Series Idea by Budgiepaw
Art by Raindroprose
"What is this disaster that is coming?" a tabby she-cat asked. Her sparkling, bright-blue gaze turned to a golden tom cat. Two other cats sat next to him, both she-cats. One was a calico cat with long fur, and the other was pure black with sleek fur. All of them sat with dignity around a small pond that sparkled with moonlight. Stars shimmered in their pelts, like flickering flames.
"You know we are not sending the winds that threaten to destroy the forest." The calico said. She reached her tail forward into the water of the pond and stirred it. A picture of a large forest, but wind was ripping every branch off of the trees as they watched.
"And we didn't send the rain that nearly flooded the river." the golden tom stirred the water with his tail, and the calico backed away. The pond now showed a picture of fish flopping about on land and cats hididng in trees.
"Something is happening that has taken away our ability to control the weather." the black she-cat said. "And you know the only time we can't control something is when it is a fixed destiny."
"But how don't we know that the forest clans aren't jsut supposed to go through normal hardships?" the tabby moved closer to the water to trace her own picture. "They have faced many gales and floods before." the pond showed pictures of dead cats, surrounded by water and fallen tree branches.
"Because the ones we've been ignoring for too long are returning. Have you not noticed them?" the gold tom stomped his paw into the water, making the iamge shatter and disappear.
"Of course I have." the tabby sighed. "But we can't even be sure of this. Why should this be happening now? Why did they not do something before?"
"It's obvious." the black she-cat spat. She stood and pushed the gold tom's paw out of the pond. Then she reached into the water with one claw and traced an image of the moon. Suddenly, the imaged moon disappeared.
"The eclipse would be the perfect time to attack." the calico stated. "So we must send some help to the clans. They must be able to fight back."
"Who else but the four powered cats we know to be true and able?" the black she-cat traced an image of four cats.
The tabby looked closer at the pond, then her eyes widened as they fell upon an orange tom in the picture. "No, Coalstar! We cannot trust he will do the right thing!"
"Sky has done horrible things, but he feels remorse. And honestly, what choice do we have?" Coalstar took her paw out of the pond, then looked up at the gold tom. "Sunstar, I think Sky shall be the first to join our cause. Perhaps we-"
"No, no!" the tabby hissed. "NOT SKY!"
"Calm down, Jewelnose. You know it has to be him." Sunstar glared at her. "Now, we should send out message to the clans. I will take care of getting Sky to the clans first. Spotbark," he nodded his head to the calico, "Blossom is the next to come. Watch her pawsteps as she makes her way to BirchClan."
"What should we tell our medicine cats?" Coalstar asked.
"When an ancient enemy rises and attacks during the night of darkness, so too will four heroes rise and defend. In this dark war, fire must fight fire or the clans will come to an end."
On a cold, foggy newleaf morning, a brown she-cat padded through a thin forest. Her head turned up and she watched a few birds fly overhead. She couldn't see them very well through the fog and the branches, but she could hear their chirps. Nothing like a good walk in the morning. Especially after all that's happened.
Water licked at her paws, and she stopped walking moments before she tumbled into a river. She threw herself backwards, away from the water, and tripped over a rock. She smelled a bit of blood, and when her head stopped spinning, she investigated. Her leg had been cut by the rock. The injury was small and had barely parted her tabby fur. You're so clumsy, Stripepaw! She thought to herself.
She licked the blood away from the wound and looked around for something to stop the bleeding. And not a cobweb in sight. She sighed and grabbed a fern leaf from a nearby plant. She tied it over her cut and continued walking. Of course there's no supplies by the river. The flood washed away most plant life within a tree-length of the shore. she thought, looking around at the dead land. There was only the strongest trees there now. I hope the forest repairs itself soon.
I just wonder what has been causing all this. Strong winds ripping a lot of the leaves off the trees, floods, odd rumbling in the ground... I'm not surprised most cats are thinking of the PowerClan tale. Stripepaw shook her head and continued with her walk. As she moved along the riverbank, she kept thinking.
I shouldn't even be here. Ever since the flood yesterday, Leafstar has been really strict about keeping cats who can't swim well away from the river. It's because of Redclaw, Browneye, and Kalepaw's deaths, but i think it's a bit silly. If we don't cross it to place our scent markings, PineClan's going to take it. She watched the sky again. Birds must have such a carefree life.
Suddenly, she heard the loud caw of a hawk. She thought she could see the bird above, but it was hard to make out through the fog. She was scared it had spotted her, but was relived when she saw it dive for another bird. Watched the shadows above as the two airborne creatures fought. I guess that bird's life isn't so carefree. Just as she thought the hawk might go after her next so she should probably hide, she heard something unusual. A cat hiss? From high above? She looked up to see the second shadow falling through the fog. It flapped its wings helplessly and blood trailed behind it. Stripepaw squinted to try and see it clearer, but by the time she could see it, it had collided with her. She and the creature were knocked backwards, into the rushing water of the river.
The water was thickened by blood, and Stripepaw could barely see. She felt the rocks int he river scrape her pelt, but she didn't feel any break the skin. The leaf that was covering her injury from before was whisked away, and her own bloody joined with the already red water. In panic, she clutched the 'bird' that had knocked her into the river.
She obviously couldn't see, but she felt short fur on her paws. A cat? She forced herself to calm for a second and think. Surface. she thought. Air. Then I see what it is. If it's a cat, I save it. If it's a bird... I won't risk my life. She shoved the creature off of her and kicked off of the river floor. She couldn't swim very well, but she knew how to kick herself to the surface. The blood was fading from her vision as the river washed it away, and she could see the blurry sky above. She reached up with her forepaws, then pushed back down to pull herself closer to the surface. Her breath was gone and her lungs screamed for air. Finally, she broke the surface of the river.
She took in a deep breath, coughing out some blood and water. She took a few more breaths, treading water as she looked around for the creature. She spotted an orange paw, caught on a smooth rock at the bottom of the river. She dove again, taking a deep breath first. She kicked with her hind paws, sure to grab a rock as soon as she could so she didn't get pushed past the paw by the river. Most of the blood was washed away now, and she could see the scruff of the cat. She reached out for it and grabbed it in her teeth. With all her effort, she pushed them both to the surface.
She reached air again, and quickly managed to drag the unknown cat to shore. I guess I can swim better than I thought. Maybe I should challenge Hailfur. Haha, no way in StarClan! He's like a fish. Casting this off-topic thought aside, she shook the water off her fur and looked at the cat she had saved.
He was a small, orange tom. His fur was short and still had a bit of blood of it from his still-bleeding wounds. His tail was long and rounded at the end. He looked young, maybe eight moons at most. But the most shocking thing was the unusual extra limbs on his sides. He had two, large, brown wings. Flaps of brown skin were stretched between his body and the the edge of the wing, which ended in a small curl.
Stripepaw stared at his wings for a long time, until she heard him moan with pain. He shifted his legs and wings, then winced as his injuries were stretched. I have to heal him, he's going to bleed to death if I just gawk at him all day!
Sky felt like he was laying on a soft, warm surface. It was nice, expecially because he was in horrible pain and laying on sharp rocks would just add more pain. As he slowly woke up, his mind was trying to start up and peice together his floating memories. After a few minutes of this, he decided the best way to figure out what happened was to actually open his eyes.
He slowly lifted one eyelid. He was in a badly-lit area that was a little cramped. There was a hole where light shone through, and he could see a paw moving around outside. He slowly opened the other eye, and focused on the area he was in. The roof was a little low and seemed solid, the walls were an uneven texture, and the floor was dead plants and mud. He was laying on a nest of feathers and moss.
He tried to move, but he felt a sharp jab of pain through his foreleg and he found that he couldn't even properly move it. He hissed quietly, but right before he could glance to his leg to see why he couldn't move it, someone slipped in through the hole in the wall.
After the cat moved and the light came back through the hole, Sky could see them. It was a young brown tabby she-cat. She looked oddly familiar, but he was too busy with the current situation to worry about it. "What's going on?" he asked, surprised to find his voice was still groggy even after his mind had cleared.
The cat set down some cobwebs she ahd been carrying in her mouth. "You crashed and fell into the river. I'm a medicine cat, so I thought I'd heal you."
"Why waste supplies on a stranger?" Sky muttered. "How bad am I hurt, though?" he added.
"Nothing that can't be fixed. Mostly just cuts and scratches, but you must have landed badly on your right foreleg because it's broken. Your left wing is also bent, and I'm not sure how to heal that."
Sky blinked, taking an extra second to realize what was off about what she'd said. In panic, he stood quickly and looked at his wings. No! She... she saw my wings! He would have fled, but when he tried to step forward he did it with his bad leg and toppled onto his face.
"Woah! Calm down," the she-cat pushed him back towards the moss nest. "uhh... what's your name?"
"Let me go!" Sky hissed, slashing towards the she-cat. She didn't dodge fast enough, and he left a long cut down her face. I expected her to dodge! Sky backed away quickly.
"I'm sorry! I really didn't mean to scare you." the she-cat wiped the blood out of her fur with her paw. "And I don't think it's wise to let you go, when you can barely run away from me. I'll take you to my mentor and she can heal you better than I ever could. And she won't mind that you're an air cat."
Sky panted, feeling panicked. "W-who are you? Are you from PowerClan? Don't you dare take me back to them!"
The she-cat was silent for a moment, as if shocked by the amount of information in that question. "So PowerClan... is real?" she shook her head. "There's obviously a lot of confusion, and this isn't solving anything. I'm Stripepaw, an apprentice medicine cat of OakClan. I've never met a powered cat before, and most of us thought it was just a myth."
Sky felt his heart sink with fear and realization. OakClan? That's... that's where she said... Stripepaw looks like her...
"I'm not going to any clan." Sky tried to spread his wings to look more threatening, but ended up wincing with pain as he moved his bent left wing.
"Hey, I told you basic knowledge about me, can you do the same?" Stripepaw picked up some of the cobwebs and pressed them to her cut.
Sky thought for a moment, then decided on how much information it was safe to give. "I'm Sky. Yes PowerClan does exist, but far from here and mostly just strays. I stayed with them for awhile, but it didn't work out. I've been on my own since I was three moons old, about. I keep my wings hidden because most cats I meet either freak out that I can fly or they try to kill me because I can fly. Sometimes both."
"You've been taking care of yourself since you were three moons old?"
"Yeah." Sky nodded, then felt he had to be modest. "Well... to be fair, I only survived because some twolegs set out food for strays. And I've stolen prey from some cats that wonder through and leave their foods unattended."
Stripepaw frowned. "You've stolen from other cats?"
"It's what you have to do when you're hungry."
Stripepaw was silent for a moment, then picked up the rest of the cobwebs. "You won't be able to walk back to camp. I'll just work on stopping the bleeding, then I'll go get my mentor."
"I don't want more cats to know I'm an air cat!" Sky feebly moved his injured wing.
"I don't know how to heal broken limbs, though..." Stripepaw sat for a moment, closed her eyes, and thought. "Ah ha, there's an elder that trained to be a medicine cat in our clan. She decided to become a warrior after training for a bit, so she's not fully trained, but she could help us."
"How's that any different? It's still someone I don't know and don't want knowing me." Sky pointed out.
"But she can keep a secret."
"You know what? Fine. I can run away if I'm healed." Sky rolled over and ignored anything else Stripepaw had to say.
An old, misty gray she-cat leaned against a tree, staring out over OakClan camp. The camp was in a ditch in the ground of a clearing. It was like a long crack in the ground, with small holes in the walls that led to safe underground dens. The clearing around it was safe enough for kits to play in, as there were fallen logs and branches around it to discourage any attackers.
"Morningdove!" a voice called, and the old she-cat looked out at the clearing around her. A reddish-brown, small she-cat was running towards her. "Have you seen Stripepaw? She's been gone all day."
"She was back here a few moments ago, then I saw her leave with some herbs." Morningdove answered.
The smaller she-cat frowned. "I hope she's okay. Sometimes I really worry about her."
"Why? Because I'm so clumsy?" Stripepaw hopped over a branch that protected the entrance to the clearing. "Don't worry about me, Cherrypaw."
Cherrypaw, startled, hopped backwards. "Why shouldn't I worry? You didn't have that cut on your face before you left!"
Stripepaw touched her paw to the cut on her cheek. "Oh yeah, that's nothing." She turned to Morningdove. "Morningdove, can you come with me? I need your help for something."
"How far are you going to drag me about this time?" Morningdove stood and shook out her fur.
"Not far. This isn't any herbs near the BirchClan border again." Stripepaw flicked her tail towards the small hole in the barricade that served as an entrance and exit.
"Can I come? I'm so bored! Echofrost is off on some patrol with Hailfur, so there won't be any training for me today." Cherrypaw bounced a little.
"Um..." Stripepaw frowned. "Sorry Cherrypaw, it's kind of a secret. I only want Morningdove to come."
"You can trust me with any secret, can't you?" Cherrypaw looked sad.
"It's more complicated than that." Stripepaw shook her head. "But we don't have much time. Morningdove, come on."
"Why can't Cherrypaw know?" Morningdove raised an eyebrow.
"Not Cherrypaw only, I want as few cats to know as possible. Now, we have to hurry."
Morningdove stopped and sniffed the air. "I smell a loner."
Stripepaw ran forward a bit and stopped in front of a small rock. She planted her forepaws on it and pushed it out of the way, revealing a small hole in the side of a tree. "That's it. There's a loner, his name is Sky. He's hurt and I need someone to help me heal him."
"Why would you heal a loner? OakClan's not faring too well after these floods, Stripepaw. We can't heal random strangers."
"That's the thing." Stripepaw waved her tail towards the hole. "I think he can help us, you'll see."
Both of them slipped inside the hollowed out tree. Morningdove blinked a bit, her eyes getting used to the darkness. Then she spotted the loner, curled in a nest, covered in cobwebs. She gasped in surprise as she looked over his wings. "An air cat? What's an air cat doing in our territory?"
Sky stood, keeping weight off of one leg and feebly flapping his good wing. "No disbelief that I even exist?"
"Of course not, I know powered cats are real. I've met them on journeys." Morningdove padded over and got a closer look at Sky's hurt wing. "I can heal this, it'll be fine."
"Before you heal him, I want to say," Stripepaw looked directly at Sky. "OakClan's had a lot of loss recently, with some floods and gales killing our warriors. We could use some help, and I think having a powered cat with us would really help."
Sky didn't even think "No, I don't work in a group."
"What if we don't heal you if you don't agree?"
"I told you, I can see a kittypet doctor."
Morningdove caught onto what Stripepaw was trying to do, and decided to contribute. "Actually, I was near Twolegplace recently. The twolegs have been scooping up every cat they see without a collar. The kittypets told me the loners were never seen again. I'm not sure you can risk returning to Twolegplace."
Sky was silent. "You're lying, aren't you?"
"Do you really want to chance it?"
Sky sighed. "No. Fine, fix me up. But if I have to leave, I will."
Sky twitched his fixed leg. It still hurt, but he was well enough to go to OakClan's camp. His wing had also been fixed, so he was able to safely hide them under his fur. I can't believe I'm letting this happen. I'm being held prisoner in OakClan, that's just what I wanted NOT to happen. I have to get out of here.
He stumbled a bit, smashing his face into a tree. He felt a deep rumbling under his paws and looked around to see what was happening. "There's the earthquake again." Morningdove put one paw on Stripepaw's back. when Stripepaw looked confused, the elder said, "You trip when the ground isn't shaking, you clutz."
"Has this happened often?" Sky extended one wing and bend it over his head for cover in case any branches fell on him.
"Only recently." Morningdove said. "Just like the flooding and winds." She glanced at Sky's wing. "You know, I've just thought of something. These floods, winds, and earthquakes... they've got cats thinking about the old PowerClan tale. They think it's a myth... But, if they see there are powered cats..."
"They'll think the powered cats are to blame for these things." Stripepaw looked up. "Branch!"
Morningdove shoved Stripepaw away from the falling debris. She herself dodged it, but barely. She moved slowly. "I'm too old for this." she muttered as the branch fell a mouse-length from her nose.
Sky looked up just in time to see another branch falling, right above him. He narrowed his eyes and looked closer. Was that... white fur, on top of that branch? He couldn't see clearly through the leaves. He realized the branch was much closer than he had thought, and before he could move, something shoved him aside. He caught himself right before he fell over and looked around.
A reddish-brown she-cat was dragging Stripepaw away from the the tree. Stripepaw was complaining. "I can walk, Cherrypaw!'
"I don't know, can you?" Cherrypaw spat out Stripepaw's scruff and looked up at Sky. Sky didn't have the time to hide his exposed wing, and he saw the red she-cat eyes glow with wonder. "Wow, was this what you wanted to keep a secret, Stripe? You found a winged cat!"
"Winged cats aren't the main problem here." Morningdove pointed out. More and more branches were falling around them. "Let's get to the clearing, it should be safer there. Sky, for StarClan's sake, hide your wings before someone else finds out!"
Sky folded his wings under his fur again. He waited for Stripepaw and Cherrypaw to lead the way then ran behind them with Morningdove taking up the rear. He clearly heard Stripepaw mutter, "Cherry, I told you to stay behind!"
At least Stripepaw kept to her promise. Sky slid to a hault as the two she-cats disappeared. Before he had time to think, Morningdove caught up.
"They went under that barrier, flea-brain! Go, before we're crushed!"
Sky decided it was best to do exactly that, and slid through a small hole in a wall of twigs and brambles. He emerged into a large clearing with a ditch near the right side. The first thing he noticed was the panicking cats, all scuttling towards the middle.
"Who's that?" he heard a lot of cats ask.
"Don't worry." Morningdove squeezed through the barrier behind him. "Is everyone safely in the middle of the clearing?"
"No!" a brown she-cat screeched, looking around. "Pinkkit? Aquakit?"
All the cats started searched wildly for what Sky could only assume were this she-cat's kits. He moved towards the middle, then he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. He flipped and ran back towards the barrier, diving into a thick bush on the edge. He saw two little kits hiding inside, trembeling. One was brown and the other was gray, both toms. "It's safer in the middle." He told them. "Come on."
"It's a rogue!" the kits squealed. They dashed past Sky and ran to the middle, hiding behind their mother.
"Sorry for trying to help." Sky muttered. He moved to the middle, looking around for any others that might be around. A few more branches fell, but no one was hurt. After a few minutes, the rumbling stopped.
"I think it's safe." A white and gray speckled tom said. He stepped out and faced the group. "Has anyone seen Leafstar?"
"Not since the earthquake started." a white she-cat said.
The speckled tom shook his head. "Heatherstone, Echofrost, take Daisypaw and Cherrypaw and check the dens haven't caved in. It looks like some falling branches have destroyed the barrier, so Dewstorm and Breezedawn can go see all the damage. I'll work on finding Leafstar. But first," he added, right before all the cats ran off to their jobs. He grabbed Sky by the tail and pulled him away from the crowd.
Sky struggled away. "Hey, watch it!"
"Who are you?" the speckled tom asked fur pricked in a hostile way.
"Why are you here?"
"Ask Stripepaw and Morningdove, they're the ones who dragged me here." Sky tried to sound confident, but he nervously licked the fur on his sides down to make sure they were covering his wings. As soon as I'm strong enough, I'm bolting. I'll find another town. With no cat-nappers.
"Why did you bring him?" the speckled tom asked Stripepaw.
"Well, uh..." Stripepaw stared up at the tom. "We've... well, we've lost a lot of cats recently, and with only Cherrypaw and Daisypaw for warriors apprentices and me always busy healing and stuff... I thought we could use another apprentice."
Before the speckled tom could argue, Morningdove stepped in front of him. "Hailfur, despite all the stuttering, Stripepaw's right. I'm sure Leafstar will see that when we find him. For now, he can help us rebuild."
"Fine." Hailfur turned back to Sky. Sky was suddenly frozen, gazing into the older tom's eyes. They were oddly round and big. Huge blue spheres...
"Sky, you can go check the dens with the others. Swandapple, go with him." Hailfur turned away. "And if you're not too busy 'healing and stuff', you can go with them, Stripepaw."
Stripepaw nodded quickly and pushed Sky towards the ditch where the dens seemed to be. Cherrypaw joined them, along with a gray and white tabby she-cat about the same age as her. "This is Daisypaw, Sky." Stripepaw nodded towards the tabby. Three adult she-cats padded over from the crowd. One was the white she-cat who had spoken to Hailfur earlier. Sky noted in the back of his mind that her fur seemed oddly long compared to everyone else's. "This is Echofrost, she's Cherrypaw's mentor." Stripepaw continued introducing these cats. She pointed to a gray and brown she-cat, "This is Heatherstone, Daisypaw's mentor." And she pointed to the white she-cat with gray and orange dappled spots, "And this is Swandapple."
"Intros aside, we have work to do." Heatherstone flicked her tail at the ditch, which they were standing on the edge of. "Daisypaw and I will go check the Nursery and Elder's Den, Cherrypaw and Echofrost will go see to the Warriors, Apprentices, and Leader's dens, and Swandapple, Stripepaw, and Sky can go check the Medicine Den."
"Why put two cats on three dens then three on one den?" Swandapple asked.
"Why not just have one cat check each den, with Sky and Stripepaw together checking one den?" Echofrost asked quietly.
Heatherstone completely ignored Echofrost. "Because if the Medicine Den is destroyed, it'll take more cats to fix."
"We're not fixing the dens." Echofrost said.
"We're not fixing the dens, we're just going to check the damages and make sure no one's trapped or hurt inside any collapsed ones." Swandapple corrected. "How about we just take one den each."
"Isn't that what I just-" Echofrost tried to speak up again.
"Then we have an extra cat." Heatherstone pointed out.
"Stripepaw can take Sky. I don't trust him on his own anyway." Swandapple nodded to the rest of the group. "Agreed?"
"Agreed." Daisypaw, Cherrypaw, and Stripepaw echoed. Meanwhile Echofrost just hung her head and mumbled something about 'control freaks'.
Stripepaw flicked her tail at a small hole in the side of the ditch, mostly covered in grass. "Sky and I will take the Medicine den anyway. Come on, Sky." Sky followed the brown tabby she-cat away from the group and into the Medicine den. It was rather dark inside, but was like a rather big cavern inside. The floor was coated with small rocks and plants that were scattered about.
"Ugh, all the herbs fell out of their shelves. Be careful not to lick your paws after this, you might step in something harmful. You can wash off in the stream after." Stripepaw said. Sky could barely see her shadow moving ahead of him, sniffing the air and checking little shelves along the walls.
"Hey, Stripepaw... that speckled guy, Hailfur? Do you ever notice anything... off about him?" Sky asked.
Stripepaw's shadow suddenly fell. "Ow, owow!" she stood back up. "I'm okay, I just tripped."
"I didn't ask."
"There's no need to be rude." Stripepaw huffed.
"There's no need to ask you if you're okay whenever you trip. From what I've seen, you trip every five seconds."
"I'm just a bit clumsy!" Stripepaw hissed. She calmed herself and sighed. "Uh-anyway, Hailfur. No, not really anything weird about him. He's got those really weird big eyes and he can be a jerk sometimes, but nothing really weird."
Sky stayed silent for a moment. See? Nothing weird. You're just being paranoid, Sky. I'm sure lots of cats have round eyes. It doesn't mean anything.
As Sky stepped out of the Medicine Den, he heard hissing and shouting. Stripepaw left the den after him and heard the shouting as well. They both looked to the top of the ditch and saw Hailfur, fur on end as he hissed at a calm-looking white and brown tom. "Leafstar's back." Stripepaw commented, then explained for Sky. "That's Leafstar, he's OakClan's leader. Hailfur's the deputy."
"But he seems to think he's the leader." Cherrypaw seemed to appear out of nowhere. She bounced over to Stripepaw. "I was just up there, they're shouting about how Hailfur let Sky in the clan without even waiting for Leafstar to come back."
"He seemed like a big control freak to me." Sky commented.
"Hailfur's good at being in charge, he's smart and stuff and we win every battle he leads us into, but..." Stripepaw said, her voice quiet.
"But he needs to realize he's not really the leader?" Cherrypaw finished.
As they watched, Hailfur stormed off and Leafstar turned to look down at them in the ditch. He waved his tail for them to come to him. Stripepaw and Cherrypaw started walking right away, but Sky stayed put. "Come on, he wants to talk to us." Stripepaw stopped and looked back at Sky.
"Why?" Sky asked, stiffening his legs to show he was standing his ground.
"I don't know, but he's the leader and we should listen to him." Stripepaw walked back to Sky and shoved him forward.
"I don't trust authority figures." Sky said.
"Well, you'll have to trust Leafstar if you're going to be living in OakClan. He's not going to do anything mean, I'm sure."
"I don't even want to live in OakClan. I'm a prisoner!"
"No, you're not. You agreed to this!" Stripepaw shoved Sky again and he nearly fell over as he tried to catch himself on his hurt leg. "Opps, sorry."
"Fine, fine, I'm going." Sky spat. He followed Cherrypaw, who was quite cheerfully trotting up to meet Leafstar. The leader watched him as he approached, expressionless.
"I've been filled in on the situation. So, this young tom wants to join OakClan?" he directed the question to Cherrypaw and Stripepaw.
Stripepaw nodded. "W-we think he would be a good use to the, uh, clan." she said nervously.
Clearly she's not too good at speaking to authority figures. Sky thought.
Leafstar nodded as well. "I agree that we could use more apprentices." Now he looked at Sky. "Sky, is it? Do you have any skills? Are you particularly good at hunting, fighting, tracking, etc.? Have you had any training?"
Sky nervously licked down the fur covering his wings again. Yeah, skills. Like flying. "I had a bit of training, but that was moons ago. I can fight fine, though, when I'm not in this bad of shape. By the way, what's with the names? Everyone's got 'paw' or 'star' or 'fur' at the end of their names."
Stripepaw had a shocked look on her face. Leafstar didn't look offended to have Sky talk to him in such a disrespectful tone, though. "It's clan tradition. Ask your mentor, when I give you one. I must hold a meeting." Leafstar padded away.
"You can't just talk to the leader disrespectfully like that!" Stripepaw gaaped when Leafstar was out of earshot.
"He seems like any other cat with power to me. Cool and collected on the outside, complete mystery on the inside. In my experience, mysteries aren't good." Sky shrugged. "Anyway, do I have to get a stupid name like 'Skypaw' now?"
"Stupid?!" Stripepaw facepawed.
"You can't call clan traditions stupid." Cherrypaw said.
"I don't even want to be here." Sky muttered.
"You don't have a choice." Stripepaw pointed out. "You'll need to realize that these traditions are important."
"Or at least pretend they are." Cherrypaw added.
"Cherry!" Stripepaw jabbed her friend.
Leafstar, now sitting on a large rock at the edge of the ditch, called out, "All who are old enough to hunt, gather!"
"There's the meeting. Let's go." Cherrypaw meowed. She tilted her head towards Leafstar and skipped off to join the growing crowd. Sky and Stripepaw followed, sitting near the edge.
Leafstar, seeing that all had gathered, started talking. "As many of you already know, there is a new cat among us today. Stripepaw found Sky today and he would like to join the clan as an apprentice."
"And you just agreed to let some random rogue join?" someone from the crowd asked.
"I did. We need more apprentices. With these recent disasters, we've lost many cats. We can't afford to turn away help when it's offered." Leafstar paused and sighed. "While I was out during this last earthquake, we lost another. Dreamfog was crushed by a falling branch. After this meeting, we'll go work on getting her body out so we can give her a proper vigil."
There were shouts of grief from the crowd.
"That is why I am accepting Sky's offer to join the clan." Leafstar's eyes fell on Sky. "Sky, please come forward."
The crowd parted in front of Sky, and he stepped forward until he was standing right in front of the stone that Leafstar was sitting on. "Sky, you have decided to join OakClan, and must be apprenticed. From this day on, until you earn your warrior name, you will be known as Skypaw."
Skypaw inwardly groaned at his new name, but kept his mouth shut.
Leafstar called another name. "Swandapple, please step forward."
The white she-cat with dappled spots emerged from the crowd and stood beside Skypaw.
Leafstar continued. "Swandapple, you have given great training to Petalfoot and have shown that you are a kind and strong teacher. You will be mentor of Skypaw, and I expect you to pass down all you know to him."
Swandapple leaned down to touch Skypaw's nose, but he flinched away. "The mentor and apprentice touch noses at the end of this ceremony, Skypaw." she whispers. Skypaw rolled his eyes and touched her nose with his.
"Skypaw! Skypaw!" a few voices cheered. They were joined with more, but none sounded very enthusiastic excpet for Cherrypaw and Stripepaw.
As the crowd broke away and Leafstar leapt down fromt he stone, Skypaw padded over to Stripepaw. Stripepaw smiled. "Yay, you're an apprentice now! But, uh, we should probably find Sweetbark. She's the medicine cat, and she'll make sure your leg stays fixed."
Skypaw followed Stripepaw as they padded around, looking for the medicine cat. Clan cats are so weird. he thought.
"Clan cats are so great!" a very fluffy tortiseshell she-cat meowed.
"They are?" a black she-cat with big, round green eyes asked.
"Imagine how great it must be to live, surrounded by plants and trees and herbs." the tortiseshell said dreamily. She was sitting with the black cat on the windowsill of her housefolks' home. They were gazing out the window and over the forest that lay beyond. "It must be better than living in this place."
"I dunno, you have to catch your own food there." the black shuddered. "I hear they kill and eat any cat that comes into their territory who isn't part of their clan."
"I'm sure that's just rumors, Umi." the fluffy cat put a paw on the window.
"Some rumors are true." Umi hopped off the windowsill. "Want to come hang out with the others, Blossom?"
"Nah, they all look at me funny." Blossom stepped away from the window and looked at the pads of her paws. Though they were mostly hidden by her long fur, she could she that they were oddly shaped. The pads of her paws were leaf-shaped.
"I don't think they do." Umi assured her. "Why would they? You can't cause them any harm, except maybe grow a tree at them."
"Not because I'm an earth cat, because I don't want to be." Blossom sighed. "Go on, Umi. I think I'll just go for a walk."
Umi frowned. "Do you really want to go out alone? Those twolegs who steal cats won't care that you have a collar."
"They'll take me to the pound and my housefolk will find me, then. I'll be okay, Umi, go on."
"Fine." the black she-cat slipped out the cat-door. Blossom stayed back for a few minutes, then also left.
I don't want to see those strays again. Not after... Umi would never believe me... if she did, would she even mind? Blossom thought as she padded around the yard. She hopped the fence and landed on the sidewalk on the other side. Across the road, she could see the forest.
"Hey, Blossom." a scruffy gray she-cat with black tabby stripes hopped down from the neighbor's fence.
"Hey, Batty." Oh great, speak of how you really don't want to see the devil and she doth appear.
"I saw Umi pass by just a bit ago. 'Said you didn't wanna see us." Batty said, wearing an accusing glare.
"I never said that, I just wanted to be alone today." Blossom lied.
Batty sighed. "You're thinking of running off again? You know those clan cats would kill you if you step on paw on their territory, right?" She shook her head. "They live in a great place but they're not great cats, ya know. We're stuck in town, unless we get some troops the fight them or something."
"We don't need to fight. I'm sure they're good."
"And I'm sure they're not." Batty's fur stood up. "I knew a few. Two of 'em ventured through here a few moons ago. Said they'd never even knew powered cats existed. They tried to kitnap an air cat and take him back to their clan! Probably as a slave or something. If you go in there and start talkin' about how you can grow little flowers and your best friend can float water they'll either kill ya cause you're talking about something they don't understand or use ya."
"Then I won't tell them." Blossom said. "I don't want to be a powered cat anyway."
Batty sighed. "Blossom, you've got a gift. Why live with lower creatures instead of staying where everyone is like you? You were born an earth cat and we need you here."
"I need to know." Blossom glared at Batty. "I need to know if it's better out there. I need to know if... if regular cats really are beneath us."
Batty laughed. "What? Of course they're beneath us! Clan cats are cruel and don't understand."
"They aren't as lucky and aren't told." Blossom watched as a car passed by on the road. "I can't trust you, after seeing you kill that tom."
"Oh please, he was powerless and a kittypet." Batty glanced at Blossom's collar. "No offense."
"Just because they aren't born the same way we are doesn't mean they deserve to die." Blossom stepped right up to the edge of the road. "I don't know what you and the others are planning, Batty, but I'm not going to let you hurt any more clan cats." She darted across the road, plunging into the forest of birch trees.
"They won't accept you! You're ignoring your full potential!" Batty called after her, but the tortiseshell she-cat ignored her.
"So, when I've trained enough, I'll get a better name?" Skypaw asked. He was walking alongside Swandapple as she gave him a tour of the territory. They were alone, as Cherrypaw and Daisypaw were helping restore camp and Stripepaw was getting herbs in a different part of the territory. Sweetbark had told Skypaw that his leg was healing just fine so he could go for a walk, but he shouldn't be allowed to run too fast or hunt until it healed completely.
"Yes." Swandapple replied. "But Skypaw is a fine name for now." she stopped suddenly, and waved her tail for Skypaw to stop as well. "This is the border with PineClan. They own everything beyond that fallen oak."
"Uh-huh." Skypaw nodded.
"Farther in that direction, there's a river that surrounds AshClan. I think that's where Stripepaw says she found you. Between here and there is a big hill, Moon's Song hill. On the full moon, all the stones on it glow. We hold our Gatherings there and that's where we send Medicine cats and Leaders to talk with StarClan." Swandapple continued. As they kept walking, said hill came into sight.
"Gatherings?" Skypaw asked.
"Every full moon, a few cats from each clan gather and exchange news." Swandapple explained. "There's a truce on those nights."
"So it's like a neutral place?" Skypaw said. "So, what's StarClan?"
"Our ancestors." Swandapple looked up at the sky. The sun had already set and rose again since Skypaw had become an apprentice. "When a clan cat dies, they become a star and watch over us. They send us messages and warnings."
Skypaw inwardly groaned. Great, and they have their own crazy religon, too. I'm starting to think being captured by twolegs wouldn't be that bad. "Uh-huh." Suddenly, another thought struck him. He'd heard someone say something like that before... "StarClan must have sent us here to find him!" "Hey, Swandapple?"
"Did you used to know someone named... Jewelnose?"
Swandapple stopped walking suddenly. Skypaw stopped, too, and looked up at her to see shock on her face. "Well, yeah. She was a great warrior and mother who disappeared about six moons ago."
Skypaw felt a horrible sinking feeling. "Mother to who?"
Oh, god. I knew it. How could this- why her? Skypaw worked hard to hide his emotions and keep a striaght face. Swandapple looked suspicous. "I thought that's how you knew her name. How do you know her?"
"Well, uh..." Skypaw thought for a second. "I was around a lot, back then. I saw them and heard them talking, and they were the first clan cats I'd ever heard of, so I was just curious. I never got to ask them why they were so far from clan territory."
"Them, yeah. She went on a mission with her brother, Scarletstep, and never returned." Swandapple's suspicous face faded and returned to her usual slightly cheery but still serious face. "How old would you have been at that time, three moons?"
"About." Skypaw hung his head slightly and continued walking alongside Swandapple.
Stripepaw carefully picked a few marigolds from the plant. She added them to a pile of herbs she had collected and smiled. Perfect, we were running low on marigold. As she gathered the pile to carry back, there was a shuffiling behind her and she swiviled her ears to hear it. Did I just hear...? she wondered, turning to look in the direction the sound had come from.
She was on the edge of BirchClan territory, standing in the section between the two forests. She was within the scent markers, but closer than she'd like. She pushed the pile a couple tail-lengths farther from the border then looked around for the source of the shuffiling again. It must have come from the other side of the border...
A black she-cat poked her head from behind a tree a few fox-lengths across the border. She was a much older she-cat, still a long way from Elder's Den but old enough to have trained many apprentices. She had bright blue eyes that lit up when she saw Stripepaw. She stepped out and padded over to the border, followed by a cream-colored tom with green eyes.
"Good evening, Stripepaw." The black she-cat greeted her cheerfully. "How's the prey running in OakClan?"
For a moment, Stripepaw was surpised at how friendly the she-cat was acting. This was Summercry, the deputy of BirchClan, a clan usually known for not trusting anyone and being hostile to even medicine cats. She didn't know Summercry very well, but Stripepaw assumed she was level-headed and realized that an apprentice far within the border wasn't a threat. "Very good. There was a flood two sunrises ago, but we've recovered."
Summercry nodded. "The entire river flooded, our bit of the river nearly swept away two of our warriors."
Stripepaw frowned. "Unfortuantely, it did manage to take a few of us." she looked at the tom behind Summercry. It was Dreampelt, the BirchClan medicine cat. "Did you come to discuss something important?" she asked, wondering why the medicine cat and deputy of an enemy clan would come to speak with her.
"Dreampelt wanted to talk with you and Sweetbark about a prophecy he's recived. Is she nearby? It would be nice if we could talk without having to cross borders." Summercry said.
"She's not far. I can go get her, if you'll stay for a few moments." Stripepaw said. Summercry and Dreampelt nodded.
"Sweetbark!" Stripepaw called, looking around for her mentor. The brown and white she-cat was standing only a few tree-lengths away, hidden by the forest. "Dreampelt and Summercry are on the border. They want to talk with us about a prophecy."
Sweetbark sighed. "I didn't expect them to show up so soon. I haven't even had the time to tell you or Leafstar."
"So you saw a prophecy?" Stripepaw's eyes widened. "Why didn't you tell me right away?"
"Like I said, I haven't had time." Sweetbark closed her eyes for a second. "I'll fill you in right now, then. StarClan told me, 'When an ancient enemy rises and attacks during the night of darkness, so too will four heroes rise and defend. In this dark war, fire must fight fire or the clans will come to an end.'"
"What?!" Stripepaw gasped. "That sounds... apocalyptic!"
"Which is probably why Dreampelt wants to talk. Let's not make them wait." Sweetbark led the way back to where Summercry and Dreampelt were sitting, just on the edge of the border.
Blossom whined as she stepped on a sharp branch. She leaned against one of the many birch trees all around her and licked the hurt part of her paw. She glanced at the pads of her paw, sighing a bit. They were still shaped like leaves. I just.. I don't know... just thought I would feel like less of a powered cat if I left. she thought, setting her paw back down on the ground.
She looked up, and saw something that upset her. Nearly all the leaves were stripped from the trees around her, like a horrible gale had struck. The leaves coated the ground ahead, as well as the rest of the fallen branches. She kept walking forward, gazing around in wonder at the damage. She walked for a long time, too focused on the wreck of a forest to notice that she'd crossed a scent line.
"Did an air cat do this?" Blossom wondered out loud to herself. She'd seen air cats knock trees over with a few flaps of their wings, she didn't doubt they could do this. But why would a powered cat attack the clans? And without telling her? "But all the powered cats in the town and don't want anything to do with the clans... I guess I'm just seeing powers where there aren't. There are normal gales, right?"
"A kittypet that talks to herself about fairy tales?" a voice asked mockingly. Blossom leaped a tree-length in shock, then froze with her fur standing up and her claws out. The owner of the voice was standing behind a nearby tree. It was a topaz-yellow tom with amber eyes. His fur was short and he was rather skinny. Though his voice was mocking, he didn't look as confident as he sounded.
"Y-yes." Blossom scratched at her collar.
"Get off of BirchClan territory." the tom said. "If you run now, I won't have to hurt you."
"I-I won't run." Blossom tried to stand proudly. If she was any good at reading cats' emotions, this tom was just as scared as she was.
"You.. want to get hurt?"
"No, I want to join your clan."
The tom was quiet for a moment, then started laughing. "Hah, a kittypet wants to join BirchClan?"
"I can hunt fine if you'll teach me how. All you really need to live in the wild is bravery and willingness to learn, Umi tells me."
"You can't just stroll onto our territory ask to join!" the tom meowed, his fur sticking up. "Go, now! Your twolegs will want to pamper you and fatten you up some more." He slashed his claws in her direction.
Blossom took a step back. "I-I'll be back tomorrow. Can you ask the other cats in your clan if I can join?" Without waiting for the tom's response, she turned and darted away. That tom sure didn't look like he could eat other cats. Or that he's even eaten anything in the past week! Do they not have enough food? Oh well, this works fine. I could never leave without saying goodbye to Umi.
Suddenly, she stopped. She pricked her ears and turned back in the direction of the tom. It sounded like someone was chasing after her. Is he trying to drive me out of the territory? She was curious, but was also afraid he would attack her. Knowing he was still out of sight, she took a breath and placed her forepaws flat on the fround. Energy seemed to flow through them, and little sprouts began growing around her. They grew taller and branches sprouted. A heartbeat later, she was completely hidden in a short, leafy bush with fragrant flowers to hide her scent. I guess there's no harm in using my powers a little... she thought.
A cat raced up to about a tail-length from the bush and halted. Blossom held her breath, remaining as still as possible. The cat was a white she-cat with an amber-brown underbelly and paws. She sniffed the air and looked around, then sighed. "I lost her."
Two more cats followed. One was the tom from before, and the other was a black and white tom with a torn ear. The second was very tall and old-looking; much older than any cat blossom knew. "I wish I could have at least seen her." he said. "Kittypets aren't the best fighters or hunters, but anyone can learn."
"But Tornstar, are you really considering letting a kittypet join BirchClan?" the she-cat protested.
"B-but kittypets are fat and soft, and they wouldn't survive in the wild." the yellow tom said.
"Maybe, but we can't be turning down any offers to help." Tornstar frowned. "We need the extra warriors."
The yellow tom was quiet for a moment, then said, "She said she'd be back tomorrow, if we changed our minds."
Tornstar nodded. "Good, then I'll be here about this time tomorrow and wait for her."
"No need to wait." Blossom meowed, hopping out from her hiding place. The white and amber she-cat hissed in surprise, the yellow tom jumped back and unsheathed his claws, and Tornstar very slightly spiked his fur. Tornstar seemed more impressed than startled, though.
"Are you the kittypet that wanted to join BirchClan?" he asked. Blossom nodded. "That was very impressive. None of us even knew you were there."
Blossom smiled. "Thank you. So, you're considering letting me join?"
Tornstar nodded. "If you're willing. But living in a clan is no twoleg den. You'll have to hunt and provide for the clan, as well as risk your life in battles."
Blossom thought about this for a second. I'll really have to risk my life? She giggled internally. Sounds like an adventure! "I understand."
Skypaw sighed with relief when he reached the wall of twigs and brambles that surrounded OakClan camp. Though he wouldn't admit it, his injured leg was hurting and he needed to rest a bit. He slipped into camp with Swandapple right behind him.
"Go find something to eat and rest for now. I can't give you any proper training until you heal, so heal quickly." she told him, then she padded off to join a group of warriors who were chatting nearby. Skypaw padded over to the fresh-kill pile and picked up a mouse. He looked around and saw that the other apprentices, including Stripepaw, were eating and talking on the far end of the ditch. He considered eating alone, but Cherrypaw had spotted him and was waving him over.
Skypaw padded over, ignoring the pain in his leg. He flopped down in between Cherrypaw and Stripepaw. "How was your tour, Skypaw?" Stripepaw asked.
"Did you see the river? We're not supposed to get close to it, 'cause of the flooding and all." Cherrypaw meowed.
"No, we kept away from it. Doesn't matter, I've seen it before, and I've had enough of it." Skypaw remembered crashing into the water after he was knocked out of the air. I guess being in this dumb clan is me repaying Stripepaw for saving me.
"What do you mean?" Daisypaw asked.
"It doesn't matter." Skypaw shook his head.
"Come on, Skypaw. You can't just say things like that then not explain yourself." Daisypaw jokingly pretended to be upset, speaking in a high-pitched whine.
"The name 'Skypaw' sounds stupid enough without you saying it like that." Skypaw muttered. He took a bite out of his mouse, enjoying the warm taste. As a loner, I never got good food like this. I always had to eat the skinny, weak prey that wandered out of cover and kittypet food that was left out. I suppose being in this clan can't be that bad. They are healing me, not forcing me to use my wings, teaching me how to hunt in this forest, and feeding me when I can't hunt on my own. This clan really isn't like th one I was born in.
"But when you become a warrior, you'll get a cool name." Cherrypaw bounced a little, always filled with energy. "What name do you want? Skyflight? Skybird?"
"I think I liked just 'Sky' better."
"Sorry, names are clan tradition." Stripepaw said. "It'll feel more right when you've earned it."
Skypaw sighed. "I don't think so." He paused. "So... what do you think your names will be?" he asked the others.
"I wanna be Cherryswipe!" Cherrypaw swiped at a nearby leaf playfully. "Stripepaw will probably Stripetrip or Stripefall." she teased.
Stripepaw didn't reply for a second, staring off into space. After a bit, she snapped back to reality. "What? Oh, very funny!" she stuck her tongue out at her friend.
"I'll be something like Daisypatch. Mother says I was named for the daisy patch that connects the river to the BirchClan border." Daisypaw meowed.
Stripepaw stared at the ground. "Mother just named me for my tabby stripes, so I don't know what she would have wanted my warrior name to be."
Skypaw fought hard not to let his fur stand up in shock. The sudden mention of Jewelnose nearly made him jump up and run away from the group. However, he managed to hide his emotions.
"S-sorry, I didn't mean to bring down the mood." Stripepaw said quickly, noticing how the other apprentices had fallen silent.
Skypaw stood, having finished his mouse. Her forgot the pain in his leg for a moment and accidentally put too much wieght on it. He winced with pain, forgetting that he was trying not to show his pain. "Your leg's hurting you, isn't it?" Stripepaw was standing at his side in a heartbeat, looking at his injured forleg. "You should tell a medicine cat when you're hurting!"
Before he could respond, she was dragging him off to the Medicine Den. "I'm really okay. Why do you even care?" he asked.
The Medicine den was empty when they entered it. Stripepaw left Skypaw near the center was she looked about the cracks in the tunnel wall for the right herbs. "What do you mean? I care because we're clanmates now. We're all friends."
"But it's obvious to everyone that I don't want to be here." Skypaw muttered.
"But you are. We need you, and we want to be your friend." Stripepaw found the herbs she was looking for and padded over. "Here, eat these. They should ease the pain."
Skypaw ate the herbs silently, unable to think of a retort.
Stripepaw was quiet for amoment, then said, "I know you don't really appreciate our traditions, but don't you like it here? Living in a clan, basically a family that looks out for each other, must be better than living on your own and stealing prey from others."
But do I deserve to live like this? Skypaw wondered.
"Can you just promise me that you'll stop being so stubborn and let us be your friends?" Stripepaw smiled sweetly. Skypaw reluctantly nodded.
"Blossom, I'd like you to meet Amberbelly and Topazglow." Tornstar said, waving his tail at the white she-cat with an amber underbelly then the yellow tom. "They are two young warriors of BirchClan."
The four of them were navigating the birch forest, persumably making their way to their home. Blossom really had no idea, because Tornstar had just told her to follow him. She nodded to Amberbelly and Topazglow, who were still looking a bit hostile and suspicous of her. "My name's Blossom." she introduced herself. "Nice to meet you."
Amberbelly nodded back and said shortly, "Pleasure." Topazglow just looked more nervous.
I wonder why he's so afraid. If he thinks I'm just a harmless kittypet and Amberbelly and Tornstar are his clanmates, who is he scared of? Blossom stared around at the territory she was in. "This place all looks the same. Everywhere is just tree after similar-looking tree."
"You'll figure out how to tell where you are once you know the territory." Tornstar stopped and pointed at one birch tree in front of him. "This one has long claw marks down the sides from a fox we fought off many moons ago. That one," he flicked his tail to another one just behind them, "has a small bush next to it where mice like to hide in Leaf-fall."
Blossom looked at the bush in question. She could feel the bushes moving slightly as a mouse wiggled around inside, like the bush itself was telling her. She could feel the pain the tree had felt in that fight with the fox. She knew she could heal it. How clear would my head be if I didn't read every plant I saw? she wondered.
"This is our camp." Tornstar waved his tail, motioning to a hollow. They were standing on a small cliff that curved down into a hollow, filled with cats. They all looked rather scruffy and skinny, though not as bad as Topazglow. Tornstar hopped up onto a large, flat rock at the top of the cliff. From where he stood, he overlooked the whole hollow. "Will all of BirchClan meet with me under the cliff for a clan meeting?"
Tornstar hopped off on the rock and motioned for Blossom, Topazglow, and Amberbelly to follow him down a rocky path to the hollow. Blossom suddenly felt more nervous as the whole of BirchClan gathered around them, staring her down suspicously. "What's that kittypet doing here?" a black tom asked.
"Tornstar, why have you brought a kittypet into our camp?" a gray and black tom asked.
Tornstar cleared his throat for silence. "I'm about to explain that, Larkcall, Silentdusk. Blossom here has shown promise of learning to survive in the forest. She wishes to join our clan. She will stay in the Apprentice's Den, but I would like the whole clan to chip in teaching her. She will be assessed in three moons, and if she's improved and become fit to join us, I will let her. I do have my reasons for letting her join, so please trust in your leader. Make her feel welcome."
There was instantly an explosion of protests. Blossom couldn't make any out, as they were all so loud and said at the same time. She flattened her ears to block out the sound. As she did so, she also unconsiously stopped breathing. The crowd's shouts were drowned out as she instead decided to listen to the trees. She felt one nearby tree tell her that a bird had landed on its low branch. She had never actually tried to hunt on her own. She'd seen Umi and the other strays do it before, and she'd eaten some, but she'd never caught it herself. Maybe they'll be impressed if i catch it? she thought.
She didn't need to look, as she had used to powers to sense where the tree said the bird was. She started her leap before she had even fully turned around, resulting in her spinning in the air. The bird didn't realize she was there until she had already dug her claws into it's side. She held tightly on it, planning to drag it to the ground. However, her windpipe was suddenly cut off and she found that she wasn't falling. In panic, she found that her spinning had caused her collar to snag on the branch. She flung her hind paws up so one of her paw pads was touching the tree. She swallowed her panic, focusing her efforts into her powers. She made the branch that her collar was caught on grow longer, hoping it would knock her off. However, the branch peirced the collar, cutting it off and freeing her to fall to the ground.
She landed, bird in claws and collar-free. She had been too high in the air for any of the crowd to see her use her powers, but still they looked at her in shock and amasement. All protests were silenced.
"Blossom, can I speak with you?" Blossom looked up from the nest she was making in the Apprentice's Den to see Topazglow sticking his head in. Several hours had passed since her collar had fallen off. during that time, the BirchClan cats had all introduced themselves, shown her around camp, and started talking about her learning the 'warrior code'. Blossom had been releved to find that it was against the warrior code to kill other cats, whihc not only meant that the rumors of the clans were false, but also that they were nicer than the strays that lived in town.
"Of course." Blossom stood and left the den with Topazglow. He was still looking nervous and fidgety; he was even shooting suspicous glances around camp. He led her too a more silent end of camp where no one could overhear them.
"How did you know that bird was up there?" Topazglow asked. "I... I saw... the others weren't paying attention, but I saw that you covered your ears and were holding your breath. You couldn't have heard or smelled it."
Blossom panicked a little. "I-uh, I did smell it. I guess I was just breathing really shallowly." she said.
Topazglow didn't look convinced. "Are you a powered cat? Your fur is really long, and I don't think that bush you were hiding in earlier was always there. You must be an earth cat."
"Wh-what are you talking about?" Blossom dug her paws into the ground, hiding her oddly-shaped paws. "You mean that old PowerClan myth? That's a myth!"
"I know it's true. I knew some powered cats. But... they hated normal cats. Why are you here?" Topazglow was looking even more terrified, though what he said became bolder. "Are you here for me?"
Blossom's head suddenly filled with questions. The one that popped out was, "Why would a powered cat come for you?"
Topazglow looked at his paws. "I wasn't born in the clan." he backed away. "Just... please don't hurt me, and I won't tell anyone that you're an earth cat."
Blossom, realizing it was stupid to continue insisting she was normal, sighed and nodded. "Alright. But on one condition."
"When you're ready, tell me your life story. You seem like a very interesting cat, Topazglow."