Everything was dark.
The sky, the land, the StarClan territories, everything.
"Where's the stars?" Mosskit squealed. I closed my eyes. The battle was coming. The stars weren't there, I wanted to tell Mosskit. But I couldn't bring up the words. She was too young to understand what I would have said, but she knew enough that something evil was rising.
"Spottedleaf," Bluestar called out to me, "Are you sure that you want to fight? You were never trained as a warrior." I nodded fiercely. "I promised Firestar that I would always walk with him." I meowed. "Now it's time for me to fight by his side."
As the StarClan battle patrols assembled, we all prepared to cross over. The living world appeared around us, hazy and transparent. I watched as, one by one, my Clanmates disappeared to join the battle in various parts of the forest. Soon, I was the only one standing there. I pricked my ears, listening for the sounds of battle. From a distance, I heard a familiar hiss. Sandstorm! The cat whom Firestar loved. If she was there, wouldn't Firestar himself be nearby?
I broke into a run, and Sandstorm's scent, along with the scent of blood, hit my nose. Opening my jaws for a better sniff, I caught a trace of Firestar and the rank stench of the Dark Forest. "...My name is Mapleshade!" I heard in a distance. I ran towards the yowling.
As I reached a clearing, I saw Mapleshade, one of the oldest Dark Forest warriors, pinning Sandstorm down, ready to tear her throat open. "You had everything I wanted! A mate that loved me, kits that I could watch grow up, the respect of my clanmates! I should have gotten all of that!" Mapleshade was yowling. She sank her teeth into Sandstorm's neck and lifted her up.
"No!" I yowled, crossing over and throwing myself at the Dark Forest she-cat. A wave of panic suddenly hit me. Without any major fighting skills, what was I to do? I was just a medicine cat. A weak cat that only knows how to love and heal. Acting instinctively, I clawed out at Mapleshade's eyes….and missed. She threw me off of her with a yowl, raking her claws across my belly and tossing me across the clearing. Pain shot through my body as my spine connected with a tree trunk.
Dazed, I tried to push myself to my paws. My vision blurred and I saw a familiar ginger pelt burst into the clearing, helping Sandstorm to her feet. The familiar pang of regret pulsed through my chest as I saw the two of them together. "Why did you interfere?" Mapleshade hissed. "That is the cat who stole Firestar's love from you!" I half smiled, wincing in pain. Did she really think that I could hurt Sandstorm? Did she not realize that I couldn't hurt Firestar? "There was nothing to steal. Sandstorm made Firestar happy!" I retorted, lunging at the she-cat again.
Mapleshade slashed back at me, and I flipped over, my paws flailing. I fell to the ground, dizzy from blood loss. "Spottedleaf?" Firestar's meow was the last thing I heard before Mapleshade's jaws clampsed around my throat, tearing it open with a sickening rip.
"No!" Firestar leapt onto Mapleshade's back, clawing viciously at the she-cat's head until she fled, bleeding, from the clearing. "Spottedleaf? Spottedleaf!" He turned to me, his emerald, his charming green eyes clouded with terror. "No! Please, stay with me… you said that you'd be there to greet me in StarClan!" I shook my head and croaked out through my torn throat, "I'm sorry, Firestar, I cannot walk with you any longer." My head felt so heavy. But then my entire body started to feel lighter and lighter as I started to fade.
Yellowfang's scent appeared next to me. I couldn't see her, my vision was getting too blurry. "Let her follow her destiny, Firestar," she meowed gently. Firestar…oh, Firestar— I tried to open my jaws, to whisper those last words to him, to tell him how I felt, how I was forbidden to feel; but my body wouldn't respond. My jaws parted slightly, a thin trickle of scarlet streaming down. As I attempted to croak out the last words to the leader, the remaining of my vanishing body faded away, leaving nothing more but a few drops of blood.
I opened my eyes and saw that where I am was completly different. Snow gently brushed my fur and I heard cats pound on the white meadow. I looked up and saw a snowy field with very high trees. I noticed the skies stange, like water made to sky. "Where am I?" I whispered. Firestar. Is he safe? Is he even alive? I hoped he was safe and the battle was won.
I looked around and saw cat walking around. I gasped. "Tigerstar!" I snarled. Tigerstar was padding alon the snow, scarless. He looked up, and I saw no scar across his muzzle. His amber eyes glinted softly. "The Dark Forest may have lost," He growled, "but the clans lost a kittypet." I flashed my eyes angrily.
"Firestar is not a kittypet!" I screeched, and leaped at Tigerstar. I raked at his muzzle, and blood sprayed across the snow. Tigerstar chuckled. "You can't hurt me with claws." He rumbled. A body suddenly appeared. An unconcious orange and white she-cat was laid down under the shadowy branches of a tree. I gasped. Mapleshade! The cat who killed me! I growled and spat.
Mapleshade snoozed under the tree, but I was going to break the nap. I stormed up to Mapleshade and bit her ear. Her eyes slowely opened up. She groaned, and looked around. She suddenly spotted me towering over her. "You!" She hissed. I snarled. "You." I spat.
Mapleshade snarled and rolled her eyes. "I killed you because of my anger." She snarled. I lowered my head. "Why were you angry?" I sneered. Mapleshade closed her eyes. "Come closer, and I will tell you everything." She whispered.
Mapleshade murmured into my ear. "I joined the Dark Forest for a reason. When I had a mate, he was in RiverClan. His name was Fishleap. Fishleap and I had 2 kits, Shadekit and Ripplekit. Shadekit was a handsome tabby tom like Fishleap. Ripplekit looked just like me, only with blue eyes. Fishleap and I loved them dearly. One day, I decided to tell ThunderClan about my secret. Ryestar exiled me and my kits. I was heartbroken. I tried to take them across the river to go to my mate's clan, but they didn't survive. Shadekit and Ripplekit drowned. Fishleap blamed me, for not helping the kits. He said I broke the warrior code. I thought we both did! RiverClan rejected me." She gasped.
I stared at her and gulped. "I was cast out to live as a loner, and when I watched Fishleap, I saw a cat twinning tails with him! They gave birth to Shellheart. After that, I did terrifying things. I killed Fishleap's mate and attacked ThunderClan with many other rogues. I took one life away from Ryestar. I turned into a murderer." Mapleshade looked up to me. "I killed from anger and pure madness." She murmured, half to herself. I looked down at my paws. I wasn't even a kit before then!
"Mapleshade," I comforted, "I understand your tragedy. It would drive me mad, too." Mapleshade trembled. I stroked her back with my tail. "It was just wrong to mate with FIshleap. All that betrayal, sadness." Mapleshade looked up at me. "I want to die." She whispered. I closed my eyes. "This is beyond the stars and the Dark Forest." I mewed. Mapleshade sighed. "Thank you." She mumbled, and smiled. I stroked her back and let her be, to sleep.
I watched Mapleshade sleep soundly and sighed. Her life was hard, I realized, and StarClan ignored. I felt a pang for the sleeping warrior.
"Well I'm hungry." I muttered. I decided to hunt. I found a large mouse around the trees. I wondered why the mouse was so plump. It was snowing! I shrugged, and stalked the mouse. With a silent yowl, I pounced on the mouse. I hungrily munched on it, devouring the sweet taste.
The moment I looked up, I saw a blurry figure. "Dove's Wing, where are you? Half Moon! Someone, help me!" The figured yowled. I also noticed that the settings changed. It was a tunnel, and it was flooding. I didn't dare blink.
Jayfeather? I thought. The voice was so familiar. Jay's Wing! The figure was Jay's Wing! I watched Jay's Wing fall into the water. He flailed his paws helplessly. I wanted to help, but I knew this was the past. I watched in terror as Jay's Wing sank under the water that will soon devour his life. I suddenly felt water rushing over me. I blinked, trying to get it away.
The moment I blinked, the scene changed, and I was stuck in a frosted puddle. I sniffed around for my mouse. I bit it gently, checking for the vision, but it never came. I decided to finish the mouse. I noticed a mouse right next to me. I swiped it, killing it instantly. I will save this for Mapleshade.
"Mapleshade!" A voice hissed. I glanced up and saw Broken Shadow towering over me. "I'll get revenge!" She spat. She leaped onto me and crunched my leg. I snarled and unsheathed my claws. Spottedleaf was wandering around. She suddenly spotted me and my unsheathed claws. "No!" She screeched. Spottedleaf rushed towards me and sank her teeth into Broken Shadow's shoulder to wrench her away from me. I sighed, and thanked Spottedleaf.
Broken Shadow still glared at me, and paced back and forth. Spottedleaf left into the deep trees. I hissed. Out of nowhere, claws raked at my shoulders. Broken Shadow hissed and sank her teeth into my neck. I sliced open her shoulder, turning the snow red with her blood. Spottedleaf was rushing towards Broken Shadow and I. Broken Shadow ignored. She lashed at my neck, and blood sprayed all over.
She sliced open my belly. I collapsed, panting. Spottedleaf sank her claws into Broken Shadow's shoulders to wrench her teeth out of my neck, again. Broken Shadow still didn't let go, her teeth started to touch my bones. I wailed, and sank my claws into her neck.
Broken Shadow gurgled and twisted the claws out. She chomped on my bone. I gurgled and felt blood gushing quickly out of the deep wound. The snow couldn't hide the slowly spreading wetness. Spottedleaf gave up, and raked at Broken Shadow. Broken Shadow let go of me, and advanced at Spottedleaf. She leaped and hurtled Spottedleaf over. Spottedleaf yowled and dug her claws into Broken Shadow's shoulders.
"Broken Shadow," Spottedleaf hissed gently, "you can't blame Mapleshade." Broken Shadow spat angrily. "Are you on the Dark Forest's side now?" She shrieked. "What's going on?" Tigerstar and Antpelt was next to Broken Shadow and Spottedleaf. "Shredtail." Broken Shadow hissed. Shredtail was slinking along the snow, scarless. I felt my blood oozing out of my neck. I felt lighter.
"Mapleshade!" Spottedleaf suddenly gasped. I saw her rushing towards me. "Come," She murmured, "I'll get herbs." I shook my head. Everything was fuzzy. I'm sorry, I thought. Everything was making me unconcious. I watched the sky fade into darkness with the sun darkening, maybe forever.
Watch out for the next book, Dying stars .