Series: The Way it is Series
Allegiances: Leopardclaw's Dusk Cats Allegiances
Preceding: Newleaf of DawnClan
Succeeding: Leaf-fall in GingerClan
|DuskClan have DawnClan just where they want them.
But where is this mysterious group of rogues that Dusk is promising will come? And, Dusk would never expect Dawnstar to live past the season.
Or would she?
Rogues swarmed the camp. They who had been DuskClan were now rogues. And their prisoners would not live the season. As cats bowed to His bidding, He smiled. He commanded his cats, and watched as Dusk sauntered around, second in command. He rather that Dusk was a selfish, arrogant, self obsessed, vain....
The list of things he was went on forever.
And He knew of Dusk's 'secret' plan to bring some cats in to overthrow his rulership and gain the forest. But that would never work. After Dusk had overcome DawnClan, he expected all to bow down to him, but He had slickly slid his way to the top. For He knew of Dusk's worst weakness, and that would be exploited if it secured His reign of the forest and it's cats.
I will rule this forest. And Dawnstar will either be mine, or be fated to death...
Dusk smiled. "Lithium," he called. The lithe she-cat pricked her ears from where she sat guarding the prison. "Come here, sweetie." She padded over, her long grey tail sweeping the dust rhythmically.
"Yes, my lord Dusk? What is it that you require?" Dusk enjoyed being called by his new title, though he was not leader of the rogues, death would befall the unfortunate cat who did not name him by his title. And for such a pretty she-cat, that would be a shame.
"The Dusk One requires the presence of all the prisoners. Bring me them. Bring me all of them." She dipped her head; her eyes glinted.
"Yes, my lord." Dusk watched as she padded away, plans and thoughts and pain and stories running through his head. He watched as Dawnstar, Firesky, Silverclaw, Emberdawn and Morningpaw were shoved towards him.
Lithium dipped her head, and faded to the back of the prisoners. "Come, you scum," spat Dusk. "We have important buisiness to... discuss."
Dusk led the way to the meeting clearing, spitting in Dawnstar's face every now and again, taunting her about her kits, and Clan.
What Dusk did not see, was a figure in the shadows, watching. He laughed, in a whisper, and faded back into the shadows. Watching.
"What do you want now, Dusk?" Dawnstar sighed. Oh, you'll see, pretty.
"Burn, bring forth... Sparkkit and Aurorakit," Dusk anticipated her reaction, but she did not explode with anger as he had expected as the tiny, barely moon old kits stumbled before her.
"No! Not my ktis!" Dawnstar's face was cold, her voice like ice; quiet, sharp, deadly. Dusk smiled, looking down indifferently at the mewling kits.
"Dawnstar, the Dusk One has asked me to give you a choice," Dawnstar made no reaction. Oh, pretty, you will react, or I may get angry. And you'd hate to see me angry.
"As your kits are so young, we are going to allow you to nurse them until they reach the age of six moons. At this age, alike any other Dusk Cats kit, they shall be taken and trained to be able to work, hunt and fight. They shall also recieve their proper names.
"Your choice is this: you can allow us to take your kits at the age of six moons to be trained, unharmed of course, we are not monsters and in fact take care and pride in our kits, but if you choose this option, they shall never know you as their mother. They will scorn you all as prisoners, and, if they gain enough rank, may even participate in the deaths of you, or your fellow prisoners," Dawnstar still was expressionless, but asked, quietly, as if fearing the answer
"And what of the second option?" Dusk smiled cruelly. I will see your heart break, pretty.
"The second option is simple. You all join us."
There was silence, and Dawnstar turned her head, her heart indeed breaking.
Lithium could hear arguing coming from within the prison. She knew it was Dawnstar, and another cat, she could not tell who.
"But they're our kits my love! How could I possibly choose between my kits and my Clan? Or rather, the remains of it..."
Once, Lithium would have felt compassion towards the heart-broken she-cat, but now the Dusk Cats had transformed her into a heartless killer. Sometimes she would think about her old life, about Cassie the kittypet, but then she would remember what the Dusk One had said during her training, and promptly make herself forget. If I ever got caught reminiscing, I'd surely be killed! It was this fear that made her fearless.
""Lithium, my sweet?" Oh, Dusk! What does he want?
"Yes, my lord?" Dusk smiled in that way he did when he was extraordinarily happy, or feeling very evil; it was hard to tell.
"Lithium, my sweet, your shift is changing. You have the rest of the day free." Lithium suddenly felt very embarrassed.
"Well, you see, my lord, I thought that I would go hunting. I don't like to do nothing, and..." Lithium was silenced by a flick of Dusk's tail.
"I'll come with you then. I'll asses your skills; I believe it is time to promote you from a worker to a hunter, or fighter, hm?" Oh, what have I done? What am I doing?
"O Dusk One, I have tested Lithium's hunting skills, and I propose to promote her to a Hunter, with respect." Dusk bowed down to the Dusk One. A few knew of his identity, and Dusk was one of them.
"Hunter, you say?" The Dusk One's voice was a drawl, every letter whispering I am better than you. "My dear Dusk, you are so very prejudiced against she-cats. I rememeber you did not want Raven to become a Bodyguard, you said But she-cats are incapable of fighting to protective standard, did you not?" Dusk flinched, and spoke through gritted teeth.
"I did." If he could have seen The Dusk One, Dusk was sure that he would be smiling. Smiling wickedly.
"I believe that she could become a fighter. I have seen her fight. What do you think to this, Dusk?" Dusk hunched his back, and gritted his teeth more.
"It is your wish, O Dark One, and it shall be done. Which of the prisoners is to die for the ceremony?" The Dusk One laughed.
"Zinc, go fetch the prisoners. All of them, before you ask. It is time for a ceremony." Zinc dipped her head, and quickly disappeared. She was Lithium's sister, and nearly as beuatiful. Just nearly, Dusk thought, thinking of the pretty tortie with odd eyes. He watched as the prisoners were herded out and marched to the ceremony hollow. It was a large cave, with a tiny flowing stream, and a weeping willow tree that's branches hung over the entrance, dappling the walls. Near the back wall lay a large, smooth, flat stone, and brambles surrounded the walls, making what would be a nice cave feel like a place of fear.
From the shadows, a voice echoed. "My Dusk Cats, how pleasant it is to see you. Today, as I am sure that you have realised, we are to promote a simple worker into a superior fighter. All of you could be capable of going up the ranks, but not today. Will you, Lithium, step forward?" Lithium stepped through the crowd, and Dusk's heart skipped a beat.
"Oh Dusk One, as sure as the shadows that surround you, and as sure as the strength of our group, I will accept whatever you ask of me," Lithium bowed deep to the shadows where the Dusk One was. Dusk knew what was coming next; it would not be pretty.
"Lithium, kneel before the shadows," She did, and Dusk noticed she was shivering with fear. "Raven, I choose you to complete this ceremony." The dark grey she-cat stepped forward, a scar above her left eye glinting in the light. When she spoke, her voice sounded like frozen honey, sweet, pleasant, but cold.
"Lithium, you are to become a fighter or the Dusk Cats. For the ceremony to be complete, a sacrifice must be made. But first, Lithium, you must disregard fully your old life. You were Cassie, a kittypet, before?"
"I was. But now I am Lithium, of the Dusk Cats, and willingly accept whatever I must to become a fighter." Raven smiled, then, quick as a snake cut along the top of Lithium's left front leg. Lithium tensed, but stayed stone still. Dusk thought that impressive.
"Lithium, you have given your blood," Raven put her paw over the wound, and then let the blood drip from her paw onto the smooth, bloodstained stone. "Now, Dusk, bring forth a prisoner."
Dusk knew what was to happen. He went to where the prisoners were, surrounded by brambles. Dawnstar stood, barring Dusk's path. "You will not kill. I won't let you!" she spat. Dusk laughed, and shoved past her. He beckoned for Emberdawn to come, and she followed, sadly. He pushed her roughly to the front of the smooth rock. He then sank back into the shadow, watching Raven.
"You are Emberdawn, yes?" The orange she cat nodded, her tail flicking. Raven suddenly pushed her back onto the rock; it was not high. Emberdawn lay on the rock, her belly exposed, fear in her eyes. "Stay there, prisoner," Raven spat. "Lithium, to become a fighter, a sacrifice must be made..." Raven trailed off her words, and narrowed her eyes anticipating bloodshed.
Lithium gulped, and jumped, driving her claws into the she-cats stomach.
Dawnstar wailed, Lithium could hear it. She had not killed the cat, just injured her. As the cats drained away, Lithium could feel the sticky blood on her paws.
"My darling, you did well. But why did you not kill that cat?" Lithium panicked in her head. I can't let him think that I couldn't bring myself to kill her!
"I didn't kill her?" She tried to make her voice sound as uninterested as possible, and it seemed to work, Dusk did not suspect.
"No, my darling, but it is ok. Just make sure to kill next time, hm?" She nodded, and Dusk seemed satisfied. "How about a border patrol?" Lithium nodded again, wanting to prove her skills. Dusk smiled and led the way.
The borders were now the whole forest, as the Dusk Cats had taken over DawnClan's old territory too. Lithium was quiet, wondering if she should tell Dusk her fears. She had decided that she would just spit it out, when and intruding ginger cat leapt out of the bushes. Lithium's fighting instinct kicked in, and was about to leap at him, when Dusk stopped her.
"Wait, this is no intruder. This is Jordan, and she is from a family who have called themselves GingerClan. They will help me rule over this forest, and they will help me destroy the Dusk One and kill those worthless DawnClan cats off. I will have my DuskClan once more, and I will be Duskstar, and I will rule the forest!" Lithium was scared. Oh, my, what am I doing here?
"And now, my darling, I just need you to plegde me your loyalty. That won't be too hard, hm?"
"No, Duskstar, it won't."
Dusk was pleased. Today I will ruin this false hierarchy! Today I shall destroy the tyrant! Today I will rule this forest! Jordan, the pretty ginger she-cat, had brought him news of the GingerClan family. She had told him that they were living just outside of the territory, and were awaiting plans of attack. Dusk had shared them willingly.
GingerClan were a small family, but an elite fighting force. Dusk had heard rumours that they had fought - and beaten - the worst pack of rogues the forest had ever seen, the Darkest Rogues. And that was why Dusk wanted them on his side. He was not going to be on the wrong side of perhaps the most deadly fighters ever, and he was not going to let the tyrant, the Dusk One win.
As Dusk padded back to the camp, he mulled over the plan. He would wait, obedient, until sunset, and then he would patrol with Lithium. They would find the GingerClan family, and all of them would go back to camp, where they would defeat the Dusk Cat, and reinstate Dusk as the leader, Duskstar, once more. It seemed perfect. Perhaps too perfect.
As golden rays dapped the forest floor, Dusk and Lithium slid out of the camp on what would turn into a bloody evening patrol. "Dusk? Is that you?" Four ginger cats stepped out from the undergrowth. It was Deathstar that had spoken, he was the father and leader of the family. He had taken the -star on his name for show, and he and Duskstar would rule together. Dusk smiled, and Lithium smiled weakly.
With his head held high, Dusk led the way back to camp, setting a run as the pace. He did not notice several things as he smiled, war in his mind.
He did not notice how Lithium looked worried and fearful.
He did not notice how GingerClan were whispering among themselves.
He did not notice how eyes were watching him.
There was war.
Cats and blood flew around Lithium as she pinned a tom, Copper, and sliced his throat open. He stared at her in shocked silence as his eyes rolled into his head. His expression seemed to say "I thought we were friends...."
Lithium leapt and ran, slashing out occasionally. She wormed her way to where Dusk fought alongside Death, and they jumped together, leaping at shadows. The Dusk One.
All went silent. All stopped, and was still, like everything had suddenly turned to ice. Lithium turned her head slowly, feeling as if she were underwater, and saw Dawnstar jump forward, as if in slow motion. Dawnstar whispered, so quietly "No! It can't be...."
The identity of the Dusk One was revealed, and it was so, so simple, so obvious who it was, who it always was.
"Cats, I reveal to you the Dusk One," Dusk's voice boomed over the quiet murmers and disrest. "Cats, this cat has murdered, and slaughtered, and for what? For his own personal happiness. Cats, the Dusk One, he will never be called that again. You will use his name, which you should all know. Jay. And you shouldn't need to adress him,"
A second passed, a frozen second, where no cat could anticipate what was to come.
Dusk slit Jay's neck.
There was stunned and fearful silence and Jay's mouth frothed and bubbled, and blood seeped from his neck, forming a sticky pool beneath him. Blood dripped from the highrock where Jay spasmed, dying. Blood stained Dusk's claws.
"Cats, Jay is dead! Now I, and Deathstar shall rule DuskClan once more! I shall be Duskstar! Shadow, Shadowswirl, you shall be our deputy again. All who were warriors, take back your old names! Loners who came, gather in the ceremony hollow, the medicine den, where I shall appoint names to you. DawnClan prisoners, you shall be taken to an open den, rather than a sealed prison. I shall then talk to you about arrangements. Now, we must clean this mess!" Deathstar dipped his head to Duskstar after he finished his speech, somewhat darkly. Duskstar did not notice.
Duskstar saw Lithium dart into the medicine den, as if she were scared. Lithiumclaw, Lithiumcloud, Lithiumfur... Duskstar turned to Deathstar, and his family, and said
"Deathstar, respects. Your family do not need to take warrior names, they shall be hailed as heroes like yourself. Now, I shall show you where the Medicine den is, and together we shall appoint some names," Deathstar flicked his tail.
"Duskstar, respect to you also, but do you not remember our arrangement?" Duskstar confidently told the ginger leader his version of the agreements.
"You would help me conquer and kill Jay, and take over my Clan again, in return for leadership and..." Duskstar trailed off, realising what a fool he had been. Deathstar smiled wickedly.
"Now, how about you come and help me name some cats? I may allow you to stay as a ... Sub-leader. For now." The five cats headed for the medicine den while Deathstar laughed.
"You shall now be named Lithiumheart. You will be a welcome warrior of DuskClan." Lithiumheart smiled weakly. Now is the time.
Duskstar was about to leave the den; she had been the last one named.
"Duskstar, will you wait a second?" Duskstar turned and Deathstar and his family padded off.
"What is it, my darling?" Duskstar smiled making Lithiumheart feel queasy.
"Duskstar, there is something I must tell you. I am expecting our kits."