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A poem based on 'identity', entered a while ago into a competition at my college.
5 Count to Oblivion
I am . . .
The darkness that blinds the light
The undisputed wanderer
The light that blackens the night
The invisible intruder
I am . . .
The blazing horizon of starlight
The optimistic outsider
I am . . .
The limitless midnight
I am . . .
A boundless paradox
The immortal lone soul
Who prowls towards the endless Oblivion
RISE OF THE CLANS #1: SCARLET MONSOON
Behind Silver Stripe, there was a rush of paws. It was Silver Stripe’s mother, Slate. She skidded to a stop. “Are you okay?” she meowed, brushing the side of her head with her daughter’s. Sniffing, Slate added, “Can you smell that?”
I can’t let her find out. I don’t want her to be disappointed with me.
“Ah, no. I can’t smell anything,” Silver Stripe cautiously replied.
Slate gave Silver Stripe a long look. “Are you sure?” she pressed. As she crinkled up her nose in concentration, she added. “It smells like another cat.”
Silver Stripe felt her heart thumping with tension as Slate neared the thicker section of gorse, which Blaze had disappeared into.
But before she got too close to the thicker section of gorse, Slate spun around to face her. “Did you see anything suspicions around here?” her mother lightly questioned.
“I don’t think so,” Silver Stripe responded.
All of a sudden, Silver Stripe realised the rabbit was still on the ground. She quickly whipped it up into her jaws, to prevent Slate from detecting anymore cat scent. Blaze’s warm scent was still on the rabbit, and it made Silver Stripe’s thoughts drift back to the handsome bright ginger tom.
Distracted, Silver Stripe hadn’t realised that Slate had drawn closer. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Slate asked, her eyes round with concern.
“Yes… Yes, I am,” she spluttered through rabbit fur. “I caught the rabbit,” she swiftly added, trying to appear more composed.
Slate gave her daughter a long concerned look. Perhaps she could tell that Silver Stripe was lying, perhaps not. “That you did,” Slate purred.
“Yes.” I feel bad lying, but I don’t know what else to do. Even I’m unsure about Blaze; he’s so mysterious, but there’s something about him. There’s a feeling that I’ve never felt before.
But she wasn’t sure what to do about Blaze yet. Should I meet with him? she wondered. Besides, Silver Stripe felt as though she wanted no one else to find out about Blaze. A prick of paranoia struck her. What if any of my Clanmates have seen him? What would happen to him? Silver Stripe wasn’t confident in an answer. A lot of the Clan cats used to be rogues, but it didn’t mean that they welcomed strange outsiders, especially ones who are stalking their borders.
“It should make a good meal,” Slate went on. Then, one of Slate’s ears tipped to the side. “You look out of it, do you want to see Moth Flight when we get back?”
Silver Stripe made sure to brush down her bushy fur as she turned towards her mother. “No, I’m fine,” she meowed, shakenly.
Making sure the rabbit was secure in her jaws, Silver Stripe and Slate headed back to camp.
Returning to camp, Silver Stripe placed the limp rabbit onto the fresh-kill pile. Once they had each filled their bellies with a piece of fresh-kill, they went back out to hunt.
The sun moved in the sky as they prowled across the moor, searching for prey. It didn’t take them long to catch a small rabbit; Silver Stripe dashed towards it, sending it into Slate’s direction, who killed it with a fast bite to the neck. Not long after, Silver Stripe discovered a batch of mice underneath a grove of gorse. Swiping unsheathed claws, it didn’t take long for the mice to come out. Squeaking in terror, they desperately tried to scramble to safety. Slate and Silver Stripe both pounced on several, some escaped, but they had managed to gather a good haul of them. The mice swung from their tails in Silver Stripe’s mouth, whilst Slate carried the small rabbit, which they had left beside an overhanging rock.
As the sun began to dip over distant lands, thoughts of Blaze where reignited in her mind. The hunt had distracted her from the possible meeting at moonhigh. But now questions about whether or not to meet Blaze whirled around her mind.
Indecisiveness clung to her pelt as they headed down the hollow. The gorse tunnel was soon in view. The entrance of WindClan’s camp reminded Silver Stripe of her kin. Her worries about Black Ear and White Tail had faded, but she was still looking forward to seeing them again.
As they came through the gorse tunnel, Silver Stripe was overjoyed to spot Black Ear and White Tail. They were sitting in the clearing, sharing tongues and prey. Silver Stripe bounded ahead of Slate, dropping the mice onto the fresh-kill pile. She then twisted around towards her brothers. Tail lifted in greeting, she quickly padded to them. Immediately, Silver Stripe butted them affectionately with her head.
“What’s that for?” White Tail meowed in a quiet voice.
“Oh, I was just worried earlier,” Silver Stripe explained. “You weren’t in your nests.”
“You know, we can handles ourselves.” Black Ear mumbled in between mouthfuls, showing a tiny bit of his familiar anger that had recently vanished.
Feeling warmed by Black Ear’s grumpy behaviour, which had been his trademark before Jagged Peak’s death, Silver Stripe tapped one of his black-pitched ears with her tail. “It’s nice to see that you’re back to normal,” she told him, grinning.
“Well, it’s nice to see that you’re just as patronising as ever,” Black Ear retorted, jokingly.
Silver Stripe was about to cuff him with a forepaw, but there were paw steps coming from behind her. “I’m glad to see that you’re all back to your daily arguments,” their mother, Slate, purred, lovingly.
“I wasn’t arguing,” White Tail piped up in protest. “Those two are the ones always arguing,” he stated.
A small gray-and-white she-cat slowly brushed past them. “What about the one earlier?” Swift Minnow pointed out, in good humour.
“Oh, I suppose so,” White Tail admitted. “If you count that as an argument.”
Reed Tail, a silver tabby tom, who was padding alongside Swift Minnow, entered the conversation. “You made such a racket that I was surprised SkyClan didn’t come running,” he laughed.
One of Black Ear’s ears twitched. “You thought that was loud,” he joked. “We’ve argued way louder.”
A blur of white and brown distracted Silver Stripe. Turning her head, she saw that Moth Flight had exited the medicine cat’s den, which was a large gorse bush, secured by sticks and twigs, and was being followed by Windstar. I wonder if they’re talking about the dogs?
Even so, it was a nice change of atmosphere in the WindClan camp. Cats bantered back and forth, namely Black Ear, which Silver Stripe wasn’t surprised one bit at. Every cat seemed to be having a fun time, and Silver Stripe thought it was a nice contrast to the regular worrying and fear of the dogs.
--- SCENEBREAK ---
Shining stars decorated the sky above, and the moon was big and bright as it looked down on the cats below. The sandy hollow was drenched in silence. Silver Stripe had volunteered to guard the camp, and it appeared as though the entire Clan had gone to sleep. She sat, just outside the gorse barrier, contemplating:
Should I meet Blaze?
What about the camp?
He did save my life?
But what if my Clanmates found out?
What would they all say?
Windstar, my friends, my family, and… Storm Pelt.
Despite this, there was just something about Blaze that made her fur prick up in excitement. But, after what Dew Nose had told her, she wasn’t sure how it would affect Storm Pelt. Silver Pelt only thought of him as a friend, and she wasn’t sure if that would ever change. This could destroy our friendship... The stars twinkled above. But Blaze did save my life – I should at least meet him once. I owe him that.
Silver Stripe tried to hold back her feeling of shame as she abandoned her guard post, hoping that her Clanmates wouldn’t notice her disappearance. I’ll be quick, she promised herself, racing towards where she last saw Blaze.
As she retraced her paw steps to the meeting point, there was no sign of the bright ginger tom. Silver Stripe felt her heart sank. Perhaps he isn’t coming. She prepared to turn back to camp. It’s probably for the best. After all, he must be a loner.
A swish in the nearby gorse alerted Silver Stripe’s attention. Blaze padded out. The moonlight illuminated his glossy, bright ginger fur, causing it to look like sparkles of flame. She was taken aback with how it radiated off his pelt.
Silver Stripe wasn’t sure why she felt nervous. Though, she could see that Blaze had groomed his fur, whilst her own must have looked dishevelled and filthy in comparison. Silver Stripe had been so caught up in thinking about whether or not to meet him, she’d forgotten to groom her fur beforehand.
“You came!” Blaze exclaimed, looking relieved. He shuffled his paws, kneading them through blades of grass. “I feared you wouldn’t.”
“You did save my life. I thought I owed you this meeting,” she stated, not wanting to alter her neutral tone.
I don’t know what to make of all this, Silver Stripe confessed to herself, her emotions were like a whirlwind.
“I’m just happy you came,” Blaze purred, blinking warmly.
There was an air of awkward silence between them, but Silver Stripe couldn’t resist looking at his gorgeous deep blue eyes, which looked at her with something she couldn’t explain.
Snapping out of her trance, Silver Stripe remembered how Blaze had saved her, and it made a question fizz into her mind. “Why did you save me?” Silver Stripe wondered aloud. “Surely, it wasn’t worth risking your pelt over.”
Blaze eyed her, the borders of his eyes brimming with a slight sadness. “I couldn’t just let some innocent cat get killed.”
The intense wave of silence returned. But, despite needing to return to her guard post, Silver Stripe couldn’t tear herself away from the fiery-coloured tom. Some strong feeling made her stay.
Blaze was giving her a curious look, his whiskers were twitching.
“Where do you live?”
“My Clan lives on these moors.”
“What’s a Clan?”
Silver Stripe waved her tail over the smudges of territory in the far distance. “There’s WindClan, that’s my Clan, SkyClan, RiverClan, ShadowClan, and ThunderClan. Every Clan have their own territory, and we meet at Fourtrees ever full moon. We hunt for our Clanmates and patrol our borders.”
Blaze’s tail swayed, uncertainly, flicking to and fro. He hesitated, then murmured, “Is there any fighting?”
“No one’s fought in a long while. Our biggest threat now is those dogs,” she growled. “They killed one of our cats.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” Blaze murmured, sympathetically. As Blaze leaned closer, he gingerly rubbed her back with his tail. “Is everything else okay?” he asked.
Comforted by Blaze’s calm and reassuring aura, Silver Stripe thought about her life, and it didn’t take her long to reach her answer. “Yes,” she meowed, confidently. “We look out for one another. All my Clanmates care about each other – we treat each other like family. I can’t think of a better way to life.”
Blaze’s expression lit up. “That sounds good.”
There was a sudden gust of wind, and Blaze adjusted his footing. It was barely much of a movement, but, as they were positioned so closer to each other, Silver Stripe could see a near-invisible scar along his flank, partly hidden by his flame-coloured strands of fur. The scar was long and thin and spread from his front leg to his back leg. It slightly cascaded in opposing directions, but it was primarily straight.
Shocked, Silver Stripe forced out, “That’s a big scar. How−” Should I continue? No, if he’s hiding something that could endanger WindClan, I need to find out. “−How did you get it?” Silver Stripe stammered.
A small growl emitted from Blaze’s throat, “A cat gave it to me.” He stared back at her, his anger ceasing. “But I’ve moved on.” He casually shrugged, however, Silver Stripe wasn’t sure she believed him.
How could any cat get over something like that? Silver Stripe pondered.
The night sky was beginning to lighten above their heads. How long have I been here for? It was as though time had sped up whilst she’d been with Blaze.
Realising that she had to return to the camp before anyone noticed her absence, she instantly told him, “Listen, I’ve got to go back to my Clan,” Silver Stripe paused, “but why don’t we meet again tomorrow?”
Silver Stripe knew that Blaze would agree, but it was still nerve-racking to wait for his response.
“Sure, I would love to,” Blaze proclaimed, enthusiastically. Silver Stripe was surprised, but happy, when Blaze leant forwards further, brushing his muzzle against hers. “I really, really like you,” he murmured.
For a moment, she forgot about WindClan, her friends, her family, and Storm Pelt. Instead, she became lost in Blaze’s tranquil gaze. The tom’s deep blue eyes were like a torrent of water. It made the wonder and fasciation that she felt for Blaze glow through, sweeping her off her paws. He seems incredible… There was no one like him in WindClan. No one that made her feel this way.
“I like you, too,” she purred back. Dazzled, Silver Stripe forced her paws to carry her away from him. “Good-bye, Blaze!” she yowled, savouring his warm scent. As she parted from him, she let her tail drift in the gentle breeze.
“Good-bye, Silver Stripe!” he called, waving his tail in farewell.
It didn’t take too long for Silver Stripe to get back to camp. As she walked back, her thoughts were alight with images of Blaze. The bright ginger tom had become a permanent fixture in her mind. There is something special about him, Silver Stripe admitted to herself. I’ve never met a tom like him before.
Silver Stripe had just returned to her guard position, outside the gorse tunnel, when a voice sounded from behind her. “Are you okay?” the voice began. “I came out to check on you. You weren’t here a little bit earlier – I was going to wake the camp.” Concern glazed tom’s eyes, swamping her with a terrible feeling.
Storm Pelt! What can I say to him?
She wanted Storm Pelt to remain her friend, but she knew he’d be so hurt if she mentioned Blaze, especially after what Dew Nose had said to her. Silver Stripe told herself she would tell him some point later. “I had – I had to make dirt,” she spluttered.
I’m sorry Storm Pelt. Half-heartedly, Silver Stripe added to herself, I’m doing this to protect you.
Storm Pelt appeared to be uncertain, but Silver Stripe was glad when he meowed, “Okay.” But the guiltiness returned as her friend glanced at her. “Would you like some company?” he politely asked.
Stop! Silver Stripe’s voice screamed inside her head. This is only going to end badly for you!
“Don’t you want to sleep?” Silver Stripe replied, trying as hard as she could to tear him away from her.
That haunted look returned to Storm Pelt’s eyes; it was the one she’d seen in him the days after the death of his father. “I have nightmares about Jagged Peak,” he confided in her. “I still can’t believe he’s gone,” Storm Pelt sighed. “I don’t know what to do, Silver Stripe.” She felt her heart breaking for her friend as he continued, “Holly and the kits are wallowing in their grief, Eagle Feather has just gotten really angry, and Dew Nose acts like nothing’s happened.” Storm Pelt wavered on his paws, becoming unsteady. “Everything’s changed! I don’t know what I should do or how I should react. My Clanmates offer their sympathies, but I can’t help thinking he’s gone, and I won’t see him again.” Storm Pelt looked more vulnerable than Silver Stripe had ever seen him. The strong and wacky tom that had taught her how to catch lapwings had vanished. Tears stemmed from his face. “I’m sorry, Silver Stripe. I don’t what to burden you with all this – it’s not your prob−”
“You’re my friend, Storm Pelt!” Silver Stripe declared, trying to push Blaze out of her mind for a couple of heartbeats. “Of course, it’s my problem. If you’re unhappy, than you can tell me.”
Storm Pelt’s sorrow-filled eyes met hers. But there was no spark, nothing like what Silver Stripe felt when she’d been meeting Blaze. Silver Stripe could feel her emotions twisting, when seeing Storm Pelt’s eyes filling with affection. “Thank you,” he murmured. “You’re a great cat.”
As Silver Stripe looked at Storm Pelt, she realised that he must love her to tell her all that. But she only felt friendship for the mottled gray tom. There was no strong, passionate knot in her chest like there was for Blaze. She couldn’t explain why she felt this way – it just was natural to her.
Storm Pelt’s my friend – and I hope he remains that way. I’ve got no clue how me and Blaze will turn out, but I think he feels the same as I do. Regardless, I want to see where it will lead. My heart says Blaze… but my head screeches Storm Pelt…
With a small, determined sigh, Silver Stripe pushed her doubts out of her head.
I will follow my heart… I will meet Blaze again…
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Four black hounds began to encircle Silver Stripe. Saliva splitting, jaw slamming, paw thudding, they slowly progressed towards her. The hard movement of their giant paws and massive muscles tormented her with fear. Breath escaped Silver Stripe’s lungs, making her frantically breathe, in desperate rapid attempts. Panic swamped over her, panicking her every muscle and every sinew. Unsteadily slipping to her paws, Silver Stripe’s vision was blurred as she looked down at the ground.
Wait, she registered, that’s sand! Am I in camp?Silver Stripe struggled to force her head and body back up. Though thinking about her friends, kin, and WindClan willed her on, and she managed to raise her herself to her paws.
There was no doubt in her mind that she was in the WindClan camp; there were dipping moorlands all around her, and the Tallrock stood in its regular fixed position. But everything else was different. The camp was deserted. There were no scents and no cats. Boulders and rocks were crushed into tiny fragments, the gorse barrier and tunnel had disappeared, and nearly impossible to see flecks of grass lay randomly across the clearing. Most notably, crushed yellow buds littered the floor, sliced into smaller pieces by cruel claws.
Every part of Silver Stripe’s body was now standing on end. “StarClan, save me!” she cried out, flattening her ears.
As the dogs got closer and closer, Silver Stripe closed her eyes. But it couldn’t hide her memories of the hounds. She could still see their soulless, disturbing, destructive eyes. Pure black and full of venomous malice, they penetrated her eyelids. Silver Stripe shook and trembled, feeling her legs growing weaker, with every passing heartbeat.
Pointing her nose to the sky, Silver Stripe prayed, Please, StarClan, do something! But, to her horror, the sky was entrenched with everlasting darkness.
The brutish creatures were within four fox-lengths, and it felt as though, their breath was polluting her body. If there had been any straps of fur still down, they shot up. Sand flew up against her muzzle as the hounds got even closer. Now they were within leaping distance. Horrified, Silver Stripe gasped in pure terror as each dog threw themselves onto her.
Suddenly, her upper body flung forwards. Letting out hoarse breathes, Silver Stripe realised her fur was standing on end, bristling. The dream had kept her shivering. That dream… it feel too real.
Four days had passed since Silver Stripe’s narrow escape from the dogs. And she was just glad to be alive. Amazed that she had escaped, her Clanmates had been given fresh hope against the dogs. After she had talked with Skystar, under a quarter moon ago, she realised that she must cherish every moment in her life. But, ever since her encounter with the dogs, her dreams had been haunted by the terrifying faceoff. Silver Stripe now dreaded falling to sleep each night, and it clawed at her in the waking world. Some nights, they were so bad that Black Ear would wake her up, claiming she’d been screeching and twitching.
Pale light flittered down from the skies above as Silver Stripe raised her head, stretching as she did so. The sun was rising, and there were a couple of clouds displayed around its blue yonder. She gave her pale tabby fur a short groom and noticed that Black Ear and White Tail weren’t in their nests. Worried, she bounded into the clearing, sending spots of sand swirling with her dashed movements.
“Watch it!” a cat furiously hissed from a nearby gorse bush.
She skidded to an abrupt stop. In the half-light, Silver Stripe could see a black she-cat, who was covered in a web of scars. It was Fern Leaf – she was sitting underneath a gorse bush, lying in her nest, and leaning over a piece of prey.
But, scanning the clearing, Silver Stripe felt panicked as she failed to spot her brothers. She knew that Black Ear could handle himself, but what about White Tail? Silver Stripe’s shiver returned as she remembered the appearance of the chilling hounds. Everything in their features filled her with anxious dread. How would her nervous brother fare face to face with them?
Twisting around, Silver Stripe was reminded of Fern Leaf, making her wonder, does she where they are? “Hey, Fern Leaf, do you know where Black Ear and White Tail are?” Silver Stripe pleaded to the lean-muscled black she-cat, worried of her answer.
“How am I supposed to know?” Fern Leaf flashed back. Seeing the hurt look in Silver Stripe’s eyes, Fern Leaf reconsidered, “Sorry, Silver Stripe. I’m just feeling tired and stressed.” The scarred she-cat sighed as she went on, “It’s a lot of responsibility being in charge of all the training exercises.”
The sunrise after Gorse Fur’s patrol found the dogs, Windstar had announced that Fern Leaf would lead the training sessions, telling the Clan it would help defend themselves from the dogs. With a darker tone, Windstar had also told them that it would get them ready for a battle against them. Initially, Fern Leaf had rejected Windstar’s proposal, but Windstar persuaded her that she knew the most about dogs in the Clan.
Silver Stripe felt a stab of sympathy for Fern Leaf as she realised what high pressure her Clanmate must be under. Fern Leaf is having to train every single WindClan cat. It must be draining work.
The pale tabby she-cat dipped her head in apology. “I’m sorry. I was being inconsiderate, and I shouldn’t have disturbed you like that.”
“It’s okay.” Fern Leaf meowed, flexing her body. “And by the way, I’ve not seen them.” Her green eyes moved from Silver Stripe to the Tallrock. “Windstar’s on the Tallrock. You could ask her,” she advised.
Going towards Windstar, Silver Stripe called over her shoulder, “I will. Thanks, Fern Leaf.”
“No problem,” she heard Fern Leaf’s faint voice fade as she scramble towards the leader of WindClan.
She could hear a few cats sleeping as she kept on moving towards Windstar. Due to this, Silver Stripe made sure to set her paws down as lightly as possible. Luckily, the sand rinsed hollow helped. She slowed, noticing two or three more empty nests. This made her wonder: Am I just overreacting? Perhaps they both went out early on a patrol? Oh well, I better make sure. Once again picking up the pace, Silver Stripe continued her walk toward the Tallrock.
The leader of WindClan sat boldly postured atop the Tallrock. Windstar often sat there. Its raised position in the camp made it a great place to look over the sandy hollow and the surrounding hills and moorland. The leader’s proud wiry figure stood motionless. It looked like she was staring into the distance.
“Windstar?” Silver Stripe cautiously began, aware of her leader’s notorious fierce temper.
“Oh, Silver Stripe, I didn’t see you there,” Windstar meowed. Her yellow eyes lightening, she asked, “What’s wrong?”
Silver Stripe had to stretch her neck upwards to meet her leader’s gaze. “Black Ear and White Tail aren’t in their nests. And I was just wondering, do you knew where they are?”
“Ah, those two–” Windstar began.
Phew, Windstar must know where they are.
“–went out on the dawn border patrol with Gorse Fur and Dust Muzzle.”
Relieved, Silver Stripe felt her fur starting to lay flat. “Thank you, Windstar,” she responded.
Windstar’s expression didn’t change as her yellow eyes gazed down on her. “While you’re up, you may as well lead some cats on a hunting patrol.”
Silver Stripe obediently bowed her head. “Yes, Windstar.”
Wow, Silver Stripe thought, my first time leading a patrol! As excitement shot through her fur, she felt the anxiety towards her brothers beginning to fade.
A gust of wind edged her short-fur as Silver Stripe pondered about who she should wake up. She stood in the middle of the clearing, scanning the gorse bushes, where the cats of WindClan slept.
Thankfully, a friendly voice from behind offered to join the patrol. “I’ll come with you,” Dew Nose greeted. “Windstar had me training all day yesterday. It would be nice to do some hunting for a change.”
Silver Stripe rotated around to face the brown tabby she-cat. “Thanks,” she meowed.
The she-cat’s yellow eyes gleamed. “So,” Dew Nose let out a purr, “who else is coming?”
“I haven’t decided yet.” Then, she named the first cat that came to mind. “I could ask Storm Pelt,” Silver Stripe decided.
One of Dew Nose’s ears flicked forward, knowingly. “I’m sure you can persuade him,” she teased, amusement in her voice.
Silver Stripe felt her neck fur fluff out in embarrassment. “Storm Pelt’s just a good friend,” she admitted. “He’s a nice cat.”
Dew Nose stared at her. “Fine.” Craning her neck forward, the white-nosed she-cat lowered her voice to a murmur, to make sure that Silver Stripe would be the only one to hear. “But, just so you know, he thinks highly of you,” Dew Nose started to explain. Her whiskers quivered in the light breeze, and her yellow eyes dimmed to a darker shade. “Our family’s been through a lot recently. I hope you won’t do anything to intentionally hurt him.”
Tensing, Silver Stripe reminded herself, Storm Pelt’s just a friend. “Of course, I wouldn’t hurt him,” Silver Stripe meowed in agreement. “Storm Pelt’s one of my best friends,” she added with a purr, thinking of the friendly and wacky mottled gray tom.
Dew Nose’s head began to lower, but she raised it again. Compared to previously, her expression looked more welcoming. “I don’t want to force you into anything − Well, he didn’t want me to say anything,” Dew Nose paused, seeming unsure about revealing her brother’s secret. But she gave herself a small shake and continued murmuring, “but he really was upset when you went missing. He even blamed himself for leaving you there.” Dew Nose shifted her paws, nervously. “If you don’t see him in that way, perhaps it would be better to tell him sooner rather than later.”
That’s why he sounded so worried – I don’t know what to make of it all, Silver Stripe mused. I’ve only ever thought of him as a friend.
“Don’t worry, Dew Nose. I’ll make sure not to offend him.” Remembering a vow she made to Moth Flight seasons ago, her younger voice sounded in her head. “I'm going to be the best hunter in WindClan.” Silver Stripe didn’t care too much about being WindClan’s best hunter. But she did want the best for her Clan.
“I just don’t want him to get hurt,” Dew Nose murmured.
“I won’t let him,” Silver Stripe expressed through gritted teeth, making sure her tail didn’t lash against the ground, becoming annoyed with how Dew nose was going on about it. “I want to put my Clan first. Now more than ever. Besides, I’m not looking for a mate at the moment.”
Dew Nose still seemed uncertain, but Silver Stripe was thankful when she didn’t say anymore. Storm Pelt’s my friend. That’s all there is to it, Silver Stripe concluded.
“I’ll go wake Slate up,” Silver Stripe added. She whipped her tail, signalling for Dew Nose to go and wake another cat up.
Slate’s nest was near hers, and she soon padded over to it. Nudging her mother with a gentle paw, Silver Stripe quietly asked, “We’re going hunting, do you want to come?”
Her mother’s eyes flicked open, and she gathered herself to her paws. Giving a soft shake of her thick gray fur, Slate replied, “All right.”
They re-joined Dew Nose in the middle of the clearing, who had woken up Spotted Fur. The golden-brown tom’s eyes were still heavily strained with sleep. Windstar’s extra patrols is tiring everyone out. After Silver Stripe’s return, Windstar had ordered extra patrols to be conducted along the border nearest to the barn and small forest. Every cat is working hard, but how long can we keep it up for? Silver Stripe asked herself, unsure of the answer.
“Come on,” Silver Stripe beckoned as she led the patrol out of the sandy hollow.
Ever since her confrontation with the dogs, Silver Stripe felt flickers of unease being outside of camp. Her mind whirled back to her dream. Haunted, she trembled. Forcing it out of her mind, Silver Stripe glanced upwards. The four Clanmates had exited the gorse tunnel and now rolling moors circled them on all sides. High above, the sky had become less pale, and the sun had begun to rise into the sky. As the sky started to transform to a light blue, a few small clouds fluttered around in the small breeze.
“It’s a nice day again,” Slate commented from behind Silver Stripe, making small talk.
Further back, Silver Stripe heard Dew Nose speak up, “It’s weird, considering it should be leaf-fall now,” she agreed with Slate.
Silver Stripe couldn’t help agreeing with Dew Nose, despite their conversation earlier. The air felt weirdly light and had a lack of coolness about it. She was unable to figure out why.
“It could mean there’s rain coming,” Slate predicted.
“That would be nice,” Spotted Fur purred. “It’s been too hot recently.”
Silver Stripe raised her tail for silence. She lipped her tongue over her jaw as a juicy scent caught in her nostrils. “I can smell rabbit.” As Silver Stripe could only smell a single rabbit, she instructed, “Slate, you can come with me. Spotted Fur, Dew Nose, see if you find any lapwings near the gorge. I don’t think anyone’s hunted over there for a while.”
“Shouldn’t we stay in a bigger group,” Spotted Fur pointed out.
Hesitating, Silver Stripe paused. What do the other patrol leaders normally do? she inwardly speculated.
“The dogs might still be around,” Spotted Fur continued, his tail streaming out behind him; it was obviously the dappled tom was on edge.
“Head further down the gorge’s edge,” Slate interjected. “They wouldn’t go that far down.”
Spotted Fur still looked unsure, his amber eyes glinting. But he dipped his head to Slate.
As Dew Nose and Spotted Fur padded away, Silver Stripe turned towards her mother. “Thanks.”
“You’re welcome,” Slate warmly purred. “I could tell you were unsure. Don’t worry, it isn’t easy leading your first patrol. And they should be fine that far down the gorge. I would be shocked if the dogs went that far down, after you said they were panicked by a speedy tom.”
Once her Clanmates had finished smothering her, Silver Stripe had told them what had happened. Some of them found it hard to believe that the bright ginger tom had saved her. But she had insisted that it was true. Silver Stripe hadn’t thought about the bright ginger tom too much since, but she wondered if she would ever come across him again. I never got to thank him, she realised, with a shade of regret. What if I do see him again?
Bare moorland expanded from all around them as the two cats neared the strong smell of rabbit. The small breeze trickled against their muzzles as they prowled forwards. Partly hidden in a thicket of heather, they saw the rabbit. It was hopping in between stalks of grass, taking a few moments at each interval to nibble at the tops.
The stocky rabbit appeared to be plump, making Silver Stripe think that it would make a good meal for the Clan. Perhaps it will help Holly’s appetite. Jagged Peak’s grieving mate hadn’t eaten much since his death. Overcome by grief, her and her kits had stayed in their den, which was one of the most sheltered gorse bushes in camp. Heather Tuft and Stone Gaze still hadn’t returned to their previous selves. Instead, they always remained close to their mother, who didn’t let them out of her sight. It was obvious that Holly was afraid that the same thing would happen to them that had happened to Jagged Peak. One thing was for certain, like a fleck of heather in the wind, their playful exuberance had vanished.
Breaking Silver Stripe from her thoughts, Slate tapped Silver Stripe’s back with her tail, signalling that she was going to circle around the rabbit. The rabbit kept on springing around the patches of grass, unaware of the two hunters. Waiting for Slate, Silver Stripe lay crouched in the heather, readying to knock the rabbit down.
A shake in the far gorse made Silver Stripe realise that Slate was ready. Screeching, Slate came out of the gorse. The rabbit let out a shriek of bewilderment and immediately fled. But, instead of going towards Silver Stripe, the rabbit veered off. It was running towards the border that she had crossed four sunrises prior.
Not wanting the rabbit to escape, Silver Stripe sprinted from her bundle of heather, ignoring Slate’s cry to leave it. Soon, the ground became a blur underneath her paws as she galloped to catch the rabbit. The rabbit was faster than her. Meaning, it quickly managed to pull out a convincing gap. The rabbit kept on thundering ahead, and, by this stage, she could barely see it. With a frustrated groan, she slowed, realising she had lost her prey.
Suddenly, there was a cat in the distance. As fast as a bolt of lightning, the lean figure darted straight for the rabbit. That cat’s faster than any WindClan cat! she gaped in amazement, halting to a standstill. Scared, the rabbit made a desperate attempt to turn and avoid the outstretched claws of the new hunter. Stunned, Silver Stripe realised that the cat’s pelt was bright ginger. Hope swelled up from inside her. Could it be the same tom?
Wanting to find out an answer, Silver Stripe bounded over to the tom. Approaching, she saw the limp rabbit at his paws; its tasty smell teasing her senses. As she got ever closer, she was surprised to see that it was the same bright ginger tom.
Silver Stripe’s voice caught in her throat as she gazed over the tom. Sunlight blazed over his ginger pelt, making his pelt glow like flames. I’ve never seen a pelt that bright… A weird emotion stirred from inside her as she examined the tom’s lithe, compact frame, and handsome face.
The humid air crackled with emotion.
“Hi…,” Silver Stripe panted, not grasping how out of breath she had been. A nervous pit was forming in the depths of her stomach. “…You’re the cat who saved me…”
“Yes…” he meowed rhythmically, his deep blue eyes brimming with interest. “I’m Blaze, what’s your name?”
“That’s a strange name…”
“So is Blaze…”
“I suppose it is…”
“Your pelt is very bright…”
“Thanks… Your stripes are… beautiful.”
Blaze’s bold blue gaze made Silver Stripe’s pelt prickle. “Listen…” Blaze breathed.
Silver Stripe heard hurrying paw steps from behind her, getting closer and closer. They filled her with alarm. “That’s my Clanmate. It’s best you−”
Blaze’s voice was suddenly more composed as he urgently meowed, “Can I meet you later? Just after moonhigh? How about here?”
Silver Stripe was unsure. What will my Clan think? What will my family think? What would Storm Pelt think? “I don’t know.” She felt herself lurching on her paws, feeling troubled by the excitement she already felt for this mysterious tom.
Blaze had also heard Slate’s thudding paw steps and had backtracked into a thicker section of gorse. Despite being hidden by it, he still manage to yowl out, pleadingly, “Please!”
Not knowing whether or not she would actually meet with the strange bright ginger tom again, Silver Stripe called out, “Thanks for saving me!”
As Silver Stripe realised Blaze was gone, an unexplainable sadness blossomed in her chest. Once again, a mixture of emotions rippled through her: Should I meet him later? He did save my life… The Clan… My family… What about Storm Pelt’s feelings?
Waiting for Slate, Silver Stripe sat there, daydreaming. The only thing Silver Stripe could imagine was Blaze’s deep blue eyes and his flaming clumps of bright ginger fur. It was as though, Blaze was scorched in her mind. Previously, Silver Stripe had only seen him up close for a flash, however. This was different. Strange emotions of wonder and fascination were awakening from inside of her, and there was a definite strong urge to meet Blaze later.
Chapter 10, I feel like this is a good milestone. I definitely don’t think it’s as good as Chapter 9 was, but I didn’t want this chapter to go on for too long. It was an interesting chapter, showcasing Silver Stripe’s feelings for Storm Pelt and her new ones for Blaze. I hope you liked his name, because I certainly do. I hope the dialogue worked to show the awkwardness between them as they struggled to express their emotions. If anyone remembers, it’s almost similar to when Clear Sky & Storm meet for the first time in The Sun Trail. The difference with is this is that the PoV is in the ‘role’ for this. C11 is already written, but I need to edit & possibly re-plan it. Btw, it should be shorter & will probably be released either on the weekend or in a week’s time – I’ve got a couple of mocks to contend with, which I need to do some actual revision for.
Any thoughts/comments/opinions, regardless of size, are always appreciated! I love to hear anything, regarding this! And thanks as always for reading!
3,391 words / 16,838 words for Silver Stripe’s PoV / 32,883 total
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Fronds of green undergrowth were bent out of shape as Oak Shade trampled through the forest’s shady trails. Thunderstar’s bold orange pelt shone ahead, making a path through the thick undergrowth for his son.
“Today, I’ll take you along the SkyClan border,” Thunderstar murmured. Though Oak Shade thought he heard a minuscule sigh, but he dismissed it for the rustling leaves that rested in the deep canopy above his head.
Ignoring his father’s tone, Oak Shade padded faster to keep up with Thunderstar’s longer limbs. “Aren’t they those tree climbers?” the black-and-orange tom-kit thought aloud.
Thunderstar’s torn ear darted backwards. “Yes,” Thunderstar confirmed, “it’s a key advantage for them; it means they can attack from anywhere. They can also hunt more prey and hide from it, as well as any other predators or cats, due to their climbing ability.”
Nothing more was said as Thunderstar prowled strongly through the undergrowth’s whipping vines, which were obstructing Oak Shade’s smaller legs. Small dots of envy hit his fur as he saw a small black beetle easing through, as if it was taunting him, it wiggled its forelegs together. Before Oak Shade could whack it with a forepaw, the beetle had disappeared deeper into the undergrowth.
Soft kitten-fur fluffed up around his neck. “Mouse-dung!” Oak Shade exclaimed underneath his breath. “I’ll get you next time!”
He raised his head; Thunderstar was getting further and further away. To avoid his father’s criticism, Oak Shade bounded forward, making sure to avoid any longer tendrils of anything that could trip him up. Oak Shade was at the very least relieved his legs had grown slightly from his first outing in the forest with Thunderstar. The slightest wind blew against him as he raced past a rich palette of green, yellow, brown, russet, auburn, and tawny colours.
All of a sudden, Oak Shade’s mind jolted back to his father’s previous lessons. Puzzled, Oak Shade slowed, tipping his head to one side.
--- FLASHBACK! ---
A couple of moons prior…
Greenleaf had been in full force. The sun’s rays blazed into the ravine, making stones boil and hunting an extra tiring effort. Every cat felt drained of energy. Exhausted, most of the Clan had been sheltering against the bramble walls of the camp, shaded from the beams of light.
A younger Oak Shade, with even fluffier black-and-orange tom-kit fur, sat facing his father, who was resting alongside his mother, Violet Dawn. “Father?” Oak Shade mewed, feeling curious about all the other wildcats he had heard rumours about.
Thunderstar’s whiskers tremored. “What is it?” he asked.
Golden eyes belonging to Oak Shade flashed with interest. “Please, can you tell me more about the other Clans?” Oak Shade pleaded. The tom-kit’s eyes were wide, and they sparkled like the sun.
“Well,” Thunderstar hesitated, “I’m not−”
Violet Dawn shifted from beside Thunderstar. She smoothly massaged her sleek dark tail over his back. “You know, he’s got to know about the other Clans at some point. Before long, he’ll be hunting and patrolling and going to Gatherings. You can’t protect him forever.” Violet Dawn urged in a soothing fashion. “Why not teach him some things now?”
The big orange tom still looked uncertain. “Okay,” Thunderstar started, dubiously, “what do you want to know first?”
Oak Shade’s golden eyes once again lit up with excitement. “Everything!” he exclaimed.
Thunderstar and Violet Dawn both let out mrrows of laughter. After a short couple of heartbeats composing himself, Thunderstar looked back at Oak Shade. “I’ll start with the basics.”
“Our Clan, ThunderClan, is the Clan of the forest. We use the deep undergrowth to stalk our prey, utilising the hunter’s crouch to do so,” Thunderstar stated. “When you’re older, I’ll teach it to you,” he added. “And every full moon, the five Clans meet at Fourtrees for the Gathering.”
“Tell me more about the other Clans!” Exuberated by his newfound knowledge, Oak Shade interrupted.
Violet Dawn and Thunderstar shared another amused glance. Clearing his voice, Thunderstar went on about the other Clans of wildcats, “On the open, air-filled moors live WindClan. They chase their prey with their blistering speed. Meanwhile, RiverClan live in reeds beside a great flowing river, fishing for their prey. Then there’s ShadowClan, who live across the thunderpath in wet marshland and dark pineland. Similarly to us, they use stalking and the shadows to their advantage…”
--- FLASHBACK! ---
For some bizarre reason, Oak Shade couldn’t remember much about SkyClan. As he kept on walking forward, nothing stirred in his mind about them. Only Lightning Tail telling him they bordered ThunderClan. “Why wouldn’t Thunderstar tell me about them?” Oak Shade quietly huffed. His thoughts failed to come up with any clear answers. This is weird. Battling through the stalks of grass, Oak Shade felt more frustrated than ever.
Looks like I’ll have to ask him, Oak Shade’s determination compelled him forward.
Catching up to Thunderstar, Oak Shade questioned his father. “You’ve told me a lot about all the other Clans, why not SkyClan?”
Buttercups scrunched underneath Thunderstar’s hard pads. The buttercups’ bright yellow petals disbanded into the undergrowth. It was the only thing Oak Shade was able to hear as a stretch of silence between himself and Thunderstar began to last longer than heartbeats.
Finally, Thunderstar shook his head. “I’ve got history with them,” he admitted.
To Oak Shade, Thunderstar still seemed edgy, and he didn’t feel satisfied with his father’s brief response. Oak Shade had enough. “Why are you keeping secrets from me? Don’t you trust me?” he protested with a hiss, letting some of his frustration boil out.
Thunderstar stopped, turning his broad head towards Oak Shade. His clear amber eyes betrayed no anger. “When we’re back in camp, I will tell you everything.” Seeing Oak Shade’s uncertain look, Thunderstar pledged, “I promise.”
Doubting Thunderstar would break his promise, Oak Shade nodded in acceptance.
Thunderstar started to pad further down the path. He lifted his tail, signalling for Oak Shade to follow him. Still feeling pits of anger, Oak Shade kept the awkward tension intact. Instead of looking towards his father, Oak Shade kept his eyes peeled on the forest and his nose concentrated on the lingering forest scents.
While they advanced towards the border with SkyClan, the path twisted from side to side. The forest seemed alive with noise. At one point, Oak Shade glimpsed a small blue-and-yellow bird chirping away. Forgetting his meal earlier, he gleefully licked his lips. Though it was soon replaced with resentment, when Thunderstar told him to hurry up. Oak Shade glared back at the branch. But the small blue-and-yellow bird had disappeared. Even as he spun around to catch up with Thunderstar, he felt the bird’s patronising birdsong enter his ears. Lashing his tail, Oak Shade’s paws stomped against the ground in Thunderstar’s wake.
As they got closer to the border, Oak Shade noticed ThunderClan’s deep woodland growing slightly taller. A small number of paw steps later, a harsh woody and leafy smell hit Oak Shade’s nostrils. But, unlike the start of the Gathering, he didn’t feel as sickened. It isn’t as bad as the other Clans, Oak Shade considered, and it even smells a bit like ThunderClan.
“I presume that’s SkyClan’s territory?” Oak Shade mewed, bounding forward to stand next to Thunderstar.
The amber eyes of Thunderstar stared into SkyClan’s woodland. “Yes,” the sturdy tom murmured.
Now that the undergrowth had thinned out, forming crisp blades of grass. Oak Shade stood, jaw gaping. In front of the two cats, there was an unnaturally dried path. It was covered in shards of bark. Also, there were acorns, pine cones, pine needles, twigs, and other forest debris, which must have fallen from the neighbouring trees. A tiny chasm of light stripped down its centre. Staring along its peculiarly straight path, it seemed that there was room for three or four cats to walk side by side. Oak Shade found it even stranger as he noticed that there was narrow rectangular dents pressed into the mixture of dirt.
Not thinking anything of this, Oak Shade raised his gaze onto SkyClan’s side of the bizarre path. Similar to ThunderClan’s side, the undergrowth once again began to grow. Outlying clipped bushes of nettles, brambles, and holly blocked a clear view into SkyClan territory. Oak Shade was surprised to see that SkyClan’s territory faintly reminded him of ThunderClan’s. Various trees, including beeches, birches, oaks, and sycamores, stood firmly in the distance. Unlike ThunderClan territory though, the tree trunks looked even more solid, and the SkyClan trees ranged a bit higher into the sky. But Oak Shade knew that none of them could rival the might of the Ancient Oak.
“It’s unlike anything I’ve seen before,” Oak Shade thought aloud, still taken aback by the freakish path.
“The Bark Trail ranges from up and down the forest,” Thunderstar’s voice rang in his ear. “It was built by Twolegs around the time of your birth.”
Brushing forward to stand at the Bark Trail’s edge, Oak Shade flashed his head from side to side. He felt his jaw drop as he realise that Thunderstar was right. Astonished, Oak Shade gasped, “Impossible!”
“It’s true,” Thunderstar maintained his point.
Calming himself, Oak Shade reluctantly studied the Bark Path for longer. Several heartbeats flew by before Oak Shade managed to reply. “That’s why it looks so weird. I wonder why they built it,” Oak Shade pointed out. “Maybe they wanted to learn how to hunt?” he suggested.
“Twolegs are a bunch of mouse-brains,” Thunderstar snorted. “Sometimes we see them walking along it, thumping the ground, as though they don’t have a care in the world.” Oak Shade saw Thunderstar roll his eyes. “They don’t even look for prey.”
A slight rustle sounded on the other side of the Bark Trail, but Oak Shade ignored it, putting it down to the wind. Oak Shade turned his attention back to Thunderstar, carrying on listening to his father’s voice.
“If nothing else, it was at least a good place to set border markings.” Suddenly, Thunderstar paused. Then, lowering his broad head, he whispered into Oak Shade’s ear, “Stay behind me.”
Unnerved, Oak Shade kept his jaw clamped shut. What’s going on? he thought, hackles beginning to rise. Pushing back worry, Oak Shade bushed out his fur, to appear bigger than he was, and unsheathed his claws.
Returning to his full height, Thunderstar let out a fierce yowl, “Who’s there?”
It hadn’t been the wind!
Thunderstar’s bold yowl echoed out. For a few moments, the challenge was unanswered. No one emerged from SkyClan’s territory. But Oak Shade and Thunderstar could now tell that there was something there. Thunderstar didn’t seem too nervous, but his tail did occasionally dart from side to side. Next to Thunderstar, Oak Shade kept his claws unsheathed, gripping them tighter into the turf, and he kept his black-and-orange coloured pelt spread out, in an effort to appear bigger than he was.
The same rustling returned as a light gray tom slunk from the bushes that enclosed SkyClan territory. Startled, Oak Shade realised it was Skystar. What’s the leader of SkyClan doing here?
Thunderstar appeared to be unsettled as he dipped his head in greeting, “Skystar, what are you doing here? Thunderstar enquired.
Ignoring Thunderstar’s question, Skystar padded onto the centre of the Bark Path. The narrow chasm of light was etched along the top of his head, making that section of his fur appear white. Instead of staring at Thunderstar, Skystar’s icy blue stare was locked on him; it made Oak Shade feel even smaller than he was. Flustered, Oak Shade clutched his claws deeper into the clumps of undergrowth.
Oak Shade’s tail began to jolt in random directions as Skystar’s icy blue eyes continued to scan over him. “He looks a lot like you,” Skystar purred. “He’s got your orange fur, for sure.” Examining both of them more, Skystar expressed a small sorrowful sigh, “You’ve both got Storm’s sleek fur.”
Confused, Oak Shade felt freaked out. What in StarClan does he mean by that?
Soon enough, Thunderstar interrupted, trying to alter the subject, “You better head back into your territory,” he warned. Letting off a growl, he added, “Before you cross into ours.”
One of Skystar’s ears twitched and a mixture of surprise and disappointment covered the leader’s muzzle. “You haven’t told him yet, have you?” Skystar’s tail whipped around as he headed back into his own territory. Over his shoulder, Skystar meowed, “I didn’t think you were so ashamed of me.”
Oak Shade took one paw step forward, wanting to find out more. But it was already pointless. Skystar had disappeared into the throng of undergrowth.
Anger coursed through Oak Shade’s veins. Twisting his body around, he could see Thunderstar blankly gazing into SkyClan territory. Irritation marked his muzzle.
“What did he mean?” Oak Shade snapped, becoming more and more furious with each passing heartbeat. “What haven’t you told me?”
Thunderstar’s tail lashed. “I’ll tell you back in camp,” he repeated from earlier, attempting to keep a level voice.
“Fine,” Oak Shade hissed, angrily. “But I want to know everything. I don’t want any more secrets.”
“As I said earlier, I will tell you everything,” Thunderstar reminded him. “It’s a long story − I better tell you back in camp.”
Oak Shade didn’t have time to protest further as Thunderstar drove through the undergrowth, heading back towards camp. Seeing Thunderstar’s intense pace, Oak Shade was forced to hurry to catch up to his brisk movements.
--- SCENEBREAK ---
Thunderstar had slowed down, but Oak Shade still had to trot to keep up. The young black-and-orange tom-kit could feel his shorter legs beginning to ache, throbbing with exhaustion. Normally, Oak Shade would be happy to flop down into his comfy moss nest. However, despite feeling anxious about what Thunderstar would say, he needed answers.
“Surely, it can’t be anything too bad,” Oak Shade muttered under his breath, though unease still haunted his mind as they neared camp, coming to a pause before the slope that started the decline into the ravine, where ThunderClan’s camp was located.
Thunderstar halted, his bright orange pelt twitching. The leader of ThunderClan was getting ready to descend the rock-laced slope towards the bramble-walled camp.
Instantly, Oak Shade was forced to squint his eyes as sharp sunlight shimmered. Even so, Oak Shade could just about see the sun beginning to get lower and lower, making the sky turn into shades of orange and pink. He quickly rotated his head away, shielding himself from its powerful rays. The air had also grown more humid with each passing sunrise, making it seem thinner than usual. Plus, whenever Oak Shade was in the open, it felt like the sunlight would ignite his pelt; he was glad that ThunderClan lived under shade rather than the open sky.
Unexpectedly, a recognisably warm and sweet scent washed over Oak Shade. He felt calmed by it. Violet Dawn’s familiar sleek dark frame emerged from the deep woodland, with Leaf and Owl Eyes appearing behind her. Each cat had prey in-between their jaws. Then, Morning Fire followed, gripping a large rabbit, which she was tensing to carry. Once detecting Oak Shade though, Morning Fire gave him a smug look. Not wanting to give Thunderstar a reason not to tell him anything, Oak Shade forced himself to ignore the antagonistic darkish-brown she-cat’s triumphant sneer.
The ears of Thunderstar flicked forward in greeting. As the leader noticed the large amount of prey they were supporting, he praised, “Well done! There will be plenty of fresh-kill later.”
Despite Thunderstar’s warm words of congratulation, the nervous look returned to his muzzle. Oak Shade could tell his father was worried about telling him the truth. But Oak Shade felt it was his right to know whatever Thunderstar was keeping from him.
Serves him right! It obviously affects me! I don’t get why he hasn’t told me yet!
As Violet Dawn neared them, her whiskers quivered, an uncertain expression growing on her face. She turned to Owl Eyes, who had the least prey out of the four cats, and asked. “Could you take my prey back to camp?”
“No problem,” Owl Eyes breathed through the feathers of a small blackbird.
Leaf and Morning Fire overtook Owl Eyes as the gray tom bent down to pick up Violet Dawn’s fresh-kill. Owl Eyes soon joined them, and the three cats had disappeared down into the ravine.
Violet Dawn was left facing Thunderstar and Oak Shade. “I can tell something’s wrong,” she began, “so what happened?”
Thunderstar leaned towards his mate, whispering something into her glossy black ear.
Oak Shade was a little shocked at his mother’s response. “I told you that you couldn’t protect him forever,” Violet Dawn replied, somewhat shaking her head. “You delayed it and delayed it. This was always going to happen. It’s not even that big of a deal. You’ve made it worse than it should be. Just tell him now, if not he’ll find out from some other cat.”
“Okay, I know.” Thunderstar cut in.
Oak Shade could feel a combination of anticipation and dread as his parents faced him. Violet Dawn neared his flank, laying her tail on his spine, whilst Thunderstar sat down opposite. When all three cats had lowered themselves to the grass-patched ground, Thunderstar began:
“Violet Dawn’s kind of right. I was worried about how you would react, but I’ve learnt that every cat can follow its own paws.” Thunderstar cleared his throat. “I was born to a she-cat named Storm. The den she gave birth in collapsed, taking her with it.” There was sadness in his father’s voice, which was worryingly alike to Skystar. But Thunderstar’s voice softened as he went on, “Luckily, I was saved by a cat called Gray Wing, and he became my foster father.” Thunderstar’s amber eyes glowed. “Have you heard of him?” the leader curiously enquired.
“Of course! He’s the cat that helped form the Clans,” Oak Shade mewed. Licking down a tuft of fur on one of his forepaws, Oak Shade reconsidered, “Well, that’s what Lightning Tail told me.” The black-and-orange tom-kit felt admiration for his father. “He seems likes an awesome cat.”
Thunderstar nodded. “Gray Wing was. He was so courageous, wise, and noble. There was no cat like him. He taught me a lot, and I have much to thank him for and the moorland cats.”
“Moorland cats?” Oak Shade was stunned.
Had Thunderstar been a part of WindClan? Did that mean, like Spider Paw and Blue Whisker, he wasn’t a full-blooded Clan cat.
“Yes, but they weren’t known as WindClan back then.” Oak Shade was disgusted by how casually Thunderstar said it. “It was long before the Clans were even named,” Thunderstar continued.
“But how does Skystar fit into this?” Oak Shade interrupted, fearing what his father would say.
Thunderstar gave him a long stare, before murmuring, “My father is Skystar.”
Horrified, Oak Shade’s fur bristled out. “You’ve been in SkyClan, too! How many of the other Clans have you lived in?” Ignoring the alarm on his parents’ muzzles, he went on, “I can’t believe it! How can I stay loyal to ThunderClan, when I know you’ve been in the other Clans?” Oak Shade retorted. “And you’ve lied to me all this time!”
Thunderstar’s white-tipped tail brushed from flank to flank, and he stood proudly. Sunset’s pink and orange lights flashed against his pelt. “It doesn’t mean that. I am ThunderClan’s leader. If StarClan didn’t think I was worthy, I wouldn’t be the Clan’s leader. And just because Skystar shares my blood, it doesn’t mean he doesn’t belong to a rival Clan. Make no mistake, Oak Shade. I will defend my Clan with everything I’ve got – against every possible enemy that will challenge us.”
Oak Shade still felt unsure about his loyalties. I don’t want to be like Spider Paw and Blue Whisker. I want to become the greatest ThunderClan cat ever!
Despite this, Oak Shade knew for certain that he did trust his father. Even though both his parents had lied to him, a part of him knew that Thunderstar had kept the secret about Skystar – in a way − to safeguard him. When looking at Violet Dawn’s concerned, warm-heartened gaze, Oak Shade knew it was impossible to stay angry at his mother.
Still partly paralysed by his conflicting loyalties to the other Clans, Oak Shade reflected about everything he knew. Heartbeats dashed by. But, more importantly, Oak Shade realised that he might be able to put ThunderClan first and become the cat he always wanted to be.
I feel so divided. But I’ll try to put my Clan, ThunderClan, above all else. I’ll become a great fighter and a great hunter! Oak Shade silently vowed. Nothing will stop me!
He saw his father and mother out of the corners of his eyes. “I’m sorry for overreacting,” he admitted, letting his hackles fall. Upon seeing his parents’ distress lift, Oak Shade knew that he had said the right words.
“It’s okay,” his father reassured him. “When I was younger, I also wanted to be independent.”
Oak Shade could feel his mother’s comforting licks swamp his fur; they invoked memories of the nursery. Thunderstar’s fatherly, calm aura was standing very close by. It made him almost forget about the troubles of the day. Regardless of what had happened and how he felt, Oak Shade realised that the next sunrise was a new day for him to hone his skills to a higher level.
The three cats embraced each other, as, in the darkening horizon, the last sparkling glimpses of sunlight hit their pelts. Heartbeats later, the sun had been hidden from view. To be replaced by an alluring sky of stars and the ever-glowing moon.
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