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Essay
This page contains a fan fiction written by Warriorcat1195.
This page contains the opinions of the original author(s), and is not patrolled for factual accuracy.
Remember that this story is non-canon. It may contain false characters, plots, or locations.
Responses, comments & other feedback should be made on the comments section below.


Preceded By:

The Apprentice's Quest (real story)

Succeded By: 

Forbidden Love

To:

Erin Hunter

My real-life Gingerpaw



 

Allegiances

 

ThunderClan

 

Leader: Bramblestar—dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes

Deputy: Squirrelflight—dark ginger she-cat with green eyes

Medicine Cat: Jayfeather—gray tabby tom with blind blue eyes

                                    Apprentice, Furrypaw

Warriors: Brackenfur—golden brown tabby tom

                        Apprentice, Bramblepaw

                        Cloudtail—long-haired white tom with blue eyes

                        Brightheart—white she-cat with ginger patches

                        Thornclaw—golden brown tabby tom

                        Spiderleg—long-limbed black tom with brown underbelly and

                        amber eyes

                        Birchfall—light brown tabby tom

                        Whitewing—white she-cat with green eyes

                        Berrynose—cream-colored tom

                        Cinderheart—gray tabby she-cat

                        Ivypool—silver-and-white tabby she-cat with blue eyes

                        Lionblaze—golden tabby tom with amber eyes

                        Apprentice, Firepaw

                        Dovewing—pale gray she-cat with blue eyes

                        Rosepetal—dark cream she-cat

                        Poppyfrost—tortoiseshell she-cat

                        Briarlight—dark brown she-cat with sky blue eyes, paralyzed in her

                        hindquarters

                        Blossomfall—tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat

                        Bumblestripe—very pale gray tom with black stripes

                        Cherryfall—ginger she-cat

                        Apprentice, Sparkpaw

                        Molewhisker—brown-and-cream tom

                        Apprentice, Alderpaw

                        Leafpool—light brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes

                        Mousewhisker—gray-and-white tom

                        Hollytuft—black she-cat

                        Fernsong—yellow tabby tom

                        Sorrelstripe—dark brown she-cat

                        Stormcloud—gray tabby tom

                        Snowbush—white, fluffy tom

                        Ambermoon—pale ginger she-cat

                        Dewnose—gray-and-white tom

Apprentices: Sparkpaw—orange tabby she-cat

                        Alderpaw—dark ginger tom with amber eyes

                   Firepaw—flame-colored tom with green eyes

                        Bramblepaw—dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes

                        Furrypaw—long-haired ginger and white she-cat with blue eyes

Queens: Daisy—cream long-furred cat from the horseplace

                        Lilyheart—small, dark tabby she-cat with white patches and blue                               eyes (mother to Snowbush’s kits: Leafkit, a tortoiseshell she-kit, Larkkit, a black tom-kit, and Honeykit, a white she-kit with yellow splotches)

Elders: Purdy—plump tabby former loner with a gray muzzle

            Sandstorm—pale ginger she-cat with green eyes

            Graystripe—long-haired gray tom

            Millie—striped gray tabby she-cat with blue eyes

 

ShadowClan

 

Leader: Rowanstar—ginger tom

Deputy: Crowfrost—black-and-white tom

Medicine Cat: Littlecloud—very small tabby tom

Warriors: Tawnypelt—tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes

                        Apprentice, Needlepaw

                        Owlclaw—light brown tabby tom

                        Scorchfur—dark gray tom

                        Tigerheart—dark brown tabby tom

                        Apprentice, Sleekpaw

                        Ferretclaw—black-and-gray tom

                        Stoatfur—tortoiseshell and white she-cat

                        Spikefur—dark brown tom with tufty fur on his head

                        Apprentice, Yarrowpaw

                        Dawnpelt—cream-furred she-cat

                        Apprentice, Beepaw

                        Snowbird—pure white she-cat

                        Berryheart—black-and-white she-cat

                        Cloverfoot—gray tabby she-cat

                        Rippletail—white tom

                        Sparrowtail—large tabby tom

                        Mistcloud—spiky-furred, pale gray she-cat

                        Stonetooth—white tom

                        Apprentice, Juniperpaw

                        Wasptail—yellow tabby she-cat with green eyes

                        Apprentice, Strikepaw

Queens: Grassheart—pale brown tabby she-cat

                        Pinenose—black she-cat (mother to Spikefur’s kits: Birchkit, a beige                          tom-kit, Lionkit, a yellow she-kit with amber eyes, Puddlekit, a brown tom with white splotches, and Slatekit, a sleek, gray tom-kit)

Elders: Ratscar—brown tom with long scar across his back

            Oakfur—small brown tom

            Kinkfur—tabby she-cat, with long fur that sticks out at all angles

           

 

WindClan

 

Leader: Onestar—brown tabby tom

Deputy: Harespring—brown-and-white tom

Medicine Cat: Kestrelflight—mottled gray tom

Warriors: Crowfeather—dark gray tom

                        Apprentice, Ferntail

                        Nightcloud—black she-cat

                        Gorsetail—very pale gray-and-white tom with blue eyes

                        Weaselfur—ginger tom with white paws

                        Leaftail—dark tabby tom with amber eyes

                        Emberfoot—gray tom with two dark paws

                        Breezepelt—black tom with amber eyes

                        Furzepelt—gray-and-white she-cat

                        Apprentice, Larkwing

                        Crouchfoot—ginger tom

                        Sedgewhisker—light brown tabby she-cat

                        Featherpelt—gray tabby she-cat

                        Oatclaw—pale brown tabby tom

                        Hootwhisker—dark gray tom

Queens: Heathertail—light brown tabby she-cat with blue eyes (mother to                                  Breezepelt’s kits: Smokekit, a gray she-kit, and Brindlekit, a mottled brown she-kit)

Elders: Whitetail—small white she-cat

 

RiverClan

 

Leader: Mistystar—gray she-cat with blue eyes

Deputy: Reedwhisker—black tom

Medicine Cat: Mothwing—dappled golden she-cat

                                    Apprentice, Willowshine

Warriors: Mintfur—dark gray tabby tom

                        Minnowtail—dark gray she-cat

                        Mallownose—light brown tabby tom

                        Grasspelt—light brown tom

                        Duskfur—brown tabby she-cat

                        Apprentice, Shadepaw

                        Shimmerpelt—silver she-cat

                        Petalfur—gray-and-white she-cat

                        Heronwing—dark gray-and-black tom

                        Curlfeather—pale brown she-cat

                        Podlight—gray and white tom

                        Lizardtail—light brown tom

                        Apprentice, Foxpaw

                        Havenpelt—black-and-white she-cat

                        Perchwing—gray-and-white she-cat

                        Sneezecloud—gray-and-white tom

                        Brackenpelt—tortoiseshell she-cat

                        Jaywing—gray tom

                        Owlnose—brown tabby tom

Queens: Icewing—white she-cat with blue eyes (mother to Mintfur's kits: Nightkit, a pure black she-kit, and Breezekit, a light brown tabby tom-kit)

                        Lakeheart—gray tabby she-cat (mother of Poppykit, a pretty                                      brown she-kit, and Fluffykit, a thick-furred white she-kit)

Elders: Mosspelt—tortoiseshell she-cat with blue eyes

Cats Outside of Clans

 

Smoky—muscular gray-and-white tom who lives in a barn at the horseplace

Coriander—tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat who lives with Smoky

Silky—cream she-cat who lives in the nest nextdoor to Smoky, mother of Furrypaw

Prolouge

A blue-gray she-cat wandered out of the darkness. Starlight shimmered off her pelt. She pricked her ears. Someone was coming. She sniffed, then she smiled.

            She crouched, and, pawstep by pawstep, walked slowly through the undergrowth. She sensed the other cat coming nearer. She wiggled her hindquarters and pounced.

            “Hey!” The other cat cried.

            “Sorry, Yellowfang,” the she-cat replied. “I was just having a little fun.”

            “Oh, Bluestar,” Yellowfang sighed.

            “Have you been knocked over again, Yellowfang?” A pale gray she-cat asked.

            “Yes. Get her off me, Willowpelt!” Yellowfang cried.

            “Willowpelt,” Bluestar mewed sternly. Spottedleaf sighed and climbed off Yellowfang.

            “Why have you been in such a good mood lately?” Yellowfang asked.

            “Because my apprentice has returned to me!” Bluestar replied. “I feel like a kit again!”

            “Ugh! Please don’t go on about Firestar again!” Yellowfang sighed.

            “It is getting annoying, Bluestar,” a white tom appeared through the undergrowth.

            “Thank you, Whitestorm!” Yellowfang cried.

            “Ugh! You guys talk about the cat who saved the Clans so negatively! I’m going to find Firestar!” Bluestar cried.

            She bolted away from the crowd of cats and wandered through the undergrowth. “Firestar?” She called.

            “Bluestar?” Came the reply.

            Bluestar pricked her ears then bolted off in the direction the reply had come from.

            Bluestar spotted a tom with a flame-colored pelt sitting by a pool of water. “Firestar!” Bluestar called, bolting over to join him. “Everyone’s calling—“

            “Shh!” Firestar interrupted her. Firestar was gazing into the pool of water, with interest in his eyes.

            “What is it?” Bluestar asked. Firestar didn’t respond immediately. He kept staring at the pool of water. Then, he finally replied,

            “There will be another to follow in my pawsteps.”

            “What do you mean?” Bluestar asked. “Like, a kittypet becoming a warrior?”

            “Yes, but this one will be special.”

            “You were special.” Bluestar commented.

            “This one even more so. I don’t know how, but somehow, she knows more about both the warrior and the Twoleg world than we do.”

            “She?” Bluestar asked.

            “Yes, it’s a girl!” Firestar snapped.

            “I don’t understand how it’s possible for a cat, especially a kittypet, to know more about our world and the Twoleg world than we do.”


            “Neither do I,” Firestar agreed. “But we shall watch her closely, and we will learn.”

Chapter 1 

            A ginger-and-white kitten sat up and stretched. She arched her back then yawned. She was in a comfy basket with blankets with her mom, Silky, and her siblings. She heard her male Twoleg talking to his wife.

            “The kittens are eight weeks old now. They’re ready to be sold to other owners.”

            “But the kittens are so cute,” his wife argued. “Can’t we keep them?”

            “Have you any idea how hard it would be keeping five cats in the house?!” the first Twoleg cried. “We could barely handle Silky now that we have Rosie too!”

            “We can take care of the baby and four kittens and Silky!” the wife pleaded.

            “How? How are we supposed to take care of the six of them?!”

            “We’ll find a way!”

            “We’re low on money right now, Chelsea, and we can’t take care of Rosie, Silky, and four kittens. We’re selling the kittens.”

            “But, but,”

            “End of discussion.” The first Twoleg said firmly.

            You’re only selling three kittens, the ginger-and-white kitten thought. I’m finally old enough to leave Silky, so I’m leaving Silky.

            Her thoughts were interrupted by her stomach growling. “Silky?” she mewed.       

            Silky opened one eye. “Yes, sweetie?”

            “I’m hungry.” The kitten complained.

            “You know, at your new home, there won’t be anyone to feed you. You have to start getting used to cat food.” Silky said, turning so the kitten could suckle.          

            Yes there will, the kitten thought. There’ll be queens to feed me—hopefully. If not, I can get used to fresh-kill.

            The kitten had a secret. And she was going somewhere no one would predict.


            The kitten looked around. It was long after dark. Silky, her siblings, and the Twoleg family were all fast asleep. Now was her chance.

            She crept carefully out of the basket. She didn’t want to wake anyone up or she’d be stuck here.

            She walked to the cat flap in the door. She wasn’t supposed to use it unless she had supervision, but she was going to find a new home. And if she didn’t run away, there’s no way she’d ever end up there.

            The kitten walked out the door. She was glad it was a full moon. She could see better, and that meant the people she was looking for would still be awake—hopefully—because of the Gathering.

            She ran across the grass. The moorland grass beneath her turned into mushy, wet ground. She found the spot she was looking for.

            There was a giant tree trunk connecting the ground where she was to the island out across the lake.

            She listened carefully, and took a few sniffs of the air. There was no sign of life on the island. She sighed and spun around, heading back the way she came. However, when she got to her house, she didn’t stop and head back inside. She bolted right past it.  

            The kitten continued into the heart of the moorland. “WindClan?” she kept calling. “Onestar? Anyone?”

            The kitten was running out of breath. Then she spotted a shallow scoop of ground, full of dens and a strong smell of cats. This is it.

            She ran down into the scoop and called out. “Onestar?”

            A brown tom appeared from a den. He stared at the kitten. “Who are you?”

            “Please, I need to get to ThunderClan, but I don’t know my way around this place. If I could please have an escort, I’ll leave you alone.”

            Onestar studied the kitten for a bit. “Fine,” he said. He walked to another den and poked inside. “Nightcloud?” he asked.

            A black she-cat emerged from the den. “Yes, Onestar?” She asked. She looked sleepy.

            “See that kit?” Onestar asked, pointing to the kitten with his tail.

            “Yeah,” Nightcloud replied.

            “Escort her to the ThunderClan camp, please. Make sure Bramblestar knows she’s there.”

            “Okay, Onestar.” Nightcloud meowed reluctantly. Nightcloud placed her tail on the kitten’s shoulder and walked her out of camp.

            “What’s your name?” Nightcloud asked.

            “I don’t have one yet.” The kitten replied.

            “Are you from horseplace or something?”

            “I’d like to discuss that with Bramblestar first.” The kitten said.

            “You prefer ThunderClan, huh?”

            “Yeah.” The kitten replied.

            “You remind me of Brightheart, the way you look.” Nightcloud said. “Do you know who she is?”

            “Yeah.” The kitten replied. “She’s the idiot who went with Swiftpaw to kill some dogs and ended up getting her face scarred for life. Then she mated with Cloudtail and gave birth to Whitewing. She even mentored Jayfeather for a while.”        

            Nightcloud looked shocked at how the kitten knew so much. She was about to ask how but the kitten stopped her. “I’m sure you’ll hear at the next Gathering, should Bramblestar let me stay.”

            “Watch out,” Nightcloud warned. “This is the border. You almost fell into the stream.”

            “I like water,” the kitten told her. She waded into the water and walked out the other side.

            “Are you sure you don’t want to be going to RiverClan?” Nightcloud asked.

            “I’m sure.” The kitten replied. “The hollow is near, right?”

            “Yeah, I think so.” Nightcloud replied.

            Soon the kitten found herself at a stone hollow.

            “Welcome to the ThunderClan camp,” Nightcloud meowed.

            “There’s the thorn barrier,” the kitten cried. “Come on!” she pushed her way through the barrier and found herself sitting in the ThunderClan camp. “I never thought I’d be here,” she whispered.

            “Come on, let’s get you to Bramblestar so I can leave.” Nightcloud meowed.  Nightcloud looked up at a ledge above the camp in a corner. “Think you can climb up to the Highledge?” she asked.

            “I think so,” The kitten replied. She followed Nightcloud up some rocks to the Highledge, where the leader made his/her den.

            “Bramblestar?” Nightcloud called from outside.

            “Who is it?” Came the groggy reply.

            “It’s Nightcloud from WindClan. I’ve brought a kit who seems to want to be part of ThunderClan. She knows a lot.” Nightcloud replied.

            A dark brown tabby with amber eyes appeared out of the den. “Prove it.” He said.

            “Brightheart went with Swiftpaw to go kill the dogs back in the forest. Swiftpaw died and Brightheart was injured for the rest of her life. Brightheart mated with Cloudtail and gave birth to Whitewing. Brightheart mentored Jayfeather before he found out his destiny lay as a medicine cat, and Hollyleaf learned that her destiny was as a warrior, so they swapped places. Whitewing mated with Birchfall and gave birth to Dovewing and Ivypool. Also Squirrelflight lied to you about giving birth to Jayfeather, Lionblaze, and Hollyleaf. They’re really Leafpool and Crowfeather’s kits. Can I stay?”

            Bramblestar stared at the kitten with awe. “H-how do you know all of that?” He asked slowly.

            “I’ll explain everything in the morning, but right now I’m really tired. Can I stay the night?” the kitten asked.

            “Sure,” Bramblestar said. “You may go back to your camp now, Nightcloud.”

            “Goodnight, Bramblestar,” Nightcloud said, bowing her head politely, before climbing down from the Highledge and leaving camp.

            Bramblestar turned and walked back into his den. He curled up in his nest and closed his eyes. The kitten followed him and snuggled up next to him, purring herself to sleep.


            The kitten woke up when Bramblestar left the nest. It was dawn. “Good morning, Bramblestar,” The kitten said after a yawn and a stretch.

            “Will you explain everything now?” Bramblestar asked.

            “I kinda want to tell the whole Clan at once, if that’s okay,” The kitten said shyly.

            “I suppose…..” Bramblestar replied uncertainly. “If you must.”

            “Thanks, and please tell the rest of the Clan it’d be better with no interruptions. I know Cloudtail likes to interrupt people, and I’m not sure how you guys will take the truth about me.” The kitten said.

            “Very well,” Bramblestar said. He walked out of the den. The kitten heard very familiar words. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting!” Bramblestar called.     

            The kitten saw warriors, apprentices, and elders wander out of their dens and gather in front of the Highledge. She saw Sandstorm, Graystripe, and Purdy come out of the elders’ den.

            She recognized Daisy sitting in front of the nursery. Squirrelflight walked out of the nursery as well, with two kits that looked exactly like Squirrelflight and Bramblestar.

            “Who is that?” Snowbush called out, staring at the kitten.

            “Nightcloud brought me this kit last night. She said the kit wanted to be part of ThunderClan. She knows a lot about us, though she has the scent of horseplace on her.”

            “How could she possibly know anything about us?!” Berrynose called.

            “Want me to prove it?” the kitten called from next to Bramblestar. “Ask me anything about most any Clan and I’ll answer!”

            Lionblaze called out, “Tell me all about my family!”

            “Okay, let’s start with you,” The kitten said. “You were mentored by Ashfur. For a while you hung out with Heathertail, then realized being the best warrior for ThunderClan was more important and broke her heart. Your brother is Jayfeather, who was originally mentored by Brightheart, but soon found out his destiny from StarClan was as a medicine cat, so had Leafpool mentor him. He’s blind, and can walk in others’ dreams. Oh, and you, Lionblaze, can win any battle, nearly unscathed. Hollyleaf, though you all thought, was not one of the prophesized three. Dovewing was. Hollyleaf ran away to be a loner because she couldn’t stand being half-Clan. Then she was killed by Hawkfrost. Heard enough yet?”

            “Who was Hollyleaf’s mentor?” Lionblaze asked.

            “Brackenfur.”

            “Who was Leafpool’s mentor?”

            “Cinderpelt.”

            “Who was Squirrelflight’s mentor?”

            “Dustpelt.”

            “Who was Bramblestar’s mentor?”

            “Firestar.”

            “Who was Cloudtail’s mentor?”

            “Firestar.”

            “Who was Cinderpelt’s mentor?”

            “Firestar and Yellowfang.”

            “Who was Firestar’s mentor?”

            “Bluestar! Look, I’ve proven my point, okay?!” the kitten cried.

            “How do you know all this about us?” Squirrelflight asked.

            “Okay, none of you will think this makes any sense, but I was once a Twoleg.” The kitten admitted.

            “WHAT?!” The whole Clan screamed. “That’s impossible!”

            “Silence!” Bramblestar yowled. “Let the kit speak! Explain yourself.”

            “When I was a Twoleg kit, there were books, which are stories written down so you don’t need them told to you out loud, called Warriors. They were all about you guys. I loved the books. I was obsessed with them. I couldn’t put them down. I wrote down your family trees, I got my friends into the series, and all of that. I even gave my kittypets warrior names! I had a tuxedo cat named Belle, and her warrior name was Fluffytail. And I had a really hyper one that looked like Leafpool, and her warrior name was Swiftfoot! Her real name was Misty. Anyway, when I died, I asked someone in Twoleg StarClan if warrior cats were real. The answer I received was yes, so I asked to come back to Earth for a second time as a cat, and to live near the lake you guys lived in. Unlike when Cinderpelt came back to life to fulfill her dream of becoming a warrior through Cinderheart, I have all my memories. Otherwise I’d probably still be in my Twoleg nest with my family waiting to be sold to different owners.” 

             “What is your name, anyway?” Bramblestar asked.

            “I don’t have one. My Twolegs didn’t name me because they knew I was going to be sold to a different family. So did my parents.”

            “Who are your parents?”

            “Silky and Smoky.”

            “You must’ve had a name as a Twoleg. What was it?” Bramblestar asked.

            “Elizabeth.” The kitten replied.

            “What kind of name is that?” Cloudtail asked.

            “A Twoleg one!” the kitten snapped. “You know, there are some Twolegs in the world named Daisy and Millie.”

            “We were given Twoleg names?” Daisy and Millie asked.

            “Yeah. I mean, those particular names work just as well for cats, and honestly I think they work better for cats.” The kitten meowed.

            “We should give you a Clan name,” Bramblestar said. “How about Furrykit?”

            “Okay!” The kitten exclaimed.

            “Go to the nursery and get to know the other kits.” Bramblestar ordered. “I have two sons your age.”

            “Are they actually yours this time?” Furrykit asked.

            “Yes, they are mine!” Bramblestar snapped. “Nursery, now!” He flicked his tail towards the nursery. Furrykit jumped and carefully made her way down from the Highledge.

            “Hey, Furrykit.” Squirrelflight mewed as she approached. “Meet my sons, Firekit and Bramblekit.” 

            “They look just like you and Bramblestar,” Furrykit commented.

            “And you look a lot like Brightheart,” Firekit commented.

            “That’s what Nightcloud said!” Furrykit cried.

            “So you’re two moons old?” Squirrelflight asked.

            “Yeah. I’m old enough to go without milk, but I can’t quite chew fresh-kill. If you have some extra milk that would be nice.”

            “I think I can spare some milk.” Squirrelflight meowed. “You three will all be made apprentices together, and maybe even warriors!”

            “Actually, I want to be a medicine cat. I told myself if that option wasn’t available I’d go back home. Jayfeather doesn’t have an apprentice, does he?”

            “No, he doesn’t.” Squirrelflight assured her.

            “You were once a Twoleg?” Bramblekit cried.

            “Yep.” Furrykit replied.

            “Can you tell us all about it?” Firekit asked.

            “What happened to our stories about when we were apprentices?” Graystripe asked from behind them.

            “I could tell you all about that!” Furrykit cried. Firekit waved his tail for Graystripe to go away. Graystripe’s tail plummeted as he walked away from the kits.

            “Hold on a second,” Furrykit mewed, walking away from Firekit and Bramblekit. She walked up to Graystripe. “I didn’t mean to steal story telling from you. Sorry about that.”

            “It’s fine,” Graystripe sighed. “I’d rather hear about unknown adventures as a Twoleg than stories about my childhood, too.”

            Furrykit heard pawsteps from behind her. She spun around and found Squirrelflight facing her. “Go back to the nursery and play with Firekit and Bramblekit. I’ll cheer up Graystripe.” She ordered.

            “Okay.” Furrykit mewed, walking away from the older cats. She padded back up to Firekit and Bramblekit. “You two better not become leader. Then we’d have two Firestars and Bramblestars!”

            “We never knew Firestar.” Bramblekit sighed. “Could you tell us about him?”

            “Absolutely.” Furrykit meowed. “I know all about your world, and the Twoleg world. Tell me what you want to hear about.” 

Chapter 2

It had been nearly four moons since Furrykit joined ThunderClan. Bramblestar had told the Clans about her arrival at the Gathering. She’d heard the other Clans didn’t take it too well.

            Furrykit had told Bramblekit and Firekit stories about her past as a Twoleg, and they had spread the word to Squirrelflight, who later told it to Leafpool, and so on, until the entire camp knew about video games, Walt Disney World, and television.

            The three kits were play-fighting outside the nursery. “I’m going to destroy you so I can have ThunderClan for myself!” Bramblekit yowled.

            “You will never have ThunderClan, Rowanstar!” Firekit cried. “Furrycloud and I will never let you!”

            “That’s right! The power of Furrycloud and Fireclaw are no match for Rowanstar!” Furrykit agreed. She and Firekit pounced on Bramblekit. They fought, with claws sheathed, against Bramblekit. Bramblekit couldn’t get up under their weight.

            “You can’t hurt my leader!” Someone said from behind them. All of a sudden, Lionblaze knocked Furrykit and Firekit off Bramblekit as though they were leaves.

            “If you’re going to hurt Rowanstar, you have to get through his deputy first!” Lionblaze yowled.

            “Crowfrost!” Firekit squeaked. “Furrycloud, help me!”

            “You can’t hurt Fireclaw!” Furrykit cried, jumping on top of Lionblaze. Firekit jumped on Lionblaze as well. It was obvious Lionblaze was letting them win, but Furrykit still felt pride.

            A mrrow of laughter from behind them made Furrykit jump. Squirrelflight was standing behind them. Lionblaze pushed Firekit and Furrykit off him and stood up. “I was just, um,” Lionblaze stammered.

            “You can keep playing with the kits.” Squirrelflight meowed.

            “Quick! While he’s distracted!” Firekit yowled. He and Furrykit jumped back on Lionblaze. This time his fall was legitimate. Squirrelflight let out another mrrow of laugher.

            The dawn patrol returned through the thorn barrier. It was led by Cloudtail, along with Dustpelt, Berrynose, and Amberpaw. “Bramblestar!” Cloudtail yowled.

            “What is it?” Bramblestar asked, hurrying down from the Highledge.

            “A badger and her cubs! They’ve moved into ThunderClan territory!”

            Firekit and Bramblekit shared a glance.

“Oh boy.” Bramblestar sighed. He jumped up on the Highledge. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting!”

            Cats appeared out of their dens to gather. “What is it now?” Fernsong complained

            “A badger and her cubs have moved into ThunderClan territory.” Bramblestar replied.

            “Again?” Squirrelflight moaned.

            “Yes.” Bramblestar meowed. “And for everyone’s safety, no cat is to leave the camp alone! Apprentices, warriors, elders, doesn’t matter. Everyone must be accompanied by a warrior! Meeting dismissed.”

            Bramblekit nudged Furrykit. “Let’s go!”

            “Go where?” Furrykit asked.

            “To take down the badgers, of course!” Firekit cried.

            “No way!” Furrykit cried, backing away. “It’s breaking the Warrior Code, and there’s no way we could take down the badgers anyway!”

            “What? Are you too scared?” Bramblekit taunted.

            “No! But I’m not breaking the Warrior Code!” Furrykit insisted.

            “Scared-y cat! Scared-y cat!” Firekit sang.

            “Fine, I’ll go!” Furrykit cried.

            “Let’s go, then!” Bramblekit cried.

            “We have to make sure no one’s watching,” Firekit reminded him.

            “Right.” Bramblekit agreed. The three kits looked one way and another, sniffed and listened, and until they were certain the coast was clear.

            They started sneaking their way out of camp. “Wait! Guys! I know a secret exit!” Furrykit cried. “Leafpool and Squirrelflight used to use it all the time when they were younger.”

            “Where?” Firekit asked. 

            “Follow me,” Furrykit mewed. Bramblekit and Firekit followed Furrykit behind the medicine den. She walked back into a small space. She looked up at the wall. The wall had many small ledges going all the way up to the top of the hollow.

            “Woah!” Firekit exclaimed.

            “Follow me,” Furrykit mewed again. She carefully bounded from ledge to ledge, until she reached the top. She looked down to find Firekit reaching the top, with Bramblekit just behind him. “Come on!” She cried. “Let’s go kill some badgers!”

            “Yeah!” Firekit cried, racing for the trees, Furrykit and Bramblekit hard on his paws.

            Soon Firekit held up his tail, a signal for Furrykit and Bramblekit to stop. The three kits started sniffing the air. Furrykit smelled something foul. Badger scent?

            “Got a trace!” Bramblekit cried. He started sniffing the ground. “This way!” He shouted, taking the lead. Furrykit sniffed the ground where Bramblekit had and smelled the same foul scent. Yep, badger scent.

            Soon, the three kits found themselves at a shabby den. By the smell of it, it was a badger’s den.

            “Are we seriously going through with this?” Furrykit asked nervously.

            “It’s too late to turn back now. If we show up empty-pawed they’ll just think we broke the Warrior Code.” Firekit meowed. “If we come back with a dead badger family, they’ll think we broke the Warrior Code to save the Clan.”

            “I guess you’re right.” Furrykit mewed. She padded slowly up to the entrance of the badger set. Firekit and Bramblekit approached more confidently.

            “Come on out, you dumb badger!” Firekit called into the den.

            “Yeah, come on out and fight like a warrior!” Bramblekit called.

            “It’s not too late to turn back,” Furrykit mewed.

            “Yes it is!” Firekit yowled. “Come and fight, you stupid badger!”

            A giant black-and-white figure appeared from the den. Furrykit jumped back. “That’s a really big badger!” She cried, her voice shaking.

            Bramblekit yowled and jumped on the back of the badger. He dug his claws in, but it didn’t seem to do anything.

            Firekit yowled and dove beneath the badger while she was busy with Bramblekit. Firekit dug his claws into her belly. She roared and stood on her hind legs, throwing Bramblekit off.

            Furrykit ran up to the badger and got a few claws in its belly, but the badger shot back instantly. Its claws raked down Furrykit’s back, but her thick fur helped it from being a deep wound.

            “We need to get out of here!” Firekit yowled. He went to run, but the badger blocked him with a massive paw. “Help!” he yowled.

            “Help!!!” The three kits screamed. The badger clawed Firekit’s side. He fell over, blood welling from the wound. “Firekit!” Furrykit cried. She ran to his side. She’d read many books about Warriors to know how to treat the wound. Well, sort of. She needed cobwebs to start. 

            Furrykit looked around. She spotted a thick cobweb hanging between two low branches. She darted over and jumped up, grabbing the cobweb. She quickly checked to make sure there were no spiders, then ran back over to Firekit. She placed the cobwebs on the wound to keep it from bleeding.

            Furrykit noticed that Bramblekit’s ear was bleeding, but he kept fighting on. “There’s no way we can win!” Bramblekit panted. “Why did we think it was in the slightest chance possible?!”

            “HELP!!!!!!!!!” Furrykit yowled at the top of her lungs. She heard rustling from the bushes behind her. “I really hope that’s a cat,” she muttered. Out of the bushes, Poppyfrost appeared. “Poppyfrost! Help!” Furrykit cried, pointing with her tail towards the badger and Bramblekit.

            “You’ve practiced this, Poppyfrost.” Poppyfrost meowed to herself. She ran towards the badger. She got in blow after blow, making the badger bleed from all over. The badger roared and clawed Poppyfrost in the throat. “Poppyfrost!” Furrykit gasped. She looked over to where she’d found cobwebs earlier. There was one more. She ran over and grabbed it, then went back to Poppyfrost.

            Poppyfrost got one good slice into her throat, then both she and the badger fell at the same time.

            “What have we done?” Furrykit whispered.

            “We killed a cat because we were mouse-brains.” Bramblekit answered.

            “We’re idiots!” Furrykit wailed.

            “We need to get the body back to camp. I can’t believe we did this.” Bramblekit mewed.

            “I couldn’t carry Poppyfrost’s body on my own. I should be able to with your help though, Bramblekit. That way Firekit doesn’t have to do any work.”

            “Works for me. Let’s get back to camp. Firekit! Can you walk?” Bramblekit meowed.

            “I think so,” Firekit answered. He stood up slowly, the cobwebs slipping off of him. His fur was matted with dry blood. He limped for a bit, then walked normally.

            “Good,” Bramblekit meowed.

            Furrykit grabbed one end of Poppyfrost and Bramblekit the other. She was heavier than Furrykit had thought, but she was able to drag her. Soon they reached the hollow.

            “Brackenfur! Cinderheart! Lilyheart!” Furrykit wailed. She saw Brackenfur and Cinderheart rush out of the warriors’ den, and Lilyheart the nursery.

            “What’s wrong?” Brackenfur asked. He stopped dead when he saw Poppyfrost. “No, no, no, no, no! What happened?!”

            “I’m so sorry!” Furrykit wailed. “We killed your kit.”

            “On the bright side the badger threat is gone!” Bramblekit piped up. Brackenfur growled at Bramblekit. Bramblekit shrunk back.

            “At least she died like warriors,” Firekit added. “She saved our lives. If it wasn’t for her, we’d be crow-food.”

            Hearing Firekit, Bramblekit, and Furrykit’s voices, Squirrelflight hurried out of the nursery. “Where were you three?” She cried. She stopped in her tracks at the sight of Poppyfrost. “What have you done?!”

            “I tried to stop them!” Furrykit wailed. “But they wouldn’t listen! And then the badger came, and Poppyfrost came, and the badger hit Poppyfrost so Poppyfrost hit the badger and they both died!”  

            “We’re really sorry,” Bramblekit mewed.

            “’Sorry’ doesn’t bring cats back from the dead!” Squirrelflight hissed.

            “Squirrelflight? What’s wrong?” Bramblestar asked, coming down from the Highledge. Spotting Poppyfrost, he said, “Oh.” Bramblestar walked over. “What happened?”

            Firekit stepped up. “When you said there were badgers, Bramblekit and I thought we could take it. We asked Furrykit to join us. She didn’t want to go. She complained it was breaking the warrior code. We pressured her into joining us. We found the badger, but it started attacking us, and I thought we were dead, until Poppyfrost heard us screaming and came to our rescue. The badger got a blow into Poppyfrost’s throat. Within her last few seconds of life she clawed the badger badly enough for them both to die.”

            “Bramblekit and Poppyfrost acted like true warriors,” Furrykit mewed.         

            “And Furrykit acted like a good medicine cat. When Firekit was injured, she didn’t hesitate to help stop the bleeding.” Bramblekit added.

            “We didn’t mean to hurt anyone.” Firekit mewed. “We’re really sorry that it turned out this way.”

            “I understand.” Bramblestar meowed.

            “Next time keep better watch over your kits!” Brackenfur hissed to Bramblestar and Squirrelflight. He and Cinderheart dragged Poppyfrost’s body to the center of the clearing and Lilyheart followed. All their eyes were clouded with pain.

            Furrykit sensed a cat arriving behind her. She turned to find Jayfeather approaching. “You know, you three remind me of someone.” He meowed. “Two brave toms and one she-cat who thinks the Warrior Code is the most important thing in the world. The three, as kits about to become apprentices, think they can take down an enemy on ThunderClan territory. It all goes wrong. I wonder where I’ve seen that before….”

            “How about you Lionblaze and Hollyleaf?” Squirrelflight mewed affectionately. “I remember being scared to death when I heard you were missing. And when you plummeted into the hollow, I thought you were dead for sure!”

            “So did I,” Jayfeather meowed. “Furrykit, I’d be glad to have you as my apprentice.”

            “Really?” Furrykit mewed.

            “Yes.” Jayfeather meowed.

            “I’m feeling very mixed emotions right now,” Furrykit mewed. Squirrelflight chuckled.

            “Bramblekit, Firekit, go wait for me in the medicine den.” Jayfeather ordered.

            “And you, Furrykit, are coming with me.” Squirrelflight meowed. Furrykit sighed and followed Squirrelflight into the nursery. “You know you three are going to need to be punished,” Squirrelflight told her.

            “I know,” Furrykit sighed. “Can I help out in the medicine den?”

            “I suppose,” Squirrelflight sighed. Furrykit eagerly trotted out of the nursery and into the medicine den.

            “What are you doing here?” Jayfeather asked.

            “I was wondering if I could help,” Furrykit mewed. “Since I’ll be your apprentice.”

            “How much do you already know?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Dock is good for scratches, isn’t it?” 

            “Yeah. Think you could chew some up and put it on their wounds?”

            “I don’t know what dock looks, smells, tastes, or feels like.” Furrykit replied. “I only know names and purposes. Well, I know that parsley has a grassy taste. I think….”

            “Alright. I can’t tell you what dock looks like, but I can show you which one it is.” Jayfeather walked to a crack in the wall of the den. He burrowed through his collection of herbs. He started sniffing, then pointed to one. “This is dock.”

            Furrykit went over and took a long sniff. It was tangy. She took a good look at the plant. It was a really big leaf. She figured it would be hard to tell the difference out in the forest. But by the smell, Furrykit thought she’d be able to do it.

            “Now that you know which one it is, go use it on Bramblekit and Firekit. And treat Firekit first.” Jayfeather ordered.

            Furrykit grabbed two dock leaves and went back to Bramblekit and Firekit. She chewed up the leaf and applied it onto Firekit’s scratch. “Ow!” He cried, jumping back. “That stings!”

            “I know, now let me finish putting it on!” Furrykit snapped. Firekit braced himself and winced as Furrykit finished putting it on. “There.” She took the other leaf and applied its poultice to Bramblekit’s ear. He too jumped back as she applied it, but she got it on.

            “Good work, Furrykit. Now, did you get hit? Surely the badger scratched you!” Jayfeather meowed.

            “Oh, yeah, the badger did claw me down my back, but I have such thick fur it didn’t get deep. I hardly felt it, honestly. I forgot it was there!”

            “Here, let me apply a bit on your back.” Jayfeather meowed around a dock leaf. He spread it around on Furrykit’s back. She understood what Firekit and Bramblekit meant. It did sting! She winced as Jayfeather applied it, but she didn’t think it was that bad, and soon he was done.

            “I want you three to come back every morning so I can apply a fresh poultice.” Jayfeather ordered.

            “Okay,” Firekit mewed. The three hurried out of the medicine den and into the nursery where Squirrelflight was waiting.

            “You three need to be punished,” Squirrelflight mewed. “But how?”

            “How about you give them the same punishment you gave us?” Lionblaze asked as he passed.

            “Yeah, that’s a good idea.” Squirrelflight agreed.

            “What punishment is that?” Firekit asked.

            “We can’t leave the nursery without telling someone where we’re going.” Furrykit moaned.

            “At least until you’re apprenticed.” Squirrelflight meowed. “You can’t leave without telling me or Daisy where you’re going, understood?”

            “Understood,” the three kits moaned in unison.

            “Good.” Squirrelflight mewed with satisfaction.

            “NOO!!!” A cat yowled from outside the nursery. Furrykit peaked her head out to see Berrynose returning from a patrol. “No, no, no!! First Honeyfern and now Poppyfrost?! Why?! What happened?!”

            Furrykit looked at Squirrelflight. She gave a nod. Furrykit motioned with her tail for Firekit and Bramblekit to follow. “Berrynose?” Furrykit asked tentatively.

            “What is it?” Berrynose asked, voice shaking, eyes clouded with pain.

            “It’s our fault Poppyfrost died.” Furrykit confessed.

            “We heard about the badgers and Bramblekit and I couldn’t resist.” Firekit explained.

            “We pressured Furrykit into coming with us. We got hurt, and Poppyfrost heard us. She came to our rescue, and saved our lives.”

            “Poppyfrost killed the badger, but it also killed her. Poppyfrost died like a warrior.” Furrykit finished. “We’ll be forever grateful.”

            “So you’re telling me that you three mouse-brained kits killed my mate?!” Berrynose yowled. He crouched, and looked ready to attack Furrykit Firekit and Bramblekit.

            “Berrynose! Berrynose, calm down!” Brackenfur cried, jumping in front of him. “I’m upset, too. She was my daughter. But they didn’t mean it. Don’t be so hard on them. They’re just kits.”

            Squirrelflight ran out of the nursery and scooped her tail around Furrykit Firekit and Bramblekit protectively. “Don’t you dare hurt my kits!” She hissed at Berrynose. Berrynose hissed back and turned to sit next to Poppyfrost. Furrykit knew that if cats could cry, Berrynose would be sobbing his heart out.

 

Chapter 3

Furrykit woke up five days later. This was the day she’d become an apprentice! Bramblestar had said that the ceremony would begin at sunhigh. She asked Squirrelflight if she could go outside for a bit. She said yes, so Furrykit walked outside.

            Looking up, just outside of the nursery, she saw that it was practically sunhigh. Patrols were coming back, and no one seemed to be leaving camp. Was everyone coming to see our apprentice ceremony? Furrykit wondered. If so, I’m not complaining!

            Furrykit walked back into the nursery. Squirrelflight had dozed off again, and Bramblekit and Firekit were still asleep. “Wake up!” Furrykit cried, prodding the three cats. “It’s nearly sunhigh! Our ceremony is starting soon!”

            “Is it?” Squirrelflight asked, getting up.

            “Yeah!”  Furrykit meowed. “Come on, Firekit!” She prodded Firekit. He jumped, waking Bramblekit, who was snoozing next to him.

            “What is it?” Firekit complained.

            “Our apprentice ceremony is starting soon!” Furrykit cried again.

            “Finally!” Bramblekit cried, bouncing with excitement. He was about to charge out of the nursery when Squirrelflight held him back. “Squirrelflight!” He complained. But Squirrelflight was too busy giving him a thorough grooming. Furrykit figured she should do the same. She started washing herself, so her pelt would like smooth and shiny when she got her apprentice name.

            When Squirrelflight let go of Bramblekit, he shot out of the nursery entrance—too fast. He couldn’t slow down and ended up barreling into Jayfeather as he passed. “Hey, watch it!” Jayfeather growled.

            “Sorry,” Bramblekit mewed. Squirrelflight waved her tail for Bramblekit to get back inside. Then Squirrelflight started thoroughly washing Firekit. “Your wound is still there,” Squirrelflight pointed out anxiously.

            Furrykit examined it. “Ah, it’s just a scab. It doesn’t look bad anymore. I’ve gotten worse cuts than that from my cats as a Twoleg, and I was fine! I think he’ll be fine.”

            “I think Jayfeather should check him out before his mentor has him do anything.” Squirrelflight insisted.

            “Okay, but I think he looks fine.” Furrykit mewed.

            “You’re a kit, what do you know?” Squirrelflight asked.  

            “Jayfeather’s blind, how is he supposed to confirm if it looks okay or not?” Furrykit shot back. “I think it’s fine. And if it does give him problems, he can come to be and Jayfeather.”

            “Fine!” Squirrelflight growled.

            “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting!” Bramblestar called from outside.

            “That’s your cue!” Squirrelflight meowed. “Go out there!”

            Furrykit, Firekit, and Bramblekit ran out of the nursery, their heads held high. They stopped beneath the Highledge. Furrykit wasn’t sure how she felt being the center of attention.

            “Furrykit, Firekit, and Bramblekit, you’ve reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you to be apprenticed.” Bramblestar started. “Furrykit, from this day on, until you receive your full name, you will be known as Furrypaw. Jayfeather, you are ready to take on an apprentice. You received excellent training from Leafpool, and you have shown great determination and skill. You will mentor Furrypaw, and I expect you to pass on all you know to her.”

            “I will do my best, Bramblestar.” Jayfeather said. He touched noses with Furrypaw. Furrypaw and Jayfeather walked off to the side to give Firekit and Bramblekit their space.

            “Bramblekit, from this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Bramblepaw.” Bramblestar continued. “Brackenfur, you are ready to take on another apprentice. You received excellent training from Graystripe and Firestar, and have shown yourself to be brave and loyal. You will be mentor of Bramblepaw, and I expect you to pass on all you know to him.”

            “Don’t worry, I will.” Brackenfur promised, dipping his head to Bramblestar and touching noses with Bramblepaw. They walked over to Jayfeather and Furrypaw.

            “Firekit, from this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Firepaw. Lionblaze, you are ready to take on an apprentice. You received excellent training from Ashfur, and have shown yourself to be brave and skillful. You will be mentor of Firepaw, and I expect you to pass on all you know to him.”

            “I won’t let you down.” Lionblaze meowed, touching noses with Firepaw.

            “Furrypaw! Bramblepaw! Firepaw!” The Clan chanted, as Lionblaze and Firepaw went to stand with the others.

            “That’s some scratch the badger gave you, huh?” Lionblaze asked Firepaw.

            “Yeah.” Firepaw mewed. “I’m glad Furrypaw was able to find me some cobwebs!”

            “Perhaps my brother should check it out real quick before I take you out battle training or something.” Lionblaze suggested.

            “Like I told Squirrelflight, it looks fine!” Furrypaw insisted.

            “I’d better check anyway,” Jayfeather meowed, walking over. Jayfeather sniffed Firepaw’s wound and inspected it carefully. “Furrypaw’s right, it’s not bad. But I want to put a bit more dock on it anyway. Come on.”

            Firepaw and Furrypaw followed Jayfeather into the medicine den. Jayfeather pulled out a dock leaf, chewed it up, and applied it to Firepaw’s wound. Jayfeather looked at the herb storage. “We’re practically out of everything!”

            “Well, it is leaf-bare.” Furrypaw pointed out. “How’s your catmint doing at the Twoleg nest?”

            “How do you know about that?” Jayfeather asked, surprised.

            “Don’t you remember what I said when I first came to ThunderClan?” Furrypaw asked. “I used to be a Twoleg, and someone wrote stories about you guys. I know every little detail about you guys.”

            “Right, right, I forgot about that.” Jayfeather remembered. “To be honest, it’s really freaking me out!”

            “I know your thoughts.” Furrypaw whispered, trying to really spook him. “Well, your past thoughts. You walked in Kestrelflight’s dreams when he was an apprentice. You eavesdropped on Willowshine once. You snuck into Stormfur and Brook’s memory of the battle with the Tribe of Rushing Water and the invaders. You helped give birth to Briarlight, Bumblestripe, and Blossomfall. I know how important the prophecy was to you.”

            “Stop it!” Jayfeather snapped. Firepaw let out a mrrow of laughter behind them. Jayfeather hissed at him and he shrunk back.

            Furrypaw heard someone approaching from behind her. She spun around. It was Spiderleg. “Jayfeather, I don’t feel so well.” He mewed woozily. Jayfeather gave Spiderleg a sniff. “You’ve got whitecough.” Jayfeather announced. “Come lie down. Furrypaw, your first task as an apprentice is getting some catmint. I feel like this will turn into greencough soon and then spread throughout camp. There seems to be a nice outbreak every leaf-bare.” Jayfeather sighed.

            “Can I take Firepaw with me?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Well, I guess.” Jayfeather mewed.

            Lionblaze appeared in the den enterance. “I was going to take Firepaw to see the territory anyway. I’m sure we can pick up some catmint while we’re out.”

            “Remember, they’re at the old abandoned Twoleg nest.” Jayfeather reminded him. “Pick most of the stalks, but leave some to thrive and reproduce.”

            “Got it.” Lionblaze meowed. “Come along, apprentices!” Furrypaw and Firepaw followed Lionblaze out of the den.

            When they left the camp, Furrypaw found a rock. She jumped up on it and sang, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell! And for once it might be grand to have someone understand. I want so much more than they’ve got planned.

            Firepaw and Lionblaze stared at her like she was crazy. “Sorry, it’s just some Twoleg thing. Remember how I told you about television?”

            “Yeah,” Firepaw mewed slowly.

            “That was from a movie.” Furrypaw explained.

            “You didn’t explain that part.” Firepaw pointed out.

            “Unimportant.” Furrypaw mewed quickly.

            “Yeah, well, whatever it is, just keep it down, or you’ll scare all the prey from here to the old forest!” Lionblaze meowed.

            “Sorry,” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Let’s just keep moving.” Lionblaze suggested.

            Firepaw leaned over to Furrypaw. “I don’t know what that was you just did, but I thought it was beautiful.”

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw replied shyly. “There’s a lot more where that came from.”

            “Perhaps you could show me sometime.”

            “Perhaps.” Furrypaw mewed, her pelt hot with embarrassment.

            Furrypaw had forgotten that Lionblaze was showing Firepaw the territory. He seemed to be taking the longest route possible to the abandoned Twoleg nest. “Aren’t we almost to the nest yet?” Furrypaw asked impatiently.

            “Yeah, yeah, hang on. I want to show Firepaw the complete territory.” Lionblaze explained.

            “Oi!” Furrypaw exclaimed. “I went out here to get catmint! Spiderleg could come down with greencough tomorrow, and we need to be prepared!”

            “Keep your fur on! We’re almost there.” Lionblaze promised.

            Furrypaw looked ahead of Lionblaze. The nest! “Coming up on your left is the spot where I’ve been trying to get to for what feels like an hour!” Furrypaw meowed like a tour guide. Lionblaze and Firepaw gave her another look. “Alright, just accept that I’m going to say some things that Twolegs say and cats don’t, okay? I’ll try to talk like you guys, but after ninety-six years of talking like a Twoleg, it’s a pretty hard habit to break.” 

            “What is a year?” Firepaw asked.

            “Twelve moons.” Furrypaw replied. “Most Twolegs don’t leave their parents until they’re eighteen years.

            “Seriously? What’s their average lifespan?” Lionblaze asked.

            “Depends. I think most live to be at least seventy years. Some have lived up to be over a hundred, though. I lived to be ninety-six.”

            “Could you tell us those ages in moons?” Firepaw asked.

            “Hold on, let me do some quick math.” Furrypaw replied. She used her claw to draw in the dirt:

                              70                    96

                                 X 12                 X 12

                               ______           _____

            “You mentioned three ages, but only wrote two things.” Lionblaze mewed.

            “Oh, I can do one hundred times twelve in my head. It’s one thousand two hundred.”

            “One thousand two hundred moons?!” Firepaw cried.

            “Yeah. Well, that’s the maximum age.” Furrypaw replied. “Let me finish up these two problems.” She started writing in the dirt again. “Okay, most Twolegs live to be at least eight hundred forty moons old,” Furrypaw mewed, finishing the first problem. “And I lived to be one thousand one hundred fifty-two moons.”

            “Woah! That’s a really long time!” Firepaw cried.

            “Yeah. Twolegs live a while. Now, let’s go get catmint!” Furrypaw cried, charging forward to the abandoned Twoleg nest. Lionblaze and Firepaw ran after her. Furrypaw stopped dead when she saw the catmint plants. Lionblaze turned the corner and stopped, too. “Oh no!” He cried. “The cold weather must’ve killed off the plants! There’s barely any alive!”

            “What if there’s another outbreak of greencough?” Firepaw asked anxiously.

            “Calm down, my brother is a good medicine cat. There’s only one cat sick right now and he only has whitecough.” Lionblaze pointed out. “I’m sure we’ll be fine for now.”

            “For now?” Firepaw repeated.

            “Look, let’s just take what’s here and head back to camp, okay?” Lionblaze suggested. Furrypaw and Firepaw nodded and grabbed the few stocks of catmint there were. They left two to reproduce and thrive.

            The three cats headed back to camp. Furrypaw walked into Jayfeather’s den. “Did you go to RiverClan to get that catmint?” He asked.

            “No,” Furrypaw mewed. “But we might’ve had better luck if we did. There’s barely any catmint.”

            “Oh boy.” Jayfeather meowed.

            Lionblaze walked in behind Furrypaw. “Want me to go to WindClan again?” he asked.

            “No. Stealing from them once was bad enough. Besides, didn’t Heathertail catch you last time?”

            “Maybe….” Lionblaze mewed.

            “Look, it’s just Spiderleg and he only has whitecough. I don’t even need catmint for whitecough.” Jayfeather meowed. “What could go wrong?”


            “We need catmint, we need catmint, we need catmint!” Jayfeather cried. Furrypaw looked around the medicine cat den. Spiderleg had gotten worse, the elders had gotten sick, and so had Thornclaw, Briarlight, and Berrynose.

            “Jayfeather?” Squirrelflight asked from the entrance. She stepped aside to reveal Birchfall. His eyes were dull and heat was coming off him in waves. He started in a fit of coughing.

            “Not another one!” Jayfeather cried.

            “Remember when you couldn’t find catmint and you said, ‘What could go wrong?’?” Furrypaw asked sarcastically.

            “This is no time for sarcasm!” Jayfeather snapped. “Now make a nest for Birchfall—quickly!” Furrypaw jumped and grabbed some spare moss. She quickly laid it out and Birchfall collapsed in it. “Should I go back out and see if your catmint has grown any?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Already on it.” A voice mewed. Lionblaze appeared in the entrance of the den. “I’ve been checking on it every day for you.” He dropped two stalks of catmint at Jayfeather’s paws.

            “This isn’t helpful!” he wailed.

            “Well, it’s all there is!” Lionblaze snapped. “If you want catmint, I’ll sneak into WindClan territory again!”

            “Sneaking into WindClan territory again?” Sandstorm repeated. “What’s that all about?”

            “Way to go, mouse-brain!” Jayfeather hissed. Furrypaw went over to Sandstorm.

            “Nothing, nothing about sneaking into WindClan territory! We said nothing about that. You must be really sick. Lie down and rest.” She mewed hastily. Sandstorm nodded and closed her eyes.

            “Nice job.” Jayfeather muttered as Furrypaw passed. It felt good to be praised by her mentor.

            Furrypaw walked outside to get some fresh air. She’d been in the den all day, with the stench of greencough surrounding her. The smell of the fresh air was nice. It was really cold, but her thick fur kept her warm.

            Furrypaw scented the latest hunting patrol returning. They dropped their fresh-kill on the pile and picked some for themselves. Furrypaw walked over. She was about to take a scrawny vole, then realized how small the pile was. The rest of the Clan needed to be fed. She grabbed a sort of plump mouse and walked back to the den. “I thought you might want some food,” Furrypaw mewed as she dropped the mouse at Jayfeather’s paws.

            “You can have it.” Jayfeather replied.

            “No, you should. You’re working harder than me.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “I insist you have it.” Jayfeather replied.

            “If you two are just going to argue about it, can I have it?” Berrynose called. Furrypaw looked at Jayfeather. He nodded and Furrypaw tossed the mouse to Berrynose. He caught it and gobbled it down. “Mmm, good choice, Furrypaw.” Berrynose commented.

            “Lie down and rest again, Berrynose.” Jayfeather ordered. Berrynose sighed and laid his head back down.

            Furrypaw yawned. She looked out of the den. The sun was setting. “Why don’t you call it a day?” Jayfeather suggested.

            “You know, as a Twoleg, I used to never get tired. I’d never nap, I always woke up early, and I hated bedtime.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “So you want to stay up?” Jayfeather asked.

            “No. There’s something about a cat that makes you want to sleep.” Furrypaw yawned.

            “You’re really confusing me here.” Jayfeather meowed. “Do you want to sleep or not?”

            “No, I’m tired. Call me if you need me.” Furrypaw decided, curling up in her nest just outside the den. There was a cold breeze, so she curled up even tighter, trying to stay warm. Before she knew it, she was asleep.

            Furrypaw was dreaming. She was a Twoleg again. She wore glasses and had long, thick, dirty blond hair. She had a t-shirt and shorts on. She was carrying around a teddy bear. She was with her family at Walt Disney World. She was watching shows, riding rides, and having the time of her life.

            Then Furrypaw was at the springs. She was floating down the sort of cold river with her family and her brother’s girlfriend’s family. Then the two families were playing with the Frisbee together on a sunny hill before they had their picnic lunch.

            Now Furrypaw found herself up north, having sledding races with her brothers. She was throwing snowballs at them, and making snow angels.

            Still up north, Furrypaw was jumping through the sprinkler, and bouncing on the trampoline with her brothers. All the amazing memories she’d made that she wouldn’t come close to as a cat.

            Furrypaw woke up. She was a cat again. Did I make the right choice becoming a Clan cat? I always thought life would be better as a cat, but, I’m missing out on so much… Furrypaw recalled her dream. All the fun times she’d had as a Twoleg, and she decided to come back as a cat. Her kittypets weren’t allowed at Walt Disney World, and they hated the springs, the snow, the trampoline, and there’s no way she’d get there anyway as a cat. Perhaps Furrypaw had made the wrong decision.

            Jayfeather walked over to her. “I accidentally walked in your dreams last night,” He started. “Is that really what it’s like being a Twoleg?”

            “Yeah.” Furrypaw replied, her eyes clouded with grief as she remembered the fun times she had, fun she’d never be able to relive.

            “Was that really you? And your family?” Jayfeather asked. Furrypaw nodded, afraid her voice would fail her. Remembering Jayfeather was blind, she said yes. “You must feel like you’re missing out now that you’re a Clan cat.” Jayfeather mewed sympathetically. “Seems like you had the time of your life as a Twoleg.”

            “Yep. I have many amazing memories. All of them spent with ones I care about. I wonder if they’re watching me now.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “I’m sure you’ll make good memories here.” Jayfeather meowed.

            “Probably not as good, though.” Furrypaw replied sadly.

            “But you’ll still have fun.” Jayfeather promised.

            “I guess.” Furrypaw mewed. She looked up at Jayfeather. She realized his eyes were dull and tired. “Are you feeling okay?” She asked.

            “Of course I am!” Jayfeather meowed. “Let’s go check on the sick cats.”

            “You don’t look too well,” Furrypaw insisted. “Maybe you should sleep a little longer.”

            “Furrypaw, I’m fine!” Jayfeather insisted. But Furrypaw could see he was a little wobbly on his paws. Then he collapsed into his nest. Furrypaw ran over and could feel heat coming off him. Jayfeather has greencough! 

 

Chapter 4

            Furrypaw was panicking. She couldn’t think straight. She ran up to the first cat she saw. It was Blossomfall. “Where’s Leafpool?” She asked.

            “I don’t know.” Blossomfall meowed. “I think she might’ve gone on patrol.”

            “Brightheart?”

            “Also on patrol.”

            “Ugh! This is not good!” Furrypaw cried.

            “Why? What’s wrong?” Blossomfall asked.

            “Okay, don’t tell anyone because I don’t want the whole camp scared, but Jayfeather has greencough. I’m freaking out because I’ve only been his apprentice for a week! I need Leafpool!”

            “Is there anything I can do to help?” Blossomfall asked anxiously.

            “Well…” Furrypaw mewed, thinking fast. “Go check on everyone in the den. Make sure they don’t get worse.”

            “Okay.” Blossomfall meowed.

            “Oh, be careful, I wouldn’t get too close. Greencough is very contagious.” Furrypaw reminded her.

            “I’ll be careful.” Blossomfall promised.

            Once Blossomfall was out of sight, Furrypaw bolted out the thorn barrier and started sniffing the air. She thought she’d caught a trace of Leafpool’s scent, but she wasn’t sure. She dashed off in the direction she thought was right, yowling “Leafpool!” all the way.

            She finally found Leafpool stalking a vole. “Leafpool!” She cried. The vole scampered off into the undergrowth.

            “You scared away my prey!” Leafpool complained.

            “We’ve got more pressing matters!” Furrypaw cried. “Jayfeather got greencough! I’m just his apprentice and I’ve only been his apprentice for a week! My mind isn’t working! I’m so scared, help me!”

            “Okay, just let me tell Brackenfur that I’m leaving.” Leafpool replied. She walked off through the undergrowth and came back a few moments later. “Come on. Do you have any catmint?”

            “Not really,” Furrypaw mewed. “Lionblaze has been giving us one or two stalks every few days, but I’m not sure it’s enough. Maybe for a few of the sicker ones…”

            “We’ll do what we can,” Leafpool promised, touching Furrypaw’s shoulder with her tail.

            They arrived at the stone hollow. Leafpool went right into the medicine den. She started digging through the herb storage and pulled out the pitiful catmint supply.

            Leafpool prodded Jayfeather, who had fell unconscious right before Furrypaw had went to look for help. He opened his eyes without moving. “What?” He asked groggily.

            “Eat this.” Leafpool instructed, pawing a stalk of catmint toward him.

            “No, no, give it to someone who needs it.” Jayfeather mewed in a weak voice.

            “You do need it! You’re somehow worse than everyone else!” Leafpool insisted.

            “Well, maybe not Spiderleg,” Furrypaw mewed. Spiderleg was unconscious most of the day, and hardly had the strength to move. He complained for food and water about once a day in the most pitiful voice Furrypaw had ever heard. Daisy and Rosepetal were really scared for him.

            “Hmm,” Leafpool meowed. “Here, try to get him to eat some catmint.” She pushed a stalk toward Furrypaw. She walked over and prodded Spiderleg. He didn’t budge. She prodded him harder. He still didn’t respond. Was he alive? Fear rose inside of Furrypaw. She pulled close to him and listened for sounds of his breathing. He was breathing, but hardly.

            “Um, perhaps Jayfeather being sick isn’t our biggest problem,” Furrypaw mewed anxiously.

            “Told you,” Jayfeather murmured before slipping into unconsciousness again.

            “What do you mean?” Leafpool asked, rushing over.

            “Spiderleg is barely breathing. I can’t wake him up, I’m not sure he’ll make it.”

            “What?” Daisy appeared in the entrance.

            “Don’t come in!” Leafpool cried.

            “I was passing by and couldn’t help but overhear… Spiderleg has to live! He has to! I already lost Hazeltail and Toadstep! I can’t lose Spiderleg!”

            “I’ll do what I can to make sure Spiderleg lives.” Leafpool promised.

            “What, am I invisible?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Sorry, we’ll do what we can to make sure Spiderleg lives.” Leafpool repeated. “Happy?”

            “Yes.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Please, keep Spiderleg alive.” Daisy pleaded.

            “We make no guarantees, but we promise to do our best. But I think it’s in the paws of StarClan, I’m afraid.” Leafpool meowed.

            Daisy’s tail drooped. “Let me try to get something out of him!” Daisy pleaded.

            “No!” Leafpool snapped. “I don’t want you getting sick, too!”

            “But this could be the last time I see him alive!” Daisy insisted.

            “No!” Leafpool repeated.

            “Listen to her.” Furrypaw pleaded. “We’ll make sure he lives through this.”

            “Go back to the nursery.” Leafpool ordered. “Or at least go anywhere but here.”

            Furrypaw and Leafpool tried for what felt like forever trying to get Spiderleg to wake up, but to no avail. “This is hopeless!” Furrypaw wailed.

            “We have to keep trying.” Leafpool insisted.

            “Wait, I have an idea.” Furrypaw mewed hopefully. She walked back over to Jayfeather. “Jayfeather?” She prodded him.

            “What?” Jayfeather complained in a weak voice.

            “I want you to try to walk in Spiderleg’s dreams. Make sure he’s okay. See if you can get him to wake up.”

            “I can try,” Jayfeather meowed weakly. He started coughing. Then he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

            “Think it’ll work?” Leafpool asked.

            “Right now I think it’s our best chance.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “While we wait, who else is really sick? We need to give the catmint to them.” Leafpool asked.

            “Purdy isn’t doing well,” Furrypaw meowed. Leafpool walked over and prodded Purdy awake gently.

            “What do you want?” He asked weakly.

            “Eat this.” Leafpool pushed a stalk of catmint towards him.

            “My throat hurts. I can’t swallow nothing’.” He complained.

            “You have to or you won’t get better.” Leafpool urged. Purdy sighed and slowly started chewing up the catmint. He swallowed and winced, then slipped back into unconsciousness.

            “Jayfeather?” A voice called from outside.

            “Don’t come in!” Leafpool yowled.

            “But, Bumblestripe isn’t doing well.” Bramblestar pushed through the bramble screen and motioned for Bumblestripe to go inside. “Leafpool? Why are you in here?” Bramblestar looked down at Jayfeather. “Oh. Do you want me to send everyone to the abandoned Twoleg nest again? This is looking pretty bad.”

            “No, no, Furrypaw and I can handle this.” Leafpool insisted.

            “Are you sure?” Bramblestar asked.

            “If it gets that bad I’ll let you know.” Leafpool promised.

            “Wha—Bumblestripe?” Furrypaw turned around to see Graystripe looking up. “First Briarlight and then Bumblestripe… Will Blossomfall be next?”

            Furrypaw felt like Blossomfall would be next. In her haste and fright she’d send Blossomfall in the den with all the sick cats. She’d left before Furrypaw had gotten back, so she hadn’t been in there long…

            “Go back to sleep, Graystripe.” Leafpool ordered. “Furrypaw, go make a nest for Bumblestripe.” As Furrypaw started laying out moss she heard Bramblestar leave. Then she heard someone else approaching. Another sick cat? 

            “Jayfeather, are you sure you don’t want me to go steal catmint from WindClan? I saw another sick cat come in here.” Lionblaze pushed past the bramble screen.

            “What did you say?” Leafpool asked.

            “Oh,” Lionblaze stopped when he saw Leafpool and the sick Jayfeather. “Nothing.”

            “What is this about stealing catmint from WindClan?” Leafpool demanded.

            “Nothing, it’s nothing.” Lionblaze protested.

            Furrypaw motioned for Bumblestripe to lay down in the nest while Lionblaze and Leafpool argued. Bumblestripe gladly laid down in the nest and fell asleep.

            “Leafpool, ignore what Lionblaze said! This is serious! What are we going to do?” Furrypaw cried.

            Jayfeather woke up. “I talked to Spiderleg,” he mewed weakly. “He said he’d try to wake up.”

            “Eat this!” Leafpool demanded, rushing over and giving him catmint.

            “I don’t need it!” Jayfeather insisted.

            “Yes you do! As your mother I demand you to eat it!” Leafpool hissed.

            “Just eat the catmint.” Lionblaze mewed. “I can tell you need it and if you don’t eat she’ll just keep yelling at you.”

            “Fine.” Jayfeather hissed. He chewed up the catmint stalk and swallowed. “Happy now?”

            “Very.” Leafpool meowed.

            “Jayfeather?” a weak voice asked from behind them. Spiderleg lifted his head, then plopped it back down.

            “Eat this,” Leafpool meowed, pushing him catmint.

            “Thanks,” he mewed, swallowing the catmint.

            “Well, the three worst have eaten their share of catmint.” Leafpool meowed, hope filling her voice.

            “Berrynose seemed to be doing well.” Furrypaw mewed. “Perhaps we should give a stalk to Sandstorm and Graystripe?”

            “Good idea,” Leafpool meowed, waking the two elders. She gave them each a stalk and they ate it without complaining.

            “We only have one more stalk,” Leafpool mewed. “Who’s doing the worst, besides the ones we’ve already treated?”

            “I think maybe Birchfall.” Furrypaw mewed. “Or Briarlight. But Berrynose seems okay, and Bumblestripe doesn’t seem to be doing too badly.”

            Leafpool studied Birchfall and Briarlight. “We’ll give it to Briarlight.” She decided. She walked over and prodded Briarlight awake. She ate the catmint and went back to sleep.

            “Can I have something to eat?” Birchfall asked, waking up. Furrypaw looked to the entrance of the den, where Lionblaze was still standing. Understanding, Lionblaze left and came back with a vole. He tossed it to Birchfall, who stood up on his hind legs to catch it, then ate it peacefully.

            “Furrypaw, maybe you should have a rest.” Leafpool mewed. “You’ve been working hard, and I don’t want you getting sick, too.”

            “Okay.” Furrypaw meowed, walking out of the den. She stood and closed her eyes in the fresh air, the breeze ruffling her fur. Then she curled up in a tight ball and went to sleep.

            Furrypaw was a Twoleg. She was wearing jeans and a sweatshirt. Furrypaw looked up and saw colorful water shooting into the sky, with catchy music playing in the background. She was watching the World of Color show at Disneyland California—her favorite theme park. She was having the best time with her family.

            Then Furrypaw was in her pajamas, sitting on the couch downstairs. The Christmas tree had presents under it. Her family was taking turns picking one out and giving it who it belongs to. Opening presents with her family on Christmas day was the day she had always looked forward to, starting from December 26th. Furrypaw would never see World of Color again, or enjoy opening presents with her family. Clan cats didn’t even know what Christmas was!

            Furrypaw awoke the next morning. She stood up. Are my dreams trying to tell me I made the wrong choice?

            “What’s wrong, Furrypaw?” Leafpool appeared out of the medicine den. “You look a little sad.”

            “It’s my dreams. I keep dreaming about the great times I had as a Twoleg with my family, the best memories I’ve ever made. I can’t relive them as a cat. I’m wondering if I made the right choice.” Furrypaw mewed sadly.

            “I’m sure you did.” Leafpool assured her. “I’m glad you’re here. And I didn’t think Jayfeather was ever going to pick an apprentice, but you convinced him. I’ve never seen him so nice.”

            “Well, my mom was always good with cats, and I picked up a thing or two.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “It’s too late to turn back now. But something tells me you’ll be a great medicine cat, and make all four Clans proud of you. Then you’ll be glad you became a cat.” Leafpool meowed. 

Chapter 5

Furrypaw woke up five days later. She looked around. All the sick cats had gone back to their warrior duties—except for Spiderleg and Jayfeather. Spiderleg was still weak, but recovering fast. Jayfeather only had whitecough. He could sort through herbs, but Leafpool had Furrypaw deal with sick or injured cats.

            “Tonight is the half moon, isn’t it?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Yeah,” Jayfeather replied, checking their herb supply. He pulled out a few and ate them, then gave the rest to Spiderleg. Furrypaw looked up and realized it was sunhigh.

            “Do I need to get any herbs?” Furrypaw asked.

            “We’re a bit low on tansy,” Jayfeather commented. “Think you could run out and get some?”

            “Sure. How much do you need?” Furrypaw meowed.

            “As much as you can carry.” Jayfeather replied.

            “Can I bring Firepaw?” Furrypaw asked.

            “If you think you’ll be carrying that much,” Jayfeather meowed. “You know, you’ve been hanging out with Firepaw quite a bit lately.”

            “Well, he was like my littermate. He’s my friend.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “I’d think you’d be spending more time with Bramblepaw, then. You seem to ignore him!” Jayfeather pointed out.

            “I’m just going to leave now, bye!” Furrypaw rushed out of the den before Jayfeather could comment again about her hanging out with Firepaw.

            She poked her head in the apprentices’ den and was pleased to find Firepaw there, talking with Alderpaw. “There are too many ginger cats in the Clans for my liking,” he was meowing

            “I know, right?” Alderpaw replied.

            “Firepaw, could you come with me to collect some herbs?” Furrypaw interrupted.

            “Sure,” Firepaw mewed, standing up and leaving the den.

            Furrypaw and Firepaw walked out and were greeted by Sandstorm. “Hi, Furrypaw, Firepaw.” She mewed. As she said Firepaw’s name, her eyes clouded with grief.

            “What’s wrong, Sandstorm?” Furrypaw asked.

            “It’s just that, Firestar was my mate, and we trained together as apprentices. Your name just reminds me too much of him.” Sandstorm replied.

            “It didn’t bother you when my name was Firekit,” Firepaw pointed out.

            “Yeah, well, Firestar was never named Firekit. Before he was Firepaw he was Rusty.” Sandstorm explained.

            “Oh,” Firepaw mewed, understanding. Furrypaw had already known that. Firepaw could read the expression on her face. “You already knew that, didn’t you?” He asked.

            “Yep.” Furrypaw replied.

            “You said there were stories about us in the Twoleg world?” Firepaw asked.

            “Yeah.” Furrypaw mewed. “In fact, we might be in a book right now! Hi, reader! I’ll try to make our life interesting for you!”

            “What do you mean by ‘interesting’?” Sandstorm asked.

            “You know, battles, sickness, danger, death…”

            “So people reading the stories like watching our Clan fall apart?!” Sandstorm screamed.

            “Well, it creates drama, suspense, and you always have a happy ending. Sure you lose a few cats, but they always die bravely.”

            “You’re not making me like Twolegs any more.” Firepaw mewed.

            “Let’s just get going.” Furrypaw suggested.

            “Goodbye,” Sandstorm called as Furrypaw and Firepaw headed for the thorn barrier.

            When they left the camp, Furrypaw mewed, “Do you know what I was thinking when Sandstorm’s eyes clouded when she said your name?”

            “What?” Firepaw asked.

            Furrypaw started singing. “Just when I thought I was over you, and just when I thought I could stand on my own, oh baby those memories come crashing through! And I just can’t go on without you.

            “Wow.” Firepaw meowed. “That was amazing!”

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw mewed. “Hey, wanna see something else I loved as a Twoleg?”

            “Sure.” Firepaw mewed. Furrypaw led them to the lake. “No, no, not swimming!”

            “Yep!” Furrypaw cried. Furrypaw felt the air. It was warm-ish for leaf-bare, and she had thick fur.

            “But the lake is freezing!” Firepaw complained, wading in paw-deep on the beach.

            “Wanna know how my brothers taught me to get used to the cold water faster?” Furrypaw asked from a rock near the lake.

            “How?” Firepaw asked.

            “Get wet all at once!” Furrypaw cried. She got a running start then leaped off the rock. “Cannonball!” She cried, hitting the water with a splash. It was cold, but she could deal with it. She started swimming around. “Come on, Firepaw!”

            “What do we say when we come back to camp wet?” Firepaw asked.

            “We’ll saw you accidentally fell in and I rescued you.”

            “Why do you rescue me?” Firepaw asked.

            “Because I was the one who learned life-saving in water as a Girl Scout.” Furrypaw meowed.

            “Girl scout?” Firepaw mewed confusedly.

            “It’s unimportant. Now come on in!” Furrypaw cried. Firepaw walked up to the rock where Furrypaw had been. He peered over the edge of the rock at the water below. He seemed nervous. “Don’t think about it!” Furrypaw advised. “Just jump!” Firepaw hesitated, then put on a brave face, stepped back, ran forward, and flew through the air. He splashed, and when he surfaced he cried, “Cold! Cold!”

            “You get used to it.” Furrypaw meowed.

            “It feels weird doing all this stuff with you and without Bramblepaw.” Firepaw mewed. “Before you came along we promised each other we’d always do everything together, and now I’m running away from him to be with you.”

            “You train with Bramblepaw, don’t you?” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Sometimes, but I’m often on patrol when he’s battle training, or training when he’s on patrol.”

            Furrypaw felt a pang of guilt. She was pulling her friend away from his brother! “We came out to look for herbs. Let’s do that.” Furrypaw mewed, swimming for the shore. Firepaw followed her. She climbed out of the lake and shook herself to get most of the water out of her pelt. Firepaw did the same.

            “Okay, what does tansy look like?” Firepaw asked.

            “Its leaves are round and yellow. It smells very sweet.” Furrypaw answered.

            “Okay.” Firepaw mewed. They searched the area.

            “Found a clump!” Furrypaw called. Firepaw ran over. “Jayfeather said to bring as much as we can carry.” Furrypaw divided the pile in half and they each picked up the clump in their mouths.

            Firepaw led the way back to camp. When they walked through the barrier, they were greeted by Jayfeather. “What took you so long?” he scolded. “And why are you soaking wet?”

            “We were searching the forest near the lake. Firepaw went too close to the edge for some reason and fell in, so I had to rescue him.” Furrypaw explained.

            “Why were you searching for tansy by the lake?” Jayfeather asked. “You know what, I don’t want to know. Just give me the tansy.” He took the tansy from Firepaw and Furrypaw and stalked off to the medicine den.

            “So, what are you doing now?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Lionblaze I could take a day off.” Firepaw meowed. “So, whatever you want.”

            “Go spend the day with your brother.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “What?”

            “Go spend the rest of the day with Bramblepaw.” Furrypaw repeated.

            “Okay.” Firepaw looked around. He ran up to Squirrelflight. “Have you seen Bramblepaw?”

            “I think he went to do some battle training with Brackenfur.” Squirrelflight replied.

            “Think they’ll mind if I join in?” Firepaw asked.

            “Probably not.” Before Squirrelflight could ask why, Firepaw was bounding out of camp and headed for the training hollow. Furrypaw walked into the medicine den.

            “Jayfeather?” she asked.

            “What?” he asked.

            “Can I go visit my mother?” Furrypaw asked. Jayfeather stopped what he was doing and turned around.

            “Your mother is very far away, why do you want to go see her? You ran away from her.”

            “I ran away because I knew my heart lies here, not because I hate my mom!” Furrypaw meowed. “Cloudtail and Hazeltail got to see their parents even though they lived in Twolegplace!”

            “That’s different! Cloudtail’s mother lived just outside ThunderClan territory, and Hazeltail’s father’s home happened to be on the way to where she was going!” Jayfeather explained.

            “I have the rest of the afternoon! Why can’t I go visit my parents? It’s unfair! And it’s been so long, they must be worried about me! They might think I’m dead, for crying out loud!” Furrypaw cried.

            Jayfeather opened his mouth like he was about to say something, then closed it again. He sighed. “I guess if Bramblestar thinks it’s okay you can go.”

            “Thanks, Jayfeather.” Furrypaw ran out of the den and bounded up to the Highledge. “Bramblestar?” she called.

            “Come in.” the response came.

            “Can I go see my parents?” Furrypaw asked.

            Bramblestar stared at her. “I can understand why you’d want to go, but, today? Now? Twolegplace is a bit far away…”

            “Please,” Furrypaw begged.

            “Tonight is the half-moon, Furrypaw. You have to go to Moonpool so you can be an official medicine cat apprentice!”

            “I have the rest of the afternoon!” Furrypaw argued.

            “It’s still a while away! When I went to get Berrynose Hazeltail and Mousewhisker back I left about this time and I had to stay there overnight. Usually I’d send a warrior with you and let you, but not tonight. Tomorrow, okay?”

            “Fine.” Furrypaw mewed. She walked out of the den.

            “So, how’d it go?” Jayfeather asked as she reentered the medicine den.

            “He said I could go, but not tonight. He reminded me it was half-moon.” Furrypaw sighed. “I bet usually, even on half-moon, he’d let me go and miss it once, but this is my first time, and I have to become an ‘official medicine cat apprentice’.”

            “I’m sure you’ll be able to go tomorrow.” Jayfeather assured her.

            “Yeah, maybe.” Furrypaw walked out of the den and felt the air. “Man, it got cold fast!”

            “I know. Around sunhigh it was fairly warm. Now it’s pretty chilly again.” Jayfeather remarked.

            Furrypaw looked up and saw heavy clouds. They were a really dark gray. Surely it’s going to rain soon? Furrypaw was right, but it didn’t rain. It snowed. “Snow!” She cried. “Oh how I’ve missed snow!”

            “What do you mean?” Jayfeather asked. “Surely you must’ve seen plenty of snow as a Twoleg?”

            “Well, yeah, but when I was still a little kit, my family moved to a place where it didn’t snow at all. It was always ridiculously hot, and I never got to go sledding or have snowball fights for the next ninety years.” Furrypaw sighed.

            “Year?” Jayfeather asked. Furrypaw sighed. She quickly drew “90x12” in the dirt vertically.

            “Let me rephrase that, I never got to go sledding or have snowball fights for the next one thousand eighty moons after we moved.” Furrypaw meowed.

            “How much time did you get with snow?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Only seventy-two.” Furrypaw replied. “So out of one thousand one hundred fifty-two moons of my life, I only spent seventy-two with snow. Maybe a bit more when you include college out in Utah…”

            “Alright you’ve lost me.” Jayfeather meowed.

            “Yeah, I figured.” Furrypaw mewed. By the time the conversation had finished, there was a decent amount of snow on the ground.

            “Where’s Firepaw and Bramblepaw?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Here,” Bramblepaw called, coming in through the thorn barrier. “What’s up, Furrypaw?”

            “Snowball fight!” She cried. She scooped up a bit of snow and curved her paw around it. She stood up on her hind legs and through it as hard as she could at Bramblepaw.

            “Hey!” Bramblepaw cried, jumping back as the cold snow hit him.

            “Come on, it’s fun! I used to play like this with my brothers all the time!” Furrypaw cried, throwing a snowball at Firepaw.

            The snow began to fall more thickly, and Furrypaw couldn’t resist jumping up and batting around the flakes. It was one of her kitten instincts. Firepaw and Bramblepaw let out a mrrow of laughter. Furrypaw suddenly became self-aware. She quickly formed two snowballs and threw one at each of them. Firepaw and Bramblepaw stopped laughing and stared at her. She knew the fight was on.

            They threw snowballs at each other for quite some time. The snow was getting steadily higher. The three apprentices were interrupted by Bramblestar. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting!” he called.

            Furrypaw Firepaw and Bramblepaw walked over and all sat together, Firepaw in the middle. Furrypaw looked up and saw that the sun was setting. Alderpaw and Sparkpaw walked up, their pelts well-groomed and shining.

            Bramblestar called the apprentices forward. “I, Bramblestar, leader of ThunderClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in their turn. Alderpaw and Sparkpaw, do you promise to uphold the Warrior Code, and to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?”

            “I do.” The two apprentices mewed.

            “Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Alderpaw, from this moment you will be known as Alderclaw. StarClan honors your bravery and dedication, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ThunderClan.” Bramblestar rested his muzzle on Alderclaw’s head and Alderclaw licked his shoulder in return.

            “Sparkpaw, from this moment you will be known as Sparkheart. StarClan honors your compassion and courage, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ThunderClan.” Bramblestar rested his muzzle on Sparkheart’s head and she licked his shoulder.

            “Alderclaw! Sparkheart! Alderclaw! Sparkheart!” the Clan cheered. The two new warriors took their spots by the thorn barrier to sit their vigil.

            “ThunderClan will be safe tonight.” Bramblestar meowed.

            “And the rest of us can sleep!” Dovewing cried.

            “Yeah,” Hollytuft agreed.

            “Furrypaw!” Jayfeather called. “It’s time to go to Moonpool.”

            “You’re not going.” Leafpool meowed firmly.

            “Why not? I have to introduce her to StarClan.” Jayfeather mewed.

            “You’re still a little sick, remember?” Leafpool meowed. “I’ll take Furrypaw.”          

            “You’re not an official medicine cat anymore!” Jayfeather pointed out. “How are you supposed to introduce her to StarClan?”

            “StarClan will understand.” Leafpool meowed firmly. “And so will the other medicine cats.”

            “I was really looking forward to introducing her.” Jayfeather sighed.

            “Well, sorry, but you’re still sick.” Leafpool mewed.

            “I’ll tell you all about it,” Furrypaw promised.

            “Come on, Furrypaw.” Leafpool mewed, leading her out of camp.

            Leafpool led Furrypaw to the WindClan border, where they ran into Kestrelflight. “Leafpool? I thought you stepped down as medicine cat.” He meowed.

            “I’ll explain when everyone else gets here.” Leafpool mewed.

            “Who’s this?” Kestrelflight asked, looking at Furrypaw.

            “This is Furrypaw, Jayfeather’s apprentice.” Leafpool replied.

            “Ah, right, you’re the weird Twoleg cat that Bramblestar mentioned a while ago.” Kestrelflight mewed.

            “Twolegs are better than you guys think. I loved cats as a Twoleg.” Furrypaw meowed.

            “What was your favorite thing to do?” Kestrelflight asked curiously.

            “Sing.” Furrypaw replied.

            “What is that?” Kestrelflight asked confusedly.

            “This.” Furrypaw mewed. She leaped on a nearby rock for a dramatic effect. “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere! I want it more than I can tell! And for once it might be grand to have someone understand. I want so much more than they’ve got planned.” She climbed down from the rock.

            “That was beautiful!” Kestrelflight cried. “Did you know she could do that?” he addressed Leafpool.

            “Nope.” Leafpool meowed. “You’ve got real talent, there, Furrypaw.”

            “What’s taking Littlecloud Mothwing and Willowshine so long?” Kestrelflight asked.

            “I’m right here,” Littlecloud called, coming up from behind Leafpool and Furrypaw. “Mothwing and Willowshine always take the longest.” He sighed. “Leafpool? Didn’t you step down as medicine cat? Who’s this?”

            “I’ll explain when Mothwing and Willowshine get here.” Leafpool meowed again.

            “Explain what?” Mothwing asked from behind Kestrelflight. “Leafpool? Didn’t you step down as medicine cat? Who’s this?”

            “This is Furrypaw, Jayfeather’s apprentice.”

            “You mean the weird Twoleg cat that Bramblestar mentioned?” Mothwing asked.

            “You realize I’m right here, right?” Furrypaw asked. “That’s kinda offensive.”

            “Sorry,” Mothwing apologized. “So, why isn’t Jayfeather here?”

            “We had an outbreak of greencough and Jayfeather caught the virus. Everyone is recovering well, but Jayfeather isn’t quite healthy yet.” Leafpool explained.

            “What if StarClan doesn’t accept me because I wasn’t introduced by a medicine cat?” Furrypaw worried.

            “I’m sure they’ll accept you.” Littlecloud assured her.

            They started walking up a slope, following the stream on the border between ThunderClan and WindClan. “Guys, you have to hear what Furrypaw can do.” Kestrelflight meowed. He nodded for Furrypaw. She knew what he meant. She quickly thought of a good song, then belted out on of her favorite songs.

            “Let it go, let it go! I am one with the wind and sky! Let it go, let it go! You’ll never see me cry! Here I stand, and here I’ll stay! Let the storm rage on!” As she was singing, Furrypaw was running forward, jumping, and spinning, making the performance even better.

            “That’s amazing!” Willowshine cried. “Do it again!”

            Furrypaw thought for a moment, then sang, “But what hurts the most was being so close! And having so much to say, and watching you walk away. And never knowing what could’ve been! And not seeing that I’m loving you is what I was trying to do.

            “You sound beautiful.” Littlecloud commented.

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw mewed, pelt hot with embarrassment. She suddenly stumbled. They’d reached the slope down to the Moonpool. Leafpool lunged forward to steady her. “Thanks,” she murmured, walking carefully to the Moonpool, her paws falling into pawprints left by previous cats, which she knew to be the ancient cats, currently the Tribe of Rushing Water.

            She walked down to the Moonpool. “Furrypaw, is it your wish to enter the mysteries of StarClan as a medicine cat?” Leafpool asked Furrypaw.

            “It is,” Furrypaw mewed, excitement bubbling inside of her.

            “Then come forward.” Leafpool mewed. Furrypaw walked forward to Leafpool. “Warriors of StarClan, I present you with this apprentice. She has chosen the path of a medicine cat. Grant her with your wisdom and insight so that she may understand your ways and heal her Clan in accordance with your will.” Furrypaw knew what to do next. She lay down and drank from the Moonpool, then awaited her dream.

            “Welcome, Furrypaw.” Furrypaw looked up.

            “Firestar!” Furrypaw cried. “You were my second favorite character in the Warriors series! It’s an honor to be meeting you!”

            “Second favorite?” Firestar asked.

            “Bluestar was my favorite. I was just as devastated as you were when she died.” Furrypaw explained.

            “I can’t argue with Bluestar being a favorite.” Firestar agreed.

            “I know you think we’re mad because you were introduced by Leafpool, who isn’t technically a medicine cat anymore,” a voice said from behind Firestar. He stepped aside to reveal Bluestar. “But we understand that Jayfeather was unable to come. We accept you.”

            “Really?” Furrypaw asked, her voice shaking with excitement.

            “Of course.” Furrypaw turned to see Lionheart coming toward her.

            “Lionheart! You were one of my favorites, too!” Furrypaw cried. “Who else is here?”

            “You might as well come on out, guys.” Firestar called. Appearing from the undergrowth came Willowpelt, Yellowfang, Hollyleaf, Ferncloud, Dustpelt, Sorreltail, Honeyfern, Poppyfrost, Seedpaw, Molepaw, Brightspirit, Braveheart, Rainwhisker, Sootfur, Brindleface, Hazeltail, and countless others.

            “Poppyfrost!” Furrypaw cried, running towards them. “I’m really sorry about what happened to you, and so are Firepaw and Bramblepaw.”

            “I understand and forgive you.” Poppyfrost mewed. “You didn’t mean for any harm, and you, Furrypaw, stood up for the Warrior Code—at first.”

            “It was still pretty stupid.” Yellowfang muttered.

            “Welcome to the medicine cat world,” Bluestar mewed. “You’ll be seeing a lot more of us.”

            “Did Leafpool lay down to share tongues with you guys?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Yes, she did.” Firestar meowed.

            “I’ll go talk to her real quick,” Hollyleaf mewed. She disappeared into the undergrowth.

            Furrypaw noticed Goldenflower appear out of the crowd. “How’s my son doing as leader?” she asked.

            “I think he’s doing a wonderful job as leader.” Furrypaw assured her. “Almost as good as Firestar. No offense, Bluestar, but I think Firestar was the best leader the forest has ever seen.”

            “I understand.” Bluestar mewed. “My mind was kinda out of whack towards the end, there.”

            “But the real you came back when we needed you.” Firestar meowed, walking over and putting his tail on Bluestar’s shoulder. “You saved my life.”

            “This is all very touching, but we have a guest here.” Honeyfern reminded everyone.

            “Of course,” Bluestar meowed. “But I think it’s time for you to leave anyway.”       

            “Goodbye, Furrypaw.” Ferncloud mewed.

            “Goodbye,” Furrypaw mewed, before waking up at the Moonpool.

            “Have a good dream?” Leafpool asked.

            “I met just about every cat ThunderClan’s ever had,” she mewed.

            “I bet Jayfeather would love to hear all about it.” Leafpool mewed. “Come on, let’s get back to camp.”

Chapter 6

            Furrypaw walked into the medicine den. “I got your yarrow,” she mewed. She dropped it at Jayfeather’s paws. He picked it up and stored it away. “Do you remember when Bramblestar said I could leave?”

            “I think he said sunhigh you could leave.” Jayfeather replied.

            “It’s almost sunhigh,” she pointed out.

            “Go find Squirrelflight Bramblepaw and Firepaw, then.” Jayfeather mewed.

            “Will you be able to hold up on your own? Something could easily happen, and you’re still a little sick, so you won’t be able to treat them.” Furrypaw asked.

            “Leafpool and Brightheart are here if needed. But I’m sure I’ll be fine. It’s just for a day.”

            “See you tonight or tomorrow!” Furrypaw called, leaving the den and looking around for her foster mom. She found Squirrelflight returning from a patrol. “Squirrelflight! Are you ready?”

            “Ready for what?” she asked.

            “We’re leaving soon! Come on! I want to see my family!” Furrypaw cried. She was bouncing up and down with excitement.

            “I’m still not sure I like the idea of going into a Twoleg nest,” Squirrelflight mewed.

            “What? You’ve done it before!” Furrypaw pointed out.

            “Not voluntarily!” Squirrelflight argued.

            “What’s going on? Is Squirrelflight too scared to visit your family?” Firepaw asked, coming up from behind them.

            “Uh-huh.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Am not!” Squirrelflight argued.          

            “Let’s just go!” Firepaw insisted.

            “Not without Bramblepaw,” Furrypaw reminded him.

            “I’m right here!” Bramblepaw called, coming up from behind them.

            “Bramblestar!” Squirrelflight called up to the Highledge. “We’re leaving now!”

            Bramblestar appeared at the den entrance. “Stay safe,” he mewed. He climbed down and rubbed up against Squirrelflight.

            “Don’t worry about me,” she murmured.

            “Can we leave now?” Firepaw asked impatiently.  

            “See ya later, alligator!” Furrypaw called as they started walking out of camp. Bramblestar gave her a confused look. “Psst! You’re supposed to say, ‘In a while, crocodile!’” Furrypaw explained.

            “In a while crocodile?” Bramblestar questioned.

            “Forget it.” Furrypaw meowed disappointedly as she walked out the thorn barrier.

            As they started toward the WindClan barrier, Furrypaw mewed, “We need travel music.”

            “Meaning?” Bramblepaw asked.

            “This.” Furrypaw mewed. Then broke into song. “Tell everybody I’m on my way, new friends and new places to see. With blue skies ahead, yes I’m on my way, and there’s nowhere else that I’d rather be!” She continued the song for quite some time. She was finishing up: “So, tell everybody I’m on my way, and I—

            “Hey! Who do you think you are?” Furrypaw looked up. There was a WindClan patrol passing by. It was led by Breezepelt, along with Leaftail, Furzepelt, and Oatclaw.

            “Sorry, guys, we were just on our way to visit Furrypaw’s family, and we were just having a little fun.” Squirrelflight apologized.          

            “Yeah, well stop having fun! You’re scaring away all the prey!” Leaftail hissed.

            “Yeah!” Oatclaw cried. “Shut up or we’ll attack!”

            “Can’t I just finish the song? I swear, I was almost done!” Furrypaw begged.

            “Very well,” Furzepelt mewed. “Proceed. But then if we hear any more of that coming out of any of you guys, you’re going to eat those words you were—singing?”

            “Yes, it’s called singing,” Furrypaw meowed. “And, thank you.” She finished up her song. “So tell everybody I’m on my way, and I just can’t wait to be home! The sun beating down, yes I’m on my way, with nothing but good times to show, I’m on my way! Yes I’m on my way!

            “There. She’s done. Can we be on our way now?” Squirrelflight asked.

            “Yes,” Breezepelt hissed. “But you’d better stop scaring our prey! If Onestar asks why our patrol came back empty-pawed, we’re going to say it was that stupid Twoleg cat that ThunderClan foolishly took in!”

            “I’m right here!” Furrypaw meowed angrily. “And I’m not deaf!”

            “We know!” Leaftail threw over his shoulder as they turned away. Fire paw hissed after them.

            “Come on,” Squirrelflight meowed, a bit of anger gleaming in her eyes as she stared after the patrol.

            Soon enough, they found themselves at the horseplace. “This is it,” Furrypaw muttered. She wondered if Silky would be happy to see her, or mad that she’d run away. Probably a little of both.

            Furrypaw took a reassuring breath, then walked through the cat flap. “Silky?” she asked. She saw her mother turn around and stare in awe at her.

            “My baby! You’ve come back! What happened to you?” Silky asked.

            “I went to join the wild cats. It’s my destiny. It’s for me. I’m certain. I’ve already been accepted into the Clans by their warrior ancestors! Call me Furrypaw.”

            “I’m not the only one who’s been worried,” Silky mewed. She stepped aside to reveal Furrypaw’s sister.

            “She didn’t get sold?”

            “No one seems to want me.” Furrypaw’s sister mewed sadly.

            “Our owners said that if no one buys her in a few days she’s going to the shelter.” Silky mewed.

            “Furrypaw, how’d you know there were wild cats here, anyway?” her sister asked.

            “I was a Twoleg before I was born a cat,” Furrypaw admitted. “I read about warrior cats, and I knew it was the life for me. When I died I asked to be born again, here.”

            “So did I!” her sister cried. “I loved the Warriors books! I used to talk about them all the time with my friend from church!”

            A sudden realization struck Furrypaw. “Kelsey?” she asked.

            “Elizabeth?!” her sister cried.

            “I can’t believe it’s you!” Furrypaw cried. “I can’t believe my best friend is my sister!”           

            “Neither can I!” Her sister cried.

            “Woah, woah, woah, what’s going on in here?” Furrypaw spun around to see Squirrelflight entering.

            “Who’s this?” Silky asked.

            “Squirrelflight?!” Furrypaw’s sister cried.

            “Why does she know who I am?” Squirrelflight asked.

            “Well, you see,” Furrypaw began uncertainly. “That’s my sister, and apparently she was also originally a Twoleg and she loved the Warriors books and as a Twoleg we were best friends!”

            “You look a lot like me,” Squirrelflight commented. Furrypaw took a good look at her sister. She was ginger with a white belly.

            “Still doesn’t answer my question!” Silky meowed.

            “This is my foster mom, Squirrelflight. I needed milk for a while after I ran away, and she has two sons my age. Firepaw! Bramblepaw! Come on in!” Furrypaw meowed. Firepaw and Bramblepaw walked in.

            “We heard the whole thing,” Firepaw mewed.

            “There’s another like you?!” Bramblepaw cried.

            “Uh-huh.” Furrypaw’s sister meowed.

            “Kelsey, I have a great idea!” Furrypaw meowed. “Come back to ThunderClan with me! Then you won’t have to go to the shelter!”

            “I’d love to!” her sister cried.

            “We should probably get back to camp,” Squirrelflight mewed.

            “Okay.” Furrypaw agreed. “Tell Smoky that I said hi for me!” she addressed Silky.

            “And tell him that I said bye!” her sister added.

            “You’re seriously leaving?” Silky asked. “Why would you want to be a wild cat?”

            “The question is, why wouldn’t I want to be a wild cat?” her sister meowed.

            “I’m going to be Clanmates with by best friend in the Twoleg world who is now my sister!” Furrypaw cried. “This is so unreal!”

            “You’re telling me,” Silky meowed.

            “We need to get going,” Squirrelflight interrupted.

            “Goodbye, Silky,” Furrypaw and her sister mewed.

            “Goodbye,” Silky whispered.

            “We’ll visit when we can,” Furrypaw’s sister promised.

            “Okay, can we please leave?” Bramblepaw asked.

            “Yeah.” Furrypaw replied.

            “Want some travel music?” Furrypaw’s sister asked as they started off.

            “Yeah!” Furrypaw cried.

            “No!” Squirrelflight shouted. “WindClan warned us that if we started singing again they’d claw our ears off!”

            “Fine.” Furrypaw and her sister moaned. “Jinx!”

            “Oh boy.” Squirrelflight mewed.


            “Another Twoleg cat?!” Bramblestar cried. Furrypaw and her sister were in Bramblestar’s den.

            “Please let me stay!” Furrypaw’s sister begged.

            “I guess you can stay.” Bramblestar sighed.

            “Thank you, thank you, thank you!” Furrypaw’s sister cried.

            “The other Clans are going to hate me forever,” Bramblestar muttered. He walked out of the den. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting!”

            Furrypaw noticed Cloudtail scowling at her sister. She moved closer to her.

            “What is it now?” Fernsong called up.

            Bramblestar explained everything. “Not another one!” Ivypool complained.

            “Yes! And I’m going to welcome her with open arms!” Bramblestar snapped. “We shall name her Gingerpaw. Her mentor will be Cinderheart.”

            “But I want to be a medicine cat apprentice,” Gingerpaw mewed.

            “Kelsey, I told you, I’ve already got the part!” Furrypaw reminded her.

            “I know,” Gingerpaw sighed. “I guess I could settle for being a warrior.”

            “It’s that or leave.” Bramblestar mewed.

            “Warrior it is.” Gingerpaw decided.

            “Good,” Bramblestar meowed. “Meeting dismissed.”

            Furrypaw climbed down from the Highledge, Gingerpaw right behind her. “Hey, Gingerpaw!” Cinderheart called to Gingerpaw. “You know what your first apprentice task is?”

            “What?” Gingerpaw asked excitedly.

            “Cleaning out the elders’ den.” Cinderheart mewed. “You said you’ve read about what we do and know every little detail?”

            “Yeah,” Gingerpaw meowed, her excitement fading away.

            “Then you should know exactly how to do it.” Cinderheart meowed. Gingerpaw’s tail drooped.

            “Don’t worry. I’ll help you.” Furrypaw offered.

            “Thanks, Lizzie.” Gingerpaw mewed.

            “Hey, call me Furrypaw.” Furrypaw corrected.

            “Right, right,” Gingerpaw meowed. They walked to the elders’ den to start cleaning.

            As the two apprentices were about to roll the balls of moss out of the den, Bumblestripe came crashing in. “Guys!” He cried. “Ivypool’s expecting kits—my kits!”

            “That’s great!” Graystripe meowed excitedly.

            “Good for you,” Sandstorm meowed.

            “This is amazing! My baby is all grown up!” Millie exclaimed.

             “Why don’t you go tell Whitewing and Birchfall that their daughter is having kits?” Graystripe meowed.

            “Good idea!” Bumblestripe cried, rushing out of the den.

            “I remember being that excited,” Graystripe mewed, his voice revealing that he was taking a stroll down memory lane.

            “I hope I’ll be that excited someday,” Gingerpaw mewed.

            “So do I,” Furrypaw agreed.

            “You can never be that excited, Furrypaw,” Sandstorm reminded her. “You’re a medicine cat.”

            Furrypaw felt a sudden sadness going through her. First I feel I made the wrong decision becoming a Clan cat, but what if I made the wrong decision becoming a medicine cat, too? Was Furrypaw’s life going to be mistake after mistake? As a Twoleg she’d thought medicine cat would be good for her because she wasn’t social enough to get a mate in the first place, but as a cat she felt completely different. She wanted to be social, and talk to everyone! She wanted to mate and have kits! But she would never be able to.

            Furrypaw and Gingerpaw left the elders’ den. “I have a great idea,” Furrypaw mewed.

            “What?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “We could sing Frozen!” Furrypaw cried. “You be Anna and I’ll be Elsa!”

            “Okay, but, where?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “Behind the warriors’ den, where Jayfeather Lionblaze and Hollyleaf used to hang out.”

            “Okay!” Gingerpaw meowed. “Race ya!”

            “Come back!” Furrypaw cried, racing after her sister. Gingerpaw ended up winning, but Furrypaw was a very close second.

            “Which song were you thinking?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “For the First Time in Forever Reprise.” Furrypaw replied.

            “Okay.” Gingerpaw mewed. “You don’t have to protect me, I’m not afraid! Please don’t shut me out again! Please don’t slam the door. You don’t have to keep your distance anymore, ‘cause for the first time in forever, I finally understand. For the first time in forever, we can fix this hand-in-hand. We can head down this mountain together! You don’t have to live in fear, ‘cause for the first time in forever, I will be right here.

            Furrypaw took over. “Anna, please go back home, your life awaits. Go enjoy the sun and open up the gates.”

            “Yeah, but,”

            “I know: you mean well, but leave me be. Yes I’m alone, but I’m alone and free! Just stay away and you’ll be safe from me!

            After a few minutes, they were reaching the end. “We can face this thing together,” Gingerpaw was mewing.

            “I……. I can’t!!!!!!!!!” Furrypaw sang out loud and long notes.

            “That was beautiful!” Furrypaw and Gingerpaw spun around to find Firepaw and Bramblepaw joining them.

            “You scared me!” Gingerpaw scolded.

            “Good,” Bramblepaw meowed, but in a friendly tone.

            “You guys really did sound amazing,” Firepaw mewed.

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw and Gingerpaw mewed at the same time.

            “I thought you sounded better,” Bramblepaw mewed quietly to Gingerpaw.

            “Standing right here!” Furrypaw called.

            “I thought you sounded better,” Firepaw whispered to Furrypaw.

            “Hello!” Gingerpaw cried.

            “How about we stop talking about who sounded good and who didn’t?” Bramblepaw suggested.

            “Good idea.” Firepaw agreed.

            “Firepaw! Bramblepaw!” Lionblaze called from outside. “We’re going hunting. Wanna come?”

            “Coming!” Firepaw called. He waved his tail and Bramblepaw followed him out.

            “Furrypaw! Where’d you go?” Furrypaw poked her head out of their little “den” and found Jayfeather looking for her.

            “What is it?” she asked.

            “We’re going to do some battle training.” Jayfeather replied.

            “No offense, but can Leafpool teach me that?” Furrypaw asked. “Because you were blind, you didn’t really learn much about fighting from Leafpool before she stepped down.”

            “Fine,” Jayfeather growled. He stalked off and a moment later Leafpool came over.

            “So you want me to teach you battle training?” she asked happily.

            “Yeah. Can Gingerpaw join us?”

            “I suppose,” Leafpool mewed. “Come on.”

            Leafpool led Furrypaw and Gingerpaw to the training hollow. “Okay, this is a simple defensive move.” Leafpool mewed. “Furrypaw, come at me, and I’m going to show you what to do.”

            “Okay,” Furrypaw mewed slowly. She charged Leafpool. Leafpool ducked and twisted, rolling onto her back beside Furrypaw, then jumped to her paws before Furrypaw could say anything.

            “Give it a try,” Leafpool meowed. “It’s okay if you don’t get it on the first try.” Furrypaw shook, herself and awaited Leafpool’s approach. Leafpool backed up to the other end of the training hollow and charged Furrypaw. As Furrypaw had seen Leafpool do, she ducked and twisted, ready to roll on her back, but she wasn’t quick enough. Before she rolled Leafpool rammed her to the side. Gingerpaw let out a mrrow of laughter.

            “Try it again,” Leafpool mewed. Furrypaw braced herself. Leafpool charged, and she ducked, twisted, and rolled on her back beside Leafpool. She went to get on her paws, but she couldn’t spring up as Leafpool did. She found herself rolling around and struggling to stand up again. Gingerpaw laughed again.

            “Let’s see how you do!” Furrypaw hissed. Gingerpaw walked up and nodded to Leafpool. Leafpool charged Gingerpaw. Gingerpaw ducked and rolled, but she couldn’t get up either. Furrypaw laughed. Gingerpaw hissed and tried again. This time she got up with less struggling, but it still wasn’t the quick spring as Leafpool had done.

            “Gimme another try,” Furrypaw meowed, pushing her sister out of the way. Leafpool charged Furrypaw, and she ducked, rolled, and clambered onto her paws, a little more graceful this time, but not quite perfect.

            “You two keep working on that,” Leafpool mewed. She looked up. The sun was setting.

            “How about we call it a day?” Furrypaw suggested.

            “Good idea,” Gingerpaw agreed. The three cats walked back to camp. Gingerpaw walked into the apprentices’ den, Leafpool the warriors’ and Furrypaw walked into the medicine den.

            As Furrypaw settled into her nest she felt a pang of loneliness that her sister was in another den. Furrypaw closed her eyes. After what felt like a few minutes—but must’ve been longer because the moon was fairly high in the sky—she felt another pelt brush against her. She opened her eyes to see Gingerpaw curled up next to her. Furrypaw closed her eyes again and purred, so loudly she felt like she must’ve woken Jayfeather.

Chapter 7

 

            Furrypaw walked alongside Jayfeather. He had been cured of his whitecough a quarter moon ago, and so had Spiderleg. She couldn’t keep from trembling with excitement. This was her first gathering!

            She looked ahead of Bramblestar. Wouldn’t they nearly there yet? But they had barely entered WindClan territory, and the island was in RiverClan territory. She stifled a sigh and kept walking.

            After what felt like hours they arrived at the tree bridge. Furrypaw jumped up eagerly. She started slipping and sliding along. Brackenfur reached behind him and steadied her. “Thanks,” she mewed.

            “Careful,” Brackenfur meowed as she lost balance once again. “I know it’s hard the first time.

            Furrypaw looked back and realized Jayfeather was hesitating. Was I supposed to hold my tail down so he’d know how far to jump? Shouldn’t he know how far by now?

            But Hollytuft jumped in front of him and held her tail down. She took a step forward to leave room for Jayfeather. Jayfeather leaped up and started walking with ease. Furrypaw turned around again and continued to the end of the tree bridge, then jumped down. She waited for her mentor to land. Jayfeather leaped off beside her and led her to the circle of medicine cats.

            It seemed that everyone but WindClan had shown up. Furrypaw felt sad that Gingerpaw hadn’t been picked to go with her to the Gathering.

            “Furrypaw!” Willowshine called. “Can you sing for us again?”

            “Sure,” Furrypaw replied. She thought hard about what song to sing. Then she decided on one. “Ohh, if there’s one thing I hang onto, it gets me through the night: I ain’t gonna do what I don’t want to; I’m gonna live my life! Shining like a diamond, rolling with the dice! Standing on a ledge I show the wind how to fly! When the world gets in my face I say: Have a nice day! Have a nice day-ay-ay!”

            “That was truly amazing,” Littlecloud meowed.

            “Since when can you do that?” Jayfeather asked.

            “You missed it at the Moonpool, Jayfeather,” Mothwing meowed. “She sang for us, and it was beautiful! Could you sing those again?”

            “I suppose,” Furrypaw mewed. She sang Let it Go for them again, and then realized that Kestrelflight had shown up, meaning WindClan had arrived. Onestar yowled for everyone to be quiet—the Gathering had started.

            Onestar stepped forward. “We have three new apprentices, Ashpaw, Tigerpaw, and Flowerpaw.” Furrypaw noticed that Furzepelt was looking proud. Those must be her kits.

            Rowanstar stepped up. “ShadowClan has nothing to report. All is calm and the prey is running well—for leaf-bare anyway.”

            Mistystar stepped forward. “RiverClan has two new kits, Poppykit and Fluffykit.”  

            Bramblestar stepped up. He looked nervous, and Furrypaw knew why. “We have two new warriors, Alderclaw and Sparkheart,” he started.

            “Alderclaw! Sparkheart!” all four Clans chanted.

            “We also took in another Twoleg cat. Apprently she’s Furrypaw’s best friend from the Twoleg world and now she’s her sister, and this is getting confusing for me. The point is we took her in and now she’s Gingerpaw.”

            Yowls of disagreement came from the other three Clans. “You took in another Twoleg?! Are you trying to destroy us all?!” Crowfeather yowled.

            “Bramblestar, what is wrong with you?! What is wrong with ThunderClan?! You’re always taking in strange cats!” Mintfur hissed.

            “Are you out of your mind?!” Scorchfur yowled.

            “Was this what it was like when Bramblestar introduced me?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Uh-huh.” Littlecloud replied. Furrypaw was starting to get mad. Not everyone was the same! It didn’t matter that some cats weren’t Clanborn! It was what’s in your heart that mattered! Why couldn’t anyone see that?

            “STOP!” Furrypaw yowled as loud as she could manage. Everyone stopped talking to stare at her. “Twolegs have many talents that cats don’t, or knowledge they’ve learned, that could help the Clans! I bet none of you know how to tie a knot. I bet none of you know how to make a fire when you need a bit of warmth! And it doesn’t matter that Gingerpaw and I aren’t Clanborn! It doesn’t matter that Firestar wasn’t Clanborn, or Daisy, or Millie, or anyone else ThunderClan took in! What matters is in your heart! That was makes you a true Clan cat. And if none of you see that, then you’re blind.”

            Furrypaw seemed to have surprised everyone on the island. No one spoke for quite some time. Everyone had thoughtfulness in their eyes. “Furrypaw’s right,” Squirrelflight finally meowed. “Think about it, Furrypaw is a kittypet, and she was once a Twoleg, but after this short time, I can tell she cares about the Clans. Then there was Tigerstar, he was Clanborn, but he wanted to destroy the Clans. It doesn’t matter if you’re Clanborn or not. It matters if you’re loyal or not.”

            “Well said, you two.” Bramblestar mewed. “This Gathering is over.” He leaped down from the tree and gathered his cats, then left, leaving the other Clans stunned.


            When Furrypaw got back to camp, she expected to find Gingerpaw asleep, but she was wide awake. “How did they take my being here?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “Not well at all.” Furrypaw mewed. “Everyone was screaming and hollering, thinking Bramblestar was an idiot.”

            “Thank your sister,” Jayfeather meowed from behind them. “She really stood up for you.” Jayfeather turned and walked away.

            “You stood up for me?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “Of course,” Furrypaw mewed. “You’re my best friend, and now my sister. I’ll always be there for you.” Gingerpaw rubbed up against Furrypaw and purred. Furrypaw wanted to shed tears of joy, but cats didn’t cry.

            “Get some sleep,” Furrypaw advised. “You got a hard day of training tomorrow if you want to catch up with the other apprentices.”

            “Will do, Lizzie.” Gingerpaw meowed, disappearing into the apprentices’ den. Furrypaw smiled and walked into the medicine den, where Jayfeather was already asleep. Furrypaw curled up and fell asleep.

            Furrypaw opened her eyes some time later. She expected sunlight to be filtering in, but instead found the moon floating high in the sky. How long have I been asleep? Furrypaw wondered.

            Furrypaw was interrupted by dozens of cats crashing through the thorn barrier. Furrypaw noticed it was WindClan, RiverClan, and ShadowClan. Why were they all here? A giant fight broke out, everyone fighting tooth and claw.

            Furrypaw saw a small group of cats run into the apprentices’ den. Firepaw Bramblepaw and Gingerpaw ran out, defending ThunderClan. The group of cats ignored Bramblepaw and Firepaw and attacked Gingerpaw. Four against one. Firepaw and Bramblepaw tried to help but to no avail. Gingerpaw fell, yowling in agony. “Gingerpaw!” Furrypaw screamed. The group of cats turned and pelted towards Furrypaw, knocking her out the same way. NO!!!!!

            Furrypaw awoke, panting, sweating, fear coming off her in waves.

            “What’s wrong?” Jayfeather asked, waking up beside her.

            “Gingerpaw and I, we’re a target…”

            “What are you talking about?” Jayfeather asked. “Are you feeling okay?”

            “I had a vision, a dream from StarClan probably,” Furrypaw muttered.

            “What happened?” Jayfeather asked, resting his tail on her shoulder.

            “In the middle of the night, all three Clans attacked us. Everyone fought hard in the camp. But a group went against Gingerpaw and I specifically. I don’t think the others care for Bramblestar taking us in. They, they killed us.”

            Jayfeather stayed silent. Furrypaw wanted to wail like a kit. She and Gingerpaw were going to die! They barely had any training, and Furrypaw was a medicine cat! Besides, it was three Clans against one. How could ThunderClan possibly win?

            “We need to go tell Bramblestar.” Jayfeather meowed, urgency in his voice. Furrypaw nodded, trying to stay calm. She and Jayfeather rushed up onto the Highledge. “Bramblestar?” Jayfeather called.

            “Come in,” Bramblestar called. Furrypaw followed Jayfeather into the den. “What’s up?” Bramblestar asked.

            “Furrypaw needs to tell you something.” Jayfeather mewed, stepping back to give Furrypaw the spotlight. Furrypaw explained about her dream to Bramblestar. “I think the apprentices should train harder, and I want to be trained as a warrior as well as a medicine cat.” Furrypaw finished.

            Bramblestar stared at her. “I understand your concern, but, training as a warrior and a medicine cat? That seems a bit extreme. Besides, why would you need to know how to hunt to fight a battle?”

            “You never know, worst might come to worst, and we might be low on warriors. I may need to hunt for the Clan as well. You never know.” Furrypaw meowed. “I know Gingerpaw better than anyone. She’s willing to train harder for the sake of ThunderClan, and her life. And so am I.”

            “I guess,” Bramblestar mewed. “But what are the odds of ThunderClan alone beating the other three Clans?”

            “About a hundred or more to one, but there must be a way! ThunderClan has survived so much! I don’t want me to be its downfall. You survived the Great Journey, the Great Battle, terrible leaf-bares, two droughts, two fires, a flood, and a million other hardships! You can’t let one battle drag you down! I won’t let you! I can’t be ThunderClan’s downfall!”

            “I see your point,” Bramblestar meowed. “I’ll call a meeting.”

            “You won’t tell everyone about the dream, will you?” Furrypaw asked. “I don’t want to get the Clan scared.”   

            “I won’t tell them,” Bramblestar promised. He walked out of the den. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting!”

            “What do you want?” Sorrelstripe asked. “And why so early?”

            “Yeah!” Lilyheart complained.

            “Shh! Let your leader speak!” Rosepetal hissed.

            “Furrypaw has asked to train as a warrior as well, and for the remaining apprentices to train harder!”

            “This is an outrage!” Bramblepaw cried.

            “What is wrong with you, Furrypaw?!” Firepaw yowled.

            “Hey! I know Furrypaw better than anyone, and if she’s going to make me work double, she has a good reason!” Gingerpaw hissed.

            “Leafpool, I want you to train Furrypaw as a warrior. I know you’re probably still getting used to being a warrior, so if you need help, don’t feel ashamed in asking.”

            “I understand, Bramblestar.” Leafpool mewed.

            “Apprentices will be taken on more patrols, hunt more often, do battle training more often, and I want them giving more than their best effort!” Bramblestar called. “And I want warriors to keep their skills sharp, so feel free to train with the apprentices anytime.”

            “Why are you doing this to us?” Berrynose called.

            “That is between me and Furrypaw.” Bramblestar replied. To Furrypaw he said, “Come on. You’re coming on a hunting patrol with me. Bring your sister and your mentors.”

            “Okay,” Furrypaw replied. She leaped down from the Highledge and looked around for Gingerpaw. She spotted her and trotted over. “Hunting patrol,” she mewed. “Go find Cinderheart and meet me by the entrance.”

            “Okay,” Gingerpaw meowed, looking around for her mentor. Furrypaw searched for Leafpool. She found her by the warriors den. “Bramblestar wants us to go hunting with him,” she mewed.

            “Really?” Leafpool asked. “Okay.”

            Furrypaw trotted over to where Bramblestar stood waiting with Leafpool. Gingerpaw showed up with Cinderheart a moment later. Bramblestar waved his tail for them to go.

            When they reached the forest, Bramblestar asked, “Do you two know how to hunt?”

            “We know the basics,” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Whether we’ll be good or not I have no idea.” Gingerpaw meowed.

            “Mice can sense you before they see or hear you, so step lightly,” Furrypaw meowed.

            “And squirrels like to climb trees, so you have to be fast with them.” Gingerpaw added.

            “You need to be quick and stealthy, with any prey, and you must be quiet.” Furrypaw meowed.

            “And you kill them with a swift blow to the neck, whether with tooth or claw it doesn’t matter.” Gingerpaw finished.

            “Give it a shot,” Leafpool offered. Furrypaw listened and sniffed, then picked up a trace of mouse. She dropped into the hunter’s crouch, and slowly, carefully, pawstep by pawstep advanced. She peered through the tall grass at the mouse, nibbling on something. She wiggled her hindquarters, then pounced, landing on the prey. She went to kill it but it skittered away. Furrypaw sighed.

            “That was pretty good for a first try,” Cinderheart mewed.

            “Try again,” Leafpool meowed. Furrypaw sighed and shook herself, then listened and sniffed again. She picked up another trace of mouse. She spun towards it, and slowly, carefully, pawstep by pawstep advanced it. She made sure she was stepping lightly. She was close. She wiggled her hindquarters, bracing her paws to be quicker this time. She pounced, and immediately dug her claws into the mouse’s neck. She lifted her claws out and stared at her prey. “I did it!” She cried.

            “Nice job,” Bramblestar meowed approvingly.

            “My turn!” Gingerpaw cried, stepping in front of Furrypaw. Gingerpaw sniffed, then spun around and crouched, advancing slowly, and pounced. Right in front of where she landed, a bird fluttered up to the sky. Gingerpaw leaped after it, but it was no use.

            “Don’t feel bad,” Furrypaw mewed. “Birds are harder.”

            “Try a mouse or something,” Bramblestar advised. Gingerpaw shook herself then crouched, advanced slowly, and pounced. Furrypaw watched her paws work quickly as she killed her prey. She picked it up and walked back to them, a squirrel in her jaws.

            “Nice!” Furrypaw cried.

            “Yeah, that’s very well done!” Cinderheart exclaimed. Gingerpaw did a sort of bow, then scraped earth over her prey so she could pick it up later. Furrypaw did the same.

            “Let’s continue,” Bramblestar meowed. He led the way deeper into the forest. The he paused and pricked his ears. He dropped into the hunter’s crouch, then pounced, and a moment later came back with a pigeon in his jaws. Furrypaw went to whistle, but a cat’s mouth was shaped different than a Twoleg’s, so she couldn’t do it.

            Bramblestar buried his prey. Before anyone could say anything, Cinderheart dropped to the ground. She slowly advanced, stalking something. Then she pounced, coming back with a vole. Furrypaw was about to say that there was a lot of prey for leaf-bare, then realized that there were no other traces of animals, and the prey they’d caught was scrawny and thin.

            Leafpool sniffed and listened hard, clearly not wanting to be the only one without a piece of prey. She walked around for a bit, then finally crouched, and leaped for a thrush, but it flew off before Leafpool could catch it. She sighed. “It’s okay, Leafpool.” Cinderheart meowed. Bramblestar walked up to Leafpool and placed his tail on her shoulder.

            “I understand you’re still getting used to this,” he started.

            “I’m not cut out for this! I was meant to be a medicine cat, but now I can’t be because I broke the Warrior Code!” Leafpool wailed, hanging her head. Furrypaw could feel waves of sadness and regret coming off of Leafpool.

            “I’m sure you’ll get better,” Furrypaw mewed. “I’m a medicine cat apprentice and I can hunt. If I can do it you can too!”

            “It’s not the same.” Leafpool mewed. “You’re young. It’s harder to learn when you’re older.”

            “You just need to work at it more!” Furrypaw encouraged. She looked at Gingerpaw for support.

            “Yeah!” Gingerpaw cried. “You know the old saying, practice makes perfect! You just need to try harder!”

            “Give a hundred and one percent!” Furrypaw cried.

            “You two have lost me.” Leafpool meowed. “But I think I see your point.” Leafpool listened again, then dropped into the hunter’s crouch. She flung herself at a squirrel and killed it before it knew what had happened.

            “There you go!” Gingerpaw exclaimed.

            “Thanks, you two.” Leafpool mewed. She buried her prey and they kept walking.

            After a few minutes of not finding anything, Bramblestar decided to just head back. On the way back, Cinderheart did grab another vole.

            The group walked through the thorn barrier and dropped their prey on the fresh-kill pile. Furrypaw and Gingerpaw grabbed a piece and walked off to eat by themselves.

            “Furrypaw, tell me, why are you making us work so hard?” Gingerpaw asked. “You know you can trust me. I won’t tell anyone.”          

            “I don’t want to keep secrets from you, honestly,” Furrypaw mewed. “But I can’t tell you—for your own sake.” Furrypaw was afraid that if Gingerpaw knew what was going to happen she’d be too scared to focus. Furrypaw could barely focus herself with that vision of the battle in her head. “Let’s just say it’s a matter of life or death.” She finished her meal and stood up and stretched.

            “I understand.” Gingerpaw mewed.

            “Gingerpaw! Furrypaw!” Furrypaw looked up and saw Cinderheart walking towards them. “Battle training, let’s go.”

            Gingerpaw and Furrypaw walked towards the thorn barrier with Cinderheart. Leafpool stood there waiting.

            All of a sudden, the camp became dark and empty. Then dozens of cats broke through the barrier, yowling an attack, running into dens and causing terror. All the warriors jumped to their feet and started fighting tooth and claw. Furrypaw knew what was going to happen.

            Furrypaw ran toward the apprentices’ den. She fought her best, but didn’t really know any moves. She scratched her opponents, but it didn’t seem to help. The group of cats pinned her and Gingerpaw down, then scratched them. They were bleeding from all over. She and Gingerpaw yowled in agony, then were silent and still.

            Furrypaw blinked and was back in the lit camp. “Let’s go!” Leafpool cried, rushing out the thorn barrier, with Cinderheart and Gingerpaw right behind her. Furrypaw shook the vision off and ran outside with the others. This hard work will all be worth it, she reminded herself. This could be the difference between our living and our death.         

            They arrived at the training hollow. “Okay, guys,” Leafpool meowed. “Try that move I showed you yesterday.” She looked at Cinderheart and flicked her ears towards the two apprentices. Cinderheart nodded and she walked to the other end of the training hollow, then charged.

            Furrypaw stepped forward, and as Cinderheart approached, Furrypaw ducked and twisted away from her, rolling onto her back. She leaped back on her paws, but was still a little slow. “You need to be quicker, Furrypaw.” Leafpool meowed.

            “I know!” Furrypaw complained. “Let me try one more time. Come at me, Cinderheart.” Cinderheart nodded and charged at Furrypaw again. She ducked and twisted, then, laying on her back, sprang onto her paws with excellent timing.

            “There we go!” Leafpool cried. “Gingerpaw, you try.”

            Gingerpaw stepped in front of Furrypaw. Furrypaw stepped back to let Gingerpaw try. Cinderheart ran at Gingerpaw. Gingerpaw ducked and twisted, then rolled onto her back. Gingerpaw jumped onto her paws, but was slow. “Why is this so difficult?” Leafpool asked. “In the amount of time you took to get up, Gingerpaw, Cinderheart could’ve raked down your belly or other places, making you weak! Try it again!”

            “Jeez! Don’t be so hard on her! Some people learn at a slower pace!” Furrypaw meowed. To Gingerpaw she said, “The trick is how much power you put into your hind paws. The more you thrust them into the air, the more momentum it gives you to land on your paws.”

            “Thanks,” Gingerpaw mewed. She looked up to find Cinderheart coming at her. She ducked and twisted, then as she lay on her back, the thrust her legs into the air, and sprang onto her paws before Furrypaw could say a word. “That’s it! Bravo!” Furrypaw exclaimed.

            “This one is an offensive move,” Leafpool meowed. “Simply rake your claws down your opponent’s head and face. But you have to do it and dart away before your opponent has time to react.” She faced Cinderheart. Leafpool slashed Cinderheart with her paw then jumped backward, just out of reach so Cinderheart couldn’t strike back. “See? Furrypaw, try it on me.”

            Furrypaw walked up to Leafpool. “Now.” Leafpool told her. Furrypaw quickly attacked Leafpool down the muzzle, then jumped away, though not quick enough. Leafpool was able to cuff Furrypaw on the ear before she was out of reach. “Speed, the problem is always speed!” Leafpool muttered.

            “I am not fast.” Furrypaw mewed like Baymax.

            “No kidding!” Leafpool cried. Gingerpaw laughed so hard she fell over and was gasping for breath. “Why is that funny?” Leafpool asked.

            “There was a movie in the Twoleg world, and someone said ‘I am not fast’ like I just did, and someone else replied, ‘No kidding!’” Furrypaw explained. “Thank you for finishing that quote, Leafpool.”

            “I finished the quote?” Leafpool asked. “I didn’t mean to do that.”

            “Well, you did, and it was great, so, wahoo!” Furrypaw meowed. The funny moment almost made her forget about her dream. But the image of she and Gingerpaw falling stayed fixed in her mind.

            “Let’s try that again, Furrypaw.” Leafpool meowed, trying to change the subject. Furrypaw nodded. Leafpool flicked her tail for her to go. Furrypaw pawed Leafpool down the face and leaped back as quick as she could, pushing off with all her might. She landed just out of reach of Leafpool. “Well done.” Leafpool meowed, impressed. “You’re getting this rather quickly.

            “That’s just because I’m awesome!” Furrypaw cried, jumping backwards. “Wahoo!”

            “Gingerpaw, try the same thing with me.” Leafpool meowed.

            “Remember: more power equals more speed,” Furrypaw advised. “So push off with your hind legs as hard as you possibly can.”

            “Got it.” Gingerpaw replied. She stood in front of Leafpool. Leafpool nodded and Gingerpaw slashed her paw down Leafpool’s face—claws sheathed of course—then leaped away, out of reach of Leafpool.

            “That was very well done!” Leafpool cried, astonished. “First try even!”

            “Way to go, Gingerpaw.” Furrypaw meowed, walking up to her and resting her tail on Gingerpaw’s shoulder.    

            “Thanks.” Gingerpaw meowed. Unlike Furrypaw, she seemed to like being the center of attention.

            “Now you two put the two moves together.” Cinderheart meowed. “Gingerpaw, you first.” Cinderheart turned and walked to the other end of the training hollow. She charged Gingerpaw. Gingerpaw ducked right before Cinderheart made impact. She twisted and rolled to her right, laying on her back. She immediately jumped back to her paws and slashed her front paw down Cinderheart’s face before leaping backwards. “Excellent job!” Cinderheart exclaimed.

            “Furrypaw, your turn.” Leafpool mewed, walking onto the sand. Leafpool walked to the opposite edge then ran towards Furrypaw. Furrypaw copied what her sister had done, and ended up just out of reach, after slashing Leafpool’s muzzle. “You two are fast learners!” Leafpool meowed impressed. “Let’s get back to camp.” 

            The four she-cats walked back into the stone hollow. “Furrypaw! Gingerpaw! There you guys are!” Lionblaze called. They walked over. “Furrypaw, I want you for a border patrol. Gingerpaw, you’re wanted for a hunting patrol with Thornclaw.” Gingerpaw walked over to Thornclaw. With him stood Brackenfur, Bramblepaw, and Stormcloud. They set off out of the tunnel.

            Furrypaw followed Lionblaze. Firepaw was waiting, along with Hollytuft. “Let’s go.” Lionblaze meowed.

            “Wait!” Jayfeather called from behind them. “Furrypaw, while you’re out, check for some marigold. We’re running low.”

            “Okay,” Furrypaw sighed. “Wait, can you remind me what marigold looks like real quick?” Furrypaw trotted over to the medicine den. Jayfeather sighed and pulled out a marigold blossom and leaf. “Oh, right.” Furrypaw remembered. “Okay, now I’m ready to leave.” She followed Lionblaze out of the tunnel, with Firepaw right beside her.

            “I’m a little upset I just got separated from my brother,” Firepaw mewed sadly.

            “I just got separated from my sister.” Furrypaw meowed sympathetically. “At least it’s not permanent.”

            “True,” Firepaw meowed. “But at least I’m with you.” He leaned in closer and purred quietly. Furrypaw purred quietly as well.

            “Furrypaw!” Lionblaze called, making Furrypaw jump. “We’re passing the lake. Didn’t Jayfeather say he needed marigold?”

            “I was thinking we’d pick some up on the way back,” Furrypaw explained. “So when we’re renewing the scent markers it doesn’t smell like marigold instead of ThunderClan. Also just in case we get in a fight, it’s easier to fight without carrying herbs.”

            “Good point.” Lionblaze meowed. “We’ll get some on the way back.” He continued to the ShadowClan border.

            They got the border. All was quiet, so they quickly renewed the markers and turned around. Furrypaw stopped by the lake to grab some marigold.

            Furrypaw arrived back in camp. She looked up. It was a little after sunhigh. She yawned. She could really use a nap! “Furrypaw!” Furrypaw looked up to find Leafpool calling her. “More battle training. All the apprentices are going, and so is Berrynose.”

            Furrypaw was about to moan and complain about how hard she was working, then remembered that it was her idea. “Let me just get these herbs to Jayfeather.” Furrypaw mewed. She walked into the medicine den, dropped the herbs in front of Jayfeather, and, without saying a word, walked back out and joined Leafpool.

            They walked back to the training hollow. When they got there, Furrypaw was greeted by Gingerpaw, Firepaw, Bramblepaw, Cinderheart, Lionblaze, Brackenfur, and Berrynose. “This is a lot of people,” Furrypaw mewed.

            “I know, right?” Gingerpaw agreed.

            “I’ve read a lot of the books, so I’d like to try something.” Furrypaw mewed shyly. “Berrynose, charge me.”

            “What?” Berrynose asked.

            “Just do it!” Furrypaw snapped.

            “Okay.” Berrynose meowed. He stepped back then ran towards Furrypaw at top speed. Furrypaw used the move she’d learned earlier. She ducked, twisted, and rolled onto her back. She sprang onto her paws and pawed at Berrynose’s muzzle. Berrynose reached to cuff her, but Furrypaw jumped backward, then immediately jumped forward, landing on Berrynose’s back. She held on, no matter how much Berrynose thrashed around, trying to throw her off. She pawed at his back. Berrynose then threw her off, and she landed on her side. Berrynose ran over and hovered over her, pinning her down. Furrypaw raked her hind paws—claws sheathed—down Berrynose’s belly. He leaped back in surprise and Furrypaw sprang to her paws. She attacked him down his face again. Berrynose cuffed her around the ear, stopping her. Then, with a powerful blow, sent her flying across the training hollow. She skidded in the sand and lay there, panting.

            “That was brilliant, Furrypaw!” Brackenfur cried.

            “It was tough,” Furrypaw panted. “I didn’t know I had it in me!”

            “Why don’t you have a rest?” Brackenfur suggested, helping her to her paws. She walked over to Leafpool and sat down.

            “You did that amazingly.” Leafpool mewed affectionately.

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw mewed.

            “I want to try that!” Gingerpaw cried. “Berrynose, charge me!”

            “Nuh-uh!” Berrynose cried. “I’m not getting that close to being shown up by an apprentice again! Why don’t you practice with your mentor?”

            “Berrynose, take it easy,” Brackenfur soothed. “Don’t be so harsh. They’re young.”

            “They may be young, but they can still deal a lot of trouble!” Berrynose hissed. “First that stupid Twoleg cat kills my mate, and then nearly embarrasses me in front of so many cats!”

            “Don’t take it out on her!” Brackenfur insisted. “She didn’t mean to kill my daughter, and she was just practicing battle moves! You should’ve been proud that she was able to almost take you down!” Berrynose hissed again and stormed out of the training hollow.

            “Who put ants in his fur?” Bramblepaw asked.

            “Apparently me.” Furrypaw growled.

            “That’s enough!” Lionblaze meowed. “Let’s just continue with the training.”

            “I want to try what Furrypaw did, Cinderheart.” Gingerpaw mewed.

            “Okay.” Cinderheart mewed. Cinderheart stepped back and charged Gingerpaw. Gingerpaw ducked, twisted, and rolled, then jumped back to her paws and hit Cinderheart’s muzzle with one front paw. Then she leaped away from Cinderheart’s reach and onto her back. Cinderheart tried to shake her off but she clung on. Then Gingerpaw pawed at Cinderheart’s back. She managed to hold on longer than Furrypaw had, but Cinderheart still shook her off. Gingerpaw spun in midair to land on her feet. She ran up and started pawing Cinderheart’s side, and Bramblepaw ran up and attacked her other side. Cinderheart backed away, so both apprentices jumped on top of her. She fell under their weight, so Gingerpaw and Bramblepaw leaped off her, looking triumphant.

            “Partner fighting,” Lionblaze meowed. “Nice touch.”

            “Can Furrypaw and I do that to you?” Firepaw asked Lionblaze.

            “I’d love to, but I’m still a little tired from attacking Berrynose!” Furrypaw called. “Why don’t you do it with Bramblepaw? He didn’t do much.”

            “Okay,” Firepaw mewed.

            “You guys tried to take me down before and it didn’t work,” Lionblaze reminded them, stepping onto the sand.

            “We were smaller and inexperienced then,” Bramblepaw pointed out. “Besides, you didn’t feel the wrath of me!” Lionblaze chuckled.

            Gingerpaw came up to Furrypaw and collapsed, panting. “I feel ya,” Furrypaw mewed sympathetically. She laid down next to her sister and watched the show of the two brothers trying to take down Lionblaze.

            “Can you please tell me why you’re making us work double?” Gingerpaw asked. “I promise not to tell anyone!”

            “I’m sorry, but it might have a bad outcome. Maybe not, but I don’t want to take the risk.” Furrypaw mewed. “You’ll just have to trust me.”

            “Fine,” Gingerpaw mumbled.   

            “You won’t act like most stupid characters and hold a grudge on me for not telling you and stop talking to me, will you?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Of course not!” Gingerpaw replied. “Even though I’m upset you won’t tell me, I won’t get mad at you.”

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw mewed. She looked up to see Lionblaze slamming Bramblepaw and Firepaw into the ground.

            “That was a bit extreme,” Leafpool mewed anxiously.

            “They’re fine!” Lionblaze meowed. “Right?” he started getting anxious too and leaned down to check on the apprentices.

            “We’re fine!” Bramblepaw insisted, standing up. He was wobbly on his paws, and he fell again. Firepaw tried to stand up but fell as well.

            “Oh no, what have I done?!” Lionblaze cried. “We have to get them to Jayfeather!” Furrypaw ran up and inspected them carefully.

            “They seem okay, but what do I know? I’m an apprentice and I’m trying to train as a warrior instead!” Furrypaw meowed.

            Lionblaze helped Bramblepaw and Firepaw to their paws. Brackenfur and Cinderheart helped steady them. Leafpool walked over to the two apprentices. “Furrypaw’s right; they seem okay. They’re just shaken. But they do need rest.” She mewed.

            “How about you two take the rest of the day off?” Brackenfur suggested. “Furrypaw, I know you want to train double, but I don’t want you getting hurt, too.”

            “Okay.” Furrypaw meowed.

            They arrived in camp. Bramblepaw and Firepaw stumbled into the medicine den and fell again. “Are you two okay?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Yeah, yeah,” Firepaw murmured. Leafpool walked in behind them.

            “They’re just a little shaken. They need rest.” She informed Jayfeather.

            “But we’re not tired!” Bramblepaw complained. Jayfeather reached into his storage and gave each of them a poppy seed. Then they were out.

            “Furrypaw, could you go get me more poppy seeds?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Sure,” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Here’s an beech leaf to carry them on.” Jayfeather added, giving Furrypaw a big leaf.

            “Okay.” She mumbled around it. “Come on, Gingerpaw.”

            Furrypaw and Gingerpaw wandered through the forest. Furrypaw veered towards the lake. She felt the temperature. There was no breeze, and it was warming up. She found a rock and placed it on the beech leaf to keep it from blowing away.

            “What are you doing?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “This.” Furrypaw replied. She climbed on the rock near the edge of the water, stepped back, then got a running start as she leaped off. “Cannonball!” She splashed into the water. She surfaced and started swimming around. She looked up at Gingerpaw. Gingerpaw jumped on the rock without hesitation and splashed in next to Furrrypaw.

            “Splash fight!” Furrypaw cried. She started splashing Gingerpaw with her forepaws, churning her hind paws harder to keep her head above the water. Gingerpaw started splashing back, so Furrypaw swam to one side. She then splashed Gingerpaw again. Furrypaw looked up. The sun was beginning to set. The water was golden. “We should get going.” Furrypaw mewed.

            They climbed out of the water and shook the water from their pelts. Then Furrypaw picked up the oak leaf and they wandered back into the forest. “We’re looking for a dried poppy flower head.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Okay,” Gingerpaw replied. They looked around. “There’s one!” Gingerpaw cried.

            “Okay, you shake the seeds out and I’ll catch them in the leaf.” Furrypaw meowed. Gingerpaw walked over and started shaking the flower head. Furrypaw caught the seeds in her oak leaf. “I think we have enough.”

            “I’m going to hunt on the way back.” Gingerpaw meowed.

            “Okay,” Furrypaw mumbled around the leaf.

            They arrived in the camp as the sun was reaching the horizon. Gingerpaw carried two mice. “Took you a while,” Jayfeather commented. “And you’re soaking wet!”

            “We decided to go for a swim,” Furrypaw meowed, giving Jayfeather the leaf wrap.

            “You two confuse me.” Jayfeather meowed, putting the poppy seeds away. Gingerpaw walked over to the fresh-kill pile to add her mice.

            “Food?” someone asked. Gingerpaw spun to face the nursery and saw Ivypool coming out, her belly heavy with kits. Gingerpaw gave the mice to her and she gobbled them up. “Think the kits will come soon?” Ivypool asked. Furrypaw walked up to her.

            “Maybe in about a week or two.” Furrypaw replied. Ivypool stared at her blankly. “A quarter moon to a half moon.” Furrypaw translated.

            “I hope they come soon,” she mewed. “I’m huge!”

            “No you’re not,” Daisy meowed from behind them.

            “Yes she is,” Gingerpaw mumbled to Furrypaw. Furrypaw gave a small nod.

            “Come on back in the nursery and get some rest.” Daisy mewed. Ivypool walked back into the nursery.

            Furrypaw yawned and remembered how tired she was. She walked back to the medicine den. Gingerpaw followed her. Furrypaw looked in the medicine den at Firepaw and Bramblepaw. Furrypaw moved her nest next to Firepaw. Gingerpaw made herself a nest next to Bramblepaw, and also next to Furrypaw, so the four apprentices made a square. As Furrypaw fell asleep, she was vaguely aware that Jayfeather was staring at them. Then she drifted into unconsciousness. 

Chapter 8

            A half-moon had passed since Furrypaw had had her dream of the battle. It hadn’t happened yet, though. Furrypaw wondered what was taking so long. Maybe the three Clans hadn’t found the time to meet together yet. Whatever the reason, they were giving ThunderClan time to prepare. The apprentices had learned millions of new battle moves and hunting techniques.

            “Furrypaw!” Jayfeather called.

            “What is it?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Ivypool’s having her kits!” Jayfeather replied. “Come on!”

            Finally! Furrypaw thought, rushing towards the nursery. She walked in to find Ivypool lying on her side. Furrypaw caught ripples coming from inside Ivypool’s belly. “Push, Ivypool,” Jayfeather instructed. “Furrypaw, when the kit comes out, lick it to get its heart going.”

            Furrypaw watched and waited. Suddenly the sunlight disappeared. Bumblestripe was standing in the entrance, blocking the light. “Are they born yet?” he asked.

            “Be patient, Bumblestripe! And get out of the way of the light!” Jayfeather ordered. “You’re as bad as Berrynose!”  

            Suddenly a slimy bundle of fur popped out. “Lick, Furrypaw,” Jayfeather instructed. Furrypaw stared at the kit.

            “This is gross! Why did I sign up for this?” Furrypaw meowed, rushing out of the nursery before the vomited.

            “Is something wrong?” Bumblestripe asked anxiously.

            “Just every decision I’ve ever made,” Furrypaw answered.

            “Furrypaw, get back in here! I need your help!” Jayfeather cried.        

            “Sorry, it’s just disgusting!” Furrypaw meowed, walking away from the nursery. “Now I wish I was blind like you!” Furrypaw heard the sounds of rhythmic licking coming from Jayfeather.

            “Lick, Daisy, lick.” She heard Jayfeather say. Two pairs of rhythmic licking. One stopped.

            “Come on, Ivypool. You’re almost there!” Daisy encouraged. The licking started up again.

            After a moment, Daisy called, “Come on in, Bumblestripe!” Bumblestripe rushed in without hesitation and Furrypaw followed.

            “They’re beautiful,” Bumblestripe mewed. Furrypaw looked at the three bundles of fur suckling. After their licking they weren’t slimy, and they really were beautiful.

            “Agreed,” Furrypaw mewed. “I’ve never been able to tell the difference between the boys and the girls.”

            “This one is a girl,” Ivypool meowed, tapping a yellow tabby kit. “And these two are boys.” Ivypool tapped a pure white kit and a kit that was a pure neon yellow. Furrypaw had never seen a cat like that.

            “The pure yellow one practically glows!” Bumblestripe exclaimed. “What about Glowkit?”

            “That doesn’t sound quite like a good name,” Ivypool mewed. “How about Brightkit?”

            “I suppose,” Bumblestripe meowed. “What about this yellow tabby? She could be Sunkit.”

            “That’s a good name,” Ivypool agreed. “Now for this little white one…”

            “What about Cloudkit?” Furrypaw suggested.

            Bumblestripe and Ivypool looked at each other. “Perfect,” they mewed simultaneously.

“Sunkit, Brightkit, and Cloudkit.” Jayfeather meowed. “I like those names.”

            “We’ll leave you alone to rest, Ivypool,” Furrypaw mewed, backing out of the den.

            “You weren’t exactly helpful,” Jayfeather meowed sternly as they left the nursery.

            “Well, sorry!” Furrypaw snapped. “The sight just grossed me out! I thought I was going to vomit!” she shook her head, trying to get the sight out of her head. “I’m starting to question my entire life since becoming a cat.”

            “Too late now,” Jayfeather pointed out.

            “Maybe I could become a warrior instead,” Furrypaw mewed. “I can’t help cats give birth, and I’m already training as a warrior! At least as a warrior I could have a mate!”

            “Oh, Furrypaw,” Jayfeather mewed quietly. “You’ve already been introduced to StarClan, and they accepted you. It must be your destiny to be a medicine cat.”

            “I hope I can get used to this,” She sighed. “But you were right, Jayfeather; I’ve been spending a lot of time with Firepaw! I’m closer to him than I am with Bramblepaw. Jayfeather, what if I accidentally give birth to his kits? It’s not exactly something you can control unless you go to the Cutter!”

            “You’ll have to spend less time with him,” Jayfeather mewed. “But you’re right, you can’t control if you start expecting kits. We’ll just have to hope for the best, I guess.”

            “If I do give birth to his kits, will you be there for me? Defend me? Help me keep my medicine cat position?” Furrypaw asked hopefully. Jayfeather stared at her, surprise in his eyes.

            “I, guess so…” he mewed uncertainly.

            “Thanks!” Furrypaw meowed, leaning against him and purring. Jayfeather put his tail on her shoulder. But she still wasn’t sure she was cut out to be a medicine cat. “I’m going to take a walk—alone.”

            “Why?” Jayfeather asked.

            “No reason.” Furrypaw mewed innocently.

            “Okay. Think you can bring back some borage leaves? We need to make sure Ivypool can keep her milk up.”

            “Okay,” Furrypaw meowed. She trotted out of the thorn barrier. But she didn’t look for borage. She turned and walked toward the WindClan border. Upon reaching it, she turned and started following the stream. She reached the top then turned and headed down to the Moonpool, letting her paws fall into the pawprints of the ancient cats.

            Furrypaw drank from the pool and closed her eyes, awaiting help from StarClan.

            She awoke in a starry, familiar forest. She looked around. “Hello?” she called. Yellowfang, Bluestar, and Spottedleaf appeared. They walked out from behind some trees and approached Furrypaw.       

            “Help me!” Furrypaw wailed. “I’m not sure I’ve made any right choices!”

            “You have made all the right choices,” Spottedleaf mewed.

            “Huh?”

            “Jayfeather was right—you were destined to be a medicine cat.” Bluestar confirmed.

            “What about my relationship with Firepaw? I can’t just ignore it! I care deeply about him, but I don’t want to break the Warrior Code!” Furrypaw wailed.

            “Everything will be okay,” Bluestar assured her.

            “Could you tell me about that battle while I’m here?” Furrypaw asked. “I’m scared. It’s three Clans against one! And they’re all focusing on me and Gingerpaw! I don’t think we can take it!”

            “You, Gingerpaw, Firepaw, and Bramblepaw have been training really hard.” Spottedleaf mewed. “And you and Gingerpaw are very important to StarClan. We will fight as well, each of us beside one of you.”

            “Will everyone be able to see you?”

            “No,” Bluestar meowed. “Only you and Jayfeather. To everyone else we’ll be invisible. And the way we position ourselves, the other Clans will just think ThunderClan is stronger than they seem.”

            “Cool.” Furrypaw meowed. “But, when will it happen?”

            “That we cannot tell you,” Spottedleaf meowed. “But, soon.”

            “Thank you,” Furrypaw meowed gratefully. “I should probably be going now.”

            “Goodbye, Furrypaw.” Spottedleaf mewed. “You will be seeing us shortly.”

            “Why couldn’t you tell me all of these two days ago when I was at Moonpool?” Furrypaw asked. Spottedleaf Bluestar and Yellowfang stared at her.

            “I believe it’s time for you to leave,” Yellowfang meowed.

            Furrypaw awoke at the Moonpool. She sighed and walked back up the slope, then started searching for borage.

            She walked back into camp some time later, with borage in her mouth. “Why do you always take forever?” Jayfeather asked.

            “I was at the Moonpool,” Furrypaw mumbled around the herbs.

            “Why?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Because I wasn’t sure if all the choices I’ve made were correct, and that dream I had about the battle has really been disturbing me.”

            “Understandable.” Jayfeather mewed. Furrypaw then saw Leafpool coming towards her. Her mouth opened like she was about to say something, but Furrypaw didn’t hear it.

            Furrypaw found herself standing in the middle of camp in the dead of night. The moon was floating high in the sky. Furrypaw knew what was coming.

            WindClan, RiverClan, and ShadowClan burst into the ThunderClan camp. Furrypaw ran into the apprentices’ den. “Gingerpaw! Bramblepaw! Firepaw!” She shouted. But they didn’t move. It was like she wasn’t there. Of course! This is a vision!

            Then Gingerpaw sat and stretched, then heard the Clans. She woke Firepaw and Bramblepaw and they charged out. They attacked the best they could. But Furrypaw watched in horror as a cat slashed out and killed Gingerpaw. “She doesn’t deserve to die!” Furrypaw yowled. “She was too young to die! You monsters!”

            The cats came towards Furrypaw. She tried to attack, but she couldn’t. She couldn’t alter what was happening until it actually happened. Furrypaw felt a terrible stinging in her sides. Then her neck. She fell, gasping for breath…

            “Furrypaw! Battle training!” Furrypaw was brought back to the camp by Leafpool’s voice.

            “Be right there,” Furrypaw mewed, dazed. Why does it have to keep haunting me? Furrypaw wondered.

            Furrypaw slowly walked out of the camp and out the thorn barrier.

            Furrypaw trained with Leafpool, but she was barely paying attention. Her vision was stuck in her head, and her chat with StarClan…

            “Furrypaw, are you paying attention?” Leafpool asked sternly. “You seem really out of focus today.”

            “It’s happening soon,” Furrypaw murmured.

            “What are you talking about?” Leafpool cried. Then her voice became sympathetic. “What’s wrong?” Furrypaw sighed and told her all about the dream. “Oh, Furrypaw, why didn’t you tell me?”

            “I don’t know. I guess because you’re not an official medicine cat anymore.”

            “Is that why you’re training so hard?” Furrypaw nodded.

            “Why do the other Clans hate me?!” Furrypaw wailed.

            “Calm down,” Leafpool mewed, resting her tail on Furrypaw’s shoulder.

            “I’m the reason ThunderClan might get destroyed!” Furrypaw yowled.

            “Furrypaw, it’ll be okay,” Leafpool assured her.

            Furrypaw sat back down. “I don’t think I’ll be able to focus on anything until after the battle.” She sighed.

            “You need to focus on battle training, though!” Leafpool insisted. “You need to be completely battle-ready.”

            “Okay,” Furrypaw sighed. They practiced for a while, but Furrypaw could not focus, no matter how hard she tried.

            “This is hopeless.” Leafpool sighed. “Why don’t you go get some rest and maybe you’ll be do better in the morning.” Furrypaw nodded and walked back to camp and into the medicine den. The sun was just starting to set. As she walked in the smell of illness came over her. She looked down. “Gingerpaw?!” Furrypaw gasped.

            “She came in sick while you were out,” Jayfeather mewed.

            “This is all my fault! I’ve been pushing her during leaf-bare! How could I be so stupid?!”

            “Calm down, it’s not your fault.” Jayfeather soothed.

            “Yes it is! I’m the one who insisted on extra training!” Furrypaw cried.

            “Furrypaw, it wasn’t your fault. It couldn’t happened to anyone.” Gingerpaw mewed weakly. “Just a bit of catmint and I’ll be fine.”

            “It’s not severe,” Jayfeather assured Furrypaw. “She’s right: a stalk of catmint everyday should be enough. And Lionblaze has given me enough of that since the outbreak of greencough earlier this leaf-bare.”

            Furrypaw curled up next to Gingerpaw. “I wouldn’t do that,” Jayfeather warned. “Greencough is rather contagious.”

            “I’ll be fine,” Furrypaw mewed, closing her eyes.

            The next moment Furrypaw opened her eyes again. Spottedleaf was staring at her. “Spottedleaf!” She cried.

            “I know you’re worried about the battle,” Spottedleaf mewed. “But like Leafpool said, you have to focus on your training or the chances of you winning will go down!”

            “I know, but I can’t focus!” Furrypaw cried.

            “You’re worries are getting in the way,” Spottedleaf observed. “Would it help if StarClan did your battle training with you?”

            “You-you’d do that for me?” Furrypaw asked, shocked.

            “Of course,” said a voice. Furrypaw spun. It was Bluestar. “I can train you, if you like.”

            “S-sure.” Furrypaw stammered. Bluestar lead the way around the forest, familiar, but not at the same time. All the trees glowed. Bluestar led her to the sandy training hollow.

            “Okay, here’s some more of the basic stuff. You come at me and try to attack the best you can.”

            Furrypaw nodded. She knew what was coming. She charged at Bluestar and leapt at her. As Furrypaw had expected, Bluestar whacked her out of the sky with a powerful front paw. “You’ve read all about us, Furrypaw! You saw that coming!”

            Furrypaw regained her paws and faced Bluestar. “Again,” Bluestar meowed. Furrypaw charged Bluestar, but this time didn’t leap. As she reached Bluestar, Bluestar reached out to knock her aside with her powerful front paw.

            But the blow didn’t hit.

            Furrypaw dodged to the right a heartbeat before impact, then skidded and spun to face Bluestar, then slashed her face with sheathed claws, all in one swift movement.        

            Bluestar lunged at her, but Furrypaw ducked, and slid under her, remembering a move that Hawkfrost had shown Ivypool once. Sure it came from Hawkfrost, a Dark Forest cat, but what harm could it do?

            Furrypaw hit Bluestar’s hind paws hard in a certain spot. Bluestar’s hind legs buckled and she collapsed. Furrypaw leaped on her, pinning her down. Bluestar stood up and tried to shake Furrypaw off, but she clung on, pawing Bluestar’s back every once in a while.

            “That was good,” Bluestar meowed. “And I’m pretty sure when you took my hind legs out that was a Dark Forest move, wasn’t it?”

            “Yeah,” Furrypaw mewed. “That’s not a problem, is it?”

            “So long as you use it wisely it’s just another battle move.” Bluestar meowed dismissively.

            “Good,” Furrypaw sighed.

            “That was very well done, especially for an apprentice your age.” Furrypaw felt warmth flow through her as her favorite character praised her. “It’s about time you wake up now, though.” She mewed.

            “Oh, okay.” Furrypaw meowed. She was actually having fun.

            “Promise me you’ll try this hard with Leafpool, too?” Bluestar inquired.

            “You have my word.” Furrypaw promised.

            “Very well,” Bluestar mewed. “You can wake up in your den now.”

            Furrypaw opened her eyes and found Jayfeather staring down at her anxiously. She was still curled up next to Gingerpaw, who was fast asleep, having just a bit of trouble breathing. “Do you feel alright?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Yeah,” Furrypaw mewed. She didn’t feel hot, or cold, or woozy, and she was breathing fine. Jayfeather anxiously sniffed her, checking for signs of fever or disease. He stood back, letting out a sigh of relief. Then he cuffed Furrypaw on the ear.

            “What were you thinking?!” He snapped. “You could’ve gotten greencough yourself! What would you do about your training? That big battle is coming up eventually! You need to be prepared, and you’re lying around, giving yourself a dangerously high chance of getting greencough!

            “Not so loud!” Furrypaw hissed. “You don’t want to wake Gingerpaw.” Jayfeather hissed at her.          

            “Give her a stalk of catmint,” Jayfeather mewed. “And get on with your training and all.” Furrypaw walked into the storage space and pulled out a stalk of catmint, then gently prodded her sister in the ribs. She lifted her head and Furrypaw pawed the catmint towards her. Gingerpaw ate it up. But she didn’t go back to sleep.

            “Go back to sleep, Gingerpaw.” Jayfeather meowed.

            “I’m not tired!” Gingerpaw complained.

            “Should I give her a poppy seed?” Furrypaw asked.

            “No,” Jayfeather replied. “She’ll just have to figure out how to entertain herself.”

            “Ugh!” Gingerpaw sighed.

            “Sorry, Gingerpaw,” Furrypaw mewed sympathetically. She’d had plenty of experience with boredom in her days as a Twoleg.

            “Will you come back soon to keep me company?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “Of course.” Furrypaw meowed. Then thought of a song. “I’m already there. Take a look around. I’m the sunshine in your hair. I’m the shadow on the ground. I’m the whisper in the wind. I’m your imaginary friend. And I know I’m in your prayers. Oh I’m already there.”

            “How do you come up with these?” Jayfeather asked.

            “I don’t,” Furrypaw explained. “Other Twolegs did, then released it to everyone. Then I listened to them, loved them, and learned them so I could repeat the entire thing by heart.”

            “Impressive,” Jayfeather mewed. “Well, you should probably get to your training.”

            “Furrypaw!” Leafpool called.

            “See?” Jayfeather asked.

            “See ya!” Furrypaw cried. She pushed through the bramble screen and out into the clearing.

            “Border patrol,” Leafpool meowed.

            “Which border?” Furrypaw asked.

            “ShadowClan.” Leafpool meowed.

            “Who else is coming?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Lionblaze and Firepaw.” Leafpool replied.

            “Okay,” Furrypaw meowed, waiting for them to show up. Furrypaw caught a flash of ginger from the apprentices’ den and Firepaw walked out. Furrypaw looked out for Lionblaze. She then spotted the golden tabby walking out of the warriors’ den. He yawned and stretched, then started washing himself. After a few moments he came over to join them.

            “Let’s go,” Leafpool meowed. They walked out of the thorn barrier and headed towards ShadowClan territory. Furrypaw sniffed and smelled ShadowClan. They must be getting close to the border.

            “Hey, isn’t the border supposed to be farther?” Firepaw asked.

            Lionblaze sniffed. “You’re right!” he cried, alarmed. “What are they up to now?”

            Lionblaze crouched and slowly started forward. Firepaw followed close behind. Furrypaw glanced at Leafpool. She nodded and Furrypaw followed her friend through the undergrowth.

            As Leafpool arrived, Lionblaze whispered, “Those fox-hearted thieves!” Furrypaw looked and saw ShadowClan renewing the border—three fox-lengths into ThunderClan territory. Firepaw opened his mouth and Lionblaze threw his tail over his mouth mid-hiss.

            Furrypaw inspected the ShadowClan warriors carefully. There was Crowfrost, Spikefur, Scorchfur, and Ferretclaw. “We’ll each take one,” Lionblaze murmured quietly. “Furrypaw, take Spikefur. Firepaw, take Scorchfur. Leafpool, take Ferretclaw. I’ll take Crowfrost.” The other three cats nodded. “Wait until my signal. We’ll try to talk things out first.”

            Lionblaze flicked his tail and they crawled out from their hiding spot under the bush. Lionblaze approached Crowfrost casually, his lip drawn back into a snarl. “What are you doing on our territory?” Lionblaze snarled.

            “What do you mean?” Crowfrost growled. “This is our territory.”

            “No it’s not!” Lionblaze hissed. “This is ThunderClan territory, and has been since the Clans came to the lake!”

            “Change in plans!” Crowfrost hissed. “We need more prey, we take more land.”

            “At the last gathering you said prey was running fine!” Lionblaze argued.

            “We couldn’t make ourselves look weak! And besides, maybe the prey was running fine! It’s been a half-moon, Lionblaze! Things change!”

            “You know, newleaf isn’t far away, and it’s getting warmer, so there should be more prey,” Firepaw pointed out. “You’re just greedy and want more land!”

            “I have to agree with my apprentice,” Lionblaze growled. “You’re being greedy, fox-hearted thieves!”

            “Suit yourself,” Crowfrost meowed casually. “If you won’t give us the land, we’ll just fight for it.” He drew his lip back in a snarl and flicked his tail. Lionblaze did the same. They threw themselves at each other, rolling and writhing on the ground.

            Furrypaw charged at Spikefur and knocked him over. They wrestled on the ground, and Furrypaw dug her claws into his belly fur. He yowled in agony and backed away. Furrypaw jumped up and raked her front claws down his face. He yowled again then leaped on Furrypaw. Furrypaw staggered under his weight, then dropped and rolled onto her back, crushing Spikefur. “You’re not very good at this, Spikefur,” She mewed. “Didn’t your mentor teach you anything?”

            “Ferretclaw taught me lots of things!” Spikefur hissed. “Which is why I’m a warrior!”

            “And you’re being shown up by an apprentice,” Furrypaw pointed out, narrowly dodging a blow and leaping on Spikefur. “Shame on you.”

            Spikefur got aggressive. He jumped on Furrypaw and landed hard. She fell under his weight. He dug his claws in—hard, scratching her back. His claws were like knives!

            Furrypaw yowled in agony and threw him off. I have to weaken him as much as possible, she thought. So that he won’t be able to fight me in the giant battle later. She turned her head for a fraction of a second and saw Leafpool fighting as though if she failed, all of ThunderClan would die. Furrypaw understood—she too was trying to weaken ShadowClan because she knew what was coming.

            Furrypaw dove under Spikefur and whacked the back of his hind legs. She scurried out from under him as his legs buckled and he fell, giving Furrypaw an opportunity to jump on top of him and give him some scratches he wouldn’t forget. He yowled and shook her off. Furrypaw quickly regained her paws and stood to see Spikefur charging her. Furrypaw ducked a heartbeat before Spikefur hit her, rolled, twisted, and sprang to her paws, clawing Spikefur down the face again. He staggered, and, while he was distracted, Furrypaw dove under him and clawed his belly fur, then whacked his hind legs again. She watched him fall and she leapt on top of him, this time instead of attacking, making sure he stayed pinned down.

            She heard Crowfrost yowl. She turned her head to see Lionblaze pinning him down. Crowfrost was bleeding from all over, Lionblaze having just a few thin scratches. “Retreat!” Crowfrost yowled. Lionblaze released him. Leafpool released a shocked Ferretclaw. Clearly Ferretclaw didn’t think Leafpool could fight that well. Firepaw gave Scorchfur a final cuff on the ear, and Furrypaw leaped off Spikefur. The three warriors charged after Crowfrost as he turned and sped away. “Keep your stupid territory!” He called over his shoulder.

            “We did it!” Firepaw cheered. He had a long gash in his side and a torn ear.

            “You have a knack for getting bad scratches on your sides,” Lionblaze meowed. Furrypaw chuckled. After all that wrestling with Spikefur, she’d come out nearly unscathed. She had a few short scratch marks on her belly and back, but they weren’t deep, thanks to her thick fur.

            “Let’s quickly renew the scent markers and go back to camp,” Leafpool mewed. She limped over to where the scent marker was supposed to be.

            “Leafpool, you’re limping!” Furrypaw pointed out anxiously. It appeared Ferretclaw had nipped her hind leg. One side and her tail were also bleeding.

            “I’m fine,” Leafpool insisted. “My mentor limped all the time.”

            “That’s different!” Furrypaw reminded her.

            “I’m fine,” Leafpool repeated. She renewed the scent markers. Lionblaze walked over to help. Firepaw staggered over to Furrypaw.

            “How is it you never get hurt?” Firepaw asked.

            “My ridiculously thick fur, I guess.” Furrypaw replied. “You know, as a Twoleg I had ridiculously thick hair, too. I guess I never lost that trait. It’s going to be a pain come greenleaf.”

            “Interesting,” Firepaw mewed. “Tell me more about yourself as a Twoleg.”

            “I loved cats,” Furrypaw began. It started just the basic getting-to-know-you stuff like you’d fill out on the first day of school. But then it became her life story. On the way back to camp, Furrypaw explained where she was born—and how hospitals work—living with snow up north, moving south, away from all the snow, away from all her friends, and then making new friends, but having to put up with unbearable heat the rest of her life.

            “Wow,” Firepaw mewed, as the two apprentices wandered into the medicine den.

            “Took you awhile to renew scent markers,” Gingerpaw commented. Then she saw how beat up Firepaw was. “What happened?”

            “ShadowClan happened.” Firepaw growled.

            “You got in a fight?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Yep.” Furrypaw sighed. “ShadowClan were trying to take more territory.”

            “We showed them that no one messes with ThunderClan, though!” Firepaw added.

            “Come here, let me apply some dock to your scratches.” Jayfeather meowed. “Didn’t Leafpool and Lionblaze go with you?”

            “I insist you go see Jayfeather!” Furrypaw heard Lionblaze say outside the medicine den.

            “I don’t need to!” Leafpool insisted. “I was a medicine cat once and I know when I need Jayfeather to check up on me!”

            “Apparently you don’t! Now get in the medicine den!” Lionblaze shouted.

            Jayfeather pushed through the bramble screen. Furrypaw poked her head out and saw Jayfeather start sniffing Leafpool. “Get in here.” He ordered. Leafpool sighed and followed Jayfeather into the medicine den.

            “Lie down, Leafpool,” Jayfeather mewed, indicating an empty nest with his tail. “I need to make sure that leg doesn’t start swelling.”

            “That’s a nasty cut there, Leafpool,” Gingerpaw pointed out, turning in her nest.

            “It’s fine. Just a bit of dock.” Leafpool insisted.

            “I should probably add marigold too to keep any of your wounds from infection,” Jayfeather meowed, pulling out dock and marigold from the storage. “Furrypaw, you’re my apprentice. Help me out!”

            Furrypaw jumped and grabbed some of the leaves from Jayfeather and started treating Firepaw’s wounds. She remembered the last time she’d been in here with Firepaw, treating wounds on his side. That was after they’d fought the badger. After Poppyfrost’s death. Though it had only been about two moons, it felt like a lifetime ago. She’d been such an idiot as a kit, and so had Firepaw and Bramblepaw. Jayfeather Lionblaze and Hollyleaf had been just as idiotic when they were kits. Furrypaw had read the book and knew how that turned out, so why hadn’t she warned her friends? I was a kit, she reminded herself. But I’d also had ninety-six years of experience as a Twoleg. I should’ve known better. Stupid peer pressure! In church she’d always been told not to fall under peer pressure when others are about to do something you knew was wrong. She sighed.

            “That’s enough, that’s enough!” Firepaw cried, jumping back and wincing. Furrypaw had been so lost in her thoughts she’d applied too much dock. She knew it stung.

            “Sorry, Firepaw,” she mewed.

            “Honestly, Furrypaw, this isn’t difficult.” Jayfeather muttered.

            “Yeah, Furrypaw!” Gingerpaw agreed. “It isn’t rocket science!”

            The other cats in the room stared at Gingerpaw, but Furrypaw started chuckling.

            “You two will never make much sense, will you?” Leafpool asked.       

            “Nope!” Furrypaw cried, trying to imitate Olaf’s voice. Gingerpaw clearly understood and bust out laughing.

            “How is that funny?” Firepaw asked.

            “You wouldn’t understand,” Furrypaw mewed, applying a bit of marigold to Firepaw’s wounds. “You know, Lionblaze got a few scratches, too. Shouldn’t we at least put a bit of dock on them?”

            “Good point,” Jayfeather meowed, applying herbs to Leafpool’s wounds. “Go bring him in here and I’ll see how bad his injuries are.”

            “Okay,” Furrypaw mewed, walking out of the den and looking for Lionblaze. She was surprised to find him sitting outside the medicine den. “Why are you out here?” She asked.

            “I’m making sure my apprentice is okay!” Lionblaze replied.

            “Lionblaze, it was just a couple of scratches. He’s fine! It’s your mom you should be worried about.” Furrypaw meowed. “And Jayfeather wants you to go inside. He just wants to make sure those scratches aren’t major.”

            “Okay,” Lionblaze sighed. He pushed through the bramble screen and Furrypaw followed. Jayfeather quickly gave Lionblaze a thorough sniff.

            “Minor scratches,” Jayfeather observed. “Furrypaw, could you put a bit of dock on his scratches? Marigold shouldn’t be necessary.”

            “Okay,” Furrypaw meowed, grabbing a dock leaf and chewing it into a pulp. She applied it to Lionblaze’s scratches then meowed, “You’re good to go.”

            “Firepaw, up for some hunting?” Lionblaze asked.

            “Sure,” Firepaw replied.

            “When can I leave the medicine den?” Gingerpaw complained.

            “Probably in a day or two,” Jayfeather replied. “At this point you only have minor whitecough.” Gingerpaw sighed.

            “Don’t worry, Gingerpaw,” Furrypaw mewed. “I’ll entertain you.”

            “How?” Gingerpaw asked, a smile creeping over her face. She knew what was coming. Furrypaw had always been entertaining as a Twoleg.

            Furrypaw took a step back, then ran at the bramble screen. She was trying to ram it and fall backwards. As she hit it, she yowled and jumped back. “It stabbed me in my cut! Ow!”

            Gingerpaw fell backwards, laughing her head off.

            “Furrypaw? You okay?” Jayfeather asked.

            “Yeah, I think so,” Furrypaw mewed, reaching behind her to lick the scratches on her back.

            “Here,” Jayfeather mewed, applying dock and marigold to her scratches.

            “Ow,” she hissed as Jayfeather applied the dock on her back.

            “There you go,” Jayfeather meowed, stepping away from Furrypaw.

            “Thanks,” she murmured.

            “Furrypaw, wanna go hunting?” Leafpool asked.

            “No,” Jayfeather ordered.

            “Why not?” Leafpool asked.

            “She can go hunting, just not with you.” Jayfeather explained.

            “Why not?” Leafpool repeated.

            “Because of your leg. It’s swelling a little, and I don’t want you using it.”

            “Fine,” Leafpool grumbled.

            “Furrypaw, why don’t you go hunting with Lionblaze?” Jayfeather suggested.

            “Okay,” Furrypaw mewed, pushing her way carefully through the bramble screen. She looked around for Lionblaze, wondering if he’d already left. Then she spotted him talking to Cinderheart, with Firepaw impatiently kneading the ground next to him.

            Furrypaw started making her way over to them, then Leafkit, Larkkit, and Honeykit tumbled out of the nursery play-fighting. Furrypaw stopped before she trampled the kits. “I will get you, Duskfur!” Leafkit hissed at Honeykit.

            “No, I’ll get you, Pinenose!” Honeykit shot back.    

            “How about WindClan will just take ShadowClan and RiverClan while you two are arguing?” Larkkit suggested. He dived into his littermates, knocking them both over.

            “Oh, no, Weaselfur!” Honeykit gasped.

            “We have to work together to stop him, or else we’ll both fall!” Leafkit shouted.

            “I’ll go left you go right,” Honeykit meowed.

            “Okay,” Leafkit agreed, running to the right and knocking over Larkkit. He threw her off and Honeykit did the same from his other side.

            “How about I take ShadowClan, RiverClan, and WindClan for ThunderClan?” Furrypaw suggested, knocking all three kits out of the way with a powerful blow with her paw.

            “Another enemy?” Honeykit gasped.

            “Now the three of us have to work together to beat ThunderClan!” Leafkit cried.

            “I’m in,” Larkkit meowed. He leaped on top of Furrypaw. Furrypaw fell over so he’d feel a sense of pride, like Lionblaze had down for her when she was a kit. Leafkit and Honeykit lightly attacked Furrypaw’s sides. Well, they might have been attacking hard, but they couldn’t really reach through her thick fur.

            “We did it!” Larkkit cheered when Furrypaw stopped moving. Furrypaw hadn’t meant to be defeated, but she played along.

            “Please,” she mewed, using a weak voice. “Don’t kill me. I won’t take your Clans.”

            “Okay, Furrycloud.” Larkkit mewed, leaping off Furrypaw. Furrypaw froze. How did he know what her pretend warrior name was? Had he been born then? He might’ve been a little kit… She hadn’t really noticed who was in the nursery at the time. But he must’ve been born.

            “We took ThunderClan out of the way,” Honeykit mewed. “Now to get WindClan out of the way!”

            “Come on, Duskfur!” Leafkit meowed, rushing at Larkkit, Honeykit on her paws.

            “You can’t have ShadowClan or RiverClan, Weaselfur!” Honeykit hissed. Furrypaw chuckled and walked away from the kits’ game and walked over to where Lionblaze was still talking with Cinderheart.

            “I noticed you were playing with the kits,” Cinderheart commented as Furrypaw walked over.

            “Not on purpose,” Furrypaw mewed. “Jayfeather suggested I could go hunting with you guys.”

            “Okay,” Lionblaze agreed.

            “Can we go now?” Firepaw asked impatiently.

            “Sure.” Lionblaze meowed, leading the apprentices out of camp.

            “I know what it’s like, waiting for the adults to finish talking.” Furrypaw mewed quietly to Firepaw.

            “What do you mean?” Firepaw asked.

            “When I was a Twoleg my parents would always be talking to other adults, leaving me bored on the sidelines.” Furrypaw explained.

            “Did it happen often?”

            “Yep.” Furrypaw sighed.

            “You guys hear anything?” Lionblaze asked. Furrypaw and Firepaw stopped talking and started listening for prey. They started sniffing.

            “Mouse!” Firepaw hissed quietly. He dropped into the hunter’s crouch, turned, and slowly stepped forward, pawstep by pawstep. He wiggled his hindquarters and pounced. He came back a moment later with a mouse dangling from his jaws.

            “Do you hear anything, Furrypaw?” Lionblaze asked. Furrypaw pricked her ears and sniffed. Then she dropped, walked forward, then leaped. She bit the creature’s neck and walked back to Lionblaze, a vole dangling from her jaws. It was rather plump. Well, for leaf-bare anyway.

            “Great catch, Furrypaw.” Lionblaze approved.

            “What about my catch?” Firepaw asked, clearly upset that his mentor had praised Furrypaw, but not him.

            “Well, yours was good too,” Lionblaze tried to assure him. Firepaw scowled at him. “It’s just that Furrypaw’s happened to be a little bigger.”

            Firepaw ran off into the undergrowth. “Firepaw, wait!” Lionblaze called.

            “Maybe he’s just trying to catch prey.” Furrypaw suggested hopefully.

            “Or he’s mad at me.” Lionblaze sighed. “I thought I’d figured out how to mentor an apprentice with Dovewing.”

            “You’re doing a great job as a mentor.” Furrypaw assured him.

            “Am I?” Lionblaze asked, clearly depressed.

            “I’m going to go find Firepaw.” Furrypaw mewed, wanting to get away from his depression. “I’ll bring some prey back,” she added. “And hopefully Firepaw.”         

            She ran off into the undergrowth, following Firepaw’s scent trail. She stopped when she scented him nearby, along with the smell of prey. Furrypaw assumed Firepaw was stalking something, so held back so she wouldn’t scare off whatever he was stalking.

            She then heard the shriek of a bird and the flap of wings, then a thud and Firepaw saying, “Got ya!” He appeared through the undergrowth carrying a pigeon. Like Furrypaw’s catch, it was plump for leaf-bare.

            “Wow!” Furrypaw approved.

            “Lionblaze has to like this!” Firepaw mumbled through the feathers.

            “I’m sure he will!” Furrypaw meowed, staring at the pigeon. It was about as big as Firepaw!

            They started walking back to where they’d left Lionblaze. Furrypaw then stopped and pricked her ears. She sniffed, and signaled with her tail for Firepaw to be quiet. He nodded and she dropped into the hunter’s crouch. She advanced slowly, then leaped and came back with a small mouse.

            “Better than nothing, I guess,” Firepaw mewed.

            “We each have a good and a bad catch,” Furrypaw meowed, trying to cheer him up. He chuckled and they walked back to Lionblaze.    

            “More prey!” He approved. “That’s a very nice pigeon there, Firepaw.” He added.

            “Thank you,” Firepaw meowed, dropping the pigeon next to the mouse he’d caught earlier. Furrypaw noticed that Lionblaze had managed to catch a small vole as well. They picked up the prey and walked back to camp.

            “Food!” someone called as they walked through the barrier. It was Larkkit. He grabbed Lionblaze’s vole.

            “Don’t forget to take something for Ivypool.” Lionblaze reminded him. Larkkit grabbed Furrypaw’s vole too and walked back to the nursery, calling to his littermates.

            “Go take your mice to the elders.” Lionblaze ordered. “Then the three of us can split this pigeon.

            “That seems a little greedy,” Firepaw mewed uncertainly.

            “It’s fine,” Lionblaze meowed. “Unless you want the scrawny little mice.”

            “Nope!” Firepaw meowed, trotting to the elders’ den. Furrypaw felt uncertain, but walked to the elders’ den and dropped off her mouse.

            “This is all we get?” Sandstorm complained. Furrypaw felt really guilty. She raced out of the den and back into the forest and sniffed and listened really hard for a good piece of prey.

            Furrypaw pricked her ears and scented a squirrel. She snuck up on it, and, while it was distracted eating a nut, pounced. The squirrel looked startled, and Furrypaw killed it with a death blow to the neck. The squirrel’s face was frozen in terror. Furrypaw ignored it and trotted back to camp. She walked to the elders’ den and dropped her catch in front of the three cats.

            “Now this is more like it!” Graystripe approved.

            Furrypaw walked back out of the den and saw that Lionblaze and Firepaw had already started eating the pigeon, gulping it down in famished bites. “Hey!” she scolded. “Leave some for me!” She rushed over and ate the last few bites. She remembered when her family would get Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and she’d fight for the last few spoonfuls while her brothers and dad devoured it.

            Furrypaw yawned and stretched. “Furrypaw, why don’t you clean the elders’ den?” Lionblaze suggested. “You too, Firepaw.”

            Firepaw sighed and walked into the medicine den to get moss. Furrypaw followed him and they started cleaning out the den.

            Furrypaw rolled the last of the moss into a ball, and as she passed the medicine den, she spotted Gingerpaw, looking bored. “Jayfeather, can Gingerpaw come out for a little game?”

            “Sure,” Jayfeather mewed. He waved his tail and Gingerpaw bounded up excitedly.

            “What do you want to play?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “Monkey in the Middle,” Furrypaw suggested.       

            “Great idea!” Gingerpaw approved. “But who’s the third player?”

            “Firepaw can be.” Furrypaw suggested.

            “Okay,” Firepaw agreed. “But what’s Monkey in the Middle?”

            “It’s where there are three people, or in this case cats, and two of them toss a ball back and forth.” Gingerpaw explained. “The third cat is in the middle. He or she wants to get the ball, but the other two won’t let him or her. The one in the middle can move around to try to intercept the ball, or grab it if it falls before someone else. The one in the middle is called the monkey.”

            “Okay, who’s the monkey?” Firepaw asked.

            “You are!” Furrypaw cried.

            “What?” Firepaw exclaimed. Gingerpaw positioned herself so that Firepaw was in the middle. Furrypaw tossed the ball of moss over Firepaw’s head and Gingerpaw caught it. Gingerpaw tossed it back to Furrypaw. They kept going back and forth for a while, then when Furrypaw threw it, Firepaw leaped about four tail-lengths into the air, intercepting the ball of moss.

            “Dang it!” Furrypaw moaned. “Now I’m the monkey! I don’t like being the monkey.”

            “Too bad! Rules are rules!” Gingerpaw reminded her. Furrypaw sighed as she walked to the middle. Firepaw tossed it high and far, and Gingerpaw leaped backwards and caught it in midair. However, when she landed, she stumbled backward into the bramble screen of the medicine den. She immediately got tangled up, and Jayfeather ran to help.  

            “Why do bad things keep happening to me?” Gingerpaw sighed as Jayfeather untangled her.

            “I think you should rest,” he told her. Gingerpaw sighed and walked back into her nest.

            Furrypaw looked up. The sun was halfway between the top of the sky and the horizon.

            “Furrypaw! Border patrol!” A cat called from behind her. She sighed, turned around, and trotted toward the group forming at the tunnel. She just hoped she wouldn’t have to fight again.

Chapter 10

Furrypaw rolled over in her nest, trying to get comfortable. Suddenly, Dovewing crashed through the bramble screen of the medicine den. “ShadowClan, RiverClan, WindClan,” she panted. Jayfeather jolted awake.

            “All the Clans?” he asked.

            “Yes, on their way to camp!” Dovewing confirmed. Jayfeather and Furrypaw shared a scared look; the battle had come.

“Wake everyone up,” Jayfeather ordered. “Warn them of what’s coming.” Dovewing nodded and sprinted out of the medicine den. “Help her wake everyone,” Jayfeather told Furrypaw. “I’ll prepare herbs. I don’t see how we can win this,” he added quietly.

            “I do,” Furrypaw whispered.

            “What?” Jayfeather asked.

            “We’ve all been training hard, and Bluestar and Spottedleaf told me StarClan warriors would be fighting beside ThunderClan, but only we’d be able to see them.”

            “Why didn’t you tell me?” Jayfeather asked. “Unimportant,” he added quickly. “Just wake up everyone and make sure they’re battle-ready.” Furrypaw nodded and bolted through the bramble screen.

            “All three Clans are coming against us!” she shouted. She ran into the apprentices’ den. “Brace yourselves!” she hissed. “There’s a great battle coming! Any second now!”

            Bramblepaw, Gingerpaw, and Firepaw jumped up and bolted out of the den. Furrypaw hoped Firepaw would live.

            She ran into the elders’ den. She was sure Sandstorm Graystripe and Millie would be able to help to some degree, but most likely Purdy would be of no use.

            “ShadowClan, WindClan, RiverClan!” She shouted. “There’s a battle coming!” Graystripe and Sandstorm jumped up.

            “Purdy, stay here,” Graystripe ordered, leaving the den.

            “Don’t go out there!” Purdy insisted. “At least let me help!”

            “No,” Sandstorm hissed. “We may be old, but we were still trained as warriors. We don’t want you getting hurt. Stay here.” Furrypaw knew Sandstorm Graystripe and Millie were fairly young; they could easily still have some fight in them.

            “Battle coming!” Dovewing yowled outside the den.

            “My kits!” Ivypool fretted.

            “They’ll be fine,” Daisy assured her. “We have strong warriors.”

            “But this is all three Clans they’re going against! They’ve never had to do that before!” Ivypool wailed.

            “StarClan is with us, I know it.” Furrypaw meowed calmly. “Besides, they attack warriors, not kits. If they’re smart they’ll leave your kits alone. If they’re stupid, they’ll try to attack your kits, and they’ll get the fiercest attack they’ve ever seen.”

            “Promise?” Ivypool asked worriedly.

            “Promise.” Furrypaw replied. She suddenly hoped it was true.

            Furrypaw heard stampeding from outside the hollow and knew they were almost here.

            She walked away from the nursery and saw StarClan cats appearing in front of her. She noticed Raggedstar, Leopardstar, and Tallstar gathered together. “Our Clans are making a big mistake,” Raggedstar sighed.

            “I don’t want to fight against RiverClan,” Leopardstar mewed. “But Furrypaw and Gingerpaw are too special to lose.”

            “As much as it hurts, we’ll all fight on the side of ThunderClan tonight.” Tallstar agreed. Furrypaw felt like shedding tears of joy. She then noticed a starry, black figure stalking towards the medicine den. Furrypaw followed it.

            “Hollyleaf!” Jayfeather gasped.

            “I’m here to tell you that StarClan won’t let anything happen to your apprentice. I promise.” Hollyleaf mewed.

            “I’ve missed you,” Jayfeather whispered. He rubbed up against Hollyleaf and purred. Furrypaw looked around to make sure no one was watching; no one else could see or hear Hollyleaf.

            “I’ve got to get to the battle,” Hollyleaf mewed. She rushed out of the medicine den.

            Furrypaw looked around at StarClan. Ferncloud was standing next to Birchfall, and Dustpelt was next to Spiderleg. She noticed Goldenflower standing next to Bramblestar. Firestar was next to Sandstorm. Silverstream sat next to Graystripe. Hollyleaf walked over and joined Leafpool and Squirrelflight, who were standing next to each other. Sorreltail joined Brackenfur. So did Molepaw. Seedpaw walked over to join Lilyheart, who had left the nursery to fight for her Clan. Poppyfrost and Honeyfern went to join Cinderheart. Frostfur joined Thornclaw. Countless other StarClan cats joined their families and friends as WindClan, RiverClan, and ShadowClan poured into the clearing, crushing the thorn barrier.

            Furrypaw looked around, wondering who to start with. She caught Reedwhisker out of the corner of her eye and charged toward the black RiverClan warrior. She leaped on top of him, clinging with her front claws, and clawing his back mercilessly with her powerful hind claws. He shook her off and pinned her down, but she scratched his muzzle—hard. He leaped back in surprise and Furrypaw dove under him, and knocked his legs out from under him. He collapsed in surprise and she scratched his belly as hard as she could. She was about to continue when she heard a familiar yowl on the other end of the clearing. Firepaw!

            She charged to the other side of camp, knocking cats out of the way. She found Tigerheart pinning Firepaw down. Swiftpaw was trying to help, but he was too small. Furrypaw leapt onto Tigerheart’s back. He yowled in surprise and threw her off instantly. She dove under him, but he knocked her out in an instant. She remembered the training Tigerstar had given him. He was too good! “Tigerheart!” Furrypaw looked up to see Flametail. Would he reveal himself to his brother? Furrypaw thought only she and Jayfeather would be able to see StarClan. But Tigerheart faced Flametail in surprise. “Tigerheart, you’re my brother! How can you be doing this?”

            “What do you mean?” Tigerheart snarled.

            “StarClan is against this! The cats you’re fighting about are precious to us! Why are you fighting them?”

            “I do what my father tells me to do.” Tigerheart replied. Furrypaw remembered that Rowanstar was Tigerheart’s father.

            “At least don’t attack Firepaw! He’s our kin, Tigerheart!” Flametail pleaded. Tigerheart stared at Firepaw, who was now cowering.

            “Fine,” Tigerheart spat, knocking Firepaw aside and stalking off, looking for someone else to fight.

            “Thank you!” Furrypaw cried.

            “My own brother has turned against me,” Flametail murmured, before running off for someone else to fight.

            “Was that a StarClan warrior?” Firepaw breathed.            

            “Yes,” Furrypaw replied. “Come on.”

            They looked for someone else. Furrypaw saw Crouchfoot and flicked her tail at the ginger tom. Firepaw nodded and they charged, each of them attacking one of his sides. Crouchfoot knocked Firepaw aside and Furrypaw jumped on him, clawing mercilessly. She heard the sound of ripping flesh and Crouchfoot yowled. Firepaw gave him a good scratch down the side, and Crouchfoot returned the favor. “Firepaw!” Furrypaw gasped. In her distraction, Crouchfoot flung her across the clearing.

            Furrypaw landed heavily. She was about to run back to Crouchfoot, then found Breezepelt on top of Gingerpaw right in front of her. “Say goodbye, Twoleg!” Breezepelt hissed. Time slowed, and Furrypaw was immediately reminded of a quote from Star Tours at Hollywood Studios back in the Twoleg world. “Say goodbye, rebel spy!” Gingerpaw was the rebel spy, Breezepelt was the bounty hunter, and Furrypaw was the sonic bomb. She charged Breezepelt and knocked him over.

            “Furrypaw!” Gingerpaw gasped in relief. Furrypaw did not respond. She just snarled at Breezepelt. He tried to get up, but Furrypaw would not let him. She was madder than she’d ever been—even madder than she’d been when everyone started insulting her and Gingerpaw at the Gathering.

            Gingerpaw walked over and gave Breezepelt some deep scars that would last a long time. He yowled. Gingerpaw gave a signal for Furrypaw to let Breezepelt go. But Furrypaw didn’t budge. “What is wrong with you?!” she screeched. “You attacked your own brother, trained in the Dark Forest, then you attacked my sister!! All against the will of StarClan!” Breezepelt hissed at her. “You got your mother’s pelt and you’re father’s hatred!” Furrypaw hissed, giving him a claw down the belly. He yowled again. Furrypaw stepped off him and he turned, hissing.

            “That was overdoing it a little,” Gingerpaw mewed.

            “I hate Breezepelt,” Furrypaw muttered. Furrypaw looked around the clearing. She noticed a lot of the Clan cats had fled, the remaining ones looking surprised as unseen warriors clawed their pelts, assuming that the cat they were fighting was simply stronger than they’d thought.

            Furrypaw noticed Lionblaze holding off three cats all on his own, no StarClan warriors helping him. Furrypaw suddenly saw Hollytuft collapse, and was pinned down by two warriors. Lionblaze was too busy to help, and Furrypaw was frozen to the spot. Hollyleaf gasped at the sight of her fallen niece. She didn’t want to leave Squirrelflight and Leafpool’s sides, and looked around for Cinderheart. Cinderheart was busy in her own battle. Leafpool looked Hollyleaf right in the eye. Could she see StarClan, too? “Go help her,” Leafpool told Hollyleaf. “We can hold our own.” Hollyleaf nodded and took off, rushing to save Hollytuft.

            Furrypaw dove back into battle, as did Gingerpaw. Furrypaw noticed Gingerpaw had joined Bramblepaw’s fight. Furrypaw had been noticing Gingerpaw’s obsession with Bramblepaw. Were twins going to mate twins in the future?

            Furrypaw shook the thought from her mind and concentrated on the battle. After what felt like hours, she gave Petalfur a scar that would remain with her probably until she became and elder, and watched as the last of the cats fled from camp. Gingerpaw rushed hurriedly into the nursery. “Don’t worry,” she heard Daisy say. “All the kits are safe.”

            Lilyheart and Ivypool rushed into the nursery and licked their kits furiously. Furrypaw checked camp to make sure no other cats were hiding. She turned the corner to look between the medicine den and the warrior den and Breezepelt shot out, followed by Crowfeather. Furrypaw wanted to kill both of them! She wasn’t sure how Leafpool or Nightcloud had fallen in love with Crowfeather, and Breezepelt had inherited his bad attitude. Furrypaw battered furiously at their bellies, one hind paw on each cat, but it didn’t seem to do much. The StarClan warriors had left, and all the other cats were focusing on kits, elders, or other injured cats. Wasn’t anyone seeing this?

            Breezepelt and Crowfeather each gave Furrypaw a hard, long, deep scratch on her side. This time her thick fur didn’t protect her. Her white fur soon turned crimson. She growled and thrust Breezepelt and Crowfeather off of her. She leapt onto Crowfeather and started clawing his back. Breezepelt reached out and scratched her, but Furrypaw shot first. She clawed Breezepelt’s muzzle and he leapt back in surprise. Furrypaw continued on Crowfeather. He dropped and rolled onto his back, trying to squish her. She leaped off at the last moment and clawed Crowfeather’s belly. He sprang to his paws and pinned her down. He gave her a long scratch down her belly.

            Furrypaw knew there was no escape. She let her body go limp, trying to play dead. “I know what you’re doing,” Crowfeather hissed. “And I’m not letting go!”

            Furrypaw had to make it convincing. She took a deep breath, then held it. She didn’t inhale or exhale. She’d force herself to hold her breath as long as it took for Crowfeather to think she’s dead. Couldn’t you go three minutes with oxygen? She started counting the seconds in her head. One, two, three four… By time she reached fifteen Crowfeather had assumed she was dead. She held it a few more seconds, just to be safe. Her lungs were screaming for air. Seventeen, eighteen nineteen, twenty. She started breathing and knocked Crowfeather over.

            Furrypaw stole a look toward her Clanmates. They were huddled together, grief in their eyes. Had someone died? She couldn’t think about that now—she was about to die!

            Furrypaw clawed Crowfeather, but Breezepelt knocked her aside. They both rounded on her, chasing her into a corner. She was trapped! They were so much bigger, so much more skilled… How was she supposed to take on two of them?

            Furrypaw yowled at the top of her lungs, hoping to attract her Clanmates’ attention. She saw Lionblaze turn, yowl, and charge toward Breezepelt and Crowfeather. Furrypaw crouched in terror as Lionblaze took them both down, single-pawed. She knew Lionblaze was fierce and would win any battle, but, she’d never seen it in person until now. He was horrifying!

            Lionblaze gave each of them one last slash on their backs and they ran off, hissing, into the night. Lionblaze helped heave Furrypaw to her paws. “Are you okay?” he asked.

            “Mostly shaken,” Furrypaw replied. “What was going on over there? Did someone die?”

            Lionblaze stared at her, grief in his eyes. Furrypaw did not like this response. He flicked his tail and Furrypaw followed slowly. She didn’t want to know.

            Furrypaw walked up, and, gasping in horror, found Squirrelflight lying on the ground, bleeding everywhere. “It’s my fault!” Leafpool yowled, thrusting her muzzle into her sister’s pelt.

            “It wasn’t your fault,” Sandstorm assured her, placing her tail on her daughter’s shoulder. Leafpool wailed again.

            Furrypaw noticed Bramblestar on the ground, too. He couldn’t have died, could he? As far as she knew he hadn’t lost any lives…

            Furrypaw noticed Bramblestar’s wounds beginning to heal rapidly. His eyes blinked open and he rose to his paws. He shook himself, then froze when he saw Squirrelflight. “Squirrelflight! No!” he yowled, thrusting his muzzle into his mate’s fur.

            “I’m sorry, Bramblestar,” Leafpool mewed. “It was my fault. Squirrelflight seemed to be managing on her own, and Sorrelstripe needed help, so I went over to help, then I came back to find Squirrelflight—“ her voice broke off. Furrypaw stared at Squirrelflight’s dead body. She had suckled her when she’d come here. She had been one of her favorite characters. Indirectly, it was Furrypaw’s fault Squirrelflight was dead, and that Bramblestar had lost a life.

            “It’s my fault,” she whispered, not knowing she’d said it aloud.

            “How can it be your fault?” Sandstorm asked. Furrypaw, Bramblestar, and Leafpool shared a glance. They knew about her dream. They knew the three Clans had been after her and Gingerpaw.

            Gingerpaw! Where was her sister? “Gingerpaw?” She asked anxiously.

            “I’m right here,” Gingerpaw replied, stepping out from the crowd. Furrypaw ran over and started rubbing up against her, purring as loud as she could. Her sister was safe.

            Furrypaw noticed Firepaw out of the corner of her eye. He didn’t even notice his heavily bleeding side as he crouched beside Squirrelflight. Furrypaw suddenly remembered that Squirrelflight was his mother. “Poor Firepaw,” she murmured.

            “And Bramblepaw, too,” Gingerpaw mewed.

            “We’re just lucky more cats didn’t die,” Graystripe mewed. “I’m not sure how we came out alive from that!”

            Furrypaw knew. StarClan, that’s how. She remembered seeing the three dead leaders gathered together just before the battle had started. “Furrypaw and Gingerpaw are too special to lose.”

            “We’ll all fight on the side of ThunderClan tonight.” Leopardstar and Tallstar’s words rang in her ears.

            “Come on,” Gingerpaw mewed. “Let’s sit vigil for Squirrelflight.”

            Furrypaw nodded and walked over to Squirrelflight with Gingerpaw. She spent the night remembering all the things Squirrelflight had done. Squirrelpaw, going on the journey to find Midnight. Squirrelpaw, in the mountains, coming up with an idea to save the Tribe of Rushing Water from Sharptooth. Squirrelflight, the first warrior in their new home. Squirrelflight, traveling again the mountains and fighting alongside the Tribe of Rushing Water. Then she remembered Squirrelflight, badly injured after the battle between all four Clans, the day of the eclipse. Then she remembered Squirrelflight suckling her. Being a kind mother when hers was too far away.

            And now that wonderful cat was gone.

            The long night ended, and everyone who had had more minor injuries left Squirrelflight to see Jayfeather. Jayfeather had treated everyone with major injuries the second the battle had ended.

            Furrypaw walked to the medicine den for Jayfeather to check her wounds, and then she’d help him out with injuries. “I know I was mad at her for lying to us about being our mother, but, I didn’t want her dead!” Jayfeather was saying as Furrypaw entered.

            “I feel you,” Lionblaze replied, resting his tail on Jayfeather’s shoulder.

            “Furrypaw!” Jayfeather jumped as she entered.

            “It’s okay, I knew you felt that way anyway.”          

            “She’s creeping me out!” Lionblaze whispered to Jayfeather.

            “You get used to it,” Jayfeather replied.

            “We’ll all grieve for Squirrelflight,” Furrypaw agreed, changing the subject back.

            “Yes,” Lionblaze mewed.

            “Come on, Furrypaw. Help me check injuries.” Jayfeather meowed.

            Furrypaw wandered into the storage cleft and started pulling out herbs. She walked outside the den saw all the injured cats. They were all jumbled. She needed to make this easier. “Form a line, people! Form a line!” she called. “Right in front of the medicine den. Actually, make two lines. That’ll be easier.”

            Everyone stared at her confused. Gingerpaw stepped up and started showing everyone what to do. Furrypaw flashed her a grateful glance. Gingerpaw nodded and kept organizing people in lines. Gingerpaw put the more injured cats in one line, and the less injured in the other. Furrypaw, being the apprentice, took the line of less injured cats. Jayfeather seemed to understand and stood in front of the line of more injured cats.

            Furrypaw applied dock and marigold to what felt like a million cats before the medicine den was empty. Leafpool had ended up in Jayfeather’s line, and he’d made her stay in the medicine den. She had bad scratches on both sides, and her belly, and she had a bad limp. When Firepaw had showed up, Jayfeather had commented that it must’ve been the third time he’d gotten a scratch in that spot. “You really do have a knack for getting scratched on your side, there,” Furrypaw had added. He growled and walked away after getting ointment.

            Furrypaw wondered when Bramblestar would pick the new deputy. Squirrelflight had died after moonhigh, and they’d sat a decent vigil for her. Bramblestar still had until moonhigh to choose a new deputy. Who would he pick?

            Furrypaw wandered out of the medicine den and into the late-morning sun. Bramblestar was sitting on the Highledge, looking both sad and thoughtful. Probably wondering who to pick as the new deputy.

            A little while later, Bramblestar jumped to his feet and called, “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting!”

            Briarlight dragged herself across the clearing on her front paws, and Leafpool limped out of the medicine den, leaning on Jayfeather. Furrypaw walked over and sat down, finding herself between Firepaw and Gingerpaw. Sandstorm, Graystripe, and Millie appeared out of the elders’ den, with their many scratches, followed by Purdy.

            When everyone was gathered, Bramblestar started talking. “I say these words before StarClan, so that the spirit of Squirrelflight may hear and approve of my choice. The new deputy of ThunderClan is Lionblaze.”

            Everyone cheered, and Lionblaze walked shyly up to Bramblestar. “Lionblaze! Lionblaze!” Cinderheart was cheering the loudest.

            “Also,” Bramblestar continued, silencing everyone. “Our apprentices fought bravely in battle, and I think they all deserve to become warriors.”

            Beside Furrypaw, Firepaw and Gingerpaw trembled with excitement.

            “However, it is not for me to say when Furrypaw gets her full name, and making them all warriors would leave us with no apprentices, so we’ll have to wait.”

            Firepaw and Gingerpaw sighed.

            “As soon as Leafkit, Larkkit, and Honeykit become apprentices, you three can become warriors.”

            “Just one more moon!” Larkkit sang from the nursery entrance.

            “One more moon of cleaning out the elders’ den,” Firepaw grumbled.

            “It’s not so bad,” Furrypaw mewed. “One moon will be over before you know it.”

            “Isn’t tonight the Gathering?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “You’re right! I completely forgot!” Furrypaw agreed.

            “Think I’ll be able to go?” Gingerpaw asked excitedly.

            “Probably,” Furrypaw replied. She looked up at the Highledge. Bramblestar had disappeared into his den. She wanted him to know how StarClan had helped them in the battle.

            Furrypaw walked toward the Highledge and clambered up. “Bramblestar?” she called.

            “Come in,” came the response. Furrypaw walked inside. “What is it?” Bramblestar asked.

            “I wanted to tell you something about the battle,” she started.

            “Yes?” he pressed.

            “StarClan was fighting alongside ThunderClan, all of them. ShadowClan, RiverClan, and WindClan ancestors fighting alongside us and ThunderClan ancestors.”

            “Really?” Bramblestar meowed, his eyes filled with curiosity. “Who could see them?”

            “I was told just me and Jayfeather, but Leafpool seemed to see them, and Flametail revealed himself to Tigerheart.”

            “Who was fighting beside who?” Bramblestar asked, curious.

            “Goldenflower was beside you,” Furrypaw started, straining to remember. “Firestar was beside Sandstorm, Silverstream beside Graystripe, Sorreltail and Molepaw beside Brackenfur, Poppyfrost and Honeyfern beside Cinderheart, Seedpaw beside Lilyheart, Hollyleaf beside Squirrelflight and Leafpool,” Bramblestar’s eyes filled with grief at the mention of his mate. But Furrypaw kept going. “Dustpelt beside Spiderleg, Ferncloud beside Birchfall, and Frostfur beside Thornclaw.” Furrypaw finished.

            “Did you see anyone else?” Bramblestar prompted.

            “Right before the battle, I saw Leopardstar, Raggedstar, and Tallstar talking.” Furrypaw replied.

            “What did they say?” Bramblestar asked.

            “Raggedstar said, ‘Our Clans are making a big mistake.’ Then Leopardstar said, ‘I don’t want to fight against RiverClan, but Furrypaw and Gingerpaw are too special to lose.’ Then Tallstar said, ‘As much as it hurts, we’ll all fight on the side of ThunderClan tonight.’”

            “Interesting,” Bramblestar meowed. “Why do you think they like you so much?”

            “No idea.” Furrypaw replied. “Perhaps because I’m a Twoleg. They might think we can all learn from me. They can obviously tell I’m harmless,”

            “Harmless? Lionblaze filled me in on what you did to Spikefur. You’re not harmless.” Bramblestar meowed. “You’ve got real talent, Furrypaw. You know most every herb, what to do with it, you know everything about every Clan, you’re good at fighting, you’re good at hunting, you’re good at swimming, everyone loves your singing, Furrypaw, you’re the most amazing cat I’ve ever met. I was skeptical at first, but now I know I made the right choice letting you into ThunderClan. And I will never let anyone kill you, even if it means losing my remaining eight lives all at once.”

            “Thank you, that means a lot, especially coming from the Clan leader.” Furrypaw mewed.

            “Go get some rest. The Gathering is tonight.” Bramblestar mewed, gently nudging her out of the den. Furrypaw walked out of the den and climbed down from the Highledge, then walked into the medicine den and curled up in her nest.

            “Tired, huh?” Jayfeather asked, sorting through herbs.

            “Meh,” Furrypaw replied. “But Bramblestar reminded me that the Gathering is tonight and I was up all night long.”

            “Get some rest then,” Jayfeather mewed gently. Furrypaw curled up in her nest and closed her eyes. She almost instantly fell into a deep sleep.

            She opened her eyes a few moments later in a starry forest. She looked around for StarClan members and found Firestar greeting her. “You did a good job last night,” he mewed.

            “You too,” she replied, even though she hadn’t really been watching. She just assumed. “I’m sorry we couldn’t protect your daughter,” Furrypaw mewed.

            “It’s okay,” a voice said from behind Firestar. Squirrelflight walked out from behind the trees. “I’m reunited with my father.” She touched noses with Firestar.

            “All of StarClan is proud of ThunderClan,” Firestar meowed. “Especially you, Furrypaw. You decided to work extra hard, even though it exhausted you, even though it got your sister sick, so that you and your sister would live. I’ll tell Jayfeather that you should get your name at the next half-moon.”

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw mewed. “But I want to get my name after Firepaw Bramblepaw and Gingerpaw.”

            Firestar smiled. “You will serve ThunderClan well, young one.”

            “Furrypaw, I knew from the start Bramblestar made the right choice.” Squirrelflight meowed. “The second you walked into the nursery with me, I knew you’d be a good addition to ThunderClan.”

            “Then you were smarter than Bramblestar,” Furrypaw meowed. “He just told me that he was skeptical at first.”

            “That sounds like Bramblestar,” Firestar sighed. “But now?”

            “He says it was the best decision he’s ever made.” Furrypaw replied.

            “Of course it is!” Squirrelflight snapped. “Furrypaw, you are the most amazing cat I’ve ever met. Don’t let anyone tell you different.”

            “You’re starting to sound like the staff at school from when I was a Twoleg,” Furrypaw mewed. “I mean, they were inspirational, but I’ve heard this message a million times already.”

            “Oh, sorry,” Squirrelflight mewed. “But tell Gingerpaw the same thing I told you. She deserves it, too.”

            “Will do,” Furrypaw replied.

            “Goodbye, Furrypaw,” Firestar mewed.

            “Bye, Firestar! Bye, Squirrelflight!” Furrypaw called, knowing she was about to wake up. And then she did.

            She sat up and stretched. “Are you ready? It’s almost time to go,” Jayfeather asked.

            “Yeah,” she replied. She looked out of the medicine den and found the sun had disappeared, replaced by the moon that was almost directly above them.

            Bramblestar leaped down from the Highledge and gathered together the cats whom he’d chosen to bring: Lionblaze, Jayfeather, Furrypaw, Gingerpaw, Bramblepaw, Firepaw, Ambermoon, Birchfall, Leafpool, Bumblestripe, and Cinderheart.

            Bramblestar flicked his tail for them to go. “Goodbye!” some of the remaining warriors called, as they filed out the thorn barrier. On the way to the island, Furrypaw passed on Squirrelflight’s message to Gingerpaw. “That’s kind of her,” Gingerpaw commented.

            “Also, right before the battle, I saw Raggedstar, Leopardstar, and Tallstar talking. Leopardstar said that you and I were too special to lose, and Tallstar said ‘We’ll all fight on the side of ThunderClan tonight.’” Furrypaw added.

            “It’s like we’re celebrities!” Gingerpaw exclaimed.

            “In StarClan’s eyes, yes.” Furrypaw confirmed. She wondered what the leaders would say.

            They arrived at the island. It appeared that ThunderClan was the last to arrive. ShadowClan, RiverClan, and WindClan sat mingling, but they all eyed ThunderClan. Furrypaw felt isolated at this.

            A few moments later, Bramblestar leaped up into the tree and yowled to start the Gathering. “First piece of news—“ Bramblestar started.

            “You’re cheaters!” Rowanstar hissed before Bramblestar could continue.

            “Pardon me?” Bramblestar meowed.

            “Three Clans against one and you won!” Rowanstar growled. “How is that possible?!”

            “We train hard,” Bramblestar meowed simply.

            “No, there’s more than that,” Onestar hissed. “Tell us the truth!”

            Bramblestar sighed. “The truth is, StarClan warriors were fighting alongside ThunderClan.”

            “I didn’t see any StarClan warriors,” Rowanstar hissed.

            “Nor did I,” Bramblestar meowed evenly.

            “But I did!” Tigerheart interrupted.

            “What?” Rowanstar glared at his son.

            “Well, I saw one,” Tigerheart meowed shyly. “Flametail revealed himself to me, told me that we needed to stop attacking ThunderClan. I refused, because you told us to fight. But he did convince to stop attacking Firepaw since he was kin. I didn’t see any others though.”

            “That doesn’t count!” Rowanstar hissed, turning his attention back to Bramblestar. “You’re a liar! You can’t say StarClan was fighting with you if no one even saw them!”

            “But I did!” Furrypaw called.

            “So did I!” Jayfeather called.

            “I did, too!” Leafpool agreed.

            “StarClan was there,” Mistystar meowed. “Which means we were fighting on the wrong side. RiverClan is sincerely sorry, Bramblestar,” Mistystar glared at Rowanstar and Onestar, who clearly did not believe StarClan had been fighting alongside ThunderClan. “However I cannot speak for ShadowClan or WindClan. Bramblestar, did StarClan say anything important?”

            “Furrypaw,” Bramblestar meowed. “Tell everyone what you told me. About the leaders.”

            Everyone was now staring at Furrypaw. She felt shy, and her lips wouldn’t work. Jayfeather gave her an encouraging nudge, and she found her voice again. “I saw Raggedstar, Leopardstar, and Tallstar gathered together just before the battle started. Raggedstar said, ‘Our Clans have made a big mistake.’ Leopardstar said, ‘I don’t want to fight against RiverClan, but Furrypaw and Gingerpaw are too special to lose.’” At this, Mistystar looked especially guilty, so did a few of the other cats from the other Clans. However Rowanstar and Onestar still looked disbelieving. Furrypaw continued. “Tallstar said, ‘As much as it hurts, we’ll all fight on the side of ThunderClan tonight.’”

            Mistystar glared at Rowanstar and Onestar again. “There’s all the prove you need!” she hissed. “StarClan was there and didn’t want us fighting them! We made a mistake! Can’t you guys accept that?”

            “You’re seriously going to believe the words of a Twoleg?” Onestar exclaimed. “Don’t you remember why we had the battle in the first place? And now you’re taking their side?!”

            “It is obvious StarClan was there, Onestar!” Mistystar replied. “And I believe in StarClan, in case you forgot! And I thought you did, too!”

            “We believe in StarClan!” Rowanstar yowled. “I don’t believe the words of a Twoleg!”

            “Enough!”  Leafpool screeched. “This isn’t why we’re here! And besides, I saw StarClan, too! If you don’t take Furrypaw’s word, take mine. If you don’t take my word, take Jayfeather’s, for crying out loud! Can we please just get back to sharing the news we came here to share?!”

            “Thank you, Leafpool,” Bramblestar meowed. “As I was saying, first piece of news, Ivypool has given birth to three kits, Sunkit, Brightkit, and Cloudkit, fathered by Bumblestripe.” Bumblestripe shone proudly a few tail-lengths away from Furrypaw. “Also, Squirrelflight has tragically died, and the whole Clan is mourning.” Furrypaw noticed Tawnypelt’s eyes were clouded with grief, as were Bramblestar’s. “Our new deputy is Lionblaze.” Lionblaze stood up from where he was sitting amongst the tree roots. He nodded to Onestar and he stepped forward.

            “WindClan has nothing to report.” He meowed sternly. He nodded to Rowanstar.

            “We have nothing of report either.” Rowanstar mewed.

            Rowanstar nodded to Mistystar. “Fluffykit tragically died from greencough,” Mistystar mewed sadly. Furrypaw felt pain for RiverClan. Fluffykit was only a moon old! Furrypaw heard a wail from a RiverClan cat, and knew it was Fluffykit’s father. “Other than that, we have nothing to report.”

            “One more thing, I just remembered,” Bramblestar meowed. He turned to Rowanstar. “Can you explain why one of my patrols found you trying to set the border marker farther into our territory?”

            “We were low on prey!” Rowanstar hissed. “But thanks to you we didn’t get any. My Clan is hungry!”

            “Newleaf is almost here,” Bramblestar meowed. “Prey will come back. Every Clan here has been starved. But soon, we’ll all have our prey back.”

            “Gathering dismissed,” Rowanstar growled, leaping off the tree. Onestar followed him, then Mistystar, then Bramblestar.

            “I really am sorry,” Mistystar mewed to Bramblestar. “I had no idea StarClan didn’t want us doing it. If I had known… I’m sorry. I thought I was protecting all four Clans by doing this.”

            “I understand your concern,” Bramblestar meowed. “But I can guarantee you, you won’t have to worry about Furrypaw or Gingerpaw causing trouble. Being former Twolegs, and knowing about us means they’ve had extra experience, and know what mistakes to avoid. They know all the traps others before them have walked into, and know how to avoid temptation. They’re smarter than every cat in the forest combined.”

            “You’re not making me feel any better about what I did,” Mistystar meowed uncomfortably.

            “I’m just trying to make you feel better in the future,” Bramblestar meowed.

            “Goodnight, Bramblestar,” Mistystar mewed.

            “Goodnight,” Bramblestar meowed as Mistystar led RiverClan away. Bramblestar flicked his tail for ThunderClan to follow.

            “Thanks for standing up for me, Bramblestar,” Furrypaw mewed when she landed on the other side of the tree bridge.

            “I had to,” Bramblestar replied. “I’m not lying when I say this, Furrypaw, you and Gingerpaw are the most amazing cats I’ve ever met by far.”

            “Thanks,” Furrypaw meowed. “Squirrelflight and Firestar and the rest of StarClan agree.”

            “I can see why,” Bramblestar meowed. “You’ve got a great future ahead of you. You are very special.”

Look for the next book in the series,

Warriors A Merged World: Forbidden Love

 

Warriors sequel cover

 

            Furrypaw, Gingerpaw, Firepaw, and Bramblepaw get their full names. Afterwards, Furrypaw finds herself drawing closer and closer to Firepaw. She tries to break away but she just can’t. She feels as close as though he were her brother. Will Furrypaw be able to keep the Warrior Code? Or will she break it by mating and having kits?

            There’s also trouble on the ShadowClan border. Even as newleaf comes in they claim they don’t have food. What will happen to ShadowClan?

Catch a Sneek Peek at Warriors A Merged World: Forbidden Love:

           

            Chapter 1

Furrypaw stood up and stretched from her nest. She saw Jayfeather sorting herbs. “Do I need to get any herbs?” she asked.

            “Nope, you’ve gotten quite enough for me these last few days.” He replied.

            “Does anyone need an extra cat for patrol?”

            “No, we have quite enough warriors.”

            “Does the fresh-kill pile need to be restocked?”

            “No, it’s pretty full and there’s a hunting patrol out.”

            Furrypaw sighed. Ever since the battle, she’d gone back to just being a medicine cat apprentice. After training double as a warrior and a medicine cat, life had seemed rather dull. She wondered when she’d get her full name. Probably the next half-moon, considering Leafkit Larkkit and Honeykit would get their apprentice names today, meaning Firepaw Bramblepaw and Gingerpaw would become warriors today. Plus it was the full moon. There was a lot of exciting stuff happening, but not right now. It was still early-morning, and the ceremonies would happen at sunhigh. She needed something to do.

            “Does the elders’ den need cleaning?” Furrypaw asked.

            “I think Firepaw just took care of that.” Jayfeather replied.

            “The nursery?”

            “Bramblepaw and Gingerpaw just did that.”

            “Are Firepaw or Gingerpaw free?” Furrypaw asked hopefully.

            “I think they both went on patrol.” Jayfeather mewed.

            “Seriously?” Furrypaw groaned. “There’s nothing to do!”

            “Why don’t you play with Leafkit Larkkit and Honeykit?” Jayfeather suggested. “They seem restless since their ceremony is at sunhigh. Give them something to do until then.”

            Furrypaw sighed and walked out of the medicine den and into the nursery. She found Leafkit Larkkit and Honeykit leaping on top of each other—and Lilyheart. Larkkit barreled Honeykit into Sunkit, squishing her. Honeykit jumped up. “Is she okay?” she asked anxiously.

            Ivypool quickly checked on her kit. “She’s fine,” she determined. “But why don’t you three play outside? It seems Furrypaw wants to play with you.” She glanced up at Furrypaw.

            “Okay!” Larkkit squeaked, running out of the nursery with his sisters on his paws. Furrypaw ducked out of the nursery and jumped aside as the three kits charged out.

            “You guys wanna play tag?” Furrypaw asked.

            “What’s tag?” Leafkit asked. Seriously? Don’t these kits know anything? Furrypaw thought.

            “Tag is where there’s one cat who’s ‘it’, and they have to tap another cat, or touch them in some way. Then they’re it. You don’t want to be it, so you have to outrun the tagger. Who wants to be it first?”

            “I do! I do!” The three kits squealed all at once.

            Furrypaw started pointing at each kit with her tail-tip. “Eeny meeny miney mo, catch a tiger by the toe. If he hollers let him go. Meeny miney mo. Which one will be it first it’s you!” Furrypaw’s tail stopped on Honeykit. “You’re it!” She called to Honeykit. She, Leafkit and Larkkit charged away from her.

            Honeykit raced towards Leafkit, so Leafkit picked up the pace, but could not outrun her sister. Honeykit slapped her back with her tail, and Leafkit was it. Larkkit noticed this and steered away from her. Furrypaw ran towards the dirtplace. Leafkit was a little behind her. Furrypaw jerked left and ran towards the other end of camp. Leafkit followed her exact trail. Don’t they understand that if she’d cut left earlier she could’ve caught up with me? Furrypaw wondered. Kits, they don’t know the tricks. It had taken Furrypaw a while to figure it out as a Twoleg, so she could see why the kits were having trouble.

            She slowed down to give the kits a fair fight. Leafkit tagged her and sprinted away. Furrypaw ran towards Larkkit, since he was the only one who hadn’t been tagged. Larkkit realized he was being followed, and tried to use the same trick Furrypaw had, however, Furrypaw was ready for it. Larkkit jerked right, but Furrypaw jerked right with him, instead of waiting to turn at the spot he had. She charged forward, coming in at Larkkit from the side. She touched him and raced off. He sighed and looked to tag on of his sisters.

            “Furrypaw!” someone called from the thorn barrier. Furrypaw looked up to see Gingerpaw returning from patrol. Thank goodness! Furrypaw thought.

            “You kits keep playing, okay?” Furrypaw called to the three kits chasing each other.

            “Larkkit, I tagged you,” Leafkit mewed.

            “I didn’t feel it.” Larkkit argued.

            “Well, I did tag you.” Leafkit meowed.

            “No, you didn’t,” Larkkit replied.

            “Yes I did.”

            “No you didn’t!” Larkkit yowled. Leafkit jumped on top of her brother and they started play-fighting. Honeykit joined in.

            “Let’s go,” Furrypaw mewed, nudging Gingerpaw back towards the thorn barrier. She nodded and they pushed their way through.

            “Wanna sing more Frozen?” Furrypaw asked when they were in a private spot in the woods.

            “Sure, but, which song?” Gingerpaw asked.

            “Do you know the outtake Life’s Too Short?” Furrypaw asked.

            “I think I might’ve heard it on YouTube,” Gingerpaw replied. “Could you go over the lyrics?”

            Furrypaw nodded and repeated all the lyrics. When they were finished, she meowed, “I’m Elsa, you’re Anna.”

            “Got it,” Gingerpaw meowed.

            “Go,” Furrypaw meowed.

            Gingerpaw started singing. “I came all this way today to give us a fresh start, but now that you’re like ‘Wow’ it’s all like warm in the heart.”

            Furrypaw took over. “I’m so glad you like it, sis, ‘cause this is the real me. You have no idea how great it feels to be free!

            “We’ve been fallen out for way too long, so let’s forget who’s right,

            “And forget who’s wrong.

            “Okay!” they both sang.

            They kept going for quite some time, then, they finally ended, with both of them singing simultaneously: “Life’s too short to waste another minute! Life’s too short to even have you in it! Life’s too short!!!”

            “I was so wrong about you!” Gingerpaw cried.

            “You? You were so wrong about everything!” Furrypaw shot back.

            “Maybe you are the prophecy.” Gingerpaw meowed angrily.

            “I am not the prophecy!” Furrypaw yowled. “And seen!”

            “Wow, that was amazing,” Firepaw mewed from behind them, making Furrypaw jump. “The music, the emotion, the passion,”

            “You’re sounding like a director after we shoot a scene,” Gingerpaw mewed. Furrypaw chuckled, and Firepaw gave him a confused look, as did Bramblepaw next to him.

            “We’ll never understand you two.” Bramblepaw meowed.

            “Are you two just going to randomly appear every time we finish a duet?” Furrypaw asked.

            “Maybe,” Firepaw meowed mysteriously. The other three cats let out a mrrow of laughter at the way he said it.

            “Guys, look at the time!” Bramblepaw exclaimed. Furrypaw looked up.

            “How is it sunhigh already?” she asked.

            “Time flies when you’re having fun,” Gingerpaw pointed out.

            “Well it’s not like the song is that long! It doesn’t make any sense!”

            “Maybe you were playing tag with the kits longer than you thought,” Bramblepaw suggested.

            “Guys, does it matter? We need to get back to camp!” Firepaw yowled.

            “Race ya!” Gingerpaw cried, racing ahead of everyone.

            “Hey!” Furrypaw cried, sprinting after her, Bramblepaw and Firepaw on her paws.

            “—Highledge for a Clan meeting!” the last of the traditional words for a calling a meeting sounded in Furrypaw’s ears as she reached the thorn barrier. The four apprentices stood panting in the camp entrance.

            “You know you four didn’t have to run so fast,” Leafpool pointed out as she passed the barrier. Bramblepaw hissed and the four apprentices took their seats beneath the Highledge.

About the Author

        Warriorcat1195  loves cats, and she loves to sing, and she loves Disney. She also loved Erin Hunter’s series, Warriors. She read the books nonstop and loved them enough to write a sequel.

For more information on this book, please visit http://warriors-fanfiction-area.wikia.com/wiki/Into_the_Forest. Also visit the other pages for information about the characters on that wiki. 

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