Chapter 17: Fawnfur
Author's Note: I just read Omen of the Stars: Night Whispers. (and SkyClan's Destiny, which was cool. I wish they had their own series). I can't believe what Jayfeather did. How dare he listen to Rock and let poor Flametail go under the ice! And who is this mysterious cat leaving herbs for them? I think it's Hollyleaf. The Erins couldn't killer her off that easily!
Here it is. This is the end.
I could hear the vines twisting and brushing against fur as Eveningbreeze and the four ShadowClan warriors raced away. Their challenging yowls filled the air. I didn't turn to watch. My eyes were on my sister. I had just remembered everything I'd seen. I'd discovered the truth after so long. Morningsong was the Dark Forest's agent. And I had a feeling StarClan knew all along. Firestar had warned me, but the others had pretended not to know. I was not sure why they held the truth from me because I felt if I'd had more time, I could have changed my sister's mind. That she'd stop helping the Dark Forest and help me plan and save my Clan instead.
But over that nagging thought, there was anger. She had almost killed me earlier that night. Gave me poppy seeds to sleep, untrained with the proper amounts. And this whole moon, she'd pretended not to know anything, just determined to keep me from Lakefrost on the pretense that he was too interested in me that the Clan thought badly of my honor. Then in just the last two days, she'd said nothing at all, not backed me up when I told everyone the Dark Forest's attack plan. She'd not stopped Bramblestar from exiling me when she knew the truth. How and why had my sister done this to me?
"Why?" I meowed. I realized I was shaking as though cold. My voice came through gritted teeth and I glared at her.
Morningsong turned her head just a bit and looked at me from one of her yellow eyes.
"Why didn't you listen to me?" she asked. "I told you to leave. I hid you away so you'd be safe."
"Then why sacrifice our Clan? Why did you choose the Dark Forest over them?" Perhaps this was one thing I'd never understand. We were born and grew up in ThunderClan. It was our culture, our friends, and our family. If we did not have that, we had nothing at all. Why would she want to destroy this?
She blinked slowly at me, the hardness I'd seen earlier that night coming through. "StarClan has-"
"StarClan has nothing to do with ThunderClan!" I yowled. "If you have something against them, then do not include our Clan with it!"
"I cannot harm StarClan," she snarled, stepping forward. "It is not possible. Only the Dark Forest knows how to fight our ancestors."
"So why ThunderClan?"
She smiled as Eveningbreeze had smiled: a smug, cheerful look. "Because, there is only one way I can hurt StarClan. Destroy the Clans that worship them. Kill their descendants."
I just shook my head. She didn't care anymore. She didn't care that ThunderClan was our Clan. She only cared about revenge against StarClan. But why would she need revenge? I looked up, startled and uncertain. I just had to ask. I took a step forward and she copied me. We were almost face to face. I could see the tension in her back where the fur started to raise, the way her mouth tightened and her teeth were revealed.
"Why do you want to hurt StarClan?" I asked, softening my voice. "They gave us gifts and have looked after our Clan and us."
"Lies!" she snarled, her tail thrashing, her body jerking forward. I flinched away. "They might have given us these powers, but what good are they? Sunstorm. . ." she swallowed, closing her eyes as if in pain. "She was the strongest of us. She led us, you remember?" She opened her eyes and peered at me. It seemed like we were kits again. "She died, like that. . . so quickly, suddenly. No one warned her. That gift. . . that 'power' StarClan gave her," now her voice grew sarcastic, her fur once more rising, her claws sliding out, "that power failed. StarClan allowed her to die, wanted her to die! And when she died, so did our future she saw for us. StarClan is evil. They hurt us for no reason. They hated her. They hate us. They want to fix their mistakes by killing us off! They know they shouldn't have given us the Sight of Time. Huh." she looked away scornfully. "I refuse to die. I will not be slaughtered by them. And Sunstorm needs retribution."
"But Sunstorm," I tried to explain I'd just seen our sister. That she didn't seem angry or depressed. She didn't want revenge or retribution. Morningsong would not listen. She sat. The fur on her back went down and she continued talking, but did not look at me. Her eyes unfocused, as if concentrating on something distant.
"Did you ever wonder who our father was?"
I was surprised. What did this have to do with anything? "Why are you asking that? We have to get back to our Clan. We have to stop the Dark Forest. I know you're angry, but think of what you're doing. What happens when everyone is dead? What will you do?"
"We," she meowed, turning back to me, "we will still be alive. That is all that matters."
"But-" She really didn't care. She probably hadn't planned for the day after the Dark Night. The Dark Forest obviously didn't care what happened to the Clans as long as they and StarClan were destroyed. They didn't care about the cats left behind. Or maybe they did. I remembered the other agents in the other Clans. If they were still alive at battle's end, they would probably be the new leaders, find the remnants of the Clans and band them together in their own way. Everything would be different. And those agents would have their reward, their purpose for following the Dark Forest.
I swallowed, feeling as if my heart had stopped. I couldn't stand next to her. I turned and walked away, finally circling back. I knew I had to go, but I couldn't leave her here. I still felt as if I had a chance to change her mind, to convince her to help me. To fight against the Dark Forest when we returned to ThunderClan territory.
"Our mother?" I meowed quietly. "You would save me, but let her die?"
Her tongue poked out slightly, a bright pink line against the white at her muzzle. "She doesn't matter. Did you ever wonder who our father was?" It was that same question as earlier.
"Of course," I sighed. I would have to go along with her for now.
"Then why didn't you ever look back to see who he was?"
"Cinderheart had her reasons for keeping it a secret," I meowed. "I didn't want to pry."
"You never used your power properly," she snorted and licked her shoulder. "I wanted to know. To know why Cinderheart never told us or the Clan. Was it a tom from another Clan? Did she want to keep our half-breed heritage a secret?"
I shook my head. Cinderheart would never do that. She was loyal to ThunderClan. Why else was she the deputy?
"Then perhaps, it was because she was ashamed of him," Morningsong growled. "She thought she was in love and then turned away from him, ashamed of him or thinking he wasn't right for her. Didn't ever tell anyone about it. Didn't think we ought to know because she never really loved him. Or I was right, and their love was forbidden." She glanced at me from the corner of her eyes.
I wondered what she was getting at. My fur felt as if ants were crawling in it. I was so impatient. I didn't want to stay there. I wanted to go back home, but I'd gotten myself lost. Maybe the pool was that way? I could recall coming to the split sycamore tree through the vines and Eveningbreeze had led the others the same direction. Perhaps if we started walking and I could, with the power from the Darkpool, show my sister what was happening below. Maybe she'd recant and help us.
"Fawnfur?" I looked up.
"Would you look for me?" she meowed quietly. "Would you see who our father is?"
"Morningsong, it doesn't matter," I whispered.
"But it does," she lowered her head. "The Dark Forest, they can give gifts too. I got to see."
"See what?" I demanded, staring at her.
"I saw him. I know who it is. And you- you don't care. You don't seem to care what Cinderheart did or that he never told us himself. He's been watching us. Watching over you. And Cinderheart- she told him. She told him after that she didn't love him. She felt she might, but then she changed her mind. And you think we should save her."
I stared at her, frowning in confusion. I could make sense of her muttered, jumbled words. She knew all along? And she wanted me to see as well. I licked my lips, uncertain.
"No, Morningsong. I can't, not now."
"Then it will be too late," she snarled, glaring up at me. "Because they will all be dead! And you won't see him and ask him why he never told you."
"Come back with me," I pleaded.
Her tail twitched. "Fine it doesn't matter. It is almost over anyway. We will be the only ones left. And then you and I will be free of StarClan. We won't have to fear they'll come for us."
I could hear the vines moving as if somecat were coming through. My ears flicked and I looked around. Morningsong could hear it too. She became tense, eyes scanning the area as if not even she trusted all the cats in the Dark Forest. It was growing lighter. I was surprised, not realizing just how dark it had gotten. The only light came from shining moss on the tree trunks, but as this new light came, it seemed as if the sun were rising. And through the vines she came. The last of our family. Flecks of starlight shining in her ginger-brown tabby fur.
"My sisters," Sunstorm meowed. She stared between us. She smiled at me. "Lakefrost and the others are all right. They've gone home. Now you need to get back. We think when the Darkpool is gone you won't be able to, so you have to leave now."
I nodded. A gasping noise drew our attention. It was Morningsong. She stared at Sunstorm, mouth open, breathing in sudden gasps.
"You see," she meowed, turning to me. "You see. She was betrayed. She is dead when she was meant to live!"
"Morningsong," Sunstorm meowed, walking forward.
"I will make it up to you," Morningsong told her, eyes shining in the light. "I will repay StarClan for what they did to you."
Sunstorm paused and glanced at me, uncertainly in her stance. I wasn't sure if she understood. If she realized Morningsong thought she was doing everything for her.
"I'm fine," Sunstorm turned back to her. "I'm fine."
"But," now Morningsong seemed confused, "you are dead. You weren't supposed to. Aren't you angry?"
I blinked and looked at her. I hadn't realized. She didn't look angry. She seemed confident and assured, relaxed even.
"When I died, I was so angry," Sunstorm confessed, looking deep into her sister's eyes. "I denied it was possible. You know that I saw us together in the future. I wanted that future. I didn't want to be a member of StarClan. But time passed and I couldn't change the fact I was no longer living. And now I am happy. I have Redfur. I've had more adventures than I could have if I was still in ThunderClan. I'm all right; I've found peace."
"No," Morningsong shook her head. "No. You can't. They stole your life. They blocked your power and let you die. You shouldn't forgive them. Never." She started backing away slowly. Her eyes were confused as she stared at Sunstorm. They darted to me as if I would somehow understand her horror that Sunstorm wasn't what she imagined. A cat that didn't want revenge.
Suddenly my sister gagged. She lowered her head and seemed as if she were spitting up a hairball. I stepped forward to stand beside Sunstorm and watched, wondering what was happening. Morningsong heaved again and stared up at us. That was when I noticed the blood. It dripped down her legs, covering the white patch on her chest. It soaked through, falling faster and splashing on the ground in bursts. She looked at us in horror. Sunstorm gasped and I could feel my mouth hanging open as I leaned into my StarClan sister.
Morningsong shook and fell over. She thrashed on the ground, gasping for air, a wicked deep line in her throat as if a claw had slit through. Blood bubbled in her mouth, at her nose. And finally she was still.
Sunstorm and I stood side by side, just staring at her body, not sure what had happened, how she'd died. And that was when everything went black for me.
Black swallowed me, pulling me under, pulling me down. It covered me until I couldn't breathe. I didn't exist. I was nothing, just darkness through and through and for a time I forgot who I was.
There was soft grass under her paws. It tickled. She slowly opened her eyes and looked around. There were tall, leaf-bearing trees, twisted roots below, and thick undergrowth everywhere. She would have thought it was the Dark Forest except for one thing. High above the leaves in the dark, inky black there were little speckled silver dots everywhere. Silverpelt, the home of StarClan strove on to shine brilliantly. But if she tried hard enough, she could see where the silver wavered, dimmed as if threads of clouds were trying to cover them. But most of all, hanging over the forest was a large round coppery red orb. It was the moon, fully covered in shadow.
It was an odd sight, and filled her with shivers. Never had the moon looked this way. She had to hurry. She picked up her paws, racing through the thick trees, jumping over the ferns and bushes, stumbling on unfamiliar rocks. She was near the WindClan border as if she were coming from the Moonpool. The scents of ThunderClan became stronger and she followed her nose and her ears. Because over the sounds of the forest (leaves and branches moving in the wind, little prey animals squeaking to each other, and the tapping of her own paws) she could hear the wailing of cats in pain, claws tearing into rock and ground. She could hear shouts for regrouping, for help, for anything. Her heartbeat pounded and she raced forward to see what was happening.
The ground was bright in the copper moonlight and there were many shadows. She didn't see the quarry until too late. The ground was gone under her paws. She fell, tumbling down the rocky sides. She tried to get her claws into the hanging vines, but they slid passed. She couldn't grip, couldn't twist her body to land on her feet. She came down hard, glancing off of another cat's body. The ground slammed into her and she lay there, dizzy and aching everywhere.
"Ohh," she moaned. She tasted blood and knew she'd bitten her tongue. Her legs could barely move. She twitched, breathless, unable to get up. And somecat laid under her, unmoving, the warmth seeping away.
"What have we here?" a cold voice meowed. A grinning face loomed over her. He was shrouded in shadows, dulling the dark brown of his fur. Dark lines splicing through, like a tabby. A ghostly pale patch on his chest, his eyes oddly bright blue. When the light from the moon glimmered into them, they flashed red.
"Hawkfrost," she spat, glaring at him.
He laughed, closing his eerie eyes. "Had to fall in here, did you? Won't Tigerstar be pleased to know I've captured you."
"Hardly," she snorted. "You haven't caught me." She struggled to get on her feet, but was unable too, pain still shooting through her body. Her legs wouldn't listen to her as if she'd broken bone. But that was nearly impossible. She couldn't have hurt herself so badly.
Hawkfrost's paw came down, slamming into her chest and his claws came out, pressing into her until she winced from the pain.
"You can't get away," he meowed. "You might as well enjoy your time."
"I have somewhere to be, thank you very much," she growled, snapping at his foreleg. He yowled in pain as her teeth ground together. She tasted blood as he pulled away, half dragging her from the dead cat. She released him, panting. He glared down at her, licking his injury. She could see two other cats behind him. They were just as dark as he was as if shadows had wrapped about their fur, their eyes shining red when the moonlight hit them. Sootwhisker and Yarrowthorn.
Beyond them, she could see the ThunderClan cats backed against walls, fighting in small groups, blood dripping through their fur and onto the ground. They looked tired and in shock that living shadows were fighting against them. These cats were equally matched; as many Dark Forest as ThunderClan, although the living numbers had dropped, which she determined by the four dead cats she could see. But some others seemed to be missing. Perhaps they'd run into the forest to escape the slaughter.
"And where would you go?" Hawkfrost demanded, standing back, his tail twitching slowly.
"ShadowClan," she growled. She wanted to be there. She had her own revenge to work on.
"Likely that you could crawl there," he laughed. "I think I can leave you, Eveningbreeze, a broken she-cat. I'll retrieve you after the battle."
He gave her a little bow and walked away. The two cats by his side stalked off with him. "Jaggedsky, split those cats up!" he yowled at one of the Dark Forest toms. "They're stronger together. Target one cat at a time if you have too! And, Highbird, get into those dens!"
She glared after him as he walked to the entrance. She glanced upward and spotted some of the cats she'd missed before. They stood before two dens. One had to be the nursery, a bramble bush, and the other was the medicine cat den. She knew that by the blind, gray tabby tom that stood outside it, a mostly white she-cat by his side as they snarled at one of the Dark Forest cats.
She could only lay there, pain rippling through her. That fall had damaged her somehow. She wouldn't be moving anytime soon. She sighed and laid her head down. She wanted to go to ShadowClan and only wished to stop to see what was happening in the ThunderClan camp. Now she seemed doomed to wait until the battle won and Hawkfrost came to get her. She couldn't just sit there uselessly and give up! She snarled and twisted on the ground. Her back felt as if fire laced downward and she froze, breathing hard. She flexed her front claws and felt mildly surprised when they came out.
A showering of rocks and dirt fell down, hitting her side, and a yowl sounded above her. She flinched and when the downpour stopped, looked upward. She could just barely make out cats above. They were light like living cats. She could just glimpse ears and paws. She looked around the camp. The cats were starting to become split up into a smaller group and the shadows pulled down one apprentice, slowly twisting a front paw back, making him yowl in pain. This taunted two warriors to rush forward.
Hawkfrost didn't seem interested. He was looking up the slope. He rested his blue eyes on Eveningbreeze, but continued to look up the quarry wall. He must have seen the cats above because he twitched his tail and he and the two toms with him started through the entrance as if they were going to investigate. Dirt fell down again as the cats above moved on.
With Hawkfrost gone, she tried to get to her paws with renewed vigor. Her back ached horribly and any wrong movement made her fall back down. Her back legs did work, just slowly, and when she got to her feet, she crawled out of the camp. The other Dark Forest cats saw her, but did not stop her. They were busy with ThunderClan. And the living cats were busy fighting, not sightseeing.
She made her way through the bramble and gorse entrance. It was dark and she made her way by feel, ignoring the thick thorns. She got to the forest and followed Hawkfrost's scent. She followed it around the quarry edge, up the slope and there she saw him. Sootwhisker and Yarrowthorn pulled a shape from a bush. It was a ginger-brown cat. The body flopped when they dragged it out as if the cat was already dead, but Eveningbreeze, who paused just behind a birch tree, couldn't see any wounds. Then she realized who it was.
"Morningsong," she whispered, her eyes growing wide.
"Hey," Yarrowthorn meowed. "This is that cat Eveningbreeze contacts."
"Not that good at hiding herself is she?" Hawkfrost asked. He brought up his paw, claws flashing as he brought them down. Blood formed around Morningsong's neck. She started to thrash and shake, dying quickly. Eveningbreeze yowled in anger and charged forward. How dare he kill her helper!
Though her back ached, she leapt on him, bringing him to the ground as she torn into him. Her back claws kicked like a rabbit. He squirmed and yowled under her, trying to flip over, trying to stand. She just bit him hard on the ears, drawing her front paw over his face. She must have hit an eye with her claws because blood spurted and he yowled, bucking. Two cats pulled her off violently, throwing her to the ground where she gasping in pain. Hawkfrost loomed over her, snarling in her face.
I struggled awake. I pulled myself away, struggling from the vision. I opened my eyes. A cat of speckled stars sat over me, licking my face until I stood.
"What happened?" she asked.
"I-I was Eveningbreeze," I meowed. I could hear something sobbing and moaning. I looked about until my eyes rested on Morningsong. "They killed Morningsong," I meowed, staring at my sister. She was dead in my world, but this form was her spirit. After dying, she'd awaken again.
She was no longer lying on the ground, but sat huddled, curled up. She was moaning and curling ever tighter as if in utter pain. I couldn't stand it anymore. I dove forward to her, licking her ears and nudging her, trying to comfort her. At first she didn't seem to notice, but once she did feel my presence, her low moans stopped. She started to uncurl and looked at me.
"I'm so sorry," I meowed. I meant it utterly. How could she just die? Why had Hawkfrost done that? She'd helped the Dark Forest!
A snarl overtook her face. Before I could react, she sprang up and swiped me across the chest. I backed away, stunned. Blood welled over the white patch on my chest. It started to sting and I could only stare at her. She glared angrily back at me.
"Fawnfur," Sunstorm meowed, quickly coming to my side and nuzzling my chest in concern.
"I'm fine," I dully told her, my eyes still on Morningsong.
"You need to go back," Sunstorm insisted. "Before they find you too."
I nodded slowly, not looking at her. I didn't move.
"I'll take care of her," Sunstorm insisted. "Just get back. Redfur is by the Darkpool. He'll tell you how to go back to ThunderClan."
I nodded again, but only after she shoved me, did I start walking away. I glanced over my shoulder at them. Sunstorm hesitantly approached Morningsong, pausing frequently. But Morningsong swung at her and Sunstorm halted.
"I don't want to be dead here," Morningsong whimpered. And that was the last I heard of her voice as I faded into the vines, on my way to the Darkpool and to ThunderClan.
Sootwhisker and Yarrowthorn are unimportant cats, I just had to give them names though, so you wouldn't get confused.
Now, Morningsong was taunting Fawnfur about their father. Yes, you all want to know who he was. My theories for you were: A random WindClan warrior, Firestar (because Cinderpelt liked him and that feeling might have carried over into Cinderheart), Jayfeather (because he helped her and knows who she really is), and Lionblaze (they get their ginger-gold-brown coloring from him, plus in the books they do get together). However, I've never said anything concrete on the subject so you can guess whoever.
But after reading Night Whipers, I have a preference for Lionblaze. He and Cinderheart are cute together and it's sad she doesn't think she's good enough for him.