Series: Shimmercloud's Story
|Shimmer struggles to find herself and the life that was taken away from her.|
Shimmercloud's story does not have a very happy beginning. It might have seemed like a blessing from StarClan to when the two beautiful kits were born to the ThunderClan deputy, Silverheart. One kit had a stunning smoky grey pelt, the other a brilliant ginger. The whole clan rejoiced, and even the disgruntled mother couldn't stop herself from loving them. But StarClan decreed a deadly fate for both kits, and in a tragic event, the clan suffered a great loss. But it couldn't compare to the loss of the kits, snatched from their perfect lives into dark perils of the forest, their lives turned completely unpredictable. One kit was destined to be looked down upon always, to be beaten and disrespected, the other to prosper and thrive through every downturn, and grow to be one of the greatest legends of the forest. But there was another kit. It was small and pitiful, too small to be seen most of the time. But it was loved greatly, and protected at all times from the treacherous dangers of life. It would survive and prosper as well, but not so willingly. This is the story of the life of the three kits, each sharing blood and desire. Their one goal? To discover.
Let the story begin~
“Hey! Shimmer!” Groaning, Shimmer roused herself from her nest and stumbled out into the bright daylight. Roark stood in front of her, his green eyes blinking.
“You slept in,” he said. “I was wondering if you wanted to go hunting,” Shimmer shook the sleep out of her eyes and yawned.
“Where’s Dust?” she mewed tiredly.
“He went down to the river,” he replied. “I’m not sure why.”
“He’s always going down there,” she murmured. “Oh well, let’s go.” The two cats bounded of into the depths of the forest, carefully searching for prey.
“You know Shimmer,” mewed Roark as they carried their fresh kill back to central camp. “You’re really good at hunting. None of the other cats do it so naturally. And the crouch you use is brilliant.”
“Thanks,” Shimmer replied, embarrassed. “I get told that a lot. It’s strange, because I always admired the way the rest of the group hunted. But now I’m hunting my own way.” She purred, reminiscing about when she had tried to hunt like the others, only resulting in teaching them how to hunt like her.
As the two cats stepped into the clearing, a small dusky brown cat bounded up to them. “Shimmer!” he mewed excitedly. “I caught a fish!” Shimmer bent down to see.
“Wow, that’s really good, Dust!” she exclaimed. “How did you do it?”
“It was really hard,” he replied. “But I’ve wanted to catch a fish ever since I saw them in the river.”
“I hope you didn’t stray into RiverClan territory,” Roark mewed sternly. “Oak would have clawed your pelt off if you brought any trouble here. You’re much too small to fight.”
“And I wouldn’t want to!” Dust replied defiantly. “I didn’t go anywhere near there, nor would I ever! RiverClan stinks!” He wrinkled his nose for effect. Roark purred.
“You watch that brother of yours, Shimmer,” he mewed. “He’s trouble if I ever saw it.” Shimmer didn’t respond. She was halfway through devouring her squirrel.
“Shimmer, let’s go hunting!” Dust ran up to Shimmer as she was entering their little den of twigs.
“Can’t,” she replied absently. “I’m going to sleep.”
“You sleep all the time,” Dust complained. “What are you, a dormouse?”
“Indeed,” Shimmer murmured dryly. “Go ask Shine to go hunting with you.”
“I couldn’t find her,” Dust replied, looking embarrassed.
“Oh, so that’s why you asked me?”
”No!” he squeaked, flustered. Shimmer purred.
“Sorry, Dust,” she mewed. “I’ll go hunting with you later though, I promise. Go find Shine.”
“Okay,” he murmured, disappointed. Shimmer crawled into her den and closed her eyes. Hmmm, she thought. I wonder what clan life is like…
“Clans?” a young Shimmer mewed. “What are clans?”
“Groups of cats, spread out among the forest.” Oak’s low purr rumbled as he explained. “They are weak, always relying on each other for survival. They live by a tight code of honor, with less time to rest, and less food to eat.”
“No naps?” Shimmer gasped. Oak purred.
“No, there is rarely time to nap. They spent all their time and energy hunting and making sure their borders are in tact.” He growled. “They act as if they own the forest, and no cat is allowed on their territory.”
“That’s terrible! It shouldn’t be allowed!”
“No, it should not,” Oak agreed. “But at the same time, they are strong and fierce, and we can only hope that one day, they will fall, and the forest can be shared once more…”
The next morning, Shimmer got up early and snuck out into the forest, making sure no one saw her. She yawned and stretched, and scaled one of her favourite trees. Hiding her pelt underneath the leafy green blanket, she peered down to the ground. She could hear mice squeaking in the weeds and squirrels rustling around in the bushes. In the trees, Shimmer could see and hear so much. She was the best climber out of all the other cats, and the trees made her feel so at home. There was a scratching sound as a squirrel stumbled out of the bushes. With a flash, Shimmer raced down the tree and pounced on it. She lowered her head and killed it with a bite. The squirrel dangling in her jaw, she proudly padded off. Suddenly, she froze. A strange chill ran up her spine as she stood unmoving in the grass. There was someone watching her. Slowly and cautiously, Shimmer turned around. There was no one there. Narrowing her violet coloured eyes, Shimmer crouched down, ready to spring.
“Shimmer?” a voice mewed behind her. Shimmer whirled around. It was Oak. “What are you doing?”
“I was…nothing,” Shimmer murmured. “I…caught a squirrel,”
“So I see,” Oak mewed, amused. “Well, we’re having a meeting, so I’d stay out here a bit longer.”
“Can’t I come?” Shimmer asked. “I want to see what you do at meetings.”
“I don’t think so,” Oak replied. “You’re too young, and I’m sure it would bore you.”
“Please?” Shimmer pleaded. “It won’t bore me, and I’ll behave.” Oak shook his head.
“When you’re ready, you can come.”
“When will I be ready?” Shimmer mewed.
“When I say so,” Oak purred. “Now be good and stay out here.” With that, he padded off. Shimmer pawed at the ground and growled. Crouching down, she stalked quickly and silently back to central camp.
As she slunk through the trees into the clearing, she spotted the rest of the cats, sitting in a circle. Oak was talking quietly, and they were all nodding. It looked so serious, but Shimmer couldn’t hear what they were saying. Sneaking through the rocks, she padded closer and closer, straining to here what they were saying.
“…two kits and a queen.” Oak was saying.
“But how?” asked Leaf, one of the older cats.
“The kits seem old enough,” mewed Roark. “They can probably eat fresh kill. We’ll just put the queen with the others.”
Kits? Queen? Shimmer’s fur bristled with confusion. There are no kits. Cloud hasn’t had hers yet. What are they talking about?
“Is there someone behind that rock?” Leaf mewed suddenly.
Mouse dung! Shimmer crouched down and froze, not daring to breathe.
“I think you’re imagining it,” scoffed Roark.
“That’s another thing,” Oak continued. “Make sure none of the young cats are around when we have meetings. You must keep them all occupied through the duration of the meeting.” The other cats all nodded in agreement. “You are all dismissed.”
As the cats started to depart from the circle, Shimmer turned on her heels and ran as fast as she could. They’re keeping secrets! She lashed her tail but didn’t stop running. They’re keeping secrets! From me! She skidded to a stop, her eyes narrowing. Unsheathing her long, sharp claws, she looked like the most menacing cat in the forest. “No one keep secrets from me.” And with that, she took off.
“Oak!” Shimmer’s furious yowl echoed through the trees as she flashed through the forest, her paws sparking with heat. Oak, who was nosing around in some branches, lifted up his head as Shimmer skidded to a stop in front of him. “What is it, Shimmer?” Shimmer glared at him
“I thought we were a group,” she growled.
“We are,” Oak replied.
“And cats in a group act as one, right? That’s what you said.”
“I did say that.” Oak was looked at her, his dark eyes perfectly calm.
“Then why are you keeping secrets?” Shimmer stomped her paw. Oak looked a bit taken aback, but the stillness in his eyes remained. He didn’t say anything.
“I don’t understand,” Shimmer’s threatening voice turned sad. “All my life you told me that the cats around me were here to help me, and we were all one cat when we were together. How can you keep secrets from the younger cats? What kind of loyalty is that?”
“It’s just what a loyal cat would do,” Oak replied smoothly. “The young cats aren’t ready to know everything about the group, and still there are secrets in the forest that even we don’t know about. Does that mean we aren’t one with the forest?”
“But what about me?” Shimmer pawed the ground with frustration. “I’m not small anymore. Why can’t I know those secrets?” Oak’s eyes flickered with wariness. Shimmer’s lip curled back into a snarl.
“Oak,” she began. “If we’re really a group, then you can’t keep secrets from me.” She took a step back, her piercing violet gaze unmoving. “Or else…I can’t be part of your group.”
“Are you really part of my group?” Oak challenged. “You may hunt for the others and have a den in the clearing, but before you can know these secrets, you must prove your loyalty to me and the rest of the cats.” He turned to walk away. “Secrets can be dangerous, Shimmer, and we all must ensure they are in the right paws.”
Shimmer stared up at the stars. What is loyalty? What is it that makes the others more loyal than me? Am I…different?
“Hey, Shimmer!” Roark bounded up to her. “We’re going to raid RiverClan tonight. Is it okay if you guard central camp?
“Why?” Shimmer bristled with annoyance. “Can’t I come?” Roark looked taken aback.
“You never want to come on raids. If you’d like to tonight, then I’ll tell Oak and we can get someone else to guard the camp.” He shot her a strange look and padded off. Shimmer blinked. What did I just do..?
That night, cats gathered outside central camp, preparing for the raid. Shimmer stuck her head through the bushes to see. Anxiety pulsed through her, and her paws felt numb. I can’t believe I’m doing this…
“Calling all cats!” Oak’s yowl rose above the chatter. “Tonight we are going to raid RiverClan, to take back just a bit of the things that they thought they were entitled to taking from us!” Mews of approval came from the waiting cats. Shimmer stepped quietly out of the bushes, trying to blend in.
“Hey!” Roark nudged her. “It’s your first raid! Excited?”
“Uh…yeah. Sure,” Shimmer mewed nervously. She tried to avoid eye contact with any cat.
“Without further ado, let our night commence!” With that, the patrol headed towards RiverClan.
The night was quiet, but Shimmer knew that the clan cats were crafty and could be around every blind corner. As they approached the camp, she spotted a cat stationed at the entrance. Guards…
“Approach from all sides,” Roark whispered. “If we can take him by surprise, we’ll get in fast before he can warn anyone.” Shimmer crept to one side, anticipating their next move. Oak flicked his tail and at once, the patrol shot forward into the camp. Chaos ensued as the RiverClan cats were roused from their sleep and began to fight back. From the corner of her eye, Shimmer spotted a few cats already bounding away, their jaws filled with prey. Her head spinning, Shimmer ran to the nursery and bolted in. A terrified queen crouched over her kits, her eyes filled with fear. Shimmer pounced on her, jaws aiming for her throat. Without thinking, she bit down hard. The queen went limp and Shimmer tossed her aside. She grabbed the squealing kit and ran.
“Oak!” Shimmer’s screech echoed through the trees. “Oak!” As she approached the dark tabby, she dropped the tiny kit on the forest floor. “Here. Does this prove my loyalty at all?” Oak observed the kit, his eyes narrowed.
“Well done, Shimmer,” he murmured. “Let’s bring it back to central camp.” The two cats bounded towards the sound of triumphant mews in the clearing.
“This was our best raid yet!” mewed Tango. The pale ginger tom tossed a plump mouse into the air. “We won’t need to hunt for a long time!” Oak padded up to the celebrating cats.
“Don’t get too excited,” he warned. “We’ll still be hunting regularly. This prey won’t last forever.” His dark eyes swept over the crowd. “However, our raid was very successful. And look, we’ve invested in a kit, courtesy of Shimmer!” Shimmer bowed her head, embarrassed, as they all cheered. She felt a shadow loom over her and looked up. Oak flicked his tail. “Come,” he mewed. “I have much to show you.”
Shimmer followed Oak into the forest, winding through thick bushes and long grass, until they came across what seemed like a tunnel, or more so a hole in the ground. As they descended into the tunnel, she picked up the musty scent of cats. Alarmed, she froze. “There are cats down here?” Oak didn’t reply and kept walking. Hesitantly, Shimmer padded cautiously after him. As they ventured deeper into the ground, two cats came into view. It was Crow and Sunny, two of their fellow group cats. They gave Oak a nod as they passed them. At last, they arrived at a wide underground cavern. Oak turned to her, his eyes serious. “No more secrets,” he mewed. “Take a good look around.” Shimmer squinted her violet eyes to see through the darkness. As her eyes adjusted, she spotted dark shapes positioned in each corner of the cavern. Shimmer’s jaw dropped, and she suddenly felt extremely lightheaded.
Am I dreaming..? Am I…
And then everything went black.
Shimmer opened her eyes. Oak was standing over her, his eyes filled with concern.
“You’re awake,” he mewed. “I knew taking you down there was a bad idea.” Groaning, she scrambled to her feet.
“Did I faint?” Oak nodded.
“Just rest for a while. You’ll be okay.”
“I want to go down again,” she urged. “Right now.”
“Are you sure?” Oak cocked his head. “Maybe you should wait until you’re a bit older.”
“No!” Shimmer stomped her paw. “Right. Now.” Oak shrugged.
“If you really want to.” And once again, they traveled down into the tunnels.
Halfway down the musty pits of darkness, Shimmer heard a yowl. “Oak!” The two cats turned around to see Gray, another group cat racing towards them. He skidded to a stop and paused to catch his breath. “There’s been a skirmish at WindClan!” he blurted. “Some cats accidentally treaded over the border while hunting! They need help!” Oak glanced at Shimmer. “You’ll be alright?” Shimmer nodded vigorously. Dipping his head, Oak raced off after Gray as they disappeared out of the tunnels. Shimmer turned around. Here goes nothing. She stepped into the vast cave and traveled towards the dark walls. Drawing her breath sharply, Shimmer instinctively unsheathed her claws as she saw the beaten up cat in the corner of the cave. The cat watched her with tired eyes and didn’t do anything. Shimmer cautiously padded along the wall, observing the cats she approached. A tabby with matted fur. A group of burr-covered young cats sleeping close together. A frightened queen suckling a litter of kits. Are these…prisoners? Shimmer’s fur stood on an end as she felt a pair of eyes fixed onto her. She turned her head to the back of the dark chamber. A small she-cat was huddled up there, away from all the other cats. Shimmer padded over to her. “H-hello,” she mewed quietly. The she-cat lifted her head to reveal bright, almost glowing amber eyes. Shimmer leaned in. “Are all of you prisoners?” The she-cat nodded. Shimmer felt a sad pang. My group…the cats that raised me…keep prisoners? For what reason? “Why are you here?” The she-cat tilted her head at Shimmer.
“Why?” she answered. Her voice was small, like a kit’s. “Where else can I be?” Shimmer gaped.
“You mean you’ve never been outside this place?” she asked.
“Out…side?” The she-cat shook her head, though she looked confused. “I’ve been here for as long as I can remember.” Thoughts swirled through Shimmer’s head. How long was that?
“What’s your name?” Shimmer mewed shakily.
“Don’t have one,” the she-cat replied. “What about you?”
“I’m Shimmer.” The she-cat seemed a bit happier knowing Shimmer’s name. “How about I give you a name?”
“Okay…” she mewed. “But will it be like yours?”
“Definitely,” Shimmer replied. “It’ll be the best name any cat has ever been called.” Hmm…what will her name be? She glanced back at those amber eyes that seemed to bore into everything she looked at. “Amber,” she said finally. The she-cat looked satisfied.
“Amber,” she mewed. “I like the sound of that.” Shimmer purred.
“Okay, Amber,” she began. “Have you ever been, you know, up there?” Shimmer pointed her tail to the roof of the cave. Amber shook her head.
“I didn’t even know there was anything up there,” she replied.
“And what about all the other cats?” Shimmer swept her gaze at the dark figures positioned in the corners.
“I’m not sure,” mewed Amber. “But if you really want to know, you should ask that one.” She tossed her head in the direction of the queen. “She seems to know an awful lot.” Shimmer glanced at the queen. Her head was low, and all the kits were asleep. Shimmer recognized the tiny kit she had stolen from RiverClan. “Those aren’t her kits, are they?”
“Not all of them,” Amber whispered. “Sometimes they bring kits down here for her to suckle, but she does have her own litters of kits. Once the kits grow older, they take the strong ones away, and the weak ones become…us.” Amber blinked her big eyes at Shimmer. “She suckled me too.” Having heard enough, Shimmer padded over to the resting queen. “Hello,” she mewed. The queen looked up warily at her. Shimmer looked sadly down at the kits. “Um…these aren’t all your kits, right?” She shook her head.
“My mate is out hunting,” she murmured. He sneaks out every day through a secret tunnel that is not known to the other cats.”
“Then why don’t you all just leave?” Shimmer asked, baffled.
“We’re not strong enough,” the queen replied. It’s been moons and moons since any of us have seen light, or hardly even moved. We would never survive, and they would catch us and bring us back, or worse, kill us.” Shimmer stared at her. My friends? Kill? Her heart sank when she remembered the RiverClan queen. She imagined her little brother viciously throwing himself at the poor, defenseless prisoners.
“But you’re not one of us,” the queen continued, interrupting Shimmer’s imagery. “I saw you come down here by yourself.” Shimmer just gaped at her, still lost in her tornado of thoughts. Maybe there were more secrets than I had originally assumed. Oak never told me that we were nothing but a bunch of cruel, violent, tyrants. She thought back to all the raids their group had gone on. I thought we were just getting revenge on the clans for taking over the forest! But it’s not much better than keeping all these cats here…
“Shimmer! You still in here?” Shimmer whirled around to see Oak padding into the cavern. “Let’s go, it’s getting late.” Shimmer just stared at him, her paws planted firmly into the ground. Oak cocked his head curiously. “Come on, I thought you liked sleeping more than anything in the world.” Shimmer weakly followed him back up the tunnels. Sunlight streamed in through the entrance and Shimmer shut her eyes.
“So how did you like that?” Oak asked her with a glint of amusement in his eyes. “Strike up any conversations with the dead cats?” Shimmer eyed him warily.
“But they’re not dead…” she mewed, her voice low. Oak’s whiskers twitched.
“Of course not,” he replied. “But they may as well be.” And with that, he padded off.
Day after day, Shimmer visited the prisoners. She brought fresh-kill for Angel, the queen, and played with the kits, teaching them fighting moves, so one day they may leave to join the group. She told stories to Amber about the group and the clans and everything that went on outside the dark cavern. She seemed so interested in the outside world, and Shimmer was sad that she would never see it.
“It all seems so beautiful,” she sighed. “The sun and the grass and trees, and the moon and the stars.” She stared up at the dark ceiling of the cave. “Do you think I’ll ever get out of here?” Shimmer pressed her muzzle into her flank.
“I’m not sure,” she murmured. “But I’ll help you, no matter what.” Amber purred.
“Thanks, Shimmer,” she mewed. “You know, everything down here seems a lot better now that you’re here. I guess that all I needed was a friend.”
“And now you’ve got one,” Shimmer replied contently. “And someday, you’ll get out of this place, and then things will really be amazing, for you and all of the cats down here.” Shimmer stood up, shaking the dirt out of her fur. “I’ll make sure of it.”
One rainy day, Shimmer stumbled through the forest, desperately searching for prey. All the prey was hiding from the rain, and Shimmer hadn’t caught one thing since sunrise. The rain had been falling harder than usually, and it hadn’t stopped for days. The forest was sopping wet, and Shimmer was sick of it. “Isn’t there anywhere drier to hunt?” she muttered to herself. Lashing her tail, she dashed blindly through the trees, the heavy rain blurring her sight. Wet leaves flew up from the ground as her paws thrashed through the soggy soil. Suddenly, she stopped. Wait…where am I? Shimmer blinked the raindrops out of her eyes and looked around. A flash of panic raced through her head as she realized she was on clan territory. I’ve got to get out of here…but which way? Shimmer took a step forward, and then back. The rain and the unfamiliar grounds made it almost impossible to know which way to get back. Suddenly, Shimmer heard a yowl. She whirled around to see a patrol of cats racing towards her. “Trespasser!” Part of her wanted to take off, but there was a voice inside her telling her to keep her ground. Don’t make it seem like you’re afraid of them. Paws planted into the ground, Shimmer kept her gaze level as the clan cats surrounded her. There were five of them, broad-shouldered with snarls on their faces. They were sopping wet, just like her, and didn’t seem to be in a very welcoming mood.
“Identify yourself,” growled a burly brown tom. “Are you a rogue?” Shimmer cocked her head.
“Don’t play stupid,” he snapped. “Who are you and what are you doing on ThunderClan territory?” Shimmer stood up straighter. Don’t let them faze you.
“Who I am is none of you business,” she mewed briskly. “And I accidentally stumbled onto your territory while I was hunting, since the rain was getting in my face.”
“Prey stealing!” yowled a small ginger tabby. The brown tom cuffed him in the head. “Keep your mouth shut, Antpaw!” The small cat shrunk back a bit, but the glare on his face remained.
“Are you one of those rogues who invaded our camp last moon?” asked a sleek black she-cat. “Because of them, we lost half our fresh kill pile, and one of the kits starved to death!” Her eyes flashed with anger. “We’ve been looking for them ever since.” Shimmer shook her head.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she mewed. “I’ve never been here before.” She didn’t mention that it was probably Oak and the other cats who had raided the clan. “Can you please show me the way out?” Maybe if I appear innocent, they won’t turn me into crowfood. She widened her eyes and shrunk down a bit. “Please, I have to get back to my…um, littermates.” That’s not entirely a lie…I guess I’m hunting for Dust as well as myself. Suddenly, there was a yowl from the back of the patrol. A pale brown she-cat pushed her way to the front. “You’re no rogue!” she gasped. “I would recognize those eyes anywhere! You’re Silverheart’s lost kit!”
Gasps came from every cat in the patrol, but Shimmer just looked at them dismissively. Crazy old she-cat, she thought. She doesn’t know what she’s talking about. But the she-cat just looked at her with awe. “You don’t remember, do you?” Shimmer narrowed her eyes. “You and your littermates were stolen by rogues!” Her eyes flashed vividly, as if she was replaying the moment in her head. “The whole clan was distraught, but no cat more than your mother.” The she-cat stared sadly at Shimmer. “She wouldn’t come out of her den for days, and she wouldn’t eat. She never wanted to have kits in the first place, but when she saw how beautiful you and your littermates were, she couldn’t help but love you.”
“I remember that!” a tortoiseshell she-cat put in. “A band of rogues attacked our camp and they stole all our fresh kill! And it was leafbare!” She lashed her tail angrily. “All our hard work! But the clan was far more upset about the kits.” Murmurs of the memory coming back to the other cats floated around. Shimmer took a step back. No. They’re all wrong. I’m not a clan cat. The pale brown she-cat stepped forward. “Come back to the clan,” she mewed. “Your mother would be so happy, and we would welcome you.” Shimmer shook her head.
“You’re wrong,” she mewed. “I am not a clan cat.”
“And what about your family?” the she-cat challenged. “Haven’t you ever wondered why you have no parents?” Shimmer blinked. There were no families in the rogue group. No kits, either, except… Shimmer drew back her breath. The kits in the cavern. The clanborn kits. Shimmer’s head began to spin. No…it can’t be. I can’t be clanborn. Me…and Dust too? This can’t be happening… Oak had taught them to hate the clan cats for everything they had done, for taking over the forest and all the prey, but now she was one of them?
“Is it finally making sense now?” asked the she-cat. “Come back to ThunderClan. You are part of us.”
Thoughts spiraled through Shimmer’s head. I’m clanborn…do I belong in the clans? A moon ago, she would have been disgusted at the thought of leaving her group and joining the clans. But now that she knew how cruel the other cats in the group really were, and how cruel she was, Shimmer didn’t know the first thing about what to do. Exhausted from the long rainy trip back to central camp, Shimmer shook out her wet fur and flopped into her nest. I’ll think about this in the morning.
Shimmer opened her eyes to find herself in a lush green forest, quite different from the sopping wet mess she had fallen asleep in. Where am I? She took a step forward. The sun was warm and the undergrowth was loaded with mouthwatering prey-scents. Shimmer ignored the urge to hunt and padded around a bit, enjoying the lovely weather and the soft green grass. She definitely wasn’t in the storm of a forest she was padding through last night. “This doesn’t make any sense,” she mewed aloud.
“This is a dream,” a voice chimed in. “I don’t think it has to make much more sense.” Shimmer whirled around to see a tawny she-cat coming towards her. “Who are you?”
“I’m Maplefur,” she mewed smoothly. “And you are Shimmer.”
“How did you know that?” Shimmer took a step back. Maplefur purred.
“Every cat in StarClan knows you, my dear,” she replied. “You have a destiny to fulfill.” Shimmer widened her eyes. “Destiny?” Maplefur blinked.
“Just look at those eyes. ‘Look for the cat with the eyes the colour of violets,’ they said. At first I thought it was impossible, like what cat has eyes like that? But it’s obviously you.” She took a deep breath. “Alright, listen closely. Every cat in StarClan has been watching you and your littermates since you disappeared from ThunderClan. Everyone thought you were dead, and did StarClan tell them otherwise? No, they kept their mouths shut and let them discover for themselves.” Maplefur snorted. “Of course, probably every cat as far as the mountains knows you’re by now, but that’s not the point.” Her voice softened as she glanced up at the blue sky. “You have to go back, Shimmer. You, and your littermates too. The clan needs you, more than the rogues do.”
“But I’ve lived with them all my life,” Shimmer blurted. “How can I just leave them?”
“It’ll be hard,” Maplefur agreed. “But in the end, everything will turn out right, I promise.” She turned around and began to walk away, but Shimmer could still hear her voice in her ears. “Be careful, Shimmer. Living the wrong cat’s life could lead to destruction.” And then, Shimmer woke up.
Bolting upright in her nest, Shimmer shook the sleep out of her eyes and stepped outside. What a vivid dream! The rain was still falling harder than ever, and Shimmer longed to be in the warm StarClan forest again. She bounded into the forest, hoping to catch some prey. But before she knew it, her paws were taking her away from her regular hunting spots, and she knew exactly where they were going. Moments later, she was standing at the ThunderClan border, staring into their territory. Wait, what am I doing here again? Confused, Shimmer turned to leave. Suddenly, she heard a twig snap behind her. Whirling around, Shimmer saw the pale brown she-cat padding towards her. “I thought you’d be here,” she mewed. “I’m Crystalfur, by the way.”
“I’m Shimmer,” Shimmer replied. “It’s um, nice to meet you.” Crystalfur dipped her head.
“Have you thought about joining ThunderClan?” Shimmer stared at her paws.
“A cat visited me in a dream last night,” she mewed. “She told me to join ThunderClan, but I’m still not sure about leaving all my friends behind. I grew up with them, and they’re like family now.” Crystalfur nodded.
“It must have been a StarClan cat,” she replied thoughtfully. “Look, I didn’t tell anyone about seeing you yesterday, but I know some of those apprentices just can’t keep their mouths shut. Your mother probably knows by now, and if you don’t come back, she’ll probably go and find you.”
“They’ll kill her,” Shimmer gasped. “Or imprison her, or worse! You can’t let her come find me!” Crystalfur shook her head sadly.
“There’s nothing stronger than a she-cat’s love for her kits. There’s no cat that would be able to stop her if she came looking for you. You know she wants to see you more than anything in the world right now.” Shimmer took a deep breath.
“Okay,” she mewed. “I’ll come, and I’ll bring my brother too.” Crystalfur purred.
“Thank you.” She turned to leave. “You’ve made the right choice Shimmer, and you won’t regret it.” And with that, she was gone.
Shimmer padded back into the forest. I can’t believe I’m doing this. She broke into a run, opening her jaws to taste the scents. Where could he be? Suddenly, she saw a dusky brown pelt darting through the trees. Speeding up, Shimmer pursued her brother. “Dust!” she called. “Dust, wait!” The small brown cat skidded to a stop and turned around curiously. Shimmer caught up to him, breathing heavily.
“Dust,” she gasped. “Dust, I need to talk to you about something…” Dust's big brown eyes widened as Shimmer began to tell him about ThunderClan and Silverheart and the rogues. She told him about Maplefur coming to her in a dream and talking to Crystalfur and the chance the rogues could kill their mother. Then, finally, she told him about the tunnels and the cave and the prisoners, the kits, Angel, Amber. Dust blinked as Shimmer stopped to catch her breath.
“Wait,” he mewed. “You want us to join…the clans?”
“No.” Dust took a step back. “I can’t join the clans! They’re evil!”
“They’re evil?” Shimmer stared at him “Everything they do, they do it for the good of the clan, at they don’t imprison kits because they’re weak! The cats down there have never even seen sunlight!” Dust shook his head.
“I didn’t know that till today,” he mewed shakily. “I’ll bet a lot of cats don’t know that. I can go on living here without knowing about those cats. What I do doesn’t affect them, and what they do doesn’t affect me.” Shimmer’s bright eyes flashed and then dulled.
“So…you won’t come with me?” Dust shook his head.
“I’m sorry, Shimmer,” he replied. “I just can’t leave.” Shimmer dipped her head.
“I respect your decision,” she murmured. “You’re all grown up now, and you won’t follow me everywhere anymore.” Dust nodded.
“It’s okay though,” he mewed. “We’re still together at heart.” Nuzzling her, he turned around to leave. “I’ll miss you though.”
“I’ll miss you too,” Shimmer replied before bounding off again into the trees.
I don’t care if Dust isn’t coming. I’m still going to ThunderClan. But I can’t go alone…
“What is it, Shimmer?” In a heartbeat, Shimmer spilled out everything that had happened in the past day. Amber’s brilliant eyes widened.
“Wait…you’re leaving me?” Shimmer shook her head.
“That’s why I’m here,” she whispered. “I want you to come with me!” Unlike Dust, Amber stood up, her eyes filled with determination. “Then I will,” she mewed. “I’ll go wherever you go.” Shimmer pressed against her.
Amber padded over to Angel, who lay quietly on the ground. She whispered something into her ear and nuzzled her. Angel lifted her head and rasped her tongue over Amber’s ear. “You’ll always be my kit,” she murmured. Amber purred affectionately.
“It’s okay,” she mewed. “I’ll be back, and we’ll get you all out of here, I promise.” She bounced back to Shimmer. “Okay, how do we get out?” Shimmer blinked. Why didn’t I think of this? Suddenly, it hit her.
“Angel,” she mewed. “Can you tell us where that secret tunnel is?” Angel looked surprised, but she heaved herself up and padded along the cave wall. Brushing a small area with her tail, she uncovered a hole in the wall. The two cats bounded over and peered into the tunnel. “Are you sure it’s safe?” Amber mewed worriedly. Angel nodded. “Scratch has traveled in and out of it plenty of times.” Shimmer ducked into the tunnel.
“Thanks for everything, Angel.” She bowed her head. “We’ll come back to get you guys out of here as soon as we can.” Amber nuzzled Angel one more time and followed Shimmer into the tunnel.
“So what’s the plan once we get out of here?” Amber mewed.
“Well,” Shimmer began. “First we clean up so we look presentable. Then we head right to their camp so we don’t seem like cowards. According to Crystalfur, they’ll welcome us so there should be too much of a problem. But if they don’t want us, we run for it and come right back here.”
“Sounds good,” coughed Amber. The dirt was falling from the roof of the tunnel. Shimmer could barely see her paws in front of her, but she knew they were going the right way. “I think I see a light ahead,” she rasped, speeding up her gait. The tunnel became brighter and brighter as they neared the exit. Amber screwed her eyes shut. “It’s so bright!” she gasped. Shimmer purred.
“You’re just lucky it isn’t sunny today, or you’d probably be blind!” At last they reached the end of the tunnel and burst out into a mossy clearing. Shimmer blinked. She had been here a few times before while hunting. How could she have never noticed the tunnel? Amber gaped as she looked around. “Wow!” she exclaimed. “It’s everything like I imagined! The trees and the grass…” She trailed off, too in awe to say anything. Shimmer nudged her. “Hurry!” she urged. “Let’s go down to the river so we can wash all this dirt off, and then we’ll leave. You can’t let anyone see you!” The two she-cats streaked through the trees and down to the river. The water level was high because of the rain. The two carefully washed all the grit off their pelts and sat on the bank to groom themselves. Shimmer looked at Amber in surprise. The she-cat’s pelt was an iridescent dark ginger, free from tangles and burrs despite being stuck in a cave all her life. She stood up, blinking. “Are you ready?” Shimmer nodded and the two friends set off towards the ThunderClan border. As the heavy scent of ThunderClan grew stronger, Shimmer’s heart tightened. Am I making the right decision? They stopped at the border, glancing at each other. Suddenly, Shimmer heard pawsteps pounding behind her. “Wait!” a voice yowled. Shimmer whirled around to see Dust running towards them. He skidded to a stop, breathing heavily.
“I thought about what you said,” he mewed breathily. “I’m not grown up. I won’t be able to survive without you. I still have to follow you everywhere.” Shimmer purred.
“It’s alright,” she replied. “I probably wouldn’t have been able to survive without you either. But now it’s time for something new and there’s no way we won’t survive if we’re together.” She stared into the ThunderClan territory. “Let’s go.” The three cats ventured into the territory.
“Stop!” a patrol caught them midway. “What are you doing on our territory?” A dark grey she-cat led the patrol, and she didn’t look welcoming. Shimmer dipped her head respectfully.
“We’d like to speak to your clan leader,” she mewed politely. “Could you take us to your camp?” Glaring at them suspiciously, the she-cat jabbed her tail in the direction of the camp, beckoning them to follow her. As they approached, Shimmer pressed close to her brother. Would he be okay in ThunderClan? When they stepped into the clan, she felt multiple heads turn to look. Whispers floated around as the three huddled together, waiting for something to happen. A golden brown she-cat stepped up to them, her eyes shining. “We’ve been expecting you,” she mewed. “The whole clan rejoiced when we found out you were alive.” She stepped aside so they could see the whole camp. “Welcome to ThunderClan.”
The ThunderClan camp was enclosed by stone walls, most likely built by twolegs. Shimmer stared in awe at all the different cats and dens. There was a group of small cats sharing prey and grooming each other, the scent of milk coming from one den, a patrol returning from their hunting trip, it all seemed so peaceful. A brown she-cat padded up to them. “You came,” she purred, flicking her tail at Shimmer. “I knew you would.”
“Hello, Crystalfur,” Shimmer mewed, dipping her head. “These are my…littermates, Dust and Amber.” Shimmer’s eared twitched. Amber wasn’t her littermate, but she wasn’t sure if ThunderClan would accept her otherwise. Though the lie wouldn’t last long, since her mother would surely know if she was her kit. “I’ll show you around,” mewed Crystalfur. She led the three towards the dens. “This is the nursery.” Crystalfur flicked her tail towards the den with the milk scent. Shimmer peered inside. Lying in their nests were a small tortoiseshell and white queen and a tawny coloured she-cat, with kits! Shimmer drew her breath as she spotted the tiny bundles of fur curled up beside the queen.
“The tortoiseshell she-cat is Breezecloud,” Crystalfur announced proudly. “She’s expecting her first litter. The other queen is Redshard, and her kits are Sparkkit, Owlkit, and Reedkit.” Shimmer drew in her breath as she watched the tiny kits sleep. They looked so small, but at the same time destined to do great things. With a pang of sadness, she remembered the kits in the cave. Would they ever get to fulfill their destinies? Glancing back at the kits one last time, she followed Crystalfur to the next den. “This is the apprentice den.” Crystalfur glanced down at Dust. “You look the size as the apprentices, so I guess you’ll be staying here.” Dust bounced excitedly to the entrance. “Wow!” he exclaimed. “Look at all the nests!” Shimmer purred, happy about Dust’s enthusiasm. Hopefully he’ll like it here…I’d hate to lose him. “And here’s the medicine den.” Crystalfur stuck her head through the entrance. “Briarleaf, are you here?” A brown spotted tabby stepped out. “Hello, Crystalfur,” she mewed cheerfully. “Have you got visitors with you?” Crystalfur stepped aside.
“These are Silverheart’s lost kits,” she explained. “They’re going to join the clan.” Briarleaf dipped her head. “ThunderClan welcomes you.” She turned around. “Hey, Mistflower,” she mewed softly. “We have new warriors.” A small grey she-cat stepped out of the den. She looked a bit older than Shimmer. “Hello,” she mewed curiously. “Where did you all come from?” Shimmer glanced at Amber, who shrugged at her. As Shimmer opened her mouth to attempt to explain, Briarleaf interrupted. “Don’t bother them with nosy questions, Mistflower,” she scolded. “It doesn’t matter where a cat comes from; it’s what they do that decides their loyalty.” Her words rang in Shimmer’s ears. She’s so wise… Her ears twitched as another patrol entered the camp. Crystalfur nudged her. “It’s Silverheart,” she whispered. Shimmer’s eyes widened. Leading the patrol was a silvery grey tabby with bright blue eyes. Shimmer’s heart wrenched. She couldn’t remember clearly, but she had definitely met this cat before. Dust huddled closer to Shimmer as the she-cat turned their way. What do I say? Why didn’t I plan this out before we came? As she approached the three, Shimmer suddenly lost the ability to talk. Silverheart stood there, watching them with calm amusement. If it wasn’t for the glow of her eyes, Shimmer wouldn’t have been able to see her happiness.
“I heard a rumor that my kits were alive,” she mewed. Her voice was soft and breathy, as if she could hardly believe they were there. “But those apprentices are always saying crazy things. It’s not a strange sight to see me doubting them.” Shimmer opened her jaws again, but her words got stuck in her throat. “We’re back,” she ended up blurting.
“You’re back,” Silverheart mewed. Her eyes danced. “All this time I thought you were dead. This may as well be one of the best days of my life.” Shimmer’s heart melted seeing the she-cat so happy. “Come.” Silverheart beckoned the three with her tail. “All of you. We have a lot to talk about.” Shimmer exchanged a look with Amber, and the three friends padded after her into the forest.
“So…” Silverheart swept her blue gaze over them. “What have you three been up to all this time?” Shimmer blinked. Three? Does she think Amber is her kit too? Maybe she has as bad a memory as me…but any queen could remember how many kits she has… Dust sat up straighter as he began to speak. “We were…what’s the word? Rogues?” He glanced at Shimmer, who nodded. “Rogues. We were rogues.” Silverheart purred with amusement. “So you were.” She sighed and stared up at the sky. “You three are as beautiful as you were when you were kits. I always imagined you growing up and being the best warriors in the clan, but that was before you got stolen…” She looked back down at Shimmer. “You don’t know the whole story yet, do you?”
“Um…” Shimmer blinked again. “There’s more?” Silverheart sighed as she began to retell the story.
“There were only two of you in the beginning. You were beautiful, and I couldn’t do anything but love you. The whole clan was happy, but mostly me. But then, the rogues came. You were barely a day old. They took you-” She flicked her tail at Amber. “-away. I couldn’t have been more distressed. It felt like the world was ending, my world at least, and I didn’t eat for what seemed like moons. And then, a few moons later, StarClan sent me another kit. It seemed like a miracle to my clanmates, but to me, it seemed like a curse. As if StarClan was giving me something to love, only to take it away again. And they did. The rogues came back, just a few days before you-” She flicked her tail at Shimmer this time. “-were to be apprenticed. They took both you and your brother, and that was the end of it.” Silverheart’s eyes were filled with grief, but they brightened as she shook the memories away. Shimmer could barely utter a word. So that’s what happened… Suddenly, her head snapped up.
“Wait!” she exclaimed. “Amber’s my sister?!”
“No way!” Amber’s eyes glowed. “That’s so awesome!” Shimmer just stared at her. There was always a connection between us two…but I never thought we were this close… Silverheart purred.
It was a lovely day in ThunderClan and Shimmercloud was relaxing in the warriors den. The sun shone through the roof of the den and Shimmercloud shut her eyes and enjoyed the sound of the chirping birds and cats sharing tongues outside. Suddenly, Duststripe burst into the den. “Shimmercloud!” he gasped. “There are rogues on our territory!” Shimmercloud burst out of her nest and barreled out the door after Duststripe. The two littermates arrived at the lake where they were met with yowling cats clawing each other. Shimmercloud launched herself into the battle, pulling a big brown tom off of Ivyleaf. The tom growled, turning on her. Hissing, Shimmercloud ducked as he swung his big paw at her head. She jumped on him, clawing his ears. Twisting around, she raked her claws over his flank. He jumped back and ran off. Suddenly, Shimmercloud heard a yowl. “Retreat!” Shimmercloud’s stomach lurched. I know that voice…it’s Crow! If he’s here, then these must be Oak’s rogues! She watched as the group of rogues sped off. Then there was another yowl. This time it was Shalestorm.
“There are rogues in the camp! We have to go back!” Duststripe gasped.
“Why are they there?” Duststripe gasped.
“They say they just want to talk,” Shalestorm reported. “But I have a bad feeling about this. Hurry, let’s go!” The patrol raced back to camp.
As soon as they entered the hollow, they were met with a giant battle. “Not again,” Shimmercloud groaned. She leaped into the mass of fighting cats. The other rogues must have been a distraction… Shimmercloud yanked a big white she-cat off of Skypaw. “Pick on someone your own size!” she hissed, landing a blow on her shoulder. The she-cat turned and ran, and Shimmercloud continued to fight. A small brown tom jumped on her back, digging his claws into her flank. She whipped him off and pinned him down. “Why are you attacking our camp?” she demanded. His eyes widened with fear.
“Because…because we were told to!” he stuttered. Shimmercloud let him go and he raced off. Shimmercloud look around, confused. The rogues weren’t taking any prey, unlike the raid on RiverClan. What could they possible want? Shimmercloud shoved a rogue out of the way and dashed up to the Highledge. Crescentstar was fighting a few rogues alongside Crystalfur. Enough of this!
“What are we going to do?” she asked Crescentstar as they sent the rogues running off.
“I don’t think there’s much we can do,” Crescentstar mewed grimly. “We have to defend the camp at all costs. Can you check on the nursery?” Shimmercloud nodded and ran back down to the nursery.
Breezecloud lay in her nest, her belly heavy with kits. Sparkkit, Owlkit, and Reedkit were huddled at her side, their eyes wide with curiosity. “Where’s Redshard?” Shimmercloud asked.
“She went to fight,” Breezecloud replied worriedly. “The rogues took us by surprise, and I don’t know how long they’ll stay here. We can’t afford to lose any cats today!” Shimmercloud stared at her in dismay.
“Rogues are persistent,” she murmured. “They truly think we’ve wronged them by claiming territory.” As she spoke, a rogue burst into the nursery. Shimmercloud whirled around, snarling. “Stay away!” she hissed. The rogue made a dash for the kits, but Shimmercloud knocked him out of the way. “You won’t get any kits today!” She raked her claws down his flank. The rogue didn’t retaliate. Instead, he sat at the wall of the nursery, breathing heavily. Shimmercloud took a step back, watching him intently. Suddenly, he darted out like a fish and snatched Sparkkit. Shimmercloud lunged for him, but he was already outside. Without thinking, she barreled after him, her head hot with rage. The rogue dashed out of camp and into the forest. Shimmercloud followed him, barely paying attention to the rock and roots on the ground. Her mind navigated her through the forest automatically, and she kept her eyes on him. The rogue began to slow, his wounds getting the better of him. Shimmercloud launched herself at him, her claws unsheathed. I won’t let you make the same mistake I did! She pinned him down and grabbed Sparkkit in her jaws. The tiny kit’s eyes were glazed with fear and she started to cry out. Shimmercloud carefully set her aside in the grass and glared down at the rogue. “You will not take kits from ThunderClan, or any of the other clans,” she hissed. “It’s terrible to hurt us like that. We’ve left you enough land to hunt as you wish. You don’t have to take our kits.” She dug her claws into his shoulders, preparing to make the killing bite. An image of the RiverClan queen flashed through her head. She squeezed her eyes shut and back off. The rogue looked up, surprised. Without a second thought, he ran off. Shimmercloud picked up Sparkkit and headed back to camp, her head heavy with thoughts.
As she entered the camp, she was met with a giant crowd of cats gathered at the centre. Crescentstar was at the front with Silverheart, and they were talking to a small group of rogues. The fighting had stopped and many of the rogues had left. Shimmercloud ran back to the nursery with Sparkkit in tow. Redshard was waiting there, her eyes filled with worry. “Sparkkit!” she cried. “You’re okay!” Shimmercloud dropped Sparkkit in front of her, and the queen began to lick her kit. Sparkkit squirmed out of the way, squealing. Shimmercloud purred with amusement before stepping back out into the clearing. She padded through the crowd, hoping to get a better look at what was happening. Her jaw dropped when she realized who was there. Oak?!
Oak’s brown gaze met hers, and he whispered something to the rogue standing behind him. The rogue beckoned the rest of the rogues and they headed out of the camp.
“Shimmer,” mewed Oak. “I was hoping I’d see you here.”
“It’s Shimmercloud now.” Shimmercloud hissed. Oak’s whiskers twitched with amusement.
“Shimmercloud then,” he murmured. “You can sheathe your claws. I’m not going to attack you. Trust me.”
“You attack my clan and steal kits and you expect me to trust you?”
“Yes,” he replied calmly. “Because I am merely here to talk.” He met her gaze evenly. “It was you who set the prisoners free, wasn’t it?”
“It was,” she snapped, keeping her claws unsheathed. Oak let out a quiet purr.
“At least you’re not ashamed to admit it.”
“No,” Shimmercloud mewed. “It’s you who should be ashamed.” By now a few cats had drawn close, their claws unsheathed. Silverheart waved them away. “Leave,” she murmured. “This is Shimmercloud’s fight.” The crowd thinned as they headed into the dens, a few throwing nervous glances over their shoulders. Shimmercloud stared at Oak.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to find you,” he replied. “And ask you why you left.”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Shimmercloud hissed. “You and your rogues are cruel and merciless, and I’d rather be with the clan cats any day!”
“You’re a clan cat at heart,” Oak murmured. “And you’re strong too.”
“No.” Shimmercloud’s mew cracked. “I’m not strong, or I wouldn’t have let you tell me what to do! I wouldn’t have tried to prove myself to you!” She breathed heavily, her gaze filled with distress.
“Shimmercloud,” Oak mewed. “You are the strongest cat I know. When we came to raid ThunderClan all those moons ago, we were overjoyed to learn that there were two healthy, beautiful kits for us to take. Your mother fought us valiantly, and we only got away with one of them. Later, we returned to capture you, and we found out that another kit had been born. He was small and pitiful, but we took him anyway, along with you.” Duststripe, Shimmercloud thought.
“We brought you to central camp to decide your fate. All of my cats agreed to put you in the cave and kill your brother, for he was too small. But you defended him with all your might, even at such a small size, and wouldn’t let any cat near him.” Shimmercloud drew back her breath. I really did that for him?
“It’s that kind of courage and loyalty that I look for in my cats,” Oak continued. “And so I decided to let you both live and raise you myself. I saw true strength in you, Shimmercloud. Strength that most of my mangy rogues lack. They follow without question, but you are not afraid to fight for what you think is right.” Shimmercloud stared at him.
“Do you really mean that?” she whispered.
“Yes,” he replied. “Shimmercloud, you can’t let any cat control your life. It’s yours to live, and you won’t get anywhere sticking to the crowd. Be your own cat. And don’t be afraid to question anyone.” Shimmercloud dipped her head.
“Thank you, Oak,” she mewed. “That…means a lot to me.” Oak purred and started to leave.
“Farewell, Shimmercloud. Remember that the past is over. The true story starts here.”