Leaves and branches swayed through a forest. The sun shone through openings in the tress creating warm spots on the forest floor.
A rustle in the bushes caught the attention of a dark brown tabby she-cat. Her brown ears turned towards the noise as her dark green-eyes located a mouse. Her striped paws took careful steps forward one at a time. She slowly stalked towards the mouse. Every second was spent making sure not a sound was made. Her tail was kept off the forest floor, preventing leaves from being rustled. She crouched down even lower, all her weight shifted onto her hind legs as she prepared to pounce.
Willing the mouse to stay there, the she-cat took one last glance at her surroundings to make sure there was nothing to scare off her prey. Satisfied that she was close enough, she lounged forward.
The mouse tried to run away, now aware of the she-cat, but it was too late. Her claws slashed at the mouse's throat killing it before it could make a sound.
The brown tabby picked up the mouse by it's tail, then she headed over to a tall oak tree not far from where she caught her prey. A sound in the juniper bushes behind her, caused her to raise her head in alarm.
A large black tom emerged from the bushes. His yellow-eyes looked toward the she-cat.
"Good job Runningpaw," he congratulated his apprentice. "Take that mouse to the nursery, and then meet at the entrance of camp for the dawn patrol,"
"Thanks Snakestrike," mumbled Runningpaw.
Runningpaw padded into the forest. The swaying branches of the trees caused the shadows to move, and the apprentice enjoyed watching the leaves of the oak trees around her. A small thrush landed on a branch above her. Runningpaw was tempted to try and catch it, but knew she was unable to climb that far.
I hope Snakestrike will teach me how to climb tall trees thought the brown tabby she-cat.
Speeding up towards a large hollowed tree trunk in front of her, she headed in the direction of SnowClan's camp entrance. Runningpaw emerged from the ancient tree trunk to a clearing. Dens lined up all the way around her.
A small gray tabby kit raced around the clearing. Her bright green-eyes widened at the sight of Runningpaw.
"Is that mouse for me?" meowed the five moon old kit.
Runningpaw nodded before walking over towards the nursery. Right outside the nursery laid a gray she-cat.
Her green-eyes opened as she noticed the scent of mouse.
"Hello Dappleleaf," meowed Runningpaw after setting the mouse down.
"Hello Runningpaw," responded Dappleleaf. The young queen's eyes turned to her kit. "Time to eat Echokit,"
Runningpaw walked across the camp clearing. One warrior laid outside the medicine cat's den. His eyes were closed and his brown fur rose and fell softly as he breathed.
A gold she-cat walked out of the nursery. Her blue-eyes glanced at the tom, before looking at Runningpaw.
"Hello Runningpaw, how's hunting,"
"Good Sunnypaw," answered Runningpaw, "Isn't Pigeonfeather suppose to be resting away from other cats?"
Sunnypaw shook her head, "He's cured of greencough, but Brightpelt wanted him to rest a few more days to heal the wound on his chest,"
"Bye Sunnypaw," said Runningpaw noticing her mentor entering camp. "I have to go on the dawn patrol,"
Sunnypaw looked out across the clearing. Her eyes watching the clans daily activities.
A white she-cat with blue-eyes waited in the middle of the clearing. She sat patiently as she waited for the rest of the cats in her patrol.
"Hello Whitesong," greeted a light brown tom with a gray tabby apprentice. Together they both let camp to patrol the border.
Dappleleaf shared tongues with her mate, Pebbleheart, while Echokit played with a mossball.
As Sunnypaw looked around, she tried to locate a familiar ginger pelt. Her mentor, Brightpelt, had left earlier to find marigold and tansy while leaving her apprentice to sort herbs. Now that the golden she-cat was done, she patiently turned her gaze to the camp entrance looking for her mentor.
Normally, Sunnypaw would go out looking for her mentor and maybe help out, but yesterday after talking to Runningpaw, a fox had been spotted on the SnowClan, ForestClan border. Skystar had called a meeting right afterwards saying no apprentices were allowed out of camp on her own. She had been tempted to ask someone, but Whitesong was busy with her patrol, and every other cat was either hunting or training, with the exception of Stonepaw who wasn't allowed out of camp at all, Pebbleheart who was to guard the camp in case the fox found camp, and Pigeonfeather who was still healing. This morning Brightpelt had noticed his wound had gotten infected, so the brown tom would have to stay in the medicine cat's den even longer.
Speaking of Stonepaw is suppose to stay in SnowClan's clearing. Where is he?
Knowing Stonepaw, he probably was out trying to hunt the fox himself. Ever since he became an apprentice, the eight moon dark gray tom had been doing almost everything wrong. He had started a fight with a patrol going to the Moonfall, attacked an enemy apprentice at a gathering, fallen off the top of Skystar's den, and a bunch of other things.
Sunnypaw couldn't stand him, she spent a fair amount of her mornings treating cats who got cut from thorns not taken out of bedding like he was suppose to. Dappleleaf had banned him from changing Echokit's bedding. There hasn't been elders once Stonepaw was a kit, so there was plenty of time for the apprentices to easily change the nursery's bedding without him.
Sunnypaw eyes brightened as she noticed her mentor finally entering camp. Right behind her was Runningpaw carrying a bunch of tansy leaves.
"Where's Snakestrike?" asked Sunnypaw as she grabbed the leaves.
"On our border with ForestClan lecturing Stonepaw,"
Sunnypaw padded back to the medicine cat's den, enjoying the sun on her back. Entering the den, she placed the leaves down in the appropriate spot, and turned to we mentor to found out what to do next.
Sunnypaw laid down in her nest to sleep that night. Her eyes closed as fatigue washed over.
Opening her eyes, the medicine cat apprentice noticed that she wasn't anywhere she recognized. The forest she was in was full of starlight. Everywhere trees glowed from the light.
The golden apprentice turned around, her fur raised on end. Seeing a brown she-cat, she calmed down.
"Who are you?"
"Oakstar, the leader before Skystar,"
Sunnypaw's eyes widdened. "Why are you here?"
"I have a message,"
"A.. a message?" questioned Sunnypaw.
"Why not Brightpelt,"
"Brightpelt is older and more experienced," began the she-cat, "It would be more useful to give it to you so you are prepared for other prophecies in the future. You may share it with her if you wish. Besides, it will be more important to you than her,"
"What do I do with the prophecy?"
"That is for you to decide. StarClan only wants to give you this prophecy. They don't want to interfere more than this. What you do with it is your decision," Oakstar turned around for a second to look into the thick maple trees, then turned back around, "The rise of a frost covered sun and a pure white rock announces the arrival of a drowned river. The drowned river will bring the end of the clans,"
"You're giving me a prophecy about the end of the clans and you don't want to tell me what it means!" exclaimed Sunnypaw shocked.
"Farewell, let's hope we meet again at a better time,"
Oakstar walked away into the trees while Sunnypaw sat in amazement.
What is StarClan thinking, not giving Brightpelt the prophecy? But what if there is a reason for it? Who should I tell?
The golden medicine cat apprentice stood in thought. The shock of what had just happened wasn't going to fade anytime soon, and Sunnypaw wasn't sure she was prepared at all for what might happen.
Runningpaw opened her green-eyes. Starlight was all around her, and she couldn't recognize the maple trees surrounding her. Peering through the trees, she saw the familiar pelt of her friend Sunnypaw. Next to her was a larger brown she-cat
What's Sunnypaw doing her? she wondered. And who is that she-cat?
Runningpaw was too far away to tell what they were saying, so she padded forward. Carefully she avoided leaves and sticks on the ground, not sure if she was suppose to know what they were talking about.
Heading closer and closer. She began to hear the words StarClan and message. Her curiosity aroused, she began to crouch low to the ground, not wanting to be seen.
"The rise of a frost covered sun and a pure white rock announces the arrival of a drowned river. The drowned river will bring the end of the clans,"
Runningpaw stiffened at those words. Was that suppose to be a prophecy? Was I meant to hear that?
The brown tabby laid down on the ground trying to not be seen.
Of course I was meant to hear that! StarClan could have been the only ones to have brought me here. Why else would I be here?
Runningpaw sighed. It was the day after she had learned about the prophecy, and Sunnypaw hadn't said anything to her. The apprentice had thought that maybe she would tell her friend about it, or maybe not. Maybe there was something about it that Runningpaw didn't hear. Maybe something about her! Or Sunnypaw could have know she was there all along.
A few more days then I'll ask.
She glanced over to twolegplace to her left. Strange twoleg dens stood not far from her and she wondered why they had to patrol this side of their border.
It's not like kittypets can hunt, but Runningpaw reminded herself, there are rogues over there.
The apprentice looked in from of her where her mentor was walking next to Whitesong chatting away.
Snakestrike was suppose to brave and fierce in battle, but all Runningpaw had seen him do is talk to she-cats, especially Whitesong. Runningpaw sometimes hoped for a few battles so he could be quiet for once.
Then again, thought Runningpaw, he would have yet another thing to brag about.
Runningpaw was arrogant and self centered at times, but she didn't brag about how wonderful she though she was to everyone next to her. What ever made Skystar think he would be a good influence and a good teacher was beyond her.
Maybe this is a lesson on who not to become.
Suddenly the talking in front of her stopped. Runningpaw looked up at the two cats in front of her.
"Rogue scent," explained Whitesong noticing Runningpaw's confused expression.
The white warrior turned to the black tom next to her, "Should we follow it or go back to camp and tell Skystar?"
"Follow it," declared Snakestrike, "It's not like any of them will be able to beat me,"
Runningpaw rolled her eyes. Seriously, why was he a mentor?
Runningpaw was about to complain when Whitesong began talking.
"Runningpaw should go back to camp, and inform Skystar while he check it out,"
"Sure," responded Snakestrike.
Runningpaw took off through the forest happy to be away from her mentor. Jumping over a few logs, she slowed down near the border with MeadowClan. Walking next the border, she located the rocks to cross the river that separated the two halves of SnowClan territory.
Then, her nose picked up the familiar scent of Sunnypaw.
She must be collecting herbs in this area.
But then Runningpaw realized, it headed into MeadowClan territory, and next to it, was the scent of a MeadowClan cat Runningpaw recognized as Fishpaw, an apprentice she had seen at the gathering.
Is Sunnypaw meeting a cat from another clan?
Runningpaw spent the rest of the day trying to figure out what to do. Currently, she was in SnowClan's camp eating a shrew next the apprentice's den. After she finished it, the brown tabby she-cat planned to go to sleep and create a plan once she woke up.
Glancing over to the medicine cat's den. She watched Brightpelt place cobwebs on Snakestrike's bleeding pelt.
Her mentor had gone into Twolegplace only to be chase out by a fat kittypet.
Well, according to Snakestrike it was the most well muscled and fit kittypet ever, but Whitesong said it was a fat kittypet and personally, Runningpaw trusted the blue-eyed she-cat more.
Finishing her shrew, Runningpaw noticed the golden furred medicine cat apprentice going behind the warrior'a den.
Must need some peace and quiet.
After a while though, she didn't come back. Runningpaw stood up her and paws and padded over. Looking behind the warrior's den, she noticed that Sunnypaw was nowhere to be seen.
Did Sunnypaw just sneak out of camp?
Sunnypaw laid outside of the medicine cat's den. Her blue-eyes were closed, and she listened to the sounds of the Clan around her.
"I caught a squirrel!"
Sunnypaw sighed recognising Stonepaw's loud voice. Does he ever talk quietly?
"That's the smallest squirrel ever, no wonder you caught it, it must of been starving to death," came the voice of Specklepaw, Stonepaw'a brother. "Seriously, that thing is tiny,"
"I bet you Sootpaw thinks it's huge!"
"Sootpaw rarely talks at all, I'm surprised we have even heard him talk, I really doubt he'll comment on your squirrel, much less increase your ego,"
Too bad Pigeonfeather is still infected, his apprentice is getting more and more irritating by the day.
Opening her eyes, she stretched her short legs before looking around the camp. The two brother were still arguing, and Hazelfur was on guard.
Sunnypaw had spent most of her morning wondering about the prophecy, and taking care of Echokit. Ever since the sun had rose, the small she-kit had been coughing.
Brightpelt had assured Dappleleaf that the kit didn't have greencough, but had ordered the queen to keep Echokit away from the other kits just in case.
Standing up, the apprentice turned to look towards the medicine cat's den, just in time to see Whitesong exit the den.
"Feeling ill?" Inquired Sunnypaw.
"No," replied Whitesong, "I'm pregnant. I was asking Brightpelt about how long before I move to the nursery. Bye now, I have to go on a patrol,"
The white she-cat left towards Runningpaw and Snakestrike who were getting ready to leave.
Sunnypaw turned hearing her mentor's voice.
"I need you to get some catmint, the fox was chased out of our territory, so you don't need to ask a warrior to go with you,"
"Okay," responded Sunnypaw.
Heading out of camp, she padded through the forest. The bright sun warmed the ground, and Sunnypaw enjoyed the warmth. /Hopefully when it's leaf-bare in a few moons, it won't get that cold./
Hearing the sound of the river, she slowed down. Stopping at the edge of the river, she watched the water flow past the submerged rocks near the riverbank. Spotting a few large rocks across the river, she leapt across. Smelling the sweet scent of the herb, she began to pad over to the scent.
Sunnypaw instantly looked around. The voice was of a cat that she didn't recognise.
That sounds like it came from the MeadowClan border.
Hurrying over to the border, she ran out of the trees into the meadow the river flowed into. In the river, was a seven moon apprentice cat trying to stay afloat.
"Help!" exclaimed the cat, right before his head disappeared below the water.
"I'm coming!" yelled Sunnypaw racing towards the water. Stopping by the water's edge, she looked around for a branch for the tom to grab onto.
Since the river flowed through all three Clans, Sunnypaw did know how to swim, but she doubted she was strong enough to pull a panicking apprentice out of the water.
Spotting a large branch, she pulled it across the sandy riverbank, and into the water. The tom's head barely stayed above the water as his reached out with his unsheathed paws to dig his claws into the wood.
Seeing that the apprentice had a firm grip on the log, Sunnypaw pulled the log in.
"Start licking your fur the wrong way," she ordered.
The tom started to do as the medicine cat apprentice ordered as she instructed.
"You're Sunnypaw aren't you?" inquired the black tom.
"And you are... Fishpaw if I remember correctly,"
"Yes I am!" exclaimed Fishpaw looking up from licking his chest.
"What were you even doing next to the river? I thought MeadowClan apprentices weren't taught to swim until they were eight moons old,"
"Well," began Fishpaw looking embarrassed, "I wanted to impress my mentor when I did turn eight moons old. So, I decided to teach myself!"
"With no supervision?"
"I did ask Ripplepaw to come with me, but my sister replied saying it was a mouse-brained idea,"
"Well she was right and you should have listened to her,"
Fishpaw looked down embarrassed and shivered. His fur wasn't quite sleek enough to keep out the water.
"Go back to your camp and tell Tansyleaf what happened, before you get a cold,"
"Okay," responded Fishpaw standing up, "See you next gathering! Thanks for saving me!"
"If your mentor allows you to come,"
"Darkstar probably won't let me go," commented the black apprentice looking sad, his blue-eyes looked down at his white paws.
Sunnypaw headed back to camp, not before grabbing a mouthful of catmint.
The she-cat sighed, Echokit had been given the catmint, but the gray spotted queen was still panicking. Sunnypaw had spent most of the rest of the day checking on Echokit.
"Only time will tell," Brightpelt had told Dappleleaf, to which the she-cat had instantly responded, "Isn't there anything else you can do?"
Sometimes Sunnypaw wonders what if would be like to be a warrior. Sure she loves to heal cats, but sometimes it gets so stressful. Memorizing the herbs, worrying about panicking queens. It was so hard at times.
Hopefully it doesn't get harder when I'm the only medicine cat.
Sunnypaw turned to see her brother, Falconclaw walk towards her.
"How's being a medicine cat?"
"How did you know?"
"I had to guard the camp earlier today, and she spent the entire time you were getting herbs trying to get Brightpelt to give Echokit her herbs, but Brightpelt insisted that catmint was the only thing she would need. Where is Dappleleaf now?"
"Probably in the medicine cat's den. I'm going to go out of the camp to get some piece and quiet, and gather some herbs, see you later,"
"I'd avoid the camp entrance if I were you. Dappleleaf is sitting near there. Behind the warriors den is a great place to go out of the camp from,"
"You sound like you have a a lot of experience sneaking out of the camp. Anything I should know?"
Falconclaw rolled his amber-eyes. "I know from sneaking away from Skystar when she was deputy. Now go before Dappleleaf comes here,"
Not needing to be told twice, Sunnypaw padded towards the warrior's den and out of camp.
What do you do when your best friend won't talk about an important prophecy that she received?
It had been a few sunrises since Sunnypaw started acting strange, and Runningpaw didn't know what to do.
She'll tell me eventually, right?
Runningpaw sighed, she was exhausted after an unsuccessful morning of hunting. She spent the entire time worrying about Sunnypaw and the prophecy.
Later that day she also had to put up with Snakestrike complaining that Whitesong's kits were not only his but Brambleheart's as well.
The brown tabby she-cat looked around the apprentice with her eyes as green as leaves.
She noticed Sootpaw, Stonepaw, and Specklepaw were already asleep. All three were curled up next to each other.
Stonepaw better not start snoring before I fall asleep.
Runningpaw closed her eyes, and waited until sleep claimed her.
Opening her eyes, she glanced around at the scenery.
This is definitely not where I fell asleep.
The sky was as dark as night, but all around her was a slight glow making everything visible. The trees looked dark and barren. The leaves that were on the trees looked as if they could disintegrate at any second.
The air was foggy, and she couldn't see above that many fox lengths in front of her.
Where am I?
The ground was as cold as a dark leaf-bare morning, and nearby, one could hear the sound of a stream.
Padding towards the sound, her paws were as silent as a moth's wings on the ground.
Coming close to the water, she looked down to see a black river.
Is that even water?
"I wouldn't drink that if I were you. It will make you sick,"
Runningpaw looked up, her brown fur ruffled up in alarm.
"I can tell just by looking at it," she responded, her eyes darted around trying to find the intruder.
The other cat purred in amusement. "It definitely doesn't look appealing,"
Runningpaw sniffed the air trying to locate the cat.
"Where are you,"
Runningpaw glanced upwards only to see more and more branches.
"Where, I can't see you,"
"I have no reason to show myself. I am here only to talk to you,"
"You could at least tell me who you are, and where am I,"
"My name is of no importance to you. You are in the Dark Forest. It's where evil cats go when they die,"
Runningpaw took a step back. She looked around wondering if any cat was going to come out of the bushes and kill her. "Then you're dead,"
"I'm not dead," replied the voice. "I'm like you I was brought here by a dead cat,"
"So, some other cat brought me here?"
"At my request. You see I'm helping one or two cats here take revenge on a few past acquaintances they may have known, and I was wondering if you could help?"
"Help, why would I help you,"
"Because your clan has turned their back on you,"
"How," demanded Runningpaw.
"Your thirteen moons old, haven't gotten your warrior name, and your abilities aren't less then any other cat your age. Snakestrike hasn't even thought about giving you your final assessment. Sunnypaw won't talk to you about the prophecy she received. There is a part of the prophecy that says "a frost covered sun,". Sunnypaw. Sunny. She could be part of it. And you didn't hear what the cat told her at the beginning. How do you know she didn't mention anything about you?"
"Sunnypaw would have told me,"
"Maybe she wouldn't have if the Clan didn't trust you, or like you,"
"The Clan has nothing against me!"
"Hazelfur doesn't talk to you. I think she's mad that out of all her kits that survived the greencough epidemic, it was you,"
"That's not true," Runningpaw was getting made. She desperately wanted the cat to be quiet.
"Even if it isn't true, doesn't power appeal to you? Haven't you ever dreamed of being Clan leader?"
Runningpaw knew she did want to be Clan leader. She wanted to be the most powerful cat in the Clan.
"How about leader of all three Clans. The cats I am working for want the Clans gone. I can make you leader,"
"Why not you?"
"I like my free lifestyle. As leader, I would feel stuck to the land I had control over. Taking over other pieces of land would take too much time. Besides, with my plan you'll do a lot of the work, so it makes it fair that you get to be leader,"
"So, you're basically making me do all the dirty work?"
"Sort of, but the reward at the end is greater than anything else you can ever achieve. Plus another clan cat will be helping you. Same age as you, but she has her warrior name,"
"What does she get out of this, how do I know I wouldn't get cheated out of my spot as leader?"
"She's like me, she doesn't want to be in one spot,"
"I'll think about it,"
"Take as much time as you need,"
Runningpaw opened her eyes again. The sunlight shone in through the den entrance warming the empty nests around her.
How long did I sleep for?
A familiar black head looked into the apprentice's den.
"Runningpaw, time for the sunhigh patrol," meowed the familiar voice of her mentor.
Sunhigh? I slept that long.
"Hazelfur is waiting for us,"
Runningpaw thought back to the conversation with the cat that night. The she-cat knew that Hazelfur didn't like her that much, but it hurt hearing some other cat say it out loud. Not that Hazelfur was nice to many cats.
Runningpaw stretched her cramped legs, and stood up on her paws.
"Snakestrike, I didn't know your apprentice was this lazy,"
The apprentice sighed, better get outside before Hazelfur complained even more.
The seems perfectly fine, those lazy ForestClan cats wouldn't dare attack any of us. It doesn't even smell like they've been here for days.
"Their probably arguing over that tiny piece of land with MeadowClan again. I wouldn't be surprised if we couldn't just take a part of their land," meowed Hazelfur. "If we didn't have such lazy apprentices, Skystar would definitely order an attack. Stonepaw needs a new mentor, everything he does causes trouble..."
Runningpaw blocked out Hazelfur's rant and listened to the birds around her.
I'd love to catch one of those birds.
Then, Runningpaw caught a scent of something. Something familiar.
It smells like, the forest from last night! The cat did say that he or she wasn't dead, but what would that cat be doing around here?