Chapter 13 || Agreement
Cypressfall didn’t look nearly as impressed as Batchaser had wished. She gave them both a doubtful glare and ticked her claws, looking down at them in disinterest. “Uh, no.”
⠀⠀Batchaser twitched an ear. “Uh, yes. StarClan sent us down here to get you.”
⠀⠀“Then why were you so scared?” she challenged. “And why did your little friend save you?”
⠀⠀“H-Hey! I’m not little!” Rushingpaw piped up.
⠀⠀Cypressfall snorted. “Don’t lie to yourself, runt.”
⠀⠀Batchaser bit back from defending the apprentice. He had to act like he didn’t care. No, he didn’t care. No act was needed.
⠀⠀“Well, we didn’t really... uh, know we were coming here. It just happened.” Batchaser paused, thinking of what to say.
⠀⠀“But StarClan called us here for a reason!” Rushingpaw exclaimed cheerfully. “I know it. We still have things to do back in the real world. And I know we met you for a reason, so obviously you’re destined to help us.”
⠀⠀Cypressfall looked between the two with a cocked brow. “Destined, eh? If anyone knows anything about destiny, it’s me, kit. And trust me when I say this: destiny isn’t real.”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw’s face fell. Batchaser looked away, his paws scrabbling in the dirt.
⠀⠀“I was always told I had some great, amazing future with my sister.” The words rolled off her tongue bitterly. “My trust in providence didn’t hold up, unfortunately. Especially when I was betrayed.” Her claws scored the ground. “So don’t hold StarClan up so highly, little one. And you, Bat... Bat-whoever-you-are. Don’t believe their lies. All they want is complete control. And trust me, they have it. My foolish Clanmates couldn’t see the difference between a dead mouse and an omen foreseeing the destruction of Fourtrees.”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw tipped his head to the side. “Fourtrees?”
⠀⠀Cypressfall looked bewildered. “Yes. Have you been living under a rock all of your life?”
⠀⠀Batchaser twitched his tail irritably. “Apparently I have as well. I’ve never heard of this ‘Fourtrees’ place.”
⠀⠀Her jaws gaped open. “But... But that’s where Clan meetings go to every full moon...”
⠀⠀“We meet on the island,” Batchaser scowled. What nonsense was she talking about?
⠀⠀“RiverClan’s island?” she questioned.
⠀⠀”No!” Batchaser gritted his teeth in exasperation. “RiverClan doesn’t live on an island.”
⠀⠀The spark in Cypressfall’s eyes was gone. “You’ve left.”
⠀⠀“Left where?” Rushingpaw inquired.
⠀⠀“Don’t listen to her,” the black tom hissed. “She speaks no language of ours. She’s crazy.”
⠀⠀“No,” the calico she-cat snapped. “Your mind is too small to comprehend what I speak of.” Batchaser opened his jaws to retort something but she spoke before he had time to. “The Clans. They moved. Left their former territory for a new one. That is the only thing that makes sense. I am... decades old.”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw straightened up. “Wow! Really?! Can you tell us anything about your old home?”
⠀⠀Batchaser shoved the runt apprentice aside. “No,” he snarled, his mew sharp. “We didn’t come here to share stories of the past. We’ve come because we need you to tell us how to get out of here.”
⠀⠀Cypressfall was quiet before she went into a laughing fit. A growl thrummed deep inside Batchaser’s throat. He wanted to claw this stupid she-cat’s ears off! He took a step forward, eyes ablaze. “Hey! Cut it out. Tell us how to get out of here.”
⠀⠀”Get out of here?” Cypressfall wiped tears from her eyes. “Silly you. There’s no getting out of here.”
⠀⠀It felt like a stone dropped in Batchaser’s stomach.
⠀⠀The calico stood to her four paws, swishing her tail behind her. “No one has ever left the Forgotten Eternity. It is sealed by StarClan’s spell. That is why it’s hell here.”
⠀⠀“So... there isn’t any way we can escape?” Rushingpaw’s voice was thick with emotion.
⠀⠀Cypressfall paused. “Well, I never said there wasn’t a way to leave. It’s just that no one has ever been able to actually get to their destination.”
⠀⠀Batchaser’s fur bristled, his fangs showing. “Then just tell us where we need to go! We’ll make it.”
⠀⠀“Long shot,” the she-cat snorted, licking her paw and drawing it over her ear.
⠀⠀Batchaser was filled with such rage he nearly exploded. Thankfully Rushingpaw took a step forward, holding the ShadowClan warrior back. “Look, Cypressfall, we really must return to our StarClan lives.” His voice was soft and gentle.
⠀⠀“Why would you ever want to go back there?” she growled. “Far as I’m concerned, I’d rather be torn apart by rabid beasts than to have to face the sister that murdered me.” Cypressfall looked angry but it was gone in an instant.
⠀⠀Rushingpaw’s eyes were pleading. “I beg you, Cypressfall. Just tell us.”
⠀⠀Her furrowed brows dropped and she let out a sigh, drawing something in the dirt. “Okay.”
⠀⠀Turning around, she narrowed her eyes and both Batchaser and Rushingpaw followed her gaze. They landed upon a large mountain in the distance, storm clouds circling around the peak.
⠀⠀“That’s it,” Cypressfall murmured, her voice suddenly quiet. “But there are many dangers along the way. No cat has ever made it.”
⠀⠀“How do you know?” Batchaser questioned suspiciously.
⠀⠀“Because when I was killed in StarClan I was one of the first ones here.” Her mismatched eyes looked distant. “A cat came not too long after me. They went into the forest. That is the first mark of the wolf’s claw.” Cypressfall hesitated. “I heard his screams all night. He never returned. I told myself I would never give away the answer to escape to anyone because I couldn’t bear to know that I sent another feline to their death.”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw shuddered. Batchaser was silent.
⠀⠀Cypressfall suddenly met their gazes. “You must not go.”
⠀⠀“Well we aren’t rotting here,” the black tom snapped back, his tail lashing behind him.
⠀⠀“I’m sorry,” Rushingpaw murmured, “but we have to leave. StarClan needs us.”
⠀⠀Cypressfall looked crestfallen. “If you say so.”
⠀⠀The gray apprentice’s ears pricked. “Oh... and, uh, can you tell us what the wolf’s claw is? You mentioned it in your story.”
⠀⠀It seemed like the calico’s voice was caught in her throat. “The wolf’s claw is the five points in which you must pass before you reach the top of the mountain. They grow in order from simplest to hardest.” Cypressfall paused. “The first is the Darkening Forest. And.... well, no one has made it past the first. But there are five, just like five wolf claws.”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw dipped his head, looking grateful. “Thank you, Cypressfall. Your information will help us a lot. Really.”
⠀⠀Batchaser avoided the she-cat’s gaze and walked past the apprentice. “Come on,” he growled. “We shouldn’t waste any more time.”
⠀⠀“O-Okay...” Rushingpaw said, continuing to cast looks back at the calico.
⠀⠀The apprentice suddenly stopped behind Batchaser, which caused the black tom to groan in exasperation and whip around. “What now?”
⠀⠀But it was like the small gray tom hadn’t even heard him. “Cypressfall, because we’re—” Rushingpaw shot a look back at Batchaser “—so appreciative of what you told us, I just... wanted to ask if you’d come along?”
⠀⠀The calico’s eyes lit up with surprise. But she suddenly shrunk away, looking unsure.
⠀⠀Batchaser groaned even louder and stamped his paw in the ground. “Seriously?! You little brat, why wouldn’t you discuss this with me first? We don’t have time to have another cat that’ll just drag us behind!”
⠀⠀Rushingpaw ignored Batchaser. “I understand if you don’t want to, but I think with more of us we can make it. And StarClan is different now. You might like it better.”
⠀⠀“Yeah... might,” Cypressfall grumbled uncertainly. “But... I’ve been here so long, I suppose I have nothing to lose.” She suddenly straightened up, a new fire in her eyes. “Okay, I’ll come along.”
⠀⠀“UGHHHH.” Batchaser whipped around furiously.
⠀⠀“Great!” Rushingpaw jumped on his paws. “Come on, then, let’s go!”
⠀⠀And so the angry, the delighted, and the curious began their quest to the five wolf claws. But they knew not of what lied ahead of them... and how difficult this journey would really be.