Welcome the sixth and final BlogClan Booth of the Summer Gathering! Thank you everyone for your submissions, we have been so impressed with all your work!
For now, though, here is Jetclaw’s wonderful work!
Mapleshade’s story breaks my heart. She’s a fascinating villain, and her wrath particularly towards Crookedstar, RiverClan and ThunderClan was interesting and the lengths she went to get revenge. But her backstory as I said breaks my heart. So when the gathering was announced I decided I wanted to write a short story about her kits love spurring them on to save her. I say short, but this thing evolved into 16 pages of kits trying to save their mother from the darkness. I’m actually fairly pleased with how this came out. It took me forever to get done, but it’s a completed fiction (granted there is a possibility for a story featuring where Mapleshade goes from here after being guided out of the dark by her kits 😉 ) which for me is rare. I tend to write long epics rather than one shots. So the fact that I finished this is something I’m very proud of. I was considering adding some of my in-progress works but I haven’t updated them yet, and they’re all on the wiki to be enjoyed. This one is an all new fic 😉 so enjoy. Also note the allegiances of ‘The Love of her Kits’ is the same as Mapleshade’s Vengeance.
The Love of her Kits
Patchkit shivered, the river water was so cold and so dark he couldn’t see the bottom. Even the stone he Larchkit and Petalkit stood on was partially submerged, the water up to their bellies tugging at their fur. He spared a glance back towards their mother who jumped into the water and was struggling towards them, fear gripped his heart. ‘Hurry mama, I’m scared,’
Suddenly there was a roar from upstream and his sister shrieked drawing his gaze to a wall of water that was bearing down on them. Patchkit’s ears pressed to his skull his tail curled inwards as he stared at the seemingly giant branches and debris that was heading right for them.
Distantly he heard Petalkit shout something at Mama, he glanced towards her seeing Mapleshade get pushed farther away from them by the current, but that was all he saw before water consumed his whole world and Patchkit was swept off the rock.
He flailed his back being shoved against something hard pain radiating out from the impact his mouth opening to cry out only for water to rush in instead. He tried to cough but his lungs didn’t have the air to force out the water. He couldn’t tell which way was up or down, only that there was pain from his water logged lungs to his aching back.
He tried to open his eyes and at first saw only the blackness of swirling water, and dark spots that began to make even that difficult to perceive. His lungs burned and stung but the feeling was beginning to grow distant, he opened his eyes and thought he could see mama. Her face blurry and obscured by the spots and the water. But as he closed his eyes once more he imagined her soft purr, her warm body curled around him and his siblings every night, and slowly the pain faded away. The warm memory carrying him into oblivion and Patchkit knew no more.
Patchkit became aware of soft grunts and mews along with the press of fur against his side. He squinted open his eyes and before they adjusted to the sight he thought he was back in the nursery with mama and his siblings, with the bright lights coming from the gaps in the leafy canopy above ThunderClan territory.
But instead he found himself and his siblings – the source of the soft fur beside him who were slowly waking up as well – standing on the other side of the river bank with Silverpelt shining brightly down on them, casting such bright light the world around them bled silver.
“Did we make it across?” Petalkit asked him looking around bewildered by their bright surroundings the river lapping quietly beside him, it’s current calm as a slumbering kit. “It was so cold… I was so scared,”
“Mama must have gotten us across,” Patchkit said trying to sound confident, but everything felt… weird. He didn’t feel any pain, despite what he’d endured in the river. He didn’t feel… anything if he was honest. No hunger, no pain, no tiredness, he was just… there.
“Where is Mama?” Larchkit asked quietly, ears lowered he looked around desperately for any sign of their mother, Patchkit and Petalkit doing the same.
“Your mother is not here,” A cat stalked over to them, this cat was a golden she-cat with creamy mottles, behind her stood a she cat who looked similar to their mama, she was a ginger colored cat with amber eyes.
Patchkit’s heart sank, “Where is she?” He asked, “Is she okay? She was struggling in the river and-”
“I want mama,” Petalkit wailed looking at the two cats with big pleading eyes. “Can you please take us to her?”
“Yeah I wanna go home too,” Larchkit mumbled scuffing the dirt under his paws.
The ginger she-cat’s eyes seemed to fill with sorrow while the golden she-cat’s eyes hardened.
“We are here to take you three to StarClan, your mother cannot be with you now. She must live on. My name is Oatspeckle, I was once the ThunderClan medicine cat,” She meowed simply back straight, before her tail flicked to the other cat. “This is Softfeather, Mapleshade’s mother,”
That caught Patchkit’s attention and he turned and looked at Softfeather who’s head was bowed but she was looking at them, him in particular with such a sad look. What was with that look? But he straightened up and put on his nicest expression and nodded to her. He could see a faint glimmer of recognition? Joy? Love? It was gone too quick as Softfeather shifted her gaze to look at Petalkit and Larchkit.
“But, I want to stay with mama,” Petalkit meowed tail drooping. He glanced back at the river. “Is she going to be okay?” He asked looking back at Oatspeckle and Softfeather.
A shadow seemed to cross Oatspeckle’s face and Softfeather’s eyes shone with worry. But Oatspeckle turned away towards the light that was in the distance. “Your mother is fine,” She said simply, “Come, we must get you settled in StarClan,” She turned back to pluck up Petalkit by the scruff of her neck while Softfeather moved to pick up Patchkit.
“I can walk on my own paws,” Patchkit meowed firmly ducking away from her. “Carry Larchkit, he needs it,” He told her nodding to his brother.
Softfeather blinked but did as he asked moving to pick up Larchkit and turning to follow Oatspeckle gesturing for Patchkit to follow.
Patchkit spared one last glance towards the calm river, nothing like the one his mother could be struggling in. He strained his ears trying to imagine what she’d say. When he heard nothing, he turned to follow a shiver going down his back as a breeze ruffled his fur carrying with it the faintest sound of a wail from the land of the living.
The wail of a mother who had lost the things most precious to her.
Once Patchkit and his siblings were ‘settled’ Oatspeckle left them with Softfeather who had apparently been designated to watch over them. They were in a den that resembled the one in ThunderClan… it was so similar that Patchkit almost forgot a few times that they weren’t in ThunderClan.
It was the lack of mama that broke the illusion every time.
Ever since they’d left the river a nagging feeling hadn’t left Patchkit. He was beginning to become certain he’d heard something in the wind when they’d left but Oatspeckle told him to pay it no mind. That everything was fine now and he should just enjoy his afterlife.
But how could he when he didn’t know if Mama was okay?
It was hard to know how much time had passed since the river had taken them away from Mama, but it was too long for Patchkit to be left without knowing how his mother was doing.
He’d tried asking Softfeather, but every time he did she’d glance away and ask him if he wanted to go play or something else.
It was clear that Softfeather did everything she could to try and make them happy, from find ing sweet treats for them to eat, and bringing other kits and apprentices to come play with them. Which was a little interesting although Smallkit (or Smallstar on some days) could get a bit full of himself. Like he’d go from being a kit to suddenly acting all mature and responsible. It was a little weird for Patchkit, but Petalkit thought it was funny so he didn’t protest when Softfeather brought Smallkit and his siblings around.
Softfeather obviously wanted them to be happy, but there was a resignation to her actions. When she thought Patchkit and the others weren’t paying attention, she would pace around looking to the sky as if she was seeking for some sort of sign, like there was a power beyond StarClan that she could implore for help.
She was pacing again today a little more hastily, like she wanted to run somewhere but was stuck here with them. Petalkit and Larchkit were playing a game of mossball nearby, he was supposed to be playing with them, but he’d seen Softfeather and hadn’t been able to focus back on the game.
A soft green shape smacked him in the side of the head, jolting Patchkit from his thoughts the little tom twisting his head in the direction it had come from to see his siblings trotting over, looking concerned.
“What’s up Patchkit?” Petalkit asked.
“Yeah, you’ve been distracted since we got here,” Larchkit added.
Patchkit brushed the mossball off his muzzle and looked down tail twitching, “I think there’s something bad that’ll happen to Mama,” He meowed.
Petalkit and Larchkit exchanged bewildered looks, “You think so?” Petalkit asked.
Patchkit glanced over to where Softfeather was still pacing, “Softfeather tries to keep us from noticing, but look, doesn’t she look like a rat caught in a trap?” He asked.
Petalkit and Larchkit looked over before looking back at Patchkit.
“It… could mean that something bad it going to happen… But it doesn’t necessarily have to be about Mama,” Larchkit offered ears lowering.
“But if there is something bad going to happen then it could affect Mama!” Patchkit said firmly, Petalkit nodding ears lowering shooting glances at Softfeather. “We need to find a way to see what’s going on and how we can help Mama!” Patchkit meowed looking around before walking away from the den that Softfeather took care of them in.
“But how can we find out what’s going on?” Petalkit asked bewildered hesitating before following after Patchkit, Larchkit trailing just behind her. “We’re not warriors,”
“If Smallkit,” Patchkit could feel Petalkit’s glare in the back of his head, “Fine, Smallstar, can have died a kit but be a clan leader in StarClan, then we have the right to know what’s going to happen to our mother!” He said heading in the direction he vaguely recalled Oatspeckle heading in when she left them with Softfeather.
“Yeah, okay, but how are we going to find out anything? We don’t know how to look down and observe the living like the older cats here can,” Larchkit pointed out looking around at the lush green and bright scenery, glancing back every so often to make sure Softfeather hadn’t noticed they’d left yet.
“Then we’ll ask one of the older cats how to do it,” Patchkit meowed firmly keeping his focus forwards
“Oh I know!” Petalkit meowed bouncing forwards to come up beside Patchkit, “We can go find Smallstar or one of his siblings!”
Patchkit groaned ears flattening and he rolled his eyes, “Petalkit you have to stop being obsessed with him, just because-“
“No listen!” Petalkit cut him off, “Smallstar and his siblings helped add to the warrior code, the one where clans are supposed to help kits regardless of clan,”
“Of course he did,” Patchkit muttered.
“But they did it by visiting one of the cats who let them drown,” Patchkit cringed at the word memories of his death flickering past before he squashed it. “So he knows not only how to see the living, but how to visit them too,”
That got Patchkit’s attention, he turned to Petalkit, “Wait you’re saying we could actually go and see Mama?” He demanded.
Petalkit nodded, “According to Smallstar,”
“Then we need to find him or one of his siblings!” Patchkit meowed taking off in a run, changing course towards the moor where WindClan cats would probably like to roam.
“Right!” Larchkit agreed bounding after him with Petalkit bringing up the rear with a purr.
“Now you’ll have to be nice to him,” Petalkit meowed.
“If he can help teach us how to see Mama and talk to her, he’s my new best friend,” Patchkit meowed firmly leading the three to the moor.
It took a bit of effort but Petalkit was able to get them to Smallstar, unfortunately he wasn’t alone.
The three kits ducked down behind some tall grass peering out to see Smallstar speaking with some older cats. It was some discussion about WindClan leadership so it was of no importance to Patchkit. His tail lashed behind him as he waited impatiently for an opportunity to speak with Smallstar. The longer they waited the more he worried about Mama.
Finally, the cats with Smallstar bid him farewell and went away, thankfully not in the direction of the tall grass that hid the three kits.
Once the two StarClan cats were gone Smallstar turned in the direction of the grass, “Patchkit, Petalkit, and Larchkit, you three can come out now,” He meowed walking towards them whiskers twitching as the three poked out from their hiding place, Petalkit looking a bit abashed. “You know you don’t have to hide, we’re all members of StarClan here. There are no clan rivalries,”
“We know, but I doubt they’d let us ask what we wanted to ask,” Patchkit meowed coming to stand in front of Smallstar craning his little head back a little to look up at the tom.
“Oh?” Smallstar cocked his head at this, “And what is that?”
Patchkit took a deep breath, “We want you to help us see our Mama, we’re worried about her,” He meowed.
“I thought we were going to ask how to talk-“ Patchkit’s tail smacked over Larchkit’s mouth to silence him. Smallstar narrowed his eyes at the three, before letting out a sigh and shook his head.
“You have to let your mother live, you can’t guide her paws from your viewpoint in StarClan,” Smallstar meowed, “She must find her own path,”
“Well that’s all well and good, but yet everyone seems super worried about us and our mother, to the point you won’t even let us see her!” Patchkit burst out. “I mean they sent you, a clan leader apparently, or a special kit who helped add to the code to come spend time with us!” He gestured with his tail to his siblings, “A couple of half clan kits! There’s something nobody’s telling us, and it involves our Mother.” Patchkit’s ears flattened, “You can’t keep us in the dark! Whatever it is you have to tell us!”
Smallstar narrowed his eyes, “And what if what I tell you is bad?” He asked, “What if I told you your mother was going to die soon, what do you think you’d do? You think you’d be content to just sit back and let it happen, or would you step in and try to stop it?”
“Mama’s going to die soon?” Larchkit whispered stepping back ears and tail drooping.
“Of course not!” Patchkit snapped his fur fluffing out, “I just want to know what’s going on! Why all the secrecy! Why everyone’s on edge around us and about Mapleshade,”
He could see the flicker of something in Smallstar’s eyes when he heard his mother’s name, it made Patchkit’s blood boil. “You know something! You have to tell us! You have to!” He cried
Petalkit came forwards before Smallstar could speak moving in front of Patchkit. Patchkit opened his mouth to tell his sister to step back but Petalkit began speaking.
“Smallstar, you told me about how you and your siblings went and spoke to that cat ages ago, to try and make sure no innocent kits died. Despite that, we died. Let us help the living like you did, let us see our mother, let us help her.” Petalkit begged stepping forwards looking up at Smallstar with an imploring expression. “She’s our mother, don’t force us to spend the rest of our existence worrying for her, if we can’t do anything… at least let us see her,”
Smallstar winced, he looked at the three of them, “You’re not going to leave until you have some answers?”
Patchkit nodded, Petalkit and Larchkit doing the same, and Smallstar sighed.
“All right, you three made a fair point, I’ll show you your mother,” He meowed rising to his paws and began walking. The three kits following after him.
They found themselves in an area that resembled Fourtrees, except there was no great rock instead there were puddles. He led them up to one, glancing around to make sure no one was around before nodding for them to sit around it.
“Here, these puddles in StarClan can be used to see the living,” Smallstar meowed in way of explanation, “It tends to respond best to kin of the cat that want to see them, so Patchkit touch the puddle’s surface and state your mother’s name,”
Patchkit peered at the clear water, he could see the grass at the bottom of the puddle, but he wasn’t going to argue with Smallstar, so he reached out and gave the puddle a quick dab. “Mapleshade,” He meowed, “Show us our mother,” He added.
The ripples made from him tapping the surface moved outwards the bottom of the puddle becoming lost as a scene appeared on the surface. Mapleshade came into view walking away from a kittypet and his barn, looking haggard and weak.
“Poor Mama,” Larchkit meowed ears lowering, “She doesn’t look so good,”
“She looks sad,” Petalkit added
“She’s grieving you three,” Smallstar murmured sorrow in his gaze as the scene showed Mapleshade struggling along.
“But why is she all alone?” Patchkit asked sharply turning to look at Smallstar “We were going to RiverClan so we could be with our father who lives there I thought. Why isn’t she in RiverClan with father?”
Smallstar winced, “Appledusk chose loyalty to his clan and security amongst his clanmates over his love for Mapleshade. They buried your bodies… But drove your mother out.”
Patchkit’s fur bristled and he turned to glare at him, “They drove mother out?!” He cried. “Why?
“How could they?! Mama is the most wonderful cat in the world!” Petalkit wailed,
“She must be so alone,” Larchkit whimpered ears lowered.
“This is what we didn’t want you to see,” Smallstar meowed softly, “We hoped that if you moved on, you’d remember your mother as she was. Keep her memory safe, despite what could be,”
“I don’t want my mother’s memory to be safe, I want my mother to be safe and happy!” Patchkit snapped turning on Smallstar fur puffed out.
“What’s going to happen to her?” Petalkit asked worriedly.
“That’s up to her,” Smallstar meowed keeping his eyes on the puddle as a small cat brought herbs to Mapleshade. Patchkit leaned forwards and he could faintly make out a few faint words, Frecklewish, kits, and Ravenwing. Patchkit shivered at the look of rage and anger that crossed his mother’s face at the mention of those two names. In that moment, his mother ceased to resemble his mother and looked more like a frightening monster from the stories about the place of no stars that elders would tell.
As he focused on the scene and Mapleshade as she left the border where she’d met the little cat a thought reached Patchkit drawing his attention,
‘I’ll dedicate every beat of my heart to avenging the death of my kits’
Patchkit’s heart broke at the sound of those words, ‘Mama no, that’s not what we want!’ He wanted to wail. ‘We want you to move on and be happy!’
But Mapleshade continued moving despite Patchkit’s pleas.
Smallstar glanced at Patchkit who continued to look into the pool. “Your mother has been consumed by a need for revenge,” He meowed softly. Petalkit letting out a soft cry and Larchkit whimpered as the puddle showed the image of Mapleshade consumed by rage again. “The kittypet tried to get her to open her heart,” He meowed tapping the surface showing Myler trying to reach out to Mapleshade but the she cat tuned him out. Patchkit’s ears lowered at the sight. “But he didn’t reach her, and soon I fear she will take the first steps to the Place of No Stars.”
The surface showed Mapleshade stalking through WindClan, flickering to show a scene of her getting ready to attack Ravenwing, and Patchkit’s blood went cold eyes widening.
“No!” Patchkit cried jumping into the puddle not even feeling the water as he submerged the image appearing in front of him of his mother struggling, and in pain. “No Mama! I’m coming! I’ll help you!” He cried kicking swimming deeper and deeper, a bolt of fear hit him when he realized he was in water, but recalling how angry and hurt his mother looked drove him forwards. ‘I’m half RiverClan, I don’t fear the water. Mama didn’t fear the water when she tried to give us a chance at a good life, I have to be just as brave as Mama!’ With that in mind he kicked and swam as best he could.
He felt the water getting disturbed as teeth snapped at his tail trying to get a grip; but he swam harder, swam down deeper. In his peripheral vision, he could see two tan shapes moving with him when suddenly they were no long in water but panting inside a dark cave.
“W-where are we?” Petalkit asked startling Patchkit who turned to see his siblings, despite them having been swimming none of them were wet.
“Ah!” Larchkit cried holding up his forepaw in front of his face able to see through it. “We’re see through!” He wailed.
“When we jumped into that puddle we must’ve wound up in the land of the living,” Patchkit mused looking around.
“But why are we in a dark place underground?” Petalkit asked whimpering ears pinning back. “Are we in the place of no stars,”
“No there’s sunlight over there,” Patchkit noted nodding to the hole in the ceiling where daylight could be seen.
“Oh,” Petalkit let out a sigh of relief, “Thank StarClan,” She mumbled.
“Don’t thank them yet,” Patchkit muttered, “They were about to let Mama get in the Place of No Stars,”
“But what can we do?” Larchkit asked.
Patchkit narrowed his eyes. “They said that Kittypet was supposed to open her heart, but Mama maybe felt like how I feel when we’re around Softfeather. I couldn’t think about anything but if Mama was okay. Mama must be preoccupied with losing us, that it’s all she can focus on.”
“So we need to snap her out of it!” Larchkit meowed bouncing up and down then paused cocking his head, “But how are we going to do that?” He asked.
Patchkit narrowed his eyes and looked around. “Well Mama has decided she’s going to pursue revenge,”
“What’s that?” Petalkit asked squinting.
“It doesn’t sound good, and it has something to do with that Ravenwing and Frecklewish,” Patchkit meowed. Then he narrowed his eyes, “Oh! This must be the place where that puddle showed Mama attacking Ravenwing at,”
“Okay… so what do we do?” Petalkit asked. “I don’t know if Mama will see us here,”
“She probably won’t,” Patchkit mused, “But a medicine cat will, Larchkit!” His brother stiffened, “Take Petalkit and go find Ravenwing, he should be making his way here from ThunderClan so see if you can get him before he leaves even. Keep him from coming here,”
“Why?” Larchkit asked, “If he can see us, he could tell Mama what we’re saying,”
“Mama won’t believe him, so it’s better he’s not here at all so Mama can’t get upset because he’s here.” Patchkit meowed. “I’ll stay here and wait for mama and try to reach her,”
“And what if that doesn’t work?” Larchkit asked ears lowering,
“Then we’ll try something else, we’re not letting Mama suffer anymore!” Patchkit meowed, “I won’t rest until she’s safe from the Place of No Stars,”
Petalkit and Larchkit exchanged looks before nodding, “Yeah we wont rest either!” Petalkit said. “Come on Larchkit, we’ve got a medicine cat to haunt!” She meowed before bounding off disappearing through the rock, Larchkit shivering at the sight before following after his sister leaving Patchkit all alone by the Moonstone.
Patchkit took in a deep breath and began padding to the entrance of Mothermouth, he would wait for mother there. And pray he’d have the way to get her to see the light again.
“And even if I can’t I won’t give up, I’ll keep reaching and reaching, I won’t let you believe you’re all alone mama,” Patchkit vowed he looked around and then his heart jumped into his throat when he saw a familiar shape lounging near the middle point of the slope hidden behind some boulders. ‘Mama!’ He thought his heart leaping with joy at the sight of her.
‘Hopefully Petalkit and Larchkit can keep Ravenwing back, now to try and get through to Mama,’ Patchkit thought moving towards his mother.
His mother was resting on a stone on the slope, her gaze was directed towards the foot of the slope. ‘Towards where Ravenwing would be coming from,’ Patchkit thought his belly tightening. He shook his head, ‘No, that’s not Mama yet! I can save her!’ He vowed. He moved towards her.
“Mama!” He called out to her, but he didn’t even get a single twitch from his mother. He ran towards her, “Mama! Please you have to listen to me!” He cried.
This time he saw his mother’s ear twitch, Patchkit’s heart swelled with hope, but then he spotted a fly that had been buzzing around his mother’s ear. He let out a sigh and shook himself, he just had to keep trying.
“And hope that Larchkit and Petalkit can at least keep Ravenwing away,” Patchkit muttered before he renewed his efforts to get his mother’s attention.
As the sun began to creep lower and lower, Patchkit felt like if he’d been a living cat he would’ve been hoarse from all the shouting he’d done. His ears lowered, it had all been to no avail, his mother hadn’t responded to him.
“Mama! I’m trying to save you! Why won’t you hear me!” He demanded back arched as he looked her right in the face. But Mapleshade didn’t even blink at him.
His ears lowered as the sun began to set, and his mother began to dig her claws into the stone underneath.
“Where is he?” Mapleshade growled rising to her paws. “He should’ve been here by now, he always leaves early to visit the moonstone,”
A spark of hope ignited in Patchkit’s heart, ‘Petalkit and Larchkit must’ve been successful in getting Ravenwing to not come!’ He thought, it gave him more time to try and reach his mother.
He spotted two figures moving up the hill and he tensed as did his mother, before his mother slumped, it wasn’t Ravenwing, but instead the RiverClan and WindClan medicine cat’s Sloefur and Larkwing. They were chatting amiably as they neared the entrance to Mothermouth before stopping, likely to wait for the other medicine cats.
Mapleshade was silent but her eyes burned with anger, with the medicine cats here now she wouldn’t be able to kill Ravenwing even if he did show up. Larchkit and Petalkit were successful! Now to just reach their mother.
Patchkit watched his mother slip off the stone and slink behind the stone and trees keeping out of sight of the medicine cats, waiting for the ShadowClan medicine cat to arrive and pass her before continuing down the slope.
“Must be running late, I’ll catch him before he can get close,” Mapleshade decided, Patchkit’s ears lowering. Even the lack of Ravenwing hadn’t cooled her wrath.
“Please don’t do this Mama, please don’t become like those monsters,” Patchkit begged following after her. But Mapleshade still could not hear him.
Patchkit followed his mother to the edge of the territories, his mother lashing her tail as the moon rose high in the sky. There was still no sign of Ravenwing, or any sign of his siblings. But there was no danger to Petalkit and Larchkit… Or so he hoped. Had StarClan come and collected them?
“Please hear me mother,” Patchkit begged. His mother paced the edge of the territories growling lowly.
“Fox dung!” Mapleshade hissed shaking herself. “I’m sorry my precious kits, you’ll be stuck just a little longer. I’ll get him yet,” She promised before slinking off, Patchkit blinking.
“Stuck?” Patchkit echoed following after his mother. What was she talking about? “Why does she think we’re stuck?” He wondered aloud trailing as they reached an old set Mapleshade sniffing around it before confirming it was empty.
“A fox set, I suppose it’s fitting,” Mapleshade muttered as she curled up in it to rest.
“Now’s my chance!” Patchkit thought as his mother closed her eyes and began to drift off to sleep. Patchkit moved forwards and curled up beside his mother resting his head against her fur, shivering as he passed through her. He closed his eyes and he could see the beginnings of a dream. Opening them again he found himself partially phased into his mother, who was still beginning to sleep. “Okay… I’m going to reach you now Mama!” Patchkit vowed as he closed his eyes and plunged into his mother’s dream.
Patchkit shivered as cold water pelted him, some of the water running into his face. Spluttering he opened his eyes and looked around and found himself on the stepping stone once more, the same one he’d been on before. He shook off the memory quickly and looked around. His mother was on the river bank looking around.
“Kits!” Mapleshade wailed, “Where are you!”
“Help us Mama!” Patchkit nearly jumped out of his fur at the shrill cry he turned his head eyes widening as he saw what looked like himself and his siblings struggling in the dark churning water. His ears lowered in horror as the water swallowed them up but their desperate cries could be heard.
“We’re trapped!” Came Larchkit’s voice
“Save us!” Petalkit’s voice.
“You promised you’d protect us!” Patchkit’s voice now sounding accusatory and the real Patchkit’s whole body shuddered, he looked towards his mother who looked desperately into the water.
“I’m sorry! I couldn’t get Ravenwing! But I’ll get him, I’ll save you!” Mapleshade cried.
“Mama!” Patchkit shouted the rain whipping him in the face making it hard to see. “Mama! Listen to me!” He shouted.
Mapleshade turned towards him eyes widening, “Patchkit!” She cried rushing towards him, “Hold on sweetie! I’m coming! I’ll save you I promise.”
“Mama!” The disembodied Patchkit wailed, “You have to free us!” Mapleshade’s head jerked in that direction and Patchkit’s heart sank. “We need you to avenge us!”
“No!” Patchkit yowled, “No Mama! You don’t need to save us! You need to save yourself!” He shouted.
Mapleshade turned to him and Patchkit took a deep breath looking at the swollen river between him and his mother. Then gritting his teeth he jumped in, hearing Mapleshade’s frightened screech just as he went under.
‘Have to get to her, have to make her listen!’ Patchkit thought fighting to the surface, ‘This is just a dream! This river cannot harm me!’ He thought swimming for all he was worth letting out a gasp as he broke the surface. Jerking his head around he could see his mother on the shore looking towards him, fur bushed out despite the rain.
“Patchkit!” She cried moving towards him, and then Patchkit was back under water. He heard her say something vaguely, and he fought back to the surface.
“Save yourself Mama!” Patchkit wailed once his muzzle broke the water, just as the other Patchkit voice cried “Save me Mama!”
“I’m coming Patchkit!” Mapleshade cried and then she jumped into the water and floundered towards him. Patchkit pushed with all he was worth to swim towards her. When something caught on his paw and dragged him down. Patchkit gagged darkness clouding his vision.
‘She cannot be saved, she is going to be ours, you will not drag her back to the light,’ A voice hissed in his mind. ‘Surrender yourself little kit, your mother is gone,’
“NO!” Patchkit shouted into the blackness, memories of the water flooding his lungs jumped to his head so he hastily shut his mouth to prevent any water from getting out blowing out from his lungs wincing at the burn. ‘I will save her! She’s my mother!’ Narrowing his eyes he peered into the water and he could make out a the faint ginger and tortoiseshell colors of his mother. He glanced up and pushed to the surface.
Sucking in a deep breath once he broached the surface he plunged back down and began swimming towards his mother. As he swam the shadows showed him images from the puddle. His mother killing Ravenwing, blinding Frecklewish, and attacking a cat that resembled Petalkit and Larchkit.
He closed his eyes and focused on images of his mother letting him and his siblings swim in the river glowing with pride, his mother resting beside them in the nursery, his mother looking at the three of them with so much love.
‘My mother has been lost to her grief, focused on losing us,’ Patchkit thought as he swam deeper and deeper chasing after the fast sinking Mapleshade that was being dragged down by the shadows. ‘She has seen only darkness, I will show her the light, because I love her!’
The water was disturbed at his sides and Patchkit looked around to see his siblings now swimming alongside him.
‘We love her,’ Petalkit thought nodding to him.
‘And we’ll guide her back to the light,’ Larchkit thought nodding to him as well.
Encouraged by his siblings Patchkit focused ahead, and swam for all he was worth. The shadows tried to blind them, but Patchkit only sped up when they did until he could see his mother once more.
The shadows tried to knock them back with a stronger current but Petalkit and Larchkit came in close pushing against his flanks. The strength of the three of them enough to keep it from pushing them back.
‘We won’t be stopped, not by the darkness, nor by StarClan. Love knows no bounds.’ Patchkit thought as they neared Mapleshade the shadows swirling around them, ‘And we love our mother, and that’s stronger than anything you can put up!’ He thought pushing through the shadows and fastening his tiny claws in Mapleshade’s sodden fur. Petalkit and Larchkit latching onto her as well.
‘Pull!’ Patchkit thought to his siblings and as one the three kits began to swim towards the surface, Mapleshade beginning to rouse in their grasp. The shadows tried to fasten a grip on her, but every time it tried the kits knocked it away with a kick from hindlegs or a whip of tiny tails.
‘Swim Mama!’ Petalkit thought as the shadows began to draw back.
‘They’re pulling back!’ Larchkit thought.
‘No, they’re going to try one last ditch effort!’ Patchkit thought back, ‘Swim with everything you’ve got!’
The kits put out one last burst of strength the surface so tantalizingly close, but the shadows erupted upwards moving towards them and entangling the kits and mapleshade beginning to drag their family back down.
‘No!’ Patchkit thought fighting against the pull.
‘Let her go,’ The shadows hissed.
‘No!’ Petalkit retorted keeping her forepaws in Mama’s fur releasing her teeth to chomp down on one of the shadows that was wrapped around Mapleshade’s neck. The shadow screeching and falling away.
‘You can’t save her,’
‘Watch us!’ Larchkit thought back keeping a grip on Mapleshade’s scruff as he lashed out with all four paws at the shadows. It wasn’t the most coordinated attack but it drove back a few tendrils.
Patchkit continued to pull for all he was worth, triumph bursting through him as they began to move back towards the surface, the surface only half a tail length away, ‘The surface is just ahead, come on! We can do this!’
His siblings thought the affirmative and they went to work and with one last pull the four broke the surface, the shouts from the shadows fading away as they emerged from the depths. The sun broke through the clouds above shining down on the kits and their mother.
Mapleshade was still unconscious, so Patchkit, Larchkit and Petalkit wearily pulled their mother to the shore and then dropped down beside her.
“Did we do it?” Petalkit rasped looking warily at the river they’d just exited from.
“I don’t know,” Patchkit mumbled turning towards his mother. Unsteadily he got to his paws and went up by his Mama’s head and nudged it with his muzzle. “Mama?” He asked.
“Ngghh,” Mapleshade groaned, drawing herself up shaking off the worst of the water. Then her eyes opened, “Kits! My-“ She turned her head and saw them all. “You’re safe,” She whispered.
“Yes,” Patchkit meowed ears pricking forwards. “We’ve been safe all this time,”
“In fact we saved you from the darkness!” Petalkit chirped pressing herself against Mapleshade’s side.
“But you-you needed me to kill Ravenwing, and Frecklewish, you needed to be freed. You weren’t able to get to StarClan,” Mapleshade muttered looking at them bewildered, and Patchkit shook his head.
“No, we made it to StarClan right after we died,” Patchkit meowed rubbing his head against hers Mapleshade letting out a choking sound.
“We’re safe Mama,” Larchkit added.
“But we’ve missed you,” Petalkit murmured.
Mapleshade let out a weak sound then she chuckled, “Oh my precious kits, I’ve missed you all so much, but you’re all gone… and it’s,”
“No,” Patchkit meowed, “Mama, listen to me, please,” Mapleshade paused, “You might wake up soon, but I want you to know this. We love you, we’ll wait for you, and we’re always watching over you. All you need to do for us, is to save yourself, give up the hunt for revenge.”
“Be happy,” Petalkit.
“Find a new path!” Larchkit meowed trotting around in a circle tail waving.
“But don’t let your sadness drag you into the depths,” Patchkit meowed glancing towards the river. “Because the only danger that endangers us, is the darkness that is intent on swallowing you up,”
Mapleshade looked at them, “But, what am I to do? You want me to let them live? After what they did to you? After they drove us out?”
“You have to let it go Mama,” Patchkit meowed firmly, “Or it’ll drag you down,”
“And away from us,” Petalkit meowed.
“Step out of the darkness Mama, and pursue the light,” Patchkit meowed. “Pursue the ending that lets us all meet again.” He stepped forwards and stopped in front of her rubbing his head against hers, “Please, Mama,”
Mapleshade was at a loss for words she looked down at her three kits. Patchkit in the middle his two siblings flanking him on either side. Then she let out a rusty purr, “For you my kits, I’ll do anything.” She promised bringing them in close her kits nuzzling against her, purring as well.
The world around them was beginning to get fuzzy at the edges and Patchkit realized the dream was starting to end.
“Our time comes to an end Mama,” Patchkit meowed pulling back to look at his mother, “I don’t know when we’ll see you again, but know we always love you,”
“No matter what,” Petalkit meowed nodding,
“Yup!” Larchkit squeaked.
“And I love you my kits,” Mapleshade rasped as the world around them faded away, light shining behind Mapleshade before she too vanished into the bright light.
The kits closed their eyes against the bright light and when they reopened them they found themselves back by the puddle with Smallstar and several other cats around.
“They’re back!” One of the StarClan cats cried.
“What’s happened?” One of the cats in the back asked.
Smallstar turned to them, “I’m shocked, you were successful, you saved your mother from the darkness,”
“We did,” Patchkit meowed straightening up and lifting his chin looking past him to look at the StarClan cats who had gathered around. “And we’ll do it again and again if we have to,”
“But StarClan cats aren’t supposed to guide the paws of the living, we’re supposed to let them live their own lives!” Some older cat told Patchkit who glared at him.
“We didn’t tell Mother what to do, we told her to live,” Petalkit meowed.
“we told her to let the anger go,”
“We told her we loved her, we told her we were safe. And we’ll watch over her,” Patchkit meowed firmly meeting the older cat’s gaze without flinching. “We’ll be her light.” His siblings came up beside him. “And we’ll be there to help guide her out of the darkness, and remind her that she will always has us. Not even death will separate us,”
Patchkit looked at every cat who was looking at them, whether with respect or outrage and addressed them as a whole. “The love of her kits will guide her out of the dark, until she comes to join us in the light.”