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EOTW: Faded Boundaries: Chapter Twenty One

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By Jayie-The-Hufflepuff   |   
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Warriors Series 5.5: Echoes of the War
Book 1: Faded Boundaries
Chapter Twenty One

     “Nice pounce, Finpaw!”

     The apprentice rose to her paws, shaking out her pelt. “Thanks,” she mewed gruffly.

     Silentpaw padded towards her, tail held high. “Great balance, and nice flow on the leap. Just try to keep your tail a little lower when you're stalking.” She laid a paw on Finpaw's tail to demonstrate, lowering it to the ground.

     Finpaw, Silentpaw, and Eelpaw were out training. She had extended an invitation to Yarrowpaw as well, but he had less-than-politely refused. Honestly, she was surprised Finpaw had expected. While she was acting more polite towards Silentpaw now, she still wasn't the ThunderClan apprentice's biggest fan.

     Eelpaw stretched out his front legs, jaws parting in a wide yawn. “Nice day for hunting,” he  commented. “You think maybe we've trained enough for the day? We could get some hunting done before we head back to camp.”

     Silentpaw hesitated, then nodded. “Works for me.” Finpaw and Eelpaw had probably made the most progress of the RiverClan cats – they were young and strong enough to learn quickly. They'd been working very hard without any challenges to Silentpaw as an instructor, which she really appreciated. “Want to start by the juniper bush?”

     “Sure.” The three apprentices set off, spirits high as they began their hunt. It had been nearly three quarters of a moon since she'd come to help RiverClan. In that time, the floodwaters had started to die down, and the prey was becoming more plentiful. The patrols who assessed the lake's edges were confident they'd be able to move back into their camp before the moon was up. Things were really looking up for RiverClan.

     After Finpaw brought down a particularly meaty thrush, Silentpaw flopped down onto her back, enjoying the warmth of the sun on her pelt. “We haven't had a really warm day in ages,” she purred. “It's nice to feel the sun again.” She stretched out, her belly fur all exposed, her front paws tucked up comfortably.

     Finpaw ignored her, but Eelpaw strode up to her and poked her in the side with one paw. “You look like a kittypet lazing in the sun,” he mewed gruffly.

     Silentpaw turned her head towards him, purring in amusement. “Oh, like RiverClan cats never lie out in the sun sometimes,” she joked. “Wasn't that bit of territory from the old forest that RiverClan always fought us over called Sunningrocks? I'm thinking it was called that for a reason.”

     That got an amused snort from Eelpaw. “It was probably ThunderClan's idea,” he joked.

     “Ha, don't try to pass it off on my Clan,” she said in a mock snarl. “RiverClan was the first to own Sunningrocks, they had to be the ones to name it.”

     “Then why was ThunderClan always trying to steal it?” Eelpaw growled, ears flattening against the back of his head.

     Silentpaw reacted accordingly, twisting from her back onto her front paws, crouching and snarling playfully. “Maybe it's because we didn't think smelly fishfaces should have more hunting grounds to grow fat off of,” she teased.

     “And maybe we didn't want mangy squirrel-chasers taking what was rightfully ours,” Eelpaw hissed, crouching low and lashing his tail. With a growl, Silentpaw leaped at Eelpaw as he reared up to meet her, the apprentices twisting and kicking and snarling in play. Eelpaw was larger and had more battle training, but Silentpaw kept slipping away from his grasp. She puffed up her pelt like Mistystar had told her to, trying to appear as large as possible. After they pulled back, Eelpaw struck at her with a soft paw, but she ducked and nipped at his shoulder. He tackled her to the ground, the young cats tumbling and struggling until they broke apart, mrowwring and purring in laughter as they tried to catch their breath.

     “Ahem.” Silentpaw and Eelpaw both turned towards the sound. Finpaw stood behind them, tail twitching. “If you two are quite finished, I thought we were out here to hunt.” Her tone was cool, and her stiff posture told Silentpaw that she wasn't amused.

     Silentpaw rolled her eyes, twisting off her back onto her paws. “Lighten up, stiffwhiskers,” she teased as she rose to her paws. “We can take a break every once in a while.”

     “You're an apprentice, not a kit,” Finpaw sniffed. “Maybe you should act like it.”

     Across from Silentpaw, Eelpaw gave a huff of laughter. “No need to act so high and mighty, Finpaw. Or do you want me to tell Silentpaw about the time you got your tail stuck in a root in the lake?” Finpaw stiffened, then turned away, tail lashing. Once she had padded away, Eelpaw turned to Silentpaw. “Sorry about her,” he apologized. “She just isn't very trusting.”

     “I gathered,” Silentpaw mewed dryly. “Still, I've been here almost a moon. Hasn't she figured out I'm not here to spy or steal prey yet?”

     He shrugged. “It's not just that. She thinks the Clans should each mind their own business. She's really not that bad, you know,” he added. “I know she can be stuffy sometimes, but she's my best friend. She can just be really stubborn when she's convinced she's right about something.” He shook out his pelt, reaching up with one paw to scrape a tuft of moss off his shoulder. “Finpw knows you're not here to harm my Clan, but she can't allow herself to be friends with a ThunderClan cat under any circumstances. She would see it as a betrayal of the warrior code and her Clan.”

     Silentpaw sighed. “I guess I can understand that.” In truth, Finpaw's stuffiness didn't put her off that much. She'd gotten used to it. Apart from the occasional snippy comment, Finpaw wasn't really that bad. She could even be fun when Silentpaw managed to draw her into a battle of snark.

     Without warning, a moss ball flew out of nowhere and whacked Silentpaw in the back of the head. She started, head twisting around wildly to try and figure out where it came from. Only after the initial surprise wore off did she realize it came from Finpaw's direction. The apprentice didn't turn back to look at Silentpaw, but she thought she could detect the faintes amusement from the swish of her tail. Silentpaw purred, curling her tail in delight. She'd actually gotten Finpaw to act like a friend for two seconds.

     Eelpaw's whiskers twitched. “See? Not so bad.”

SCENEBREAK

     The apprentices brought their haul back to camp around sunhigh. The fresh-kill pile was still smaller than it should be, but it was growing steadily now that the prey was returning. As they were dropping off their prey, Mistystar approached them. “Silentpaw, Finpaw, could I see you two for a moment? I need you for a rather special patrol.” Curiosity itched at Silentpaw's pelt, but she just dipped her head in acceptance.

     Mistystar led them to the camp's entrance. Rushtail, Minnowtail, Reedwhisker, Willowshine, and Petalfur waited there. Petalfur touched Silentpaw's nose in a friendly manner when they joined the patrol, and Willowshine purred a quick greeting.  “Silentpaw. How's the training going?” she asked.''

     “Very well,” Silentpaw purred in reply. She tried not to look too confused as she took in Willowshine's scent. What was the medicine cat doing on a warrior patrol?

     Mistystar stood at the head of the patrol, her tail held high. “Let's go.” She led the patrol out of camp, taking them through the territory. The leader still hadn't stated what the patrol was for, and she didn't speak at all as they walked along. Silentpaw grew even more curious as they neared the horseplace, but didn't bother to ask. She knew Mistystar wouldn't explain herself until she was ready.

     Finally, Mistystar halted the patrol at the lake's edge. Silentpaw sniffed the air, stiffening in surprise at the familiar scents. Of course. This was where the tree-bride leading to the Gathering island had once been.

     Mistystar came to stand in front of the patrol, and finally spoke. “As you all know, the tree-bridge was washed away by the storm. Without it, the other Clans will have no way to reach the island. I have been consulting with Reedwhisker and Willowshine, and we believe we've come up with a suitable way to replace the tree-bridge.”

     Reedwhisker and Willowshine moved past the other cats, sitting beside their leader. “We will build a new bridge made of pebbles,” the deputy explained to his Clanmates.

     Willowshine added, “We figure it will take a moon, perhaps a bit more, if we all work together. Cats will carry pebbles down to the bottom of the lake and arrange them so they form a bridge to the gathering island.”

     The patrol broke out into excited murmurs. Silentpaw's tail shot up, her pelt tingling with excitement. She'd been wondering for a while how the Clans were going to continue to use the Gathering island, and now it looked liked Reedwhisker, Willowshine, and Mistystar had found the perfect solution.

     “Are we starting now?” Petalfur asked.

     Mistystar nodded. “Yes. We'll work until sunset, then we'll send out another patrol to work until moonhigh. The Clans will already be missing this next upcoming Gathering. I want this done before the next full moon, so we don't have to miss another.” She paused, looking over the patrol. “Well, if that's everything, then let us begin.”

     There as a great rush of movement. Cats were moving about everything, picking out pebbles along the water's edge and diving into the lake. Before Silentpaw could follow them, however, Mistystar stopped her briefly. “I almost forgot to ask,” the leader mewed. “Can you swim?”

     “Yes.” Jayfeather had taught her and Blazepaw both swimming above and underwater. She was far stronger in the former than in the latter, but she could still do it. Mistystar gave a small nod in reply, then padded off to collect her own pebble.

     Silentpaw dug up rock partially covered in dirt, then strode up to the water's edge, stepping in without hesitation. She flinched as cold water rushed quickly over her pelt, but forced herself to keep going, waiting until she was closer to the island before ducking down under the surface.

     Once she was under, she became a little disoriented. Without her sight, it was hard to tell which way was up, and where the island's edge was. She forced herself to remain calm. With strong, sure strokes, she kept pushing herself down, feeling the water ripple as cats moved all around her. Finally, she reached the bottom. There were pebbles already down there, forming a small line on the bottom of the lake. Silentpaw dropped hers beside them, then gave a strong push off the lake floor, swimming strongly towards the surface.

     The patrol worked hard through most of the day, dropping pebble after pebble onto the lake's floor. It was slow work, but Silentpaw couldn't help but be proud of the work they managed to get done. A small but steady line of pebbles lay at the lake's floor, connecting all the way from the lake's edge to the Gathering island. If they kept the work up like this, she couldn't imagine it would take too long for the bridge to rise above the water.

     Silentpaw was exhausted and completely soaked through by the time the patrol finished working for the day. Her muscles ached from having to swim back and forth, but the feeling of accomplishment glowed in her chest stronger than the pain. As they headed back towards camp, Silentpaw got caught up in conversation with Petalfur and Minnowtail. “I can't wait for the next Gathering,” Petalfur was saying. “I wanted to hear the rest of Cloudtail's story about the time he fought a fox as an apprentice.”

     That got a purr out of Silentpaw. “Oh, that old tale. If you want the real story, talk to Brightheart,” she told Petalfur. “And make sure to ask her about the time he thought a weasel was a badger.”

     Minnowtail mrowrred in laughter. “I just want to see the leaders up on the Great Tree again. It feels strange to be skipping the Gathering this time. Like the Clans have been cut off.”

     Silentpaw shrugged. “The flood will die down soon enough, and it'll be easier to travel from Clan to Clan. Besides, Dovewing and Jayfeather can keep an eye on any Clan and pass on any message needed.”

     Both RiverClan cats stiffened at the mention of the Three's powers. Silentpaw was surprised at the reaction, before remembering that they weren't her Clanmates. Of course they would be wary of another Clan having such powerful members. “I know what you're thinking,” she said shrewdly, “but I grew up with these cats. Jayfeather is my father's brother, and Dovewing is my kin. I know them, and I know they would never use their powers to spy, or hurt another Clan.”

     Minnowtail just shrugged. “If you say so.” It was clear she hadn't fully convinced either cat, but she decided not to push the issue. It had only been a season since the Clans had all learned of the Three's powers. Time would teach them that these cats wouldn't use their powers irresponsibly.

     They finally reached the camp. RiverClan's temporary camp was as familiar to Silentpaw now as her own. She couldn't imagine RiverClan living anywhere else now, and it almost odd to think that she would no longer be living here soon. ThunderClan was her home, and she missed it dearly, true, but RiverClan was starting to feel like home now, too. She had friends here, cats she cared about.

     As they entered camp, Eelpaw padded up to greet her. “Want to eat by the mossy rock?” he asked.

     “Actually, I was planning to take something to the elders to eat,” Silentpaw told him. “Join me?” At Eelpaw's nod, she started towards the fresh-kill pile, grabbing a trout. With the flood waters receding, the fish were starting to return to the lake, and patrols had resumed hunting them as well as land prey. Silentpaw still couldn't get used to the bland taste of fish, but she knew the elders would prefer it.

     She and Eelpaw made their way to the elder's den, each with a fish in their jaws. RiverClan's two elders, Pouncetail and Graymist, were staying in a burrow near the top center of the boulders circling the camp. They looked up from their nests as the apprentices entered the dens. “Eelpaw,” Graymist purred. The apprentice touched noses briefly with the elder as Graymist purred. She was his father's mother, Silentpaw remembered. “And Silentpaw. How wonderful to see you both.”

     “Are those fish for us?” Pouncetail asked, licking his lips.

     Silentpaw answered by dropping it in front of the elder. “All yours,” she told him. Eelpaw gave his fish to Graymist, who dug in right away.

     As Pouncetail ate, he asked Silentpaw, “Would you like a bite?”

     Silentpaw hesitated, but she couldn't refuse without looking rude. “Alright,” she mewed. She stretched her muzzle forward and lapped up a few flakes of fish. It tasted as bland as ever, but it was a nice gesture, at the least. She laid down on the dusty floor of the den, Eelpaw beside her.

     There was silence as the elders ate, broken only by the sound of them gulping down fish. Finally, they finished their meal. As Pouncetail licked his lips clean, he mewed, “So, Silentpaw, I heard Mistystar took you and the others out to start making a new bridge to the Gathering island earlier.” Eelpaw's ear flicked in surprise, but he didn't comment, only turning to look at Silentpaw.

     She nodded. “Mistystar's having us build a bridge made of pebbles. She says it should be done by the next Gathering.”

     “Ah, that's good,” Graymist purred. “It doesn't feel right, skipping a Gathering. StarClan will not be pleased that we won't be attending this moon.”

     StarClan will just have to deal with it, Silentpaw thought privately, but she knew she couldn't say it aloud, especially not to the elders. It wouldn't be respectful. Graymist seemed to have some guess of what she was thinking, however. The elder's pelt quivered with amusement as she mewed, “But to you young cats, I suppose it's different. Now, I don't suppose you might want to hear a  story?”

     Both apprentices looked up eagerly at the mention of a story. Graymist purred in amusement. “Well, I think the story of the Great Battle will do. Would you like to help me with this one, Pouncetail? After all, it's your tale.”

     Pouncetail dipped his head. “Very well. It started when WindClan attacked ThunderClan in their camp one night.” As the elder began his tale, Silentpaw closed her eyes, giving a contented purr. Little by little, RiverClan was starting to recover from the flood. Life here was good. And try as she might, she couldn't imagine leaving.
© 2015 - 2020 Jayie-The-Hufflepuff
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Disclaimer: This was written before Bramblestar's Storm was even announced. Any similarities to Bramblestar's Storm and it's plot are pure coincidence, you can check the dates, please don't kill me.

This one took a little longer to write, I got a little blocked. And why are the Silentpaw chapters always shorter? *sigh*

So yeah, there's now going to be a pebble bridge instead of a tree bridge to the Gathering island. The Clans will still be able to use the island after all.

Next up is Blazepaw, again.
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Devinital's avatar
DevinitalHobbyist Digital Artist
Oh boy, some one is getting use to RiverClan life, this seems to be heading towards a interesting direction. ;)
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
Indeed they are. ^^ I can't wait to finish this one up.