Banished Stars (Chapter 8)
Word-Count: 1,350 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
The sun was beginning to set, staining the sky a blood-red color. The three Tideclan cats reached the smooth platform beside the Behemoth without any trouble.
"Let's rest..." Rainstar panted. The water she had drank that morning was all gone, and her tongue was dry. Crabclaw nodded and immediately flopped onto his side. Wavecrash sat down more neatly. All of them were grateful for the cooler air the setting sun was bringing.
Crabclaw chewed on his lip a little. Rainstar noticed he seemed like he was trying to find the bravery to say something. "Is something the matter?" she offered to the warrior, hoping an invite could make it easier for him to speak.
He was grateful, letting out a relieved sigh. "I just....as we were walking all around... all through the Drylands," Crabclaw said, "I was trying to see if there was a place where we could go."
"Could go?" Rainstar echoed.
"Yeah, like, when we leave Dustclan's camp. A place for Tideclan to live.... independently." The peachy-orange tom looked at Wavecrash from the side of his eyes, worried he might snap at the mention of staying. Wavecrash sighed, but said nothing. Crabclaw continued, "I just... I didn't see much. It seemed like everywhere that wasn't already territory was just...just nothing."
She widened her eyes. Rainstar had not even though to be looking for a place to call Tideclan's new home, she had been totally focused on just learning what was already there. Had she really become this comfortable in Dustclan's territory? Noticing she had been quiet too long, she said, "We didn't travel much farther than the inner clan borders. We might...have to search farther."
Wavecrash rolled his eyes. "Should we jump back into the Behemoth's belly again? Maybe that will take us even further."
Rainstar did everything she could to ignore him, not even glancing away from Crabclaw. "Besides....Dustclan seems to have created a camp out of the flat ground. If we need to, we can create our own the same way."
Crabclaw blinked and nodded. "That is true... It's amazing what Dustclan has been able to make out of this place." He looked up at the sky with a faraway thoughtfulness.
Rainstar gave his ear a quick lick. "We all miss the Coastlands...but that...that place isn't safe for us anymore."
"No place is safe for you anymore!!" A thunderous shriek cried.
She whipped her head around, and saw at least five cats galloping toward them. She could recognize Thickshadow, from Woodclan, and Greeneye from Briarclan. The cat that cried out she didn't recognize. He was a massive dark-brown tabby, with enormous claws that stuck out of his white-tipped feet. He commanded presence with size alone, but the deep booming voice was enough to send shivers through Rainstar's fur.
"You have brought sickness, madness, chaos, to our clans!" The tabby hollered. "There are four Nightkeepers and four clans- we will spare no room for an intruding fifth."
Wavecrash jumped from the platform, hurling himself on top of the huge cat. The downward momentum given to him from the height of the platform sent the big cat tumbling to the ground.
"Sparrowstar!" squealed Thickshadow. He thrusted himself off the ground and onto Wavecrash, digging his claws against his shoulders. Wavecrash howled and leaped to the side to thorw of Thickshadow, but releasing Sparrowstar in the process.
Crabclaw was running toward Greeneye, who waited patiently for him to make the first move. Rainstar, however, took a step back. "We are badly outnumbered! We can't fight-- Tideclan, retreat!" she said.
Wavecrash kicked a lunging warrior back and hissed, "Retreat to where, Rainstar? Where can we go?"
Rainstar tried to search for a path, but was pushed from her position by Sparrowstar. The two leaders reared up to box at one another, slashing and hissing.
"False, lying leader!" Sparrowstar growled. He headbutted Rainstar in the gut. The wind was knocked out of her and she fell limply onto the tracks of the Behemoth, coughing in hideous stink.
"Wavecrash...Crabclaw!" Rainstar managed to say. "The Behemoth....run along the tracks, south!"
Crabclaw tore his mouth off of Greeneye's scruff to shout, "They'll follow us!"
"No..." Rainstar hacked. She stood up, body shaking for a moment before stiffening with purpose. "I am Rainstar of Tideclan, and you can not banish us again!" She pounced onto Sparrowstar, but didn't grab hold. Instead, Rainstar leaped again off of the Woodclan leader, kicking him in the face as she left, and bolted toward the west.
"She's headed toward to Woodclan camp!" Thickshadow shouted.
"We have to stop her, before she brings that taint directly to us." Sparrowstar said, pulling himself of the ground and chasing after Rainstar.
Greeneye kicked Crabclaw in the belly, twirling back onto her legs. "She is trying to create a diversion, you idiots!" Her voice was uncharacteristically shrill. "These two are getting away." Crabclaw was pulling Wavecrash by the scruff out of the dirt, headed toward the southern marks of the great iron beast.
Thickshadow breathed heavily, eyes darting. "But....the camp!" He followed after Sparrowstar, as did most of the other attacking cats.
Greeneye spat. Turning her intense gaze on to Wavecrash, she hissed "We'll follow you! We'll find you!" The Briarclan cat took a few steps back and then darted in the direction of the Woodclan camp. Crabclaw and Wavecrash were left alone.
"What about Rainstar?" Crabclaw gasped.
Wavecrash was already darting down the side of the tracks. "She gave her order- let's go!"
Crabclaw took a few uneasy breaths before following after his deputy.
Rainstar ran. All around her where the blur of Twoleg buildings, but there was no smell of Twolegs at all. These buildings were faded to be the same color as the sand that surrounded them. Woodclan lived amongst these ruins.
She had been told by Snakeskin that the Woodclan camp was inside the tallest Twoleg monument, something that glistened silver in the sun. Although the sun was mostly gone, she could see the shadow of some tall, smooth object in the sky. Rainstar did not plan to enter the camp, but just to get close enough to incite the fear from Woodclan... they needed to chase her. Crabclaw and Wavecrash needed to escape.
Rainstar's legs shot with pain every time her feet touched the ground. The pumping, boiling blood in her ears was so loud she couldn't make out the shouts of her pursuers. She was running. She was running as fast as she could, but she didn't notice that she was slowing down. Her body couldn't support the effort.
Sparrowstar, Thickshadow, Greeneye and the other warriors were compact as a pack of dogs, and just as vicious. Rainstar was weakening, but the closer she got to the Woodclan camp, these cats seemed to gain more energy.
The gray-and-white leader passed by the tall, silver monolith just as it swallowed up the last of the sun's rays. The world was coated in inky darkness...Rainstar's eyes failed her. Her body lost balance, toppling over although her legs still kicked.
The group of cats swarmed around her, clawing and lashing and biting all at once. Rainstar did not fight back. Her body lay limp and bleeding. Greeneye, mouth covered in blood, howled. "She's dead! Stop, she's dead."
Sparrowstar took a deep breath. "She's a leader, she'll be back."
"Are you sure?" Greeneye said. "She never traveled to the Everpool, as far as I'm aware."
"How could she have more lives without a nightkeeper to grant them?" Thickshadow mumbled.
Sparrowstar paused. "Just wait."
The cat's stood over the bleeding body of the gray-and-white leader. The distinct gray patch under her eye seemed to keep her corpse crying even after the blood had stopped flowing. The light of the pale moon began to creep closer.
"We've waited long enough," The Woodclan leader declared. "We can't be out this late. The Sunscorched Madness will spread. She was no leader, and she's dead."
Greeneye and Thickshadow had grown tired of waiting and were inclined to agree. They nodded at eachother in silence, and slipped away into the shadows. Rainstar was left to the elements.