Trailing Stars: Chapter 23
edited by Sorrelstream
illustrated by Jayfrost
There were two sayings:
1. “It’ll get worse before it gets better.”
2. “Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.”
Winterpaw remembered next to nothing of his human life except these two phrases. They stuck with him, swirled in his head, and acted as guidelines to the chaos erupting around him, whether he knew it or not.
He wasn’t sure of the expressions’ origins, but it didn’t really matter. As a critic and a pessimist, Winterpaw usually thought these quotes were hot garbage. They were excuses. Diversions. Lies to tell someone to make them feel better.
He didn’t want to remember them, but couldn’t help remembering it anyways.
After numerous days as a confused, dream-washed cat, the mottos started to get to him. Crawl underneath his skin. Whisper in his ear.
Bad things started happening to BlogClan. Each day was composed of hunger and hurt, but some cat would make life just a smidge better with their words, their actions. Small slices of light that kept each day survivable.
Winterpaw reflected on the sayings often, throughout all the trials of his Clan. He always fell in a middle state, on the edge of believing, until one day, when everything changed.
This is what happened.
After days of herb and prey shortages, starvation and tired patrols, BlogClan was close to imploding. There were foxes, but Jayfrost and her patrol ended that threat quickly. The real problem was a combination of two powerful things: badgers and BlogClan itself.
The cats didn’t handle themselves well after countless days of famine, musty spaces, and cruel Mother Nature. They bickered, shot dirty glares across the clearing. They intentionally bumped each other’s nests at night, then rolled over quietly. They talked back to Cakestar and the senior warriors. They rebelled.
BlogClan was its own worst enemy, a conundrum in and of itself. Tensions were in a risky state, about to boil over into a civil war.
Winterpaw felt like he was caught up in the middle of it.
Maplesky, his best friend, was so fatigued that she couldn’t sneak out at night anymore to meet him. Instead of eating with him and Sundance like she used to, she shared prey with other cats. It all declined from there. Now, they rarely said hi to each other on passing patrols.
Meadowpaw and Geckopaw were busy aiding the medicine cats, who tirelessly tended to warriors that came back with new wounds everyday. Some felt sick, mentally and physically.
It was like the outside world was a stormy swirl of danger and disease… but BlogClan camp wasn’t any better.
Flowerstream and Emberdawn constantly hunted, bringing back less food and more anger. They seemed different after that incident with the foxes. Juniperpool noticed and came to Winterpaw with concerns. He couldn’t do anything—nobody could.
Everyone was exasperated. Winterpaw once saw Sorrelstream scream at a tree after the robin she caught turned out to be sick. And she was one of the calmer ones.
Kinkpaw and the apprentices assisted the elders most of the time, if they weren’t reworking dens or squabbling with their mentors. Even Winterpaw and Hobbitheart had their disagreements. Afterwards, neither felt good. He would have a sinking, nervous feeling in his stomach, and she seemed tired.
BlogClan lived with an edge.
Cakestar and Copperclaw scrambled to keep the Clan together and hush the outspoken voices that challenged each order.
Shiverfur and Birchfoot regularly lead patrols, but only came back with bug-bites and scars from StarClan-knows-where. Bramblefire had headaches from all the stress; Summerbreeze’s eyes became hazy.
Sundance miraculously managed to stay friends with Winterpaw through it all. He remembered when they were on that patrol with Jayfrost, heading out to fight the badger, and everything ended in retreat. It was a painful moment, but it brought everyone in that group closer together.
Seeing someone at their weakest inspires you to help them find their strongest.
Winterpaw hated to think about that battle—all the fangs and claws and blood—but appreciated the experience. He learned from it. Learned to handle the ghosts of the past.
He still had nightmares about the badger. It would sneak into his mind and pounce— a crack of lightning would irradiate its wide, angry face, but the nightmare always ended there. Mere seconds before it set its jaws onto Winterpaw’s trembling face.
Those night terrors were the ghosts that always felt hard to control. Winterpaw would wake up in a sweaty fever, panting. He’d stumble out of the den and crouch in the crisp night air, breathing, breathing. Sometimes he’d fall asleep in the midst of night, just like that. Sleep was one of his least important worries, though.
Right now, the badger was the nuisance in everyone’s mind.
Lionfire’s patrol had just left, and the Clan was still in a state of shock and misplaced fury. Some lounged around, whispering to each other in bitter tones, while others went out on unsuccessful hunts. Both options ended in frowns.
Life was composed of being tired, hungry, and tired of being hungry.
BlogClan wanted change, but something kept getting in the way. In this case, and too many cases before, that something was a badger.
Winterpaw sat in camp, ruminating about life. Sundance sat to his right side, her wounds still healing. His were better now, but there was a relentless ache in his body. Iceflower occupied his other side, and each time he looked at her, she gave a sympathetic yet undeniably worried look.
Cakestar was huddled in her den. Every few minutes, Winterpaw saw her either sigh or lean against her deputy’s copper-brown shoulder. Life as a leader was austere, too.
It hurt him to see her and the Clan like this. When he was a human and thought about being a cat, he imagined lazy days on the torn-up couch, or licking beef-flavoured treats. He didn’t imagine being in a cold, dreary camp, fighting the world.
He was sick of it.
So at evening, just before the sun started to set and camp cooled off, Winterpaw made a decision. It was irrational, quick, and poorly thought out. Maybe it was a side effect of malnutrition and fatigue. Or maybe it was just stone-cold determination.
The patrol was still out there. They could be in danger, or they could have achieved perfect success. Maybe they were on their way back now, or maybe someone was injured and dying.
There, in the shadowy forest, the uncertain awaited.
Here, in BlogClan, there were snarly cats and empty bellies. Winterpaw chose to believe that both problems could be solved. The patrol could safely complete its mission and return, and BlogClan could eventually become happy and healthy again.
But it would take work from everyone. And Winterpaw wanted to start now.
He smoothed his unkempt white-and-black fur, stretched his long legs, snuck around an accidentally-sleeping Wavesplash (who was supposed to be keeping guard, but Winterpaw didn’t blame her), and sped out of camp.
He was going to help the patrol with whatever they were doing. BlogClan could hold on for just a while longer.
He entered the ending of day. The unknown. But his heart was telling him that everything would be okay, and the (nonsense) sayings ran through his mind.
It’ll get worse before it gets better.
Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.
Out in the forest, the endless world, the first thing Winterpaw heard was a deep, stress-tinged yowl, emitted from the trees to the north. It sounded like a cat in danger.
Winterpaw sped towards the scream, knowing that it could be seen as brave or foolish (or both). He whipped past willows and oaks, ducked beneath low-hanging branches. He pushed through a patch of thick, poky brambles, and staggered into a dusty clearing smaller than camp.
He spotted a wide-eyed Lionfire beside the trunk of a tree, and seconds later, Darkpaw.
They both were slowly lurching away from something in the bushes, something loud and determined. Something angry.
In a split second, Winterpaw saw two more things: the rest of the patrol, with raised hackles and extended claws, and a snarling, monstrous badger, crashing through the undergrowth.
Lionfire twisted away from the badger, and flicked her tail to beckon the other cats. They shuffled along as a group, looking clueless yet knowing exactly what to do at the same time.
Winterpaw sat in front of the brambles, mouth agape. His mind couldn’t process what was going on. The sun was bright, too bright, and it put a sickeningly-gold veil on everything.
Then he saw Frostflower, her shimmering fur contrasted by a black object dangling from her mouth.
It looked like a dead bird. But… why? Weren’t they supposed to be trapping the badger, not hunting for prey?
And then Winterpaw comprehended it, just as the badger lunged forward with newfound speed.
Frostflower shrieked and jumped away, accidentally knocking Bluepaw over. Dust flew up everywhere, and combined with the relentless sun, it almost formed a gritty halo around the apprentice’s head.
Time seemed to slow as a picture formed: the badger looming over Bluepaw, whose eyes were wider than two moons. Her clanmates stopped in their tracks, appalled.
The badger snapped, and with unforeseen agility, darted onto Bluepaw. It swung its claws frenetically. The young cat squealed as her leg got trampled, and the badger narrowly missed her flailing head.
Frostflower gasped through the feathers of the bird. Darkpaw stood frozenly.
Winterpaw had to make a choice: run, or fight.
He was never a fighter. He was a healer, a helper, a hoper. But life wasn’t fair, and everyone had to do things that fell outside their comfort zone. If anything, BlogClan was a lesson in courage and perseverance.
A cat in need was a cat in need.
Yowling furiously, Winterpaw sprang from the vegetation and streamed towards the badger. It turned and roared at the oncoming assault. Fortunately, the distraction gave Bluepaw enough time to drag herself over to the group, who helped the she-cat back up to her paws. Winterpaw saw blood.
Unsheathing his claws, he leaped onto the badger manically, biting and tearing away. Swinging wildly, the badger shifted on its four legs. The sun was a blur in the sky, blinding Winterpaw as he rolled. The fight was messy, but that was the only way.
There were flashes of black, white, and scarlet.
Then the badger bucked, throwing Winterpaw onto the stony ground. It whirled, growling angrily, but didn’t see the silhouette of a cat leaping onto its back from behind.
Lionfire bit down furiously on one ear, just enough to make the badger dizzy and confused. Both animals grunted.
Winterpaw took the opportunity to scramble over to the group, who stared at him with surprise. He too would be confused if one of his clanmates popped out of nowhere and suddenly attacked a badger.
“Winterpaw! Where did you come from? Why are you here? Is everything okay?” Russetfeather began to interrogate him.
“I’ll explain later,” he murmured quickly. No one questioned him. Remembering how he always struggled to explain anything, Winterpaw assumed he probably wouldn’t ever elaborate.
Darkpaw nodded and bolted off into the undergrowth, followed by Bluepaw, Rosefur, Willowpaw, Russetfeather, Hazelburrow, and eventually Frostflower with her swinging bird.
Winterpaw carelessly followed them, but not before glancing back to see Lionfire trailing behind. The badger was far enough away for them to temporarily escape.
They ran and only ran. No thinking, no planning. No words, no sounds. Everything else was a dilemma for the future.
The ragged cats moved. They focused on their breathing, the ground in front of them, and the paws that carried them away.
After a few minutes of sprinting, they arrived at another clearing Winterpaw knew to be just outside camp. Tall pine trees surrounded it, casting splotchy shadows on some of the cats. The scents of sap and blood mixed, creating a nauseating miasma. Sweet, salty, and full of pain.
Darkpaw collapsed, followed by Willowpaw, who had a sour look on her face. Soon, a pile of gasping cats filled the area. The only movement was the rise and fall of furry chests.
After a while, Lionfire rolled onto her stomach and looked at the group. Winterpaw glanced at her from the side of his eye. She had a thoughtful expression, like she wanted to talk to someone.
“I’ve always hated running,” Winterpaw murmured, and the group burst out laughing, Lionfire being the loudest.
“Whatever, Winterpaw.” She joked. She licked her flank a few times, then cleared her throat. “We have to make another plan, and quickly. The badger isn’t far behind us.”
“I still have the bird…” Frostflower whispered.
“Why is that, anyways?” Winterpaw asked her.
“It’s bait to lure the badger with.” Darkpaw explained. “We were trying to find a ditch and lead it there, then somehow trap it. But we didn’t get that far into our plan before it came lumbering after us.”
“So that’s why you were slowly creeping away from it? To lure it?”
“Yeah,” Willowpaw added, “but things got complicated.”
“It’s stronger than we think!” Rosefur exclaimed, eyes glinting with sunlight and stress.
“Well…are there any ditches around here?” Winterpaw meowed.
The warriors shook their heads. The apprentices looked flummoxed.
The group sat in silence for a while, thinking, but no one shared an idea. They were all weary and frustrated. Russetfeather seemed ready to scream. Hazelburrow looked like he hadn’t slept in years.
To help the morale, Winterpaw spoke up. But it wasn’t what any cat was expecting to hear, him included.
“It’ll get worse before it gets better.”
“What?” Willowpaw meowed incredulously.
“Life gets worse before it gets better.”
Somehow, that made everyone just a tad bit calmer. This was what Winterpaw had noticed—that each day, some cat made life just a trace more tolerable. He was that cat today, and it felt good. Truly. Maybe he could be that cat more often.
Finally, Bluepaw spoke up. “There is something we could use… It’s a hole, to the west of us, just big enough for the badger. The humans—“ Bluepaw stumbled at the word— “used it as a well. But now it’s old and dry and crumbly, and storms blew dirt in. It’s useless to them.”
Lionfire perked up. “Why didn’t you say that sooner?”
Bluepaw gazed down at her paws, embarrassed. She licked her chest. “I was nervous… me and some of the other apprentices have been using it as a fort. We don’t do anything bad! We just…hang out and eat prey.” She hung her head even more. “I’m sorry.”
Russetfeather looked mad. “Who? What apprentices, Bluepaw? You guys thought you were so special that you could eat food that the whole Clan needed? The rest of us don’t get a ‘fort.’ What makes you—“
“Russetfeather, stop.” Lionfire urged. “She didn’t mean to hurt anyone. It doesn’t matter who or what. Right now, we have a badger coming after us, and that is more important than a few sneaky apprentices.”
Russetfeather closed her mouth but still had an irritated mien. Bluepaw didn’t look at her.
Tensions continued to escalate, even in perilous moments.
“Bluepaw, can you take us there once the badger comes? Do you know where to go from here?” Hazelburrow asked.
Winterpaw detected no emotion in her voice.
“Probably, or for sure?”
Looking defeated, Bluepaw nodded. “For sure,” she whispered weightlessly.
“Good. We’ll rest until the badger gets here, then go. Willowpaw, keep guard with me.”
Willowpaw rolled her eyes.
Winterpaw clenched his jaw. He was frustrated at the state of the Clan. Even with the patrols, where cats saw each other at their worst and their best, they couldn’t help themselves from fighting. It seemed hopeless. Life seemed hopeless.
What could change that?
“It’s coming!” Willowpaw’s voice rang out in the clearing.
The cats raised their heads—a few had fallen into naps—and stretched their legs.
“Okay BlogClan, lets do this.” Lionfire meowed, just as the badger came bursting through the foliage.
It roared at the sight of them and sniffed their scent, chin tipped up. Its claws glinted menacingly in the dying light.
“Go!” Some cat meowed, and the group exploded into action, dodging plants and running across the forest. They were all suddenly alert.
Winterpaw could hear the badger’s reverberating steps behind them, and he pushed harder.
Frostflower still had the blackbird, which was beginning to look withered and unappealing. They had to be quick.
Suddenly, Bluepaw made a sharp left, breaking through some bracken. Winterpaw veered off to follow her, and closed his eyes as plants whipped him. He hoped the badger would get lashed painfully, too.
They slipped into a cool, shady area, and almost fell into a messy hole. It was covered with leaves and sticks that were strategically placed, not blown in from any storm. Broken stone and wood cluttered the surrounding area, sinking into the ground after being there for ages.
“We tried to hide it so no cat would find it!” Bluepaw reasoned.
“We could use this to our advantage,” Winterpaw schemed. Suddenly, he rushed over to Frostflower and took the blackbird from her. He motioned for the group to hide on the sidelines, while he took a spot behind the hole, opposite from the incoming badger.
“Be careful,” some cat mumbled, and Winterwhisper nodded carefully. He breathed as time seemed to slow.
Loud cracks and rumbles sounded off through the forest. The badger came doddering into the area, suspicious. Its fur was raised.
Winterpaw’s heart beat so hard in his chest he thought it was trying to kill him. Butterflies tickled his stomach. Sweat drenched his fur.
His eyes narrowed as the badger suddenly dove forward at him. Winterpaw threw the blackbird from his mouth onto the pile of leaves and twigs. It all began to drop, dust flying. The badger watched it fall, still moving forward, now incautious.
Lionfire, Willowpaw, and Rosefur sprung from the peripheries and forcefully shoved the beast. It bellowed as its body fell awkwardly down the hole.
It’s claw flailed, and Winterpaw had to lean back to avoid being sliced. It kicked up dirt and grass, which only floated into the well and smothered it more.
The rest of the patrol started to swiftly throw branches on the badger, weighing it down as best they can. They dug up the sunken stones and dropped those, too.
But then, from all the weight, the dirt around the hole suddenly gave way. Hazelburrow started to fall in, and the badger gripped him firmly
The loose soil they stood on was unsafe.
Hazelburrow screeched as his clanmates tried to pull him out and the badger attempted to drag him in. It was a messy, violent tug-of-war. The creature’s back legs kicked at the rounded dirt walls, collapsing them. It rolled onto its frontside, claws seizing Hazelburrow’s fur. Both animals squirmed.
Winterpaw then witnessed something he never thought would happen in his life.
The badger slowly, painfully, horrifyingly pulled itself out of the hole, using Hazelburrow as a ladder. The cat burst into wails and squawks, his fur being stretched and ripped. Blood dripped from his back, his neck. The badger pulled the warrior down into the hole while boosting itself up. There were screams upon screams.
The badger rose, like a deadly demon from the underworld. Faint sunlight illuminated its movements. It was an unholy ghost, a phantom, a monster. Its beady eyes stared down the remaining cats.
Pure fury. But also… something else. Something like fear.
Abruptly, it turned and ran, knocking Winterpaw out of the way. As he got back up, he figured that the badger was injured and shocked, and for once, finally realized that it needed to flee if it wanted to survive. After being deceived and shoved into a hole, after fighting cats on and off for days, it finally ran away to heal itself. Right…?
Rosefur started to chase it, but gave up immediately.
Darkpaw and Bluepaw hauled Hazelburrow back onto solid ground. His rear-end fur was patchy, and bloody skin showed. They tried to soothe him and his whimpering. Everyone could feel his pain, like a family hurting in unison.
They were all stunned, and unable to process what just happened. The badger was smarter than it looked: instead of continuing to wildly fight until it dropped, like some animals do, it sped away to regain its strength. Which was a downside for BlogClan.
Russetfeather crazily turned to face her clanmates. Her eyes were wide with dread. Winterpaw had hoped he wouldn’t have to hear what she said next. This day had already been too exhausting.
“The badger… it’s heading towards camp!”
They moved as one, blindly, using any bit of strength left in their bodies. The cats were composed of brittle bones, foggy minds, and injured skin.
Still, they ran, once again, but this time in chase of the badger. They ran to save their friends.
It wasn’t long before they reached camp, barely dragging themselves into the clearing. Winterpaw didn’t want to believe that the badger was there. Maybe it went somewhere else, found a new home far away. Maybe it died of its wounds.
Then he saw.
Before them, chaos and craze and a storm of death clutched their camp.
The badger was inside. Whether it came here by accident or on purpose, it wasn’t going easy on BlogClan.
Frostflower screamed in horror. Winterpaw watched her fall to the ground, moaning, and Bluepaw struggled to calm her.
The clearing was bedlam. Pandemonium.
Cats, young and old alike, darted at the badger. Cakestar and Copperclaw shouted orders to those who stood around. Jayfrost was on the badgers head, swatting at its ears. Sapphireheart and Owlpaw scratched both legs, while Wavesplash used movement to distract it.
Sundance was in front of the badger, on her back, and a large red gash across her stomach spewed blood. She needed to move, if she was to survive.
Winterpaw hollered at himself, thinking of what to do, how to help, where to go, how to end this all.
His solution came from Maplesky, who had run over to them from the elders den. Fernfall and a couple of apprentices were transporting the seniors to the medicine cat den, which was farthest away from the badger.
Maplesky stopped beside him, looking at his face. He knew she wanted to work with him. They might not have been best friends anymore, but they always made a perfect team. And things could definitely change.
She started to speak, skipping over any greetings or introductions.
“You guys had to trap it, right? That’s what you were doing? So trap it here! There’s no other option now… just use the warrior den!” Her eyes were wild and she seemed desperate, but not completely mindless. Winterpaw suspected that she had already thought of this plan before they arrived, probably during some restless night.
“Maybe…” he said.
Lionfire gasped, understanding dawning in her eyes. “You’re right!” She declared. “It’s the biggest den and has those tree roots that could block the badger. We just have to close off the front.”
“And strengthen the right side, so it doesn’t burst out from there.” Winterpaw added.
“How do we get it in there?” Russetfeather wondered.
“We’ll have to lure it, again…but with what?” Frostflower meowed.
There was a slight pause, silent except for the ear-piercing shouts that came from the fightings animals in the center. The sky was an ocean of lavender and amber, the last breaths of a sunset. Soon, the camp would plunge into darkness. Everything would become harder.
No one had anything. They just stood there, shaking, surveying the turmoil before them. Then:
A single word whispered through the thick air. Willowpaw stepped forward.
“What?” Winterpaw and Maplesky meowed simultaneously.
“Me. I’m small, I can get in there and have it follow me. If I give myself enough time, I could break through the wall somehow, somewhere—“
“Back right,” Lionfire interrupted. “That’s where I sleep, and the wall is weakest there.
“Right, okay. I’ll break through the back right, and someone can be there to quickly patch it together.” Willowpaw spoke heavily, and her breathing was rough. “Everyone else can rush up after the badger and get ready to collapse the roof. We’re going to need someone to leap onto it. They might get a few scratches, but otherwise, they’ll be fine.”
“I’ll do it.” Winterpaw volunteered. He already brightened the day once, why not do it again?
“Okay,” Lionfire agreed. “And the rest of us can find anything around here—sticks, ferns, stones… we’ll probably have to break apart other dens and take the branches. We’ll lean them up against the walls and block any weak areas. Maybe we can send some apprentices out of camp to gather rocks and bigger branches.”
“There’s a log between the warrior den and the apprentice den. It’ll be difficult, but we can roll it over to the base. Then the badger won’t be able to stroll right out.” Winterpaw spoke clearly. He had begun to calm down and assess the situation properly. They had enough time to plan while the rest of BlogClan fought the badger, and hopefully someone rescued Sundance. He expected no one got badly hurt, or worse…
“Sure. And we’ll have any cat willing to fight lined up around the den. If the badger tries to get out, it’ll be facing a lot of swiping claws.”
The group nodded in agreement. Every cat had a small, mischievous grin. One with nervousness, but also a little dash of optimism.
“Will it work?” Bluepaw asked, worried.
“It’ll have to. Otherwise, it’s over,” Maplesky said darkly.
“Right. Let’s go then. Jayfrost and the others can’t hold off the badger for much longer!” Lionfire cried.
Most of the group ran over to join the fight while Lionfire and Maplesky repeated the plan to Cakestar, Copperclaw, and any others who were listening. Frostpaw and Cheetahspark helped Hazelburrow to the side of camp, where he could lay down and rest for a while.
In the midst of it all, Winterpaw snuck over to Willowpaw, who was standing in front of the warrior den, taking deep breaths. “You’ll be fine. Are you ready?”
“Of course I am.” She snapped. “Are you?”
They grinned at each other, and for once in a long time, Winterpaw saw a future for the Clan where all the cats could get along, and StarClan was proud.
He saw an end to all this madness and tension and hurt.
He saw endings, followed by new beginnings.
He saw BlogClan.
Cakestar gave a call, and the clearing went silent for half a second. Then Willowpaw shrieked. “Hey, you mangy badger! Come get me!” She waved her tail at the irritated beast, making more noises.
A wave of warriors surrounded the badger, forcing it to follow Willowpaw. She stuck her tongue out at the brute then raced into the den.
Forgetting everyone else, the badger lunged after her, snarling. It entered the den in a rush. Maybe it wasn’t so intelligent after all.
Winterpaw saw Willowpaw in the corner, busily trying to take apart the wall while the badger stepped forward. He gritted his teeth in despair.
She broke through just as the badger reached the back. The gray she-cat wiggled out from the den, flopping onto the ground outside. She kicked off dirt and twigs, and backed away from the badger’s irate roars. An apprentice swiftly patched up the broken spot.
Then it was Winterpaw’s turn. Taking a breath, he looked at Sundance, Iceflower, Maplesky, all of his friends, and started off in a run.
He leaped at an awkward angle against the roof of the den, but tried his best. Pain exploded in his stomach as twigs and dead leaves scraped his skin.
The front part of the roof cracked and crumbled, dust swirling.
The badger let out a roar inside as plants showered it. Warriors quickly began to pack things in around the edges, creating a small, bumpy dome that encapsulated a beast.
Darkpaw, Bluepaw, and other apprentices started to roll the log. Swanfeather and Otterpaw stuffed sprigs and sprouts into all the little holes of the den. More and more darkness overtook the badger inside.
The Clan worked together, like an actual Clan. Without complaints or judgements.
Winterpaw saw Cakestar dawn a proud glint in her eye and a leader-like stance.
Almost everything felt right.
Eventually, Copperclaw and Jayfrost broke away. They called most of the warriors, while a few kept watch by the den, hissing at the badger any time it got close to the walls or tried to break out.
“Okay, everyone make two vertical lines on either side of the den. I want them to go all the way to the entrance, and I want two more cats outside camp.” Cakestar gave orders off the advice of Copperclaw. Jayfrost supervised.
The Clan seemed to move fluidly, without error, like this was natural. It was amazing. Like all the gears of a machine were turning the right way.
In that sense, BlogClan was a machine. It couldn’t properly function without all the gears turning one another. If one failed, they all did. Winterpaw and his clanmates were the gears, and they could finally turn.
Soon, the lines were formed, with every cat was positioned where they need to be.
Ignoring the protests of the badger, Winterpaw turned to Cakestar. Normally he would be nervous to speak freely in front of the Clan leader, especially with the whole Clan watching. But today was different. Or maybe just the circumstance was different, because everything didn’t seem so hopeless.
Right now, the sayings Winterpaw had never believed finally made sense.
It got worse, and now it was getting better.
Today was bad, but right now, this moment, this second, something good was happening.
“Alright. We caught this beast and everybody’s ready. Now comes the really hard part. Cakestar, do we kill the badger, or free it?”
Silence. Cold silence.
Not everything was over yet. There was still one more big step until freedom and peace, and Winterpaw would say it was the toughest step of all. Then, maybe, BlogClan could feel peace. Resolution.
It would be slow, it would take time, but it wasn’t impossible. Because when Winterpaw cleared his throat, stood taller, and looked over his clanmates, he saw bright faces.
And in those faces, hope.