Bound to Stars

Chapter 34 || The Storm

The darkness was excruciating. It suffocated Batchaser like a heavy black blanket, seeping into his lungs, trickling into his insides as if he were dead weight. The river flashed in his mind, its cruel waves lapping over his head and pulling him under into the abyss, leaving no room for breath or another thought.

⠀⠀Panic clawed at his chest, filling up into his throat. Everything was a mess of tangled shadows, only gray lights flickering through the holes every now and then. He could feel his slicked fur drizzle with... what was it, rain? Though for a moment anxiety swirled through him and Batchaser wasn’t sure if he’d even escaped from the river.

⠀⠀No, that’s impossible... He would have breathed a sigh of relief to hear his own thoughts, but the black tom still felt like he was drowning, back in those horrible rapids, caught in the torrent..

⠀⠀Pain. It gripped Batchaser in its pointed claws and picked away at his soul, turning his mind to mud. It felt like pine needles prickling in his pink skin, dipping away every shred of bravery and determination he’d tried to muster. The feelings in his chest stirred and returned to his throat. He choked, the coldness returning, gripping him harshly and plucking open his mouth. He tried to flinch away from the touch but it was too late, he had no more energy in his broken body to do so.

⠀⠀The darkness filled up his mind and soured his tongue, flowing out of his jaws and leaving his body. It almost felt like he could breathe again.

⠀⠀“That’s it. Let it all out.” A low but brittle voice shook around in his head and he groaned, trying to lap up any breath he could get. Batchaser wasn’t sure where he was and- honestly, right now, didn’t really care.

⠀⠀“Mmm. I think you’ll be okay.” The warmth fizzled away until he was left shivering and cold, teeth clattering together. Pawsteps moved near his body. “Try to sleep. Applestar will see you once you’ve woken.”

⠀⠀And sleep he did. Shafts of light broke through his dreams, shimmering the world in a bright rainbow that danced over his eyes. He could see Lynxbite; her eyes, her scent, her touch, her- her everything. He missed her so much.

⠀⠀Then, the waves swept him away. They swept Lynxbite away. He choked on his breath and tried to reach for her, tried to find her eyes again, but they’d disappeared. He could see a hazy vision of kits, and his heart twisted painfully in his chest. Were those his kits?

⠀⠀They began to fade away, too. Batchaser cried out for them but his limbs wouldn’t move, and suddenly his legs buckled under him, and the bright sunlight finally broke through his consciousness. Batchaser felt the dream slip through his claws as reality came forward. He breathed out softly, keeping his eyes closed and listening to the patter of pawsteps around him.

⠀⠀Two sets of pawsteps, actually.

⠀⠀“Is he awake?”

⠀⠀“Yes. He’s pretending to sleep so he can listen in on our conversation.”

⠀⠀“Am not.” Batchaser grumbled and pulled himself from the luxurious darkness, eyes squinting against the streaming sunlight. A huge honey-ginger tom stood before him, swirls of orange and white pattering over his fur. His green eyes narrowed at the ShadowClan tom, bushy tail swishing around his paws as he sat.

⠀⠀“My point exactly.” Timberfall shouldered his way past the large ton and left the two alone. The silence buzzed in Batchaser’s ears.

⠀⠀“So.” The honey-colored tom stared at Batchaser. “Tell me, how did you happen to half-drown yourself with one of RiverClan’s dead kits clutched in your paws?”

⠀⠀“He’s an apprentice,” Batchaser spat. “Obviously you’d know that if—”

⠀⠀Wait. Does this cat know..?

⠀⠀The other tom twitched his tail. “Yes, you see, that’s the thing. Rushingkit should be dead. And as I hear your name, you should be, too.”

⠀⠀“I didn’t tell you my name.”

⠀⠀“You didn’t need to. Rushingkit was crying your name all night.”

⠀⠀“Rushingpaw, it’s Rushingpaw—”

⠀⠀The tom bared his fangs. “Quiet!” The command flooded Batchaser’s senses, and for once, he realized that he was vulnerable now. He was in the real world, and he could be killed, and so could his friends. So, for once in his life, Batchaser hushed.

⠀⠀For now.

⠀⠀“I don’t know what this kit has told you, but that’s just what he is. Rushingkit is not an apprentice. He never was.” The tom shifted and sighed. “A moon before his apprenticeship he snuck out of camp with his sister. He fell in the river and was unable to be saved. He was gone. So now, what I need to know is why you — an annoying, worthless ShadowClan warrior — are here and what you were doing with my Clanmate.”

⠀⠀Batchaser was town down with guilt. It shredded his heart and pounded in his ears, a heavy throb that wouldn’t cease. “No,” he whispered softly.

⠀⠀“Yes,” the tom growled. “But you didn’t answer my question.”

⠀⠀He groaned, covering his eyes with his paws. “No, no, no,” he whispered. “What have I done? I’ve broken him. He’s just a kit. I was so mean —”

⠀⠀“I don’t care!” The golden tom’s claws sunk into the brown earth beneath. “If you really feel that bad, then you can talk to him later. But right now I need you to be responsive or I’m going to have to send you away. Why are you here? And is it possible that you’ve caught the Blue Death?”

⠀⠀Batchaser peeked through his paws. “Tell me your name, and maybe I’ll comply.”

⠀⠀“Answer my questions and maybe I won’t send you back to StarClan.”

⠀⠀“Low blow,” he grunted, shifting weight to his elbows to hold himself up. This tom was much larger and also seemed to hold an aura of importance. Perhaps this was RiverClan’s leader Batchaser was talking to; he’d never cared much in StarClan.

⠀⠀The tom shook his head. “Applestar,” he introduced, flicking an ear. “Now.”

⠀⠀So I was right. Great. Batchaser sighed and looked around. “Oh, you know. I’m here on a little mission, saving the Clans and all that.”

⠀⠀Applestar didn’t say anything.

⠀⠀“I was coming to deliver Rushingpaw— err, Rushingkit— so he would stay out of harm’s way while we uh.. handled things.”

⠀⠀The leader blinked. “And?”

⠀⠀“And.. it’s StarClan business buddy, sorry, very exclusive —”

⠀⠀“No —” Applestar groaned and dragged a paw over his face. “Blue Death! Do you have the Blue Death?”

⠀⠀Batchaser made a face. “No?”

⠀⠀He blew out softly. “Oh, thank StarClan.”

⠀⠀“What exactly is the Blue Death?”

⠀⠀Applestar’s gaze hardened and his broad shoulders tensed. “It’s a sickness that took many of my Clanmates,” he said somberly. “It’s the reason we moved. The river seemed to hold the disease and we were forced to evacuate. But what is RiverClan without our home? Without the river? We are struggling here, and we need help. Perhaps our omen was of good fortune..” The tom’s eyes widened. “Wait. Batchaser. That’s your name, correct?”

⠀⠀Brimming with shock from knowing why RiverClan had moved camps, Batchaser slowly nodded. “Yes? What — what omen, though?”

⠀⠀“Timberfall... he witnessed something last moon.” Applestar shifted on his paws and glanced around.

⠀⠀“..Yes?” Batchaser prompted impatiently.

⠀⠀The huge tom blew out. “It was night, and the rain was like a torrent. He stood near the mouth of the cave and spotted a lone bat fluttering in the sky..”

⠀⠀He blinked. “Is that supposed to mean something?”

⠀⠀“Of course! StarClan sent us a message — it was telling us that you were to be our savior.”

⠀⠀Batchaser tilted his head to the side. “Yeaaah, but did it really? One,” he flexed his claws, “StarClan isn’t exactly being... communicative right now, and even if they were, we aren’t exactly on great terms. Two, they wouldn’t send a sign to RiverClan, because they simply don’t care that much. And three, just because you saw a bat doesn’t mean I’m going to save anyone. In fact, it doesn’t mean anything.”

⠀⠀Applestar’s bushy tail twitched. “How do you know? It could have meant something. You have to admit, it’s an odd coincidence.”

⠀⠀Batchaser scrunched up his nose. “Yeah, and me seeing an apple fall from a tree doesn’t mean you’re going to.. cause the downfall of your Clan or something.”

⠀⠀His eyes widened. “You saw that?”

⠀⠀“No — ugh..” Batchaser shook his head and turned away. “That’s not the point. The point is that you seeing an animal I was named after means nothing.”

⠀⠀Applestar furrowed his brows. “You’re a StarClan cat. Isn’t it your job to support the dead? To support the idea that every message is from StarClan?”

⠀⠀“But not every message is from StarClan!” Batchaser hissed, flexing his claws. “You Clan cats are so caught up in your stupid drama that you don’t even realize StarClan —” He stopped. You don’t even realize StarClan isn’t watching anymore.

⠀⠀Applestar peeled back his lips. “What were you going to say?”

⠀⠀“Nothing.”

⠀⠀“That’s a lie.”

⠀⠀“It’s none of your business!” Batchaser fixed the tom with an icy glare.

⠀⠀A growl rumbled in the ginger tom’s throat. “Just because you’re a StarClan cat doesn’t mean I immediately like you. I remember you, moons and moons ago, when I was just an apprentice. You were wailing about how ShadowClan was the most important, how your Clan should take over more territory. You sparked a lifelong war without even realizing it!”

⠀⠀I did more than that, he wanted to say, but the words wouldn’t come out. They were lodged in his throat and he felt his chest constrict again. I don’t want to think about that anymore. And if Batchaser was good at anything, it was ignoring his problems.

⠀⠀“I know what I did,” Batchaser finally huffed in response, ears flicking back. “It’s no secret that I was ambitious for ShadowClan’s rule. But I’m a changed cat. I don’t think like that anymore.” In fact, his mind had hardly wandered to the thought of ShadowClan since he’d been back in the Clans. It was weird. He didn’t feel such a strong pull anymore. But now that he spoke about it... he remembered the pines, the morning dew, the thick needles strewn over the ground, the shadows swathed along the earth..

⠀⠀The tom looked back up at Applestar, who was staring at him intently. “Look, whatever you think of me, it doesn’t matter. I only came here to drop Rushing... Rushingkit off.”

⠀⠀The leader bristled. “But what about RiverClan? We’re dying of sickness. We’re weak from the ongoing war, and we have a limited amount of supplies. Aren’t you meant to help us?!”

⠀⠀“StarClan cats have never done anything themselves,” a low voice said from outside the cave. A large, well-muscled brown tom stepped inside, shadows blanketing his brown fur. Batchaser recognized those yellow eyes. Wait...

⠀⠀“You’re the one that saved me. From the river.” Batchaser tried to move forward and groaned when the ache trembled through his body.

⠀⠀“I am.” The tom’s eyes glinted.

⠀⠀Applestar ignored his Clanmate. “You still haven’t answered my question,” he hissed. “You’re here to help us, right?”

⠀⠀“Why would a StarClan cat care about RiverClan?” the warrior sneered.

⠀⠀“Beavertooth,” Applestar warned.

⠀⠀“No. We all know it’s true.” The brown tom glared back at Batchaser. “You dead cats only care about one thing — ThunderClan. You always have, and you always will. Nothing has changed, even if you really are here.”

⠀⠀“Well, genius, I am here. And I’m thankful you saved me and all that, but you’re really starting to get on my nerves and that’s never good. As for you.” Batchaser turned his head toward Applestar. “My priority is not RiverClan right now.”

⠀⠀The golden leader stiffened, eyes dimming into a cold, dark storm. “Of course,” he finally snapped, voice clipped. “Beavertooth is right. Why would I expect anything from a StarClan cat?”

⠀⠀Batchaser twitched an ear. Blah blah blah, I need to get out of here..

⠀⠀“You will leave RiverClan in two days.” Applestar turned away. “I expect you to be gone, and I never want to lay eyes on you again.”

⠀⠀“That’s a little melodramatic..” The black tom grunted and rolled his eyes. “Whatever. I’ll happily be out of your fur sooner than you can blink.”

⠀⠀Applestar didn’t respond and ducked out of the den, Beavertooth following closely behind. Batchaser watched them leave, grunting and facing towards the wall of the cave. Hopefully I’m not hurt for too long. The sooner I can get out of here, the sooner I can fix my mistakes.. Batchaser ground his teeth together and lightly touched the top of his head. Pain jerked him forward and he groaned, doubling over. Ouch... I forgot how much it sucks being mortal.

⠀⠀Batchaser watched the light fade from the clouds gathered above, night trickling into the sky and swallowing everything in navy and black. The black tom felt the tug of exhaustion pull at his eyelids and he laid his head down, breathing out and allowing himself one night of sleep before the chaos began.

⠀⠀And chaos would begin very soon.

•••••••

⠀⠀The flashes of lightning and crashes of thunder are what first woke Batchaser. He jolted awake, blue eyes wide and reflecting the downpour of rain. Water puddled at his feet, trickling down the trees and turning the camp to mud. Batchaser watched the ripple of electricity span across the clouds, and for once, wished he was back in StarClan. It never rained there.

⠀⠀To be honest, he’d always hated rain, hated that it always seemed to bring something bad along with it... The day after Lynxbite had died, it had rained. The day he’d found his mother dead, it began to rain. Batchaser wasn’t looking forward to the rest of the moon, and to be honest, was already tired. He wasn’t used to being hurt. Even in the Forgotten Eternity, he’d had his smarts... down here, he felt dumber than ever.

⠀⠀He heard soft pawsteps rounding his body and lifted his gaze to Timberfall, whose expression didn’t flicker from a disinterested frown. “I need to check your wounds.”

⠀⠀Batchaser tilted his body towards the medicine cat, wincing when his head was touched. “Careful,” he snapped.

⠀⠀“Stop whining.” Timberfall ran his paws down Batchaser’s flank, brows furrowing. “This evaluation is needed to see if you’re ready to leave RiverClan in the next two days.”

⠀⠀“I know,” Batchaser growled, “I’m not deaf. Applestar has already told me this.”

⠀⠀Timberfall didn’t react, instead turning and disappearing into the darkness of the den. A few moments later, he returned carrying several herbs in his jaws. “Your head wound is swelling, so is more liable to become infected. I’ll need to apply these herbs. The more you squirm, the more it will hurt.” He laid down the herbs and nudged poppy seeds to Batchaser. “Eat these.”

⠀⠀Batchaser scoffed. “What, you think I can’t handle a little pain? I’m fine.”

⠀⠀“Suit yourself.” The medicine cat shrugged and roughly angled Batchaser’s head toward his paws, applying chervil root, feverfew, and nettle leaves.

⠀⠀Batchaser tore himself out of Timberfall’s grasp when he was finished. “You sure like to hurt others, being a medicine cat and all.”

⠀⠀“You sure like to complain a lot, being a StarClan cat and all.” Timberfall tilted his head to the side and eyed Batchaser. “You never did tell me what you were doing here, anyway.”

⠀⠀The black tom made a face. “Are you stupid? I already told you I was dropping Rushingkit off so I could-”

⠀⠀“No,” he interrupted. “I mean, what are you doing in the real world? No StarClan cat has ever taken problems into their own paws before. And no offense, but you don’t seem to be the type of cat that would like to be considered a hero.”

⠀⠀Batchaser twitched an ear. “I’m fixing a problem I caused,” he said slowly. “And I’m not even sure how to return home. I wasn’t actually meaning to return here..”

⠀⠀Timberfall appeared to be surprised. “How does that work?”

⠀⠀“It’s a long story, but — well, after I died in StarClan, I was taken to this... place... called the Forgotten Eternity. I traveled with two other cats and made it through the challenges.” Batchaser sighed. “I was hoping to be returned to StarClan, but alas, we were transported back into this mess.”

⠀⠀“‘We?’” Timberfall echoed.

⠀⠀“My... acquantainces.” Batchaser was entirely sure Jackalstar would disapprove of spilling their journey to a mere medicine cat, but found he didn’t care. “We’re planning to save the Clans, but to do that, we need every cat’s help.”

⠀⠀Timberfall was silent for a moment before he nodded. “I will always support StarClan,” he vowed, “even if I find myself disliking you.”

⠀⠀He laughed. “I’ve heard that one before. Thanks for the, uh... support.”

⠀⠀The medicine cat gave the smallest hint of a small smile. “Of course.” Timberfall focused on something behind Batchaser and froze. “Oh. I will... leave you to it.”

⠀⠀Batchaser raised a brow. “What are you talking about-” But stopped when he saw what Timberfall had meant. Well — not a what, but a who.

⠀⠀Rushingkit stood, drenched in the rain, and began to cry. He ran toward Batchaser, jumping into his paws and nuzzling into his neck fur. “Batchaser,” he sobbed, squeezing the life out of him. “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

⠀⠀Batchaser relaxed immediately, exhaling and patting the kit’s head. “Don’t be sorry. You didn’t do anything wrong. But..”

⠀⠀Rushingkit leaned back, staring at Batchaser with wide eyes. “Do you know?” he whispered.

⠀⠀Batchaser was pretty sure he knew what Rushingkit was talking about. “Yes,” he admitted, chest pooling with dread at the kit’s shocked and guilt-ridden gaze. “But don’t be sorry. It’s fine. I get it, I... I do. How is it, seeing your old Clanmates?”

⠀⠀Rushingkit bit his lip. “Weird... but I get to see my sisters! Which is awesome. Of course, mama isn’t here anymore, but my papa is so happy to see me!” Batchaser smiled at the way the kit’s eyes lit up with every word.

⠀⠀“That’s awesome,” the warrior chuckled, wondering what had happened to Rushingkit’s mother. “What are your sisters’ names?”

⠀⠀“Whisperpaw and Bushpaw,” Rushingkit said proudly, raising his chin and puffing out his chest. “They’re apprentices! Isn’t that amazing?! Soon I’ll be an apprentice!”

⠀⠀If only... Batchaser thought, but smiled through the pain. “I’m so proud of you. You’ve made it a long way. No other kits your age would have been as strong as you have..” He trailed off, concerned when the kit began crying again. “Hey, why are you crying? Please don’t. I don’t know how to...”

⠀⠀“You’re my best friend,” Rushingkit spluttered. Batchaser’s heart melted and froze with shame at the same time. He’d treated the kit so badly. “I don’t want you to leave.”

⠀⠀“We can still see each other in dreams,” Batchaser assured him, “and we’ll still be in the Clans. We’ll just... you know, be saving them at the same time. No big deal, right?”

⠀⠀Rushingkit sniffled, wiping away the tears, attempting to beam. “Yeah..! You’ll go down in history! My best friend, being adored by all the Clans! I’m so happy for you!”

⠀⠀Batchaser himself felt like he was about to break down. “Oh, stop your flattering,” he joked. Rushingkit turned when a patrol walked in. A medium-sized black she-cat and a small brown tabby she-cat walked by the den, fresh kill stuffed in their jaws. Batchaser followed the kit’s gaze. “Are those your sisters?”

⠀⠀Rushingkit smiled. “Yeah.”

⠀⠀“You can go out to see them, if you want,” Batchaser offered, curling his tail around the kit’s back. “I don’t mind.”

⠀⠀“Are you sure?” he whispered. “I don’t want to leave you alone..”

⠀⠀The black tom grunted. “I’ll be fine. Your sisters are more important. Trust me. Spend as much time with them as you can.”

⠀⠀Rushingkit buried his muzzle into Batchaser’s chest, breathing in his scent. “I love you. I’ll, I’ll come visit later!”

⠀⠀Batchaser wanted to cry. Why was this kit so sweet to him, after all he’d done and said? After he’d abused him? “I -” His voice stuck in his throat. He couldn’t say those words. “See you, Rushingkit.”

⠀⠀He watched Rushingkit waddle off and run up to his sisters. Batchaser exhaled and laid his head on his paws, exhaustion tugging at his eyelids. When he awoke again, the rain was sweeping through the tendril hung over the den, spitting his face with water droplets. “’M awake,” he drawled, trying to pry open his slitted eyes. “Only just... closed my eyes..”

⠀⠀A shrill voice shakes Batchaser away from his sleep, ears pricking and claws flicking in and out of their sheaths. A large white she-cat rushes into the den, and to his surprise, is dragging a smaller, pure black, long-furred tom by the scruff. “You’re slower than leaf-bare!” she hissed. “Now, clean this mess up. Timberfall’s been out for ages. StarClan only knows what he’s doing!” Her face rested on a scowl when the tom didn’t move. “Are you deaf, Beetlepaw? Huh? Did I not just tell you to get moving?”

⠀⠀“Yes, Pearlsnap,” the apprentice mumbled, dragging his paws over to the herb storage and beginning to pick out the dead and rotten ones.

⠀⠀Batchaser snorted and eyed the white she-cat, who shot the ShadowClanner a glare. “What are you looking at?”

⠀⠀He just rolled his eyes and turned his head away, shifting his body so he wasn’t facing her.

⠀⠀“Hey!” She stomped up and snarled over him. “I asked you a question.”

⠀⠀Anger pulsed beneath his claws. Batchaser whipped around, gazing into her fiery gray eyes, narrowing his own blue ones. “And I decided not to answer,” he spat.

⠀⠀Pearlsnap looked a little taken aback, but quickly resumed her defiant posture. “Suit yourself,” she said in a low tone, whipping around and smacking Batchaser in the face with her tail. He sighed and allowed her to walk away without rebuttal, nose twitching.

⠀⠀He almost jumped when Beetlepaw began to mutter under his breath. He’d completely forgotten about the apprentice. “I’m not even a medicine cat..!” he growled to himself. “Who does she think she is? Bullying everyone, acting like she’s our leader?”

⠀⠀“You don’t sound too happy,” Batchaser said, amused, raising a brow when Beetlepaw swiveled around.

⠀⠀“Sorry,” he immediately apologized. “I didn’t mean to wake you, I -”

⠀⠀“I was just taking to Pearlsnap. Did you not hear me?”

⠀⠀Beetlepaw’s ear-tips flushed red. “No,” he admitted softly. “Sorry. I tend to block things out.”

⠀⠀Batchaser chuckled. “It’s fine.” He winced when a particularly bad headache began to pound in his mind. “You’re Beetlepaw, eh? Who’s the she-devil?” He jerked his head to where Pearlsnap was yelling at some other apprentices near the fresh-kill-pile.

⠀⠀The black tom eyed Batchaser suspiciously.

⠀⠀“Don’t worry. I’m not going to tell.” Batchaser winked.

⠀⠀Beetlepaw visibly relaxed, shoulders slacking and a lazy smile sparking on his lips. “That’s Pearlsnap - our deputy.”

⠀⠀Batchaser’s eyes widened. “Your deputy talks to you like that?”

⠀⠀He shrugged, turning back to the herbs in a huff. “Yeah. Applestar lets her do whatever she wants. It’s fine.”

⠀⠀“Hmm..” Batchaser tapped his claw on the ground and tilted his head. “You’re not a medicine cat apprentice though, are you?”

⠀⠀“No.”

⠀⠀“So what are you doing in here, then?”

⠀⠀Beetlepaw scowled. “I missed two birds while hunting. But it’s not like Pearlsnap could’ve caught them! Ugh..”

⠀⠀Batchaser thought back to Bearmask. Pearlsnap reminded him of his old mentor, except... the deputy was still much calmer. A lot less cruel. A lot less violent. The scars under his fur had healed from the brutal training, but Batchaser’s fiery hate for Bearmask would never quench. He blinked slowly. “I get that,” he finally said, ignoring the anger burning in his chest. He attempted to smooth down his bristling fur and smirked again. “But I guess we didn’t really have any birds in ShadowClan territory. Mostly just the occasional mice, lizards, toads...”

⠀⠀ Beetlepaw’s eyes widened. “Wait - you’re..?” He looked horrified. “We... we’re in a war with your Clan. Oh, no. I’m in so much trouble. I shouldn’t have said anything about Pearlsnap!”

⠀⠀ The black tom realized that what he’d said was wrong. No one knew he was ShadowClan, except Applestar - and he clearly hadn’t deemed it important enough to tell the Clan. “No, no,” he tried to soothe. “I’m not - I’m not a part of ShadowClan anymore...” His voice trailed off.

⠀⠀Beetlepaw lashed his tail. “What do you mean? You just said...” His eyes flashed. “Wait. You said ‘we didn’t.’ Past tense. Are you - were you exiled, or something?”

⠀⠀“No.” Batchaser ducked his head. “Look. I’m probably not supposed to be telling you this, but, well...” He bit his lip. “I died, many moons ago. I was killed in a battle between ShadowClan and ThunderClan. And, and I went to StarClan, and went through a lot of trouble to get back to the living world. I wasn’t exiled. But I’m not sure many even remember me, except your leader.”

⠀⠀“Applestar knows?” Beetlepaw’s voice dripped with shock and curiosity. Batchaser expected to be ridiculed, to not be believed, yet.. “I guess I believe you, then.” The apprentice smiled. “I’m sorry you died and stuff... but hopefully your second chance here can be lived better.” He tipped his head to the side. “Why are you here?”

⠀⠀“Oh, y’know..” Batchaser chuckled. “Just saving the Clans. No big deal.” So this cat doesn’t know anything... thus, I can assume his Clanmates think I’m just a ShadowClan prisoner. But they must know Rushingkit, right? Maybe it’s just Beetlepaw that didn’t realize. He’s young, most likely wasn’t sure who Rushingkit was, and figured he was with me. I guess that makes sense... maybe..

⠀⠀“I’ll support you, then,” Beetlepaw vowed, dipping his head. “Always. I hope RiverClan is on StarClan’s side as well.”

⠀⠀Batchaser couldn’t help but smile widely. “Well -”

⠀⠀ A shriek across camp caused both toms to stiffen. They glanced at each other before Beetlepaw rushed out without a word. Batchaser dragged himself after the apprentice, squinting through the heavy downpour. A brown tabby she-cat was standing in the middle of the clearing, Timberfall still under her paws.

⠀⠀“Look at him!” she yowled. “My brother is dying! He’s dying!”

⠀⠀All of the cats crowded around flinched, trying to understand what’s happening. Applestar ran forward, eyes wide. And then those words... those haunting words that made Batchaser’s heart stop in his chest..

⠀⠀“He’s caught the Blue Death!”

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