Breezepaw thinks she knows her destiny: a warrior of WindClan, a leader, or prehaps the savior in a prophecy. What she doesn't expect is to be the exact opposite...
The tabby and white she-cat set down her four pieces of prey happily as the ginger tom praised her. Her tail curled over her back in delight, and her eyes glowed in eagerness.
“We have to wait for Runningpaw and Briartuft now,” meowed a third tom, whose dark gray fur stood out against the tall golden grass. The smaller tabby and white she-cat nodded and sat beside him, her fur bristling in excitement.
“Do I get to be a warrior now?” she whispered, her blue eyes flashing in joy. The ginger tom mirrored her look.
“I don’t know about Stormstripe, but Breezepaw deserves it,” put in the broad golden tom beside the gray tabby. He made Stormstripe look undersized compared to him as he blinked slowly and thoughtfully. Breezepaw smiled smugly at her mentor. Stormstripe rolled his eyes. “Redpaw deserves it too.” The flame-colored tom sat up straighter, pleased.
“What do you think your name will be?” he asked Breezepaw in a loud whisper and the large tom and Stormstripe put their heads close together, an obvious sign that they wanted privacy to speak. “I think I’ll be Redstorm! Ooh! Or maybe Redhawk!”
“Those make you sound ThunderClan!” Breezepaw insisted, giving him a friendly nudge with her shoulder. “Meanwhile, I want to be something that sounds WindClan.”
“You were blessed with a WindClan prefix. Besides, it doesn’t have to have something to do with the moor,” Stormstripe purred, turning away from the other tom. Then he perked his ears in alert. Two cats came running across the moor, their bellies both pressed low with their paws at the same rhythm. They slowed to a stop as they approached Stormstripe, Breezepaw, the large golden tom, and Redpaw. The small fawn tabby tom looked up, a large hare dangling from his maw and his blue eyes shone with anticipation. A calico she-cat emerged from behind him.
“He’s ready, no question,” she stated firmly. “How about yours, Lionwhisker, Stormstripe?” Stormstripe and the tabby called Lionwhisker exchanged a glance before turning back to the calico and nodding. Redpaw’s eyes widened.
“Wow, Runningpaw, did you catch that all by yourself?” he exclaimed in awe. “It’s huge!”
The tom ducked his head shyly. “Thanks,” he whispered, gratitude hinting at his voice. “Briartuft is a good mentor.”
“Ahem, former mentor,” Briartuft corrected in amusement. “Let’s head back to camp. We need to report to Finchstar that WindClan has three warriors on their way.”
“Let’s go!” Redpaw chirped, bouncing ahead. Runningpaw looked at Breezepaw, as if he wanted to tell Redpaw to grow up, but he broke into a grin and leapt towards his brother. Breezepaw laughed and trailed after him, only behind him slightly.
“I’m gonna beat you!” she insisted, picking up speed.
“You’re still apprentices!” she heard Briartuft call after them. Breezepaw was too caught up in the moment to listen. She and her littermates ran faster and faster, the wind blowing through their fur like a storm was on its way. For Breezepaw, everything was perfect.
Emerald water spilled over the edge of the small waterfall, drops trickling down into the stream. A bright forest with thickets of bramble surrounded the little hollow, despite the trees eerily and unnaturally glowing. A dark gray she-cat sat and stared at the surface, where her reflection stared back. Her fur glowed a chilling silver, and her eyes gleamed with knowledge and wisdom as she calmly gazed into the pool, seemingly deep in thought.
“Sundusk,” she spoke suddenly. Her voice echoed around the clearing that was lined in golden brambles and lush ferns. There was a crackle of a leaf. An orange tabby tom arched his back in defense, but let his fur lay flat as he realized who was there.
“Pinestar,” he murmured, dipping his head in respect. Pinestar turned her head, just so much that Sundusk could see her vibrant green eyes, and slowly blinked.
“Don’t do that here,” she instructed, her voice impatient. “StarClan has no leader. We are equal here.”
“Still, it’s an honor,” Sundusk insisted, raising his tail. Pinestar snorted.
“I don’t have time for chatting,” she hissed, bristling. Sundusk shifted his weight from one paw to another. “Besides, you know I wanted to talk to you.”
“Breezepaw,” Sundusk remembered, nodding. “Her destiny.”
“Yes,” Pinestar agreed, her gaze falling back onto the pool. “When she was born, I gave a prophecy to Paleberry, Sundusk. Your daughter was a part of it.”
Sundusk stumbled back, his eyes wide. “A- A prophecy?” he stuttered, dumbstruck. “Breezepaw? Did any other cat know about this?” Pinestar shook her starry head slowly, her eyes locked on the gently rolling waters.
“A mistake has happened,” she admitted. “When I gave the prophecy to Paleberry, I told her to tell Finchstar. But she didn’t. She was scared of it, and told me she knew something was wrong.” Pinestar’s mew grew to a snarl, and her voice shook slightly. “And nothing was wrong! No cat should question StarClan! Now the only thing that’s gone wrong is that Paleberry hasn’t told any cat!”
“How is that bad?” Sundusk inquired, tipping his head to the side. “If anything, she’s only nearing the prophecy. Breezepaw and her brothers passed their assessments today.” At that, Sundusk raised his head and beamed.
“You don’t get it, do you?” Pinestar meowed, though her voice had obvious tints of a snarl in it. “She had to know about the prophecy as an apprentice to complete it. Now it’s too late.” Pinestar’s voice shook as she went on. “My Clan is in a terrible danger now. Now WindClan is in the paws of a twisted fate.” “What was the prophecy?” Sundusk whispered. Anxiety clawed at his belly.
Pinestar shook out her pelt. “That’s the thing, Sundusk. Once a prophecy cannot be complete, every StarClan cat forgets. I cannot remember it now.” Pinestar looked up at the star-streaked sky wistfully. “But soon before you came, a new prophecy has been delivered.”
“What’s that?” Sundusk asked, perking up. Maybe there was hope.
“Don’t think blissful thoughts yet, young warrior,” Pinestar warned, narrowing her glassy jade eyes. “This prophecy does not appear to have a good outcome.” Pinestar took a breath, then recited the prophecy, “Like the breeze, our savior will drift away, leaving us in the open paws of thistles and thorns.”
Sundusk backed away slowly. Either this old cat was going crazy, or WindClan was in a great danger! He felt a rush of mixed emotions: anger, confusion, worry, and fear. His mind swirled into tumbling blackness and his head swam with thousands of questions. But he could not muster the breath to ask even one.
“Thank you for telling me this,” he mewed hoarsely. Then he turned tail and fled, where the unfriendly brambles reached out to claw at his pelt. Pinestar turned back to the stream, her gaze cold.
"How could you do this to your Clan, Paleberry?" Pinsetter murmured, narrowing her eyes. "You've destroyed WindClan from the inside."
Chapter One: Rotting In The Dark Forest Edit
“Breezefeather! Redfire! Runningleaf! Breezefeather! Redfire! Runningleaf!”
Breezepaw- no, Breezefeather- raised her muzzle to the sky proudly as her Clan chanted her and her brothers’ names. Her former mentor, Stormstripe, was chanting her name loudly. Breezefeather basked in the glory of her Clanmates calling her name. It was like a dream: her name was being chanted, like she was the most important cat in the world. For a moment, she felt like she was.
Finchstar dismissed WindClan back to their dens after the cheering died down, snapping Breezefeather back to reality. She bounded over to her mother with her littermates. Ashpoppy, her mother, gave Redfire a congratulating lick on the head. Redfire ducked his head in embarrassment. Ashpoppy only purred warmly and gazed at her kits lovingly as a massive brown tom padded up. Immediately the nearly palpable family bond was broken. Breezefeather winced as the yellow gaze landed on her.
Her mother’s new mate, Oakthorn, had replaced the kits’ real father, Sundusk, when he had been killed in an accident, or so Breezefeather had been told. No cat knew what Ashpoppy saw in the ferocious brown tom, but many assumed she just wanted her kits to have a father- and at that time, there were very few options available. Recently, the deputy had stepped down and Oakthorn replaced him, only making the big warrior more jeering and bossy.
Oakthorn twitched his ear and grunted, though Breezefeather could hear a taunting snarl in the back of his throat.
“Breezefeather? “ he rumbled innocently, though there was a mock in his voice and he curled his top lip. “Not a very intimidating name, if you ask me.” Immediately, Breezefeather felt her fur rise in annoyance.
“Hush, Oakthorn,” Ashpoppy scolded lightly, her eyes not leaving the young warriors. “It fits her personality! I don't think Breezeclaw or Breezethorn would fit her at all."
“Very funny,” Oakthorn growled, lashing his tail and narrowing his eyes. He didn’t seem to find it amusing the tiniest bit. Because nothing amuses him,not even when Runningleaf got stuck in a tree last moon! Breezefeather thought tartly. Oakthorn raised his head in prominence and padded away, his tail high as he gathered a hunting patrol.
“Don’t pay any attention to your father,” Ashpoppy mewed briskly, even though even she seemed hesitant. “He’s being silly. You’ll be great warriors.”
“Right. Silly,” Redfire muttered.
“Thanks, Ashpoppy,” Runningleaf muttered, ducking his head and stalking away. Breezefeather followed in the same manner, but she could feel Oakthorn’s gaze boring into her pelt.
“What does he have against us, anyway?” she growled in Redfire’s ear. Runningleaf, overhearing, shrugged.
“I dunno,” he admitted, ducking his head as he saw Oakthorn glaring his way. “I don’t think he wants kits unless we’re cut out to be good fighters.”
“It’s just his ShadowClan heritage kicking in,” Breezefeather insisted, rolling her eyes. Oakthorn had been born to a WindClan she-cat named Swiftcloud and a ShadowClan tom, both who had disowned him at an early age. Redfire opened his mouth to reply, but suddenly froze and exchanged a swift glance from the equally horrified Runningleaf.
“What’s this?” Breezefeather stopped dead in her tracks.
“Nothing, Oakthorn,” she squeaked, not turning around. She could feel her father’s seething rage. His anger was almost palpable.
“That’s interesting,” Oakthorn went on, making his way in front of the trio. He glared disapprovingly at them, and Runningleaf, Breezefeather, and Redfire all shrunk back. He thrust his muzzle towards them, so close Breezefeather could smell his crow-food breath. “I thought you had mentioned something about, oh, I don’t know,” Oakthorn tipped his head to the side in mock confusion. Then he bared his teeth in a livid snarl. “Maybe something you are forbidden to speak of?”
“But Breezefeather was just-“ Runningleaf piped up. He was cut off by Oakthorn’s hiss.
“Swiftcloud and Darkpool were weak and foolish!” he growled. “You know what else they are?” Breezefeather and her brothers shook their heads quickly.
“Rotting in the Dark Forest, where they belong!” he snarled, whipping his head towards Runningleaf. With a startled yelp, Runingleaf defensively sprung back, arching his back. “There are no room for traitors, and those foolish cats don’t deserve to be honored.” Oakthorn curled his top lip. “Now, don’t you have a patrol to join or something?”
Redfire opened his mouth, probably to tell Oakthorn that he was the deputy and all the patrols had gone out, but Beezefeather gave him a sharp nudge with her shoulder. With a satisfied grunt, Oakthorn staked off.
As soon as he left, Ashpoppy took his place, skidding to a halt. Worry was plastered all over her face.
“Are you okay?” she asked, tipping her head to the side. “I heard Oakthorn.” She paused. “Actually, the whole Clan did.”
“We’re fine,” Breezefeather lied, turning away. Ashpoppy nodded, looking somewhat relieved. There was an awkward silence before Breezefeather’s mother broke it.
“Please understand I just want you to have a father,” she whimpered, her mew slightly shaking. “I know Oakthorn wasn’t the best choice, but I couldn’t let you live without a fatherly figure in your life. Sundusk and I had great plans for you, and when he died, I needed someone to help me live those dreams. Please understand. Oakthorn does love you.”
Breezefeather sharply nodded, absently and coldly. I’m sure he does, she thought bitterly.
Chapter Two: StarClan Isn't Happy Edit
Breezefeather sighed, placing her head comfortably on her paws. Half a moon had passed, and Swiftsong’s kits: Yellowkit, Poppykit, Goldenkit, and Emberkit, had become apprentices, overcrowing the apprentice den. Breezefeather watched from her spot in the sun as they play fought in a tussle.
Redfire was chatting with Rainpaw, a pretty silver tabby who had had a massive crush on him. By the way he spoke and was moving, he was likely bragging about something amazing he did. Breezefeather shifted her gaze to Runningleaf, who was shyly keeping a conversation with the young warrior Cherrydapple, who was giggling. Breezefeather sighed. Both of her brothers would have kits soon, but what about her? She wanted someone to love, and in her Clan, there just weren’t any suitable toms for her. They were either too old, too arrogant and bratty, taken, or her former mentor. Great.
Breezefeather perked her ears as Finchstar ambled out of his den. She noticed how frail the leader looked, as if he hadn’t been taking his fair share from the fresh-kill pile. Paleberry, the medicine cat, helped him out from his den by letting him lean on her flank. Breezefeather recalled Paleberry being Finchstar’s daughter. Swallowpaw, Paleberry’s apprentice, followed awkwardly because he didn’t know where to help out.
“Cats of WindClan,” Finchstar announced, raising his head and puffing out his chest. Paleberry shied away from him. “The cats accompanying me to the Gathering will be Lionwhisker, Ashpoppy, Quickstorm, Redfire, Runningleaf, Breezefeather, Goldenpaw, Yellowpaw, Poppypaw, Emberpaw, Heatherdawn, Oakthorn, and Sandhawk. We leave soon.” Breezefeather grunted as she pushed herself up from her spot and joined a group of the cats going to the Gathering. Despite her lethargic mood, her stomach squirmed in excitement. It was her first Gathering as a warrior!
Heatherdawn stepped aside to let her in the group, and Breezefeather gave her a thankful nod. Before she could get in, a small voice piped up.
“Wait! Let me in too!” She turned and chuckled as Goldenpaw trotted in the circle. The young apprentice’s fur was fluffed up in anticipation. She was bouncing around, making some of the older cats mutter in annoyance.
“It’s my first Gathering,” Goldenpaw whispered unnecessarily. Breezefeather nodded. “It’s my first Gathering as a warrior.”
“I can’t wait to meet the other Clans,” Goldenpaw droned on. “I wonder if ShadowClan is as mean as they sound? I bet ThunderClan-“ Breezefeather drowned the young cat out.
The group was packing in tighter; Breezefeather noticed the weather growing chillier. Leaf-bare would reach them soon.
Soon she saw Finchstar take the lead, Oakthorn following. The red-brown tom flicked his tail, and the Clan followed. Breezefeather hissed in annoyance as they obeyed without question. Do they not see anything behind his skills? Don't they see how mean he is?
Breezefeather padded along towards the back leisurely most of the way to the island. Goldenpaw noticed, stopped, and waited for Breezefeather to catch up.
“Why so far behind?” Goldenpaw asked modestly, her amber eyes wide, like she really cared. Breezefeather sighed.
“You know, Oakthorn, right?” she inquired. Goldenpaw instantly nodded. Breezefeather flicked her tail, her gaze facing the sky. “He’s not my real father.” Goldenpaw looked taken aback and stunned.
“Really?” she breathed, then lowered her voice, like she was keeping the world’s greatest secret. “Who’s Ashpoppy’s real mate, then?”
“Sundusk,” Breezefeather stated simply, not wanting to bother with who Sundusk was. “It’s no secret that my father died. Ashpoppy just chose a new mate. No big deal.”
“Then what’s wrong?” By then, the cats had reached the clearing. An elder named Quickstorm was telling Emberpaw, Goldenpaw's brother, the story behind the four great okay. Emberpaw listened in wonder.
“I don’t know,” Breezefeather admitted. “He just doesn’t like me for some reason. Look- there’s ThunderClan. Go talk to the apprentices. And remember-“ Breezefeather gave Goldenpaw her best stern look. “Don’t give away too much about WindClan.”
“Okay!” Goldenpaw chirped, running ahead and nearly knocking a RiverClan over.
“Hey!” he spat, sinking his claws into the soft bark. “Watch it!”
“Sorry!” Came the reply. Breezefeather chuckled and jumped off the opposite end of the branch.
“Hey there, Breezepaw!” Breezefeather turned to scent the overwhelming aroma of ThunderClan. She immediately purred, noticing the tortoiseshell pelt of her friend.
“It’s Breezefeather now, Dapplepaw,” she bragged good-humouredly, sticking out her tongue.
“Well then, you’re better off calling me Dappleshade,” the she-cat replied without missing a beat. Both she-cats giggled and gave each other a quick congratulations before a crisp voice broke the air.
“Now that all four Clans are here, let the Gathering begin!” Dappleshade and Breezefeather exchanged a glance.
“Why are we starting so fast?” Dappleshade wondered aloud. Breezefeather shrugged.
“Probably because it’s so cold.”
“ShadowClan will start,” came a raspy voice from one of the branches. Volestar sat prominently on his branch, his thick fur sleek silver in the moonlight. “My Clan is thriving well. Prey is running the best it has all season-cycle, and our deputy, Flamefoot, has stepped down. Amberflower is the new deputy of ShadowClan.” The ginger and white she-cat on the ground below Volestar’s branch licked her chest in embarrassment as all eyes turned her way. Volestar finished. “That is all.”
Greenstar, the ThunderClan leader, stepped forward, but the other she-cat, Ivystar of RiverClan, cut her off.
“Prey stealers!” she accused in a yowl. More RiverClan cats joined her protest, while ThunderClan cats argued against it. Greenstar looked shocked at the accusation, but merely stepped back. Even though she looked truly stunned, her eyes betrayed that she had known Ivystar would snap.
“What has my Clan done, Ivystar?” she growled, her large green eyes blazing like a fire. “We’ve stayed on our side of the border marks, and trust me, ThunderClan does not wish to eat your fish.” More cats yowled, this time cats from ShadowClan and WindClan joining the protest. Breezefeather, staying silent, glanced up at the full moon. Its shine was slowly growing shaded as milky clouds swam over to it.
"StarClan isn't happy!" A ShadowClan she-cat wailed. Other cats quieted their riot, murmurinf amongst each other.
Ivystar curled her lip in offense, bristling. “My warriors found your warriors’ clear scent inside our borders! I smelled it too!”
Breezefeather inwardly groaned at the she-cats’ bickering. When it seemed Greenstar had won the argument, Ivystar still muttering about stealing prey, Greenstar hastily gave her announcement: two new warriors, a new litter of kits. She wisely mentioned nothing about prey. Breezefeather chanted Dappleshade's name loudly, raising her muzzle to the sky, with the rest of the Clans. Ivystar swiftly reported that nothing had happened besides a few mishaps with some other Clans. Greenstar bristled, but FInchstar stepped forward to prevent another arguemnt.
“Our Clan is growing quickly,” he began slowly. “We have three new warriors: Redfire, Runningleaf, and Breezefeather!” The Clans chanted Breezefeather’s name, but oddly enough, it made Breezefeather feel…lonely. But she smiled anyway as she heard Dappleshade cheering loudly. The Gathering drew to a close, and the leaders hopped off their branches- or, in Finchstar’s case, lowered himself gently to the ground with the help of Paleberry.
“You should have seen it! I sent him running faster than a WindClan cat!” Breezefeather turned to see a sleek silver RiverClan tom, an apprentice, based on his size and high voice. He was sitting in a group of apprentices, and Breezefeather made out Goldenpaw, Emberpaw, Yellowpaw, and Poppypaw, along with another RiverClan tom.
“Really?” Poppypaw breathed, her dark blue eyes widening. “All by yourself, Pikepaw?”
“Of course!” Pikepaw insisted, grinning smugly. “I sent that flea-bag ThunderClan cat fleeing with its tail between his legs.”
“You didn’t fight Greenstar,” the other apprentice retorted. Their silver pelts were so similar it was safe to say they were brothers. “When I did. You fought off a young warrior at the most.”
“At least I didn’t run away when a leader hissed at me, now did I, Sootpaw?” Pikepaw joked wryly. Sootpaw snapped his head up in alarm as the WindClan she-cats giggled.
“I hurt my paw!” he claimed. Nice excuse, Breezefeather thought sourly. “I didn’t want her to fatally wound me!”
Pikepaw rolled his eyes and the apprentices chatted on. Breezefeather turned back around to face Dappleshade, but the ThunderClan she-cat was sitting next to a warrior from her Clan, their tails twined together and their flanks touching. Dappleshade was purring loudly.
Breezefeather narrowed her eyes, noticing something unusual: Dappleshade’s belly was slightly swollen, and was swaying to the side as she talked to the tom. There was no doubt she was expecting kits. Breezefeather felt a stab of alarm. Already? Sure, Dappleshade had a few moons of age on her, plus her ceremony had been delayed from an injured leg, but she was still so young- too young- for kits.
Then the WindClan she-cat felt a prickle of envy. Dappleshade was so close to this tom, so happy, and all Breezefeather wanted was someone to love like that. But of course, there's no cat in WindClan that's my age. Or even close, for that matter.
Finchstar gathered WindClan as the Gathering drew to a close. Breezefeather followed, this time stuck behind Oakthorn. She felt the urge to curl her top lip and snarl at him, and she would have if Goldenpaw wasn’t next to her, chatting mindlessly about how cute Pikepaw was.
Oakthorn stalked forward, as if trying to compare his muscular body to Finchstar’s frail one. Paleberry shied back as Oakthorn took her spot, supporting the old leader. Oakthorn raised his head to clearly show that he was in charge, then let his gaze sweep the Clan. When it landed on Breezefeather, he sneered mockingly.
Breezefeather looked away and flattened her ears.
What does he have against me, anyway?
Chapter Three: Changing As You Know It Edit
“Welcome to StarClan, young Breezefeather.”
Breezefeather shook her head to make sure the voice she had heard was real. Her paws felt lighter, and although she wasn’t tinged with stars, her surroundings were. In front of her were four cats, two toms and two she-cats, all of their eyes unnaturally glowing.
“Am I dead?” Breezefeather wondered aloud. The dark gray she-cat snorted.
“Far from it,” she assured Breezefeather. The WindClan warrior exhaled. “But why you are here is important.”
“This is Pinestar, leader of WindClan before Finchstar,” the dark gray tom rumbled. Breezefeather looked him over. He was slim, but muscles rippled underneath his nearly black pelt. His eyes were tiny blue dots, and he had large, tufted ears. Something about him seemed eerily familiar.
Breezefeather dipped her head at the former leader. “May I ask why you’re called Pinestar?” Breezefeather asked politely. Pinestar snorted.
“My mother was half ThunderClan,” she explained in a mutter. "She apparently decided naming me after her background was the right thing to do."
“This tom is Sundusk,” the dark tom went on. Realization of the name slapped Breezefeather.
“Sundusk!” she cried, darting up to him. The orange tom’s gaze softened as he nuzzled her close to him.
“I miss you,” he whispered. “Ashpoppy, Runningleaf, and Redfire, too. I’m so, so proud of you.” Breezefeather purred before backing up.
“Who are you?” she inquired, tipping her head at the dark tom.
“That’s not important,” he murmured, his shoulders slumping. He gazed away wistfully. He shook out his coat as if to shake off a distant memory. “You were brought here to meet her.” At that word, a small tabby she-cat padded into the glittering moonlight. Breezefeather gasped.
The she-cat had white fur, but had splotches of silver tabby fur on her pelt. Her eyes were a milky blue and motherly welcoming. Small ears were placed neatly on the top of her head. Breezefeather took a step back.
“You look like me!” The tabby nodded.
“We share a distant ancestor,” she told Breezefeather knowingly. “And although I am smaller than you, yes, we do share a similar appearance, do we not?”
“So I found a dead cat that looks like me,” Breezefeather reviewed, looking back at the other StarClan cats. “How does this help me?”
“The truth is, StarClan doesn’t know,” the silver and white tabby meowed, peering at the three starry cats over her shoulder. Turning back to Breezefeather, she went on. “We have noticed that something is wrong. Suspense is building in StarClan, Breezefeather. Your destiny is changing as you know it, and there is a very slim chance that you can change what is going to happen.”
“What’s going to happen?” Breezefeather whispered, feeling dread rack her body. Sundusk and Pinestar exchanged a gander, as if deciding to reveal a secret, and Sundusk looked back at Breezefeather after what seemed like a thousand moons.
“The truth is, we don’t know,” he admitted, shuffling his paws. “Something happened that shouldn’t have, and now we have to deal with it. It appears your destiny was not at all what we expected. That’s all we know.”
“Sleep now, Breezefeather,” the silver and white she-cat cooed. “Beware the things that no other cats see.” A familiar glint sparked in her eye, but it soon disappeared.
“Who are you?” Breezefeather blurted as she felt her body fade into the darkness of sleep.
This time it was the dark tom that spoke. “I am Darkpool,” he mewed. “And this is Swiftcloud.”
Breezefeather woke, startled. Her fur was hot and ruffled, and her Clanmates were snoring loudly around her. Exhaling, she realized it was just a dream that she had received, and she had not disturbed any one. Sighing and propping her chin on her paws, she tried to recall what had happened in the events of her StarClan visit.
There was Sundusk…and Pinestar…and…oh, what were their names? Oh! Swiftcloud! And Darkpool!
Shifting around to get comfortable, the names played back in Breezefeather’s mind. Darkpool, Swiftcloud…
Realization hit her like a hare’s kick to the face.
Aren’t Darkpool and Swiftcloud the parents of Oakthorn?
Chapter Four: I Thought I Taught You Better Edit
“Breezefeather, would you consider taking over Goldenpaw’s training?”
Breezefeather nodded eagerly. Cherrydapple had recently moved to the nursery with Stormstripe’s kits, and Breezefeather couldn’t be happier for her former mentor.
Finchstar curled his tail over his paws.
“I know you are still a young warrior, but I’ve seen a close bond between you and Goldenpaw,” Finchstar went on. “Swiftsong wanted you especially to be her daughter’s mentor. Do you feel comfortable holding the ceremony now?”
Breezefeather nodded. “Yes. I am honored to mentor Goldenpaw.” Amusement flickered in Finchstar’s weary, rheumy eyes.
“She likes you, so I'm sure training will be a breeze,” he whispered, half to himself. He flicked his tail and hobbled out of the den, and Breezefeather obediently followed. Finchstar made his way to the Tallrock, while Breezefeather twisted her way through the cats, who were sharing tongues or eating.
who was sitting at the base of the Tallrock, sneered as Breezefeather padded
by, as if he thought she had gotten in trouble. Breezefeather scowled, ducking
her head. Is he still out to get me for
mentioning Darkpool and Swiftcloud?
Breezefeather made her way through the gathering throng and sat the closest to the middle that she could. There were cats murmuring, for many things could happen- Finchstar could be stepping down, Swallowpaw might finally be receiving his full medicine cat rank, or, of course, Goldenpaw might be receiving her new mentor. Oakthorn looked especially interested at the idea of the old leader announcing his retirement.
“As we all know, Cherrydapple has recently moved to the nursery,” Finchstar yowled over the whispering cats. They quieted down, staring up at him, and listened. Cherrydapple emerged from the nursery, and although she appeared sad to loose her apprentice, she grinned positively as Stormstripe licked her cheek affectionately. “I would like to wish her and Stormstripe a congratulations. However, Goldenpaw needs a new mentor.” Goldenpaw, who was sitting beside Yellowpaw and Poppypaw, jumped up at her name. Cats chuckled softly, and the apprentice gave her chest an embarrassed lick. Finchstar flicked his tail for silence.
“Goldenpaw, please step forward,” Finchstar commanded. Goldenpaw nervously padded to the front of the cats. “You are in need of a new mentor. Breezefeather, you are ready to take on an apprentice. You had received excellent training from Stormstripe, and you have shown yourself to be loyal and thoughtful. You will be the mentor of Goldenpaw, and I expect you to pass on all you know to her.”
“Goldenpaw! Goldenpaw!” The Clan chanted, cheering on the apprentice.
Her heart pounding, Breezefeather numbly made her way to Goldenpaw’s spot, where the young she-cat eagerly reached up and touched her nose to her new mentor. Beaming, Breezefeather returned the gesture. My first apprentice!
Then she stiffened as she heard a somewhat high-pitched voice.
“But she’s too young to have an apprentice!”
Buzzardstrike. The hotheaded tom was always looking for an argument, proven by the scars scored across his pelt. He was a younger warrior- he and his brother were apprentices with Breezefeather and her littermates were apprentices for a brief time. Soon before he had become a warrior, his brother Mousepaw had died when he had been found near the RiverClan border, killed by a fox. Buzzardstrike, enraged, blamed everyone and everything for his brother’s death. Now he stood next to his friend, Sandhawk (equally as bratty, Breezefeather knew), protesting his leader’s decision. Cats broke out in talking, chatting anxiously again.
“It isn’t fair!” Buzzardstrike complained loudly. “I’ve been a warrior longer. I’ve never had an apprentice! Some of these cats have never had one, and you’re giving Goldenpaw to the newest warrior? Rosegaze has never had an apprentice, have you?”
The white she-cat recoiled shyly and cringed as all heads turned towards her. She didn’t reply, but shook her head and gazed away with her brilliant pink eyes.
Buzzardstrike glared up at Finchstar, his jaw jutted out in determination. “See?” he hissed. “Now will you rethink your choice?”
Before a cross Finchstar could reply, Oakthorn stepped up and cleared his throat. Almost instantly, cats ceased their talking.
“I have an idea,” he rumbled, steadily gathering himself onto his paws. “Why don’t they fight? The winner will mentor Goldenpaw.” Almost immediately, cats protested.
“Why would they do that?” Heatherdawn yowled, her ears flattening at the thought of Clanmates fighting.
“What if one of them gets hurt?” Icefern mewed worriedly, nudging her protesting kits into the nursery. Oakthorn shrugged.
“They keep their claws sheathed,” he explained.
“In my day, fights within your own Clan never solved anything!” Quickstorm, the oldest cat in WindClan, meowed loudly.
“We can’t have a fight break out,” Stormstripe growled, protectively standing in front of Cherrydapple.
Mother! What are you going to do about this? Breezefeather thought, wildly looking for her mother. She soon spotted Ashpoppy in the back of the crowd, her shoulders slumped and she seemed extremely interested in her paws. Breezefeather scowled. She’s afraid to speak up against Oakthorn!
“I chose Breezefeather because she and Goldenpaw work well together,” Finchstar announced flatly, flattening his ears to his head in annoyance. “Buzzardstrike, you would only teach Goldenpaw how to fight and tear other cats apart. I have a feeling the Warrior Code would be involved in no part of your training.” He switched his attention to Rosegaze, who was still looking flustered at the attention she had received. “As for Rosegaze, I know that she is a loyal cat of WindClan and would be a no doubt excellent mentor. But I think that her time is not ready yet, and she and Goldenpaw wouldn’t work well together.” Finchstar’s yellow eyes turned hard as he scanned the now silent Clan. “There will be no fight.”
Breezefeather exhaled, and much of the Clan did the same. As she ushered Goldenpaw away from the cats, her apprentice suddenly stiffened, bristled, and squeaked. Breezefeather curiously turned her head to see Buzzardstrike, claws unsheathed, lunging at her with a caterwaul.
Breezefeather screeched and toppled over in surprise. Claws seared through her flank and belly, causing ripples of pain to wrack her body.
In a desperate attempt to fight back, Breezefeather aimed for a recent wound on Buzzardstrike’s neck that had only just sealed up a few sunrises ago. She sliced her front claws through the scab, freeing fresh blood. Buzzardstrike hissed in pain, but kept fighting back. Breezefeather brought up her hind legs in attempt to throw him off, but Buzzardstrike only stumbled and fell off of her. Not wasting a heartbeat, Breezefeather hissed and leapt at the warrior, mercilessly clawing at his soft belly fur. Buzzardstrike’s eyes widened and he yowled in pain, but didn’t make even the feeblest attempt to fight back.
“Stop!” cried Finchstar. He shoved his way past cats and kept bellowing to stop the fight, but Breezefeather made no move to get off. Blood was splattered on her paws, and there was a roaring in her ears. She could hardly hear anything but her own panting, and her sight went blurry in a crimson haze as she kept decking Buzzardstrike with enraged, violent blows.
After a thousand moons, she felt sturdy jaws grasp her scruff and pull her off. She squirmed to be freed, and was put down roughly by a livid Stormstripe.
Buzzardstrike lay on the ground, gasping for air. His fur was slick with his blood. And not just his own, Breezefeather thought, grimacing at the throbbing her wounds were giving her.
Stormstripe glared at her. “You almost killed him!” he yowled. Struck by reality, Breezefeather’s eyes widened. She saw Paleberry and Swallowpaw tending to Buzzardstrike frantically. Only the rise and fall of his flanks and the twitching of his tail showed that he was alive. Breezefeather shrunk back.
“I didn’t mean to,” she whispered.
Stormstripe’s whiskers twitched, but he turned and stalked back to Cherrydapple. “I thought I taught you better,” he muttered, lashing his tail. His voice was thick with disappointment.
“See?” Sandhawk growled, shoving cats out of the way to face Finchstar. “She isn’t fit to be a mentor. She mercilessly attacked one of the warriors and nearly sent him to StarClan!”
“Please,” Swiftsong replied stormily. “You know as well as I do that Buzzardstrike started the fight.”
“Breezefeather is one of the nicest cats in the Clan,” Runningleaf defended, looking fondly at his sister and nodding. “She was defending herself.”
Sandhawk opened his mouth to argue, but Icefern stalked up angrily.
“You!” she spat angrily, bristling. “You take his side in everything!” She jerked her head towards Buzzardstrike, who was slowly clambering to his paws. “You’re a terrible mate!”
“Shut. Your. Mouth." Sandhawk spat, leering in close to the queen's face. Icefern flinched.
“I'd tell you to stay away from my kits, but you do that anyway," she hissed. Her mew was trembling.
“Those kits are mine, too!" Sand hawk snapped, jerking his head at the nursery.
“Then act like it!” Icefern cried. Breezefeather saw that all heads had turned to the arguing mates and Patchkit and Sorrelkit had popped up from the nursery curiously. “You know what you did to them and me. 'm done with you.” With that, Icefern sauntered off and tried to comfort her kits.
“We still have to punish Breezefeather, whether she started the fight or not!” Oakthorn growled, flexing his claws. “I don’t care if it was defense; she almost killed an innocent warrior!”
“Take away Goldenpaw!"
“Make her feel the same pain he did!”
Breezefeather’s heart pounded wildly as the suggestions grew worse. True, most were coming from Oakthorn’s lackeys, namely Larchfall and Sandhawk, but other cats were agreeing with their wild ideas.
“Enough!” Finchstar yowled, raising his tail for silence. “Breezefeather will not be punished. She was indeed defending herself, even if she got carried away,” he added with a stern glare her way. “Breezefeather, get your wounds cleaned up, then start Goldenpaw’s training.” Breezefeather absently nodded and made her way over to the medicine cat’s den, where she waited patently for Paleberry or Swallowpaw.
Soon the light yellow pelt that belonged to Swallowpaw pushed into the den. His ears perked when he saw Breezefeather and he paused and hesitated, as if deciding whether to treat her.
Then he took a breath and meowed, “Paleberry told me to get some more cobwebs. I’ll be right back to treat you after I get them.”
Soon enough, Swallowpaw came back. Blood was on his paws and flanks from healing Buzzardstrike as he paced around the back of the herb stock muttering something about marigold. He turned back to Breezefeather, chewing up a poultice.
It was deadly silent as he gently applied the crushed up herb to her wounds. Finally, Swallowpaw’s sigh broke the silence.
“You almost killed him,” he whispered sadly. Breezefeather ducked her head. “I know you didn’t mean to,” Swallowpaw went on hastily. “Just pointing it out. But Palebrery’s really upset, Breezefeather. Not just about this, though. Something else.” Swallowpaw took a deep breath and continued. “I don’t know what.”
He began to apply spiderwebs, and it was silent again.
“So when are you getting your full name?” Breezefeather asked, trying to start a conversation.
“Paleberry said in less than a moon,” Swallowpaw meowed proudly. “Good thing, too. I’m older than you and still haven’t gotten my full name yet!”
“You’re older than me by two moons,” Breezefeather purred, sticking out her tongue. “Stop rubbing it in.”
Swallowpaw laughed his charming laugh and shrugged in agreement. “Well, that’s all I can do. Let me know if you think they’re getting infected.”
“Okay,” Breezefeather chirped lightly. Somehow, Swallowpaw had made her day a whole lot brighter. As she emerged into the clearing to get Goldenpaw for training, Paleberry shoved past her.
“Hey!” Breezefeather yelped as the medicine cat’s shoulder hit one of her flank wounds. “Watch out!” At that, Paleberry turned around. Her long fur was standing on end, and her eyes looked blank and ghostly.
“I should have never…this wouldn’t have…” she stuttered, swaying on her paws. Breezefeather took a cautioned step back. “You…past…” Now Paleberry was just uttering random words as her eyes rolled around wildly. She was trembling as she spoke. “Finchstar…blood…Pinestar…”
Paleberry stumbled into her den, her thick tail disappearing in the bracken. Breezefeather made out one last word that the crazed medicine cat spoke.
Chapter Five: I See You Now Edit
Goldenpaw twisted her head back around as Breezefeather grappled at her flank with her forepaws. The golden apprentice twisted over until she was on her back and on the moor ground. Breezefeather hissed and lunged at her exposed belly, but felt paws drill into her jaw, hard.
Breezefeather flew back as Goldenpaw scrambled to her paws and crouched in an attack position. Breezefeather clambered to her paws.
“Very good,” she praised curtly. Breezefeather turned her head to see that the sun was sinking along the horizon, smudging the sky in fire. “Let’s get back to camp. You can pick whatever you want from the freshkill pile; you deserve it.” Goldenpaw’s eyes brightened instantly as she shook off her coat.
Breezefeather made her way back to camp, Goldenpaw trotting happily at her back paws. Goldenpaw was beaming with pride as she padded over to the freshkill pile, picked up a juicy hare, and sat down beside Emberpaw. Breezefeather snorted in amusement as the apprentice told her brother of her great day of battle training.
She passed by Swallowpaw and Paleberry on her way out.
“What’re you up to?” she asked fairly quietly as Paleberry stopped to pick one of the herbs that grew in the entrance- a gorse thicket.
“Quarter moon, remember?” Swallowpaw replied, somewhat excitedly. His eyes twinkled as he spoke. “And guess what? I get my full name tonight!” Breezefeather purred happily for her friend and pressed up close to him as she did. She felt Swallowpaw’s tail every so slightly curl around her own.
“What’re you two doing?” Breezefeather quickly shrunk away in embarrassment as Paleberry padded up to them.
“I was congratulating him,” she explained in a mutter. Paleberry raised an eyebrow like she didn’t quite believe Breezefeather, but nodded and turned towards the entrance. Swallowpaw nodded a farewell before following her.
Breezefeather made her way towards the middle of camp. Goosewing, a friendly she-cat, beckoned her over. The she-cat had her tail curled over her back and was looking quite ecstatic.
“Finchstar wants to see you about how Goldenpaw is coming along,” she mewed, jerking her head towards Finchstar’s den. Then her eyes clouded. “He hasn’t been out of his den since you left. Better go check on him.” Breezefeather nodded in thanks and padded over to Finchstar’s den, passing by Oakthorn’s usual spot in front of it. Strangely enough, the deputy was not in sight.
Before Breezefeather entered the den, she stopped and narrowed her eyes. Something… smelled. She shook her head, assuming she was imagining things from a bang on the head from training, and padded in.
Inside the den, nothing looked out of place. Finchstar’s nest was lined with fresh moss, and Finchstar was laying in his den, his back facing Breezefeather as he slept.
“Finchstar?” Breezefeather whispered, making her way over to the leader. “Is now a bad time to talk? If it is, I mean, I can leave and come back later.”
Breezefeather’s eyes narrowed. Something was definitely not right. She edged closer to the leader, who was hardly stirring. Breezefeather’s whiskers quivered as she prodded Finchstar softly with a paw. She scrunched up her nose as the putrid scent grew overwhelming. Then her eyes widened.
Finchstar was laying in a pool of blood.
“Finchstar!” Breezefeather cried, trying to shake him into consciousness with her forepaws. It led to no prevail. Finchstar’s eyes rolled around and he was wheezing and making an eccentric snorting noise.
“Paleberry and Swallowpaw aren’t here,” Breezefeather panicked, her tail lashing in fear. “Um, okay, we need to get some cobwebs and oh, what else?” She noticed Finchstar’s eyes slowly dimming. “Don’t leave yet, Finchstar! We can’t spare you loosing another life!” she pleased, unable to help as he thrashed around aimlessly.
Suddenly, he froze. His eyes stopped spinning as they landed directly on Breezefeather. In a raspy whisper, he spoke.
“Don’t let hatred bias you,” he murmured wistfully, his voice echoed by thousands of cats. Then he gave a shaking purr and his eyes grew soft and fixed on something distant. “Oh, Cloudpetal. I see you now, my love. I’m coming.”
Cloudpetal? But she was killed seasons-
Realization struck Breezefeather. She gaped as Finchstar closed his weary eyes and did not stir again. Breezefeather waited somewhat impatiently for him to wake again. Slowly, she finally accepted that he had been on his last life, waking up from her denial.
“No…” she whispered, her voice cracking. Finchstar had left WindClan into the open paws of… Oakthorn. Breezefeather felt her insides shatter. Her “father” was going to lead WindClan. He’s going to destroy it! Breezefeather’s face twisted into a livid snarl.
“You!” she spat at the corpse of Finchstar. She wasn’t even surprised at the venom and hatred in her voice. “You’ve destroyed WindClan! If you had fought your attacker, we wouldn’t be in danger!” In a rage, the same sense of anger came over her like it had during her fight with Buzzardstrike. She swung a paw at the limp body, then another, as her fur grew crimson. She didn’t stop mauling the body until she heard a shocked gasp, then a snarl, from the entrance.
“You killed Finchstar?” Briartuft hissed accusingly, bristling. Breezefeather gaped, but couldn't answer. “He was my father! You monster!” Breezefeather, wide-eyed, slowly stepped backwards.
“Killed an innocent cat?” Briartuft finished drily. She was no longer the cat the Breezefeather had once known. Now she was cold and unforgiving. “Breezefeather, I can’t believe you.” Then she turned and stormed off.
Breezefeather froze. What would Briartuft tell the Clan?
Numbly, she followed the older warrior out more cautiously. What have I done?
“Cats of WindClan!” Briartuft yowled, her eyes slitting. Breezefeather slunk behind the leader’s former den, where she saw Briartuft’s thick white tail lashing lividly. Cats were gathering now, confused as of why Briartuft was calling them together. “There us a murderer among us! Just now, I witnessed the killing of Finchstar.”
Gasps and murmurs broke out of the cats.
“Who killed Finchstar?” Cinderpaw inquired, pressing close to her sister Rainpaw.
"And why would a WIndClan cat do that?" Icefern growled as Patchkit and Sorrelkit popped out from behind her back.
“I’ll tell you.”
Heads turned to face the reddish brown tabby tom that hopped up beside Briartuft. Oakthorn was standing on the rock like he held power over the whole forest. His gaze swept the Clan with an authority that Breezefeather envied and ever so slightly admired. Then his gaze landed on the leader’s den, where Breezefeather slowly sunk to her belly behind a gorse thicket. To her relief, he turned back to the Clan.
“Once, there was a she-cat who wanted power so badly that she would kill for it.” Oakthorn gazed away for extra drama. “She knew, of course, if I was leader, I would favor her over all other cats and make her deputy, give her authority, and favorite her. You see, she is my daughter.”
Breezefeather froze. Part of her was annoyed that he called her his daughter, the other part was terrified of what he could- and would- do. Oakthorn raised his head, giving her hiding spot a sidelong glance.
“Come out, Breezefeather.”
Chapter Six: I Didn't Kill Him Edit
Breezefeather slowly and numbly crept out from behind the den, where shocked gasps stung her pelt as she sat at the edge of the crowd.
“Yes, Oakthorn?” she meowed, swallowing the lump in her throat. Oakthorn grinned a toothy smile.
“You killed Finchstar.”
It wasn’t even a question. Oakthorn said it like he was positive and knew it for a fact. Breezefeather recoiled at the apprehensive murmurs. She took a shaking step towards Oakthorn. He beckoned her in the very front of the throng, so close that she could feel Nettlestorm and his apprentice, Emberpaw’s, breaths.
“Tell them why you did it,” Oakthorn commanded, roughly nudging her with his shoulder. Breezefeather took a shuddering breath and blinked thoughtfully. Knowing Oakthorn, he would make the Clan take his side.
“I didn’t kill him,” she murmured. A few of the cats close to her began talking softly amongst themselves.
“What was that?” Oakthorn growled, nudging her sharply and unsheathing his claws. Breezefeather looked him directly in the eye.
“I didn’t kill Finchstar,” she repeated confidently, raising her head.
“Really,” Oakthorn replied flatly. “There is much evidence, Breezefeather. “You were right by the body. There is blood on your paws.”
“Because she was attacking him,” Briartuft whispered. Now she didn’t appear angry, just grief-stricken. Breezefeather knew she had been his second daughter, beside Paleberry.
“I found the body!” Breezefeather yowled, flattening her ears. “But I when I tried to pick it up, I got blood on my paws!” She wasn’t fond of lying, but saying “I found the body but mutilated it” would not make her situation better.
“She’s lying!” Larchfall hissed angrily. “I can smell her fear scent!”
“She quarreled with Buzzardstrike only this sunrise!”
“Breezefeather’s being too secretive!”
Before she knew it, cats were suggesting ways of revenge and torture.
“All the evidence points at you, Breezefeather,” Oakthorn pointed out, narrowing his eyes in deep thought. “What do you have to say for yourself?”
“You only think I did it because I look like your mother!”
As soon as she said it, Breezefeather regretted it. The clearing turned deathly silent for a moment.
Finally, Runningleaf spoke.
“Yeah!” he shouted. His voice echoed throughout the cats. “You pick on Breezefeather just because she looks like Swiftcloud!”
“Don’t. Speak. Her. Name.” Oakthorn growled, emphasizing every word.
“Why not?” Runningleaf challenged as the big reddish tom shouldered past cats towards him. Oakthorn didn’t stop until he was a mouse length away from Runningleaf’s muzzle.
“How dare you talk back to your leader!” he spat. Breezefeather cringed. Oh yeah, he’s our leader now… Runningleaf straightened his shoulders and looked Oakthorn dead in the eye. “She was a traitor, and that’s what the Clan’s don’t need! She doesn’t deserve to be remembered, and StarClan has better cats to fill up their spaces.”
“What, like you?” Heads turned to the speaker. Redfire snorted like he couldn’t believe it. WindClan chortled. Oakthorn looked furious now and he swung his head around to face the young red warrior.
“That’s enough!” he roared. Any laughter stopped abruptly. “You-“ he glared at Redfire. “I can see it in your eyes. You’ll be a traitor too, like Breezefeather. You have his eyes.”
Redfire tilted his head back. “Whoa, hold on, buddy. I’m not even related to you.” Again, there were a few chuckles. “Besides, I bet Darkpool didn’t even have these fabulous eyes.” Redfire blinked a couple times to prove it.
“Enough!” Oakthorn snapped. “Breezefeather, I sentence you to exile. Any cat who wants to speak up for her may go with her.” No cat spoke. A path formed as Breezefeather numbly padded towards the exit of camp. Her departure was completely silent.
“I can’t believe this,” she heard Stormstripe murmur, his voice coated with disappointment.
“Thanks, mom,” she muttered dryly as she stalked passed Ashpoppy. Her mother didn’t speak.
Breezefeather felt a blanket of cold wash over her as she exited camp for the last time, but she barely made it two steps before she nearly walked straight into Icefern.
“Icefern, I have to get out of here,” Breezefeather muttered, shaking. “I- you saw what happened.” But Icefern stayed planted firmly in her spot. One of her kits, Sorrelkit, was swinging from her jaws. Placing her daughter on the ground, Icefern cleared her throat.
“I want you to take Sorrelkit with you.”
Whatever Breezefeather had imagined, this was not it.
“What- why?” she exclaimed. “I was exiled for murder, and you want me to take a… a kit? Your kit?” Icefern closed her eyes and took a breath.
“I know you didn’t kill Finchstar,” she replied after a moment thick with tension. “You know it too. And I know how…” Icefern’s voice shook with emotion. “I know how unfair Oakthorn was. And I don’t want my kit growing up in his Clan.”
“But…but what about Patchkit?” Breezefeather whispered. “Now he won’t have a father or sister.” “He’s just fine without Sandhawk,” she growled. Icefern turned to the side, where Breezefeather saw the long scar down her flank. “See that? It’s from Sandhawk.” Breezefeather was taken aback.
“Yes. He was cruel and abusive. I want Sorrelkit to have a better life, because she has scars too…“ Icefern cut off by a tremble in her voice. She looked ready to break down and sob. “He disowned her, Breezefeather, and every day he pushed her and me around, just for the fun of it. But he loves Patchkit. He doesn’t hurt him. And only recently I had the courage to end us. Please, take Sorrelkit.”
“I will,” Breezefeather promised, nudging Sorrelkit towards her. She felt a new wave of respect for the queen, who was willing to give up her kit for Sorrelkit's safety.
“Thank you,” the queen whispered, her voice cracking and faltering. “You- you have a good heart, Breezefeather.” Then she turned tail and darted farther into the woods.
Breezefeather picked up a protesting Sorrelkit in her jaws and padded towards Twolegplace. She had no idea where she was going, just far away from WindClan.
Rain began to trickle down, coating Breezefeather’ pelt, feet and heart with ice.
“Breezefeather, where are we going?” Sorrelkit chirped. “Ow! Hey! Too hard! I can walk, you know! I’m five moons old!”
Breezefeather admired the kit's rebellious way. She gently put the kit down and gazed into the milky blue eyes.
“You aren’t to call me that any more,” she told the kit softly. “My name is Breeze.”
Chapter Seven: It's Complicated Edit
Breeze glanced up uncertainly. The rain showed no sign of stopping, and the ominous gray clouds stayed firmly in place. Sorrelkit had weakened, and was now clamped between Breeze’s jaws.
“When- when are we going home?” Sorrelkit whimpered.
“We need to find shelter now,” Breeze mewed around her scruff, avoiding the kit's question. By now, the rain was coming down in hard sheets and almost completely blinded Breeze. Sorrelkit was mewling about something, but her voice was slurred by the pounding of rain.
Breeze sprang back, or what she assumed was back, as a damp pelt brushed by hers. Through the storm, she saw the dark outline of what appeared to be a small she-cat’s frame. Two pale green eyes stared intently at her. Next to them was a pair of yellow eyes, and a matching, lean body of a tomcat. Nonchalantly, the tom spoke: “Follow me.”
“I beg your pardon?” Breeze hissed. “I’m not following you anywhere!”
“You have a kitten, you’re in the rainstorm, and you’re lost,” the second cat meowed flatly. “If you want a shelter, follow me.”
The tom flicked his tail, and the she-cat followed. Glancing down at Sorrelkit, Breeze heaved a sigh. I don’t have a choice, do I?
She obediently followed, and soon a large, dark silhouette and the scent of damp hay overcame Breeze. She entered the barn, close behind the small she-cat. The rain stopped pelting down on her pelt, leaving her ears ringing. Now she could see both of them clearly. The she-cat was a light gray tabby she-cat, and the tom was a huge, dark brown tabby tom whose eyes were narrowed.
“Oh, you poor things,” the she-cat cooed, her eyes softening. She reached out to grab Sorrelkit, but Breeze stubbornly pulled her away.
“What gives you the right to take my kit?” she snapped. To her surprise, the she-cat laughed.
“Dear, I’m not going to take her from you,” she explained, her voice light and bubbly. She glanced at the tom. “But I suppose she does have a fair point. Let me introduce us. I am Fern, and this is Java.” Java gave a sharp nod and jadedly licked a paw.
“Fern knows many techniques from her old housefolk, and her mother was a Clan cat that specialized in herbs,” he rumbled, nodding. “She can look after the kit and nurture it back to health.”
Reluctantly, Breeze handed over Sorrelkit to Fern. She she-cat purred and delicately laid the unmoving kit on a dry bed of hay.
“Will she be all right?” Breeze asked, suddenly concerned. In the storm, she hadn’t been able to see Sorrelkit. Now the tortoishell kit was completely frigid and stiff, besides the flicking of her tail. Fern was rapidly licking her pelt the wrong way confidently, like she knew exactly what she was doing.
“So where do you come from?” Java inquired, slightly tilting his head to the side. “And what should I call you and the kitten?”
“I’m Breeze, and that’s, uh, Sorrel,” Breeze replied hesitantly. She wracked her brain for a believable lie. “We come from the other side of the forest, but the Clans have been sheltering us on our journey.” Java’s face darkened.
“You cannot rely on others your whole life,” he scolded sternly. Then he have a heartily laugh. “Especially cats that line their nests with bones!” Breeze forced a chuckle, and then winced at the thought of sleeping with bones.
“And Fern- who was her mother?” Breeze asked, purposefully changing the subject while nodding at the tabby she-cat. “She said her mother was a med- er, wild cat, didn’t she?” Java nodded.
“Oh yes,” he replied wistfully. The brown tabby scrunched up his nose. “It sounded like two words put together. Something with water and sky… oh yes! Sky-Moss! Or was it Mossy-Sky? No, there was a ‘cloud’ in there…”
“Mossycloud!” Breeze blurted, recognition hitting her like a claw. The RiverClan medicine cat, Mossycloud, had been in a forbidden affair with another warrior. Around the time her kits should have been born, they disappeared. There were no kits in RiverClan at the time or for a long time, and her kits seemingly disappeared.
“That’s her!” Java exclaimed. “Wait... how’d you know?”
“Oh, I met her whilst traveling,” Breeze explained. Her fur burned at her lie. “Nice she-cat, I must say.” Breeze shook out her pelt and gave Java a mischievous grin. “So… what’s between you and Fern, eh?” She gave him a friendly nudge. Breeze felt the large cat’s coat burning.
“Well, she… we… it’s complicated.” Java paused and sighed and gazed at Fern. “When Mossycloud, as you said her name was, left Fern in my housefolk’s garden, they pitied her and let her stay with us. My mother, who was suckling me, took her in and practically called Fern her own. Once we turned eight moons, my housefolk sent us to live in the barn. As for my mother, she stayed with the housefolk, in their house, so it was just Fern and me.” Java exhaled. “That’s how it’s always been- like siblings.”
“Must stink to have someone you love consider you only a friend,” Breeze mused. Swallowpaw’s image flashed in her mind, but startled, she shook it away. What the…
Java stiffened. “I never said I loved her,” he muttered, outstretching his claws. Breeze gave him an amused, I-don’t-quite-believe-you look, and Java snorted.
“Moving on,” he stated, rolling his eyes, “have you been on this side of the forest before?” Breeze shook her head wordlessly. “Then there’s some cats you need to watch out for. First there’s a group that hangs out around Twolegplace and occasionally the barn. Everyone calls them Pik’s Gang. Pik, one of the local rogues, runs it.Then there’s a few cats exiled from the Allegiances.” Breeze tipped her head to the side.
“You’ve never heard of the Allegiances?” Java mewed, looking slightly taken aback. Breeze shook her head. “From what I heard, they function like a Clan, if you will. Each Allegiance has a leader, a second-in-command, and a bunch of fighting cats.”
“Huh,” Breeze murmured. Her interest was sparked. Maybe there was hope for her after all.
“There,” Fern sighed, exhaling. “She’ll be fine. She just needs rest and warmth.” Appreciation burned through Breeze for the gray she-cat. “Thank you,” she whispered, blinking in gratitude.
Then she stared into Fern’s pale green eyes and spoke again. “Whenever Sorrel is well again, I’d like to leave. You’ve been wonderful to us, but I need to find the Allegiances.”
Chapter Eight: Just Some Former Clan Cats Edit
“Wake up, sleepy head!”
Breeze groggily opened her eyes and gaped her jaws in a yawn. Early red sunlight was beginning to filter through cracks in the wooden barn. Fern stood over her, purring.
“Is it time to wake up already?” Breeze asked, blinking the sleep from her eyes. Fern nodded eagerly.
“Yep. Sorrel’s still a bit woozy after the rain last night, but she’ll pull through, like you did,” Fern explained swiftly. She glanced at Breeze mischievously. “A chip off the old block, eh?” Breeze gave a wry smile.
“Guess so,” she replied through gritted teeth. She hated lying, but she didn’t really have a choice then. She stretched one paw out and arched her back in a stretch.
“Which way are the Allegiances?” she blurted suddenly. Only then did she realize how desperate she was to find them. Java noticed as well and appeared beside Fern, purring.
“Follow the rising sun,” he told her, tipping his large head to the side. “When you reach the forest, you’re at the Allegiance of Fire. Sometimes cats visit from there, and they’re quite friendly.”
Breeze dipped her head, absently aware of Sorrel stirring awake. She nosed the tiny tortoiseshell until she was on her paws, blinking.
“What’s going on?” she rasped, her voice cracking from sleep. “Where are we?”
“We’re in the barn, with Java and Fern,” Breeze replied slowly. Sorrel only blinked up at her in confusion.
“We’re going to find a place like WindClan,” she added in a whisper that the barn cats couldn’t hear. Sorrel brightened slightly and grinned.
Only minutes later, Breeze and Sorrel were on their way. Fern and Java had been hesitant to say goodbye, but finally let them go. With Sorrel at her side, Breeze trekked through tall, golden grass as the sun began to reach the tip of the sky.
“Why are you called Breeze now?” Sorrel chirped, bouncing along. She had tireless energy- and Breeze was thankful.
“We can’t go back to WindClan for awhile, so we’re going to have new names,” Breeze responded, forcing enthusiasm into her voice. “I’m Breeze, and you can be Sorrel!”
Sorrel scrunched up her nose. “That sounds weird,” she complained, “but it is kinda pretty.”
Breeze gave an inward exhale at how easily the kit was cooperating.
“When do I get to become an apprentice?” Sorrel piped up after a brief moment of quiet. “I’m almost six moons old, you know.”
“Yes, of course,” Breeze murmured, hardly paying attention. She reminds me of Goldenpaw. The thought struck her hard. Sorrel did remind her of her apprentice- or, former apprentice, she mentally corrected herself. “How about this? Since we’re on the journey together, I can be your mentor!”
Sorrel gave a little purr of happiness and trotted forward. Suddenly, a flock of birds emerged from the grass and flew up in a commotion. Sorrel shrieked and scrambled back, barely avoiding the talons of the pack of buzzards. Breeze crouched and flattened her ears at the frightened gobbles and pulled Sorrel in. The shadows of the buzzards dappled her pelt until they flew up and away.
“I MISSED it!” Some cat shrieked.
“I got one!” Another boasted. “So did Ripple!”
Breeze stood warily. In front of her were four cats- a gray tom with the messiest fur she had ever seen, a snowy white she-cat, a light ginger tabby tom, and a sleek gray she-cat that almost looked purple.
“‘Ey!” The gray tom hissed when he saw Breeze get to her paws. “Who goes there?”
“M-my name is Breeze, and this is Sorrel,” she stuttered, stepping to the side and revealing the kit. “We’re looking for the Allegiances.”
“Go away,” the gray tom spat immediately. The white she-cat gasped dramatically.
“But Grass,” she whined, “she has a kit. She’s helpless. Poor thing.” The light ginger tom exchanged a glance with Breeze, whiskers twitching in amusement.
“Let’s introduce ourselves,” he suggested loudly before Grass could reply. “I’m Ripple of the Allegiance of Fire, and these are Grass-” Grass gave a sharp nod, still looking furious, “Winter-” The white she-cat turned towards Breeze, giving her a broad grin, “and Jasmine.” The last cat that hadn’t spoken yet narrowed her glassy blue eyes.
“The Allegiance of Fire,” Breeze echoed. “That’s what we were hoping for. See, we’re looking for a place to stay.”
“Are you from the Clans?” Jasmine growled suspiciously. “I don’t tend to trust them.”
“We… we were,” Breeze admitted. “But we are new cats now. We have changed.”
Rippled nodded. “Grass, Jasmine, we should at least take her to Thorn.” He turned to Breeze, smiling. She couldn’t help but grin back. “Come on, camp’s this way.”
Thorn turned out to be the leader of the Allegiance of Fire, and before Grass could argue, Breeze and Sorrel were whisked away to him.
Whoever Breeze had imagined leading the Allegiance, this was not it. Thorn sauntered towards them, head low. He had unusually small ears and a thick, fluffy coat of golden brown. He was smaller than Breeze, but his shoulders were broad and muscles rippled under his pelt.
“Who are these two?” he asked. There was only a hint of suspicion about him; mostly it was curiosity. Breeze knew immediately that she liked him. Jasmine snorted and stalked past him.
“Just some former Clan cats,” she spat, like it was an insult. Breeze’s maw twitched as she held back a snarl. “Begging to join.”
Thorn’s golden gaze flickered. “Why would you leave your Clan only to join something so similar?” he questioned, like Jasmine’s input hadn’t fazed him.
“I was wrongly exiled,” Breeze admitted, staring blankly at her paws. By now, most of the Allegiance had stopped whatever they were doing and listened. “My mother’s mate framed me.”
There was a stunned silence.
“We caught two buzzards, if anyone’s hungry,” Winter awkwardly squeaked.
Thorn nodded in acknowledgement, trapped in troubled thoughts. “Our Allegiance is low on cats. There are no nursing mothers or kits.”
“But there is us,” Breeze added in a whisper. “And I promise, I will not let you down.”
If I can join, I can finally avenge myself and destroy Oakthorn.
She sucked in her breath.
Then Thorn nodded sharply.
“Welcome,” he meowed, “to the Allegiance of Fire.”
Chapter Nine: I Have A Scar, Too Edit
Breeze bowed her head to take a bite of the buzzard. Beside her, Ripple sat, tail curled around his paws.
“Screech and I will take you two around the territory after meal,” he reported. Then he dipped his head, blue eyes shimmering. “That is, if you’re up to it.”
Breeze nodded, more focused on the big bird in front of her. I’ve never had buzzard before… and it looks disgusting. Pushing the thought to the back of her mind, Breeze bent down and swiftly took a bite. She nearly gagged, but held it in and forced herself to swallow.
Ripple purred in amusement. “You hate it,” he mewed. “I don’t blame you.”
Breeze jerked her head up from the smell of the nasty bird. “Whatever,” she muttered. “Where’s Sorrel?”
Breeze turned her head to see a tortoiseshell blur race up to her. Sorrel had definitely gotten better after the previous night, and now she was abandoning a little topaz butterfly that she had been chasing. Winter was at her tail. The fluffy white she-cat was smiling broadly.
“Your daughter is such a sweetheart,” she gushed, padding up to Breeze. The white and silver tabby forced a chuckle.
“Come on, Sorrel,” she meowed. “We’re going to see the territory. The little she-cat jumped on her paws excitedly.
“I can’t wait!” she exclaimed. “I wonder if they have a moor? Or maybe somewhere outside these trees!”
Ripple and Winter exchanged a glance.
“If you’re looking for moors, you’ve come to the wrong place,” he mewed quietly. “The Allegiance of Air prides themselves over their speed and agility.” Sorrel opened her mouth, but Breeze slapped her tail in her jaws.
“We can manage here,” she declared. “Now how about that tour…?”
Ripple shook his head and grinned. “Right,” he replied. Then he lifted his head. “Screech!” he called. “Leaving!”
Almost as soon as he spoke, a brown she-cat appeared beside him. Her sapphire eyes met Breeze’s for a heartbeat, and the rogue froze. There was a large, ugly, pale pink scar across Screech’s face, trailing from her ear, over her nose, and curling around to the bottom of her jaw.
“I don’t know where you’re from,” she rumbled, tipping her head to the side, “but battles are tough here. Getting hurt is easy, princess.”
“Oh,” Breeze mumbled, flushing when she realized Screech had seen her staring. “We come from the Clans. We try to keep peace, but we fight sometimes.”
“Yeah, I have a scar, too!” Sorrel piped up. Unfazed, she trotted up to Screech and turned. On her hind leg was a scabbed wound, looking as if it only recently closed. Breeze closed her eyes and shuddered. I almost forgot Sandhawk abused her. “My ear’s got a little knick too.”
Screech raised an eyebrow. Then her icy glare met Breeze’s. “Why is a kit injured like this?” she spat, unsheathing her claws. Breeze opened her mouth to defend herself, but Sorrel interrupted.
“Sandhawk gave me them,” she whispered, flattening her ears and staring at the ground. Screech looked to Breeze, who cleared her throat.
“Her father,” she muttered in embarrassment. I hate pretending to be her mother. “He’s… part of the reason we left.”
Ripple, who had stayed quiet the conversation, softened.
“I assumed you had a mate,” he mewed, nodding at Sorrel. “I did not know you weren’t together.”
Breeze nodded sharply. “Anywho, should we go?”
“Follow me,” Screech nodded, hostility still rigid in her posture. The brown she-cat got to her paws and made her way over to the exit, a bracken thicket. Ripple and Screech easily ducked down and slid through. Sorrel exchanged a glance with Breeze. Breeze didn’t blame her. WindClan cats are used to open spaces. But she only pushed through the exit without a second glance at the kit.
The thorns caught on her fur immediately. Breeze hissed to herself. The space was uncomfortably tight, and she was glad when she saw the light that meant she had reached the end.
Ripple was holding back a laugh when she collapsed in the clearing, and Breeze struggled not to snap at him. She assumed she looked funny- fur sticking up the wrong way, twigs poking out from her pelt.
Once Sorrel made her way out, looking uneasy yet fine, Screech cleared her throat.
“Outside of camp, we have pretty open space,” she announced, waving her tail and padding away from the barrier of camp. She nodded towards a scent-path that led into a darker part of the forest surrounding them. “Down that way is the training clearing. We take the cats there sometimes to sharpen skills.
“Is there a teaching system here?” Breeze asked politely. Screech gave her a sidelong glare.
“In a way,” she replied simply. “Once a kitten has reached five months, we all work together to train them. They become full members once we feel they have learned everything.” So they do have an apprentice type thing organized, Breeze mentally noted. She merely nodded, and Ripple turned left and led on.
The trees grew scarcer as the trekked deeper into the territory. The four cats circled back to where Breeze and Sorrel had met the patrol, where golden grasslands swayed in the breeze. In the near distance, they emptied out into a green terrain that Breeze recognized as the moors of WindClan.
“That’s about it,” Ripple concluded. “Do you have any que-”
Before he could finish, Screech gave a snarl and leapt at something in the grass. Sorrel stepped back, whiskers twitching in mild surprise. The brown she-cat landed on a small, pale ginger shape, claws unsheathed and at the throat of her enemy.
Breeze couldn’t see from where she was standing, but heard pleas from the attacked cat.
“Why are you in The Allegiance of Fire’s territory?” Screech spat, leaning in towards the other cat’s face. The tom shrunk back.
“I’m sorry!” he wailed. “I didn’t know!”
Breeze’s ears pricked. She knew that voice- and it brought back vivid memories.
“Screech, get off of him!” she cried, darting up and shoving the she-cat aside with her shoulder. Screech gave a confused grunt before stumbling away, shaking her head.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded, lip curling. Breeze didn’t reply. Instead, she turned to the tom. Recognition flashed in his eyes.
“Swallowpaw!” she exclaimed.
Chapter Ten: He Doesn't Mean Anything Edit
Swallowpaw’s eyes widened when Breeze called out to him.
“It… it’s Swallowfur, now,” he replied. His golden gaze was wide. “Breezefeather? What are you doing here?”
“Better question,” Screech broke in, “what are you doing here?” Swallowfur dipped his head.
“I told the Clan I was going on a solo mission to find an herb,” he mewed. “I was trying to find you, and Sorrelkit.”
Breeze narrowed her eyes and felt ice clutch her heart. “Why?” she spat. “I was exiled for murder. Whether it was my fault or not, I’m gone. Sorrel came with me.”
The little she-kit nodded sharply, despite not knowing what was going on.
“I was outside of camp when it happened,” Swallowfur insisted, shrinking back. “I’m so, so sorry Breezefeather-”
“Breeze,” The white and silver she-cat interrupted. “And Sorrel.”
“Breeze,” Swallowfur corrected himself, “and I think-”
“I think you should leave,” Screech hissed, shoving past Breeze and coming nose to nose with Swallowfur. “You’re trespassing. We’ve given you a warning, now go home.”
“And what about Breeze and Sorrel?” The yellow tom retorted. “They’ve only been here for a sunrise.”
“They are welcome here,” Screech growled. “You are not.”
Ripple narrowed his frosty eyes. “If you don’t leave, we’ll make you.”
To Breeze’s surprise, the medicine cat merely dipped his head and took a few steps back.
“If these cats make you happy,” he whispered to Breeze, “Then stay. I… want you to be happy.”
Then he turned towards home, streaking across the meadow.
“Who was that?” Ripple meowed as soon as Swallowfur was out of sight.
Breeze shrugged. “An old friend,” she replied simply. “He doesn’t mean anything. My life is here.”
Screech grunted without another word, and turned towards her home.
And now, it’s my home, Breeze thought proudly. She did not turn back once to see if Swallowfur was gone.
By the time night had fallen, Breeze was exhausted- the Allegiance of Fire had taught her basic methods of forest-hunting, and simple battles moves. It was all new to her, almost as if she was learning ThunderClan or ShadowClan tactics.
Sorrel was tired from the events that followed, but she stayed an eager ball of energy. Breeze was grateful. The little she-kit had already made friends with two other kits more or less her age, Patch and Clover. Breeze found it strange that the little black and white tom shared a name similar to Sorrel’s brother, but Sorrel didn’t seem to notice. It was as if she had already forgotten about WindClan.
The sun had set and the Allegiance of Fire had gone to bed in nests of moss and leaves. Breeze didn’t hate it- she was surprised at the comfort- but it didn’t feel right.
And I wonder if any of it ever will.
Breeze shook her head, clearing her thoughts. She would fit in… one day. Today just wasn’t that day, she reassured herself.
Breeze arched her back and shook out her coat. Beside her, Ripple was snoring lightly and beside him, Jasmine’s flanks were rising and falling rhythmically. Breeze gave the smoky gray she-cat a scornful glare before padding out, as nimbly as she could, of the bramble den.
The worst thing about the shelter of the trees was the lack of sight. Breeze was stumbling over every root, every fallen branch, until she reached the open meadow. Then she let out a long, steady breath and took in the field’s gentle aroma. Although leaf-bare was well on its way, Breeze didn’t mind.
Suddenly there was a ripple in the golden grass, and Swallowfur trotted out, head low.
“Hey, Breeze,” he whispered. Breeze leapt to her paws, tail fluffing out.
“You should have left!” she hissed. Much to her embarrassment, her voice broke from all her chatting during the day. Swallowfur stared at the ground, blinking.
“I know,” he replied softly. “But I missed you. I don’t want you gone forever.”
“I don’t want to be in WindClan,” Breeze sniffed. “Exiling cats with little evidence, and with Oakthorn as leader…”
“Oakstar, now,” Swallowfur corrected quietly. “He received his lives last night, when I got my full name.”
Breeze’s heart sunk to her paws. I nearly forgot he’s leader… How can I get revenge on a cat with nine lives when I only have one?
“Did he get a life from Darkpool and Swiftcloud?” she managed finally. Swallowfur cringed.
“Yes and no,” he mewed hesitantly. “I shouldn’t be telling you this, but…”
Breeze forced a grin and nudged her old friend. “Ah, come on. Secrets are safe with me.”
At her little spurt of happiness, Swallowfur brightened. “Anyway, both Darkpool and Swiftcloud offered him a life, but he rejected them.”
Breeze nearly reeled back in shock.
He rejected a life because he hates these cats so much?
“So… he only has seven lives?” Breeze asked, astonished. Swallowfur nodded.
“Since you were exiled, so much has changed about his ceremony,” Swallowfur mewed, tail flicking irritably. “I spoke with StarClan afterwards. Finchstar was supposed to give him a life; that’s the custom, for the former leader to give the next one a life. But Finchstar refused to show up at the ceremony, and another cat gave him that life instead.”
“I wonder why,” Breeze muttered, ear flicking.
“Sundusk was also supposed to give him one, for care,” Swallowfur went on. His eyes were alive now with mischief. “Instead, he gave him one for forgiveness.”
“Appropriate,” Breeze grunted. Swallowfur came closer and rubbed his cheek affectionately against her’s.
“Sundusk loves you so, so much,” he promised. Breeze closed her eyes, envisioning her flame-colored father praising her first hunt, sharpening her battle skills, and standing up to defend her when she was wrongly accused of anything. But fate just had to hit him. “Just know that.”
“I do,” Breeze replied quietly. “And I know you care about me too.”
Swallowfur purred loudly.
“You have no idea,” he whispered.
Chapter Eleven: Let's Go Home Edit
Breeze purred to herself, remembering the night. She and Swallowfur had agreed to meet there every other night, and both kept their side of the promise. Breeze found herself happier than she had been in moons.
A moon had passed since their first meeting. Despite the short period of time, much had happened- Sorrel’s brother Patchkit had become Patchpaw, and apprenticed to Rosegaze. Breeze was glad the shy she-cat could finally prove her worth, but more importantly, Buzzardstrike still remained without an apprentice.
Cherrydapple had also birthed three kits. Breeze hadn’t realized how heavily pregnant she had been before giving up Goldenpaw. Bluekit, Pearkit, and Finchkit were born healthy, although Breeze didn’t fancy the names. Heatherdawn was also the new deputy, and Cinderpaw and Rainpaw completed their assessments and became Cinderfrost and Rainwillow. So much had happened in only a moon, and Breeze had missed it.
“Swallowfur?” she called out, hoping to see the familiar ginger face. Sure enough, the young medicine cat stepped out from the bracken thicket. His eyes brightened when he saw her.
“Are you used to the trees yet?” he asked, licking a leaf from her ear. Breeze laughed.
Not really,” she replied. “I feel like a ThunderClan cat.”
“Speaking of ThunderClan, they’re ready to go all-out with RiverClan,” Swallowfur mewed, eyes darkening. “Oakstar hasn’t decided whether to join, but we assume he won’t get involved.”
Breeze nodded. You may not be involved in a war yet, Oakstar, but you will be soon… with someone you’d never expect.
“So… Swallowfur,” Breeze whispered, taking in a breath. the weather had grown steadily chillier, and leaf-bare -winter, as the Allegiance called it- was bound to set in any day. Swallowfur looked at her, wrapping his long tail around his paws. Breeze glanced down, unable to look at him. “I want revenge on Oakstar,” she announced, exhaling her words all at once. “The Allegiance is great, but I want to go home.” Then she glanced up determinately, ice-blue eyes flashing. “It’s not home when Oakstar is alive.” Her claws flexed and unsheathed, imagining Oakstar underneath them. “And I have just the group of cats to kill him with.”
Swallowfur’s head shot up. “You want to drive the Allegiance against WindClan,” he mewed quietly. Breeze nodded sharply.
“Sorrel is restless here, and so am I,” she went on. “We can’t live here forever. Please, Swallowfur, help me-”
“Swallowfur? Who’s that?”
Both cats froze. Breeze slowly turned around to see the high-pitched voice that had spoken. Behind her was Sorrel, eyebrows drawn together and staring at Swallowfur.
“Swallowpaw?” she went on. “Is that you?”
Swallowfur exchanged a glance with Breeze before turning to the young cat.
“Yes…. I am. And I’m Swallowfur now,” he meowed hesitantly. Sorrel padded up to him cautiously. “My, you’ve grown!”
Sorrel purred, suddenly warming up to the medicine cat. Although she was a small cat, she had grown from the nearly six-moon old kit Breeze had known in WindClan to apprentice-age.
“That still doesn’t explain why you’re here,” she added, warning hinting her tone. Breeze turned towards Swallowfur and nodded.
“She should be in on this,” Breeze declared. “After all, she’s part of the plan. Then she flicked an ear at Sorrel. “Okay, Sorrel, you have to keep this a secret.”
Sorrel nodded importantly. “Right,” she squeaked.
“We’re going to catch prey tomorrow inside WindClan’s border, and leave a scent trail from the border to the Allegiance’s territory,” she explained, drawing a line in the dirt with her claw. “They’re going to then fight the Allegiance if we do it a few more times. In the battle, we’re hoping Oakstar will die -”
“He only had six lives left,” Swallowfur added. Breeze vaguely remembered him mentioning Oakstar had already lost one of his seven lives.
“-and then we can go back to WindClan,” Breeze finished. She expected an outrage from Sorrel, or some sort of complaint in defense for her former Clan. Instead, the small she-cat took in a steady breath.
“As long as Sandhawk goes down with Oakstar,” she whispered. Her jaw jutted out in determination, and Breeze saw the mature cat she was growing into.
“Breeze, this is an excellent plan, but… what if other cats die?” Swallowfur asked awkwardly. “I’m fighting against you and Sorrel, and so are your brothers, Ashpoppy, and Goldenpaw. I know you want to hurt Oakstar, but if he goes down, so will others.”
“No one is going to hurt you,” Breeze vowed, rubbing her cheek against Swallowfur’s. The light ginger tom sighed.
“But what about Paleberry?” he went on. “She’s getting old… I can’t let the Clan have me as their only medicine cat.”
“You are an amazing medicine cat,” Breeze insisted, pulling away so that her eyes met his. “And you know about the plan, remember? You can hide when we attack.”
Swallowfur looked ready to argue, but didn’t answer. Sorrel’s eyes flashed.
“Let’s go home,” she declared quietly.
Chapter Twelve: And Never Return Edit
Breeze hardly slept that night. She woke up early, before the sun had risen and before the dew had properly settled.
Sorrel was difficult to wake up, but eventually the groggy she-cat followed Breeze out from camp without waking any other cats.
Stealthily, the two she-cats crept into the golden fields, paleing in the start of winter. A few dry snowflakes drifting from the sky and landed on Breeze’s pelt. Not bothering to shake them off, she trekked forward until she reached the familiar scent line. Sorrel exchanged a wary glance with Breeze, but both knew turning back was not an option. Together the padded quickly past the border and into the moors of WindClan.
It didn’t take them long to catch a small rabbit, injured and young. In the distance, Breeze could see the gorse-barrier of camp, and wondered what each cat could be doing. But she shook her head; the sun was appearing on the horizon, and cats would be awake soon.
Carefully, Breeze leaned down and bit into the rabbit. Sorrel bent down and the two shared it until there was just enough meat for one more cat to consume. Then she nodded and placed it in the grass, careful to leave blood smudges obvious on the gray-green grass.
Breeze and Sorrel were well on their way back, close to the border, when Sorrel froze.
“The dawn patrol,” she whispered, eyes widening. Breeze stopped dead. Sure enough, she could see four sleek bodies bounding across the moor nearby. Breeze inwardly hissed. I nearly forgot about the dawn patrol!
Breeze crouched behind a tuft of grass and pulled Sorrel down with her. She sucked in her breath and squeezed her eyes, hoping for the patrol to go away. They almost did, but one voice broke out from the rest.
“Wait, smell that?”
Breeze bit her tongue. That was Briartuft! Opening one eye, she recognized the rest of the patrol: Rainwillow, the new warrior, and Redfire and Ashpoppy.
Breeze’s mother looked healthier and sleeker than ever. Her fur had a shine to it that hadn’t been there before, and she looked round with extra prey. Her dull eyes had color to them. If her gray fur hadn’t kept its dawn hue, Breeze would have never recognized her.
“I smell rogue,” Rainwillow growled, tail lashing. Breeze gave a silent prayer to StarClan. She remembered sharing the apprentice den with Rainwillow, and although the tabby had been small, she was muscular and violent.
Brairtuft narrowed her eyes. “I think they might have already gone back.”
“Let’s report to Oakstar,” Redfire suggested. “If they come back, we can decide then what to do. It might have been an honest mistake.”
Ashpoppy’s eyes slitted. “Unless…” she murmured. But no cat seemed to hear her.
Breeze waited until she heard the cats stalk away. She was ready to turn back towards the Allegiance, when she heard another voice.
“Breezefeather, I see you.” The tabby and white she-cat froze and slowly opened her eyes. Beside her, Sorrel squeaked.
“Redfire.” Breeze cleared her throat and stood, facing her brother with a stone expression. Sorrel stayed lower, her patchy fur blending with the ground. Then upon seeing his face, she softened. “I missed you.”
Her brother’s hazel eyes immediately warmed. “Oh, Breezefeather, I’m so-” Then, as if he had been reminded of something, he stopped. “...I’m so disappointed. You came back after being exiled.”
“No,” he growled. “You need to leave and never come back. I know you took Sorrelkit, and I know she’s beside you. You are a thief and a killer.”
Breeze jerked back in disbelief. “You don’t really believe Oakstar, do you?”
Redfire paused, eyes flashing, but he kept a straight face. “He’s our leader. And our father.”
“Get out,” Redfire spat. Breeze shook her head in shock.
“You changed,” she whispered. Sorrel stood shakily beside her. “I don’t know what he did to you, but-”
“Look, I'm giving you the chance to run, Breezefeather. You're lucky it was me and not some other cat,” Redfire growled, anger blazing in his eyes. “If you show your face here again, we're all dead. Now run!”
Breeze trembled and snapped her mouth shut. Then she turned and darted away, Sorrel at her heels. She felt Redfire’s burning glare on her back until she was back into the tall grass.
Sorrel glanced up at her, stumbling over the fluctuating hills.
“What now?” she whispered. Breeze ambled forward, eyes hardening to sapphires.
“We execute part two,” she replied.
When they returned, not many cats seemed to notice nor care that they were gone in the first place.
“There you are!” Winter purred, fluffy tail kinking over her back. Breeze and Sorrel had just come into camp, and the white she-cat was waiting.
“Morning walk,” Breeze explained lightly as Winter gave Sorrel’s head a greeting lick. Winter acted like a mother towards the young she-cat, which Breeze was grateful for.
“Hey, Breeze!” Breeze turned to see the advisor, the deputy of the Allegiance, padding up to her with Kestrel and Ripple at her side. Upon seeing her friend, Breeze grinned, and Ripple returned it. Dawn, the advisor, flicked an ear.
“You willing to join a hunt?” she asked. Breeze nodded and made her way over to Ripple.
The day sped by until the sun began to melt from the sky. Breeze smiled to herself.
“Grass! Kestrel! Screech!” she called, picking out the most violent cats in the Allegiance. Grass was naturally spiky, living up to his name, and Kestrel was arrogant for being Thorn’s son. Screech was self-explanatory. Soon the three cats were in front of her, looking unamused but curious.
"I found a great place to hunt the other day,” she began casually. “Wanna go out for fun?”
Screech narrowed her eyes, but Grass spoke up.
“It’s been a lazy day,” he meowed. “I say a hunt would really dust of the rust.”
“Bet I can catch the biggest rabbit,” Kestrel boasted. Grass hit him with his shoulder.
“You’ve never caught rabbit before,” he growled jokingly.
“Come on, then!” Breeze exclaimed, nearly jumping at how flawless her plan was coming along.
She led the three cats through the grass field, up to the WindClan border. Just as Breeze was crossing, Screech halted.
“Some other cats have already marked here,” she growled. Breeze looked back at her innocently.
“So?” Grass hissed before she could speak. “Who cares?”
Screech flicked her tail. Was I wrong to bring her? But she crossed the border anyway.
Suddenly Kestrel crouched, and the other cas followed him. His eyes were all for the little, brown and gray shape not far ahead. But Breeze was all for the group of cats appearing a little ways off, not yet spotting the trespassers.
She nearly grinned to herself.
Chapter Thirteen: I'd Like To See You Try Edit
“Intruders!” Heatherdawn yowled, flinging herself at Kestrel. Breeze spotted each cat on the patrol: Heatherdawn, Goosewing, Icefern, and… Oakstar. Breeze inwardly hissed before launching herself at Goosewing.
The feathery she-cat screeched and toppled over. Her claws unsheathed and she batted at Breeze, but missed miserably. Breeze held Goosewing down, claws at her throat. Nothing but hatred was sparking in her beautiful golden eyes. She doesn’t recognize me. Pity.
The violent ways of the Allegiance were paying off. Grass held Icefern down, and Screech and Oakstar were facing each other with teeth bared.
Suddenly there was a horrible screech. Kestrel dropped Heatherdawn’s limp body and kicked it aside, spitting out a mouthful of blood. Breeze expected a rush of pity, but it never came. Underneath her, Goosewing’s eyes widened.
Oakstar’s head raised sharply. “You killed my deputy!” he snarled at Kestrel. The ginger tom shrugged.
“We hunt where we want,” he replied, flexing his claws. “She got in the way of that.”
Suddenly Screech threw herself at Oakstar. Her jaws drilled into his throat and she shook her head, shaking blood. Oakstar ripped backwards, sending both cats flying in either direction. He gave a rough cough before his eyes glazed and he lay still.
Screech looked satisfied until his eyes grew light once more and he leapt to his paws. She jumped in the air, startled and quite mortified as the wound on his throat closed up and scarred right before her eyes.
“You’re dead,” she spat, her voice rising in doubt. “I… I killed you!”
Oakstar grinned his trademark grin. “I have nine lives and you..” he sliced a claw at Screech, but she jerked away. Only a part of her leg was ripped open. “... you only have one.”
Goosewing hissed in triumph, but Breeze slammed a claw into her throat. The elegant white she-cat gagged and leaned back, breathing heavily.
“We’ll be back,” Kestrel threatened, backing away. Breeze let go of Goosewing, who leapt to her paws. “And all nine lives will be ripped from you, one by one.”
Oakstar’s eyes flashed as the Allegiance cats disappeared into the shadows.
“I’d like to see you try,” he spat.
Thorn rushed up to greet the cats as they returned.
“Good heavens, what happened?” he exclaimed, eyes wide.
“We were innocently hunting, and these stupid Clan cats attacked us,” Kestrel whined, holding up an injured paw.
“Yeah!” Grass chimed in. “They’re threatening the Allegiance.”
Thorn looked worried. “Winter is setting in,” he mused, glancing up at the sky. “If they fought for prey that violently…”
“Kestrel killed one of ‘em,” Screech added. “They were pretty easy to pick of. Only one of ‘em has nine- er, eight lives.”
“Nine lives?” Thorn’s eyes rounded.
“Actually, he only has five now,” Breeze corrected, stepping forward. “I used to be a part of that Clan. If we can pick off the big one, Oakstar, then the Clans won’t ever attack you for being in their territory.” Oh, if only you knew.
Thorn nodded to himself. “Alright. If they’re easy to defeat, we might be able to get some land. We can attack in half a moon.”
“Half a moon?”
Breeze nodded. Swallowfur was in front of her that night, listening intently. Beside her, Sorrel flicked her tail.
The medicine cat looked concerned. “I… I don’t know, Breeze. Oakstar lost a life today, like you wanted, but Heatherdawn died. She was innocent. How many other innocent cats will die in a real battle?”
Breeze dropped her head. “I’ll figure out something,” she promised in a whisper, drawing closer to Swallowfur. He sighed and put his head on hers.
Sorrel coughed awkwardly. “Uh, who’s the new deputy?” she asked.
“Ashpoppy,” he meowed. Breeze darkened.
“Great,” she muttered. “How’s Paleberry doing?”
“She’s going mad,” Swallowfur replied as soon as she spoke. “Not only has she been shouting nonsense about a prophecy, cats are dying around her and she can’t save them.”
“It’s not her fault,” Sorrel mewed softly. Breeze felt the skin under her fur flush. She pitied the old medicine cat. Swallowfur suddenly felt cold above her. He sighed deeply.
“I should have told you this a long time ago,” he whispered to Breeze. “It is Paleberry’s fault that WindClan is troubled. She was supposed to deliver the prophecy moons ago, and she didn’t.”
“Deliver the prophecy?” Breeze echoed. “To whom?”
“To the savior it spoke of,” Swallowfur replied quietly. He pulled away and his eyes met hers.
Chapter Fourteen: I've Always Been The Same Edit
Breeze didn’t speak for a long moment.
“Savior?” she finally managed. Swallowfur nodded.
“And that’s what I need to really talk to you about.” The medicine cat sucked in his breath. “I… I’m not going to allow you to fight his battle.”
Breeze’s eyes widened and she felt a hot lividness bubble inside her.
“What?” she snapped. “After all this? After we plan this for a moon, you’re going to bail?”
Swallowfur stared at the ground.
“I just don’t think-”
“You didn’t tell me this a moon ago?” Breeze shrieked, stumbling back. “I thought there was a mutual respect between us!”
“There is!” Swallowfur insisted. “You’re making a poor decision, and I want to help you to not choose that path!”
“I want to go home!” Breeze shot back. “And unless Oakstar is dead I am never getting there!”
“You can kill him without threatening an entire Clan,” Swallowfur pointed out. “Tell the Allegiance to hold the battle, and-”
“You could have said something ages ago!” Breeze interrupted. “Why didn’t you?”
Swallowfur stopped. “Because I knew you were a good cat. I knew you never made a bad choice.” His eyes slitted. “But you’ve changed.”
“I can’t believe you would think that,” Breeze meowed icily. “I’ve always been the same cat.”
Swallowfur’s chin jutted and he looked her in the eye. “You know, I fell in love with you,” he whispered. “I had a code to follow, and I chose you over that code.”
“If you loved me you would let me fight,” Breeze snarled, turning away towards the camp and signaling an astounded Sorrel to follow. “You’re choosing the Clan over me. Obviously you don’t have affection towards me.”
“You’re right,” Swallowfur replied quietly. There was so much ice in his tone that Breeze stopped cold. “I fell in love with Breezefeather.”
His eyes slitted.
Breeze opened her mouth, ready with a sharp reply, when there was a horrible scream. She whirled around to see Swallowfur crumpled to the ground with a thud that echoed around the forest. Blindly, tripping over the roots, she ambled over to where he lay.
Swallowfur was curled up, dead before he even hit the ground. Breeze felt her head swim with hauntingly familiar scenarios as she saw him, back turned towards her, blood pooling around his throat.
“Swallowfur?” she croaked, prodding him with a paw. Her voice broke in emotion. “S-Swallowfur?”
There was no time for sadness. A dark figure loomed above her, eyes wide. Then it darted away.
Breeze’s spine prickled in rage and she tore after the other cat. Luckily for her, Swallowfur’s killer wasn’t used to the forest. He tripped within seconds of fleeing and slammed onto the ground.
Breeze, blinded by rage, leapt. She hissed and drilled into his throat, shaking violently and showing no mercy. You killed Swallowfur!
Then she let go. His body hit the ground and at that moment, a shard of moonlight basked onto his gray tabby fur.
Breeze stepped back in horror. His claws were sheathed and there was no blood. In his mouth, none of his teeth were stained red. A cold dread hit Breeze.
He was innocent.
But what haunted her the most was the eyes. He looked so disappointed… something she had always feared from him. Breeze stepped back shakily.
I am a murderer… I killed Stormstripe.
I killed my mentor.
A nearby bracken thicket shook, and something darted away. Numbly, Breeze made her way over. Something was still snagged on a thorn, and she delicately picked it off with her teeth.
She brought it into the light and nearly bristled in anger.
It was a tuft of thick brown tabby fur.
Chapter Fourteen: Let Fate Play The Card Edit
When Breeze found Sorrel, the little she-cat was hiding in the brush, trembling badly after witnessing the death of her friend. Breeze dragged Stormstipe back, and together the she-cats dug two graves big enough for the dead cats.
How did Stormstipe even get in the Allegiance territory? Breeze thought as she gently lowered her former mentor into the hole. He might have followed Swallowfur. It’s a possibility, but…
Why was Oakstar here and why did he kill his own medicine cat? And if Stormstipe was completely innocent, why did he come with Oakstar?
Breeze shook her head. Nothing made sense. Then came time for Swallowfur to be placed in a hole. Breeze swallowed the lump in her throat and gently grasped the scruff of his neck in her teeth before lowering him into the hole. She blinked back tears before scraping dirt over top of him.
I’m so sorry, she thought, tipping her head up to the stars and imagining Swallowfur among them. Forgive me in StarClan.
The walk back to the Allegiance felt long. Breeze longed more than ever to be back in WindClan with all of her former Clanmates. But there was nothing for her now- Redfire hated her, Ashpoppy wouldn't take a stand for her own daughter, Swallowfur and Stormstripe were dead- not to mention Oakstar in general.
Not to mention the prophecy. Breeze inwardly cursed. Whether Swallowfur was telling the truth or not, it was not good. If she was a savior, what was she supposed to do? Was she supposed to do anything? Swallowfur did say that Paleberry failed to deliver it, so could it even be fulfilled?
Breeze made her way over next to Ripple, where she felt a small twinge of comfort. Some cat here cared for her, at least. But nothing beat the open moors of WindClan. Breeze was ready to go home.
She was startled that night by the stars around her. Breeze blinked. Stars did not tinge her fur, nor could she see the moor through her paws. Instead she was darkness, a living shadow.
She padded through the tall, golden grass, untouched by winter, and followed distant voices. Then she halted. In front of her was Pinestar and the familiar ginger coat of her father, both alight with StarClan. In front of them was Paleberry, bristling.
Pinestar looked delighted, which Breeze had never seen her before. Sundusk looked equally thrilled. Breeze called out to her father, but only silence came. No one could hear nor see her.
“We’ve been searching StarClan for days!” Sundusk exclaimed to the confused medicine cat, nearly bouncing on his paws. “And we finally found a clue to the lost prophecy!”
“The one you failed to deliver to Breezepaw,” Pinestar added darkly. Paleberry’s dull eyes widened.
“How?” she whispered. “I thought it was wiped from the memory of all cats!”
Sundusk and Pinestar exchanged a glance. “Not entirely,” Pinestar replied. Then she flicked an ear and padded towards the tallest, richest grass that led away from WindClan. “Come on, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.”
Breeze followed the oblivious cats down the path she had taken in exile, and into the forest the Allegiance called home. Then a large, dark gray tom padded out from the ferns, amber eyes slitting.
“Who goes there?” he rumbled. Pinestar turned to Paleberry.
“Remember how I told you my mother was half ThunderClan?” she smirked. “I lied. Actually, my mother’s father was from the Allegiance of Fire- the ThunderClan of the Allegiances.”
Paleberry looked up in awe at the large tom. He dipped his fading head at Pinestar.
“Greetings, daughter of Whitemist,” he greeted his granddaughter. “Who are these cats you’ve brought with you? You are passing the border of StarClan and the Spirit-Walkers, you do realize?” Pinestar nodded.
“Oh, yes,” she replied breezily. “Paleberry, Sundusk, this is my mother’s father, Night.”
Night dipped his head at the two awe-stuck cats. “I am Night, former fighter of the Allegiance of Fire.”
“The Allegiance of... isn't that where Breeze went?” Sundusk exclaimed. Pinestar nodded eagerly.
“Precisely,” she meowed, pacing in a tight circle. “When Paleberry refused to deliver the prophecy to Breezepaw, her destiny changed. The prophecy was erased from our minds and instead-” she paused and lightly tapped her ail on Night’s shoulders, “-given to the Allegiance of Fire’s afterlife, the Spirit-Walkers.”
Night nodded. “But the prophecy holds just as much significance as it did when young Breeze was an apprentice,” he warned. “There is still a chance she can take WindClan out of the dark times they’re going to go into.”
“And how is that?” Sundusk inquired, nudging Paleberry and leaning forward. Night narrowed his eyes.
“She can fight the battle she has planned,” he rumbled. “But she cannot lead the charge knowing the meaning of the prophecy.”
“So… you’re saying Paleberry was right to not tell Breezepaw about the prophecy?” Pinestar asked, eyebrows drawing together. Night shook his head.
“Not exactly,” he replied, wincing slightly. “Both result in the same outcome, but this one happens to be the choice with more bloodshed than ever.”
Suddenly Paleberry froze. “So… my decision will kill innocent cats?” Night nodded grimly.
“I’m afraid so,” he replied. “If you had told her the prophecy when she was still an apprentice, she would have stopped Ashpoppy and Oakstar’s relationship before it took full charge. Oakstar would never despise her because of her looks, and never accuse her of murdering Finchstar because of it. And Breeze, in return, would not set off to get revenge on Oakstar.”
“What do you mean?” Paleberry whispered. “You say Oakstar like he’s an innocent cat. He is not innocent. We all know he killed Finchstar and we’re all afraid to speak up to him.”
“Fear is running my Clan,” Pinestar growled. “My question is, Night, can Breeze still give it hope?”
The old warrior looked up at her with grim amber eyes.
“Let me tell you that cats will die in that battle,” he rasped, ducking back into the shadows. “There will be the innocent and the guilty. Let fate play the card of who is who.”
Then all Breeze saw was an endless darkness.
Chapter Fifteen: Might As Well Say It Edit
Half a moon passed before Breeze’s eyes. Allegiance life went on as usual, with the exception of harder training. Nothing too complicated or dedicating; Breeze realized soon enough that they were confident about the battle. She hung onto Night’s words: cats would die, regardless of the role they played.
Breeze was woken early, before the sun had risen. Ripple was prodding her side and gently nosed her to her paws. The tom had grown close to her in the past moon, since Swallowfur died. She had spent more time than ever with Ripple and the rest of the Allegiance and drawn close to them. Even Screech.
Thorn lined up the cats. Breeze had chosen to fight, and although Sorrel had wanted to, she was deemed too young. That didn’t stop her and Breeze to speak in private. Sorrel would follow along from behind and watch the battle.
Thorn nodded, and the cats followed their leader into the golden fields, now gray in winter and coated with a fresh layer of snow. Breeze passed the familiar sights with a flash of nostalgia. She saw a blur of bright red, and turned to see the barn that she had sheltered in nearly two moons ago at the top of the slope. Sitting by the entrance were none other than Fern and Java. Fern had her head on Java’s shoulder when she noticed the traveling cats. She whispered something to the large brown tom, whose ears pricked. He picked Breeze out from the cats and shot her a grin. Fern waved her tail at her, and Breeze smiled back. She couldn’t help but notice that Fern’s belly was slightly swollen.
They’re going to have a beautiful family.
Then the dark, sinister voice came back to her.
Breeze shook her head furiously. Swallowfur and I never could have worked out. He was a medicine cat.
But something inside her felt the urge that no, Swallowfur was not that cat. Instead it landed on the light ginger fur of Ripple. A small wave of emotion swept through her. Ripple did understand her and supported her in everything she did. Maybe… maybe he could join WindClan, too.
As they neared WindClan territory, Breeze’s stomach tumbled over.
“Remember, the large brown tabby tom,” she reminded in a whisper. The cats nodded absently, and Thorn led the way across the border. Breeze relished the old sights and scents of her home and took in every landmark they passed.
Then they reached the gorse entrance to camp, and Breeze’s heart stopped. But she did not regret anything, or hesitate when Thorn gave the attack beacon. She pushed through the barrier with little effort and bounded past the other cats without a second glance. She raced to the center of camp and up the little slope that led to Oakstar’s den. She felt Screech, Ripple, and Kestrel behind her. She ducked inside, and suddenly froze.
Horrible memories of Finchstar’s death suddenly hit her, she screeched and flexed her claws, unable to contain the throbbing pain swarming her head. Bile rose in her throat and she felt the urge to back out and never return, but she had already awoken Oakstar.
Fortunately, he was sleeping soundly and startled by the cats in his den. Screech bunched up her haunches to attack, but Breeze held out a tail to stop her. In the heartbeat of a moment, she noticed that Oakstar was sleeping alone. Perfect.
“Oakthorn,” she whispered, slitting her eyes. She had waited moons for this moment, where she held the power above her step-father.
The large tom blinked in confusion, but curled his muzzle. “Who goes there?” he barked.
“You know exactly who I am,” Breeze snarled, leaning in close. Oakstar’s eyes narrowed suddenly in recognition.
“Breezefeather,” he growled. “You’re a fool, coming back. You murdered our leader and stole Sorrelkit after being exiled.”
“We all know who killed Finchstar,” Breeze snapped, “and Swallowfur. You might as well say it, now that you’re the one about to die.”
Confusion flashed in his eyes, but before he could reply, Screech lashed out at him. Breeze couldn’t see what happened, but heard a gag before the tall shadow of Oakstar fell. There was a heavy breathing, then silence.
The yellow eyes opened again, and Oakstar scrambled to his paws.
“Swallowfur is dead?” he roared. Breeze raised an eyebrow.
“Yes,” she growled. “You knew about us meeting, and you followed him one night and killed him. You also dragged Stormstipe along, so it would look like he was to blame. But here’s a bit of news for you-”
Breeze leaned down until she was a whisker away from his ear. “-I know a killer when I see one.”
She glanced at Screech coldly.
“Finish it,” she whispered.
Chapter Sixteen: How Does It Feel Edit
Breeze watched with little emotion as Screech, Ripple, and Kestrel launched themselves at Oakstar. He gave a roar, but it had no liveliness. All Breeze saw was darkness, but what she heard saw agony.
The Allegiance cats stepped back. Blood dripped from their maws, yet their eyes gleamed. Oakstar was panting heavily.
“He’s on his last life,” Breeze hissed. Kestrel jumped forward, but Breeze stopped him.
“Let him suffer,” she snapped. “He doesn’t deserve a mercy death.”
“How does it feel,” Oakstar panted to Breeze suddenly. His voice was raspy between gasps, “to murder two leaders? How does it feel to know you’re a murderer? I tried to save you, but…”
Then he went limp. There was an odd, quiet sensation that left Breeze at ease. Finally, she could come home.
Suddenly there was a gasp from the entrance. There stood Emberpaw, Goosewing’s apprentice, rigid and bristling.
“Is… Is Oakstar….” he searched for the word. “...d-dead?”
Breeze and the Allegiance cats nodded sharply. The lithe orange tom leaned over and started wheezing. At first Breeze couldn’t figure out what he was doing, but then she realized… he was laughing.
Emberpaw raced over to her and pressed up against her, and slightly confused, she wrapped a forepaw around him.
“His reign is over,” the little apprentice whispered. Breeze smiled.
“And now I can finally come home,” she whispered. “Finchstar’s killer has finally found justice.”
Emberpaw gazed up at her in wonder. “Breezefeather?” he whispered. Breeze nodded and placed her head on his comfortingly.
“WindClan will no longer live in fear,” she vowed. “I promise.”
Suddenly Ashpoppy appeared at the entrance, fur fluffed up. She was slicked with blood and looked more alive than Breeze had ever seen her. Ashpoppy’s eyes landed on Oakstar’s limp body and she froze.
“You killed him?” she whispered, voice trembling. There was no reply. Ashpoppy’s gaze suddenly locked on Breeze.
“Breezefeather.” It wasn’t even a question. Emberpaw shied away from her quickly. Breeze jutted out her jaw.
“I regret nothing,” she growled. “Oakstar deserved what he got.”
Her mother tipped her head to the side. There was an air about her that seemed different. “You made a selfish decision, daughter.”
“Like your decision to become Oakstar’s mate wasn’t selfish!” Breeze spat. Suddenly a burst of emotions spurred out, overwhelming her greatly. “You chose him because he was going to be the next leader! He never loved us, and you never loved… him.”
Ashpoppy stepped back and narrowed her eyes. “That’s not-”
“You have no right to say you loved him!” Breeze went on, ignoring her mother’s protest. “I was exiled for a murder I didn’t commit and you made no stand!”
“Sometimes you have to make sacrifices,” Ashpoppy whispered, voice trembling so badly she was barely audible.
“Sacrifices for what?” Breeze roared. Moons of enragement finally caught up to her as she faced her mother. “Choosing your second mate you had no feelings for over your daughter?”
“No,” Ashpoppy murmured. She stood, eyes blazing. “I chose power over my daughter.”
Breeze stopped and stepped back.
“W-what?” she stammered. Ashpoppy sighed and unsheathed her claws.
“I’m sorry I have to do this Breeze, but I don’t have a choice,” she meowed simply. She stalked up to her daughter and the Allegiance cats bristled. Behind her, Larchfall, Buzzardstrike, and Sandhawk stalked up and met Ripple, Screech, and Kestrel nose-to-nose.
“I should have told you this a long time ago,” Ashpoppy went on, flexing her claws. Then she paused and smiled an eerie, uncharacteristic smile.
“I killed Finchstar.”
Chapter Seventeen: The Rogue You Always Will Be Edit
Something inside Breeze shattered. Moons of vengeance, suffering, and exile, spent for nothing.
“Why?” she finally managed to rasp. Ashpoppy grinned and stalked up to her.
“Why do you think?” she growled. “If Oakstar was the deputy and Finchstar was aging every day, surely he would be leader soon. And if my mate was leader, he would make me deputy soon enough. So I took matters into my own paws and quickly ended Finchstar’s life. Oakstar unknowingly did the rest. His hatred for you ran so deep that he was blinded by it that he exiled you without question.”
“So he actually believed I killed Finchstar?” Breeze whispered, eyes widening. Ashpoppy responded only with a crazed smile. “And what about Swallowfur? You killed him too?”
“I saw him sneaking out every other night and assumed he was meeting you,” Ashpoppy explained. “I found a tuft of hair and placed it there for Oakstar to look guilty. Before long, Swallowfur would meet Finchstar in StarClan and the dreaded leader would tell him the real truth. Killing him was the only way out.”
“And Stormstipe followed you,” Breeze finished in a whisper. Ashpoppy grinned.
“It was all in my favor,” she growled. “And now I am the leader of WindClan. And you….” she paused and gave her daughter and up and down look, “... you can go back to being the rogue you will always be.”
Breeze bristled and leapt. At the same time, Sandhawk, Buzzardstrike, and Larchfall threw themselves at the Allegiance cats. Ashpoppy was expecting the attack and met her daughter mid-air, and the two she-cats collided. Breeze landed on top, but Ashpoppy squirmed out from underneath her, slicker than a snake, and barreled into Breeze. Breeze fell over backwards and struggled to get to her paws, but Ashpoppy landed on top of her and held her claws to her throat.
“I’m sorry that all of these misfortunes happened to you,” the gray she-cat whispered, leaning in closer, “but sacrifices had to be made, regardless of who they required.”
Breeze gritted her jaws together. “You’re going to kill you daughter?” she spat. “that’s cold.”
Ashpoppy’s eyes lightened in a crazed fire. “No,” she replied, her tone slicked with venom. “They won’t know that. To them, I killed an Allegiance cat.”
“No,” Breeze growled. “You’re not killing anyone else.”
Then, before Ashpoppy could comprehend, Breeze’s head shot up and her teeth drilled into Ashpoppy’s neck. Her mother gave a horrible screech and tried to scramble backwards, but Breeze held on and jerked her head down. Breeze felt her gaze cloud as it did when she fought Buzzardstrike moons ago. Absently, she could hear the Clan cats and the Allegiance cats fighting. And at that moment, she didn’t realize whose side she was truly on. Instead she gazed into the eyes of her mother, full of an unnatural hatred.
And suddenly they dimmed. Ashpoppy fell to the ground, unmoving and still. Breeze got to her paws and turned. She felt no emotion for a cat that had murdered their own flesh and blood. The other cats had stopped fighting. Buzzardstrike and Screech were both on the ground, dead as quick as their desire to run into battle. Larchfall was swaying on his paws, ready to collapse at any moment. Sandhawk was cornered by Kestrel and Ripple, who looked like he wanted to mourn Screech. The tan tom’s eyes were widened, and Breeze felt a rush of adrenaline. He had abused his daughter and mate because of his close friendship with Oakstar. Whether the big tom had killed Finchstar or not- he still wasn’t a good cat.
Breeze was ready to leap at him with the other cats when a tortoiseshell blur flew out from the entrance of the cave and landed, claws unsheathed, on Sandhawk’s back. As if a signal, Ripple and Kestrel joined in. Within moments, Sandhawk hit the ground and did not rise again.
Sorrel raised her head from her father. Breeze admired the cat she had grown into- she was eight moons old now, and had grown so much. But one thing hadn’t changed: the scars she was bound to keep forever. And now Sandhawk could never hurt her again.
Breeze pricked her ears as Ripple, Kestrel, and Sorrel made their way over to her. Outside, there was a gasping voice, like it had run a thousand pawsteps. It was Emberpaw! The young tom had heard everything about Ashpoppy’s revelation, and he was announcing it to the Clan. Ripple and Kestrel exchanged a glance.
“They’re going to come up here soon with more cats,” he meowed. “Let’s go.”
Kestrel nodded grimly, and together the two cats darted from the den. Breeze and Sorrel exchanged a glance. They were the only cats left alive in the den. Sorrel gave a relieved exhale.
“We can come home now,” she breathed. Breeze felt a similar, warming sensation. The feeling didn’t last.
A cream blur launched from outside the den. Breeze screeched and toppled over before she realized what was happening. Above her gleamed the grim eyes of Paleberry.
“I’m sorry,” she heard the old medicine cat murmur, “but I cannot let any more innocent cats die because of you.”
Suddenly there was a burning fire scorched across Breeze’s neck. She flailed back and screamed until it hissed down to inaudible gurgling. Sorrel watched in horror and stepped back.
Breeze ran quickly out of energy and lay still. She was absently aware of Sorrel above her, gently nudging her. But Breeze closed her eyes and lay back. Flashes of her life pieced together before her, from receiving her warrior name to killing her mother.
I regret nothing.
The thought comforted her. Then the world dimmed around her, and Sorrel's wails grew only to an echo.
Finally, she was free.
Sorrelpaw stood outside the den that had seen so much death, so much loss. But now she was smiling. Nearby, her brother Patchclaw was bouncing excitedly. Moons had passed since Breeze’s death, and Sorrel had rejoined her Clan’s ranks as Sorrelpaw.
And now she would be even more. Briartuft, now Briarstar, the new chosen leader of WindClan, stood on her rock proudly. Although she was old, she would make a wise and great leader.
“-Sorrelpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Sorrelfeather, after the cat that took care of you for the moons you were gone.”
Sorrelpaw frowned. “Uh, Briarstar?” she squeaked. Briarstar, who had already turned around, turned back towards the Clan in surprise.
“Yes?” she asked, smiling. “Do you not like your name?”
“Nothing like that,” Sorrelpaw shook her head. “It’s just… I would like to be Sorrelbreeze instead. Breeze was known for being Breeze, not Breezefeather. That’s how she would have wanted it.”
Briarstar smiled. “Very well, then. From this moment on, you will be known as Sorrelbreeze. StarClan grant that although you don’t tread the same path as Breeze, you will carry on her spirit.”
Sorrelbreeze nodded, eye shining. “Of course,” she whispered.
As the ceremony broke apart, one tom caught Sorrelbreeze’s eye. The brown tabby padded up to her hesitantly.
“Congratulations,” Runningleaf meowed, staring at his paws. Sorrelbreeze giggled.
“No need to be shy,” she teased. Runningleaf gave her ear a friendly lick, and Sorrelbreeze smiled. Perhaps there was more to coming back to the Clan than just Breeze’s vengeance.
Three moons later, Sorrelbreeze was in the nursery with Runningleaf’s kit. It was a little silver tabby she-cat, and although she didn’t quite physically resemble her, Breeze’s personality shone through in the kit.
Breeze watched from StarClan as the kit grew. She had seen many cats in StarClan, such as Swallowfur, Stormstipe, even Buzzardstrike and Oakstar. She assumed the worst for Ashpoppy and Sandhawk. Sometimes she crossed the border and visited Screech and Grass, who had died that same battle. But she spent much of her time with Sundusk, living out the moments she could never share with him alive.
She kept a close eye from above on Ripple as well. The tom had mourned greatly for her, but he had found a mate in Winter, and the two of them had kits soon after. Breeze couldn't be happier for the two of them.
But she watched Sorrelbreeze’s kit extra carefully. She watched her as she grew in the ranks and through hardships she struggled. But it all paid off the day Breeze was invited to give her a life. The ceremony was quick yet magical, and she remembered the pain that had been given on her life: persistence. But it all paid off in the end, and her name would go down in history: Featherstar of WindClan.
And Breeze had never been happier.