What do you do, when everything you know, is a lie?
- 1 Allegiances
- 2 Authors Note
- 3 Rating
- 4 Prologue
- 5 Chapter 1 My Beginning
- 6 Chapter 2 A Kit's Adventure
- 7 Chapter 3 Victory, Then Disaster!
- 8 Chapter 4 Rouges!
- 9 Chapter 5 The Next Step
- 10 Chapter 6 ThunderClan
- 11 Chapter 7 My Rotten Luck
- 12 Chapter 8 Loner in a Clan
- 13 Chapter 9 History of Sorrow
- 14 Chapter 10 Where's Onechance?
- 15 Chapter 11 The Sister I Didn't Know I Had
- 16 Chapter 12 Winds of Fortune
- 17 Chapter 13 Wet-Weather Friends
- 18 Chapter 14 Whose Fault?
- 19 Chapter 15 Why Me?
- 20 Chapter 16 Something Unexpected Happens
- 21 Chapter 17 Shyness
- 22 Chapter 18 Midnight Meeting
- 23 Chapter 19 A Murderer in Our Midst
This is the first book of The Hunted Series
Leader: Nightstar; a black she-cat with captivating amber eyes
Deputy: Whisperwhisker; wispy gray tom with gray blue eyes
Medicine Cat: Dappledfeather; dappled brown she-cat
Onechance: little golden she-cat with a perpetually nervous temperament
Shineleaf: brown she cat with sharp brown eyes
Grayshard: pewter gray tom with blue eyes
Smokesky: light gray she-cat
Nettlepelt: Brown and white spotted tom
Poppyglitter: Silver pointed reddish she-cat
Mattedpaw: dingy brown tom
Brownpaw: Brown tom with sharp black stripes
Sparkpaw: tortishell she-cat
Darkpaw: Choco brown tom with mesmerizing copper eyes
Leader: Tabbystar; tabby tom
Deputy: Glowingbird; cream she-cat
Medicine Cat: Mothfeather; white and orange she-cat
Waterstreak: blue gray tom
Quietmoon: cream she-cat with gray flecks
Rainfall: gray tom
Flowerfall: gray tortishell she-cat
Icycoat: icy white tom with clear blue eyes
Coyotecry: Brown tabby tom
Smallpaw: black and white she-cat
Streakpaw: irritating gray tabby tom
Icelight: snow white she-cat
Lunashine: iridescent white she-cat
Snowkit: cream she-kit with dirty brown points
Silverkit: silver she-kit
Scarletkit: reddish brown she-kit
Crimsonkit: reddish brown she-kit whose fur has a pinkish tint
Scorchedkit: black tom kit
Leader: Darlingstar; A pretty white she-cat with yellow stripes and blue eyes.
Deputy: Mudspots; A muddy brown and white tom with amber eyes
Medicine Cat: Frostywhisker; snow white tom with drab hazel eyes
Heatherflight: She-cat whose fur has a rose tint
Gorsepelt: Plain brown tom
Foxflutter: Orange tabby she-cat
Leapfoot: Black tabby tom
Flyingpaw: Yellow tabby tom
Silentpaw: Gray tabby tom
Glowkit: White she-cat with a yellow patch over one eye
Leader: Fleetstar; Cream long furred tom with pale green eyes
Deputy: Wolfwhisper; Gray tom with distinctive black stripes and sky blue eyes
Medicine Cat: Paleshadow; Black and white she-cat
Skylark: Black tabby she-cat with sharp orange eyes
Wingflight: Brown tom with black points
Sweetrose: Reddish she-cat with a gentle personality
Brackenpaw: Bright orange tom with a white tail tip and sky-blue eyes
Leader: Waterstar; blue gray she-cat with blue eyes
Deputy: Reedpelt; pale gray tom
Medicine Cat: Sharpice; White tom
Shiningfur: Gray she-cat with a metallic gleam to her fur
Splashclaw: Black tom with yellow eyes
Swimmingpaw: Brown tabby she-cat with white black legs and yellow eyes
Leapingpaw: Brown tabby tom with white forelegs and pale green eyes
Aquakit: Blue gray tom
Sablekit: Dark brown she-cat
This story is kind of about my life, and so being, most of the characters are people I know, or knew at one time. Most of the advents have happened to me, or represent things that have happened to me. At about the middle of the second book, the story stops being about things that have happened to me, and becomes things that could happen to me. Some are good, and some are bad, because this isn't a 'happily ever after' story. This is a realistic story. -Sayna
Dappledfeather settled herself in her nest, laying her head down on the soft moss and blinking slowly. It had been a long day gathering herbs and sorting them, treating a few apprentices' scrapes .. just a normal day in ThunderClan.
The medicine cat closed her eyes, yawning. A long day deserved a long rest. Her senses slowly faded to black as she dropped off into the abyss of sleep .. and a screech interrupted her.
The tortishell jerked her head up to see blurry shapes spinning about her, the echoes nightmares are made of. She squeaked in fear as one grazed her cheek, a phantom-like hiss erupting in her ear. She ducked away, and felt a tug in her chest .. and then she was falling .. or was it floating?
The medicine cat clamped her eyes shut, and a few moments of silence resounded before a whisper sounded in her ear. "Don't be afraid."
She blinked her eyes open, to see a gray, long tailed tom before her, fur flecked in starlight. "What .. what happened .."
The cat closed his pale green eyes, murmuring, "I am sorry. They are growing so strong."
Dappledfeather shuddered. "Who?"
The tom shook his head. "The Dark Forest. Do not hide your eyes. I called you to tell you this .. the clan's prophecy."
The medicine cat was hopeful. "A prophecy of new heroes?"
To StarClan tom was noncommittal. "I cannot say. Why would you need a hero if there is no war? Listen. There will be six kits .. one of each clan and one StarClan has chosen to represent them .. one who would have died otherwise. Each of these, has a destiny. Each must fulfill there own as time runs out. Be strong .. more I cannot say."
Dappledfeather opened her mouth in shock, as the gray tom laid a paw on her shoulder. "Awake .. now! I cannot summon enough power to send you back .. open your eyes .. go home!"
The medicine cat's eyes were wide, but nothing happened. She stammered. "What .. do you mean?"
The gray tom sighed. "I mean I could barely keep you from Dark Forest's clutches as I brought you here. You must use your own energy to return .. all I can do is bless you."
He laid his muzzle on her forehead. "Go in safety."
Dappledfeather felt someone shaking her, and she closed her eyes .. blinking them open to see the starry landscape fading and the walls of her den returning to normal.
A snow white queen stood before her, with a tiny, coughing silver kit. "Dappledfeather, I am sorry. But Silverkit has a cough .. and she is so weak!"
Dappledfeather hauled herself onto her paws, noticing the queen's other kit .. a dingy whitish she-kit .. standing beside her. "No, no, you did well .. is Snowkit alright, Icelight?"
The queen nodded. "Oh yes, she always is. Now about Silverkit .."
Dappledfeather dug in her herbs, trying to shake the dream from her eyes. StarClan .. was loosing its power? Dark Forest? But those cats were just as fake as the fairy tales they populated .. weren't they?
(I'm rewriting one bit at a time, sorry for the lack of quality in the first chapter. :/ I'll be back to change it soon :) )
Chapter 1 My Beginning
Some have a hard beginning.
I was lucky.
Looking back I see what I was blind to.
I sighed. "Yes mother?"
"Where are you going? I need you to help clean up bedding! Why can't you be obedient like Silverkit?"
Silverkit was sitting behind mother, a smug look on her face.
"Because Silverkit's a brat." I thought silently.
"I don't want to!" I whined. "Why can't I help dad? It's funner!"
"'More fun' Snowkit." Mother corrected.
"More fun." I repeated, thinking, "Whatever."
"I need you to help me, and your fathers out hunting." Mother explained. "Now get to work."
I pouted sullenly as I obeyed as slowly as possible, picking up a wad of old moss and carrying it out of the nursery.
Silverkit picked up a wad too, dropping it the next second. "Oh! Ouch! Mother! There's a thorn in it! I can't pick it up!"
I watched in disgust as mother led a whimpering Silverkit to the medicine cat den. Now I would have to clean up that baby's mess as well as mine. I picked up Silverkit's moss, realizing there was a sharp thorn in it, but I was determined to think badly of my sister.
"I bet she did it on purpose, just to get me to do her work." I grumbled.
As I stepped out of the nursery, I saw my father, Waterstreak, come through the bramble tunnel.
I dropped the moss and ran to him, squealing, "Daddy!"
He scooped me up onto his back like I was a feather, laughing, "How's my little Snowkit today?"
I frowned. "Silverkit was being a brat, and I had to clean up her moss!"
Waterstreak purred. "Oh? Were is Silverkit?"
"She's in the medicine cat den cause she poked herself with a thorn." I pouted.
"Well we'd better go see her Snowkit. How fast?"
I bounced up and down. "Really, really fast!"
Waterstreak took off across the camp at a quick lope, me giggling all the way. As we reached the medicine cat den, mother and Silverkit came out.
Mother frowned. "Snowkit, did you clean up the moss?"
I realized I hadn't. "Weeeeell sort of."
Waterstreak shrugged me off purring, "Go finish your job Snowkit."
As I padded off, I heard mother sigh, "I don't know what to do with her Waterstreak. She doesn't listen!"
"Now Icelight ..." My father's words faded away as I got out of hearing range.
Chapter 2 A Kit's Adventure
Kits will be kits.
Sometimes kits being kits,
Can discover the darkest secrets,
And no one will believe them.
I was up early the next morning. "Silverkit!" I whispered.
"Huh?" Silverkit mumbled.
"Let's sneak out of camp! I'm not sleepy!" I purred.
"No! We'll get in trouble!" Silverkit argued.
"So what?" I asked, disgusted. "If you won't go I bet Scarletkit will!"
Scarletkit was my best friend, besides her sister, Crimsonkit, and Scorchedkit, a little black tom.
Scarletkit popped her head out of her nest. "Did somebody say my name?"
"Will you sneak out of camp with me?" I asked.
Crimsonkit appeared behind Scarletkit. "Of course! It sounds awesome!"
"What about Scorchedkit?" I asked. Having all my friends with me would be more fun!
Crimsonkit made a face. "Seriously Snowkit? Why do you like to play with toms? They're dumb!"
I rolled my eyes. Crimsonkit had a thing about toms.
"Whatever Crimsonkit." Scarletkit yawned. "Let's go."
I slipped from the nursery, Scarletkit and Crimsonkit on my heels. We were headed out of, when a voice stopped us. We pressed into the shadows as Tabbystar padded out of his den, followed by Glowingbird.
"Listen Glowingbird, I need to get rid of Icycoat, and Flowerfall! They're in my way, and they know to much!"
Crimsonkit whispered, "Why does Tabbystar want to get rid of Icycoat and Flowerf .." I slapped my tail over her mouth.
"Shush! You want him to hear us?"
Glowingbird was meowing, "Oh Tabbystar! That will cause so much tension! Isn't there another way?"
Tabbystar got a creepy look in his eyes. "Yes .. yes maybe there is."
He licked Glowingbird's cheek. "There, there, my dear, go back to bed, and don't worry about it."
Glowingbird purred, "I don't care what you do, just make sure it doesn't arouse ShadowClan's suspicions. And try to make it quiet. We wouldn't want our son to have nightmares cause you killed them in camp or something."
I made a face. Tabbystar and Glowingbird's son was Streakkit. The most stuck up, proudest, dumbest cat in Shadowclan. Me and my friends hated him. I could tell Scarletkit and Crimsonkit were thinking the exact same thing by the disgusted looks on their faces.
As Tabbystar and Glowingbird padded away, Scarletkit muttered, "Hey are we still trying to sneak out of camp?"
I shook my head. "Umm no. I think we've had an adventure already. Let's tell our mothers! Come on!"
"Snowkit, either you're dreaming, or you decided to make up a silly story."
I was shocked. "But Mother .."
"No buts Snowkit. You need to go to sleep."
"Scarletkit and Crimsonkit saw it too!" I looked over to where Lunashine was berating my friends.
Mother nudged me into our nest. "You just had a nightmare. Stop making such a fuss, and go to sleep."
"But I didn't .." I mumbled as my head drooped down and my eyes closed in sleep.
Chapter 3 Victory, Then Disaster!
It had been a month since I had overheard Tabbystar and Glowingbird's conversation, and it was fading in my memory to the point that I began to believe it was only a dream. Crimsonkit was dead set on the idea that was exactly what had happened, while Scarletkit remained unsure. Deep in my heart I knew we had not imagined our adventure, but it was easier not to bring the subject up.
Of course, I wasn't going to bring it up today! Today was the day that me, Scarletkit, Crimsonkit, and Scorchedkit were becoming apprentices! Streakpaw had been apprenticed a month before, even though he was our age. It just went to show, Streakpaw got everything he wanted, when he wanted it.
My thoughts were jerked back to reality as mother began grooming me fiercely.
"Awwwww mom! I don't need grooming! My pelts fine!" I whined.
Silverkit was smoothing down her perfect silver fur, which contrasted drastically with my frizzy cream pelt and it's dirty brown tips. I sighed. Would I ever be as perfect or beautiful as my sister? No, I had to admit. That wasn't possible.
Tabbystar stood in the middle of ShadowClan's camp, while me, Silverkit, Crimsonkit, Scarletkit, and Scorchedkit stood before him. The toms voice droned on and on about Crimsonkit's mentor, and Scarletkit's mentor. I got bored with the whole thing and began to drift into daydreams, when something unforgettable happened.
Quietmoon, Smallpaw, and Rainfall pelted into the camp. Quietmoon gasped out her news. "Icycoat and Flowerfall are dead!"
Tabbystar's eyes hardened. "Were are they? What happened?"
Rainfall looked shaken. Flowerfall had been his sister. "I don't know Tabbystar. We found them dead. With the scent of ShadowClan on them!"
Glowingbird sobbed, "Oh we have a murderer in our midst! They mustn't hurt my little Streakpaw!"
She suddenly turned on a brown tom called Coyotecry. "You! You were on a lone hunt this morning! Do you know something about this?"
Coyotecry looked mortified. "It wasn't me! I don't know what you're talking about!"
Waterstreak leapt between Coyotecry and Glowingbird. "Wait! We don't know what happened! How do you know Coyotecry is the murderer?"
Glowingbird hissed, "How do you know he didn't? Do you know something we don't?"
Waterstreak shifted his gaze meaningfully at Tabbystar. "Maybe."
I caught my breath. Was my father really insinuating Tabbystar was guilty?
Tabbystar glared pure hatred at my father, and the look in his eyes made me shiver. "Are you saying that I was involved in this black deed Waterstreak?"
Waterstreak hardened his jaw. "What do you think I was saying?"
Crimsonkit, Scarletkit, and Scorchedkit had backed away from me and Silverkit, horrified. Icelight wrapped her tail around us, snarling protectively.
Tabbystar licked his chops. "You get out now Waterstreak. You and your family. Get out of my sight and never come back! Move, before you loose your head, not just your dignity! GO!"
Chapter 4 Rouges!
I stumbled along behind my father, but I wasn't seeing the forest floor. I was still seeing the horror in my friends eyes as my father challenged Tabbystar. Suddenly I tripped over a root, smacking my chin hard on the ground.
"Ouch!" I yelped as I sat up, my head spinning.
Waterstreak scooped my onto his back and kept going wordlessly. I snuck a glance at my mother and Silverkit, who were behind us, before whispering,
"Daddy, what will we do now?"
Waterstreak looked down. "I don't know Snowkit. We don't have a clan anymore."
I gulped, realizing what we were. "D .. Daddy, are we .. Rouges?"
I didn't want to believe it, but deep down, I knew it was true.
My father sighed. "Yes Snowkit, we are."
I felt tears well up in my eyes as I realized what we were leaving behind. "Daddy, why did you do it? Why?"
Waterstreak looked up to the sky, murmuring, "Sometimes we have to do things, Snowkit. Things that are hard, and we'd rather not do."
He shook his head. "And yet we must do them. One day, you'll understand."
I don't know how long we walked. It might have been hours, or only minutes, but I must have dropped off to sleep, for the next thing I knew, my father was purring,
"Wake up Snowkit! We're stopping here."
Waterstreak set me down in between two roots at the base of a tree, as mother placed Silverkit beside me.
I dropped off to sleep as Waterstreak and Icelight began whispering. I didn't hear much but,
" ... Can't go back."
"ThunderClan might ..."
Chapter 5 The Next Step
"Snowkit! Wake up!"
I groggily opened my eyes to see Waterstreak standing over me.
"Time to get your warrior name!"
I mumbled, confused, "But father we aren't in ShadowClan anymore!"
Waterstreak's blue eyes were excited. "We are going to ThunderClan daughter. Where I was born."
I recoiled. "ThunderClan? But Crimsonkit says that ThunderClan is evil!"
Waterstreak looked amused. "Do you believe everything Crimsonkit says?"
I frowned, "No, but .."
"No buts dear. Come on, your mother and Silverkit are waiting."
I scrambled to my feet. No way was Silverkit going to do better then me, no matter what was happening!
Waterstreak nodded to Icelight. "Don't worry dear. ThunderClan will take us in."
He turned to me and Silverkit. "And the kits will finally get to meet my family."
The next second a pewter gray tom burst through the undergrowth, followed by a younger brown tom with black stripes. The gray tom stood speechless for a minute, before grinning,
My father nodded. "It's me Grayshard. I've come home!"
He turned to the rest of us. "Father, This is my mate, Icelight, and our kits, Snowkit and Silverkit."
Grayshard turned to the young tom beside him. "Say hello to your Uncle Waterstreak and his family Brownpaw."
Brownpaw smirked, mumbling with total lack of enthusiasm. "Hi."
I cocked my head. What was his problem? He acted like we were from Dark Forest or something! His attitude stunk, and it instantly gave me the impression that he was incredibly proud and disgusting. I curled my lip in repulsion as Brownpaw whined,
"I wanted to go hunting papa!"
Grayshard nodded. "Why don't you? I'll take my family to the camp, while you stay here. I'll catch up with you soon."
Brownpaw frisked away, happy now that he got what he wanted. I was glad he was gone, but I had the feeling I hadn't seen the last of him.
As they walked along, Father and Grayshard conversed. I only heard a few snippets, but it was enough to let me know a lot had changed since Waterstreak had come to live in Shadowclan with Icelight.
"How is Featherdance?" My father asked.
Grayshard gave him an odd look. "You didn't know?"
A look of dread flash across Waterstreak's face. "Didn't know what?"
Grayshard's shoulders slumped. "I'm sorry son, but Featherdance is dead. Brownpaw is her only child, and me and Smokesky are raising him."
Waterstreak was mortified by the news of his sister's death, but he asked, "What about Brownpaw's father? Who is he? Why doesn't he raise his son?"
Grayshard shrugged. "His father is some rouge. I don't know anything about him, not even his name. He never comes to see Brownpaw, or has anything to do with him."
My grandfather leaned forward, muttering, "Honestly, between you and me ..."
I desperately tried to hear what they were saying, but I couldn't catch anymore.
Chapter 6 ThunderClan
I ducked behind mother as Grayshard led us into ThunderClan's camp. Strange cat's peered at us with interest, and I felt my fur get hot. Would I ever make friends like Crimsonkit, Scarletkit, and Scorchedkit here? I tossed my head as I saw a dingy looking brown tom smirk at me. I stuck my tongue out at him, and he recoiled, looking shocked.
"Dumb Mousebrain" I muttered.
At that moment, we reached the high ledge. Grayshard bowed low as an elderly black she-cat came out of the leaders den.
"What is it Grayshard?" Her voice was soft and mellow, and it reminded me of a deep, undisturbed pool of water. I could tell in an instant I would like her.
Grayshard rose. "Nightstar, my son Waterstreak and his family have left ShadowClan. They wish to join ThunderClan.
Nightstar did not look surprised. "Very well."
A wispy gray tom leapt onto the ledge. "But Nightstar, they might decide to leave again! Waterstreak has done it once already!"
Nightstar turned her deep amber eyes on the cat. "I have decided what I have decided Whisperwhisker. As deputy, it is not your place to challenge me."
She fixed her serious, luminous eyes on me and Silverkit. "And I expect these little she-cats are feeling pretty down about losing their apprenticeship yesterday."
I began, "Oh yes ..." before I stopped, bewildered. How could Nightstar know that?
The faintest of all faint smiles lit Nightstar's features. "I know much of what happens around the lake young Snowkit."
She beckoned to me and Silverkit, and speechless, we came forward.
"Snowkit, Silverkit. Do you promise to uphold the warrior code, even at the cost of your lives?"
"I do!" Me and Silverkit chorused.
Nightstar nodded. "Then I name you Snowpaw and Silverpaw."
She looked into the crowd. "Shineleaf!"
A dappled brown she-cat stepped forward.
Nightstar purred, "You will mentor Silverpaw!"
Silverpaw solemnly padded to her mentor, and touches noses with her.
I surveyed my sisters mentor with interest. Shineleaf looked nice, but she had sharp brown eyes that looked serious and to the point. I hoped my mentor would be more jovial.
Nightstar was speaking once more. "Onechance!"
A lithe little golden she-cat stepped forward, a nervous expression on her face. I had the feeling that expression was Onechance's normal one.
I wasn't to pleased as Nightstar announced, "Onechance, you have not had an apprentice yet, and I plan to change that. You are Snowpaw's mentor."
Onechance nervously touched noses with me, then shied away slightly, as though she wasn't used to having physical contact with anyone.
Her nervous manner made me jumpy too, but Nightstar just nodded, pleased with her decision. "I'll leave you to decide what to do next, Onechance and Shineleaf."
With that, she turned and slipped into her den.
Chapter 7 My Rotten Luck
Shineleaf began asking Silverpaw about herself, and within moment's, they were laughing and joking together. But my mentor didn't say a word. She just signified she wished me to follow her, and lead me from the camp.
Throughout the whole day, Onechance said nothing. She just nodded, or shook her head to any of my questions.
She led me around the territory, but it was pretty dull, because there were no explanations.
When I made my first catch, a squirrel, I saw the ghost of a smile flash across my mentors face. It looked rather strange, and slowly the reason why dawned on me. Onechance wasn't used to smiling, so she really didn't know how to.
When we got back to camp, I put my catch on the fresh kill pile. Onechance signified where the apprentice den was, and then padded away into the shadows.
I sighed. It was just like my rotten luck to get such a rotten mentor. But the worst was yet to come.
I padded toward the apprentice den, hoping my fellow apprentices would be nicer.
Brownpaw hadn't come back from hunting yet, thank Starclan, and I was hoping to make some friends.
As I entered the den, I saw a tortishell, the matted brown tom I'd seen earlier, and a Choco brown tom. I smiled.
"Hi! I'm Snowpaw. Who are you?"
The brown tom looked curious. "Why is your name Snowpaw?"
I shrugged. "I don't know, maybe because my pelt is white."
He laughed. "If your mother thinks your pelt is white, then she's as blind as a bat! Your fur is the dingiest, ugliest white I've ever seen. Your name should have been Mudkit!"
I stared at him, shocked. I hadn't known a fellow cat could be this mean.
The tortishell nodded. "That's a good one Mattedpaw! She looks like she fell in the lake and didn't have the brains to lick herself dry!"
Mattedpaw snorted. "Yea Sparkpaw, she looks totally stupid! I bet she doesn't know how to groom herself!"
I fought the tears that sprang into my eyes as Sparkpaw threw some moss at me. "You go sleep over there loser. We don't want your smelly half-clan paws near us!"
I made my nest in the drafty corner I had been given, and slumped down in it. What a rotten day. I had a rotten mentor, rotten denmates, and a rotten clan! If only I could have stayed in ShadowClan! I had friends there ... I squinted my eyes shut. I would not think about my friends now. It would only make things worse.
I stared through teary eyes at my denmates, talking and laughing together, occasionally pointing at me and snickering. What was so bad about my pelt? Was I really that ugly? I had thought for sure, that I would make friends here. That no matter where I went, cats would like me. I had never had trouble making friends before!
I closed my eyes choking down a sob. Well today had taught me a lesson. I would never again jump in and talk to cats I didn't know. I had gotten stabbed in the back for being friendly, so I would never make the same mistake.
Chapter 8 Loner in a Clan
The sun slanted down through the holes in my corner of the den's roof. I yawned as a stray beam of light fell across my face, and I slowly opened my eyes. It had been three long weeks since we had joined ThunderClan. I was hating every minute of it.
Mattedpaw, Sparkpaw, and Brownpaw seemed determined to make my life miserable. The other apprentice, who I learned was called Darkpaw, never said a word against me. However he never said a word in my defense.
The apprentice's shunned Silverpaw too, but they didn't make fun of her constantly. And she had a mentor to talk to, which was one up on me. My mentor never spoke.
My parents could tell I was unhappy, but they didn't know what to do to help me. I was totally alone. Except for Onechance, who could probably qualify for the most boring mentor ever.
I slipped out of the apprentice den and trotted toward the bramble tunnel, my usual place to meet Onechance. But when I got there, my mentor was nowhere to be seen.
"Onechance?" I called, but the elusive she-cat didn't appear.
I was getting worried. Where was my mentor? I knew she was a recluse, but I'd never known her to disappear.
I tried again. "Onechance!"
There was no swish of paws announcing the yellow cats presence, no rustling brambles signifying her return.
I wheeled around. Who would know where Onechance was? Shineleaf. Shineleaf was Onechance's sister, so she might be able to help me.
"Shineleaf?" I whispered.
My sister's mentor yawned. "Yes Snowpaw?"
I gulped. "Do you know where Onechance is?"
Shineleaf shook her head. "No. She's not here?"
I shook my head. "I can't find her."
The brown she-cat didn't look to concerned. "Onechance likes being alone Snowpaw. She probably just went for a walk."
"But she always meets me at the bramble tunnel just after dawn!" I protested.
Shineleaf frowned. "Hmmm that's odd. If Onechance makes a practice of something, she's not likely to stop. I'd better see if I can help you find her."
She turned to a silver tipped red she-cat. "Poppyglitter? Can you take Silverpaw for me today?"
Poppyglitter nodded. "Sure Shineleaf. Good luck finding that sister of yours."
Chapter 9 History of Sorrow
I followed Shineleaf through the woods, as she searched all of Onechance's normal haunts.
"Why is Onechance so secluded Shineleaf? Why doesn't she talk?" I asked, adding, "Can she talk?"
Shineleaf looked away. "She can. And it's a long story Snowpaw."
The brown she-cat sighed. "But I suppose you deserve to hear it. However you must never let Onechance know. You see, I don't think she really remembers. I think she has erased that part of her past from her mind, and it's better that way. If she recalled what happened she might .... well do something awful."
I nodded. "I won't tell."
Shineleaf got a faraway look in her eyes. "When we were young, Onechance was outgoing and friendly. She was sweet, understanding, and the best sister I could want. The first tragedy the shook our young lives was when our parents died of greencough. I don't think either of us really understood that they were going to die, even when Dappledfeather told us it was inevitable."
She hung her head. "But they did. Onechance took it very well, better then me actually. I didn't think anything would ever happen to shake her optimistic personality, but I was wrong."
The brown she-cat shook her head sadly. "She fell in love with a tom called Wolfwhisper. I was so happy for when she learned she was having kits, but then ...."
Shineleaf looked away. "Then Wolfwhisper left Onechance because he fell in love with some SkyClan mange-pelt. Onechance was heartbroken, but she was determined to be a good mother to her kits, and love them as she loved their father."
My sisters mentor released a deep sigh. "Then the kits were born. Four of them, and three would never open their eyes. They were still-born."
Shineleaf's eyes softened momentarily. "But then there was the fourth. A little orange tabby tom named Brackenkit."
The brown she-cat fell silent, and I prompted, "What about Brackenkit?"
Shineleaf sighed. "Everything went wrong during the next few days. Onechance's milk didn't come, there were no other queens to nurse Brackenkit. He got weaker and weaker, and finally on the second day, neither Onechance nor her kit could be found."
I felt bad I was having Shineleaf relive this nightmare simply to fulfill my curiosity, but I couldn't make myself tell her to stop.
"Later that morning, I found her sitting on the grave of her other kits. She looked at me and sobbed,
'He died Shineleaf. Brackenkit's dead, and it's all my fault!'
"I took her back to camp, and over the next few days, she settled down. But she never spoke again. Not even to me."
Shineleaf took a deep breath. "So now you see why Onechance is the way she is. Please try to be patient with her for me."
I nodded, recovering from the shock of hearing my mentors past. "I will Shineleaf, and I'm sorry that happened ... It must be hard for you, you know, remembering how your sister was and all that."
Shineleaf's eyes misted. "It is. Just remember one thing Snowpaw. Don't put your trust in a tom. They're all flawed, and I would hate to see you end up like Onechance."
I shuddered. "Don't worry."
Shineleaf continued, "Not to say you shouldn't love, just be careful who you trust."
"How will I know who to trust?" I asked, confused.
"You will know." Shineleaf breathed.
"You will know when the time comes, just like ..."
The brown she-cat's words stopped abruptly as she gasped, "Onechance! She was here!"
Chapter 10 Where's Onechance?
Shineleaf and I were following Onechance's trail, which meandered every-which-way, until I thought my mentor must have been dizzy. I certainly was.
Suddenly Shineleaf gasped, "Onechance!"
The yellow she-cat sat with her back to us, still as a statue.
Shineleaf looked confused. "Onechance? Are you ok?"
"I'm fine Shineleaf."
I gasped. My mentor really could talk! Her voice was a pretty, mellow sound, almost akin to softly falling rain.
The yellow cat turned to us like someone in a trance. "I'm just remembering. That's all."
I was getting really spooked. While Onechance talking at all was strange, the way she was acting was totally unnatural for any cat.
She was so calm, so nonchalant. It was like she was remembering, but she didn't care.
Not only that, her eyes had a vacant, emotionless look. Almost like I wasn't seeing the real her. Like this was someone totally different. And yet the she-cat was most certainly Onechance.
Suddenly Onechance seemed to notice me for the first time. She looked confused. "Snowpaw?"
The vacant look was whisked off her features, to be replaced by her usual, nervous, expression.
She looked from me, to Shineleaf in puzzlement, but she said nothing more, just beckoned me to follow.
I looked to Shineleaf, who nodded, mouthing, "Act normal."
I followed my mentor, utterly bewildered.
The rest of the day was spent as usual, in silent but vigorous training.
However I don't think I did very well, for the whole day, a single thought ran in my head.
'What in the name of StarClan just happened???'
Chapter 11 The Sister I Didn't Know I Had
"If Onechance suddenly remembered what happened to her, but when she saw me she forgot, then that must mean ... well, maybe it has something to do with ... Oh I don't know what it means!!!"
I was sitting in my drafty nest in the apprentice den, musing over Onechance's odd behavior this morning, and I couldn't come up with any feasible theories on what had happened. Not only that, but my brain was beginning to ache.
I sighed. If only I had someone to play with, maybe ... I closed my eyes. But I had no one. None of the apprentices even tolerated me except Silverpaw ..
I leapt to my feet. Silverpaw! That was an idea. Maybe my sister would play with me! We had played some when we were younger, but when we came to ThunderClan, I had ignored her. But then, Silverpaw forgave everyone.
I hopped out of the den and over to where Silverpaw was sunning herself in the fading light. "Hey! You want to play?"
Silverpaw smiled. "Uhh, Sure! But I didn't think you liked me."
"Oh I was just busy," I lied.
"Ok!" She grinned. "What do you want to play?"
"Let's play WindClan spies!" I meowed, excited. "I'll be Snowstar and you can be Silverfur my deputy! Like we used to do in ShadowClan!"
Silverpaw was agreeable. "Alright. But we'll have to imagine the WindClan spies."
We played the game, and got very involved in it, as kit-like as it was. I was discovering my sister was a lot of fun, to play with at least. Not like she'd ever be a friend, but she was still a good playmate.
We tired of playing the one game, and had graduated to play wrestling, when Mattedpaw came through the bramble tunnel.
"Ha ha! Look at the little kits play fighting!"
I flattened my ears. "Oh shut up you mangy idiot!"
Things might have got ugly, but Mattedpaw decided to leave us alone. I couldn't guess why, but I was too relieved that he was gone to care.
Silverpaw looked at me. "Why is Mattedpaw mean Snowpaw?"
While Silverpaw had always been the pretty one, she was also a little slow to acknowledge some things.
I smiled weakly. "I guess some cats like to be mean Silverpaw."
She looked confused. "But why? Why would anybody want to be mean?"
I suddenly felt protective of my sister for some reason. She was so immature, so stupidly trusting. I had never really known her, not until now.
I hung my head. "Because .. sometimes, a cat chooses evil instead of good."
Chapter 12 Winds of Fortune
I was sitting next to Onechance, waiting for Nightstar to announce it was time to leave for the gathering. I was excited, this would be the first time I met cats from other clans! Onechance didn't look excited, she looked down right scared.
"Onechance?" I whispered.
She nervously looked at me.
I smiled. "You don't have to worry. It'll be fun!"
My mentor didn't look convinced, but she nodded.
I had come to like Onechance's silence far better then other cat's chatter. There was something comforting about my mentor, I knew I could tell her anything, and she would always be sympathetic. True, it was a silent sympathy, but it was genuine, not sarcastic or indifferent.
Onechance trained me well, not cutting me any slack, not leaving a single aspect undone. Our sessions were rigorous and unforgiving, but Onechance threw herself into training, and did as much as me.
My thoughts were interrupted as Nightstar leapt off the highledge meowing, "All cats who are going to the gathering, we are leaving!"
Onechance started forward and I followed her, almost afraid she would decide not to go.
We hurried across WindClan territory, toward the gathering island. While we made good time, it was far to long for me.
I followed Onechance over the log that spanned the gap between island and mainland. I gulped, looking down at the dark, rushing water beneath me, and hoping that the ancient log would hold my weight. It was from the time of the legend Firestar, and many cats had debated how long it could last. However it seemed solid as a rock, and didn't shake under me, so I thought no more about it.
As we pushed through the underbrush into the clearing, I gulped, understanding how my mentor felt all the time.
Countless cats were staring at us, and I felt my fur getting hot.
"Nightstar, you're late!" Griped a cat I instantly recognized. Tabbystar.
Nightstar wasn't ruffled. "And you never are?"
She leapt into the Greatoak, meowing, "Let the gathering come to order."
As the gathering began, I shrunk out of sight. I felt nervous being around so many cats after spending most of my days as secluded as my mentor.
I peeked through the underbrush to see the leaders, and was paying close attention to them, when a voice whispered in my ear.
I spun around to find myself nose to nose with a orange tom that smelled of SkyClan. I took a step back, and surveyed this new arrival carefully.
His pelt was fiery orange, his tail had a white tip on the end, and he had kind blue eyes that seemed to stare into your very soul. It was a bit unnerving.
I nodded politely. "Hi."
He meowed, "I'm Brackenpaw. What's your name?"
I looked away, not wanting to tell him. I didn't want another cat to mock me.
"Do I have to tell you?" I asked distrustfully. "Everyone makes fun of me for it."
"I won't." Brackenpaw promised. "My clan mates don't like me either."
I stared at him, trying to tell if his promise was genuine.
"I'm Snowpaw." I finally meowed, ready for the rude laugh that would follow.
But none came. Instead a look of confusion rested on Brackenpaw's face. "That's a pretty name. What's so bad about it?"
I didn't see why a cat I hardly knew had to ask such prying questions.
"It's the opposite of my pelt. My fur is ugly and dingy, isn't it obvious?" I snapped, disgusted that he had pried into my business.
"And anyway, I don't even know you. It's rude to ask questions like that!"
Brackenpaw looked appalled. "I'm sorry Snowpaw! I didn't mean it!"
I was too mad to except his apology. I stomped off to find my old ShadowClan friends.
Chapter 13 Wet-Weather Friends
I didn't look back at Brackenpaw, who was standing dejectedly behind me. I had had friends, I didn't need to hang out with some mangy SkyClan cat I didn't know.
Suddenly I picked up a familiar scent. Fragrant pine needles, cedar, and loam all mixed up in one. It meant one thing to me. Home.
Then I saw them. Scarletkit, Crimsonkit, and Scorchedkit. I almost yelled their names, before I realized they must be apprentices like me now. I headed towards them, knowing that they would listen, they would care. We'd be friends forever, and nobody could stop that. Not even Tabbystar.
"Guys?" I meowed.
They looked at me, and I was surprised not to see my immense joy reflected in their faces.
A moment of awkward silence passed before Scarletpaw asked, "Snow ... paw?"
I grinned, nodding. "Yea! And you're apprentices too right?"
"Yea. We are." Crimsonpaw answered flatly.
I had the feeling something was wrong, but I couldn't guess what. "Well .. what's up? I mean, why are you staring at me like that? We're friends!"
I paused. "Umm right?"
Crimsonpaw shook her head. "We're in separate clans now. We can't be friends anymore."
I was shocked. "But .. but we're .. I mean .. we weren't just friends, we were best friends!"
Crimsonpaw turn to go, Scorchedpaw in her wake. "It doesn't matter now. Goodbye Snowpaw."
Scarletpaw looked sad. "I'm .. I'm sorry Snowpaw .. but .. she's right."
The reddish she-cat turned away reluctantly. "We were best friends Snowpaw, you're right. But .. even best friends can't stay that way when they're in different clans."
She sighed. "Find some friends in your new clan. I know you can, if you try."
As I watched my former best friend in the world pad away, I nodded bitterly, "Yea. I thought so too."
I blinked away the hated tears that sprang into my eyes, whispering, "I guess you aren't the cat I thought you were, Scarletpaw."
The fragrance of pine rose in my nostrils, but I snorted it away. All it meant now was shattered trust and sorrow. I hated it now, more then I had loved it just seconds ago.
Now I knew why my mentor was the way she was.
I would never trust again.
Chapter 14 Whose Fault?
The days passed. They were monotonous, the only changes made by Mattedpaw and Brownpaw's stupid meanness. Sparkpaw hardly noticed me. I guess I wasn't much fun to tease anymore, now that I didn't respond.
At first I was shocked at my former friends desertion. Then the reason for it dawned on me. Crimsonpaw, Scorchedpaw, and Scarletpaw, they had each other. They didn't need me like I needed them. They couldn't see what I was going through, and not only that, they didn't care enough to find out. I wasn't in their clan anymore. I didn't matter.
Mattedpaw was dumb. One day he was mean to me, the next he wanted to be friends. I couldn't figure him out, and that made me resent him even more.
Brownpaw was dumber. He was my cousin, and I had to tolerate him. He thought he was so special because he was the eldest grandkit of Grayshard. He had even had the gall to say he was Grayshard's favorite. Silverpaw nearly cried. I told him to shut his big mouth.
At least I could beat up on Mattedpaw when he was mean. I had to fight Brownpaw with words, just cause we were related. My life was stupid. I hated it.
At that moment, Silverpaw trotted in the den. I pretended to be asleep. I didn't want to talk to anyone.
Silverpaw curled up in her nest, and I waited silently until her even breathing told me she was asleep. Then I crept out.
I instantly wished I hadn't. Brownpaw was heading for the fresh kill pile, but adverted his course when he saw me.
"What do you want?" I growled suspiciously.
Brownpaw frowned. "Why are you so defensive?"
I snarled, "You made me this. It's you're fault!"
Brownpaw shook his head. "No it's your fault! You shouldn't have reacted this way."
For one second I was stunned, my anger building into a terrible rage. A furious hiss escaped me, as I told him what I thought.
"You wretched piece of Foxdung!! I'd like to claw your pelt off! SHUT UP!!"
I stomped out of camp, enraged.
Chapter 15 Why Me?
It took a while for my anger to simmer down, and when it finally did, I was worn out.
I flopped down under some bracken and watched the stars silently come out, one by one.
I had never doubted Starclan's existence until now, but I was starting to wonder.
"Are you real? I mean, if you are, why do you let bad things happen to us? To me?"
My words were whipped away into the night, but it didn't really matter anymore, because no one would have cared anyway.
I hung my head. "Why me? I just don't understand."
I dropped off into a fitful sleep. It my have been hours, or just a few seconds, but the next thing I knew was the feeling I was being watched.
I snapped my eyes open, to see a star-clad cream tom in front of me.
"Who are you? Are you real?" I stammered, confused.
His voice was a spectral murmur. "I am."
He paused, adding, "My name is Morningstar."
His quiet, undisturbed manner made me feel like whispering. "Are you from .. StarClan?"
His luminous gold eyes shimmered in the soft light. "I am."
He paused again, before continuing, "I am the leader of StarClan."
I felt a indescribable awe at being in the presence of one so great.
Morningstar looked sad. "My clans are falling away from me, and are bringing great trouble upon themselves."
I cocked my head. "Well won't you stop them? And bring them back to you? I mean, surely you can?"
Morningstar nodded. "I could young Snowpaw. I could. But think, what would that avail me? Or them? I want cats who love good, and wish to trust StarClan, not robots, who follow us out of fear and have hatred in their hearts. The clans are not StarClan's plaything, something to be bent at our whim. They are individuals who have their own free will."
I was trying to understand this explanation, when Morningstar licked my forehead, purring,
"I will watch over you Snowpaw, and someday, you will be able to look back at all this with gratitude, understanding the reason you tread this path. It will not last forever."
I felt a feeling of such peace wash over me, that I was totally unafraid to face the future. I was ready for whatever Mattedpaw or Brownpaw came up with.
The next second I realized I was laying under a bush in ThunderClan territory.
However Morningstar's quiet whisper still rang in my ear, ensuring me our meeting was not just a dream.
"I will be with you."
I whispered back, "Thank you Morningstar. I will never doubt StarClan again."
Chapter 16 Something Unexpected Happens
I arrived at camp late the next morning. Mattedpaw snickered at me as I passed him, and I assumed my pelt was disheveled mess. Other times I might have shrunk away, but at this point I didn't care.
I flattened my ears. "Shut up Mousebrain, or I'll give you something to think about!"
Mattedpaw got the point. He backed away.
I headed toward the highledge, where it seemed there was a meeting of some sort.
My parents were not in the immediate vicinity, so I wormed my way through the crowd.
And the sight that met my eyes!
There stood the most interesting cat I had ever seen. She had crystal blue eyes, silver frosted white fur, and a ting of silver tabby on her legs and tail.
She was trying to stand up strait, but I could see the minute shaking in he legs and the hunted look in her eyes.
I felt sorry for her. I knew what it was like to fear others.
Nightstar's gentle meow broke the silence. "Your name is Gem young one?"
The she-cat stood straighter, a defiant light flashing in her eyes. "Yes. And I wish to join ThunderClan."
By now it didn't seem very strange for a loner or kittypet to join a clan. And not just in ThunderClan. It was happening in all the clans.
No cat seemed terribly surprised as Nightstar agreed without hesitation. "If you uphold our laws and stay loyal to ThunderClan, I see no reason why not."
Gem stood straighter "Of course Nightstar."
Nightstar nodded. "Then I name you Gempaw. Your mentor will be Poppyglitter."
As Gempaw touched noses with her new mentor, Nightstar declared, "The meeting is over. You may go about your business."
I slunk off into the shadows. Gempaw looked interesting, and I felt as though I would like very much if we could ever be introduced. However, I never started a conversation, and I wasn't about to start now.
Chapter 17 Shyness
I was laying in my nest as Poppyglitter led Gempaw in.
"This is our apprentice den, where you'll be staying. Oh, and there's Snowpaw, one of our apprentices."
I looked up shyly. "Hi Gempaw."
Gempaw looked just as shy. "Hello."
Poppyglitter looked around. "Where can Gempaw put her nest Snowpaw?"
I shrugged. "The only spot is with me and Silverpaw. The others hog the rest."
Poppyglitter shrugged. "Brownpaw and Sparkpaw are getting their warrior names today."
"Really?" I exclaimed, unable to hide the excitement in my voice.
Poppyglitter looked at me oddly. "I thought you didn't like them."
"I don't!" I hurriedly corrected Poppyglitter. "I'm happy cause they won't be here to torment me anymore."
Poppyglitter rolled her eyes, but didn't say anything more on the subject. "Could you help Gempaw get settled in?"
I nodded. "I can if she wants me to."
"Oh I do!" Gempaw began, before shyly looking down.
Poppyglitter nodded, satisfied. "Good. Then I'll leave you two to get acquainted. As soon as you've made your nest Gempaw, meet me by the bramble tunnel."
As Poppyglitter left the apprentice den, I meowed, "So .. where do you want your nest? I'll help you put it together."
Gempaw and I made her a nice nest in between mine and Silverpaw's.
We didn't talk much, but I had the feeling Gempaw would be a good denmate, much better then the losers I was stuck with at the moment.
After she left for training, I had nothing to do. Onechance was on border patrol, and I didn't know when she'd get back. Whatever the case, I didn't want to stick around the den any longer, lest one of my other denmates come in.
I slipped out of the camp unnoticed, intending to do some hunting.
I hunted alone, as usual. Onechance was virtually non-existent except to train me, and she rarely spoke. Come to think of it, she hadn't spoken since the day she had acted so oddly.
I pounced on a mouse, killing it quickly. After scraping some dead leaves over my catch, I padded deeper into the woods.
I was caught up in my own thoughts, so much so I barley knew where I was going. It wasn't til I smelled SkyClan that I realized how close to the border I was. My paws were touching it. I jumped back a little, surprised I had come that close to trespassing on SkyClan land.
Suddenly a voice rang out from the woodlands, and I bristled.
I stared wildly into the trees, wondering how in the world a SkyClan cat could know my name. "Who are you? Show yourself .. I didn't cross your scummy border!"
The cat that stepped from the woods was familiar .. he was the SkyClan apprentice I'd met at the gathering. I blinked at him in complete surprise. "Brackenpaw?"
He smiled shyly as he sat down directly in front of me, just across the border. "You .. remembered my name?"
I blinked at him. "Well .. yes. Why would I forget it?" I didn't add that I had an almost uncanny memory for names and faces. Once I met a cat, I barely ever forgot them.
Brackenpaw's blue eyes were sad. "You'd be the first. My clanmates hardly realize I exist."
I sighed. "You and me both. I mean, my clanmates acknowledge my existence, but it's in a bad way. They're always being mean to me .. at least the other apprentices."
Brackenpaw looked sympathetic. "Gee, that's rough. I don't have any other apprentices in my clan right now."
I blinked, a little surprised. "Why? Were you an only child?"
I realized how prying that was after I'd said it, and quickly apologized. "I'm sorry Brackenpaw .. I shouldn't have asked."
He shrugged. "Na, it's fine. And yes, I was."
Neither of us said a word for a few minutes, and I realized how weird this was. We were from separate clans, and we were chatting like friends? However, before I could say a word, Brackenpaw caught me off guard.
"I saw what happened .. you know, at the gathering. I'm sorry .. your friends shouldn't have done that .. it was cruel."
I didn't have to ask what he was talking about .. I knew. I curled my lip, but not at Brackenpaw. That snarl was for Scorchedpaw, Crimsonpaw, and especially Scarletpaw. They had betrayed me; more then they could ever known. I looked down. "They aren't my friends .. they never were."
Brackenpaw sighed. "I know what you mean."
We sat there silently for a moment, before a angry yowl sounded from SkyClan's woods. "Brackenpaw? Brackenpaw! Where are you?!"
Brackenpaw's blue eyes grew fearful. "Snowpaw, run! That's my dad .. who knows what he'll do if he finds you!"
I was surprised at the terror in my odd acquaintances eyes. What kind of father did he have .. one that would make him so afraid? I loved my father, he never made me afraid. But I took the hint, and begun sliding away into the undergrowth. Then Brackenpaw's voice made me pause.
I looked back. "Yea?"
Brackenpaw's blue eyes were indiscernible. "Meet me here .. tonight. At moonhigh."
He then wheeled around yowling, "Wolfwhisper? Is that you? I'm coming!"
I watched him vanish into his territory before doing the same. I was confused .. why would Brackenpaw want to meet me again? Was he lonely?
I was so caught up in my thoughts once again, I nearly forgot my mouse. But I recalled it, and retrieved it before heading back to camp. I entered it to hear Sparkpaw's snarky voice meowing, "I do."
I do .. what? I thought for a second, before I remembered it was her and Brownpaw's warrior ceremony today.
Nightstar's gentle voice resounded quietly through the quarry. "Then by the power of StarClan, I name you Brownheart and Sparkflight. We welcome you as warriors of ThunderClan."
"Brownheart, Sparkflight!" The clan cheered, although my voice was not among them. I noticed Grayshard and Smokesky were cheering Brownheart's name the loudest, great pride in their eyes. My grandparents loved my stupid cousin so much .. I was sorry to say I couldn't share their emotion.
I avoided the two like they had greencough, dropping my mouse on the fresh kill pile and heading for my nest. It had been a long, weird day.
Chapter 18 Midnight Meeting
I woke little before moonhigh, and I remembered the odd conversation I'd had with Brackenpaw. He'd wanted to meet me tonight, why I couldn't begin to guess. I snuck out of the camp feeling guilty .. everything about this seemed wrong. But my heart made me do it.
I knew I had to .. for some reason.
I just .. had to.
I reached the SkyClan border in good time, and sat down. No one was there, and I began to wonder why I had done this. Was it some kind of trick?
But all of a sudden, a shadow slipped from the SkyClan woods. "Snowpaw .. you came? You really did?"
I blinked my sharp green eyes at Brackenpaw, stating, "Why would I not come? You are kind to me, and you wanted it. So I came. But .. why did you want me to meet you?"
Brackenpaw looked secretive. "Snowpaw .. have you ever had dreams about .. StarClan?"
I was surprised, but relived. I had tiny suspicion Brackenpaw had asked to meet me because he was mooning over me and wanted to be weird and mushy. I had heard plenty about forbidden love between cats of different clans, after all, my parents were the perfect example. So I was vastly relived Brackenpaw wanted to talk about important, meaningful things like StarClan, instead of telling me he loved me or something dumb like that.
I nodded. "Yes .. have you?"
He confirmed this. "Yea. My clanmates don't believe me .. but I know what I dream is real! I've .. I've seen you in my dreams."
I realized my mouth was hanging open. "You .. have? Why would you have seen .. me?"
Brackenpaw shrugged. "I don't know .. but that's why I went and talked to you at the gathering. I wondered if I'd seen you .. well .. have you seen me?"
I shook my head. "No .. I've only seen a cat called Morningstar .. and he told me I have a great destiny. But I don't understand what."
He nodded. "I've met Morningstar too .. he told me great trouble was coming. He told me there were six cats that had all been born on the same day, and these cats would change the clans forever. Some for good and some for evil."
I blinked at him. "Wow .. is that all? That's amazing!"
He nodded. "I know, but that's not all. I've heard this strange prophesy over and over, and I wondered if you could help me figure it out. Here, I'll tell you.
Bird of Snow, and Blazing Bracken,
Precious Stone, and Darkening Winds,
Wings are Strong, and Fish that Leaps,
These will bring the end."
I stared at him in wonder, not knowing what to say. But I needn't have bothered, for the next second, the midnight silence was broken by a loud crack!
Brackenpaw stiffened, his ears pinning back. "Snowpaw, hide!" His hiss was low and urgent, and I dove into some bracken on my side of the border.
And I wasn't a second to soon. For the very next minute, two cats padded out of the undergrowth. One was a lithe black tabby she-cat with bright orange eyes, and the other was a massive gray tom with black stripes running across his back and Brackenpaw's sky-blue eyes.
They both stopped dead at the sight of Brackenpaw. The tom growled low in his throat, as his companion stepped forward.
Her voice was sharp, and it made me wince. "Brackenpaw! What in StarClan's name are you doing outside the camp at this time of night?"
I admired my odd friend for his reply, for he never missed a beat. "I was hunting mother."
This threw me a curve. That was his mother? But .. she looked nothing like him at all! And she certainly didn't seem to like him much.
The tom stepped forward, his voice suspicious. "This close to the border?"
Brackenpaw didn't falter as he stated, "I was chasing a mouse .. but it got away. Then I stayed because I thought I smelled ThunderClan really close to the border."
The she-cat was sniffing where I'd been sitting moments before. "I hate to say this Wolfwhisper, but the mouse-brained scrap of fur is right."
I winced. These were Brackenpaw's parents? They were awful!
Wolfwhisper sniffed my scent, nodding. "There was someone here, but they're gone now. Brackenpaw, back to camp. Now."
Brackenpaw cast a regretful glance in my direction, before haring off into the woods. His parents followed him.
I stumbled from my hiding place after I was sure they had gone, shaking brambles out of my longish pelt. I headed back to camp, stunned. I had heard of cats whose parents disliked them .. but I had never seen it manifested until now. And to a nice cat like Brackenpaw! He deserved better then that .. it must hurt him terribly.
Wow. I must really be lucky. Sure, my parents make me do stuff I don't want to sometimes .. but they'd never treat me like that. Never.
It was downright cruel.
And I must be really sheltered. I hear about stuff like this all the time, but it shocks me when I see it.
I stomped a paw on the ground, muttering, "I don't care. So what if it shocks me? It should. It's terrible! Even if it is normal, and everybody's used to it. That doesn't make it right!"
I entered the camp through the dirt place, the same way I had left. I slunk into the apprentice den, intending to curl up between Silverpaw and Gempaw. However I had to pass Darkpaw's nest first.
Darkpaw was kind of creepy. Really silent and a little moody. Most cats thought he was creepy because his copper eyes had dark copper pupils instead of black ones, and to tell the truth, it did take some getting used to. But that wasn't the reason I avoided him .. that would be mean. It was his attitude I didn't like .. he was just so .. dark and foreboding all the time.
I hadn't really tried to avoid him before .. he'd just disappear into the shadows of his own accord, and that was that. But as I passed his nest that night, I saw something that made my fur stand on end.
He was twitching in his sleep, like he was having a bad dream. Suddenly he flinched, and before my horrified eyes, a wound grew across his shoulder, as though made by invisible claws. I stood frozen for a fraction of a second, before scooting across the den and into my warm, comforting nest.
As I lay there, my heart stopped pounding and my breathing grew normal. But I would never forget watching that.
The wound had appeared just as though claws had made it .. but there were no claws!
And it was on that night, that I started realizing there was something very wrong with Darkpaw.
Chapter 19 A Murderer in Our Midst
My dreams that night were muddled and confusing, and I honestly remembered none of them. However I'll never forget how I awoke, for it was to a cat's shriek of horror.
"Nightstar is dead!!"
I sat bolt upright, as did my denmates. Even Darkpaw and Mattedpaw looked worried.
That was Whisperwhisker, the deputy's voice! He sounded horrified .. more so then I had ever heard him. I didn't like him very well .. he was demanding and snappish. But he sounded honestly terrified now.
I rushed out of the den, Gempaw and Silverpaw right behind me, to see Dappledfeather and Whisperwhisker dragging a jet black body from the leader's den and to the center of the camp.
Nightstar didn't look like herself, she looked small and frail. Her body was limp and unresponsive .. it was obvious she was dead. Her deep, comforting, amber eyes were closed, giving the impression she'd died in her sleep.
But I didn't believe that. True, Nightstar was getting old, and her black muzzle was flecked with gray. But she was still strong.
I couldn't believe she'd just die.
Waterstreak padded over to Silverpaw and I, sitting down and wrapping his tail about his paws. "And so Whisperwhisker is leader. I should have seen this coming."
Silverpaw pricked her ears up. "Seen what coming father?"
Waterstreak seemed to jolt back to reality. "Nothing my little Silver .. nothing. Don't worry about it."
But I met his worried blue gaze. And I knew he knew more then he was telling.
Nightstar's vigil lasted all day, even though Whisperwhisker made Dappledfeather take him to the Moonpool around noon.
Onechance tried to train me later on in the day, but she was twice as nervous as normally, and I was distracted.
After I had failed a basic move five times in a row, she sighed wordlessly, frowning a little. The yellow she-cat motioned I go hunt.
We split ways, her going toward the lake, and me .. me going toward the SkyClan border.
I sighed. I didn't know why I was going where I was.
No, that was a downright lie, I knew.
I wanted to meet Brackenpaw, so I could ask him about the prophesy.
"Bird of Snow and Blazing Bracken,
Precious Stone and Darkening Winds,
Wings are Strong, and Fish that Leaps,
These will bring the end."
I jumped about two feet in the air and landed rigidly with my fur bristling. To make things worse, I found myself staring into Brackenpaw's amused blue eyes. I licked a paw, running it over my head. "Yes, I did. Don't do that next time!"
I was closer to the border then I had realized .. in fact I'd nearly crossed it. Brackenpaw was on SkyClan territory, a young gray she-cat by his side. She had odd, swirling tabby markings, two of which swept down from her shoulders to her tail tip, almost like wings. She impressed me as being a rather bossy sort, and that Brackenpaw didn't like her very much.
But she sure seemed to like him, the way she was forever batting her lashes at him, or brushing her tail against his pelt. Something about the way she acted made me bristle inside .. though I couldn't imagine why.
Brackenpaw looked very uncomfortable as he meowed, "Snowpaw, this is Strongpaw. She's my clanmate."
Strongpaw batted her lashes again. "Oh surely I mean more to you then that?"
Brackenpaw shot her a rather disgusted look. "What I meant to say is, I think she's part of the prophesy."
I blinked, and then I just knew. "She is the Wings that are Strong."