A/N: A new story, a much more serious one, unlike my previous LemonClan one. Starts to diverge strongly from canon during the great battle in the Last Hope.
Chapter 1: The Dark Forest Falls
The Dark Forest came into existence for cats that wanted an alternative to StarClan, but not all cats fell into compliance with StarClan's self-righteousness. The world was supposed to cater towards the strong by shunning the weak. It was natural selection that advanced the feline race for generations before. The formation of StarClan proved problematic for the natural order. StarClan uplifted the weak and praised the strong. Parents told tales to their kits not to defy StarClan's code lest terrible things happen to them.
Some cats retained their instincts to better themselves and the feline race. As tales of their terrible deeds became a legend, a new entity was born from their collective thoughts. A brown cat with stripes made of living shadow came into existence. He was the very image of a terrible fate that awaited the cats that defied StarClan's rules.
Brittlestar surveyed his domain. He lived in an endless decaying forest that was beyond the light's reach. He could never reach the light no matter how desperately he wanted to. He was able to walk in the dreams of cats, aware of their thoughts towards him. He knew their plans and goals, what they planned to do towards each other the next waking day. An endless hunger gnawed at him without anything to provide him sustenance. He was alone.
He was aware of the cats StarClan cast aside. They roamed the world without happiness or unity, they were alone just like him. He felt sympathy for the ones that defied StarClan's code for a cause he believed was righteous. They shunned the cats that dared to find true love outside of their own clans. It was those he reached out first to comfort. The domain was his alone, he could shape and bend it to his will to a limited extent.
He welcomed them even though they broke the warrior code. It wasn't much but at least they could be together in the afterlife after a life of turmoil. His realm had to be dark and foreboding but at least these cats were together. StarClan also cast out traitors and troublemakers, they weren't privy to StarClan's hunting grounds after death. He shunned those as well, despite his existence he still held a view of right and wrong. He was going to leave them be at first.
To his horror, the deviants festered in their hatred, they walked in the dreams of their descendants goading them on to devious acts. As soon as the living cats whispered their name, they would enter their dreams to kill them. He couldn't allow such injustice to stand. He took it upon himself to keep the deviants away from the living. They would walk in the paths of shadows alone, never to find contact with another soul ever again.
The Dark Forest came to be a place for all StarClan's rejects some of which he comforted, other he kept from causing harm. He couldn't provide anyone happiness but he was able to keep them together. He couldn't destroy the truly wicked despite how hard he tried. They were reborn repeatedly bound to his realm unable to vanish from existence.
As generations passed, StarClan grew increasingly self-righteous as they cast away more cats that defied their code. There were too many cats ending up in his domain. The living cats heeded StarClan's corrupt orders regardless of what they were. It was something that should not be. He was brimming with power given the amount of souls in his domain, it was time remind the living of everyone they had wronged.
He knew that StarClan wronged some while others truly didn't belong. He let loose everyone. StarClan themselves would come to protect their kin. Their focus shifted from the living towards the corruption within StarClan itself. It was his purpose to keep StarClan pure and to keep the damned at bay. His power shrank as the souls faded into oblivion. It was his choice to affect the living world, his alone.
StarClan was off towards the right path again. He accomplished his goals and called the dead back to his realm. He was the keeper of all that StarClan cast aside and an observer from afar of StarClan itself. The dead would remind the living time and time again when self-righteousness took over common sense. Their ancestors would protect their living brethren from the wrath of the dead only for the corrupt to fade into oblivion. This was the eternal cycle until StarClan itself sought to break it.
Brittlestar watched Brokenstar's ceremony from afar, he killed his own father yet StarClan itself deemed him worthy to lead. He received nine lives just like all the other leaders of the clans. StarClan crowned someone so untrustworthy, so vile that it made him rage. The living even stripped Brokenstar of his title, Brittlestar was thankful for that. The living wasn't beyond redemption yet. StarClan cast aside Brokenstar when he died, he was as vile as when he lived, it was StarClan's mistake, one he had to contain.
It was his duty to watch over the damned. Brokentail arrived in his realm, his very presence tried to unite the devious cats. Brittlestar had to devote all his energy towards containing the dark brown tabby. StarClan blessed Brokentail while fully knowing his deeds and cast him aside to his realm. He could deal with normal cats just fine but not the empowered. Brokenstar's presence caused problems for him in controlling the other denizens. The ones that he kept apart could sometimes contact one another. His ability to provide comfort towards the innocent also diminished.
Brittlestar couldn't believe StarClan's incompetence when they crowned Tigerstar, the one that outright tried to kill Bluestar and ThunderClan but failed. StarClan's power shouldn't have belonged to Tigerstar at all. That dark brown tabby was downright cruel and beyond redemption. As Brittlestar predicted, Tigerstar himself acted the same as he always did, he didn't change at all. Power hungry and obsessed with the destruction of Fireheart. A flame-colored kittypet that dared to become a warrior.
Tigerstar in his delusions tried to alter the very foundation of the clans themselves only to die to Scourge. StarClan cast aside Tigerstar to his domain when he died. Now, he had two cats blessed by StarClan in his realm.
He tried to contain two chosen cats without much success. He was failing because of their strength. The damned got to contact each other to fester in their hatred. They were able to prey upon the living openly with malice. It was unlike before where he allowed certain cats to contact the living when he knew it would lead towards a better outcome. He was privy to the dreams of all cats in the world. The ones rejected in life would find comfort in the Dark Forest itself, only ones he was certain that were stronger than their ability to manipulate.
All Brittlestar could do was watch when Brambleclaw entered his realm lured by Tigerstar's will. He would have allowed it at certain points were it his choice, he believed that Tigerstar benefited Brambleclaw at certain points yet others were open manipulation which he would have forbade since it had a chance of working.
Brittlestar watched with pride when Brambleclaw rejected his own brother Hawkfrost and chose Firestar. Another victory for the living, another crisis averted, but this one was because of the Dark Forest instead of StarClan. He lost control of his realm.
He was still privy to the dreams of all cats in the world. Afraid to assert his own influence lest the chosen of StarClan discover his presence. They tried training the living to attack StarClan itself. This wasn't their purpose at all and he was powerless to stop it as StarClan's chosen learned more about this place and how to control it.
His denizens grew stronger day after day and poisoned the minds of the living. StarClan's chosen forcibly enlisted the living to join them after killing them in their sleep. This was an act he himself could do but rarely did. Only a few cats were vile enough that had to die before their time.
The Dark Forest trained for battle instead of preying on the living through dreams alone. They eagerly followed an incompetent buffoon. There was no need to battle the living, they could prey upon them in dreams again and again. Nothing was too strong if they truly wanted to go that route. Tigerstar wasn't after victory, he was squandering the Dark Forest's power and all Brittlestar could do was watch.
It wasn't incompetence, it was malice! Brittlestar realized that as Tigerstar himself was talking about invading the realm of the living. There was no way he could succeed in defeating StarClan with his paltry force. Tigerstar opened the crossing and the attack begun. The Dark Forest would vanish after today, StarClan themselves overstepped their bounds by infiltrating HIS domain. The living would win as they always had but the cycle would end for it was no longer his to control.
He would not fade away into oblivion as StarClan wanted, he was the keeper of the damned and the one responsible for rooting out corruption within StarClan. The living battled the dead, he had no interest in that, not this time. StarClan themselves overreached their bounds by infiltrating his realm and leading it towards oblivion. He knew the dreams of cats. He would give the gift of life for cats who wanted it.
It was surprising the Squirrelflight herself secretly wished for cats of her own. Who was he to judge the desires of this she-cat? She was related to Firestar, someone that he watched and respected from afar. He knew her dreams. He manifested around the shadows of an on-going battle. His Dark Forest cats had the deputy cornered, that wouldn't do at all. They were about to kill her despite her valiant attempts to fight them off. Bravery even within Firestar's offspring but it wouldn't be enough. He threw her oppressors towards StarClan. They were the ones he wouldn't miss.
He enveloped the flame-colored she-cat in an impenetrable dome of shadows. "You wished to have kits of your own."
"What are you?" she asked. She never saw someone as strange as he. He had stripes made of living shadow.
"Don't you know the legends?" He approached her.
"Stop! I don't want this," she said.
"I've watched every dream of yours. You want to have kits of your own. I'll make it easier for you." Brittlestar shifted into Brambleclaw's appearance. "How is this?"
"Let me go!" she shouted.
"Just remember, this is a dream. It's far better than the nightmare of the waking world. Let us enjoy the moment. I won't let StarClan's mistakes harm you today."
It took some time before Squirrelflight consented to mate with him, much more time that he had ever anticipated. He faded into shadows from whence he came.
The shadows were his domain, he could appear and disappear from them at will covering great distances in the blink of an eye. He sought out every single cat that had similar dreams to impart his gift of life. He was thankful that they didn't take as long to coax as Squirrelflight did. Time was of the essence; his power was fading as the night wore on. He satisfied cat after cat, his time might be over but he would leave the world in the paws of his own offspring. He imparted as much power as he could to each of them. It would fall to his kin to contain StarClan of their follies like it was his job in the past.
As dawn rose, StarClan and the living celebrated as they defeated the Dark Forest cats. Brittlestar faded from existence as he foresaw. His final thoughts were hoping that his offspring could contain StarClan's decadence.
A/N: Feel free to suggest cats and ideas by PM only. What can the Dark Forest grant a cat? Feedback and constructive criticism welcome as always.