Chapter 7 || The Clans Below
Annoyed. That was the only word that described Batchaser at the moment. Rushingpaw couldn’t shut off his rambling, and Jackalstar was trying to make conversation with the black tom. Just because I helped doesn’t mean I want to talk.
⠀⠀Flexing his claws, Batchaser saw the rolling hills coming up. They’d be arriving at the Gatherings Grounds soon -- thank StarClan. He wasn’t sure how much more of this apprentice he could take.
⠀⠀Honestly, all the tom could think about was returning to the forest and being alone. Yes, he grew lonely sometimes, but that was the only place he could really “recharge” his energy, if that made any sense at all. Talking was just so tiring.
⠀⠀The former warrior snapped his head to Jackalstar, irritation clear in his blue eyes. “What?” he snapped.
⠀⠀The white-and-brown she-cat narrowed her eyes. “Rushingpaw was just asking you a question. Are you deaf and mute?”
⠀⠀“No.” Batchaser grumbled something under his breath and craned his muzzle down to look at the apprentice.
⠀⠀“What Clan were you a part of?” he inquired.
⠀⠀“Oh, cool!! I was in RiverClan.”
⠀⠀“Who was your leader? Mine was Flamestar.”
⠀⠀“Why are you dead?”
⠀⠀Batchaser froze. He glared at the blue-gray tom and lashed his tail back and forth a few times. “I don’t know. Does anyone know?” Jackalstar snorted and the black tom flexed his claws. “Probably some stupid ThunderClanner.” Not probably. It was. But I can’t admit that I know yet.
⠀⠀Rushingpaw shrugged. “Yeah, ThunderClan was okay I guess. I didn’t know them, though. What were they like? I didn’t know... uh... ShadowClan, either.”
⠀⠀“Jackalstar?” Batchaser addressed, looking up at the former leader. “Maybe you should answer Rushingpaw’s very important questions. After all, you’re from ThunderClan.”
⠀⠀The apprentice gasped. “Really? I didn’t know that! I guessed you were both ShadowClan.”
⠀⠀“Oh come on, I’m not some frog-eating donkey,” the she-cat said all-too-highly, raising her head and puffing out her chest. “I’m from the best Clan around the lake.”
⠀⠀Batchaser gave her an exaggerated shocked expression. “What did you call me? A frog-eating donkey? Oh! How dare you!”
⠀⠀Jackalstar snickered. “Mm. You are. And RiverClan has a bunch of slimy fish-eaters. Gross.”
⠀⠀“They aren’t gross!” Rushingpaw protested. “They’re delicious! You’re just jealous you can’t swim!”
⠀⠀Batchaser chuckled. He listened to the two argue back and forth until they padded up another rise. The apprentice’s words drifted off as he took in the sight of rolling hills, rivers, forests, and cats. They’d officially made it back to the Gathering Grounds.
⠀⠀“Wow.” The small gray tom took in a breath and darted off toward the river, yelling, “Thanks for the trip!” to Batchaser and Jackalstar. The two older cats exchanged a glance before walking after him.
⠀⠀The black tom stopped in his tracks when he heard yelling. He vaguely made out Jackalstar’s name. Batchaser turned to the she-cat and cocked a brow. She opened her jaws to question what he was doing but too heard the screaming.
⠀⠀“Oh.” The white she-cat flicked her tail. “That’s Shellstar. Go watch Rushingpaw, will you?” Jackalstar turned and trotted off, the former ShadowClanner watching her with narrowed blue eyes.
⠀⠀“Hmm.” Batchaser twisted his head around to flash a glance toward the apprentice, then sprinted off after the former leader. He was going to find out what was going on. After all, it could have something to do with his fake prophecy to Paleheart.
⠀⠀His paws tore up grass as he ran into another forest similar to the one he usually stayed in. He followed Jackalstar’s scent, gasping in surprise when he ran right into her. She hissed and wheeled around, glaring daggers at him. “StarClan! I knew you’d follow me. What do you want?”
⠀⠀“I want to know what’s going on!” he bit back. Jackalstar curled her lips into a snarl. “Look, you might as well let me come along and hear. I know all about your trips to the Clans and your secret meetings with friends. Besides, I’ll spy on you if you don’t let me.”
⠀⠀The she-cat didn’t respond for a few more seconds. Finally, she let out a forced sigh. “Fine. Follow me.”
⠀⠀Batchaser smirked, padding after Jackalstar. He felt particularly proud of himself for being able to convince her so easily. Maybe he was improving.
⠀⠀“I’M COMING!” the she-cat yowled back, rolling her eyes. “He’s so impatient. He should just come to me next time.”
⠀⠀They emerged into a clearing, trees surrounding the two cats. Batchaser noticed Shellstar’s white pelt hidden away in the bushes, black stripes hardly visible.
⠀⠀“You can come out now,” Jackalstar said.
⠀⠀“Ugh. He’s here?” Shellstar continued to speak as he padded out of the foliage. He eyed Batchaser suspiciously before turning to the former ThunderClanner.
⠀⠀“So? What’s up?” The black tom sat down and licked his paw, drawing it over his ear to show he was comfortable.
⠀⠀“I don’t think he should be here,” the other former leader growled.
⠀⠀“Well, he’s not leaving and he knows enough, so we might as well just say it in front of him,” Jackalstar snapped back. “Now, I’m tired of waiting! What’s going on?”
⠀⠀Batchaser mused. She’s sure a hypocrite, isn’t she?
⠀⠀“Ugh.” Shellstar lashed his tail. “Okay. Just... our problem is--”
⠀⠀“What’s our problem?” Batchaser cut in. The white tom snarled.
⠀⠀“We had a fake prophecy sent to a living cat. I think you know that already.” The black tom forced himself not to tense up. Oh, no. “And now the Clans are in an all-out war; ThunderClan has been caught in the middle of it. Everyone is blaming them and now it’s ShadowClan, WindClan and RiverClan against them. They’ve already been driven out of the territory.”
⠀⠀“This is insane!” Jackalstar hissed, her eyes blazing. “Someone needs to go down there and knock some sense into them! Why hasn’t this happened? Clearly they aren’t thinking straight and need some guidance!”
⠀⠀The white tom was quiet. “That’s actually why.. I called you here. Jackalstar, we have no way to speak to the Clans. The Star-filled Pool has been shut off.”