Foxwood Forest was still and quiet. The stream bubbled and lapped at the shore. The trees whispered into the wind. Glinting claws clicked on twigs and pebbles. The shapes, lithe and dark, sat like statues. Half were by the edge of the forest, the other half sheltered by the river. By the forest maybe a leaf, or was it something else, twitched. The shapes leapt. And the forest was alive with the snarls of feral cats fighting. It looked an even match. They jumped, ducked, weaved, scratched and bit. A poor ginger cat was nursing a hurt paw as he limped towards a bush on the side. The two cats ,one red, one white, in the middle were the most distinctive as they were on a rock shaped like a sinking ship.
“I see Weedstar is to frightened to come to battle so she sent her little kit instead.”
The small red she-cat laughed like a mainac at this, her amber eyes small and clever though shining with amusement as she darted in-between the other cat’s paws.
“Weedstar is not weak and neither am I, as you well know Vixenstar.”
This time his paw made contact and the she-cat slid down the rock. The cat yowled, more shapes sailed out of the trees and a Waterclan cat below wailed.
“ More ForestClan warriors, look out.”
“Vixenstar by Moonhigh this shall just be another hunting ground for ForestClan.”
The snow Bengal smirked. He had three light stripes on the top of his forehead and two stripes on each cheek that started on the top and on the bottom of his big blue eyes. His legs and tail striped like a tiger’ with a white chest and belly the rest of his pelt covered in leopard’s rosettes. The dark brown tipped ears were swivelling seeing if she would answer and the peach nose quivering in excitement, his huge paws pinning her to the ground. He was a threatening sight compared to her small, slight, dark fox red frame.
Her voice of unease made him shiver and his hold loosened.
“What happened? I was teasing. How, how could…?”
The fear and disappointment in her confused voice scared him.
“Vixy,” he whispered.
And her paw caught him in the face as a wail started up. She wriggled away and appeared by a tom-cat who was caught in a ForestClan Elite’s jaws. She bit the ForestClan opponent hard on the neck. The loud crack of bone made every cat stop and look. The she-cats death mask was a snarl of shock. The body teetered then went down, down into the stream ForestClan despised.
“Get up Thornclaw, tell as many cats as you can get to on the way back to camp retreat.”
The otter brown tom cat nodded and ran through the restarting battle. The red she-cat was now tearing into any cat that was not letting her Clanmates go. WaterClan cats were slipping into the water and swimming as fast as otters to Camp.
“This is not over Snowball,” Vixenstar whispered to Snowleopard.
“Not by a long shot.”
She slipped into the water and swam away. ForestClan was confused before yowling there victory to the darkening sky.
But Snowleopard snarled to himself.
“I will not let there be half-clans.”
Back on the shore, in the WaterClan camp Vixenstar sat and looked at the stars.
“PastClan, I need you more than ever. This battle was the hardest I have ever faced…”
She was cut off by Mistywater, the medicine cat.
“Vixenstar, Willowspirit has gone into labour. I don’t think the kits will survive.”
“Did that fox-dung of a she-cat go to the battle? What is wrong with her!”
“The same could be said of you if the clan knew. If you would excuse me I must attend Willowspirit.” The young grey cat bounded off her tail flicking with annoyance.
Vixenstar looked at her belly. It was not round yet. Maybe, just maybe she could chance the mission she wished to do.
Vixenstar whipped her head round like a snake. She took a deep breath, and let the tension out of her body.
“Pineleaves, don’t make me jump.”
The young ginger tom-cat smiled. His torn ear flicked to the left ,a mouse had run past, before it turned back to the WaterClan leader.
“I’m sorry its just I wanted to say thanks for saving my brother. He’d say it himself but he’s nest-bound, Mistywater won’t let him get up.”
“Ah yes, she is a great medicine cat, your sister. You are also an excellent deputy.”
“I should be thanking you. This no-leaf has been so hard. And we might just lose the only kits we were expecting.”
His face alighted with horror.
“Mistywater is the best medicine cat I have ever known, she will save Willowspirit, even if the kits are beyond help. There is no need to worry for your mate.”
His face relaxed a little but he was still tense.
“Keep the camp in order will you, I have business to attend to.”
“Of course I’ll keep it in order.”
The she-cat leapt from the rock.
“When can I expect you back?”
Pineleaves padded beside her as she made her way out of the camp.
“Before Sunhigh or never.”
“You can’t go alone, let me-”
“No, I must go alone.”
Pineleaves bowed his head in acceptance.
“No one must know that I have gone on business, say I went for a walk or something.”
Vixenstar nodded and then she was gone into the shadows of the bushes.
She sat at the edge of the battlefield. Ah, there he was as she had thought. He always left after everybody else. He’d scented her. Good. He charged at her. She swiped at his throat to leave him winded.
“I want to talk.”
He snarled but sat up facing the river, almost as if he didn’t want to look at her.
“There’s a problem.”
“Willowspirit would be the perfect foster mother as we are due at the same time.”
His face relaxed.
“So the problem’s sorted.”
“Did she die?”
“No, she is labour now.”
“Well, I have no choice.”
“So your going to kill me then.”
He got up.
“It’s the shame you see, I couldn’t live with it.”
“Well eat these then.”
Vixenstar sighed as if explaining something to a overexcited kit.
“These are berries that help give you strength.”
“I know you. I’m not eating those.”
And he squashed the Poisonberries and stained one of his paws red.
And then that paw blotted out the moon.
Vixenstar raced up Sinking Rock. And watched with horror as more ForestClan cats come out of the bushes.
“Help,” she cried.
“He followed me, please help I was trying to lose him ,please, help!”
And Snowleopard came at her. She ducked and he flew over her head only managing to get two paws onto the rock. Vixenstar panted her sides heaving and watched helplessly as he walked leisurely up to her. He knew she could not escape. His followers surrounded the rock. He leapt at her again. She pressed her body flat against the rock. The ForestClan cats yowled at Snowleopard to stop as they saw that he meant to murder her. She watched him turn to face her, he was at the very edge of the rock. And she leapt and pinned him. His hindquarters slid into open space.
“Vixy,” he said ,licking his lips with nerves, “Please, lets call it a draw.”
“If I let you up you’ll kill me.”
He went to plead for forgiveness but his mind had turned.
He screeched it like a battle-cry. Below the ForestClan cats screamed either for her to push him off or for him to spare her but they knew in their hearts he would not, but were unsure whether she would or would not.
“Our kits will learn the end of their father was fitting for such a cat. The Forest Of Darkness awaits you.”
“Liar, it awaits you.”
Vixenstar smiled and kicked.
And felt herself fall.
The ForestClan cats hurried forward. A shape rose to the top of the water. It gleamed in the moonlight like an angel that had fallen to earth. But as they drew nearer they realised that is was an angel of darkness.
The ForestClan’s leader’s son -Snowleopard.
But of Vixenstar or her body there was no sign.