Chapter TenRippledpool saw all of the cats sitting around Swiftflower, holding vigil around her until the dawn rises. She saw Sparrowstar and Drizzletail sitting behind Vinepaw and Rabbitpaw, whose eyes looked dry. Rippledpool noticed that Vinepaw’s pads were bleeding. Whiteclaw was sitting with her three kits by her side, Snowkit was looking at the rocky ground, Rainkit was falling asleep, and Longkit was staring at Swiftflower with an unreadable look in his eyes. When Snowkit saw Rippledpool she bounded over and nuzzled her belly fur.
“Hi Rippledpool!” She mewed.
“Where did you go?”
“Err…” Rippledpool mumbled. She hadn’t even thought to bring back some fresh-kill. Luckily, she was interrupted by Sparrowstar padding over.
“Sparrowstar, I think that we need to find the cat that can break the curse!” Rippledpool meowed immediately. Sparrowstar looked shocked, but thought for a moment and nodded.
“Come into my den Rippledpool.” Sparrowstar mewed. Rippledpool looked back at Vinepaw, who’s pads were covered in dirt and blood. Sparrowstar saw what Rippledpool was looking at and purred. “Or we could meet in your’s. Come on, let’s get Vinepaw.” The two cats helped support Vinepaw as they got her to the den. It was cool and damp inside, and the stars shone through from a hole in the ceiling.
“Um, Sparrowstar, where did this come from?” Rippledpool meowed while she gathered herbs to create a poultice. Sparrowstar sighed.
“Vinepaw got cursed and began to attack, we chased her in here but she managed to escape through the roof, which we will mend soon. That’s also how she got the ripped pads.” Vinepaw whimpered and turned her head.
“It’s alright Vinepaw, we don’t blame you.” Ripppledpool mewed comfortingly. “Here, eat these poppy seeds, which will numb the sting of the poultice and it’ll help you fall asleep.” Vinepaw obediently lapped up the seeds and sighed. Rippledpool frowned. I feel so bad for her, I remember feeling just like this when mom died. Rippledpool thought, and flinched as it brought up unhappy memories that when she saw them felt as though a claw was scraping through her heart. She applied the poultice and helped Vinepaw over to a nest in the den.
“Here you go. Now try and get some sleep, okay?” Rippledpool meowed. Without saying anything Vinepaw curled up and looked away from her. Rippledpool sighed. Some wounds take much longer to heal than just cracked pads. Rippledpool padded out of the den and went over to Mothear, who was walking towards the fresh-kill pile.
“Let’s talk about it later Sparrowstar, okay?” Rippledpool meowed back to her.
“Hey Mothear.” Rippledpool meowed. Mothear turned around and smiled.
“Hi Rippledpool. It seems as though you’re too busy to spend time with your best friends nowadays, huh!” Mothear mewed teasingly. Rippledpool bumped her flank, which glowed silver and white in the moonlight.
“Well sorry, you know…” Rippledpool meowed. Mothear laughed.
“Oh yes, your, duty to the clan.” Mothear mrrowed. Rippledpool purred. Mothear suddenly looked around, and stared intently at the small clump of reeds that grew near the MarshClan border.
“It’s okay, you can fit. It gets a lot wider on the inside.” Mothear mewed from below. So Rippledpool crouched low and squeezed into the small opened, and yowled when she tumbled down a slope and landed on her back.
“Shh!” Mothear scolded, helping her to her feet. Rippedpool gasped.
“W, where are we!” Rippledpool meowed in amazement. The cave was huge and filled with bright glowing crystals. Mothear shrugged.
“I don’t know, but it’s almost as though you can feel StarClan here, huh!” Mothear mewed. Rippledpool nodded. She felt… At peace.
“I bet if I slept here I could receive a dream from StarClan!” Rippeldpool purred. Mothear shrugged again and began to climb out of the cave, dirt tumbling down as she kicked her way out.
“Come on!” Mothear called. Rippledpool took a final look at the cave, and added it to her list of mysteries to explore, and leaped out of the cave.
“Ugh!” Ripplepdool spat. “I’m covered in dust!” She began to rapidly lick it off while Mothear rolled her eyes and padded off towards the camp.
“Wait, Mothear, how about we go hunting together? Like old times?” Rippledpool mewed quickly. Mothear turned around and shrugged, nonchalant as usual. So the two cats padded away from the rocky camp towards the forest, when Rippledpool heard tiny paw-steps behind her. Rippledpool flung around and saw Snowkit and Rainkit.
“Snowkit? Rainkit? What in StarClan’s name are you doing here?” Mothear grumbled. Rainkit’s eyes were welling with tears, and she began to cough. A small drizzle began to fall from the sky.
“Sniff, Longkit, cough, he’s gone!” Rainkit yowled. Rippledpool gasped.
“Mothear!” Rippledpool snapped. “Take Rainkit and Snowkit back to camp and get them dry. Don’t lick them, rub them between your paws. And tell Whiteclaw, Sparrowstar, and Drizzletail. Go now!” Ripplepdool meowed urgently.
“What about you?” Mothear hesitated.
“I’m going to find Longkit. Now go!” Mothear, with one kit dangling her jaws, darted off towards the camp, while Rippledpool picked up Snowkit and ran in the other direction. She felt similar cats beside her, and turned to see Spindlefeather on her left and Birchpaw on her right. Filled with confidence, it seemed as though the scent of Longkit had grown even stronger, when Rippledpool looked down and saw the earth open beneath her.