Banished Stars (Chapter 6)
Word-Count: 1,187 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
"Raintar," Quietstar whispered. "We must talk."
Rainstar pulled herself off the ground, blinking a bit groggily, but then sharpening her focus into the small black cat's eyes. "Alright. I assume this is about Palethorn."
"Of course. It is about Palethorn, and about your clan."
Rainstar perked up her ears. "Is something wrong?"
Quietstar shook his head. "No, but I think these events warrant an envoy. We should tell the other clans."
"Oh yes, of course." Rainstar nodded, taking a quick look up at the moon. "The Gathering is tomorrow night."
"What Gathering?" Quietstar replied.
Rainstar narrowed her eyes. "The meeting of the four clans under truce at the Full Moon..." She sighed. It was obvious. "The Drylands doesn't have Gatherings?"
"No." Quietstar said almost apologetically. "There is never a truce in the Drylands."
"So how do the clans share information?"
Quietstar adjusted his footing and straightened his back. "We normally don't. But when it is required, we send an envoy. Its a dangerous job, but the other clans deserve to know about the strange sickness....in case it spreads." He added grimly. "Besides, I believe it is time your clan has made their introduction to everyone."
Rainstar nodded in understanding. She had only seen Dustclan's territory, and some of Woodclan's. They would need to know all the borders. "But," She paused, "Surely you don't mean to send an envoy now, at night."
He shook his head. "Not now. An envoy is more likely to be trusted in daylight...but they must leave early. Choose warriors from your clan to go before sunrise. I warn you, envoys are often dangerous missions. Choose well."
Her nose wrinkled. There were only three other warriors in her clan, there was not a lot of options who to chose. "Is any Dustclan cat coming?" Rainstar asked.
"No." Quietstar said firmly. "We will give you detailed instructions on your route, but Dustclan has other matters to attend to."
"Other matters...?" She said without even thinking. The small black cat's eyes flashed with an anger that Rainstar had never seen in him before. She swallowed. This was not something she should be prying about. "Yes, I will tell my cats."
"Good." Quietstar's face had returned to the soft, gentle face that she was familiar with. He flicked his tail and returned to his den that seemed to go inside the prickly pear. Rainstar wondered if it was a hollowed out bit, or if the prickly pear was growing around something.
She shrugged. Rainstar had already decided who she was bringing as an envoy- herself and Wavecrash, of course, and Crabclaw. She briefly considered taking Crystalsight, a medicine cat could help them to convince the idea of a sickness, but Rainstar realized Crystalsight would have to dowse at that time. Still, maybe the envoy could go with Crystalsight as she dowsed, drink the water, and be on their way. That seemed like a good plan. Rainstar prodded Wavecrash and Crabclaw, let them know that they would be needed to travel early in the morning, and returned to sleep.
That night she had no dreams.
The next morning, Quietstar woke her up again. The sun had not even begun to rise. Rainstar was unsure of how long it had even been since she laid down, but it seemed like many of the Dustclan cats were already stirring. Rainstar woke Wavecrash and Crabclaw. As expected, Crystalsight was already awake. She was with Foxflight.
Rainstar trodded in Crystalsight's direction, eager to tell her the plan for the envoy to join her on her dowsing, but her path was interrupted by a scowling Wavecrash. He whispered in a low tone. "Rainstar... aren't you suspicious?"
She replied, talking in a whisper as well. "Suspicious of what?"
"This envoy. They want us to separate our strongest warriors from the rest of the clan, send them off into the unknown with enemy clans, and leave the rest of the clan nearly unguarded in the middle of these strangers' camp! This could very easily be a plan to rid the world of Tideclan for good." Wavecrash's fur stood on end. He could hardly hide how angry he was.
Rainstar searched for words. "Quietstar has been so nice..." She said unconvincingly. Even she knew that was a weak excuse for what was, without a doubt, a dangerous course of action.
Wavecrash curled his lip, "Rainstar, you are acting like some kittypet in the Dustclan's nest! We can not stay here."
"We won't." Rainstar snapped. She was not going to take the insult lightly. "But, before we set off into the Drylands on our own... we ought to know the borders of the other clans. This seems like the opportunity to learn."
"You stubborn fool." Wavecrash hissed. "You're going to keep our clan out in this wretched place to die, just so you don't have to admit that you shouldn't have lead us out here! You shouldn't have lead us at all."
Rainstar slapped Wavecrash across the face. Her claws were not extended, but it was a blow powerful enough to quiet him for the moment being. "Shut up! I am the leader! You will listen to me, or be banished as a traitor!" She stared directly into Wavecrash's green eyes, fighting her own urge to break down. Rainstar needed to be strong.
Pebblepaw and Puddlepaw's mouths hung open, aghast at the harsh words Rainstar had said against her own deputy. The Dustclan queen, Berryjuice, pushed back a small kit away from the area. She curled her tail around the Dustclan cat's who had looked up when they heard the shout, and gestured to give the Tideclan cat's space.
Wavecrash huffed and turned away. He carried his head low. Although he might have very little patience for his leader, Wavecrash had all the loyalty you could ask for his clan. He would never let himself become a traitor. Rainstar sighed, and tried to ignore the eyes of two clans who watched her. She straightened her back, squared her shoulders, and held her head high.
She finished walking over to Crystalsight and did her best to regain composure in her voice. "Crystalsight-- I am taking Wavecrash and Crabclaw as an envoy today. I want to follow you to the water, and then we will go on our way and you can stay back with Frostfang and the apprentices. I want you to stay in camp with them today, as much as you can." Crystalsight didn't even seem to look at Rainstar. "I know," she mewed, "Foxflight has already told me of Quietstar's plan."
She got ahead of herself, "Its-it's not just Quietstar's plan, I have made--"
"Its fine." Crystalsight purred, turning to Rainstar and giving her cheek a quick lick. The leader felt paralyzed for a moment. "Let's head out now." The white cat nodded knowingly at Foxflight, stood up, and began to trod out of camp.
Rainstar called over to her deputy and senior warrior. They followed her call, and the party headed out into the arid land. Snakeskin watched them as they walked out of sight, checked over his shoulder, and went into Quietstar's den.