Warriors doesn't belong to me.
„I don't care how great of a warrior you think you are, you can't just take on a fox alone!"
Fireheart winced at his mother's shout, ears pulling back to lie against his head. He looked up. Greystripe and Ravenflight looked understanding, while Nightstar looked just about as disapproving as Lionclaw did. "Explain yourself", demanded the leader simply. Fireheart shifted a little and grimaced at the pain that tore from his back. The fox had gotten him better than he'd first thought there.
Finally in a somewhat comfortable position he looked back up at Nightstar whose disapproving glare had shifted to something that seemed like a combination of confusion, anxiousness and worry. That the ginger tom understood. Although he'd taken the news well altogether, there were still instances when the leader was reminded that ten of his cats were more experienced that him, his own sons included.
"I took the fox on alone not because I wished to show off or because I stupidly thought I could", began the ginger tom. Lionclaw gave him a disbelieving stare and he quickly continued: "When I caught a whiff of Acornkit's trail up on the cliff, I still wasn't sure whether or not I had found the actual trail or if the wind was toying with me. I didn't want to alert anyone for something that might've been nothing."
"And once you knew it was something?", asked Nightstar on.
Fireheart started to shrug, but it turned into a wince midway. Alright, not the smartest thing to do, admitted the ginger tom before he answered: "I was quite some way from camp already and could smell that the fox was starving. I didn't think I'd have time to turn around and get help."
"I'm sure it would've been fine", growled Lionclaw. Fireheart was about to argue when another voice cut in.
"No, it wouldn't have." The family looked up to see Rivertail striding up to them. The deputy threw Fireheart another grateful glance, before he turned to his leader and explained: "Acornkit just finished telling myself, Lynxfur and Splashwhisker about what happened from his point of view. He explained that the fox tripped over a root, which was what helped Acornkit escape from his hold. Knowing that thing could catch up to him easily, he ran for a hiding-place instead. He found one underneath he roots of a tree. According to Acornkit the fox had almost gotten to him when Fireheart burst in and caught the fox's attention."
"It's true", added Fireheart. "During the battle I saw what damage the fox had done to the tree already. If I had come but a few heartbeats later, it would've reached Acornkit. If I'd gone for help when I realised a fox really had him, we only would've come back with a corpse." He glanced away. "I know taking on a fox alone is a foolish thing to do. And I almost did lose my life, but I don't regret having done so. Acornkit is safely back with us and that's what matters the most to me."
He locked eyes with Nightstar and read the understanding in them. Kits were a clan's future. They were important, which was why the warrior code held a rule about them. No warrior can neglect a kit in pain or danger, even if the kit is from a different Clan.
Seeing that his leader seemed torn about what to say, Rivertail turned back to Fireheart and said: "I still can't thank you enough. If you hadn't found Acornkit when you did he might've…" Rivertail trailed off and his eyes reflected pure horror at the thought of what could've happened to his son.
Fireheart sat up a little and argued: "But luckily it didn't happen. Acornkit is safely back at camp and I'll recover soon enough as well."
"Soon enough isn't good enough for me", cut Lionclaw in sharply. "Why is it always you?"
Fireheart blinked, then realised that she did have a point. Greystripe next to him chuckled and stated: "She's right you know. You know the medicine cats' den inside out by now, don't you."
"Oh shut up", growled the ginger tom at his brother. Greystripe and Ravenflight purred in amusement and if he weren't so injured, Fireheart would've leaped at them. He probably still would've done it, if it weren't for the glare Lionclaw suddenly fixed on him.
Giving in, he lay back down and tried to comfortable. Lionclaw's nose brushed between his ears for a few heartbeats, then she turned and left the den. Nightstar, Rivertail, Greystripe and Ravenflight soon followed. It was silent for a while, then a sweet scent brushed over the ginger tom. Cracking his tired eyes open, he found Sandstorm ducking into the medicine cats' den and stroll up to him.
"Hey", greeted the she-cat softly.
"Hey there yourself", answered the tom tiredly.
"I heard you were quite the hero today", stated Sandstorm while she settled down next to him.
"Not you too please", begged Fireheart. Screw dignity. "I already got chewed out by Splashwhisker, Spottedpaw, Nightstar and Lionclaw."
"Well why didn't you go for help then?", bit the she-cat out. Repeating what he'd explained not too long ago already, Fireheart soon saw understanding enter Sandstorm's eyes. She sighed softly and pressed herself against him. "I just don't want to lose you again", whimpered the pale-ginger warrior softly.
Fireheart raised his head and buried his muzzle in her scruff, licking her ears, before he answered: "I know."
Rootwhisker thought he was going insane. There was nothing more to it. He was just downright losing his mind.
At first the strange omen of dead prey before a group of kits had been born. He managed to talk himself out of his fears at that one. He even managed to do the same when the event had repeated itself when said group of kits had become apprentices. But now that those kits had become warriors and the same omen had come for the third time, he couldn't ignore it anymore.
Something he also couldn't just push away, was the fact that ShadowClan was falling from its position as the great Clan of the night and slowly but surely seemed to turn into a group of savages.
He'd tried pointing out his worries to Ivystar, multiple times, but she never would hear of it. She also ignored his warnings about Tigerclaw and his group. Again and again she'd shot him down.
Tigerclaw and his friends are strong warriors with incredible skill for their young age she says! They will bring us far she says! They will destroy us, I can feel it! Rottwhisker shook his head and let out a shuddering breath while he continued to dig through the frozen over snow near the ThunderClan border.
He was almost out of catmint and Roseflight was busy gathering other herbs that were scarce right now, so he'd gone by himself. With a shudder he once again remembered the dreams he'd been having for a while now.
Tigerclaw, Brokentail and Hawkfrost had played major roles in most of them. And not in a good way. Murders, mistreating kits, plots, it was all present. And each and every half-moon StarClan gave him similar visions, only much clearer than his usual dreams.
Once he'd seen Tigerclaw crouching atop a hill made of bones and he'd instructed a tabby that looked far too similar to Darkstripe for Rootwhisker's liking to kill a grey tom and two small apprentices in cold blood. And the tabby had done so.
In another Brokentail had trained with two kits that were around four moons old. He'd gone too rough on them and they had died.
The one with Hawkfrost scared him the most though. Roseflight having a rather close friendship with Spottedpaw, ThunderClan's medicine cat apprentice, and the same being somewhat true for Rootwhisker himself, he knew her friends too. Not that he'd ever dare to admit that to any ShadowClan cat but his own apprentice anymore. But that was how he recognized the ginger tom in his dream involving Hawkfrost as Fireheart. A promising young warrior and Nightstar's son.
He'd been caught in a fox-trap, a tabby that looked remarkably similar too Tigerclaw, but somehow different, gentler, too, had towered over him. Hawkfrost had been there too, trying to convince the other tabby to kill the ginger tom. But the tabby had refused to kill what Rootwhisker assumed was someone dear to him. How that was possible the medicine cat didn't know. It had become a fight and in the end only one of the two tabby's remained standing.
And it wasn't Hawkfrost.
Rootwhisker shook again and glanced up at the sky. Tonight was half-moon again. Would he finally get his answers tonight? "StarClan…what are you trying to tell me?", whispered the white and brown tabby. But the cloudy sky held no answers. A heavy sigh left the elderly tom's lungs and his head dropped. He was getting to old for all of this.
Of course he could've joined the elders already, Roseflight was more than ready to take over his position completely, but something in him told him the time hadn't come yet. That he was still needed.
With another sigh Rootwhisker picked up the few meagre leaves he'd managed to find and started to make his way back into camp. He walked slowly, hoping to somewhat sort out his thoughts before being faced with the darkened hearts of his clan mates. He slipped underneath a few felled trees and used a side-entrance to enter the camp. The less he had to face the other cats of ShadowClan the better of he was these days.
Slowly the old medicine cat strolled into his den, relishing in the sharp aroma of herbs that greeted him once he'd entered and he carefully placed the catmint-leaves to the few that were gathered in a corner before he walked up to his nest and settled down. This weather was nothing for his old bones.
A wry chuckle escaped Rootwhisker when he realised he was complaining like an elder. Only to himself, but still. Maybe it really was time for him to retire.
No sooner had that thought come to him, that a wave of restlessness hit him and he groaned. This was it, this was the reason he hadn't joined the elders yet. Each and every time he even thought about it, be it just in passing, a wave of restlessness hit him, reminding him of his younger days and keeping him active.
"Are you alright Rootwhisker?"
Pale yellow eyes moved to the den-entrance, to lock on a beautiful young she-cat with tortoiseshell fur.
Mustering a tired grin he answered: "I'm fine Roseflight, just restless once again."
Roseflight was the only cat he'd entrusted with everything that had been going on lately. A few sunrises ago she'd even managed to pry out everything else that bothered him. By now she knew just as much about the situation as he did, which admittedly wasn't much. The reason he trusted her so much besides her having been his own apprentice, was that he'd seen she was still pure. ShadowClan had never been the most honest and bright-hearted clan of the four, but they were fierce, proud, independent and most of all, loyal.
But many of those treats had started to disappear.
Once Roseflight had caught onto that, she'd tried to confront Featherclaw, her brother, about it. He'd been perfectly unconcerned about her worries though and had soon stalked off, moving to a few other warriors that had amused themselves with developing strategies how to finish a RiverClan cat of the quickest. And with finish they meant kill.
Roseflight had been horrified at what she'd witnessed and had turned tail, pouring her sorrow out to her mentor. Rootwhisker had been at loss to what to do. The only thing he had been able to do was offer a shoulder to cry on and the promise that they'd figure this out, together. Roseflight had soon started to keep a good eye on their clan mates and had reported her observations back to Rootwhisker.
Featherclaw was one of the extremes apparently.
Most cats were more subtle when it came to acting differently, but a few were just like Featherclaw. And, and she had snuck after her brother to find out that one, it all seemed to indeed centre around Tigerclaw and his cats. Once she'd reported this every vision and omen Rootwhisker had received since those warriors were born had come back to him at once, leaving him gasping. Roseflight had gotten quite the scare.
The amount of visions pouring back into her mentor at once had left him in shock for a whole day, but then he'd recovered and had taken heart and told about the omens and visions. That had been one moon ago and it had only gotten worse since then. Not to mention Spottedpaw's behaviour the last few moons.
Both of them agreed that the ThunderClan apprentice knew something about this. The normally reserved apprentice had been strangely talkative with them and Sunnydawn.
"Well, try to rest up a bit", continued Roseflight now, regaining the older tom's attention. "We still do have to travel to the Moonpool tonight."
Rootwhisker gave a short nod at that and settled down again. The restlessness was slowly disappearing, leaving the tom feeling tired once again. Sighing softly he closed his eyes and let sleep claim him. Once Roseflight woke him to tell him they had to leave now, he thanked whichever StarClan cat was watching over him right now that he'd finally had a bit of uninterrupted sleep. No dreams, no emergencies, just some sleep. Feeling quite energized from his rest, Rootwhisker swiftly led the way out of camp.
They only came across Sandwing, who was standing guard at the entrance. "Be careful in ThunderClan territory", warned the tom with a growl. Rootwhisker swallowed a scathing answer. It wasn't ThunderClan he was worried about.
As little as Ivystar and most ShadowClan cats wanted to admit it and as much as Rootwhisker hated it himself, especially with what had happened to his clan lately, ThunderClan was an honourable clan. Despite the tension between Nightstar and Ivystar, the ThunderClan leader managed to keep a neutral to friendly relationship with Silverstar and rumours said he and Crowstar had built an alliance.
Rootwhisker believed it.
He'd watched ThunderClan and WindClan closely at the gatherings. Their warriors mixed easily and were quick to strike up conversations with each other. The interaction was much more tentative with RiverClan, but still there and some braver ThunderClan warriors even tried striking up conversations with ShadowClan cats. It didn't often work, but the kept trying.
Nightstar seemed to be trying his best to keep good relations with the clans. And if Ivystar chose to go through with one of the hare-brained plans Rootwhisker had heard ghosting through the camp already, she was in for a mean wake-up call. Should she really order an attack on ThunderClan, they could easily ask WindClan for help and they would most likely receive it.
Rootwhisker's whiskers twitched when he and Roseflight crossed the border to ThunderClan territory and he turned right, ready to head towards the lake-shore. They hadn't walked long yet when a sudden shout rang out.
He spun around.
"Rootwhisker, Roseflight wait up!"
Confused at the only somewhat familiar voice Rootwhisker opened his mouth and inhaled deeply. A rich and warm scent hit him and he tried to identify which ThunderClan cat it was. Yet before he had it the bushes near them burst apart and a familiar ginger tom jumped out. "Fireheart?", asked Roseflight surprised. The young warrior exhaled in relief, then padded up to them.
"Thank goodness, I already thought I was too late to catch up with you." Rootwhisker tilted his head at those words and Fireheart continued: "Twolegs have been setting fox-traps along the shore", in a flash Rootwhisker had to think back to his dream, "and though all of ThunderClan knows where they are and how to spot them, they're hidden well. That's why Splashwhisker asked Nightstar to send out someone to guide you through the territory to make sure you make it to the Moonpool safely."
"Nightstar did that?", asked Roseflight surprised. She hadn't paid as much attention to Nightstar's rather peaceful endeavours lately as Rootwhisker had, but even he was surprised.
"What's in it for ThunderClan?", asked the medicine cat with narrowed eyes.
As honourable as those cats saw themselves, Rootwhisker didn't fully trust them. It was instinctual for a ShadowClan cat to show distrust to any other cat.
Strangely enough Fireheart looked like he'd expected that reaction and chuckled: "It was under some protest. Nightstar doesn't want one of his warriors alone in territory at night with those traps out. That's why Ravenflight is waiting nearby. As for why he agreed…let's say Splashwhisker has his ways." Fireheart looked at them out of calm emerald eyes and added seriously: "I don't pretend to know why medicine cats do what they do, but I do trust their judgement."
That last sentence pacified Rootwhisker the most and he gave an accepting nod. "Very well, lead the way then." Without further ado Fireheart turned around and made his way back into the bushes. Rootwhisker fell in step behind the young warrior and Roseflight moved to his side.
"Are you sure this is a good idea?", asked the she-cat.
"Maybe it isn't", murmured the tabby back. "But something tells me that Fireheart was telling the truth. At least about Splashwhisker being the reason behind all of this. And though I wouldn't trust my life to any ThunderClan warrior just yet, I do trust Splashwhisker." Roseflight nodded in understanding. Suddenly she shrieked.
Fireheart spun around, eyes wide with worry, but he relaxed when he realised what had scared her. Rootwhisker himself had almost jumped out of his fur at the high-pitched noise his apprentice had made and gave her a disbelieving glance when he found the reason as well. Crouching between the roots of a thick oak tree, was a black tom with a white spot on his chest and tail and bright ember eyes. He'd obviously moved to stand up when they'd appeared in his field of vision, but the movement had scared Roseflight half to death.
"Are you alright?", asked Fireheart now, his eyes on Roseflight. Ravenflight moved next to him carefully and both young warriors gazed upon the ShadowClan medicine cat apprentice worriedly.
"Fine…just fine", breathed Roseflight now and shook her head.
"We'll take your word for it", stated Fireheart after a short pause, then turned around again, his pelt flaring in the last remainders of sunlight that burst through the trees. Ravenflight flanked his brother and quietly the two warriors continued to lead the ShadowClan cats through the forest.
They took a few detours and crossed some clearings with utmost caution, especially after Ravenflight had used a long stick to set off one of the fox-traps that was placed very inconveniently. One would think they'd be easier to spot without so much grass and leaves around, thought Rootwhisker while they slunk past another trap. But the snow only makes finding those traps that much harder.
The moon had just about finished rising when they reached the, to Rootwhisker, familiar rocky path and the dry and sharp scent of WindClan started stinging in his nose.
Some way up that path Fireheart and Ravenflight stepped off it and settled down next to a few bushes. The ginger tom turned to the two ShadowClan cats and explained: "We will go no further so we won't disturb you. Once you wish to return home, just find us here and we'll help you back." Rootwhisker scanned the two young warriors carefully, searching for any kind of deceit, but he found nothing. Both were relaxed, no surprise seeing as this was still their territory. Ravenflight had already curled up underneath a bush and had closed his eyes and Fireheart was just moving to his brother's side so they could share warmth.
"Thank you", murmured the tabby finally. Fireheart gave him a nod as answer and the two medicine cats set off again.
They scaled the last of the path quickly and started their descent towards the Moonpool. Obviously they were the last to arrive, but Spottedpaw still greeted them cheerfully. Roseflight greeted her back happily and Rootwhisker nodded to the other three fully trained medicine cats before he settled down between Splashwhisker and Glintstream.
"Now that we all are gathered", started Splashwhisker suddenly. "I have an announcement to make." He turned his head to look at his apprentice meaningfully.
Spottedpaw blinked back at him in surprise, then they started to glow. Rootwhisker purred at the memory of Roseflight's ceremony. The she-cat had reacted quite similar to Spottedpaw.
Drawing himself up to his full height, Splashwhisker directed his glowing orange eyes to his apprentice and called out: "I, Splashwhisker, medicine cat of ThunderClan, call upon my ancestors to look down on this apprentice. She has trained hard to understand the ways of a medicine cat, and with your help she will serve her Clan for many moons. Spottedpaw, do you promise to uphold the ways of a medicine cat, to stand apart from rivalry between Clan and Clan and to protect all cats equally, even at the cost of your life?"
Spottedpaw didn't even hesitate to answer, her amber eyes glowing joyfully. "I do."
At her answer Splashwhisker's eyes softened a little and he continued: "Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your true name as a medicine cat. Spottedpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Spottedleaf. StarClan honours your wit and loyalty. So it has been said and so shall it be." He walked forward now and pressed his nose to Spottedleaf's head. "Welcome to our rows Spottedleaf." Spottedleaf licked his shoulder, then both drew back, locking eyes.
The cheers of the gathered medicine cats seemed weak compared to the cheers one heard during a warrior ceremony, but the stars did seem to twinkle a little brighter.
Spottedleaf walked out of the circle of medicine cats to settle down between Splashwhisker and Sunnydawn, who quickly struck up a conversation with the newly appointed medicine cat. After a glance at Rootwhisker, Roseflight joined them as well. Rootwhisker watched them carefully.
"There's no need to be so worried Rootwhisker", came Splashwhisker's voice from the right. The tabby glanced there, to see the ThunderClan medicine cat sitting not too far away, his eyes also focused on the group of young she-cats. But he seemed more at ease than Rootwhisker had felt for a long time. "Those three will come far one day, I just know it", added the grey tom softly, almost as if he didn't realise he did it. Rootwhisker perked up a little though.
It wasn't rare that StarClan somewhat voiced their opinion on certain subjects when they were gathered here through one of them, although it hadn't always been that way.
Now that he came to think about it, it had started only a few moons before Splashwhisker had shown up with his apprentice.
Rootwhisker had been slightly worried when he'd seen the bright young she-cat that struggled along behind the grey-furred tom. Splashwhisker was so young still and the she-cat seemed even younger than most apprentices, though by now Rootwhisker was well aware that her dainty appearance was rather deceiving. Spottedleaf had claws and she knew how to use them.
Suddenly Glintstream rose from her position and started moving towards the pool. The other medicine cats followed her prompting and they gathered in a circle around the Moonpool. Quickly lapping up a bit of the cold water, Rootwhisker settled down and closed his eyes, silently praying to StarClan to spare him of these visions tonight and to give him some answers.
He hadn't expected that his prayer would be answered, but when he opened his eyes the sound of a small stream, the gentle wind rustling through leaf-covered trees and the singing of birds sounded in his ears. Blinking his eyes open, Rootwhisker found himself in a bright clearing surrounded by thick brambles and many trees. A small stream cut through it and his eyes widened when he spotted the cats gathered on the other side of the stream. It were a tall black she-cat, an equally tall and muscular leaf-coloured tom with white paws and a small, wiry brown tabby she-cat.
The cut of gasp had Rootwhisker spin around and his eyes widened. In front of him, looking at the cats beyond the stream, stood Roseflight, Sunnydawn, Splashwhisker and Spottedleaf.
Yes indeed. The time for Rootwhisker, Roseflight and Sunnydawn to get into the know has finally come. Took only a few moons. (Seriousely, they decided to doe this at the beginning of winter (or better the first snowfall) - leaf-bare - and now it's...let's say sometime around February.
Anyway, hope you like the newest chapter of Back in Life. Tell me what you thought of Rootwhisker. ( Just realised while writing that Rootwhisker and Splashwhisker's names end the same way)