"StarClan, what happened to you?"
"I tried to escape."
"I was trapped... and desperate."
Stormshine had her sister's kits to think about. But Gorsethorn was there, and eventually, he was going to leave. Nightkit and Fallowkit were tying her deeply to WaveClan, and sometimes, she felt a need to run away. Gorsethorn was offering her a way out... and Stormshine was desperate enough to believe him.
The scream came from the nursery. Cats had been gathered around the thorn bush, and now, they all recoiled in fear.
A ginger she-cat poked her head out, and mewed, “Alright, everyone, stay back! We don’t have a lot of time!”
With that, she darted into a small den, and then back into the nursery, with leaves flowing out of her mouth.
The screams were becoming almost unbearable, and now, there were shudders. Kits pressed against their mothers, as the screams carried on.
One she-cat stood so close to the nursery, it seemed as though she would fall inside it. She was muttering quietly to herself, and trying to make sense of this.
Suddenly, the screaming stopped. Cats stood alert, as the ginger she-cat stepped out again. But this time, she was fazed in sorrow.
“Stormshine, come in. Quickly.”
The she-cat pulled herself away from the nursery walls, her heart beating quickly.
Mistshade’s all right. She has to be fine! …Right?
The ginger she-cat gestured to the pale gray queen.
“I’m sorry, Stormshine.” The ginger she-cat mewed, “But Mistshade’s not going to make it. She’s far too weak.”
Stormshine whirled on the small she-cat, “Not going to make it? What in the name of StarClan are you talking about?”
The ginger she-cat nodded, “It was a rough kitting. You heard her screams. Mistshade… she’s dying as we speak.”
“What kind of a medicine cat are you, Goldenleaf?” Stormshine spat, “If you can’t save her…”
Goldenleaf sighed, “It’s astounding that she’s alive right now. You best speak to her. Mistshade won’t be alive at sunrise.”
With that, the medicine cat exited the den, and Stormshine threw herself beside her weakened sister.
Mistshade coughed, her eyes bleak, “Stormshine…” She murmured.
“Yes?” Stormshine cried, tears caking her face.
Mistshade’s voice was fading, but she still whispered, “Nightkit… and Fallowkit…”
Stormshine looked down at the two kits, and nodded, “What about them?”
“Take care… of my kits…” Mistshade muttered, “For me… please… Stormshine.”
Stormshine nudged her sister, “Of course I will. I’d do anything for you.”
“Promise?” She murmured weakly, her blue eyes fading.
“Promise.” Stormshine echoed.
Mistshade smiled, “Good. Stormshine… goodbye…”
And then, the nursery went silent.
Wind brushes through my fur. I stand in silence, hoping for a moment, that the wind can make me disappear. I’m not supposed to be here. In fact, I shouldn’t even be out of camp.
Nightkit and Fallowkit need me. There’s no question about it. Even if Finchbreeze is the one nursing them, they treat me like their mother.
Mistshade’s not coming back… so I suppose I do take her place. But this new relationship I have with the kits has trapped me inside WaveClan. Always asking about one thing or another. Never any peace and quiet.
I can't even leave the nursery, without being hounded by pitful mews.
As much as I love my sister's kits... they're a burden.
A burden that cannot be lifted.
I make my way back to camp, though nervous. I'm always being scolded for leaving, due to Nightkit and Fallowkit's fragile mental states.
As I brush into the clearing, one cat catches my eye. Gorsethorn's emerald gaze is trained on me.
Luckily, he just nods, allowing me to continue. He's a good cat, to cover for me. Most cats will tell me off, or confront someone. Today, I am lucky.
Or as lucky as I can be, before Foxwhisker trots over, "Stormshine! There you are! You know you can't leave camp all the time, right? Fallowkit had a meltdown."
"Not again..." I murmur, "What this time?"
Foxwhisker sighs, "She was convinced you had died, or something equally as ridiculous. Anyway, go check up on her."
I nod to the ginger deputy, and then walked into the nursery. Sure enough, Fallowkit is wailing.
Finchbreeze looks pained, and quickly, I mew, "Fallowkit? What's wrong?"
Fallowkit's head whips around, "S-S-Stormshine!" Her wailing ceases, and she runs over, colliding with me, "Stormshine! I thought you... you..." Fallowkit buries her face in my fur.
Relief washes over Finchbreeze's face.
"Fallowkit, it's alright. I'm here. And I promise, I will always be with you." I try to soothe her, and soon, her heart-rate returns to normal.
"But where did you go?" She mews, "I thought... you left us."
I lick my foster daughter's cheek, "You're going to be okay. Just because I'm not right in front of you, doesn't mean I'm not around."
Fallowkit sniffles, then nods, "Okay."
Eventually, Fallowkit calms down, and goes back to sleep. Next to her is Nightkit, her outgoing brother. He certainly doesn't look it now, but he's real bundle of energy.
While he sleeps though, Nightkit looks just as tiny as the day he was born.
With my kits asleep, I exit the nurserly quietly. Gorsethorn is settled by the fresh-kill pile, and I drop down beside him.
"You alright?" He mews gently.
I shake my head, "Fallowkit's struggling. She never knew Mistshade, and Toadspot doesn't give mouse-dung about them."
Gorsethorn nuzzles my face, "It's okay. She has you. You're there for her. They'll grow in time."
I let out a small hiss, "But they're not. I've been looking after them for a moon, and they're still shrinking violets."
"Hmm..." Gorsethorn puzzles, "Do you feel like they weigh you down? Like you could be so free, but they're dragging you to drowning?"
I shudder, "Your creepy metaphors aren't helping. They don't weigh me down... I just wish I could leave the camp for ten minutes."
"They're pulling you down. Tugging on your freedom." Gorsethorn mews, "I've seen it before, and I'll see it again."
I mew to him, "You've seen a lot of things, Gorsethorn. I just want to protect them."
"True." He muses, "I've seen more than most of your warriors could ever dream of. But you are blessed with your kin, where as I am not."
I nod, "Well, yeah. But Fallowkit and Nightkit are my only kin. They're everything to me."
Gorsethorn takes a bite of his mouse, "I understand that. I simply wonder why you're so devoted, when it's obvious they keep you away from your true potential."
I sigh to myself, "Well... I kind of promised Mistshade. I promised I'd look after them. It was her last wish, you know."
"I did not." Gorsethorn says, "But if it was, then I concede. The kits are very important to you."
I've never told anyone this before. WaveClan knows how much I care about my sister's kits, but Gorsethorn's the first to know. I suppose he seems like the right cat to tell. He's there, always. And he cares.
Something I was never really that good at.
Suddenly, Foxwhisker appears, her ginger tail lashing, "Hey, Gorsethorn. If you have time to gossip with Stormshine, you have time to join Hazelstripe's hunting patrol."
Gorsethorn nods to me, and scampers off, to join Hazelstripe and Rowanberry.
It's then, when I realize he's right. The kits do weigh me down. Pulling, dragging, tugging, there's just no end to it. If I had been any other cat, I would have been put on that hunting patrol too.
I feel useless. Gorsethorn might not be a true Clan cat, but he certainly knows what he's doing.
I want to run after them. To hunt again, to be free in the forest.
And then, I hear Nightkit mewling for me.
Mistshade... I know you love them... But why do I have to always be with them?
Night crawls into the Clan, and I lie awake in the nursery. The camp is in complete silence, excluding the slow breathing.
Typically, the silence is beautiful. But tonight, it is haunting, and keeping me from the sleep I need.
Finally, I stand up, and creep out the nursery. Nightkit stirs in his sleep, but doesn't wake. Thank StarClan, or I'd be awake forever.
The Warrior's Den is full of sleeping cats, but I know there should be one awake. Sure enough, when Gorsethorn sees me, he moves over, and I plop down in his nest.
"Couldn't sleep either?" He mews gently.
"No." I mumble into the moss, "It's too quiet."
Gorsethorn nods, "I can understand that. When I travel, there are always noises."
My eyes are drooping, "I'm so tired... But I just can't sleep."
Gorsethorn nuzzles my cheek, "Lie here with me."
I yawn, and curl up. But I still can't sleep. Gorsethorn senses this, and does his best to not fall asleep suddenly.
"So," he mews, "Have you been thinking?"
"About what?" I mew.
Gorsethorn tilts his head, "You don't remember? Your kits. They drag you down. Pull you out of sorts. It's no wonder your eyes do not sucumb to sleep."
I sigh, "Yeah, they do. But I love them. I can't abandon them."
"The sweet embrace of dreams does not come easily, my dear." Gorsethorn whispers, "The chains that have befallen you must break, before your spirit rises to the nevermore."
I look at him, "I have no idea what you just said."
He chuckles, "Few do. Not many travel these lands like I."
"How long are you staying, this time?" I mew.
Gorsethorn is the kind of cat that can't stay in one place. He's been to many places, never staying more than a couple moons. It really seems like he's been everywhere. It sounds like it, from the stories, and how he speaks.
He pauses, then says, "Only for another couple moons. I like this Clan, but I can't stay forever."
I sigh, and stick my face into the moss, "I just can't take it. I love my kits... But I can't watch over them forever. Finchbreeze's kits are more mature, and they're half a moon younger."
Gorsethorn licks the top of my head, "They'll grow. But you have to start by letting them be. They can't hold you back forever."
Gorsethorn's right. I don't want him to be right, but he is. I can't let my kits go. They mean too much to me. Plus, Mistshade would never forgive me for leaving them behind.
"Think about it." Gorsethorn mews softly. Then he shuts his eyes, and in minutes, he's asleep.
The moon shines down on me, and I can feel dread beginning to build.
Do I choose my kits, for my sister? Or do I choose Gorsethorn, for my heart?
Morning comes, and I creep out of the Warrior's Den. I've been blessed with the fact that my kits are just waking up. They have no idea I was gone all night.
The sun is up, and Foxwhisker is already sending hunting patrols out. I yawn, preparing myself for another day of sitting around, doing nothing.
And then, there's a voice.
I turn, and there's a black tom staring at me, "Smokewhisp." I greet, "Is something wrong?"
Smokewhisp looks away and mews, "Well... I kinda heard you talking to Gorsethorn last night. I wasn't like spying on you, or anything!" He adds quickly, "I was guarding the camp... and your voices carried."
I blink, "Er... okay. My original question still stands though."
"Right!" Smokewhisp says, his green eyes alight, "Well, I thought that maybe, you could go hunting for a bit... And I'll keep an eye on your kits!"
"You'll watch my kits?" I repeat, "Really?"
He nods, "They won't even know you're gone." Just then, they exit the den, and Smokewhisp starts talking to them.
They're so distracted, that I can easily slip away. Smokewhisp might not have ever been close to me before, but now I feel hopelessly indebted to him.
Gorsethorn's by the camp entrance, when I reach him, "Hey Gorsethorn! Do you want to go hunting?"
He purrs, "So, you've finally broken the strands, the ones that have kept you tethered?"
"Actually, Smokewhisp's watching over them." I admit, "I can't leave them alone."
Gorsethorn nods, "Soon, they will grow. Perhaps this will be good, for their young, fresh minds. Before they are contaminated with the darkness in this cruel world."
I decide to pretend I know what he's saying.
We walk in the forest for a while. Prey appears abundant, and we already have more than enought to go back with.
But Gorsethorn's set on strolling with me. I'm hardly one to say no. The instant I get back to camp, I have to sit with my kits.
We walk slowly, talking about various things. I can't really control the conversation, and soon, I'm just saying whatever comes to mind.
Luckily, Gorsethorn's chuckling, so I let myself relax.
We sit near the ridge, and Gorsethorn points out the light shining through the branches.
"See the beam? How it snakes through the blanket of branches, dappling the abyss with sunlight?" He mews.
I purr, "I don't know what that means, but sure."
Gorsethorn grins, and settles close to me. I can feel his tail resting on mine, and I move to entwine his with my own.
His heart beats faster, and I snuggle closer to him, "You're warm." I whisper.
He purrs, and his head rests above mine, as we watch the sunlight fade into shadows.
After a while, Gorsethorn breaks the silence, "Tell me. You care for your Clan, correct?"
"Of course I do!" I mew, "I'm a loyal WaveClan cat, till the end."
"So, you would never leave it. Not even for someone you loved."
I look away, "I didn't say that. I just... You're leaving?"
"I can't stay forever, Stormshine." He mews. There is hurt in his eyes, and he sounds wounded.
Gulping, I mew, "Gorsethorn, you aren't leaving now... are you?"
He shakes his head, "Not now. But eventually, bellezza."
Gorsethorn purrs, "It's a word I learned, long ago, in a place far from here. It describes you perfectly."
The way he says it, I can't help but gush up inside.
He cares. A travelling cat, that spends his life alone... He cares about me.
Gorsethorn licks my cheek, "I'll stay with you, Stormshine. But only if you'll stay with me."
"Of course." I whisper, my voice catching. Gorsethorn pulls me closer, and everything becomes nothing, and Gorsethorn becomes the universe.
When we finally return to camp, mice swinging between our teeth, my kits are still blissfully unaware that I've been gone. Smokewhisp looks a little tired, but he's staying upright for them.
"I better go relieve him of duty." I mew to Gorsethorn. He mutters something through the mousetails, and I scamper over to the black tom.
"Okay, do you want to try and catch my tail?" He mews, sounding exasperated.
I interupt quickly, "Hey! Why don't you try mine?" I mew, "It's extra fluffy!"
Fallowkit and Nightkit turn around, and soon, they're jumping as high as they can, to reach my slowly lifting tail. Eventually, they give up, looking tired.
I'm wracking my brain, for another game, when Finchbreeze mews, "Why don't all of you go listen to a story?"
Nightkit nods, and soon, he's leading Fallowkit, Featherkit, and Frogkit into the Elder's Den. Smokewhisp lets out a sigh of relief.
"I have no idea how you do this." He mews to me, "They're bundles of energy!"
I chuckle, "Sorry, I kinda dumped them on you."
"Nah, it was my idea." Smokewhisp mews, "I like them."
I smile, and yawn, "Thanks for keeping an eye on them. I haven't felt so alive in a long time."
Smokewhisp purrs, "You were gone for a long time." He narrows one eye, "Like, a really long time."
I blush, and inadvertantly glance at Gorsethorn.
Smokewhisp catches my gaze, "Ah, I get it. Young love is so beautiful."
"I'm older than you!" I snap at him, "By three moons!"
He mews, "Maybe. It's still young love."
"Fair enough." I admit, "Gorsethorn's amazing."
"You better get back to him, then." Smokewhisp mews, "Go on."
I realize he's right, and run down to where he's sitting.
Gorsethorn purrs when he sees me, "Ah, there you are, Stormshine. How do you feel, bellezza?"
"Actually, I feel pretty good." I mew, "No longer pulled down, as you might say."
Gorsethorn blinks in surprise, "You're letting them go?"
I shake my head, "They're distracted. Distracted by other cats. They won't have me forever, and they're beginning to learn."
Gorsethorn purrs, and licks my ears, "I'm very proud, Stormshine."
His green eyes are so gentle, and I stare into them, until Foxwhisker's voice brings me out.
"You two can keep being love-dovey later! I need you on Paleflower's border patrol!"
Gorsethorn jumps backwards, and feeling bashful, we both join the patrol. Paleflower's eyes are sharp, but she doesn't say anything when we arrive.
Instead, the patrol leaves the camp without a complaint.
At the SeaClan border, the patrol splits up to refresh the marks. As I walk by the cliff, I take a look at where we stand.
The ocean waters that surround the three Clans, are vast. Nobody has ever left the island, and lived to tell the tale.
Some Elder's have stories about attempting to swim out to land. They all failed, of course. There's really no way to leave.
But it's not bad. It brings everyone closer together.
And it drives some farther apart.
There's a yowl, and I race towards the sound. Paleflower's eyes are dark, as everyone gathers.
"There's a large SeaClan patrol crossing the border. It's full of strong warriors too."
Silverpaw shudders, "Does this mean... It's a battle patrol?"
"It's possible." Gorsethorn mews, "They've been agressive with the border markings lately."
But that means...
"Great StarClan, the camp!" I cry, and we're all running.
I don't remember how we got there, or how fast we were going, but when we get back, there's a whirlwind of fighting surrounding us.
And above all the claws, teeth, and ruckus, several terrified scream are heard.
I'm pushing towards the nursery, clawing any cat I see, so desperate to get there...
Only to find a SeaClan warrior over a dead body.
Time slows down around me. There's a small brown kit lying dead. Everything spins, as the warrior turns around, a savage gleam in her blue eyes.
I don't know what to do. Finchbreeze has thrown herself over the other three, and is snarling viciously. Then something snaps, and I launch at the she-cat, my claws and teeth ripping into her.
She gasps in pain, as I sink into her flesh. Then, she falls, dead. Her blood is on my paws, and in my mouth. It tastes like salt.
The kit lying next to her body, is small. There is a single slit across the throat. A quick, painless death.
Tears run down my face, and I can feel my heart shattering.
"At least... you're in a better place now." I whisper.
It's then I notice, that Finchbreeze is whimpering too. And poking up beside her, is Fallowkit's curious head.
At first, I feel elated that Fallowkit it alright. Then my heart sinks. That doesn't change the fact, that a SeaClan warrior just murdered an innocent kit. Frogkit is dead, and all I can do is wonder why.
To break Finchbreeze, perhaps? The she-cat who so selflessly protected my kits, as they were her own?
I drag the SeaClan body out side the nursery, to distract myself. The fight is calming down, but there's still a few stragglers.
When they see the body, they stop, and grab it from me, and then make off.
Thank StarClan. Cowards.
Reedstar calls us to attention, and my gaze snaps to him.
But my mind doesn't faze out. If SeaClan is willing to kill an innocent kit... why not the rest of us?
I can't sleep tonight. I'm terrified there will be another attack. SeaClan has been relentless in the past, and they could very well strike while we sleep.
A cowardly attack, but something they would do.
Finchbreeze is holding Featherkit close to her. Deathly tight, almost. I can't blame her. I've got Nightkit and Fallowkit curled together in the furthest corner of the nest.
There might be guards on the camp, but this fear has covered all of us.
I know I'm not alone, when Gorsethorn enters the nursery.
"Can't sleep either?" I mew gently.
He nods, "I know they'll attack again. It's what they would do. To get revenge for the she-cat you murdered."
I shudder, "Don't remind me."
I can still feel her blood on my paws.
"With that life struck down, they will retaliate. They want this island for themselves, and they will stop at nothing to get it. Murder means nothing to them."
I press myself closer to him, "I'm scared."
Gorsethorn holds me tight, "We'll protect each other. I'll always have your back, and you'll have mine."
I purr, and rub my chin on his, "I love you, Gorsethorn."
"I love you too, bellezza."
Morning comes, and I stretch out. I know there's no way I can leave camp today. After that attack, Nightkit and Fallowkit are clinging to me closer than ever.
I don't know what to do, honestly. Today is the first day I have wanted to stay in camp, and haven't tried to get out of it at all.
I guess I'm just afraid, really.
Gorsethorn's standing with me. I know I should be brave, for my kits, and for him, but I don't know how. Frogkit's death has left scars on the Clan, especially on Finchbreeze and Featherkit.
The next little bit, Reedstar practically stalks the SeaClan border, keeping an eye on them. They haven't attacked our camp again, but they ambushed a border patrol.
There's also dead prey, with their scent on it, in our territory.
I know Reedstar's enough, but Lionstar won't listen to us. He's far too prideful to admit his warriors are nothing but a pack of rouges.
Gorsethorn steals me away one early morning. Luckily, Finchbreeze is tactful enough to distract my kits with a game of tag.
When we get into the forest, he turns, and looks at me, "You're suffering." He mews.
Gorsethorn mews, "After the battle. You've changed. I haven't seen you so protective over those kits... since ever. It's hitting you hard."
I look away, "Is it that obvious? I'm worried about them, okay? Finchbreeze is struggling, and she needs someone to lean on."
He nods, "But this... It's like an obsession. It's getting to your head. Stormshine, you need to snap out of it."
"They're my kits!" I yell back, "I can't abandon them!"
He draws back, "That's not what I meant. I mean, you're being overprotective now."
Really? I guess he really knows me better than I know myself.
Gorsethorn mews, "I spent a moon with a queen and her kits once. When there was a dog attack, she became so protective, she would attack me, if I came near them. I don't want you to fall under that delusion."
I shake my head, "Don't be ridiculous. I would never hurt you."
He purrs, "That makes me feel better, bellezza. This world is cruel, to those who try to love. This brings me to my next point."
Gorsethorn nods, "You see... I can't stay in WaveClan forever. You know that. This place is the longest I've ever resided in."
Oh no... He's leaving.
He continues, "I'd like to stay here, but your relationship with SeaClan is getting out of paw. Always fighting, always over things such as prey, and territory. Fool's dreams, as it were."
I hiss, "It's not my fault that they're complete scum!"
"I know, bellezza." Gorsethorn whispers, "But as much as I enjoy Clan life, I have to leave eventually. What I want to ask is... When I leave, will you join me?"
My heart skips a beat, "Join you? Really?"
He nods, "Truth be told, we can't stay. Not forever."
"It's okay. I'll come with you. I'll get my kits and-"
Gorsethorn cuts me off, "No. You can't bring them."
"What? They're my only kin!"
"That's exactly it." Gorsethorn mews, "They might be your kin, but they're not your kits. Do you really owe your sister that much? To watch over her children forever? They are weights, that bring you down."
I gulp. Do they really pull me down?
Gorsethorn nods, like he can hear my thoughts, "My dear bellezza, you'll be drowning, if you don't let go."
I sigh, "Please, just let me think. I need to think about what I'm doing."
"Of course. I won't pretend to understand. I've never had kin to stay with me, and surround me. My only sister left a long time ago." Gorsethorn mews.
"Don't leave without me." I mew.
We head back to camp, but I can feel a war raging inside my head.
Oh Gorsethorn. I love you... But how can I be with you?
The forest is alive with stardust. Everything glimmers in the moonlight, and even the bare trees look pretty in the light.
I don't see anything wrong, until I ram into another cat. A gray she-cat, completely doused in starlight, stands before me.
"Hello, sister." She says softly, "Walk with me."
As we walk through what I believe to be StarClan, Mistshade asks about the kits. It's so innocent, and I can't help but tell her everything.
Mistshade looks so happy, and I feel so bad that she was robbed of her life.
We reach a gentle river, and I mew, "So, why did you call me here? Surely not to just talk about the kits."
Mistshade laughs. I haven't heard her beautiful laugh in so long, and my heart pangs.
"Oh Stormshine, you amuse me so. While I would love to chat about them..." Her face shifts into a serious one, "I have an ulterior motive."
"Huh?" I mew, "Is something wrong?"
Mistshade sighs, "Stormshine, don't you see? The signs are all around you."
Does she mean SeaClan? I knew they were up to no good!
"Don't be naïve, dear sister. Something is going to happen. You made a mistake, and it will haunt you."
I spit out, "I didn't want to kill that warrior! But she had killed Frogkit, and could have murdered Fallowkit and Nightkit!"
Mistshade's blue eyes look weary, "I know. It's not your fault. You didn't know..."
"Cut to the chase, Mistshade."
My sister nods, "You are going to face a task, more difficut than any. A choice will be made, where you will finally prove who you are really loyal to."
I draw back, "I'm a WaveClan cat through and through! I would never join SeaClan! Those scum can fight all they want, but I'll never fight for them!"
Mistshade mews darkly, "That's not what I meant."
Then, everything fades away.
I woke with a start. My breathing was rapid, and I could hardly control myself.
"Stormshine? Is something the matter?"
I gulped air, and I mew to Gorsethorn, "I'm fine. Just... a really weird dream."
"How so?" Gorsethorn whispers gently, "Did something happen?"
I nod, and mew, "Well... I saw my sister."
"Your sister? But she's dead..."
"We all walk with StarClan." I remind him, "She said something, about me having to make a choice. That I'd made a mistake, and it would haunt me."
Gorsethorn purrs, and pulls me closer, "You need sleep. If you're still worried in the morning, just go talk to Goldenleaf. Isn't it the Medicine Cat that gets your 'omens' and 'prophecies'?"
I grin, and then mew, "Okay, I get it." I yawn, "I'll go back to sleep."
The ginger medicine cat poked her head out of her den, "Stormshine. May I help you?"
I felt myself getting nervous. The last time I'd had a proper conversation with Goldenleaf, It had been when my sister died. And I had been telling her she didn't deserve to be a medicine cat.
"Well... How do you know if a dream is an omen?"
Goldenleaf blinks, "I'm sorry, what?"
"Mistshade spoke to me last night."
The medicine cats sighs, "Look, Stormshine? I think you're just freaking out over nothing."
Nothing? That's mouse-dung!
But, I was forced to agree with her, for the sake of my sanity.
"Look, if you're so worked up over this," Goldenleaf mews, "Talk to a friend about it. I know how in touvh you are with Gorsethorn-"
I cut her off, "Already told him. He's the one who said I should talk to you."
Goldenleaf looks annoyed, but then responded, "Well, you have other friends. Tell them."
And that was how I ended up on a hunting patrol with Smokewhisp.
He's already darting off after some prey when I finally catch up with him. I pad behind, sniffing the fresh scent of the pine forest.
Smokewhisp pokes his head out, and then mews, "Stormshine! Sorry, I didn't mean to rush off on you. You wanted to talk to me?"
I nod, "Don't laugh, or brush me off, okay?"
Smokewhisp nods, "Of course."
I sigh, and mew, "Last night, Mistshade visited me in a dream. She told me something was coming. A mistake I'd made would haunt me... and I'd have to prove where my loyalty really is."
Smokewhisp blinks, "What do you mean? You're WaveClan to the bone. Why would you need to prove anything?"
"That's what I said," I mew, "But Mistshade says she doesn't mean loyalty to here or SeaClan... I'm really confused."
Smokewhisp mews, "You shouldn't worry. Mistshade's probably worried about you. I know you would never betray WaveClan."
I purred softly, but my mind was still racing.
How could I ever betray this Clan? Mistshade please... Show me what I need to do!
Gorsethorn is waiting for me when I get back. My eyes light up, as I rush over to him.
"Hey!" I mew happily.
Gorsethorn looks at me suspiciously, 'You seem happy. Did something happen?" His tone is innocent enough, but his eyes are clouded.
"I just talked to Smokewhisp about that dream. We're pretty sure I just misinterpreted the message. That's all." I reply.
Gorsethorn mutters, "Alright. I just don't like you spending time with him. You always act all perky, and chipper after you spend time with him. Is there something I don't know about?"
I glare at him, apalled, "What kind of cat do you take me for? He's just a friend, Gorsethorn. Honestly, if petty jealousy is going to get to you like this, then you need help!"
He sighs, "I'm just afraid to lose you, to someone who won't treat you like the angel you are. I want you to be happy, bellezza and I can't see you happy with someone else."
I rubbed against him, "It'll be alright. I love you, Gorsethorn. I would never leave you for anyone else. I'll never abandon you, no matter what happens between us."
"Promise?" He whispers.
"I swear on the lives of my kits."
This was enough to convinced Gorsethorn, and he pushed himself closer to me, his purring getting louder by the second.
A bit past moon-high, a scuffling sound woke me, and I opened my eyes. As I adjusted to the darkness, three blurry shapes passed through my line of sight.
"Careful, kits. Don't wake Stormshine."
Gorsethorn? What's going on?
Fallowkit let out a squeak, but then went quiet, as she followed her brother and Gorsethorn out of the nursery.
"Gorsethorn? Why do you have my kits?" I murmur sleepily.
I sit up, and the moonlight shining into the camp is enough to let me see Gorsethorn leading my kits out through the dirt-place tunnel.
What in the name of StarClan is going on here?
I snuck of out the nursery, my eyes flitting, waiting for a sign. I had no idea what was going on, and honestly, I'm terrified.
I realize I can't solve this on my own, and look around for an ally. StarClan must be listening, because Smokewhisp is guarding the camp tonight.
"Smokewhisp!" I hiss, "Come here! Quickly!"
His ears flick in response, and I watch as he sneaks behinf Violetdusk, and comes up to me, "Stormshine? What is it?"
I whisper quickly, "Gorsethorn just left camp with my kits. I don't know what's going on, but I'm really freaked out."
"I'll help you." Smokewhisp mews instantly, "Come on!"
The two of us crawl through the undergrowth, until we catch up to Gorsethorn and my kits. He's leading them up the trail towards the training grounds.
What's he doing to my kits?
I force myself to remain calm, as Smokewhisp and I lurk in the shadows, keeping a close watch on what was going on.
Gorsethorn led Fallowkit and Nightkit into the small clearing.
"Are you two ready?" He mews softly, "I won't be able to do this again."
My kits nod eagerly.
"Okay. Stand about a fox-length apart from each other." He whispers, "Face me, but make sure you can still see your litter-mate."
The two scuffled a bit, and then Gorsethorn continued, "Now, I'm going to teach you a move, that you should only use in a time of desperation. Do you understand?"
My kits nod, and I can see Nightkit's eyes flash with determination.
"In this move, you lunge towards your opponent, and rip their throat out with your claws. Alternativly, you can bite it out instead, but this way, you won't have to taste their blood."
Fallowkit shivers, "Gorsethorn, why do we have to learn that?"
Gorsethorn mews gently, "It's only if you have no way out. Don't worry, you'll be fine." He walks up, and mimes the move on Fallowkit, keeping his claws sheathed.
If he had hurt her...
Nightkit nods, "Okay! Let's try this!"
"Claws sheathed." Gorsethorn says, and backs up.
Fallowkit and Nightkit take turns trying the move on the other. Gorsethorn watches, and occasionally calls out tips for them.
"What in the name of StarClan is this?" Smokewhisp mutters, "This is... ridiculous."
I can only nod, fear still lurking in my heart.
My kits... are being trained for murder. Gorsethorn, what have you done?
Eventually, Fallowkit and Nightkit abandon the fighting moves, and start scuffling together. Gorsethorn's eyes flash, and suddenly, he's unsheathing his claws.
He's moving forwards.
His paw is raised.
His eyes are dark.
Smokewhisp is holding his breath.
And I'm leaping out at Gorsethorn.
I push into him, knocking him over, as far away from my kits as he can get.
"What in the name of StarClan is going on here?"
Gorsethorn gets to his paws, and my kits turn to stare at me. Fallowkit shrinks down, while Nightkit just gapes. Angrily, I mew, "I have no idea what you two are doing, but you are both in a lot of trouble! What would Mistshade say, if she could see this? I am very disappointed in you. Go back to camp, now. I'm sure someone will make sure you do."
I look at Smokewhisp as I say this. He blinks his green eyes, and secretly follows my kist back to camp.
As soon as they get out of earshot, I growl at Gorsethorn, "What do you think you were doing? You were trying to kill my kits!"
Gorsethorn's eyes are wide, "No, I didn't! I swear! Please bellezza, open your mind, and extend your heart. Let the essence of life breathe into your soul and-"
"Quit it with the crazy talk! And don't call me bellezza whatever the heck that means!" I hiss, "Tell me the truth!"
Gorsethorn sighs, "Fine. Yes, I took your kits. Yes, I gave them battle training. No, I didn't try to kill them." There is true hurt in his eyes, and I realize he's telling me the truth.
I sit up, "Continue."
"Ever since that battle with SeaClan, you've been on edge. Always nervous, and even more so for your kits. You lash out if they come close to harm. You haven't been so protective over them in ages.
"I want to help you, Stormshine. You are better than life itself. I know that, and you should too. But I can't stay in this clan. WaveClan isn't where I was raised, and I honestly don't know how to live here.
"You don't want to leave, I understand that. But it's only because of your kits. If they could defend themselves, you wouldn't be so worried, would you? You just want them to be safe.
"I thought that if I gave them some training, they could fight if SeaClan attacked again. Or if you insisted they come with us, they'd have some initiative.
"Stormshine, I did this for you. Out of love, out of the goodness in my heart. I just wanted to be with you. If you won't leave without your kits... I'll make sure they can come with us. Please bellezza. Forgive me."
I look away, before mewing, "I get it. You wanted to help. I understand, Gorsethorn. And I believe you."
He purrs, and rubs his face against mine, "Oh, thank goodness. Thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart."
The pain in his eyes washes away. He's so close, so warm.
It's a perfect little love story, despite the tragedy and discord inflicted upon it.
So I know he means it, when Gorsethorn leans over, and whispers, "I love you."
"I love you too, Gorsethorn."
And I mean it when I say it.
When the first morning light touches the camp, I shoot awake. I've only heard the crumpling of a leaf, but it's startled me badly.
I guess I'm a little spooked, after last night.
My kits are still sleeping soundly, and I let out a sigh of relief. Gorsethorn's curled up next to them, as a way of protecting them.
It's a very sweet gesture, to protect my kits above all else. I wasn't sure what I thought last night, when I saw him bringing down his paw, but I know. He just wanted to test their reaction to a sudden attack.
Gorsethorn would never hurt my kits, and I know that for sure now.
Still, I know I'm worrying about them. Truth be told, even if they have some battle skills, they couldn't survive out in the wilderness, with us, let alone a SeaClan invasion.
I know they'll grow up eventually, but until then, someone needs to make sure they stay safe. I can't throw this onto Finchbreeze, or even Smokewhisp.
If anyone is going to look after the kits, it has to be their family. Someone who will be with them no matter what the cost.
A dark ginger shape passes by the nursery, and something sparks inside my mind.
"Hey, wait up! Toadspot!"
The ginger tom turns around, and narrows his eyes at me, "Can I help you, Stormshine?"
I nod, "Toadspot... your kits need you."
He scoffs, "Kits? I have no kits."
"Don't be absurd! Mistshade was your mate. Therefore, her kits, are your kits."
Toadspot rolls his eyes, "Oh, them I thought they were your kits."
What's his problem?
"Toadspot, you're still their father. Please, you have to speak to them." I mew. I feel a little bad for guilting him, but Nightkit and Fallowkit will ask about him.
Toadspot snarls at me, "I'm not their father. They have no father. My kits haven't been born yet." He smirks, and flicks his tail towards Violetdusk, who's sitting a little ways away.
"Violetdusk is expecting. Those will be my kits. Not those mangy brats of yours."
I hiss, "How could Mistshade ever love someone as heartless as you?" Before he can respond, I stalk off angerly.
He really doesn't give a mouse-dung about them. StarClan, I feel so guilty for wanting to give the kits to someone else. Sure, they've matured a bit, but not enough.
How can I stay with Gorsethorn, when my kits need me more than ever?
I found myself walking along the stony path near the river. If you follow the river long enough, there's a way down a cavern, deep in the earth. This is where the Medicine Cats meet at half-moon. Or at least, it's where they should meet.
After recent events, I doubted that any of the Medicine Cats showed up.
When shadows began to pass over the ground, I look up. Sure enough, this is the entrance to the Starstone. It's very dark inside the cave, but it's a straight walk to the Starstone.
I don't know why I'm here, but I suspect it has something to do with my anger at Toadspot.
The Starstone gleams in the darkness, despite the fact it's only about mid-day. I walk up to up carefully, and then press my nose against it.
Everything swirls around me. The world is tugging on my sub-concious, and I let go.
When I open my eyes again, I'm surrounded by StarClan's starry forests. Mistshade is waiting for me.
I purr, "Mistshade. I know this is sudden, but I don't know what to do."
"Ah, your decision." Mistshade mews, "Walk with me, and we shall speak."
We walk together, through the trees and Mistshade mews, "So, what troubles you, dear sister?"
I sigh, "Toadspot. I know he was your mate, but he's become a jerk! He's pretending the two of you were never mates."
Mistshade looks away, "We weren't mates for long. He always promised he'd be there for me... and then I told him I was expecting his kits. He drifted."
"Violetdusk is expecting his kits."
Mistshade shuts her eyes, "I can't blame her. Violetdusk is a good cat."
"You're better!" I protest.
"And if Toadspot can't see that, why should I bother with him?" Mistshade mews. Even though her tone is light, her eyes are heavy, and she looks defeated.
"Still," I mew, "He doesn't want to acknowledge his own kits."
Mistshade shakes her head, "That doesn't matter. Look, I don't want to talk about him. Tell me abut Gorsethorn." She adds, seeing my face fall.
I perk up, "He's perfect, Mistshade. Nightkit and Fallowkit love him."
Mistshade mews, "Really? But last night, didn't he attack them?"
I hiss, "What are you talking about? He wanted to see how they would react to a sudden attack! He was testing them! Gorsethorn's trying to help!"
Mistshade steps back, "I ment no ill feelings. You seemed angry last night. I was just making sure."
"Just because you don't trust him, doesn't mean he's going to hurt me." I shoot at her.
My sister glares at me, "Doesn't mean he won't."
"I know him!" I yell.
Mistshade narrows her eyes, "You know nothing about him! He has no ties to Clan life!"
"That doesn't mean I can't love him!" I screech, "You might not understand love, but I do."
I can tell this wounds Mistshade, as she stumbles backwards, "Is this really what you think of me?" She mews icily, "A scattered fool? Look at yourself, Stormshine. I told you something was coming. Your choice!"
"Why should I listen to you?" I cry, "I've been trapped in the Clan ever since you tossed me your kits! You can't control me anymore!"
With that, I shake the connection, and wake up beside Starstone. Instantly, I regretted every cruel word I'd said to my sister. Guilt hung in my heart, and I kept my head down as I exited the cavern.
What have I done?
The sun was setting when I returned to camp. Standing outside the entrance, was Gorsethorn.
He turns to look at me, "Oh, hello bellezza. What are you doing?"
I tilt my head, "Coming back to camp. What are you doing?"
"Leaving." He mews shortly.
"Leaving?!" I echo, "No, you can't! Gorsethorn..."
He sighs, "I've waited too long for you. You might be my aurinko, but I cannot stay here."
"I'll go with you." I blurt, "Just let me get my kits and-"
"No." Gorsethorn hisses, "I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times. Your kits are a burden. You know it's true."
I shake my head, "That doesn't matter! You were the one who tried to train them."
He mews, "And look how well that turned. Bellezza, I'm going. Come with me now, or stay forever."
A choice. A choice where I will prove where my loyalty is.
My voice cracks, "Gorsethorn, I love you. But I can't leave the kits."
Gorsethorn mutters, "You can't leave Smokewhisp either."
His words catch up off guard, "What?"
"You heard me." Gorsethorn mews, "You love Smokewhisp. You might not know it, but you do. It's in your eyes, bellezza."
I shake my head, "That's ridiculous. My heart belongs with you, Gorsethorn. You're worth the world. More than any other cat could ever give me."
He looks out at the forest, "My offer still stands. Come with me now, and forever, we will travel together."
My heart leaps. For one fleeting moment, I look back at the nursery with hesitation.
Where does my loyalty belong?
"Well?" Gorsethorn mews.
"I'll... I'll go with you. After all, didn't you say that we can't stay?"
The moon rose over the forest, as Gorsethorn and I pad through the forest. I suppose he's just Gorse now, but I can't shake the habit. I couldn't go by Storm.
Gorsethorn is leading, like he's memorized the forest. He probably has, and I let him lead, so I don't have to think about anything but where my paws go.
Eventually, we cross into unclaimed territory, and Gorsethorn points his tail towards a small thicket, "We'll rest here for tonight. Get some rest, bellezza."
I nod, and lie down in the thicket. The ground is soft and mossy, like the nests in the nursery.
No, don't think about that!
I try to shake the feeling of regret in my heart. Nightkit and Fallowkit still need me, and now, I'm gone. Sure Finchbreeze will comfort them, and Smokewhisp will watch over them, but it won't fix the fact that I abandoned them.
And Mistshade... I betrayed her. I betrayed her with all the cruel words I spoke. And now, I've left her kits behind.
What kind of sister am I?
I realize that I regret my choice. I should have stayed, and let Gorsethorn leave. But it's too late now. Too late to go back, too late to run for my kits.
Or... is it?
Suddenly, I stand, and my paws start moving of their own accord.
"I'm sorry, Gorsethorn." I whisper to the whirling wind, and I keep moving. Back to camp, to my kits.
Where I belong. Where my loyalty really lies.
And then, there's a noise behind me.
"Where are you going, Stormshine?"
My heart sped up, and I whip around to face a confused looking Gorsethorn.
He cuts me off, "Where are you going? I told you to stay at the den." He sounds oddly menacing, and I shiver.
I mew, "I'm going back. I'm sorry Gorsethorn, but I can't go with you. My kits need me."
He hisses, "I knew it. I had faith, but now, the ugly truth drips from your mouth like sea water. You are a traitor of my love, bellezza."
"I said I was sorry. Gorsethorn, I love you, but these kits are my only kin. I don't care that they're a burden. I will protect them till the end."
Gorsethorn's eyes narrow, "No."
"What do you mean, no?" I mew.
Gorsethorn smirks, "You're not going back to them. Not now. Not ever. You made your choice."
I hiss, "You can't stop me. If you love me, you'll stay in WaveClan. I'm going to fulfil my promise to Mistshade."
"No you're not."
I only have time to blink, when Gorsethorn lunges at me. He pins me down, and looks at me savagly, "You chose me. If I let you go, you'll fall for Smokewhisp. I can't let that happen."
I struggle, but Gorsethorn's muscular, and I can't quite pull myself out of his grasp, "Let me go!" I shout, though I know it won't help.
He laughs, and I take his moment of distraction, to punt him, and get up. I don't have long, before he lands on top of me.
His voice shakes, when he speaks, "You. Are. Mine."
"Get away from me!" I try to claw him, and he laughs. Then, his claws are searing into my side, and leg. When he stands up, blood is dripping out of the gouges he's made.
Gorsethorn twitches when he speaks, "If I can't have you, bellezza, then nobody can. If you had refused me in camp, I would have dragged you anyway."
He's... a monster... StarClan, why didn't I listen to Mistshade?
His creepy grin breaks me out of thoughts, "You might think I'm evil, but have you looked at yourself? Even after all we've been through, I did my best to love you. You betrayed me."
"When did I ever betray you?!" I hiss, "You're the one trying to murder me!"
He cackles, sounding downright deranged, "That SeaClan warrior. You murdered her in cold blood. What motive did you have?"
"Frogkit." I spit, "She killed him."
Gorsethorn grins, "What kind of a motive is that, bellezza? He wasn't your kit. But you still killed her. You knew nothing about her."
I cry, "Like you knew anything about her either!"
His eyes spin when he laughs, "Ha! You're the blind one, bellezza. She was born at half-moon. She's afraid of water, because her best friend drowned. She loves thrush, and can't stand fish, which is ironic for a SeaClan cat. She can't stand fighting, but does it do prove everything to her father, Lionstar."
I stare at him, speechless, "How do you know that?"
"I know things. But what do you know? You don't even know her name." Gorsethorn mews.
"That doesn't matter!" I mew, "She was SeaClan scum! How would you know her?" My voice falters, "No... you two were... You!"
Gorsethorn laughs insanly, "Don't be inane. Redwing, her name, by the way, was not my lover, as you dare suggest."
My voice catches, "But then... how did you know so much about her?"
His voice is so close to my ear, that I jump when he speaks, "Because, bellezza. Redwing was my sister."
"Your sister?!" I echo in disbelief, "But-"
"I told you." He mews, "She left a long time ago. She left me for SeaClan."
What have I done? Gorsethorn... he's crazy. Possesive. Evil.
Gorsethorn chuckles, as if reading my mind, "But you can't go back. You're far too wounded, bellezza."
How was I so blind? I never would have thought... How did I fall in love with this monster?
Apparently my face betrays my thoughts, because Gorsethorn hisses, "It's over now. You have chosen me. There will be no lingering loyalty to WaveClan."
"You can't change-"
He cuts me off again, "Your only loyalty is to those foolish kits of yours. There will be no more of that."
I hiss, "I'll always be loyal to my kits!"
Gorsethorn laughs, "No. Not after I ammazzare them."
His voice is suddenly in my ear again, and I jump.
"After I kill them, bellezza."
Then he walks off.
I can't follow him, in fact, I can hardly drag myself from where he struck me.
"Gorsethorn!" I shout, relentlessly, "I will find you, and stop you!"
My leg burns, but I so desperatly have to get to camp before him, to save my kits.
My leg sears in pain. My side should hurt more, but I've been dragging my leg the whole time, where as my side gets to rest a bit.
It still hurts, and my constant yowls are making my voice hoarse. Still, I continue limping my way home, hoping that some way, somehow, I'll get there before Gorsethorn does.
Suddenly, the bushes in front of me moved. I drew my claws, ready to fight, only to gape in shock.
"S-Smokewhisp? What in the name of StarClan are you doing out here?"
Smokewhisp leaps forward, and carefully helps me up, "Stormshine?"
"Yes, it's me!"
He looks at me, and winces at the sight of my injuries, "StarClan, what happened to you?"
"I tried to escape." I whisper.
"Why?" Smokewhisp asks.
I sigh, "I was trapped... and desperate."
Smokewhisp shakes his head, "You know what, you can tell us all later. We need to get you to Goldenleaf!" He leans down, and tries to help me up.
I shake my head, "No! My kits!"
Smokewhisp freezes, "What? Your kits?"
I nod fiercely, "Gorsethorn... he did this. He's going to... kill them."
"Kill them!" I shout, "Smokewhisp, I don't have a lot of time. Please... save them. My kits..."
Smokewhisp mews, "But what about you? You'll die!"
"I don't matter!" I cry, "Only my kits matter now. Do this for me, Smokewhisp. Finchbreeze will help you. Please..."
Smokewhisp sighs, "Alright. I get it. I'll save them." Then he whips around, and sprints through the trees, faster than I could ever go.
Everything around me is fading. So cold, so dark.
But it feels okay. To die here... I suppose there are worse ways. Now... I can finally see my sister again.
"It's time to open your eyes, dear sister."
Mistshade's voice rouses me, and I blink open my eyes expecting the starry landscape of the afterlife. Instead, I'm greeted with the dark forest, and a shimmering Mistshade.
"W-what? I thought... Am I dead?" I mew, her bright aura blinding me.
She shakes her head, "Not quite, Stormshine. You're alive for now, but you won't make it much longer without help."
"The kits needed to be saved." I croak, "I betrayed them... and you."
Mistshade nods, "And yet, when you were horribly injured, you sacraficed your own life."
I had to... I had to save them...
Mistshade mews, "I shouldn't be here. I'm not allowed to do this... but you're my sister." Mistshade steps forward, and touches her nose to mine.
Something rushes through my veins. Pure adrenaline, or life itself, pushes inside me, covering my body and mind entirely.
"What the... What did you do?" I mew.
Mistshade smiles softly, "I brought you back. Death cannot contain me. I will always be with you. Go!"
I understand her message, and stand up. Tentitavly, I take a step, and then another. It feels wonderful to walk, without having to hobble along.
The world spins, and I blink a few times, before breaking into a run. Smokewhisp might be protecting the kits, but we're not safe yet.
My heart pounds in anguish as I reach this conclusion, but I know I have to do this. For the good of my kits, for the good of WaveClan, for the good of the entire island.
I'm going to have to kill Gorsethorn.
My leg still aches, but I can move now, and that's what matters at the moment. I've made my way back onto WaveClan territory, by following Smokewhisp's scent.
But there is no sight of Gorsethorn, and my eyes are starting to shut when I walk.
The only thing driving me forward is Mistshade's gift to me.
I have to find him. I will destroy him. For all he has done... it will be a relief.
Suddenly, a green flash catches me off my guard. It should, because as soon as I spot it, there's heavy breath on my ear.
"You fool. Tell me, how are you not bleeding to death, bellezza?"
The sickening stench of Gorsethorn's sweet voice is in the air, and I hiss to disperse it, "There is always hope. Always a way to bring justice."
Gorsethorn growls, "It that your reasoning for sending Smokewhisp to protect your precious kits? Touching."
How does he... Never mind. I don't want to know.
As if reading my mind, Gorsethorn mews, "He attacked me earlier. It doesn't take a genius to put the pieces together."
"Is that why you figured it out then?" I lash, my tail flicking.
"You wound me, bellezza." Gorsethorn whispers, "But that doesn't matter. My wounds will heal. Your blood may be clotted for now... but if it breaks, you die."
I growl, "That doesn't matter. If you die, than we all all be free from the menace you've brought."
Gorsethorn widens his eyes, "Menace? My dear bellezza, I am no menace. Aren't you the one who fell for me? Star-crossed lovers, I'd say."
"We are NOT star-crossed lovers!"
Gorsethorn cackles, "That doesn't matter, my dear bellezza. Just remember: You. Are. Mine."
"I will never be yours." I hiss.
He grins, "But you are." He whispers, "My aurinko, my luna... You can't escape me."
My eyes flash, "I'll kill you."
"Like you would even try. You are so very weak, my bellezza."
I... He's right. I can't beat him. Not alone... I'm sorry...
But while I give up, StarClan has another idea. Mistshade apparates beside me, her blue eyes gleaming. In the darkest moments... this is what gives me courage.
"You might be insane, Gorsethorn," I mew, "but I have StarClan on my side. And I will always have my sister."
He starts to laugh, "StarClan? Those are just comforting tales for weaklings! You amuse me so much, bellezza!"
While he loses it, Mistshade mews softly to me.
Gorsethorn is still laughing as we charge. Still laughing as Mistshade pins him down. Still grinning as I bite his throat, and everything turns scarlet.
Then he falls, the insane grin still etched upon his face.
I suppose I hide his body in a ditch.
I suppose I return to camp.
I suppose Goldenleaf fixes my wounds.
I suppose Smokewhisp brings my kits back.
But I don't know.
All I can see is Gorsethorn's face.
But it feels like he still watches me.
“Fallowpaw! Nightpaw! Featherpaw!”
The Clan cheers for my kits. They’re not really kits anymore… and that’s what makes this ceremony so strange for me. I spent several moons protecting them, and now they’re all grown up.
Fallowpaw and Nightpaw simply nod to me, before chasing after their new mentors.
It’s become so difficult to leave them, ever since that fateful night, three moons ago. I haven’t taken my eyes off Fallowpaw and Nightpaw since they came back… and now they're leaving me to pursue their own paths.
Smokewhisp says it will be okay. But in all honesty, what does he know? I see now that he really does love me... and I hate myself for not picking up on it sooner.
Still, something is preventing me from forgetting this whole ordeal, as much as I'd like to let it go.
I tell myself it will be okay.
I tell myself that this pain is over.
But I still see it.
His dead body.
I like to think that I'm healing. There's nothing that will fully heal my mental scars, even if my physical ones are gone.
Smokewhisp... his affection is so genuine, so free of worry. And I suppose that's what makes me so afraid. I still see flashes of Gorsethorn's gaze in his eyes, and it's more than enough to keep me leary.
He might be dead, but this whole ordeal isn't over. Cats still whisper when I pass them by, and my kits are surrounded by darkness.
I don't feel free, I feel trapped. I should have been paying attention. When I think back, there were signs of this. Signs of his inevitible decent into madness.
For not noticing, I hate myself. It's no wonder he took advantage of me. Who is more vunerable than a blind fool in love?
Smokewhisp keeps me going, but I don't know if I can ever recover. His gentle demenour might be real, but I can still feel Gorsethorn's claws inside me.
I still dream that he comes back, and kills my kits. This whole event has been so traumatic, it seeps into dreams.
I'm trying to be strong, but I can still see what he did. No cat asks what happend to Gorsethorn, but everyone suspects something.
The abuse he put us all though is still looming. When I walk through the forest, I can still see the shadows of what he did.
Nobody knows what really happened to him. I'm too afraid to speak up, and remembering just brings the nightmares forward.
Gorsethorn... it feels like somehow, he changed. He changed so much, it didn't feel like the same cat. But I know he wasn't replaced by someone.
I was just horribly, awfully, decieved.
The sun sets, and I sit on the pointed rock near the ridge. I sat there with Gorsethorn, a long time ago. When he was still gentle, and I thought he was the universe.
"Stormshine? You okay?"
I look down, and spot Smokewhisp's telltale black pelt, "I'm here." I laugh shakily, "But I haven't been okay in a long time."
Smokewhisp jumps up, and settles down beside me, "It's beautiful," he mews, "just watching the sun fall over the water, stringing darkness along, until dawn's first light."
His words are eerily similar to Gorsethorn's, and chills run down my spine.
Seeing my reaction, he mews, "Something my mother said once." I know he's lying, but it comforts me nonetheless.
"I'll make it through this." I whisper quietly.
Smokewhisp brushes against me, "Stormshine... I really do love you. And you know I would never hurt you."
I wonder if Gorsethorn is living through him, because I know he said those words. And they were lies.
"Smokewhisp..." I choke out, "I'm afraid. Afraid to love. I can't get better, not that easily." Words fail him, and I add, "You should just forget about me."
"But I don't want to forget." He whispers.
I don't want to forget you, either.
We sit in silence, watching the light rays fade. Eventually, Smokewhisp mews, "I swear that I will be with you. I know you're afraid... So I'll just make sure you won't run away."
Sighing, I mew, "It's not that I'm going to run. It's not that I don't want to be with you... It's just... I can't forget the past."
"Will you wait for me?" I whisper, "I just..."
He nods softly, "Of course I will. I'll wait for you forever."
I find myself able to purr, "And I promise not to forget you."
As the last stream of sunlight falls, Smokewhisp and I sit close together, as dusk turns to night, and evening becomes starlight.
When I watch the stars, I think I see my sister, smiling down on me. The weight on me is finally lifted.
I still can't move on. I'll always be afraid of my past mistakes.
But Smokewhisp will wait for me.
And I will not forget him.
Because for once...
We can stay.
This story is finished. I honestly can't believe I can write this, as I had so much fun writing this story. I tried to eliminate the typical plot line my stories usually have, and I'm pretty proud of the result.
Gorsethorn was the first legitimately terrifying character that I have worked with. My other villains I've created have usually been petty, or just cliche. Gorsethorn on the other hand, was my first experience with a legitimate psychopath. Some people might think his change was right out of nowhere, but I did hint to his creepy nature. Stormshine mentions spending time with Smokewhisp, and he gets all protective, and tries to shut him out. He spent the whole story manipulating Stormshine, without her noticing, because she was so hopelessly smitten by his charms.
He also really did love Stormshine. But because of his Yandere nature, he expressed it awfully, and basically tried to kill all the cats she loved. As much as he cared for Stormshine, he was not a good cat, and was abusing her, even though Stormshine didn't pick up on it until it was too late. If she hadn't left with him, Gorsethorn would have injured her, and dragged her along anyway.
Smokewhisp on the other hand, now he was weird. I created him strictly for his role in Chapter Eight, when he encounters an injured Stormshine. But he kinda just blossomed into the dorky third point of the love triangle. Smokewhisp does love Stormshine, but he's not the type to murder her family. As much as he cares for her, Smokewhisp understands that he can't ever be with her, because Stormshine's not going to heal.
To clarify, Mistshade died from blood loss during kitting.
I am not planning any sequels to this story. We Can't Stay was set up to end, and I can't continue it. While StormxSmoke is incredibly cute, Stormshine can't heal from the psychological scars that Gorsethorn put upon her. So no matter what happens, she and Smokewhisp will never really be together. Sorry D: I liked them too. Thank you all for reading this, and even more thanks if you actually read my meaningless ramble above.
Can I just say that SmokeXStorm is the best? <3
Ahem. I died reading this story. ~~~~
I give this a 10/10!
Brighty, I blame you for writing this story, and ripping out my heart and stomping on it and pulverizing it and leaving me a sobbing mess. I blame the mayor, Obama, and Congress. Anyway, obviously, I LOVE THIS STORY SO MUCH it's time to try defying g r a v i t y 03:52, August 11, 2015 (UTC)