EOTW: Faded Boundaries: Chapter Twenty Two

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Published: March 22, 2015
Warriors Series 5.5: Echoes of the War
Book 1: Faded Boundaries
Chapter Twenty Two

     “You can do it, Squirrelflight!”

     The deputy let out an hair-raising shriek. Blazepaw could just barely hear Bramblestar's encouragement over the terrible noise, and the yowled commands of Leafpool and Jayfeather.

     Barely a quarter of a moon after Tawnypelt's fatal kitting, and now Squirrelflight was birthing her own kits. And by the looks of it, this birth was going to be as painful as Tawnypelt's.

     Blazepaw was in his own den on the lower level, sharing a squirrel with Amberpaw, and he could still hear the terrible wailing above in the nursery. It was horrible to hear, and impossible to escape.

     He could hear Bramblestar frantically meowing to his mate. “Please, Squirrelflight, you have to be strong. You can do this. You're the strongest cat I know. Squirrelflight, please, I love you so much, don't leave me!” The terror in his voice was agony to hear. Bramblestar and Squirrelflight were the parents of Blazepaw's father. He had always been close to the both of them. The thought of Squirrelflight dying and Bramblestar left to grieve was terrifying for the young apprentice.

     “Doesn't sound like it's going well,” Amberpaw said quietly. Her eyes were lit up with fear, and Blazepaw was sure he looked the same. Tawnypelt's death had been terrifying enough to witness. But what would ThunderClan do if their deputy were to die?

     He leaned down to pick at the squirrel, but he had no appetite. His belly was all tight and twisted with worry. After a few moments, he got to his paws, pacing within the den.

     Apparently, not all of his denmates appreciated that. “Stand still, will you?” Sparkpaw growled, looking up from his nest. “I'm trying to sleep over here.” The cream-and-white tom curled his tail around himself, closing his eyes.

     Blazepaw's ears drooped. “Sorry,” he muttered. He tried to return to his nest, but he was far too antsy to sit still.

     Finally, Amberpaw glared at him and snarled, “Quit fidgeting! You're not the only cat who's nervous.” She sighed. “Listen, if we sneak up to see what's going on, will you feel better?” Jayfeather had ordered every cat leave the nursery alone while Squirrelflight brought her kits to the world.

     The idea of seeing another terrible death terrified the apprentice. But he knew he'd feel worse if he just sat and did nothing. “Alright,” he agreed.

     Without opening his eyes, Sparkpaw warned them, “You're going to get caught.”

     “Then that's our problem,” Amberpaw retorted. She and Blazepaw abandoned their nests, heading cautiously out into the main part of the nest.

     It was still very early in the morning, so not many cats were out of their dens. They were either somehow still asleep, or they were trying to sleep through the dreadful wailing. The room was clear. Amberpaw and Blazepaw slunk carefully towards the blocks that led to the higher levels

     They were about to start climbing when a voice sounded behind them. “And where do you think you're going?”

     Both apprentices froze. They cast a guilty glance at Poppyfrost, who stood behind them with a knowing look. “Nowhere,” Blazepaw muttered.

     Poppyfrost didn't look impressed. “Jayfeather told cats to stay out the nursery,” she reminded them firmly. “If you want to do something productive, get fresh moss for the elder's den.”

     Before either apprentice could reply, a cat yowled from above, “The kits are here!” Blazepaw's heart caught in his chest. What about Squirrelflight? Ignoring Poppyfrost's warning behind him, he bolted towards the blocks, Amberpaw hot on his heels.

     Cats were beginning to gather around the nursery, looking just as anxious as Blazepaw felt. His heart froze when Leafpool padded out of the den, two strange, twisted pink forms in her jaws. She padded past them and down the blocks without giving any answers.

     A few moments later, Bramblestar padded out of the den, looking dazed. Cats immediately crowded around their leader.

     “How is she?”
     “Are the kits healthy?”
     “What do they look like?”

     The broad-shouldered tabby silenced them all with a wave of his tail. He shook his head once, still looking dazed as he mewed, “The kitting was hard. Two of the kits were dead long before they were born. Leafpool has taken them to be buried.” Blazepaw remembered the small, twisted bodies Leafpool had carried and shuddered.

     “How is Squirrelflight?” Molefoot called from the back of the crowd.

     Bramblestar lifted his head, letting out a rusty purr. “She's lost a lot of blood, and she's exhausted, but Jayfeather says she just needs rest and herbs.” Blazepaw felt almost dizzy with relief. Squirrelflight was really going to be alright. “We have one healthy daughter.”

     Meows and purrs of congratulation rippled through the crowd. Blazepaw tried to catch a glimpse of Squirrelflight and the new kit through the throng of cats, but all he saw was a flash of Squirrelflight's ginger pelt. From the crowd, Lionblaze asked, “What's the kit's name?”

     The leader's gaze softened at the thought of his new daughter. Slowly, he began, “Squirrelflight and I talked about it. When I became leader, I promised I would honor our ancestors who lived with honor, not the cats who walk in dark places. In honor of one of those starry warriors, we have decided to name our daughter Redkit.”

     Blazepaw stiffened in surprise. After Redtail, he realized. Judging by the surprised murmurs from his Clanmates, they had come to the same conclusion. Bramblestar's father, Tigerstar, had murdered many cats in his lifetime. But the first had been Redtail, the ThunderClan deputy he had killed in the hopes of becoming deputy himself. The legendary Firestar had worked hard to uncover the truth about Redtail's murder and bring Tigerstar to justice. Naming his daughter after the murdered deputy was both honoring Redtail and acknowledging the crime of his father. It was an interesting choice, to be sure.

     Jayfeather emerged from the nursery, glaring sternly at his Clanmates. “Squirrelflight needs her rest,” he growled. “I know you all want to see the new kit, but for the time being, only close kin is allowed in to visit. She doesn't need the whole Clan in her face right now.”

     Bramblestar lifted his head. “I'll assign patrols for the day.”

     The crowd began to break up as cats either returned to their dens or went off on the patrols Bramblestar handed out. Blazepaw saw his father join Jayfeather by the nursery entrance. Both toms talked briefly, then entered the den. Of course they would be let inside; they might not have actually been Squirrelflight's kits by blood, but she had raised them long enough that she was undoubtedly still a mother to them, especially now that both of them had forgiven her. They must be eager to greet their newest sister.

     “Blazepaw.” The apprentice nearly jumped at the call of his name. He looked up to see Bramblestar looking at him. “You're on Hazeltail's hunting patrol. See if you can bring something back for Squirrelflight. She'll need to keep her strength up.”

     He couldn't help the surprise in his tone. “Hazeltail's leading a patrol?” Queens rarely went on patrols when they were still looking after their kits.

     “With all the new kits in the Clan, we need all the cats working we've got,” Bramblestar explained. “She volunteered, and I'm not going to turn away any cat who's willing to hunt right now.”

     Blazepaw dipped his head. “Yes, Bramblestar.” He padded over to join his patrol, which waited by the blocks. Hazeltail was talking to Foxleap in a low voice as he approached. “You'll look after Finchkit while I'm gone?” the queen checked.

     “Of course,” Foxleap purred. He reached out, rubbing his muzzle against Hazeltail's cheek. She closed her eyes, purring as she leaned into her mate's touch. Blazepaw watched with a purr. The queen had seemed pretty closed off since her daughter's death, so it was nice to see her starting to open up to her Clanmates and family again.

     Berrynose, Blossomfall, and Dewfrost were the other cats on the patrol. The ShadowClan warrior had been much less hostile to her ThunderClan hosts since Tawnypelt's death. Berrynose was glaring at Dewfrost with undisguised hostility, but the rest of the patrol didn't seem to mind her. “Let's go,” Hazeltail said. She led her patrol down the blocks and out of the twoleg nest, out into the forest.

     As they walked through the trees, Dewfrost asked, “So, where are we hunting?”

     “The ditch by the redwood,” Hazeltail answered. Blazepaw's ears perked with interest. He had noticed that, every time he was on a patrol with Dewfrost, they tended to hunt as far from ShadowClan's border as they could go. Probably his Clanmates didn't want to give Dewfrost an idea of where the good hunting spots were near the border, in case ShadowClan wanted to try their paw at stealing territory.

     If Dewfrost had noticed the same thing, she gave no indication of it. She simply nodded and following Hazeltail without complaint.

     Blazepaw couldn't help but be curious about the ShadowClan warrior. Dewfrost's spiky pelt was unlike any he'd seen in ThunderClan, and the only ShadowClan cat he'd ever spoken to was that cat Wetwhisker briefly at the Gathering. Now that she was being more friendly, it didn't seem so intimidating to talk to her. He sped up to walk beside the taller warrior. “What's it like in ShadowClan?” he asked curiously. The ThunderClan apprentice, used to soft undergrowth beneath his paws and tall oaks overhead, couldn't understand the appeal of wet marshes and pine. As odd as it felt to have a ShadowClan warrior staying in his camp, it did offer a great opportunity to learn about another way of life.

     Dewfrost stared down at him with a suspicious glare, but when she saw the apprentice's eager, curious expression, the glare softened into a look of amusement. “Not that different from ThunderClan, now that I've seen what your Clan's like,” she admitted. “Grumpy elders, nosy kits, Clanmates and family. It's usually more wet underpaw, and the trees smell different, and I kind of miss the taste of frog.” Blazepaw wrinkled his nose at the thought, which got a purr of amusement from Dewfrost. “But honestly, it isn't much different from one Clan to another. We're all just warriors living under StarClan, trying to get by.”

     The warrior's relaxed tone surprised Blazepaw. Only a quarter moon ago, she'd been growling at any ThunderClan cat that looked at her wrong. Now she was calmly discussing her Clan with an enemy apprentice. “If you don't mind me saying,” he mewed quietly, “you seem pretty friendly for a ShadowClan cat.”

     She gave him a sharp look. “Oh, don't tell me that old nonsense about the north wind chilling the hearts of ShadowClan cats is coming back,” she groaned. “If ShadowClan cats aren't very friendly, it's because we're fiercely protective of our land and of each other. We don't trust very easily. But you're right, I was pretty prickly when I first got here.” The warrior sighed, grief glinting in her eyes as she explained, “Tawnypelt was so weak when your patrol found us. I was so scared that ThunderClan would see it as a chance to take advantage of her, maybe hurt her somehow. I wanted to protect her. But now I see that I was wrong. Jayfeather and Leafpool did everything they could to save her life. ThunderClan mourned for Tawnypelt as they would any Clanmate, and her kits are being protected as well as any ThunderClan kits. I couldn't be more grateful to ThunderClan for what they've done.”

     Blazepaw couldn't help but be a little uneasy. “But aren't the Clans supposed to be separate?” he argued. “The warrior code says we must be loyal to our Clan above all else. Doesn't that mean we shouldn't just let cats stroll from Clan to Clan whenever they feel like it.”

     “Of course our first loyalty should be to our Clan,” Dewfrost replied. “But that doesn't mean the Clans can't help each other out. The Clans have always been strongest when they stood together.”

     The apprentice flattened his ears against his head, looking away. Dewfrost was probably right. But the way the borders between the Clans seemed to be blurring didn't seem right. Why did Silentpaw think she could just stroll into RiverClan's territory and practically join them, and why was Dewfrost just allowed to hunt in their territory and sleep in their dens like she was a ThunderClan warrior?

     Was this how the Clans were supposed to live?


     The patrol returned to camp with a considerable haul of prey. Blazepaw carried a rather large pigeon, head lifted proudly. Dewfrost carried two mice and a squirrel, which she took straight to the elder's den when they arrived. As uneasy as Blazepaw was about the whole thing, he couldn't deny that Dewfrost was working hard for his Clan.

     As Blazepaw headed for the nursery, he noticed Hazeltail break off and head for one of the unused dens. Curious, he padded after her, peering into the den.

     Hazeltail had been as hard as stone ever since Petalkit had died. She hadn't shown any hint of grief when she died, and she had worn an expression of stone when she had carried her kit to be buried. The only affection or joy she had shown was around her mate, and Finchkit. To everyone else, she showed no trace of emotion. Blazepaw had almost wondered if she was mourning Petalkit at all. But now, in the unused den, he finally saw Hazeltail break down.

     Daisy was there, and Hazeltail was crouched against her, trembling and mewling in grief. Daisy was curled around her daughter, licking her ears and murmuring to her in a hushed, soothing tone. All of the mother's agony over losing her daughter was pouring out now. Her muzzle was buried in her paws, her cries and whimpers muffled by her fur. Even from how far away Blazepaw was, he could see how badly she was shaking. He couldn't heart what Daisy was saying to her daughter, but he saw her lay a paw on Hazeltail's back to steady her, and he could see the love and concern shining in her blue eyes.

     Shocked, Blazepaw froze. He hadn't meant to spy on Hazeltail like this. She was breaking down, and it wasn't for him to see. Slowly, so they wouldn't hear him, the apprentice backed away.

     “Blazepaw.” He nearly leaped out his pelt when Dovewing spoke behind him. Blazepaw spun around to face her, pelt bristling, dropping the pigeon he'd been carrying. The queen still looked tired from looking after her kits, but she wore a knowing expression as she looked at Blazepaw. “Spying on Clanmates, are we?”

     Blazepaw's eyes were wide. “I-I didn't mean...”

     She sighed. “Come on.” The gray queen began leading Blazepaw towards the nursery, away from Hazeltail. “I think you were supposed to deliver prey to Squirrelflight.”

     “Yeah.” He hesitated. After spying on Hazeltail, Dovewing probably wasn't very happy with him. But he had to ask. “Have you seen Silentpaw lately?”

     The gray queen's gaze grew distant for a moment. “She's hunting,” she told him after a few moments. “There's other apprentices and warriors with her. Some gray tom I don't know with an underbite.”

     “That's Eelpaw,” Blazepaw told her.

     Dovewing nodded. “They're swimming in the lake. Silentpaw just flicked water at Eelpaw, and they're laughing. She doesn't look as skinny now.”

     Something twisted in his gut. “Does she look happy?” he rasped.

     The gray queen's eyes glowed with sympathy as she looked at Blazepaw. “Yeah, she does,” she admitted.

     There was a gnawing feeling in Blazepaw's belly. Silentpaw had been with RiverClan for nearly a moon now, and every time he asked Dovewing to check on her, she was playing or joking or laughing, or just looking happy with the cats around her. He hadn't dared to ask himself the question that flared to the surface every time he spoke to Dovewing, but now that nearly a moon had passed, he couldn't ignore it anymore.

     What if Silentpaw didn't want to come back to ThunderClan?

     Dovewing seemed to understand what he was thinking, even without Jayfeather's powers. “Come on,” she said, prodding him with one paw. “You can't do anything about Silentpaw right now. Let's go meet Redkit.”

     Blazepaw sighed. Dovewing was right. Whatever Silentpaw chose, he wouldn't be able to change her mind. It was up to her whether she returned or not. For now, he would have to focus on the Clanmates he could help.

     He followed Dovewing into the nursery. Foxleap was playing with Finchkit, Skykit, and Ripplekit in the far corner while Squirrelflight was curled up in her nest, looking exhausted. She looked up as Blazepaw and Dovewing walked in. “Blazepaw?” she asked in a hoarse rasp.

     “Hi Squirrelflight,” the apprentice dropped the pigeon at her paws. “Bramblestar asked me to bring you something to eat.”

     She relaxed. “Thank you, Blazepaw. With a purr, she moved her tail, uncovering the little bodies by her belly. “Have you met ThunderClan's newest member yet?”

     He crouched, looking at the three kits at her belly. Tawnypelt's pale ginger and dark tabby kits were still there, kneading at Squirrelflight's soft, pale fur. Between the two larger kits was a small, red-brown tabby. Redkit seemed like the perfect mix of her parents' pelts. Her eyes weren't open yet, but her jaws opened in a yawn, revealing very tiny teeth and a little, pink tongue. Blazepaw felt a rush of warmth at the sight of the tiny kitten. “Hello, little Clanmate,” he purred. Dovewing was right. Silentpaw would have to make her own choice about where she wanted to be. As for Blazepaw, he knew exactly where he belonged.

     “Welcome to ThunderClan.”
© 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 its plot are pure coincidence, you can check the dates, please don't kill me.

More Blazepaw in ThunderClan. And we finally get to see Squirrelflight's kit. I've been waiting to reveal Redkit for a while now, so I was really excited to write this chapter. :D As an adult, she'll be between the heights and muscle tones of her parents, and she's have a round, scruffy face, and her mother's green eyes. I'll draw her later. :D

Back to Silentpaw and RiverClan next. ^^ I only have two chapters for each apprentice left. That's kind of crazy.
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Mistleheart's avatar
MistleheartHobbyist Writer
In the beginning, you mentioned that Bramblestar and Squirrelflight were the parents to Blazepaw's father, which is Lionblaze. But Leafpool is his mother?
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
I believe I meant adoptive parents, but I guess I didn't explain that as well as I could have. :P
Mistleheart's avatar
MistleheartHobbyist Writer
It was a great chapter. :)
KalahariMeerkatfan's avatar
KalahariMeerkatfanHobbyist General Artist
You came to same conclusion that I did, that Squirrelflight's kitting would be hard and she probably would only have one kitten. Though in my case, Turtlekit was the only one, no other kits (but even one can be hard to bring into the world then more). But then she fosters Stormkit.
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
I always figured if she wasn't completely barren, she would at least have a very hard time getting pregnant and would have major complications. Redkit's birth was so hard and traumatizing to her body that she can never have kits again.
KalahariMeerkatfan's avatar
KalahariMeerkatfanHobbyist General Artist
Well there is also that stomach wound that was, from how it sounded, very bad.

But exactly what I thought, though are there often cases of losing kits? I can't help but wonder if maybe Squirrelflight did get pregnant but maybe she lost before it became known :shrug:. Can being semi-barren also result in low milk production? From how it sounds, a cat without kits can eat borage and start producing milk. Ferncloud didn't have kits but yet she suckled Leafpool's, but Squirrel was unable too.
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
Oh yeah, I forgot about that one.

Huh, true. I don't remember any cats miscarrying, now that you mention it.
KalahariMeerkatfan's avatar
KalahariMeerkatfanHobbyist General Artist
I don't think we really had a miscarried in the warriors (probably would be too inappropriate...yeah they have Bramblestar stab Hawkfrost in the throat), but...this could actually explain a lot :nod:.

Maybe Squirrelflight was pregnant at the same time as Leafpool, but she lost her kits through miscarriage (or some call it aborting for animals)...if the Clan knew she was pregnant, it would be all the more easier to accept Leafpool's three kits as being hers (because they would know no better)...

I can imagine Squirrelflight not wanting to tell Bramblestar the truth, that she lost their kits. After all they went through, this certainly would had been a hard hit.
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
Nah, I don't think a miscarriage would be too much for Warriors. They've had kits die shortly after birth, this wouldn't be that different.

Ooo, that would be interesting. ^^ But no, Leafpool's Wish disproves that.
KalahariMeerkatfan's avatar
KalahariMeerkatfanHobbyist General Artist
Having a lot of bleeding with some half formed kits...

Puh, that book was nonsense, I especially didn't like how Yellowfang told Squirrelflight that she couldn't have kits (because they change their minds later)...I disregard it.
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Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
Well, they wouldn't need to say that, they'd just need to say something happened and the queen couldn't carry the kits all the way to birth. Simple enough.

Well, it makes sense that she lied so Squirrelflight would look after Leafpool's kits.
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