Faded Storm- Chapter 7
The StormClan cats made their way through the still, shadowy pines, surrounded by darkness and the croaking of hidden frogs. Any stars were outshone by the light of the full moon, and soon the Gathering place came into view. A sheer rock rose from the ground at the far end of the clearing; branches and roots split from the cracks for optimal perches for the leaders. The Clan trotted onto the grass, and Pebbleskip took his place at the base of the Great Cliff; it had taken days to convince himself to show up.
There was a rustling along the south side of the clearing, then NightClan was suddenly everywhere. As they visited in the moonlit forest, a soft hum rose from the crowd.
A sandy-brown tom padded up to Pebbleskip. "Greetings, fellow warrior."
"And greetings to you, Gravelwing." The NightClan deputy took his seat, and Pebbleskip couldn't help but notice his broad shoulders and lean muscles; he suddenly felt very self-conscious of his own thinning legs and scarred, dusty pelt.
"Let the Gathering begin!" Jawstar's deep meow hushed the cats, and all eyes and ears turned up. "Before we share news as usual, I'd like to take this moment to acknowledge this as the first Gathering after the battle with the Clash. Let us not forget those who were lost, and the sacrifices they made for us." Heads were bowed, and quiet sniffs could be heard here and there.
Don't think about her, don't think about her- Pebbleskip squeezed his eyes shut and fought the urge to slump to the ground.
Screestar nodded to Jawstar, and the NightClan leader took a breath, and mewed into the night, "Dawnbreeze, Pegleg, Meadowsong, Patchface, and Autumnleaf of NightClan," He turned the StormClan leader, and Screestar lowered his gaze and said "And Berrytail, Lilynose, Scratchheart, and Hootflower of StormClan." Pebbleskip knew that both leaders had also lost lives; Jawstar twice.
Wails rose from the crowd as the list of names ended, and the gray tom looked up. At the back of the audience, stone-faced without emotion, was Bramblepaw. Pebbleskip had forgotten his son had come to this Gathering. They suddenly locked eyes, and Bramblepaw scowled and turned away.
Something clicked in Pebbleskip; a switch he didn't know was there. Rage and exhaustion and grief filled his body at the sight of this disrespectful, dysfunctional apprentice. Fresh memories of their latest conversation flooded his mind; drowning out his fondest moments with his sweet Hootflower.
I hate this. I hate you. Those were his son's words to him.
"How dare you!" Pebbleskip yowled and ignored the confused, shocked stares as he marched through the gathered cats towards Bramblepaw. Whatever Jawstar was saying about prey could wait. "How dare you sit and scowl, and be a selfish, irresponsible flake, when all I've been doing is suffering! You say you hate me, huh? Then so be it. Feelings reciprocated. Your mother would be ashamed of you." He stood nose-to-nose with the ginger apprentice, and blocked out every other sound in the forest. Cats were stock-still around them; no one dared nor wanted to intervene.
Two yellow, narrowed eyes blazed with anger a mouse-length from Pebbleskip. Bramblepaw stepped into the moonlight.
"You wanna do this now? You think Hootflower is ashamed of me?" His voice rose, and Pebbleskip backed away. Maybe this wasn't thought through.
"I'm irresponsible? I'm not the deputy who hasn't done a single thing in nearly a moon. All you do is curl up in your crusty, disgusting nest and hope for StarClan to come take you. You want to go to Hootflower? Then do it! I'm sure you'll get there soon, and if not, I'd be more than happy to help you along!"
Pebbleskip froze. This should not be happening here. Or anywhere.
Jawstar leapt down to the grass. "I think this Gathering is over... NightClan, let's go."
Pebbleskip drooped his head as the group started thinning out. Screestar would call them to go home soon.
He looked up to the Great Cliff and saw his leader outlined in silver, staring down upon him with a face hardened in embarrassment, amber eyes glowing with fury.
Long moments passed and then they were alone in the clearing. Screestar leapt down and padded slowly towards Pebbleskip.
Oh StarClan make this quick-