EotW: Faded Boundaries: Chapter Four

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Published: July 24, 2013
Warriors Series 5: Echoes of the War
Book 1: Faded Boundaries
Chapter Four

     Moonlight had turned the forest to shades of silver, the moon full and far above the treetops. It was nearly time for the Gathering patrol to depart. Blazepaw had been excited, but now, as he stood among the warriors and the older apprentices, he could feel a pit of unease in his belly.

     Beside him, Silentpaw was being groomed by Cinderheart, who was trying to trying to flatten a bit of fur sticking up between her ears. “Just hold still,” the gray queen fussed, reaching out with a paw to pull her daughter's head closer.

     Blazepaw had to hold back a purr of amusement at his sister's expression. Silentpaw's fur was bristling uncomfortably, her tail twitching with irritation. “It's fine, honestly,” she grumbled. When Cinderheart tried to pull her closer again, she ducked away from her paw, darting away from her mother's grasp. “Look, I'm fine,” she insisted irritably. “It's not like I get to see the end result anyway.”

     Cinderheart's tail twitched irritably. “You're getting more stubborn by the moon,” she scolded. Then she sighed, something sad softening in her gaze. She looked from Silentpaw to Blazepaw, smiling softly. “My little warriors,” she said quietly. “Already off to your first Gathering.” She turned to Blazepaw, gently brushing a tuft of fur on his shoulder down. With a sad smile, she told her son, “Watch out for your sister, alright?”

     Blazepaw nodded uncomfortably while Silentpaw let out an irritable growl. “I'll be fine, mom,” she muttered. The little apprentice shook out her pelt, making it as ruffled as it had been when Cinderheart had started. Cinderheart sighed at her daughter's behavior, then turned to Blazepaw. “Be safe,” she said softly, giving him a lick between the ears. “Stay close to your mentors, both of you.”

     “They'll be fine,” a voice rumbled behind them. Blazepaw turned to see Lionblaze standing behind them, a fond smile on his face. He padded up to stand beside his mate, rubbing his muzzle against her cheek. “The Clans have been at peace for moons now, and no one would dare break the truce, not anymore.” His eyes softened with worry as he looked at Silentpaw, but he seemed more confident than Cinderheart as he added, “Their mentors will look after them, and Jayfeather said he'll keep an eye on them.”

     Blazepaw wondered if Silentpaw was going to complain about needing a babysitter, but she just gave Lionblaze an irritable glare. Before Blazepaw could assure her he knew she didn't need watching, Bramblestar's voice rang from the camp entrance. “ThunderClan, time to go.” The patrol's chattering stopped, all eyes on their leader. One by one they began filing out past the camp entrance. Blazepaw winced as he pushed past the brambles, the thorny stuff tugging at his pelt. Once he was out, he looked back out of habit to make sure Silentpaw was still with the group, then hurried to follow the rest of the group.

     As the apprentice followed his Clanmates, he couldn't squash the small, fearful voice in his mind. Tonight was the first time he was going to meet cats from the other Clans. So many things could go wrong. What if he said something wrong, or start a fight, or gave something away? What if he didn't know what to say and made himself look like an idiot in front of the other Clans?

     “Something wrong?” Blazepaw jumped at the unexpected voice behind him. He turned to see Bumblestripe padding behind him, looking down at his apprentice.

     The small tom relaxed, smoothing down his ruffled back fur. “No, I'm fine,” he mumbled, ignore the cold weight in his stomach.

     Understanding flashed in the warrior's eyes. “I see,” he rumbled. “Let me guess, first Gathering jitters?” Blazepaw looked at his paws, embarrassed. The gray tom let out a chuckle. He came to walk beside Blazepaw, giving the apprentice a friendly flick of his tail. “Don't worry, everyone gets them. I remember how nervous I was my first Gathering.”

     Blazepaw pricked his ears. “Really?”

     Bumblestripe nodded. “Blossompaw and Briarpaw were excited, but I just kept thinking of all the ways I could screw up. But Mousewhisker stuck by my side the whole night, and it turned out fine. I met a few apprentices from the other Clans.”

     The apprentice gave a weak smile, the knot in his stomach easing a bit. “Thanks,” he mewed. He hesitated, then asked, “I can stick with you the whole time?”

     “Of course,” the gray tom assured him. Blazepaw nodded, satisfied.

     The patrol had just reached the edge of ThunderClan territory; now, they had passed into WindClan's moors. Blazepaw had never been on the moorland before, and he couldn't say he liked it. The lack of tree cover made him feel exposed. He ducked his head, hurrying after the patrol as they padded alongside the lake.

     The warriors picked up speed as they neared the fallen tree bridge. Blazepaw eyed the musty old log critically, not terribly eager to let it take his weight. Bumblestripe seemed to understand. He assured the apprentice, “I'll be right behind you.” Blazepaw nodded shakily, turning back to the fallen tree. He dug his claws in as he scrambled up past the roots, cautiously picking his way across the moldy log. The little tom didn't relax until he was back on grass again.

     Bumblestripe jumped down beside him, giving him a reassuring grin. “There, not so bad, huh?”

     Blazepaw shook his pelt out, trying to disguise how nervous he really way. “I guess.” He lifted his head, trying to catch a glimpse of Silentpaw on the other side of the bridge.

     He finally spotted Ivypool talking to her. Silentpaw nodded at something she said, then allowed her mentor to lead her across the bridge with Jayfeather right behind her. Blazepaw watched with baited breath, but they got across without any problems. Silentpaw jumped neatly off the log and padded over to Blazepaw's side. Her pelt was fluffed up with excitement, gray eyes shining. “We're finally at the Gathering!” she mewed, ears twitching here and there as she tried to catch every sound possible.

     Blazepaw nodded, forcing his pelt to lie smooth. "Yeah."

     Ivypool and Bumblestripe exchanged amused looks at their apprentice's reactions. The tabby-and-white she-cat gave her apprentice's shoulder a friendly tap with her tail. "Come on, let me introduce you to some of the other apprentices."

     As their mentors started off, Blazepaw slipped into his usual place beside Silentpaw, tail brushing against her flank to guide her. They didn't really get to train together all that often, do it was nice to be able to spend time with her again, especially in the face of their first Gathering. He'd never admit it to her, since she'd shred him if he did, but he felt protective of his blind little sister.

     As they pushed through the bushes into the main clearing, they were greeted with the sight of more cats than Blazepaw had ever seen in his life. He gulped, sending his mentor a nervous glance. Before he could say anything, however, Silentpaw nudged him. "What does it look like?" she asked eagerly.

     The little tom forced back his anxiety, searching for the right words. "There's a ton of cats," he started.

     "I know that!" Silentpaw interrupted irritably. "I'm blind, not noseless." She lifted her muzzle, sniffing lightly. "I smell WindClan and RiverClan, but the ShadowClan scents are old. They must not be here yet."

     Impressed, Blazepaw looked up at the Great Tree, seeing only three of the leaders. "Ashstar and Mistystar are up there," he told his sister. "Mistystar's gray-blue, like Lionblaze said, with thick, sleek fur. Ashstar's gray, and way skinnier than I was thinking. She looks really small up there next to Bramblestar. They're up on the Great Tree, on some thicker branch, Ashstar and Bramblestar sharing a branch with Mistystar below them."

     Silentpaw nodded, drinking it in with an air of bliss. "I can't believe I'm actually here," she breathed. Blazepaw threw her a concerned glance. Had she really thought her blindness would keep her from going to Gatherings? Or did she mean she never thought she'd get to come as a warrior apprentice?

     Before he could ask, Bumblestripe led them to a couple of younger cats. The gray tom dipped his head to the two warriors in the group. "Mossyfoot, Gorsetail," he greeted respectfully.

     The warriors dipped their heads. "It's good to see you again, Bumblestripe," Gorsetail purred.

     "You too," the warrior returned. "How's Darkpaw? I expecting to see her with you."

     Gorsetail's eyes glittered with pride. "Darkbreeze is with Nightfern, meeting some of the other warriors," she informed them. She gestured to the small brown tom beside her. "This is Quickpaw, our newest apprentice."

     Bumblestripe, and Mossyfoot's ears pricked with interest. "They're warriors now?" Bumblestripe asked. "Congratulations!" He gestured to Blazepaw and his sister. "This is my apprentice, Blazepaw, and his sister Silentpaw."

     Mossyfoot let out a purr. "Congratulations, Bumblestripe. Your first apprentice!" Blazepaw noticed that one of the younger cats beside her was staring at Silentpaw with narrowed eyes. The tom shifted closer to his sister, glaring defiantly at the she-cat. She glared at him for a few moments before turning away with a disdainful sniff.

     Bumblestripe nodded to the younger cats. "Blazepaw, Silentpaw, meet Finpaw and Eelpaw of RiverClan. Finpaw's been Mossyfoot's apprentice for two moons now."

     The cat who'd been staring at Silentpaw, Finpaw, turned to her mentor. "They're Lionblaze's kits, right?" she asked, completely ignoring the kits in question. "Isn't his daughter supposed to be blind? Why is she here?"

     Blazepaw bristled, indignant on his sister's behalf, and he heard her let out a soft snarl under her breath. Mossyfoot glared at her apprentice. "Finpaw, no need to be rude," she scolded. "ThunderClan can train who they like."

     Finpaw shrugged, amber eyes flicking to Silentpaw.  "Sorry, just asking," she said, not sounding that sorry."

     "I can train just fine, thanks," Silentpaw said evenly. "Just like I can tell you have duck feathers and fresh mods in your nest without asking." Finpaw's eyes widened with shock. "My nose and ears work just fine, thanks." Without another word, she padded off, joining Ivypool and Jayfeather with a group of warriors.

     Blazepaw turned back to his group , paws shuffling uncomfortably. No way he was going to apologize for Silentpaw, she'd had a right to be mad, but he wasn't sure what else he was supposed to say. He was saved the trouble by Quickpaw, who stated at him with wide eyes. "You're Lionblaze's son?" he asked with awe.

     The ginger tom nodded uncomfortably. While he didn't have to face much of the consequences of being the son of one of the Three in ThunderClan, there were still cats in his own Clan in awe of Lionblaze for his role in the Dark Battle.

     Quickpaw's eyes widened. "Wow. What's he like? Have you ever seen him use his power?"

     "Quickpaw, leave the poor cat alone," Gorsetsil scolded. "It's his first Gathering, no need to overwhelm him more than he already is." The apprentice ducked his head, clearly embarrassed.

     Blazepaw couldn't help but feel bad for the apprentice. He gave Quickpaw a friendly smile and told him, "No, my dad's power is fighting, and I've never seen him fight for real. But Jayfeather and Dovewing use their powers all the time."

     Quickpaw's ears perked. "Really?" he asked eagerly.

     The apprentice nodded. "Yeah, when we were kits we couldn't get away with anything. Either Dovewing saw us going where we weren't supposed to be, or Jayfeather saw us planning something and stopped us before we could even do it."

     As Quickpaw purred with amusement, Blazepaw heard pawsteps approaching, and a foul smell rolled over island. He turned to see a new patrol of warriors, strong and battle-scarred, coming over the tree-bridge. Blazepaw wrinkled his nose at the foul scent, recognizing it from his border patrols. "Looks like ShadowClan's here," he mewed.

     A ginger tom broke away from the rest of the group, bounding towards the Great Tree. “That must be Rowanstar,” Quickpaw realized aloud. Blazepaw remembered Silentpaw saying she'd met the ShadowClan leader on the border before, and how he'd been polite but somewhat scornful of her blindness. He supposed that fit what he'd heard about ShadowClan. Dovewing said they were decent enough cats, but tended to be untrusting of other Clans.

     As Rowanstar scrambled up the Great Tree, Ashstar took a step forward, raising her tail commandingly. “Cats of all Clans!” The murmuring in the crowd died down, every cat lifting their head to look up to the Great Tree. The gray queen continued, “This Gathering has begun, and WindClan would like to speak first.” The other three leaders nodded their consent.

     The she-cat lifted her head proudly as she announced, “Hunting has been good this season. There are plenty of rabbits on our moors, and we now have two new warriors to help catch them. Darkbreeze and Nightfern have earned their warrior names.” Blazepaw saw two she-cats, one dark gray, the other a mottled brown, lifting their heads proudly.

     The Clans began to cheer, “Darkbreeze! Nightfern!” but Blazepaw couldn't help but notice some cats staying coldly silent, some even glaring at the new warriors. Behind him, Eelpaw, the other RiverClan apprentice, noted, “Ashstar looks happy.”

     “Of course she is,” Quickpaw replied, “Darkbreeze and Nightfern are her kin, after all.”

     Blazepaw looked back at him with interest. “Really?”

     The small tom nodded. "Yeah, they're Heathertail and Breezepelt's kits, and he's Crowfeather's son.”

     Breezepelt's kits. Now Blazepaw understood the lackluster reaction from the crowd. All of the warriors who'd fought for the Dark Warriors in that battle had been exiled, including Breezepelt. Those who'd trained in the Dark Forest but had chosen to fight for the Clans, or who hadn't fought at all, had been allowed to stay, but the traitors had been outcast. He'd forgotten that Breezepelt had kits in WindClan. Heathertail must have been his mate before the Dark Battle.

     When the noise died down, Ashstar continued, “We also have a new apprentice, Quickpaw.” The chanting began again, this time aimed in Quickpaw's direction. Blazepaw added his voice to the crowd's, watching as Quickpaw puffed out his chest proudly.

     Bramblestar stepped forward next. “We too have been fortunate this moon, though we have no new warriors to name. Dovewing's kits should arrive soon, and Squirrelflight recently moved to the nursery.”

     There were cheers to this, but also a few uncertain murmurs. Blazepaw heard a cat near him whisper, “I hope he made sure she's actually expecting this time.” The small tom felt a rush of anger. Just because Squirrelflight had lied to protect her sister, her loyalty was always to be questioned. It didn't seem fair. He knew a lot of cats had been hurt because of it, but if he was a she-cat, he knew he wouldn't hesitate to do the same for Silentpaw.

     Bramblestar's expression didn't waver, even as the cats below muttered about his mate's unfaithfulness. When the chattering died down, he continued, “In a moon's time, we'll have more apprentices. For now, ThunderClan is well.” He stepped back to let another leader speak.

     Rowanstar was the next to step forward. The ginger tom wore a dark expression, his stature tense and unwelcoming. Blazepaw remembered Silentpaw mentioning Oakfur being sick. Had he died?

     The old ginger tom growled, “Pinenose recently gave birth to two kits, Graykit and Nightkit.” The cheering this time was warmer; new warriors or apprentices meant new enemies to fight, but kits were always welcome news. “Tawnypelt's litter is expected within the moon, and Dawnpelt's kits will be apprentices soon. ShadowClan has had good hunting, but that doesn't mean we're willing to share a pawstep of it with any cat.” He glared meaningfully at the crowd below, then stepped back. Uneasy murmurs rippled through the crowd. Blazepaw wondered why he was being so aggressive, but then he saw the hunch of Rowanstar's shoulders, and the gray dappling his muzzle. Maybe he was sick?

     Mistystar stepped to the edge of her branch, her tail twitching irritably. There was something hard and unyielding in her blue gaze. Blazepaw remembered the elders mentioning how her mother had been a Clan leader. She certainly looked like she had been born to be a leader.

     In a hard tone, she announced, “I come with news of prey theft. ShadowClan has been stealing from RiverClan territory!”
© 2013 - 2020 Jayie-The-Hufflepuff
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EDIT: Changed the queen and kits for ShadowClan to line up with my future plans.

Yeah, been a while since I updated this one. I'm still not sure whether Bramblestar's Storm is going to screw up the canonity of this story (probably), but what the hecks, I'm writing it anyway. I'll try to post more soon.
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Katwolfie's avatar
KatwolfieHobbyist Digital Artist
Like I said on BC, it's fantabulous! Love it!  :D
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
Thanks! :D Lemme guess... Kat? :P
Katwolfie's avatar
KatwolfieHobbyist Digital Artist
Yup.  :D
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
Thought so. :)
Katwolfie's avatar
KatwolfieHobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks for the watch, Jayie.  :D

I think your ideas for after TLH fanfic is really cool.  I can easily see depths for characters, which I strive to get to.  :)
Jayie-The-Hufflepuff's avatar
Jayie-The-HufflepuffHobbyist Writer
No problem. :)

Aw, thanks. I hope you like what's coming for the story. :P
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