This is part of The Paths Trilogy. It is the third of five books centering around the main characters, the first being Outside The Borders, and the second being Desire. (Read these in any order you want :3)
Brokenkit was born, but her mother and three littermates all died. She was the only survivor - but her father is dead as well. After becoming an apprentice, young Brokenpaw must learn that being loyal to the group isn't necessarily the right thing to do - it's being loyal to yourself.
My name is Tabbyflight.
Now I am in StarClan. I sacrificed my life giving birth to my four kits. However, I am unsure if it was worth the cost.
Mistkit, Spiritkit, and Kestrelkit all died alongside me. They were my kits - and they never got the chance to live a live in the Clans. Most unlike their living sister - the only one of my four to survive.
She was named after my death, after I had joined StarClan with my three dead kits. We watched from the stars as Brightfeather selected the name Brokenkit for her. I think that it is fitting - her family divided into living and dead.
Her father doesn't reside there, though. Bluepelt lives beyond the Clans, as far as I can see. Now, I can see that Brokenkit will have to grow up alone - no true parents to look after her.
I feel for Brokenkit - life must be hard, not knowing who your true parents are. I shudder to think what life would be like if I was orphaned...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
My name is Brightfeather.
I have more kits to look after now, now that Tabbyflight has died. Three of her kits died as well. I hope they are safe - and happy - in StarClan now. Maybe Tabbyflight will be happy with Bluepelt once more, if she's there.
But I still have Brokenkit. I know that she is not my own - that she is the only surviving kit of Tabbyflight's litter. I took her in willingly. Tabbyflight had been one of my closest friends during my life, and it is now my turn to repay her.
I chose her name - for Tabbyflight, for Bluepelt, for their three kits that died. I chose the name Brokenkit - as she is separated from the rest of her family. She is only one left that lives - the rest are all dead.
But Brokenkit must know at some point that I am not her mother. The tom that is the father of my kits - Pineshade - will never be Brokenkit's father. I must keep Brokenkit aware of what has happened to her family.
Maybe, when she is ready to become an apprentice, she will be ready. But Brokenkit is too young to know this now. Little does she know that she is to grow up orphaned...
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Brightfeather?" I squeaked indignantly. "Snakekit and Ryekit are teasing me. They're saying that you're not my mother, Pineshade isn't my father, and that I'm not their sister. Is this true?"
All I knew about myself was that I was born after Snakekit and Ryekit. Those two were a half-moon older than me, and they were bigger. They always loomed over me, and they had always teased me, but it had never been something this overwhelming.
"They're just teasing you, Brokenkit," Brightfeather told me softly. Her amber eyes were kind as she gazed at me. "Snakekit and Ryekit will be told off when they see me."
Tears were trying to spring up in my eyes after this, but I blinked them away. Snakekit and Ryekit would be so furious that I told Brightfeather on them! "But Brightfeather -" I stammered. "Snakekit and Ryekit will continue doing this to me if they found out I told on them!" I almost buried my face in Brightfeather's fur at the thought, but I stopped myself at the last minute.
"I'll just say I saw them, Brokenkit," Brightfeather mewed softly. "Those two will know none the wiser. Leave them alone for a while, and I'll tell you a story, if you want."
"Yes, please!" I squeaked excitedly. I love hearing stories about PebbleClan's past! One thing that excited me about this was learning more about PebbleClan's past - learning more about the best of the four Clans in the forest.
Brightfeather beckoned me closer, and I laid down, pressing into her orange fur. "I'll tell you about the time I got my warrior name..."
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I glared enviously at the camp entrance, watching some of the Clan warriors head out on patrols. Soon, I wouldn't be stuck in this camp anymore. In a half-moon, I would be getting my apprentice name. In a half-moon, I would start my training with all the other apprentices in the Apprentice's Training Ground, with all the apprentices from other Clans. I would be able to finally start my journey to become a warrior!
But it's still a half-moon away, I thought, letting my shoulders sag. A moon was a long time away. I envied Snakekit and Ryekit - Snakepaw and Ryepaw now, who had shifted to the grounds and received their apprentice names two days ago.
Lucky Snakepaw and Ryepaw, I thought, as I unsheathed my claws and dung them into the ground. I made a line in the dirt with my thorn-sharp claws.
There were other kits in the Clan: Jumpkit and Jackdawkit, who were in different litters, but the best of friends. A quarter-moon in time was all that separated them.
"You wish you were like Snakepaw and Ryepaw, don't you?" whispered a voice. I turned around to see Brightfeather approaching me from the nursery. The orange tabby's wideset eyes were staring at me intently.
I didn't reply to her words, just looked at stared at her. In response, Brightfeather sat down, and added: "Make the most of the time you still have here," she whispered. "You still have a lot to learn, before you go to the Apprentice's Training Ground to see apprentices from other Clans, and to go through your warrior training. It is an effort for some to go through it."
"Brightfeather, I'm going to get through warrior training, no trouble," I insisted, puffing out my chest with pride. "PebbleClan will be happy to receive me once I become a Clan warrior. I'll be so fierce!" In response, I tore up the ground in front of me with more claw swipes.
Brighfeather purred. "You're going to be a strong warrior, young one," she whispered. "But you don't know what's coming?"
I turned, and stared at Brightfeather. "What do you mean, I don't know what's coming?" I asked. "Of course I know everything!"
Brightfeather's amber eyes were full of sorrow. "Maybe some secrets are best kept hidden," she whispered, as she turned and padded back to the nursery.
I wondered what Brightfeather's words to me meant, and I wondered if she was keeping anything from me. Thinking this, I pushed the thoughts to the back of my mind, and watched the warriors come in and out of the camp once more, wishing I was one of them already.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"You'll be safe, won't you?" Brightfeather asked me as we trekked through PebbleClan territory. My eyes were wide as I gazed at the pines above ne, so I was only half-listening.
"What - oh yes," I mewed quickly. "I'll be safe. Our Clan's mentors will help me to be the best warrior I can!" I leaped into the air, then padded quickly after Brightfeather to catch up to her.
Brightfeather glared at me as I got closer. She inhaled sharply, and she meowed: "I have something to admit to you, before you go to the Apprentice's Training Ground and receive your apprentice name."
"What?" I stammered, forcing the words out. "Brightfeather, what is it?"
The orange tabby she-cat looked away, and I heard her take a shaky breath. She turned back to me, and said: "I vowed to tell you this at about your age, when you were old enough to understand..." Her voice trailed away, and Brightfeather looked down. Another shaky breath was taken, and she turned back to me. "Brokenkit, I am not your mother. Pineshade isn't your father, and Snakepaw and Ryepaw aren't your siblings."
My head was spinning. Brightfeather isn't my mother? I took a deep breath, and looked into Brightfeather's amber eyes. "So who is?"
Brightfeather looked away again after I had spoken. There was another prolonged silence as the two of us continued to walk through PebbleClan territory. Finally, she turned back to me, and spoke again: "They're both dead, Brokenkit. Your mother and father are both dead, and so are your real littermates."
They're dead? I couldn't believe that Brightfeather could've kept a secret like this away from me for so long. "Tell me about them."
"Okay, Brokenkit, since this is my last chance to do so," Brightfeather sighed. "Your mother's name was Tabbyflight, and she was one of the greatest warriors PebbleClan had ever seen. Her hunting skills were excellent, and she was an adept fighter as well. However, she was kind to her Clanmates, and would never hurt one of them at any cost. She died after her kitting, which you were born in, and your three littermates also died."
I had more family than I thought, I thought sadly. If they had lived, Tabbyflight would've taken me to this meeting tonight, with my three littermates. If life had been different...
"Your father was different, on the other paw," Brightfeather continued, jolting me out of my thoughts. "His name was Bluepelt, and he preferred hunting over fighting - I have no idea why." Brightfeather's voice dropped suddenly after this. "A half-moon before you were due to be born, the day before I kitted Snakepaw and Ryepaw, he snuck out of the camp, for who knows what reason. When the sunhigh border patrol came across one of the rogue borders, however, Bluepelt's scent was wreathed around the area, scented with fear. His blood was splattered along the ground. His body was never found."
I lowered my head sadly in mourning, but then I turned my attention back to Brightfeather. "And why didn't you tell me this earlier?" I asked softly, glaring up at her.
Brightfeather sighed. "You just weren't ready to know, Brokenkit," she mewed softly. "Maybe now that you are old enough to start your journey to warriorhood, will be the time you can live up to your family's memory." She gazed at me again, sorrow in her amber eyes. "You look so much like your mother, Brokenkit."
There was silence between us, before Brightfeather looked up at the sky. "Brokenkit, we've got to hurry, otherwise we'll be late," she hissed.
At once, we both sped up slightly, and continued the walk to the Apprentice's Training Ground. Despite Brightfeather's news about my true family, I was almost going to bounce around in joy - I was finally going to become an apprentice!
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Brokenpaw!" An indignant call erupted from outside the den, waking me up. I rolled in my nest, willing to stay asleep.
"Brokenpaw!" the voice called again, louder and sharper this time. "You've got jobs to do. Get up, and get moving!"
Two moons had passed since I had become an apprentice. It had been good, learning about how to be a warrior - but waking up in the morning was something I dreaded. Why couldn't I sleep in as long as I want?
I grunted as I heaved myself out of my nest, and padded out of the den where the PebbleClan apprentices slept. The clearing opened up in front of me: apprentices from all four Clans, and their respective Clan mentors supervising them.
The cat who had called me - Pineshade, my foster father - turned to me. "We're going on a battle patrol," he announced triumphantly. "We're bringing Ryepaw with us, as well as Crowgaze and Bouncepaw from GrassClan."
I suppressed a groan. Bouncepaw was the biggest mouse-brain in the training area, and boasted about GrassClan all the time. He was especially annoying to the PebbleClan apprentices - although they were all bigger than him.
Jumpkit and Jackdawkit don't have much longer, though, before they become apprentices, I thought wryly. Maybe Bouncepaw will annoy them instead.
At that moment, I saw Crowgaze turn up to Pineshade, Bouncepaw at his heels. Ryepaw came up to her father's side, purring. The patrol was ready to leave.
"Well, then, let's track down this rogue," Crowgaze announced, his blue eyes wide with fury.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
"Bouncepaw, tell me what direction this scent is going in," Crowgaze ordered.
The GrassClan cat's words jolted me back to reality, as I stared into space. I was still on the patrol, to find that rogue that had been trespassing. Deep down, however, I didn't think it was right to attack.
Should I show mercy?
"It's going in this direction," Bouncepaw mewed, flicking his tail to my left. "It's fresh, too. Let's get him!"
"Calm down, Bouncepaw, we might not fight," mewed Crowgaze sharply. "You're too hungry for battle." The black tom then turned to Pineshade. "Lead on."
The dark reddish-brown tom dipped his head to Crowgaze, then flicked his tail for us to move on. I fell in step behind Ryepaw, and in front of - to my dislike - Bouncepaw. Looking behind me, it looked like the GrassClan apprentice wanted to bite my tail off.
We tracked the scent for a few moments longer, before we emerged into a small clearing. A battered old cat was lying down on the ground, his pelt relatively hairless. He spotted us, and gave us an indignant look to not attack.
He doesn't deserve to be attacked, in the state he's in, I thought. Pineshade better not give the order to attack...
Before I could move, however, Bouncepaw moved to the front of the patrol. I watched as the ginger tom unsheathed his claws, and yowled: "You're trespassing! You must be punished!" Full of anger, Bouncepaw leapt at the old rogue.
Quick as a flash, before I could even think, I moved in front of Bouncepaw, taking the blow that he was aiming at the rogue. When Bouncepaw moved away, and realized he had attacked me, he asked: "What are you doing there, clumsy?"
I shrugged off Bouncepaw's rude comment, and turned to him. "Sometimes being loyal to the group isn't important: it's being loyal to yourself," I whispered.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
I trembled slightly as I walked into the clearing. I saw Doedapple, one of the FallClan mentors. Tonight, I would make a decision which would change my life.
"Brokenpaw." Doedapple addressed me, her green eyes bright. "Your choices is either Brokenheart, Brokenfeather, Brokenfall, or Brokenpath."
The names rang in my head, as I reveled in my excitement. Six moons, it had been. Now, I finally had the chance to honor the memory of Tabbyflight, Bluepelt, and my three dead littermates. But first - what name was I to choose.
Not Brokenfeather, that's weird. And Brokenfall... no. Just no.
That left only Brokenheart and Brokenpath left. And I was pretty sure which one I was going to choose.
Brokenpath, I thought. That's the name I will choose. In memory of my family.
"Brokenpath," I mewed to Doedapple. "I choose Brokenpath."
Doedapple paused for a heartbeat, and then she mewed: "Then from now on you shall be known as Brokenpath." One brown paw whipped out from behind her, and some dark berries laid on Doedapple's front right paw. "Eat some."
Hesitantly, I leant down, and ate a few berries. At once, I felt myself feel dizzy, and next heartbeat, I was on the ground. A wave of blackness overcame me, and I fell into sleep.
I'm going home, I thought, but I thought one more thing before I passed out completely:
I'm coming, PebbleClan, I'm coming...
In the end, I enjoyed writing this. Another emphasis on Brokenpath was good, and now I have a better idea of Brokenpath before this. (if you haven't read that, read it now or else >:D)
The next book in the short-story prequels is Calling of the Grass, and it focuses on one main character in the series that corresponds to these books. (The character doesn't make an appearance in this book, sadly D:)
I really hoped you enjoyed this - I really appreciate constructive criticism! :D
Until next time,