Disclaimer: I don't own Warriors, Erin Hunter does.
Where is Mothwing?
That was her first thought as she looked around the holy grounds of StarClan's hunting ground. To her it seemed to somewhat resembled the beloved clearing of their old forest, although there was a fresh, clean scent in her nose like that of the Moonpool. No StarClan cats could be seen, but the myriads of stars shining brightly above her told her that they weren't far behind.
More than the abscence of her warrior ancestors, Mistyfoot was more concerned of that of Mothwing. The medicine cat was always supposed to be beside the new leader as he/she receives their nine lives from StarClan, so why wasn't she here? Was she unable to reach here?
"Have no fear, noble warrior," spoke a hauntingly familiar voice from behind, snapping her senses back into the present. She quickly turned around to see a large tom, his russet pelt and amber eyes glimmering with starlight, walking calmly towards her from a distance. The stars that littered the sky were now falling on the clearing, every point of light materializing into a StarClan cat. Although many of the faces were familiar, she couldn't help but stare at the first StarClan cat she's ever seen with wonder in her eyes.
"Oakheart," she whispered in amazement, taking a careful step towards her father. He made no movement to stop her, even caring to touch her nose in welcome.
"I have expected this day to come," he said quietly.
"We all did," said yet another familiar voice behind him. Mistyfoot watched in shock as a blue-gray she-cat stepped forward to stand evenly behind Oakheart; Bluestar, her mother and the former leader of ThunderClan. "I can't be more proud of you than I am now."
Mistyfoot touched noses with her as well, but old worries soon rose again. "Where is Mothwing?" She asked worriedly. "I was assuming she would be here..."
"Mothwing is not connected to StarClan in the way other cats are," rasped an ancient yet also familiar voice.
"Mudfur!" Mistyfoot exclaimed in surprise as the former RiverClan medicine cat (and Mothwings mentor) stepped forth to answer her question. "But... I don't understand. What do you mean she's not connected to StarClan?"
"All will be made clear once the ordeal is over," Oakheart assured her. "But now, we must carry on with the ceremony."
Realizing what was coming, Mistyfoot quietly bowed her head down as her father stepped toward her again.
"With this life I give you confidence," he said quietly. "Use it when your faith in yourself wavers." As he said this his nose touched hers, and she suddenly supressed the urge to scream in panic. An abrupt heat shot up through her system, as if her blood was suddenly on fire. She gritted her teeth in agony as the flame quickly spread throughout her veins, until she felt as if she had become nothing but a pile of ash. As soon as that feeling came the pain vanished like mist, leaving her herself again.
"I couldn't be more proud of you," Oakheart's voice snapped her attention back onto her father, who was already walking away to join his Clanmates around her. In his place now stood Mudfur. Mistyfoot's last memory of him was a dying old heap of fur in the old RiverClan camp; now he was nothing less than what he was: a noble StarClan warrior.
"With this life I give you wisdom," he said, touching her nose in a similar fashion to Oakheart. "Use it when knowledge alone isn't enough to guide yourself as you lead your Clan." This time, a small gasp did escape Mistyfoot as the most peculiar sensation overtook her. It was as if her eyesight had suddenly enhanced a thousandfold; she was looking at Mudfur, but suddenly her eyes zoomed in on StarClan's hunting ground far beyond, and then to places where not even her ancestors have ever set paws on. However, before she could even register the bizarre scenes that unfolded before her, the feeling was abruptly over, and Mudfur was walking away from her. Was it just her imagination, or did she hear him whisper "I don't regret choosing Mothwing to succeed me,"?
In front of her now stood Rippletail, the RiverClan warrior who had recently travelled with other warriors upriver to find what had caused the drought around the lake. Although they had succeeded, he failed to return alive to hear the good news. "You've done well, Rippletail." Mistyfoot managed to croak out, too caught up with emotions to say something more proper.
Rippletail blinked in understanding as he motioned her forward. "With this life I give you responsibility," he spoke as their noses met. "Use it to answer whatever happens within your Clan and whatever happens to it, for you are the leader." Once again she felt strange, but in a different sense. This time she began feeling as if her feet were slowly getting heavier. Although she was aware even with closed eyes that nothing was happening to her, her body kept feeling as if it was slowly being pulled toward the ground until she was almost sure that she was sinking right through it. Just as the feeling began to engulf her head and tempted her to cry out in panic, the feeling stopped again.
"I'm sorry I let Petalfur return alone, Mistyfoot..." Rippltail spoke somewhat sadly as he stepped back, allowing a very familiar silver she-cat to take over in his place. In shock Mistyfoot recognized her long-lost former apprentice.
"Feathertail," she whispered. Feathertail purred softly upon facing her. While she was always pretty like her mother, as a StarClan cat she looked glorious... and happy. Truly happy.
"With this life I give you sympathy. Use it well, for there are only so many cats in this world who deserve it," she said as she touched noses with Mistyfoot, who was now ready for any kind of strange feeling. This life, though, wasn't exactly odd; as soon as Mistyfoot felt the life enter her she began seeing images of things that have happened during the Clans' past; Brokenstar looming over the dead bodies of ShadowClan kits; Graystripe wailing over Silverstreams' dead body; Stonefur dying in agony as Blackfoot and Darkstripe viciously tore at him; Crowpaw yowling in horror as Feathertail fell from the cave celing; the kits wailing in pain during the Great Journey; Squirrelflight's agony as Brambleclaw exited the Gathering on that momentful night. And every single one of the images sent a pang through Mistyfoot's heart as if it was being stabbed with hawk talons.
"If every cats act as if they were still on the Great Journey," Feathertail's voice broke through her consciousness as the vision faded. "Then the lake would be so much more peaceful..."
"Feathertail..." said Mistyfoot, surprised by the deep insight of her former apprentice; she had never seen her after she departed with Stormfur into the quest to find Midnight, but whatever that had happened on the journey had changed Feathertail for the better. As if sensing her former mentor's amazement, Feathertail smiled at her briefly before stepping back, whispering: "I'll say hi to Stormfur for you..."
"I was hoping to do that for her, Feathertail," mewed an amused voice from behind the silver cat. Mistyfoot again supressed a gasp as another silver cat almost identical to Feathertail stepped out to greet her: her friend Silverstream, who had died giving birth to Feathertail and Stormfur.
"No regrets?" All the times she had spent apart from her best friend, and that was all that Mistyfoot could ask her. Lightly shaking her head in amusement, Silverstream touched noses with her as if that was the most natural thing in the world.
"With this life I give you happiness. Use it yo guide yourself and your Clan through sorrow and into bliss," she said as Mistyfoot sighed. This life wasn't odd or painful like the others. This time, a certain contentness spread across her body, as if she was a kit nustled up against her mother again. She couldn't remember so far back, when she was still with Bluestar, but she knew that it was a happier time than now.
"Thank you, Silverstream," she said as they broke apart. Thinking of Stormfur and Feathertail she added: "I no longer think that you're mistaken."
Silverstream's returning purr was gratifying. "Tell Graystripe that I love him..." she said. "... and say hi to Millie for me."
"I will," Mistyfoot promised as her friend retreated, letting a much smaller shape to replace her. Shock nearly overcame Mistyfoot as she stared at the little kit. She had no memory of her, but it was pretty clear by the way Bluestar's eyes were laced with pain and regret as she eyed her that this was her long-lost sister, Mosskit.
"With this life I give you patience," she said as Mistyfoot lowered her head to receive her life. "Use it when it feels as if the future you're making for the Clan won't come soon enough." This time the life wasn't so painful like Oakheart's or Feathertail's, but it wasn't exactly pleasant like Silverstream's. A dull throb began spreading across her body, as she was being bruised from head to tail. Her whole body ached, and she was still thankful when it was over.
"I'll miss you, but I'm not lonely..." said Mosskit as she looked back at Bluestar, Oakheart and the rest of her family waiting among the other StarClan warriors. Then, looking straight at her sister, she said: "You're not lonely, are you?"
Mistyfoot could not answer her. Was she lonely, despite her Clan being their for her? Or was she not despite the fact that practically all her family were up here in StarClan?
"Mosskit, that was a cheeky question, and you know it," said an amused voice as a large, blue tom stepped out to greet Mistyfoot. This time she didn't flinch in surprise, although she could feel her eyes sting upon recognizing the fallen warrior.
"Stonefur..." she whispered, looking into her brother's serious but kind eyes. They blinked once in understanding as they touched noses together.
"With this life I give you dilligence. Use every bit of it to serve your Clan," said Stonefur quietly as his life flowed into Mistyfoot's veins.
No pain this time, but plenty of energy. Strength flooded her body, so much that she felt as if she could take off right from there and race all the way into the heavens. When the feeling stopped, Stonefur was already backing away. Noticing his sister's wistful look, he sighed and said: "You know, Mistyfoot, your life so far is so much like our mother... but it's not really my place to say that, is it?" Mistyfoot blinked, unable to catch the meaning of the question.
Now Bluestar stepped forward in her son's place. Mistyfoot supressed a shudder as she approached; she had seen Bluestar many times in her life, as the proud, wise leader of ThunderClan, but it was not until her death that she recognized her as her mother. Perhaps now because she could appreciate Bluestar as her mother, she could see a softer look in the blue she-cat's usually stern eyes.
"With this life I give you hope," Bluestar's voice was equally soft as she rested her nose upon her daughter's. "Use it when the future looks dark and uncertain, or when you find despair creeping into your heart."
As with all the other lives she had received, Mistyfoot had her eyes closed during the ceremony. But this time, something did enter her vision; as soon as she felt Bluestar's life entering her, behind her eyes she saw a faintly glowing orb of light. As she stared intently at it (with her eyes still closed), the orb seemed to get bigger and bigger until its very glow seemed to swallow her in a great flash of light. In shock she opened her eyes, and the light vanished. Bluestar detatched her nose from her daughter, and backed away with an amused expression.
As the former ThunderClan leader passed Stonefur as she retreated intothe crowd, Mistyfoot could hear her tell her son: "You're wrong, Stonefur. It is so much better than mine."
Mistyfoot would have been touched, were it not for the anticipation of receiving her last life. And she had a pretty good idea of who would be giving it to her...
"Welcome, Mistyfoot," said Leopardstar as she stepped forward to greet her deputy. During the last time of her life she was reduced to a sick, old cat with a somewhat deranged mind, but hat memory was nothing in front of this glorious she-cat, her spotted pelt looking as if they were burning with starlight.
"With this life I give you pride. Use it to be a leader better than I; I know you rightly deserve it," Leopardstar's words were soft, yet her tone was strong as she brought her nose to her awed deputy. Mistyfoot was so dazed by her former leader's apprearance that she was completely unprepared for the life that entered her.
The lives that she had received before were mostly shocking ones, some of them quite painful; she had to control herself so that she wouldn't yelp. But this one... this was beyond agony. Pain simply bagan assaulting her as soon as their noses touched, so strong that she couldn't have screamed if she had wanted to. Spasms of agony kept washing over her; was this how Leopardstar had felt during her last moments, when she was overwhelmed by the pain?
Separation, when it came, was a bliss. The pain ceased as Leopardstar jerked away from her, a newborn spark in her eyes as she stared at Mistyfoot. What did she see in her?
"I've done many foolish things in my life, Mistystar," said Leopardstar. She didn't back away; instead, the other StarClan cats walked forward to join her. "...but choosing you as the next leader of RiverClan will remain to be the wisest decision I've ever made in my life."
Utterly touched, Mistystar could do nothing but bow down to Leopardstar.
"Don't bow to me anymore; now you are the leader of RiverClan. Mistystar!" Leopardstar cried, as all of StarlClan began calling out her new name. Mistystar looked around at the faces of her ancestors, many of which she recognized. Upon noticing her lost family in the crowd, she began purring in delight. She had done it. Despite her losses she had followed her mother's pawsteps, and had risen to be a leader who will lead her Clan into glory.
And she couldn't wait to begin.
And so I begin... the next two stories are a plot branch. Will Brambleclaw succeed Firestar as leader, or as many fans suspect, will Lionblaze? I've made a short story for both, so enjoy! And review, but avoid the flames if you can, please... I've received my first not so long ago and it rather stung.