Well, I did it. I told myself I'd get this up on New Year's Day, and here it is!

Hollyleaf: Yippee!

Hopeflower: I wonder who the confirmed de-

Mormeril: NO SPOILERS!

Rising Night Book 5:

The Final Battle


Eight sorrowful cats stood together, overlooking the aftermath of the War. Of the nine who had set out from the Lake moons before, eight remained. Of the twelve who had returned a moon and a half before, eleven remained. Of the fourteen brave, charismatic cats who had led the Clans, the Tribe, the Rogues, and the Lost Ones into battle, twelve remained. Two of the brave leaders had fallen in battle. Both she-cats had died bravely. They had died for love and freedom.

A pale silver tabby she-cat turned her face, her blue eyes boring into the eyes of the tom she loved. A single tear fell down her cheek before she bounded the few steps towards him, pressing her cheek to his.

"It's all right," he soothed. "She's in StarClan now. They all are."

The War had been fought and won. Evil was defeated, yet at a great cost. Their lives were now changed forever...

2 moons earlier...

The Tribe...

Lily gazed down at the valley from the cliff she was standing upon. There were cats down there. There were eleven of them. Two smaller ones, eight large ones, and one who vaguely resembled mist, only a pale gold colour, and slightly more solid than mist. Her eyes narrowed. Who were these cats and why were they here? She had never seen them before in her life.

She gasped softly as she remembered the few stories about the Clan cats that she had once heard. Could it be that these were them? Yes, that must be it! They were Clan cats! But if they were Clan cats, what business did they have with the Tribe? Could it have something to do with the huge dark clouds that were gathering in the skies?

She trembled slightly, recalling stories she'd heard of the time shortly before her birth. How the skies had been black from storm clouds, and the Clans and the Tribe had united to battle their enemy. Yet it now appeared that they had been less successful than they had thought. All signs pointed to another War, and she could feel in her blood that this War would be the greatest War ever fought.

The cats of StarClan gazed down in sorrow. The Last Stand of the Clans was coming, and the fate that awaited the Clans afterwards was entirely shadowed and hidden.

"We may have been too late," Bluestar meowed, pain in her voice as she murmured the words.

"No, it's not over yet," Spottedleaf retorted, lifting her chin. "There is still a chance, there is still hope for the Clans!"

"But not much now," Yellowfang put in, joining them.

"But not so little that we may as well give up now, Yellowfang," Raggedstar retorted, stepping forward to meet Yellowfang's gaze evenly. "There is always hope. Or have you forgotten that Shiningleaf has been reincarnated to bring hope to the Clans. If they have hope, then they stand a chance at victory."

Yellowfang's eyes narrowed momentarily, but then her gaze softened. "You're right. We shouldn't assume the worst yet."

The star-furred cats then all turned to a fluffy black she-cat with stars in her pelt. "Here's hoping your kits and the rest of the Chosen will succeed, Hollyleaf," Yellowfang meowed quietly, and the black she-cat dipped her head.

"Successful and alive," Hollyleaf added.

"They will," Spottedflower meowed, padding over to them. "I have faith in them," she purred. "We all should."

Light stalked back and forth, restless. Her mind was reeling with memories. She couldn't focus on anything.

The final battle is practically here, and I still haven't told Star how I feel! And I swore to myself that he would know! I swore that I would tell him!

Her heart sank, however, when she realized that there was no point in telling him. She recalled the last time she had caught a glimpse of her reflection in a pool of water. Her shredded ear, scarred face and body... Why would Star want someone like her? She was hideous.

There are so many beautiful young she-cats around, why would he want to pick me?

She squeezed her eyes shut. What was she thinking? Maybe Star did care about her. She had to let go of the remnant bit of her that cared more about looks than personality. Star wasn't like that. Star saw the cat inside, not the cat on the outside.

Which meant that she did stand a chance with Star.

Hopeflower glanced at her sister Moonshine, who was walking beside her. "What do you think the Tribe will be like?" she asked her sister. Her heart was racing with excitement. She had never met the Tribe cats, although she had always longed to. And finally she would get her chance. A quick glance at her companions told her all the Clan cats felt the same. Lightningstrike and Echoflower were vhattering excitedly to each other as they glanced up the rocky cliffs of the mountains, Rosepetal's head was held higher than usual, just like on the days of her apprentice and warrior ceremonies, the one outward sign of excitement the black she-cat ever gave. Oakstep's eyes were darting everywhere, and Boltpaw was bouncing like he was a kit again.

Mist was joining Boltpaw in his excitement, more for the fun of it than out of genuine pleasure that she was about to meet Tribe cats. Neither she nor Hummingbird seemed to particularly care that they were meeting a new group of cats. As rogues, it was less of a big deal to them. They were raised differently from Tribe and Clan cats, and their culture was one of staying true to themselves and valuing survival and freedom above the more traditional values of the Tribe and Clans. So to them, as cats who believed that just so long as you did what you wanted and didn't damage another cat too severely to do so you were perfectly fine, they didn't comprehend how meeting a new group of cats was so fascinating.

And Goldensong, having had the opportunity to watch the Tribe on occasion, had a similar attitude to that of the two rogues.

"Really, they're just cats, just like you and I," Mist meowed to Boltpw when they stopped for a break.

"No they're not, they're different!" Boltpaw replied stubbornly.

"How?" Mist challenged.

"They believe in the Tribe of Endless Hunting, unlike us, and they divide themselves up differently, and name themselves differently, and-"

"They have faces, legs, paws, tails, whiskers, and fur," Mist snorted. "Just like us. They're cats. Any other differences shouldn't need to count." Boltpaw blinked. "Tigerflame, the Great, said that once. When he brought Rogues and Clans together once. We Rogues never forgot it, but clearly you Clan cats did."

Lightningstrike overheard Mist's comment, and stored it in the back of his mind. It would certainly be useful. He made a mental note to speak with her and Hummingbird at some point. As Tigerflame's reincarnation, he should have a decent idea of what exactly he would need to do. And talking to a pair of rogues seemed like the best place to start.

"What's that up there?" Moonshine asked suddenly, gazing upwards. The other cats all turned their heads to see what she was staring at.

A lone she-cat stood on the cliff, watching them. Before their eyes she then her way down the cliff-side to meet them. When she was only several feet above them, she spoke. "Welcome, Clan cats. I was wondering when you would return."

Hopeflower: I wonder who the confirmed deaths are.

Mormeril: One of them is described slightly in a sneak-peek on my website *hint-hint*


Mormeril: No screaming! I'm running on ten minutes of sleep and I'm recovering from todays caffeine crash taht followed the six 710ml bottles of Pepsi I had last night for New Year's.

All Cats: *back away slowly*

Ivytalon: REVIEW!

Mormeril: *death glare at Ivy*

Hollyleaf: *notices Mormeril and Ivy; swinging sledgehammer around nonchalantly* Sledgehammer anyone?