Molepelt padded through the forest, the pine trees blocked out most of the afternoon sunlight living the forest in a shadow. A musky sent touched Molepelt's nose making his mouth water. A second later he saw a mouse scuttled through the pine needles. Molepelt dropped into a hunters crouch; pulling forward silently he crept up on the unsuspecting mouse. As he pulled forward a fox length away he stepped on a stick hidden under the pine needles making it snap loudly. The mouse took off for the gnarled roots of a tree. Molepelt let out a yowl of rage and gave chase. Within a couple bounds he jumped landing squarely on the mouse's back, he gave it a nip to the neck and it fell still.
"Thank you StarClan for this mouse's life." Molepelt whispered, glancing up at the hidden sky.
He bit into the mouse, its musky flavor sang on his tongue. He finished it in a few swift bites, and then he sat up liking his lips. He scanned the forest undergrowth looking for any herbs that he could stock up on befo leaf-bare set in and all the plants would go into hibernation. He was ShadowClan's medicine cat his mentor, Hawkclaw had recently joined StarClan, so he took over being ShadowClan's medicine cat. A flash of gray fur caught his eye as he scanned the undergrowth. When the faint scent of ThunderClan touched his nose a growl rumbled from deep in his throat. He padded forward silently as if he were stalking prey. As he padded closer he smelled it was a she-cat. Molepelt jumped out of the cover of the bracken with a yowl. A gray tabby she-cat spun around her blue eyes stretched wide with surprise. He blew her over with a powerful paw swipe. She stumbled to the ground and Molepelt jumped onto her pinning her down to the ground his paws pressed firmly against her shoulders. She looked up at him her eyes filled with horror.
"What are you doing on ShadowClan territory you ThunderClan scum!" he spat into her face.
She withered under his paws trying to escape, but her efforts were in vain.
"I said what are you doing here!" he growled into her ear.
"What are you talking about?" she puffed.
"You know exactly what I am talking about you foxheart!" he yowled.
Then Molepelt realized this was not a ThunderClan cat, but a mouse brained loner who had wondered onto Clan territory. Molepelt released his grip on her, grabbed her by her scruff and haled her to her paws. She looked at him backing up toward the undergrowth, before she turned and fled through the bushes.
"And don't come back if you know what is good for you!" Molepelt yowled after her.
Molepelt turned and began to head back to the ShadowClan camp. On his way back he had found a patch of borage leaves. He gathered as much as he could carry. When he padded through the camp entrance his jaws crammed with borage leaves, he was greeted by apprentices' mock battling, elders sharing tongues, and warriors eating together. A purr rumbled in his throat. His Clan was strong and ready for the upcoming leaf-fall and chilling leaf-bare. The apprentice den was full and the nursery had two litters of strong healthy kits. Molepelt padded across the clearing and pushed his way through the hanging ivy into his den. He put his burden in his stock of herbs. It was well stocked with all the herbs they needed. Crimsonpaw pushed her way into Molepelt's den, a pigeon firmly clamped in her jaws.
"This is for you." she meowed placing the pigeon on the ground.
"Thank you Crimsonpaw, but I caught a mouse while I was out searching for herbs. But I am sure the elders or queens would enjoy a plump pigeon like that." he told her.
"Ok then." she meowed picking up the pigeon and backing out of his den.
Crimsonpaw's spot was soon replaced by Thorntail one of the Clans' elders.
"What can I do for you Thorntail?" Molepelt asked the elder.
"Blackpelt is complaining about a stomach ache again." Thorntail told him.
This news worried Molepelt. This was not the first time Blackpelt had complained about a stomach ache, plus Blackpelt was the oldest cat in ShadowClan, and with leaf-bare right around the corner he could not take a chance of any cat getting sick before the cold season came.
"Tell Blackpelt I will be there in a second." Molepelt meowed.
Thorntail turned and walked stiff legged back to the Elders den. Molepelt reached into his herb supply and pulled out a rap of juniper berries and a couple comfrey roots for Thorntail's stiff joints. Molepelt picked them up and headed out of his den and across the clearing to the Elders den. He pushed his way through the bramble bushes that surrounded their den. Wincing as the thorns caught on his pelt he made his way to where Blackpelt lay in his nest. He let out a low moan of pain. Molepelt quickly gave Thorntail who was sitting in his nest a few tail lengths away the comfrey roots.
"Chew these up and swallow the juices they should help with your stiff joints." he prompted him.
Thorntail nodded and began to chew the roots up. Molepelt turned his attention back to Blackpelt. His mate Poppyclaw flicked her eyes nervously from Blackpelt to Molepelt.
"Oh good you're here." she breathed out a sigh of relief.
Molepelt dared not tell her to not be relived yet, Blackpelt looked bad. Moleplet was not sure how much more the old ShadowClan elder could take before he moved on to StarClan.
"Let's see what I can do." he told her.
As Molepelt leaned over Blackpelt's body he was struck by the strong smell of sickness. This was no ordinary stomach ache. Blackpelt was sick, really sick. Heat came off his pelt in waves. Molepelt worried this was beyond anything he could heal, but that did not mean he would not try.
He began to turn toward the entrance when Poppyclaw called to him, "Where are you going?" her voice sounded full of worry.
"Oh, I…I just forgot an herb I will need." he stuttered, before quickly exiting the elders den.
When he entered his den he went immediately to the herb store. Molepelt grabbed a couple of feverfew leaves to help with Blackpelt's fever, and some ragwort leaves to give him strength. He quickly hurried back to Blackpelt. When Molepelt got back into the den he positioned his herbs in front of him.
"Ok let's see here." he mumbled to himself.
He gave Poppyclaw some ragwort leaves.
"Chew these up and make Blackpelt eat them." he told her.
She gave him a surprised look but quickly began chewing the leaves. She spat the poultice in to Blackpelt's mouth, and then she rubbed her paw on his throat to get him to swallow the herb. Blackpelt swallowed the herbs. He was quiet for a few moments before he doubled over and through them back up. This was not good, Molepelt thought. He quickly gave him some juniper berries. Hopefully he would be able to keep them down.
"Go get him some water Poppyclaw." he whispered to her.
She got up stiffly from a crouching position, and left the den. Blackpelt managed to keep the berries down, but he was getting weaker and weaker with every passing moment. His breath became more ragged and fainter. Poppyclaw pushed her way back into the den with dripping moss in her jaws. Molepelt flicked his tail to indicate she could come closer. Poppyclaw dropped the bundle of moss before she crouched down next to Blackpelt. She looked at Molepelt her eyes full of understanding and fear.
"He's not getting better this time is he." she barley whispered.
"I can only give him one more herb before it is up to StarClan." Molepelt ran out of the Elder's den and back to his den.
Molepelt snatched up some coltsfoot.
"Hopefully this will ease his breathing." Molepelt mumbled to himself.
As Molepelt dashed across the clearing he glanced up at the sky, the sun had gone down and the moon was reaching its peak in the sky. When he got into the den Poppyclaw was lying down next to Blackpelt, her fur pressed against his fur. She lifted her head as he came into the den; her eyes sparkled in the shafts of moon light leaking through the bracken roof. Blackpelt's breaths were coming short and ragged. Molepelt ran over to Blackpelt crouching down to listen to his breathing. Molepelt grabbed the coltsfoot and began to chew it into a pulp, he spat out on his paw before dropping them into Blackpelt's mouth, rubbing his throat to get him to swallow the herb juices. Blackpelt managed to swallow them but all Molepelt's efforts were in vain. Blackpelt was not going to recover from this.
"It is up to StarClan now." he murmured to Poppyclaw.
She kept her eyes on her mates pelt.
"I know." she whispered sorrowfully.
She rested her head on his flank. Molepelt made his way out of the den. Moon light lit up the clearing. Weariness dragged at his paws. He was exhausted. Molepelt walked slowly toward his den, climbing gratefully into his nest, with a sigh he closed his eyes and let the darkness enfold around him. When Molepelt opened his eyes he was hiding in a bush by the ThunderClan border. A fox-length away sat a little black kit. It let out a feeble wail. As Molepelt stepped forward the bushes on the ThunderClan side of the border rustled and a warrior pushed his way out. Seeing the kit he rushed forward, picking the kit by the scruff and headed back into his territory. It seemed as if Molepelt had only been asleep for a few moments when he was awoken by a low moan of grief. He quickly jumped to his paws and dashed towards where the moaning was coming from. As he walked across the clearing he thought, why had he had this dream? What did it mean? He had no more time to think about the odd dream, he had reached where the cries where coming from. It was just as he had feared, Blackpelt was dead. Poppyclaw stumbled out of the den and into the clearing.
"He's dead! He's dead!" she wailed to the sky.
"I know, I know." Molepelt meowed pressing his fur comfortingly against her side.
He led her to the opposite side of the clearing.
"Lay down here." he meowed slowly to her.
Poppyclaw crouched down her eyes glazed, she was staring at nothing. She will need poppy seeds, he thought to himself, as he trotted across the clearing to his den. Grabbing a poppy head in his jaws he trotted back to Poppyclaw. She was just as he left her.
"Here eat these, they will help with the grief." he murmured to her as he shook out two poppy seeds for her to eat.
She lapped them up blindly, before sighing and putting her head on her paws. There was nothing more he could do for the grieving elder, Molepelt thought as he picked up the poppy head and took it back to his den. As soon as he put the poppy head back in his store Nightstar; the ShadowClan leader, let out a yowl, calling a Clan meeting. Molepelt pushed his way out of his den and sat down raping his tail neatly around his paws. Cats began to melt out of the shadows, padding slowly, blinking the sleep out of their eyes.
Once all the cats had gathered Nightstar began to tell them the news, "It brings me great sorrow to inform you all that one of our beloved elders has gone to join StarClan."
Nightstar paused as wails of grief rose from the gathered Clan.
"Molepelt tried his best to save Blackpelt, but it was his time to move on to StarClan." he meowed looking at Molepelt.
The other cats turned to look at him too. He ducked his head in thanks for the complement, embarrassed for being called out.
"Tonight we will sit vigil for our lost Clanmate." he informed the Clan.
"Now that it is nearly dawn and we are all up, Darkshadow," Nightstar called to his deputy, "Will you begin planning today's patrols?" he asked her.
"Of course Nightstar." she said giving a quick nod.
"Let's see… Crimsonpaw, Sharkfang," Darkshadow began.
Molepelt did not hear the rest of what the deputy was saying; he had turned toward where Thorntail was struggling to pull Blackpelt's limp body out of the den, Molepelt dashed over to help the elder. Picking up Blackpelt he and Thorntail made their way towards the center of the clearing, setting Blackpelt down carefully positioning him so that it looked as if he were sleeping.
"I will go get the herbs." Molepelt told Thorntail.
Thorntail gave a curt nod in response. Molepelt turned his back to the elder and headed to his den. Molepelt grabbed some lavender, and mint leaves to hide the scent of death on Blackpelt's fur. With the herbs in his mouth he headed back to where Blackpelt's body was in the clearing. Thorntail was siting comfortingly next to Poppyclaw, when he saw Molepelt he got up to join him.
"Here let me help you." he offered Molepelt.
"Ok, here rub these on his fur." Molepelt told Thorntail pushing the mint leaves toward him with a paw.
Thorntail began to rub the mint leaves on Blackpelt. Molepelt picked up the lavender and began to rub it onto Blackpelt. When he had finished he grabbed the used leaves and disposed them outside the camp. On his way back into the camp Molepelt bumped in to a hunting patrol returning their jaws laden with prey. Molepelt nodded to them as they passed and made their way into camp. Molepelt noticed anger was coming off of them in waves, and they all hade grim looks on their faces. He followed them in; curious about what had happened on their patrol. Snakefang at the head of the patrol put his prey on the fresh-kill pile and bounded to Nightstar's den, disappearing through the hanging ivy as he was invited into the den. Molepelt turned back to the patrol and saw Cliffpaw.
"What happened, Cliffpaw? Why is Snakefang so mad?" he asked him.
"We found mouse bones by the border with ThunderClan." he informed him.
So that's why that loner she-cat was there, she had just finished her meal and was heading out of the territories, he told himself.
"Was the cat a loner?" he asked Cliffpaw.
"Well she didn't smell completely ThunderClan so she could have been a loner." Cliffpaw responded.
Before he could ask here any more questions Snakefang came stomping out of Nightstar's den. Molepelt rushed over to the leaders den.
"Nightstar, may I come in?" he called into the den.
"Of course Molepelt, come in." Nightstar called from in the den.
As Molepelt pushed into Nightstar's den he saw his leader towards the back of the den sitting up in his nest, his amber eyes glowing in the light that penetrated the thick ivy entrance.
"What can I do for you?" he asked.
"Well…" Molepelt started of awkwardly, "It's about that loner that was scented by the boarder." Molepelt told Nightstar.
Nightstar looked at him expectantly.
"I ran into her yesterday while I was out collecting herbs. I snuck up on her and gave her a good scratch before chasing her out." he relayed the story back to Nightstar.
"I see." was all the large tom said, so Molepelt continued, "I know I should of told you as soon as I got back but then there was Blackpelt and I completely forgot about it." he apologized to his leader.
"It's ok Molepelt. Thank you for the information at least we know it was not ThunderClan stealing prey." he said to Molepelt then dismissed him with a flick of his tail.
Molepelt dipped his head to Nightstar then backed out of his den.