Read part 1 before part 2 - you don't want to be confused! :p
Do read my other fanfiction stories!
Fireflower went back to camp, unsuccessful. Blossomdew, Whitebirch, Smokepaw,Sandyfoot, Tinycloud and Cherrytail had just disappeared a few days ago. She remembered Ebonyclaw's tale, of how Blossomdew dragged her to safety, only to be swept away with the others. Sharpclaw and Vixenwhisker, kin of Cherrytail and Whitebirch, were in despair. Frecklewish, Clovertail and her sons and daughters looked for Tinycloud, Sandyfoot and Smokepaw whenever they had time. Mintfur and Harveymoon went on every search party. Leafstar was sending out search parties and looking for the missing cats herself, with no luck. Fireflower was desparate to see Sandyfoot again; the young tom had enjoyed her company, and they had grown close just before he vanished.
"Nothing?" Plumwillow mewed. Fireflower shook her head miserably. Another patrol returned, tails down, and as soon as they set paw into the camp, another charged out, consisting of Billystorm, Fallowfern, Nettlespash, Waspwhisker and Shrewtooth. Sharpclaw followed a few moments after. Vixenwhisker was keeping a hawk's eye on her kits, Nightkit and Foxkit, determined to stop anymore of her kin going missing. Fireflower gazed up at the evening sky.
Oh StarClan. Please, help our clanmates come home safe.
Blossomdew awoke, to see nothing but white and pale brown markings - like that of birch tree bark. She moved her face away from the fur of Whitebirch, her mate. She glanced to her right. Smokepaw was curled up on her other side, with Tinycloud beside her. Cherrytail, Echosong and Sandyfoot all slept in the dark. Blossomdew stiffled a yawn. Whitebirch opened his crystal gray eyes, and blinked sleepily. The other cats began to get up, swaying with tiredness. Smokepaw mumbled in protest as Tinycloud gave her a gentle nudge.
"No..." she grumbled, swatting her paw tiredly at her mother. "Want to sleep..."
"It's not time yet." chuckled Blossomdew. "But I'll tell Squirrelflight when we'll leave." almost immediatly, her clanmates sank back to their mossy nests. Blossomdew poked her head out of the makeshift den in the ThunderClan camp. They had been welcomed by ThunderClan, from the smallest kit to the oldest and only elder, Purdy, although it looked as if Sandstorm, Dustpelt, Graystripe and Millie would be moved in within a few moons. Outside, Leafpool and Jayfeather emerged from the nursery. They had been awakened that night by the anxious Foxleap, as his mate, Ivypool, had began kitting. In fact, the whole clan had, with Echosong and Smokepaw making themselves useful, waiting outside the nursery to run to the medicine den to fetch herbs whilst Briarlight, the she-cat with the broken spine, soothed Foxleap. Eventually, they had managed to get to sleep, when Jayfeather announced that three healthy kits had been born; a reddish tabby and white she-kit named Emberkit, with a fluffy gray tom named Morningkit and a black and brown tom called Rootkit. Foxleap had squeezed into the nursery following this, and the clan had gone back into slumber, murmuring congratulations. Blossomdew trotted up to the ThunderClan deputy, Squirrelflight, who must have gotten up early.
"We're going to leave at sun-high." she said to the ginger she-cat. "We must get home as soon as we can." Squirrrelflight blinked.
"Alright - I'll tell Bramblestar. You may visit Ivypool in the nursery before you go; two at a time."
"Thank you, Squirrelflight." she mewed. Squirrelflight flicked her tail, and bounded toward the highrock. She poked her head back into thier den. "Squirrelflight says we can all visit Ivypool and her kits two at a time." Cherrytail, who had pretty much awoken, got back up, and followed her to the nursery. They crouched beside Ivypool, admiring the little kits.
"They're beautiful, Ivypool." Blossomdew purred quietly.
"Yes, enchanting." Cherrytail crooned.
"I love them already. Foxleap's still a pain in the tail." Ivypool murmured. Ivypool's sister, Dovewing, rose her head from where she was curled around her four kits, Moonkit, Barleykit, Flintkit and Lavenderkit.
"He loves you and your kits, though." she reminded her. "It's like how Bumblestripe was; we love each other dearly, and he was distracting Jayfeather by pacing too much when I was kitting."
"Cats of ThunderClan, our guests have decided to leave, and make the journey back to their clan. I hope that you wish them as much luck as I." Bramblestar yowled. Cheering broke out, and cats began to wish them luck.
"Have a safe journey." sqeauked Amberpaw, one of the apprentices (the others were Lilypaw, Seedpaw, Snowpaw, Dewpaw, Fernpaw and Hollypaw).
"May StarClan light your path." Poppyfrost and Berrynose mewed.
"Have good hunting." meowed Sorreltail.
"Bye, bye!" sqeauked the kits of Dovewing and Bumblestripe as they padded past. Blossomdew would miss those kits, even though she had only known them a few days.
I wonder if my kits will be as mischievous, if I have any? they were escorted by Cinderheart and Lionblaze through the territory. It was similar to SkyClan territory, only without the gorge. Along the way, they talked about the cat who had once kitnapped Leafstar's kits.
"What was his name again?" mewed Sandyfoot.
"It was peculiar." said Cherrytail. "He was a tortoishell, I think. I never heard of a cat with such a name. He was called 'Harry' when he was a kittypet..."
"I remember!" piped up Tinycloud. "His name was Sol." at the name, Lionblaze and Cinderheart stiffened.
"Sol, you say?" Lionblaze meowed.
"I heard about him in nursery stories." Whitebirch said from where he padded beside Blossomdew.
"I did, too!" Smokepaw sqeauked. "Leafstar named one of her kits 'Harrykit', before she found out Sol's his real name."
"Sol came to the clans." said Cinderheart quietly. "At first we thought he murdered a cat called Ashfur, but it wasn't him. He claimed to have saved Cherryflower and Moleclaw when they were apprentices, but he lied. Hollyleaf saved them. He also convinced ShadowClan that StarClan did not exist, and he secretly plotted with WindClan to attack ThunderClan." all the SkyClan cats stared in shock, going very quiet.
"That fox-heart!" spat Whitebirch "How dare he!" they all talked about Sol as they neared the border. Blossomdew was paying no attention. She was daydreaming, dreaming of her SkyClan gorge. She missed the little pool of water, the Shining Cave, and the comfortable warriors den and the warm, milky scent of the nursery. She even missed Tangle's nagging, complaining that his nest was too prickly.
I wonder how Vixenwhisker is. And my mother and father. And Frecklewish; she might be under pressure, with Smokepaw gone. That's a problem - when we get home, there'll be three medicine cats. What will they do?
Blossomdew and the cats bid farewell to Cinderheart and Lionblaze. Sandstorm still remembered the basic route.
"You go through the mountains, and you'll come to our old territories. It's probably a wasteland now, but you'll know it by the highstones, which are tall, looming rocks. And then, if you go to the river and walk for a bit, you'll find a barn, with two cats called Ravenpaw and Barley. You can go in and tell them how we are, if you want. If you follow the river, you'll find the gorge. StarClan bless you all." Blossomdew had remembered by writing the words in some dirt with her claw, and she read it over and over again. Smokepaw and Whitebirch now padded along beside her, confidently. Smokepaw trotted along with her head and white-tipped tail held high, and Whitebirch looked relaxed and at ease. Echosong and Cherrytail walked along two tail-lengths away, with Sandyfoot and Tinycloud behind. It was then that Blossomdew heard Smokepaw's belly rumble. Smokepaw looked embarrassed.
"You hungry?" she mewed. They hadn't hunted for a while, and everyone else might be peckish.
"Yes." mumbled the gray apprentice, flicking her white tail tip.
"We'll hunt - anyone want to join us?" Blossomdew asked.
"I'll go." Whitebirch said. "Let's spread out through those beech trees."
And so they did. Blossomdew caught a squirrel and a starling, but then she noticed Smokepaw on the ground. Quietly, banch by branch, Blossomdew went down as low as she could to watch, hidden behind some red and gold leaves - it was Leaf-fall now. A mouse was in front of Smokepaw, and Smokepaw's tufty ears twitched as she spotted it - but she took one step forward, and stepped on a twig, and it shot down a hole. Blossomdew sprang down to the she-cat.
"Hey, what happened there?" purred Blossomdew, but then she cut off her purr as she saw Smokepaw's flattened ears and look of frustration.
"I can't hunt!" she spat.
"Didn't Frecklewish teach you? I know you're both medicine cats, but surely you learn to hunt?"
"Yes, but Frecklewish didn't have time to teach me. She was going to teach me the day after we were washed down here." Blossomdew felt a flash of sympathy for Smokepaw.
"How about I teach you now?"
"Really?" Smokepaw's blue eyes lit up.
"Sure! I'll teach you an effective ThunderClan trick I learned off Icecloud." Blossomdew pictured Icecloud in her head - the white she-cat had said,
"Bunch your hindquarters, so you'll get a powerful leap."
"Copy me." Blossomdew crouched like a normal hunter from SkyClan, but she put her paws close together, gaining power in her hind-quarters. Smokepaw copied her, close to the ground.
"Lift your tail and belly a bit; you don't want brushing leaves to alert the prey. Now focus on that dandelion and... leap!" Blossomdew sat back up as Smokepaw sprang. As she landed, Smokepaw crushed the dandelion with her soft, white paws. Blossomdew was speechless. It had taken her several attempts to get it right, and Smokepaw had done it on the first go!
"That's amazing, Smokepaw!" Blossomdew turned, to see Whitebirch come out of the bushes, dragging a large rabbit. "You would be a great hunter!" Smokepaw's eyes were shining with delight, and something else; yearning. She loved hunting already!
"I'm going to hunt some more!" she sqeauked, leaping up a tree, clawing up toward a pigeon, which was asleep on a branch, it's head tucked under its wing.
"Its a shame medicine cats don't hunt as much as warriors." murmured Blossomdew to Whitebirch as Smokepaw returned with the pigeon and a blackbird. "Smokepaw loves it so much."
"Maybe she can be a warrior." whispered Whitebirch as Smokepaw leapt up another tree. "When we get back there'll be three medicine cats, and only two are needed. She hasn't always been the best with remembering herbs, anyway. Haven't you noticed?"
"I have." she sighed.
Blossomdew tore off a piece of mouse, caught by Smokepaw. It was skinny, but soft, fragrent and warm, and the juices reminded her of blackberries and sweet grass; she did actually have a thing for blackberries, as strange as it was. Once, she had been leapt for a crow, only for it to dodge and fly away; and she hadn't been able to stop herself - she had thrown herself headfirst into a blackberry bush, streaking her pelt with its purple juice. After, she had licked her pelt to taste it, and it had actually tasted nice. Her mother had asked her why she had a purple tongue afterwards, and she quickly said, "what are you talking about?" She missed her mother and father so much. Did they miss her? And Vixenwhisker, did she miss her? Her kits would be a moon or so old by now. How was SkyClan? Were they still sending out search parties? She heard Sandyfoot murmuring a name in his sleep earlier on. "Fireflower... I'm okay." she suspected that he and Fireflower had a bit of a crush on each other - always inviting each other out to hunt, for a walk, to share prey or groom each other's pelts. She nudged the mouse to Whitebirch.
"Go on, have a bite. You look famished." Whitebirch murmured gratefully, and bit off a piece.
"I don't like the look of those mountains." he mewed. The mountains loomed beyond the forest. Sandstorm warned them about it, and Birchfall told them of the Great Journey.
"We left the old territories because of the twolegs destroying it; it caused the prey to vanish, and my two sisters, Hollykit and Larchkit, died of hunger, and my older brother Shrewpaw was crushed by a monster. An elder called Dappletail died eating a poisoned rabbit, Firestar lost a life and other clan cats were scared to death. We had to go through the mountains; but an apprentice fell to his death, and a kit called Marshkit was almost snatched by an eagle. It's cold, with many gaps to leap over. But I should think you'll have a better chance because of your strong hind-quarters. We did make it in the end, and we got here."
Blossomdew was worried - Echosong did not have the SkyClan hind-quarters, and Blossomdew herself, Tinycloud and Smokepaw were all quite small. Would they all get over the mountains in one piece?
It was their first day in the mountains, and it was freezing. Leaf-bare was almost here, and snow was falling heavy and fast. They sheltered under an overhanging rock. Around the sides, scraggly bushes grew. They huddled together, trying to keep warm. She pressed closer to Whitebirch, whose fur was thinner than hers. Most of the SkyClan cats here were short furred, and she and Echosong had the thickest fur. But Blossomdew was freezing, so she couldn't imagine how her friends were feeling. In order to keep them all warm, the cats with the thicker fur slept around the edges, with the thinner furred cats in the middle. Snow was building up outside, thicker by the minute.
How are we going to get over these mountains?
In the morning, the snow eased to tiny flakes. But as she stepped outside, she sank into a drift up to her ears.
"Help!" she sqeauked. She was drowning in a lake of snow! But then she felt teeth sink into her scruff. "Thanks, Echosong!"
"No problem!" Echosong winked at her as she pulled her onto the rock.
"Watch this!" Smokepaw crouched at the top of the overhang, wriggling her haunches, before leaping into a large drift. "Weeeeee!"
"Smokepaw!" yowled Tinycloud. But there was a glimmer of amusement in her blue eyes as Smokepaw battled her way back to the rock.
"Brrr! It's cold! My ears are full of snow!" Smokepaw shook her head irritably as Cherrytail dragged her out, purring.
"Well, it was your idea to jump in there!"
Smokepaw padded along. She sank into a drift every few fox-lengths.
Why do I have to be so small?
"I think we should rest for a while..." mewed Sandyfoot.
"I agree." Whitebirch said. "But one of us could hunt."
"I'll go!" sqeauked Smokepaw.
"Are you sure?" Blossomdew asked, her tortoiseshell and white fur puffed out against the cold. "You keep falling into drifts..."
"I'll be fine!" she scampered away before anyone else could speak. She ran through the snow, jumping as high as she could in every bound. She ran for quite a while, until she skidded to a halt. A mouse! It crouched there under a wintergreen bush, snuffling about. She approached it steathily, and sprang. As she broke its spine and rose with it in her jaws, she froze. She turned. Something was moving. Three cats, spoltched with mud; a gray she-cat, a mottled black tom, and a brown tabby and white tom - the tabby and white was her age, by look of it. Their gazes locked, and she felt something odd. A flutter in her belly, as if it was crowded with butterflies. But then the cats raced away. She stood there dumbly for a while, the mouse still in her teeth, the image of the brown and white tom still clear in her mind. She finally found her senses, and she shook her head, following the tracks of a hare.
Whitebirch looked up as Smokepaw returned, a mouse and a hare in her jaws. She looked stunned, almost. Beside him, Blossomdew frowned at Smokepaw, seeing it too.
"Well done!" Echosong praised the young cat. "The hare is almost as big as you!" no one else noticed Smokepaw's odd silence. Whitebirch and Blossomdew rose, and took a few mouthfuls. As the others gorged on the prey, Blossomdew signalled to Whitebirch and Smokepaw with her tail over the heads of Echosong, Tinycloud, Sandyfoot and Cherrytail. The three cats crept away, and under a bush.
"Are you alright, Smokepaw?" she asked, concern in her eyes. Smokepaw stubbornly shook her head.
"I'm fine." but she didn't sound her same, bright-spirited self.
"We know something's up." Whitebirch mewed, looking deep in the apprentice's eyes. "What's happened?" for a moment, Smokepaw hesitated, and then she sighed.
"I saw three cats earlier." she admitted. "One was my age... and he... I just feel weird affer seeing him."
Whitebirch and Blossomdew exchanged a puzzled glance.
"Did they have mud on their pelts?" asked Blossomdew.
"Yes..." she meowed.
"The cats you saw were members of The Tribe of Rushing Water." Whitebirch said. But something was troublng him about Smokepaw. She looked very different. What had happened to her?
Blossomdew and the SkyClan cats edged along the rocky ledge nervously. They had been forced to head to the rockier parts of the mountain due to the snow, but it was very dangerous here. Eagles flew, high overhead, shrieking their ghostly cries. Gaps loomed, disappearing into nothingness, and there was barely anywhere to hide or shelter. She was keeping a close eye on Smokepaw, who was behaving strangely. Whitebirch had told her about his fears for the young cat, and she agreed with him.
"Stop!" screeched Cherrytail She looked over her shoulder. But then she leapt to help Cherrytail Smokepaw was dangling in the tortoiseshell's jaws, hanging over the ledge of sheer rock, her paws flailing. Sandyfoot got there before Blossomdew, and helped Cherrytail pull Smokepaw to safety. Smokepaw pressed against Cherrytail in shock, staring down with that same blank look.
"What in StarClan's name were you doing?" demanded Tinycloud. "You were looking at your paws, and you would have easily seen that ledge!"
"Tinycloud -" Echosong began. But Tinycloud whipped around.
"She could have been killed!" she yowled at Echosong with such anger that the silver tabby shrank, looking very small.
"It's not Smokepaw's fault!" Whitebirch protested. Tinycloud was yowling again, echoing. Blossomdew felt the rock beneath her tremble. She heard a distant rumbling. Slowly, she looked up, and screeched in fear as a rock tumbled toward her, showering her with pebbles, loosening her grip on her ledge.
"'Blossomdew!" shrieked someone. Blossomdew tried to hang onto the rock. But a boulder thundered toward her. She let go, avoiding the boulder, but then she felt herself falling... falling...
Smokepaw was shocked. Her mind cleared, and she yowled.
"Blossomdew!" she wailed.
"Blossomdew!" Whitebirch was scrambling down the rocks, his claws being wrenched, but he continued, shouting for her. Full of terror, she and the other cats scrambled after him, calling for Blossomdew. The gap lead to a thundering river.
There's no way she's survived this! Smokepaw scanned the water desparatly, searching for Blossomdew. Suddenly they stopped. She could smell their fur, like wind, water, snow, rock and earth. They were surrounded. Two held prey in their jaws, the other three stocky and muscular. Nearest to her was a brown tabby and white tom - and she recognised him from her hunting expedition. They stared at each other in silence.
"Who are you?" a ginger tom thrusted his head aggresivly toward Whitebirch. "You are trespassing on our territory."
"My mate has fallen into this river!" his voice was high and desparate. "Please help us find her!" it was then that a black she-cat rushed out from the corner, her eyes wide.
"There's cat in the water furthur down the river!" she panted. "She's terribly injured, and we can't reach her!"
"That could be Blossomdew!" gasped Sandyfoot. He stared at the black she-cat. "You have to take us to her!" his eyes were begging.
"Follow me!" mewed the black she-cat.
"But-" the ginger tom protested, but the tabby and white tom broke his stare from Smokepaw to glare at him.
"No, Flame!" the young tom spat. "We have to help these cats!" Flame hesitated, muttered, and then stormed after the black she-cat.
Whitebirch rushed after the cats, who were from the Tribe of Rushing Water. Flame's full name was Flame that Ripples, the black she-cat was Hawk Shadow on Rock, and the others were Reed that Sticks out of Water, Feather Drifting on River and Grass Blade in Soil. The brown tabby and white tom who was Smokepaw's age (and who never stopped staring at Smokepaw) was called Kestrel Feather in Breeze. His heart was pounding with fear.
Please StarClan, let her live! I love her, I can't live without her. Ahead, he saw a tom and a she-cat, craning their necks over the water. Caught between two rocks in the middle of the river, was Blossomdew. Her eyes were closed, and the water around her hind legs was scarlet. He staggered, his heart wrenched with fear and pain. Cherrytail quickly rushed to support him, whilst Echosong and Tinycloud rushed forward, to be blocked by Reed and Grass.
"The river is too dangerous!" Feather and Hawk warned. "We need to wait for the river to calm down!"
"Are you joking?" spat Smokepaw. "Look, she's barely hanging onto those rocks! She'll go any minute!"
"Smokepaw is right!" Sandyfoot said, coming to stand by his half niece. "She needs to get out now."
"What will we do?" Whitebirch whispered, still staring at Blossomdew's limp form. There was silence, but then Kestrel spoke up.
"A chain of cats!" he mewed.
"A what, Kestrel?" Flame snorted.
"We'll hold onto each other's tails!" he said. Whitebirch saw Smokepaw look at him with bright, alert eyes.
"That's brilliant!" she said admiringly, and Kestrel looked at his paws shyly, but his eyes strained to look up at her.
"That could work." said Cherrytail. "We have to try. The strongest cats could go nearer to the shore, and the smaller ones at the front so that the stronger ones can make sure that the chain stays attatched to the shore so we don't all get washed away."
"Good idea." mewed Hawk. "But a strong cat should go at the end to make sure that they get a firm grip on her. I don't think we have much time."
Smokepaw clenched her jaws as her mother sank her teeth into her tail.
"Sorry, Kestrel." she muttered through his tail. Something odd was happening to her. When she looked a Kestrel, a fluttering sensation began in her belly. Her mind was clearer then it had been in two days. Carefully, Kestrel slid into the river. Smokepaw felt the icy cold soak her skin, but she felt comfortable. Tinycloud and Sandyfoot seemed at ease too.
After all, me, Tinycloud, Sandyfoot and Clovertail may be RiverClan descendants. Long before she was born, when SkyClan was rebuilt, Clovertail had leapt into the river in the gorge to save Bounceflame when he was a kit. Firestar had said that Clovertail could be of RiverClan descent, and she also bore a resemblance a deceased RiverClan leader called Birchstar. Smokepaw paddled behind Kestrel, keeping her chin above the water. She felt Kestrel stop, and she saw him grip one of the rocks with one paw, and with the other, he pawed at Blossomdew, trying to get her near enough for him to get a secure grasp on her. Then he yowled for them to pull, and quickly sank his teeth into Blossomdew's tail. Smokepaw held onto him tighter as she felt herself being pulled back. Within a few moments, pebbles brushed her back paws, and she backed out, not letting go of Kestrel's tail until he was on the bank. She helped him drag Blossomdew out of the river, and Echosong leapt forward, pressing her ear to Blossomdew's chest.
"Her heart is beating." she murmured. A sigh of relief escaped the cats, and as Echosong worked her shoulder under Blossomdew's, Smokepaw quickly parted the unconcious she-cat's jaws to let the water run out.
All I feel is pain. Blossomdew stung all over, and she was freezing. She was draped over a cat's back, her paws and tail dangling limply off the sides. She breathed in the scent. Please don't let it be a StarClan warrior taking me to StarClan. But all she detected was the warm scent of Whitebirch. She could hear and smell over cats; Smokepaw, Tinycloud, Sandyfoot, Cherrytail and Echosong, but mixed in with their familar scents was ones she didn't recognise - a scent of mud, water, snow and rock. She didn't dare open her eyes. She remembered her terrifying ordeal. She had plummeted from that cliff edge, stones raining down. She had fallen past a crack in the rock, in which a waterfall fell, and she had landed in a deep, freezing river, where she had crashed through the ice. She had swept down the river as the ice broke due to the impact of her landing. She was tossed about, hitting rocks and shards of ice, and she felt a pain in her flank. She whimpered in pain, but an unfamilar, soothing voice murmured in her ear.
"Sssh. It's alright. Our Stoneteller will fix you in no time." she eased open her eyelids a bit, and through her blurred vision, she made out the silohuette of a silver tabby she-cat. "My name is Feather Drifting on River. How are you feeling?"
"Pain." she muttered through clenched teeth. Blossomdew heard a loud rumbling, like thunder, and she heard Smokepaw's voice.
"I'm not going in there!" she sqeauked. "I'll slip!" Blossomdew heard another voice, of a tom.
"You won't, I promise." there was a silence between Smokepaw and the tom before he spoke again. "Tell you what. Hold onto my tail with your teeth, so if you slip, I can pull you back up in time."
"Thanks, Kestrel." Smokepaw's voice was now muffled by fur. Blossomdew felt water spraying her flank, and it soothed her wound. She opened her eyes. They were in a cave now. Stalactites hung from the rocky ceiling, and the eerie sound of the waterfall echoed around the cave. Cats looked out of shallow pits curiously. Kits peered out from behind their mothers, young cats that looked like apprentices stopped play fighting. From a hole in the wall, an ancient looking cat hobbled out as the group of cats, tribe and SkyClan, halted there. Whitebirch eased her off his shoulders, and she leaned heavily against him. The ancient cat's pelt was plastered with mud like the others.
"I am Crag Where Eagles Nest, but I am known as Stoneteller or the Teller of the Pointed Stones. Flame, why do you bring these strangers here?"
"We caught them trespassing, and this one -" Blossomdew winced as the ginger tom jabbed her with a hefty paw. "Is injured, swept down the river when she fell over the ledge."
"She needs to be healed." murmured Stoneteller. "Bring her." Blossomdew, guided by Whitebirch, limped after him, her side feeling like it was on fire. The SkyClan cats followed. Stoneteller was jabbing different herbs, some which she had never seen before. Echosong and Smokepaw stared, obviously thinking the same thing. Stoneteller snagged a leaf with his claw, and began to apply it to her wound. "What do you call yourselves?" he mewed.
"I'm Blossomdew." she said. Indicating to each of her companions, she said each of their names. "And these are Whitebirch, Smokepaw, Echosong, Sandyfoot, Cherrytail and Tinycloud. We're from SkyClan."
"You come from the clans?" he asked, looking up.
"We were, long ago. We live far away, beyond the mountains and where the clans originally lived." Cherrytail explained. "Our clan was exiled when Twolegs destroyed our first territory. We were destroyed by rats, but then Firestar and Sandstorm came, and rebuilt the clan in a gorge."
"And a moon ago we were washed down here whilst on a patrol." Tinycloud finished.
Brook wasn't exactly suspicious about these cats. They seemed friendly enough, and they were deeply caring for each other. But she knew that some of the tribe wasn't exactly delighted by these strangers.
"They could be rogues, just lying so they can stuff themselves with our prey!"
"Or just looking for some cats to conquer and take control over."
"Really, Pine and Wisp? I doubt that." Brook craned her neck to see Shade talked to her son, Pine, and his friend Wisp. She was glad that at least one of her tribemates weren't spreading rumours about the newcomers. Shade rolled her eyes as Brook, and she nodded. Shade, Hawk, and Brook's daughter, Lark, and her mate, Stormfur, shared her positive opinion of the strangers, but Pine and Wisp (She had a feeling they were more than just friends) were uneasy. But then at least they weren't spreading rumours. Flame, Eagle, Hare and several other tribe members were spreading particularly vicious rumours.
"Mama!" Brook heard her kits, Owlet in Nest, Snowflake that Falls and Lightning that Flashes in Sky, sqeauking at her belly."We're cold!" she purred slightly, and wrapped her tail around them, drawing them closer to her. They had been born a few days ago. Lark and Pine loved their little sisters and brother, and Stormfur was so proud of them.
"Mama, who are the new cats?" asked Owlet. Brook nuzzled the she-kit, who's fur pattern and colour resembled an owl chick, hence her name.
"They're clan cats."
"But why is everyone else saying mean things?" Snowflake's wide, round gray eyes stood out against her white fur.
"They're just a bit suspicious, my sweet. They'll say good things about them soon, I'm sure."
Brook saw the cave-guards pushing the SkyClan cats into the Cave of the Pointed stones, and two followed them in, others blocked the entrance.
"Right, we need to discuss these strangers." Stoneteller sat down and curled his tail neatly around his paws. Brook got up carefully to not wake her kits, and padded out the join Stormfur.
"If they really are from the clans, I'll ask them about how ThunderClan is doing." he whispered to her.
"I think we should get rid of them at once." it was Eagle Talon Marks on Branch. Flame and Hare that Leaps both nodded beside him in agreement.
"Why do you think this?" asked Stoneteller.
"I bet they're just stuffing their faces with the prey were worked so hard to catch!" the to-be, Acorn On Tree, stood up. Beside him, Kestrel frowned.
"But they're not exactly starved." he pointed out. "Do you remember those rogues just a moon ago, when it was middle of leaf-bare? They were skin and bone and played nice, and what happened? They ate a lot, and one the third night, they grabbed all our prey that was left and ran off with the lot. I haven't seen them eating a load of mice and hares and falcons."
"But they won't been eating so much as the rogues did. And I heard from the elders that the whole clan lot came here, and of course ate loads." Wisp spoke up.
"Excuse me, but I was from the clans." Stormfur stood up. "And they weren't stuffing themselves. SkyClan are the long-lost clan. But I could smell them under the scent of snow and water. Their scent was clan, with the aroma of trees. So I think they're telling the truth." arguments broke out. Brook and Stormfur exchanged a worried glance. Were they really going to throw these potientally innocent cats out?
"We'll do of a stone casting!" yowled Stoneteller. "All cats but the kits get a stone. Get one from the pile - if you say they're lying and we should send them away, put them by the elders den. If you think they're telling the truth, put them by the kit-mothers den." soon every tribe cat held a stone in their jaws. Flame, Eagle, Hare, Acorn, Screech, Wing, Wisp and Pine(after a guilty look) put theirs by the elders den, and the rest of the tribe put theirs by the kit mothers. Stoneteller put his stone by the kit mothers too - and it was obvious which won the vote.
Smokepaw gazed at Kestrel. He was gazing back at her from the 'To-be' dens. A To-be was basically an apprentice, but they were called To-bes by the Tribe. Also, To-bes trained either to become a 'Cave Guard' or a 'Prey Hunter', based on their agility, size and strength. Kestrel was to become a Cave Guard. He then got up, and padded over the cave toward her. Her heart quickened.
"Do you want to hunt?" he mewed, waving his tail toward the cave entrance invitingly.
"I thought Cave-Guards only guarded and protected?" she said.
"That didn't stop me." he purred. "Come on; no one will mind. I've escaped from more eagles than you've eaten mice." Smokepaw glanced at her mother for permission, and Tinycloud hesitated before nodding. She got up, and followed Kestrel to the entrance, keeping close to the wall to be furthur away from water slicked rock. She was relieved to feel dry stone beneath her paws again. Following Kestrel, Smokepaw felt small in this massive landscape. A tiny silohuette of an eagle soared high above, but it was too far away to see them.
"So, what's tribe life like?" she mewed.
"If you ask me, it's absolutly boring." grumbled Kestrel, hopping onto the snow. "The waterfall is deafening, I'm surprised the elders can stand it without complaining. I'm sick of the cold all the time, and this mud -" he wrinked his nose as he glared at his mud-caked tabby and white fur, "Is disgusting. It reeks, but I suppose it keeps us camoflaged against rock. Anyway, what's life in SkyClan like?"
"It's great." she mewed. "We hunt in forests, which is lots of trees and bushes. We can fight and hunt, not just specialise in one. But medicine cats like me and Echosong - they're like your healer, only they don't lead the clan - they're bound to healing and we an never mate and have kits. We're taught a few moves and hunting skills, but not as much as warriors and apprentices. Warriors are like Cave-Guards and Prey Hunters combined, and apprentices are like To-bes. I'm a medicine cat apprentice, so not a full medicine cat yet - my mentor, Frecklewish, is back at the gorge. Echosong was the medicine cat before she was swept away, and she found us when we ended up in the lake territories. I was taught to hunt by Blossomdew, but now... I don't think I want to be a medicine cat anymore." Kestrel blinked.
"Well, when me and my companions were taken to the lake territories, we were separated for a few hours. I found my mother, Tinycloud, being attacked by a fox. I tried to help her, and something happened. Like a fire in my blood. I was injured, but I healed. The fire returned when I made my first hunt. Healing just dosen't thrill me anymore. I've never been the best medicine cat apprentice, you know. I could have killed a cat when I went out looking for borage, only to return with deadly nightshade. I didn't know, and Frecklewish scolded me for that. And when I witnessed a cat called Vixenwhisker's kitting, I imagined what being a mate and a mother would be like."
"And how did it seem?" he asked, looking deep into her dark blue eyes.
"Wonderful, Kestrel. Absolutly wonderful."
Whitebirch lapped at Blossomdew's ears. She whimpered in her sleep, her paws churning.
"Sssh." Cherrytail joined in with him, licking Blossomdew's ears soothingly, making comforting noises. Blossomdew's whimpers faded, but her paws still twicthed.
"Mother, do you think she's dreaming about her fall?" he asked. Cherrytail looked up.
"I think she is, sweetheart." his mother glanced at the cave entrance. "I wonder how your father, sister and nephews are doing." he thought back to the gorge. Sharpclaw and Vixenwhisker would be devastated, and Vixenwhisker's sons, Nightkit and Foxkit, would be under the close eye of their mother; Vixenwhisker did have an over-protective side. Cherrytail's eyes were sombre. She loved her kin dearly.
"When are we leaving?" asked Sandyfoot from where he lay in his nest beside Tinycloud and Echosong. Echosong was asleep, curled up in a ball, her fluffy tail tucked under her nose, and Tinycloud's head was resting on her paws, her eyes on the cave entrance. Smokepaw had gone hunting with that tom, Kestrel Feather in Breeze, and Tinycloud was waiting for her to come back.
"As soon as Blossomdew is better, and depending on the weather." he replied. He didn't like this cave. The waterfall rang in his ears, and it had taken forever for Blossomdew to drift off into slumber. The tribe cats would talk to them and ask about SkyClan occasionally and the queens, or 'Kit-Mothers' would watch their kits closely as they bounded up, bombarding them with questions.
"This place is so cool. You'll love it, and I don't think any other cat knows about it." Kestrel padded close to her, his pelt brushing with hers. He stopped at a small hole in the ground, which was concealed by some bushes. "I first found this place by falling in it." he mewed, and she purred with amusement. "I'll go first." she nodded, and followed him in. They went down a stone passage, jumping over small gaps and stepping over cracks. Soon, she saw faint light ahead. She stopped at the entrance, and gaped. Kestrel purred as her shocked face.
"Well, what do you think?" A beautiful cave opened up. From a hole high in the opposite wall, a tiny waterfall tumbled, gushing into a stream that ran through the rock. From a few gaps in the ceiling, a few slants of sun shone, dancing off the water surface. Moss, grass and a few plants grew, and tree roots clawed down from the ceiling. Kestrel guided her down some steps, and onto the earthy ground. She padded to the stream, and she dipped her paws into the water. It was shallow and cold, the ground in it made of sand and pebbles. A few fish swam along, and she shot out a paw, flipping one out. She killed it quickly, and Kestrel stared at her in amazment.
"Wow! How did you do that?" he gasped.
"It's easy! I told you about RiverClan after we went past that river earlier, didn't I? When Firestar brought SkyClan back, he said that my grandmother, Clovertail, could be a descendant of a RiverClan leader called Birchstar. I guess that's where my love of fish and water came from. I can fish easily. Would like me to teach you?"
"Yes please!" he said eagerly. She felt like a mentor. She crouched by the river, Kestrel by her side.
"Now, when there's brighter light, make sure your shadow isn't casting over the water, or the fish be alerted. Since its a bit dim in here, we don't have to do that. You have to be quiet and quick. Look, there's two coming now. Copy me - one... two... three... now." She flashed out a paw, sending a fish sailing into the air. She caught hers, but Kestrel missed his. As the fish swam away with a flick of its tail, the tabby and white tom looked crestfallen. She rested her tail on his shoulder. "It's your first try. It took me a few goes to get it right. Try again - there's another." Smokepaw indicated to a silvery fish swimming toward Kestrel. He focused on it, and then his paw scooped up the fish. As it smacked onto a rock, he pinned it and killed it quickly.
"Brilliant!" he spluttered, looking suprised and happy that he had suceeded.
"Well done!" she was suprised too - only his second try, and he got it! They carried on fishing, and caught six fish all together.
"We'll take them back to the tribe later." he mewed. "But do you want to share one? Five fish will satisfy the Kit-Mothers and the elders."
"Sure!" she was happy to do that. They put five aside, and shared one. She jumped when she felt his tail entwine with hers; for a moment she hesitated. And then she entwined her tail with his one. She felt close to this cat. He was so strong, so friendly, so handsome. As they began to groom each other's pelts on a patch of moss, she had a thought.
There'll be three medicine cats when we get back. We only need two. Maybe... just maybe... I can change my path.
Blossomdew opened her eyes. The waterfall continued to roar in her ears.
"How are you?" she saw a tabby she-cat with gray eyes crouched in front of her.
"Fine. Who are you?"
"I'm Brook Where Small Fish Swim. This is my mate, Stormfur. He's half RiverClan and half ThunderClan; he wants to know how everyone is in ThunderClan." she hadn't seen Stormfur against the gloom.
Maybe Smokepaw, Tinycloud and Sandyfoot are distantly related to him. They could be part RiverClan after all.
"They're fine." she said. "There's lots of kits, new apprentices, warriors."
"How's Graystripe?" he asked.
"He's good. Cheerful. Firestar died a few moons ago, and Bramblestar is the new leader, Squirrelflight the new deputy."
"I'm saddened to hear the death of such a noble leader." Stormfur nodded solemly. "But I'm sure that Bramblestar will be as great a leader and Squirrelflight a fine deputy. She's a fine cat." they talked for some time, until Stoneteller padded up.
"Are you feeling any better?" he asked. Blossomdew tested her limbs. A small pain, but not bad.
"Much better, thank you."
"That's fine. But if it dosen't go away, tell me. When will you all be leaving?"
"Soon." she heard Whitebirch's voice behind her. "And when she's better."
"I feel perfectly fine today." a few more days had passed, and Blossomdew was feeling much, much better. She was starting to run slowly, and she even managed to climb some way up the walls. Whitebirch was relieved to hear it. Across the cave, Smokepaw and Kestrel sat close together, talking. Echosong and Cherrytail were stretching, and Tinycloud and Sandyfoot were grooming each other's pelts.
"Are you sure?" he asked. As much as he wanted to get out of here, he only wanted Blossomdew to be safe and healthy.
"Oh course I'm sure." Blossomdew purred and nuzzled his flank lovingly. His skin warmed at her touch.
"I'll tell Stoneteller." mewed Echosong, padding toward the Cave of the Pointed Stones. Smokepaw glanced at Echosong, looking puzzled. She mewed something to Kestrel, and bounded across the cave toward them.
"What's happening?" she asked.
"We're leaving now!" Tinycloud purred. Smokepaw's expression changed.
"What?" Whitebirch saw her eyes drag over to Kestrel. "Now?"
"Yes! Isn't it exciting?" Cherrytail bounced onto her paws. Whitebirch chuckled. His mother always had a playful side.
"What's wrong, Smokepaw?" Sandyfoot frowned.
"Uh, nothing. Give me a moment." Smokepaw ran across the cave, avoiding the gathering tribe. She muttered something urgently to Kestrel. He stared, looking shocked. Smokepaw shuffled over to them as they got up to leave, her eyes never leaving Kestrel's.
A feeling of dread rose in Smokepaw's belly as she walked away from him. Why was she feeling this weird?
I don't want to lose him. But I have to...
"May the Tribe of Endless Hunting and the spirit of Feathertail guide you and keep you safe!" cried out Stormfur and Brook. As Pine, Lark, Hawk, Wisp and other cats gathered, she heard a voice over the yowls.
"Wait!" she stared as Kestrel shouldered his way through, skidded to halt in front of her, and turned to the tribe. "I'm coming with you!" Smokepaw stared in shock.
"What?" a female cat rushed over. "But... my precious son..."
"Mother." Kestrel turned to her. "I'm sorry. But my destiny is not here. It's somewhere else." the tribe muttered, but Stoneteller raised his tail for silence. Brook padded up, murmured to her soothingly.
"Shade, let him do what he wants." Shade hesitated for a long time, and tried to talk to Kestrel, but he declined. Finally she sighed.
"Well... if its really what you want..."
"Oh, Mother! Thank you..." Kestrel stood by his mother for a long time, pressed into her black tabby fur, and then looked at Stoneteller hopefully.
"You may go." he murmured. After the tribe bidded farwell, he came up to her, her companions watching in some awe as a new cat joined them.
"Good bye." he whispered to the tribe as they headed out. "I love you all. Thank you very, very much. I'll never forget you." and as they came out of earshot, Smokepaw heard him whisper again. "I promise."
To be concluded....
Did you enjoy Part 2? Make sure you read the concluding Part 3, which is coming soon!