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Scarlet River P73 The patrols returned to the cave as the sky turned black. Clouds still hung heavily overhead, and Riverpaw could barely see without the light of the stars or moon. In the cave, it was even darker. The hunting patrols dropped their prey onto a pile in the corner. The clan cats had managed to catch a few mice and a rabbit or two, but tribe cats carried most of the prey.
Riverpaw wished she could talk more with Cloud, but it had grown late, and her muscles ached from traversing the mountains. Instead, Cloud and she said goodbye and went to their dens. Riverpaw felt Stonepaw and Echopaw walking beside her as they stumbled to their nests.
“Have you thought about the wolves at all?” Stonepaw asked.
“No, I was too busy focusing on hunting. I wanted to show Cloud what I’d learned from the clans.” Riverpaw responded
“I bet he was impressed.” Stonepaw purred.
Scarlet River P72 “We cannot go to the wolves’ territory.” Stoneteller said finally. “There are too many risks, and not enough reward. Clan cats, I understand that you hail from a forest. Can you tell us more about what the wolves’ territory may be like?”
Rowanshadow nodded and launched into an explanation of the forest. Riverpaw listened silently, mind racing, hoping for some idea of how to defeat the wolves. She glanced at Echopaw, sitting next to her. Her friend’s ears lay flat on her head and her expression was one of annoyance. Riverpaw found it impressive that the tortoiseshell she-cat could contain her frustration so well. Looking at Stonepaw, the grey tom sat listening intently to the conversation.
When Rowanshadow finished his description of the forest, there was a moment of silence in which all the cats lowered their heads in thought. The silence was broken when suggestions shot forth.
Scarlet River P71 Riverpaw turned and bounded to her mentor’s side. The rest of her clanmates were there as well, along with Stoneteller and two other tribe cats. One, a large white and black tom, sat observing the clan cats with cold suspicion. The other was a small black she-cat with clear green eyes. Although she was smiling, Riverpaw saw her intelligent gaze flicking from one cat to the next, as if evaluating their strengths and weaknesses.
“Hello again, clan cats,” Stoneteller began. “I have asked for this meeting to discuss why exactly you are here. These are my trusted advisors, Lightning That Splits the Night, and Lily That Floats on Water.” The black and white tom and black she-cat dipped their heads.
The clan cats glanced at Rowanshadow. He had become their designated representative. The dark ginger tom dipped his head to the tribe Healer before he began,
“To reintroduce, I am Rowans
Scarlet River P70 Riverpaw woke the next morning to find her clanmates had gone. Raising her head she look around, blinking away her lingering fatigue. Where are the others? Where is Cloud?
The sun had risen, and a wavering stream of light filtered through the waterfall, lifting the deepest shadows. Riverpaw could now see tunnels lining the cave walls. Before she had simply assumed they were cracks or grooves filled with shadows, but now she saw that they led to smaller caves.
Standing, she stretched and looked around. Unable to spot her clanmates or her brother, she decided it wouldn’t hurt to explore the cave a bit. Padding to the nearest tunnel, she hesitated at it’s dark edge. Curiosity overcame her hesitation and she started to step into the cave when a stern voice sounded from behind her.
“Please do not go in there. The queens need rest if they are to care for their kits.”
Scarlet River P69 Riverpaw followed his gaze to see a group of cats appear, silhouetted before the waterfall. She could not see which cat Cloud was indicating, but figured it was not long before Hana came to them.
The returning patrol was quickly surrounded by other members of the tribe. They talked in voices that echoed to Riverpaw’s ears, resounding along the cave walls. Riverpaw could not make out what they were saying. After a few moments, the group of cats dispersed, and one came running in their direction.
“Cloud!” the cat called. As she neared, Riverpaw was able to observe her.
She was a lithe she-cat. Long legged and elegant, she had a round face and pointed ears. Her tabby pelt was dark grey with darker stripes, and her eyes were sharp, crystal blue. As she neared, she slowed, but her smile did not falter.
“Oh, hello.” Hana said shyly. She did not look Riverpaw in the eye, looking down at
Scarlet River P68 Stonepaw, Echopaw and Riverpaw stared at him in amazement. Riverpaw felt a rush of guilt. I should have been there for him…
“I’m sorry, Cloud.” She murmured.
Cloud looked up, surprised.
“Oh no! It’s not your fault River! It kind of worked out for the best after all. I was able to meet Hana, and able to become part of the Tribe! Earlier you were going on about the clans…well, the tribe is the same thing for me. They’re an amazing group of cats who all worked together…it’s nothing like the city…”
Silence fell for a moment. Stonepaw and Echopaw shifted uncomfortably. Finally, Stonepaw spoke up.
“So you said a cat accompanied you. Where is she now?”
“Oh, you mean Hana? She’s out on patrol now, but she’ll be back soon. I’ll introduce you!”
Scarlet River P67 After Riverpaw was reunited with Cloud, Stoneteller asked Flake and Leaf to escort the clan cats to a small furrow where they could all stay and rest. The furrow was lined with small, shallow holes. Moss and feathers padded these round rocky nests. Seven of the ten clan cats thanked the tribe cats and instantly settled into the nests. Ashheart looked around, as if wondering which nest to take, and Riverpaw saw Featherfall staring at him silently. The cream she-cat lifted her paw hesitantly, then sighed and curled up. After a moment, Ashheart settled down in the nest next to the Shadowclan she-cat, and Riverpaw saw Featherfall flinch and lift her head. A spark of happiness lit her green eyes momentarily before she lowered her head again. Gingerpelt, Rowanshadow, Mosslegs, Featherfall and Wolfclaw fell asleep almost immediately after settling in. Ashheart and Duskfall lay in their nests cleaning themselves.
After the clan cats had all relaxed, a Trib
Scarlet River P66 Riverpaw stared at the white tom before her. No one spoke, and the two cats gazed at each other in shock.
“River…?” Cloud whispered.
Tears were building on the corners of Riverpaw’s eyes. It’s really him…
“Cloud,” Riverpaw choked. Then she smiled, “I’m so glad you’re safe!”
Without even realizing what she was doing, Riverpaw had sprung from her place beside her clan mates and tackled her brother. They rolled down a small slope and came to a stop, laughing.
“River, I can’t believe it! I thought you’d…I thought I’d never see you again! Where have you been?!”
Riverpaw straightened. She choked on the lump in her throat and stared at her brother for a moment. My only real family left…he’s okay…
Her brother had grown into
Scarlet River P65 They had all made it past the waterfall and sat licking their ruffled fur. Mist from the waterfall clung to their pelts and whiskers, and they shivered, chilled by the icy moisture.
“Healer? Do you mean leader, or medicine cat?” Mosslegs asked, tilting her head in confusion.
“I remember in stories,” Ashheart murmured, drawing the eyes of the other clan cats, “the Healer in the tribe is both the leader and the medicine cat.”
“Both?!” Duskfall muttered, “How do they have time for…other activities…”
Gingerpelt laughed at Duskfall’s remark.
“Maybe they don’t. It’s a tough enough job just being leader. I’m sure the Tribe’s Healer doesn’t have much free time at all.”
Duskfall shrugged, apparently no longer interested in the conversation.
Scarlet River P64 They walked silently between the rocks. Riverpaw listened for sounds of pursuit, but she heard nothing save the wind howling between the cliffs. Glancing up, she noticed the moon was nearing the western horizon. Daybreak will be soon. She thought. This followed by, The moon is almost full…
Her dream with Forerunner came rushing back, and Riverpaw had to stop herself from yowling aloud with frustration. The moon is almost full! We only have a few days at best!
“Hey, are you okay?” Stonepaw whispered. He had rushed up to pad beside her.
“Yeah, fine.” Riverpaw grumbled, “why do you ask?”
“You shake your head and murmur to yourself when your upset about something,” Stonepaw told her.
Riverpaw stared at him. Do I?
Stonepaw seemed to become very uncomfortable suddenly and looked awa