Jayfrost’s illustration features a cat with a crazy moustache, in this edition of…
Trailing Stars: Chapter Ten
Edited by: Jayfrost
illustrated by Jayfrost
Sunlight. Great. Not going back to sleep now, Swiftfire thought distastefully. Another sunrise. Another day. And BlogClan was miserable. No food. No beds. No internet. No air-conditioning. Miserable.
Swiftfire looked up when she heard pawsteps nearby. It was her denmate, Shiveringrose. She lifted her head and forced a smile. “Hi, Shiver,” she mewed.
Shiveringrose looked awful. Her ribs were clearly visible and the paleness in her nose looked extremely unhealthy. Her blue eyes were dull. I probably look just as bad, Swiftfire decided. She was trying mask her misery and self-pity, but she guessed that Shiveringrose could most likely see through it all.
“Oh gosh, Swifty. You look awful,” Shiveringrose said at last. Yep. I do look just as bad. Maybe worse. Great. “When was the last time you ate?”
And of course Shiveringrose had found her way through the mask. Perfect. Swiftfire gave a sigh. “The last time I ate a decent meal was when I was a human,” Swiftfire grumbled in response.
Shiveringrose grimaced. “I’m afraid we’re all having a tough time with this.”
Swiftfire frowned. “We’re all starving. I guess that’s what happens when humans turn to cats.” She winced for a moment. “We could all die in this forest, and our families would have no idea what happened.”
Shiveringrose started to open her mouth, but was cut off by a yowl. “All members of BlogClan, please gather beneath the High Ledge for a Clan meeting.” Cakestar. She was very brave to take charge of BlogClan, especially in a time like this. Cakestar held the Clan together. Without her, BlogClan would dissolve into an anarchy of starving cats fighting over each scrap of prey. BlogClan may not be strong, but they had order. And that was all thanks to Cakestar.
Each cat gathered around the High Ledge, Swiftfire sitting between Shiveringrose and Dawnfrost. She was glad she still had them around. At least they weren’t alone.
Swiftfire scanned the clearing. She saw Cinnamonpaw and Nightflower sitting together, both whispering quietly to one another. She also spotted Blizzardkit, who was next to Minnie, grooming her paw. Then she noticed how sickly everyone looked. Cinnamonpaw’s brown fur was so dull that it looked grey. Nightflower’s stomach was swollen and her ribs were very visible. Blizzardkit was looking awfully scrawny for a kit of her age. And tall of their eyes were glazed. Swiftfire frowned at the sight. Her Clanmates were starving, and she barely knew how to catch a mouse. BlogClan was suffering.
“Today we are going to build proper dens,” Cakestar announced clearly, her gaze flittering around the clearing. “Dawnfrost, Dreamcloud, Hazelburrow, Sparkpaw, and Swiftfire – I want you building the nursery. Kat, Rainsong, Dayshadow, Shiveringrose – I want you to build the apprentices’ den. Rainbowheart, Leopardpaw, Owlsong, and Silverwind – I want you to be building the elders’ den. Brightshadow, Dappleleaf, Shimmy, and Flowestream – I want you to work on the warriors’ cat den. Dawnblaze, Mosstail, and Echowish – I want you to work on the medicine cat’s den.” She then looked directly at Jayfrost. “Jayfrost, Cinnamonpaw and Silverpaw – I want you to patrol the to look for Sandykit. She has been missing for a few days, and she needs to be found. Report back to me when you are done.” A few silver she-cats looked up. “Silverpaw – no, not you, the Silverpetal one,” she added for clarification. And then she continued, “Minnie, Whitetiger and the kits, I want you to stay near the centre of camp where you are protected. Copperclaw and Dawnmist, I want you to supervise. As for the rest of you, I want you to collect moss, bracken and other den-building materials. We need to make this Clan functional as soon as we can.” And with that, she flicked her tail and hopped down from the High Ledge.
The cats began to form into their groups. All of the cats who were put into groups for den building gathered around Copperclaw. Swiftfire stood next to Sparkpaw and Leopardpaw, then looked up at Copperclaw. She met the brown tabby’s gaze and dipped her head.
Dawnmist was standing at Copperclaw’s side. The two of them looked over the group. Then Copperclaw raised her tail. “Alright,” she mewed, stepping forward. “Let’s get down to business. While the others are getting our materials, we should start planning. First things first. We need to make these makeshift dens stronger. We need to plan out how we’re going to do this. Since we are a group, let’s take suggestions. Raise your tail if you have an idea. And we’re going to be civil, so no insulting the ideas of others and no arguing. Got it?”
Each cat nodded. Dawnmist murmured her agreement.
“Good. Now let’s take suggestions. Who would like to propose their idea first?”
There were a few seconds of awkward silence. Then Sparkpaw held her tail up. Copperclaw nodded to the apprentice. “I-I was thinking that maybe we could use bracken and twigs to hold up the side of the den and then put moss in the middle? And, um, we could put stones at the bottom rim of the den to hold it up straight?” she suggested.
Dawnmist nodded in approval, her unwavering stare hanging over each cat.
Owlsong raised her tail as well. “Well, there’s a honeysuckle bush near the centre of camp. We could also use that as a den. We could make comfortable dens with moss and bracken. Maybe it could be the elders’ den for Minnie and Whitetiger.”
“Hmm,” Dawnmist mewed. “I like both of those ideas. Any other suggestions?”
Hazelburrow lifted his tail. Dawnmist nodded to him, eyes sparkling. “Maybe we could try underground dens. We could try to use the materials we get from our Clanmates as well as the materials from the makeshift dens to keep it up,” he said, his eyes fixed on Dawnmist.
Copperclaw and Dawnmist both nodded, but Copperclaw spoke. “Hmm. I am not entirely sure if underground dens would work. They could cave in. But good idea, anyway. We’ll consider your suggestion.”
No one else had raised their tails. There were a few moments of silence. Dawnmist looked at each cat. “Any other suggestions?” No one spoke. “Alright. Now let’s figure out a way we can build these dens.” She exchanged a glance with Copperclaw. “Give Copperclaw and I a moment to discuss this before we announce our final decision.”
The two she-cats turned their heads away, muttering to each other. Their voices were inaudible, so Swiftfire decided it wasn’t worth eavesdropping on. She glanced to Dawnfrost. The cream-coloured she-cat was awfully thin. Dawnfrost’s expression was unreadable to Swiftfire, but Swiftfire scooted closer to her former mentor on the blog. She twisted her jaw, trying to think. She was with her former mentor. They were actually meeting now. Swiftfire remembered when she had dreams of meeting BlogClan. Most of her dreams were very strange. Especially the one where Dawnfrost was a unicorn. But in this circumstance, meeting BlogClan was not fun. It was not a party. It was life, a struggle against famine. They had to learn the ways of the wild without anyone teaching them. Unite or die, just like the books.
Dawnfrost looked at Swiftfire. “You okay?” she asked quietly.
Swiftfire blinked. The sound of Dawnfrost’s voice had shaken her from her own dark thoughts. “Yeah,” Swiftfire muttered. “Just thinking.”
The cream she-cat nodded but said nothing more.
Dawnmist and Copperclaw then turned to face the group of cats preparing to build dens. Copperclaw nodded decisively to Dawnmist. “Alright. We’ve decided that we’re going to use Owl’s idea of using bushes for den. We can also mix in Hazel’s suggestion of using the materials from the makeshift dens. And we’re going to partially use Sparkpaw’s idea of using bracken and sticks to help hold the branches apart. Do we have any objections?”
No cats commented.
Dawnmist nodded. “Alright. The cats who left to collect materials should get here soon. You may now break off into your sub-groups.”
Swiftfire padded over to Dreamcloud, who she’d remembered was in her group. The dilute calico glanced at her then looked around for other group members. Dawnfrost, Hazelburrow and Sparkpaw were all together, heading towards where Dreamcloud and Swiftfire were. The nursery group was together.
Soon after the cats were gathered into their groups, Lightningpaw was the first to enter the camp. Sparkpaw and Hazelburrow had already disassembled the makeshift nursery and were beginning to spread apart the branches of the bush they’d decided as the nursery. It was a reasonably large lilac bush they were using, and Swiftfire could smell the sweet flowers from where she was.
Lightningpaw had a very large bundle of moss tucked under her chin. She padded up to Swiftfire and dropped it on the ground. “Here,” she mewed.
Swiftfire gave her traditional forced-smile she’d been using the whole time they were in the wild. “Thanks,” she mewed gratefully.
Lightningpaw didn’t smile back. “No problem.” She let out a sigh. “We’re all starving and we still have to do chores.”
Swiftfire’s eyes shone with sympathy. “I know, Lightningpaw. But at least Cakestar is keeping us together,” she offered, trying to see things on the bright side.
“Yeah,” Lightningpaw mumbled. Then she padded in the other direction to get more moss.
As the apprentice left, Swiftfire frowned. She noticed that Lightningpaw was awfully small and bony. The young she-cat clearly hadn’t had enough food to grow strong. Swiftfire decided that it’d be best not to think too hard about it. She picked up the moss and padded over to where her group was beginning to build the nursery. “Here.” She tossed the moss into the bush where she could see Dreamcloud’s fur.
“Thanks,” Dreamcloud replied, picking it up and getting back to work.
Swiftfire nodded. Then she looked over where she saw a hazel-coloured tom. “Hey, Hazel. Need any help with whatever you’re doing?”
“Yeah, come help me push this branch away with the bracken and sticks,” Hazelburrow said.
Swiftfire nodded and climbed into the bush. She used one of her large paws to hold it up, holding her tail straight on the ground for balance. “Here, you put the bracken and sticks under while I hold it up for you.”
He nodded and did as she’d suggested. Once it was held up, she let go. “There,” she sighed. The branch was held up. “Alright, I’ll go see if there’s more moss and other materials for the den.”
The hazel tom dipped his head. “Okay. Thanks for helping.”
“No problem,” she mewed before ducking out of the den.
She saw that there was now a pile of moss, leaves, bracken and twigs stacked up outside of the dens. Swiftfire grabbed as much as she could carry and headed back to the to-be nursery. She padded inside the den, where Dawnfrost was beginning to build nests.
With the den materials in her jaws, Swiftfire passed her former mentor a clump of moss and bracken, then scooted next to her. Dawnfrost looked up. “Thanks,” she muttered, taking the materials and fixing them together.
Swiftfire nodded and began to help her out.
By the end of the day, the dens were built. Each cat stood with pride in their eyes. Swiftfire felt that BlogClan had begun to bond. She felt Lightningpaw brush next to her, and this time the apprentice was smiling. Swiftfire smiled back, a sincere, true smile. Finally order was beginning to come to their Clan. Things weren’t perfect, but at least they had something. They had each other. Together they stood. Scrawny, thin, weak, famine-struck, and sickly yet still together. Swiftfire lifted her head with pride for her Clan.
When she was a human, she always believed that BlogClan was a very fine group of people, but she never had imagined things would turn out like this. Forced from humans to cats, but they stood against their struggles side-by-side.
Cakestar stepped into the clearing, eyeing the dens. Even she gave a smile. “Very good,” she said, her voice full of approval. “I’m very proud of you all. Thank you for working together.”
Happy murmurs sounded from the crowd of cats.
Swiftfire smiled, and glanced around. She was very fond of all of her Clanmates. Clanmates…
Suddenly a realisation dawned upon her. Oh no. No, no, no. Her smile disappeared. She gulped, feeling cold. She didn’t want to stop the happy chattering of her Clanmates, but…
“The patrol,” she said aloud. The sound of her Clanmates’ joy had stopped abruptly. “The patrol isn’t back.”
Cakestar looked straight at Swiftfire, an unreadable expression now on her face. “The patrol…” she echoed in a very soft voice. There was a silence among the cats. A deafening silence. Despite not a word being spoken, the silence seemed louder to Swiftfire than anything.
Then the sound of breaking twigs sounded from the camp entrance. All gazes flickered to the sound’s source. A familiar grey-brown she-cat had run into the camp, an unknown item between her jaws. Her dark amber eyes were round with horror. There were no other cats behind her.
Jayfrost. Only Jayfrost.