Chapter 5: Fawnfur
"Wait for the warriors to find you," he meowed. "They probably know what to do."
"But do I tell Bramblestar?" I asked. If ThunderClan was going to be destroyed, shouldn't I tell him? Isn't he supposed to stop it?
Jayfeather looked thoughtful. Finally he shook his head. "If Starclan wants him to know, they'll tell him. If he doesn't come to us asking about a dream or a visit from StarClan, you'll know the warning was just for you."
"But we're medicine cats," I protested. "Aren't we supposed to warn the leader?" What if I was supposed to tell him? What if it was my duty? If I didn't tell him, maybe I'd be the one causing the disaster!
Jayfeather nodded again. "At times we hear nothing when the leader gets a message. Just be patient. When the half moon comes again we'll visit the Moonpool and ask them to clarify things. I'm sure they will."
"But they've been silent more than ever this season," I meowed. I'd seen the patterns. In the past, they'd spoken more often. What made them go silent now?
"There have been times they have not spoken," Jayfeather answered me. "When Spottedleaf was medicine cat they didn't spoken to her for moons at times. And then during the Great Journey, only Leafpool was contacted and only once. They couldn't speak to us then. There are times they feel they have to be quiet."
"So I just have to wait?" I asked. He was making me feel better at least. If StarClan was not speaking, they had a good reason. It was perfectly natural.
"Yes," he nodded. "I'll keep my ears open. I'll find who'd plotting against us if they're in this Clan."
"But what if they're not?" I whispered. "What if they're not, like the warriors are not?"
"Then we will be in for some trouble. Our Clan is strong though," Jayfeather assured me. "We won't be defeated so easily. Just in case, tomorrow I want you looking for herbs."
I nodded my head. If anyone was injured from this, we had to be ready to care for them.
That night we went to sleep, Jayfeather's words kept me up. I was surprised my thoughts weren't keeping him up. He must not have been interested with overhearing them because I could hear his snores.
When morning came and Jayfeather looked frustrated I had a feeling he hadn't been sleeping at all. Maybe he'd been looking for StarClan to question them or maybe he'd been trying to walk in other cats' dreams to see what they were plotting. Whatever he'd done he hadn't succeeded or didn't like the answer.
I left the den before Jayfeather went to check on Lightningwhisker in the nursery. The black queen's two kits kept getting sick. Jayfeather wanted to know why and went to visit them in his free time, checking on them and giving them herbs he thought would help. I wished him well as I left. Lightingwhisker was known for her critical tongue when she wasn't feeling happy and having sick kits wasn't making her happy.
I walked away from the bramble tunnel and into the forest. Birds called overhead, hiding in the thick leaves of the trees. The undergrowth twitched with other animal life. This greenleaf was full of life as never before. There was prey and predators everywhere. I wasn't scared as I walked along though. I'd had warrior training. I could fight off anything that attacked me. Of course I hadn't practiced in a long while since becoming a medicine cat apprentice, but I was sure I could remember moves if I had to.
I wandered up to the abandoned twoleg nest. I knew there were many herbs up there, foxglove, catmint, and nearby was some poppy and rosehip. It was a good place to find many herbs and I was glad ThunderClan had it on their territory. It would save me time. As I walked up there, I became close to the ShadowClan border. The scentmarkers were fresh. I didn't cross over but as I went, I felt eyes on me. I suppressed a shiver, knowing I couldn't show weakness to another Clan, but it frightened me, not knowing how many cats were watching me. Not knowing if they'd attack at any moment. The Clans were at peace and had been for a few moons, but I knew well anything could set them off. Last night's Gathering almost had.
I hurried up to the nest, losing myself in gathering herbs, not worrying about ShadowClan. It took a while, but I gathered a good bundle. I wrapped a lot of herbs in large fern leaves. I soon realized I couldn't carry a lot that way. I'd have to leave some and then get an apprentice to help me carry it back.
I left the twoleg nest behind, a bundle of herbs in my mouth and under my jaws, resting on my neck. It was so hard walking like this. I wished the twoleg nest wasn't so far away from camp. I had to do it though. My Clan was counting on me to help them even if they didn't know it.
I wasn't far from the nest or the ShadowClan border when I heard the pawsteps behind me. My fur lifted, still uneasy about what happened just that morning, knowing I'd been watched. It seemed as if the watchers had come to bother me. I carefully turned around and glared at the cats as they came into view. Three cats pushed through the thick undergrowth behind the ferns and the saplings. As I looked at them, I knew they weren't ThunderClan cats. Their scent washed over me as they came closer. ShadowClan.
One was a dark brown tabby, the other a small gray apprentice with black paws, and the last a light gray tabby tom with blue eyes. He almost looked like Jayfeather. I didn't dwell on that. They'd trespassed and I couldn't allow them to be in ThunderClan.
I growled at them and they halted in their tracks to stare expectantly at me. That was when I noticed what each carried in their mouth. They each had a bundle of my herbs. The dark brown tabby tom set down his bundle and smiled at me.
"We'd like to help you carry this to your camp. We noticed you were having trouble."
I glared at him. Me having trouble? I hated to admit it. I quickly placed down my bundles and looked at them.
"No, thank you," I meowed, my eyes going over the three of them. "I was going to get an apprentice from my camp to help me."
"We're here now and it's no trouble," the tom continued. "We've got everything."
The apprentice nodded his head eagerly. I looked into his bright yellow eyes and saw no guile at all. I could hardly say no to that face. I reluctantly nodded my head, eying them uncertainly. I did need the help. If I brought back the herbs now I could get more quickly.
"Only to the outside of camp," I meowed. "And if anyone asks, you invited yourselves."
"Of course," the dark brown tom smiled, amused. "I'm Brownfeather by the way. This is my apprentice Ashpaw and this is Lakefrost."
I nodded to them and before I picked up my bundles I meowed, "I'm Fawnfur."
"That's beautiful," Ashpaw meowed.
I looked down at him. He was a strange ShadowClan tom, giving out complements. All the cats in the past were careful of what they said and usually had double meanings behind their words. I picked up my bundles, shoving one under my chin before biting the other. As I straightened out, I saw a confused look on Lakefrost's face as if something was supposed to make sense but wasn't. I shrugged, figuring that if ShadowClan was confused it was a good thing. I turned around and led the way to camp.
For the first few fox lengths I didn't realize what I'd done and then understanding filled me. I had invited the enemy into my territory. They could just want to get inside my camp for a surprise attack, or to spy on something. Or maybe to examine our defenses.
But what was I supposed to do, I argued with myself, fight three warriors off? Run? This way was better, I tried to tell myself. But I felt ashamed as I brought them. I shouldn't have done it. ThunderClan would be mad at me. Bramblestar would be mad at me. I was leading them straight to camp and to the rest of the Clan where they could do damage. So what if they'd revealed themselves to me and offered help, it could have just been a ploy. I didn't doubt these three were being honest with me, but what if it had been others and during a war?
My tail and ears were dropping when the quarry came into view. The large bramble and gorse bush entrance loomed over us. I dropped my bundles hurriedly, not noticing as one came undone and scattered catmint everywhere.
"Here," I meowed. "Leave the bundles and go."
Brownfeather must have sensed my fear. He did as he was asked and motioned for the others to do so as well. They left their bundles and after meowing a goodbye at me, left me alone. They quickly disappeared into the forest undergrowth as if they'd been ThunderClan cats all their lives. My heart pounded as they left. I prayed to StarClan that they got out safely and that one of my Clanmates wouldn't see them.
The gorse tunnel rustled and I quickly turned around to see Frostshine pushing through. The silvery-white she-cat looked at me in surprise, startled to see me so close.
"You're back," she meowed. "Jayfeather wanted me to go out and get you. He thought you'd need help." She looked down at the bundles. "I guess not," she shrugged.
I felt guilty as I meowed, "I was quick, but you can help me carry these up to the medicine cat den."
She nodded and limped over to me. I looked down at the paw she favored. There was a long furless scar running down its length. She'd had it split open during the last major battle our Clans had fought. She hadn't been able to do warrior duties for a very long time for it to heal. She'd always have the limp, but she was still a good warrior and loyal to our Clan.
I noticed the scattered herbs that spilled when I dropped my bundles. Their sharp, delicious smell was blocking the smell of anything else and made my mouth water. I knew that Frostshine would never smell the ShadowClan cats through its overpowering scent. I, and they, were safe. I sighed and quickly gathered the herbs, rolling them into the bundle, trying not to crush them more than they were.
Soon Frostshine and I disappeared into the camp. Later, I used her to gather more herbs. I was determined to never to rely on ShadowClan help again!