Banished Stars (Chapter 10)
Word-Count: 1,083 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
Rainstar came back like a bolt of lightning- loudly and all at once. She jumped to her feet. It was dark...and she could smell Woodclan. She wasted no time running in the opposite direction of the camp. She struggled to find her way back to the Dustclan border. Her head was foggy. Rainstar didn't feel like she complete. She knew she needed to go back to her clan. She bolted across the border. The prickly pear cactus came into sight and Rainstar leaped. Her feet cleared the top of the cactus, but she still landed with great force on her side.
Cats awoke and peered from their dens. Rainstar laid there, happy to see her clan come to see her. She was unbothered by her weak, awkward position.
Wavecrash nudged her, helping to adjust herself to sit up. "You're alive," He said in a low voice.
"I...I am alive." Rainstar repeated unevenly.
"But you have lost a life." Crystalsight said. Her message was sobering. "You have only eight more."
"But I never-" Rainstar began, but Crystalsight shook her head and spoke over her.
"Starclan chose you as leader, Rainstar. They chose you."
Rainstar nodded. She didn't quite understand why Starclan had chosen her, but she would trust Crystalsight's word with her life.
"Rainstar, you've returned," spoke Snakeskin. He had crept up close to the Tideclan cats in silence, as he was oft to do. She turned to face him as an uneasy feeling crept into her skin. Snakeskin looked the same as always, but Rainstar felt a treacherous aura around him. "We didn't think you'd come back," He said. "We thought you sacrificed yourself for these cats."
"My clan," Rainstar said. "I can not abandon my clan."
A shadow crept across Snakeskin's face, covering the white diamond shape on his forehead. "I see.... Quietstar needs to talk to you."
The Tideclan cats shot glances to eachother full of vague fretting. Rainstar turned back to face them, trying to give an encouraging smile, before walking in the direction of Quietstar's den. She tried to follow Snakeskin, who glided around the stalks of the prickly pear with ease, but was unable to. The sharp needles of the plant dug into her sides and scraped against her skin. She would reach Quietstar with light trickles of blood in her fur.
Quietstar was laying down. His breath was pained and heavy. He seemed smaller, and older, and weaker, than he ever had before. Still, his eyes were full of the same generosity that had shown when he first offered shelter to Tideclan. "Rainstar," He said quietly.
"Quietstar," Rainstar replied. "Is...is there something you need to tell me?"
Quietstar sighed. "Yes, unfortunately. Your cats have brought reports that Briarclan and Woodclan are in allegiance....in fear of the sickness we saw. They believe it comes from your clan."
"They are wrong," Rainstar said with confidence. "There was no such sickness in the Coastlands, or in Tideclan, ever before. We never had anything to spread."
"And I believe you, of course." Quietstar replied. He glanced over Rainstar at Snakeskin. "But... Woodclan and Briarclan do not. They will come back for you. They will come here for you."
"Tideclan will repay your kindness, Quietstar. We will defend this camp." Rainstar offered.
Snakeskin hissed, "Dustclan can not rely on four cats to defend an attack from two clans. We have suffered so much already, we can no longer spare our safety."
"Snakeskin, please..." Quietstar whispered. The tail-less deputy swallowed and nodded respectfully at the leader. Quietstar continued, "We can only offer shelter to Dustclan cats."
Rainstar took a few pained breaths. "You're....you're kicking us out? But we still...we..."
"We're not kicking you out." Quietstar said, eyes shining. "We're....we're asking you to join us. Let Tideclan become Dustclan. If we unite as one, we have a chance of defending ourselves from Briarclan and Woodclan."
"Become Dustclan...?" Rainstar said. Her face soured. "We are Tideclan, we will not just... just give ourselves up. Our identity."
"You have lived in our home, shared tongues with our warriors, drank water and caught prey in our lands." Snakeskin spoke with icy coldness. "What are you, if not Dustclan cats?"
"We are Tideclan!" Rainstar hissed.
"And where is your home?" Snakeskin shouted back.
She huffed. "We....we..."
"You have no home. You have no Nightkeeper, no range of Starclan." Snakeskin forced himself forward, pushing Rainstar back. "There is no Tideclan."
"We will not join you!" Rainstar hissed, swatting at Snakeskin. Snakeskin beared his fangs and unsheathed his claws.
"You will have to leave." Quietstar whispered. "You will have to leave, now." In that moment, Snakeskin pounced onto Rainstar. He wrestled with incredible strength, pulling her back toward the prickly pear. Rainstar writhes, her flank pressed against the spines, trying to pull herself out. A quick bite into Snakeskin's ear gives her the opportunity to escape, and she bolts out of the den.
"Tideclan! Tideclan, wake up!" Rainstar hollers. "We need to go! We need to go, all of us, now!!"
Wavecrash raised his head sleepily. "What are you talking about...?"
Snakeskin leaped out of the den and onto Rainstar's back. She let out a wail of pain, and fell down. Rainstar rolled in the dirt to flip over on Snakeskin, kicking him to the side.
"We need to go now!" She repeated.
Wavecrash was convinced. He woke the sleeping apprentices, commanded the two warriors to watch for attacks from behind. Rainstar ran over to them, hurrying them out from the camp toward the southwest.
The Dustclan cats stayed in their dens. They cast their eyes down, as if they couldn't bare to look as Snakeskin chased Tideclan out. They said nothing.
"And where will you go!" Snakeskin roared. "Where will you go, you cats without a home! No Drylands cat will shelter you now. No cat will accept your presence here. You will be chased and hunted! You are a lost clan!"
Rainstar lead the small group of cats into the night. Everything felt so familiar...it was all happening again.
She could hear a chanting from the Dustclan camp as they ran. Lostclan! Lostclan! Lostclan!
It was happening again, but she didn't know where she was. Rainstar felt the waves against her back, but there was no sea. There was no cave. She looked into the sky...there were no stars for Tideclan. The words exploded into her mind like rushing water.... There was no Tideclan.
The group ran in silence, listening to the calls from behind.
Lostclan! Lostclan! Lostclan!