long enough to get Graypaw out of there.
The sounds of fighting from inside the camp were enough to push me into action.
I exchanged a glance with Smokepaw who nodded forcefully. Without much hesitation, I forced my way through a bramble thicket, ignoring the pain that cut through me as they tore through my pelt.
"Graypaw, I reminded myself, Imagine how Graypaw feels.
And doing so, I shoved through the whole thicket, Smokehaze right behind me, obviously urgent, not at all caring for the blood that was welling around the corners of his pelt as he fought.
Once I had broken through the brambles, I found myself in the medicine cat's den, the place where it had been predicted that Graypaw was being kept... If she was alive.
After only a split second of hesitation, I glanced about the den, to discover that Riverstar had been right. I could barely make out two pairs of bright orange eyes-eyes that could only belong to Graypaw, from behind a large, massive bundle of brambles that she had been wrapped in.
I made a move for my friend, but before I could, I found my path being cut off by a scrawny black tom, who I figured was their medicine cat.
He barred his teeth, and snapped his tail. Moments later, there was another black tom right behind, likely an apprentice. They looked almost identical and I figured they were somehow related.
"Go, Smokehaze," I hissed underneath my breath, "Go and go now. I'll hold them off."
He nodded, and I flung myself onto the larger tom, bowling him over and causing little dots of blood to well where my unsheathed claws pierced him.
Instinctively the younger tom jumped atop me as well. I attempted flinging him off, unsuccessfully. But Smokehaze was advancing towards where Graypaw was captured. I grit my teeth as I felt a pair of claws against my back.
"Hurry, Smokehaze," I hissed, and the tom nodded.
I whirled around, and smacked the younger tom in the muzzle before nipping at his legs. He screeched and fell over. His father seemed conflicted for a moment, between him and I, then ran to help his son.
I used that moment to sneak a glance at Smokehaze, who was still unraveling the brambles, and too slowly and gently for my liking. I was aware that he didn't want to hurt Graypaw but we didn't have time.
"Hurry, Smokehaze!" I snapped, "Hurry up!"
He nodded, and began to speed and I whirled around jump in time to dodge a fatal bite to the neck. Angered, I smacked the father straight across the cheek, and attempted to nip and the son's legs again.
This time, however, he didn't fall for the same trick and jumped before I could do so, causing me to find myself underneath his unsheathed claws moments later.
I struggled to get off, but his father soon joined, and helped in holding me off.
Quickly glanced at Smokehaze I saw that he was done unraveling the brambles, and was now placing Graypaw on his neck. All he had to do was get out of the den with her and then I could escape. Until then, I had to hold them off.
I tried to spin around, but ending up lying sideways. For the third time, I attempted to nip the younger toms legs, and this time I succeeded.
The father tightened his grip around me, as the son had to let go for a split moment. When I glanced at Smokehaze, I realized that he was working his way out of the den.
Just a few more moments, I promised myself, enduring the pain of the claws as they struck my back. Glancing up I noticed that Smokehaze was out of sight.
I was done.
I spun around and, pulling my legs in, flung the father across the den. Before the son could reach me, I had dashed away, ignoring the pain that burned through me and forcing myself to go faster and faster till I had pushed my way out of the bramble thickets we had entered from, the darkness of the night engulfing me as I cherished my freedom.
As well as that of Graypaw.
"You can't see her yet," Falconwings stood before her den, a stern look on her face. Smokehaze was inside, the only one excused to seeing her, but the rest of the Clan was awaiting for the apprentice to make her way out of the den.
"How much longer?" I questioned.
"I don't know," She snapped, "Maybe by tonight, maybe in a few sunrises, maybe in a moon and maybe never," Falconwings rolled her eyes and flicked her tail at me in dismissal.
I huffed, withdrawing. I turned around and headed back towards the warriors den where I had arrived from. The talk about the raid was nonstop and all chosen for the patrol were bragging and story-telling without end.
All but Smokehaze, who was currently beside the healing Graypaw, and I.
It was odd, walking to the warriors den as opposed to the apprentice one. It felt cool and yet off. In a way, I had given up a stage of my life for a knew one. It was still there, in the noisiest den of them all where one could hear cats fighting, bragging, complaining, sleeping and eating but it wasn't...
Not that I didn't enjoy being a warrior. It was nice, not being woken every morning by your mentor, getting to make all your choices, only having patrols to go by.
And now that Council was gone the amount of freedom was even more grand.
Well, not entirely gone, but almost gone. I couldn't see Council winning the war. I couldn't see how they would get enough cats to even stand a chance. Unless, of course, Stone Division decided to stick with their old rulers, in hopes of staying on their good side.
Stone Division could just about determine it all.
They would write the end of this war into stone.
"Redfur!" I spun my head around to see Flockpaw, a lithe brown tabby she-cat whom I was good friends with, padding towards me, a bird in her jaws.
"Hey, Flockpaw," I smiled at the apprentice.
"So, I heard you were on the patrol," She winked, "You should show me that secret talent of yours. No offense, but i never knew you were one of the especially well-trained cats."
"I'm not," I shrugged, "I got chosen because I'm close to Graypaw."
She seemed to be remembering that for the first time, and her eyes widened. She offered me a half-smile which only lasted a few moments, "Is she okay?"
"I don't know," I sighed, "Falconwings, the old bat, isn't letting me see her. Only Smokehaze is allowed to be with her, and he's been in there since we've returned."
"He'll probably starve in there before he leaves her in peace," Flockpaw laughed, "How is she supposed to heal when they are likely mooning at each other?"
I tried not to show my disturbance at the idea. Thinking of Smokehaze as moony really wasn't working well for my mentality.
I gave her a smile, and glanced about for a moment, "I'm hungry," I claimed, "Would you be willing to share that with me?" I asked, flicking my tail at the large bird she carried.
"Of course!" She quipped.
I took in a deep breath, feeling good for the first time in a long time. I had done my job, I had helped save Graypaw, I hadn't messed up.
For once, everything had gone according to plan.
I hoped it would be the first of many.
"Graypaw!" I squealed, not at all sounding like myself, as I licked her face fiercely. Falconwings had just allowed me into the medicine cats den, a whole sunrise after we had saved her.
"Hey, Redpaw," She coughed.
"Redfur," I corrected.
Her eyes lightened, "Congratulations," She purred, "I bet you deserved it. Smokehaze here tells me that you were really fantastic during the rescue missions. You took a lot of blows for me, I heard. I hope you're doing okay and they aren't bothering you or anything..."
"It's fine," I promised her.
"Fantastic," Her whiskers twitched enthusiastically, "I can't wait for Falconwings to let me out of this den already though," She rolled her eyes, "I should get to see my new camp!"
"Are you..." I Hesitated, "Okay with being here. In InkClan."
"After Blood Council I can't complain about anything," She promised, "I feel really... scarred after that. Those cats are horrifying, I heard of some of their plans..."
That didn't sound good. If Graypaw had heard of their plans she was still a target. She had dangerous information and that made her dangerous and endangered.
She seemed to sense my worry because she smiled, "I already passed on everything I knew to Falconwings, who probably has that information with Riverstar by now. I'm no more of a threat than them."
"That's great," I smiled, "Did you find anything... serious?"
"Just all these control methods and ways they planned to keep us in line if they win this war and manage to somehow become the new Council."
"This one is bad enough," I moaned.
"My thoughts exactly," She sighed, "I don't like the thought of war but I guess there is no choice. And I guess this will be the side I'm fighting on."
"I'll fight with whoever you do," Smokehaze promised her.
"Redfur?" She glanced up at me, "I know you aren't fond of the idea... And I also know that Pebblepaw told you not to join the rebellion but-"
"Pebblepaw is gone," I snapped, straightening my back, "So what he thinks doesn't matter."
The two exchanged a hesitant glance and then shrugged.
"I, Riverstar, leader of InkClan, call upon my Clanmates and the spirits of our ancestors to look down on this apprentice. She have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend her to InkClan as a warrior in their turn."
"Graypaw, do you two promise to uphold and stand by InkClan in their rebellion against Council; vowing to to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
Graypaw's voice didn't shake once. She didn't hesitate, didn't look down, didn't have any emotion in her voice. Just assurance.
"Then by the strength of our Clan and our struggles for freedom, I give you your warrior name. Graypaw, from this moment you will be known as Graystripe. InkClan honors your compassion and intellect and we welcome you as a full warrior of InkClan."
The Clan began to chant and without any hesitation I joined in. The only cat I could hear chanting louder than me was Smokehaze, his voice loud, proud and loving.
"Graystripe! Graystripe! Graystripe!"
She seemed almost as though she might burst in that moment. Her smile was wide and grateful. She deserved this, I knew. After everything she had been through she deserved this.
"Graystripe! Graystripe! Graystripe!"
Riverstar leaned in to whisper something into Graystripe's ears. Her eyes widened, and she quickly nodded, giving the Clan leader a flick of her tail.
"What's she saying?" I asked Smokehaze who shrugged.
"How would I know?" He snapped.
"That was harsh," I sighed, glancing at him curiously. He had been so happy only moments ago, "What's wrong, Smokehaze? Is something... bothering you?"
There was a tense moment and then he sighed.
I swallowed, "What is it?" Surely he hadn't lost interest in Graystripe now, after everything he had been through for her. All she had been through for him.
"Things can't be the same between us anymore," He shook his head, "She's no longer so innocent; she's scared. She'c cautious and we're worried about growing too close because what if... something happens again. To me, to her, to us. We both felt the pain and we both regretted ever growing so close and..."
He trailed off and I shook my head sadly, unsure.
There really wasn't an answer.
"Also, I'll be taking Redfur and Graystripe, since they will both be able to explain the devastating effects of both Council and Blood Council through first hand experience."
I shuffled a little as most eyes turned to me. I felt Flockpaw pressing her tabby pelt against mine in comfort, but it didn't shake away the feeling. I was becoming too well known for a cat who had done too little and not had succeeded nearly enough.
Riverstar was picking cats to go on a patrol to Stone Division. They had yet to pick a side in the war, and until they did so all were trying to convince them.
I nodded slowly, and glanced halfway across the clearing where Graystripe was sitting. Smokehaze was on one side and on the other was one of her new friends Echowave. I could tell she was nervous as well.
Never before had I been to Stone Division territory. I knew it was really rocky and rugged, the best place for any division, Clan or Council to reside if they were under the threat of an attack.
Which was another reason they were such valuable allies.
"Good luck," Flockpaw whispered. I could almost detect envy in her choice, but if I had the choice to get Pebblepaw back and not have to head on this patrol, I would doubtlessly take it.
"You'll get picked for one of these soon," I promised, running my tail along her pelt, trying to smooth it out, "I promise, Flockpaw."
"That's for Riverstar to promise," She whispered, "But thanks."
"Of course..." I stuttered, settling back. Stone Division had always made me curious and I was excited by the chance to wander on their territory.
"Clan dismissed," Riverstar decided, "I'd like to see Graystripe and Redfur in my den."
And then the Clan scattered. I padded over to where Graystripe sat, rather numbly. I gave her quick lick on the cheek, and couldn't help remembering how different she was from the Graypaw that tackled me my first day in FireClan... what was then Fire Division.
"I didn't want this," She whispered, "I don't want to be reminded of my days in Blood Council..." She shivered and I wrapped my tail around her slowly.
"Tell Riverstar that."
"But I promised loyalty even above my life-"
She actually took that seriously. She actually meant it. Graystripe swore loyalty to a Clan she had just began to live in.
Maybe, I decided, she hadn't changed that much.
"Some things are worse than death..."
Her head snapped up suddenly and I knew the thought had just struck her. She hadn't really thought of her imprisonment as worse than death.
But death couldn't be that bad, especially in a time like this. What was bad was the aftermath for those who were close to that who died.
"Graystripe, Redfur," I looked up to see Riverstar approaching us with a brief nod. I nodded back and Graystripe dipped her head down, very deep.
"Riverstar I-" Graystripe stuttered, than shook her head, eyes wide. I could tell whatever she was about to say was very hard on her.
"What is it, Graystripe?"
"I, um. I don't want to do this, Riverstar. I understand how important it may be but it just hurts to think about, talking about it is unthinkable..."
There was a moment of hesitation and a foreign look crossed Riverstar's face, "Alright, Graystripe. I'd appreciate if you rethought it a couple times, but if this is your final decision I can respect it."
"Thank you," Graystripe let out a sigh of relief. Riverstar smiled in return and flicked her tail, indicating that she could leave.
After a moment of hesitation, Graystripe flicked her tail back and turned around, paddling back to the warriors den that she had emerged from.
"So, Redfur," Riverstar glanced at me, "Are you still in?"
For a moment I debated giving a 'no', but then tried to imagine other cats meeting the same fate as me, because Stone Division wasn't there to help.
"Yes," I nodded, "Whatever it takes to help this succeed, Riverstar."
She smiled, "Thanks, Redfur. I just thought you should know how we were planning to do this. Stone Division is already expecting us, so it will be a preplanned, sophisticated meeting, unlike your most recent patrol..."
But I wasn't really listening as she droned off. I was daydreaming about almost everything. I felt as though on an emotional, physical, mental just everything overload. The past few moons were finally catching up to me, and I no longer knew where to run.
"Redfur!" I snapped my head to the side. Graystripe was staring at me, a conflicted look in her eyes. Her steps were hesitant as she walked over.
"I-I," She frowned, "I think I actually do want to go speak to Stone Division. I have to face it sooner or later before it corners me and I don't have any way left to escape, and I can't turn around and fight either...
"That's fantastic!" I purred, unable to help thinking about myself, and how she had known before me, figured out what I couldn't.
"But... I don't want to speak to Riverstar alone," She whispered, "Will you come to tell her with me? I hope it's not a bother but..."
I blinked quickly, "No, not at all!" I assured her, giving her a small smile, and leading her towards Riverstar's den. She was waiting right outside it, and perked as soon as she saw us.
"Something you wanted to tell me?" She asked.
"I'm coming," Graystripe swallowed, "I'm coming to Stone Division."
Riverstar frowned and for a moment I thought she was going to deny. Say Graystripe should have agreed before, and they had already made their plan.
But then she slowly began to nod and smiled, "Thanks, Graystripe. I really think this can make a difference. You have the story that will create the largest impact."
Graystripe nodded, "Right, thanks for allowing me to."
Riverstar seemed taken aback for a moment but she held her smile, "You are more than welcome, Graystripe. I can tell you the plan in a bit if that's alright."
Graystripe beamed, "Of course!"
And maybe I was beginning to hope. To hope that Stone Division would join us, that we would win the war, overthrown both Councils and leave in peace forever after.
Maybe just a little.
"...they saved me. I wasn't even their Clanmate and they went through all of that, risked so many lives to save me. Because they care. Not about FireClan, specifically, but about the forest. The Clans care about the forest. Council cares about power and Blood Council is worse, trust me I overheard a lot."
Stonestar seemed to be in deep thought.
"We need time to think," She decided, "We'll get back to you within a moon."
"Thank you," Riverstar nodded, pushing herself up, a smile imminent on her face, "Your consideration is appreciated, Stonestar."
And she flicked her tail, indicating for us all to get up. There was a moment of pause before all of the InkClan cats were on their feet and following her out of Stone Division territory.
Please, please let this work.
"No," I snapped, "No, I'm not doing this."
"Smokehaze, stop it, I'm not doing this, I can't do this, do you understand me?" I knew my breath was short but it didn't matter, I was angered, and I didn't really believe what I was hearing.
"Graystripe, it was different for you. I refuse to do this. You just talked to some random freaks about your little capturing. My mate died."
"Fine then, be like that!" I heard her storming away and sighed, glancing at the floor in misery. Of all the privelages and duties I had received due to Pebblepaw's death this was the very worst.
They want me to speak to his killers.
They want me to go to Council.
They want me to speak to Council.
They want me to speak to killers.
"Redfur, I understand that-"
"You don't understand.
There was a tight moment of silence and then he tried again, "Okay, Redfur. I know you're mad that they want your help to attempt making peace with Council, the cats who killed Pebblepaw."
"To put it mildly."
"But imagine the pain that burned through you. The guilt. The anger that's forcing you forward right now. Imagine that. Imagine others feeling it too. Wouldn't you want to spare them?"
Wouldn't you want to spare them?
Wouldn't you want to spare them?
Wouldn't you want to spare them?
Would I? Why should I have to endure that but not them? There was a small voice in the back of my head telling me that was fate. That this wouldn't happen to everyone because it wasn't meant to.
That others didn't need to feel that pain.
I sucked in a deep breath.
"Alright. I'll go to the meeting with Council."