Trailing Stars, Chapter 17; by Meadowpaw

Meadowpaw gets a surprise!

Trailing Stars: Chapter Seventeen

By: Meadowpaw

Edited by: Shimmerfrost

illustrated by Jayfrost

Illustration for Chapter Seventeen of Trailing Stars

Meadowpaw’s eyelids stung as she faded into consciousness. She squinted her eyes open to be greeted with a flood of sunlight. She groaned and reached to pull the curtains shut, only to realize with a pang that there weren’t any. Hunger gnawed at her belly immediately afterwards, thrusting her into reality.
Oh yeah…I’m still a cat.
She got up and stretched her aching muscles, feeling only half rested. The moss was very thin and uncomfortable compared to her human bed. She made a solemn vow to herself that if- no, when- she turned back into a human, she would never complain about a stiff mattress again.
She shook away the thought and weaved around the bodies of her fellow apprentices and yelped apologetically when she stepped on Geckopaw’s tail. Her yelp caused Amberpaw, Juniperpaw and Olivepaw to perk up their heads and grumble.
“Sorry!” she whispered guiltily. She still hadn’t gotten used to walking on fours.
Geckopaw sighed, rubbing his tail. “It’s okay.”
Amberpaw got up and grunted softly. “Well, we’re up now. We may as well see if anyone one needs us to do anything.”
Juniperpaw yawned, nodding. The four of them filed out of the den, as quietly as possible. The sun warmed Meadowpaw’s pelt. It seemed to be perfect weather, promising a good day. However, as soon as Meadowpaw stepped outside, she knew it would be otherwise.
She stepped away from the entrance and let the other apprentices pass through. She attempted to rub the sleep out of her eye, only to be poked by her fur. She gave a yowl of annoyance and mild pain, which caught the attention of the few warriors that were gathering in the clearing.
“Oh! You five are awake!” Copperclaw called, with a hint of surprise.

Meadowpaw guessed they were letting the apprentices and kits sleep in because of the troubling events that happened in the last few days, especially after what happened yesterday. Normally they would’ve been woken up around two hours before noon. Right now, it was just before dawn. In that case, it was a bit early for them to be up on their own so she guessed it should be surprising. Well, it was a bit early for her to be up on her own, but the others were awake due to her clumsiness.

“Can you five join hunting patrols?” Copperclaw asked rather gently. The apprentices nodded and padded over.
“Okay, Amberpaw, Olivepaw and Juniperpaw, you go with Jayfrost. Elkheart, Jetclaw, Meadowpaw and Geckopaw, you go with Hobbitheart, Raggedoak, Flowerstream and Whorlpelt.”
The cats nodded, separated into their groups and headed towards the entrance. Meadowpaw padded alongside Olivepaw and Geckopaw, but noticed some of the warriors were held back by Copperclaw. Meadowpaw fell back a little and strained to hear what they were saying.
“-ther goal, is to look for Kat.” Copperclaw was saying in a low voice. “We need to find he-”
Meadow yelped as someone cleared their throat behind her.
“You shouldn’t eavesdrop.” Hobbitheart mewed sternly.
Meadowpaw’s tail drooped. “Sorry….” she mumbled as she followed the warriors out of camp.

It had been about three sunsets since Kat ran from camp and they still hadn’t found her anywhere nearby. The Clan (if one would call it that) was getting really worried and cats were starting to take sides and doubt. One side was desperate and wanted something to be done, the other side argued that they should have faith because StarClan is out there. They were pretty angry that the other side was causing quarrels. Meadowpaw herself wasn’t sure what side she was on. On one hand she wanted something to be done- didn’t everyone? On the other hand, she didn’t like the fighting at all. She thought it would be more sensible if the deputy, and the senior warriors, discussed it and kept it quiet instead of causing mass panic. It was a little late for that.
There had already been a few small arguments, but they were broken up before cats got really angry. Then there were the big fights. They started as little disagreements, but then, when they weren’t stopped, claws were unsheathed. Yesterday’s fight had been the biggest one yet. Meadowpaw herself had been out on patrol- thank StarClan- but when they returned, the sight they saw was terrifying. No one would say what had happened specifically, maybe because it had been too horrific. Meadowpaw wouldn’t have been surprised. Kits were in tears, and the warriors numb with shock. The worst part was, she had heard that Shiveringrose had needed to go to the medicine den.

Meadowpaw sighed. She padded slowly, waiting for the other warriors. She turned when she heard rustling in the bracken behind her. Instead of one of the warriors, a black and white face poked out.
“Hi Meadow.” Winterpaw yawned sleepily. “I just woke up and Copperclaw told me catch up to your patrol. Where are the others?”
“Hey Winnie! They’re just up ahead.” Meadowpaw gestured to where Flowerstream’s fluffy tail had just disappeared behind a bush. “Let’s catch up.”
They ran a while till they finally found the rest of the patrol. It seemed the other warriors had caught up.
“There you are!” exclaimed Whorlpelt. “Oh, are you joining our patrol, Winterpaw?”
Winterpaw nodded. “Should we split up?” Raggedoak meowed doubtfully.
“I think we should. How about we all split up a little way from this area?” Hobbitheart suggested. “Prey is scarce so splitting up to cover more ground will widen our chances a little.”
Flowerstream nodded, but then paused. “Are you apprentices okay with going alone? Do you want to go with a warrior?”
Geckopaw shook his head. “It’s okay. We can handle it.”
Meadowpaw and Winterpaw nodded in agreement.
“Okay…If you’re sure…” Raggedoak shrugged, looking a little anxious.
Meadowpaw nodded firmly.
“Okay, then let’s go.” Whorlpelt meowed, shrugging helplessly.
With that, all the cats set off in different directions.

Meadowpaw picked west and slithered through the bracken. She perked her ears once she got a few meters deep in the forest and tried to sniff out a scent. Nothing. She looked behind her, but couldn’t recognize the area. She guessed she’d gone farther than usual and shrugged.
She continued along until she reached a large beech. She shrugged and started trying to climb it, even though she always failed epically when she was a human. Maybe claws would help. She jumped and gripped the bark with her claws. She got a good leap, so she had managed to already get almost halfway to the nearest branch. Then she slowly started sliding downwards. Frantic, she lifted a paw and clawed higher, but only managed to get a weak grip. She lifted her other forepaw, but just then, the bark gave way and her other forepaw let go. She toppled to the ground with a yowl.
Ouch… She wished she could rub her back.
Meadowpaw pulled herself up. Great. Even if there was prey here, it certainly isn’t here now. She groaned and dragged herself through the forest, determined to come back with at least a mouse.
The apprentice froze once, startled by a scent. I’m sure that isn’t prey. She had never caught anything that smelled like that. But what bothered her was, though she knew it wasn’t the scent of prey, she was sure that she had smelled it before.
Sometime when I was on a patrol… she recalled. And the warriors got all fussy over it.
She shrugged. It wasn’t prey, so she could move on.

Meadowpaw dragged on through the forest until at last she heard a sparrow. She froze and spotted the little bird perching on the third branch nearest to the bottom in the oak beside her.
Great. A tree, she thought, annoyed.
She sighed and crept to the bottom of the trunk.
Here goes nothing.
The apprentice leapt and her claws hooked onto the bark. She had a relieved, silent celebration in her head when she decided her grip was strong enough. Moment of truth. She tentatively lifted a paw. Her grip loosened a little and she winced. She carefully poked her claws into the bark. When it worked, she tried her other paw.
Her other paw stayed firm and she did the same with her hind legs. She kept going, counting on the lucky streak, and soon she was at the first branch. She cheered silently. This was a big accomplishment considering she had no physical talents whatsoever while she was a human; she hated running, was far from flexible, and much too bony to do many sports. She glanced up at the second branch, and then her gaze fell on the third. The bird was gone.

“Mouse dung!” she cursed angrily. If this were a meme, there would be a troll face right about now.
This is no time to think about memes! she scolded herself.
Meadowpaw looked down at the ground, and then one teensy problem occurred to her- she didn’t know how to get down.
She screamed inside her head as she remembered about her slight fear of heights. Then again, I wouldn’t know how bad it really is because I avoid heights.
Replace slight with terrible!
She panicked on the spot for at least five minutes before calming down somewhat.
Okay, I can’t call for help, I don’t think anyone is near enough to hear, and I’m not sure how they would help me, Meadowpaw reasoned. I need to figure something out.
She looked down at the first branch. She silently prayed and then jumped down towards it. Thankfully, she landed and gripped on to it very tightly with her claws.
Then she glanced down at the ground. Four feet looked very high from cat view. Her panic started coming back, until she noticed a large hollow log behind her, about two feet below the branch.
Two is better than Four.
She leapt onto the log and it rolled a little. She frantically hooked her claws into the log and stiffened. She felt something moving inside. When the log steadied, she relaxed and skidded down.
She padded to the hole to investigate what had been moving in there. It seemed to have stopped moving around in there.
Prey? she wondered hopefully.
When Meadowpaw peered inside from atop the log, her eyes widened. She even fell off the log and face-first into the dirt, but was too shocked to even stop and scowl. She got up and whirled around, gaping when it was confirmed that her eyes hadn’t been fooling her. Inside the log was a cat, and she looked shocked as well. “Kat!”
They both stared at each other in shock for a few moments, until Kat finally broke from the trance.
“Meadowpaw?! What are you doing here?! Why are you this far from camp?!”
“Hunting, of course! Where have you been?! Everyone has been so worried about you! Why haven’t you come back?!”
Kat averted her gaze. She ignored Meadowpaw’s question and mewed.
“You shouldn’t be so far from camp. How did you get here?”
Meadowpaw explained how she had gone on and on but couldn’t find any prey or scared it off, until finally reaching here, where she found a bird.
After a long stretch of silence, Meadowpaw finally spoke again. “Do you happen to have any prey to bring back to camp with us?”
Kat stayed still for a few moments but then shook her head. “After I…left…I only caught a mouse. But It’s stale now.” She gestured to a little mound behind her.
“Why didn’t you e-” Meadowpaw closed her mouth.
After more moments of silence Kat mewed. “I couldn’t. It wouldn’t be fair.”
They endured another lapse of silence.

Meadowpaw finally opened her mouth. “The others will be getting worried by now. Let’s go.” She slowly started to pad away. She stopped a foot away. Kat hadn’t moved.
“Nobody blames you.” Meadowpaw mewed quietly. Kat didn’t speak. “You didn’t do anything wrong. Copperclaw is perfectly fine. We know you didn’t mean to do it. Everyone wants you to come back. They’re all so worried.” Meadowpaw didn’t mention the little arguments that had broken out. More silence. “I’m not leaving without you. you know.” Meadowpaw said firmly. She sat down and started humming a variety of songs to prove her point
There was more stillness, until Kat finally heaved herself up.
Meadowpaw got up, satisfied. They started walking back to camp mainly in silence, with the exception of Meadowpaw going back and forth from humming ‘pink fluffy unicorns dancing on rainbows’ and the ‘chicken on a raft’ song.

They kept going for what seemed like about an hour. Meadowpaw glanced up at the sky. The sun indicated that it was nearly noon. Considering she had set out at dusk. She didn’t realize she had gone that far. She didn’t realize Kat had gone that far.
No wonder the patrols hadn’t found her all this time.
Well, then, for the first time in forever- She stopped herself from singing the rest of the song.
I can thank my clumsiness.
Still, she winced at the memory of how loud she’d yowled when slipping from the first tree.

By the time they’d reached camp, the sun was past noon. Unsurprisingly, her patrol had already come back. Meadowpaw skipped- well, it was more of a trot since she had four legs now- into camp ahead of Kat, how was walking slower and slower the nearer they got. As soon as Meadowpaw entered the clearing in camp, she was ambushed by a blur of dark fur.
Before she knew what was happening, there was a cat on top of her. She opened her eyes and saw that some warriors in the clearing were running towards her, seeming to be breaking away from a bout of pacing.
“Olivepaw! Get off her!” An amused but relieved voice mewed. It belonged to a cat with a set of long and slender hazel legs.
The weight on her back was soon lifted. The warrior, who was now recognizable as Raggedoak, pulled Olivepaw off Meadowpaw and helped her get up.
Her relieved expression soon turned to a stern, angry one.
“Where have you been?!”
The rest of her patrol and more warriors padded up with the same expression.
“We came back ages ago!” Geckopaw exclaimed.
Meadowpaw studied her claws embarrassedly while the rest of the cats kept muttering.
“Well, did you get lost? Why didn’t you call for help?” Whorlpelt asked.
“Umm… I didn’t exactly get lost….”
Meadowpaw recounted her story of how she kept on going till she found prey and her experience with the tree. “I figured it out by myself.” she mewed proudly. “From the lowest branch, I jumped onto a log, and then got down. I still didn’t find any prey though.” She looked down, discouraged. Then she lit up again. “But you know what I did find in the hollow log? Kat!”

Like pushing over dominoes, the expressions of the cats quickly turned from relieved and interested to shocked. A bunch of cats gasped.
“Did she come back with you?” Jetclaw demanded. “Where is she?”
Meadowpaw peered out the entrance, trying to spot Kat. “I don’t know why she hasn’t come in yet, I told her she didn’t do anything terrible and no one blames her, ‘cause she’s really discouraged.”
Meadowpaw didn’t notice some of the warriors exchanging uneasy glances.
“Come on!” Meadowpaw ran out the entrance.
The cats ran after her. Sitting a few feet away, looking as deflated as a month-old party baloon, was Kat.
Soon, her features displayed shock, as in a great flurry, seeming to forget the uneasiness of the past few days, the cats all cheered. Then they all rushed up and tried hugging her. Some ended up on top of her and others horded around her.
Snakepaw and Aspenflame somehow ended up underneath her, and more cats were coming to see the commotion and joining the horde. After a while, Copperclaw called over the noise.
“Allright! Allright! Give the poor cat some space to breathe!” The horde cleared away and Emberkit leapt off of her, looking sugar high.
Kat emerged, looking shocked (and rumpled, due to at least three cats being on top of her).
“Kat! Welcome back!” Copperclaw mewed warmly. After somewhat recovering, Kat managed a weak smile.
“Hi everybody.” Her voice broke.
The group all called out greetings and she was ushered into camp with cheers.
Meadowpaw let herself be moved by the horde but broke away once they filed in through the camp entrance.

She noticed Cakestar heaving herself out of the medicine den to come see what the commotion was. Meadowpaw started over to help support her, but Flame had already rushed to her side.
“Kat! Great to hav-” She broke off in hacking coughs.
Dawnmist raced out from behind the medicine den looking alarmed. “Cakestar! Why in Starclan are you out of-” She broke off when she noticed who Cakestar had been addressing.
“Kat! You’re back! How wonderful!” she exclaimed happily. She then rushed to Cakestar’s other side to help Flame support her, started muttering what sounded to Meadowpaw like “-still no condition to get out of bed-”
Then cats started shouting out questions and some were scolding her, though good-heartedly.
“Where have you been all this time?” asked Stoatkit, confused.
“We were so worried! Never disappear like that again!” Maplesky demanded.
“Why hadn’t you come back earlier?!” wondered Wavepaw.
Kat only continued looking flustered at all the excitement until Copperclaw addressed her.
“You must be tired,” she said sympathetically. “Alright everyone! Clear away! You can all talk to her later, but right now she needs rest.”
Kat shot her a grateful look and shuffled to the warriors den.

Slowly, cats began spreading away from the crowd. Flame and Dawnmist helped Cakestar back into the medicine den. A few cats tentatively tried peeking into the warriors den to get a glance, but then decided to leave her be; she had a long journey, and word had gotten out somehow that she hadn’t eaten the entire time; even though Meadowpaw had only told one or two of her friends that. Those who didn’t turn away were soon shooed away, and everyone uneasily tried to fit back into the normal routine, glancing back at the warriors den every so often.
Meadowpaw was about to bounce off to do battle training with Shimmerfrost, Spiderpaw, Asterfrost and Cypresspaw when Copperclaw stopped her.
“Meadowpaw, you should get some rest too.” Copperclaw said.
“But-” She started to protest but Copperclaw cut her off.
“No buts, you’ve had a long journey, and you’ll be too tired to practice properly. It’ll be no use.”
“But-” Meadowpaw started.
Copperclaw interrupted again. “You can go fetch some prey for Kat.” She lowered her voice a little. “Is it true that she hadn’t eaten the entire time?”
Meadowpaw nodded. Copperclaw sighed. “Well, while you’re getting her prey, give some to Cakestar and the kits and elders too.”
Meadowpaw nodded, and moped off towards the freshkill pile, leaving Copperclaw gazing around camp looking stressed.

Meadowpaw gazed down at a sad little pile composed of two scrawny mice, one and a half (Meadowpaw moaned in disgust at the the maggots eating at it) sparrows, and a lean rabbit that was all bones and no meat. She sighed. At least there was no Twoleg food on the pile; this was better than having to give the kits some filthy pizza. She shuddered at the memory. Good thing they didn’t take Twoleg food anymore Not only did it give them stomach aches, it also tasted just as disgusting as it looked. Even though the prey was scarce, today’s fresh-kill pile was about one of the largest they’d had, and her hunger re-emerged. She hadn’t realized she was this hungry; she had pretty much gotten used to it; though she still wasn’t sure herself how she had so much energy. Maybe because as a human too, she often became sugar high without any sugar somehow. She guessed she had always subconsciously pushed aside her depression (aside from often complaining about lack of Wi-Fi), to keep the mood lighter and everyone’s- and her own- spirits up. She supposed the depression had to emerge sometime.
Well, now it’s emerged, so now I can push it aside for good, she decided, and forced herself to stop thinking about it before it got worse.

She gathered all the prey except the rotten sparrow and slowly made her way to the nursery, trying to keep the prey off the ground. Once she was outside the nursery, she set down the prey to decide which to give to the kits. She pondered for a second, and then decided to give them the rabbit to share.
She dragged it inside and noticed that there were only a few kits. The others must’ve been outside playing- but then again, there weren’t many kits in the first place. Emberkit, Flowerkit and Redkit came bounding up to her as she came in.
“Ooh! Prey?” They chorused. She smiled. She liked these three. They had the same hyper energy as her.
“Yep! Though you guys have to share it amongst yourselves and the other kits, and if you have any left overs, give it to someone else.” She told them.
“Ok!” Flowerkit bounced around the nursery. The three kits started dragging the rabbit away.
“And don’t forget to save some for your friends playing outside!” She added.
“We will!” Emberkit called through a tiny mouthful of rabbit as Meadowpaw left the den.
Meadowpaw scooped up the rest of the prey and headed for the medicine den. She decided she would give Cakestar the sparrow.
She ducked through the entrance.
“Shhh!” Dawnmist whispered.
Meadowpaw noticed Cakestar was asleep, so she slowly walked as quietly as she could and set the sparrow down beside her.
Dawnmist nodded her thanks, and Meadowpaw crept back out.

Finally she headed for the warriors den. On the way she met Cypresspaw, Fernpaw and Amberpaw playing badger with Stoatkit and Thornkit.
“Hey!” Cypresspaw protested as both kits leapt onto her. “There’re other badgers, you know!”
“Oh, hey Mead-” Fernpaw barely had time to be surprised before both kits suddenly leapt onto her instead.
“Go away badger, or we’ll make you!” Thornkit said, baring her little fangs.
Right before she was about to sink them into Fernpaw’s shoulder, she yelped as Amberpaw lifted her off.
“Let’s play moss-ball now instead, ok?” Amberpaw suggested.
“Ok!” The kits chorused, and leapt after the little ball Amberpaw threw.
“Hey, Meadow! What’s up?” Cypresspaw meowed as she stood up and brushed off some dirt.
“I was just getting everyone prey!”
“Cool! We had nothing to do, so we thought we’d entertain the kits.” Fernpaw said.
“To…keep their spirits up.” Amberpaw said slowly.
“Oh..umm that…that reminds me…how is Shiver?” Meadowpaw asked Cypresspaw reluctantly. She had been there.
“U-um…recovering.” She averted her gaze.
Meadowpaw was about to ask who Shiver had been arguing with. She opened her mouth, but then closed it, changing her mind. She could’ve sworn she’d seen Fernpaw’s eyes moisten.
The four apprentices were silent for a few moments, lost in their thoughts.
Meadowpaw hesitated, but then finally decided to break the silence. She’d been wanting to ask for a while, so since they were already on the topic, she spoke. “So…did..did you guys have a side?” She mewed quietly.
They all paused for a moment, but then Fernpaw shook her head and Cypresspaw and Amberpaw nodded.
“I was on..” Cypresspaw hesitated. “Copperclaw’s side…”
Amberpaw spoke up. “I was on Copperclaw’s too…”
“Did..did you have a side?” Fernpaw asked.
Meadowpaw shook her head.
“But um…Ollie was on Kat’s…” The group grew quiet, and the only noises were the kits grappling for the moss-ball and voices somewhat closeby, but not enough to make out the words.
Amberpaw breathed in, as if making up his mind, and slowly he said.
“I..I know…Me and Olive…We kinda had an argument.”
Meadowpaw was waiting for the shock to come, but it didn’t. She didn’t know why she wasn’t as shocked. Maybe because it was to be expected at times like this; even friends getting into fights. Her thoughts wandered and she soon slipped into another state of depression. When she looked up, she could tell her friends were in it too. She decided to lighten the mood before it got any darker.
“Anyway, the hunting patrol will be back soon. I’m sure they’ll have more prey.” She managed a smile.
“Yeah.” Cypresspaw looked relieved at a change of topic. “My patrol went out earlier, and we caught a rabbit!”
“Oh hey! I’m pretty sure I just gave it to the ki-” She paused as voices grew louder.
“…ne brought us here, so they must know how to get out!”
Meadowpaw recognized the voice as Jetclaw’s.
“You’re thinking about StarClan, aren’t you? Well, if they’re the ones that brought us here, then why aren’t they telling us anything?! Why have they left us in the dark?”
Meadowpaw was sure that was Flowerstream. She continued.
“We thought we had to unite, and then we did, but still, nothing! No message, no warning, nothing! What’s the purpose of keeping us here, with everyone starving and nature at our throats? Face it! Whoever did bring us here, even if it is Starclan, isn’t doing it for our own good. At this rate, someone might die!”
Meadowpaw looked at her friends. They were all frozen, shocked. She glanced over and saw the kits had stopped playing too. Thornkit had an expression on that looked as if she were holding back tears.
“Come on kits!” She said quickly. “You want to help me give this to Kat?”
Stoatkit slowly snapped out of his frozen state and stammered quietly. “Uh-um..okay..”
The two kits came over and she gave them each a mouse to carry inside. She paused.
“You guys wanna come too?” She asked her friends.
“Um..yeah.” Fernpaw said nervously.
Cypresspaw nodded but Amberpaw shook his head.
“Um…I was supposed to go do battle training…”
“Oka-” They all winced as the voices came closer.
“..guing about it won’t help! You think we don’t know that? All we’re trying to do is keep it optimistic so depression doesn’t destroy us before hunger! I mean, look where this got Kat and Shi-”
“You keep them out of this!” Flowerstream snarled. “It wasn’t their faul-”
Meadowpaw decided to leave before things started getting worse.
“Come on guys, the kits are waiting…” She said nervously.
The slowly nodded and followed her, saying goodbye to Amberpaw.

They came into the den to see Kat telling the kits a story. Meadowpaw noticed her mouse was untouched, but she had given the kits the other mouse, and they were nibbling at it happily.
“Keef going!” Stoatkit said through a mouthful.
“Okay, so then Dovekit and Ivykit squished into a log to keep out of the ra-” She broke off as she noticed them come in.
“Oh, hey, guys!” Her wary looking face broke into a smile. “I was just telling them a story about Dovekit and Ivykit before they became apprentices. You guys want to listen?”
“Oh, sure!” Cypresspaw agreed.
“Here, eat this while you’re listening.” She passed over the mouse she hadn’t touched.
“Oh, no! That’s for you!” Cyprasspaw exclaimed, passing it back. “You really need it after the long journey.”
“You went all that way too, and back! You guys take it.” She insisted.
“No really, you have it,” her friend argued.
The mouse sat between them, and they were awkwardly silent for a few moments before Kat decided to continue the story.
“O-oh well. I’ll just, uh…keep going for now. So then, after the rain had stopped, they came out, but then they realized the rain had washed away their scents! They didn’t know how to find their way back! So then, they came up with a plan…”
Meadowpaw decided to leave it be and convince her later, but right now, she felt a strong urge to curl up and listen to the story. She hadn’t heard this one yet, so she supposed Kat had made it up.
She yawned. She always looked forward to hearing stories and fan fiction by BlogClanners. They were so talented.
As she lay down, the ache in her body that she had ignored was relieved. She realized it must have been there since she fell off of the tree. As she closed her eyes, she realized how tired she was.
Maybe Copperclaw was right….
Kat’s voice began to fade a little. “And so they finally reached the camp safely, but they got quite a scolding! They were in so much troub-” She paused, but Meadowpaw was already drifting into unconsciousness. She opened her eyes a little.
“Meadow?” Fernpaw asked. “Hey, Mea-”
Kat stopped her. “Shh…just let her sleep.” She whispered.
And before she knew it, she was asleep.

She had strange dreams that night. A lot of them she couldn’t remember clearly after she woke up, but there were two really vivid ones she couldn’t forget. One of them was a very strange one, where Olivepaw was trying to bite what seemed to be a walrus. Meadowpaw had come up and shouted “Hah! I knew it!” Then the walrus vanished and Olivepaw kept calling her a hypocrite. The other one was much stranger (which at first she didn’t think was possible). She was walking in a vast meadow, and then she saw a cat. At first she thought the cat had a white pelt, but then as she got closer, she realized it was transparent, just like a ghost only with the exception of little shimmers flecking her fur. Then, she saw something stranger. Behind the cat, seeming to be talking to it, was another cat with a reddish pelt. She was about to get closer, but just then, she woke up.

She was about to say fox-dung, but then she realized where she was. Beside her wasn’t Dovepaw and Snakepaw, but Maplesky and Hobbitheart. It seemed that everyone was asleep, and it was still night time. She remembered then that she had fallen asleep while Kat was telling the story. She guessed they decided not to move her, because she was in the warriors den. She decided to go back to the apprentice’s den, but later found that it was harder than it seemed. She had to make sure she didn’t step on any of the warriors, and that was really hard considering how squished together they were. She jumped when Iceflower had groaned and nearly even stepped on Owlwater’s tail as she stepped into an empty nest. She exhaled.
Well, too late to go back now, she decided, looking back at her spot. She was nearly at the entrance anyway. She crept around and over a few more warriors until she finally got to the entrance. She squinted back at the one empty nest. She could’ve sworn it was Hazelburrow’s, but then she shrugged and tiptoed to the apprentice’s den (well, as close as a cat could get to tiptoeing).

The first thing she noticed was that another nest was empty here was well. It was Winterpaw’s.
Hmm…where could he have go-
Then she paused, remembering something. Her mind wandered to that time she had caught Winterpaw and Maplesky about to twine tails. She had yelped and then turned red, feeling like Ron interrupting Harry and Ginny from Harry Potter. Though, she had asked Flowerstream if she knew about them having a thing, but she’d been surprised. Meadowpaw assumed they were trying to keep it secret, though she didn’t know why.
Hey…what if they meet at night?
She suppressed a grin. She looked back at the Warriors den, wondering if Maplesky would come out any minute now. But then, when she glanced back at how far away from the entrance her nest was, her smile faded. Oh, come on! She sighed and worked her way through to her empty nest. She heaved, relieved and curled up, but after a squirming around for a while, she gave up. She wasn’t very sleepy. She made her way back out of the den, thinking she would go for a walk, and maybe even catch some prey. Then she remembered her dream.
For some reason, she had a sudden urge to peek inside the medicine den. As she crept closer, she jumped as she heard a rustle. She realized it was coming from inside. She peeked into the entrance and saw Cakestar and Silverwind in their nests. Dawnmist’s nest was empty. Meadowpaw wondered where she could’ve gone at a time like this- Hazelburrow too; she remembered his nest was empty as well. She shrugged. Maybe they just couldn’t sleep either and went for a walk. Or, maybe they just went to make dirt.
She was about to ponder more, but was startled out of her train of thought by more rustling from inside the medicine den. She looked inside and saw that Cakestar was getting up. A jolt of alarm ran through her and she ducked her head out of the entrance. Meadowpaw held her breath, hoping that Cakestar didn’t see her. For a few moments, there was silence, but then Meadowpaw heard Cakestar cough and then start walking to the entrance. She exhaled and then quickly hid nearby. She watched as Cakestar padded towards the entrance, staggering a few times and letting out hacking coughs very often. She wanted to help her, but that would give her away. Maybe Cakestar would think she was up to something, or tell her to go back to bed, which she really didn’t want to. She watched her finally reach the entrance, and ask the cat who was guarding it, which seemed to be Flame, something. Meadowpaw crept closer till she could hear their conversation.
“…asn’t come through here. Why? What’s wrong?” That was Flame.
“…ot in her nest. There’s something troubling me that I need to discuss with her. “
“Oh…sorry, I haven’t seen her…Is it anything I could help you with?”
“Thank you for offering, but I don’t think so. I’ll just go fi-”
She broke off into more hacking coughs.
Flame immediately went to her right to help support her.
“Th-thank you. Can you please help me get to Copperclaw?”
“Of course.”
They came towards her hiding spot, and then past it, as they reached the warriors den.
Meadowpaw watched as Copperclaw came out and took Flame’s place. Copperclaw and Cakestar headed to Cakestar’s den and Flame went back to guard the entrance.

She then retreated back to beside the apprentices den. Darn! That was my chance!
She sighed under her breath. She should have sneaked out when the entrance was left unguarded. She pondered on whether she should try to sneak out again, or tell Flame where she was going and hope she wouldn’t stop her. She thought for a bit and decided to sneak out. Flame and anyone else would probably be against going out into the not-so-familiar wilderness in an unaccustomed-to and vulnerable cat-form in the middle of the night. Flame hadn’t seen Dawnmist go out, so there must be another exit, she reasoned. She checked behind a few of the dens, and a bunch of other shrubby places for easy openings in the undergrowth, but not too far from the entrance. If she did find an exit, she decided she would loop back around to near the entrance, so she could go hunt near the usual spots she went. Otherwise, she could get lost. Finally, she checked behind the warriors den. As she passed by, she noticed there were four empty nests now. Her old spot, Hazelburrow’s, Copperclaw’s and now, Maplesky was missing too. Oh come on! Everyone is finding exits but me!
Then she realized something, and felt a tingle of excitement so deep, that she even ignored the fact that both Maplesky and Winterpaw were missing. She bounced. She hadn’t seen Maplesky anywhere near her hiding spot, or scent her anywhere else, so she must have found an exit somewhere close by.
She rushed to check near the den. She checked all around until she scented, not Maplesky, but Dawnmist. She felt a thrill of joy. Finally!
She noticed some ferns had been trampled. She followed the path Dawnmist had cleared all the way until she heard voices. Alarm shot through her.
Oh no! They might hear m- Aah! Someone’s coming my way!
Quickly she retraced her steps quietly halfway between the camp and where she heard the voices but before she did that she couldn’t help but hearing “…elburrow. I told you. I can’t do this. Especially at times like these. Think of the clan.” Someone had whispered tearfully, and Meadowpaw could’ve sworn that it was Dawnmist.
Unfortunately, she didn’t have time to ponder on it, as she had to get farther away. Finally she reached a clearing with spruce trees that she recognized. She exhaled, relieved, and started to hunt.

After hunting for what seemed like forever, Meadowpaw was too tired to hunt anymore. She had caught only one scrawny vole. She sighed. At least she caught something this time. She headed back to camp and came through the place she had went through before. She put her vole on the fresh-kill pile and warily made her way back to her nest, stepping on Blizzardpaw’s tail, but being too tired to care. She was so exhausted, she only had time to note that Winterpaw was still missing. Hah…I knew…it…they didn’t just coincedently go…to make dirt…at the same time… Then she fell asleep. And this time her sleep was, thankfully, dreamless.

Meadowpaw wasn’t so thankful after she found out why her sleep was dreamless. She concluded that it was probably because she didn’t sleep long enough to have time for dreams. She was told she was shaken awake three times before she had fully woken up. Apparently she kept on muttering “Five more minutes mom…”, batting the cat who was trying to wake her away, and then drifting back into sleep. Meadowpaw only vaguely remembered that, so she guessed she’d done it all half-consciously like she’d usually do when she was a human.
She yawned. It felt like she’d only been asleep for ten minutes. She stretched again and then padded out of the den. It was nearly noon. The clearing was abuzz with cats whispering to each other in urgent voices, once in a while glancing at Cakestar’s den. She joined the little group of cats crowding around Flame.
“…and Eagleclaw. You guys take some apprentices- oh! Like Meadowpaw here.” She noticed Meadowpaw come up. “And do some battle training.”
“Ok!” Called Maplesky tiredly. Seems like she was up at night for a while too. Meadowpaw thought suspiciously, as Snakepaw, Wavepaw and Birchpaw joined them.
Meadowpaw caught up to Snakepaw.
“Hey, why was Flame assigning patrols?” She asked.
“Oh yeah, you were asleep. Well, Cakestar, Copperclaw, the medicine cats and a few senior warriors are having an important meeting.”
“What’s it about?”
“Well, no one knows for sure, but I heard Cakestar had a strange dream.”
Alarm shot through Meadowpaw. She remembered the dream she had where she was in the meadow. She hesitated, wondering if she should tell Snakepaw about it, but Snakepaw spoke first.
“I..I had a weird dream too. I was in a meadow…and there were two cats in the distance. One cat seemed to have a red-ish pelt but the other cat…”
Meadowpaw’s eyes widened further and further as she went on. When Snakepaw finished, Meadowpaw exploded.
“What?! But how is that possible?” Snakepaw gaped.
“I don’t know, bu-” She paused. Copperclaw was leading Cakestar up the High Ledge. A silence fell upon the clearing. All the cats gazed up expectantly, as it seemed they were finally going to get their questions answered.
“All members of-” Cakestar broke off with a cough. She opened her mouth to speak again but was interrupted by more coughs.
Copperclaw looked agitated, but then cleared her throat and addressed the clearing.
“All members of Blogclan, please gather for a clan meeting.” She called, but there was no need; everyone was already there. Copperclaw, seeming to have realized that, continued. “Well, um, I think you all know what this is about. I think you’ve all had the dream?”
That was greeting with many shouts and widened eyes.
“So it’s true! Everyone has had it!”
“What could this mean?!”
“Is it really them, after all this time?”
“Silence!” Copperclaw called. “Let us explain!”
After a while the noise died down.
“I know a few of you have chosen to ignore it, but we for one, cannot. Especially since it is true. It was our leader that we saw in the dream, and she did in fact, speak with a cat from Starclan. It cannot just be a coincidence, we cannot ignore the fa…”
But the rest of her words were drowned out by the growing commotion. Copperclaw protested, and tried to hush them down. Meadowpaw was still with surprise but others seemed to have no problem shouting out their shock or doubts. Finally…It’s them. She thought numbly. The noise blared all around her, but she couldn’t make out any single voice. Finally, Copperclaw gave up, but before she could shout, Cakestar spoke.
“Everyone quiet! Do-” She broke off with hacking coughs and Copperclaw struggled to keep her up as she staggered.. All the cats hushed, some with guilty faces.
“Though it’s true we believe it really is Starclan, this isn’t the time to celebrate. We believe so, because of the message they have given us. The message surely couldn’t have been a coincidence, because it described the events of the past few days perfectly. “ Cakestar said, coughing slightly.
Some cats shouted out questions, confused, but they were hushed down angrily by Copperclaw. Cakestar continued grimly.
“The message they have given us is STOP. Stop this fighting. The fighting will only bring us harm. This isn’t why they’ve brought us here. It wasn’t to drive us apart. They say this is going too far, and that if this continues, all will be lost. We’ll be here for a long time, because this will drive us farther away from what they want. They say this is mouse-brained. They’re mad, because we’re fighting over what they think is a silly reason. Instead of fighting over it they say to try and find our purpose, the reason they brought us here. They say that this fighting will only destroy us. And… well, that’s all they said,” she finished darkly.
At this point no one spoke. Everyone was too shocked to move. Copperclaw spoke.
“I’m disappointed to say that they’re right, we should stop fighting, it only makes things worse. Even so, how can they not expect this? How dare they be mad at us? Leaving us here with no message, no warning, not even an omen! How do they expect us to just figure it out blindly? Even now, we know nothing about how to get out of here. We tried uniting, and we did, what else do they want from us? All we’ve gained from this is someone else to be angry with.” she said bitterly, and helped Cakestar back to her den.
As soon as they went into the den, the clearing exploded, but Meadowpaw was too shocked to hear anything. It sounded to her like it was coming from really far away, and she felt cold and numb. So they were here the whole time. They were the ones who brought us here. But they refuse to get us out.
Suddenly it felt like she’d just realized she’d been holding up a weight, and she’d only realized when it overwhelmed her, and she couldn’t take it. It felt as if she was finally about to let go, like she couldn’t hold on anymore to that shred of hope she’d been grasping so tightly all this time. She was about to try to utter something to Snakepaw, but all that came out was a raspy sound. She looked to Snakepaw and saw that she was shivering, and her eyes were wide. She then slowly snapped out of the shaken state and focused on forcing out words, but then slowly, she could hear the voices, as if only noticing now, and her focus could be drawn to individual ones. She froze when she heard the ones nearest to her. She couldn’t make out who they were, but she was just as aghast.
“…agree, we should have done something, then none of this would have happened!”
“…were! But how can you expect things to go fast when we don’t know where to start?! This fighting is not because of us….”
More voices were coming from behind her, some were shocked conversations, some sad, but most angry; some angry with StarClan, but mostly angry with each other. She was about to try and find where the voices were coming from, but then she stopped. Sundance had just rushed into the clearing, panting and looking stricken as well as pretty beat up.

Meadowpaw’s eyes widened as she thought she saw blood dripping from her flank. Sundance paused momentarily, taking in the scene, but then she must’ve decided it could wait. The horrified look returned to her face, and never left, as she called for Copperclaw and Cakestar frantically. The clearing grew minimally quieter, but the ones fighting didn’t look away. As soon as Copperclaw rushed out, Sundance screamed.
“BADGER!!” Copperclaw’s face immediately looked anxious. “Need…help!” Sundance gasped and sobbed.
Copperclaw’s face hardened and had a fierce and serious look. “Flame! Jayfrost! Elkheart! Amberstorm! Owlwater! Shimmerfrost! Crystalpaw! Winterpaw! Meadowpaw! Olivepaw! Go! Now!” she almost barked. Meadowpaw took one last glance at the horrific scene. What’s happening to us?!….
She rushed off with the rest of the patrol, hoping her training would pay off. As she maneuvered through the undergrowth, for the first time since she’d become a cat, she felt her eyes getting moist. For the first time, she gave up on holding it back. She let go, and let it all come out. As she kept her eyes on Sundance leading the way, with blood dripping from her wound every two steps, she stopped trying to convince herself that everything was fine. For the first time, she let the tears come out.

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