This is my very first SecretClan challenge. Because I wrote this a month ago, my writing wasn't that great, but it improves as I go along. These challenges don't have to be read in order. If you don't like this one, I recommend reading 'Crushed by Rock', 'Wings of Revenge', and '5 Words Challenge' parts 1-3. I think those are some of my best ones.
Sweetpetal inhaled deeply, trying to capture the scent of the moorflowers in her nose for as long as possible. A gentle breeze ruffled her belly fur, and she squirmed in the pleasant newleaf sunlight. This was the first perfect day since last leaf-fall, and she couldn't resist leaving the ShimmerClan camp for a little while before she'd have to return to her warrior duties.
The tall grass whispered and sighed, softly calling her name, over and over. Ssssweetpetal... Sssssweetpetal... Ssssweetpetal..
"Sweetpetal?" The new voice broke into her thoughts, yanking her by the tail from her pleasant daydreams. Sweetpetal sighed and sat up, turning to face the obnoxious Flutterbloom.
"Yes, Flutterbloom?" She asked patiently, bending down to lick a golden honey-coloured paw. "Did you want something?"
"Oh, no! I was just out here, enjoying the day, when I saw your paws sticking out of the grass..." The creamy she-cat giggled. "What about you?"
"I was doing the same. Or trying to." Sweetpetal looked away, at the forest around a hundred fox-lengths away. It looked sinister and dark, even in the bright sunlight, and she shivered instinctively. No cat went there if they could help it... the Black Forest was the sole territory of Twolegs and their filthy dens. Not just any Twolegs, either. Whenever they saw a ShimmerClan cat, or a NightClan cat from the other side of the river which marked the ShimmerClan/NightClan border, they chased after it, shouting and throwing stones. NightClan called them the Cat-haters.
"Well, do you want to hunt? Actually, I thought we could go back to camp. Heronflight has just returned from sunhigh patrol, and he might ask one of us out to hunt together! But we'll have to hurry, all the other eligible females are crowding around!" Flutterbloom snorted in disgust. "As if they don't know that he likes me better!"
"Sure, Flutterbloom." Sweetpetal wasn't really listening. She was looking at the Black Forest. A thin, dark trail of... something... was rising up from the trees. "What is that...?" She wondered aloud.
Flutterbloom looked over there, too, and let out another high-pitched giggle. "Oh, that's probably just the Cat-haters, doing their silly things again! Come on, Sweetpetal, we won't make it back to camp in time!"
A gust of wind suddenly blew from the direction of the Forest. Sweetpetal gasped as she caught a whiff of an all too familiar, deadly scent... smoke!
"Help!" She screeched, just as she spotted a lick of flames between the black tree trunks. "FOREST FIRE!"
"What?!" Flutterbloom inhaled sharply, also looking in that direction. Her eyes widened in fear. "HELP! WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE!" She yowled, even louder than Sweetpetal's screech.
"We have to get back to warn the camp!" Sweetpetal cried, already starting to race in the opposite direction, where the ShimmerClan camp was concealed in a shallow dip in the ground. "Before the fire spreads to the moors!"
"It's too late!" Flutterbloom hurried to catch up, already panting. "It's spreading like wildfire!"
"Maybe because that's what it is," Sweetpetal gasped between breaths. Her thin, lithe body and strong paws could propel her to enormous speeds; she was the fastest runner in ShimmerClan. But would she get to camp in time to save the others?...
The wind had suddenly changed direction. Now it blew fiercely from the direction of the Black Forest, speeding the flames along directly on their path to the ShimmerClan camp. Thank goodness the camp was situated close to the wide ShimmerNight river... precisely if anything like this ever happened.
Unfortunately, every greenleaf it always did.
This time, though, it was the Cat-haters fault, Sweetpetal thought fiercely. They were the ones who had started this. Because of them, the whole Clan could be doomed.
At last, ahead of her, she spotted the cat guarding the entrance to the camp: Breezefeather. "Sweetpetal?" He called in a puzzled tone. "What's wrong?"
"Forest fire! The moor is being destroyed!" She shrieked, not even slowing down. "We have to get Vineleaf and her kits out of camp before anyone else!"
Breezefeather didn't hesitate; everyone in ShimmerClan knew the dangers of moor fires all too well. He jumped to his feet and ran down the slope, heading straight for Moonstar's den. Sweetpetal stopped, panting, in front of the nursery, and stuck her head in. Inside, Vineleaf was napping peacefully with her three kits curled up next to her.
"Vineleaf! Moor fire!" Sweetpetal meowed, trying not to be too loud. "We have to get out! It'll reach us any minute!"
"Wh-what?" Vineleaf yawned widely and opened her eyes. "Sweetpetal, I -" She stopped as the meaning of her words seemed to reach her. Her eyes opened wide, and she grabbed one of her kits. "Get the others!"
Sweetpetal picked up a brown tabby with her jaws, trying to be careful. Flutterbloom came in from behind her and grabbed the last one, a white tom. All three of them burst out of the nursery and immediately started heading up the slope to where they knew the river would be, the kits wailing in protest. All around the clearing, cats were emerging from their sleeping nests, some tired, some alert, some puzzled, a few afraid.
"Cats of ShimmerClan!" Moonstar had emerged from her den in a former rabbit hole and stood addressing the Clan, Breezefeather beside her. "A moor fire has been sighted by Sweetpetal and Flutterbloom. We must evacuate to the river immediately."
Shocked yowls and gasps reached Sweetpetal's ears, but she didn't stop to listen. Her paws ached, her lungs burned, as she struggled up the incline, desperately trying to outpace the wind, which carried the ever-stronger stench of smoke.
"Follow me!" Behind her, she heard the thud of many paws hitting the ground, all of them rushing towards the sparkling river. At last, Sweetpetal saw the deep blue waters, barely fifty fox-lengths away.
But she couldn't relax. There was a faint, steady roaring sound, coming nearer and nearer with every second. She didn't have to turn to know what it was: the raging fire.
"Sweetpetal! Hurry!" Flutterbloom screeched from next to her, already starting the sprint to the bank. "What are you doing?!"
"Sorry!" Her voice was muffled, and she inwardly cursed her hesitation. Seconds could mean the difference between life and death for her and the kit. She knew first-hand how fast fire could travel on a warm, cloudless day like this.
She began sprinting again, the poor kit dangling from her jaws and whimpering. Thankfully, it was only a moon old, or else it would have been too big for her to run with it, because it would have constantly hit the ground.
The river seemed to grow agonizingly slowly. Time seemed to slow to a crawl, and the only sound she could hear was the pounding of her feet, the howl of the wind, the roar of the hungry flames behind her...
Time seemed to speed up a little. Her paws moved a little faster. She strained with all her might; what was happening? Was this what shock felt like? Sweetpetal had heard that cats could freeze in shock and panic during a moor fire, and they couldn't seem to break free until the flames were devouring their bodies.
No. She would make it to the river. She would splash in, and swim with all her might, and reach the island in the centre before the flames reached her.
After an eternity that might have only been one second, Sweetpetal finally reached the river. She leaped in without a moments' hesitation and struck out for the island, only about ten tail-lengths away. It was the emergency camp at times like these. The kit in her jaws now hung limp; her neck ached with the effort of keeping its nose above the waves.
All around her, the noise seemed to return. Cats were yowling and jumping into the river, some were already at the island, and right next to her, Vineleaf swam strongly, keeping her kit safely above the water level.
"Keep paddling," Sweetpetal told herself firmly. "You can do this."
And she did. It only took fifteen more seconds for her paws to feel the bottom, and two more for her to deposit the kit gently onto the sandy shore. It coughed weakly and opened its eyes.
"Thank you, Sweetpetal." Vineleaf said softly next to her. "You saved my kit. In your honor, it will be called Sweetkit."
"You hadn't chosen a name for it yet?" Sweetpetal flopped onto the sand, gasping for air. Her lungs felt like they would explode if she kept breathing.
Vineleaf chuckled softly. The sounds of the surviving Clan around them seemed muted again. "Heronflight and I couldn't make up our minds."
"So he does have a mate. Everyone says that he's single." Sweetpetal could only summon up a weak feeling of surprise.
Her companion laughed, a little louder. "I'm sure he's been enjoying it."
Sweetpetal sighed and closed her eyes, blocking out the sounds of the fire roaring on their shore, and the scent of smoke. The first beautiful day of newleaf had turned into a disaster. But at least she had done what she could to save the lives of these cats. And Sweetkit.