Before the Storm is the first book in the Fate of the Mountains Arc.
“Dewkit,” Moonstar mewed, “from this day until you receive your warrior name, you will be called Dewpaw.”
The crowd of cats yowled the name. “Dewpaw! Dewpaw!”
Moonstar continued. “StarClan, I asked you to guide this apprentice. Set her paws on the path she must follow to become a warrior.” The FrostClan leader turned her head towards another cat, sitting slightly ahead of the others. “Thrushfur, you will mentor Dewpaw. You are patient and strong, qualities I hope you pass to your new apprentice.”
Dewpaw ran over to her new mentor and touched noses with him. The young warrior looked down at her, his face barely concealing his excitement. Then she turned to face Moonstar. The silver cat was about to jump down from the Highlog when two tiny kits burst from the crowd.
“Can we be apprentices Moonstar?” they asked eagerly. “Can we? Can we?”
A queen burst from the crowd of cats, an infuriated look on her face. “Shardkit! Flamekit! Get over here,” she screeched. The queen looked apologetically at Moonstar. “I’m sorry. I’ll make sure they never do that again.”
Moonstar chuckled. “They’re just kits Flowerpelt,” she meowed. “They’ll learn.”
As the queen led the two kits away, Dewpaw turned to Thrushfur. “What do we do now?” she asked.
Thrushfur looked at her. “Well, I thought we could-”
Thrushfur was interrupted by a lone cat bursting through the bramble wall. His gray tabby pelt was matted with blood, and he was gasping for breath.
“Splayedfoot!” Moonstar ran over to her deputy. “What happened?”
Splayedfoot had obviously run a long way, since he did not appear to be able to speak. After a few tense moments of waiting, the deputy managed to say a few words.
“FireClan...attacked my patrol.” Gasp. “Grayclaw...dead.”
A cat gasped. Moonstar stared intently at Splayedfoot, waiting for more information. But the deputy could not say anything more.
“Dawnfrost, Badgerheart,” Moonstar barked out orders, “take Splayedfoot to Frayedleaf. Bearfoot, Greatstorm, Dappledfur, with me. Thrushfur, take Dewpaw and locate the rest of the patrol, but do not engage. Understood?”
The cats nodded and moved out.
Dewpaw followed Thrushfur through the snow covered forest. Despite the wet and icy ground, neither of the cats slipped. They were used to this sort of terrain. After brushing past several bushes, Thrushfur stopped and stuck his nose into the snow.
“What is it?” Dewpaw asked.
“FireClan scent,” Thrushfur murmured. “But this far into our territory? Strange…”
Her mentor had gone into some sort of trance, following the invisible trail left by the FireClan cat.
Or cats, Dewpaw thought.
The two continued, moving deeper and deeper into their own territory. Dewpaw ducked under branches and moved around shrubs. Then suddenly Thrushfur stopped.
“Don’t move,” he hissed.
Dewpaw froze as her mentor slowly moved to his right, allowing her to see what had caused him to stop. Two FireClan warriors stood in a small clearing. They appeared to be looking for something.
“Is it here?” one whispered his voice hoarse.
“I don’t see it,” the other replied in an equally hoarse voice. “But we need to get moving. Someone will find use if we stay much longer.”
They turned to go, then froze at the sight of Dewpaw and Thrushfur standing in their path. Thrushfur snarled. “What are you doing here?” he asked forcefully.
The two warriors turned and ran in the opposite direction. Thrushfur bolted after them. Dewpaw tried to catch up to her mentor, but her legs were to short and she quickly lost sight of them.
“Mouse dung!” she mewed furiously. Her first time outside of the camp and she had already gotten herself lost! Deciding it was best to stay put, Dewpaw returned to the clearing to wait for her mentor. While she was waiting, her thoughts began to wander.
Why were those FireClan cats snooping around our territory? She thought. What were they even looking for?
Curious, Dewpaw got up and began to poke around the clearing. More snow had begun to fall, and the tracks of the intruders were almost covered. She needed to work fast if she was going to effectively search the clearing.
Dewpaw began to dig through the snow in the area the FireClan warriors had been searching. She quickly reached the ground.
Nothing, she thought. What were they looking for?'
A rustling in the bushes behind Dewpaw made her freeze with fear. Is it the FireClan warriors?
“There you are!” Thrushfur mewed. “I’ve been looking all over for you!”
Dewpaw sighed with relief. It wasn’t the intruders. She turned to face her mentor. “Did you catch them?”
Thrushfur shook his head. “No, they got away. But I did manage to find the remains of the patrol and take them back to camp. We only lost Grayclaw, thank StarClan. Frayedleaf is taking care of the injured”
“Moonstar and her patrol fought off the invading warriors, though Dappledfur got a nasty scratch down her side.”
Dewpaw nodded and turned to go. “We should probably be heading back.”
Thrushfur stepped into front of her and led the way through the brush. Soon they were back at the camp.
The clearing was full of cats, all of them busy. Dawnfrost and Bearfoot were preparing Grayclaw’s body for his vigil while Eaglepaw, Dewpaw’s brother, raced through the crowd, looking for wounds. Eaglepaw was Frayedleaf’s apprentice, so he would replaced her when Frayedleaf died.
Dewpaw felt a twinge of anger. Why did Eaglepaw have to be a Medicine Cat Apprentice? It was lonely in the apprentices’ den without him. Most other apprentices had littermates with them, like Sagepaw and Nightpaw. Dewpaw had no one.
Moonstar was attempting to organize the chaos. As soon as she noticed Thrushfur and Dewpaw, she leapt down from the Highlog and ran over to them. Dewpaw could see the relief in her eyes.
“Where were you?” Moonstar demanded.
“I was looking for what the intruders were looking for,” Dewpaw replied.
Moonstar snapped her head around so she was looking at Thrushfur. “Intruders? You didn’t say anything about intruders Thrushfur.”
Thrushfur stared back at his leader. “There were two of them, both FireClan warriors. They were looking for something. I chased them off then found the remains of the patrol. Then I went back to find Dewpaw.”
“I told you not to engage the enemy!”
“I didn’t! I chased them off. No blood was spilled.”
Moonstar glared at Thrushfur. If looks could kill, Dewpaw thought.
“I’ll deal with you later,” Moonstar meowed. The silver she-cat turned back to Dewpaw. “I need you, Sagepaw and Nightpaw to collect new moss for the elders. And any herbs you can find would be helpful as well. I’ll get Whitefire to accompany you.”
Dewpaw nodded and ran over to the apprentices’ den. Inside she found Nightpaw lying lazily in on her moss.
“Moonstar wants us to collect moss for the elders and to look for herbs,” Dewpaw mewed. “Do you know where Sagepaw is?”
Nightpaw got to her feet, obviously not pleased with being assigned to collect moss. “I dunno. He left a little while ago.”
Dewpaw let out an exasperated sigh. “Come on, let’s go find him.”
The two she-cats left the den and began to search the camp. They found Sagepaw by the elders’ den, staring at the mass of cats in the clearing.
“Sagepaw!” Dewpaw called. “Moonstar wants us to collect moss for the elders!”
“Coming!” the tabby apprentice replied.
The three cats headed for the bramble tunnel. Outside they found Whitefire waiting for them. “Let’s move,” the warrior mewed.
Dewpaw followed Whitefire through the forest. The tortoiseshell she-cat moved flawlessly through the forest, barely noticing the snow. Dewpaw stared in awe at the site, then shook her head. Distraction could lead to death out here.
She threw a quick glance over her shoulder. Nightpaw and Sagepaw were still behind them, picking there way across the ‘Winter Wonderland’. Dewpaw had never gotten why Moonstar called their forest that. As if having an eternal leaf-bare was wonderful.
A small plant caught Dewpaw’s eye, and she turned to see a small bundle of Feverfew growing in a small green patch. She quickly grabbed the herbs and fell back into line. Whitefire continued to glide through the forest, unhindered.
Before Dewpaw and the others could catch up to their escort, Whitefire halted. A quick flick of her tail told the apprentices to stay back. Then the warrior slowly edged forward.
Dewpaw strained her neck to see what had caused Whitefire to tense up like that. She could see two dark silhouettes standing out against the snow. Her eyes narrowed. The FireClan warriors were back!
(In Order of Appearance)