Beta'd by Kaisong.
Both Onewhisker and Barkface were silent as they ravelled to the Moonpool. Barkface was relaxed; he seemed confident that Onewhisker was the rightful leader of WindClan. StarClan themselves had striken Mudclaw down to prove it. Onewhisker's stomach felt like it had a dozen rocks in it. His wounds from the battle still hurt, and his limbs were stiff. His body was tight with worry. What if he wasn't supposed to be the leader? What if Mudclaw had died because of him, in vain? Onewhisker hadn't always seen eye to eye with Mudclaw, but he still mourned the loss of his Clanmate. He'd never forgive himself; the Clan would never forgive him, if Mudclaw really should have been the next leader of WindClan.
But Tallstar had named him deputy, so maybe he was rightfully next in line. Night had fallen by the time they arrived and Barkface stayed at the top of the Moonpool's hill. "This is where we part. You must go alone, Onewhisker."
Onewhisker nodded. "V-very well th-then." Onewhisker walked down the slope, his small front paws sliding into the worn prints of cats long ago. He rested beside the Moonpool and felt alone with StarClan, calm, relaxed. When the moon had reached it's peak he lowered his head and lapped up the icy liquid before his paws. The silvery waters froze his insides and sent him into a deep sleep.
He opened his eyes to a shocking sight, and even blinked a few times to make sure what he saw was real. Stretching in all directions were the warriors of StarClan. Cats with silver stars glimmering in their fur. They all spoke at once, a thousand different voices yet one voice at the same time. "Welcome, Onewhisker." A little bunch of cats walked out of the throng before him, eight of them in total. He stood in silence, an untold force willing him to keep quiet.
The first cat who came forward was a black tom who had a limp to his gait; a former deputy, Deadfoot. The large tom smiled at Onewhisker. "Are you ready to receive your nine lives?"
Onewhisker's heart thumped painfully in his chest, uncertainty flashing in his eyes. WAS he ready? He swallowed hard. "Y-y-yes, I'm r-ready." His voice was shaky and weak. Some of the StarClan warriors glared at him, as if they didn't believe he was.
Deadfoot spoke with pride, happy to give his life to an old friend. "I give you the gift of loyalty, to your Clan and those who are close to you." Deadfoot's muzzle touched his head and a terrible burn seared across his body, rippling through his muscles. Memories from Deadfoot's life flashed across his mind. Battles, Brokenstar, Ashfoot, and then Deadfoot's death.
The old tom limped away and Onewhisker was left alone, his body shaking slightly, his eyes unsure about going through that eight more times. He panted a little as the second cat came forward. It was a slender brown she-cat, Onewhisker recognised Thrushwing, a young warrior who died the night Brokenstar chased them out of the camp. "I will give you the life of pride. Have pride in yourself and your leadership, and have pride in your Clan. Onewhisker closed his eyes and braced himself for the pain of battle. At first, it did come. Such terrible pain and terror surged through him. But soon a new sensation took over. The plus side of pride, a surge of power flowing through his veins like the day he had become a warrior, just ten times stronger. It dulled the sharpness of the previous blast.
She stalked back into the line of cats and the third cat came forward. She was a stony gray cat, with brown flecks plastered across her body. Onewhisker vaguely remembered her from when he was a kit, it was an old medicine cat, Thrushpelt, Barkface's mentor. She nodded to him. "I give you the gift of confidence. Use it to lead your Clan through tough times." She pressed her nose into his muzzle and his heart swelled with strength and sureness.
She was replaced by a familiar she-cat who had a long, strong body and light stone-gray fur. It was Runningbrook, a queen who had died in the battle with Scourge. Her gentle words seemed to float over to him. "I grant you the life of justice, to always be fair." Her life was a calm, nice one until the flash of red at the very end. Her gentle experience calmed his nerves enough to continue.
Runningbrook returned to the little cluster and an elderly cream-tabby tom was next. He stood and approached Onewhisker, smiling down at the small to-be leader. It was Oatwhisker, his mentor. "I give you the gift of compassion, use it to be a father and brother to all in your Clan." He rested his head on Onewhisker and a soft, bubbly wave washed through him.
With the bulk of the lives received, most of them painful, the StarClan cats gave a few seconds to let that life ease Onewhisker's pain. His body was ridged and his knees shook a little. He was trying to be strong and take it, for the Clan and for StarClan. It was proving difficult, but not impossible. Would Mudclaw have received them better, stronger? This was a harsh experience to endure. His respect for all past leaders, and for Blackstar, Leopardstar, and Firestar only grew.
One his breathing had come back to normal and his body relaxed he stood firm, his voice stronger then before. "I'm ready to continue." The cats around him purred there acceptance and cat six came forward. It was another cat who had died young, Thrushwing's brother, Stoneclaw. His smile was playful and his voice innocent. "I give you the gift of curiosity. Always feel the need to investigate." His life was an interesting experience. Feelings of joy, dread, wonder, and fulfilment! Onewhisker felt an odd sence on completion.
Stoneclaw sat beside his sister, and there was a rustle in the crowd. The cats parted and number seven pushed into the open. Onewhisker was surprised to see this cat. Powerful, mottled brown, dark tabby fur. Onewhisker's heart ached and he felt a spark of fear as he watched Mudclaw's strong body appear. The fierce warrior made way over and their eyes met. Onewhisker expected to see bitter rage shining back, but he didn't. He saw acceptance and a little jealousy.
Mudclaw's words rumbled from his throat, "I give you the life of trust. Trust in yourself, in the Clan, and in StarClan." He paused, and added with embarrassment, "Trust in cats you know are trustworthy." Mudclaw set his heavy muzzle on Onewhisker's head and it was without question the most horrible life yet. Onewhisker wanted to screech in pain, but he was shocked into silence. He felt adrenaline and power pulse through his veins in battle; he felt aggression and rage. He felt the fury Mudclaw felt when he learned Tallstar changed deputies. The most painful experience from Mudclaw was the molten-iron feeling that turned his blood to lead - betrayal. The betrayal he thought was coming from his Clanmates, and what came because of Hawkfrost, moments before death.
Such an intense blast forced Onewhisker to sink to the ground, panting. His body quaked and he felt numb and heavy. The StarClan cats waited patiently for these horrible pains to ebb away. Onewhisker took a deep, calming breath and stood up, fearlessly awaiting the next life. After that, what did he have to worry about? A young brindle tabby came next. It was Gorsepaw, Onewhisker's former apprentice, who had been murdered by Tigerstar quite some time ago. Onewhisker's heart swelled and he almost wailed. His eyes flooded with grief.
Gorsepaw padded forward and Onewhisker whimpered, "Gorsepaw, please forgive me. I tried to protect you!" Gorsepaw smiled at him but he was all business, saying only what he had been instructed to say. He purred, "I give you the gift of mentoring." Onewhisker lowered his head and there noses touched affectionately. Onewhisker felt two things from the short-lived Gorsepaw. Determination, and the horrific feeling of death and terror as Tigerstar ripped his throat out in those last seconds of life.
Once Onewhisker's fur stopped quivering and his glassy sight cleared he saw Tallstar come forward. No longer did the tom look sick, frail, and elderly. Now he looked proud, strong, and lean; the Tallstar Onewhisker remembered so well. His black and white patched pelt was glossy and sleek. Onewhisker dipped his head in respect. Tallstar smiled, "Onewhisker, you held firm in a tough time, you didn't even consider giving up. That is the kind of leader I wanted, I made the right choice in giving the Clan's fate to your paws. Lead them well."
Onewhisker nodded, promising whole-heartedly, "I will, Tallstar."
His powerful voice rang across the clearing, filling the ears of every cat. "I give you the gifts of wisdom and patience. Know when it is time to bend the rules for the good of the Clan and always be rational. I also grant that you always have an open-mind and look beyond the warrior code; follow your heart." Tallstar touched him and many memories from the long-lived leader flooded forward.
When it was all finished the StarClan cats stood, bright eyes searing into his pelt at all angels. They cheered, "Onestar!" The name spoken by so many sent a chill down his spine. "Onestar, ONESTAR, ONESTAR!" His leader name echoed around the clearing, thundering into his ears and giving him a feeling of empowerment. He stood proud, tall, a different cat from the scared, unsure Onewhisker.
He was Onestar, leader of WindClan.