Prologue - Yellow
The tortoiseshell queen had been kitting since dawn. It was now late morning, and Smokestep was getting worried.
"Come on, Stonesplash," he murmured, his voice soft and coaxing, "You can do this."
His apprentice, Leafpaw, was out getting a stick for the queen to bite but he wasn't fast enough.
"I can't!" Stonesplash whispered, her breath rasping in her throat.
"You can," Smokestep told her, but the promise was fake, "Think of your kits!"
This seemed to give Stonesplash strength, and she managed to gather her energy and focus it into her kitting. Smokestep's breath caught as she gave a heave and a first, black kitten came tumbling onto the moss.
"Great job," he comforted her, "Now, keep going!"
He passed the black kit to another nursery queen, Nettlesting, who began vigorously licking her.
Stonesplash nodded, her eyes strained. Leafpaw came hurrying back with a firm stick in his jaws.
"Thanks," Smokestep meowed, passing it to the queen, "Bite down when I tell you."
Her eyes rolled, and she nodded, "Right."
He waited a few seconds, and then yelped, "Now!"
Another kit, this one tortoiseshell like his mother, slipped onto the moss. Smokestep passed him to Leafpaw.
"Nip the birth sac," he instructed his apprentice, who was looking terrified, 'And lick!"
"C'mon," he muttered, "You can do this!"
"Bite down, now!" Smokestep said calmly, his eyes betraying nothing.
Stonesplash bit, and with a yelp of pain, a small ginger and white kit came. He gave this kit to its mother.
"That's it," he reassured her.
She gave a weak purr and began licking the smallest kit.
"This one is Sunkit," she murmured, eyes tired, "And that's Shadowkit," she gestured to the first-born.
"What about this one?" Smokestep asked, checking the queen over.
"That's..." her eyes were drifting shut, "Spiderkit."
Flameheart, the father, was rushing inside, "Is she okay?" he gasped, "Oh no!"
Smokestep's happiness faded, 'I'm sorry, Flameheart, there's nothing you can do."
The father's grief was unbearable, and the medicine cat saw him lean down.
"I love you," Flameheart murmured,
The light in Stonesplash's eyes died, and she was gone.
Chapter One- Hope
Sunkit ran and jumped onto Spiderkit. But Spiderkit was too fast. He flipped onto his back and batted Sunkit with sheathed claws.
"I win!" exclaimed Spiderkit proudly.
"No fair!" whined Sunkit.
Sunkit's golden pelt shone in the sunlight as she padded back to the nursery.
"Hey Tinykit, did you lose to Spiderkit again?" mocked Pricklekit.
Sunkit looked down at the ground. Pricklekit was a bully. He always was. But it was true. Sunkit was unusually small for three moons old.
"When I am a better warrior than you then you will regret all these nasty comments!" vowed Sunkit.
"Oi Sunkit, that is no way to speak to your brother!" ordered Nettlesting
Nettlesting, Sunkit's mother obviously had a favourite. It was always about Pricklekit.
"Hmph!" huffed Sunkit angrily.
Sunkit ran quickly out of the nursery when she saw Shadowkit.
"Hey Sunkit." mewed Shadowkit.
"Hi!" answered Sunkit.
The two kits sat down next to each other. Sunkit couldn't count all the names Pricklekit has called her. Tinykit. Useless. The kit who will never be a warrior were just a few. Sunkit would one day prove Picklekit wrong.
"Then he will be sorry." thought Sunkit angrily.
She looked over at Shadowkit. Shadowkit's black fur seemed to glisten in the sunlight.
"At least I can always count on my big sister." thought Sunkit happily.
Chapter Two - Yellow
Shadowkit yawned, rolling over. She was lying in the sun with her sister, and it was one of the best moments. Spiderkit was batting at Pricklekit near the nursery, and Shadowkit silently cheered him on. If he beat Pricklekit, that would make a welcome change.
"Do you sometimes see shapes in the clouds?" Sunkit's voice broke her daydreaming.
Shadowkit blinked, 'All the time!" she told her sister, "You see that one? That's Pricklekit after you beat him in a fight!"
Sunkit giggled, her ears twitching.
"Pricklekit is such a bully," Sunkit complained, her ginger patches shining with sunlight.
"Yeah," Shadowkit agreed, "I heard him call you Tinykit."
"He's mean," Sunkit frowned, "What does he call you?"
Shadowkit went silent, but Sunkit prodded her, "He calls me Clumsykit. Because I fell over that one time. And mouse-brain, sometimes."
"Oh," Sunkit licked Shadowkit's pelt comfortingly, "At least he doesn't say you won't ever be a warrior."
No, Shadowkit thought sadly, That's just Nettlesting.
"Yeah," Shadowkit said out loud, "That's lucky for me."
Sunkit smiled softly and leaned back, her paws tucked under her.
"Kits," A sharp voice snapped, "Get up. Stop being lazy."
Shadowkit bolted upright, "Yes, Nettlesting." she said immediately, her response practiced and robotic.
"Sunkit," Nettlesting growled, "Go clean out the elder's den."
Sunkit's small jaws gaped in dismay, but she padded to the elder's den nonetheless.
"And you, Shadowkit," Nettlesting hissed, "Go with Pricklekit to clean up your father's den. Pricklekit will supervise, and you will clean."
"Yes, mother," Shadowkit swallowed.
Ugh, a day with Pricklekit.
"Spiderkit!" Nettlesting called, "Come here! Go and help Sunkit clean."
Spiderkit's face fell, as if he had been expecting praise.
"Worthless," Nettlesting hissed at them, and strutted off to her den.
Shadowkit sighed, exchanging a glance with Spiderkit, and then followed Pricklekit to Owlstar's den.
"Father," Pricklekit called, "I'm watching over Shadowkit while she cleans your den!"
Owlstar grinned, "Come and sit over here, son. Shadowkit, get to work."
Chapter Three - Hope
Why? Cleaning the elders was a punishment. But what for?
"This is so unfair!" whined Sunkit.
"Mhm." grumbled Spiderkit.
The two kits padded out of the elders den together to go and get some fresh bedding.
"At least we don't have t spend a day with Pricklekit." growled Spiderkit.
"Poor Shadowkit." sympathised Sunkit.
After the kits had collected some moss and fresh bedding they walked back to the elders den.
Sunkit looked at her brothers storng body.
"Will he ever be like Pricklekit?" thought Sunkit.
When the two kits walked into the elders den Oneclaw was sitting in the back of the den. Sunkit placed the moss in her mouth down and ran over to the white elder.
"Hello Oneclaw!" beamed Sunkit happily.
"Hello little kits." greeted Oneclaw.
"Hello." said Spiderkit.
"Did Nettlesting make you clean out our den again?" asked Oneclaw.
Spiderkit and Sunkit nodded their heads in unison.
"Well, this is not a kits job. I am going to speak to your mother about this." declared Oneclaw.
"Oneclaw it is fine!" said Sunkit reassuringly.
Standing up to Nettlesting was something Sunkit had always dreamed of. But she was too scared. Sunkit would never want to stand up to Nettlesting because the punishment would be huge.
"Seeing as you are here, can I tell you a story?" asked Oneclaw.
"Sure!" exclaimed Sunkit excitedly.
Sunkit lay down, placing her head on her white paws. Spiderkit wasn't far behind her. Sunkit snuggled clser to her brother's warm pelt.
Oneclaw lay down too. The story was about to begin.
Chapter Four- Yellow
Shadowkit scowled. Pricklekit was leading her to their father's den, and she felt sick. Her father was the Clan leader. He could punish her. He never liked Sunkit, Spiderkit, and her, anyway. It was always Pricklekit.
Pricklekit is better than you!
Pricklekit is stronger than you!
Pricklekit will be a better warrior than you!
It never stopped. Never.
And she didn't know why. It was a puzzle that was waiting to be solved- but one that was just as mysterious as if the sun disappeared. So, unsolvable.
Shadowkit vowed she would find out why Pricklekit was favourite, why the rest of her siblings were always bullied and mentally abused.
It was a promise she would regret.
"Shadowkit!" Owlstar snapped, "Stop dreaming, and pull your head out of the clouds!"
Shadowkit stumbled as something hard hit her in the side. Pricklekit had pushed her over. She tripped, falling, and Pricklekit watched with a cold certainty in his eyes. Shadowkit whimpered, seeing blood make a trail down her flank.
"See, this is why my den needs cleaning!" Owlstar barked a laugh, his voice going cold as ice, "If you leave a scrap, you'll be punished."
Shadowkit's eyes widened, and she held down a gasp. Her paws forced themselves forward as she began dragging scraps of moss out of her father's den. She came across multiple thorns, and cut herself on most of them.
Why can't Pricklekit help? her mind growled bitterly.
"Come on, keep going!" Pricklekit sighed, his eyes lit with amusement and deadly promise.
Shadowkit hissed a curse under her breath. "Fox-heart!"
"What. Did you say?" Owlstar's voice was low and calm, but even Shadowkit could detect the underlying menace in his words.
Confidence washed over her, and she pricked her ears, "I called Pricklekit a fox-heart, that's what."
Owlstar's rage seemed to fill the room. Shadowkit's earlier boldness vanished, draining away like rainwater on a hill. She shrank back, eyes wide and frightened.
"Pricklekit is worth a hundred of you!" Owlstar growled, "If you forget that one more time, I will not let you forget it."
Shadowkit nodded, but bitterness was seeping into her veins. She wanted to prove herself. And what better way than to be better than beat Pricklekit, their prized kit?
So she sprang.
And Pricklekit fell under her weight.
Chapter Five - Hope
Spiderkit's ears twitched.
"Sunkit, I heard a yowl," whispered Spiderkit.
"Shush, Oneclaw is trying to tell us a story," answered Sunkit.
Oneclaw had been telling a story about a leader who was born and forced to become powerful. It was interesting but Spiderkit must try and find where the yowl was coming from.
"Did you hear that?" questioned Oneclaw.
"He has better hearing then I expected." thought Spiderkit as he laughed to himself.
"The yowl that Spiderkit was talking about?" asked Sunkit.
Spiderkit looked over at his little sister. Sunkit's golden spots were so bright against her white pelt. Her green eyes were filled with worry.
"We must find where it is coming from." declared Spiderkit.
He stood up in a hurry and ran out of the elder's den. If Owlstar or Nettlesting found out about him leaving, he would be in big trouble. He followed where the noise was coming from. It seemed to come from Owlstar's den. Spiderkit turned his head when he heard a crunch of leaves behind him. To his suprise Oneclaw and Sunkit were following.
"Come on," ordered Spiderkit.
The three cats took off into a sprint towards Owlstar's den. Spiderkit noticed that Oneclaw seemed to be very capable and he was surprised that Oneclaw wanted to be an elder.
When they arrived Oneclaw ran into the den, claws unsheathed. Spiderkit and Sunkit were told to stay behind Oneclaw.
"What happened?" asked Oneclaw, alert and worried.
"This useless kit attacked Priclekit." hissed Owlstar.
Spiderkit peeked around from behind Oneclaw's bushy white pelt to see his big sister.
"Shadowkit." squeaked Sunkit.
"Don't call that kit useless. That is no way to treat a kit of your clan brother!" growled Oneclaw.
Brother? Oneclaw was Owlstar's brother. How could such a friendly cat be a brother to Owlstar?
"What? Brother?" mewed Sunkit.
Now it made sense. Oneclaw had been o brave to say he would talk to Owlstar and Nettlesting because Owlstar was his brother.
Owlstar's glare was icy cold as he looked at Oneclaw and then at Shadowkit. Spiderkit noticed that Pricklekit was sitting up straight with a smug smile spreading across his face.
"One day, Pricklekit will be sorry. Sorry for everything he said and did," vowed Spiderkit.
Chapter Six- Yellow
Shadowkit's eyes were wide and scared. She had scooted around to be beside Oneclaw.
"Don't be scared," Oneclaw told her softly, "I'll sort this out. You run along outside."
Shadowkit nodded, her ears quivering. She hopped out of the den and crept outside, scurrying over to the apprentice's den. She wanted to see where she would be sleeping in a little less than 3 moons.
"Goldenpaw?" she asked quietly. The golden apprentice yawned, rolling over and looking her in the eyes.
"Hi, Shadowkit!" he meowed sleepily.
"How is it being an apprentice?" she asked him. Goldenpaw had only been assigned a mentor a sunrise ago.
"Tiring," he told her, his eyes bleary, "I have to go now. I can see Flameheart coming. Thanks for waking me."
"Um," Shadowkit said, her paws shifting uneasily, "Okay. No problem."
Flameheart arrived beside her, and smiled warmly.
"Good morning, Shadowkit," he said happily, "I'm just taking Goldenpaw out. You can talk later."
"Bye," Shadowkit nodded.
She glanced across the clearing, her eyes zeroing in on Goldenpelt's brother and sister: Firepaw and Juniperpaw. She padded towards them, careful not to interrupt their sparring. She was rooting for Juniperpaw for sure. The female apprentice was lithe and fast, easily overbalancing her brother.
I wish I could do that to Pricklekit, she thought sadly. But Nettlesting was far too overprotective. She winced at the thought- surely her punishment would be terrible. She had attacked Owlstar and Nettlesting's precious son.
She watched as Juniperpaw slashed a paw underneath Firepaw's legs. The sturdy tom windmilled his paws, but fell to the ground nonetheless.
"Good job," Shadowkit congratulated the ginger and white apprentice.
"Oh," Juniperpaw blinked, "Thanks."
Firepaw huffed a laugh, "Okay, you got me that time!"
Juniperpaw grinned, "As if I won't do that next time."
Firepaw smirked, "Sure."
Shadowkit watches the two siblings laugh and joke around.
I wonder if they ever got bullied by their mother, Heatherspirit.
Chapter Seven - Hope
Sunkit waited outside Owlstar's den. She knew she wasn't supposed to be here but she had to make sure Oneclaw would be alright.
The muffled arguing was hard to understand but Sunkit could hear bits of it.
"Why?" growled Oneclaw.
"Because those flea-pelts are trouble." hissed Owlstar.
Sunkit didn't want to hear anymore. Her own father hated her. Her father despised her and her siblings. This was not right.
She ran off trying to hold back her cries of sorrow. Oneclaw was doing the right thing but would it work?
Sunkit didn't stop she just kept running. Nothing could stop her. Nothing.
Her legs kept moving and they didn't stop. She felt like she was running on air.
Sunkit looked back at the camp that seemed to fade the further she ran. She pictured running away from Nettlesting and Owlstar.
She knew that she wasn't supposed to travel this far into the forest but what would her parents do about it. They wouldn't care because they only think about Pricklekit.
She found a hollow in a tree. She snuggled into the hollow. She thought about Pricklekit. His smug fave when Shadowkit was in trouble made Sunkit hiss.
Sunkit looked up at the sky. The bright rays of sunlight seemed to reflect off the sparkling river close by. Sunkit must have ventured further than she thought.
"Sunkit what are you doing here?" asked a familiar voice.
"Spiderkit?" questioned Sunkit, surprised and confused.
"I come here a lot," said Spiderkit as he walked up to the river.
"To get away from mother and father?" asked Sunkit.
'Yes, and Pricklekit." hissed Spiderkit.
Sunkit walked up to her brother. She lay down next to him and Spiderkit purred.
"At least two of my siblings will be beside me, every step of the way." thought Sunkit proudly.
Chapter Eight- Yellow
Shadowkit stepped away from the bickering siblings. She sighed and looked toward the nursery. Pricklekit was crossing the clearing to, undoubtedly, find Nettlesting and tell on her. The black kit cringed and began to walk back over to the elder's den, intending on saying hi. But something pulled her away, towards the nursery. No, behind it... She was soon climbing over the bushes and out of camp... Away...
She stepped into the fresh air. The pull was strengthening and she felt powerful, like a force was aiding her in everything she did. It dragged her forward. She found herself racing through the forest, dodging twigs and leaves.
A break in the pull.
Blood tinting the air-scent.
A cat... on the ground?
Scarlet water dripping off their pelt.
A shout. Two shouts.
Shadowkit's pelt seemed heavy and her movements felt sluggish. She stumbled. The grey and white heap of fur in front of her moaned half-heartedly and stirred.
Shadowkit turned and saw two cats, one white and one ginger, racing forward.
"Shadowkit, get away," the white one, Brightclaw, hissed.
The other one, Flameheart, rushed forward and said, "Shadowkit, go back to camp. Be safe. Tell Owlstar that Pepperfoot is hurt."
Shadowkit nodded slowly, her mind a jumble, and began to run back to camp. She was nearly there when a cold voice pierced the air, "This is just the first... A taste of what will come."
And it was gone. The pull disappeared. And Shadowkit was left stumbling home, her black paws tripping over the others. She arrived home and burst into the clearing, her eyes wide, and hurried towards Owlstar's den. She tumbled in and yowled:
"Flameheart told me to tell you that Pepperfoot is hurt!"
Owlstar and Oneclaw's heads' snapped up and they both said, "What?"
"Pepperfoot is hurt," she repeated.
"Yes!" Owlstar growled, "But how is she hurt, you useless kit?!"
"I don't know!" Shadowkit shrank back, alarmed.
Oneclaw's eyes went glassy, "Pepperfoot?"
"What about her?" the kit asked.
"She's my daughter."
Chapter Nine- Hope
Once Sunkit had a rest by the river for a while she padded back towards camp. Only halfway back she spotted Shadowkit and Oneclaw racing in the opposite direction. Sunkit tilted her head at this sight, confused.
Sunkit ran as fast as she could to catch up to them.
Sunkit jumped at the crack of some twigs behind her. She unsheathed her claws ready to attack and enemy cat. She turned around to see Spiderkit.
"What are you doing here?" asked Sunkit.
"Following you," explained Spiderkit with an embarrassed mew.
"Not very stealthily." pointed out Sunkit with a laugh.
With Spiderkit by her side, Sunkit raced off trying to follow Oneclaw and Shadowkit. She ran as fast as her legs could take her until Oneclaw and Shadowkit were close enough to call to.
"Oneclaw! Shadowkit!" yelled Sunkit.
Shadowkit turned around but Oneclaw did not. He just kept running.
"Quick. I will tell you later!" replied Shadowkit before turning and sprinting off.
Spiderkit and Sunkit shot each other worried glances before running after their sister. Sunkit's golden and white pelt looked like a small blur as she ran. Sunkit is very fast. She is small but she could definitely outrun most kits her age.
Sunkit noticed that Shadowkit and Oneclaw had stopped and were looking down at something. Sunkit raced the final steps before noticing what was wrong.
"Pepperfoot" gasped Sunkit.
Sunkit's stomach churned. Sunkit really had nothing to do with Pepperfoot but she was a fellow ThunderClan warrior.
"What are we going to do?" asked Spiderkit.
Nothing stirred at this moment.
What were they going to do?
Would Pepperfoot be alright?
Chapter Ten- Yellow
Shadowkit blinked in sorrow, her eyes dark. "We will mourn her," she murmured.
Oneclaw sobbed quietly, "Please save her," he cried, emotions portrayed so clearly on the elderly cat's face.
Pepperfoot gasped, and her eyes flew open, "O-oneclaw?" she asked, her eyes bleary.
Oneclaw stared in delight, "Oh, my daughter. You're okay!"
Pepperfoot coughed, "Father... I have not long left in this world."
Shadowkit frowned, She sounds... fake.
Oneclaw's eyes darkened, "What?"
Pepperfoot suddenly jerked, her spine making an audible crack! sound. She lay still. Gone.
Shadowkit cried out, leaping back as Pepperfoot stood. Her eyes glowed with eerie malice.
"You will fall," she growled robotically.
Shadowkit stumbled into Sunkit, and the two began to run. Before they knew it, Oneclaw was leaping after them. He seemed crazed with grief. He leaped in front of them.
"We must help my daughter!" he screamed at them.
Shadowkit reeled, her eyes wide, and beckoned to Sunkit to run with her. They set off again, away from the camp.
Where will this take us? Will we survive?
The two kept running, hearing no paws behind them. Shadowkit sobbed with despair as they ended up beside a silver weave of sorts. Twoleg fence! she thought of the elder's tales, We can't get through that!
And then she heard a pounding of huge paws, hurtling closer. And she saw a massive brown beast, ten times her size and absolutely terrifying.
It was a dog.
Chapter Eleven - Hope
No cat was there to save them.
"What do we do?" shivered Sunkit.
Sunkit's heart was pounding. It was like she was being attacked.
"Just back away slowly," whispered Spiderkit.
Sunkit followed her brother's advice. She took slow step backwards trying not to squeak. She bit her lip when she made a frightful little noise.
The dog bared its teeth, it's white fangs showing.
But the dog was too territorial. It lunges forward and the three kits.
"Run!" yelled Shadowkit.
The three kits sprinted off as fast as they could. Sunkit was the smallest and had to try a little harder to keep up with her siblings but she was very capable. Their pelts were a dark and golden blur. The dog's paw prints made the ground vibrate.
"Help!" called Sunkit.
She wished that someone could take this dog down.
What would Nettlesting think?
Probably nothing of it.
Sunkit cried at those thoughts.
Their mother didn't even care.
Chapter Twelve- Yellow