The Blurb

Long after the passing of Thunder, ThunderClan's first leader, the Clan was thriving. In fact, each clan was thriving. Around this time, a certain kit is born. As she recieves training to become Medicine Cat, the paws of an ancestor beg her to follow a much darker path...

Prologue

The young apprentice ran blindly through the woods. What kind of place could this be? The moon and stars she'd grown up with were gone, the only light being supplied by sickly, green fungus that seemed to crawl along the branches of the sorrounding trees. Every which way she turned she would only get even more lost. "Bristlefur?" She called out into the wide open space before continuing to run.

She couldn't get away. This wasn't her forest, where the preyran free and she felt safe among her herbs and roots. She could smell her clanmates, or the border scents of RiverClan or WindClan. Not even the tangy smell of the Thunderpath! The apprentice began to feel hot, her pelt feeling as though she was carrying one hundred badgers. Suddenly, the cat appeared. In the shade of a glowing tree she could only make out a black pelt and a long, swishing tail.

"Bristlefur!" She shrieked, clambering toward the cat. But when the figure turned, it wasn't her mentor. She stopped dead in her tracks, her chest heaving up and down. "Hello." He said, letting a faint purr escape his throat. Her eyes were wide. "Tell me where I am! Please!" The cat turned his head to face the tiny apprentice. "All will come in time, girl. Come." He stood up and flicked his tail. The apprentice felt as if she had no choice, and followed him reluctantly.

He led her to a clearing, where the grass glowed green like the fungus on the trees. He sat down on the black stump in the center. "That's better. Now then, look at me. Do I bring back any memories?" The she-cat followed and carefully sat upon the grass, which stained her light brown pelt with green. "No. I don't recall you at all." She said, getting a good look at him. The tom had a long scar above his left eye that reached his jaw and bright green eyes. His pelt was an eerie black that melted in with the landscape behind him, making his eyes and scar stand out.

"Think harder." He said bitterly. The apprentice squinted but still saw no resemblance. "I....I can't." She concluded, closing her eyes. "Look at me!" He commanded firmly. The she-cat felt her eyes open as though opened by the paws of another cat. She saw his eyes, as though he come right in front of her. In the sea of green, she could make out shadows dancing in place of his pupils. She noticed the strong looking tom that spoke to her now, and a slightly smaller she-cat. Three kits. It seemed like the average clanlife. Until it went wrong.

The she-cat's silhouette danced away with a tom her size. The bodies of two apprentices on Snakerocks. This tom padding away with a shaking she-cat hiding behind a log. The she-cat grew and suddenly presented two kits. The first was dark brown with a white ear and white legs. And the second...

The apprentice gasped. "That's...." She trailed off. The tom nodded. "That's you. I am Adderbite, father of Specklestream." The apprentice looked at Adderbite. She could suddenly see her mother's image displayed on his - the proud, green eyes, the large size, the build. It made sense, suddenly. The she-cat turned and sreaked away again in fear.

Chapter 1

"Fawnpaw! Get up, you dormouse."

Fawnpaw jumped at the sound of her mentor's hoarse voice. Her eyes snapped open and thankfully she did see her mentor and not Adderfang. "Bristlefur..." She sighed and sat up, shaking scraps of moss off of her pelt.

"I swear, Fawnpaw. Why make more work for the other apprentices? The past three sunrises you've shredded your nest into scraps." She added with a hacking cough and turned, catching Fawnpaw in the nose with her tail. "I've scheduled you to go get more supplies for our stock. Some chervil, colts foot, goldenrod, lavender..." She listed all the herbs they would need.

Fawnpaw wasn't sure how she would remember the massive amoutn of herbs she would need to bring, and was more focused on her dream. The last two nights she couldn't see anything, just felt herself running in the darkness. This was the first time she'd really seen where she was. "....and blackberry leaves. Did you catch what I said?" Her mentor broke into her thoughts. Fawnpaw stared at her but then nodded, even though it was obvious to Bristlefur that her apprentice had only caught some of it.

"You'll be escorted around our territory by Thornwhisker and Coppertongue. I trust you won't annoy them too much." Fawnpaw nodded and started out of the den and into the camp. The camp was alive with activity and the dawn patrol had just parted in to report the state of the borders to Willowstar.

Thornwhisker was kneading his paws into the ground near the depleting fresh-kill pile, probably waiting for Fawnpaw and Coppertongue. The apprentice quickly scampered to the warrior waiting by the pile. He glanced over at Fawnpaw as she stopped near his side and emitted a soft purr. "Good morning, Fawnpaw. We're just waiting for Coppertongue and Goosepaw." She looked out to the apprentice's den where Coppertongue's brown body squirmed in and out of the den anxiously, looking for the grey apprentice.

Suddenly the mentor and his apprentice were bounding down the camp toward Fawnpaw and Thornwhisker. Coppertongue bowed his head and flicked Goosepaw with his tail to do the same. "I apologize, Thornwhisker. My dormouse of an apprentice decided to sleep in this morning."

Goosepaw looked at his mentor and let a soft hiss escape his mouth. "It's not my fault you had me on the evening patrol AND the hunting patrol." "Maybe if you'd quit staying up late to talk to-" Coppertongue's retort was cut off by Thornwhisker. "Coppertongue! I expect better of you, you are a warrior, not an apprentice. And Goosepaw, you do what your mentor asks. He is trying to prepare you for the warrior lifestyle." The two exchanged apologies and allowed Thornwhisker to speak.

"Right. I promised Bristlefur that we would take Fawnpaw out to collect some medicine while we hunt." The duo took a quick glance at the apprentice before nodding. "Fawnpaw, stay next to me." Thornwhisker gestured with his tail and Fawnpaw obeyed as they began their way out of the gorse tunnel.

Chapter 2

Fawnpaw looked up at the muscular tom as she was lead out of the camp and into the woods. He had a sleek black-brown pelt and white paws. She didn't know much about the tm's family, except who his mother was. Bristlefur. They said that when Bristlefur became a queen and had Thornwhisker before becoming Medicine Cat. It wasn't frowned upon simply because he was old enough to take care of himself by the time she took over as medicine cat.

Thornwhisker swished his tail in front of Fawnpaw, which alerted her to stop. "Goosepaw, Coppertongue, take this side of the woods. Fawnpaw and I will go over here." He gestured to each side and they split up into teams.

"So, Fawnpaw, how is Bristlefur doing?" The warrior questioned as Fawnpaw leaned down to pick the bright yellow goldenrod. "Fine. She's just old, no need to worry." She flicked her ears and lifted her head up with a suitable amount of the yellow flowers. Thornwhisker nodded. "Okay. I'm just worried. The other day when she saw Daisykit almost eat those deathberries, she was running and coughing. I thought she was about to pass out."

It was true. Bristlefur did have that hoarse voice, her terrible coughing, and she had a bit of a limp too. But Bristlefur was fine, right? Thornwhisker stopped speaking the rest of the way around and only acknowledged when Fawnpaw asked him to pick more of something. They met with Goosepaw and Coppertongue at the RiverClan border. The apprentice held three mice by their tails and a raven. He looked almost as proud as his mentor, who had snagged a hare.

"Excellent job, Goosepaw." Thornwhisker praised the apprentice's catches. Fawnpaw felt the pit of jealousy re-open in her belly. Since Bristlefur was so old, she couldn't join her apprentice on these voyages too often. Coppertongue nodded. "We should head back now. I'm sure the clan is starving, and Bristlefur doesnt like to be kept waiting, either."

-

Fawnpaw hurried into the den with Thornwhisker at her heels. "I'm back, Bristlefur..." She trailed off when she saw her treating another apprentice. Her face felt hot and her fur stood on end. Even though his back was to her, she knew exactly who it was. Hawkpaw was muttering something to the Medicine Cat. "Quit wriggling around like a kit, Hawkpaw." Bristlefur told the apprentice, who continued to struggle.

"B-Bristlefur, I have the herbs." She said to her mentor, who finally acknowledged her apprentice. "Good. I'll go sort the herbs. Think of this as your first assessment - I'd like you to give me step-by-step instructions and demonstrate how to treat a beesting. I'm done with him." The fluffy black she-cat walked over to her apprentice and leaned past her to brush heads with her son. She collected the herbs and stepped into the herb store in the back of the cave. Thornwhisker dipped his head and left.

"Okay. First, I need to collect...uhm...blackberry leaves?" Fawnpaw looked back at her mentor, hiding away in the shadows. "Correct," she said, "Go on." Fawnpaw could feel the blood pounding throughout her body. She picked up two stray blackberry leaves from the cave floor and walked in front of Hawkpaw. His nose had swelled to the size of a blueberry, and it looked lopsided.

"Then I have to pull the stinger out." She reached up his tall frame and gripped the bee's stinger in her teeth. He snarled at her as she plucked the stinger from his nose and some blood seeped out. Fawnpaw took the opporotunity to toss the stinger into the bushes and return to her patient, who narrowed his eyes and bared his teeth. "I have to chew the leaves into a poultice," she chewed the leaves up and stepped up to Hawkpaw.

"and I have to apply the poultice to the affected area and the area immediately around it." Fawnpaw reared up onto her haunches and slathered the poultice on Hawkpaw's nose. He hissed. "Ow! Watch it, mouse-brain!"

"All done." Fawnpaw looked to her mentor. "Excellent job, Fawnpaw. You can go, Hawkpaw." The brown tabby tom muttered something under his breath and streaked from the den. Brislefurgave a great cough from the back of the den and made her way toward Fawnpaw. "You'll make a great medicine cat someday, you know that?" Her black tail intertwined with Fawnpaw's thin brown one and she embraced her apprentice. "Yeah. I hope so." Fawnpaw whispered, shutting her eyes.

Chapter 3

Fawnpaw opened her eyes to the green hues that bounced off the grass. "No...." She sighed, squeezing her eyes shut again. But she couldn't stop this from happening, she realized, as the sound of pawsteps crunching in the grass neared her. Fawnpaw cracked open one eye to see the black, shadowy tom looming over her.

"Rise and shine, Fawnpaw. It's time we discussed your training." Adderbite's smooth voice sounded calm and safe, and for a moment Fawnpaw relaxed. But a heartbeat later and she had her eyes shut again. "You killed them. And you would have killed my mother too if she hadn't hidden." Adderbite blinked and shifted into a more comfortable sitting posture.

"That's exactly it, Fawnpaw! They were my kits, why would I want to kill them? And my mate, why would I want to kill her? Listen to yourself, you've just woken up and you're already spewing nonsense." He shook his head. Fawnpaw did have to admit, the tom had some logic. He'd fathered three kits and taken a mate only to slaughter them? It did make some sense.

"Then, why are you here? Isn't this a place for the bad cats, the Place of No Stars?" She concluded, looking around to note that there were indeed no stars. The tom locked eyes with the apprentice, lashing his tail. "Fawnpaw, you have much to learn. Come." He stood up and beckoned her with his tail. Without another word, Fawnpaw heaved a heavy sigh and followed him through the tall, glowing grass.

Adderbite led her even further than the last time she visited the dark forest. He led her down a steep rock wall and picked up along the coast of what looked like the RiverClan's river, finally stopping in the middle of a moor. This place was free of the green lichens and was extremely dark, the only light hummed from Adderbite's eyes. She could hear the piercing wail of some kind of bird of prey and it stung her ears. She desperately wished she could curl up and get warm, since the moors offered no protection, but stayed silent and attentive.

"Now then." The shadowy tom leaned down, dousing the lights for a moment, and seemed to be holding something. "These are poppy seeds. I can remember Bristlefur saying she was running out, so I planned on giving you these." He leaned forward and Fawnpaw now realized that he was holding a flower, filled with the little black seeds. She took it from him. "Thank you, Adderbite."

He bowed his head and stepped back. "This is the...." He shook his head, racking his brain. "Ah. This is the Between-Place. We are a clan of cats who haven't been able to join StarClan or the Place of No Stars yet." His green eyes looked sad as he moved to brush his granddaughters side. "Our numbers are dwindling, dear Fawnpaw, and I would like to ask you something you an do for your poor, lonely grandfather." He locked eyes with Fawnpaw again.

She nodded. "What is it?" But was cut off by his story again. "Oh, how I long to see my dear family again. My mate, and my kits. Oh, my kits..." He shut his eyes for a moment, his voice cracking unde rthe pressure of the story. "So I would like you to, when you next visit the Moonstone, ask StarClan to take me. Tell them Adderbite wishes to join his family where he can watch his living relatives grow...." He looked into her eyes. "Would you do that for me?"

Fawnpaw turned to face the cat with a determined look on her face. The look diappeared though, and she rushed forward to bury her face in hs chest fur. "Okay, Adderbite. I promise I'll get you back to StarClan, no matter what!" She looked up at her grandfather with wide eyes. The tom chuckled. "Thank you, Fawnpaw. I knew you would be special to me. Now that I have spoken to you, we will meet again to talk about training. I just...I can't do it now. Allow me to send you back to camp." He touched noses with her and she suddenly disappeard in a cloud of black dust.

Adderbite turned around just in time to see a lighter pelt than his streaking across the moor. His white ear and paws shone like the moon that didn't exist. The new cat seemed to be carrying something on his back, made of stars and moonlight. The young tom stopped in front of Adderbite, heaving, and dropped the silver and glowing thing off his back. The glinting pelt was that of a brown tabby she-cat, with open and fearful blue eyes. Stars huddled around her paws bfore disappearing completely, scared off by the darkness.

"I did it. I found one! Is she the correct one?" Adderbite nodded. "Very good, Falconpaw. Very, very good." He let out a low chuckle as he looked at the fear-stricken she-cat that was his youngest daughter, the one killed by his own claws.

Chapter 4

Fawnpaw opened her eyes to dawn's faint light streaming into the den. Her eyes adjusted to the light and she glanced around. Bristlefur was curled up, like a large mound of fluffy fur, in the corner of the den. For once, Fawnpaw hadn't shredded her bedding.

Up until now, the medicine cat apprentice hadn't been aware of the tiny pink flower that carried the poppy seeds. Small and black, like smaller versions of the place where her grandfather resided. What was it called? The In-Between? She picked up the flower and buried it between her wall and the nest for later. They had plenty of poppy seeds, so she could keep them until they ran out and surprise Bristlefur with her thoughtfulness! Maybe she could veen gain her full medicine cat name while she was at it!

The beige apprentice pranced out of the den to stretch out her legs. Her round ear twisted as someone emerged from the apprentice den. "Falconpaw!" She squealed like a kit upon seeing her brother, who had chosen the path of the warrior. He opened his jaws in a wide, loud, drawn out yawn. "I'm sorry, Fawnpaw. I feel like I could have run the moors of WindClan time and time again last night! My legs ache."

Fawnpaw looked up at her stronger brother with shining eyes. "I know a herb you could take! Maybe we could ask someone to take us out?" Falconpaw shook his head. "No, because he'll assume I'm fit for patrol. It hurts to stretch. Are you sure you don't have any in the stock?" He leaned to the side, looking for the hidden stock of medicine. Fawnpaw sighed. "Alright, I'll check. I just wanted to get out of camp but fine." She sounded sarcastic as she trotted away to the rooted-area where they kept the medicine.

She took time to taste the scents of the herbs before finding the little white and yellow daisies. She picked up a little bundle and padded back to her brother, who was busily licking his chest fur. "Feverfew." She smiled. " Good for.....uh," she tried to recall the uses of feverfew. "Oh! It reduces body temperature for fevers and is good for chills, too. It's also used for aches and pains, and works especially well for headaches." Pride eminated from the young she-cat as her brother chewed the leaves and swallowed them carefully.

"Kinda tangy, smells how it tastes." Falconpaw chuckled. "Thanks, Fawnpaw. Now then, have you seen Smokeye? He was supposed to take me on the dawn patrol, but it seems they already left." Fawnpaw shook her head. "Nope, I just got up myself. Before Bristlefur, too. It was exciting." She could hear rustling from the medicine den and quickly touched her nose to Falconpaw's neck. "Gotta go."

Fawnpaw retrieved a blackbird from the pile and hurried back to the den, where Bristlefur was already making preparations for the day. "Thank you, Fawnpaw." She took the blackbird gratefully and tucked her paws it, eating slowly without use of them. "Could you please collect the daily things? Comfrey, Juniper, Mallow? The sort of things we use daily? You know by now." The she cat flicked her ear and continued eating while Fawnpaw set up the necessary herbs. The sun promised another lovely new-leaf, and Fawnpaw's first one at that.

"Hey, Bristlefur, have you ever spoken to cats from the In-Between?" Fawnpaw sprung the question on her mentor once she'd finished eating. "The In-Between? What in StarClan's name is that?" The older she-cat snorted, dusting off her legs, which collected some herb dust. "The In-Between. Where cats who haven't been accepted to the Place of No STars or StarClan go." She answered, stopping the sorting to look at her mentor. Her mentor gave her a confused look in return. "You either go to StarClan or the Place of No Stars. There is no..."In-Between."

Fawnpaw sighed. "At first I thought it was the Pace of No Stars. It was dark, there was no moon at all, or even stars! The trees and grass were covered in this glowing green lichen. It was really gross." She shook her head sadly. Bristlefur stoped her sorting and padded over to her apprentice. "Green, glowing lichen, you say?" Her eyes were wide. "The In-Between! Ha! I've never heard something so ridiculous! And who told you that? Was it a nice looking tabby tom with bloody red fur and a hateful voice? Was he wearing the bones of his clanmates around his neck?" She thought it was a joke!

"No, Bristlefur! I'm serious! I met a tom in my dreams...." She stopped abruptly, deciding not to tell her that Adderbite had visited her. "And he told me that StarClan hadn't accepted him into their home yet, so he was stuck in the In-Between." Bristlefur rolled her eyes. "Fawnpaw, you are much too gullible. You shouldn't blieve everything a strange cat says. The so-called "In-Between" is really the Dark Forest. I demand that you stay as far away as possible from those cats. Understand?"

Fawnpaw nodded but felt guilt grip her heart. What a flimsy lie! How did she believe that? Fox-dung to that lying old badger! Bristlefur sighed and rested her fluffy tail on Fawnpaw's shoulder. "You've done your work for now. Go ahead and retrieve some fresh kill." The apprentice purred with joy. "Thank you, Bristlefur!" But as she exited the den she crashed into Hawkpaw.

The urgency in his eyes was extremely alarming. "What happened, Hawkpaw?" Fawnpaw asked, trying to sound completely normal and not alarmed.

"It's....It's Roseblossom! She's giving birth!"

Chapter 5

Bristlefur hurried outside to join her apprentice. "But it's a full moon early!" She hissed at the tom, as though he were making it up.

"No! The kits don't seem to think so! Just hurry!" He turned and ran as though a whole clan of badgers were on his heels and disappeared into the nursery. Bristlefur looked down at her apprentice. "Ready to learn how to help with kitting?" Fawnpaw nodded. "Yeah." The medicine cat disappeared into the stock and brought out a few dark leaves. "Raspberry Leaves." She answered, hurrying over to the nursery.

Thornwhisker's mate, Amberhead , huddled her kits closer to her. They squirmed around under her thick tail. Fawnpaw recognized the brown she-kit, Daisykit, from when she'd almost made a snack out of some deathberries. She turned to the queen laying against the wall, who was completely silent.

Bristlefur laughed and sat down next to the queen. "I assume you're used to the pain. That's good, since I'm going to teach Fawnpaw how to help you and without your petrified yowling she'll be able to concentrate better." The grey tabby managed a strained laugh and gasped. "Okay, enough small talk." She managed. Bristlefur nodded briskly and handed her apprentice the leaves.

"Take half the pile and give them to Roseblossom. Then the other half should be placed where her kits will come from, to help stop the bleeding and the impact when the kits are born." Fawnpaw was thankful for Roseblossom's patience, as this was her first time tending to a kitting queen. Once they were set Bristlefur calmly gave instructions to Roseblossom.

Bristlefur placed a paw on the heavy queen's stomach. With a satisfactory purr she looked at the queen. I can feel four, but I am getting old after all." Roseblossom looked wistful for a moment before her eyes widened and she let out a terrified squeak which hurt Fawnpaw's ears. A slimy bundle landed on the dock. Bristlefur looked to her apprentice. "Watch closely, I'll only do this once. You have to nip the air sac so the kit can take its first breath." She leaned forward and gave a quick slip with her tooth, and a tiny gasp rose from the kit's mouth.

At some point Lilyear had appeared, with her strong masculine body. She'd been mistaken for a tom before, in fact. She pushed past Fawnpaw to snatch the kit into a cleaner nest. "When you get the kit, it's important to lick the fur the opposite way so it stays warm." The she-cat said before returning to her licking. Roseblossom let out another yelp in pain as another kit slid onto the dirty leaves.

"You try." Fawnpaw took a gasp of air and leaned down. The wet kit struggled momentarily before the sac was opened and she gasped extremely loud, as though she were an apprentice after being underwater. She quickly leaned down to lick the she-kit's fur. "Quit squirming." She muttered, as though the kit would understand.

Roseblossom arched her back as another kit plummeted to the dirty nest, covered in blood.The others had been fairly clean, but this one was dirty and tainted. Bristlefur took the kit and licked it swiftly. As the final kit was born Fawnpaw stopped licking her kit and passed it to Lilyear before leaning forward to open the kit's lungs. Roseblossom gave a dreary sigh. "It's over. Again."

Bristlefur picked up her kit and dropped it to the moss, watching it scrabble uselessly against the moss to suckle. Lilyear droped hers off and finally Fawnpaw dropped hers. Fawnpaw felt a sort of happiness bubbling from within herself, something so heartwarming it almost burned.

"Fox dung! I forgot to bring borage and poppy seeds." Bristlefur pawed the ground anxiously. "I'll get them!" Fawnpaw jumped at the chance to get her poppy seeds and sped down to retrieve some borage.

The medicine cat apprentice bounded to her nest and collected the seeds on her tongue, careful not to accidentally bite into one. She collected a few borage leaves and hurried back to the nursing queen. "Not too many." Bristlefur instructed. "Nursing queens shouldn't take poppy seeds, but I only allow small portions. Maybe two or three."

Roseblossom accepted the poppy seeds on top of the borage and chewed contentedly. Bristlefur and Fawnpaw left shortly after. "I'll take this out of the camp." The fluffy black she-cat called over her shoulder through the mouthful of left-over raspberry leaves which limped heavily due to the amount of blood they held.

Fawnpaw turned to go back to the nursery when she was knocked over by an excited, rushing tom who hurried into the den with deep breaths. Heavybreath, Fawnpaw remembered the tom who was Roseblossom's mate. Fawnpaw understood his worry and stumbled in with Hawkpaw suddenly on her tail. "Move." He hissed, "I want to see my family."

Roseblossom's eyes were half closed. "My chest hurts." She muttered softly. Heavybreath leaned down to nuzzle his mate. "It's expected, getting all these kits out." he chuckled. But the she-cat shook her head. "Not my stomach. My chest, my heart. It burns!" Fawnpaw tried to see over Hawkpaw's shoulder, but the other apprentice simply moved closer. Roseblossom attempted to curl up into a ball, but the moment her kits squeaked from the compression she stretched out again.

"Fawnpaw." The queen breathed. Heavybreath looked back and for once noticed her and moved over. "Whta's wrong with her?" He asked anxiously. "Your heart burns?" She asked, and the queen gave a swift nod. "Chamomile. I'll be back in a second." Fawnpaw wasn't sure where that knowledge came from, but she hurried to the store and searched for the leaves.

But of course Hawkpaw was on her tail. "My mother is in pain! Hurry up, you're as fast as a badger!" The apprentice growled. Fawnpaw turned to face the apprentice. "A badger? I'm trying to help your mother by giving her the right medicine! Unless you'd rather have me bring the completely wrong herbs and accidently kill her or only hurt her more! You'd hate that, wouldn't you?" Hawkpaw nodded and opened his mouth but was cut off by Fawnpaw.

"Bristlefur and I do so much for you and all you do is NOT cooperate! You're too prideful and could use a lesson in patience and respect. You're horrible, and I don't see how your parents put up with you! You're ungrateful and overall a terrible cat, and I hope you rot and die all alone! I liked you once, when you weren't a complete peice of impatient......f-fox-dung!" The she-cat picked up the chamomile and shoved the startled apprentice out of the way.

Upon entering the den, it was a storm of movement. Heavystep was pacing around while Amberhead attempted to keep her kits under control. Lilyear was flicking her tail around ina sort of dance. Fawnpaw weaved around to the queen, whose eyes were shut but was still speaking. "Did you bring it?" She asked quietly. Fawnpaw smiled. "Of course. Just chew these up and the pain should go away." Roseblossom opened her eyes briefly and thankfully before taking the white flowers in her mouth.

As she swallowed a small lump of the flower, her eyes snapped open and she began to frantically paw around, smacking her kits. They squealed and whined, so much that Lilyear and Amberhead moved to take them away, They pawed for space at Amberhead's belly. Roseblossom continued squirming, even after she swallowed the lump of flower paste in her throat. "Breathe....." She gasped. Heavybreath gaped at his mate. "Roseblossom, breathe what?" Fawnpaw gazed into her open yellow eyes. "She can't breathe!" Fawnpaw looked at Heavybreath, "What do I do?" He wailed at his mate. "I don't know," Fawnpaw yelled. "Bristlefur! Bristlefur, come quick!" She screeched at the top of her lungs.

The black she-cat flew into the den. "What?" She asked. Roseblossom squirmed about, her eyes growing wider and her squirming getting worse. "She can't breathe!" Bristlefur repeated and leaned down. "Let me help!" Roseblossom shook her head. Her eyes looked directly to Fawnpaw. "Fawn...." She breathed hoarsely, running out of time. "Fawn.......breathe.....with....him..." She tried to suck in the air but stopped struggling, and managed a fast, shallow breath. "Breathe..." Her paw stretched out uselessly before she grew limp, suddenly.

"Roseblossom, no!" Heavybreath wailed, hurrying to his mate and pressing his nose in her fur. "No, no, no..." he whispered. Bristlefur and Fawnpaw bowed their heads. The grieving warrior turned to face Fawnpaw, and stomped over to her. "What did she mean, 'breathe with him'?" Fawnpaw looked into his eyes. "I honestly don't know," She began. Heavybreath looked at her with pleading eyes. "You must! My dear Roseblossom is gone, and she entrusted YOU with her final words. I need to know...." He broke off and faced his mate. Hawkpaw appeared in the entrance to the den with a hollow emptiness in his eyes.

Bristlefur placed her tail on Fawnpaw's shoudler and led her out. Hawkpaw glared at her with his holow stare. "Breathe with him."

Bristlefur stopped at the den entrance. "Fawnpaw, you did well today. You didn't know how to handle the situation, and so I'm proud of you." She looked around. "I'll offer you some poppy seeds. That must have been terrible for you." Fawnpaw nodded, still contemplating what 'Breathe with him' meant, as all the cats who had witnessed the final moments of Roseblossom were. Fawnpaw stalked into the store followe dby Bristlefur.

The apprentice placed her tongue on the poppy seeds she'd shared with the dead queen. Bristlefur opened her mouth and suddenly shuddered, staring at her apprentice. "No!" The medicine cat smacked her apprentice's tongue with her black paw until the seeds stuck into the dirty earth, where Bristlefur hastily stomped on them.

"Where did you get these?" She demanded, her apprentice still pulling fur off her tongue. "The woods." She lied easily. Bristlefur's neck fur bristled, and her name suddenly made sense. "That. Was. Foxglove! You almost killed yourself!" Fear burned in her eyes like a wildfire.

Fawnpaw was scared by the look she got from her mentor, but was far more guilty about something else;

I gave Roseblossom the Foxglove. I killed her.

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