Chapter 3: Sunstorm
If you listen to the wind you can hear me again/Even when I'm gone you can still hear the song/High up in the trees as it moves through the leaves
--Listen to the Wind by Hayley Westenra
"Take me with you," Sunstorm meowed. The stars in her ginger-brown tabby fur twinkled with her impatience.
Feathertail was hesitant. "I can't. Only I can cross between the skies. No one else can join me in the Tribe of Endless Hunting. They never died there."
Sunstorm stared at Feathertail, an unbelieving look on her ginger-brown face. She stood stiffly, her tail straight out behind her. Just because Feathertail died there didn't mean she was the only one who could visit the Tribe!
"Then how do you explain Silverstream?" she asked. "You take her there all the time!"
Feathertail's ears went back and a worried look crossed her face.
"You can't explain that one can you?" crowed Sunstorm. "It is possible! You have to take me!"
Feathertail shook her head again.
Sunstorm felt anger rising in her. Why did Feathertail want to keep her here? There was nothing to do anymore. After only seven moons of being in StarClan, Sunstorm had grown bored. There were still secrets for her to learn but she wasn't interested. Hazeltail was supposed to teach her, and teach her she did, but it wasn't fast enough for Sunstorm. Now, discovering something else to distract her, she wanted to take hold of it and hold on like she would a rabbit.
After dying, Sunstorm had been warned she could never leave the skies above the lake. That she would get lost if she tried. She'd been told there were certain cats that could go to different skies. The one above Summerheat Camp, for example, and the skies of the Tribe of Rushing Water and their ancestors. Feathertail was the only cat who had the ability to do so, or so it was said, but Sunstorm had seen the gray she-cat take her mother there on many occasions. Now Sunstorm wanted to go and see these other dead cats. What was their prey like? she wondered.
"The leaders wouldn't like it," Feathertail meowed. Her sweet face soft with the warning.
"Who cares what the leaders think," Sunstorm protested. "They're dead, we're dead. What are they going to do to us?"
Feathertail still didn't think leaving was a good idea, Sunstorm could tell, but she wanted something to do. For the longest time she'd avoided seeing her sisters because it hurt her to watch them living. She was supposed to be there with them but instead she'd died before her time. She didn't want to watch them because she felt she should have been there too.
These feelings of frustration and guilt drove her to seclude herself with her friends in StarClan. Then the first leaders had declared no cat was to visit the Clans unless it was at the Moonpool and the cat wanted to see them. Sunstorm felt angry and disappointed all at the same time. That meant she couldn't see her sisters and she suddenly wanted to. The only other thing to do was to not see them and not be tempted to do so. She'd have to stay in StarClan or at least off of the earth.
"You'll be getting an apprentice soon," Feathertail meowed, bringing Sunstorm's attention back. "If you leave now, who will teach Oakfur how to live in StarClan?"
Sunstorm rolled her eyes at the thought. "Some other cat. There are plenty of cats to do it after he dies. Some ShadowClan cat."
Besides, she didn't know that much either. What could she teach a cat if she didn't know everything about StarClan? She'd have to ask Hazeltail for everything. Oakfur didn't need that kind of mentor.
"You know the Clan bonds hold no place here. We are one and the same," Feathertail meowed firmly.
Sunstorm rolled her eyes again. "Yeah, tell that to Bluestar and Oakheart. They haven't gotten together since she died. I'd say that was the code talking and as you seem to say, the code doesn't apply here, so whatever these former leaders say isn't law anymore. So take me!"
Feathertail looked like she was starting to sway. Sunstorm tried not to fidget as she waited for the she-cat to think it over. She didn't want to scare off the former RiverClan cat.
As they waited, Sunstorm looked around the marsh. She couldn't see much in the dark. Even the full moon couldn't light much up. Not even the stars in Sunstorm's own pelt could do a thing. There were shadows everywhere that were sometimes dispersed when the breeze moved the reeds in another direction. Sunstorm disliked the marsh of RiverClan. She knew she'd never be comfortable here. She was surprised the RiverClan cats were even. It must have reminded them of their living territory.
Eventually Feathertail's good heart won out. She wasn't able to force any cat to do what it didn't want to. She wanted other cats to be happy. Sunstorm knew this and was pleased when Feathertail finally meowed her consent.
"All right, I'll take you. I'm not sure it's possible. I've only done it with Silverstream. Graystripe hasn't come though he wants to see Stormfur. He thinks he'll get lost. I'll try it and we'll pray it works."
"Yes! Yes! Thank you so much Feathertail!" Sunstorm purred, her tail high as she stood on the tops of her toes. She wanted to leap in the air, but that wouldn't have been worthy of a warrior to do, so she simply stood there purring.
Feathertail smiled, her blue eyes glowing. "We'll leave tomorrow morning. Meet me here."
Sunstorm nodded her head and then quickly left before Feathertail could change her mind. She didn't think she'd get lost out of StarClan territory. Feathertail knew what she was doing and if she didn't get lost, Sunstorm wouldn't either. If she went anywhere else other than the mountains, then maybe it would be possible to lose their direction, but Sunstorm doubted if she left the lake area she would get lost. It was just something the leaders said so they could keep the cats together. If they all wandered off where would StarClan be? Sunstorm knew it was important to stay together, but she just wanted to go and do other things. See other things.
Sunstorm left the lakeside, jumping over the small streams and pushing her way through the reeds. Officially this was the side RiverClan lived on and dead RiverClan cats lived there because it made them comfortable, but Sunstorm didn't sneak across the territory. There was nothing to worry about. No cat would attack her. There were no scent markers in StarClan and so no trespassing. Cats were allowed to go anywhere.
Usually cats not of RiverClan didn't go into the reeds because they didn't like it, just like the former WindClan cats didn't go into the forests. ShadowClan and ThunderClan usually stayed there. There were places where the cats all gathered when they were called by the leaders. There was the Moonpool where great prophesies were shared, the lake (which cats could use to look down on their former Clans), and the field (the place where the Horseplace would be) that was covered in rocks and a place mentors took their apprentices.
There were apprentices in StarClan. Apprentices that had died when they were apprentices and the cats that had newly died and needed to be taught the ways of StarClan. Each recently dead cat got a mentor to show them around and to explain things to them. Hazeltail was Sunstorm's mentor. She'd learned many things from the gray-and-white she-cat, but Sunstorm didn't think it was enough. Hazeltail saved to much, 'for a later time'. Sunstorm certainly hadn't realized there was another Clan, called SkyClan, until one of their leaders came forth from the forest and met with Thunder.
She hadn't realized anything was strange--because she didn't know many cats in StarClan--until Hazeltail gasped. Sunstorm asked her what the matter was, and Hazeltail had explained all about the fifth Clan, how SkyClan had left the original forest when the twolegs destroyed their territory. Hazeltail went on to explain how Firestar had rebuilt their Clan long ago. Sunstorm, intrigued, watched the newcomer until he had to leave.
There were so many things still to learn, but Sunstorm was getting bored. It was time to do more. To explore. She'd be dead for a long time and who knew what was out in the world of dead cats? She wanted to explore now before she became used to her life in StarClan and too lazy and too weighed down with duties to do so.
Now she was going tomorrow. Sunstorm grinned with pleasure. Hunger growled in her gut and she started hunting. There was prey in the skies. They were challenging to hunt but whenever she was hungry she could usually find something. StarClan cats never went hungry, not even in leafbare. The leaves never fell in StarClan and it always remained warm, but that didn't stop them from feeling the pain the living cats by the lake felt when they were in leafbare. Sunstorm had yet to experience it since she hadn't been dead that long.
The brown-ginger she-cat walked along in the darkness, a full moon above her. It was the Gathering down by the lake. The StarClan cats were there along the lakeshore watching the living Clans as they sat on their small island, talking. Sunstorm didn't go because the Gatherings didn't interest her. She could watch the Clans at any time; she didn't need a Gathering to see what was going on, but most StarClan cats were there this night. Sunstorm had happened to catch Feathertail before she joined her parents at the Gathering. Graystripe and Silverstream had come together after the gray tom's death, now they stayed near each other. Millie didn't seem to mind. Graystripe spent time with her as well, but she enjoyed the forests more than the streams. Graystripe could live anywhere and though his heart was shared with two she-cats, he managed to work it out somehow.
Sunstorm quickly ate her mouse and walked to the ThunderClan-like forests. The tall grass swayed around her in a pleasant breeze. She decided to get some sleep. Tomorrow would be interesting. As she walked along, she saw the cats along the lakeshore, sitting lined up and peering into the clear water to the Clans below. She wondered what thing had just happened to excite everyone. After watching them for a while, she started walking again.
To the right of the light brown-ginger she-cat was the moorland where the former WindClan cats lived and beyond that was a dark scar that the WindClan down below didn't see. The ground of StarClan had been ripped open over there. It only took half a day journey to reach (which Sunstorm had traveled once) and when a cat did, they could look down to rushing water far below. On the other side of this divide was another StarClan. The former cats of Summerheat lived there. Only three cats made up the small StarClan, but it would grow.
Sunstorm wanted to go over there to see these cats and their forest, but it would be harder to cross the divide than going with Feathertail to the mountains. Only some cats at certain times could walk over the divide on a near see-through bridge of starlight. Sunstorm had watched them once, her heart in her throat the whole time until they reached the other side. She could barely see them then, but they'd seemed safe and unworried, rushing off to join Coonie, Macky, and Brackenkit.
Now Sunstorm entered the dark of the forest, the trees towering overhead, glowing with soft light, as if stars were part of them. She quickly found her den. It wasn't in the quarry. Only a few cats stayed there. The rest spread out over the ThunderClan-like forest. Some ShadowClan cats had joined them and on occasion a ThunderClan cat would sleep on the ShadowClan side. No one stopped them because there was no reason to. There still might be tension between Clans, but at this point, no one competed for food so there was no reason to fight over territory. Arguments did arise, usually over silly things, but no one was majorly hurt and if they were, a medicine cat was there to patch it up.
Sunstorm laid down in her nest of feathers and moss she shared with six others and fell asleep. Sometime in the night Hazeltail came back with three others. Hazeltail laid down next to her apprentice, waking Sunstorm up.
The ginger-brown she-cat looked up, startled from her dream of walking along a narrow path with water rushing on every side of her.
"Sorry," Hazeltail whispered.
" 'S'all right," Sunstorm mumbled. That nightmare hadn't been very fun anyway.
"You don't know do you?" Hazeltail meowed after a short pause.
"What?" Sunstorm muttered, trying to sleep.
"Fawnfur was made medicine cat apprentice moons ago."
Sunstorm woke up all the way at that. She stared at Hazeltail.
"Four moons?" Hazeltail shrugged.
"Why didn't you tell me sooner?" Sunstorm demanded, fully awake now.
"I hadn't realized. Not until Bramblestar said Toadstep's mate was going to have kits. I asked Graystripe and Bluestar and they told me what happened. They've been watching ThunderClan closer than I have."
She sounded ashamed but she'd rarely had time to watch ThunderClan with Sunstorm making her teach her everything. Sunstorm felt suddenly happy for her sister. At least something had gone right. Fawnfur had wanted to be a medicine cat for so long, now she got to be.
"Good for her," Sunstorm purred.
"Maybe you should see her some time," Hazeltail suggested.
Sunstorm snorted. "After the leaders ordered us not to visit? Hardly. I don't know their reasons for ordering us not to, but I'm not going down there to visit Fawnfur if I'm not supposed to. Besides, I'll be going on a journey tomorrow. I won't be able to see her."
"Journey?" Hazeltail frowned in confusion. "What are you talking about?"
"I'm visiting the Tribe of Endless Hunting tomorrow," Sunstorm meowed, lowering her head to her paws.
"You can't!" Hazeltail protested in shock.
"I can and will," Sunstorm meowed her eyes closed. The bushes around them rustled as if sensing the tension. "I've wasted enough time around here. Now I'm visiting some other cats. I'll be back in a few moons. You can teach me more then."
Sunstorm ignored whatever else Hazeltail had to say. She really needed to get some sleep. Feathertail couldn't be kept waiting on her journey.