Don't Stop Believing
for the amazing brighty <3
happy birthday darling :)
You know when you start believing something and then the dream just fades away? I still remember my dream from when I was a kit.
My sisters and I all had our dreams.
When you have a goal, it lights up your future. It shows you the way to something even better. At least, that’s what Brightsong taught me. She once said that a dream can become a beam of light in the darkness, something that is certain when nothing else is. When Rainsplash and I lost hope in our goals, she would remind us that there is so much more in our future and that our dream will never die.
She was always the more passionate one.
When we were about three moons old, Brightsong had woken Rainsplash and I up in the middle of the night and pointed at the stars.
“Look,” she purred, “the stars are brighter tonight. I think they’re telling me that I should make a wish for the future. A dream that will light up my path to freedom and success.”
Rainkit, still groggy from sleep murmured, “Why tonight?”
I stared up at the glittering dots of light from our den. They were brighter tonight. Brightkit always had a way of knowing things. I never doubted her once. “So do we just make goals?” I asked quietly.
Brightkit nodded enthusiastically, “The stars say so!”
I closed my eyes quickly. “I want to find a mate who will love me forever and then have perfect kits while being a warrior!”
“Like Thornkit?” Rainkit teased as she jabbed her paw at me.
I opened my eyes to bat her paw away. “Shut up, Rainkit!” I squealed, “What about you and Birchkit?”
Rainkit pretended to look disgusted, “Oh whatever! Toms are a waste of my time. All I want to do is be the best warrior I can be!”
I blinked up at my sister. “That’s a good goal.”
Brightkit swished her tail, “Isn’t anyone going to ask me what my goal is?”
I instantly turn to my other sister. “Tell me!” I purred, eyeing my sister with pride and joy, “What’s your goal, Brightkit?”
There was a sharp gleam in her eyes as she gazed up at the twinkling stars. “I want to be leader of AshClan one day! That’s my goal!”
Rainkit scoffed but she didn’t say anything.
All I did was lean against the ginger and white tabby, so sure that she would become the next deputy. “I believe in you!” I whispered in her ear, “And when you become the next deputy you’ll tell us ‘I told you so!’”
Rainkit rolled over in her nest, “And then she’ll go ahead and make us deputies too!”
Brightkit laughed playfully as we settled back to go to sleep. Even though the seriousness had passed about our goals, the look in Brightkit’s eyes never faded.
I don’t think my goal ever faded. The memory of our kithood has nearly faded away but the dreams and wishes we made that night will never fly away.
Rainsplash is indeed one of the best warriors AshClan has. She and Birchclaw are sweet on one another but she never talked about mating the dark brown tom. Yet every day they grew closer and closer. I’m sure Goldenstar has her eyes one her as the next deputy of AshClan but I know Rainsplash would never take the position.
Not if Brightsong still wanted it at least.
I think I have found my perfect mate. My kit crush on Thornstrike turns out to be not a kit crush. Obviously it was a silly little mistake but as we became apprentices and then warriors, I found out that I did care for the black tom. I haven’t given up on trying to be a better warrior but I know when others surpass me in strength, I will be the best mate I can be and the best mother of my kits when I have them.
Brightsong isn’t as solid. She’s not the best fighter or even the best hunter (as Rainsplash kind of took both titles), but she is probably the most intelligent warrior in the whole Clan. In battle, of even before battle she would dive into a battle plan and share it to Whitebird or Goldenstar.
Both deputy and leader would be impressed by her idea and we would execute the plan and win the battle.
Brightsong may lack in strength or even speed, but she will never fall in the intelligence section.
For the past few days, Rainsplash and I have been trying to get Brightsong to show her true colors. IceClan has been pressing on our borders and we need a strong warrior to plan our battle plans.
Whitebird is obviously a suited warrior, but she’s getting older and older by the hour. Goldenstar had already hinted that she wanted a new deputy for times such as these.
Even the old white she-cat knows that she’s not suited to be deputy anymore. When she was younger, I heard that she was the bravest warrior in the Clan. She would formulate amazing, flawless battle plans and dive into the battle, fearless. No wonder Goldenstar had chosen her to be deputy.
There are rumors about Rainsplash becoming the next deputy of AshClan. But the gray she-cat doesn’t want the position. In fact, she’s content with staying as a warrior so she can perhaps turn to a more personal life with Birchclaw.
And while my sister may be the strongest and the swiftest warrior of all of AshClan, she is certainly not the best planner.
I think in the long run, Brightsong deserves to be deputy of AshClan.
It’s not like she ever gave up on her dream either. Each day she would try harder than the last to become AshClan’s prized warrior. Whereas Rainsplash merely just worked towards her goal, Brightsong would chase after her dreams, she would push harder than anyone else just to achieve her goals.
Rainsplash and I are silently sharing tongues. My sister’s been silent for so long. Goldenstar had asked her yesterday if she would be AshClan’s next deputy.
While she’s been pondering over this, I’ve been thinking about our kithood and just the memories of Brightsong’s determination.
I don’t want us to ruin her goals.
“I know what you’re thinking,” Rainsplash sighs, “I agree with you. I don’t even want the position. Brightsong deserves it more than anyone else.”
I shrug, “Goldenstar just hasn’t noticed her, that’s all.”
At the mention of her name, the AshClan leader strides over. “Rainsplash, have you thought about my proposition? There is war around the corner and I need a new deputy immediately.”
My sister is hesitant to answer. I know she wants to serve her Clan but she doesn’t want to do it in this way.
“I’m honored to be considered, Goldenstar, I truly am,” she murmurs, “but I don’t think I’m the best choice.”
“There is no better warrior,” Goldenstar frowns, “Nobody compares to your skills.”
“No,” I shake my head, supporting my sister, “There is someone better for the position.” Rainsplash meets my gaze, her blue eyes certain.
The leader gazes at me calmly. I know she’s waiting for my response. She’s desperate for someone and even if she has doubts about my choice, I know she’ll approve once she sees her abilities.
"Rainkit, slow down!" yelled Firekit, panting as she crashed along through the undergrowth behind me. "Where are we even going?"
"We're not supposed to be out here," Brightkit added nervously. My two sisters reached me and stood on either flank, looking around with a mixture of fear and awe.
Fervent excitement was making me tremble from head to tail. "Who cares? One of the elders said AshClan has the best territory in the world, and of course we had to see for ourselves."
Wrinkling her nose, Brightkit said, "It's a lotta trees. I never knew there were so many trees in the world."
With a heavy sigh, Firekit said, "Look at that tree. It got hurt." She scrunched her face in a pout.
We looked where she was pointing and saw a large old oak with one branch dangling by only a few strips of lacerated bark. "It must've been hit in a storm," said Brightkit practically.
Still not comforted, Firekit said, "It's such an old tree, and now it's got a broken arm."
"Don't be silly. It's got a million other arms," I said. I hopped over to the tree's roots, which popped out of the ground like gnarled veins. "And a million other legs," I added.
"But not that one. And that's a thick branch, too. A really big, heavy one. It'd be so nice for climbing if it weren't snapped."
"Firekit, stop mourning a tree branch," said Brightkit teasingly.
"Shuddup, Brightkit!" squealed Firekit, laughter entering her eyes.
Within moments, all three of us were play-wrestling, chasing each other around the oak tree's roots. I was quite proud of myself for coming up with the idea to sneak out; this was so much better than the camp, where we were constantly being told to behave ourselves and quiet down.
At least, it seemed a lot better--till the three of us accidentally rolled into a thick bramble thicket.
We landed on something big, furry, and now covered with brambles that we had knocked onto it. The creature grunted, and immediately I knew it was too big and guttural-sounding to be a cat.
The creature rose into the air, with all three of us clinging and screaming on its back. As the brambles fell away, Brightkit looked down at the silver-and-black fur she was clutching and screamed, "It's a badger!"
"How do you know?" I challenged.
"Rainkit, this is so not the time to argue!" yelled Firekit.
The badger roared and pitched us off it's back, where we landed a few tail-lengths from each other on the hard dirt. Firekit's head slammed on a piece of root that was protruding from the ground. Suddenly, the tree and the outdoors seemed very, very unfriendly.
"Rainkit, get Firekit!" screamed Brightkit. "Drag her into that hollow log with you!"
"But I want to fight!"
Nevertheless, I grabbed my sister, who was dazed and only half-responsive as we stumbled into a small hollow long. I pushed her into the very back of the space, then stood in front of her. Seconds later, the badger's massive snout smashed into the log entrance.
Squealing, I reached forward and swiped my tiny claws across its nose. Specks of bright red flecked its muzzle, which seemed to enrage it further.
In the back of my mind, I realized I had doomed myself and my sister. We were trapped in this hollow log, and sooner or later, we would be caught. The badger would smash the log open wide enough to fit through, or it would simply realize it could use its paws to drag me out.
Through a tiny hole in the roof of the log, I could see a bit of the scene outside--a shaky view of the sky and treetops. As the badger slammed into the log again, it rolled on its side. Suddenly, my little peephole was facing the oak tree. And to my shock, I saw a little ginger-and-white she-kit scrambling up the trunk.
"Brightkit, what are you- Gah!" I screamed in pain as the badger's teeth clipped my ear.
Beside me, Firekit had come awake by the log's constant pitching. Letting out a shrill squeak, she pounced on the badger's muzzle and batted on it, before quickly retreating out of range.
Meanwhile, Brightkit was perched precariously on the edge of the oak's broken branch. She was tearing furiously at the few remaining strips of bark.
Then, she began inching down the branch. There was only one fiber of wood still holding the branch to the tree, and it swung crazily under her weight.
"BRIGHTKIT. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?" Firekit yelled.
All our shouting alerted the badger, and it too pulled its head out of the log, watching the swinging branch.
Brightkit clung to the branch as she worked it like a pendulum, gaining momentum with each swing. At last, she let out a shrill scream and put all her power into the downwards swing. The branch flew off the tree, the last thin strip of tether snapping.
With Brightkit still clinging to it, the massive piece of wood slammed right into the badger's head. The creature fell with a colossal, oomph.
"Brightkit!" Firekit and I raced out of the log. If the badger had fallen on top of her, I had no idea how we'd get her out.
To our relief, she was sitting atop the badger, claws still dug into the branch, looking utterly dazed. "That was... so scary," she panted.
"That was so smart! We would've been crow-food if it weren't for you," said Firekit.
"But you guys were brave. You fought the badger," said a confused Brightkit.
I snuggled between both my sisters. "But you killed it. You saved our lives."
After a moment, Firekit said, "Guys, when we get back to camp, we are so dead."
Brightsong taught me something that day, way back when we were little kits. It's a lesson that has stayed with me till now. You can't win a battle with claws alone. You can't live life with claws alone.
When I get too absorbed with my fight training, I remind myself of that. I remind myself to look around and learn from my two incredible sisters. To make note of the fact that no one goes hungry with Firesong around, because she is so caring and attentive, and makes sure everyone gets of the prey.
To notice the way Brightsong shows an unmatched quiet determination in everything she does, how she guides those who are confused and always looks at things from a vaster perspective, never letting herself give in to bias, choosing what benefits everyone.
As Goldenstar stares at me and Firesong in confusion, I know my sister is right. We've known it since we made our wishes as little kits.
"Brightsong is the only cat for the job. I may know how to fight, but only she can help you win a war," I tell Goldenstar.
The leader looks thoughtful. "I think... you might have a point. Let me talk to her first."
"No! Wait! If you're going to offer her the position, don't tell her yet." Firesong gets up, her eyes twinkling. "Let us throw her a celebration."
For a second, I'm sure Goldenstar is going to say no. But when she looks at us, her face softens. "I remember when I was a lot like you two, in my younger days," she says softly. "Sure. You can throw your celebration."
Firesong and I slap tails in triumph. "Yes!"
"Okay. I've sent Brightsong out to do last minute hunting. Is everything ready?"
"Yep!" says Firesong. We've brought out the huge fresh-kill pile, which every warrior and apprentice in the Clan helped create. On the top of the pile are three of the plumpest voles in AshClan territory--voles are Brightsong's favorites.
The apprentices help me put up last-minute decorations: flowers and leafy vines, draped over all the dens. Finally, Goldenstar leaps atop the leader's ledge.
All of us stand eagerly in the corners of the camp, waiting.
The bushes around the entrance rustle, and Brightsong pops in, holding a couple mice. "Got some prey-"
"SURPRISE!" We all yell it at the same time and surge to the middle of the camp, leaving a pathway to the leader's ledge between us.
"What?" Brightsong drops all her mice with a thunk.
"I say these words before StarClan, so that the spirits of our warrior ancestors can hear and approve my choice. The new deputy of AshClan will be..."
Brightsong's eyes immediately reach me, and to my shock, they're brimming with joy. She thinks it's me, and she's still so happy for me, even if it will end her dream of becoming leader.
"Brightsong," Goldenstar finishes.
Dumbstruck, Brightsong slowly pads to the front of the Clan. All of AshClan yells her name as loud as we can. "BRIGHTSONG! BRIGHTSONG! BRIGHTSONG!"
Firesong and I race up to her. "I don't understand, you guys," she says.
"This is a celebration." Firesong gestures to the food and decorations. Everyone is milling around the Clan now, chattering or approaching us to congratulate Brightsong.
"It's for you. To appreciate the way you've subtly led this Clan for so long, leading and helping us on patrols, making sure everyone was safe... all without once asking for anything for yourself. It's your dream come true now, Brightsong, and no one deserves it more," I say.
"Is now an elder," I finish, nodding at where the old deputy is chatting with the other retirees, Appleblossom and Brackenfrost. She looks perfectly content.
Birchclaw and Thornstrike approach us. Thornstrike purrs and lays his tail on Firesong's shoulders. "This was a great idea. Congrats, Brightsong."
"Do you guys want to come share prey with us?" asks Birchclaw, looking at me.
"Give us just a sec and we'll be right over," I promise. The two toms nod, saying they'll get some prey for us, and pad away.
"Guys, I can't believe this," Brightsong whispers.
"You deserve it." I touch my nose to hers, and then Firesong does the same.
"But how am I gonna help lead this Clan through a war?"
"Easy. You'll have us and the entire Clan by your side. And you'll do what you've always done to get through it."
"What have I always done?" questions our sister.
"That's easy, Brightsong," purrs Firesong.
I nod. "You don't stop believing."