Oaktail's life takes a turn for the worse with Sparrowheart's death.
The choices he makes will define his future.
I can see both of them. One on either side of me, one kind-faced, the other dark.
This is a nightmare. The third tonight.
I naturally gravitate towards the kind-faced one. She is the love of my life. She is not angry at me for my decision, but rather grateful.
The dark one pulls me back. "What do you have to say?" she snaps.
I look desperately at my former mate, Robinsong. "Help me," I plead. "Make her understand."
"I can't," she replies, "you know how stubborn Sparrowheart is."
"It's not my fault!" I snap at Sparrowheart, whirling to face her.
Sparrowheart's face looms in front of mine, becoming much scarier than normal. "Do you want to say that again, stubborn tom?" she snarls.
"It's not my fault," I plead. "It's not my fault..."
When all goes dark, I don't regret anything.
There is a choking silence as my mind tries to form words. When I open my mouth and close it, she rephrases the question: "Who are you?"
I answer as simply as I can. "I am Oaktail," I say.
"Who are you?" Shinefoot asks again, leaning forward. "What are you?"
"I am Oaktail," I repeat angrily. "For StarClan's sake, I don't know what I am!"
"You need to figure that out," Shinefoot says drily, standing. "I can't help you if you can't figure out what you are."
"That's what I need help with," I say, watching her pad across the den, her tail flicking back and forth. I can tell she is irritated, but I keep persisting.
Shinefoot pauses and turns towards me. "I can guide you in your journey," she tells me. "I can only hope that's enough, Oaktail."
"It'll have to be," I reply darkly, I turning away.
Facing the entrance, I realize how hard it is to step into the light.
I am on a patrol, which consists of Robinsong's former apprentice, Bloomtail, and Bloomtail's newest apprentice, Snakepaw. Bloomtail is telling Snakepaw about the dangers of ShadowClan.
"Bloomtail," Snakepaw interrupts, sending a wary glance at me for some reason, "there's a mouse over there and I didn't eat before we left."
Bloomtail sighs and also glances at me. "Go ahead, hunt. Eat. Oaktail and I will be over here." Bloomtail leads me over behind a tree where we can see the apprentice but he can't see us.
I stare at my paws. I am tense. Bloomtail is looking at me weird, and I don't like it.
"About Robinsong," Bloomtail mews finally, "I don't blame you."
I look up in shock. "You don't blame me?" I squeak.
"Robinsong..." Bloomtail sighs, "she wasn't the right cat for you."
I hold back an urge to kill her. "How would you know?" I snap.
"Oaktail, I know you!" Bloomtail whispers, creeping closer to me. "Robinsong never stopped talking about you! I know that your favorite type of prey is squirrel-"
"Water vole," I correct. "My favorite type of prey is water vole."
Bloomtail clears her throat. "And your eyes are blue..."
"Every cat knows that, Bloomtail," I tell her. "Look, if you had a chance, you'd know. You don't have a chance. The love of my life is dead and you don't even care!" I can hear my voice rising to a yowl but I don't care.
"Is everything okay?" Snakepaw's hesitant voice asks. It seems so far away.
"Everything's fine," Bloomtail snaps. "Go patrol the ShadowClan border, we'll be there soon."
Snakepaw protests, "Bloomtail-"
"Go!" Bloomtail hisses.
I see Snakepaw's tail as he creeps slowly away, tail flattened to the ground.
"What's your problem?" Bloomtail hisses at me. "You have a great cat standing in front of you! Why aren't you taking the chance?"
My eyes flutter shut. I try and think of something nice to say to Bloomtail. My head whirls.
"Oaktail," I hear Bloomtail whisper. It sounds distant, but in a different way.
"No," I whisper back. "Bloomtail, I killed Robinsong because I loved her and I still do."
Bloomtail's eyes cloud. "You're still grieving, aren't you?" She steps closer, obviously to comfort me, but I step back.
"I'm not grieving," I snap. "Not anymore, Bloomtail. I'm in love with Robinsong and nothing you do or say can change it!"
I spin to turn away when I hear Snakepaw's cry from the ShadowClan border. "Fox dung," I curse, "he's in trouble."
Bloomtail calls for her apprentice, but I race towards him, adrenaline rushing through me. This is what it means to be a warrior! This is what I trained for!
I almost forget about Robinsong. But then I can feel her fur brushing against mine and I know she is in this fight for me, whatever the stakes.
When I arrive at the border, I see Snakepaw pinned down by a jet-black ShadowClan tom. "Dear StarClan," I whisper. "Nightstar!"
The leader looks up, his eyes filled with bloodlust. "Oaktail," he hisses. "You killed your mate. You killed her mother."
"I didn't kill her mother," I snap. "She killed herself."
"This apprentice's death, Oaktail," Nightstar hisses, "is going to be on your shoulders." He raises a claw.
"Oaktail!" I hear Bloomtail gasp behind me.
I explode. I race foward and leap towards Nightstar, paws outstretched. I land on Nightstar and do the most natural thing I can do.
I snap his neck.
Snakepaw gasps. "Oaktail!" he whispers in shock.
I look over in alarm at Bloomtail, whose face is filled with shock and gratitude.
That does it. I race away. I have to get away.
It's life or death.
I am in a tree. My tail is wrapped tightly around me, and I am completely still.
My eyes flutter shut. I am trying to picture Robinsong. I can hear Bloomtail desperately calling my name in the distance, wailing for me to come back. I don't move. I know she is safe with Nightstar dead.
I doze off. The first thing I see is Robinsong's face, right in front of mine. "Oaktail!" she hisses. "Why'd you kill Nightstar?"
"Instinct," I breathe.
Robinsong growls, but licks my nose. "You've got to stop this killing streak," she sighs.
I sigh. "I was defending my Clan," I whisper in her ear.
"Oaktail," a she-cat's cold voice behind me hisses. "You killed another cat?"
Robinsong protests. "Sparrowheart-"
"He killed another cat!" Sparrowheart snaps behind me.
"StarClan help me," I whisper, turning to face Sparrowheart. "You're crediting me with your death?"
Sparrowheart ignores my second statement. "I actually am here to help," she tells me.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Robinsong's eyes light up.
"How in the world could you possibly help me?" I hiss. My body trembles with anger.
"Oaktail, calm down," Robinsong whispers, pressing herself against me. I can barely feel it, but I know she can.
"You don't seem to value any cat's life," Sparrowheart mews quietly. "That's what StarClan think."
The fur on the back of my neck bristles, but I say nothing.
"We're giving you a choice," Sparrowheart tells me, her eyes narrowing.
"What?" I ask, looking up from where I had been staring at my paws.
Sparrowheart's proposal is shocking. Darkness falls over the sky as she speaks.
"You can save one of your kits, or die."