United Stars (Chapter 3)
Word-Count: 1,371 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
Rainstar dug into the ground. She pulled out lumps of dry dirt and loose stones, but didn't find what she was looking for. Sheepishly, she called out "No tunnels here either."
Crabclaw shook his head. "If prey is burrowing...they are certainly not doing it here." Below him, Pebblepaw panted with out stretched tongue. They had been trying to find life in this new range for hours to no avail.
"But, Crystalsight was able to find water!" Rainstar reminded them. "If there is water, I am sure that...that something lives here."
The peachy-orange tom cat took a long breath before saying softly, "Crystalsight is a miracleworker. Her connection to Starclan might bring us water, but I don't know if it can bring us prey."
"Starclan..." Rainstar echoed. She had never heard from her Warrior Ancestors, the celestial guardians of the clan, even though she was leader. She often worried they had not followed their clan out into the Drylands.
Crabclaw could see the worry in his leaders face. He rubbed against her. "Starclan sent us here for a reason."
"I don't know if our ancestors knew what they were doing." Cedarpaw squeaked. Pebblepaw and Crabclaw looked at the young brown apprentice in shock at her harsh words. She continued, "I wish I could ask them why."
Stammering, Rainstar said "Only leaders and medicine cats can talk to Starclan."
"Do they even talk to you?" Cedarpaw snapped.
Rainstar's patience was through. Her fur prickled with annoyance. "As leader of Tideclan, I will keep our-"
Cedarpaw stood up, puffing out all her fur and screaming, "Lostclan!"
Rainstar hissed. "You will respect-"
"Rainstar!" A familiar voice shouted. The bright-orange pelt of Foxflight bounded between the leader and Cedarpaw.
"Foxflight!" Crabclaw hissed, taking steps back to prepare to launch. "How dare you-"
"Wait, wait, wait!" Foxflight curled his tail around him submissively. "I'm here to help."
"Why should we trust you?" Cedarpaw squawked. Rainstar popped Cedarpaw on the nose with her paw softly.
"What do you have to say, Foxflight?" Rainstar commanded. She stiffened her posture and craned her neck to seem large and intimidating.
Foxflight took a few short breaths. "I- I am sorry. I didn't know Snakeskin was going to banish you."
"Snakeskin? It was your entire clan, Quietstar included, who sent us here!" Crabclaw growled. Pebblepaw separated himself from Crabclaw's soft fur, forcing past his fear to position himself aggressively.
"No, it's... The clan was shocked too." Foxflight said. "I warned Quietstar about the prophecy. The heart our clan will bear, we didn't want it to be a heart of cruelty. But Quietstar hasn't stepped two tail-lengths away from Snakeskin all day. He seems...scared of him." Foxflight swallowed. "Snakeskin has always been a big influence in the clan, but he seems to have completely taken over."
Eyes widening from the scared tone of the usually playful medicine cat, Rainstar listened. She had barely remembered the prophecy that Foxflight had told her when they first met- Rain shall bear the heart of the clans. They were convinced it was about her. Rainstar really hoped it wasn't.
The orange tom continued, "He wants to create an alliance, of all the clans....and he want's to sacrifice your clan to do it."
Pebblepaw squeaked in fear. Rainstar, Crabclaw, and Cedarpaw replied with stunned silence.
"He sent you to find us." Rainstar said knowingly.
"Yes," Foxflight admitted. "I used dowsing to find you, though I suspected you'd end up at the Behemoth's Bones. But, I am not going to give you to him. Your clan...has been so brave, and suffered so much. You don't deserve that. There must be some other way to help Dustclan. Snakeskin must be wrong."
"Then what are you here to do?" Rainstar asked. She could tell the gravity of the situation had not completely sunken into her yet, and she feared when it would. There clan had been banished, twice, and now was being hunted down in the unknown. "You said you wanted to help us, how are you going to do that?"
"You haven't received your Nine Lives, have you Rainstar?" Foxflight said.
She took a step back, lifting a single paw and looking up. "Err... I'm not sure. I didn't think I had, but Crystalsight says that I died." She smiled sheepishly. "Not really sure where I stand with that."
"Well, you should be sure." Foxflight pawed toward her. "I can give you directions to the Everpool. It's an oasis of water, out in the deep desert, that leaders and Medicine cats travel to, to talk to their Nightkeeper and Starclan. You can go there, receive your nine lives- for sure- and talk to Starclan."
Rainstar was suddenly shot with fear. Never before had she directly communicated with Starclan, and the idea of doing so now seemed...intimidating, and like she was unworthy. What could these ancestors possibly have to say that could help save Tideclan?
"And....Crabclaw, I think?" Foxflight continued, facing the warrior. "I'll take you and these apprentices into a field just on the border of Dustclan territory. Patrols don't visit often because it doesn't lead against another clan, but you'll be able to hunt there. I am guessing you have not had too much luck trying to catch prey here."
The gray-and-white leader had a moment of clarity. "Not yet....we need to get the rest of the clan. We need to tell them, prepare them. Then, we can send some of the other apprentices to try and get as much fresh-kill as they can carry."
Foxflight nodded. Rainstar's words were powerful and decisive, it was easy to follow them. "I will come with you."
Cedarpaw whispered to Rainstar, "Do you think its wise to show him where we are hiding...? It could be a trap."
Rainstar replied, not bothering to quiet her voice. "He already knows from the sound of it. I'd rather keep our eyes on him...for now." Foxflight gave her a sympathetic glance, understanding the concerns they would have for him.
She bobbed her head in the direction of the Behemoth's Bones, and the six cats returned to the makeshift camp. As they approached, Wavecrash and Frostfang hissed and howled when they saw Foxflight. "He's hear to help us." Rainstar said firmly. "Listen, every cat! Dustclan is hunting us down. They want to find us, and kill us. We have to prepare for battle." "There is no way we could survive!" Wavecrash yowled.
"Not like this," Rainstar replied. "I am going to travel to the Everpool as soon as possible. It's a place where I can commune with Starclan."
"How can you be certain Starclan will have an answer?" The deputy continued.
Crystalsight intervened. "Starclan always has an answer," She said with complete dedication. Wavecrash looked at her with shock for a brief moment, before blinking and nodding. Crystalsight had always been an incredible medium to the world beyond, ever since she was a young kit.
"Crystalsight, will you go with me?" Rainstar asked hopefully.
The white cat, however, shook her head. She looked disappointed as she said, "No...I will be needed with the clan."
"Why?" The gray-and-white leader replied.
"I don't know," said Crystalsight. "But I am certain- I will be needed here with the clan."
Rainstar wanted to protest. To have Crystalsight beside her while she faced Starclan for the first time, it would be such a comfort, but she knew she couldn't argue with the resolute medicine cat. "I will go alone then."
Foxflight told the other cats about his plan to sneak them into the edge of Dustclan territory to hunt. They were nervous about heading into the territory of the clan they had just been informed wanted to kill them.... but their bellies ached with hunger. Foxflight insisted that there would be no Dustclan patrol there, and they'd be far away from the camp. "I don't think we have many options," Wavecrash finally conceded.
"Then you will head out immediately," said Rainstar. "Foxflight has told me the way to the Everpool. I should be able to make it there by dusk." She gathered all of her strength into her gut. "Our clan has survived through much worse...this will not be the end of us yet."
She couldn't bring herself to say "Tideclan."