Prologue 1/2: The Taut Teacher,
The rising sun was scorching down on her thick pelt, as the fresh moor wind tore through the skies, chilling all who laid to rest there to the bone. Asterfur could not wait to get back to the Windclan camp. Her hunting party had ended in complete abandon, with Dewfern & Emberdust only managing to catch a couple of rabbits, & exhaProuustion ran throughout her veins just thinking about sprinting a couple of yards ahead. As they neared the entrance, the gray & white tom behind her scoffed in disapproval & sat down.
"When are we going to get there," he yowled. "This is ridiculous. We've been at this for hours!"
Emberdust growled under her breath, silently agreeing with her agitated clan-mate. Asterfur sighed at their impatient attitudes while proceeding to stop along with them.
"Patience Dewfern. We will arrive home safely before sundown," she calmly stated, not even bothering to turn around to see if her attempt at consoling the tom's temper was successful. "Emberdust, I'd also appreciate it if you'd kept your mind on
holding the prey, rather then your tongue." The amber tabby behind her flushed in embarrassment, & resolved to slowly trotting behind Asterfur, her tail between her legs. Dewfern simply huffed in annoyance, got up, & carried on with his rabbit. Their argument was pointless anyway, seeing how close they were to their goal. Before they knew it, the Windclan camp entrance was right in front of them.
The camp was more restless today than usual. Asterfur could see that as clear as day, her violet eyes searching the perimeter of her camp as she turned to look back at her tag-a-longs. They had just finished laying their prey down & were tiredly shuffled back to their den, their jaws slick with each rabbit's white fur. She then turned to face the prey pile. It looked fuller than usual, she noticed, but Asterfur knew it would be empty by nightfall. It always was, & it always will be as long as their clan keeps expanding. She sighed & kept walking, the ground quietly thudded beneath her paws as she made her way to Nursery. As she approached the haphazard rock, she could already hear the distant yowling of kits. She chuckled to her self before squeezing herself through the entryway.
"Ah! You're here!"
She looked up to see her sister Rushingwave looking back at her from across the room. She was sprawled on her side, her kits eagerly shuffling about, trying to get the last scraps of her milk. Asterfur cautiously approached her, careful not to step on the other kittens who were wearily roaming around the dark cave.
"You're earlier than usual aren't you Asty?" exclaimed her sister in a teasing tone. The Siberian merely huffed in response. "Aww come on! Deep down underneath your ruggish exterior-" 'Ruggish? How in Windstar's name was she of all cats ruggish?' she thought to herself, "-That your heart is just as fluffy & friendly as mine!" Rushingwave's signature cheeky grin, which Asterfur always dreaded, soon appeared on her sister's face. The kits, seeming to sense their mother's mood, mewling excitedly in response.
One, however, didn't respond at all, as she was hunched up in a corner. It was a small brown tabby, with striking icy blue eyes that could pierce through souls. Asterfur felt a chill run down her spine as soon as she locked eyes with the kit. 'T-this,' she thought, 'was the presence of something absolutely sinister.' Throughout the ordeal, they both said nothing during their staredown. Her sister's voice cut through the air once more.
"Oh, Snowkit deary! Come back to your siblings! We all miss you!" Rushingwave called out to her kit. Snowkit said nothing & turned to walk towards her mother. Asterfur snapped out of her trance at her sister's voice. While the mother & kit interacted with each other, she turned to look back at the entrance, missing the curious glance of a calico kit who would become very important in the near future.
The sky had turned amber, a sign of the rising sun. She realized that the apprentice gathering would start soon. She said goodbye to her sister, & ignored her terror-inducing niece as she walked out of the cave towards Windclan's high rock. Her timing, as usual, was impeccable. As soon as she was less than five feet away from the stone, Tallstar's black & white spotted coat climbed on top of it & gave out a tremendously loud yowl that signaled his clan-mates that the gathering had started. As he sat down upon the edge of his perch, he looked down to the valley, startled to see Asterfur waiting for him, her unwavering gaze waiting patiently for him to start. She seemed to have known she was to be picked as a mentor. Behind the lynx-like she-cat, approached Emberdust & Dewfern, who sat by either side of Asterfur, much to her obvious disapproval.
"I wonder if I'll get an apprentice?" Emberdust thought aloud, clear excitement etched on her face. Dewfern burst out laughing.
"Please, you're one of the worst warriors in all of Windclan." He started. "You'll be lucky if get an apprentice as long as you live." Emberdust snarled & made way to decimate him, before Asterfur intervened.
"You two are acting like fools." She growled, giving her signature death glare. This, of course, annoyed & terrified the fur off the backs of the young warriors next to her. They simply grumbled & apologized, too scared & proud to do anything otherwise. The gathering went on as normal, with Flintfoot getting Ebonykit, & Bateyes getting Emeraldkit. Each pair seeming to be in perfect harmony as they shared tongues. Tallstar's voice broke through the comfortable silence again.
"Snowkit come forth." The wind had seemed to lowered in temperature in respone, as if her mere name caused an in-balance in nature. As the ceremony went on, Asterfur shockingly realized she was the only cat in all of her clan to sense this change. She had tuned out the rest of the ceremoy, until she saw a familiar red & brown coat fly past her to greet his strange new apprentice.
'Ashenstream,' Asterfur thought, her already fluffy fur puffing up even more at the mere mention of her name. As the new found duo shared tongues, Asterfur could feel the gaze of her niece on her already sweating pelt. Ignoring her & the attractive tom to her right, Asterfur put all of her attention back to Tallstar, as he finally said the words she'd been waiting to her after first becoming a warrior, beckoning her to the center of the crowd.
"Asterfur, you are ready to take on an apprentice. You have received excellent training from Rainflight, & you have shown yourself to be respectful & loyal to the end. You will be the mentor of Stormpaw, & I expect you to pass on all you know to her." He then smiled as he called the gathering to end. Asterfur, hearing a quiet shuffling of paws behind her, turned around & saw a small female calico kitten. Her emerald green eyes cast downwards in a shy manner. Asterfur, furious, came to a realization, as she promptly glared at the nervous kitten, who shrank back when she gave eye contact. 'That absolute madtom! He gave me a runt for an apprentice!"