Chapter 2: Fawnfur
I promise I will always leave/The darkness for the light./I swear by all that's holy/I will not give up the fight.
--"The Edge" by Michael Card
When I opened my eyes, I could only see the lake. The grass and trees surrounding the still water faded off into shadows. Bright, big, yellow and white, stars scattered everywhere in the deep black, reaching higher and higher to distances I couldn't even imagine what lay beyond. The lake reflected it all until I felt I was surrounded only by stars.
On the edge of the horizon near the RiverClan territory, the moon crested. Completely round, it rose in the sky as a golden eye, huge and lovely and near. It took my breath away. As I stared, the beautiful sight reflected in the water. There were two moons now, as if the sky truly were doubled. For a time the two forms touched and then separated as one golden orb continued its arc in the sky.
Then just as suddenly as it came, the moon went black. There was nothing. It was gone completely, just an empty starless hole where it once had been. But my confusion grew, for there in the lake, the other moon still was. Full, untouched, perfect. It floated passed the Gathering island, but still the moon in the sky did not return.
I never had prophetic dreams before. I never thought I would. StarClan hadn't communicated with me when I became a medicine cat apprentice and I thought my time would be a quiet one. Until the night Firestar came to visit me. He told me that my Clan was in danger and would be destroyed. There were traitors in all the Clans working for an evil force. Only through me and four warriors could the lake be saved.
He never told me who the warriors that would help were and I spent almost a whole moon before I found them. They were ShadowClan. It took a long time to convince them to help as they didn't trust me and the only one who would, Lakefrost, kept getting punished. And then just a quarter moon ago we went to the Moonpool and spoke to StarClan and discovered what threatened the lake. The Dark Forest. They were coming on the Dark Night and only we knew about it. They were led by Tigerstar and they came for revenge.
Like I said, I didn't have prophetic dreams. But what else could the disappearing moon be? It was a warning. The Dark Night was coming in only two days when the moon was at its fullest and StarClan's power would be gone. I still didn't know who in my Clan was working for the Dark Forest. But I had my suspicions.
I shook myself and tried to get back to work. The storage cleft was so full herbs spilled out and it was duty to sort through it. It d gathered most that whole moon fearful of a battle coming. I had done all this work and now the danger was so close. And no one but Jayfeather and I knew about it. Because of the humidity in the air, especially from the clouds that had stayed almost that entire quarter moon, a few of the herbs were ruined. There was slime on some, mold on others, and a few had dried out and wouldn t have any use.
Jayfeather was trying to help Bumblethroat. The very pale gray tom with black stripes had a runny nose and watering eyes. On occasion a hacking cough burst forth. I thought maybe the tom had whitecough, but it was getting bad fast. Perhaps it would become an early greencough attack on our Clan. Not a good thing to have around camp. It would be better now in greenleaf than in leafbare was the only good thing about it.
"Fawnfur, some catmint please," my mentor called to me.
I nodded though he couldn't see and picked up a few of the sharply sweet tasting leaves between my teeth. I set them on the moss in front of Jayfeather and went back to work without a word. Bumblethroat glared at me as I left. I only bowed my head and turned away. The Clan still didn't trust me. All because of that Owlface and his stories. Most of it wasn't even true! Or maybe it was and he'd just twisted the events. It was hard to be certain anymore. Because there was truth, I had done a few things, but it was to get him to leave me alone!
"Take these and chew them. Swallow all of the juice," Jayfeather instructed. "Then you may go. And don't go into the nursery. You don't want to endanger your kits."
Bumblethroat nodded and did as Jayfeather said. It wasn't long before the warrior left. Jayfeather, a gray tabby tom with blue eyes that didn't see, walked calmly over to me. Bumblethroat s shadow disappeared down the tunnel. I only glanced over but as Jayfeather came over, I turned to him.
"You are worried," he meowed.
"Didn't. . ." you see? died in my throat. I knew he could not. Although I might get away with saying such things when he might snap at other cats for bringing up his blindness, it still felt wrong for me to say. "He glared at me. He hates me. Most cats do now."
If for any reason I wanted the Gathering to come, it was to show ThunderClan just how much I had helped and wasn't a traitor after all.
"Then perhaps we should tell Bramblestar the truth," Jayfeather meowed quietly.
"You said we need all the facts first, that he'd only listen to logic," I reminded him.
"Now is the time. You have everything that StarClan told you."
I nodded. He was right. I knew what would happen now. It was up to me to finally tell Bramblestar. But I was scared. Even Bramblestar didn't trust me. Owlface had spoken with him first and now my leader thought I was only motivated to clear my name and was lying. He thought I'd been in love with Owlface and that now I had my attention on a ShadowClan tom. In fact, in the past my mentor and I had lied to Bramblestar about what I did out late at night. It had been fear of him on my part, and that the tabby leader was in no mood to listen to the truth. Maybe now he would.
Jayfeather led the way from the twilight den. He was the first out of the narrow tunnel and into the quarry. I came quickly after. I stood on the wall of rock, gazing out on the quarry floor. It was abandoned, only a small pile of prey in one corner. The cats were hiding. Bumblethroat had slipped into the warrior den without waiting around.
I looked upward. The sky was hidden behind thick gray clouds. A cold chill was in the air. An occasional wind whipped through the tree leaves and they hissed. I could smell rain on the wind. The birds seemed to know as well, for they were silent.
The gray tom hopped off of the wall and made his way to the Highledge. I stepped down onto the sandy floor and trailed after him. My heart beat in my chest and my ginger-brown fur stood on end. It was time. I looked up the grayish-brown stone. Little cracks split the rock and small ledges, perfect pawholds led the way up to the dark cave above the Highledge. Vines trailed downward from the forest, reaching deep with their thick light green leaves, small flowers curled at the ends.
Jayfeather hurried up without word. I hurried after him and then we stood outside of the leader's den. I sighed deeply, shaking my pelt, trying to find the courage to go in and tell him everything. StarClan didn't really approve of us telling our leaders, but now it was too late. Lakefrost and I could do nothing to stop the Dark Forest on our own. Now the Clans had to defend themselves from the attack. They had to know what would happen.
Jayfeather nodded to me and motioned me to go in first. I reluctantly did. I stepped slowly into the shadow. My eyes adjusted and I could see the dark tabby lying on a nest of moss. His amber eyes turned to us and he waited until I was fully in.
"Yes, Fawnfur? Jayfeather?" he meowed pleasantly. But the corner of his mouth was pulled down and his eyes just narrowed. I could see his tail twitching.
"I need to tell you something," I meowed quickly.
He sat up and licked some of the dust from his thick pelt. "Yes? I would love to hear from you again."
"I wanted to tell you what I've been doing this last moon," I told him.
His eyes opened a bit with interest. "Continue."
"I know I've said before that our Clan will be destroyed. You didn't believe me then. Have you thought on my words?"
"I admit I have," he meowed. His tail twitched side to side and his ears lowered. "But I still cannot believe you. It doesn't make sense at all. You would not tell me why. I still do not feel like listening to this."
"But you have to! Now I can tell you what is really going on. I am not trying to get back at Owlface!"
The leader sniffed.
"Please just listen to my apprentice," Jayfeather finally spoke up. I felt reassured by his calm voice. My heart slowed just a bit.
"I will listen," Bramblestar nodded. "What has happened this moon? What made you and Owlface finally start your own private battle? Made you become loyal to ShadowClan?"
My eyes widened. "It has nothing to do with that," I told him. "The last Gathering I was at camp. Firestar came to me."
Bramblestar's ears rose and he looked at me now, his expression changing from an uninterested frown to something like awe.
"He told me our Clan was in danger. He said that. . ." Now I tried to remember his words without slipping into the past. "He said our Clan would be destroyed. That living cats in the Clans were working with the dead. It was up to me and four others to stop them. He left without telling me more. I had to find the four.
"But they found me. It was Lakefrost. You remember when Pricklethorn caught him and his siblings on our territory? He brought them to camp and Lakefrost had a seizure? Well, Lakefrost recovered with a faulty memory, but it was for show. You let them leave and I went with them. Before crossing the border, he said we had to meet. I didn't want to, but he pleaded and he'd come all the way to ThunderClan just to see me. So we made plans to meet. But that quarter moon he never showed. When he finally did, he couldn't stay long. But he did say StarClan had contacted him and his siblings."
I could see Bramblestar's attention wavering. His head lowered, his eyes almost half closed. I knew I needed to make it quicker and to the point. What it was that we were in danger from.
"Owlface saw us," she said. "He made me promise to stay with him so he wouldn't tell. I had to keep what Lakefrost said a secret because I needed to learn more. So I agreed. You see, I really wanted nothing to do with Owlface. He forced me into it!"
"You could have refused and come to me first," Bramblestar said.
"But I was scared you wouldn't listen," I whispered. "That you'd wonder why I had to visit ShadowClan cats and that they were seeing StarClan."
"You're a medicine cat. That happens," he meowed back. "But now you're telling me all this after the fact. I can't believe you now. You've had time to plan what you would say. Is this all?"
He looked like he'd make us leave. I couldn't let him! I hadn't really even told him what was important. I had to hurry.
"I met Lakefrost's siblings. I had to convince them to help, and they did. We all made a plan to meet again. But Owlface saw us again and got you? You remember when you and the patrol came to get me, scared that ShadowClan would attack me?" I could see him nod. That was the day Owlface started his stories. Telling the lies and half truths to Bramblestar and then the whole Clan. "That night was the half moon. We," my tail flicked to Jayfeather. "We tried to tell you then, but you wouldn't listen, convinced I was just telling ShadowClan all of our secrets as Owlface had told you everything. I was too scared to tell you anything.
"We went to the Moonpool after and StarClan wanted to meet with me again the next night with the ShadowClan cats they'd contacted. I met with them and brought them. And on the way I learned about the prophesy StarClan had given them."
I closed my eyes and tried to remember the whole thing so I could tell him. The memory came back briefly. "You must look for the young deer. Only the four and the fawn can stop the evening and the morning from stilling the thunder forever."
I opened my eyes and looked at him. He just blinked back. "So we knew I was the fawn and they were the four. And ThunderClan was going to be destroyed by evening and morning. We weren't certain what that last meant. I'm not sure we still do. It could be names or a time." I shrugged. "We got to the Moonpool and StarClan spoke to us and told us what the threat was: It's the Dark Forest," I hissed low.
His eyes widened and he pulled away from us. I watched him stand up and pace.
"StarClan said they would attack us on the Dark Night. Between the evening and the morning. Understand?" I meowed. "It's coming the night of the Gathering. We have to be prepared. You have to tell the Clan what is coming so we can stop it or at least defend ourselves!"
"No, no," he shook his head. He quickly sat down and faced us. "I can't believe you."