Chapter One (Nightmare)
Mothkit squirmed restlessly again, and almost fell off Badgerpaw’s back. The black and white apprentice hissed quietly, and she shuddered. Was Badgerpaw going to eat her? She glanced at her mother, Briarmoon, and was rewarded with a kind look. She swallowed, and tried to straighten herself. Badgerpaw would have to get through her mother if he wanted to eat her. And her mother was the best warrior in all of WindClan! If Badgerpaw was dumb enough to even bare his teeth at her near Briarmoon, he was doomed. Finally, the seemingly endless journey on Badgerpaws back came to an end. The apprentice sgrugged her off his back, sending her falling into a pile of leaves. Briarmoon sent Badgerpaw a warning growl, and picked Mothkit’s sister, Hollykit, off Shatteredpaw’s back. Nothkit yawned, and scurried up to Echoheart, a sleek black she-cat of WindClan. She also happened to be Mothkit’s kin, as she was the sister of Wolfear, Mothkit’s father.
“Why are we here?” She asked Echoheart. The she-cat looked down on her with her warm amber eyes. Echoheart had been there for Mothkit for her entire two moons of life, and felt more like a mother then Briarmoon. Yes, Briarmoon has the fierce protectiveness of a mother, but she lacked the necessary quality of kindness, which Echoheart had quite a lot of.
“Didn’t Briarmoon tell you?” Mothkit frowned. Had Briarmoon mentioned anything of the sort? Probably at some point... but perhaps not. She decided to go with a no. “She didn’t!” Mothkit squeaked. “So why are we here?”
Echoheart smiled. “Every kit, when they reach two moons of age, get taken here.”
Mothkit cocked her head. “They get taken to this clearing?” Echoheart purred with amusement. “No, little one. This is just the entrance. Briarmoon has to tell... our hosts that we are here.”
Chapter Two (Echo)
“I’m not sure that this is a good idea.” Myrtlepaw flattened her ears as Rosepaw crept forward, pressing one of her paws against the thin layer of ice that covered the river.
“It’ll be fun!” Rosepaw promised.
“This doesn’t look like fun to me,” Myrtlepaw replied sharply. “You go first.”
Rosepaw sighed and stepped out onto the ice, pausing for a moment before walking forward cautiously. The ice creaked but didn’t break, and Rosepaw nodded to Myrtlepaw.
“Come check this out!” But Myrtlepaw only shook her head.
“Rosepaw, it’s not safe!”
Rosepaw ignored her and skidded across the ice with a yowl of happiness. She leaped to her paws and started to run back towards Myrtlepaw.
“Rosepaw, watch out!” Myrtlepaw yowled as soon as Rosepaw felt the ice crack under her paws.
“Help!” Rosepaw shrieked as the ice cracked around her. She was slipping around, unable to get a firm grip.
“Find a secure peace and get on it,” Myrtlepaw instructed. “And stay calm! Freaking out isn’t going to help anything.”
Rosepaw sighed, forcing her pelt to lie flat. She closed her eyes, wishing that her thundering heartbeat would quiet down.
She shrieked again as the ice heaved under her. She flailed wildly, trying to sink her claws into the ice, but her back half slid into the icy water.
“Rosepaw! Rosepaw!” She ignores Myrtlepaw’s frantic cries, focusing all her attention on keeping her head out of the water. She sank her claws into the ice, using all the strength in her legs and shoulders, but fatigue had swept in, draining her strength.
“I can’t hold on!” she told Myrtlepaw. “I’m going under!”
With a gasp, she sank into the water. Icy fangs gripped her body and pierced her skin. She screamed silently, thrashing and flailing her legs, but the cold was too frigid for her to bear, and she slipped into unconsciousness.
Chapter Three (Briar)
Talonpaw looked at Redpaw, affection reflecting off her humorous gaze. He smiled, and barely heard his mentor when she spoke. “Talonpaw! It’s time to take you to the Moonstone!” Hazelcrumb said, flicking her tail. Talonpaw gasped. “But then I’ll miss Redpaw’s Warrior ceremony!” he whined. Hazelcrumb growled. “Well would you like to watch her naming ceremony instead of having your own?” She questioned. Talonpaw sighed. “No...” he muttered. Hazelcrumb nodded. “Good. We leave now.”
“Talonpaw, you have done well in your training and it is an honor to give you your full name. Talinpaw, your name shall now be Talonheart. Remember in your dark days, for you will have a lot of them, that we will always love you.” Hazelcrumb said. Talinheart nodded, and like the others, Talonheart shivered as he delicately touched his nose to the Moonstone’s surface. He was slowly lulled into a starlight smelling slumber, yet he was vaguely aware of his mentor watching him.
”Oh Talonheart...“ murmured a voice that woke Talonheart. “Oh my son, I am so sorry.” Talonheart blinked. It was Spotshine, his mother. He wanted to immediately leap into her arms and sob about never becoming a warrior and never being mates with Redpaw, just because of a dumb accident that had almost taken his leg. He was about to wail, when his mother spoke. “I wish I had never left you. I am so sorry. You will pair with two, and the world will end.” Talonheart blinked. “What?” his mother blinked at him in response. She wasn’t going to tell him more. He was about to question her when he was woken up.
He looked around, blinking, and let out a cry. “HAZELCRUMB!” He screeched. The other medicine cats woke and gasped. Hazelcrumb was looking at him with dull gray eyes. Blood dropped from her jaws and wounds scarring her. Talonheart buried his muzzle into her fur.
His mentor was dead.