Trailing Stars: Chapter Nineteen
Edited by: Dawnkit
illustrated by Jayfrost
Geckopaw could hardly register the words Cakestar uttered to the Clan. The only words she cared about were the names of her Clanmates called into combat. Treacherous, bloody combat. After the patrol had left, she vaguely remembered Cakestar assigning a hunting party, but for the most part she listened with deaf ears. Ever since becoming a cat, the joy Geckopaw once felt as human had faded into the background, replaced by a seed of doubt and fear, that eventually grew and blossomed into a controlling factor in her life. Now, as her friends were called into battle, her anxiety was worse than ever. With every name called, Geckopaw’s heart sank deeper and deeper into the pit of her stomach. These were her Clanmates, and some of her best friends thrown carelessly by a group of mystical star cats into the fangs of a brutal, merciless badger. How could StarClan, who according to the books were wise and caring, be so heartless? Waves of turmoil crashed over her as she contemplated the relationships she had established with each of her Clanmates. As she toyed with these dark thoughts, the presence of her Clanmates in the cramped clearing suddenly seemed to weigh on her like a bag of rocks, and their frantic mews filled her ears. She needed some fresh air. Shakily, she stretched her long stiff legs and climbed to her paws. Just then Geckopaw’s friend Snakepaw turned her head and noticed her friend trying to navigate the clearing around the mass of cats.
“Wait!” Snakepaw panted as she raced toward her friend, careful not to crush any stray tails. Now as she drew nearer to Geckopaw, Snakepaw noticed for the first time her friend’s ragged appearance. Her white and orange fur was hopelessly matted and the gold flecks in her eyes that usually danced with light were dull and flat. “Hey,” Snakepaw whispered, “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Geckopaw muttered. “I think I just need some space right now. I’m going for a walk.”
“Do you want me to come with you?” Snakepaw replied softly. “We don’t have to talk or anything.”
“No, no, it’s fine,” Geckopaw said, a bit more curtly than she intended. Seeing the hurt look on Snakepaw’s face, she let out a long sigh. “Look, it’s nothing personal, I just need to be alone right now.”
Snakepaw stared long and hard into Geckopaw’s eyes before she finally responded. “Be careful. I don’t want you to get hurt.” With that she turned and walked away. Feeling slightly guilty for turning her friend away, Geckopaw pushed through the thistles surrounding the camp entrance, sighing with relief as the cries of her Clanmates faded into the distance. Loud noises made her head pound. But she was so lost in thought she narrowly evaded crashing into a passing patrol, led by Russetfeather. Thankfully, she managed to stop just in time.
“Omg hey Gecky!” cried Mistpaw, another one of Geckopaw’s friends. But as soon as she registered Geckopaw’s defeated expression, Mistpaw realized her mistake. Clearly, this was no time for friendly mingling. Iceshard seemed to notice this as well, for she turned towards Geckopaw with concern in her eyes.
“Is everything all right?”
“No,” Geckopaw replied bluntly, not bothering to sugarcoat. “The badger has returned, and Cakestar just sent a patrol to find and attack it.”
“Oh no!” Lionpaw yelped, her voice cracking. “Who was on the patrol?” “Are they back yet?” “Are they okay?!” With each question, Lionpaw advanced on Geckopaw until she was pressed into a tree.
“Give Geckopaw her space,” Russetfeather commanded sternly, causing Lionpaw to trot sheepishly back towards the older she-cat. “Thank you for the information, we will report to Cakestar for more details.”
Geckopaw simply nodded in response, then hurried away from her Clanmates. She had always preferred to be on her own, and as much as she hated to admit it, large groups of cats had always managed to aggravate her anxiety. Sometimes the thoughts in her head became too much for her to bear, causing her to flee from the camp simply to contemplate the troubles crowding her mind. This was what had led to the discovery of the place Geckopaw intended to visit – Dragon Rock. Named for its uncanny resemblance to its namesake’s head, she had discovered it shortly after her Clanmates had discovered the rotten twolegplace food. Although the sickness had latched on to Geckopaw as well, the stench in camp had driven her into the forest, where she had stumbled upon the landmark in a secluded clearing on the edge of BlogClan territory. For some reason, she had decided to keep the rock a secret, perhaps so she had a private place to think, or to keep that stretch of land unscathed by her Clanmates claws. They all meant well, but some of the younger apprentices could be a bit clumsy, and Geckopaw had a soft spot for nature. Even now, as she meandered casually through the trees, she could not help but grin as she spotted wildlife she had only read about in websites or dictionaries. Perched in the high branches of an oak was an elusive Northern Lapwing, and just to the left of her paws was a fabled Pacific Pocket mouse. She knew she should probably attempt to catch the rare rodent in order to feed her Clanmates, but the conservationist in her reminded her of the animals dwindling numbers, so she promised herself she would catch a normal mouse later to make up for it. Though this thought was soon forgotten as Geckopaw approached the clearing and beheld Dragon Rock towering above her in all its majesty. The sun had just begun to set behind it, causing it to appear as a dark silhouette in front of a stunning magenta and gold background.
Reverently, Geckopaw began to scale the boulder, the heat of the surface, still warm from the suns rays, soothing her aching pads. By the time she reached the top, Geckopaw was almost out of breath, but the sight she beheld completely took it away. Never before had any cat been graced with such a sight. Fresh, pure wilderness stretched out before Geckopaw, unscathed by man while insects and birds gaily sang a chorus into the night air. For the first time, she noticed the towering mountains surrounding the serene valley, and from somewhere in the distance she identified the thundering roar of a waterfall. She could have stood there all night, simply embracing the beauty of the view around her, but memories of the days turmoil came flooding back to her, and suddenly she could barely stand on her own four paws. Slowly, she sank to her knees, trying to fight the darkness, but eventually bird song and the warm stone underneath her paws lulled her to sleep. But before she closed her eyes, a dark, possibly treacherous thought managed to creep into her mind, and soon it had locked her in a grip she couldn’t shake. Could Cakestar have sent her Clanmates on a suicide mission?
* * * * * * *
Her mind still clouded, Geckopaw began to open her heavy lids, but when she glanced down at her paws, she found herself resting not on stone, but on soft, green grass. All grogginess forgotten, Geckopaw leaped to her feet, anxiously kneading the dewy grass while scanning her surroundings for a clue to her whereabouts. By scent she detected an abundance of prey, an essential asset if she was to survive here for an extended amount of time. But she also noticed a strange, almost shimmery aura surrounding the grass and trees. To her, they seemed almost like…. stars. “Oh no. No no no,”Geckopaw thought as she realized her location. “If this is StarClan,” she mused sadly, “then I must be… dead” At this her voice cracked slightly, and Geckopaw let out a small sob.
“Do not be afraid little one,” a voice from the trees said suddenly.
The sound nearly scared the pelt off of her, and she had to force herself not to bolt up the nearest tree. “Who are you? Show yourself!” Geckopaw raised her hackles aggressively, frantically trying to find the source of the voice. Then out of the blue, the voice began to chuckle, not unkindly, and a flame colored tom stepped out from the shadows.
“It is I, Firestar.”
Instinctively, Geckopaw bowed her head in respect, but she couldn’t help her mouth gaping slightly at the tom’s striking figure. Her pelt crawled with shame. Not even two feet away stood a cat of legends and fables, and she must look a wreck! But soon she caught Firestar quizzical stare, and realizing she had been staring awkwardly at him for almost a minute, finally she worked up the courage to open her mouth.
“Um, Firestar, sir, does this mean I’m dead?”
At this Firestar’s face grew somber “No, Geckopaw, ” he rumbled. “You are here for far more troubling matters. A time of great suffering is coming upon the clan.”
Although she meant no disrespect to Firestar, for a second, Geckopaw felt a flash of anger. Who was he, an immortal living where prey practically leaped into your paws, to tell her about suffering? When at last she understood what Firestar was implying, her eyes widened in despair. It would only get worse from here.
“No,” she sobbed, falling to her knees. “Please, please no”
Firestar laid a sympathetic tail over her shoulders, and caught her eyes. Geckopaw could not help but compare his emerald eyes to deep pools of sadness, and in the depths, to her horror, were ripples of fear.
“I’m afraid not even StarClan can prevent the inevitable presence of sorrow,” He murmured softly. We can only provide our wisdom.” At this he paused, seemingly debating what he was about to say. “But we would not have brought you here if we didn’t believe you could survive. Trust yourself and your Clanmates, and you will find the strength you need.” Even as he said this Geckopaw could see Firestar’s orange pelt beginning to fade and then, suddenly, Firestar was gone, his starry pelt disappearing seamlessly into the mist.
“Wait!” Geckopaw wailed, leaping forward in an attempt to follow Firestar into the depths of the of the territory. But as soon as her paws touched the ground, it seemed to fall away from her, and she found herself falling into an endless black abyss, with screams echoing all around her.
* * * * * * *
Geckopaw jerked awake, nearly tumbling off the boulder. For some reason, she could still hear terrible shrieking, and assuming it to be simply remnants of her dream, she shook her head, trying to clear her mind. Only the monstrous roar of a badger shocked her out of her stupor. These were not the wails of fictional dream cats, but those of her Clanmates, slowly being torn apart by the badgers fangs.
Before she knew what was happening, Geckopaw found herself racing through the forest, dodging trees and brambles with an agility she had never known. Her breath came in choked gasps, and her heart thumped wildly against her chest. “Let me get there in time, let me get there in time!” She played the thought over and over in her head, trying, and failing, to stay calm. In desperation, Geckopaw ran straight through a large river blocking her path, tolerating slimy green algae and who knows what else plastering her coat in order to reach her Clanmates. By the time she reached the ridge overlooking the badger’s set, she felt dizzy and light headed, causing her to pause and catch her breath.
The ridge, made of a perilous, almost vertical stone wall, was a menacing obstacle, and a fall would mean certain death for her, and without her help, possibly for her clan mates. Carefully, she began her trek, choosing a steady but determined pace. At one point a sharp stone sliced her front paw, yet she managed to limp onward, eventually reaching the grassy area over looking the set. Bracing herself for what she might see, Geckopaw tiptoed to the edge, and slowly peeked her head over.
She was completely unprepared. Although the badger was no where in sight, the scene could not be more sickening. Almost all of her Clanmates pelt were coated with blood, and they stood in a dazed huddle with a few of them limping around aimlessly. Geckopaw took all this in at once, and although a quick headcount confirmed everyone had survived the attack, some of them clearly did not have much time.
“Jayie, Jayie!” She cried, assuming the senior warrior to be a reliable stronghold during this time of crisis. But all of this crashed around her as Jayfrost uttered three single, heart stopping words.
“Who are you?” The gray brown she cat stared at Geckopaw with blank, glazed eyes, and Geckopaw could not bring herself to answer her question. Instead, in order to keep herself calm, she was assessing the situation, and formulating a plan. All of Jayfrost’s symptoms, the confusion, glazed eyes, and as she had just discovered, the head wound, pointed to a terrible injury— a concussion. She was in no condition to lead her Clanmates back to the clan, that was clear enough, so the only solution was for Geckopaw to lead them herself. Yet just when she thought things couldn’t possibly get worse, Geckopaw heard Winterpaw grunt in pain, then collapse under the weight of an unconscious Elkheart.
“Okay,” Geckopaw muttered dismally.”New plan.” Geckopaw rushed over to the black and white tom, who was obviously struggling to get back on his paws. “Listen, I know you’re in pain, but I need you to hear me out, She explained while sliding in beside Winterpaw to help bear Elkheart’s weight. “I think Jayfrost hit her head somehow, so it’s up to us to lead everyone else back to camp. Can you make it?”
“Yeah,” Winterpaw muttered through gritted teeth. “Let’s do this!”
It took some convincing to get all of the dazed cats to comprehend the lead change, but eventually they managed to set off in the right direction. While they traveled, Geckopaw began evaluating various injuries, using the basic knowledge of cat anatomy she had learned in a middle school veterinary class. So far, her greatest concerns were Elkheart, still unconscious and bleeding, and Amberstorm, who although appeared unscathed had recently started complaining of intense stomach pains, indicating internal injuries. Knowing they were running out of time, Geckopaw frantically urged the pack to pick up the pace, though Meadowpaw, barely able to stand on a severely injured leg, could clearly go no faster. On the outside, Geckopaw forced herself to appear calm, as not to frighten the traumatized cats, but on the inside she was panicking. There was no way they would make it back in time! Just when she thought the group would collapse in exhaustion, she noticed the beginnings of the camp’s entrance looming over the horizon. “We made it!” Geckopaw cried out in relief, stumbling toward the camp.
Before entering the tunnel, Geckopaw made sure all ten cats had successfully completed the harrowing journey. Thankfully, a quick scan of her surroundings confirmed the presence of all her Clanmates, and she began pushing her way through the brambles. Followed by the wounded cats, Geckopaw emerged into the clearing and collapsed in the center, sliding Elkheart off her back.
“Please,” she rasped to her Clanmates, who were already gathered in the clearing. “The patrol has been defeated, we need Dawnmist.” For a second, the clan was engulfed with a vociferous silence. Then, as if on cue, it instantaneously burst into chaos. Cries of despair echoed all around, and cats swarmed around the patrol. Geckopaw’s mind swam as the cats closed in on her, and she could only imagine how the patrol must have felt. Suddenly a strong clear voice rang through the clearing, commending respect.
“Everybody back away! I need space to work!” Geckopaw watched the cats part to reveal a very fearsome looking Dawnmist racing towards the injured cats. Even with her authority, Geckopaw doubted Dawnmist could have kept her concerned Clanmates at bay if it weren’t for Cakestar calling a clan meeting. Geckopaw began to follow her Clanmates towards the Highledge, but a soft tap on the shoulder stopped her in her tracks. She spun around to find herself face to face with Silverwind, who wasted no time explaining her presence.
“Listen, I’m not gonna ask how you ended up with the patrol, but I need to know what happened. Did you see the attack?”
“No, I didn’t. I’m sorry.” She had tried to ask Winterpaw what had happened, but every time he managed to avoid the question, or simply didn’t answer at all. “And I don’t think they want to talk about it. But is there anything else I can do…?”
At this Silverwind visibly deflated, and glanced timidly at her paws. “Actually there is. I-I don’t think Dawnmist and I can treat all these cats. I understand this asking a lot of you, but I know you have herbal experience. What we need is about five more of you. That’s why I need you to make an announcement, on the Highledge, asking all cats with any knowledge of herbs to meet Dawnmist by her den.” As if sensing Geckopaw’s fear, pleadingly, she implored, “Please, your Clanmates need you.” Then just as quick as she had appeared, she was gone.
Geckopaw’s heart sank. Her greatest fears had been summed up in one simple request. But there was no way she could refuse. Silverwind was right. Her Clanmates were dying.
Realizing Cakestar had finished her meeting, Geckopaw decided it was time to act. She slunk through the crowd, trying to act as inconspicuous as possible, and eventually she found herself at the foot of the boulders leading to the Highledge. Her legs shaking so bad she thought she would slip, she began the steep ascent. After what seemed like hours, Geckopaw reached the sacred ledge, and gazed down over her Clanmates with a mix of awe and anxiety. Mustering up all her courage Geckopaw tried to rally the clan. “Excuse me, everyone, I have an announcement.” But the words came out as a high pitched squeak, and her Clanmates continued whispering among themselves without so much as turning an ear. But Geckopaw had managed to alert one cat to her presence. Beside her Cake star’s voice boomed over the clearing, immediately captivating the clan.
“Everybody, I believe Geckopaw has an announcement to make!” Cakestar nodded to Geckopaw, indicating for her to continue. Geckopaw’s heart pounded. She felt dizzy. And even though it was medically impossible, she could of sworn she was sweating. Yet even as she looked into the eyes of her Clanmates, so filled with fear, she spotted a glimmer of a deeper, more meaningful emotion—hope. And in that moment she realized, through all the trials and all the tribulations they had faced together, she had always seen a spark of hope in their eyes. Suddenly she knew just what to say.
“Clanmates, Dawnmist and Silverwind need your help. I need everyone with herb knowledge, no matter how much or how little, to meet Dawnmist by her den for a briefing. I urge you to get out of your comfort zone, because you could be the difference between one of those cats living or dying. But I have seen amazing things happen when we join together, and I know we can beat this! Together, we will rise!”
With that she let out a yowl of triumph and sprinted towards the meeting place. Her Clanmates began to take up her call, while others raced alongside her. Together they weaved tenaciously through the crowd, spurred by adrenaline. Once they reached the den, they skidded to a halt, and stood panting, glancing amongst themselves to see who had answered the cry. To her relief, Geckopaw counted six others, more than Dawnmist had requested. There were two apprentices, Cypresspaw and Gladepaw, and four warriors, Kat, Sunnystripe, Eagleclaw, and Flowerstream, all of who Geckopaw knew personally and trusted with her life. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted Silverwind preparing a poultice for Crystalpaw, but Dawnmist was no where in sight. Just when Geckopaw thought she would die of anticipation, Dawnmist rushed out of the den, dropping sizable pile of herbs at the group’s paws. With an expression as forlorn as though they had already lost a Clanmate, she began to explain the group’s task, making sure to remind them of basic herb uses.
“Work quickly,” she finished, looking each of them in the eye as if deciding if they were prepared to bear the burden she was about to hand them.
She opened her mouth as though she had more to say, but a moan of pain from Amberstorm sent her scuttling to his side. For a second the group stared at each other in shock, then rushed to their assigned tasks. Geckopaw had been requested to do the delicate job of dressing wounds, which she accepted with great humility. The other apprentices had been recruited to prepare poultices, and the warriors were working with more advanced herbs. Her first task was attending to a deep gash on Meadowpaw’s hind leg, and now as she approached her she saw the gratuity in her eyes. Obviously she had not yet been treated. But just as she began to reach for the cobwebs by her side, her heart sank and she cursed her stupidity. For a wound this deep, it needed to be dressed with a poultice before being wrapped with cobweb. Even a kit knew that! She was about to get up and make her way towards her fellow apprentices when Gladepaw appeared carrying a leaf, filled with poultice, and wordlessly slid it towards her. Geckopaw nodded her thanks and set to work. As she was applying the poultice, she noticed a flash of white in the pink flesh—a bone. Her stomach roiled and she was forced to turn away. A grunt of pain from Meadowpaw snapped her back into focus, and she hastily returned to her work. After she finished, Geckopaw could not help but feel a tinge of pride. Although her work was clumsy, she noticed Meadowpaw sigh in relief, and with that she was satisfied.
From what she could understand, this went on for almost an hour, in which she had treated the wounds of almost every cat except Amberstorm, who were only to be treated by the medicine cats themselves. The tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat was so badly injured that Dawnmist dared not leave her side. Geckopaw cast an uneasy glance towards the injured warrior, before making her way to her next patient.
Elkheart was stretched along the ground, barely conscious from the pain. Geckopaw blanched at the sight of the she-cat’s wounds. There was a particularly nasty gash on her chest, which was still bleeding freely. Forcing herself to stay calm, Geckopaw got to work tending to her wounds, letting the repetition of the process soothe her mind and let her zone out.
Suddenly, Elkheart began making a raspy, wheezing noise each time she breathed in, her breath coming slow and ragged, as if she were having trouble breathing. Geckopaw looked her over frantically, trying to figure out what was going wrong. With a rush of horror, she realized she hadn’t looked at the chest wound close enough. There were bite marks on the wound, and one of the marks where the badger’s teeth had been had punctured into Elkheart’s chest. There was a sucking noise as air rushed into the hole every time Elkheart tried to breath. With a rush of horror, Geckopaw realized Elkheart was dying.
Geckopaw bit back a cry to Dawnmist. One glance back at Amberstorm told her that the she-cat would die if Dawnmist and Silverwind left her side. The other cats were still busy treating their patients as well. But Elkheart would die if she wasn’t given professional treatment. Geckopaw felt a rush of dread as she realized it was up to her to save Elkheart.
Panic nearly overwhelmed the apprentice. Then, Firestar’s voice spoke in her ear. Focus. Through the haze of her mind an image appeared before her, vivid and pure. The image was a striking frame of her and Elkheart, and to her amazement, it depicted Elkheart alive, with not a scratch on her golden fur. For a second, Geckopaw believed it to be merely a memory of events past. But then she realized. They were in front of Dragon Rock, which Elkheart had never visited. This was a vision of the future. And then, once again, Firestar’s voice reached her ears, echoing in the distance. Trust yourself. A shudder ran through the she-cat, but as she took a deep breath, and then another, her mind began to calm. She had to focus. Geckopaw looked back at Elkheart, forcing herself to think. The warrior’s trouble breathing had to be because the wound was keeping air from her lungs or something. She didn’t know exactly what the problem was, but it made sense to think that the best way to solve it was to close off the wound and keep the air from escaping.
Geckopaw almost reached for the cobwebs, but quickly realized they wouldn’t be enough to seal off the wound. She pressed her paws firmly against the wound, looking around desperately for something that would seal the wound enough to keep air from getting in or out.
Suddenly, an idea came to her. She looked about frantically, looking for a cat near enough to hear her. She paused when she noticed Jetclaw standing nearby. “Come here!” she snapped, not caring how harsh her mew sounded. After his initial surprise, Jetclaw padded over. She flicked her tail commandingly, ordering, “Keep your paws on this wound here and press down, and make sure you’re covering the whole wound!” Without another word of explanation, she rushed off to the supply of herbs, gathering what she would need. When she was done, she hurried back over, letting Jetclaw keep his paws on the wound while she prepared the poultice. She used all the usual herbs in her poultice, but mixed in a few less necessary ones like oak leaves and yarrow. While they weren’t necessary, she hoped if the poultice was thick enough, it would help seal off the wound more.
Once she covered the wound in poultice, she had Jetclaw roll Elkheart onto her back, and laid several dock leaves over the wound. Cobwebs would have too many gaps and would let in too much air, but she hoped the wide, thick dock leaves would cover enough. Finally, she took the long, thin strands of bindweed and wrapped them around Elkheart’s chest, looping it over her neck and between her front legs. She pulled them as tight as she dared around Elkheart’s chest, tying them into place, then stepped back, hoping beyond hope that she’d gotten it right. To her amazement, the bindweed seemed to be keeping the dock leaves in place, and the poultice seemed to have glued the leaves to her chest, leaving the wound sealed. Elkheart was still unconcious, but her breathing was no longer as ragged, and came at a regular pace. Geckopaw stared at the warrior, hardly able to believe what she was seeing.
She wasn’t sure how much time had passed before a voice spoke behind her. “What’s all this?” Geckopaw turned around in surprise. Dawnmist had left Amberstorm, and was now standing behind Geckopaw, looking at Elkheart’s dressing in surprise. Geckopaw glanced over at Amberstorm, surprised to see the she-cat looking more stable.
Anxiously, she explained, “Elkheart wasn’t breathing right. There was a wound, and air was coming out, so I thought I should seal it…” Her mew faded away as Dawnmist pushed past her to stand beside the injured warrior, briskly running her paw over Elkheart’s body.
After several moments, Dawnmist mewed, “She’s lost a lot of blood, and I’ll need to treat her some more, but she’s breathing better now.” She glanced up at Geckopaw, looking completely exhausted, but with a gleam of pride in her eyes. “You did exactly the right thing,” she told Geckopaw. “You saved Elkheart’s life.”
Relief nearly carried Geckopaw off her paws. Elkheart was really going to be okay. And she had saved her life. Pride swelled in her chest, more than she had ever felt before. Cats had begun to gather, now that the excitement about Amberstorm was over. They seemed to realize what had happened, how close they had come to losing Elkheart, and that Geckopaw had saved her life. Cats were crowding all around Geckopaw, calling her a hero.
After a while Dawnmist dismissed the Clan, reassuring them by saying that Elkheart was stable and she had other work to attend to. Geckopaw refused to budge, although Dawnmist seemed to acknowledge this and nodded solemnly as she passed by. When Dawnmist had gone, Geckopaw collapsed with relief laying her head in Elkheart’s soft fur. For what seemed like hours she lay there, completely at peace. Suddenly, Elkheart’s eyes flickered softly. Geckopaw spun around until she was gazing into her eyes, more pure and intense than she had ever seen them before.
“Geckopaw,” she rasped, her meow filled with appreciation. “I know what you did. Thank you.” Then her eyes shut, and she had drifted back into the peaceful entity of sleep. Geckopaw smiled. There was nothing more that needed to be said.
At that, Geckopaw leaned back on her haunches, and in what seemed like the first time in ages, marveled at the days events. It felt like years had passed since she had woken up that morning, and she had probably matured far too quickly in that time. Peace was like a crystalline glass, she had learned. What starts out as an impeccable piece slowly starts to chip and then to crack, and in an instant your life shatters around you. Replaying the day in her mind, she was appalled at her frivolity at some points, and at others cursed her rashness. If only she could haves a do over for the day, a chance to fix her mistakes, and perhaps to prepare her younger self for the days events. But there would be no do over. She could not change the past, only prepare for the future. Secretly, she had already begun to plan. Once Elkheart recovered, she vowed she would take her to Dragon Rock, in order to make her vision a reality. And it would take time to mend the relationships with those she had hurt. All these conflicted emotions began to make her head buzz, but for once, she had no desire to escape. She had taken her Clanmates for granted, thinking only of herself, wanting to run away from her Clanmates, her problems, and most of all her friends. But all that had changed. One thing was sure. For better or for worse, she would never be the same.