Episode Five, Season One, of Solitary.
When They Gather
I saw the brown tabby she-cat shake her head, and Raven continued speaking: “There’s a rumor going around that something’s going to happen. Oak is saying that he has seen some cats approaching the forest lands. They might be coming to live around here.”
A swarm of memories was whirling through my head: visions of what had happened since, and even before the Clan cats arrived. Remembering some of these moments made me shudder, but it helped me to better reflect on what had happened over the past moon.
Another memory came to my mind, the day before they arrived:
“They’re coming,” the dark tabby hissed at the black cat in front of him. “They’re coming, Raven. I know that they’ll come tomorrow. You just wait.”
“Are you sure?” Raven replied, his amber gaze nearly singeing Oak’s pelt in intensity. “I haven’t seen them. Is this because you travel beyond the forest-lands, where hardly any cat goes?”
Oak gave a weary nod. “I assure you. They will come tomorrow. All the cats that live in the forest will be threatened.” He paused slightly, and then continued: “Especially Wisp.”
The snarl in Oak’s voice was evident as he said my name, and my blood chilled. This wasn’t going to be good.
And soon after, the Clan cats came, I thought bitterly, almost spitting the words out.
It seemed to me that the Clans had been a part of my life, since they came to the forest. They had come from distant lands, far further away than I had ever gone.
I had also learnt things that should’ve probably stayed hidden.
The two cats stepped out from their respective sides of the border, and two different expressions showed on their faces. The one on the left – the she-cat – had an evident look of fury. On the other hand, the tom on the other side had a face showing relief.
“Gooseflight,” hissed the she-cat. I saw her claws unsheathe in fury as she took the scene in. Her gaze was fixated on the speckled tom in front of her.
“Blossomheart,” echoed Gooseflight, his blue eyes serious, yet was shining.
Blossomheart looked furious. “Get away from me, ForestClan scum,” she hissed. Gooseflight looked ready to protest, but she interrupted him before he could speak. “This is over. I need to stay loyal to TreeClan now. The Journey between the Forests is over.”
Gooseflight looked furious as I backed away, turned tail once more, and fled.
Blossomheart stood there for a moment longer, before she stalked back into her Clan’s territory. Yet, I was hardly paying attention to her. I was haunted with fear…
It wasn’t that scary, now that I think of it, I thought wryly. I’ve been in worse…
“Give up yet, rogue?” Smallstripe hissed furiously. I saw that my blood was splattered on his pelt.
“Never!” I yowled in reply, full of anger and vengeance. I leapt at the small brown tom in a daze, but he was too fast for me. As I approached, he stepped away, and I came crashing to the ground.
“Not as smart as you thought, eh?” Smallstripe teased mockingly, as he leapt at me again. I felt his claws, once again, dig into my flesh. I gritted my teeth to stop myself from yowling.
Smallstripe gave furious yowls every time he pummeled me. More scratches were being forged in my pelt, and more blood was falling onto the ground.
“Ready to give up yet?” Smallstripe asked me again, his amber eyes glinting.
I shivered as I was reminded of that incident, and I looked over at my pelt. The scratches from that battle were still healing. Red clawmarks were scored every so often on my pale silver-gray pelt, and the look of it sickened me.
I turned away. Every cat who had seen me recently had asked me how I’d gotten them. The last cats that had seen them hadn’t treated me kindly:
I tried to run away, but my paws were rooted to the spot. I felt my eyes widen as a black tom padded out from behind an oak tree, his amber eyes glittering.
“Wisp,” the black cat hissed scornfully. His claws unsheathed, and I saw his eyes scan over my wounds – like every single cat had done when they had seen me today. “Have you forgotten how to fight? Some cat has thrashed you in something.” After he had finished, the tom cat bared sharp, pointy white teeth at me.
I padded forward, and attempted to shove the cat out of the way. “Leave me alone, Raven,” I hissed. “I want to ask Oak about something.”
All of a sudden, claws dug into my pelt, and I yowled in pain. I staggered backwards in the shock, and saw Raven, one of his front paws in the air. Blood – my blood – was dripping off his claws onto the ground. I could hazily see a scarlet river of it flowing down my pelt.
“Next time, don’t try to shove past me,” Raven sneered at me. “I’ll go take you to see Oak, but don’t expect him to be merciful with you. Come.”
I gave a jolt of fear after this. Oak and Raven weren’t any ordinary rogues. They were vicious – just plain mean. I wouldn’t ask them for help again.
Needing to clear my head, I made my way down my tree, and walked away into the sunset. I needed to escape from what I had known for the past moon.
Night was falling as I made my way towards the TreeClan side of the forest. Out of the two Clans – even though I hated both of them – I liked TreeClan better. They hadn’t trespassed, or been nasty. On the whole, they were actually quite peaceful.
In a way, I can see why Cinder wants to join them.
A silver full moon rose high in the sky, making dark shadows slip under the trees, and making everything have a bright sheen of moonlight. Uninterested, I slipped between the trees, making my way around the Clans’ territories.
“We’d promised we’d meet ForestClan at the border, provided we have no Gathering place yet. All we can hope is that we can find one.”
I jumped, and spun in the direction the noise had come from. A brown tabby was leading a group of cats through a patch of oak trees, and for the first time, I realized how close I was to the TreeClan border.
She looks familiar, I thought, staring at the cat leading the group. But from where…? “We’d better hope ForestClan doesn’t run riot,” hissed a white she-cat. She looked familiar, as well.
“They’ve been here as long as us!” hissed a third cat, a dark brown-and-gray tom. “They won’t bother to attack!”
The brown tabby shot a fierce gaze at the cats behind her. “They won’t attack us,” she soothed, her amber gaze alight with fury. “We won’t need to worry. The Gathering is a time of peace, remember that.”
A Gathering? The words rang in my ears. What in the name of the spirit-cats is a Gathering?
“We don’t want to be late,” the brown tabby added. “Let’s get a move on.” She flicked her tail, and the cats moved away.
Despite my dislike of other cats, I was curious to find out what a Gathering was. Where was it being held? What were these TreeClan cats doing with ForestClan?
Why don’t I find out? I thought wryly, as I padded in the direction where the TreeClan warriors had gone – staying off their territory, but still letting curiosity take me to an unknown destination.
A few moments passed before I smelt pooling TreeClan scent, and seeing their warriors through the gaps between the trees. I paused for a moment, and then climbed up a tree that was close to the border, yet covered enough so that the Clan cats couldn’t see me.
“ForestClan isn’t here yet,” I heard a cat mutter from below.
“They’d better be here soon,” growled another. “StarClan will be unhappy if ForestClan turns up late.”
“Quiet.” I heard a third cat speak, and I noticed that it was the brown tabby she-cat that had led the group over to the border. “There is no need for squabbling. We will wait in silence until the ForestClan cats arrive.”
The TreeClan cats fell into silence, apart from the occasional muttering, and a few cats mewing: “Yes, Hawkstar.”
Hawkstar. I looked down at the brown tabby she-cat. So that’s the cat that Gooseflight and Smallstripe were looking for when they went onto TreeClan territory.
There were a few moments of silence, and then the thrumming of pawsteps could be heard on the ground. I smelt the scent of ForestClan, and then I saw their leader, Whitestar, hobble out of the trees.
I grimaced when I saw Whitestar’s white twisted leg trailing behind him. It disturbed me greatly. I didn’t want to ask any cat how he had gotten it.
The ForestClan cats huddled in a group on their side of the border, and the TreeClan cats did the same. When they had done so, I saw Hawkstar twitch her tail for silence. The TreeClan cat dipped her head to the ForestClan cats, and then she spoke:
“Cats of the two Clans,” Hawkstar meowed, “welcome to this Gathering. Until we find a place that is suitable for us to hold our Gatherings every moon, this will be the temporary place. Let us hope that StarClan will give us a place soon.”
After this, there was some murmurs of discussion between the cats of the Clans, but then Hawkstar twitched her tail for silence again.
“I will speak first, for TreeClan,” Hawkstar continued. “In the time we have had to settle in our territory, we have been relatively undisturbed.”
“Unlike us,” growled a ForestClan warrior from the other side of the border to where Hawkstar was.
At this, I felt a twinge of guilt. I had been one of the causes of the troubles in ForestClan. If I hadn’t reacted to when one of their patrols went past my den, this wouldn’t have happened.
To my relief, Hawkstar ignored the ForestClan cat. “A few rogues around the area have asked to join their ranks, and we have accepted them into Clan life. These cats have taught us more about the place where we now live, and as such, we have a much better understanding of our forest.”
“Taking rogues in?” asked the same ForestClan cat from before. A small brown cat stepped out from among ForestClan’s ranks. “They’re vicious.”
That’s Smallstripe! I thought, unsheathing my claws and digging them into the branch I was sitting on. He doesn’t like rogues, does he?
“Get back, Smallstripe,” Whitestar hissed. The ForestClan cat looked furious. “It isn’t your place to speak here.”
With one furious glare at the TreeClan cats, Smallstripe backed away. Narrowing my eyes, I spotted the scratch along the brown tom’s back I had made, feeling a flash of pride erupt in me – Smallstripe didn’t look very friendly.
Whitestar dipped his head to Hawkstar. “I apologize for my warrior,” he mewed hesitantly. “Do you have anything more to report?”
As Hawkstar shook her head, she backed away to let Whitestar have room. The black leader limped over, and then, in the same manner in which Hawkstar had done, he started to speak:
“In ForestClan, life hasn’t been that easy,” he mewed. “There has been plenty of hostile rogues, and one of them trespassed onto our territory. Smallstripe attacked him and beat him, and we hope he won’t be back.”
They’re talking about me! I felt my blood chilling with the shock.
“We hope that next moon will be more peaceful for ForestClan,” Whitestar finished, and then he looked over the cats from both Clans. “I have nothing more to report. If there is nothing more to say, this Gathering is over. May we meet again at the next full moon, and may StarClan light your path.”
After Whitestar’s speech, I turned away. I knew that the ForestClan and TreeClan cats were leaving, and it didn’t matter if they spotted me now. Quickly, I made my way down the tree, and started to make my way back home.
Thoughts were whirling in my mind, after I had seen that. Now, it seemed that the Clan cats had more power than I thought.
I really need cats to join me, as a group… I thought desperately, although no cat could hear me. Oh, spirit-cats, give me strength…