Banished Stars (Chapter 7)
Word-Count: 1,676 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
They were heading north. Rainstar, Wavecrash, and Crabclaw were going to Stoneclan territory first. Then they would go east to Briarclan, and then circle back to Woodclan. Stoneclan, she had been told, lived in a deep gorge that protected them from the heat and most intruders. Stoneclan often kept to themselves. Rainstar thought that it seemed like all of these clans kept to themselves, when they had no Gathering. No gathering, divided Starclans.... Rainstar sometimes found it hard to believe they were clan cats at all.
"I can smell a border." Crabclaw called from ahead. "Though, it seems...old."
Wavecrash bounded over to where the orange warrior stood. "I can see the gorge... it makes sense that this is the Stoneclan border."
"Do you see any patrols?" Rainstar asked.
Crabclaw shook his head. "I don't see anyone....should we go in further?"
Rainstar took a sharp breath and averted her eyes to think. "No...if we go down into the gorge, we'd be incredibly vulnerable. They could trap us in."
"I agree," Wavecrash said firmly. Rainstar looked at him with wide eyes. It was not often she made a decision that Wavecrash agreed with. The tabby deputy continued, "I think....we should trace along this border. See if we meet up with anybody."
Rainstar nodded. "Yes, that is a better idea than just waiting here."
Crabclaw said, "But what if we don't?"
"Then we'll head to Briarclan, and come back here later." Rainstar decided quickly. "We don't need to waste daylight."
Wavecrash chuckled, "Even though there seems to be an excess of daylight here." Rainstar peered at him, trying to read in his face if he was truly making a joke or trying to undermine her again. It looked like he thought he was being humorous, and not biting for once.
"Let's go," Rainstar ordered, and began following the scent-border to the east. She walked ahead of the two others, who seemed to stay back to talk quietly to each other. Thoughts of how they were sharing their loathing of her, and planning mutiny, exploded in Rainstar's head. She shook them out. This was no time for her worries, and Crabclaw and Wavecrash did not exchange words for long before following after.
The Stoneclan border went on for a long way. The horrible, sharp scent of the Behemoth tracks stung Rainstar's nose, but she could still make out the markers of Stoneclan. Did their territory cross the tracks?
"From the west!" Crabclaw cried suddenly. Rainstar and Wavecrash spun around, digging their claws into the earth, preparing for hostile cats.
The Stoneclan patrol walked with quiet authority, but did not immediately attack. A black-and-white she-cat spoke first. "Rogues! You have entered the territory of Stoneclan. Leave immediately."
"We're not rogues," Rainstar replied. She tried to match the she-cats calm and powerful tone. "We are an envoy."
The black-and-white cat narrowed her eyes, and the two toms with her moved themselves to surround Crabclaw and Wavecrash. "An envoy? Of what clan...?"
The Stoneclan patrol was so confused, they dropped their guard slightly and loosened their posture to stare awkwardly at eachother. "There is no Tideclan," one of the toms finally said.
"There is now." Rainstar replied. "Tideclan has come from the Coastlands to here, and is taking refuge in Dustclan territory for now."
"Oh," The black-and-white shecat chuckled. "This is some kind of Dustclan stunt. Tell Quietstar his trickery won't work, Stoneclan already knows of Dustclan's defeat."
Wavecrash hissed. "We are Tideclan!"
The Stoneclan patrol raised their hackles. "Well, Tideclan is not welcome in Stoneclan territory. Leave immediately."
"Wait," Rainstar squeaked. "There is something we must tell you."
"Then you will leave," The she-cat said.
"Yes..." said Rainstar. "I, Rainstar of Tideclan-"
One of the toms stifled a dismissive sputtering.
"Rainstar of Tideclan," Rainstar continued with greater presence, "wants to warn Stoneclan of a sickness."
"Lightstep of Stoneclan wants to tell Tideclan that they have a competent medicine cat who can deal with sickness," said the she-cat.
Wavecrashed growled at Lighstep. "You should be thankful we came to tell you at all." Crabclaw pushed on him with his side, a gentle suggestion to cool his temper.
Rainstar took a breath. "This is a sickness Tideclan...or Dustclan...has never seen before. It drives cats mad, burns their eyes, and cause them to attack without reason."
Lightstep was quiet. She shared glances with the other two members of her patrol. "You have seen this reaction?"
Rainstar nodded. "First hand." She hid the smallest smile. The disrespectful cat seemed to be interested now in what the leader had to said, and every instinct in Rainstar's body told her to say no more. "Tideclan will now leave." She flicked her tail to signal Crabclaw and Wavecrash.
The two other Tideclan cats smirked as well. Lightstep and the two toms said nothing, trapped by their own hostile actions from before. The envoy headed southeast, across the Behemoth tracks. Lightstep called out, "Stoneclan is prepared to face this sickness!"
The Tideclan cats didn't reply, but silently crossed out of sight. Crabclaw held his head proudly. "I think she might think twice about how she treats us."
"With any luck," Wavecrash said, "we will never have to see her again....or any of Stoneclan."
Rainstar shot him a glance. Wavecrash made it obvious that he believed Tideclan should return to the Coastlands as soon as possible... something Rainstar did not feel the strength to do. At least not now, she thought.
Crabclaw looked away from the two uneasily. Rainstar couldn't tell who he agreed with on the issue, but knew that his loyalty to Tideclan ultimately meant a loyalty to her. She felt confident in that.
"Why are we warning these cats anyways?" Wavecrash moaned.
"Tideclan should start its existence in the Drylands with a good impression," She said. "Warning of a mutually dangerous occurrence will show that we bare no ill will."
"Did Quietstar tell you that?" He snidely replied.
Rainstar was just about done with her deputies distrust in her. She opened her mouth to let out a lashing, but closed it. She could see Crabclaw's face of uneasiness, and recognized that the fighting was something the loyal warrior was not used to. If anything, she would bear Wavecrash for his sake. Instead, she set her head down purposefully, to smell for the scent of other cats. There was nothing here, but in the distance, her eyes caught a glimpse of something. Rainstar struggled to see further.
It was green, green plants, more than she had ever seen in the Drylands since her arrival. She signaled to the other two warriors to pick up their pace. Briarclan territory is covered in brambles and weeds, she had been told. They enjoy the most plentiful prey in the Drylands, but this fact made them all the more hostile to other clans looking to encroach on their resources.
"Stop!" A stranger's voice called. A single brown tabby cat poked its head out of the clump of spiky bramble far ahead. "Come no further!"
"We are an envoy." Rainstar called back. She had to raise her voice to be heard at such distance. The tabby popped back down into the brambles, and soon four cats wove their lean bodies out through the branches and into the clearing.
"I don't recognize them, Greeneye." The small tabby tom commented.
The other cat, with green eyes so bright they seemed to almost glow, replied, "I don't either, Tumblebrush. But look at them," She gestured at Rainstar's face. Greeneye sauntered up close to Tideclan's envoy. "What clan do you represent?" She said coolly.
"Tideclan." Rainstar replied, continuing before they could reply, "Tideclan has come from the Coastlands, and are now here in the Drylands. We are currently taking refuge in Dustclan, but this is not permanent."
The Briarclan cats exchanged knowing looks, eyes wide and mouths stern. Greeneye blinked. "How long ago did Tideclan come to the Drylands?"
Wavecrave huffed, "What does that matter?"
"A few nights ago?" Tumblebrush questioned. Wavecrash's startled look and subsequent turn toward Rainstar gave away that he was correct.
Greeneye smiled, but it was an empty smile. "You have come to warn us of a sickness."
Rainstar flinched. "Y-yes.... A sickness that drives cats to attack unprovoked, and burns their eyes red."
"We know." Greeneye snapped. "The sickness started a few days ago... when Tideclan came to the Drylands from some foreign land."
It was immediately clear what these Briarclan was thinking. Tideclan had brought the sickness with them. Crabclaw puffed up his fur. "Tideclan has nothing to do with this!"
Greeneye didn't reply. She made a sweeping head gesture, and Tumblebrush and another warrior hurried back into the thicket.
"What are you doing?" Wavecrash hissed impatiently.
Greeneye turned to face him slowly and gracefully. "Leave Briarclan's border." She rumbled. "This is your only and final warning."
Rainstar could hear shuffling of many footsteps just beyond the cover of the thorns. How many cats were lurking there? It wasn't wise to stay to find out. "Let's go!" She jumped as far as she could away from the border, quickly running south. Crabclaw and Wavecrash ran after her. Surprisingly, no Briarclan cats pursued.
They ran for a while, down the western side of the Behemoth's tracks. Wavecrash called ahead, "We should turn back, to Dustclan camp."
"No," Rainstar hissed. "We must tell Woodclan."
"Why? I'm sure they already know and blame us too! It's not safe here."
"We were given a mission, and I intend to complete it." Rainstar growled.
"Given?! You are the leader, you do not follow orders." Wavecrash roared.
She shook her head. "I will follow through on my promises. We are going to Woodclan first, and then we head home."
Crabclaw said, "Wavecrash, if you had planned on going back you should've said something before we were almost to Woodclan's territory." His point was strangely unemotional. Wavecrash turned his head away.
Rainstar picked up the pace. They would head to the spot where the Behemoth had stopped, the strange platform, and meet Woodclan...and explain the fate of Palethorn.