Banished Stars (Chapter 2)
Word-Count: 1303 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
It did not take long for Snakeskin to return. With him where two other toms, a bright red-orange tabby and a short, scrawny black cat. Rainstar sat down. Her twitching tail betrayed her hopes to keep her nervousness concealed. The other Tideclan cats had already laid down, exhausted from the heat of the journey. Their eyes were tired and weary, and for once had no disgruntled commentary.
"I bring you Foxflight, our medicine cat," Snakeskin gestured his tail to the reddish tom, "and Quietstar of Dustclan." He nodded at the scrawny back cat.
Rainstar was not an enormous cat, but she towered over Quietstar. His muzzle was grey with age, and he seemed to shiver while standing still. His presence was anything but intimidating. She almost laughed.
Quietstar opened his mouth and let out a faint rasping noise. When the words began to form from the rasping, they were barely audible. His name was blatantly accurate. "Welcome....to the Drylands. You are...Tideclan? All of Tideclan?"
Rainstar collected herself. "Yes, we are Tideclan. We come from the Coastlands, but have ridden the Behemoth here, to find ourselves a new home. We appreciate your generosity in hoping to get our footing." She could hear Frostfang murmur something in disdain.
Quietstar nodded. "So... do you plan to stay?"
She struggled to hear him, stretching her neck closer. "Excuse me?"
"Do you plan to stay? Here, in the Drylands. Surely, your clan intends to return to the Coastlands...?"
Rainstar kneaded the earth uncomfortably, dry sand filling between her toes. The other cats of her clan looked to her with doubt. Her gray-blue eyes caught a glimpse of Crystalsight, their own medicine cat, who too was listening with interest. Rainstar straightened her back. She must show her confidence in her decision. Weakness in herself would be torn apart by the clan. "Starclan has sent us here."
"Then," Quietstar rasped, "You are wise to listen to Starclan's message."
"No matter how crazy it is," Foxflight laughed, finally speaking up. Quietstar gave him an amused but quieting glance.
"Dustclan, too, has heard the words of Starclan. We will pay them head. Dustclan will give Tideclan shelter for the time being." Quietstar's said firmly. Rainstar felt a bit of relief. "But," He continued, "After tonight, you will have to hunt and dowse for water for yourselves."
"I understand." Rainstar replied without taking much time to think. It only hit her after that she had no idea what "dowsing for water" meant. The thought brought attention to her dry, scratchy throat. Her clan were excellent hunters in the Coastlands, though, and she had full belief they could be in the Drylands, too.
"Perfect." Quietstar closed his eyes as he purred. His eyes were still closed as he stood up to head back toward the prickly plant. "Snakeskin, go ahead and tell the camp of our guests."
"Yes, Quietstar." Snakeskin bounded off dutifully.
The other cats followed slowly behind. The cats of Tideclan were weak and parched. They saved their words to spare their tongues. Quietstar spoke, although Rainstar was unsure if anybody else could hear him. "There are four clans here. Dustclan, Woodclan, Stoneclan, and Briarclan.... There have only ever been four clans, but we have heard legends of territories of five or even six clans.... and I am sure Starclan would not send you here without reason."
"Dustclan idiots!" A voice screamed from behind. The cats whipped their heads around, to see three strange cats charging from the distance. Their body-language was hostile.
"Woodclan," Foxflight growled under his breath. "You're a long way from your nest, Palethorn!" He jeered.
"Shut up," The pale ginger tom snarled. He charged straight up to Quietstar. Foxflight seemed to put up no defense for the leader, and Rainstar almost instinctively wanted to push herself between the Dustclan leader and the angry Woodclan warrior. "Quietstar, who are these rogues? What were they and your warriors doing in Woodclan territory? Surely you have not forgotten you lost rights to the border fields."
"No." Quietstar said painfully. "I have not forgotten. These cats are here on mission from Starclan. They came with the Behemoth from far away. They are Tideclan."
"Tideclan?!" Palethorn roared. The other two warriors exchanged confused glances. "There is no Tideclan! Have you gone mad, old man?"
Rainstar could tolerate this no more. "We are Tideclan, from the Coastlands. We-"
"Well you better go BACK to the 'Coastlands' then," The pale ginger cat hissed. "There is no place for you here. You do not belong under these skies."
Foxflight narrowed his eyes. "Starclan has brought them here, Palethorn. Even you are not so arrogant to doubt the will of our ancestors?"
"I would doubt Dustclan's ancestors any day! Being dead doesn't make you any less stupid!" Palethorn bellowed. This was the last straw for Foxflight, who slashed the Woodclan warrior across the jaw. The two other Woodclan warriors, Thickshadow and Coyotefoot, pounced forward. Thickshadow, the black, chubby warrior was surprised when a Tideclan cat pounded into him mid-leap. It was an orange tom, Crabclaw, Tideclan's most steadfast and loyal. Crabclaw's initiated the other Tideclan cat's to force themselves onto the Woodclan cats. It took considerable effort to attack. Tideclan's weakness was evident. But, even in their weakened state, the sheer number forced Woodclan back.
Palethorn pulled himself out from under Foxflight, and hurried with lowered ears back east. "You can't support these rogues forever, Quietstar!" He hissed. "We'll be back!" They slipped away.
"What an arrogant brute," Foxflight spat onto the dirt. "To come this far into Dustclan territory with no more than a small patrol." Rainstar glanced at him. She was unsure if the Dustclan leader and medicine cat could've held a fight if Tideclan had not been there.
"Rainstar!" A deep voice bellowed. She winced at the familiar call. A brown tabby tom forced himself forward. This was Wavecrash, her deputy. "You have ignored me long enough! We are impossibly far from our homelands, we are weak and thirsty, and you have put us in harms way!!"
Rainstar's haunches prickled. "This is our only available course of action, Wavecrash. Dustclan has granted us shelter so we can regain our strength."
"Why are you already cowing to these strangers? How can you trust them? That Snakeskin was trespassing!" Wavecrashed growled. Foxflight and Quietstar shuffled back from the quarreling cats.
"What would you have us do, then?" Rainstar yowled. She breathed heavily, and then repeated in a softer voice, "What would you have us do?"
Wavecrash seemed taken aback. "We need to go back."
Rainstar sighed. "You know we can not make that journey in this condition. We will need to rest-"
Crystalsight interrupted with a mew as quiet as the Dustclan's leader. "Look."
During their trek across the Drylands, their audience with Quietstar, and the spat against Woodclan, Rainstar had hardly noticed the setting sun. It seemed to drop out of the sky all at once. The sky was a thick, solid black...but the stars! The stars were so clear and numerous. It seemed like the cats could reach up and touch them.
"Starclan," Crystalsight whispered. "Starclan is close to us."
Rainstar and Wavecrash looked at eachother. Their glances spoke of a silent truce to their fight, for the moment. Crystalsight's judgment was well-respected.
Foxflight circled close to the white cat. "Starclan speaks to you?"
"I am Tideclan's Medicine Cat," She responded. "Of course they do."
Foxflight nodded. He turned up to the stars, and seemed just as amazed as the Tideclan cats, as if he had never seen the Dryland skies before. The wonder of the Tideclans cats brought him new vision of the familiar stars. "Starclan spoke to me, too, y'know." He said after a long pause. Foxflight turned his head. His bright yellow eyes burned into Rainstar. "They told me about you, Rainstar."