Series: Weight Of The Stars Series
Allegiances: Graceglow's DewClan Allegiances
Preceding: DewClan's Grace
Succeeding: Claws Across The Moon
|Turmoil and strife wreaks havoc in the once-peaceful Clan of DewClan. Gracepaw's life is anything but peaceful now as her feelings battle inside her; hatred for Cloudstar, but love for another...|
Gracepaw was pulling a thorn out of Shadepaw's pad.
"Stay still!" Being a medicine cat was no fun. The thorn came out and Shadepaw yelped. Just then, Leafheart poked her head through the lichen entrance.
"Go collect herbs-we're out of tansy."
Grumbling, Gracepaw padded through the forest and found the clump of tansy. She picked a few stems and carried it halfway back, when, through the smell of tansy, she scented..willows. There was a loner in the territory.
"Who's there?" A thought pierced her mind; odd, as it was not hers.
Fox dung! A Clan cat! So there was a loner. She saw a brilliant white pelt flash through the trees.
"Stop!" she called. The loner skidded to a halt.
"Who are you?"
"Gracepaw. Medicine cat apprentice of DewClan. Off our territory...now."
"Make me," mocked the loner.
Gracepaw's blue eyes burned with a kind of fire, and the loner flinched.
Part of Gracepaw wanted to know this cat.
"Who are you?"
"Blizzard," he called. Gracepaw was going to reply, but the loner had already padded away.
The white tom kept thinking about the she-cat he had met earlier. Gracepaw...she had been beautiful. But her eyes burned with a kind of fire. She had not wanted him there. He was going to think a bit more about Gracepaw, when pained yowls broke through his train of thought.
Clan cats are being attacked. He was going to walk on, but, then he realised something that turned his blood colder than his name. One of them could be Gracepaw! He rushed up to where the fight was taking place. A large white tom, who looked not unlike himself, was viciously attacking two young cats. Not Gracepaw...but their scent is like hers... He barreled out of the bush where he was hidden.
"Leave those cats alone!" He leapt onto the cat's back and clawed at its spine with his hind claws. A kind of power surged through him as he realised what kind of scent those two young cats carried. You can't attack Gracepaw's littermates! You won't! A surge of anger flashed through him and he attacked twice as hard as before.
"How-dare-you-hurt-them!" The cat did not seem hurt, and he fought back, slightly fiercly...slightly. Yet Blizzard still clawed until he yowled. Then Blizzard slackened his grip. He was thrown against a tree, and everything went black.
When he woke up, the two cats were gone, and so was the white cat who had attacked him. Then he realised he was in the hollow oak near Clan territory. The next thing he realised was that he was not alone. Gracepaw was there, adding ointments to his wounds.
"Oh. You're awake." She said this like she was rather bored, yet her voice had a faint tinge of grief-she was trying to hide it though, Blizzard could easily tell.
"Why do you seem so calm about this?" Blizzard mewed in confusion.
"Do you want the bad news or the worse news?"
Gracepaw drew in a breath and told him. "That cat you saw was named Cloudstar. He leads our Clan. T-that's not the first time he attacked. He's killed two cats already- Scarletwind and Goldstar, our old leader."
"And the worse news?"
"They don't think it's him doing the killing. He makes sure to fight them out here, where it smells like willows."
White cat smelling like willows? Oh no! They must think it's-
"They think a white loner is doing the killing. One of our Clanmates fought you...they think it's you, murdering our Clan, one by one."
"No. That's not possible!"
It is, Falling Snow...
What was that? Someone had surely spoken, yet Gracepaw had not moved her mouth, and did not seem to have heard anything. Who did that voice belong to? Blizzard couldn't recognise it. It wasn't anyone he knew. Who was Falling Snow? He felt he should mention it to the young cat beside him, but decided against it. Perhaps it was better he kept it secret.
"Gracepaw, I should be going home now." I don't want to, but Comet and Star will be worried.
"Right then," she mewed, "I should go too. Leafheart thinks I'm collecting herbs." He dipped his head to her, and they headed different ways, but the voice he had heard would not leave his mind...
Gracepaw padded back into her own territory, pausing to lick the scent of willows off of her fur. She nipped off some mallow leaves and dug up some burdock root, then carried them home. She didn't want to go home. Cloudstar had attacked her littermates and they had grievous wounds. It didn't look like they would survive. Gracepaw steeled her nerves and padded into the clearing. What she saw horrified her. Sunstream and Moonstream were crouched beside a limp brown shape in the centre of camp. Bravewing was going to join them, when he saw Gracepaw.
"Treepaw died. Leafheart did all she could, but..." his voice trailed away. Pain seared her heart like the talons of a hawk. Her sister. Her littermate. Her friend. And so much more. Gone. Dead. Leafheart padded up with a leaf wrap.
"I figured you might need this...it's chamomile and poppy seed. It'll soothe your heart. It won't take the pain away but it will help."
Gracepaw ate the herbs and padded to the medicine den. She gazed upon her brother with pity. Underneath the wrap of bandages, Rainpaw had lots of deep slashes, many of which would scar and disfigure him. She wanted to fadeand never return.
She had to stay strong. For Treepaw. She thought of Cloudstar, and all he had done. One word blazed in her mind, a question that she had to know-
Blizzard sat in his den. He'd been questioned by his parents, who had eventually decided a fox had given him the injuries that had been given by Cloudstar. They were still suspicious, however, of the herby smell on his wounds.
I used to think Clan cats were the mouse brains. Now I know the real mouse brains are my parents. Why do they have to be so...mousebrain-y?
As sunlight turned to starlight, he settled down to sleep.
In the morning, Comet brought him a mouse. He wolfed it down then left to see what the Clan cats were doing. He saw one hunting, two scentmarking and one merely watching the sky, whose clouds had covered some trees. A lighter cloud drifted toward a storm cloud and the cat sat bolt upright, then pelted away into the trees.
What an odd cat.
Sunhigh came and went and he realised he was sad not to have seen Gracepaw. How could he miss her? She was a filthy Clan cat, nothing more.
He shook his head and headed home. Star was waiting for him as he returned.
"Where do you go?" She sounded curious. Blizzard had a thousand lies rehearsed for this one moment, but he decided to tell the truth.
"I go to watch the Clan cats."
"My own son! You would dare-"
"I only go to watch. I don't interfere," he lied, interrupting the silver she cat. He felt a twinge of guilt as he thought of Gracepaw.
Star hissed at him.
"Stay away from those..those...filthy Clan cats or Comet shall know!" With that, she turned and stalked off.
What is it about me, Blizzard thought, that annoys she-cats so much?
Two sunrises after Treepaw was killed, Gracepaw was treating her brother, when he suddenly stirred.
"Rainpaw! Sunstream! Bravewing! He's awake!"
Her parents rushed in faster than a BlossomClan cat chasing the first rabbit of Newleaf.
"My kit...you're alive!"
Leafheart quickly explained Rainpaw would have to keep the cobwebs on for another quarter moon. Rainpaw barely listened and purred at his parents.
The happiness in the den receded.
"She died..." mewed Bravewing.
A cold claw sliced down her heart. Gracepaw found this odd.
But I'm not grieving any more. But Rainpaw is... Was she feeling his grief? No. Impossible.
"Smokey's sitting in the warrior's den sobbing. You know how much he mooned over her." Gracepaw wanted to make Rainpaw's grief ease up. She felt it in her own heart, and she didn't want to feel that way.
Some of his old sparkle appeared in his eye. Just then, Cloudstar yowled from Skytree.
"Fire! Get everyone out of the camp!"
Blizzard gave a start and woke. He had dreamt the forest was on fire. There were yowling cats, injured cats...even dead cats.
Comet, Star...and Gracepaw? That was when he realised he could still hear the yowling, still smell smoke. He poked his head out of his den, and saw leaping tongues of gold, orange and red. It really was a fire! He coughed.
The smoke is so thick!
He had never seen oa fire before, but Star had told him all about them. Long, flickering flames seared his home.
I need to get out now! He raced past flaming bracken, hardly stopping to draw breath until he reached the damp pebbles by the river.
Falling Snow! The Cats of the Dew need you! He blinked. Cats of the Dew? Was that DewClan? But what really bothered him was the voice.
I've heard it before.... It was from his meeting with Gracepaw. He decided to listen to the voice, as he himself knew it was the right thing to do. He raced away, Star's cries of outrage echoing in the distance. He passed flaming trees and ferns, a question in his mind.
Is Gracepaw still alive? He ran and ran, finally reaching the heart of DewClan territory. Soot clung to the long, mane-like tuft on his neck. He kept moving. Suddenly, he was just outside the camp and the Clan cats were dying.
Gracepaw scrambled out of the split rock, her back aching with the strain. She had to save her Clanmates! Cats were running around panicked. Poppyheart was digging her claws into the ground, her back arched. Frostblaze led her kits out of camp. Poppyheart let out a screech.
"My kits! My kits are coming!" Gracepaw wanted to yowl at her that there was no time, the kits would need to wait, but as the apprentice medicine cat, she had to try to keep calm. She limped and led her into the split rock and Poppyheart collapsed on the stony floor. Gracepaw tried to remember what she had done for Frostblaze's kitting.
I remember... It had been a moon after she had been made medicine cat apprentice, just before Shadepaw had the thorn in his pad. Oakkit, Aspenkit and Maplekit were her kits, but how did she help them into the world?
I do remember...don't I? Oh, yes...
"Breathe, Poppyheart. In,out, in, out..." The reddish brown queen screeched.
"Gracepaw, it hurts!"
"Of course! You'll be fine, though." Gracepaw thought of her worst pain ever.
Those rocks...kitting can't be worse.
The first kit was born. Gracepaw passed it to Leafheart, who had dashed in to help. Longear, Poppyheart's mate, was pacing in front of the den.
Poppyheart gritted her teeth and hissed as another kit was born. She coughed as the increasingly thick smoke filled the den. Gracepaw's thoughts were mainly of something she did not want to reveal in front of Longear.
Poppyheart may not be here by next sunrise...
She had enough energy for one more kit. The she-cat's life was ebbing away. Gracepaw felt it as if she herself was dying.
"Longear..." whispered Poppyheart. "I need you...to promise me something."
"Anything," he choked out.
"I'm dying. Don't look...like that. I am. It's...about-about our kits. I want you to give...give them a full life."
Her eyes glazed and she stared at nothing. Gracepaw bowed her head.
"StarClan have taken her..." Gracepaw could not bear the grief in the den. She left Leafheart to comfort the grieving Longear. She gave a small gasp as she recognised the familiar long white pelt.
Blizzard has come to help!