A Story by Coco
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Chapter 1 Dawn
"Hey Rabbitpaw! Wake up, Rabbitpaw!" Milky dawn light filtered the apprentices' den as a ginger tabby tom shook Rabbitpaw awake.
"Would you let me sleep, Shrewpaw?" she grumbled back, rolling on the soft battered moss.
"Actually, Wingstar wants you." Shrewpaw walked away with a flick of his tail. Rabbitpaw groggily got to her paws, and trudged to Wingstar's den. The other apprentices looked up happily at her, smiling toothy grins. She was a popular cat, from being the oldest of the other apprentices. But instead of making her feel happy, it made her feel awkward and left out. Not to mention the young warrior, Dustybrook, mooning over her.
When she had been a kit, only 4 moons old, she had been the one to teach the younger apprentices how to play games, and how to hunt. Okay, pretend to hunt. She had been more active and playful back then, and whenever a kit got hurt or sared, she would be the first to comfort it. Ever since then, every young apprentice had chosen her for its role model. This job was tiring, and the attention was beginning to get irritating. Rabbitpaw knew she deserved a break.
It was a tragedy that having such a convenient place in SparkClan would make her feel so left out.
"Good morning, Rabbitpaw." Wingstar calmly greeted the brown she-cat. Her nest was already freshly made, and her fur was groomed and sleek. The leader always woke up before her own clan.
"Good morning," Rabbitpaw mumbled. Unlike every other apprentice, she thought waking up early was tiring and frustrating. Long naps and slumbering were more enjoyable than hunting and battle training. Of course, Wingstar probably wanted her to help train the other apprentices. One of Wingstar's favorite things to say to Rabbitpaw was, "You have potential, so why don't you use it?" It was often irritating.
"I would like you to take Mistpaw, Mintpaw, and Gorsepaw on a patrol with Dustybrook."
Darn, Rabbitpaw thought. Of course, Dustybrook would always have her give the other apprentices examples. She was always the brightest star, but didn't really feel like shining. Not to mention the fact that Dustybrook would spend have of his time praising her. But praise only embarrassed her.
Rabbitpaw yawned. "Alright," she mewed. "I'll get the others." Stepping off of the stone steps, she padded over to Dustybrook. His gaze lit up when he saw her.
"Hey, Rabbitpaw!" he mewed happily. She gave him the fakest smile ever. Though this cat could be annoying, she didn't want to hurt his feelings. Reputation was a very important, but also breakable thing in SparkClan.
"Hey, Dustybrook," she mewed, twitching uncomfortably under his enthusiastic gaze. "Wingstar wants you to take me, Mintpaw, Mistpaw, and Gorsepaw on patrol."
"Well, I'll go get the others." Dustybrook padded into the apprentices den, and a few seconds later, returned with the other apprentices. Their gazes were lit up with happiness and pride. They were glad to be on a patrol with Rabbitpaw.
"Hi Rabbitpaw!" Mintpaw cheered, rubbing her gray pelt against Rabbitpaw's. She looked up at her with bright eyes. "Will you teach me to hunt well like you?" she asked. "I'm not a very good hunter."
"Me neither!" Mistpaw meowed. "But Rabbitpaw still likes me best," he bragged, puffing his chest out in pride. Rabbitpaw sighed and rolled her eyes. Not another battle.
Gorsepaw glared. "No, Rabbitpaw is my best friend!" All of the apprentices glared at each other. "I was born two moons after her, so I'm the second oldest!" Rabbitpaw struggled not to scream in frustration. Having three apprentices fight over her was just plain annoying.
"I'm friends with all of you." Rabbitpaw tried to settle things with her denmates. The quarreling gave her a headache. Mintpaw bounced on her paws.
"But you do like me best, don't you Rabbitpaw?" She giggled. Gorsepaw glared. She opened her jaws to protest, but Mistpaw spoke first.
"No, she likes me!"
"Rabbitpaw only likes me!"
Rabbitpaw flattened her ears and hissed. "Will you guys quit fighting? Of this doesn't stop, I won't like any of you!" She felt sick of the arguing. The younger apprentices were acting like fools when they fought over her. "Please, give me some peace. I can't take the quarreling!" She sighed wearily. Mintpaw stepped forwards.
"Don't worry, Rabbitpaw. I'll leave you alone." But Mintpaw gave a dirty look at the others.
Dustybrook, who felt awkward, piped up. "Why don't we go mark the borders?" He suggested. His paws shuffled the ground awkwardly.
"Yay!" Gorsepaw cried. He bounded off, tail waving in excitement. Rabbitpaw joined the little cats, and Dustybrook followed along. The sun's golden light slanted through the trees, and red and brown leaves speckled the ground. A crisp sky stretched above, but frost masked the bushes. Leaf-bare was close.
"Here's the border. Who wants to mark it?" Dustybrook asked. He walked along the edge of the border, next to AquaClan, fur gleaming in the sun.
"Ooh, I will! I will!" Mistpaw volunteered. She shoved past the others, and spreaded her scent along the border. She bounded around happily, waiting for the next order.
Dustybrook sighed. "How about some battle training?" He asked. Rabbitpaw felt annoyed. This will just make the others fight over me even more, Rabbitpaw thought, annoyed. She looked down at her paws. She knew that the others looked up to her battle moves.
Mistpaw grinned. "Sure!" With that, he leapt on Mintpaw, bowling her to the ground. The blue-gray she-cat let out an annoyed hiss, and flailed her paws. Her eyes gleamed with annoyance as she batted her hindpaws at his belly. Leaves scattered the ground, making crackling sounds.
"Let me go!" Mintpaw hissed. She rolled out from under him, causing him to fall to the ground with a thump. His fur brushed her belly as he leapt back up, eyes sparkling with excitement.
Dustybrook cleared his throat. "Well, I was going to teach you a new move," he meowed. Rabbitpaw's ears pricked. Even though small apprentices often annoyed her, learning new battle moves was enjoyable. Mistpaw and Mintpaw looked up from the ground, now paying full attention.
"Im going to teach you how to leap on your enemy's back." Rabbitpaw sighed. She had already learned this move moons ago! "Rabbitpaw, show them. You're really good at this," Dustybrook praised with a dreamy look in his eyes. Rabbitpaw rolled her eyes, and hopped squarely onto Dustybrook's back. His broad shoulders stood up evenly, even under her weight. "Got that?" He asked, nodding to the others.
"Got it!" Mistpaw mewed. He hopped onto Gorsepaw's back, causing the young tom to crumple to the ground. He glared at Mistpaw. His paws scrabbled at the ground as he struggled to get back up.
"Get off of me!" He hissed. He rolled on his belly, causing Mistpaw to be squished. The black tom flailed his paws, but Gorsepaw's weight was too much. He was trapped. A triumphant look gleamed in Gorsepaw's eyes. Finally, he stepped off of Mistpaw.
"Now you know not to mess with me!" Gorsepaw laughed. Mistpaw just glared. Mintpaw giggled as Mistpaw clawed the ground.
"Let's see if you can beat me, Rabbitpaw!" Gorsepaw laughed. Mistpaw's gaze turned shocked. No apprentice had ever challenged Rabbitpaw before! They only respected her. Rabbitpaw smiled a devilish grin, and pawed the ground. She knew immediately that she could beat any cat.
Without warning, Gorsepaw leapt on Rabbitpaw, knocking her to the ground. She quickly regained her balance, and shoved her paw against his belly. He fell back, and she lunged at him, wind catching her whiskers. The lithe tom quickly rolled out of the way, and all she landed on was a pile of leaves. Heart pumping with exhilaration, she kept fighting.
"Think you can beat me?" Rabbitpaw taunted, swiping her paw at Gorsepaw's muzzle.
He gave her an annoying smile. "With ease." With that, he ducked under her belly, forcing her into the air. She let out a yelp as she was flung into the air, and fell on the ground with a thump. The sun glimpsed through the trees as Gorsepaw darted towards her. Rabbitpaw tried to regain her balance, but she it was too late. Gorsepaw knocked her down, and pinned her.
Panting, she glared up at her den mate with a defeated feeling in her heart. All this time, she had taken her skill for granted, and there was a chance that her reputation might slip away. How had she lost the fight? "Y-you just won b-because I was tired," Rabbitpaw retorted.
Gorsepaw laughed. "Don't be jealous. Its just a game." Standing up, he stared at her with tantalizing eyes. Mistpaw suppressed a giggle, and Mintpaw twitched her whiskers. Even Dustybrook was trying not to laugh.
"Let's go, guys. I think we've had enough training for now." Dustybrook beckoned the patrol with a flick of his tail. Gorsepaw ran ahead, paws light and airy with excitement. Annoyed, Rabbitpaw hung her head. Mintpaw didn't even glance at her. She was too busy talking to Mintpaw. But still, how had Rabbitpaw lost a fight so easily? She was the best apprentice ever. But would that change?
Tired, she trudged back to camp. Her paws were sore, and her muscles ached. She couldn't wait to get back to camp. But all of a sudden, she heard a splash! Looking into the river, Mintpaw was thrashing her limbs weakly. Mistpaw jumped in to help, but ended up in the waters with her.
"Help! Rabbitpaw, help!" They cried. Rabbitpaw hesitated. She had no idea how to swim, and probably could not save her denmates. She looked desperately at Gorsepaw while the young cats struggled to breath. "Help!" She wailed.
Rabbitpaw shook her head. "I can't!" She cried. "Its too deep!" The blue water began to swallow up Mintpaw with vicious gulps. Now, she was gasping for breath. Mistpaw's head was barely above the surface, and Gorsepaw plunged in. But he was swallowed up as well.
Dustybrook hissed at Rabbitpaw, stunning her. "Give me that branch, and I'll hang it for them to cross!" He spat. But the branch was hanging on a high tree where the water was coming up higher. "Hurry! Now!"
"I can't!" Rabbitpaw cried. "It's too high!" Dustybrook gave her a nasty glare, and climbed the high tree. He grabbed the branch in his mouth, and bent low enough to where the little cats could reach it.
Mintpaw reached out her paw, gasping for air. Her fur was slick with water. Shivering, she jumped up again. "I can't!" She wailed. Her gaze was gleaming with dread. Dustybrook hesitated. The branch was beginning to quiver under his weight.
"You have to try harder!" He gasped. Rabbitpaw watched guiltily as Mintpaw struggled. Her eyes shone with do desperation iith each useless jump. There was low chance of survival for her. But luckily, Mistpaw hoisted her up with all the energy he could gather up. She leapt higher, and her claws scrabbled the branch. Flailing desperately, she finally got a firm grip on the thin piece of wood. Genuine relief pierced her gaze. Mistpaw and Gorsepaw jumped on the stick and got to land safely, just before the twig cracked.
Rabbitpaw gave a sigh of relief, but still felt guilty. "At least we're all safe...right?" She tried. Dustybrook glared. Mintpaw looked anxious, and Mistpaw and Gorsepaw were obviously upset with her for not helping. She knew that she should have, but she had been too scared! If she had tried, she would have likely drowned.
Dustybrook gave her an annoyed scowl. "Your denmates almost died!" He scolded. "What is wrong with you?! Why didn't you help?!" Rabbitpaw felt her pelt burn under the disappointed gazes of her friends. She knew they were right, but she was not the fearless cat they thought she was. "Why didn't you help them?" Dustybrook spat. All gazes burned into her fur, making her blush.
"I...got scared," She confessed. Just because Rabbitpaw was the oldest and most experienced apprentice in the den didn't mean she wasn't allowed to get scared! Everycat relied on her, but no matter what path she took, there was pressure. I am not the kind of cat with the big ego, and I choose to be safe then sorry. Is this so wrong? Dustybrook shook his head, disappointment in his eyes. Rabbitpaw padded back to camp, head low. She was on the verge of wailing in annoyance.
The ferns swung over her head as she entered her sister Twigpaw's den. Twigpaw had chosen to be a medicine cat, but the sisters still remained a close bond. When life got tough or stress weighed their shoulders down, a nice conversation was the best remedy. Rabbitpaw expected Twigpaw to greet her with a quiet meow, but this time was different. The small black she-cat was lying in her nest, tail twitching frantically. Her eyelids twisted around, but still screwed shut. Rabbitpaw backed away a bit, worry flooding like water in her stomach. Was her sister sick? Dead? With a slight moment of hesitation, Rabbitpaw prodded her sister awake.
Twigpaw jerked up, and blurted out, "Hope will shine brighter when the sky turns darker!" She spun her head around, in a daze. "Oh, hi Rabbitpaw," she sighed. "It's just you. Do you need anything?" Rabbitpaw scanned her sister's eyes, but there was nothing but shadow and worry. Her fur was still trembling, and there seemed to be a presence of eeriness. Something was up...something wrong. She could tell from the way Twigpaw looked uncertain, worried, and thoughtful. Worry grew in her stomach, as if she had swallowed stones.
"Is everything okay?" Rabbitpaw asked anxiously. Twigpaw hesitated for a moment, then invited her inside of the den. Once she got in there, the black she-cat wrapped her tail around her paws.
After taking a deep breath, Twigpaw began. "So, I decided to take a nap, since I was really tired from all of the work. So I went to sleep on the moss bed."
"But once I was asleep, I saw a huge storm of snow. It was awful. There was a blasting gust of cold wind, and sick cats were screaming. I couldn't help, and the sky was dark. There was no trace of StarClan. They weren't there to guide me...and it all was scary," Twigpaw finished. She looked dreadful.
Rabbitpaw thought about the dream, and then felt a pang of horror. Was this an omen or a sign? She wasn't quite sure...but it definitely meant something bad. Finally, she found her voice. "A-are you sure? Maybe it was just a bad dream." Twigpaw looked at her as if she were an idiot, but then looked down.
"I know for sure," the black apprentice said, shuffling her paws.
"How can you be so sure? It could mean nothing..." Rabbitpaw didn't want to think that bad times were coming for her clan...especially as bad as Twigpaw's dream.
Twigpaw finally looked up. Her eyes were clouded with dread. "I-i saw a d-dead kit in the snow."
Rabbitpaw gasped, knowing her sister had been right. This was no nightmare, it had to be an omen. If there was a dead kit, it had to mean something. StarClan wouldn't send Twigpaw a dream about a dead kit if it weren't for a sign. If StarClan was even there, that was.
But Twigpaw wasn't finished. She gulped sorrowfully. "And standing all alone...was a cat with tufted ears and spots."
With a sick feeling in her belly, Rabbitpaw padded to the water pool at the end of the den. Staring at her own tufted ears and spots, she felt her heart begin to pound. Staring at her sister, a glow of desperation lit her eyes. Was she in trouble?!
Twigpaw nodded softly. "I'm sorry, Rabbitpaw. That cat was you."
Chapter 2 The Meeting
Twigpaw cleared her throat, feeling sorry for her sister. Something dark would surely happen to the spotted she-cat. Rabbitpaw's eyes were screaming terror. She wasn't exactly the brave type...Rabbitpaw was dependent. Twigpaw would always try to be by her side, but who knew? Something was going to split them up. Twigpaw knew this, she could feel it in her bones.
While lost in thought, Sagepool suddenly entered the den. She greeted Twigpaw with a nod of her head, but then her gaze drifted over to Rabbitpaw. Once Sagepool has glimpsed the pool of dread in Rabbitpaw's eyes, she opened her jaws to speak. "Everything okay?" She asked Twigpaw curiously. "Is she sick? I could give her som-"
"No, she's not sick," Twigpaw interrupted. Rabbitpaw opened her mouth to speak, then thought against it. She stared at her paws, letting Twigpaw do the explanation. "Well, I got tired, so I fell asleep on the moss bed. I fell asleep quickly, and then I began to dream."
Sagepool nodded. "Go on." Her eyes were swirling with an unknown expression of interest.
"And...I had a bad dream. Only it wasn't a bad dream. It was a sign. There were sick cats yowling in the cold snow, and the sky was completely dark. And...I saw a dead kit in the snow." Sagepool's eyes widened, and her jaw dropped.
Twigpaw went on."Also...I saw Rabbitpaw all alone in the snow. She was heading for the north, and I don't know why. Then, the prophecy. It rang in my mind...when the sky gets darker, hope will shine brighter. I don't get it." Twigpaw finished her story, leaving the cats next to her in a trance of shock.
Rabbitpaw was the first to speak. "I don't want to be part of the prophecy!" She cried. Her fur was standing on end, and her eyes were wild with fear. Even her tail was trembling. "Just tell StarClan to leave me alone!" With that, the spotted she-cat dashed off, paws pounding the ground.
Shaking her head, Twigpaw turned to Sagepool. "I have no idea what to do...I love my sister, and I have to save her! Not to mention whoever that dead kit was." She felt anxious. It was already obvious that Rabbitpaw was in trouble. And kits would die. A whirlpool of fears stormed in Twigpaw's mind, making her tremble. This was something that would devastate the clan...and there was so little that she could do to stop it. Whatever StarClan said was going to happen no matter what.
Sagepool thought for a moment, claw quietly working the baked earth. Twigpaw searched for any trace of result in her eyes, but found nothing. The narrow gap between the ferns and the den spread as Dustybrook padded into the den.
He gave the two medicine cats a look. "Why did Rabbitpaw run away like that?" He asked, taking a seat.
Twigpaw sighed, unwanting to explain her dream to another cat. Clouds danced around the nearby mountains, and the afternoon was settling into the sky. But frost blanketed a yellowing bush, spreading its crystal darkness to the plant. Leaf-bare was near, and her sister was probably going to die. She might as well tell him.
Explaining to Dustybrook her dream, she gave him a skeptical look. "You probably don't get it, do you," she shook her head. "You just don't get it." Twigpaw found it hard to believe that a young warrior like Dustybrook would understand a prophecy like this one. As it turned out, he didn't.
There was a long pause before the dust colored tom spoke. "What does it mean?"
Twigpaw withdrew her breath, and shook her head once more, displaying her clueluessness. "It means my sister and a kit will die," she put flatly. "Plus, we're probably all going to die as well, if we think about the prophecy."
"What was the prophecy?"
Twigpaw sighed, the warning prophecy still ringing in her ears. She knew that cats wouldn't pay her thoughts any mind.
Until it was too late.
"When the sky gets darker, hope will shine brighter," she meowed flatly. Sagepool turned, flames in her eyes. Her senses were probably struggling to decipher these words, but likely failing. Sagepool was the type of medicine cat who was easy and laid back when it came to healing and gathering herbs, but thoughtful when it came to prophecies. Now, she was obviously getting in touch with her inner desperation.
"I think we need to tell Wingstar," Sagepool gulped. "We need to warn all the Clan...let every cat know that hard times are approaching. We need to warn them!" Sagepool's voice was rising, power flooding her words.
Twigpaw remained silent, nothing to say. It was all a useless apprentice like her could do. "I guess so," she mewed half-heartedly. As a medicine cat, Twigpaw had an odd reputation with the rest of the Clan. They enjoyed battle and hunting, while she deticated her life to healing and StarClan. They thought that medicine cats tended to zone out, thinking nothing of importance. But they were all wrong. This was something they would probably never understand.
Dustybrook got to his paws, no sign of expression in his amber gaze. "Let's go."
They padded to Wingstar's den, prepared to give her the news. Stepping through the lazy ferns hanging from the roof, Twigpaw sat down first.
Wingstar looked surprised to see the medicine cat, her apprentice, and a young warrior. "Can I help you?" she asked, her gaze fixing on Twigpaw.
Twigpaw cleared her throat. Sagepool was about to speak, but Twigpaw silenced her with a glance. "We have some...er, news..." She meowed awkwardly, not knowing where to begin. She decided to start with her dream. "So, I had a dream," she said.
She continued, confidence and fear rising in her throat at every word. Time to reveal the truth. Once she had explained her dream, she stared at Wingstar, waiting for a response. The leader ought to be worried for the sake of her Clan.
Instead, the old cat's gaze was a mixture of puzzlement and confusion. There was no trace of concern. "How are you sure you didn't just have a nightmare?" Wingstar asked skeptically.
Twigpaw hissed, flattening her ears in frustration. "I'm the medicine cat here! I know what I saw!" She spat. "I know what it means, too!"
The leader's eyes widened, and Twigpaw cleared her throat. "I'm sorry. I just think that you should be careful...that wasn't a nightmare. I could tell. And it came with a prophecy, too."
"What is it?"
"When the sky gets darker, hope will shine brighter." This time, Wingstar looked curious. A frown spread on her face, along with a mask of concern.
"What does that mean?" Wingstar asked.
"I don't know," Twigpaw admitted. Didn't darkness mean despair? Evil shadows? Trouble would rise from the horizon, but no cat would know. Was StarClan saying that once all cats lost hope, light would fade into view? This was a troubling thought to focus on, since StarClan's words might as well be playing with fire and ice.
Finally, the leader rose to her paws, the determination in her eyes revealing that she had made her decision. "We will have a Clan meeting. From there, I'll allow you to warn the Clan," Wingstar meowed. With a swipe of her tail, she led the cats to the clearing.
Crisp frost blanketed the shimmering soggy leaves, contributing a sharpness to their strong scent. Clouds drifted lazily across the pale blue sky, a cold breeze rushing past the cats, ruffling their fur. Twigpaw shivered, a new seed of fear sprouting in her mind. Did the prophecy mean that luck would fall upon the rough times of Leaf Bare? There was a large chance of snow, unfortunately, so it was already definite that the Clan's health may decrease. Or it may not. Dark times meant dark mysteries.
Wingstar climbed up to highledge, struggling with each step at the enormous brown rock. There was something new in her eyes - age.Wingstar was getting old, and every day her words grew less confident. Each step she took produced less brilliance. Her usual radiant grin was fading, and a grim expression seemed to take over her face. As she walked by, her tail seemed to drag in the dust. She was not the cat she had once been.
Dustybrook followed loyally behind his leader, watching her every step to make sure she didn't fall backwards. He scanned her over, noticing how skinny her bones were beginning to get. A flash of worry lit in his eyes. He padded a bit more carefully, beckoning for Twigpaw to climb up after him. She followed, and luckily, Wingstar was able to make ot to the top safely.
She cleared her throat, and settled down onto the sturdy rock. Eyes fixed on her Clan Wingstar looked weary of the work she had yet to accomplish. Twigpaw glanced at Dustybrook. "Wingstar's getting a bit rusty," she whispered to him. The older cat remained silent.
Dustybrook nodded. "I can tell by the way she walks."
The leader twitched her tail, then called the Clan. "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath highledge for a Clan meeting!" She called.
At once, cats poured out of the dens, and warriors who had been sleeping or eating padded under their leader's watchful gaze.
"I have an announcement to make," Wingstar began. She glanced at the medicine cats. "Our medicine cats have recieved a prophecy, and a dream. They would like to warn you. Twigpaw?" The leader beckoned for Twigpaw to share her dream with the Clan.
Twigpaw gulped, and stepped forward, feeling dizzy above the watchful eye of her Clan. Without waiting, she started. "I h-had a dream," she stammered. Trying to ignore her anxiety, she kept talking, describing every last detail of her nightmare. She knew that some cats were paying very close attention, and some couldn't care less. But this was important, and all cats needed to fear what was to come.
Once she finished, she looked down, to hear murmurs rippling the once quiet clearing. But then, the sound of muffled hisses sounded near the hunting grounds. Over there, Rabbitpaw was hissing under the strong grip of Gorsepaw. "Let me go!" Rabbitpaw was hissing.
Her hind legs battered at his frustrated face, and he cried out in anger. "Would you cut it out, Rabbitpaw?" He spat. "You're not only embarrassing me, but yourself, too!" Rabbitpaw suddenly darted out of Gorsepaw's grip, and dashed to the clearing, embarrassed. Gorsepaw rolled his eyes as if he had better things to do than collect rebellious apprentices when they fan away.
Rabbitpaw then padded to the middle of the clearing, all cats staring at her as if she had leaves growing out of her head. Her ears twitched in awkwardness. Then, she looked up at Twigpaw. Her eyes were swimming with curiosity.
Twigpaw ignored her sister, and went on with the prophecy. "And I heard these words in my dream," she said. Rabbitpaw's eyes were fixed on her. "When the sky gets brighter, hope will shine brighter."
At once, remarks rippled around the clearing like fish in the river. "This is just more medicine cat nonsense!" One cats scoffed.
"But how do you know?!"
"It makes no sense, that's how I know!"
Twigpaw didn't wait for another moment. "It isn't nonsense!" Her voice tried to make itself powerful, and the cats looked back up at her, skeptically. "I am trying to warn you!" She cried. "My sister and a kit will die, and clearly, none of you care!"
At once, all eyes were on Rabbitpaw. She sent a helpless glance at her sister, annoyed. Twigpaw just shook her head. Rabbitpaw couldn't care less about her sister's dream. Now the truth was clear as the pond. Her sister only cared for herself.
"How are you so sure?" The deputy, Minnowfrost asked. He seemed unsure.
"I just know!"
"So what will happen?" A warrior called Applebreeze asked.
"I don't know...I think it has something to do with Leaf Bare, and sickness. One of our kits will die." She chose her words carefully, not wanting to promise her Clan false events.
Cats exchange anxious and skeptical glances, not sure if the young apprentice was lying or not. Little did they know how regretful they would soon be for not believing her.
Mintpaw spoke up, her voice defiant. "Liar!" She cried. "Twigpaw is lying to us, because she's jealous of Rabbitpaw! She just wants attention!"
Some cats found this funny, and some agreed with the small apprentice. "Yeah!" A warrior called Tawnystep agreed. "Twigpaw is a liar!"
Hurt bolted like lightning through Twigpaw, and she wanted to scream with all her might. Mintpaw was sitting faithfully besides Rabbitpaw, but Rabbitpaw just sat there awkwardly. Was this really what the Clan thought? That their medicine cat was a liar? A Clan was supposed to trust the word of their medicine cat! This was bad news, and they were scoffing as if the prophecy was a pile of fox-dung. Well they would regret it. Once they suffered and got ill, they would regret their foolishness. Once the cold captured them, they would be so sorry they had mocked her. It was all in the timing.
"Why can't you believe her?" Sagepool spat. "What's your problem?" Her eyes were flaming with fury and anxiety.
Twigpaw shook her head, ready to give in. She had tried. But it didn't work. It was best to just let her Clan believe what they wanted to believe. "Just leave it, Sagepool. It's no use." Without another word, Twigpaw padded down the large rock, ignoring the other cats' stares. They should not be her biggest concern. Let them suffer and die. It wouldn't matter.
Twigpaw beckoned for Rabbitpaw to follow her, and stalked to the medicine den. They needed to talk. As soon as they both sat down, Twigpaw glared at her sister. "You don't care about the prophecy, do you?" She said bitterly. "Honestly, you couldn't care less!"
The spotted she-cat flinched, unused to being confronted. She shook her head and recovered, returning the scowl. As if she could deny Twigpaw's words. "I care," Rabbitpaw meowed smoothly. "I just get tired of all the attention, unlike some." Emphasizing her last word, Rabbitpaw glowered at Twigpaw.
Now, Twigpaw felt a pang of sympathy for her sister. But mixing in with frustration, a bad taste filled her mouth. While she felt bad that her sister was worn out from so much attention and an unlit destiny, she also felt as if she just didn't try. Sometimes Rabbitpaw loitered around her den with nothing to do, until a warrior scolded her about it. This was frustrating, but somewhat unsurprising since she was always chosen to demonstrate fighting techniques and hunting strategies to the other apprentices. Everything was perplexing.
"Look, I'm sorry. I am just sick of your overly large ego, and how dramatic you are," Twigpaw meowed scornfully. She was surprised how smoothly these words slid out of her mouth, and how her sympathy was thrown away without a care. It wasn't surprising, though. Maybe there was one ethic in her mind that had just beat the other with ease. Sometimes there was a thought that didn't feel right...but your heart still followed it.
"I don't have a big ego," Rabbitpaw hissed. "And maybe you care too much about prophecies. Maybe you're a careless sister," Rabbitpaw added. Eyes glaring, her paws stood firmly on the hard earth. Twigpaw felt a pang of pain, as her sister stalked away.
For moons, they had been best friends, with each other to confide their problems in. When the moon hung over the sky but still with power not bright enough to blot out the eerie darkness of the night, they were with each other.
Side by side.
Facing the ways of life.
But now, she was on her own. Maybe Rabbitpaw could choose her own path. Her experiences would improve...once she saw the dark shadow of death darkening her fate. No cat could stop her this time. This time, Rabbitpaw was on her own.
Twigpaw wouldn't give a darn.
Chapter 3 Life Vs. Fate
Rabbitpaw shook her fur as she awoke. Sleep caked around the focus of her mind, making it difficult for her to make out what was happening. Time to find out.
Stepping gingerly outside the den, she had expected for the sun and clouds to greet her with a golden beam, though still surrounded by frost. But her prediction was not valid. The stars and the moon were out, a black sky resting above the sleeping cats. The only difference between that day and the previous day was tiny delicate balls of snow drifting to the ground.
Rabbitpaw went further, enjoying the cool feeling of frost against her warm fur. Somehow...it felt free. No more troubles, no more life stress.
But the conversation with Twigpaw came flooding back to her mind. It was a concern to the both of them, not to mention the Clan. But she chose to ignore that lingering thought.
It didn't matter anymore.
She padded freely out of the security of the apprentice's den, cherishing the cold air. It was a blessing to have even one beautiful moment of freedom. No more annoying younger apprentices, no more troubling prophecies.
The trees stretched far above the horizon, snow blanketing the cold ground. The mountains rested just below the sky, which was fading to a paler purple color. Frost occupied every leaf, and the setting was perfectly gorgeous.
Moments like this were moments to enjoy.
Her paws carried her farther, until she reached the hunting grounds. More trees added to the scene, beginning to rise up to the sky. Now, there were more plants covered in frost to see. She sighed a calm breath, a thrill running up her spine and through her nose. Nothing could possibly disturb this.
Nothing but a pale starry kit.
"Help me, Rabbit!" A voice squeaked. The sound of tiny paws pounding the forest floor made Rabbitpaw halt in alarm. Who had called to her?
"Who's there?" She asked, anxiety creeping into her mind.
"Help! I can't...breathe..." A kit's desperate wail echoed in her ears, and Rabbitpaw frantically turned around to see who this kit was. Was she in trouble?
Rabbitpaw decided that it wasn't important, and she was just hearing things.
At least she hoped.
Flattening her ears, she continued to pad through the forest. "You're just hearing things," Rabbitpaw reminded herself. "That wasn't a real kit..." She let her eyes drift to the left, and a patch of starry fur faded into veiw. Shocked, she turned back.
She had been wrong.
Twigpaw was right.
Rabbitpaw understood...she was not hearing things, and this kit couldn't be real...it could only be one thing. This was a message from StarClan. Wishing that her sightings weren't accurate, she turned back to see the small starry kit gradually fading away.
Now she had realized. No matter how much she wanted the attention and the prophecy out of her life, she could not have her way. Things would happen, and Rabbitpaw didn't have the ability to stop them. StarClan would include her in Twigpaw's prophecy of danger, and there was nothing she could do about it. The darkness and danger was targeting her.
Dazed, she ran bak to camp, beginning to wish that she hadn't come out in the first place. Snow was clinging to her pelt, but the cold was the last thing on her thoughts. Because she couldn't ignore her sister.
The prophecy would happen.
• • •
"For goodness sake, Rabbitpaw! Wake. Up!" This time, it was Mistpaw who was peering over the lumps in her nest. Impatient to start training, he prodded her shoulder. "Get up! Dustybrook is waiting for you in battle training!" He hissed.
Annoyed, Rabbitpaw sat up and shook her fur clean. "Alright, fine," she meowed groggily. But the memory of her early morning walk continued to pop up in her mind, and she moaned. Mistpaw turned to stare at her, and she glowered at him, warning him to leave her alone. It was a mystery when the prophecy would happen, and when it did, she had to be ready. But how? Only Twigpaw had the most information about the sign. And StarClan hadn't warned them about when the prophecy was to come. It could come any day now, and Rabbitpaw would be sucked away into a world with darkness and terror...
"Well, Rabbitpaw, I see you've awaken," Dustybrook commented. "Maybe today will be a better day then yesterday." He offered a smile, and Rabbitpaw just nodded.
"Um sure." She sat down, eyes blurry with sleep. Sleep was the thing she hadn't had enough of, lately. Such a tragedy. Sleep was one of the most important things, in her world, at least. "So...what are we working on today?"
"Today, we are going to practice jumping on each other's backs. This helps cats like us who can climb trees in battle, and gives us more power over the enemy," Dustybrook informed. "Who would like to try?"
"Me!" Shrewpaw mewed enthusiastically.
"Me too!" Mintpaw meowed.
"Very well," Dustybrook said, glancing at Rabbitpaw. She looked away. "Shrewpaw, you climb a tree."
The young cat scurried up a tree, claws working the stiff bark. He had just the right amount of balance. Finally, he had reached a high, but not too high branch. "I'm ready!"
"Mintpaw, you crouch down there," Dustybrook mewed. He directed Mintpaw to a spot just below Shrewpaw's branch.
Well Mintpaw has forgotten about me, Rabbitpaw thought. The young she-cat was no longer chattering to her, or bouncing by her side. And Dustybrook was no longer mooning over her, or admiring her. His interest in her had dwindled away, and he seemed to treat her like every other apprentice. Why? Had she done something wrong? Maybe they had both given up. Maybe Twigpaw was right, and she needed to stop being so lazy and dramatic. But her mind pushed this thought away, not wanting to admit her mistakes.
Mintpaw looked up warily at the tree, and she glanced uneasily at Dustybrook. "Will it hurt?" She fretted.
"Not too much...Shrewpaw, you ready?" The young warrior asked.
"Ready!" Shrewpaw instantly leapt from the high branch, bowling Mintpaw over. With a meow of satisfaction, he flipped her over, and pinned her down. Mintpaw struggled, flattening her ears. She battered at his belly, thrusting her hind legs up, sending him into the air. He yowled as he fell to the ground.
Mintpaw smiled smugly, staring at Shrewpaw. "She-cats rule!"
More snow began to fall from the fluffy clouds, making Rabbitpaw shiver. She shook her pelt, not wanting to remember what had happened on her early morning walk. It was such a scary memory...one that she chose to pay no attention to.
Her gaze drifted to Mistpaw, who was sniffing the air. A mask of dread appeared on his face. Ears flat, he crept forwards. Rabbitpaw prodded him with her paw. "What's wrong?" She asked. He whirled around, eyes fierce.
"I smell a fox," he said, gulping. "The fox is very near..."
There was no time for a reply. Suddenly, a huge orange creature burst through the bushes, lips curled into a snarl. He growled, and Dustybrook and the other apprentices turned around.
Mintpaw shrieked, and slipped backwards. The fox seemed to be deciding which cat to attack, since they were all frozen with panic and shock. His huge black paws suddenly leapt to the air as he jumped for Mistpaw, eyes wild and perilous.
Mistpaw screamed, and tried to flee. But the enormous fox held him down, and ripped at his belly. Rabbitpaw shrieked, and ran to Dustybrook's side, not wanting to be attacked.
Shrewpaw sprang into action, bowling the fox over, despite his small size. Claws unsheathed, he clawed at the big animal's face. The fox yowled in agony, struggling to get free. With a snarl and a yelp, he jumped up, sending Shrewpaw in the air. With a sickening thud, the young cat's head slammed into a tree. If that hit was hard enough, he could be dead!
Mistpaw wailed, and limped as fast as his bloody limbs could carry him back to camp.
Shrewpaw lay, unconscious, under the tree that he had slammed into.
The fox then turned, and Rabbitpaw's eyes widened in fear as he sprang towards her. All she could manage was a scream before he pinned her down. "Help!" She cried. How could this happen? More bad luck? She was clearly no match for this large animal, and it was very probable that she would die. Fear washed over her like a wave as the orange beast rose its paw, ready to slam it down her her throat.
But luck summoned itself as Dustybrook leapt onto the fox, claws unsheathed. By the time the beast turned to look at him, Dustybrook had already managed a blow in his eye. Wailing in pain, the fox jumped on Dustybrook, pinning the young warrior down.
Rabbitpaw watched, frozen to her spot in fear and terror as the fox ripped at Dustybrook's brown body.
But Dustybrook sank his teeth into the fox's shoulder, and blood streamed onto the snowy ground. A loud screech rang in Rabbitpaw's ears as he swiftly cut the fox's ear. He then turned around, ready for any move that the orange beast was planning.
To Rabbitpaw's surprise, the fox decided that he had had enough, and sank his large white teeth into the warrior's neck. With a bark of triumph, he tossed Dustybrook to the ground as if he were a piece of prey. Then, making sure that he had won the fight, the fox bent over, and bit into Dustybrook's neck. He let out a yowl as blood spilled rapidly out of his wounded neck. In seconds flat, the life drained out of his eyes, leaving a grima shadow in his gaze.
Rabbitpaw screamed, and fled the clearing before the fox could spot her. Shock and fear made her heart pound as fast as a rabbit. Dustybrook had died. He had died fighting for her...and she had done nothing. Now it was definite that Twigpaw was right. Rabbitpaw was lazy, careless, and egotistical.
And the young warrior's death was her fault.
This thought was much to bare, and guilt clogged Rabbitpaw's heart. The whole Clan, especially the apprentices would hate her. But maybe...maybe she shouldn't care. Maybe every dam* thing was for no good reason. But still, there was no doubt that her destiny was shattering into a million pieces. StarClan had probably decided that it was time for her to die.
Once she had reached the camp, every cat turned to her, eyes fearful. The apprentices had probably warned them once they had all fled. Not to mention that her fur was standing in end, tail bushed up like an angry bullfrog.
At once, cats started crowding around her, demanding to know what had happened. Questions started pouring from every direction.
"What attacked you?"
"Are the apprentices going to be okay?"
Rabbitpaw whipped around, not knowing why to say. With a desperate attempt to escape the crowd, she said: "Dustybrook was killed by the fox!" Dashing away, she searched for a place to go. Well she certainly couldn't go to the leaders den, or the warriors den. Or Twigpaw's den...that was an option, but she didn't want to talk to her sister anymore, after what had happened the previous evening. It was a surprise that she didn't even want to tell her sister about her 'vision' from the early morning.
Part of her wanted to confide in Twigpaw her troubles, but part of her wanted to forget about everything. Twigpaw was obsessed with the prophecy...but Rabbitpaw didn't know if she, herself, cared. The memory was so perplexing.
That left her den. Trying to hide from the eyes of her Clan, she fled to the apprentices den. Curling up in her battered nest, she let the tears that she had been hiding flow. Dustybrook had died because of her foolishness. Her sister probably hate her. The apprentices no longer looked up to her.
But there was no doubt that she deserved this punishment.
Tears were streaming endlessly down her cheeks, sadness turning to anger. Maybe even fury. Maybe it just wasn't fair that all the suffering had to happen to her. She deserved the punishment, but she hated it. Wishing that she could just disappear, Rabbitpaw continued to sob.
After a while, a paw prodded her. She looked up, and saw Sagepool and Wingstar. Sagepool looked concerned, but Wingstar was the opposite. Anger flashed in her eyes. "Get up, Rabbitpaw!" She hissed.
Rabbitpaw stood up, knowing that she was in trouble. "Y-yes?" She squeaked. Trembling, she met the scornful gaze of her leader. Fear filled her heart.
"Dustybrook was killed by the foxes. Is that true?" Wingstar asked.
Rabbitpaw nodded grimly. "Well tell me what happened!" The leader said sternly.
Rabbitpaw sighed, and began to speak. "Well...we were practicing battle. T-then, a f-fox came out, and Mistpaw got attacked. But Shrewpaw saved h-him, and the other apprentices w-went back to camp. T-then, the fox attacked me, but D-Dustybrook saved m-me. I stood there, and the fox k-killed h-him." Her eyes closed tight as she finished the story.
Wingstar's reaction was exactly what she had imagined. Fury lashed out with every word that came out of her mouth. "You just stood there?" She almost screamed. "How could you! You just let him die! I understand you now, Rabbitpaw. You're not the cat I thought you were!"
Sagepool stared at her, a blank expression on her face. "The apprentices...they are wounded...you are not. You spent all this time caring for yourself." With that, Sagepool turned on her heal, leaving Rabbitpaw stranded. She shook her head, and started to cry again. Everyone eed her, and she was suffering.
After a while, some more quiet paw steps sounded in the den. Looking up, she saw her sister. "Hey," Twigpaw mewed softly. "Are you okay?"
Confusion and aggression filled Rabbitpaw's heart towards her sister. She was probably just here to brag to Rabbitpaw about being right when she called her lazy. But no...she wouldn't take it.
"Just go away, Twigpaw," she said coldly. "You just want to talk about how right you were when you said i was lazy!" Storming out of the den, Rabbitpaw headed for the forest.
She heard Twigpaw's voice behind her shoulder. "Rabbitpaw! Wait! I wasn't going to..."
Rabbitpaw ignored her sister. It was best to just hide away in the forest without any to bother her.
She might as well be all alone.
Chapter 4 A Deadly Surprise...
A while later, Twigpaw sat in the medicine den, sorting herbs, but still thinking about Rabbitpaw. She had not yet decided if worrying about the tufted-eared she-cat was even worth her time. After all, it had been her choice to run away into the woods like she had. And...maybe it was even her fault that Dustybrook had died. Guilt fell upon Twigpaw as soon as she thought of this, and she instantly despised herself. Was it fair to blame her sister for the young warriors death?
Pretty soon, Hollystone came in, coughing. His eyes were glazed, and a sick feeling thudded in Twigpaw's stomach. Was the prophecy's doom already starting? Fear panged in her belly. It probably was...or else she was being paranoid, which was actually quite common for her. But she had a feeling in her gut the suffering had already just begun. "Do you have a stomach ache? Sneezing?" Twigpaw asked, thinking of how to treat Hollystone.
He coughed. "I can't stop coughing...I have chills," he rasped.
"Lean down," she meowed. He bent over, and she put her nose to his head. Sure enough, a warmth was spread on his forehead. He definitely had a fever. Now, she knew that this was green cough. But how could she treat it?! Without catmint, the cats would get sicker and sicker. There was no doubt about it. They were doomed.
Twigpaw gathered all the herbs that would keep him well temporarily until she could find some better medicine to heal the black warrior. From the herb storage shelves, she collected borage to bring down the fever, honey for the sore throat, and tansy to help with the cough. She quickly covered a leaf in honey, and fed it to Hollystone. Creating a nest for him to stay in, she ordered him to consume the tansy, and borage. Hopefully these herbs would keep him well...for a while.
Sighing, Twigpaw padded outside, wanting to see how cold it was. If the leaf-bare was harsh, then her herbs would not work very well. But leaf-bare lasted long every year, and there was nothing he could do about it. All she could do was see how cold it was at that moment. Maybe the worst of the cold would pass quickly. Although, it was very unlikely.
But what Twigpaw saw made her furrow her brow in confusion. Ahead in the distance lay a funnel shaped dark gray cloud, an object she had never seen. More weariness and worry stacked on her shoulders. Another sign from StarClan was more trouble. She padded back into the den, feeling tenseness in the air. This time, Mistpaw padded into the den, coughing and wheezing.
Gulping, she fed him the herbs that she had fed Hollystone. The sickness was already spreading. But how?! It had not been very long. Maybe the cold was already beginning to affect the weaker cats. But all she could do to stop it was hope for the best, since the illness would surely spread faster than she could cure it.
Her paws felt heavy as she carried herself to Wingstar's den. The leader ought to consider warning her Clan again, because this time, trouble would not be a false promise. Wingstar would likely refuse, since the Clan had been so stubborn the previous time. But maybe it was still worth a try.
Twigpaw cleared her throat, and faced her leader. "I've seen another sign from StarClan," she gulped, waiting for the old she-cat's reaction.
"Who are you?" Wingstar asked. "Is it Twigpaw?"
"Yes," she replied briskly. "But I've found another sign from StarClan." A feeling of dread filled her. Was Wingstar's eyesight going bad? Hopefully this wasn't a sign of aging. The leader would not be able to survive the worst of the prophecy with her old age.
Confusion and a trace of annoyance appeared on her eyes. "How can you be sure?"
"I saw a dark funnel shaped cloud in the distance," she meowed, hoping that her leader would worry. For some reason, it would bring her reassurance that her Clan would be alert for any moment of darkness, which was obviously soon to come. But if Wingstar didn't worry, then the news was nothing to her warriors.
To her surprise, the cream colored she-cat's eyes widened in surprise, fear appearing in her expression. She shook her head. "It can't be," she murmured.
"What can't be?"
"Not a..." Wingstar padded out of the den, seeing the cloud. But turning back to Twigpaw, puzzlement lit her gaze. "I don't see anything."
Twigpaw looked back, almost certain that she had seen a black smoky cloud in the distance. But she pushed the thought away. If Wingstar didn't see it, then it wasn't there. Or maybe it was...
"Well, okay...but I'm going to watch out, just in case," Twigpaw nodded.
Wingstar sniffed, and trudged back to her den leaving Twigpaw staring at the sky in curiosity. But she shook her head. "If I don't treat the sick cats, they'll get worse," she reminded herself. Padding back to the den, she gathered some more herbs.
She carefully prepared the honey, tansy, and borage for Mistpaw. At once, he swallowed the herbs with one lick. The pitiful glazed expression in his eyes was sad. One prophecy was already affecting so many cats. If she couldn't treat them, they would eventually die.
Unfortunately, rain began to fall. Heavy raindrops lslipped through the narrow cracks of the medicine den roof. Annoyed, Twigpaw moved Hollystone and Mistpaw over. But something caught Twigpaw's attention. The raindrops were larger than usual. They were perfect orbs of water dripping onto the ground, but bigger. Now, the signs were combining into one big stack of dread. What was planned for the future?
A gust of wind blew onto her face, making her shiver. The cold dominated the air, more than it was supposed to. It was either the typical thunderstorm, or a bad clue from StarClan. Maybe it was best to focus on other things. Gulping, Twigpaw returned to helping Hollystone and Mistpaw. "Do you need me to move your nest over?" She asked.
"Yes that would be nice. It's so cold," Mistpaw rasped. His chance of survival was thinner than his voice, and his voice was pretty slim from his illness. Twigpaw gently moved his nest over to the back of the den, where the remaining bits of warmth were stored. She scooted Hollystone next to him, and they fell asleep, chest rising and falling with each shallow breath.
More wind dashed across the room, disturbing the sick cats' sleep. But the wind was heavier this time, and it sent Twigpaw stumbling across the room. She coughed as a nonstop gust of wind swirled around the den. Running outside, she saw the other cats crouching under the crazy wind, eyes wide in fear.
"What's happening?" One cat called out.
"The wind is too much!" Another cat screamed, getting blown across the clearing. Fear welled in Twigpaw's mind, and she ran to the middle of the clearing. This was no average storm, with the heavy wind and large raindrops.
"What's going on?" She cried.
At that moment, Wingstar stepped out of her den, to be sent flying across the clearing with one slash of wind. Her eyes went big. "It's a tornado!" She yowled. "What do we do?" Gorsepaw cried.
"We hide," one warrior cried.
"Think of the kits!" Furzedawn mewed in terror. "We can't let them die!"
Minnowfrost stepped forwards, fur blowing in the wind. "Hide the kits under a tree, and queens with them! Warriors, guard the apprentices! And somebody go protect Wingstar!" He yowled.
Twigpaw screamed, wishing that everything in front of her was all a dream. For once, she wished that she had thought like Rabbitpaw. To make everything just go away.
The river of stress was flowing now, covering all of her other emotions for once. But then she thought, Rabbitpaw!! Her sister was nowhere in sight, and probably lost. Helpless. Scared. Oh, how had she been so foolish? Couldn't she remember what was important?? Questions stormed in Twigpaw's mind, paranoia flooding her thoughts. This was the day that Rabbitpaw would fall to her death. It was her fault.
But as she was about the search the forest for Rabbitpaw, strong jaws gripped her soaked, trembling scruff. Twigpaw looked up to meet the nervous gaze of Hollystone.
"What are you doing?" She hissed, not remembering Minnowfrost's previous words.
"I'm saving your life, brat," Hollystone hissed, his voice softened by the wind.
Weary, Twigpaw shut her mouth. She ought to be grateful that at least she herself was being rescued.
"Quick! Inside of this den I gathered," Weedwhisker cried. His desperate voice brought her attention to the last chance of safety in front of her.
She leapt from Hollystone's grip, and scrambled inside of the makeshift fort. He followed her into the den, where the scents of fear mixed with the sharp smell of rain. It was a lot to take in. Twigpaw looked down at her shoulder, realizing that blood was seeping out of it. A scar was beginning to form, and pain washed her body like the threatening rain that was firing at her.She yowled as another warrior knocked her down, scrambling into the den, which was beginning to fall apart. Desperately, she looked around to make sure that every cat was in the den. Well, every cat except for Rabbitpaw. Tears slowly filled her eyes, then formed a river on her face. Fear unfolded in her heart. Would she ever see her sister again?
Sick cats were ushered into the den, and Twigpaw winced as one cat vomited. She gagged, then swallowed, struggling to keep her head straight. No time for nausea. A stick flew into the den, debris circling through the air like a falcon. The wind quickened its pace, and kits mewed in terror. Wingstar was the last to enter the den, which was now too crowded for fidgeting.
"When can we get out of this place?" Mintpaw asked, her voice tight.
Wingstar's eyes were grim. "We may never know...if we live to know."
"What do you mean?" Furzedawn demanded.
There was no time to answer that question. A huge storm of debris and wind hurled itself at the cats, smashing the den with a loud crash.
Twigpaw's senses finally came together. She ran like the wind, desperate the escape this monster of wind. Tears and water blurred her vision, and the world seemed to spin below her feet.
But with a gasp of surprise, she was swept up into the air. A scream ripped her throat. "Help!" she wailed. There was no way to see what was happening. At once, her surroundings changed. Trees swayed in the corner of her vision, and a stormy sky reigned above her.
With a horrible taste in her mouth and a thud of her head, everything went black.
Chapter 5 Clueless
Rabbitpaw's eyes flickered open. A small kit sat in front of her, eyes gleaming with joy. Her furry tail was wrapped neatly around her paws like a dusty fern resting on the ground. The scent of milk and fur warmed her fur. At once, she knew where she was, and who the kit was.
"Twigpaw!" She cried, all her worries seeming as if they had disappeared within a heartbeat. She threw her tender body at the kit, nuzzling her with pride. The kit stared down at her, taller than her, but with less kit fat. Rabbitpaw noticed a sweet scent from Twigpaw, but strangely, not Twigpaw's scent. It was sweeter and more foreign. This was strange. Drawing herself away from the warm body of the kit, Rabbitpaw screamed to see the bloody red eyes of the cat. The sweet scent drifted off into a musty decaying odor. Rabbitpaw's stomach grew tight, and a scream hung at the top of her throat. The kit stood up, to reveal that her belly fur was not only tangled, but scarred. "Sisters forever?" The small kit asked, her voice sickeningly innocent.
"You're not my sister!" Rabbitpaw wailed, sruggling not to roll around on the ground, crying in fright. This kit was a horror to look at, let alone hear.
"But you promised, Rabbit Fern!"
Rabbitpaw woke up with a start, nausea pulling at her stomach. She leaned forwards, arching her back, and vomited. The white snow was heavier, but less white. Her ears tingled from being ice coated, and she limped forward. But as soon as she took a step, her leg crumpled under her weight. Wincing in pain, she moved again. Dizziness blurred her vision. Standing up again, she gave up and sat down. The pain in her back leg was too great for her to move.
Opening her eyes wider, she realized where she was. Well, not where she was, but the current setting. Heavy black clouds hung above her head, and panic rose in her chest. Where was her Clan? Where was Twigpaw? Rabbitpaw's heart began to pound harder with the force of a badger slamming at her heart. Tears of fear welled up in her eyes. This time, there was no where to run. This time, she could not make everything go away.
Get it together, Rabbitpaw. Just think. What would Dustybrook tell you to do? An image of the dead warrior formed in her mind, but she could only find herself missing him. That's strange, Rabbitpaw thought. Am I...missing Dustybrook?! She hd never found herself liking Dustybrook very much. But now she felt a distinct liking for him. He's dead, Rabbitpaw. He's gone. You'll never see him again in your life. Maybe if she became leader one day he would provide one of her nine lives. But she doubted that, skeptical that she would ever find her home again.
Then, the nightmare, or daymare, should she call it, came flooding back into her mind uncontrollably. The kit gave her a sick and weak feeling in her belly. And the words rang into her mind, over and over again. Sisters forever? Sisters forever? She wanted to forget that she had ever heard the phrase. Now she was traumatized. She was no medicine cat, but the sensation that the dream may mean something filled her senses. Could it have something to do with Twigpaw?
Cold snow and icy wind yanked at her fur, and Rabbitpaw realized that within moments, she could get frostbite and freeze to death. Despite the horror of the thought, Rabbitpaw did not panic. It was bound to happen, either way. And strangely, Rabbitpaw did not mind her own death all that much. There was really nothing left to live for. Only her sister, but their last fight had pretty much sealed their fate. The bitterness leftover from all of her experience was filling her heart with gloom.
Miles away was likely a cozy place to sleep and eat, and a land full of thriving prey. If only her feet could carry her that far, she could make it there and save her own life. The apprentices will miss me...right? Her eyes darted in all directions, starving for another direction to go in. However, her options were as random as the appearance of the spinning storm.
Her thoughts drifted back to her previous behavior, the way she had freaked out in moments of danger. The logical, fair part of her said that she was a bratty wimp, while the cowardly part of her said, "It's better to be safe than sorry." While that was true, an apprentice's life had been risked. Had it really been Rabbitpaw's job to save her life?
Was that my purpose? One cat's purpose was never an important subject to Rabbitpaw. She had assumed that everyone was born for no reason in particular. They were born as a result of the world's development. But was there a real destiny for every cat, and Rabbitpaw had doubted the reasons of their existence?
With all of the different souls in the world, Rabbitpaw doubted that the world still needed saving and that each cat had a certain duty that they had to follow. But maybe she was wrong about everytHing that she knew - or thought she knew.
Chapter 6 Lost
"I'm awake!" Twigpaw jerked up, panting heavily. The world around her was spinning. Spinning, spinning, twirling. It was all too confusing for her to take in, and she wondered where she was. For a moment she thought maybe that she was in the woods playing games with her sister, but there was no sight of the spotted she - cat. However, she caught sight of several cats scanning their surroundings fearfully.
"Where are we?" One cat murmured. There was no answer from any other cat, only the occasional groan. An eerie silence hung through the air as the cats contemplated the reasons that they were lost in an unknown forest. All of a sudden, a flashback appeared in Twigpaw's mind. In her head, the sight of violent raindrops appeared. The scent of blood and sickness also filled her mind as the memories of flying debris hit her like a sharp thorn. The storm, she thought automatically. Before she could confirm her memories, another cat shouted, "The storm!"
Suddenly, every cat was up and about, caterwauling with fear or pacing back and forth. One anxious queen cried for her kits while a warrior stared in horror at a gash on his shoulder. Meanwhile, the sick cats that had rested in Twigpaw's den coughed or sat limply on the ground, wondering what to do. This sudden event was certainly shocking. Twigpaw began pacing, her thoughts wild and reckless in her mind as she examined the setting around her. Am I still in camp? No, I can't be...what if I'm lost? Well then again, we're all lost. Some cats have to have either gotten lost or died, though. StarClan help me!
The trees surrounding her did not look all that different than the trees at her Clan camp. They were regular, with branches and leaves and an occasional squirrel. Still, the scents were foreign. As a kit, she had enjoyed exploring, and by the time she was four moons old, she had figured out her way around the whole forest. So if Twigpaw did not recognize this forest, then she had to be far away from camp.
It seemed as though if she hadn't been summoned to this unfamiliar place by a mysterious storm, she would have enjoyed herself. Yet this surely wasn't the case. Could this be a dream? Only one way to find out. Twigpaw unsheathed one claw and drew it sharply a forepaw. Pain seared through her, and she immediately pressed the paw to her chest. Bad idea, she thought. That proved it, this wasn't a dream. If so, then how would she get home? But a deeper worry embedded itself into her mind. What was to become of Rabbitpaw?
Maybe her sister was in the same forest as her, yet hidden among trees and ponds. Twigpaw paced through the trees, taking a quick glance around as if her sister could possibly be there. There was no sign of her. Panic welled in her chest, and Twigpaw groaned, sitting by a tree to gather her thoughts, which were currently tangled in knots of fear and uncertainty. She then realized how foolish she'd been, taking her "old" life for granted. Her old life, where she'd had a warm home and plenty of herbs to sort, seemed suddenly so far away. And something inside of her told her that she would never see it again.
She remembered the first day of her apprentice ceremony. One of the most important ceremonies in her lifetime. She could remember the soft glint of the moon on her fur, defining her vivid excitement. Her choice in becoming a medicine cat was solid and passionate, and she knew from the bottom of her heart that she's made the correct decision.