Chapter One (Night)
The brown-and-white kit shook out his pelt. A few loose hairs flew off, and drifted away, carried by the soft breeze that wrapped its way around his legs.
The kit surveyed the land, and breathed in deeply, savouring the sharp yet fresh scent of the pines. The pine forests were perfect; they had kept him and his family safe for three full cycles of the moon. Apparently, once they had lived by a river, but not any longer. The pines were his home now, and they always would be.
A sudden change of the direction of the wind bought a new scent to his nose. Fox. The brown-and-white kit spun, staring with keen eyes at the elms and oaks behind him. Although he had remarkably good vision, he could not see a hint of a ginger pelt, even though the scent was heavy, and fresh. Where was the fox? Where was it?
A flash of fur, redder then the flames that had cost his father's life suddenly erupted into view. The fox. The tom kit stood still, paralyzed with fear, then shook his head. It was dumb enough that he'd even gotten into this situation, and there was no need for him to make it worse by letting the fox-hearted fox kill him. The tiny tom reared on his hind legs, and batted at the fox's muzzle with razor sharp claws. "Stay back!"
The fox stopped, and blinked. The kit realized that the fox actually wasn't a fox after all, only a large ginger cat with an unusually narrow muzzle. The cat glared at the kit. "Who are you, and what are you doing on our territory?"
The kit shuddered, and tried to back away, but the cat hissed, so he stopped.
"Who are you," hissed the cat, more force in their mew this time. "And what are you doing on our territory?"
The kit seemed to have regained his courage, and spat back, "Why do you need to know?"
Amusement briefly danced in the ginger cat's eyes, but was almost immediately replaced by fury. "Because you are an intruder. State your name, and purpose for being on SkyClan's land, and I won't kill you."
The kit fluffed out his fur, trying to seem larger, but could tell that the ginger cat meant business. He seemed to wilt slightly. "I-I'm called Fang... and I didn't mean to intrude on you 'territory.' I'll leave now." He turned to leave, but the ginger cat intercepted him.
"How old are you?"
"Five moons," answered Fang. "But it's none of your business!"
The ginger cat stalked closer. "Where are your parents?"
Fang glared up at her, mistrust in his eyes. That cat doesn't like me for some reason... I bet they want to kill my father! And my littermates, Tooth and Claw!
"Dead." He lied.
The cat seemed taken aback, and a soft sympathetic look flickered across their face. They then spoke in a completely different voice, a kind and quiet one. "You're an orphan, huh?"
Fang nodded, and the cat frowned. "You had better come with me then. Brightflower has kits around your age, I'm sure she can look after you. Come."
The brown-and-white kit stiffened. What? The cat was going to... abduct him?! "I'm not going!" He hissed, voice wavering. "I can look after myself."
"Yes, I'm sure you can," muttered the ginger cat. "But still. Come with me, or you'll die." They seemed to realize that they had just threatened a kit, and added hastily, "There have been a lot of foxes around here. If you don't die of starvation, they'll get you."
Fang nodded slowly. He didn't see that he had much choice in the matter, and he could always escape from whatever prison-cell the cat put him in. "O-okay." He muttered, and the cat nodded. "Good choice. Now, follow me."
The ginger cat began to walk along the border of the forest, and flicked their tail at him, which he understood as a signal to follow. As they walked into the forest of elms, oaks and sycamores, Fang felt his freedom depart. Although the flame coloured cat seemed like they wanted to help him, he was sure that joining this so called 'SkyClan' would end in his death.
Chapter Two (Yellow)
The breeze ruffled the dark grey she-kit's fur as she pressed herself to the forest floor. Her eyes gleamed amber as she stalked toward her prey. Pine needles crunched softly underpaw, and she tensed, worried. Her prey didn't notice. A whisper of breath stirred the leaves as the kit came closer. She pounced, needle-sharp claws piercing her prey. Triumph erupted in the kit's belly.
"Emberkit! What are you doing out here?!" A sharp voice sliced through the elation of the kit's victory. Emberkit turned, her claws still tangled in the scrap of moss.
A pretty tortoiseshell she-cat was rushing out of the nursery, eyes wide," Emberkit, how many times have I told you not to go out without a warrior?"
"But look! I caught a mouse!" Emberkit held up the moss hopefully.
"Back to the nest," Her mother grunted, picking her up by the scruff and marching back to the den. Smokekit and Sootkit were sitting in their nest, pelts immaculate and whiskers straighter than Emberkit's would ever be. Smokekit smirked at her, clearly amused she had managed to get in trouble again.
A twist of resentment coiled in Emberkit's stomach. Her mother, Dapplerose, had always preferred her tom-kits.
Why won't she be proud of me?
Emberkit resentfully curled in her nest, squashing herself as far from Smokekit as possible. Sootkit was up against her, his warm fur making her cold pelt slowly heat up. The scrap of moss was curled in her claws as her eyes closed, fighting to stay awake. But sleep soon took over, enveloping her in it's calming embrace.
. . .
The dawn light was streaming in when Emberkit woke. She could hear chatter outside the den. Sootkit and Smokekit were already up, playing mossball by Blackwing's nest. Her breath caught in her throat as she saw what they were tossing; her scrap of moss!
Emberkit shot in front of them, hissing with anger.
"That's mine!" She growled, taking a swipe at Smokekit's smug face.
"No it's not," Smokekit replied snootily, "It's mine."
"I caught it!" She cried angrily, eyes narrowed in slits.
"Caught?" Smokekit laughed, taking the moss and prancing away, out of the den. Emberkit's eyes widened and she raced after her brother. As she did, she crashed into a large furry shape.
"Watch where you're going, kit!" The tom hissed, shoving her away. She shook herself, bounding towards Smokekit. He flashed her an arrogant grin, leaping away. She gave chase, soon catching up and bowling him over. A dark shape loomed over the fighting kits.
"What," A voice snarled, "Do you think you're doing?"
Chapter Three (Echo)
The sky was dark, and a full moon floated eerily above the forest. A small black kit padded through the looming clusters of trees and slipped past the forests of shadows, his eyes shining bright. He was alone, without his Clan and without anyone, but he didn’t mind.
Blood. There would be blood.
Two. There would be two.
Hope. There would be hope.
Storm. There would be storms.
Death. There would be death.
The words rang endlessly in his head. It wasn’t a prophecy—right?
“Only medicine cats get prophecies,” he muttered. “And I’m not a medicine cat.”
And yet he remembered something, something that had happened the day he was born, or maybe the day after. He had been with his mother and his other siblings, and suddenly, he had felt something strange. Something he couldn’t describe.
Splashkit ignored the desperate yowls and continued to walk through the void of darkness. This wasn’t real life—it was merely a dream, and the voice he heard was an echo of his thoughts.
But why would I be saying my name in my head?
Splashkit whirled around and unsheathed his claws just as something hurled out of the darkness. It was a cat, like him, and though it was small, Splashkit sensed something ruthless and deadly about it.
“Help!” he screeched, writing away from the dark cat and slashing desperately at its eyes. But he wasn’t big enough, and the cat easily knocked him to the ground and sank its teeth into his neck.
Splashkit flailed wildly, trying to scream for help, but the only sound that exited his mouth was a feeble gurgling noise. Blood poured out of his throat and spilled onto the black ground. Above him, the dark cat faded and the world went dark again. Even the full moon’s light didn’t reach the patch of ground where Splashkit lay. He closed his eyes and shuddered weakly before going still.
Splashkit awoke with a jolt. Had the whole thing really been a dream? He shook out his short black fur and blinked his clear yellow eyes. His sister Stripekit was standing above him, squealing happily as he awoke and batted her away.
Splashkit felt himself growing weary as he stumbled to his paws. Should I tell someone about my dream? he wondered warily, glancing around. His mother was curled up nearby, talking quietly to Greencloud. Stripekit trotted off with an annoyed huff and went to go join the other kits’ game.
Larkkit and Sunkit were Greencloud’s kits, and although they were nearly two moons younger, they loved playing with Splashkit and his siblings. Stripekit and Yarrowkit were his two sisters, and Flamekit was his loud and rambunctious brother.
Splashkit watched silently as the kits tumbled around happily, chasing a ball of moss. He was usually the one left out of games, and none of the other kits, even his siblings, liked talking to him. He was loud and awkward and never said the right thing at the right time.
But that can change. With a new spark of hope, Splashkit trotted forward with his tail high in the air. Before he could reach them, though, he began to feel something strange. The ground seemed to vibrate under his paws, and he crept backwards, towards the shelter of a drooping fern.
He gasped as he felt his haunches brush against something furry. He whirled around to face Graytail, one of the elders. Splashkit narrowed his eyes. Graytail’s face and eyes were familiar, and his claws were dark—with blood. He spoke, and his voice was familiar as well.
The elder’s cheerful tone didn’t match the menace in his eyes. Splashkit scrabbled backwards, his fur raised and his ears flat with fear. He knew why he recognized Graytail, and not just because he was part of Splashkit’s Clan.
Graytail was the cat in his dream.
Chapter Four (Golden)
Maplekit trotted out of the nursery, holding her head high.
“Wait up!” she heard someone squeak from behind her.
“You’re so slow Stonekit!”
“It’s not my fault! Swandusk wouldn’t let me leave because I wasn’t ‘clean’,”
Maplekit purred with laughter; Swandusk had never caught her. Okay, maybe once, but that was all. “Come on, let’s see what Hawkpaw is up to,” she mewed. Maplekit had always been the natural leader between her and Stonekit, and with Leopardsky so close to kitting, she would be busy.
Just some training for when I become leader.
“...no worries though! That bush wouldn’t stop me. I leaped right over it and landed square on the vole!” Hawkpaw boasted.
“Hawkpaw!” Stonekit yelled, hurling himself at the brown and red apprentice.
Hawkpaw fell over - on purpose - then growled.
“A badger!” Stonekit gasped playfully. He glanced back at his littermate - a signal to attack.
“Let’s get it, Stonekit!” Maplekit yelled as she helped her brother. They pummeled Hawkpaw until she gave up.
“Fine, fine, you win,” the apprentice meowed.
Maplekit got off Hawkpaw, licking her paw furiously. She turned to the red-tailed apprentice, “I have a thorn,” she exclaimed.
“You should have Bearheart look at that,” Hawkpaw mewed, then turned to Stonekit. “What else do you wanna do?”
The red kit limped to the medicine den before Stonekit could answer. “Bearheart?”
“Come in,” he mumbled.
“I have a thorn,” she mewed when she got inside.
“Let me see,” The medicine cat licked her paw, then ripped the thorn out.
Maplekit screeched. “Owwww! It’s bleeding even more!”
Bearheart didn’t respond. He just stared at her for what seemed like moons, some other knowledge glistening in his eyes. He finally ran out of the den, his tail smacking her in the snout.
The weirdest thing is what he said as he left.
“Great StarClan not her,”
Chapter Five (Night)
Fang blinked. The ginger had lead him through the forest some time, but eventually they had entered a small hollow packed with cats. So many cats... there was a tabby she-cat sunning herself in a patch of sunlight, two black toms having a heated conversation by a rotting stump... a pale ginger tom watched a dark brown tabby, a loving light in his eyes... three small kits were running around a tortoiseshell's paws.
"W-what is this place?" stammered Fang.
The flame coloured cat glanced at Fang, amusement dancing in their eyes. "Your new home. SkyClan."
Fang blinked, and looked around him. "Who are you?" He whispered to the ginger cat beside him. They seemed rather surprised, but answered, "I am Flamewhisker." It was at that moment Fang realized that the ginger cat was a tom.
"Why am I here?" snapped Fang, a challenge in his mew. Flamewhisker ignored him, and padded towards a tabby she-cat who was watching them. "Bramblefire." He dipped his head respectfully to her, then straightened. "Where is Firestar?"
"Out," mewed the she-cat.
Flamewhisker frowned, but nodded. "I will wait for her then." He sat back, and flicked his tail at Fang, beckoning for him to follow suit.
"Who is that?" snapped Bramblefire, glaring at Fang. Fang shrunk under the dark tabby's amber glare, and Flamewhisker edged protectively around the kit. "I will tell explain that to Firestar, not you."
Bramblefire's gaze darkened, but she jerked her head in a savage nod, and stormed away, flicking her tail in Flamewhisker's face.
Fang watched her leave. "She doesn't like you very much," he observed. Flamewhisker nodded, a dark expression on his face. "It's always been that way, ever since we were kits. I think the main reason she dislikes me is because Firestar wanted me to be deputy... I said I needed more time, to take on an apprentice, maybe find myself a mate, so Firestar choose Bramblefire... she despises me because I was the first choice, the one Firestar wanted as deputy. As long as I'm around, she'll only be second best..." He sighed, then glanced at Fang. "But I'm sure you have enough troubles without worrying about mine."
"I wasn't worrying!" snapped Fang. "I couldn't care less about some random tom's she-cat troubles!"
He purred slightly. "I like how you put that."
Fang began to respond, but stopped abruptly. A pale ginger she-cat had just slipped into camp, her thin frame wiry and compact, muscles rippling beneath her pelt.
Flamewhisker twitched an ear, and padded over to the pale she-cat. "Firestar." He dipped his head respectfully, and the she-cat purred softly. "Flamewhisker." Her eyes flicked towards Fang, and the purr died in her throat. "And who is this?"
Flamewhisker glanced back at Fang, who was scowling at Firestar. "This is Fang. I found him wandering our territory alone. His family is dead."
A sympathetic expression flickered across Firestar's face, but it disappeared almost immediately.
"Flamewhisker, you know we're low on prey, we can't spare enough for another mout-"
"Come on Firestar," pleaded Flamewhisker. "He's apprentice age, he could learn to hunt in no time. See the muscle in those legs?" He flicked a tail at Fang's back legs, causing Fang to hiss softly. "With practice, he could be an incredible climber, and I reckon he could hunt well."
Firestar remained silent for a while, then nodded slowly. "Alright then. He's in." She turned away, then spun back around. "But- Flamewhisker, if he has proven himself incompetent after one moons training, he goes, and you take full responsibility."
Bramblefire, who was watching from afar, seemed pleased. Fang glanced at her, missing the nod that passed between Flamewhisker and Firestar.
"Alright." Flamewhisker mewed.
"Then Fang is the newest addition to SkyClan." She stared into Fang's eyes. "Welcome to SkyClan."
Chapter Six (Yellow)
Emberkit inhaled sharply. She turned slowly, heart pounding. A huge black tom with white streaks down his back was glaring down at her. She squeaked, dropping onto all fours. The tom's amber eyes pierced her fur and Smokekit stiffened. He shrank back, but Emberkit held still. Maybe if she didn't show fear he would leave her alone. But the tom's spiked up fur told a different story; he was bristling with anger.
"I said," He thundered, "What are you doing?"
"I'm sorry," Emberkit whispered,"Smokekit... he stole my moss."
Smokekit threw a glare at her. He was clearly scared of what this giant tom would do to them.
"Well, well," The tom rumbled, "If you can't keep your paws to yourself, little kit, then how about you spend the night with me. I'll teach you some respect."
The tom's tone was friendly but it was all Emberkit could do not to scamper away. The look of menace in his eyes didn't match his relaxed posture. She looked away. Now what would she do?
He can't tell us what to do! He's not the Clan leader! Emberkit thought indignantly.
She was about to challenge him, but a ginger and white she-cat came over and began speaking, "Badgerstar, I think it's due time for the apprentices of Dustjaw and Grasswing to have their ceramonies."
Badger...star? Oh, thank you StarClan for sending this cat to let me know!
She crouched submissively. Badgerstar looked down at her.
"Run along," He sniffed, "And take your moss with you."
She immediately sprang to her paws and ran back to the nursery. Dapplerose looked up from her washing and glanced behind her.
"Where's Smokekit?" The queen demanded.
Emberkit looked down. Badgerstar was bound to tell her mother what had happened so she better tell the truth. Emberkit sucked in a breath and began to recount the story.
"Emberkit," Dapplerose growled when she finished, "Go and see Ravenswoop for your punishment. You should have protected Smokekit, you useless kit! You know I love him better."
Emberkit gaped. She'd always known the truth in her mother's words but hearing her say it out loud? That hurt the most.
I'm not useless! I'll prove her wrong! I'll be a kit she can be proud of!
Emberkit ran out of the den, tail tucked in between her legs. Whoever Ravenswoop was, she needed to find them. Fast.
She hurried over to a kind-looking she-cat with mottled brown fur.
"Can you show me Ravenswoop?" She asked politely.
"Sure," The she-cat nodded, looking bemused.
Emberkit trotted after the cat until they reached a small stump with a group of cats around it. The she-cat flicked her tail towards a black and ginger cat who was giving orders.
"Nettleheart, Larkfur," He nodded, "You are on the next hunting patrol."
Emberkit felt a tingle in her paws. In a few moons, she'd be on hunting patrols.
If Badgerstar lets me be an apprentice after today, She thought anxiously, What if I'm never a warrior?
Chapter Seven (Echo)
“Oh, don’t leave,” Graytail murmured softly, casting a sly glance at Splashkit. “I need to tell you something.”
Splashkit shook his head firmly. “You attacked me—and killed me!”
Graytail’s ears twitched in amusement. “That was a misunderstanding. I thought you were an enemy.”
“Would you attack a kit, even if it was an enemy?” Splashkit snarled. “That’s not what a true warrior would do!”
Graytail let out a rumbling snarl. “How do you know? You’re far from being a warrior!”
Splashkit took a deep breath, trying to calm his wildly pounding heart. “My parents have told me what it means to be a warrior, honorable and true and loyal. And you’re no warrior. You’re a murderer.”
Graytail flexed his claws and gazed at them absentmindedly. “You poor kit,” he almost purred. Splashkit felt his fur itch with discomfort.
Graytail is hiding something. I know it.
The thought made him even more uneasy than before, and he began to back away. “I—I hate you, Graytail!” he hissed quietly before wheeling around and charging into the camp’s clearing. Stripekit blinked in surprise as he approached.
“Where were you?” she asked eagerly. “I was waiting for ages.”
Splashkit shook out his fur with a worried glance backwards. “I was talking to the elders.”
“Then why are you so nervous?” She tilted her head inquisitively. “You look like a rabbit in a den full of foxes.”
Splashkit felt anger flare up inside of him. “I’m not! Leave me alone!”
There was an awkward pause, but Stripekit finally shrugged and turned away. Larkkit and Sunkit kept looking at him funny, making Splashkit want to claw their muzzles, but he didn’t. He knew better than to harm young kits.
Unlike Graytail. Splashkit shuddered. He couldn’t shake the ominous feeling. . .
“Leave me alone,” the kit snapped without bothering to see who had called his name. He instantly regretted it as soon as his father, Rowanfrost, stepped into his view.
“I—I’m sorry!” Splashkit blurted. “I didn’t know—”
Rowanfrost snorted in amusement and licked Splashkit’s head. “It’s fine. I’m guessing that you’ve had a bad day?”
Splashkit nodded. “Yeah, the other kits weren’t including me in their games,” he lied.
“I can go talk to them,” Rowanfrost offered, but Splashkit shook his head.
“I don’t mind that much. You can leave them be.”
Rowanfrost’s whiskers twitched and he looked unsatisfied, but he didn’t argue. Splashkit waited impatiently for his father to leave so he could have some alone time.
“I’m going on a hunting patrol. Is that alright?” Rowanfrost’s blue eyes were bright with affection.
Splashkit nodded rapidly. “Of course!” As soon as his father had disappeared into the undergrowth with his patrol, Splashkit bounded to the nursery and curled up on his mossy nest. Already wild thoughts were tumbling through his head, including the haunting tone of Graytail’s voice.
Suddenly the mysterious prophecy came back to him.
Blood. There would be blood.
Two. There would be two.
Hope. There would be hope.
Storm. There would be storms.
Death. There would be death.
Splashkit kneaded the moss nervously with his small claws. Could those words mean something important?
Hopefully Graytail isn’t involved, Splashkit thought, blinking at the far wall of the nursery.
He didn’t want to see that old murderous cat ever again.
But the prophecy foretold death. . .
Oh, StarClan. What are you up to?
Chapter Eight (Golden)
Maplekit licked her paw. The stubborn thing wouldn’t heal.
It was just a stupid thorn. Can’t Bearheart do anything? The medicine cat had put marigold on it, but it didn’t do much. Even Ivypaw had looked at it, but he couldn’t do anything either, though she didn’t blame the apprentice.
“Maplekit!” She heard her mother call her and she turned her head to see her standing a few tail-lengths away.
“It’s getting late,” Swandusk didn’t need to say more.
“Awwww! I was just about to go to the elders' den!” Maplekit complained. Her mom didn’t let her do anything.
“You can listen to them tomorrow,”
“Ok,” she mewed reluctantly as she followed Swandusk to the nursery. Right before she walked in, a ball of moss hit her in the face. Maplekit yelped in surprise.
“Sorry!” She heard her littermate say as he padded out of the den. She hooked the piece of moss in her good paw and hurled it at Stonekit, purring when it hit him on the nose. “I said sorry!” he squeaked and picked up the moss.
“I know,” Maplekit responded, “I’m sorry too,” She rubbed her muzzle against his. However much she teased him, Maplekit still loved her brother.
Stonekit purred and walked into the nursery, his sister trailing after him.
They laid down in their nest, both still restless. “You’ve sure got your paws full,” Leopardsky commented from where she lay at the back of the den.
“Yeah,” her mother sighed. It had been hard for her, losing Blazeclaw before he could even see his kits, but the whole Clan had helped raise Maplekit and Stonekit, and no cat had forgotten how brave their father was. “They sure are feisty,” Swandusk purred playfully. Her tail ruffling each of their pelts.
Maplekit blinked affectionately at her mother, then turned to lick down the fur that had been fluffed up. She accidently set her left paw on a piece of bracken and yelped. “That stupid thorn,” she muttered under her breath. Maplekit licked her paw, pain pulsing through it.
“That had to be a nasty thorn if it still hurts!” Stonekit mewed.
“Yeah,” she meowed half-heartedly. Maplekit was more tired than she thought. She turned to her littermate. “Goodnight,” the red kit said as she licked him between his ears.
“Goodnight,” he purred, resting his head beside her.
Maplekit was happy. Her kin was beside her, her Clan was the strongest of them all, and she had no worries. She had thought that life was near perfection.
That was before she had dreamt.
Chapter Nine (Night)
Fang had never considered himself a mouse-brain, fox-heart, kittypet, or any of the petty insults that had been thrown at him that night. The tabby she-cat he had spotted sunning herself turned out to be called 'Duskpaw,' and was quite accomplished at the art of insulting others behind their backs. It was not a good talent, not one that Fang would have wanted himself. He was rather sick of being insulted; it wasn't like he'd asked to join 'SkyClan.'
Sighing, he turned to face the she-cat, who had been glaring at him from behind. "What do you want?" His voice was wary and resigned, and he could hear the tiredness within it. He was through with this.
"I want you to leave SkyClan and never come back," she hissed, eyes narrowed to the point of slits. "Go join ShadowClan, you'll fit right in with all the fox hearts in that Clan."