Chapter 15: Sunstorm
Sunstorm watched as her sister's tail disappeared above the ridge. She'd gone to find her friends who'd somehow managed to get into the Dark Forest. The undergrowth shuddered in her passing. Above there was only the black starless sky and the leaf-fall leaves that refused to fall.
"What do we do about this?" Redfur asked. He was looking at the Darkpool. Just a short time ago Sunstorm had seen the lake Clans in the black water. She'd seen them fighting the Dark Forest. It seemed as if every evil cat had left and were fighting the living. The only ones left in the Dark Forest were the three ones standing on the slope above. She glanced upward at them. They sat glaring down at them, not wanting to rush below because they would be off balance, and yet not wanting to let the two StarClan warriors escape.
"I'm not sure," she replied, looking back at the ginger tom. "Doesn't it look different though?"
His brow furrowed and he glanced back at it. There was something off. They'd only seen it once. Afterwards they'd been ambushed by the Dark Forest cats and taken captive. Sunstorm thought it was good luck that had Fawnfur taken captive and put in the same place as they were. She was glad to see her sister. Yet sad that she'd been abandoned by her Clan. What was Bramblestar thinking?
"It's the rocks," Redfur exclaimed, drawing her attention back. "They're farther away from the water."
She narrowed her eyes and looked as well. The smooth ring of stones that surrounded the water's edge were moved back from it by at least a cat's tail. As she watched it looked as if the water level was getting smaller. It was smaller than three fox lengths across she'd last seen it as.
"It's shrinking!" she meowed.
"They must be using up the power," Redfur breathed. "Going to the living Clans through it must have used up the power."
"And don't forget," Sunstorm reminded him, "They have to be fighting StarClan. That will use more."
"What happens when it's gone, you think?"
"Maybe. . ." she let her thoughts run. "Maybe they have to come back here, and stop fighting below. At the very least they won't ever be able to use it again."
They smiled at each other, hoping that was true. But how did they get it to dry up faster?
"You StarClan cats are cowards," Longfang yelled, reminding the pair they still had company.
"Yeah right, tough tom," Sunstorm snorted. "You brought us here and had all your wonderful friends beat us up and take us captive. Now that's what I call being a coward. Not brave enough to face us on your own then, not brave enough now."
"Come on," Snowclaw snarled. "We can take them! Remember when they tried to escape last time? The tom's lame and she can't take on all of us!"
"I have a better idea," Redfur's voice rose above their bickering. "How about you just jump in the pool and go fight like you all want to."
There was silence as the three stared down at them.
"What are you saying?" Longfang demanded, his eyes narrow.
"Go fight the living Clans," Redfur shrugged. "We won't stop you from going to the lake. And we aren't worth taking captive again. We all know you want to be there, taking revenge, not with us."
Snowclaw looked at Longfang. "He has a point."
"I like the idea," Cinderblossom meowed, in the first regular sentence Sunstorm heard her utter.
"Right," Longfang nodded slowly. He looked down the slope at them. "Dawnflower, Firepelt do we have your word as StarClan you won't attack us or stop us from using the Darkpool?"
Sunstorm was reminded Redfur had given the Dark Forest tom fake names. She was surprised he'd even remembered them.
"You have mine," Redfur nodded.
"What exactly are you doing?" Sunstorm hissed at him. "We don't need more enemies for the Clans to face!"
"Trust me," he smiled at her. "We need them to leave."
She sighed, closing her eyes and lowering her head. She didn't want to. She didn't want these cats to leave the Dark Forest and reinforce those below. What if they killed one of her past friends? She would be the cause of it. But she knew Redfur. He wouldn't do anything mouse-brained for no reason. He obviously had a plan. She would have to trust him.
"Well?" Longfang demanded. "Dawnflower?"
"I won't fight you," she meowed slowly. "However, that's only if you don't attack us. If you do, I'll rip your ears off!"
The black-and-gray tom nodded. "I understand. Let's go!"
He actually sounded excited. He slid down the slope without another word. Rocks tumbled around him, rolling down to Sunstorm. She had to dodge a few. The other two shadowed cats came down after him. At the bottom, the light and dark cats eyed each other, the fur raising on their backs. Longfang slowly came forward, cautiously stepping around the scattered rocks and to the ring with the Dark Pool. He kept his eyes on them and Sunstorm made sure not to look away from any of them. She had her claws out just in case.
But they didn't do anything. The three reached the Dark Pool and stared in, peering intently, eyes tracking unseen movement.
"I got it," Longfang meowed suddenly.
He stood up and Sunstorm watched him place a paw inside the water. It sank deeply and then went farther as he placed both paws in. He sank to his chest and then he pushed off with his back feet, diving impossibly deep. It should have been shallow, he should have still been there, but he disappeared under the water. It rippled around his tail tip, shuddering blackness with constant ripples and he was gone. The other two followed quickly and Sunstorm and Redfur were alone.
He approached first, looking intently at it as if trying to find out where they'd gone.
"Well?" Sunstorm frowned at him.
"It got smaller, I know it did," he meowed. "Look, let's ring this and see how much smaller it gets. No, not those ones. New, we need to compare."
So she abandoned the rocks that formed the old ring and gathered more, carrying the dusty stones in their mouths. They quickly placed the stones around the water's edge, clawing them into the right configuration. She noticed as she did, the water shrank away from her. She watched it and then moved her paw over. The water retreated from her, as if it were drying. Even the mud around the edge got suddenly cracked and dried.
"Hey, look at this!"
She showed him what she'd found.
"Interesting," he meowed.
She agreed but it quickly got boring. They had to figure out how to get rid of the pool.
"Let's try burying it again," she meowed.
They both set to work, digging their claws into the hard earth of the slope. They kicked up dust and small runnels of crumbled dirt. It wasn't much, but the harder they scratched, the more dirt they had. Redfur had to stop after a while, clenching his front paw to his chest. She was reminded that it was broken. It wouldn't be any use. By the time they got enough dirt, the battle would be over. She did use the amount they had, scooping pawful by pawful over and dropping it over the pool. That too sank from sight. She wondered what cat just got dirt on his or her head. Then she wondered what dirt from the Dark Forest would even look like. Shadows? Would it have no effect on the living?
"Maybe we can find more Dark Forest cats," she suggested. "Convince them to go in."
"Everyone left," Redfur sighed, realizing how useless burying the pool would be.
"Not everyone," Sunstorm meowed. "I'm sure some cats wouldn't believe Tigerstar. Or others might scare themselves out of going. Some cats have to be out there."
"It would take too much time looking for them."
They sat there in silent, feeling gloomy. No matter what they'd try, it wouldn't work. It would all take too much time. But Sunstorm felt they couldn't just abandoned it. They had to get rid of the pool and stop the Dark Forest's power. So what could they do?
"You remember what happened when we went near it?" she asked.
"It shrank away?" he meowed.
"Yeah. Maybe it doesn't like our light," she continued. "Let's go to it and start glowing, see what happens."
"Worth a chance," Redfur's ears flicked. He stood up and limped over. They sat on either side of the Darkpool. The Darkpool was about one and a half fox lengths across. It was just a bit farther away from their second ring. They looked at each other and closed their eyes. Sunstorm thought about being light, that her fur would really glow. She remembered scaring away the two evil kits with the same trick. It brought a smile to her face.
When she opened her eyes again, her silvery light was everywhere, as though it were moon light or even many stars. The shadows retreated from them, leaning far away as possible. She looked down at the pool and watched as it started lowering even faster.
"It's working," Redfur meowed in surprise.
"Yep," she nodded. She didn't feel useless anymore. They'd gone to the Dark Forest for a reason. They'd gotten caught, but that just helped her meet her sister. She had gotten lost from StarClan to be here, to destroy the Darkpool. She smiled and her star flecks became brighter. The light hurt her eyes, but she just squinted, smiling at Redfur. He still had his surprised look on his ginger face, but he looked satisfied. He smiled back at her and they just sat there, waiting for the pool to completely dry.