Part of the Stars and Shadows series (sequel to A Path of Darkness)

This takes place after Pebblefrost's Choice


Prologue

The sky was dark. Darker than pure black. Not a single star was shining. The moon was barely more that a thin claw mark. Is this a sign? Is this how StarClan warns the clan of coming darkness? Isn't having Icestar as a leader enough? Willowfur was one of three cats who were living their life in IceClan in torment. Constantly tortured by betrayals, broken promises and past choices, life felt that it was simply not worth living. Willowfur sighed. Are the clans doomed? Is this truly the end of the four clans? And if Icestar takes over completely, then StarClan will be forgotten, and the Dark Forest... will win. Forever.

Willowfur tugged her tail free of a bramble stem. "Icestar wishes to see you." Willowfur dipped her head to the brown tom. She didn't even know half of the cats in IceClan. Icestar had taken over all of the clans, and had invited several rogues to join as well. Willowfur caught Cloudshine's eye. She was sending a clear message. Good luck.

Taking a deep breath, Willowfur entered the leaders den. Icestar sat, waiting. His eyes of ice seemed to pierce Willowfur's mind, as if he was reading it. "So you're the traitor, eh?" How did he know??? "I-I-I'm not a traitor!" Willowfur stammered. Icestar narrowed his eyes. "Oh really? Then why have I been hearing interesting reports from a specific cat?" Willowfur suddenly realised what he had been implying. I was betrayed.

"Well, I'm sure you understand the consequenses." Icestar purred silkily. "Death." Suddenly he lunged. Claws sank into her neck before Willowfur could even register what she had heard.

Chapter One

"Pebblefrost has kitted!" The joyous yowl was the happiest news since Icestar's reign started. I hope these kits will be strong enough to survive this.

"You have something on your mind." Stormheart frowned at her. "I know that look. What is it this time?" Cloudshine shook her head. "Just... Icestar's takeover changed a lot of things in the clan." Stormheart nodded in agreement. Then Cloudshine's voice hardened. "But remember that I still haven't forgiven you for mating with a RiverClan cat." Stormheart's sad gaze pierced Cloudshine's pelt as she spun around and stalked off.

"I want to name this one Minnowkit," Pebblefrost murmured. "And this one Mistlekit." Cloudshine purred. "They're beautiful names, like these kits." Pebblefrost nodded. Cloudshine couldn't help but ask. "Who's the father?" Pebblefrost shook her head. But Cloudshine didn't need her to reply. The flash in her eyes, the sleekness of the kits' pelts were all to familiar. Mistlekit and Minnowkit were Icestar's daughters.

"N-n-no! I c-can't! My kits!" Moonheart's wail flooded the clearing. Cloudshine's head jerked up. Icestar had cornered the young queen in the corner of the camp. The white flash on her chest shone in the moonlight. Icestar narrowed his eyes at the she-cat. "Too bad." he hissed. "Do my bidding or else your kits and mate will die." Icestar then spun around and stalked off.

Cloudshine had never been so short on herbs. Each day, at least eight cats came into her den, complaining of some wound they had recieved during training. And leaf bare was approaching. Cloudshine hoped that the clan would last throughout leaf bare.

"The time has come to take over RiverClan!" Icestar's sudden announcement sent ripples of shock through the cats gathered. "We shall invite them to join IceClan, and they can help us make the greatest clan of all!" This is too much like what happened with Tigerstar and TigerClan. Cloudshine thought. I need to leave. Even if Icestar tracks me down. "Cloudshine!" a little kit's call caught her attention. Cloudshine jerked around to see Pebblefrost's kit, Mistlekit, bouncing over nervously. "C-can I please be your apprentice?" Cloudshine purred. "Of course!" As soon as I finish training Mistlekit.


Chapter Two

Icestar narrowed his eyes at his daughter, who was bouncing around Cloudshine. What's she up to? I hope Mistlekit doesn't get missled. Icestar padded over to the little she cat. "Mistlekit, come with me." The kit glanced at him in surprise. "What for?" Is my own kit challenging me? "No specific reason. I just wanted to talk."

"Now, don't you go off and become a medicine cat. I want you to become the best warrior you can be, okay?" The she-kit frowned. "What if I don't want to?" Icestar was begining to get impatient. "Otherwise I'll make you." Mistlekit glared at him. "Well you can't tell me how to live my life." With that, she stalked off. Shock sparked in Icestar's pelt. Were things so bad, that even his own daughter was challenging him?

***

Icestar watched as Mistlepaw and Minnowpaw tussled on the sunlit ground outside the apprentice's den. Minnowpaw was struggling to get out from underneath her sister's paws. Mistlepaw purred and stepped back. She stepped back! Icestar couldn't believe it. Mistlepaw let her enemy up. She clearly doesn't understand battle then... I'll show them.

***

"Today is a very special event! I repeat - a ver very special event. Today, we will go and invite RiverClan to join IceClan, and together, we will rule the forest!" Satisfaction surged through Icestar as he watched his clan cheer. "And if they don't agree, we'll force them! We are strong! We are IceClan!" The clan took up the cheer. "We are IceClan! We are IceClan!" Now who is brave enough to question me? That was when he saw it - Mistlepaw, staring up at him, her blue eyes sparking with a challenge.

Icestar raced through the forest, trees and bushes a green blur as he ran. The thudding of paws indicated the sound of his following clanmates. He burst through the undergrowth onto Sunningrocks. A RiverClan patrol was about to leave. "Wait!" Icestar yowled. The cats' heads jerked up. Splashclaw and a few other clanmates that Icestar didn't recongnise. "We wish to speak with Volestar." Splashclaw narrowed his eyes. "Obviously you haven'y heard the news from WindClan or ShadowClan." He snorted. Icestar almost purred. If WindClan and ShadowClan were allied, then RiverClan would obviously be more willing to join IceClan. "Volestar is dead. WindClan and ShadowClan attacked us last quarter moon. I'm leader of RiverClan now." Icestar nodded sympathetically. "We just wanted to give you a request. We wanted to ask you to join IceClan." Splashstar frowned. "IceClan?" Icestar nodded. To his surprise, Splashstar nodded. "Yes. We accept your offer, as long as we will be able to get vengeance on WindClan and ShadowClan." Purring, Icestar worked his claws into the earth. "Agreed."

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