A pure white cat peered over the side of the cliff, viewing the clan cats moving around in the mountain camp below. A mouse stirred in the frosted grass under the stranger's feet. Ignoring the juicy piece of prey, the white cat turned around to face another cat, emerging from the snowed in trees.
“Spike,” The calico ginger mewed calmly, “Have you found the last of the forgotten clans?” He blinked genuinely.
Spike took a step forward and tipped his head as if signalling to a master. “Yes, Sol,” The snow colored cat had a gravelly voice like a monster slowly crunching down a thunderpath. “FrostClan must be the last.”
Sol nodded understandingly, “SkyClan will forever regret the day that Leafstar sent me out of camp, ” His green eyes shown with pure determination, yet tamed with calm, like the deep sea, “All the clans will.”
A third cat stepped out of the trees, his ragged black fur and yellow eyes were a sharp contrast to the white landscape of FrostClan territory.
“Sol,” The ragged cat said with a smooth, calmness that almost matched Sol’s, “AshClan was successfully destroyed, and with the power of our forces, we could start for FrostClan soon.”
Sol purred with satisfaction, “Good, Nightmare, one day we will rule the forest, and everyone who ever sent me away will forever regret the day they were born.”
“Snowpaw, help!” Goldray screamed.
Snowpaw dived out of her hiding place in the brambles, though she knew the ShadowClan warriors had spotted her.
Her paws tapped the ground lightly as air, barely even touching the snow covered forest floor. As the enemy warrior was about to strike the killing blow on her own mother, Snowpaw dived in and knocked him away.
She looked up to see the old oak tipping over, and without thinking, she dashed away. A yowl of agony pierced through the cloudless night as the old tree finally fell over.
Snowshimmer woke with a start. Broad daylight filtered through the cave walls, and she could hear pawsteps as a cat approached the entrance.
“Hey, you missed the dawn patrol,” Mistyrose called, clearly bursting with anticipation to go on a hunt, “Smokepaw is waiting for you and I think that Redpaw would enjoy hunting with Smokepaw.”
“Of course, Mistystar,” Snowshimmer teased, “Shall I lead the evening patrol, and maybe sort some herbs too?”
Mistyrose meowed with laughter, “You’re gonna have to get used to calling me Mistystar, huh?”
Snowshimmer looked up, confused. What did Mistyrose mean by that? She couldn’t just become clan leader without becoming deputy, and the Clan already had a deputy.
“I don’t know how, but, I’ll find a way,” Mistyrose promised, “I just know I will, whoever my parents were, they left leadership in my veins.”
“Maybe, Mistyrose, maybe,” Snowshimmer knew that Mistyrose had an untamed ambition and that was to lead, but as this ambition was so wild, it might not be the safest for the clan.
“You two done dreaming?” A voice growled from the entrance, “Because maybe, just maybe, there are some apprentices to train.”
“Wolfshadow!” Mistyrose mewed nervously, “We were just discussing what we should train our apprentices today.”
“Well there's not gonna be much left of today if you keep gossiping,” Whitepaw emerged from behind his menacing master, “But I was going to ask if you wanted to come to the training hollow with me and Whitepaw.”
Snowshimmer could tell it was hard for this more aggressive and heavily built cat to make kind offers.
“Sure,” Snowshimmer accepted kindly, “What about Splashpaw?” She favored this apprentice more than she did her own, as he had a kind and thoughtful personality.
“Out on patrol,” Wolfshadow replied grimly, “The sooner we go the better, the prey is getting more scarce than usual as leafbare approaches.” Snowshimmer looked around and noticed that many cats looked skinnier, and their eyes were dulled like rocks.
As Snowshimmer left to go find Redpaw and Smokepaw, she noticed how Mistyrose was getting closer to Wolfshadow every time she saw him. She felt a pang in her heart knowing that she would never find true love, ever since her mother’s accident, she refused to love again.
“Redpaw! Smokepaw!” Snowshimmer called impatiently, “We’re going hunting and we don’t have all day!”
Redpaw emerged from the den sleepily, “Where’s Mistyrose?” He asked genuinely. As Snowshimmer pointed with her tail at the blue she-cat, Redpaw bounded over to his mentor, looking up at Snowshimmer's best friend expectantly.
When Snowshimmer finally woke Smokepaw up, he was tired and restless, and Snowshimmer almost had to drag him out of the apprentice den.
He shook his head, then saw Redpaw ahead of him, and dashed up to see her. Mistyrose and Snowshimmer stayed behind to watch the three cats. Whitepaw and Smokepaw were desperately trying to impress Redpaw, though they just made themselves look like fools. Wolfshadow was looking down upon the apprentices, trying hard to keep a straight face as Smokepaw ran headfirst into a tree.
* * * * *
When they reached camp, Redpaw with a plump vole, Smokepaw and Whitepaw fighting over a hawk, ultimately tearing it in half, and Snowshimmer and Mistyrose each with a squirrel. As they dropped their prey into the fresh-kill pile, Snowshimmer noticed the clan gathering around something.
Slowly pacing forward, she gasped in horror at the body of a cat, his eyes glazed over with fear. A fatal wound protruded across his stomach, a quick kill as far as she could tell. Her heart broke with grief as she stared at the body of Blazepelt, Mistyrose’s brother.
Mistyrose was horror-struck. She had never known her mother, nor her father, and Blazepelt was all she had to comfort her, and remind her that being the only rogues in the clan could mean better things. Lately, things had been getting harder, and without her brother, she didn’t know how she could bear all the weight being put on her.
“What happened?” She mewed, almost too grief-stricken to speak, “Who did this?” The whole of FrostClan looked at her guiltily, “What?” She screeched angrily.
Lionstar stepped out from the crowd of cats to face to horrified patrol, “I am deeply sorry Mistyrose, this may be my fault, as I had not anticipated the attack.”
“What attack?” Mistyrose mewed quietly, “I don’t understand. Why Blazepelt? He was the strongest of us all.”
“A white fox attack. Some of our most prized warriors are wounded,” Lionstar said grimly, “They have attacked the heart of our camp, and killed one of our expecting queens, Foxfall, and injured our deputy, Deerwatcher. He fought like a warrior, though three of those evil creatures might have been too many.” Many of the warriors nodded solemnly, though some just muttered among themselves.”
“What about my brother?” Mistyrose demanded. No matter how important their deputy was to them, Blazepelt would always mean the most to her.
The clan shuffled guiltily. “He was about to kill one of the foxes, when the Star Tree fell, narrowly missing him, though he let his guard down, and was brutally murdered by the fox,” Lionstar said slightly quickly as if she herself couldn’t stand the irony.
Mistyrose was furious, “What? You save your old deputy who can barely move one foot in front of the other, but you don’t save my brother?” She yowled, “Old Deerwatcher should have been put in the elder's den by now, and this would never have happened!”
She glared at Lionstar, who looked taken aback, thinking her apology should’ve been enough to soothe Mistystar’s anger. In fact, the whole clan looked surprised at her outburst. None of them knew the pain that she felt. All she needed was family.
“You all are mouse-brained fools! All of you!” Screeched Mistyrose, “If I were leader none of this would have happened! Deerwatcher would be an old scraggly elder, my brother would be alive and my deputy and everything would be right!”
She stormed off into the woods, and she heard Snowshimmer follow her. She could feel Snowshimmer’s grief, but not nearly as strong as hers.
“Mistyrose!” She heard Snowshimmer call. Though she was desperate for someone to comfort her, she couldn’t deal with the guilt.
As she quickened her pace, she scented something on the breeze. It definitely was a cat, though she couldn’t tell if it was a rouge or a kittypet.
She turned a corner and then she saw him. A sleek-furred calico tom with the same exact marking on her forehead.