Chapter 29 || Dimensions
Warmth flooded through his paws like little fish kissing his claws. Batchaser’s dark blue eyes snapped open, a ragged breath ripping from his jaws and filling the grassy clearing. He was visibly shaking; his spine ached, his limbs felt like they were on fire, and everything inside his head was a mess. Questions that he couldn’t even comprehend were rushing through the darkness like flashes of lightning through stormy clouds. But there was one that he could make out...
⠀⠀Where in StarClan’s name am I?
⠀⠀This was a place that look completely unfamiliar. Bird chatter echoed through the swaying branches, a breeze ruffling the black tom’s fur and flopping his ears around. He groaned softly, lifting himself to his paws, feeling the muscles pop like embers in the burning flames. And how long have I been out for...?
⠀⠀Then, it all hit. He remembered the wounds taking him and succumbing him to eternal darkness. He remembered Jackalstar awakening him, worry and tears dancing in her beautiful eyes (Woah, beautiful?). He remembered the crystal in all its glory, shining through the cave like a million stars in Silverpelt. And he remembered touching his nose to the light, glitter reflecting his eyes and taking him back... taking him back to StarClan.
⠀⠀So that’s it, then. After so long of traveling through the Forgotten Eternity, I’ve finally returned to this place.... but it doesn’t seem nearly as dreadful as before. And based on how Jackalstar and Galewhisker explained... StarClan should be much more chaotic right now.
⠀⠀Jackalstar! Is she okay? Oh, she must be.... that tough she-cat wouldn’t let anything take her. And Rushingpaw? Hopefully he isn’t as confused and alone as I am? Perhaps Cypressfall is with him.... and yes, yes, Galewhisker would most likely be with Jackalstar... A wave of jealousy seemed to rock through Batchaser. And Shellstar.... well, who cares about Shellstar...
⠀⠀The tom let go of his thoughts for a moment, scanning the surrounding area and padding forwards slowly, the faint trickle of a stream ringing in his ears. I didn’t know there were more rivers in StarClan. Just the main one that RiverClanners often hang around...
⠀⠀He decided to investigate. Batchaser ducked through the foliage, leaves falling atop his head to which he shook off. A monarch butterfly fluttered in the distant wind, drifting by the ShadowClanner and leaving him breathless. It looks so real. Has StarClan improved since we were gone? Surely not... surely we weren’t away that long...
⠀⠀A pressing feeling of discomfort rose in his belly. Perhaps it was fear; Batchaser didn’t know. All I know is that none of this feels right... it hardly feels like I’m in StarClan! And I must be here.... it was the only other place to return after the Forgotten Eternity...
⠀⠀Shoving down his nausea, he continued onward. Everything was so green, so full of life, so... beautiful. It was like nothing Batchaser had ever seen before after death. And as he found the stream, the soft water brushing over his paws, pebbles sinking under his feet, he finally felt at rest.
⠀⠀Until he looked down, and stared back at himself.
⠀⠀A shriek ripped from his jaws. The tom scrambled back and inspected his black pelt, felt his ears and made sure his tail was still readily attached. What in the stars...?!
⠀⠀Batchaser looked again. And who he saw was hardly him. He seemed.... younger. More fit—and no wounds. But the main thing was that there were absolutely no stars twinkling in his fur, reflecting the moons in his dark eyes. No. He seemed whole. He seemed.... real.
⠀⠀That’s entirely impossible! The tom leaned back, drawing his claws over his fur before digging into his paw pad, watching the red liquid splutter out. Fear gripped at his heart and he set his foot back in the water. If it was truly StarClan, then he would be healed immediately. I will be healed. I will be healed... I am not back in the real world!
⠀⠀Batchaser watched the trails of blood drift with the water until his wound was clean. He lifted his paw and began to shake. The cut—it was still there, throbbing angrily and hissing pain. Stars....no. No, this can’t be happening! I’m real! Oh, no!
⠀⠀He wanted to cry. It took everything within him to hold back the tears, ignoring his raw, flaming throat and instead lapped at the real water. We were all wrong. The crystal didn’t lead us back to StarClan. It lead us back to the living world...
⠀⠀Batchaser felt his heart flutter in his chest. He wondered if he was going to have a heart attack from the shock. I can’t believe it. I’m real. But.... but where am I? I’ve never seen this place before—stars! What if I’ve lost the others completely?!
⠀⠀“Hey! Who’s over there?”
⠀⠀Batchaser’s blood turned to specks of ice. It shivered up his entire body and set into his heart, which began to beat at an even more alarming rate. Who—who was that?!
⠀⠀“We see you, tough guy! Come on out!”
⠀⠀Oh, by the Dark Forest, this cannot be happening.
⠀⠀He dove into the nearby bushes, ignoring the racket he made and instead bolted back towards the place in which he’d woken up. Maybe if I return I can go back to StarClan... But Batchaser heard the cats give chase and his fur stood on end, paws thrumming in the dirt and grass below him. No! I cannot be caught! This is not how my new life of living is supposed to go!
⠀⠀He hadn’t run in the real world for so long, his muscles already began to flame up in his body. Batchaser knew he wasn’t going to be able to outrun who knows how many cats, so sighed and halted, choking when claws pierced his back.
⠀⠀“Hey! Get off me!” he snapped, swirling around and throwing the smaller cat off of him. Immediately Batchaser was flanked on all sides and huffed, eyeing the glinting claws of these cats.
⠀⠀“Ugh! This stupid rogue threw me off!” the smaller brown tom snapped.
⠀⠀“Excuse me, rogue?” Batchaser growled, claws unsheathing. “Are you talking about yourself?”
⠀⠀“Um, no? Are you dumb?” he retorted. “I’m from ThunderClan! Obviously-”
⠀⠀“That’s enough,” a cream she-cat said, stepping forward towards Batchaser. The tom’s eyes widened slowly- ThunderClan! He was so lucky! Perhaps his friends were around? “Who are you?”
⠀⠀Batchaser was too shocked to respond, but snapped out of it eventually. “What’s yours?” he snorted, forgetting that he could actually be hurt down here. Perhaps disrespecting Clan members wasn’t a great idea.
⠀⠀The molly didn’t seemed fazed by his tone. “I’m Birdchirp. Your turn.”
⠀⠀The ShadowClanner huffed. “Fair enough. I’m Batchaser.”
⠀⠀“So you’re not a rogue?” the small tom asked.
⠀⠀“Shut it, Bramblevine,” a dark tan and russet she-cat hissed. “Don’t forget you were just made a warrior. I can easily persuade Doestar to have you clean out the elder’s den.”
⠀⠀Bramblevine huffed. “Fine, but I was just asking. He doesn’t smell like he’s from a Clan!”
⠀⠀“I’m from ShadowClan, you idiots!” he finally shouted, tail lashing. “Seeing as all of you are too stupid or blind to tell! Now, I need you to help me with-”
⠀⠀Birdchirp’s eyes darkened. ”ShadowClan? Seeing as half of their cats ran like cowards to the Twolegplace, I can’t even begin to imagine what other hot-tempered cats lie there such as you.” She paused. “You’re coming with us. Doestar will want to see you. It’s been moons since we’ve kept a ShadowClanner hostage — perhaps you’ll be lucky enough to be spared.”
⠀⠀”Spared?” Batchaser flinched when the other three cats grabbed his shoulders, reeling him forwards. “Hey! Stop! You can’t kill me! You can’t! I’m not a threat! I’m not-”
⠀⠀“You’re an enemy in this war,” a dark ginger she-cat snarled. “We can do whatever we want to you, especially if that means killing all of that ShadowClan scum that caused this in the first place!”
⠀⠀Stars, I did this.... But Batchaser still wasn’t happy about the situation — he was from StarClan! He couldn’t die! That would be, like... for the third time!
⠀⠀“STOP! I swear by the stars, if you hurt me you’ll be sorry—”
⠀⠀Bramblevine snorted, eyeing the dark ginger she-cat. “Aloethistle was right all along. You ShadowClanners are all bark and no bite. Besides, who would make us sorry? Spiderstar? Her father caused this war— she doesn’t know how to lead! The only reason she’s in power is because of their stupid new dynasty! It’s no wonder your Clan is dying out.”
⠀⠀Anger rushed through Batchaser’s chest. He’d show this stupid little weasel who was stupid! Though he was a little concerned about this “dynasty” talk, he decided to ignore it and instead spat in Bramblevine’s face. The small tom froze, turning and glaring icily at Batchaser. “What. Was. THAT?”
⠀⠀“My spit,” he snapped. “I hope you rot! I’ll personally make sure you wake in the Dark Forest! HAH! Not even that! The Forgotten Eternity!”
⠀⠀“How DARE you—”
⠀⠀“Back off, he just wants to provoke you,” Birdchirp sighed, coming between Bramblevine and Batchaser.
⠀⠀“He’s insane! Speaking of this... Forgotten Eternity! There’s no such thing!” The warrior hissed, stomping forward.
⠀⠀“Hah...” Batchaser’s eyes flashed. “I can make you a believer, you brat. When you die, meet me in StarClan. We can sort out the rest from there.”
⠀⠀“Ugh! Leave me alone!” Bramblevine padded forward and waved his tail in the black tom’s face, disappearing into the bushes. Batchaser sighed, ears flicking back. So, ThunderClan is capturing me as a means for revenge or leverage... either way, I don’t think it’s good. I don’t even know what to do! How do I get out of this?!
⠀⠀Batchaser looked at the ground. Oh, stars... Jackalstar.... please help me..