Rainfur walked quickly beside Nightstar, his eyes and ears alert as they crossed the RiverClan border. Though it was a warm night, and everything seemed quiet, there was something that told Rainfur that he needed to be careful. Plus, they were going onto another Clan’s territory, and that might have been a trick.
Behind him, anxious squeals of kits and young apprentices were heard. Even Stormpaw looked happy to be going to the quarter moon alliance gathering. It was, of course, the first time anyone had done anything like this, so the elder Warriors were still cautious of how StarClan would react.
Rainfur wasn’t afraid. StarClan would respect the decision, and with both Sharpstar and Rosestar combined, why couldn’t Bravestar and Nightstar do the same? Aside from that, there was the fact that they needed to begin a war, and fighting separately would be stupid.
“Hey, Rainfur,” said Stormpaw, prancing up to him. “Is anything weird going to happen? I heard from the other apprentices that something always happens when you go to gatherings.” Rainfur smiled, happy that Stormpaw was finally learning about him instead of just whining.
“I’m not quite sure,” said Rainfur. “This gathering isn’t something I’ve seen before. Judging by everyone’s excitement, they haven’t either.”
“Really?” asked Stormpaw. “That’s so cool! Do you think Jactur’s going to like it?” Rainfur shrugged.
“He doesn’t like anything I do,” said Rainfur, smirking as Jactur hissed lowly to him.
“Do you think I’ll have someone like Jactur someday?” asked Stormpaw, looking quite curious.
“Most likely,” Rainfur replied. “We have a long way before then, though.” Stormpaw smiled, but before he could ask another question, they reached the gathering place.
It was all very interesting, the way the sky was lit up by the moon, and something else just made the air feel softer. Rainfur also noticed the kindness in the air as he crossed the log, as if they were no longer seperate Clans, but just another family joining the ceremony.
The kits took off as soon as they reached the ground. They went over to where the elders were gathered, along with the RiverClan kits. The apprentices all tried to compete with each other while the medicine cats greeted each other once again. Bravestar and Nightstar watched from a corner while the Warriors just spread out.
Rainfur found himself following Mudkit, Rosekit, and Tigerkit toward the elders, curious as to what kind of stories the elder cats were telling the young kits.
“Come join us, Rainfur,” called the raspy voice of Greypelt, one of ShadowClan’s elders. “We were just about to tell the youngsters a story. You may join us if you wish.” Rainfur smiled before sitting by a familiar fluffy she-kit, who looked at him with wide-eyes.
“Hey, I know you!” declared a small ginger kit. “You’re Rainfur, aren’t you?” Rainfur nodded in response, though he didn’t know who the kit is.
“I’m Foxkit!” the kit replied, looking quite excited. “My sister is Mosskit over there.” A small grey she-cat blushed softly as he looked to her, knowing she was Mosskit. Now Rainfur knew them. They were the kits of Reedfeather, the one who nursed Snowkit, Duskkit, and Nightkit.
That would mean the fluffy cottonball next to him was Snowkit, and Rainfur suddenly realised how pretty she’d gotten. They must have been close to becoming apprentices, for they were nearly as big as Stormpaw.
Nightkit sat furthest away from him, looking quite amazed as he saw Rainfur. He was taller and longer than Snowkit, and he looked quite powerful.
Duskkit, who looked very frightened, sat in the middle of the line of kits, looking up to Rainfur with fear in his eyes. Like last time, he didn’t blame the golden kit. After all, Duskkit was the youngest cat to know his secrets, which were very frightening to a kit his age.
Rainfur stared at the small tom, realizing just how small he was. He was definitely the runt, but even then, Duskkit looked strong. It was as if he’d already started his training, but Rainfur knew better. Bravestar was not that cruel.
“You must be the three that Rainfur saved!” Mudkit, who sat by Foxkit, announced. “I’m Mudkit!”
“I’m Rosekit,” said Rosekit, blushing slightly as all eyes turned to her.
“I’m Tigerkit, named after the best tom in the forest!” Tigerkit announced.
“Tigerstar?” asked Foxkit, looking very confused.
“No, mouse-brain,” Tigerkit growled. “Tigerheart!”
“Who was named after Tigerstar,” Greypelt chuckled. “I do see a pattern here. Now, what would you kits like to know about?” All of the kits looked to the ShadowClan elder, their eyes full of excitement as they got ready to be told a story.
“I want to know about that Cheetahfur cat!” said Tigerkit. “I heard Rainfur talked about her last gathering! Did you know about her?” The elders were quiet for a few moments before an elder she-cat spoke up.
“I knew her,” said the elder. “Very curious was this she-cat. She always loved to see new things, and was quite curious as to why the Clans were separated so much. I met her back when I was a Warrior. A friend of mine was her mentor. Such a cute kit she was, and with no brothers and sisters, you’d think she was spoiled.”
“Was she?” asked Mosskit, engrossed in the story.
“Oh no, Cheetahfur was very, very kind,” the elder continued. “So gentle, you’d think she was a medicine cat. But no, for some reason StarClan sent her another path. When growing up, I found she wasn’t all that strong, but she had a good heart. Very smart too, and she happy.”
“What happened?” asked Mudkit, leaning forward with excitement.
“She fell in love,” the elder replied. “Very soon, in fact. She was still merely ten moons old when she saw him first. The tom was a small loner, just a moon older than she. He’d come begging for a home, and Sandstar, the leader at the time, refused. Cheetahfur, however, disagreed. In her mind, this tom needed to be helped, but no matter how she told the noble leader, Sandstar refused.
“Cheetahfur then went behind the Clan’s back and helped this tom grow stronger. He’d come from ShadowClan’s direction, and he was a bit beaten up. So she healed him, and hunted for him and fought for him. The dark tom soon grew stronger, and by the time Cheetahfur was fifteen moons old, he was ready to make his second appearance.
“The next time the tom showed himself to Sandstar, he was strong, and he was fit to be a Warrior. Cheetahfur had been teaching him the ways of the Warrior code, and even how to fight properly. Sandstar couldn’t refuse, and soon the tom was just a regular cat in ThunderClan.”
“That’s a boring story!” Nightkit suddenly blurted out.
“Well I’m not quite finished,” the elder growled before continuing. “As you could all see coming, Cheetahfur and this tom, who was now a full Warrior along with her, declared each other mates. They were very cute, the two of them. When I saw them at gatherings, it reminded me of how much StarClan was watching over us.
“Soon, as you could imagine, they had kits,” the elder continued. “Just two, though one died of greencough at an early age. The kit that remained seemed determined to show his belonging to the Clan, since everyone looked down upon his half-Clan bloodlines. He did his best, but it wasn’t enough.
“One day, the kit thought it would be a good idea to hunt on his own, though he was only barely an apprentice. The kit didn’t know that there was a loose fox in the area though. He met the fox, and his mother, Cheetahfur, was the only one who seemed to notice his disappearance. Worried for her lost kit, she went to search for it. When she found him, she was shocked.
“Before the fox could attack her kit, she attacked it, though it was stronger. You see, she hadn’t really fought for over three moons, so her legs weren’t used to the movement. It was only seconds until the fox killed her, and it took half a day for anyone to notice Cheetahfur’s disappearance. When they found the body, they knew what had happened. The father of the kit, the loner, scolded the kit for many moons, and many others looked down upon him even more.
“The father of the kit became deputy not long after that, and without further notice, leader. Sandstar had died killing the fox that had killed Cheetahfur, and so the father of the kit lived on. The kit has become a strong Warrior.”
“What was the father’s name?” asked Rosekit curiously. The elder lowered her head a bit before replying.
“Ravenstar,” the elder responded. Rainfur’s eyes widened. Ravenstar and Cheetahfur were mates? They had kits? Why didn’t he hear of this? Why hadn’t anybody told him?
“Who was the kit’s name?” asked Rainfur, though it was more an order. The elder looked at him, her eyes narrowed as if she didn’t like his tone. She answered though.
“At the moment he goes by the name of Sharpstar,” the elder replied. Rainfur looked down to his paws to hide his emotions.
This was wrong. So wrong. Sharpstar is Cheetahfur and Ravenstar’s kit. Did this mean Sharpstar hated loners because he was one himself? Or was it because his father was? Maybe it was because it was the fact that he was only half Clan born and that was when everyone hated him.
Why hadn’t Cheetahfur told him?
A yowl from the oak tree made Rainfur jump back to reality. He looked up to see that Bravestar and Nightstar were gathering the cats. He made his way over to where Wolfheart was, and waited for the others to gather.
“Welcome, ShadowClan!” Bravestar announced, looking quite happy.
“You as well, RiverClan!” Nightstar called.
“We are gathered here today to declare our allegiance to one another,” said Bravestar. “I, Bravestar, leader of RiverClan, ask StarClan to grant us permission to ally my Clan and I to ShadowClan for further protection of the Warrior code and the Warriors of both of our Clans.”
“I, Nightstar, leader of ShadowClan, ask StarClan to grant us permission to ally my Clan and I to ShadowClan for further protection of the Warrior code and the Warriors of both of our Clans.” said Nightstar ceremoniously. Four figures showed up in front of them, looking straight to the leaders.
“We accept your decision, Nightstar and Bravestar, leaders of River and Shadow,” said the main StarClan cat, though the others echoed. “Let your Clans pass the borders in peace, though do not steal prey from the other’s territory unless given permission by the Clan leader. May your Clans help each other through the battles that are to come, and let them become friends to strengthen the bond. Until the alliance is formally departed shall these rules lay.”
The StarClan cats vanished afterword, but that wasn’t all. Rainfur felt something leave his side, as if Wolfheart had gotten up, but he hadn’t. When Rainfur looked to his left, he found that Jactur, strangely enough, was beside him. It was so odd that he nearly jumped out of his skin.
“What in StarClan’s name are you doing here?” asked Rainfur, making Wolfheart turn his head. The brave RiverClan deputy just gasped and backed away as he saw Jactur.
“I have absolutely no idea what just happened, but I honestly don’t care,” said Jactur, smiling as he looked around the gathering place. “This is awesome! I can go where ever I want as long as it’s in this island! Sweet!” Jactur suddenly stood up and walked around, seeming to attract a few she-cats attention.
Rainfur rolled his eyes before trying to fin Duskkit. He still needed to apologize to the small tom, and he wanted to do it before they left.
Rainfur found the young tom along next to a bramble bush, and he looked very fearful as well as regretful. It was strange, but Rainfur didn’t care. Duskkit felt like a little brother to him, and at the moment he had it in his mind that he needed to comfort the golden tom.
“You wouldn’t mind if I sat here, would you?” asked Rainfur curiously. Duskkit nodded, though still looked at his paws. He had a feeling the small kit had no idea who was sitting next to him, but that would soon change. A few moments of silence passed, all of which Rainfur listened to the small kit sob.
“Duskkit, why are you crying?” asked Rainfur, trying to get Duskkit to tell him.
“I-I saw Rainfur today,” said Duskkit, refusing to look away from the ground. “Just a moon ago when he returned I vowed to myself that I wouldn’t be afraid. He was the cat who saved me after all, so why should I? But then I saw him today and I just. . .froze up I guess.” Rainfur shrugged, though he knew Duskkit could not see him.
“Maybe you’re not ready to trust him just yet,” Rainfur told him, having a hard time trying to act as if he were someone else. “Maybe you just need time to realize he’s not as bad as he seems.” Duskkit just sighed, acting like Stormpaw in a way.
“How will I ever learn how to trust him?” asked Duskkit. “After seeing all of those memories. . .I just can’t forget them. They were just so. . .vivid.”
“The memories you saw were scary,” Rainfur told the young tom. “But if they were frightening to you, how scary do you think they were to him?” Duskkit paused, as if trying to think of how to respond to the answer.
“I. . .I never thought of it that way,” Duskkit murmured.
“I knew somebody who thought he had a bad life,” said Rainfur, hoping he didn’t sound too much like an elder. “The tom found out later that someone else had an even worse past. Point is, if you think you are in the worst situation ever, just try and remember that there’s probably somebody worse off.” Rainfur stood up after that, noticing Jactur talking to a few RiverClan she-cats.
Just as he got two tail-lengths away from Duskkit, the golden tom looked up, gasping as he realised that he had been talking to his fear all along. Rainfur smiled as he noticed the golden tom realize that he didn’t need to be afraid.
Two cats in three days, Rainfur thought to himself. I think that’s a record.
The next few days for ShadowClan were crazy. They had seen RiverClan cats give normal reports every five or so hours, the same with ShadowClan to RiverClan. There was so much commotion, so many things going on, and so many unfamiliar faces going around that Rainfur had no time to take Stormpaw out for a training session.
Today, however, Rainfur had left Treeleg in charge so that he could take his apprentice training. Besides, it was the fact that Stormpaw agreed to the training that the RiverClan cats were there anyway. He had a right to take a rest and train his apprentice in the way of his power.
Stormpaw was walking beside him at the moment, and Rainfur noticed the fear growing in his eyes. It was unmistakable, leaving Rainfur to wonder if the training was such a good idea, but then he just remembered that he had to do it for Stormpaw’s sake.
They reached a fairly large clearing where Rainfur turned around to face Stormpaw, who looked steady and alert, though somewhat shaken. By the end of the day, Stormpaw would probably be okay, though.
“First things first,” Rainfur said. “What exactly happened when you went crazy? How did you know Rosestar had done all those things?” Stormpaw shrugged before sitting down.
“I don’t know,” Stormpaw muttered truthfully. “I just saw it. I saw her attack you, try and kill you, and when I turned to you, I saw everything. Well, I didn’t get through it. I only saw that rogue leader’s death and then I freaked out. I think I saw a few more, but it was just. . .foggy.” Rainfur sat there, staring at his apprentice.
“. . .Okay, well that’s. . .different,” Rainfur murmured. “If you can see their sins, than that would mean fully controlled you could tell who’s guilty and who’s not. . .” Stormpaw tilted his head curiously.
“What do you mean?” asked Stormpaw.
“Well, let’s say Sharpstar had succeeded in killing me, but no one knew about it,” Rainfur told his apprentice. “You would be able to know instantly that it was him if you saw him, and then you would bring Justice on him. That part of your power is good, but the only bad part is that you will attack anyone who’s only done a simple thing as lying. When you’re controlled, you won’t really want to murder anybody. You’ll have the urge, but only with people who have killed. See what I mean?”
“I guess so,” said Stormpaw, looking very interested. “So what do we do?”
“We train,” Rainfur murmured. “Your power is triggered when my scar is scratched, so we’ll force you into that frame of mind. I can control you easily enough, so I’ll just keep doing it. What this is doing is making that small disease within you grow. When it grows large enough, you’ll be able to hear his voice. I’ll explain the rest when we get to that point, okay?” Stormpaw nodded, and so they began.
They trained until sunhigh, but nothing seemed to be happening. Of course, Rainfur knew that when he was training, the same thing happened. Still, something seemed to be different.
While walking, Rainfur swung by the ThunderClan border to see what was happening. Something in his mind told him that he needed to see if the border patrol was there yet.
Stormpaw followed with a tired look in his eye, and Rainfur made sure to keep and ear out for him. The last thing he needed was to forget about his apprentice being right there.
When Rainfur reached the ThunderClan border, he found that everything was quiet. A bit too quiet. Something was wrong, and somewhere in his head, he knew he had to stay there and wait for something.
Then Rainfur saw him.
Flamepelt was running full speed toward him with a shocked look in his eye. When the ginger tom reached the border, he wasted no time in telling Rainfur of what was wrong.
“Sharpstar has planned an attack!” Flamepelt yelled, his eyes wide. “Not just on ShadowClan, but on RiverClan as well! He plans to weaken you before the war begins!”
“Flamepelt, the war has already begun,” Rainfur hissed before turning to Stormpaw. “Go find the nearest RiverClan cat and tell them of what is happening, and whatever you do, don’t fight anybody, do you understand?” Stormpaw narrowed his eyes.
“I can fight, Rainfur! Just let me!” Stormpaw hissed.
“No!” Rainfur growled. “You’re not strong enough yet. I won’t fight either, so just meet me back at ShadowClan camp, understood?” Stormtail’s tail lashed at this.
“Just go!” Rainfur hissed. Stormpaw paused for a few moments before taking off toward RiverClan.
“Flamepelt, try to do the best you can on acting like you really want to kill us,” Rainfur ordered. “You need to let Sharpstar believe that you hate us, and that will get his attention, understood?” Flamepelt nodded before Rainfur turned tail and rushed to ShadowClan camp.
By the time Rainfur reached camp, Nightstar was already aware of what was going on. He was lining up his Warriors, and quickly. When the noble leader caught sight of Rainfur, he looked very relieved. Rainfur made his way over to Nightstar quickly.
“Rainfur! It’s so wonderful to see you’re okay,” Nightstar said. “I need you to lead the battle patrol over to—”
“Nightstar, I can’t fight,” Rainfur interrupted. “I understand that I am important, but unfortunately, it’s impossible. If they even attempt to scratch my shoulder, Stormpaw will go crazy. I can’t risk that—we’ve only had a few days of training after all.” Nightstar looked worried then.
“Rainfur, you’re the deputy,” Nightstar pointed out. “You can’t just stay out of the fight! They’ll think you’re weak, and then Sharpstar will—”
“I don’t give a darn what Sharpstar or any of his little minions think,” Rainfur hissed, narrowing his eyes. “With RiverClan helping us, we should do fine. After all, Sharpstar has yet to figure out we’ve allied with them. What would you rather have, one less Warrior to help fight or an insane lunatic able to finish off everyone in this camp?” Nightstar narrowed his eyes a bit, but calmed down. The noble leader seemed to be getting the point now.
“What would you suggest we do?” asked Nightstar.
“Fight in sections, but if you lose headway, don’t worry,” Rainfur said. “Remember, we still have RiverClan. Don’t hesitate to help them either, because they may be our last hope in the end. Also, as I’m sure you’re planning, keep ThunderClan and WindClan out of both camps. Stormpaw and I will be hiding here, but if we’re found, it may be the end.” Nightstar nodded before continuing to bark out commands. At this time, Rainfur rushed over to Stormpaw, who was sitting with frustration in his eyes near the high rock.
“I should be helping,” Stormpaw muttered, glaring at Rainfur as he sat down next to his apprentice. “I should be out there fighting!” Rainfur smiled, but shook his head.
“I want you to gain control of the monster within you without going through the pain of killing,” Rainfur whispered. “You must do as I say, or you’ll die.” Stormpaw just looked away, but Rainfur knew that the small apprentice understood.
“Hmm, let’s pass the time in a fun way, shall we?” said Rainfur, making Stormpaw look up to him with confusion in his eyes. “Strength and intelligence isn’t all Jactur is for.” Stormpaw now tilted his head, but as he did this, Rainfur just lay down, and so Stormpaw did the same, but cautiously.
“Do you remember when you were younger?” asked Rainfur. “You were around seven years old, and you brought Waffles home from the street?” Stormpaw smiled.
“I remember that,” said Stormpaw, looking at Rainfur with happiness now. “I remember how angry dad was, but you persuaded him to let me keep it.” Rainfur nodded.
“I knew how sad you were when dad told me to send it to the pound, and so I convinced him to let you keep Waffles.” Rainfur said. “That old dog taught you so much.” Stormpaw nodded, closing his eyes to imagine it. When Stormpaw smiled, Rainfur knew then that it was time to take action.
You ready, Jactur? Rainfur asked.
I can’t believe you’re making me do this, Jactur muttered. You’re using my power to put bratty asleep. You’re using my power to send the idiot the most beautiful, and powerful dreams. What a waste of power.
Would you rather not use it at all? Rainfur asked. Jactur muttered something he didn’t catch, but soon Rainfur could feel Jactur doing his job.
Stormpaw was asleep within seconds, and by the smile on his face and the slight twitching in his right foreleg, Rainfur could tell that he would be like that for a long time. This just allowed Rainfur to listen carefully to the war ahead.
The sounds of yowls full of agony and caterwauls filled with triumph made Rainfur’s body tense. The war outside was going to be bloody, and the fact that he could not participate made him frustrated. However, he forced himself to stay there for Stormpaw’s sake.
He’s the only brother I have left, so I need to stay here for him, Rainfur told himself.
There was movement suddenly. Rainfur’s ears grew alert, as did his eyes. He scanned the camp, but no living thing was there. The movement was as small as if it had been a kit that had moved, but Rainfur knew better. Someone was there, and his sense of smell was confirming it.
“Hello, Rainey” said a familiar voice. “Protectin’ ol’ crazy over there? Well that’s too bad. Seems like we’ll have to kill the both of you.” Rainfur whipped his head around to find that there were three cats heading for him, all of them having an evil grin on their face. Their leader was unmistakable by scent, sight, and sound.
It was Tigerpelt.