"Where am I?"
"You're in the medicine den."
"But this isn't PebbleClan."
"No. This is GrassClan. Your new Clan."
|The Paths Trilogy|
|Preceded by: |
|Broken Paths||Succeded by: |
Brokenpaw had always had a shattered life. She'd never really known who she was - her parents she had never met, although she was Clanborn. However, her loyalty to her Clan is something that never dies.
After training with the apprentices for six moons, Brokenpaw, like all apprentices, chooses her warrior name. But that price cost Brokenpaw dearly.
Instead of returning to her birth Clan, PebbleClan, the newly named Brokenpath is shoved into GrassClan, much to her dislike. The young she-cat has to develop friendships in her new Clan. But when a rift forms, Brokenpath has to fight for her right to be in either Clan. Will Brokenpath make the decision to be in her Clan by birth, or the Clan she was forced to join?
This is the first book in The Paths Trilogy.
She's gone, she's gone,
But it's the start of a shattered road...
A white tom with ginger flecks on his ragged pelt looked down sorrowfully. The dark tabby she-cat below him was still, unmoving. She was dead.
Three of her kits were, too - one gray, one brown, one a mix of the two. There was only one that was left.
The remaining kit was a tabby - unlike her parents. The small bundle of fur was mewling pitifully, faintly. The medicine cat knew that someone had to look after her. Someone that wasn't her parents - her father was dead.
The elderly tom padded to the end of the den, and stuck his head out. "Brightfeather?"
An orange tabby she-cat turned towards him. "Yes?"
"Come here." The medicine cat's words were low, and grave. "I must speak with you now, and urgently."
"Why?" Brightfeather's amber eyes rounded at the older cat's words. "What's happened? Has something happened with Tabbyflight?"
"Tabbyflight is dead." Lowering his head, scraping one paw along the ground, he continued. "She died giving birth. Three of her kits are also dead."
"Oh, oh no..." Brightfeather lowered her head slowly in reply. Then she fixed her gaze on the medicine cat. "But you said three were dead... Is one alive?"
"See for yourself, Brightfeather," the medicine cat mewed gruffly. "This kit will die if you don't hurry up."
"The memory of Tabbyflight will be upheld by this kit," Brightfeather mewed hurriedly, as she rushed into the nursery, fast as the swiftest GrassClan cat.
The white-and-ginger tom moved aside, so that Brightfeather could get in. He saw the orange tabby she-cat scan the sight of Tabbyflight, and her three dead kits. She saw the fourth, still moving weakly.
"I'll take her in," Brightfeather mewed quickly. "Get her over here - I can manage. My kits will be fine without me for a moment."
"Should they?" the medicine cat mewed doubtfully. "They were trying to -"
"Redspeck!" Brightfeather hissed quietly. "I caught them before they attempted it!"
Redspeck lowered his head. "Sorry." The elderly tom moved over to Tabbyflight's nest, and picked up the living kit by its scruff. The kit was silent - breathing shallowly, mewling very pitifully. Laying the kit down at Brightfeather's belly, the medicine sighed with relief as the dark tabby she-kit latched onto Brightfeather's belly.
Brightfeather looked down at her belly. "What will be her name?"
The two cats were silent for a moment, only staring at each other, amber upon amber. Finally, Redspeck spoke:
"Maybe it could be something about her family. Her whole family is dead - her mother, her siblings - her father's dead, too..."
"We may never know that one," Brightfeather corrected. "We never found Bluepelt's body."
"I know." Redspeck lowered his gaze again. "But what should we name her?"
Brightfeather was silent for a moment, looking down at the small bundle of fur at her belly. When she looked back at Redspeck again, her amber eyes were alight. "I've thought of a good name," she whispered.
"What is it?" Redspeck asked, not looking into Brightfeather's eyes.
"How about Brokenkit? She is the last one left - her family is broken into the living and the dead."
Redspeck took a deep breath, not saying a word. Finally, he uttered some words, not to anyone at all.
"Yes... her name will be Brokenkit, but not even this cat will be able to control the twisting path that follows..."
It's a time of honor,
But in no way you expected...
"Your warrior ceremony is tonight."
Brokenpaw puffed out her chest in delight at Pearclaw's words. Successfully passing her hunting assessment was a good thing.
She would be back in PebbleClan tonight, for sure. She knew it.
Turning to Pearclaw, she asked: "When's the meeting being held?"
"Moonhigh." The dark brown she-cat snorted. "As always. You'd better go and prepare."
Scampering away, Brokenpaw couldn't wait. She would be one of three apprentices receiving their warrior names - along with Turtlepaw and Duckpaw, who were born in FallClan. She wondered what her choices for her warrior name were going to be.
She couldn't wait to return home.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
As the moon rode high in the sky, all the cats in the apprentice's training ground were called together. The cats there, most young, some older, gathered in the small clearing.
Off to one side, Brokenpaw sat, along with Turtlepaw and Duckpaw. The two FallClan she-cats were chatting to each other in exited whispers. Brokenpaw ignored their excited mews, and fixed her gaze onto the mentor running the warrior ceremony - Stagspring, from FallClan.
"Mentors and apprentices of the four Clans!" Stagspring meowed loudly from the center of the clearing, silencing all the cats at once. The dark tom was standing on the Moonhigh Rock. "Tonight, we will give three apprentices their warrior names, and two new GrassClan cats will be coming to join us."
Exited murmurs rang through the cats into the clearing. With a swift flick of his tail, Stagspring silenced them.
"Doedapple will be giving our three representatives their warrior names tonight."
Brokenpaw nodded silently. Doedapple was a wise, FallClan warrior - she hoped that the pale-furred she-cat would have some good names to choose from.
"For the warrior ceremonies!" Stagspring yowled. "May Turtlepaw, Duckpaw, and Brokenpaw step forward."
A rush of nerves overtook Brokenpaw. Slowly, the dark tabby she-cat padded forward, behind Turtlepaw and Duckpaw, who had bounded forward.
As they reached the Moonhigh Rock, Brokenpaw heard Stagspring's mew: "I, Stagspring, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on these three apprentices. They have learned your noble code, and I commend them to you as warriors in their turn. Turtlepaw, Duckpaw, and Brokenpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
The three she-cats took a deep breath, and mewed: "I do."
Stagspring nodded. Flicking his tail, he mewed: "Turtlepaw."
The tortoiseshell she-cat padded away to where Stagspring has beckoned. All the cats were silent. Brokenpaw narrowed her eyes. What went on back there?
Eventually, Doedapple appeared. "She has chosen the name Turtleshine!"
The cats in the clearing cheered as Doedapple padded away, Brokenpaw joining in. Who would be next?
"Duckpaw." Stagspring beckoned for the lighter brown cat to go. Duckpaw bounded away eagerly.
I'm next, Brokenpaw thought, breathing quickly now. What will I have to choose?
Soon enough, once again, Doedapple appeared, and told the cats that Duckpaw had become Duckwater. The cats cheered, but Brokenpaw didn't in her anxiety. She new she was next.
Finally, Stagspring called her name. Trembling, Brokenpaw moved towards where she'd seen cats go before. She came to a very small clearing, where Doedapple was sitting.
"Brokenpaw," the she-cat murmured softly. "Here is your choice. Your choice is either Brokenheart, Brokenfeather, Brokenfall, or Brokenpath."
Brokenpaw knew instantly that she wasn't going to choose Brokenfall or Brokenfeather. The other two were going to be more likely. But had Brokenpaw's heart ever been broken?
I know what I'm choosing.
"Brokenpath." Brokenpath gasped. "I choose Brokenpath."
Doedapple nodded. "Then from now on you shall be known as Brokenpath." She offered the tabby some berries. "Eat some."
Brokenpath bent down to eat the berries. After she had done, she felt herself becoming dizzy. The young tabby she-cat let her vision enfold into blackness.
I'm going home.
You think you're going home,
But everything's far from that....
Light shone into the heather-sprigged den, lighting the area with a warm, golden light. Two she-cats were in the den, talking.
The smaller of the two, a gray-brown she-cat turned to the bigger one from where she was sitting. "Goldenflight? Do you hope that we will have some new warriors this time?"
Her companion, a golden-brown she-cat, sighed. "Bouncepaw's warrior ceremony isn't due for another moon."
"Something unexpected may happen." The gray brown she-cat shot a defiant gaze at her Clanmate. "Weren't you originally from FallClan?"
"I was." Goldenflight gave a heavy sigh. "But war forced me to leave. I could never live there again." Staring out of the den, she commented: "The wind, and the feel of wet dew on the grass feels at home to me now."
"Let's just hope," were the smaller cat's reply, not bothering to look.
There was a pause of silence, then Goldenflight spoke: "Shouldn't Dustyheart and Stoneleap be back by now?"
"They should be." The gray-brown medicine cat snorted. "Stoneleap should be able to handle it. Dustyheart will be fine when she's back here."
A yowl sounded in the distance. The gray-brown cat pricked her small ears.
"They're back, Brookclaw," Goldenflight whispered. "Let's see if they've got anyone new."
In the dawn light, the two cats stepped out of the den. A blue-gray tom, his body muscular, strode into the camp, a pale brown she-cat behind them. Between their bodies, there was a third cat - a dark brown tabby.
"She's not GrassClan born." A thick-furred white tom sat at the entrance to his den.
"From PebbleClan." The blue-gray tom spoke. "Rare that this happens, Snowstar."
"Her name is Brokenpath, apparently," the pale brown she-cat added, fixing her green gaze on Snowstar, then Brookclaw.
"Take her into the medicine den, then," Snowstar growled, fixing his gaze on Stoneleap and Dustyheart.
As the leader's amber gaze met Stoneleap and Dustyheart, the two cats picked up Brokenpath again, and navigated her through the camp towards the medicine den. Brookclaw and Goldenflight followed in behind.
The four cats padded into the den, and laid Brokenpath down in one of the empty nests. As soon as they had done that, Stoneleap and Dustyheart disappeared.
Goldenflight and Brookclaw remained, looking at the breathing, dark brown shape. Their gazes met.
"This isn't going to be easy," Brookclaw muttered, fixing her icy gaze on Goldenflight. "She will need some help adjusting."
Goldenflight nodded. "I'll help."
"And Dustyheart, I think." The gray-brown she-cat's eyes were wide. "I hope this doesn't mean the end..."
"It won't," Goldenflight assured. "Brookclaw, you'll see that everything will go alright."
Brookclaw nodded. "Tell Dustyheart for me."
"I will." Goldenflight turned away, and the heather sprigs rustled as she left.
Brookclaw was the only cat remaining, watching Brokenpath's chest rise and fall. She still wasn't convinced. Would doom before the four Clans?
Nothing's as it was before,
It's time to start afresh...
Stirring, Brokenpath brushed a paw against the side of the nest. Her eyes stayed closed, but she knew something was up.
Something isn't right.
She knew that this didn't smell like PebbleClan. The scent was more like the wind, dew, and herbs.
Maybe I'm in the medicine den. Maybe that's the problem, Brokenpath thought. But the tabby she-cat didn't want to open her eyes.
A cat brushed past, and she felt it breathe over her ear. Then it scuttled away suddenly, not to be seen.
Finally, Brokenpath had the courage to open her eyes. She knew immediately that her thoughts were correct. This definitely wasn't PebbleClan.
"Where am I?" she wondered aloud.
"You're in the medicine den." A scuffing woke from the other end of the den, and a gray-brown she-cat appeared, her amber eyes serious and unforgiving.
"But this isn't PebbleClan," Brokenpath whispered.
"No." The gray-brown she-cat gulped, knowing what she had to say next. "This is GrassClan. Your new Clan."
My new Clan? No...
In her panic, Brokenpath squirmed. She wasn't going home to PebbleClan? She had to live in GrassClan?
"My name's Brookclaw," the gray-brown she-cat went on, ignoring Brokenpath's silent protest. "I'm the GrassClan medicine cat." Without saying anymore, Brookclaw bounded out of the den.
Brokenpath felt a feeling of dread overtake her. Nothing was ever going to be the same again. She was truly a cat with broken paths - her family, now her Clan. It was hard for her to take in.
I have to make the most of this.
She sat up in the nest, and looked around, not daring to step out of the den. She didn't want to see her new home. All she knew was Brookclaw - and the occasional GrassClan cat who had gone through the apprentice training ground with her. For the first time in her life, Brokenpath felt isolated from everyone else in her life.
"See you at sundown."
Brokenpath jumped at Brookclaw's voice. The gray-brown she-cat had just come back into the den, her amber gaze fixed on her.
"Brokenpath," she meowed, "we will be sorting out arrangements for you. Tonight, you will sleep in here, and you will meet a few of my Clanmates. Tomorrow, we will make you fully part of GrassClan life. Understand?"
"A few?" Brokenpath questioned.
"You're from PebbleClan originally, right?" Brookclaw asked. When Brokenpath nodded, she replied: "Some of my Clanmates aren't happy about this decision. It will take them a while to get used to it."
"Fine by me," Brokenpath snorted. "Just sort something out."
Brookclaw shot a hard glance at Brokenpath, before she padded away again. As she was alone again, the news sank in. But for Brokenpath, this was hard to accept. Should she hold her ties to her old Clan, or her new one?
When everything is so surreal,
Life can never be easy...
Dawn broke into the GrassClan camp, light shining in the clearing. Five cats roamed in the clearing - two toms, three she-cats.
"How was Brokenpath last night?"
The speaker was the white tom. His narrowed amber eyes showed discomfort, and hostility.
A small gray-brown she-cat dipped her head. "It was hard for her, Snowstar," she meowed. "She was squirming in her sleep, mewing something under her breath."
"It's always going to be hard for her," a golden-brown she-cat piped up.
"Well, Goldenflight, it's obvious that you would know," Snowstar meowed dryly, his gaze fixed on the golden-brown she-cat.
Goldenflight backed away cautiously. A pale brown she-cat raised her head. "Goldenflight does have a point. I haven't been in this Clan very long - and my kits have to forge their own lives, too." Her green eyes blazed with fury at Snowstar.
"You can't just ignore them, Snowstar," the fifth cat, a blue-gray tom, pointed out. "They may be right."
Snowstar lowered his head. The white leader, silent for once, whispered: "I just don't know what's going to happen..."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Opening her eyes, Brokenpath saw the heather-sprigged den. She shivered, unsure of where she was, but the thoughts from yesterday hit her with a pang. GrassClan was where she had to live now.
"It's always going to be hard for her."
Brokenpath pricked her ears, and shifted in her nest. Something was going on outside.
"Well Goldenflight, it's obvious that you would know," a white tom droned. His amber gaze was fixed on a wiry golden-brown she-cat. Brokenpath watched as Goldenflight backed away to where a pale brown she-cat was sitting.
"Goldenflight does have a point," the pale brown she-cat meowed. "I haven't been in this Clan very long - and my kits have to forge their own lives, too."
So Goldenflight and that pale brown she-cat aren't originally GrassClan, Brokenpath thought. At least I'm not the only one. She stepped out of her nest, onto the dusty ground of the medicine den.
"You can't just ignore them, Snowstar," a blue-gray tom meowed, fixing his gaze on the white cat. Snowstar himself did not reply, only look down at his paws and mutter something under his breath.
There was silence for a moment, before the blue-gray tom muttered: "Is that dawn patrol dozing off again?" He disappeared after he had spoken.
That blue-gray tom must be the GrassClan deputy. Brokenpath thought for a moment, as she tried to remember the cat's name. Isn't his name Stoneleap?
Scraping her paw across the ground, Brokenpath looked out again. The pale brown she-cat was staring in her direction. She turned, and called: "Brookclaw! Brookclaw! Did you know that Brokenpath's awake?"
"Are you kidding?" A voice cut into the cat's conversation. "Thank you, Dustyheart. I'll be right there."
Quickly, Brokenpath tried to jump back into her nest, but she was too slow. Brookclaw had appeared at the entrance.
"What," she hissed, "were you thinking when you did that?"
And when anger overtakes you,
The world seems to end...
"Well?" Brookclaw hissed softly, when Brokenpath had not replied.
"Er..." Brokenpath stammered, looking for the right word. "I woke up, and -"
"And what?" Brookclaw snarled, cutting in. "Carry on..."
Nerves almost overtook Brokenpath again, but she knew how Brookclaw would react if she didn't reply. "And - I heard some cats talking outside."
Brokenpath wanted to swat Brookclaw, but she held her paw down. "I heard you talking about me."
Brookclaw snorted fiercely, her amber eyes burning. Silence overtook Brokenpath, but then a tornado of noise boomed:
"That's no excuse!" Brookclaw was yowling at the top of her voice. "You only did that so you couldn't get in trouble! You filthy liar!"
Brokenpath wanted to meet Brookclaw's gaze, but she couldn't. She stayed silent for a moment longer, then replied: "Fine, then. Leave me alone!"
At once, Brokenpath turned tail on the gray-brown medicine cat. Heads turned towards her as she ran out of the camp, tears welling in her eyes. As she reached a thick patch of grass, so tall so that no cat could see her in there, she went in, lay down, and cried herself to sleep.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Brokenpath could feel sunlight beyond the blackness of her vision. She didn't want to open her eyes. Brookclaw... Brookclaw... the name scared her. She didn't want to go back...
"Brokenpath!" the same voice mewed again.
Oh, thank StarClan, it's not Brookclaw, Brokenpath thought, relaxing. A sweet, heathery scent drifted past her. Another she-cat.
It's either Goldenflight or Dustyheart, I think...
"Brokenpath, face me." A rustling in the bushes alerted Brokenpath to attention. "Do you know who I am?"
"No..." Brokenpath mewed hazily, still refusing to open her eyes. She didn't want to know, but she didn't say so herself. What would that she-cat say.
"It's Goldenflight," the she-cat replied, confirming Brokenpath's guess. "I'm not going to hurt you. Come here."
Brokenpath didn't reply, only shut her eyes tighter. Whimpering, she curled into a ball. I don't think I believe you...
Goldenflight sighed: Brokenpath could feel the golden-brown cat's breath on her ear. "Brokenpath... please..."
"No." Brokenpath said firmly. "I don't want to speak with you."
There was no reply from Goldenflight, only another soft sigh. "You remind me of someone," she whispered. "Once, I was a FallClan warrior. When I lived there, there was a tom named Tumblestep, and he is still a warrior there today. He reminds me of you, in the way he acts."
Brokenpath tried to shut Goldenflight's words out of her head. She, at the moment, didn't want to trust her.
Oh, StarClan, why do I have to be in GrassClan?
Sometimes this world
Has worries, yet delights...
A voice alerted Brokenpath to attention. She twitched her ear in annoyance. She knew who that was.
"Brokenpath." GrassClan's newest warrior, Bounceclaw, was sneering. "You blood-traitor. Get out of here."
Brokenpath felt hurt, but she tried not to show it. She'd been in this Clan for one-and-a-half moons now, but Bounceclaw, who'd returned to his birth Clan a quarter-moon ago, used every attempt to tease her.
Unfortunately for Bounceclaw, Dustyheart had heard him. "Clean up the elder's den. Now," she spat. "Be nice."
Brokenpath tried not to laugh as Bounceclaw opened his mouth in protest, then shut it again. Admitting defeat, he moved towards the medicine den, his tail trailing in the dust.
Dustyheart shot a satisfied look at Bounceclaw, then turned back to Brokenpath. "So, what to do with you today."
"I thought Snowstar would've thought that up by now?" Brokenpath queried, turning her head towards the medicine den.
Dustyheart shook her head. "Remember, Snowstar's still recovering from the battle."
A half-moon ago, a group of unhappy PebbleClan warriors had attacked the camp. No cat had died, but Shatteredheart had been seriously injured, and Snowstar had lost a life, but was also still recovering.
"So what do I have to do today, then."
"Stoneleap said you can go hunting with me and Elderbranch," Dustyheart meowed. "I don't particularly like Elderbranch, buy I suppose I have to listen to what Stoneleap says."
Brokenpath stifled a groan. Elderbranch was the second-most annoying tom in the Clan, apart from Bounceclaw.
"He said we'll be doing it about sunhigh," Dustyheart went on. "We get the morning off."
At least Elderbranch is still on the dawn patrol, Brokenpath thought, with a sigh of relief.
They sat down, outside the warrior's den, not doing much. Brokenpath let the breeze ruffle her fur - it wasn't the same as PebbleClan's hard, piney habitat, but she found out that she was getting used to the wind touching her fur.
Stoneleap, as usual, was doing deputy duties, as usual. At the moment, he was briefing a border patrol, which was about to go along the FallClan border:
"Okay, I'll have to warn you," he mewed sternly, "but be watchful. You know what Daisystar was like at the last Gathering."
Brokenpath saw Goldenflight nod. "Yes... she was very jumpy. I wonder what the problem was... PebbleClan don't border them. Maybe it's a problem with StreamClan... we don't hear about them much, since we don't share a border with them..."
Stoneleap looked thoughtful. "I hope Wavestar and his warriors aren't causing trouble. Safe travels."
Goldenflight's tail waved in reply as her border patrol left the camp.
"Speaking of jobs," Dustyheart muttered under his breath, "I wonder how Bounceclaw's doing with his?"
Brokenpath purred, as she saw Bounceclaw coming out of the elder's den, a was of old moss in his mouth. She thought that the ginger cat was probably cursing Dustyheart in his mind. But how could Brokenpath convince Bounceclaw to stop his bullying?
But yet, you can just plainly see
That it's not just between you and me...
"Let all cats gather around the Gorsepebble for a Clan meeting!"
Snowstar's yowl rang across the camp. Brokenpath's dark fur ruffled in the breeze as she sat near the back, flanked by Goldenflight and Dustyheart.
Today was the day that the mentors wound change at the grounds. The two current mentors from GrassClan - Flutteringwing and Lappingcreek - would return to be with their Clan. Then two more cats - one tom and one she-cat - would be selected to live at the apprentice's training ground for the next three moons, and help to train the apprentices from all four of the Clans.
"Today," Snowstar meowed, bringing his Clan to attention, "our two warriors training young cats are returning."
A few of the GrassClan cats cheered at Snowstar's words, but the white leader irritably flicked his tail to tell them to be quiet.
"We welcome back Flutteringwing and Lappingcreek," Snowstar went on.
Beside Brokenpath, Goldenflight looked interested, and Dustyheart was looking at her paws, which were scuffling on the dusty ground, looking rather uninterested and unbothered by the proceedings.
Two cats, one brown, one silver, padded into the camp. Brokenpath recognized them at once from when she was Brokenpaw, an apprentice from PebbleClan. The brown she-cat was Flutteringwing, the silver tabby, Lappingcreek.
As soon as the two cats entered the camp, Bounceclaw stood up, and started serenading the two cats. Most of the GrassClan cats - excluding Brokenpath and Dustyheart - joined in, although most stayed siting down.
"Now," Snowstar yowled over the babble of noise, causing all the cats around him to be silent, "we are about to announce the new representatives of GrassClan, who will be training the young cats of GrassClan, StreamClan, FallClan, and PebbleClan for the next three moons."
A murmur broke after Snowstar had finished speaking again. Brokenpath had winced at the mention of PebbleClan. It was hard to forget the roots of her birth Clan.
Snowstar's thick tail signaled for silence once again, and the cats obeyed. They knew - everyone, except Dustyheart - that the new cats were about to be announced.
"Dustyheart!" Ravenclaw, a cheerful she-cat in GrassClan that Brokenpath thought was very willing to help others, nudged Dustyheart's shoulder. "The new mentors are about to be announced."
"Sorry," Dustyheart mewed, looking at her paws again.
The whole Clan now had their eyes on Snowstar, their eyes fixed on his white pelt, his wide amber eyes. Finally, he spoke:
"The tom representative will be Elderbranch."
Yes! Brokenpath thought gleefully. Elderbranch was a senior warrior, and often was irritable, and quiet - but he had good leadership skills. Brokenpath thought he was annoying - but not as annoying as Bounceclaw.
The very pale brown tom padded over to where Flutteringwing and Lappingcreek were sitting. Touching noses with Flutteringwing, then Lappingcreek, Elderbranch sat down nearby, on the other side of the Gorsepebble.
The Clan started to chorus Elderbranch's name, but Snowstar, in the irritable mood he was in, silenced them quickly.
"And the she-cat representative," mewed Snowstar, "will be -" He broke off abruptly, for a reason Brokenpath didn't know.
"Hurry up, Snowstar!" yowled a cat at the front of the crowd impatiently. Brokenpath recognized the voice as Bounceclaw's.
"The she-cat representative," Snowstar began again, "is one that was the hardest to make. And that cat will be..."
Brokenpath held her breath. Please don't be Goldenflight or Dustyheart...
Yet, there is refusal, you see,
And there is also welcoming...
Brokenpath could hear Goldenflight's shocked whisper. The golden-brown she-cat's fur was bristling in horror.
She doesn't want to do it.
In worry, the dark brown she-cat tensed, shooting a long look at Goldenflight, who had risen to her paws, yet unmoving towards the Gorsepebble. The rest of the Clan - also - had their gazes fixed on Goldenflight.
"Well?" Snowstar hissed angrily from the top of Gorsepebble. 'Are you going to do it or not?"
"No!" Goldenflight yowled back at her leader.
There was a shocked gasp from all the GrassClan cats - except Dustyheart, who was sitting up as if nothing had happened, and was licking her paw casually.
"Fine, then." Snowstar replied irritably. "Then the representative will be Icefur."
There were cheers from a group of GrassClan cats at the back of the crowd as the white she-cat stepped forward, her blue eyes shining. Repeating the process which Elderbranch had done, she sat down by the brown tom.
Snowstar has risen to his paws. "Welcome our representatives from GrassClan, who are training our apprentices for the next three moons."
Most of the cats started to cheer: "Elderbranch! Icefur! Elderbranch! Icefur!"
"Now, we will -" Snowstar's mew was cut off by a thrumming of paws at the camp entrance.
A patrol burst into the camp - Shatteredheart, Crowgaze, Fernfrond, and Redcloud. A cat that Brokenpath didn't recognize was with them.
She was a small, thick-furred, dark gray she-cat. Her frame looked thin - as if she was already old and frail. Her blue eyes were wide, and scared.
"This rogue was on our territory," Crowgaze growled. The black tom flicked his tail angrily. In reply, the dark rogue flinched.
"She wouldn't tell us why, either," Redcloud put in.
"Rogue!" Snowstar snapped: the dark gray rogue flinched again. Brokenpath guessed that she didn't like cats calling her a rogue. "Explain what you were doing on GrassClan territory."
The dark gray rogue was silent for what seemed like an entire moon. Brokenpath - along with all the cats in GrassClan, even Dustyheart - stared at her, with intent, fixed gazes. Finally, she spoke, so quietly that Brokenpath could barely hear:
"My name is Spirit," the rogue whispered quietly.
"And what were you doing on our territory?" Shatteredheart interrupted, his green eyes blazing.
"Quiet, Shatteredheart!" Snowstar meowed, and the gray-and-white warrior fell silent at once. The white leader's gaze turned back to Spirit. "Spirit, what were you doing on our territory?"
Spirit didn't reply immediately - she was obviously nervous around a whole group of cats. She muttered an inaudible whisper.
"What was that?" Snowstar queried.
"I want to join the Clan," Spirit said, louder this time. She tilted her chin slightly - proudly.
A whole group of gazes turned to Spirit, then to Snowstar, then, to Brokenpath's surprise - Dustyheart. The pale brown she-cat scuffled her paws guiltily, and she looked down at the ground.
Murmurs rippled through the GrassClan cats. Then Bounceclaw spoke:
"No, Snowstar! Don't let her in. We are warriors, not rogues!"
While some others just can't accept
The fact that they're not leading -
All the cats turned their heads to Bounceclaw after the mention of his words. Brokenpath flattened her ears. That was the wrong thing to say.
Meanwhile, Spirit had flinched, Her blue gaze was panicky. "No... don't make me go out there!" she mewed, panic evident in her tone. "The cats of the pines have been - have been -" Spirit broke off, and fell silent.
That's PebbleClan! Brokenpath thought in shock. Not my former Clan!
Murmurs started to ripple through the clearing in anxiety. Looking up, Brokenpath knew that Snowstar was unimpressed.
"Silence!" the white leader called, flicking his tail. The GrassClan cats all fell silent.
Snowstar's gaze turned first to Bounceclaw. The ginger tom shrank away from Snowstar's furious amber gaze.
"Your comment was unnecessary," Snowstar hissed, lashing his tail. "You will be doing the elder's bedding for the next moon."
"Mouse dung!" Brokenpath heard Bounceclaw curse. Beside her, Brokenpath heard Goldenflight and Dustyheart purring approvingly.
Snowstar then turned to Spirit. The leader's gaze softened.
"Don't make me go back out there..." Spirit mewed quietly, trembling.
"I never said I was going to," Snowstar said in reply. "You are welcome to join GrassClan. We will speak now, in my den."
Spirit nodded slowly. A few gazes from cats shot at Spirit and Snowstar, but there were no words spoken.
"This meeting is dismissed," Snowstar mewed gruffly, flicking his tail. "It also want to see Brokenpath and Dustyheart, please."
Brokenpath trembled slightly, and she felt Dustyheart perk up slightly beside her. What did Snowstar want from them?
The GrassClan cats broke up, most of the warriors following Stoneleap as the deputy got ready to organize patrols. Elderbranch and Icefur left the camp, tails swishing. The only two cats that seemed not to be heading to Stoneleap were Brokenpath and Dustyheart.
"There you are," Snowstar huffed, as they arrived. "Let's get on with this, then." Spirit sat beside him, her head bent, her body trembling in fear.
Nothing's going to happen to you, Brokenpath thought bitterly. What's your problem?
"This, Spirit," Snowstar mewed quietly, "is a naming ceremony. This is where you get your Clan name."
Spirit nodded, and Brokenpath swore she saw the small she-cat tremble.
"Leaders rarely perform this ceremony," Snowstar went on, "but as you decided to join GrassClan directly, I will do the honors." Snowstar tilted his chin towards Spirit as he went on. "Spirit, from this moment on, you shall be known as Cloudspirit."
Cloudspirit dipped her head as she received her new name.
"Serve GrassClan well," Snowstar went on, bending to lick Cloudspirit's shoulder.
"Cloudspirit," Brokenpath whispered under her breath. "Cloudspirit."
For a moment of peace, she was watching the ceremony, watching peace unfold. But Brokenpath had a feeling that it wasn't going to last for much longer.
There are others who can do other things -
As it's not all about the Clan...
"You'd better get off."
"We are not on your territory, you fox-hearts! Prove it!" hissed Bounceclaw in rage.
"You'd better stop this right now..." the PebbleClan cat hissed, showing his teeth.
Brokenpath's ears flattened in nerves. Why did Bounceclaw and the border patrol had to pick a fight with PebbleClan?
"Give up..." whispered Cloudspirit softly. The dark gray she-cat lifted her gaze fearfully. "It's not worth it."
"It is worth it!" Bounceclaw retorted triumphantly. The ginger cat looked pleased. "We need to teach this PebbleClan scum not to trespass."
"No, they don't," Dustyheart hissed at Bounceclaw. The GrassClan warrior's fur was bristled in anger. "They're not trespassing. Fight yourself if you want to - but we're not helping you."
Brokenpath knew immediately that 'we're' meant Cloudspirit, Dustyheart, Redcloud, and herself. She saw Redcloud nod in agreement. "You'll commit yourself to your own death," the dark ginger cat growled.
The PebbleClan warriors seemed to agree with Dustyheart's words. "Do it, if you want," snickered a PebbleClan warrior that Brokenpath recognized at Jaggedtail. "We'll beat you easily, weakling."
Bounceclaw yowled with rage, and he leapt towards the PebbleClan cats. They all went forward to attack him, their eyes blazing in delight. In disgust, Brokenpath turned away - and so did Cloudspirit.
"Silly tom," Cloudspirit growled. "It's his fault now."
"Yes, he was a silly tom - wasn't he?"
Brokenpath turned back to the PebbleClan cats. Jaggedtail was the cat who was speaking. The gray tabby was grinning wildly, and jabbing at a body of a ginger cat at his paws. Brokenpath recognized Bounceclaw's body at once.
He deserved it, she thought wryly, but he is my Clanmate, even though I didn't like him.
"Maybe now I should attack you now?" Jaggedtail taunted, his crooked tail lashing. "Because GrassClan lost a cat?" Jaggedtail hissed and dropped into a crouch. "PebbleClan, attac -"
"What was that?" Jaggedtail wondered aloud. "Who spoke?"
It was as if Jaggedtail had said all the cat's thoughts aloud. Identical expressions of confusion and shock were evident on all the faces of the cats - PebbleClan and GrassClan alike.
A blue-gray cat, one of the largest Brokenpath had ever seen, padded out from behind a bush. His blue eyes were dark as he stared at both the PebbleClan and GrassClan cats.
Jaggedtail's mouth fell open. "Bluepelt?"
The blue-gray cat - Bluepelt - seemed unfazed. His gaze was fixed on Jaggedtail. "How is the Clan? And Tabbyflight?"
Brokenpath held her breath worriedly. She knew who Tabbyflight was.
"Tabbyflight died after her kitting all those moons ago," Jaggedtail told him gravely. "And three of her kits."
"One - one survived?" Bluepelt's eyes lit up. "Where is it?"
Brokenpath looked down. She couldn't bear to find out who the fourth kit was.
Jaggedtail sighed. "The fourth kit... is with GrassClan now. And she's right over there," he added, his tail flicking unmistakably in the direction of a cat.
And that cat was Brokenpath.
Weeee a failed cliffhanger XD Enjoy guessing Brokenpath's reaction.
End of ze first book (oh noze)! The sequel to this is Merging Paths.
Don't forget to make a (nice, please hem hem) comment below :)
Until next time,