Chapter 1 - Fangs of Venom
Pebblepaw was resting by the fresh kill pile, incredibly bored. Stormpaw walked in with a rabbit in his jaws.
He dropped it by the fresh kill pile and walked up to Pebblepaw.
"Hey!" He greeted. "Hey," she said, smiling. "I'm bored. You're so lucky! You get to do things, and get out of camp!"
Stormpaw laughed. "Stuff like training!"
Pebblepaw nodded. "Still better than doing nothing."
He smiled shyly at her. "Do you want to go on patrol?" He asked.
Pebblepaw nodded. "I'd love that!"
They were about to leave the camp when Darkpaw walked up to them. "Are you guys going on patrol? Can I come?" He asked.
"Uh, sure!" Stormpaw said, with a glance at Pebblepaw.
Pebblepaw didn't notice the look. "Alright. We can start at the HareClan border and set the scent markers."
Stormpaw nodded. The trio darted out of the cave and started walking.
Pebblepaw was deep in thought by the time they had to cross a thorn patch, and nearly missed the jump.
She scrabbled with her hind legs, and was about to fall, when Darkpaw grabbed her by the scruff and hauled her up.
"Th-Thanks, Darkpaw." She purred. "No problem." He said, nudging her playfully.
Pebblepaw walked with him for the rest of the way, oblivious to Stormpaw's glares at Darkpaw.
They finally arrived at the border. Pebblepaw looked around. "Not much has changed. You two can set the markers, and I'll look for prey while we're here."
Stormpaw and Darkpaw nodded, they both went to separate parts of the border and renewed the scent markers.
Pebblepaw crouched down, scenting for prey. There, a mouse, under that cluster of leaves.
She pounced, but missed the mouse. An adder flew out of the bushes, biting her on her hind leg. Pebblepaw collapsed, screaming, and the snake slithered away.
Stormpaw and Darkpaw ran up to her. "What happened?" Darkpaw asked in horror, he seemed to be rooted to the spot.
Stormpaw looked around wildly. "Press some moss on the wound, and lots of pressure. I'll get Berrysap."
Darkpaw nodded, and pressed some moss onto the bite. Pebblepaw was barely breathing, and she would die soon if she didn't get help.
Stormpaw ran back to camp, he quickly told Berrysap what had happened. She grabbed a few herbs and berries in her mouth and ran out with Stormpaw showing her the way.
Pebblepaw saw Stormpaw leave, she didn't hear him and thought he was running away. She felt angry, shocked, surprised, and hurt. Didn't he care about her?
They arrived quickly, taking a shortcut Berrysap knew about. Stormpaw realized it was a romantic place, he would take Pebblepaw this way when she got better.
Berrysap crushed some berries into a poultice and dabbed the juice on with one paw. She placed a large dock leaf on the leg, and watched the juice seep in through her fur. She then fed Pebblepaw a few herbs and one berry. "She should be getting better," Berrysap fretted.
Pebblepaw opened her eyes. She stood up shakily, she would have a limp for the next week or so.
"Thank you for saving my life," she mumbled.
Berrysap nodded. "Of course."
Stormpaw looked like he was about to pass out. "Pebblepaw, are you okay?"
Pebblepaw glared at him. "You left!" She spat. The only thing she remembered was Berrysap forcing the herbs into her mouth, she thought that Berrysap had been collecting them somewhere around this place, not that Stormpaw had gone to get her.
Stormpaw's eyes widened. "I..." He trailed off.
"You don't even have an excuse." Pebblepaw spat, her eyes hard like diamonds.
He flattened his ears, getting irritated. "I was getting Berrysap!"
Pebblepaw's ears flattened too. "Well you could've... I don't know..." She mumbled. "I needed you, Stormpaw! I need you with me a lot." She mumbled.
Stormpaw's eyes were full of tears. "I love you, Pebblepaw. I couldn't stand by and watch you die. Pebblepaw, you are the sun in the day, the moon at night. You are the brightest light I've ever seen. You are the reason I get up everyday. You're the most beautiful she-cat in the clan. The nicest one, the most sincere one. I love you, Pebblepaw, and so I had to get her. I had to save your life." He said softly.
Pebblepaw stared at him. She reached out, her muzzle brushing his. "I love you, too, Stormpaw. But I also care deeply about Darkpaw. And I'm not ready to choose. But one day, I will be. I hope you can wait until then."
Darkpaw padded over to her. "I know I will."
Stormpaw nodded at her, blinking warmly. "I will too."
Pebbblepaw sighed. "When... when we're 11 moons, two moons from now, I'll choose."
Darkpaw purred. "I can't wait. I'm already 10 moons, though."
Stormpaw nodded. "Me too."
Pebblepaw laughed. "Argh! Everyone's older than me!"
Stormpaw laughed too, so did Darkpaw.
Pebblepaw gasped theatrically. "You DARE laugh at MEEEE?" She pounced on them both, soon they were play-fighting.
Darkpaw had her pinned down, but Stormpaw jumped on top of him, squishing Pebblepaw. She pushed them both off and jumped on top of them.
They all landed, dazed and laughing, in a pile near a tree. Pebblepaw stood up, laughing. "We should head back to camp. It's getting dark."
Darkpaw nodded. "Okay."
Pebblepaw looked at Stormpaw. "You coming?"
He nodded. "Yeah! Let's go."
They walked back chattering, Pebblepaw in the middle of the two toms.
She felt so at ease with them, like she could be herself. She had a nagging feeling in the back of her head, like she knew who she would choose, but she had to wait two moons. She promised. And... maybe, just maybe, the choice would be predetermined. That would make everything a lot easier.
Chapter 2 - Night Captured, Dark Dropped
Pebblepaw was out hunting by the HareClan border around dusk. She had a mouse and a sparrow, that would be enough.
She turned, wondering what Stormpaw and Darkpaw were doing. She picked up her prey and walked back to camp.
Inside the cave, she dropped down the prey and waked into the apprentices den. Stormpaw was there, but Darkpaw wasn't.
"Where's Darkpaw?" She asked.
Stormpaw looked at her, his eyes full of pain. "They... they went on a patrol."
"Why do you look so sad?" Pebblepaw asked, sitting next to him.
"Darkpaw, Featherstar, and Russetclaw went to... they went to capture a HareClan apprentice."
Pebblepaw stared at him. "What? Who?"
Stormpaw looked away. "Nightpaw." Pebblepaw shot to her paws. "WHAT?! THAT'S MY SISTER!!"
Stormpaw nodded, he was expecting something like this.
"We have to stop them!"
Stormpaw shook his head. "It's too late. Look."
Featherstar walked in. Her head was low, as if she was ashamed of her actions.
Russetclaw and Darkpaw walked in, holding a squirming black and gray she-cat. "Nightpaw!" Pebblepaw ran over to her sister. She wrenched her away from Darkpaw and Russetclaw, glaring at them scathingly.
"Are you okay?" She asked Nightpaw.
"No, they literally broke into camp, picked me up, and STOLE ME!" Nightpaw spat.
Pebblepaw stared at Darkpaw. "How could you do this?" Darkpaw looked away from her.
Pebblepaw twined her tail with her sister. "Are you hurt? Did they injure you?" She asked.
Nightpaw shook her head. "I'm a little battered, but nothing serious." Pebblepaw let out a sigh of relief.
"Is this SquirrelClan?" Nightpaw asked, looking around. "Wow. I like HareClan camp better, personally, but this is cool!"
Pebblepaw nodded. "Yeah. Want me to introduce you to everyone?"
Nightpaw nodded, her eyes shining. "Okay. Those three are Featherstar, our leader, Russetclaw, a warrior, and Darkpaw, an apprentice. This is Stormpaw, an apprentice. I'm an apprentice too." Pebblepaw said proudly. Nightpaw gasped. "Cool!"
"This is Berrysap, our healer. And this is Jaycall, our deputy. She's also a queen. Her mate is Hawkeye. The rest of the people are out, either hunting or patrolling."
Nightpaw glanced at Darkpaw, and then away again. "Do you want to go back to HareClan?" She asked Pebblepaw.
Stormpaw's eyes widened, so did Darkpaw's. They were waiting in apprehension for her answer. "No." Pebblepaw said finally. "I don't. Do you?"
Nightpaw nodded. "Of course! I'd miss Ivyflight and Mom and dad and Lightningpaw and everyone else way too much!"
Pebblepaw smiled. "How's mom?" Nightpaw crossed her eyes, looking silly. "Mom's fine. She's the deputy still. Wispstar was going to demote her for being 'too unloyal', otherwise known as taking care of her kits."
Featherstar looked shocked. "Your mother is Adderclaw?" Pebblepaw nodded and turned back to her sister. "Dad? Ivyflight? Our siblings?" "They're all fine." Nightpaw assured her.
Pebblepaw looked around. "Wow." Nightpaw nodded. "Yeah. I'm going to go back home now." Featherstar looked like she wanted to argue, but Pebblepaw glared at her and she looked at her paws.
"Do you need help? I mean, company?" Pebblepaw asked. Nightpaw shook her head. "I'll be fine." Pebblepaw looked around.
Darkpaw stepped forward. "I'm sorry. What I did was immature and abrasive. At least let me take you to the border."
Nightpaw huffed. "If you insist." She might have fooled everyone else, but she couldn't fool Pebblepaw, she knew Nightpaw was secretly thrilled to have Darkpaw walk her home.
Pebblepaw sighed. Her choice was predetermined. Of course it was. She just needed a tiny hint that it was the right thing to do, and she got more than what she needed.
She sat back down next to Stormpaw. "It's okay if you don't choose anyone." Stormpaw said softly. "I know you're mad at Darkpaw. But you care about him. And you deserve to be with him."
Pebblepaw stared at him. "That's very kind of you. But I will choose. I just need time. I promised myself two moons, and to be honest, I'm really confused about my feelings. And so..."
Stormpaw placed his tail on her shoulder. "I know. Don't worry. And I know that when you choose... you'll be choosing who's best for you."
Pebblepaw smiled at him gratefully. "Thanks, Stormpaw. That means a lot." She rose, shaking out her pelt.
"Do you want to go explore?" She asked. Stormpaw nodded. Pebblepaw smiled back, before she had an idea.
"Let's bring Darkpaw, too. That way we can spend time together as friends."
Stormpaw smiled. "Let's do it. We should wait."
Pebblepaw nodded. "Okay! Riverday has some good stories, do you want to hear any?"
"Yeah! Sounds promising." "It won't be. Probably. Maybe. Possible. I think."
Stormpaw snorted. "If you say so, Oh Mighty and Not at All Dubious Pebblepaw."
Pebblepaw swatted him with a paw. "Very funny, Oh Mighty and Very Hilarious Stormpaw, and in No Way Am I Being Sarcastic."
He laughed. "Let's go."
They walked into the elders den. "Riverday, could you tell us a story?" Stormpaw asked.
"Well, which story would you like to hear?" Pebblepaw laughed. "Any story is fine."
"Okay, I'll tell you the story 'bout a pack o' rats who came 'ere looking fo' trouble."
Riverday told them the story, and another, and another. Riverday had the gift of storytelling. He really was very good at it.
Darkpaw finally walked in. "Okay, let's go tell him." Pebblepaw walked up to Darkpaw, explaining what she wanted to do.
Darkpaw nodded eagerly. "Let's go!"
They ran out of the camp, as they had done that one morning, just a moon ago.
Pebblepaw had an idea. "Let's climb the moon rock!"
The toms looked nervous, but they agreed. They made their way to the moon rock, a large, tall rock in the middle of a clearing in the woods.
Pebblepaw climbed carefully, only stepping where she thought it was safe. She finally made it to the top.
"Wow! You can see the whole territory from here!"
Stormpaw went up next, he was a bit clumsier but didn't fall, something that relieved and annoyed Darkpaw.
Darkpaw clmbed up a tree, then pounced on the rock from one of the closer branches. He landed squarely in the middle of the rock.
"It's getting dark, but I don't really want to get down," Pebblepaw realized.
The toms exchanged glances. "No one would really miss us if we maybe stayed here..." Stormpaw mused.
Darkpaw nodded. "Yeah! We can get a lot of prey in the morning, and say we went out hunting!" Pebblepaw smiled. "Okay, good plan."
Stormpaw gathered some feathers and lots of moss, since it grew on the rock. He lay down on his new nest. Pebblepaw lied down on hers. "I like it better than my nest back at camp!" She exclaimed. Darkpaw quickly sat down next to her. "You're right!"
They sat, staring at the moon, until it was high in the sky. "I'm glad we stayed out," Pebblepaw mumbled tiredly, resting her chin on Darkpaw's flank. He purred. "Me too." Stormpaw's eyes were shining. "This is really cool. Great idea, Pebblepaw!" She smiled sleepily. "Thanks!" Together, they fell asleep, under the watchful eyes of the moon.
Chapter 3 - Reprimands and Rebukes
Pebblepaw woke up on the moon rock. She arched her back, stretching. She realized Jaycall would probably be mad at them, unless they brought back something useful.
She prodded Darkpaw and Stormpaw awake. "We need to get some prey, otherwise Jaycall will have a seizure."
They laughed and got up. "We should get down, there's a mouse den right there." Stormpaw pointed with his tail.
Pebblepaw nodded. She gingerly began to come down, it was much harder than coming up. She made it safely, and she peered up at the two toms. "Okay, all clear!" Stormpaw made his way down carefully. Darkpaw waited until he was off before starting down.
About half-way down he lost his balance and fell. Pebblepaw shrieked at his crumpled form on the ground. She ran over to him. He was moving, he seemed to be fine, except for his left hind leg. It was twisted at a horrible angle, looking at it made Pebblepaw dizzy.
She and Stormpaw helped him get to his paws. "We need Berrysap." Pebblepaw said. Darkpaw shook his head. "I can make it to camp, there's no need to rush things."
They reluctantly stayed behind with Darkpaw, supporting him when he wobbled.
They managed to get him back to camp. He was limping heavily, and he collapsed in the medicine den. Berrysap sighed and got out her herbs. "You two had better leave, Jaycall's been worried sick."
They walked out of the den, and saw Jaycall running up to them. "Where were you?" She asked angrily.
"We're sorry. We spent the night at moon rock," Pebblepaw explained.
Jaycall scoffed. "You'll be doing the elder's ticks for a moon." She said finally. "You better not do it again."
They nodded sincerely, and Jaycall padded away indignantly.
Pebblepaw groaned. "She doesn't know about Darkpaw yet.."
Stormpaw shuddered. "Uh oh."
Pebblepaw stared at the medicine den where Darkpaw was resting. She felt guilty and responsible. The whole thing had been her idea, after all.
Stormpaw rested her tail on her back. "It's not your fault, Pebblepaw."
Pebblepaw looked crestfallen. "Of course it was. And now you're getting punished for something that wasn't your idea."
Stormpaw stared at her kindly. "My idea or not, I still stayed."
Pebblepaw smiled and nudged him. "Bad judgement on your part, eh?" He laughed, nudging her back. "On my part? But I'm innocent!!!"
They laughed together, but every time she laughed, she was reminded guiltily of Darkpaw, and how she had been partially responsible.
She crept into the medicine later that night. Darkpaw and Berrysap were both asleep. Pebblepaw curled up next to him and fell asleep thinking about Darkpaw's pained face and twisted legs. And it was all her fault...
Chapter 4 - The Fallen
The cat stared at Pebblepaw in her sleep. He reached out a paw. It was time for her to learn exactly what was coming. Because if the eclipse came and they weren't ready...
He didn't want to think about that.
He remembered his daughter. Her light, fluttery laugh. The anger in her eyes when she heard the prophecy. They thought they had found the right cat that time. What about now?
The horrific scene replayed in his head.
-- He had padded into the camp, a rabbit in his jaws.
Pebblewing had padded up to him. There was amusement in her gaze. "You're finally back, father."
He had nodded at her, smiling. He dropped the rabbit and sat next to her daughter.
"Father, you shouldn't be hunting," she had scolded. "You're much too old. Retire. Let the younger warriors protect the clan."
He had winced. Pebblewing noticed this, and lay her tail upon her father's back.
"Father, you've always been proud. But now it's time you swallowed your pride."
The old tom had dipped his head mournfully.
"You're no longer young, father," Pebblewing murmured.
He had nodded. He knew.
"You act like Otterstripe," he had said finally.
Pebblewing smiled. "Father, I-" She was interrupted by Leopardstar.
"Pebblewing, you and your father should get into my den..." Her voice wasn't suspicious, angry, or accusative. It was worried.
He had stood, and walked over to Leopardstar. He could feel the fear coming from Pebblewing.
In the den, Tigerlily paced. Pebblewing stood, stock-still.
Leopardstar stared at Pebblewing in anguish. "There is a new prophecy."
Pebblewing nodded slowly. "It goes like this."
A storm, close on the horizon.
Dark shadows creeping away.
Pebbles stumble, pebbles tumble.
Pebbles choose between rain and shade.
One cold claw, one vengeful warrior.
Pebbles on the verge of death.
They sat, in shocked silence.
Pebblewing's eyes filled with fury. "I don't want to be a part of this!"
They stared at her, too stunned to speak. She stood and stormed out of the den.
He didn't know it then, but he would never see his beloved Pebblewing again.--
The tom blinked back tears. He pressed his paw to Pebblepaw's forehead. She slumped in her sleep, but didn't awaken.
He turned away, his spirit being blown away by the wind.
Chapter 5 - Poppies and Prophecies
Pebblepaw stretched, looking around.
Darkpaw was missing.
Pebblepaw glanced around frantically, where was he?
She caught his scent leading to the mouth of the cave, and slumped down near it.
Where was he?
Where was he?
WHERE WAS HE?
She took in a breath as she saw a dark striped tabby approach the cave, clearly limping. There was something red in his jaws.
She bounded over to him joyfully.
"Where were you?" She asked, purring.
He smiled shyly. "I was... I got these for you." He admitted, pushing two red flowers towards her.
She sniffed them, and smiled. "Thank you, Darkpaw!" She chirped, nuzzling him.
He purred. "They're poppies."
She twined the poppy's long stalk around her left forepaw, and the other on her right.
She smiled down at them and at Darkpaw.
Her choice wasn't predetermined, but it was getting there.
She nuzzled him again, and led him back to his nest in the medicine den.
She curled up next to him, and began grooming his fur.
They were both asleep in moments.
Pebblepaw's dreams were once again thoroughly coated in riddles, and she couldn't make heads nor tails of it all.
She tried to shut it out, and went into a peaceful sleep.
Chapter 6 - Love and War
It came too quickly.
The moon she was supposed to choose.
She had been dreading it, and was no closer to making her choice than she had been two moons ago.
Stormpaw was the first to bring it up. "So, Pebblepaw," He had said. "Have you decided yet?"
Pebblepaw had nodded, lying. "Um, yes."
She hissed to herself, and flicked her tail. She padded out of the apprentices den and surveyed the area.
"Nightpaw?" She asked incredulously, hurrying over towards her sister.
"Pebblepaw!" Nightpaw was overjoyed.
"What are you doing here? Does Jaycall know?" Pebblepaw asked in hushed tones.
"Well, I wanted to visit. And yes, your deputy knows." Nightpaw added.
"And?" Pebblepaw knew her sister well enough to know there was another reason.
Nightpaw giggled, blushing. "Darkpaw..." She mumbled quietly, a goofy smile on her face.
Pebblepaw gasped. "Really? Thank you!" She called, hurrying away.
"Um, what-" Nightpaw began, but her sister was gone.
Pebblepaw laughed to herself. Of all the people...
She bumped into Dew, thinking hard. "Oh, Darkpaw! Good. Can you get Stormpaw, please?" She asked, not waiting for his answer. She strode away towards the fresh kill pile, elated.
Darkpaw emerged from the apprentices den a few moments later with Stormpaw, they both hurried over to her.
"I've decided..." She began.
Darkpaw interrupted her. "Pebblepaw, I'm sorry about this. But... I've been meeting Nightpaw in secret. And we... we're in love." He admitted.
Pebblepaw's jaw dropped. She recovered quickly. "Darkpaw, that's great news!" Stormpaw joined in. "I can't believe you!" He teased. Darkpaw laughed, embarrassed at the attention.
"Stormpaw..." Pebblepaw turned over to him. He dipped his head. "Who were you going to choose? I mean, if Nightpaw hadn't made the choice for you?" He asked.
Pebblepaw blinked. "You."
He purred. "I love you," He said, twining her tail.
"I love you too," She purred back.
Darkpaw's head shot up. "Come on, lovebirds," He teased. "It's time for the ceremony."
The trio made their way to high rock, where Featherstar was standing. She surveyed them, eyes amused.
"I, Featherstar, leader of SquirrelClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in their turn." She called.
"Stormpaw, from this day forward you shall be known as Stormstrike! Darkpaw, from this day forward, you shall be known as Darkshadow! Pebblepaw, from this day forward, you shall be known as Pebbleflight!" Featherstar announced.
"Stormstrike! Darkshadow! Pebbleflight! Stormstrike! Darkshadow! Pebbleflight!" The clan yowled.
Pebbleflight raised her chin, purring. Featherstar caught her gaze. She raised an eyebrow. Pebbleflight nodded slightly. I forgive you.