5. Unknown Skies Book 1: Listen to the Stars

Chapter 2: Fawnfur

Tomorrow: a sun soon rising/And yesterday is there beside us/And it's never far away
--Listen to the Wind by Hayley Westenra


I picked through the old herbs, using a delicate claw to separate the dry, torn herbs from the ones we could still use. My nose remained at work as my mind wandered. I was thinking about Sunstorm's death again. It hadn't been too long ago. Just last newleaf. Her death had been hard, not only on me, but our sister Morningsong and our mother Cinderheart. I'd rarely seen Morningsong since the accident. She was always off on her own, grieving in peace. The Clan didn't bother her, nor did they bother Cinderheart, but Cinderheart had been quicker to overcome the aching hollow that Sunstorm had left in us. Cinderheart knew life went on and she knew Sunstorm was safe in StarClan's ranks.

I wasn't so sure. I'd only been the medicine cat apprentice for a short time but from what I'd seen of StarClan, I hadn't once seen my sister. I didn't know if she was hiding from me or if StarClan wouldn't let her see me. I hadn't once spoken to her after her death. And how I missed her!

"You've stopped again," came Jayfeather's soothing voice from the other end of the den.

I snapped awake, realizing my paw was hanging over the herbs and had been for a long time. Jayfeather turned away from Lilyblossom whom he was treating for thorns. Greeneyes had tricked her again into chasing a squirrel through a bramble bush. Sometimes Lilyblossom was as dense as her mother Daisy. Of course not all of Daisy's kits were scatterbrained.

Jayfeather's sightless eyes looked right through me. I knew of his gift for reading others' thoughts. It was obvious he was aware of the direction my thoughts traveled.

"I'm sorry," I meowed, bowing my head. I was ashamed to be caught not working and again, thinking what I usually did when I wasn't paying attention. It was embarrassing really. What did my mentor think of my inattention?

In the stillness, the water from the pool gurgled at us. Lilyblossom didn't interrupt our conversation. She sat staring morosely at her wounded leg. She probably thought it was medicine cat business. Or she respected my sorrow. In any case she said not a word.

"She's gone," Jayfeather meowed, walking over to me. "There isn't anything you can do. When she wants to see you again, she will. Perhaps she thinks it would hurt worse for you to see her."

I wanted to believe him. That Sunstorm was protecting me from more pain, but I really wanted to see her again, to know what she thought of everything. She'd predicted I'd become the medicine cat's apprentice and she was right, like she always was, except for that one time. The time she died. She would have been deputy after Bramblestar became leader. She was supposed to but after her death things had changed.

"Was this how it was with you and Hollyleaf?" I asked suddenly, looking up at my mentor.

For the longest time Jayfeather had believed his sister was dead after the tunnel collapsed on her. Later it was found she'd gone to another forest and had two kits. Those kits had come back to the Clans as warriors. Hollyleaf had returned shortly after with her mate Raven, but then they'd left again, forming a new Clan called Summerheat. We hadn't heard anything from them since except when Darkfire returned two leaf-falls ago. He'd left the newleaf later when my sisters and I became apprentices. We hadn't had any contact with the other Clan for a long time now.

"It was," Jayfeather sighed. "I'm sure of it. I wanted to see her so badly. I wondered if she'd gone to the Dark Forest for murdering Ashfur. I was pleased to see her again and alive, but I was constantly worrying and wondering."

I knew I could have seen it for myself. That was my gift to look into the past and to experience it, but I didn't want to. Not with some things. I felt strange intruding on other cats and their secrets. I only Looked back for medicine cat needs. Things the ancient cats knew but we'd forgotten. Sunstorm had said that would be my strongest asset as a medicine cat. Sadness filled me again at the thought of her name.

"You will get better, Fawnfur," Jayfeather murmured, pressing his face against my head in comfort. I was surprised he was still letting me indulge in self pity. Usually he is a prickly tom with a sharp tongue to match.

"As the seasons pass it won't be such a sharp pain as it is now," he promised.

I could believe him, though it was hard, as I'd Seen many such times in the past. I'd gone looking for ways to overcome this sadness after her death, but nothing seemed to fit my situation. All I did know was that healing took time. I'd have to believe Jayfeather.

"Right," I meowed. "I'll get back to work."

He nodded and pulled away. Before going back to Lilyblossom, he reached around me and with his nose found what he was looking for. He took the marigold away to treat Lilyblossom.

As I said before, things changed after Sunstorm left us to join StarClan. First, Cinderheart, Morningsong, and I went into a time of mourning. Sunstorm had been the most energetic and certain of us and without her we fell apart. Morningsong became quiet and withdrawn, anger smoldering in her eyes; Cinderheart devastated but quickly healing; and I remained lost. I didn't have any direction without my sister leading me.

The second change came as a shock to me when Toadstep resigned as the medicine cat apprentice. I know that Sunstorm had said he would (she'd Seen it) but after her death I didn't know if I could trust anything she'd said at all. But after Toadstep became a warrior, Jayfeather needed an apprentice. If he'd been able to see, he probably wouldn't have even needed Toadstep for so long, but because of his blindness, he always needed an apprentice who could do the things he could not. It was then the chance I'd waited for.

I'd wanted to be the medicine cat for so long but there had been two already. So I'd trained to be a warrior under Dewstep. He was a good mentor to me, but when the opportunity opened up, I pounced. I asked Jayfeather for the position. He simply nodded, already knowing that I'd been vying for the position and that I had the abilities.

Only one cat didn't want me to become the medicine cat apprentice: Owlface. The silver tom with the large face would have been Sunstorm's mate but because of her death, he was devastated and turned to me instead. Morningsong had frightened him off. So he'd been courting me for a while. When I became Jayfeather's apprentice, he protested. Firestar and I ignored him. I had my calling after all. Having a mate was not part of it.

The next major change came in greenleaf. Firestar died. He'd been getting very old and could hardly walk. Sandstorm had died the leaf-bare before and Firestar had declined since. There was nothing Jayfeather or I could do but ease his passing. Jayfeather and I knew he was dead when the scent of Spottedleaf washed over us and then left just as quickly. Jayfeather seemed surprised when she didn't say anything to us. After the leader's death, we left the den to inform the Clan.

Brambleclaw went up to the Moonpool quickly after the death, not even getting to sit vigil. When the powerful tom came back as Bramblestar, the Clan called out his name. He was an old warrior and so chose a young deputy, Cinderheart, my mother. I felt proud of her, but at the same time I was sad because that was meant to be Sunstorm.

And so the moons passed, but still here I was, missing my sister.

**^.^**

The stars glittered overhead through the dark leaves of the trees and over the quarry. Vines trailed over the walls, looping over the cracks in the stone, a few flowers hanging off. No other cats were out and I was alone as I sat outside of the medicine cat den. Dark shadows and bright moonlight streamed down on me as I sat there, contemplating. Jayfeather went to the Gathering without me. I was looking up into Silverpelt, wondering which one was my sister when suddenly I smelled a familiar scent next to me.

I turned quickly and met the gaze of Firestar. He sat against the quarry wall, no longer hunched with age. The flame-colored leader looked healthy again, probably like he had before I was born. He was strong and had a friendly glint in his green eyes. They were no longer circled by tired sagging skin and he was no longer frail as I'd last seen him. He was the strong leader StarClan had called in the old forest. I looked at him in awe. Never before in my short time as medicine cat had StarClan come to me. I'd only seen them at the Moonpool and we didn't talk for long.

"Fawnfur," Firestar meowed, his voice steady, not like I last remembered.

"Firestar," I bowed my head. "Why have you come?"

Firestar looked away, his eyes suddenly sad. For a long time he said nothing, just looked around his former camp. The squeaks of bats that flitted high overhead was the only sound. The rest of the ThunderClan camp was calm. No one was around to disturb us.

"StarClan has one last message for you, Fawnfur," he meowed.

My ginger-brown ears went back. 'One last'? That sounded ominous. Was I going to die too?

"There are cats who want to destroy ThunderClan," the tom meowed, his eyes boring into mine. "They are both living and dead. If they are not stopped, ThunderClan will be no more and eventually the other Clans will fall. You are needed to stop the fraction of the living. StarClan is doing its own against the cats of the Dark Forest, but you have to stop the cats from this side from following the dead."

I stared at him. Me? I was supposed to do something? I was just the medicine cat! I'd become that to help everyone heal, not defend them or fight!

"Who is it?" I urgently asked. "Who is trying to destroy us?"

Firestar looked pained as he answered, "I cannot tell you. You are meant to figure it out on your own. But you will have help. Four warriors will help you. StarClan will contact them and once they find you, you must work together to stop ThunderClan from being destroyed."

"Who's going to help me?" I asked. "How am I supposed to stop ThunderClan being destroyed if you won't tell me who?"

Then I noticed he was fading. His starlit fur was nearly transparent. I stared desperately at him, hoping he'd answer me.

Firestar looked worried, "It is a cat close to you. Only you can stop it. The warriors are not from your Clan -"

He was cut off, his mouth open as if to continue. His form disappeared completely and I was left alone in the dark. I stared at the ground where he'd been. There was no indentation where his paws had been. Even his smell was quickly fading. He'd been about to tell me something important but he couldn't. I'd always thought StarClan could choose how long they'd stay but in that moment, I had a feeling he'd been forced to leave. Someone hadn't wanted him to continue. These mysterious cats from the Dark Forest? StarClan?

I was worried. Why was I the only one to know of the destruction? Why hadn't Jayfeather been warned? Why was it going to be warriors from another Clan? So many questions swam in my head like leaves on a windy leaf-fall day. I just wanted answers.

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