Eternal Star (Chapter 1)
Word-Count: 1,392 Content Warnings: ??? Written: 2017?? Last Edit: ???
Night never came again. The fiery, red sun never even moved from morning to afternoon. For a while the cats of Lostclan tried to keep track of how much time had passed since the massacre at the Behemoth's Bones, but they lost track a while ago.
There was not much time for trying to remember time, anyways. Every moment was full of a ceaseless search for shade and water, for shelter from the sun, and Snakesun's army of cats.
"I think I see a cavern up those rocks," Rainstar rasped. "We should be able to climb them if we start on that side."
"I don't think Crabclaw can," said Pebblepaw. His mentor's back leg had been made gnarled and twisted in the massacre, and now just drug along his side. It was difficult for Crabclaw to keep his balance and grip.
Crabclaw snorted. He brushed Pebblepaw back with his fluffy tail. "I can judge for myself, Pebblepaw." The reddish tom forced a crooked smile. Even with all that had happened, Crabclaw did his best to maintain his humor and strength. Especially around Pebblepaw. "I will try to climb them, Rainstar."
"Good," Rainstar replied. "I don't see any other path."
"That's getting close to the bridge." Foxflight added. He was squinting and looking at the thin outline of the structure that carried the Behemoth over the canyon. "That means were getting closer to Stoneclan's old camp."
Cedarpaw walked around Foxflight, eyes focused on the rocks beneath her paws. "So?" She snipped. "It's not like Stoneclan will be there."
Rainstar narrowed her eyes at the dismissive tone of her apprentice. "So, if the Bloodsun Followers find us there, they'll know the territory well and have an advantage over us." She raised her gaze to meet Foxflight's. "We should avoid it."
The brown tabby apprentice scoffed and walked by Rainstar without even looking up. Rainstar couldn't tolerate it any longer "You should show respect to your clanmates, Cedarpaw!"
Cedarpaw didn't respond. Rainstar felt like she knew exactly what the young cat was thinking, however, and continued to shout. "Even now, we are a Clan and the Warrior Code will keep us strong... but we have to honor it! If we are going to make it through this, we have to do it together."
"Make it through this..." Cedarpaw repeated quietly. Her posture stiffened and she turned with great force and purpose to look back at Rainstar. "Is there an 'after this'? How are we going to stop the Sun?"
Rainstar's face flushed with anger. From the side of her eyes, she noticed Crabclaw and Pebblepaw looking up at her with a tired expression. This was not the time to let her temper overpower her judgment. A deep breathe began to push out the fury.
"She's right," Wavecrash added. The fury was back. Wavecrash didn't seem to notice, however, and kept talking. "We have not spent much time thinking about how we could defeat Snakesun."
"We haven't had time to think about that," Crabclaw sighed. "We've barely had time to sleep, when we're all dying of thirst."
"Can he even be killed?" Pebblepaw asked with worry. "He walked through fire unharmed..."
"And how can we guarantee that killing Snakesun will bring back the night?" said Frostfang, as she shot a snide look at Wavecrash.
Wavecash returned the glare. "The point is... we can't do this forever. We have to do something."
Rainstar looked at the expecting faces that stared back at her. She gestured her head at Crystalsight, who had remained quietly behind the other cats. "Crystalsight? Have you had any visions about how we can bring back the night?"
Crystalsight shook her head slowly and sheepishly. She looked miserable... even more than her normal droopy face looked.
Rainstar nodded at Crystalsight, subtly trying to show that she didn't blame the Medicine Cat for not having a solution. The leader looked back to the clan and spoke with the most decisive voice she could manage. "We will try to get into that cavern. There might be some water still inside. Right now, we need to focus on finding something to drink."
Rainstar turned around quickly so she couldn't tell which cats were part of the responding groans. This was on purpose. She pulled herself up the canyon's wall, and her clan-mates followed.
The cavern was small and narrow, with jagged rocks poking out from all sides. The cats had to twist and crouch to avoid the rocks to crawl in far enough to let everyone inside. They all collapsed, tongues panting.
"The stones..." Foxflight called from the deepest point of the cave. "They're dripping a bit of moisture."
Lostclan took turns dragging themselves deeper into the cavern to lap anxiously against the pointed rocks. The water they provided tasted muddy and sour, but was delicious on their dry tongues. Pebblepaw even noticed a small, slimy root of some sort protruding from the looser dirt above. He chewed the root to lap at it's moisture.
Crystalsight was the last cat to drink. She only lapped a few times, before slowly crouching down and sitting on the cave floor. Her blue eyes were faced to the wall, away from her clan.
Rainstar could tell something was bothering the white she-cat. She tried to walk quietly up to Crystalsight, but was uanble to because of the awkward scrabbling required to make it through the narrow cracks. Crystalsight looked over her shoulder. "I'm fine," snapped Crystalsight.
Rainstar was taken by surprise. Crystalsight must have guessed what Rainstar was thinking, what she was going to say... and obviously, Crystalsight didn't want to talk about it. The grey-and-white leader began to turn her head, ready to leave the medicine cat alone, but was hit with a bold impulse to stay.
"I- I know that's not true." Rainstar replied quietly. She was shocked at her own courage to ignore Crystalsight's cold attitude. "Don't tell me it's just your face, either."
The white medicine cat turned her head, maybe to hide the weak and tiny smile that crept across her face. Rainstar pulled herself in closer.
"You are not alone, Crystalsight. You can tell me what is wrong." Rainstar thought of giving Crystalsight's ear a quick lick, but couldn't muster up quite that much courage.
"I feel alone." Crystalsight sighed. "Ever since I was a kit, I felt like Starclan was with me always. Even when I couldn't hear or see them, I knew they were there and would guide me. But now..." She drifted off.
"Whatever Snakeskin... Snakesun... has done is a very powerful, very horrible, work of forces we don't understand. Nobody blames you for this, for being confused. We all are." Rainstar flicked her tail. As she spoke, she realized these words might be less than comforting. "I don't think any force in the world could keep Starclan away from us, though. Not forever. Even without Silverpelt in the sky... Starclan walks with us- inside us."
Crystalsight smiled and pressed her head against Rainstar. "I am glad you are our leader," she purred.
Rainstar was warm with embarrassment and thrill, but it was a pleasant warmth that was so different from the burn of the eternal sun. "I never thought I had what it takes to be a leader, though I guess Starclan could see more in me than I could when they chose me."
Crystalsight purred and the two sat so closely together for a bit. It was a wonderful moment. Then, quietly, Crystalsight spoke. "Starclan didn't choose you... I did."
"What?" Rainstar's heart dropped. It fell so far, as if it had been pushed off the cliffside.
"That day... when Flickerstar died... Starclan told me to announce the new leader. I didn't know who..." Crystalsight took a sharp breath. "Starclan only told me, who I picked, they would rise to the role."
Rainstar said nothing. She stared.
"I was scared. I didn't know how to make such a decision... but then I saw you. Something...something in your face washed away my fear. I felt so confident that you were the one."
There were so many questions in Rainstar's mind- questions for Crystalsight, questions for Starclan but maybe most importantly questions for herself. She could only manage to speak out one. "Do... do you still feel confident that I was meant to be leader?"
Crystalsight said, "More than ever before."