Thanks for all the memories and laughs<3
All I could feel was honor.
Here the whole Clan was, in a horrified state, not sure what to make of the situation, not sure what to think, scared to fall asleep, and I, a mere apprentice, had been chosen to travel to the MoonPool alongside Bramblestar and Razorfang. Of course, Stargaze, Redpoppy and Darkpaw were also coming along but I still felt overwhelmed.
"What time again?" I questioned.
"Now," Bramblestar nodded, "Razorfang is actually unable to come-she refuses to leave the camp unattended for a single night-she has demanded that all cats will be sleeping in the clearing tonight so she can keep an eye on them-so the five of us are just heading off."
"Do you know how to get there?"
I felt the eyes of all four other questing cats turning on me. I had figured by now that the place Rainpaw and I had wondered off to all those moons ago.
"I guess I do," I replied with a casual shrug, "So I get to lead this patrol?" It was impossible to keep the excitement after my voice and it did not go undetected.
I promised myself that I would not mess up as I bounded-nearly skipping-out of camp, Bramblestar, Redpoppy, Stargaze and Darkpaw following from behind me.
But more than anything else I was praying we could find an end to this.
"So we enter the river," I claimed, "Right around this area. There should be some sort of light erupting out of somewhere and it leads to a cave."
"Razorfang explained that to me," Bramblestar nodded, "From there we swim upwards and into the small pool."
"Wait..." I paused, "Wouldn't you know this already, Bramblestar? You've come to the MoonPool before, I remember, so why did you need me to lead you?"
She smiled, "You seemed so excited at the prospect of even being on this patrol, Aquapaw, I was sure it would make you very happy to think you were the only one who could lead us to the MoonPool. And I knew you enjoyed it more than you were letting on... and you did let it on quite a bit."
I blushed, looking down at my paws, "Thanks," I whispered.
"No problem," Bramblestar shrugged and flicked her tail at the four of us quickly, "On the count of three we all jump in. Once one of us finds it we'll come back up, grab some oxygen and then head back down and head through the entrance to the MoonPool."
We all nodded, and Bramblestar flicked her tail as well all turned to face the river, and I tried to look through the dim reflection of the moon.
"Three... Two... One..."
And I jumped.
As I glanced about, forcing myself to swim deeper and deeper towards the bottom of the river, I saw none of the glows that meant the cave.
Eventually, the need for fresh air, won over and I was forcing my way to the top, my lungs almost burning. The moment my face was encased with oxygen as opposed to water, I sucked in several frantic breaths.
Coughing for a moment, I glanced about. Darkpaw emerged moments later followed by Redpoppy, Bramblestar and then Stargaze, who had a victorious expression her face.
"I win," She claimed, as she sucked in several deep breaths, "I saw the light."
"Where?" Bramblestar asked, and Stareh flicked her tail, quickly underneath the water, still taking in heavy gasps alongside the rest of us.
"Follow me," She coughed, "I'll take you guys."
And then she had dived back into the water. Without hesitation I followed her, right behind Bramblestar, Redpoppy and Darkpaw.
As we swam, following her, I was soon able to detect a faint light in the distance. Within a few moments I was standing right before it and pushing my way into the cave.
Darkpaw was glancing around in fascination-she had never been here before and likely never would again, unless she was feeling rebellious one day and decided to come in here to explore, but I recognized this place.
Last time I came here had been happy and carefree.
Now my Clan was on the verge of their doom.
I recognized the upward curve, and my paws flailed for a moment, before I pushed myself upwards, ignoring the urge to breathe.
Soon, I was greeted by a fresh blast of air, and pushed myself out of the water, shaking my fur as my pads touched the cool stones.
"The MoonPool is over there," Bramblestar whispered, flicking her tail at the small pile of water that stood a little further off.
We all followed as she paddled towards it, my heart pounding loudly in my chest as I sucked in a hesitant breath, hoping this would work.
I didn't know what we could do if it didn't.
Once Bramblestar reached the MoonPool she hesitated for a moment before turning up to glance at us, a brave look in her eyes as she stood before the pool.
"I want you all to join me," She whispered, "So we can present the Clan not the leader."
We all nodded, following her as she touched her nose to the MoonPool. I could remember what I had seen the last time-which was also the first-I had visited this place. It had been my warrior ceremony I could remember.
Though I knew it wasn't the time a part of me couldn't help wondering when that was finally going to come.
"When I say now," Bramblestar claimed as we all circled around the MoonPool. I felt excited, worried and... unsure. I didn't want a dream about my warrior ceremony, as much as I had enjoyed it last time.
We all dipped our heads so our noses were touching the MoonPool, and I sucked in a shaky, hesitant breath. After a slow pause I closed my eyes and took a sip.
The water was refreshing and I licked at it almost greedily. I could hear the sounds of my Clan mates drinking as well, and closed my eyes tighter.
Nothing was happening, though, I wasn't being whirled into a different world, or seeing things. I was still drinking water. Did the MoonPool lose it's magic? I wondered, my heart pounding furiously.
But then I wasn't at the MoonPool anymore. Then I was being whirled into a different world, seeing things, no longer drinking water and then...
I was in a dark forest.
The same dark forest.
"Bramblestar!" I sqeauked, "I really don't think we should be here right now! We have to wake up!" I wasn't sure if she could hear me, I wasn't even sure if she was by me, "Bramblestar? Stargaze? Redpoppy? Darkpaw?"
"I'm here," It was Redpoppy, "And so is Stargaze and Darkpaw. I don't see Bramblestar, though."
"I'm right here," A voice-Bramblestar's-called from a little further off, "But I don't recognize this place. It's not the DarkForest, or I would feel it but Aquapaw has a point... I don't like this place."
"I'm here to help you."
It was the mouse. Or the voice of the mouse. But there was no figure beholding it this time. It was nothing but a voice, echoing through the forest, through our ears, through our souls.
"Who are you?" Redpoppy asked, sounding irked.
"I'm here to help you," The voice hissed, "Your apprentice friend has been assuming me to be your enemy this whole time... but I'm not. I'm your friend. I've been your warning."
"Warnings won't help unless we're told how to fix the problem." Bramblestar's voice was demanding-it was the kind of tone the whole of the Clan both feared and admired.
"Fight the monster from within," I could have sworn I heard a laugh behind the answer, "How many times do I have to tell you-it's the monster within."
"How do you fight a monster from within?" Stargaze demanded, "DO you expect us to like, what, travel inside ourselves and fight some sort of mini-cat in there?"
"That's something I'm leaving up to you to figure out."
"We need your help," Bramblestar spoke this time, "You claimed you were here to help, please give it. We need to know how to save our Clan of this."
"I have helped-you wouldn't have any leads to Shimmerbreeze's death if it wasn't for me. You should be thanking me but you keep asking for more. Such ungrateful cats-should have known better than to try to help your species."
"You will tell us," Stargaze demanded. Her voice contained worry, sharpness and concern for the whole of WaterClan, "Now."
There was a rumbling silence.
"I'm not impressed, Clan cats. You're going to need to put up a greater fight than that if you want me to give you any clues."
"Allow me to impress you then," Stargaze replied, her voice harsh. And before any of us could stop her, there was a long stream of cusses escaping her mouth. I was almost sure I could hear a silent groan coming from Bramblestar as Stargaze continue to cuss out the voice.
I knew Stargaze was profane; even the constant warnings of Bramblestar hadn't worked, and Bramblestar had just quit trying, but I was seriously impressed.
Wait until the apprentices here these! I couldn't hide the thought, as I attempted to memorized everything I heard, prepared to impress my friends.
When Stargaze was done she sucked in a deep breath and there was a long moment of silence.
"Alright, I'm impressed."
I was bewildered. Never would I have thought that cussing would be what it took to convince the voice to give us answers. But I supposed there was a first for everything.
"Stargaze just showed you what you have to do."
There was a questioning silence and the voice continued.
"You have to let out what you've been holding in. Fear, impatience, desperation. Something's been eating you all from the inside out and you have to spit it out before it kills you... like it did to Shimmerbreeze who lost."
"That's highly illogical," I argued.
"You think being killed by your dreams is?"
There was a tight silence and then Bramblestar spoke, "Thank you, voice. We owe you a lot for showing us the answer to this problem. The Clan is in your debt."
And then we were back at the MoonPool.
We all turned around to glance at Stargaze, instinctively and she shrugged, looking a little bewildered at the effects of her language.
"I can't help myself."
"You actually did help yourself," Bramblestar corrected, "You saved yourself!"
There was a slow moment and then Stargaze nodded, hesitantly, "I did, didn't I?" She paused, "I guess that means I'm not at risk of dying in my sleep."
We were all silent for a moment.
"But the rest of the Clan still needs help," Stargaze whispered, "I don't exactly get what he said, but I suppose we're better off than we were before."
"Well we now know we have to face this-not hide from this," Bramblestar decided, "My first order when we return to camp will be to have all cats falling asleep."
As the rest of the cats paddled away I turned to Stargaze, quickly, "Thanks!" I beamed at her.
"For what?" She seemed confused.
"Well for convincing the voice to tell us the answer," I paused, "And for all those cusses! The other apprentices will be so impressed!"
A look of shock registered across her face, "Please, Aquapaw, do not..."
"Too late!" I grinned, as I bounded away happily, beyond excited to share my new vocabulary with my denmates.