Chapter 18: Sunstorm
Fawnfur left them there, wandering off, searching for the Darkpool. Sunstorm had recently come from the Darkpool. She'd followed the scents of both her sister and the four ShadowClan warriors back to a wall of vines. Inside, she'd found Morningsong and Fawnfur. There one sister died, the other lived.
"I don't want to be dead here!" Morningsong wailed.
Sunstorm looked away. She couldn't say a thing. Because she knew. She knew that when a cat died and awoke within the Dark Forest, that meant the cat would never be accepted into StarClan. They'd refused to guide that spirit into Silverpelt. Her sister was a Dark Forest cat.
"I'm so sorry," she meowed. She tried to step forward again, tried to comfort her sister, but Morningsong spat at her, striking out. The claws came close and Sunstorm felt air blowing passed her. She closed her eyes and tried not to flinch, just staying out of her sister's range. Morningsong held her ground near the vines.
"I did everything for you," Morningsong sobbed, looking up at her. "Everything. I knew you'd want it. But why are you here? Why are you with StarClan? They killed you!"
Sunstorm knew her sister could see the flecks of star in her fur. They glowed softly, fighting back the darkness. Even against Morningsong, who's fur had gone dark and lackluster when she died. Dried blood, dark red turning to brown clung to her white chest fur, a dark line at her throat where it had been cut. Someone down below in the Clan territories had ended her life. Sunstorm didn't know who, but she knew Fawnfur had seen it. Had probably been the cat dealing the deathblow if her shock was anything to go by.
"I've made my peace with StarClan," Sunstorm meowed. "I am one of them because that was where I was meant to go."
"And I'm not?" she demanded, hissing. Her tail thrashed. Her face, once grieved, filled with rage.
If she was so mad about not becoming a StarClan warrior, why had she helped the Dark Forest? Why fight against StarClan if you want to join it later? Sunstorm didn't ask what she was thinking. Perhaps Morningsong didn't even know. She was brought up knowing all dead cats went to StarClan and maybe she really did want to become one of the ancestors. Sunstorm knew she certainly didn't want to live in the Dark Forest for the rest of eternity or when she faded away.
"I'll never be forgiven," Morningsong moaned, huddling up once more.
"Why did you want to get revenge for me?" Sunstorm meowed. She sat down, trying not to be intimidating, wanting to ease her sister's fear and anger so she could get closer.
"StarClan killed you," Morningsong meowed quietly, staring at her. "Someone had to do it. I chose to. The Dark Forest came to me, offering me the chance. Why don't you?"
"I don't feel angry anymore. Dying was just a part of life," Sunstorm meowed slowly. "I might have given up my future, my possible leadership, but I have Redfur. I have so many friends here in the sky that Clan borders don't matter."
Morningsong watched her, hopeful.
"You don't have to feel anger for StarClan anymore, Morningsong," Sunstorm soothed. "You don't need to hold a grudge against them. I don't want revenge. I don't need it. Thank you for the thought, but it isn't necessary. They did warn me when they had the chance. They didn't see that branch until it was too late so I didn't see my death until the last second. You can't hate them. They did nothing."
Morningsong laughed shortly, her yellow eyes hard as she looked away. "It doesn't matter anymore does it? I'm dead too now. And I'm stuck here, in this horrible place. I can be angry all I want."
Stubborn. Sunstorm thought, trying not to roll her eyes.
"Now I'm stuck here," Morningsong growled. "Unless StarClan changes their mind. But they won't. Not after what I did, what I let the Dark Forest do." She looked away, a low growl in her throat. "The Clan is dying, isn't it?"
Sunstorm sighed and nodded. Before leaving Redfur, she'd seen where Lakefrost and the others had gone. She'd seen WindClan scattering across the moorland, fleeing for their lives, the dead bodies of the slow and weak littered in the camp. ThunderClan couldn't have been much better.
"Are you sorry for it?" Sunstorm asked, staring at her sister. She just had to know. Was Morningsong wishing she'd never gotten involved?
There was no reply for a time. Then Morningsong looked at her. "Do you forgive me? I did it for you. Will you forgive me for doing this all in your name?"
Sunstorm's ears went up. Her sister looked really interested. Sunstorm frowned and seriously thought about it. Her sister's actions had harmed the Clans beyond anything they'd experienced. Fighting the dead in a battle they could never win. All in her name. But as Sunstorm stared at her sister, she couldn't tell the truth or lie. It would have to be a mixture to help her sister. To hear what she wanted to hear.
What I want to hear from her.
"Yes," Sunstorm meowed. "I forgive you. And StarClan will too eventually. They caused-" Well, now, she couldn't say that. They hadn't caused anything. Morningsong just thought they had. It was their lack of doing anything that started Morningsong's descent. If they'd warned her or if Sunstorm had visited her sister, things might have turned out better. If Fawnfur knew early on that her sister was one of the enemies, perhaps everything would have been different. But Morningsong had made her choice. She'd followed the darker path all on her own, not tricked by anyone.
"Thank you," Morningsong purred.
"Are you sorry?" Sunstorm reminded her of the earlier question.
Morningsong sighed. "I cannot say."
And Sunstorm blinked. Her sister's body was still. Too still, as if trying not to reveal any thought in her body movements. A spark of something burned in her eye.
"Come," Sunstorm meowed. "We better find Redfur and hope no one attacked him. We'll go to StarClan right now. Help us fight back the Dark Forest cats there and I'm sure they'll let you stay."
Morningsong nodded eagerly and together they walked back to the Darkpool. Redfur sat down below, his broken paw raised and against his chest as he stared into the black depths of the water. He heard them coming and looked up, nodding to them.
"She went back," he meowed. "And I'm sorry," he looked at Morningsong who looked at him with such a blank face Sunstorm felt the fur on her back rise.
She looked at the pool instead to ignore her sister. It was smaller than before. Redfur had gathered more stones, forming a third ring. It was about as big as a cat and getting smaller. She knew they didn't have long before it went away. She wondered if it would take them to StarClan if they used it. (A/N, she doesn't know that the border between StarClan and the Dark Forest is open. That was the way Lakefrost and the others took.) And if one of them tried it, there was no guarantee where they'd show up or if they could return to tell the others. She didn't really want to risk it, but someone had to.
"Do you remember what Cinderblossom said?" Redfur meowed as they sat around the pool.
"No," Sunstorm replied. "What?"
"That while the moon is blocked, the dead can't enter StarClan."
Sunstorm looked at him then at her sister, hope rising in her chest. That made sense. Morningsong wasn't stuck in the Dark forest forever. She was just blocked while the moon was covered. She probably was a StarClan warrior after all!
"We'll wait until the moon is bright again," Sunstorm meowed happily. "Then we can all go back!"
"But, Sunstorm," Morningsong meowed. "What guarantee do you have that the moon will come back at all?"
The StarClan warriors looked at her. And they suddenly doubted too. It couldn't stay blocked forever could it?
"You should go," Morningsong meowed.
"But you have to come too," Sunstorm told her. "We aren't leaving you here."
"But the moon might not come back," Morningsong meowed.
"Did they ever tell you?" Redfur asked.
"No. I didn't care to know. Eveningbreeze said they saw it in the water that the Dark Night would come. They planned everything based on that. And StarClan's movements. They have a spy there," she told them.
"A spy?" Sunstorm was intrigued.
"Yes. I never saw him. But one of the StarClan warriors talks to one of the cats here. That was how they knew what StarClan was doing."
"But how did they meet?" Redfur asked, confused.
"I don't know."
But Sunstorm had an idea. It was the same way she and Redfur had. He'd just forgotten that others could do the same.
"They met here," she told them. "He thought his way here and then out! See I told you it was possible to leave the same way we got here."
"Why do you think a StarClan cat would be a spy?" Morningsong asked. It was more of a statement as if to test how soft to place her paws when hunting a mouse.
"I have no idea," Sunstorm shook her head. "I haven't even been there long, but Redfur says only Clan leaders and medicine cats know how to get here."
Morningsong rolled her eyes. "Well, you got here. And I don't think leaders or medicine cats would be spying for the Dark Forest."
The StarClan warriors had to agree with that.
"Did you ever see him?" Redfur asked.
"Yes. Once. But I didn't meet often with my associates. They didn't talk with me and I avoided the Dark Forest cats. But once, a long while ago, during a meeting when Tigerstar wanted information on the Clans. I saw him. A ginger tom."
She glanced at Redfur. Even Sunstorm looked at him.
"What?" he demanded. "Just because I'm ginger, doesn't make me a spy!"
"But you're the only non leader that comes here," Sunstorm meowed.
"This is my first time!"
For a while she wasn't sure she believed him. She kept her eyes on him. He had to look away, then glanced back at her and away again. Until finally he held her gaze.
"Come on! Stop staring at me. I had nothing to do with it. And you're ignoring an important fact. A Dark Forest cat could use the pool and meet with StarClan."
"Then how would they get back here?" Sunstorm asked.
"I wouldn't know! Stop staring at me like that! We've been together for awhile now. You have to believe me."
She made sure by staring at him. If he really was a traitor he would have said something, right? If he really loved her? He wouldn't betray her. But that didn't solve the mystery of who was telling on StarClan.
"Fine, I do believe you," she told him.
He just shifted uneasily. "We probably should get back. Just to help out. Morningsong will be safe here while the Dark Forest cats are below. We can come back for her to see if she can get into StarClan and if not, we'll be able to talk to the leaders. Okay?"
She wanted to agree. It sounded like a great idea, but she didn't want to leave Morningsong alone. Her sister sat nearby, watching them with something like amusement. She didn't want to leave her sister, but she also didn't want to bring her sister along to StarClan territory. Something about it didn't seem right.
"No," Sunstorm meowed. "We will guard this pool. And then we'll see what happens. If the shadow leaves the moon or not. We also have to make sure this Darkpool is gone. Or mostly gone at least."
Redfur agreed. He usually did and this time she knew he didn't want to argue with her. Possibly afraid she'd bring up the suggestion he was working for the Dark Forest. A part of her really did believe it. She didn't know much of him before that day she'd caught a rabbit. He came in to her life. The other part of her knew she could trust him utterly because of how much they'd been through. She didn't like this doubt.
So, yeah, when Redfur was coming after Sunstorm in Wandering Through I wanted readers to think he was the ginger tom we saw in the prologue of that book. And I'm still playing around with that idea, but reading back, he really isn't the type, unless he was lying to Sunstorm the whole time.