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I am Rainbelly, a very loyal Warrior of ThunderClan. I am respected because of my, uh, beauty, as Spottedbelly, another of the Warriors in ThunderClan, who is also my best friend and my secret love, has said before and he continues to say it to this day. Deep trouble has come to the Clan: ShadowClan continues to attack us and other Clans for our plentiful supply of prey and also steal our kits, RiverClan continues to try and take back Sunningrocks and killing many during the hundreds and continued attempts, and Sorrowpelt from RiverClan has something against me as she continues to glare at me at Gatherings, and tries to kill me first when and if I join a battle to claim Sunningrocks back. WindClan does nothing to harm us, for they are much gentler and, not to be too insulting, a bit weaker than the other Clans. But life goes on, no matter what ThunderClan faces.
This is my story. The story of, I, Rainbelly, a Warrior of ThunderClan.
All was completely silent except the small rustlings of tiny creatures and the sound of the blowing wind. The leaves on the trees waved and fluttered in the wind. A full moon rose in the dark night sky. Stars glittered and sparkled brightly. There I was, crouching behind a bush near Sunningrocks and the river bordering RiverClan territory, along with many ThunderClan Warriors, including our Deputy, the mighty Sunfall.
I kept my glowing green eyes on him, looking for his signal to attack. Then, with a silent twitch of his orange furred ear, the ThunderClan cats and I leapt out of the bushes, hissing and yowling. In front of us, RiverClan cats did the same. When we neared the enemy, I leapt at a Tortoiseshell she-cat, toppling her over. I then lunged forward and clamped my jaws on her shoulder, making her yowl in pain.
I hissed as she leaned forward and grabbed my left ear, tearing and shredding it. I yanked my head back, scattering scarlet drops of blood onto the nearby Sunningrocks. I made another move to attack, and gave the Tortoiseshell she-cat a warning bite on her back leg, sending her yowling in terrible pain and then limping away. My teeth glistened with blood as the bright full moon shone on them and my now blood-stained claws. I looked around wildly to see Scorchingwind, a Warrior from my Clan, ThunderClan, cornered by two hissing and snarling RiverClan Warriors atop the Sunningrocks and at the edge over the river.
Hissing, I leapt onto the Sunningrocks and threw myself at one of the cats that had cornered Scorchingwind, a brown furred tom, and knocked him over the edge of the Sunningrocks, sending him splashing into the flowing river. Scorchingwind raised a paw and scratched the other RiverClan Warrior’s face, knocking him off the edge and into the river as well. “Thanks!” he panted, leaping off of the Sunningrocks. Panting and bleeding terribly, I looked around to see Sunfall being pinning down by a silver-furred RiverClan tom. It was Wolfclaw, the RiverClan Deputy.
I watched in horror as Wolfclaw extended his long, sharp claws and raked them across Sunfall’s orange face. Sunfall yowled in terrible pain, blood splashing on his orange face. I couldn’t bear to watch anymore. I had to stop this! “Leave him alone!” I hissed, leaping at Wolfclaw.
Wolfclaw raised his head to see who had spoken to him, and at the same time, released Sunfall. Sunfall wriggled free from the silver tom’s grasp and then attacked his backside, while I raked my claws across the tom’s face. Payback. Wolfclaw yowled in pain as two Warriors, Sunfall and I, attacked him from different angles. Hissing, I leapt at Wolfclaw’s side and clamped my jaws on his shoulder.
The RiverClan Deputy screeched in pain. Then, it was Sunfall’s turn. Sunfall threw himself at Wolfclaw and scratched his face. More payback. Eventually, we both overpowered Wolfclaw, and he finally backed down and scampered away, leaving a trail of bloody paw-prints behind him.
“Thank you, Rainbelly!” Sunfall panted, bounding away and toward Pebblepelt, a silvery-grey female in ThunderClan who was being attacked by a brown tom from RiverClan. “I’ve got you now, Rainbelly!” I spun around and dodged an attack from Sorrowpelt, a black and white Warrior from RiverClan that had an unknown grudge against me. Because of that, she glares at me during Gatherings and continues to try and kill me first every time if and when I join a battle to take Sunningrocks back. “Sorrowpelt!” I hissed, leaping at her.
I barreled into her and slashed at her with my claws. Sorrowpelt yowled with pain as my claws raked across her face and muzzle, her bright pink nose sliced open and dripping with blood. “Rainbelly!” Sorrowpelt yowled, ignoring the blood on her face as she leaned forward and clamped her jaws on my shoulder. I hissed and pulled away, Sorrowpelt’s back leg claws catching me and raking across my back as she flailed them up and down wildly. Half screeching and half yowling, I raised a paw and raked my thorn-sharp claws across Sorrowpelt’s black and white chest.
She screeched in pain, blood staining her white fur. With a shove, Sorrowpelt pushed me off of her and then scrambled to her feet and then ran out of sight. Suddenly, a chorus of fierce yowling echoed thru the forest to Sunningrocks. I spun around to see even more RiverClan Warriors wade out of the nearby river and walk onto the shore, leaping into battle without even taking the time to shake the water out of their dripping-wet fur. I leapt at a small RiverClan Warrior who had just waded out of the river, despite my injuries, and grabbed him by his scruff, shaking him.
The small Warrior yowled in fear as I threw him inches away from the bank of the river and then leaped at him. I sunk my teeth into his back leg, the darkened river water turning even darker with the blood slipping into it. “Let go!” hissed the small Warrior, lashing out with his claws as I bit into bone. His claws raked across my side, leaving three, bloody claw marks. I yowled in pure pain, letting go at the same time.
I felt him wriggle free from my grasp, when I suddenly yowled in pure pain as I felt a stabbing pain in my back leg to glance over my shoulder and see an unknown RiverClan Warrior with it’s jaws clamped on my back leg, blood spurting from the horrible wound. As I twisted and pulled, I heard a sharp crack, and as I did, I finally yanked my now broken and twisted leg out of the Warrior’s jaws, only to see the small RiverClan Warrior I had attacked before grin evilly nearby, even though the blood covering him glinted in the moonlight. “Goodbye!” he snickered. Suddenly I felt something push me, the RiverClan Warrior that had bit me in the leg, and within seconds, I was gasping for air as the current of the river pulled me along and pulling me down under.
“Sunfall!” I gasped as my head bobbed up out of the water in time to see the ThunderClan Deputy’s shocked face when he suddenly stopped fighting a RiverClan Warrior to see me being pulled along the river. “Help!” I wailed, flailing my paws franticly, my now broken leg surging with pain when I suddenly went down again. I held my breath as I went under, seeing nothing but darkness until I came up again. “H-help!” I meowed, water pouring into my mouth and choking me. “Gah!”
I spat out dark river water, only for more to pour into my mouth. My broken leg went limp when I tried to move it as I struggled to fight the current, when I heard a splash, and teeth gripped my scruff. By scent, I could tell that it was Sunfall. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see his orange pelt. But suddenly, I was released and I caught a glimpse of him, clinging to a tree branch stuck in the river now many feet away.
“Rainbelly!” he yowled, his panicked gaze turning to me as I suddenly hit my head, and pretty hard. “Sunfall.” I meowed weakly, my limp leg slightly twitching under the water. “Sunfall. S-Sunfall.” My meows turned into whispers as I was knocked out cold after hitting my head on a rock in the river. Darkness engulfed me as I uttered one last word before becoming fully unconscious.
“Sunfall….” Suddenly, there was total darkness.
“Is she awake yet? She’s from ThunderClan, right? Is that Rainbelly? I recognize her from the Gatherings. She’s a Warrior, right?” I groaned and slowly opened my eyes. I gasped in surprise to see many unfamiliar cats surrounding me, including one that held a Dock leaf in it’s jaws. Who were these cats? I started to get up, only to fall back down as severe pain surged thru my body, especially one of my back legs.
When the cat with the Dock leaf stepped toward me, I summoned up all of my strength to hiss fiercely. But I suddenly stopped when I detected a familiar scent. I sniffed deeply. These cats were WindClan cats! And the one with the Dock leaf must be a-I sniffed again- a she-cat WindClan Medicine Cat!
When I realized that I had just disrespected a Medicine Cat, especially one from a rival Clan, I flattened my ears and looked at her. She dropped the Dock leaf and spoke. “It’s alright, young ThunderClan Warrior. You are safe now.” the Medicine Cat meowed gently. “W-where am I?” I asked, just to make sure I was indeed with the gentle WindClan. “You are in WindClan territory, in our camp inside my den.” She replied.
“H-how did I get here?” I asked. “We found you washed up on the banks near the river, injured and unconscious.” I suddenly remembered. The battle with RiverClan, being pushed by the RiverClan Warrior that had bit me in the leg, causing me to twist it and break it, Sunfall making a failed attempt to save me, and me hitting my head on a rock and being out cold! It all made sense now!
“W-who are you?” “I am WindClan’s Medicine Cat, Mapleleaf. And you are?” Meowed the Tortoiseshell she-cat. “R-Rainbelly. A W-Warrior of T-ThunderClan.” I stammered. “Then, Rainbelly, Warrior of ThunderClan, you are safe now.” Mapleleaf turned toward the cats surrounding me and sticking their heads into her den.
“Out! All of you!” she hissed. The cats immediately disappeared out of the den, a few hesitating at first, but eventually obeying and leaving the Medicine Cat’s den. “A-am I hurt?” I asked, remembering the pain in one of my back legs. “Sadly, yes, Rainbelly. Badly. You have a broken leg and some scratches and a terribly torn ear. I examined your leg, and I have to say now, that you may have to stay here in my den with WindClan for a few days until your leg is fully healed.” Mapleleaf meowed. “Now, Rainbelly, how did you end up washed up on the banks of the river in WindClan territory?”
“I-I was battling RiverClan with my own Clan to earn rights for Sunningrocks, when a Warrior from RiverClan bit my leg. I twisted it when I tried to make him let go, and I heard a crack, so I knew that my leg was broken because it hurt really bad. Then the RiverClan Warrior pushed me into the river. Our Deputy, Sunfall failed to rescue me after he tried. But then I got hit in the head with a rock in the river and then everything went dark.” I explained as Mapleleaf chewed up her Dock leaf, eventually pushing her paw into the chewed up leaf. I stayed still as she gently pressed the chewed up leaf onto the scratches on my side, and anywhere else I got scratched. After adding the Dock leaf to my wounds, she chewed up a Goldenrod plant, applying the poultice on the ear which was now tattered and torn, dark red but with no blood. I then watched Mapleleaf as she started to chew a nearby Comfrey plant root into a poultice. “T-thank you, Mapleleaf.” I stammered as she started to gently rub the poultice onto my broken leg.
“I’m also sorry I hissed at you.” “It’s alright dear. You were frightened, that’s all.” Mapleleaf replied. “Here, you must be hungry. It’s already morning.” Mapleleaf gently nudged a freshly killed Mouse toward me as my belly rumbled loudly. “T-thank you, Mapleleaf.” I meowed softly, pulling the mouse closer to me on my (I had suddenly just realized it) moss bed with a paw.
“You are very welcome.” Mapleleaf replied. I gingerly took a bite of the fresh-kill and let the Mouse meat’s warmth flood my mouth before I chewed and swallowed. I happily took another bite of the mouse, licking away the blood surrounding my mouth after I swallowed the bit of mouse. After a few more seconds, I had finished the fresh-kill and I had started to lick my silvery grey fur clean, avoiding the mashed and chewed up poultices on the scratches on my body. I licked my paw and then rubbed it on my whiskers, face, and finally my bright green eyes.
Then, I put my head on my paws and lay in an awkward position because of my broken leg. Within seconds, I had fallen into a deep sleep.
There I was, in the clearing in the ThunderClan camp, staring at the entrance to it, a gorse tunnel in silence. I was alone, but not for long. Suddenly, the camp was filled with screeching and hissing and yowling cats, both ThunderClan and ShadowClan. I was fixed to the spot, and couldn’t move as I watched in horror my Apprentice, Foxpaw, being attacked by Raggedclaw, a Warrior from ShadowClan. I looked around wildly to see kits being dragged out of the ThunderClan nursery by ShadowClan Warriors.
Suddenly, the scenery changed, and I saw myself fighting at Sunningrocks, tussling with Sorrowpelt. She suddenly disappeared and the scenery changed yet again. I suddenly saw myself watching Spottedbelly, my best friend, being tackled by Bramblethorn, a Warrior from my Clan, and this wasn’t play fighting. This was real fierce fighting! Suddenly, I saw Spottedbelly terribly wounded and Bramblethorn standing atop the Highrock in the ThunderClan camp clearing, Dovestar, ThunderClan’s leader, wounded nearby, with Sunfall supposedly dead a few feet away.
I suddenly saw myself hanging on the edge of the Gorge with my claws, Sorrowpelt, hanging onto my leg, Spottedbelly at the top of the Gorge, leaning down and trying to get to me. The scenery changed, and I was staring up at the stars of Silverpelt, sitting atop the Highrock, when I was suddenly tackled by an unknown screeching cat.
Gasping for breath, I awoke from my strange dream. Shaking and shivering, I spotted Mapleleaf sorting herbs and other medicines nearby. She noticed me in my state and walked calmly over to me. “What’s wrong, Rainbelly?” she asked. “I-I had a bad dream.” I said softly, not wanting to tell her about it and thinking it might reveal something about my Clan, if anything.
“What was it-“ Suddenly, a silver, nearly diamond white she-cat with faint grey stripes on her body burst thru the medicine cat den, bleeding horribly and gasping for breath. “Oh, dear! Diamondpelt! What happened?” Mapleleaf gasped. “S-ShadowClan! They attacked a Patrol that I joined and killed two cats! Now, t-they’re heading this way with the rest of ShadowClan!” Diamondpelt suddenly collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
At that moment, the WindClan camp was filled with screeching cats. I squinted my eyes to peer thru the entrance to the Medicine Cat den to see many ShadowClan cats and WindClan cats fighting, screeching, yowling, and hissing fiercely. “Oh, my god.” Mapleleaf’s voice was barley a whisper. “Rainbelly, stay at the back of the den with Diamondpelt. Don’t say a word. Not even a meow.”
Mapleleaf gently pushed me to the back of the den, pushing the unconscious Diamondpelt beside me. I watched as Mapleleaf quietly used her teeth to drape a blanket of moss over the entrance of the den, and then everything became a little darker as she did the same with Diamondpelt and I. I winced as I felt her blood drip onto my clean fur and my broken leg, but I stayed quiet. I peered thru the tiny holes and spaces in the moss to suddenly see a Shadownclan Warrior burst in, snarling, and attack Mapleleaf. I was about to gasp in horror, but kept my snout shut as another ShadowClan Warrior entered the Medicine Cat den.
“Any sick kits here, Medicine Cat?” One of them snarled, which was also the one who attacked Mapleleaf and had her pinned down under his massive paws. I suddenly recognized him as Raggedclaw from my dream before. “No, Raggedclaw. There are no kits in my den.” Mapleleaf meowed softly. “Oh, yeah? Then what’s this?” The light fully returned as the moss that was draped over Diamondpelt and I was removed by the other ShadowClan Warrior, which I recognized as ShadowClan’s Deputy, Badgerface, a brown- furred tom with tuffs of black fur on his head, and a bit on his back, going along his spine and leading to a black tuff of black fur on the end of his tail.
I hissed right in his face, raising a paw and threatening to scratch him and defend myself. I know it wasn’t much in my state, but, come on! It was the only things I had: My claws and teeth. You would use them if you had nothing else, right? I thought so.
Anyway, I watched as Badgerface grinned evilly at me before grabbing my scruff in his jaws and dragging me out of the moss bed, my broken leg screaming in pain as it was dragged limply thru the dust. Badgerface let go of my scruff and examined my broken leg. “Broken leg, eh? Well, let’s make it better, shall we?” he snickered, biting down on my broken leg. I screeched in pain as I heard a crunch, and then a sickening crack. Then, I suddenly passed out.
“Rainbelly. Rainbelly. Rainbelly. Rainbelly!” I slowly opened my eyes to find myself in my ThunderClan camp, surrounded by starry and see-thru cats. One stepped toward me, a silvery grey she-cat with bright blue eyes. “Rainbelly, Warrior of ThunderClan. ThunderClan is in unstoppable danger. All of the Clans are. You must fight to protect your Clan. Therefore, I give you knew strength to fight against your enemies.” The silvery grey she-cat pressed her head to mine for a moment before backing away.
“Remember this. Say it to your Leader and Medicine Cat.” Said the silvery grey female with bright blue eyes. “Say what?” I asked. “Blood will spill blood, One life will each be lost, Strangers will come, and Brambles will tangle and mix up your life.” That said, the silvery grey she-cat with the bright blue eyes disappeared.
My eyes shot open to see and feel myself being dragged along the ground, my broken leg bloody and limp. I glanced up to see Badgerface dragging me by the scruff of my neck, and next to me, Raggedclaw dragged the limp and unconscious body and cat of Diamondpelt. Nearby, many ShadowClan Warriors held squealing kits in their jaws, medicine supplies, and prey. Suddenly, a new energy surged thru me, and I was suddenly able to move my leg. It wasn’t broken anymore, just a bit sore.
Using my remaining strength, I yowled, twisting myself onto my belly and knocking Badgerface to the ground. Startled, he yowled as well and released me at the same time. The other ShadowClan Warriors froze in their tracks as I leapt a foot or so away from the ShadowClan Deputy, hissing fiercely. “Y-your leg! It was broken! How is that possible? I-It’s not possible! It’s impossible!” Badgerface stammered, staring at my now only sore leg. “Nothing is impossible!” I hissed.
Badgerface suddenly grinned evilly at me. “I’m not so sure you want to fight with me, ThunderClan cat. You’re obviously not from WindClan or RiverClan and cannot handle ShadowClan’s brute strength.” Badgerface teased. “I can too!” I yowled. “Prove it then. Come on, Raggedclaw!” I gasped as Badgerface and Raggedclaw both ran toward me, yowling.
Quick as a shooting star sending a message from StarClan to a special cat, I dodged out of the way of their attack, and as they ran past me, I spun around and raked my claws on both of their sides. They both screeched in pain and spun around to face me. I hissed at them both, flattening my ears. As they charged toward me, I turned tail and ran toward the nearby river. I reached the edge, panting hard.
I glanced over my shoulder to see Raggedclaw and Badgerface yowling at me as they ran even closer to me. I scanned the flowing river to spy the Stepping Stones across it. I leaped from stone to stone until I reached the other side of the river and into ThunderClan territory. Then, once Badgerface and Raggedclaw stepped onto ThunderClan territory, I spied a nearby ThunderClan Patrol. Lucky me.
I yowled a half-battle cry and a half-cry for help, signaling the arrival of the unwelcome guests. The ThunderClan Patrol turned to face me, gasped, but then turned their attention to the intruders. They charged, and as the Patrol ran past me and toward the ShadowClan Deputy and Warrior, I noticed the members of the Patrol. My Apprentice, Foxpaw, Sunfall, Spottedbelly, my best friend ever and my also secret love, and Pebblepelt. Yowling, they threw themselves at the intruders.
I watched with pleasure as Badgerface and Raggedclaw scampered franticly across the Stepping Stones toward their other Warriors. I suddenly remembered. The Kits! Diamondpelt! “Follow them!” I meowed, hopping across the Stepping Stones.
On command, the ThunderClan Patrol followed me, and we confronted the frightened ShadowClan Warriors and Deputy. “Drop the kits, if you value your lives!” I snarled, glaring at the ShadowClan Warriors with squealing kits in their jaws. They obeyed and set down the kits, including the ones with the prey and medicine supplies. I then scrambled over to Diamondpelt, who had slightly lifted from her long time unconscious. “W-where am I?” she mumbled.
“You’re safe, Diamondpelt. ThunderClan and I saved you. I am Rainbelly, a Warrior from ThunderClan. And you are Diamondpelt, a Warrior from WindClan.” I said softly. Diamondpelt opened her eyes a bit wider and smiled slightly. By the look on her face, I knew that we had become slight friends. “Chase them away!” I ordered to the ThunderClan Patrol, motioning to the ShadowClan Warriors and Deputy. Pebblepelt, Sunfall, and Spottedbelly immediately ran toward the ShadowClan Warriors and Deputy.
Frightened, they turned tail and ran out of WindClan territory into their own, the three cats on their tails, leaving me with my Apprentice, Foxpaw. “I-I thought you were dead.” He mewed. “Sunfall told us you probably drowned in the River after being hit in the head with a rock in the river. We didn’t think that you survived, with a broken leg and all. But your leg isn’t broken, is it?” Foxpaw mewed. “StarClan fixed that.” I replied. “You want me to help bring the kits, the prey, the medicine supplies, and Diamondpelt back to WindClan?”
“Sure.” Foxpaw replied. I gently nudged Diamondpelt up and guided her across WindClan territory with a bit of prey stuffed in my jaws, Foxpaw herding the kits with a packet of medicine supplies in his jaws. Within minutes, we reached the WindClan camp and entered. I gasped at the scenery before me. Cats lay on the ground, bleeding and injured, some dead.
Hawkstar, the Leader of WindClan, sat atop his Highrock, licking an injured paw. I yowled, dropping the prey in front of me and also gathering every cat’s attention, including Mapleleaf, who licked her own wounds and other cat’s wounds, since there was no medicine supplies left, except the one packet that Foxpaw carried. “Here. Your medicine supplies, prey, kits, and a valued Warrior.” I announced, nudging Diamondpelt gently when she started to slump and stare at the ground in exhaustion. Mapleleaf glanced up at me and gasped, and so did Hawkstar. Hawkstar leaped off of his Highrock and ran toward me, Mapleleaf by his side.
“B-but Rainbelly! Your leg was broken!” Mapleleaf gasped. “Not anymore. StarClan fixed that.” I meowed, smiling. Mapleleaf and Hawkstar stared in disbelief, while Bluepool, a Tortoiseshell she-cat, WindClan’s Deputy, stared at me cautiously a few feet away. I nodded toward Foxpaw and he placed the one packet of medicine supplies at Mapleleaf’s paws. He let the kits scramble into the clearing toward WindClan’s well-hidden nursery, even I couldn’t find it as easily as I could find ThunderClan’s nursery.
Now it was my turn. I gently let Diamondpelt lie on her side on the ground, bruised and bleeding in a few places. “Oh, how can we ever thank you?” Hawkstar gasped. “You’ll have to consult to Dovestar at the Gathering tonight for that, I’m afraid.” I said, smiling. “Will do, Miss Rainbelly.”
At that moment, the rest of the ThunderClan Patrol appeared, panting. “Send Dovestar our thanks, Sunfall. If you don’t mind.” Mapleleaf meowed. “I’d be happy to, my dear Mapleleaf.” Sunfall meowed. “Goodbye.” I said softly to Diamondpelt, Mapleleaf, and Hawkstar. They all nodded, smiling.
With a final flick of my silvery-grey tail, I left the WindClan camp with the ThunderClan Patrol and into ThunderClan territory, where the cats planned to announce my unexpected arrival and a congrats to being still alive, while I planned to speak to Drynose, ThunderClan’s Medicine Cat, and Dovestar, ThunderClan’s most respected Leader together in her den, to speak of the prophecy in which the silvery grey she-cat with the bright blue eyes had spoken of. I still remembered each exact words she had told me.
“Blood Will Spill Blood, One Life Will Each Be Lost, Strangers Will Come, And Brambles Will Tangle and Mix Up Your Life.”
“Rainbelly? You’re alive?” Gasped Dovestar, a pure white she-cat, also ThunderClan’s leader, as she leaped off of the Highrock and ran toward me and the patrol, which were coming thru the entrance to the ThunderClan camp. “I thought you were dead!” Dovestar gasped, rubbing her head against mine. I suddenly remembered the prophecy. “Um, Dovestar? As much as I would like to accept your praise, I must speak with you and Drynose privately.” I meowed into her ear softly. Dovestar jerked her head up and looked at me, a worried look on her face.
“Whatever for?” she meowed. “Please. May I just speak with you and Drynose?” Dovestar slowly nodded. “Very well.” Dovestar leaned down to Foxpaw’s level, who stood next to me.
“Foxpaw, would you fetch Drynose for me and send him to my den?” she asked. Foxpaw nodded and trotted away. With a nod from Dovestar, I followed her toward the Highrock. But instead of leaping onto the Highrock, we slipped into a small crevice dug into the rock, eroded by an ancient river or stream. We pushed back the moss blanket draped over the entrance to the den, and darkness engulfed me. My paws touched smooth, soft, and cozy moss and lichen draped on the den floor.
I felt cool and warm in the den, and ahead, I spied a bed of moss, Dovestar’s bed. As we neared it, light suddenly poured into the den, and we spun around to see a brown tom with orange marks on his face, a pure white and fluffy chest, along with his light blue eyes with white circles surrounding them both. This was Drynose, ThunderClan’s Medicine Cat. I suddenly thought about Mapleleaf, and remembered her kindness to me as she tended to my broken leg. I pushed the thoughts of Mapleleaf away as Drynose sat down beside Dovestar, both of the cats staring at me intently.
I suddenly felt nervous and frightened, but breathed deeply and spoke. “W-when ShadowClan attacked WindClan, who had kindly taken me in after nearly drowning in the river after being pushed by a RiverClan Warrior as we fought for Sunningrocks, my leg was broken and ShadowClan Warriors came into the Medicine Cat den. They attacked me, and another cat, Diamondpelt, who had fallen unconscious after being attacked by ShadowClan while joining a WindClan Patrol. I had passed out, and during my experience of becoming unconscious and silent, I dreamt.” I meowed, pausing. Dovestar urged me on. “Dreamt what?” she asked, staring intently at me. “Of StarClan.” I meowed softly.
“An unknown silvery she-cat approached me, and then…spoke of danger. That ThunderClan is in unstoppable danger. All of the Clans are. That I must fight to protect my Clan and the other three Cat Clans residing in the forest. She had told me to say this to my Clan Leader and Medicine Cat together. A Prophecy.” I took a deep breath before continuing. “Blood Will Spill Blood, One Life Will Each Be Lost, Strangers Will Come, And Brambles Will Tangle And Mix Up Your Life”. Dovestar stared at me in shock. “StarClan sent you a prophecy?” she gasped. “While you were unconscious?” I nodded.
Dovestar sat up straight. “Very well…I will speak to you soon. Please confide in me if StarClan sends you anything else, or any more strange messages” I nodded again. “Excuse me, Rainbelly?” I spun around to see a brown tom with a V split ear and an ugly scar on his muzzle poke his head thru the lichen and moss draping the entrance to Dovestar’s den.
It was my best friend and secret love, Spottedbelly. I had a secret crush on him that only I knew about, and I still didn’t know weither he felt the same way. I glanced at Dovestar, and she nodded, dismissing me. I then turned and left the den, face to face with Spottedbelly. “What is it, Spottedbelly?” I asked, gazing into his eyes with worry.
“You mouse-brain!” The insult startled me, and I took a couple of steps back in confusion. “W-what?” “You mouse-brain!” Spottedbelly repeated, although much louder.
I looked around, noticing the ThunderClan cats that had gathered around us, listening in on our unknown argument. “I expected better than that, Rainbelly! Taken on by a RiverClan Warrior the size of an Apprentice? And losing after he got help from another cat in his Clan? Sick!” Spottedbelly spat angrily. My surprise turned into raging fury. Why would he act like this to me? I didn’t do anything wrong to make him so angry!
So what I lost to a helped RiverClan Warrior? It didn’t matter! “What’s that supposed to mean?” I hissed, my ears flat against my head. At that moment, I noticed as Dovestar and Drynose exited the den near us, by stopped in their tracks at the unnecessary scene. “It means that you couldn’t even fight a cat the size of an Apprentice!” Spottedbelly yowled, leaping at me with his claws fully extended to their real live length.
I gasped as his weight pressed down on me and as he sunk his teeth into my shoulder. I yowled in pain and lashed out with my claws, scratching the scar on Spottedbelly’s muzzle. Spottedbelly jerked his head back, enabling me to wriggle out from under him and scramble a few feet away. But he quickly shook away the pain and followed me, hissing. I yowled as he tore at my already plenty-torn ear, blood scattering every which way.
I heard Dovestar gasp, and felt the weight of Spottedbelly come off of me as she barreled into him. “Enough!” she snarled as I leapt to my feet, blood dribbling along the side of my face and coming from my torn and tattered ear. Blood gushed out of the wound on my shoulder and I staggered slightly, a bit dizzy. I shook the blood off of my face for a moment to see Dovestar standing between Spottedbelly and I. “I don’t want to know what caused this, but I want it to stop, now.” Dovestar hissed.
Ignoring his own Leader, Spottedbelly leaped over Dovestar, hissing, and barreled into me. I yowled and flailed my paws franticly, but it was too late. Spottedbelly apparently did a Warrior Blow, one deadly move that would kill any cat, and hit me in the back of the head, knocking me out cold.
Spottedbelly gasped in horror as he stared at his friend’s and secret love’s motionless body. “W-what have I done?” he gasped as blood oozed around the wound at the back of Rainbelly’s grey-furred head. After hearing about the night where Rainbelly was attacked by a small RiverClan Warrior, who had help from another fully-grown Warrior, he was furious. How could his best friend and love be so weak?
“Get him away! Kill him! Do something!” shrieked Drynose as he rushed over to Rainbelly’s body with a fully-stuffed bundle of herbs and other medicines wrapped in a leaf. Dovestar gasped and raced over to Drynose’s side. Seconds later, she lifted her head, glared at Spottedbelly, and then spoke. “Chase him out of ThunderClan territory, the traitor! Kill him! Chase him out!” she commanded.
The ThunderClan cats obeyed and advanced on Spottedbelly. He gasped and turned tail, running thru the ThunderClan Camp entrance with a few ThunderClan cats on his tail.
“W-what happened?” I mumbled as I slowly opened my eyes, a terrible pain at the back of my head. I stood on starry, dark ground and gasped as I saw several starry and see-thru cats surrounding me. “What has happened to me?” I asked, shocked as I glanced at my body, which was slowly turning starry and see-thru, my grey fur starting to disappear with it. “In a few minutes, you will join StarClan.” Said a brown she-cat as she stepped toward me. “No! You mustn’t send me! I must live! A Prophecy was sent to me and I’m the only one who knows about it except my Leader and Medicine Cat! Please, you-“
“She must live.” I watched as the silvery grey she-cat I had seen before, that had also given me the Prophecy, appeared and stalked toward me. “Do you think we can summon enough strength to send her back?” she asked the brown she-cat. “Hmm, possibly. Let us try.” The brown she-cat murmured. “Please! Try anything!” I said desperately.
I watched as all of the starry cats yowled over and over, until I felt a sudden surge of energy flow thru me, and a bright light flashed before my eyes. “Go back to your Clan, dear Rainbelly. Save them. Fulfill the Prophecy. Blood Will Spill Blood, One Life Will Each Be Lost, Strangers Will Come, And Brambles Will Tangle And Mix Up Your Life.” The last of the silvery she-cat’s words echoed thru my head as I was suddenly surrounded by dizzying darkness.
I coughed up tiny specks of blood, and the back of my head throbbed. My torn ear still glistened with blood, and more of the dark red liquid slithered down my side, forming from my shoulder. Slowly, I opened my eyes to see the face of Drynose leaning close to me. “S-she’s alive!” he gasped. I groaned and shut my eyes again in pure exhaustion.
“Foxpaw! Help me out here, will you?” I heard Drynose call. I heard the soft padding of paws, and thought it was my Apprentice, Foxpaw. I was right, for I could tell it was him by his scent. “F-Foxpaw?” I coughed, opening my eyes to small slits. I could see his chocolate-brown paws and his light brown belly fur as he brushed past me.
I watched him as he knelt down beside me, touched his pink nose to mine, and then pushed a few Poppy Seeds toward my mouth. “Eat these. They’ll ease the pain, I think.” He meowed. I winced in pain as Drynose pressed Cobwebs to my wounds, a little too hard. I guess I needed those seeds. I gingerly lapped up the small seeds and smiled before fully shutting my eyes again.
“W-where’s Spottedbelly?” I wheezed, remembering the cat that had half-killed me. “He has been chased out of ThunderClan territory, and blood was indeed shed for your safety, Rainbelly.” I heard Dovestar say as I smelled her scent as she gently brushed up against me, her pure white fur tickling my nose. Wait, what? I cleared my head and repeated her words in my mind. “He has been chased out of ThunderClan territory, and blood was indeed shed for your safety, Rainbelly.”
He was chased away and was now obviously an exile. “What?” I gasped, opening my eyes wide and struggling to stand. I had to find him! But immediately, Drynose pushed me back down. I glared at him as he pressed more Cobwebs onto my wounds, wrapping some around my torn ear and also pressing them onto my shoulder.
“No, Rainbelly. He nearly killed you, and he is forbidden in ThunderClan. Spottedbelly is now an exile.” Dovestar meowed. At that moment, the cats that were supposedly the ones who chased Spottedbelly out of the ThunderClan camp and possibly across the border, entered the ThunderClan camp, blood glistening on their claws. I held back a wail of despair as I realized that they possibly hurt Spottedbelly. Bad. “Well?” Dovestar prompted.
“We wounded him, and we’re sure that Spottedbelly is running past Highstones by now!” said Silverstream, a silvery grey she-cat with light grey stripes along her body, triumphantly. “The traitor!” spat Rabbitear, a brown-red she-cat with large, rabbit like ears, a lightish, pinkish white chest, the same color fur on her face shaped into a mask and in her ear insides, and a puckered up muzzle and nose, again, like a rabbit. “This’ll be a good story for the Gathering tonight.” Rabbitear added, twitching the tip of her tail, which was curled up around her tiny paws. I suddenly remembered. The Gathering was tonight!
And Spottedbelly would be mentioned and possibly tracked down if the Clans were fierce enough to do so. I was wounded, so I would probably have to wait until after the other cats came back from the Gathering tonight. With a sigh, I shut my eyes and fell into a deep sleep.
“Oh, Rainbelly. They’re beautiful.” I saw myself with four small kits curled up against my belly, in Badger’s barn, a cat who lives as a loner in a Twoleg barn, a brown-striped tom by my side as he licked my forehead while I licked the kits. The scenery changed, and I saw myself sitting atop the Highrock with Dovestar. Again, the scenery changed, and I saw myself at the Gathering, the full moon high in the sky and glowing brightly as the cats suddenly started to argue. The moon suddenly disappeared as clouds covered the sky and as thunder rumbled, and lightning flashed, blood splattered on the ground and claws and teeth and angry ThunderClan and RiverClan eyes glinted with even more blood, the lightning flashing over and over madly.
My eyes shot open in shock. Panting softly, I started to recognize my surroundings. It was night, and I was inside Drynose’s den, surrounded by the sweet smells of herbs and other medicines. I slowly stood up, remembering about Spottedbelly. I had to help him.
I slowly staggered to the entrance to Drynose’s Medicine Cat Den, and peered outside. Everyone was gone, obviously at tonight’s Gathering, except for a few Elders, Apprentices, and also a few Warriors. Everyone was supposedly asleep, or so I thought. I slowly trotted out of Drynose’s den, sniffing, and made my way to the entrance to the ThunderClan camp. “Rainbelly? Where are you going?”
I stiffened, ears erect and tail sticking straight up in the air, before slowly turning around to see my stubborn Apprentice, Foxpaw. “Foxpaw, say nothing about this. I’m going to find Spottedbelly.” I whispered as I turned to leave the ThunderClan camp thru the entrance. “Oh! I see what you’re doing! Youreally like, like, Spottedbelly, don’t you?” Foxpaw hissed, eying me suspiciously. I sighed. “Yes. But don’t you dare say anything!” I hissed.
“Oh, I won’t…as long as you take me with you, wherever you’re going.” Foxpaw meowed. “No way!” “Fine, then I’ll tell every cat here in ThunderClan that you like Spottedbelly, and right now, I’ll shout out and say that you’re leaving camp to track down Spottedbelly.” My eyes turned into angry slits. “You wouldn’t!” I growled.
“I would.” Foxpaw meowed, giving me a sly look. I sighed. If he told everyone that I liked Spottedbelly and that I was leaving right now to find him, I would totally be crow-food. “Fine. You can come.” I sighed. With that, I turned and slunk out of the ThunderClan camp entrance, Foxpaw by my side.
We crept thru the darkness, and finally reached the Sunningrocks. With a twitch of my long, grey, and thin tail, I leapt onto the Sunningrocks and scanned the territory. I could see past the river bordering RiverClan and ThunderClan, and in the distance, I could see Highstones, and a glimpse of the gaping Mothermouth. But something else caught my eye: The slight glimpse of a brown tail disappearing into Mothermouth where the Moonstone was. “We go to the Highstones and into Mothermouth.” I whispered.
“You’re not the boss of me.” Foxpaw mumbled. “I heard that.” I snapped before leaping off of the Sunningrocks. “Come on, Foxpaw. Follow me over the Stepping Stones.” I led Foxpaw to the river bordering RiverClan, and quickly leaped on top of one Stepping Stone, struggling to balance myself. I glanced over my shoulder at Foxpaw after I hopped onto another Stone.
He was now behind me and balancing perfectly. I smiled at him before hopping onto another one of the Stepping Stones, the flowing river bubbling below our furry feet. “You doing good, Foxpaw?” I whispered loud enough for him to hear. “Yeah, yeah, stop treating me like I’m a kit.” Foxpaw growled. He was indeed pretty stubborn.
I bit back an insult and finally leaped onto the other side of the river, Foxpaw doing the same and landing beside me. I smiled and then scanned our surroundings. We were on RiverClan territory, but after we stepped a few paces away, we were on No Clan’s territory, because the ground under our feet turned into spiky and dead grass. I looked ahead to spy the flat Thunderpath, but beyond I could see the jagged rocks and smooth boulders of Highstones. I sighed and trekked on, Foxpaw by my side.
Finally, we both had crossed the noisy Thunderpath and then reached Highstones and were leaping onto the smooth boulders and avoiding the jagged, pointed, and deadly rocks. I glanced over my shoulder at Foxpaw, who leaped expertly onto the boulder while also avoiding the deadly points of the other sharp and extremely dangerous rocks. I smiled again and continued the journey. After a few miles of leaping from boulder to boulder, we finally reached the gaping and dark Mothermouth.
Foxpaw huddled behind me as we stared into the deep darkness of Mothermouth. I sniffed, and caught a whiff of Spottedbelly’s scent, although it was mingled with blood. I suddenly remembered Silverstream’s words as they suddenly rang thru my head. “We wounded him, and we’re sure that Spottedbelly is running past Highstones by now!” But she was wrong.
Spottedbelly had crossed Highstones and was inside the deep and dark Mothermouth. I took a deep breath. “Stay close to me, Foxpaw.” I said softly as I entered the gaping-wide Mothermouth. “I’m not a kit that’s been born blind, you know.” Foxpaw growled as we entered the large cave of Mothermouth. Yes, Mothermouth was indeed a cave.
A big one, that held the Moonstone inside. As we entered, darkness engulfed me, and air became limited as we traveled deeper into Mothermouth. I felt the walls of the cave press against me and Foxpaw and I started to crawl all the way to a shining object, a shining jewel, a shining rock or boulder, the great and mighty Moonstone. I gasped at it’s beauty, prettier than me, well, sort of. I then noticed the hole at the top of the cave, letting the moonlight shine on the great Moonstone.
But then, I noticed something else that was much more important than some hole at the top of a cave: Spottedbelly lying near the Moonstone, his nose touching it’s smooth surface, his eyes shut. I glared at Foxpaw, and he got the message. Foxpaw quickly but silently scrambled out of Mothermouth, leaving me alone with Spottedbelly, who had no clue of our arrival. I softly started to pad toward him, but froze as he stood up, eyes open, and I had suddenly noticed, with a bloody limp. I nearly gasped at the sight of a starry cat appearing next to him, and I started to back away a few paces, but stopped when Spottedbelly spoke.
“Please, StarClan. Give me guidance. I have been exiled out of my Clan for killing a Clanmate, also the love of my life, Rainbelly. I killed her for something unnecessary and extremely silly. I need help StarClan, for my best friend and my love is now dead and I have no Clan. I seek you for help.” Spottedbelly meowed softly, his head hanging. This was no dream. It was real life. Then, the starry cat spoke softly to him in a gentle and welcoming tone. “Dear, Spottedbelly. Why do you want Rainbelly?” asked the starry StarClan cat softly.
“Because I’m her best friend and always will be, no matter what. I love her too deeply to lose her. Her eyes glow like green emeralds, and her grey fur glistens in the moonlight. Her tone is soft and pleasant. Her paws are delicate and very fragile, tipped with long, glistening claws. Her tail moves gracefully in the wind, slowly waving back and forth as if saying goodbye forever to me, but I know that she is always there for me, no matter what and whenever I truly need help. But this time, I wasn’t there. I should’ve been, but I wasn’t. She is my true best friend. I love her.” Spottedbelly meowed. I smiled softly. Did he really mean that? “Rainbelly is not dead, young Warrior. She will now help you in your time of need. When I am gone, look carefully, and you will see her. I assure you, she is not gone. Goodbye, dear Spottedbelly. Take care of your Clan.” With that, the starry cat disappeared, and sure enough, Spottedbelly did what she said: To look carefully. I stepped out of the darkness and into the glare of the Moonstone and spoke as Spottedbelly well, spotted me. “Did you really mean that?” I asked softly. He gasped, and flattening his ears in fright, started to back away from me. I slowly stepped toward him, and kept on walking until I was a mouse-length away from him. “Spottedbelly, it’s okay. I’m alive. And you are too. You’re safe now.” I said, my head now rubbing against Spottedbelly’s.
“Now tell me. Was that really true what you said?” I looked up to face him. “I-uh, I, uh…um...y-yes it’s true, Rainbelly, and you’re my bestest friend ever...and…and I love you too much to stay away from you.” Spottedbelly meowed. “Well, guess what? So are you. And…I have a confession to make. I love you too. I always have.” I whispered into Spottedbelly’s ear. Spottedbelly gasped.
“B-but you’re dead! I k-killed you!” He meowed. “You did, but StarClan saved me.” I said softly. “S-so if you’re not dead, that means that y-you won’t kill me for killing you, will you?” “Of course not. You’re my friend. And, I will be with you every step of the way.” I said. “Did you bring any other cat?” Spottedbelly asked anxiously, keeping his bloody limp in the air.
“Nobody except Foxpaw. He saw me leaving camp and for him to keep quiet, I had to let him come with me. But he’s outside, waiting for us.” I assured. “Come on, let’s go somewhere safer. I’m sure that the four Clans are talking about you at the Gathering right now.”
“Dovestar, you may speak.” Said Owlstar, the Leader of ShadowClan. Dovestar, who sat atop a large boulder with three other Clan Leaders. “Well, many tragedies have happened in ThunderClan.” She said grimly. “We have lost Warriors to RiverClan, who continue to claim that Sunningrocks used to be there before ThunderClan moved onto the territory.” “That’s because it is on our territory, mouse-brain!” yowled a white she-cat from, sure-enough, RiverClan.
Dovestar continued, ignoring the she-cat’s comment. “Because of RiverClan’s threat, we nearly lost a valued Warrior, but thanks to WindClan, she is in good paws now.” Hawkstar bowed his head as a sign of respect for the ThunderClan Leader. “But we recently have had another problem. Spottedbelly, a loyal Warrior of ThunderClan, nearly killed the Warrior I recently spoke of, Rainbelly. Therefore, we ran him out of ThunderClan territory, but the traitor needs to be found. Are you all with me?” Dovestar glanced at the other Leaders. They slowly exchanged glances, and then nodded. “Wonderful. We will need to speak to Rainbelly, and-wait. Drynose!” Dovestar yowled.
Drynose appeared among the midst of the cats below the large boulder. “Drynose, please tell me that you left someone guarding Rainbelly. Please tell me you did!” Dovestar yowled. Drynose froze. “Oh, great StarClan! I left her alone! We must hurry!” Dovestar didn’t hesitate.
“If you wish to track down the traitor and Rainbelly, follow ThunderClan!” she yowled as she leaped off of the boulder. The other Clan Leaders did the same, and burst out of Fourtress with their Clans following ThunderClan, Dovestar and Drynose in the Leader, Sunfall not too far away.
Exiting Mothermouth, Spottedbelly and I met Foxpaw at the entrance, although he stood straight up on one of Highstone’s smooth boulders, ears erect, and tail sticking straight up. The fur on the back of his neck and along his spine bristled. “Foxpaw! What’s wrong?” I meowed, leaping up beside him. “They’re coming for us. I saw it, StarClan sent me a message. I saw hundreds of different Clan cats, with Dovestar mainly in the lead, and I saw them in the message running past and thru the river bordering RiverClan territory. The four Clans are coming to find you and kill Spottedbelly! And who knows what they’ll do to me!” Foxpaw mewed in fear. I perked up my ears, and sure enough, I could hear the screeches and yowls of many different Clan cats, including one I could easily identify.
Dovestar. “Spottedbelly, there is only one place where you’ll be safe for a while. The Twoleg Farm where Badger lives. You know, that black and white tom?” I meowed. “Lead the way. You’re my only hope.” Spottedbelly mewed. “Then, come on!” With that, Spottedbelly limping behind us, Foxpaw and I bounded across Highstones, crossed the Thunderpath, and toward a Twoleg farm that was miles away, but still visible in the moonlight’s glow.
“Badger? Badger, are you in here?” I called into a hole in the back of the barn in the Twoleg farm. I glanced at Spottedbelly’s still bloody limp. It looked pretty bad and was also encrusted with blood. The smell coming from it was disgusting, and told me that it was terribly infected. “Badger?” I called again.
I nearly jumped in surprise as a black-and-white tom appeared in front of me, a plump Mouse hanging from his jaws by it’s scruff. It was still alive, flailing it’s legs franticly, but Badger put a stop to it with a sickening “crunch” from the bite. The mouse went limp, dead. Badger let it drop out of his mouth and then spoke. “Yes? Oh, you’re R-Rainbelly from ThunderClan. Am I right?” he meowed.
I chuckled and then nodded. “Well, Rainbelly and two good friends.” “You are very welcome here. Make yourselves at home and hunt as you please. There’s enough mice to go around tonight.” I shook my head. “I’m flattered by you offer, but Badger, my friend Spottedbelly is in grave danger. The only place that can save him from being killed by the Clan cats is here with you. Will you please take him in for a while, until I settle it with Dovestar, mine and ThunderClan’s Leader?” I begged, glancing at Foxpaw as he scampered from behind me and pounced on an unsuspecting mouse which was nibbling on a seed a few feet away past Badger. “Well, alright. I can do that. But just for a while.” Badger warned, leaning down and taking a bite of the Mouse he had killed only moments ago.
“Anyway, hunt as you please.” I nodded and then pounced, trapping a plump mouse beneath my paws, my claws digging into it’s tender flesh. I then started to eat, nearly sighed with pleasure as the warm mouse meat crunched between my teeth. But suddenly, I remembered about Spottedbelly’s infected limp. I lifted my head and spoke. “Foxpaw, do you mind going out and fetching come Comfrey and some Burdock Root if you can find it?” I asked as he trotted over to me.
“Fine.” He growled, heading out of the barn thru the unpatched hole. Shortly after my stubborn Apprentice had departed, I heard a shrill scream. It was Foxpaw. “Foxpaw!” I wailed. “Spottedbelly, stay somewhere safe while I help him! Badger, come with me!”
With that, I bolted out of the barn thru the hole in the back and gasped in horror, Badger skidding to a complete stop beside me at the sight before us. Right in from of my eyes, hissing fiercely, was Foxpaw being tackled by over ten Rats. “Where did they come from, Badger?” I gasped in fright as I leapt at Foxpaw, who struggled under the hungry rats, eager to make him their meal. I immediately tore at a rat who had clamped it’s jaws on Foxpaw’s shoulder, grabbing it by the neck and biting down hard. It squealed and went limp.
I threw it behind me and tackled another rat that bit down on Foxpaw’s tail. “I don’t know, but they probably came from the ditch over there!” yelled Badger as he pointed with his tail at a nearby dry ditch, were more rats thundered toward us. I hissed as a rat leaped onto my shoulder and bit down, shedding drops of blood. I screeched and bucked it off of me. “Badger, help Foxpaw!” I yowled as a rat threw itself at my chest, using it’s tiny but sharp claws to grip onto my grey fur and climb toward my neck.
I didn’t let it. With a quick jerk of my head and the snapping if my jaws, I killed it and tossed the rat behind me. Bleeding all over, I glanced at Foxpaw and nearly wailed with fright. The rats were dragged my struggling Apprentice into the ditch, were more rats awaited for their easy meal. Badger struggled with a few rats and couldn’t get to my helpless Apprentice.
It was up to me. Yowling, I threw myself at the rat-covered Foxpaw and tore off two rats at a time. “Help!” Foxpaw squealed, coughing and gagging as a rat crawled into his open mouth. He crunched it between his teeth and spit it out. One down, but how many more to go?
We didn’t know. Yet. At that moment, even more rats climbed out of the ditch and toward Foxpaw, squeaking madly. They wanted their meal. And they wanted it now.
Hissing, I ran at the rats climbing out of the ditch and with a few swats, they climbed back down into the dry ditch in fright. I glanced over my shoulder at Foxpaw. The massive number of rats covering him decreased as they scampered into the ditch at the sight of Badger coming after them and tearing three off of my Apprentice at a time. I hissed as a small rat leaped on my tail, biting down with such force that I yowled in pain. Twisting and jerking and thrashing my head wildly, I finally snatched the rat up in my jaws and killed it with one swift bite.
I then threw it over my shoulder and started to tear off rat by rat, until only about five remained alive as they scrambled over the squealing Foxpaw, biting and trying to keep the taste of my Apprentice in their dirty and decease-filled mouths. I snarled and with the slap of my massive paw, killed two rats. Only a few more to go. Badger ripped a rat off of the side of Foxpaw’s frightened face, ripping off fur as well. Finally, I had killed the very last rat, but even more waited in the ditch two mouse-lengths away from us.
The rat bites stung terribly, but I held the pain as I nudged my Apprentice, who responded with opening his eyes slightly. “You s-saved me.” Foxpaw mewed softly. I smiled and licked the tip of his tiny pink nose, which was now stained with blood, but I didn’t mind. All that mattered was that Foxpaw was safe now. And so was Spottedbelly.
Or so I thought.
“He’s not inside Mothermouth, Dovestar.” Meowed Rabbitear as she exited the gaping dark cave. She growled and glanced over her shoulder at the other Clan Cats. “Well, don’t just stand there. Come on! To Badger!” she yowled. “No, Dovestar. It’s late, and we’re all tired. We must rest, and must rest also.” Sunfall meowed, trotting beside her. Dovestar sighed. “Very well. We will stay inside Mothermouth until morning, and then continue the search.”
With that, Dovestar led the four Cat Clans partway into Mothermouth. Then, they all lay down, and in minutes, all of the cats were fast asleep, storing their energy for tomorrow’s search for Rainbelly, Spottedbelly, Badger, and Foxpaw.
“Foxpaw, Badger, come with me to see if we can find some Wild Garlic to roll in. Hopefully Spottedbelly, will stay hidden in the barn while we’re gone.” I said as I cautiously trotted slowly away from the barn, Badger helping Foxpaw balance as he limped toward me. I then led the two other cats toward a stinking patch of Wild Garlic not too far away from the barn. In a matter of seconds, we had all rolled in the stinking Garlic. “Uh! This Garlic stinks!” Foxpaw growled. “Well, it’s gonna stay on you as long as those rat bites still hurt!” I snapped, shaking my head as some of the Wild Garlic entered my eyes and nose.
I sneezed, and Foxpaw stifled a giggle. I shot him a glare, silencing my stubborn Apprentice. Badger shook his head as well, but his head suddenly shot up and he started to sniff madly. “What is it?” I asked, perking up my ears. “Quick! In the barn! It’s the Twolegs who own this place!” Badger hissed.
I froze for a few seconds before nudging Foxpaw toward the hole in the back of the barn. Foxpaw muttered something under his breath as we entered, but I ignored it and spotted Spottedbelly feasting on a mouse behind a bale of hay. “Spottedbelly, Foxpaw, stay down and be quiet!” I hissed as I nudged Foxpaw toward Spottedbelly. I crouched down behind the bale of hay with the other two cats, and after a few seconds, peeked out from behind it. I gasped as I saw a tall Twoleg tower over Badger, who sat down in front of it, licking himself.
The Twoleg let out a small noise before bending down, patting Badger on the head, and then placing some type of dish on the floor in front of Badger. The Twoleg then turned and walked out of the barn. “What was that all about?” I gasped as Badger started to lick the contents inside of the dish. “It’s okay. The Twolegs don’t bother me as long as I don’t bother them and just kill and eat the mice here. But you might as well hide when they come, because I don’t know if they’ll like too many other cats around, like they’re taking over the barn. But I’m not a Kittypet, if that’s what you’re thinking.” Badger meowed quickly. “I help them, and they help me. Here, have some milk.”
Badger motioned with his tail toward the dish. I shrugged and trotted up to it. I leaned down and sniffed. It smelled sweet, and like grass and Cow. I shrugged again and started to drink.
Soon, Foxpaw and Spottedbelly and Badger were there at the dish with me, lapping up the milk eagerly. Finally, it was all gone. I let out a yawn. “Well, I guess we should hit the sack.” With that, I trotted behind the hay bale and curled up with Spottedbelly, Foxpaw, and Badger together. Soon, we all fell into a deep sleep, unaware of next morning’s danger.
“Uh, guys?” I slowly started to open my eyes at the sound of Badger’s panicked but soft voice. I yawned and fully opened my eyes. I gasped at the scene unfolding before me. Badger was being pinned down by Bramblethorn, a Warrior from ThunderClan.
I stood up and looked around wildly to see all of the four Cat Clans surrounding the sleeping Spottedbelly and Foxpaw, including Badger and I. I used one of my back legs to kick Foxpaw and Spottedbelly in the side. They yowled and leapt to their feet, Spottedbelly falling back down because of his infected limp. I watched as Dovestar, Hawkstar, Crookedstar, and Owlstar part from their Clans and step toward me. “Rainbelly, Foxpaw, step away from Spottedbelly.” Dovestar commanded.
“He is a traitor. Trying to kill a valuable Warrior for a silly reason.” I took a deep breath, and then spoke. “No, Dovestar. I know he had attacked me for an unnecessary reason, but this is no reason to kill or harm Spottedbelly.” I said. Bramblethorn lifted his head and glared at me. “Dovestar, do not take pity for these cats. Badger is the true traitor. He is the one we should kill, for this…this, Kittypet gave a shelter to these cats.” Bramblethorn snarled.
He raised his head and nodded. Suddenly, Raggedclaw, and the Deputy, Badgerface from ShadowClan, leaped away from the surrounding Cat Clans and helped pin down Badger as Bramblethorn released him and raised a paw, extending his claws. “No!” I wailed, leaping forward and tackling Bramblethorn. “Foxpaw, Spottedbelly! Run!” I yowled as I pinned down the hissing Bramblethorn. Beneath my paws, Bramblethorn yowled at me and suddenly shoved me off of him.
I got a swift glance at Raggedclaw and Badgerface, who had released Badger and were bounding toward me, Bramblethorn inches away. I hissed as Bramblethorn bit down on one of my starting-to-heal Rat bites. The pain stung like mad as I struggled to free myself of Bramblethorn’s grip. I yowled in pain as Raggedclaw suddenly tore at my left ear, scattering scarlet droplets of blood. Screaming in excruciating pain, I thrashed my head in pure fear as Badgerface appeared out of nowhere and bit down on my shoulder.
“Badgerface! Raggedclaw! Stand down!” I heard Owlstar, the Leader of ShadowClan, say softly, but loud enough for every single Clan Cat to hear. Seconds later, Dovestar did the same. “Bramblethorn! Stand down, now!” Dovestar yowled. I felt Bramblethorn, Raggedclaw, and Badgerface’s weight stop pressing down on me and I immediately leapt to my feet. The fur on my neck along my spine to my tail stood straight up as I arched my back and hissed. I watched as Badger’s tail suddenly disappeared out of the hole in the very back of the barn.
At least he was safe, for now. But where were the others? Dovestar met me with a steady gaze. Then, she spoke. “I think I speak for every Cat Clan here when I say that we call off this hunting party. Spottedbelly means no harm to us anymore, and neither does Badger. Or Foxpaw.” Dovestar meowed.
Owlstar and Hawkstar stepped forward and nodded their approval. Seconds later, Crookedstar did the same. “Now that it’s all settled, all of you can go back to your own territories and continue to live your normal lives. Oh, and Rainbelly, if it’s alright with you, you can go and fetch Foxpaw, Badger, and Spottedbelly.” With that, I watched as Dovestar and the other Clans exited the barn thru the hole in the back. I sighed a sigh of relief before turning and exiting the barn as I caught a whiff of Foxpaw, Badger, and Spottedbelly’s scent drifting around the hole at the back of the barn.
I followed it. The scent led me to Highstones, and sure enough, I spotted the three cats milling around the boulders and jagged rocks. “Hey! Guys!” I called, bounding over to join my three friends and Apprentice. “It’s okay! Spottedbelly, you are welcomed back into ThunderClan!” I panted as I skidded to a halt in front of my limping true love. “R-really?” he stammered.
I nodded. “Hey, uh, Rainbelly? Thanks for uh, saving me and all of that.” Badger meowed quickly but softly. “Anytime.” I chuckled, looking at him. “Well, I guess we’d better head back to ThunderClan territory and get Drynose to help us with our wounds, including yours Spottedbelly, and my fresh ones.” I said, wincing as the fresh and still-bloody wound on my shoulder started to sting madly. “Oh, and Badger, you can go back home.”
With that, and a nod to Badger, I led my cats away from Highstones and toward ThunderClan territory.
“Thanks, Drynose.” I meowed as I trotted out of his Medicine Cat Den with Foxpaw at my side. I nudged him and forced him to say the words as well. “Thank you, Drynose.” Foxpaw growled quickly. I nodded approval and headed toward Dovestar’s den. Spottedbelly had stayed in with Drynose because of his infected limp, which would take a few days to completely heal.
And now since our lives were back to normal, the Apprentices needed to train to become Warriors again. After I reached Dovestar’s den, I called out to her. “Dovestar?” I meowed. “Come in.” Came the reply. With a stern glance at Foxpaw, telling him to stay outside while I spoke to Dovestar, I entered the den.
I spotted Dovestar and spoke. “Dovestar? Is it all right if I take Foxpaw, and Cinderpelt with her Apprentice, Falconpaw to go out and hunt?” I asked. “Very well. Make sure you bring enough prey.” Dovestar meowed. I nodded, and then exited the den. I told Foxpaw and then gathered Cinderpelt and Falconpaw before exiting the ThunderClan Camp.
Once were we deep in ThunderClan territory, nearly in the heart of it, I stopped walked, Cinderpelt doing the same. Falconpaw and Foxpaw looked back at us in confusion. “Do you smell that?” I asked, sniffing. Foxpaw and Falconpaw started to sniff franticly. “Mouse!” Foxpaw mewed excitedly.
“Correct.” I praised. “What about you, Falconpaw?” Cinderpelt asked, looking down at her Apprentice. Falconpaw sniffed again. “Rabbit!” he mewed quickly. Cinderpelt and I smiled. “Now, before you can go and catch what you smelled, what must we always remember about hunting Rabbits and Mice?” I asked, quizzing the two Apprentices.
“Uh, when hunting a mouse, you have to step lightly, because a mouse will feel you before he even smells you.” Foxpaw mewed. I smiled and nodded. “Correct, Foxpaw!” Now it was Falconpaw’s turn. “Um, with a Rabbit, you have to make sure you are downwind, I think, because a Rabbit with smell you before he sees you.” Falconpaw guessed.
“Correct!” Cinderpelt meowed, smiling. “Now go and see if you can catch these animals.” On command, I watched as the two Apprentices bounded opposite ways of eachother thru the undergrowth and immediately out of sight. I nodded to Cinderpelt and she nodded back. Then, we separated and silently crept thru the undergrowth after our Apprentices.
After a few minutes of tracking Foxpaw’s scent, mingled together with a hint of Mouse, I spotted my stubborn Apprentice crouching in the undergrowth a few feet away. I then noticed a mouse not too far away, nibbling on a small seed. I smiled and watched intently as Foxpaw crept forward, almost making no noise as he slunk toward the plump Mouse. Then, he attacked. I watched excitedly as Foxpaw leapt into the air and landed with his paws pinning the mouse to the ground.
And with a swift bite to the neck, he had killed it. I smiled and revealed myself. Foxpaw dropped the mouse and gasped as he spotted me. “Excellent job, Foxpaw!” I praised. “You did everything perfectly! It-“
In the middle of my praising of Foxpaw, I heard the bushes ahead thrashing and making such a racket, it made my ears ring. I suddenly caught Cinderpelt’s fear scent and then watched as she pushed thru the bushes toward me. “Rainbelly! Foxpaw! Have you seen Falconpaw?” she wailed franticly. “No, we haven’t. Why?” I asked. “I was following his scent, and then I heard him scream for help. I tried to follow his scent, but then scented blood, and then some other scent came to me that I just couldn’t figure out. Please! You have to help me find him!” Cinderpelt begged.
“Don’t worry. We’ll help. Come on! Show me where you lost his scent.” I meowed. Cinderpelt bounded forward and I followed, Foxpaw racing by my side. “Falconpaw!” I called. “Falconpaw! Falconpaw, where are you?” Finally, Cinderpelt skidded to a stop.
“Here. I lost his scent here when the other scent came.” Cinderpelt meowed. I sniffed and gasped. “Fox!” I gasped, my jaws open wide to take in the scent of Falconpaw mingled with the strong scent of blood and also Fox. “Quick, we have to follow it!” I bounded thru the undergrowth after the strong scent of Fox, hinted with a dash of blood. Finally, after several minutes of following the scent, I skidded to a halt beside a hole underground.
A Fox den. “Foxpaw, wait out here and climb a tree if anything happens.” I meowed, entering the den, where the scent of Fox, blood, and Falconpaw were getting stronger, Cinderpelt following behind me. The den’s tunnels pressed against our sides, but we kept on walking deeper into the tunnel, to the heart of the Fox’s den. Suddenly, I heard a crack. But I then realized that I had stepped on something.
I looked down and peered into the darkness to see a now-broken Rabbit bone. This was the chamber in which the fox enjoyed it’s meals. But when I looked up, I saw who would be the fox’s neck meal. The scent was strong, and I could see it, even in the darkness. Falconpaw’s scruff was in the jaws of a slobbering Red Fox. Blood oozed around a terrible scratch on Falconpaw’s face, and it dripped onto the picked-clean and white prey bones, now starting to turn red with blood stains.
“Falconpaw!” Cinderpelt wailed. The fox suddenly snapped to attention and growled thru a whole mouthful of Falconpaw’s fur. “Cinderpelt! Rainbelly! Help me!” Falconpaw squealed, flailing his paws franticly. The fox suddenly stepped toward us, his steps enlarging and moving much quicker than before. “Quick! Run! We’ll lead him out of the den and then rescue Falconpaw!” I meowed as Cinderpelt and I started to race back up the tunnel, the fox’s quickening steps turning into loud pounds as it dashed after us.
Finally, we climbed out of the fox den thru the entrance and scrabbled out, just as the fox exited as well, but with Falconpaw still in his jaws, now covering in the drool of the fox. “Attack!” I yowled, leaping at the hungry fox. I extended my claws and then raked them across the fox’s side, making it yelp in pain and send Falconpaw, wet with drool to the ground with a thump. “Run! Falconpaw!” I yowled as I started to cling to the fox when it suddenly shook me off and race after Falconpaw. “Falconpaw!”
At that moment, when the fox pinned Falconpaw down and was about to kill him and then surly devour him, Cinderpelt dashed toward it, yowling a battle cry. I watched in horror at the scene unfolding before my very eyes. Cinderpelt threw herself at the fox, claws extended, and raked them across the fox’s legs. It yelped in pain, releasing Falconpaw. The fox suddenly shook away the pain and then ran after Falconpaw as he started to turn and scamper away, only to trip over a rock, of all things.
Then, as the fox was about to clamp it’s jaws on Falconpaw, Cinderpelt appeared and shoved the Apprentice out of the way. “No!” Then, she screeched in pain as the fox ended up clamping it’s jaws on one of her back legs. I heard a sickening crunch, and then a terrible crack. Blood spilled onto the ground and I realized that Cinderpelt had let the fox bite down and break her leg, just to safe her own Apprentice, Falconpaw.
“Cinderpelt!” I wailed, leaping forward as the fox moved to kill the injured Warrior. My claws raked across the fox’s side, scattering drops of blood. The fox yelped in pain, releasing Cinderpelt. I made a quick dash under the fox and clawed his exposed underbelly. The fox howled in pain as blood gushed out of the wound.
Sprinting out from under the fox, I dashed away, but I could tell by the pounding of paws, that the fox was behind me, and gaining quickly. Zipping past trees and bushes, I seemed to have run in a full circle, for I ended up running past the injured Cinderpelt and a nearby tree, where Foxpaw and the drool-covered Falconpaw perched on a high branch, Falconpaw’s eyes wide in horror. I skidded to a stop and spun around, facing the fox head on. It’s eyes blazed with anger, and it’s terrible wounds sprouted blood, but it didn’t care. Neither Falconpaw or Cinderpelt were it’s meal. I was.
Hissing, I leapt at the fox and clung to it’s pelt. I then yowled and bit down on the fox’s shoulder, blood gushing out of the wound. “Help! Anyone! Help us!” I yowled thru a mouthful of blood and fox fur. Suddenly, the fox shook me off, and sent me flying into a boulder. Luckily, I wasn’t injured, just dizzy from the sudden impact.
But then, I felt the pressure of the fox’s paw on my belly. I was on my back, now suddenly snout to snout with the hungry fox. It’s long, pink tongue rolled out of it’s mouth, letting drops of drool drip onto my grey fur. I shut my eyes tight, awaiting my death, when suddenly, I heard yowls. ThunderClan cat yowls.
They had heard my desperate cry for help. They came to rescue us. Suddenly, the fox was knocked onto it’s side, releasing me. It was Thornpierce, a Warrior from ThunderClan who once had an unremovable thorn stuck in his pad, which is still there to this day. I watched in amazement as he barreled into the fox, tearing at it’s shoulder.
Orangemane, my former Mentor, a yellowish coated tom with a lion-like mane around his neck, sprinted toward me and nudged me to my feet. I thanked him with a quick nod before bounding past Raccoonring, a brown, striped tom, Snowtail, a white she-cat, and Lionblaze, an orangeish tom with dark orangeish marks on his back, possibly all of the cats who had joined possibly the Patrol to rescue us. I ran toward the body of Cinderpelt, where Falconpaw wept, Foxpaw a mouse-length away. “Duststorm, help us out!” Orangemane yowled. A sandy-colored she-cat parted thru the bushes and bounded toward us.
“Oh dear! We’d better get her to Drynose!” Duststorm gasped, pushing her head under Cinderpelt’s neck. “H-help me.” Cinderpelt’s weak voice trailed off as she slipped into unconsciousness, her broken leg gushing out blood. “We have to get her back to camp before she looses too much blood.” Orangemane meowed, pushing his head under Cinderpelt’s flank. Walking together, side by side, the two cats carried Cinderpelt’s limp body thru the bushes and toward the ThunderClan camp. I glanced over my shoulder at the Patrol that had come to rescue us.
They had chased away the Fox and were heading to camp, stalking long strides past Foxpaw, the weeping Falconpaw, and I as if we weren’t even there. “Uh, Foxpaw? Go on ahead with the others. I’ll meet you at the camp.” I ordered in a soft tone. Usually, when I ordered him around, Foxpaw would turn stubborn and give me a big and untamable fit. But this time, he shrugged and then said, “Okay” before turning and trotting after the ThunderClan Patrol. I looked down at the weeping Falconpaw.
“Falconpaw? You okay?” “No, Rainbelly. I’m n-not. It was my fault the fox bit her and broke her leg. I shouldn’t have run into that den after the Rabbit.” Falconpaw mewed, hanging his head. “It’s not you’re fault, Falconpaw. It was just a freak accident. Cinderpelt will be fine.” I assured, resting my tail tip on Falconpaw’s shoulder. “No! No, she won’t! It was my fault that this happened! I hate myself!” Falconpaw yowled, leaping to his feet and running after the ThunderClan Patrol. I sighed and slowly padded after him, hoping, praying to StarClan to let Cinderpelt live.
Oh, StarClan help us.
“Drynose? Will Cinderpelt be alright?” I asked, worried as I looked down at the still unconscious and motionless black body of Cinderpelt, resting on a moss bed. Falconpaw looked down at his Mentor and pushed his muzzle into her fur, weeping. “She will. As long as Cinderpelt stays still, she should we fine.” Drynose replied, wrapping some Cobwebs around her broken, bloodied, and now crippled leg. Cinderpelt was now a crippled cat. I nodded and then exited the Medicine Cat den, giving a worried glance at the sleeping Spottedbelly in the corner, his infected limp looking much better then the last time I had seen it.
Once out of the den, I padded toward the fresh-kill pile and picked out a plump Rabbit. Nearby, I spotted Duststorm. With a flick of my ears, I invited her over to the tree stump where the Warriors ate, the warm Rabbit in my jaws. I laid the Rabbit on the tree stump and Duststorm and I sat together, side by side. I tore open the rabbit and enjoyed the warmth of the rabbit meat as I chewed it.
Duststorm enjoyed the meal with me in silence. Finally, after we finished the rabbit together, I spoke softly. “Duststorm?” “Yes?” she meowed. “Do you think ThunderClan will survive in these conditions?” I asked.
Duststorm flinched in surprise. “Why would you ask such a thing?” she meowed softly. “It’s because of the things that we’re going thru. Cinderpelt being crippled by a fox, RiverClan wanting Sunningrocks so badly that they’ll fight to the death for it, ShadowClan threatening to attack for our kits, medicine supplies, and food. Falconpaw nearby being eaten by a fox, Spottedbelly attacking me and all of the four Clans nearly killing him and Badger. Sometimes I even wonder how we’re still here.” I said, hanging my head. “Don’t lose hope, Rainbelly. We’ll be alright. As long as ThunderClan lives on, we’ll be alright.” Duststorm assured, her tail tip resting on my shoulder. I looked at her and smiled.
She smiled back, although it was hard to see both of her eyes because of the tuff of tanish fur on her forehead. “Okay, you’ve convinced me. We’ll be-“ I couldn’t finish my sentence, for a sudden battle cry rang thru the air, drowning out my voice. Then, the stench hit me. RiverClan. “RiverClan, attack!” I heard the voice of Crookedstar, the RiverClan Leader, and then saw him and many other of his Clan Cats pour thru the ThunderClan camp entrance.
I gasped and dodged an attack from a black-and-white tom that had thrown himself toward me. I spun around and leapt on top of him, my claws raking across his back. He yowled in pain and jerked his head around to grab my ear. But I was too quick for him. I yanked my head out of reach and then lunged forward, biting down on the cat’s shoulder.
Blood gushed out of the wound, and then I let go and retreated toward the nursery, where Brindleface and her three kits were. I stuck my head inside and gasped. Crookedstar was inside, cornering Brindleface, a grey she-cat, her three, helpless kits named Robinkit, Saltkit, and Mousekit, poorly hidden in the moss bedding of the Nursery. “Now, just surrender the kits, and I’ll let you live.” Crookedstar threatened, extending his claws. “Never!” Brindleface hissed.
“I’ll say it one more time. Surrender the kits.” Crookedstar growled. “Over my dead body!” Brindleface spat. “That’s perfectly doable. Just what I was going for.” Crookedstar snickered, raising a claw-tipped paw. I gasped. “Leave Brindleface and her kits alone!” I yowled, leaping at the RiverClan Leader.
He spun around to face me, but it was too late. I barreled into the brown-striped tom and sunk my teeth into his shoulder. “You have made a terrible decision, mouse-brain!” Hissed Crookedstar as he flipped me onto my back as he shot out from under my paws. I yowled and ducked as Crookedstar’s jaws snapped shut on the air next to my ear. “Brindleface! Protect the kits!” I meowed, wailing in agony as Crookedstar bit into my shoulder, possibly as payback.
Blood gushed out of the wound and dripped onto my fur and the moss bedding of the Nursery, staining the poorly-hidden kits’ fur. Yowling, I twisted and jerked, thrashing my head and flailing my paws until finally, Crookedstar released me. I leapt to my feet, and back arched, fur bristling, I hissed fiercely, spitting. Crookedstar just snickered and threw himself at me. But I was ready.
I dodged the attack, and with pleasure, clamped my jaws on one of Crookedstar’s back legs. I twisted and thrashed my head until I heard a sickening crack and then the crunch of my teeth breaking bone. I had broken Crookedstar’s leg. The RiverClan Leader screeched in pain and flailed his working paws. I hit him in the back of the head lightly with a paw to stop him.
He continued, and I ignored him as I dragged Crookedstar out of the Nursery by his broken leg, blood spilling into my mouth, but also wincing because of the gash in my shoulder. I quickly spat it out and then continued to drag him, when I suddenly bumped into something furry. I released the injured Crookedstar and spun around to see Dovestar. She looked at me, and then at Crookedstar. Suddenly, the sounds of yowling and battling cats stopped as both Clans turned to look at the two rival Clan Leaders and their sudden confrontation.
“Rainbelly, where did you find him?” Dovestar asked calmly, Sunfall appearing at her side. I froze, and then hesitated for a moment. Dovestar urged me on with an impatient flick of her white and thin tail. “I-I found him threatening Brindleface and her three kits in the Nursery, saying that if she wouldn’t surrender them now, he would kill her.” I said softly. “I did no such thing!” Crookedstar hissed as Wolfclaw appeared beside him, hissing at me.
“Dovestar, my Leader is innocent-” Wolfclaw started, but Dovestar put a stop to it. “I know you are lying to me, Crookedstar, but I want to hear her side of the story. Dovestar meowed, twitching her ears and then sweeping her steady gaze over to me. “Did he kill Brindleface?” she asked. “No, Dovestar. He didn’t, but if I hadn’t seen him, I’m sure he would’ve.” I meowed. “And why is his leg broken?”
“I-I fought him and broke his leg, and then dragged him out and away from the Nursery so he wouldn’t try to harm Brindleface or her three kits.” Dovestar nodded and the looked down at the injured Crookedstar. “Crookedstar, what was this attack for?” “You and your Clan owe us! Sunningrocks is rightfully ours, Dovestar, and if you really want to keep it, you must pay us! Give us your kits, fresh-kill, and medicine supplies, and we’ll call it even. You can keep Sunningrocks then.” Crookedstar said, baring his teeth. “Never!” Dovestar hissed. “If it’s a fight you want, it’s a fight you’ll get! Forgive me, StarClan for what I am about to do!”
I gasped in horror as Dovestar lunged forward and clamped her jaws on Crookedstar’s neck. “No! Dovestar! Are you mad? Crookedstar is on his last life!” Wolfclaw yowled, leaping forward and knocking Dovestar away. But it was too late. Crookedstar’s breathing started to grow slower and slower, until there wasn’t even the twitch of a whisker. Crookedstar was now officially dead from losing his last life. “Oh! Crookedstar! Crookedstar, no!” Wolfclaw wailed, nudging his dead Leader.
But surprisingly, his voice sounded of no pity whatsoever. Not even a hint of it. Dovestar just hissed and lashed her tail back and forth, gathering Wolfclaw’s attention. “Now you are Leader, Wolfclaw. Let StarClan give you your ending name and nine lives. Now leave. You are not welcome here anymore. Unless you want more cats to die.” Dovestar hissed. “Y-yes Dovestar.” Wolfclaw stammered.
“R-RiverClan, retreat!” With that, Wolfclaw and another unknown RiverClan cat dragged Crookedstar’s body out of the ThunderClan camp, RiverClan following behind. I looked at Dovestar, unable to speak. She quickly met my gaze. “You should get that shoulder looked at by Drynose. Run along now.”
With that, Dovestar turned and trotted away toward her own den, disappearing thru the blanket of moss and lichen draped over the entrance. I sighed and then trotted toward Drynose’s den, where Duststorm, Lionblaze, Silverstream, Whisperwind, a silvery grey she-cat, and even one of the Apprentices, Leopardpaw, waited outside for Drynose. I trotted toward Duststorm and noticed a terrible bite on her left flank. She seemed to notice the gash on my shoulder, for as she spoke, she kept her eye on it. “That must hurt.” She said softly.
“Not much. What about you?” I asked. “It stings bad.” Duststorm said, wincing. “Next two!” I glanced up to see Drynose waiting for us at the foot of his den. We hurried forward and within minutes, our pain was gone and our wounds were covered with Cobwebs and poultice, and Poppy Seeds rested in our bellies.
“Thank you, Drynose.” We both meowed, trotting away from his Medicine Cat den. We trotted toward the Highrock, where Dovestar now sat. Seconds after we sat below it, Dovestar yowled, her white fur glowing in the moonlight’s shine. “Let all cats old enough to catch heir own prey join here, beneath the Highrock for a Clan meeting.” She meowed. Once all of the cats had gathered beneath the Highrock, Dovestar spoke.
“Now, I will announce the cats who are to attend the Gathering tonight. Sunfall, Drynose, Duststorm, Rabbitear, Littlepaw, Pinepaw, Scorchingwind, Orangemane, Moldfur, Clonetail, Bramblethorn, Silverstream, and Rainbelly will attend the Gathering tonight.” Dovestar announced. I smiled and looked at Duststorm. She smiled back. “Alright! Let’s move out!” With that, Dovestar, with Sunfall at her side, led the cats out of the ThunderClan camp.
As I walked past Foxpaw, he growled, muttered “mouse-dung” under his breath, and then turned and disappeared into the Apprentice’s den, his tail lashing back and forth. I shrugged and then exited the ThunderClan camp, Duststorm by my side.
“Hey, who’s that? I haven’t seen him before.” I gasped, motioning with a flick of my tail toward a handsome, brown-striped tom with golden, yellow eyes as Duststorm and I sat down at Fortress, our Clanmates scattered every which way. Duststorm raised her head and peered at the handsome cat. “Oh, that’s Scartail. You missed him at the last Gathering because of your wounds. He never really cared about going to the Gatherings, but eventually, he went last time, and I’m sure that he’s here to stay for the Gatherings every time.” Duststorm meowed. She seemed to have caught me giving him a loving glance, for then she asked, “You like him don’t you?” “Of course not!” I scoffed.
But I had to admit it. He was pretty handsome. “Oh, sure you do. Go on. Talk to him.” Duststorm urged, nudging me. I smiled in embarrassment and hesitated for a moment, before padding up to the handsome cat known as Scartail. He noticed me, and I froze as he turned to face me.
“Hey, there. I’m Scartail.” He meowed. I blushed and hid my face. “I-I’m Rainbelly.” I said, avoiding eye contact with Scartail. “Nervous?” he chuckled, his tail brushing my shoulder.
Suddenly, everything meant nothing to me, and I was love-struck with Scartail. I loved him. I gathered up the courage to reveal myself and look into his eyes. “You have beautiful eyes.” Scartail meowed softly. “So do you.” I said, cocking my head. I suddenly snapped out of my love-struck state but still focused on Scartail.
“So, you’re a Warrior from WindClan, huh?” “Yeah. It’s nice to be in a Clan that doesn’t wish to fight as much. But with Bluepool as Deputy, it’s a pain.” Scartail chuckled, flicking his tail toward a Tortoiseshell she-cat with Lillypad-green eyes sitting atop the Starrock next to Hawkstar. I chucked softly, only to realize that both of our tails were curling around eachother. Basically, touching. Embarrassed, I used my paw to pull it away, chuckling.
“Oops! Sorry!” Scartail chuckled quickly, doing the same, but at that moment, when we lifted our heads, our pink noses touched, making the shape of a tiny heart. My eyes turned toward Duststorm, whose jaws were open wide in shock and disbelief. Her shock suddenly turned into excitement and her eyes brightened. I gasped and pulled away, but I was smiling as I did so. Scartail was smiling back at me, staring into my eyes.
Then, he quickly leaned forward and whispered into my ear. “Do you like me? Because I like you too.” He whispered. I answered quickly. “Yes. Yes, I do like you.” I whispered back. “I know a way we can always be together. By the time our Clans go back to their territories, they’ll all be tired and crash. We can hide when the Clans leave, and then we can be together every night, here, at Fortress. Would you like that?” Scartail asked.
I smiled. “Yes. Yes, I would like that very much.” I whispered. “Okay, but do you realize that you can’t tell anyone. Not even your friends. Because, we’ll be breaking the Warrior Code for doing this. Are you willing?” “Yes, I am.” I said softly. “Then it’s settled. Remember, we hide when the Clans leave.”
I nodded, and then turned to face the Clan Leaders as Dovestar yowled a signal that the meeting was to begin. “Let the Gathering begin. Hawkstar, you may speak first.” Dovestar meowed calmly. “Thank you, Dovestar. Now then, WindClan’s prey is running strong, the Rabbits are plentiful and our Clan is very strong. Owlstar, you may speak.” Hawkstar meowed. “T-thank you, Hawkstar, Dovestar. ShadowClan’s prey is strong, but we have had to rely on Crow-Food to save up and store for the upcoming Leaf-Bare. Besides that, ShadowClan is still strong. W-Wolfstar, you may speak now.” Owlstar said. I then realized that Wolfclaw, now Wolfstar was sitting atop the large boulder, with Ravenfeather, a black-furred tom with green eyes and a tuff of black hair on his forehead.
“Thank you, Owlstar. Now, RiverClan’s fish supply is strong, and we continue to fight for Sunningrocks, which is rightfully ours. But, a tragedy has occurred recently, tonight. Crookedstar lost his last life after being killed by Dovestar after we raided ThunderClan’s camp for supplies they owe us because of Sunningrocks. He was attacked by a ThunderClan Warrior that broke his tender leg, and then killed by Dovestar. After we went back to our camp, I left for Highstones and received my RiverClan Leader name and nine lives. Also, Ravenfeather became the new Deputy of RiverClan.” Ravenfeather bowed his head. “That is all. Dovestar, you may now speak.” Wolfstar meowed, dipping his head toward Dovestar. Dovestar hissed at him before flexing her claws and then speaking. “Thank you, Wolfstar for that wonderful announcement.” She growled, lashing her tail back and forth.
“Anyway, ThunderClan has been attacked by all of the Clans except the kind and gentle WindClan. My thanks goes to them.” Dovestar dipped her head toward Hawkstar. He nodded. “Besides that, ThunderClan lives on and our prey is plentiful. Brindleface has given birth to three kits recently by the way. That is all. The Gathering has now come to an end. Let us return to our territories in the paws of StarClan. May StarClan light our paths and lead us toward the right Thunderpath.” With that said, all of the Clan Leaders and their Deputies leapt off of the Great Rock and stalked toward their territories. Remembering Scartail’s words, I quickly leaped away from the cats and hid in a bush until the sound of their murmuring disappeared into the night. “Hey! Rainbelly! You there?” I heard Scartail hiss from afar. “Yes, I’m here.” I meowed, twisting and jerking to get out of the bush. I finally got out, but I was covered in burrs. I hissed in frustration as I sat down and started to painfully pull the burrs from my pelt.
“Need some help?” I raised my head to see Scartail stalking toward me. I blushed as I nodded. Scartail padded beside me, sat down, and tore a burr from my tail.” “Ah!” I meowed, nearly jumping out of my fur as the burr ripped some fur off.
“Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh. It’s okay.” I relaxed and went back to my love-struck state when I realized that Scartail was licking the patch of fur that had been a bit ruffled and that some of the fur had been torn off. This continued until finally, all of the burrs were gone. I purred and glanced at him. We were suddenly nose to nose, and I licked his nose. He smiled and licked mine.
I purred again and rubbed my head against Scartail’s chest. He purred back and then licked my forehead. I used one of my front paws to reach up and bat Scartail on the forehead, basically, for us forest cats, that would be mating behavior, as in the “I like you” type of thing. Basically, we hang out and play. Scartail purred again and jumped at me. Together, we rolled around on the ground at Fortress, purring and licking and playing with eachother.
We did this for a while, until I remembered about my Clan, and the special day tomorrow morning. All of the Mentors were to give their Apprentices’ their first assessments, which would prove wither they were fit to become a Warrior after the assessment ad when they returned to camp. “Uh, Scartail?” I meowed as he licked my cheek. “Yes, Rainbelly, my love?” he meowed back. “I must get back to camp for rest. You see, tomorrow, I’m to give my Apprentice, Foxpaw, his first assessment. And if he passes, he will become a Warrior. I want to be well rested.” I meowed.
Scartail bowed his head. “I understand, Rainbelly. Same thing tomorrow night?” “Of course.” I said, dipping my head toward him. “Goodbye, Scartail.” I licked his cheek.
“Goodbye, Rainbelly, my love.” He meowed, licking my cheek in response to my gentle gesture. With a smile, purr, and then a nod goodbye, I turned tail and leapt into the thick foliage of ThunderClan territory. After a few minutes of silent running, I reached the camp, entered with absolute no detection, and slipped into the Warriors den, were I lay beside the sleeping Duststorm and within seconds, I was fast asleep.
“Oh, Drynose! Please! Do you think he’s well enough to give Pinepaw his first assessment?” I asked, looking at Spottedbelly, who sat upright in his bed, staring hopefully at Drynose. “Well, his limp is indeed better. Oh, what the heck. Of course he’s well enough. But I’m afraid that poor Falconpaw will be held back a few moons from being a Warrior.” Drynose meowed. “But why?” I glanced at Cinderpelt, who winced as she tried to get up, but failing because of her still-broken and now crippled leg. Drynose sighed.
“Because since you won’t be there to give him his assessment and watch him, I’m afraid he won’t become a Warrior until you’re well enough, Cinderpelt.” I felt a stab of pity as Cinderpelt sighed and put her head on her front paws. “Oh, Falconpaw will be so disappointed.” She meowed, a tear sliding down the side of her face. I couldn’t stop myself. Without another word, I raced out of the Drynose’s den toward the fresh-kill pile, where Duststorm was picking out a plump mouse.
“Duststorm, could you do me a favor. Or rather, do Cinderpelt a favor?” I asked the sandy-colored she-cat. Duststorm dropped the mouse to speak. “Sure. As long as you tell me what it is and I’m okay with it.” She meowed. “Thanks. I’m a little nervous, but uh, could you give Falconpaw his first assessment and watch him so that at least he’ll have a chance at being a Warrior?” I pleaded. “Uh, sure. I’m willing to do it, for Cinderpelt and Falconpaw’s sake, but will Dovestar mind?”
“Well, why don’t we ask her?” I meowed. “Well, uh, okay.” “Thanks, Duststorm. I meowed, smiling. Duststorm and I walked side by side toward Dovestar’s den. At the entrance, we stopped.
“Dovestar?” I called. “Come in.” came the white-furred she-cat’s reply. Duststorm and I obeyed and entered the den. We spotted Dovestar lying on her moss bed, licking her chest fur. “Um, excuse me, Dovestar, but I was thinking, that since Cinderpelt couldn’t give Falconpaw his first assessment that might make him a Warrior because of the Fox attack, I was wondering if Duststorm could give Falconpaw his assessment.” I meowed, cocking my head toward Duststorm.
“I asked her and she’s willing to do it, but I want to get your permission first. Is it alright?” “Well…I don’t know. This has never happened but only a few times in the past, but…alright. We’ll give a shot for today.” Dovestar said. “Thank you, Dovestar. I will tell Cinderpelt.” I thanked her, dipping my head. With that, Duststorm and I turned and trotted out of Dovestar’s den. “Well, that was easy.” I said with relief as we bounded toward Drynose’s Medicine Cat den.
We skidded to a halt inside and in front of Cinderpelt. “Cinderpelt! I’ve got great news. Tell her, Duststorm.” I meowed, nudging my friend. Cinderpelt looked up at Duststorm with sadness in her eyes. Duststorm cleared her throat, and then spoke. “As a favor from you and Rainbelly, I was willing to give Falconpaw his first assessment that may make him a Warrior today.” She announced proudly.
Cinderpelt’s eyes brightened with happiness. “Oh, thank you! Would you mind telling him?” Cinderpelt begged. “We don’t mind at all. In fact, all of the Mentors are to take their Apprentices and start the assessments now.” I meowed. “Oh, thank you both!” With that, Cinderpelt lay her head on her paws, and fell into a deep sleep within seconds, although she was smiling in her sleep.
“Well, come on, Spottedbelly. Let’s go meet the others.” I said, trotting out of Drynose’s den. Outside, all of the Apprentice’s waited for us, a few of them with their Mentors. I reached Foxpaw, and Spottedbelly reached Pinepaw beside me. Duststorm then trotted up to Falconpaw, who had his head down in sadness, but when she murmured he whole story to him, he jumped an three inches into the air with joy. Nearby, Pebblepelt was trotting out of the ThunderClan camp entrance with her Apprentice, Littlepaw, Leopardpaw and her Mentor, the mighty Deputy of ThunderClan himself, Sunfall not too far behind.
I raised my head and sighed at the sight ahead of me. Nearby, Dovestar chatted with Orangemane, my old Mentor near the Highrock. I watched with pity as he sighed and hung his head low as the Senior Warrior turned into an Elder as he padded toward the Elders’ Den, a fallen log. He was greeted by the respected Elders, Greypebble, Elderflower, Moldfur, and Clonetail with nudges, licks, and small and quick words. Every Elder welcomed him, all except Lasteye, a one-eyed white-furred she-cat that lost her eye after being scratched there by a ShadowClan Warrior in the past.
She lay inside the fallen log, her tail sticking out and flicking occasionally. There once came a time in a Warriors life when he or she turned into a Senior Warrior, soon ready to join the Elders. Then, the fateful day would come when the Clan Leader would speak to you and tell you that you must join the Elders, either because of bad eyesight, hearing, bad injuries, or even just plain old age. And now, I watched in sadness as Orangemane, once a young and then an experienced Warrior who had me as a cheerful Apprentice, took his place in the Elders’ Den inside the fallen log, possibly now lying in a moss nest. I sighed and gave once last, loving glance at the Elders’ Den before turning and trotting out of the ThunderClan camp and away from the others, with Foxpaw at my heels.
We traveled deep into the heart of ThunderClan territory until we finally stopped. “Okay, Foxpaw. “It’s now time for your first assessment that might make you a Warrior.” I meowed. “What is it? What is it! Tell me! Oh, Rainbelly! Please tell me! Tell me now!” Foxpaw pleaded, jumping up and down on his tiny brown paws. “Alright, alright. Your assessment is to catch and kill seven pieces of prey. Then, you must bury it and then wait, because I’ll be there, watching you.” I said. “Easy as killing a mouse with it’s tail tangled around some brambles.” Foxpaw mewed.
“Well, if that’s what you think. Good luck.” I meowed, licking Foxpaw’s forehead. He muttered something under his breath after that as he stalked away and thru the undergrowth and out of my sight. I couldn’t see him, but I could smell him easily. Making sure I was downwind of Foxpaw so that he couldn’t smell me, I tracked Foxpaw’s scent. I’d say that about twenty or so minutes passed after I caught Foxpaw catching his seventh piece of prey, which was a plump vole.
I smiled and bounded out of the undergrowth, revealing myself. “Oh, Foxpaw! You did wonderful! Better than I could’ve imagined!” I praised him. “Two voles, four mice, and one shrew. I think you’ve really proven yourself, Foxpaw. Now, let’s get this back to camp and see if the others are finished.” I meowed. With that, Foxpaw and I gathered the freshly killed prey in our jaws, me carrying all four mice and the shrew by their tails, and Foxpaw stuffing the two voles in his own mouth. We padded back to camp, out jaws surprisingly full with good, plump, and healthy prey.
Finally, we reached the ThunderClan camp after several minutes. We entered, and dropped all of the prey at the decreasing fresh-kill pile before looking up at the Highrock, where Littlepaw and Pebblepelt stood proudly near Dovestar, the other Mentors and their Apprentices standing together in a line. Falconpaw stood with Duststorm, while Cinderpelt lay outside of Drynose’s den to watch the Warrior Ceremony. Dovestar spotted me and gave me a hopeful nod. I nodded back.
I had clearly sent the message. I confidently thought that Foxpaw was fit to become a full-fledged Warrior of ThunderClan. We both stepped in line with the other cats as the mighty and powerful Dovestar spoke the words of the Warrior Ceremony. “I, Dovestar, Leader of ThunderClan, call upon my Warrior Ancestors to look down on this Apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble Code, and I commend them to you as a Warrior in their turn. Littlepaw, do you promise to uphold the Warrior Code and to protect and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?” Dovestar asked. This was a very important question, and it was crucial that Littlepaw answered it correctly.
I watched as Littlepaw took a deep breath and then spoke. “I do.” He mewed. “Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Littlepaw, from this moment you will be known as Littlecloud. StarClan honors your determination and reasonableness, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ThunderClan.” Dovestar meowed. Littlepaw, now Littlecloud, smiled proudly and looked up at his former Mentor. Pebblepelt smiled and then guided him off of the Highrock.
Then, it was Leopardpaw and Sunfall’s turn. Soon, Leopardpaw became Leopardspots. Then, it was Spottedbelly and Pinepaw’s turn. Pinepaw ended up as Pinepelt. Finally, it was me and Foxpaw’s turn.
I smiled proudly as I leapt onto the Highrock near Dovestar with Foxpaw in front of me so that he faced Dovestar. “Now, for the final Ceremony for this morning. “I, Dovestar, Leader of ThunderClan call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble Code, and I commend them to you as a Warrior in their turn. Foxpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?” Dovestar asked, looking down at my noble Apprentice. I held my breath as Foxpaw opened his mouth to say those words. “I do.” He mewed. “Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Foxpaw, from this moment you will be known as Foxleap. StarClan honors your bravery and determination, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ThunderClan.” Dovestar meowed.
Foxpaw, now Foxleap, smiled proudly as I guided him off of the Highrock as Pebblepelt did with Littlepaw, who was now Littlecloud toward the other new Warriors of ThunderClan. I stepped back with the other former Mentors and helped ThunderClan by calling out their old Apprentices’ new Warrior names. “Littlecloud!” Pebblepelt shouted happily. “Leopardspots!” Sunfall meowed proudly. “Pinepelt!” Spottedbelly yowled.
Now it was my turn. “Foxleap!” I shouted with pride, also hearing Cinderpelt and Duststorm together shout, “Falconflight!” after me. “Ah! H-help m-me!” What in StarClan was that? That wasn’t a new Warrior name!
I perked up my ears and the new Warriors’ names spotted being shouted as all of the cat’s attention turned to Scorchingwind, a dark grey tom, who was writhing on the ground, twisting and jerking. I watched in horror as blood started to ooze out of his mouth as he couched, and wheezed, and sputtered and choked. Wait a minute. Choked? Scorchingwind was choking!
“He’s choking!” I shouted as I noticed the half-eaten body of a rabbit near Scorchingwind’s thrashing body. “Drynose! Help him!” screamed Silverstream, a silvery-grey she-cat with darker grey stripes. I watched as Drynose bolted out of his den and skidded to a halt in front of the choking Scorchingwind. Drynose rolled Scorchingwind onto his back and then pressed his front paws on his belly and throat. But it was too late.
Scorchingwind’s breathing suddenly stopped short, and blood started to spill out of his mouth and drip onto his fur, making a pool of glistening, red blood form around his limp body in seconds. Scorchingwind was now dead. Dovestar leapt off of the Highrock and rushed over to him. “Oh, Scorchingwind. He’s dead.” She announced grimly. “Do you think you know the cause of his death and the blood?”
“I’m sure that he choked on a Rabbit bone when he was eating. It possibly pierced his throat when he swallowed the bone.” Drynose said softly, his shoulder tip resting on Scorchingwind’s now cold and a bit bloody shoulder. “Well, any cat who was close to him may spend their last few moments with this noble Warrior before the Elders bury his body.” With a heavy sigh, Dovestar turned and padded toward her own den. I gazed at Scorchingwind’s now cold body before getting up and padding toward it. I buried my muzzle in his cold and bloody fur for a moment and then started to lick and Share Tongues with him for the last time.
After a few seconds of Sharing Tongues with the dead Scorchingwind, I padded away and let the other cats that were more close to the grey tom mourn and grieve for him. I sighed and then when no other cat was looking, disappeared into the cramped Warriors Den. “Oh, hey, Rainbelly. I forgot to tell you. Since there are so many Warriors now, we had to make another den. Silverstream, Foxleap, Thornpierce, Pebblepelt, Leopardspots, Snowtail, Littlecloud, Pinepelt, Falconflight, and Raccoonring will be sleeping in the other den. You, Whisperwind, Duststorm, Rabbitear, Spottedbelly if he’s well enough, Lionblaze, Bramblethorn and I will sleep in the regular den from now on.” Meowed Sunfall as he settled into his nest. I nodded and curled up two nests away, my tail tip landing resting on my nose. I thought about all of the deaths and injuries occurring.
And even more deaths would occur because of the possibly upcoming Whitecough, that spreads because of fungi during leaf-bare, which was only a day or two away. And if Whitecough gets left untreated, it can turn into even more deadly Greencough. It can easily infect Apprentices, Kittens, and Elders. And possibly, the next morning, it would snow, and Whitecough could easily spread. I hope not.
With those last thoughts, I drifted off to sleep. I was totally wrong.
“Hey! Rainbelly! Hey, Rainbelly!” I slowly opened my eyes and yawned at the feeling of a paw poking me in the side. When I looked up, I saw that Duststorm was the one poking me. “What is it, Duststorm?” I growled, letting out another yawn. “It’s snowing! Leaf-Bare came early!” Duststorm meowed, poking me in the side again.
“Get up already!” “Alright, alright! I’m up! I’m up! I’m getting up!” I yowled, scrambling to my feet. Duststorm excitedly ran out of the Warriors den, and I followed, stretching my legs on the way. When I stuck my head out of the warm den, I felt a chill and gasped. The whole ThunderClan camp was covered in snow. Duststorm was right.
Leaf-Bare came early. And I was wrong. It wouldn’t snow just tomorrow morning, but starting now and until the sudden Leaf-Bare was over. And it was just the afternoon! I reluctantly stepped out of the den, and immediately, my paws started to sink beneath the snow.
But I quickly got my footing and was soon padding on top of the mass of snow toward the fresh-kill pile, where Foxpaw, now Foxleap’s, seven-piece-of-prey catch had at gotten us to stock up, Duststorm following close behind. After all, prey was incredibly scarce during the cruel months Leaf-Bare. I picked out a Vole from the fresh-kill pile while Duststorm picked out a plump mouse, and together, we padded over to the tree stump where the Warriors enjoyed their meals. We sat together and ate silently, when suddenly, Duststorm moaned. “Duststorm? Are you okay?” I asked, leaning over and sniffing her.
A sickly scent drifted from her fur and covered her in a sick cloud of the stench. I yanked my head back, only to notice her mouse. Where she had bitten in, there was a small patch of fungi inside of the mouse. I gasped and took a closer look, sniffing carefully. That was the type of fungi that caused Whitecough during Leaf-Bare!
But could the deaths and sickness truly start now? Yes, yes, they would, for Duststorm suddenly started to moan and groan loudly, and I noticed that her forehead wet and a bit damp with sweat. The Fever! That’s what Whitecough starts with! “Duststorm?” I meowed as my friend hung her head and moaned.
“I don’t feel so well…..” Duststorm groaned, her voice trailing off. “Oh, uh, Drynose! Come here, quickly!” I yowled, my voice echoing around the walls of the well-protected ThunderClan camp. I watched as the sleek brown tom with orange-like markings on his face and blue eyes slipped out of his Medicine Cat den and stalked toward Duststorm and I. “What’s the problem?” he asked. I pointed with a flick of my tail toward the infected mouse.
“It’s the fungi that causes Whitecough! And look at Duststorm!” I meowed. Drynose’s eyes grew wide in fear and he gasped. “Great StarClan! She has Whitecough! And this early?” he gasped. I nodded quickly. ‘We’d better get the poor dear to my den, where she’ll be safe. Although I have to make sure I keep her as far away from Cinderpelt as possible.” He meowed as we both helped Duststorm stand up and then one of us on either side, walked her to Drynose’s den.
Once inside, the sweet and musty smells of herbs and other medicines engulfed me as we stalked past the sleeping Cinderpelt and took Duststorm to the deepest part of the Medicine Cat den, where Drynose put his patients with something serious. And this, was serious. “Oh! Snowtail!” As Drynose and I set down Duststorm on a moss bed, Rabbitear and her beloved sister, Snowtail rushed into the den, or rather, Rabbitear rushed in with Snowtail. “Drynose! I think she has Whitecough!” Rabbitear wailed.
“S-she was eating a mouse from Foxleap’s catch this morning and then she started to moan and groan, and when I looked at the mouse, it had fungi in the place where she bit into the mouse!” “The same happened to Duststorm!” I meowed. “Someone has to get rid of that fresh-kill! The sudden Leaf-Bare and the sudden snowfall must’ve caused the fungi to grow and spread onto the warmer prey!” “I’ll do it, but Rabbitear, you must put Snowtail next to Duststorm and make sure that she’s as far away from Cinderpelt as possible so that she is not infected.” Drynose meowed, turning and rushing out of the den. I watched as Rabbitear, sobbing, laid the groaning and moaning Snowtail beside the sick Duststorm.
I sighed and looked down at my poor friend. I rubbed my head against hers before looking up as Drynose came back into the den. “Alright. The bad fresh-kill is buried and now all we have to do is get some Borage leaves and then-oh dear.” Drynose continued to franticly paw thru the piles of herbs and medicines in a frenzied panic. “How could I forget to stock up on Borage and Tansy? And especially Catmint if it gets worse! How could I forget?” Drynose groaned, hanging his head.
“You mean you can’t save Snowtail?” Rabbitear gasped. “I can’t without Borage or Tansy. And if it turns into Greencough, I don’t have any Catmint. The only place to find Borage and Tansy is either in other Clans or in the forest. We might have to rely on the others Clans this time, because if there is Borage or Tansy out there, it’s buried by a mountain of snow!” Drynose meowed. “I’ll go with you and try to see if one of the Clans will help us.” I meowed softly. “Oh, will you? I’ll ask Dovestar and see if we can go together to WindClan.” With that, Drynose turned and trotted out of the den.
With one last loving glance at my poor friend, Duststorm, I trotted out of the den and waited for Drynose at the ThunderClan camp entrance. Seconds after I sat down, he came back, smiling. “Well?” I prompted. “We can go. Now, let’s just hope that WindClan is kind enough to help us.” With that, Drynose and I trotted out of the ThunderClan camp and headed toward WindClan territory.
Drynose and I stalked past the four mighty snow-covered Oak Trees of Fortress and finally into WindClan territory. We carefully stayed along the edge, until is sudden caught a whiff of a WindClan patrol. I warned Drynose with a twitch of my ears, but he ignored me and kept on walked, when suddenly, a menacing hiss sounded from behind us. We spun around to see the WindClan patrol I had smells. It was made up of Bluepool, the WindClan Deputy, Diamondpelt, the friend I had helped rescue when ShadowClan attacked and raided the WindClan camp for fresh-kill, medicine supplies, and kits, and two other unknown cats with an unknown Apprentice walking in between them.
“What are ThunderClan doing on WindClan territory?” spat Bluepool, baring her teeth. I took a step back at her ferocity. Diamondpelt seemed to recognize me, for she smiled happily. “It’s okay, Bluepool. Rainbelly is a friend. And it doesn’t look as if they mean any harm, because that’s Drynose, the ThunderClan Medicine Cat.” She meowed, smiling at me. “I know that!” Bluepool hissed.
“I just want to know what they’re doing here, mouse-brain!” Diamondpelt flattened her ears and hung her head low in embarrassment of a Warrior being called a mouse-brain. It wasn’t such a bad insult, but it seemed to really hurt Diamondpelt’s feelings. “Bluepool, ThunderClan is in need of WindClan’s help. We have run out of Borage, Tansy, and Catmint, and two of our Warriors are infected with Whitecough from eating fungi-infected fresh-kill.” Drynose meowed. “We ask for your permission to escort us to your Camp and allow us to obtain some Borage, Catmint, and Tansy for our sick Warriors.”
“Well…it is hard times now since Leaf-Bare came early….oh, what the heck. I’m sure Hawkstar wouldn’t mind. Let’s go.” Meowed Bluepool. She and the patrol led Drynose and I to the WindClan camp. Inside, we spotted Hawkstar sitting atop his own Highrock, staring at us intently. I watched as Bluepool bounded over and spoke into his hear. After a few moments, Hawkstar then nodded. Bluepool turned her head toward us and nodded as well. Drynose dipped his head in thanks and then we both stalked toward Mapleleaf’s den.
Once there, we stuck our heads in and Drynose called out to her. “Mapleleaf!” he called. The pretty Tortoiseshell appeared with a surprised look on her face when she spotted me. “Rainbelly! I thought I might never see you again in a while.” She meowed. “You too, Drynose. Now, what brings you to my den?”
Drynose quickly told her the whole story, and she listened with awe and respect. “Of course you can have some. But I’m afraid I can give you only about two each. And I don’t have any Catmint. I don’t want to be selfish, but I want to stock up from the Clan.” “No, no. That’s alright. It is indeed better than nothing at all.” Drynose chuckled as Mapleleaf nudged two stalks of Borage and Tansy to Drynose’s paws. “Hopefully, it won’t get worse and turn into Greencough. Thank you, dear Mapleleaf. ThunderClan is grateful for your help.” With that, Drynose took the medicine stalks in his teeth and trotted out of Mapleleaf’s den.
I gave her a thankful nod before following him out. Bluepool appeared along with another unknown WindClan cat and led us out of camp, to the border, and when we crossed their border into No-Clan territory, they disappeared thru the undergrowth in their own territory. “Wow. We’re lucky that WindClan is a gentle Clan.” I meowed. Drynose chuckled thru a mouthful of the medicine stalks and nodded. We both stalked past Fortress, and then soon the Owl Tree.
Eventually, we crossed the border into ThunderClan territory, where a sudden cold wind was blowing. As we entered the ThunderClan camp, a mournful caterwauling rang thru the air. I perked up my ears and looked across the clearing to notice that the sound was coming from Drynose’s den. “Snowtail! No! Please, StarClan! No! Not her! Not right now!” I heard Rabbitear wail from inside the den. “Oh no!” I gasped.
Together, Drynose and I bounded toward his den, skidding to a stop inside, where Rabbitear lay beside her sister, Snowtail, wailing in sorrow. “What happened?” Drynose panted after he dropped the valuable medicine supplies. Rabbitear turned to face him, tears spilling down her face and even more welling up in her eyes. “S-Snowtail’s dead!” she wailed. “What? How is that possible?” Drynose gasped, rushing over to Snowtail’s motionless and now freezing-cold body.
“While you were gone, a cold wind blew into camp, and reached your den. I was here and felt the sudden chill. When I looked at S-Snowtail, she was w-wheezing and coughing h-horribly. Her forehead was heating up by the second! It felt as if my tail was burning when I touched her with it! Her Whitecough had turned into this horrible G-Greencough. And then she jerked when the cold wind hit her, and then just now when you came, S-StarClan took her away .” Rabbitear sobbed, burying her muzzle into her deceased sister’s fur. “Oh, dear StarClan, no.” Drynose whispered loud enough for all of us to hear. Suddenly, I remembered Duststorm. I rushed over to my friend to see if she was still living. I touched my tail to her forehead and she stirred.
I sighed a sigh of relief. She was still alive. I watched and stepped away as Drynose padded softly over to Duststorm and pushed the Borage stalk toward her. “Eat this.” He whispered, sadness in his meow. Duststorm mumbled something untranslatable and opened her eyes to small slits.
She opened her mouth and Drynose pushed the Borage into it. I watched silently as Duststorm slowly chewed and swallowed the Borage before crashing and falling into a deep sleep a minute later. When I looked up, I spotted Rabbitear silently dragging Snowtail’s freezing-cold body out of the Medicine Cat’s den, laying it beside Scorchingwind’s cold body. I peeked out of the den and glanced up at the sky. The sun was setting, and the Elders were to bury the bodies now.
Noticing Snowtail’s motionless body, a few cats that were close to her padded up and Shared Tongues with the white she-cat for the last time, including Rabbitear. A few did the same to Scorchingwind, saying their last, long goodbyes to either their friend or family. After a few minutes of doing this, the cats then parted, Rabbitear staying close so that she could help the Elders bury the two noble Warriors. The Elders appeared, including Orangemane and with help from Silverstream, who was surprisingly close to Scorchingwind, and Rabbitear who was extremely close to Snowtail, dragged the bodies toward the area where the Elders buried the cats who died in ThunderClan. I watched as they all silently buried the two cats.
They sat for a short vigil before turning and padding away to their own dens.
Silently, I crept thru the snow toward Fortress. My paws made no sound as I reached the four great snow-covered Oak Trees. There, lying down atop the Great Rock, was Scartail. Forgetting about the disobeying the Warrior Code, I bounded over to him and scrabbled onto the Great Rock and lay down beside his brown and striped fur. “You came.” He meowed softly, licking my forehead afterward.
I purred and rubbed my head against his chest. “I did.” I meowed back, starting to lick his chest fur. He smiled and peered into my green eyes. Again, we were suddenly nose to nose, our pink noses making the shape of a tiny, pink heart. This time, I didn’t try to pull away to fast.
I pulled away slowly this time, licking the tip of his nose at the end of my slow-as-a-snail pull. Scartail smiled and did the same. We lay together atop the Great Rock, his head on my paws, and my head on his back, Sharing Tongues with him, while he spoke to me at my paws. “Is our love strong?” he asked me. I stopped grooming him for one second and answered.
“Of course it is.” I meowed, resuming my pause from grooming Scartail. “Strong enough to have kits?” I stopped grooming Scartail altogether and looked down at him. “Oh, Scartail. I-I thought you would never ask.” I meowed, rubbing my head against his. “But if we are to have them, we must wait till Newleaf.” Scartail meowed.
“I can wait that long.” I purred, licking his chin. He smiled and licked my cheek. I glanced up at the sky, where a half-moon glowed, high in the sky. I decided that it was time to go home, even though I had been with Scartail for a short time. And I also had to check on Duststorm.
“Scartail?” I meowed. “Yes, my love?” he replied, staring into my green eyes. “I know I’ve been here for only a short time, but…I must leave.” I meowed softly as I stood up. Scartail did the same and looked at me. “Why is that, Rainbelly?” I asked.
“Well, I’m worried. A friend of mine ended up with Whitecough. And already, a Warrior has died today of her Whitecough turning into Greencough. I must know if she’s alright.” I explained. “I understand, my dear. Go on. But remember, tomorrow night, you must stay longer, and you didn’t tell anyone, did you?” Scartail asked, a worried look in his eyes. I shook my head. “Of course not.” I meowed, dripping my head. Scartail smiled.
“Well, goodnight, Rainbelly, my love.” “Goodnight, Scartail.” With that, and a quick lick on the nose, I leapt off of the Great Rock and stalked back toward ThunderClan territory.
“I saw you, you know.” Scartail froze and perked up his ear, rotating them toward the voice. Suddenly, a Tortoiseshell she-cat parted from the bushes bordering WindClan territory. “Bluepool!” Scartail gasped, leaping off of the large boulder and taking a few steps away from the WindClan Deputy. “If you do plan to mate with Rainbelly, I suggest you do it soon, because I don’t think that Hawkstar will allow this at all. If he found out, you would probably be exiled, or even killed.” Bluepool snickered.
“And if you do mate with Rainbelly and have kits, I strongly suggest that you kill them when you get the chance, because I’ll be waiting. Oh, and uh, don’t try to run away. Because I’ll be waiting, with other Warriors, to hunt you down, like a dog!” Bluepool hissed and leaped at Scartail. Scartail gasped and dodged the attack, but Bluepool landed on her feet and raced after him. She lunged forward after the fleeing tom and bit down on his tail. He winced in pain, for he wanted no cat to hear his cries.
Bluepool released Scartail and just loomed over him, her face a mouse-length from his. “Now, go and find your sadly, soon-to-be-mate. Tell her what I said. Don’t worry. I’ll give you time. In a few weeks if you have kits, I’ll be happy if you’ve gotten rid of them. So, make sure that when you come back, wherever you’ll go to have kits, that I don’t find them. Now, run along in fear. And if you don’t listen to my words, I’ll make sure you don’t get back to Camp-alive.” Bluepool snickered as she backed away into the bushes bordering WindClan territory. His hard pants small white clouds, Scartail stood in one place for a few seconds, glued to the spot. Then, with a sudden frantic scrabble of panicked paws, Scartail was gone, vanishing into WindClan territory and kicking up wispy and swirling puffs of snow behind him.
“Is she alright?” I whispered to Drynose, whose tired eyes showed me that he had been up all night watching Duststorm. “Rainbelly? I’m surprised you’re up at this time of night.” Drynose meowed softly. “I just wanted to make sure that Duststorm was doing well.” I meowed quickly. “Is she? Or is it worse?” “Well, she’s progressing. Surprisingly, she only coughed a few times while you were fast asleep in the Warriors den. And even though she caught Whitecough today, I’m sure she’ll be fine in a day or two. It’ll be a miracle if StarClan helps her get well by that time.” Drynose sighed, looking down at Duststorm.
My friend’s steady breathing told me that she was in a very deep sleep. “Well, thank you for looking after her, Drynose. I guess I’ll-“ I stopped midsentance as a bright light flashed, and the Medicine Cat den and Drynose and the sleeping Duststorm was gone. The fur along my neck, to my spine, and to my tail bristled in fear and surprise at the vision in front of me. “Drynose’s death will come. Battle. Battle. Robinkit. Robinpaw. Robinchest. Drynose’s death will come. Soon. Soon.” Said an unknown voice.
The image of Robinkit, a kit out of Brindleface’s litter with the red chest of a Robin flashed in front of me. He was suddenly in the den with Drynose, sorting herbs. The next minute, he was lying beside Drynose’s motionless and bloody body, yowling in sorrow. Suddenly, I flashed back to reality and was frozen stiff by Duststorm’s body, staring into space. “Rainbelly! What is it?” he gasped, rushing over to me.
My eyes were wide with shock at the images I had seen moments ago. It was a message. A message from StarClan. Drynose’s death would come by battle. Soon, Robinkit would become Robinpaw, and then Robinchest.
The message came clear to me. Robinchest would become the new Medicine Cat after Drynose’s death by battle. “What is it, Rainbelly?” Drynose yowled, his voice becoming much more panicked. “It was a message from StarClan.” I said simply, still dazed at the vision that I had seen only moments ago. “What did they say?” Drynose asked, his whiskers twitching.
“Your soon-to-be-death will come by battle. And Robinchest will become the new Medicine Cat in your place.” I said, turning to face Drynose. Drynose’s whiskers twitched once, then twice, and finally three times before he spoke in a jittery and panicked voice. “W-what? No! It c-can’t be true!” He meowed, panicking by the minute. Wait, let me rephrase that. Panicking by the second.
“It is true.” I said reluctantly. Drynose’s whiskers drooped in sadness. “Well, uh, if you say so. Anyway, I think you should leave now, Rainbelly.” He said softly, hiding his face. “Leave? But why?” I asked. “Just leave already!” Drynose yowled, his yowl a half-sob, as he mock-charged at me.
I gasped, turned tail, and bounded out of his den toward the Warriors’ den. I skidded to a stop in front of it and glanced over my shoulder at poor, old Drynose. He just sat there, sobbing at the entrance to his den. I let out a heavy sigh and the padded silently into the Warriors’ den. I looked around for a cat-free bed and spotted one by Spottedbelly.
I suddenly remembered about my new love for Scartail. I sighed and padded over to the free nest. I then lay down beside Spottedbelly and curled up, my tail tip resting on my pink nose. I would have to tell him. But not now. Later.
Soon. When I had my kits. Yes, that would be the perfect time to tell him. Yes….yes….I soon drifted off to sleep, my thoughts trailing off into the darkness and emptiness of my dreamless night.
Hiding the bushes with Foxleap by my side, I peered thru the leaves to see a ShadowClan Patrol strolling thru the heart of ThunderClan territory, and one of cats that made up the Patrol, Badgerface, the Deputy of ShadowClan, suddenly leaped into the air and came down, slapping the ground with his paw. With a flick of his paw, he flung a scrawny, dead Mouse into the air and let it drop to the ground before picking it up between his teeth. “ThunderClan territory has plenty of prey, doesn’t it?” mused Raggedclaw as he bent down to pick up a small and scrawny Squirrel in his teeth. “Yeah, you like it?” I teased, leaping out of the bush with Foxleap and confronting the ShadowClan Patrol made of only four cats, Raggedclaw, Badgerface, and two unknown cats. “What are you doing on ThunderClan territory, Badgerface?” I snarled, extending my claws.
“Nothing, nothing at all. Just looking for some mouse-brained Apprentice that wandered over the border and luckily made it across the Thunderpath, is all.” Badgerface meowed quickly, dropping the Mouse and pushing it behind him with a paw. Raggedclaw did the same with the Squirrel, smiling a nervous smile. The other two unknown cats extended their claws and hissed. “Oh, really? Then Hedgehogs will fly! I hope you don’t mind me asking, but uh, why have you caught prey in ThunderClan territory right before our eyes?” I asked, smiling a sly smile. “Oh, uh, well that’s pretty simple, but uh…ShadowClan, retreat!” Badgerface yowled in fear as he picked up the mouse between his teeth and bounded away thru the undergrowth, with his Patrol following.
But they were heading right toward my secret weapon. After all, if I was the cat who would lead this Patrol today, then why not attack a ShadowClan Patrol trying to steal prey my way? “Foxleap, want to help me out here?” I asked, smiling. He nodded and smiled back. Then, we bolted after the ShadowClan Patrol, but split up and I was running on the right side of the Patrol, Foxleap on the left side, while about three more ThunderClan Warriors waited patiently for the ShadowClan Warriors to arrive ahead of them, hiding atop the branches of The Great Sycamore near Snakerocks.
And that’s exactly where we were leading them, and where they were heading. Quick as a pair of mice trying to escape the jaws of one hungry Adder at Snakerocks, Foxleap and I started to gain on the ShadowClan Patrol. Within seconds, I was a mouse-tail away from Raggedclaw’s flank. Then, I sprinted to the side, and on the way, I gave Raggedclaw a sharp nip on his left flank. He flinched but refused to let go of the small Squirrel he held in his jaws by it’s fluffy, grey tail, it’s head dragging in the snow.
Finally, the ShadowClan Patrol was a fox-length from The Great Sycamore, where Lionblaze, Whisperwind and Bramblethorn waited to attack the ShadowClan Patrol. Then, once they were about to bump into the tree, I called out the signal. “ThunderClan, attack!” I yowled, leaping forward at Raggedclaw. The three ThunderClan Warriors leaped down from The Great Sycamore and on top of the ShadowClan Patrol. Yowling, the two unknown cats that hadn’t hunted at all, sprinted out of harm’s way and toward their own territory, leaving my good friends, Raggedclaw and Badgerface behind with prey.
Foxleap hissed at Raggedclaw, who pressed against Badgerface as the five of us cornered the two ShadowClan Cats beneath The Great Sycamore. “Give us back our rightful prey, Badgerface.” I hissed. “Never! The snow has covered and hidden the Crowfood at the Twoleg Dump in our territory, and now, prey is scarce because of the cruel Leaf-Bare. Not even our best hunters in ShadowClan can find it by it’s easy-to-smell rotting stench!” Badgerface snarled, keeping the mouse he had caught and killed under his paw. Raggedclaw kept his Squirrel clenched between his teeth, even though the hissing Foxleap’s face was barley a kittenstep away from his own. “Then I guess we’re gonna have to force you to give back our prey!” Bramblethorn hissed, extending his thorn-sharp claws that he was named for.
“No! No! No! No! No!” Raggedclaw meowed quickly, dropping his Squirrel and pushing it to Foxleap. Foxleap growled with satisfaction and took it between his teeth, pulling it away from the ShadowClan Warrior. “What about you, Badgerface?” Hissed Whisperwind, flexing her claws. “Yeah, are you gonna hand it over or not?” Lionblaze growled. “Um, I think I’ll pass!”
Suddenly, both Raggedclaw and Badgerface leaped over us and ran toward their own territory. “Ohh! You fox-hearted cats!” Bramblethorn yowled. “Come on!” I meowed, bounding forward and leading the ThunderClan Patrol toward the two ShadowClan cats who were barley visible thru the undergrowth. But I could still find them by scent. And I did just that.
Weaving around trees and bushes, tracking the ShadowClan Cats’ stench, we reached the roaring Thunderpath, where huge Monsters zoomed past, stopping the ShadowClan Cats in their path to get to the safety of their territory. The snow-sprinkled Thunderpath still stunk of the oily Monsters in which Twolegs traveled in their bellies. I spotted the two ShadowClan Cats at the edge of the dangerous Thunderpath and yowled a battle cry as I leapt at Badgerface, who still had the mouse in his jaws, dangling by it’s tail. Badgerface screeched in pain as I barreled into him and sunk my teeth into the tom’s shoulder, making him drop the mouse onto the snow. But something else horrible happened.
We both rolled out onto the busy Thunderpath, where Monsters zipped and swerved past us, not wanting to hit us and possibly injure or kill us both. But I truly didn’t care at the moment. This cat was stealing much-needed prey from the ThunderClan territory, and he needed to pay for his actions. Hissing, I pinned Badgerface down as a Monster zoomed by us, scattering small specks of snow into my fur. Yet again, I truly didn’t care.
I yowled and then raised a claw-tipped paw, bringing it down on Badgerface’s unscarred muzzle. Blood was slapped out of his nose as I sliced it open, the glistening, red blood staining my pure white claws. “No! Stop! Mercy! Mercy!” Badgerface yowled as blood dripped off of his muzzle and I aimed to deliver another attack as a Twoleg Monster roared by, nearly squashing Badgerface’s tail. I growled and leaned forward to whisper into the tom’s ear. “You haven’t seen the last of me, Crowfood-Eater! This time, I’ll just let you off with a warning. Stay away from our territory and our prey!” I hissed, releasing Badgerface as another Monster zoomed by my side.
Frightened, Badgerface scrambled to his paws and raced across the Thunderpath and into ShadowClan territory. I jumped as the Monster zoomed by me, nearly leaping out of my own beautiful grey fur, which was sprinkled with small specks of glistening snow. Quick as a shooting star, I leapt onto ThunderClan territory, where Foxleap was hissing at the reluctant Raggedclaw. “Cross, you dimwit!” he hissed, raising a paw and batting Raggedclaw over the head, incredibly hard. “Ow! Alright! I’m going! I’m going! You don’t have to be so assertive!” Raggedclaw mumbled, racing across the Thunderpath when no Monsters passed for a minute or two.
I smiled at him, and then at the rest of the ThunderClan Patrol. “What were you thinking, Rainbelly? You could’ve been killed!” Hissed Bramblethorn. “I know. But because of what I did, I’m sure that Badgerface and friends won’t be coming back for a while.” I chuckled, picking up Badgerface’s scrawny mouse. With that, and Foxleap clutching Raggedclaw’s Squirrel in his teeth, we all left the Thunderpath behind and soon arrived at the ThunderClan camp after a few minutes of walking. When we entered the camp, the sickening stench lingered in the clearing.
I sniffed, nearly gagging as I tried to figure out what the scent was. Then I suddenly realized what it was. The sickening scent of a cat with Whitecough. I sniffed again. Wait, Greencough!
I bounded over to the Elders’ den, where one of the Greencough scents was coming from. I entered and spotted Drynose feeding Greypebble, one of the Elders who hated kits, also a grey-furred tom, the last bit of Borage and Tansy. I said a quick hello and gave a friendly lick and nudge to Orangemane, who lay on a seemingly comfortable bed of moss. I dropped the mouse I carried at his paws and then rushed over to Drynose. “What happened?” I gasped.
Possibly forgetting the events last night, Drynose spun around to face me. “Oh, Rainbelly! It’s terrible! Duststorm is worse than I thought! Her Whitecough turned into Greencough this morning while you were out, and then all of a sudden, most of the cats in camp caught it. Just now, I found out that Greypebble had caught it, a while ago I found out that Littlecloud caught it from Greypebble after visiting him earlier, and also Cinderpelt caught it because now my den is too over crowed with four Greencough-sick cats. I ran out of Borage and Tansy! And I have no Catmint either!” Drynose meowed. “Catmint? Where can you find Catmint?” I asked, my tail resting on Drynose’s shoulder to calm him. “In Twoleg Gardens, past Tallpines and at Twolegplace.” Drynose replied, sniffing as a few tears slid down his face and off of his whiskers, dripping on his brownish fur. “I’m a horrible Medicine Cat!” he meowed.
“No, you’re not! I’ll get the Catmint for you!” I meowed. “But the Catmint is probably covered in snow, possibly even dead or frozen.” “Well, I’ll see if that’s true. Keep every Warrior, Elder, and Kit infected with Greencough in your den until I get back. That means you too, Greypebble.” I meowed, glancing at the stubborn cat. He growled, and then let out a wheeze. With that, I turned and bolted out of the Elders’ den, skidding to a sudden stop beside Foxleap, who was sniffing around the nearly empty fresh-kill pile.
“Foxleap, come with me. We’re going to find some Catmint for the sick cats!” I commanded. “Well, uh, okay.” He meowed uncertainly as he followed me out of the ThunderClan camp. Side by side, we raced toward Tallpines, eventually reaching the Twoleg fence bordering the Twoleg Gardens in Twolegplace. “Remember, if you see a Kittypet, don’t bother it unless it bothers you. And when I mean that, I mean if it attacks you or really insults you, not talks to you. Also, if you see a Twoleg, run and don’t look back. And fight if it tries to take you away.” I growled, climbing over the first fence I saw, scrabbling to the top and then leaping down the other side. Foxleap follow uncertainly.
“Keep watch while I look for the Catmint.” I commanded. “But how will you know what’s Catmint?” Foxleap asked, worried. “Hey, I’ll ask the questions around here. Anyway, I’ll answer. I’ll know it when I look at it and smell it. Now keep watch!” I growled, stalking thru the Twoleg Garden. Foxleap muttered something under his breath before he turned and, well, kept watch. Milling about the Twoleg Garden, I padded across the snow, head up and sniffing.
Then, I caught the scent. The scent of Catmint. Jackpot! I padded over to where the scent came from, a small circle or round, brown things with the Catmint planted inside. I tipped the strange container thing over, cracking it, and dug out the Catmint, biting it at the stem. I clenched the stem dotted with purple leaves in my teeth for a moment before dropping it beside me, inhaling it’s sweet and attractive scent.
More attractive than Scartail. Okay, I went overboard. Scartail was more attractive than Catmint, but hey, you get the point, right? Anyway, I did the same to the other brown thing next to the one I had tipped with my paw and that had cracked, even when it had hit the soft snow. I dug out the Catmint, bit it at the stem, and then dropped it by my side.
I repeated this several times, maybe eight or so. Wait! Correction, ten. Finally, I stuffed all of the Catmint stems in my jaws and headed toward Foxleap, who sat patiently a few feet away, watching me. “Hi! I’m Millie! Who are you? And why are you taking my Twoleg’s Catnip?”
I spun around to see a black and grey Kittypet stalk toward me, as friendly as Duststorm. I dropped the Catmint and growled. “It’s Catmint, not Catnip. Anyway, I need it to help cure a few cats of a sickness called Greencough. It’s deadly, and I need to go and bring it to them.” I growled thru gritted teeth. “Oh. What are your names?” Millie asked cheerfully, unaware of the possible danger looming over the Greencough-sick cats in ThunderClan. “I’m Rainbelly, and that’s Foxleap.” I growled, flexing my claws in agitation at this dumb and mind-less Kittypet who though that every cat in the world was her best friends.
She probably thought dogs were her best friends too! If she did, she was a sick cat and probably needed some Catmint for her Crazy-Greencough diagnosis. “Oh, hi! I’m Millie! I live with my Twolegs in their nest here. It’s really great. Oh! I know where a few things are in the Garden that can help you-“ I hissed at Millie. We were wasting valuable time.
“What? I was just going to tell you about the Borage and Tansy over there near the patch of Roses over there. I hear it can help cure something called W-hity Whitecough I think.” Millie meowed, shaking her head and making her bright blue collar shake around her neck as well. “It’s Whitecough by the way. Oh! Thank you, M-Millie!” I meowed, sliding my claws in. “Foxleap, go get some Borage and Tansy.” I commanded. Foxleap muttered something under his breath as he padded over to the Borage and Tansy plants near the Rose patched where Millie had said. He grabbed a mouthful of both and then suddenly froze, looking past me and Millie.
Seconds later, he scrabbled over the fence and onto the other side. Then, I suddenly realized why he had fled without me as I glanced up. Standing over Millie and I was a tall Twoleg, who was reaching for me with it’s pudgy and pale paws. Before I could escape, the Twoleg grabbed me and was holding me tight. “Let go of me!” I hissed in fear as I tried to free a paw to claw the Twoleg.
I couldn’t, and before I could call out a real call for help, the ugly Twoleg took me into it’s nest, Millie following and not trying to help at all. “Millie! Help me!” I yowled as the Twoleg squeezed me tighter as it carried me deeper into it’s strange-looking nest. I had never been in the clutches of a Twoleg before, and I didn’t intend to become it’s stupid and mouse-brained Kittypet! And I wouldn’t dream of letting that thing touch me other than now, since I couldn’t even escape from it’s clutches. “Millie!” I yowled angrily.
“What is it? He’s not going to do anything to you. He’ll probably just let you stay here with me.” Millie meowed. Then, she gasped. “We can we friends!” Millie started to jump up and down in excitement. “No! I will not be a Kittypet! I will not stoop this low!” I hissed, freeing a paw and while hissing menacingly, clawing the Twoleg’s paws and along it’s strange, ugly-looking, and fur-less forearm.
The Twoleg screamed and dropped me, small scarlet drops of blood staining my fur as I landed on my feet and raced toward some type of opening in the entrance to the Twoleg’s nest. I sprinted toward it, eventually leaping outside and into the Garden. Without another passing glance or saying another word, I scooped up the Catmint stems dotted with purple flowers in my jaws, kicked up snow behind me as I ran, and then leaped onto the fence, scrabbling to the other side and dropping into the forest. Without hesitation, I ran and ran deeper into the comfort of ThunderClan territory, letting the faint yells of the Twoleg get fainter and fainter, along with the many calls Millie made in an attempt to get me to run back to her and accept the unnecessary invitation stating that I would live with her, “Rainbelly! Rainbelly! Wait! Come back! Wait! I thought we were best friends!”
Breathing hard, my breath coming in small white clouds thru my nose, I finally entered the ThunderClan camp, where the stench of sickness filled the clearing and my poor nose. Summoning up the rest of my remaining strength, I bounded across the clearing toward Drynose, where Foxleap sat next to him with the Borage and Tansy by lying at his paws, while the rest of the Clan sat beneath the Highrock, Dovestar on top of it, with their heads down and their tears dripping off of their whiskers and onto their fur, and then to the round. I reached Drynose and Foxleap, and I dropped the Catmint before speaking. “Who died?” I meowed, smiling. “Rainbelly. Well, she didn’t die, she was just captured by some Twoleg.” Meowed Foxleap, turning around.
When he spotted me, he gasped, his eyes growing wide. “Hey, everyone! Rainbelly’s back! She survived!” he announced. “And she brought Catmint!” said Drynose excitedly, leaning down to sniff the ten or so stems of Catmint. All of the cats in the camp turned their attention to me and smiled, especially Dovestar, whose grin told me that she was extremely proud and relieved. “Now go and cure those cats!” I meowed, nudging Drynose.
“Thank you Rainbelly, once again.” Drynose replied, picking up the Catmint in his jaws and padding away, Foxleap following but with the Borage and Tansy. Suddenly, an ear-splitting yowl of sorrow exploded into the ThunderClan camp. “It’s Sunfall!” Yowled Bramblethorn as he bounded into camp, blood all over him. “Bramblethorn! What happened?” Dovestar gasped, leaping off of the Highrock and rushing over to the bloody and battered Warrior. “It’s Sunfall! A-a fox just killed him while we went hunting! A-and it took his body with it!” Bramblethorn wailed.
Dovestar froze, her whiskers drooping in sorrow. “Y-you mean that…S-Sunfall’s dead?” She meowed, nearly bursting into tears. Bramblethorn nodded, but eagerly, although Dovestar didn’t notice. No cat noticed, except me. Was Bramblethorn hiding something?
I didn’t know….yet. I perked up my ears as I heard Leopardspots’ sudden wail of sadness. “Well, then….I guess must assign a new ThunderClan Deputy, then.” Dovestar said softly, lowering her head as she leapt onto the Highrock. All of the cats below it snapped to attention and looked up at her as she yowled. When there was nothing other than pure silence, Dovestar spoke.
“I say these words before the spirit of Sunfall, so that his brave spirit may hear and approve of my choice.” Dovestar paused to look down upon her Clan. I glanced at the blood-covered Bramblethorn. His eyes glowed in anticipation as he slowly started to lick the blood off of his pelt. What exactly did he want Dovestar to say?
Then, Dovestar raised her head high to speak. “Rainbelly will be the new deputy of ThunderClan.” She announced, looking at me. I gasped and mouthed the words, “Me?” silently. She nodded, smiling slightly. I beamed in pride as I padded up and leapt onto the Highrock to join Dovestar.
Below us, all of the cats of ThunderClan chanted my name over and over. “Rainbelly! Rainbelly! Rainbelly! Rainbelly!” They all meowed. I closed my eyes and savored this honorable moment. Once all of the chanting died down, I opened my eyes, looked down upon the cats that made ThunderClan what it is today, and spoke with pride. “I am honored to suddenly earn this Rank in ThunderClan today. I have no clue what brought Dovestar to choose me as the brand new Deputy of ThunderClan, but I am honored to accept this offer today. Long live ThunderClan!” I meowed proudly.
“Long live ThunderClan! Long live ThunderClan!” shouted the cats below Dovestar and I as we sat atop the Highrock together, beaming proudly. I looked down at the cats and bile suddenly rose in my throat as I looked at Bramblethorn. He was flexing his claws angrily, and glaring at me, fire in his eyes. I flinched if fear and then tried to look away from his angry stare. Trying to turn my attention away from the angry tom, I tried to look at my fellow friends.
I spotted Spottedbelly smiling at me, along with Foxleap and Drynose doing the same nearby. When Dovestar leaped off of the Highrock, I did the same and then padded past Drynose. As I walked past, I whispered into his ear. “Remember the sick cats?” I asked, taking long strides past the Medicine Cat. I stopped walked and glanced over my shoulder at him.
He was rushing to his Medicine Cat den with the stalks of Catmint between his teeth. I smiled and then padded over to Spottedbelly. He smiled at me and flicked his tail in greeting. “Congratulations, Rainbelly! I never thought that you would end up as ThunderClan Deputy one day. But that’s really sad about Sunfall though. Leopardspots is taking it really hard.” Spottedbelly meowed. “Soon, you might even be Leader.”
“Yes, c-congratulations, R-Rainbelly.” I froze as I spotted Bramblethorn, now blood-free, stalking toward me, lashing his tail back and forth. Spottedbelly cowered in pure fear, flattening his ears at the massive Warrior’s sudden approach. Bramblethorn brushed up against me, and let out a low growl. I watched in fear, shaking, as Bramblethorn flexed his long, thorn-sharp claws.
“Watch your back, Rainbelly. Because soon, I’ll be chewing on it when you end up as Crowfood.” Bramblethorn growled, loud enough for Spottedbelly and I to hear. Then, with one last growl and the lash of a tail, Bramblethorn turned and stalked away from Spottedbelly and I. I was suddenly frozen in place, with only my whiskers twitching in fear, a bit like Drynose when I had received the message from StarClan, saying that his death would soon come by a disease and that he need a new Apprentice soon, which would soon be Robinkit, then Robinpaw, and then finally Robinchest. “W-was that a threat?” Meowed Spottedbelly as he walked up to me and brushed up against my side, looking the way Bramblethorn had stalked away from us. “I-I’m pretty sure it was.” I meowed quietly as I saw the last of Bramblethorn’s tail disappearing into the Warriors’ den.
I didn’t want to sleep in there! I can’t sleep in the Warriors’ den if Bramblethorn is threatening me! I thought, shivering at the sudden thought of Bramblethorn attacking me in my sleep. “Rainbelly? May I speak with you?” I slowly turned around to see Dovestar padding toward me. “Um, sure. What is it?” I asked.
“Come with me.” With a flick of her tail, Dovestar led me a few fox-lengths away from Spottedbelly, and then stopped. “Rainbelly, will you and Bramblethorn come with me to Highstones and to the Moonstone?” Dovestar asked. I was surprised by her question, and froze at the mention of Bramblethorn’s name. “Why?” I meowed.
“Well, many deaths, injuries, and terrible problems have been occurring in ThunderClan, and I must seek StarClan and two other friends for guidance.” Dovestar said quietly. “I won’t ask any more questions right now, but I will do as you wish.” I meowed, dipping my head toward the mighty ThunderClan Leader. “Thank you, Rainbelly. Go ask Drynose for some Traveling Herbs. I cannot eat on this journey, and you cannot hunt on the way, I’m afraid. I’ll go and fetch Bramblethorn.” I nodded, and then padded off toward Drynose’s den. When I reached it and stuck my head inside, sniffing, I realized that the stench of sickness had started to decrease. I smiled and entered the den as I saw Duststorm standing up on wobbly legs and walk a few paces before sighing and lying back down.
“Hey, there.” I meowed softly as I brushed past my dear friend. Duststorm smiled at me. “I-I heard that Sunfall died after being killed by a Fox, and that you took his place as Deputy. Congratulations.” Duststorm meowed, beaming. I nodded my thanks and then padded toward Drynose, who sat by Littlecloud, one of the cats that had gotten infected with Greencough, pushing some Borage leaves toward the young and newly appointed Warrior. “Drynose? Do you mind giving me some Traveling Herbs? Dovestar wants me to come with her to a journey to Highstones with Bramblethorn.” I meowed.
Drynose looked up at me and grinned slightly. “Of course.” He turned his attention away from Littlecloud for a moment as he pushed a wad of herbs and seeds folded in a tightly packed leaf toward me. “Thank you, Drynose.” I meowed, dipping my head toward the noble Medicine Cat. With that, I picked up the wad of herbs and seeds and padded out of the den, glancing at the blue morning sky and leaving pawprints in the deep snow.
I stopped in the middle of the camp to quickly gobble up the herbs and seeds in the tightly-wrapped leaf packet. I gagged at it’s bitter taste and wished that I was at the river, lapping up the cool and refreshing water to take away the bland, horrible and taste-less herbs and seeds from the leaf packet. I gagged again and spit onto the ground in disgust before turning and padding toward Dovestar, who sat at the entrance to the ThunderClan camp, licking down her pure white fur with Bramblethorn glaring at me at her side. “Ready?” I asked, flicking my tail toward the camp entrance, and casting a nervous glance at the glaring Bramblethorn. “Oh, yes. Sorry. Excuse me.” Dovestar meowed, exiting the ThunderClan camp.
I quickly followed her out. We padded side by side, while Bramblethorn walked in the back. I felt nervous with him at my blind side, but went with it and tried to walk smoothly instead of quick, nervous steps as if something was terribly wrong. We all took long strides in the snow, past the ThunderClan border and into No-Clan territory, and past The Owl Tree we walked, trekking thru the deep snow. I glanced over my shoulder at Bramblethorn.
He had stopped truly walking and was stalking toward me…in a Hunters’ Crouch! I turned pale and froze, but then he caught sight of my glance. He froze as well and scrambled to his feet, tail held high in the air as he walked normally behind Dovestar and I. I let out a silent sigh of relief, my breath coming out in a small, white cloud. I glanced up at the pale blue sky, only to sneeze as a snowflake landed on my nose.
Snow was starting to fall. I turned my attention to Dovestar, whose worried look told me that something was terribly wrong, but she didn’t want to say a thing unless it was to StarClan or her “two friends”. We trekked on, eventually stalking past the four snow-covered Oak Trees of Fortress. After several more minutes of walking, we ended up in WindClan territory. But luckily, we didn’t confront a Patrol scouting WindClan territory.
We crossed safely across WindClan’s border and stopped at the always-deadly Thunderpath. I glanced across the long, flat, grey, and gritty pavement to check for an oncoming Monster. None were coming, so Bramblethorn, Dovestar, and I sprinted across the Thunderpath and onto the other side, just as an unknown Monster came zooming by. I scanned the landscape ahead of us, to spot the jagged rocks and smooth boulders of Highstones, but I could’ve sworn to StarClan for my life, that I saw the strip of orange tail slip into one of the holes in one of the Highstones’ boulders. Deciding that my mind was playing stupid and mouse-brained tricks on me, I shook my head, ruffling my fur, and walked alongside Dovestar as we headed toward Highstones.
After several minutes, we reached the deadly, jagged rocks and safe, smooth boulders of Highstones. “Rainbelly, Bramblethorn, this may surprise you, but two old ThunderClan members live here, in this here boulder.” Dovestar meowed, flicking her tail toward the smooth boulder with a hole inside where I had seen the strip of the orange tail disappear inside thru the hole. Strangely, as if my fear for Bramblethorn had gone, along with his sudden hatred for me, we cast eachother surprising glances. “Coldmoon, Firestare? Are you in here?” Dovestar called thru the hole. “I heard and knew you were coming from the start, my dear Dovestar.”
An orange tom with green eyes and fluffed up fur on his forehead, chest, and face stepped out of the hole in the boulder. “Oh, Firestare. I haven’t seen you in a while.” Meowed Dovestar as she touched noses with the strange cat. “You too, dear Dovestar. And I see you’ve brought friends.” Meowed Firestare, dipping his head toward Bramblethorn and I. “Yes, his is Bramblethorn and Rainbelly, my new Deputy.” Said Dovestar. “I see.”
“Oh, and this is Firestare. Inside is his dear brother, Coldmoon.” “That’s right. Coldmoon!” Firestare yowled into the boulder. I watched in awe as a look-alike of Firestare stepped out of the boulder. He had reddish tipped ears and the same color coat as Firestare. The tom yawned and shook his head clear.
“What is it? Oh! Dovestar! Long time, not see.” Meowed the tom, gingerly touching noses with Dovestar. “Hello, Coldmoon.” Dovestar greeted him, dipping her head after the look-alike tom stepped away from her. “This is Bramblethorn and Rainbelly, my new Deputy.” Coldmoon and dipped his head toward me as a greeting gesture, but Firestare stood back, his eyes clouded with worry. “Well, we’d better head over to Mothermouth. It’s getting dark.” Dovestar meowed.
I glanced up at the sky. It was already sundown. I dipped my head toward the two mysterious cats and started after Bramblethorn, who took his free place by Dovestar. “Hey! You! Wait!” I turned around to see Firestare stalk toward me, worry still clouding his green eyes.
“What is it?” I asked. “You’d better be wary of that Bramblethorn. Danger comes when you’re with him. Be wary. Be careful. And let StarClan guide your pawsteps.” With those last words, Firestare turned and disappeared into his boulder, along with Coldmoon, who shook his head at me, the same worried look in his eyes as Firestare. Hmm, what was wrong? I shrugged and bounded over to Bramblethorn and Dovestar, who were almost to Mothermouth.
“Bramblethorn, Dovestar, wait outside. I wish to enter alone.” Meowed Dovestar as we stopped walking at the gaping cave of Mothermouth. I gulped as she entered the dark cave, leaving me alone with Bramblethorn, and it was dark out already, the half-moon high and glowing brightly in the night sky. I froze as I felt Bramblethorn come up behind me, breathing down my neck. My fur stood up on end as he let out a growl. He brushed up against my side, and I saw his thorn-sharp claws and undeniably sharp teeth glinting in the moonlight.
“Looks like it’s just you and me right now, with no ThunderClan Leader to stop me.” Bramblethorn snickered. I froze as he moved in front of me, his golden-yellow eyes glowing brightly. Extending my claws, I started to back away, flattening my ears in fear and submission to the massive tom. “It’s too late for mercy, Rainbelly. I killed Sunfall, and now I’m going to kill you!” Bramblethorn hissed, raising a claw-tipped paw. I couldn’t believe my furry ears.
Did he just say what I thought he just said? I quickly repeated his words in my head to make sure. “I killed Sunfall, and now I’m going to kill you!” “B-but Sunfall was killed by a F-Fox!” I stammered, ducking my head as Bramblethorn swiped his claw-tipped paw at me, missing by a Kittenstep. “You mouse-brain! I can’t believe that you fell for it too! I killed him! Want to know why?” Bramblethorn hissed.
I was too frightened to answer. “To become Deputy of course! Why else? But that mouse-brained Dovestar made you the new ThunderClan Deputy instead of me! And now, I guess I’ll have to kill you to reclaim my title as future Deputy!” Bramblethorn snarled, lunging at me. The breath was knocked out of me as Bramblethorn barreled into me. I gasped as he made a move for my throat, which would be a complete fight-stopper. It was sometimes considered dishonorable if done unnecessarily, but it seemed as though Bramblethorn had no respect for the Warrior Code right now, or anytime.
All he wanted to do was kill me. Right now. At this very moment. No mercy involved. “If you value your life, let Rainbelly go.”
Glancing at Bramblethorn, I noticed that he had frozen at the sound of the voice. And I suddenly recognized it. Coldmoon. Bramblethorn growled and released me. I scrambled to my feet, my heart pounding as if I had been chased by a Fox, to only notice two look-alike toms standing a few feet away, their fur bristling in anger with a hint of fear.
Coldmoon and Firestare. “You know that I cannot be beaten in battle, Bramblethorn, so I suggest you leave Rainbelly be while we’re here.” Coldmoon growled, extending his claws. I was confused. Coldmoon couldn’t be beaten in battle? Was that some type of fighting threat?
I needed to find out. “You can’t be beaten in battle?” I meowed as I quickly moved toward the orange look-alike tom. “See, Firestare and I were born with powers that no other cats had. I couldn’t be beaten in battle, while-“ “I can hear things from afar that others cats cannot.” Firestare finished, twitching his ears. “We were once part of ThunderClan, but left because we didn’t feel right there. So we wait here, at Highstones to one day find ourselves useful.” Coldmoon meowed.
“Well, you both are very useful now.” I said, cowering behind Coldmoon as Bramblethorn hissed and stepped toward me. “Do you have a death wish, my dear Bramblethorn?” Firestare growled, giving me a glance with a slight smile. “Be that as it may, I’ll leave you be, Rainbelly. But you’d better watch yourself.” Bramblethorn hissed, reluctantly pulling his thorn-sharp claws that he was named for back in. “Quick! We must get back to the ThunderClan camp!”
We all froze as Dovestar sprinted out of Mothermouth, a frightened look in her eyes. “What is it, Dovestar?” asked Firestare, glaring at Bramblethorn, who glared back. “I cannot tell you, but I hope you will all come with me. Will you?” Dovestar pleaded. “Of course, of course.” Meowed Coldmoon. With that, we all turned and ran away from Mothermouth in confusion, unaware of the horror that had happened at the ThunderClan camp.
“Great StarClan!” Firestare gasped as all five of us scanned the Thunderclap camp, standing at the broken and wrecked ThunderClan entrance, it’s sheltering bracken now ripped away. “It’s just what StarClan told me.” Dovestar’s voice was barley even a whisper. Blood stained the snow, leaving the awful scent of blood lingering in the camp. Drynose lay at the entrance to his den, a horrible-looking wound on his shoulder, that wasn’t made by any cat. Greypebble, one of the Elders that was infected with Greencough, lay dead near Drynose, an awful bite at the back of his neck.
Whisperwind, a silvery-grey female lay dead by the Warriors’ den, surrounded by a pool of glistening, dark red blood. Thornpierce, a brown striped tom, barley alive, but still trying to move slightly, lay in a pool of his own blood, his twitches and small moves making tiny ripples in the circle of red liquid. Blood seemed to pour out of the Nursery, where Brindleface sat at the entrance, horribly wounded, with a deep, bloody wound on her left shoulder. Blood dripped down her face and onto the ground. Many other ThunderClan cats lay in the snow, horribly wounded, the blood covering their bodies glinting in the moonlight.
Firestare, Coldmoon, Dovestar, Bramblethorn and I bounded into the clearing, and Drynose lifted his bloody head and spotted us. He slowly stood up on wobbly and blood-stained legs and limped toward us. Dovestar and I ran up to him, while Coldmoon, Firestare, and surprisingly Bramblethorn, bounded toward the many injured cats. “Drynose! What happened here?” Dovestar gasped, blood staining her pure white paws as she stepped in pools of blood that glistened in the moonlight with no hesitation. “D-Dogs. With T-Twolegs. Three Dogs. T-they c-came and destroyed the camp. We tried to fight, but we couldn’t because t-they overpowered us. Brindleface is injured, but her k-kits are s-safe. A-although Greypebble and W-Whisperwind didn’t m-make it. I’ll tell you exactly what h-happened.”
“I was in my den, giving D-Duststorm some Catmint to speed up her recovery. G-Greypebble was at the entrance to the den, grumbling about that he was well enough to leave the den. I-I kept saying no until he finally backed down and dealt with being in m-my den. Littlecloud was sleeping at the b-back of the den with Duststorm and I. T-then, I heard Thornpierce call s-something out, but he was t-terrified.
I just ignored him and continued with my w-work. But then, I-I heard the barking. I had watched in fright as this huge D-Dog stuck it’s snout into the den, grabbed Greypebble by the neck, and killed him, dragging him out o-of the den. I kept the o-other two cats at the back of the d-den with me, but then the D-Dog came again, it’s muzzle wet with Greypebble’s blood. I used my b-body to shelter Duststorm and Littlecloud, and the D-Dog went for me instead of them.
I prayed to StarClan for them to let me live when the Dog pushed it’s snout into my fur, licked me, and then lunged forward and bit my shoulder. I kept on yowling and kicking as the D-Dog dragged me out of the den by my shoulder. It’s drool dripped on me, I was so close to it’s mouth that I thought that it could just swallow me whole anytime it wanted to. When the huge t-thing had dragged me out of my d-den, I tried to fight. I was able to scratch the Dog o-on the muzzle and make it let me go.
Then, I started to limp back to my den. When I looked over my shoulder, the Dog w-was coming back for me, foaming at the mouth and everything. Then, when it was about to grab me, Whisperwind appeared and shoved me out of the way. The thing killed her. She sacrificed her life to save mine.
But I didn’t have much time to think about that, because when I saw her dangling by her neck from the D-Dog’s jaws, blood spilling and splattering onto the snow, I limped back into the den, to the very back with the others. I lay down between Duststorm and Littlecloud, despite their sickness, and waited. I waited and waited. Maybe twenty minutes passed before another Dog s-stuck it’s snout into my den. I had hissed at it, and it was enough to at least send it running away.
Possibly another twenty minutes passed before I heard the Twolegs calling for their three D-Dogs. I heard them leave, and then when I was s-sure that the Dogs were gone, I limped out of the den. But then I saw everyone. All of the cats that weren’t dead were either in the clearing or near their rightful dens, but horribly wounded.”
“And finally, you guys arrived a few minutes later.” Finished Drynose, sitting down, straining his neck, and starting to lick his shoulder wound. “B-but what caused the Dogs to come here?” I asked, confused on how those stupid, mouse-brained, and fox-hearted Twoleg Dogs could actually find the well-hidden camp. “Honestly, I don’t know. Possibly the scent of cats that lured them here after probably getting loose from their Twoleg’s grasp, or possibly by chance that they came here after indeed getting loose, found us, and tried to kill us.” Said Drynose as he flinched after licking his painful shoulder wound. “And StarClan told you this?” I asked, looking at Dovestar for a direct answer, not an excuse. “I’m afraid so. But as the rules state, I cannot reveal anything else but that.” Dovestar said reluctantly.
“As you wish, Dovestar.” I said, dipping my head toward the saddened ThunderClan Leader. I then turned to Drynose as Dovestar padded away and toward her den, her white-furred head down and looking at the ground in pure sadness. “Drynose? Would you like me to help you get medicine to the injured cats?” I offered. “Thank you, Rainbelly. You are always of help when I need you.” said Drynose, smiling slightly and limping inside his blood-stained Medicine Cat den. “Here’s some Goldenrod, Willow Bark, and some Cobwebs.”
Drynose came out of his den, pushing the much-needed medicines tucked in a wrapped leaf packet toward my paws with his nose. I nodded my thanks and gently picked up the packet between my teeth. Then, I padded away from Drynose’s den. I headed first toward Brindleface, who had a horrible and disgustingly bloody wound on her shoulder. I set down the wrapped leaf packet, opened it, and wrapped some Cobwebs around my paws.
“Here, this’ll help.” I said softly as I placed my Cobweb-wrapped paw on Brindleface’s wound. She winced in pain, but relaxed as I unwrapped the Cobwebs around my paw and pressed it onto her wound. I winced as well. How could Drynose actually cope with this, touching bloody wounds with anything other than his tongue? I pushed away those thoughts and silent questions and concentrated on treating Brindleface’s wound.
After the Cobwebs soaked up some of the blood, I then grabbed some Goldenrod, chewed it up and into a poultice. Then, I spit it into Brindleface’s wound. She hissed at me as I rubbed it in, and immediately, I used a free paw to push some Willow Bark to her paws. “Eat that. It'll ease the pain.” I meowed. Brindleface muttered something untranslatable under her breath as she pulled some Willow Bark close with her paw and took a bite.
I continued to spread the Goldenrod poultice on her wound, eventually stopping and covering it with some Cobwebs. When I was done, I turned to face her. “Now, just go back to your kits, but don’t move much. I’ll bring you some fresh-kill. But make sure you keep and eye on those medicines until I’m back.” With that, I turned and stalked toward the fresh-kill pile. Once there, I was almost ashamed to live in ThunderClan by what I saw.
Only a few thin and incredibly scrawny Mice were in the pile, along with a skinny Shrew. But who could blame us? Prey was incredibly scarce during the cruel months of Leaf-Bare. I picked out the Shrew and then stalked back toward the Nursery. The medicine supplies were safe, still at the entrance to the den, while Brindleface lay with her three, safe kits.
“Is your shoulder doing okay?” I asked, dropping the skinny shrew at the grey-furred she-cat’s paws. She nodded and gratefully leaned over and picked up the skinny Shrew between her teeth. I nodded goodbye and exited the Nursery. With the light of the faint but glowing half-moon guiding me, I moved from cat to cat, with Firestare and Coldmoon comforting the cats I were to treat, while Bramblethorn was inside the blood-stained Warriors’ den, doing something unknown. Possibly planning his next plot to try to kill me, where Firestare, Coldmoon, or Dovestar weren’t there to protect and help me.
I had totally forgotten about Scartail. After all, I had left with Dovestar and sadly Bramblethorn to the Moonstone. And I had to stay and treat the injured cats scattered around the snowy and blood-stained ThunderClan camp just to help the Apprentice-less Drynose. And even if I left, my absence would be noticed quickly. Anyway, it was dark out, possibly Moonhigh, when I awoke, remembering about Scartail.
Carefully creeping out of the Warriors’ den without disturbing the other cats, I stalked across the still blood-stained clearing toward the ThunderClan camp entrance. I then exited the ThunderClan camp, swiftly and silently. I weaved between snow-covered trees and bushes, eventually past the ThunderClan border and past The Owl Tree. Several minutes passed before I finally reached Fortress. I glanced at the Great Rock, and sure enough, Scartail lay on it, although he was fast asleep.
Aww…he kept on waiting for me until and if I arrived! How sweet of him! I bounded toward him and then gracefully leaped onto the Great Rock beside my sleeping love. I prodded him in the side with my paw, enough to get him jerking awake, although he meowed in fear. “Bluepool!” he meowed in fear as he leapt to his feet, suddenly alert.
“Bluepool? No, it’s me, Rainbelly.” I assured, my tail tip touching Scartail’s shoulder. He looked at me, his eyes wide with fear. “Rainbelly, I hate telling you this now, but, I have to mate with you! Today!” Scartail wailed, staring into my green eyes. I flinched and backed away a few steps, nearly slipping off of the Great Rock. “B-but Scartail, isn’t it too soon? You said we’d have to wait until Newleaf.” I meowed, recalling his words the last time we met, which was last night.
“I know, but…but Bluepool, WindClan’s Deputy, saw me with you. She talked to me after you left early, saying that I should mate with you as soon as possible because she would tell Hawkstar!” Scartail meowed. “She wouldn’t!” I gasped. “I’m sure she would.” Scartail said reluctantly. “We have to mate tonight, because she said that when and if you have kits, to…” Scartail leaned forward and whispered into my ear.
“Get rid of them. To kill them.” He finished, slowly moving his head back to look at me. Sadness clouded my eyes, but excitement and nervousness flickered inside of me at the thought of mating with Scartail, tonight. Not at Newleaf. Rightnow. But then fear suddenly engulfed me at the second thought of losing the kits I may produce.
But, despite those thoughts, I went with it and nodded. “Very well. We shall mate now.” With that, Scartail and I leapt off of the Great Rock and moved behind it, out of sight of any cats around, if any, except possibly Bluepool. There, we mated.
After a while, I came out from behind the Great Rock, Scartail by my side. “S-Scartail? Don’t you now realize that I’ll have to hide from my Clan because of the scent on me, saying that I mated with someone?” I asked, worried and hoping that he understood. “I know. So do I. You’re not alone.” My new mate replied, rubbing his head against mine. I smiled, and licked the tip of his nose, Scartail smiled as well and happily did the same with no hesitation. I glanced up at the sky to realize that it was already sunrise, and the morning Patrols would be out soon.
“Scartail, I think I know of a place where we can stay until I have my kits.” I meowed, remembering Badger’s Twoleg barn. “The lead the way.” He meowed, smiling. I nodded and indeed led my new mate away from the four great and snow-covered Oak Trees of Fortress. I ended up leading Scartail thru WindClan territory as quick as possible and to Badger’s barn, which was soon only several pawsteps away. Eventually, we reached the farm and slipped in thru the hole in the back.
“Badger?” I called as Scartail and I entered the barn. “Yes? Oh, Rainbelly! It’s you!” Badger appeared, looking much more plump and well-fed than before. “What happened to you?” I asked. “The mice started going into this here barn for shelter during Leaf-Bare. And I’ve been stuffing my face for days.” Badger meowed happily. But then, he turned his attention to Scartail.
“Who’s this?” he asked, cocking his head. “Oh, dear StarClan! Where are my proper manners? This is Scartail…my new mate.” I said, flicking my tail toward him. “Scartail, that’s Badger. He lives here in this barn, but he’s no Twoleg Kittypet. “Oh! Well, congratulations! You’re lucky to have a fellow like that in your Clan.” “Well, he’s from WindClan. I’m from ThunderClan. We met at a Gathering.” I meowed reluctantly.
“We need to hide from our Clans for a while, at least until my kits are born. Do you mind if we stay here? We won’t be a bother.” I promised. “Well…oh, what the heck. You’re just trying to protect yourselves. Very well. Just as long as I’m not almost killed this time.” Badger chuckled. “Thank you…Badger. We are grateful.” Scartail meowed, dipping his head toward the black-and-white tom. Badger nodded. “Well, make yourselves at home. Oh, and enjoy the mice. They’re plentiful right now. Might as well make the best of it. I’ll leave you two alone while I go see if I can grab a few of the mice that probably wandered near the grain storage.”
With that, Badger leaped onto a bale of hay, clawed the barn wall, and eventually climbed onto one of the many connected rafters up in the roof of the barn. I watched in awe as he disappeared thru a hole in the side of the roof. I glanced at Scartail as he accepted Badger’s invitation, pouncing and killing an unaware Mouse with a swift bite to the neck. He held the warm and limp mouse between his teeth and padded over to me. He dropped the mouse at my paws and said, “Here.”
I shook my head no. “I can still hunt for myself. I don’t have kits yet.” I chuckled. “Are you sure?” “I’m sure.” I meowed, spotting a tiny mouse scuffling among the hay covering the barn floor nearby. Scartail shrugged, picked up the mouse, and trotted behind a hay bale to enjoy his much-needed meal.
I kept my eyes glued to the mouse as I went into a Hunters’ Crouch, my paws barley touching the floor of the barn, or even the hay covering the floor. The mouse twitched it’s ears, lifting it’s head, and I froze in place, about to pounce and make my move. The mouse brought it’s head back down, and at that moment, I pounced, slapping my paws on the tiny mouse as I landed. I killed it with a swift bite to the neck and another slap of my paw. I then held the warm, and limp body between my teeth as I trotted behind the hay bale where Scartail had trotted behind.
When I peeked around the corner, sure enough, Scartail was biting into his Mouse. I walked toward him and then lay down beside him, dropping the mouse at his paws as I went down. Scartail looked at me and slimed softly. “I can hunt for myself, thank you.” he chuckled, using his nose to nudge the mouse toward me. “So can I.” I replied smiling as I pulled the Mouse close with my paw.
I took a bite of the warm and surprisingly plump mouse and instantly felt full. These mice were fatter than the ones in ThunderClan territory! I continued to feed on the mouse, my teeth piercing it’s warm body over and over, until finally, I had finished. My belly full, I snuggled up against my new mate, Scartail, and fell into a deep slumber, even though it was still morning.
Weeks passed quickly when we stayed in Badger’s Twoleg barn. It was a safe place to live at least until my kits were born. Twolegs sometimes came and here and then, but usually, they left Badger some milk. He would drink, but he would also share with us. During the weeks we were there, my appetite increased, and I ate more.
Soon, I started to vomit horribly, and I had to stay outside for a day because of it. My nesting instinct soon came to me, and I was in the barn running around, trying to find cloth and the perfectly cozy hay and straw. Then, after I soon had horrible pains, it happened. The full moon glowed in the night sky as I gave birth to four healthy kits. Badger witnessed the whole thing, and he watched in awe as Scartail sat beside me while I lay in a bed of hay, straw, and bits of cloth, licking clean my newborn kits, three males and a female.
“Oh, Rainbelly. They’re beautiful.” Scartail meowed softly. “What shall we name them?” I thought for a moment before looking down on a small, grey, male kit with grey, salt- like pecks on his back and stubby tail. “This one shall now be known as Saltkit.” I declared, licking a tuff of brown hair on the kit’s forehead. I looked down upon a male, black kit with white, scar-like, possibly claw-scratch marks on his face and back.
A tuff of white fur rested on his forehead, along with a stubby, white tail tip, and one white paw. I glanced at Scartail as I spoke. “This kit will now be known as Scarkit.” I said with a smile. Scartail looked at me and smiled, his eyes glowing with pride. Then, I looked down at a tanish female kit with brown “socks” on covering half of her legs, along with a white chest, and a strange Rain Drop-like mark on her underbelly.
“This kit will now be known as Rainkit.” I declared, licking the tiny female kit, the only girl in the litter. Then, I turned my attention to the runt of the litter, a male kit with almost brown fur, and marked on that fur, was many strange spots, which reminded me of someone I once loved, who I hadn’t told my secret to. “This kit will now be known as Spottedkit.” I said softly, licking the spots on Spottedkit’s back. Scarkit sighed with pleasure. “Spottedkit, Rainkit, Saltkit, and Scarkit. I don’t know what in StarClan could possibly ruin this moment.” Scartail sighed.
“I do.” Scartail spun around, while I strained my neck, to see Bluepool, the WindClan Deputy, enter the barn thru the hole in the back. I gasped and quickly made sure my kits were snuggled close to my belly, which had the same Rain Drop mark as Dewkit. Badger leapt to his feet and scrambled behind a nearby hay bale in fright. “No, Bluepool! Please! We’ll get rid of them! I promise you, by the next time you see us, those kits will be gone!” Scartail meowed quickly.
“You’d better hope so. I’m watching you both.” Bluepool hissed as she turned tail and exited the barn.
“Get rid of them?” I gasped, curling my tail around my four kits. “I’m sorry, Rainbelly. I told you before. Bluepool said that if we don’t kill them, she will, and tell everyone else we mated. If we don’t kill them now, we’re sure to be killed.” Scartail meowed, extending his claws as he padded toward me. “No! I thought you were proud of them! I thought that you were a proud father to have a kit named after you! I thought that you loved our kits! I thought you loved me!” I wailed, standing up and stepping over my kits to shield them with my body. “I’m sorry, Rainbelly. Please move.” Scartail meowed, flexing his claws. “No!” I hissed, lashing my tail back and forth.
“Tension!” I looked up to see Badger lying with one paw dangling over the edge of one of the rafters above our heads. “Stay out of this, Badger!” I growled, flattening my ears. Badger flinched, and then rested his head on the rafter, shutting his eyes and obviously falling into a quick but deep sleep. Hissing, I faced my mate head-on.
“Rainbelly, please-“ I cut Scartail off as I swiped at him with my claw-tipped paw, missing as he jerked his head back sadly in time. Scartail hissed at me and leapt to the side, but I followed him, blocking his only way to get to the four kits. But suddenly, as I was about to jump and attack, a great idea sprouted in my head, and I sat up and spoke. “Scartail, we don’t have to fight. Fighting will just make it worse. And plus, I have an idea. Duststorm and Spottedbelly, two friends from ThunderClan, can help us. And hopefully, Duststorm’s Greencough has passed. Usually, they’re chosen to go on hunting parties because of their natural hunting abilities. You and Badger could take care of the kits while I go and try to find them, because they’re mostly sent to The Great Sycamore to hunt together there. I could sneak into ThunderClan territory, find them, bring them here, tell them everything, and then here’s what I’m thinking: Duststorm could pretend to have mated with Spottedbelly and then we could bring the kits into her care in the Nursery, because I’m sure that Brindleface, one of the Nursing Queens, will have her kits become Apprentices by the time I get back. I could tell Dovestar, ThunderClan’s Leader, that I was….captured by a Twoleg, but then escaped and came back. Lying is risky, but it’ll be worth it to see my kits live and grow up without Bluepool threatening us.” I explained.
Scartail gave me a curious look as he sat up and relaxed. “Well, if you think it’ll work…” Scartail’s voice trailed off in thought. “It will. I promise.” I meowed, brushing up against my mate, telling him by my actions that everything would be alright. I hope.
“You mated with him?!” Duststorm and Spottedbelly’s shocked expressions told me that they just wanted to tell the whole Clan as they sat, dumbfounded, staring at me as I let my kits nurse. Early the next morning, I had set off to find my two friends, and with StarClan guiding me, I found them together, sure enough, hunting by The Great Sycamore. They asked and begged me to tell them why I had left the Clan, but I didn’t want to tell them until we got to Badger’s barn. And here we are, in Badger’s barn.
And I simply told them the minute I lay down to let my four kits nurse. I glanced at Spottedbelly. He looked back at me with sadness clouding his golden-yellow eyes. I sighed before speaking. “Duststorm, Spottedbelly, you mustn’t tell Dovestar, or even the rest of the Clan for that matter.” I meowed urgently.
“And Duststorm, I must ask you a favor. Will you pretend to be Spottedbelly’s mate? And Spottedbelly, will you do the same?” Both Warriors looked at eachother in pure shock at my sudden question. “B-but why us?” stammered Duststorm. “Because you’re both my closest friends. If I’d told anyone else, they would’ve blurted it all out to the whole Clan already.” I pointed out. “Please? Will you do it?”
“I don’t know, Rainbelly. This is the major breaking of the Warrior Code. StarClan won’t like it one bit. Neither will Dovestar, or even ThunderClan if they find out.” Duststorm meowed. “I know, but I love Scartail, and my kits will be in grave danger if you don’t do it.” I said. “Why? Does anyone else know?” asked Duststorm. “Well, y-yes. But we haven’t said anything. The WindClan Deputy, Bluepool, caught me with Rainbelly. She threatened to kill the kits herself or with Clan Warriors if we didn’t.” Scartail meowed. I watched as Duststorm and Spottedbelly cast worried glances.
Then, I watched in silence as Duststorm urgently whispered something into Spottedbelly’s ear. Nervously, I glanced at Scartail, who had a worried look in his eyes. Would they say yes? I caught a glimpse of Spottedbelly as he slowly nodded when Duststorm finished, sadness clouding his eyes. I felt sorry for him, how he felt about Scartail being my main priority, but I was trapped in another love that now couldn’t be stopped by anyone, except Bluepool or the other Clan cats if they found out.
Finally, Duststorm raised her furry, sandy-colored head and spoke. “Well, we’ve decided that we’ll do it, but only under one condition.” Duststorm meowed. “What?” I asked, flicking my tail. “If you let us tell you about what happened when you left ThunderClan for a while.” I perked up my ears, eager to listen.
“Tell me.” I pleaded, worry suddenly churning in my Rain-Drop marked belly. Did Dovestar replace me with some other cat as Deputy? Or worse, did Dovestar replace Bramblethorn as Deputy? I gulped and then looked at Duststorm, showing that I was at least half-ready for her short story. “Well, when you first never came back to camp, I was still with Greencough, by the way, I heard Dovestar ask the Clan if any of us had seen her valued Deputy. No cat knew where you were, and we ended up waiting for your return. We all thought that you just got lost in the dark or something. We honestly had no clue where you were though. When another day passed and you still didn’t return, Dovestar got worried. The next day she was panicked, and she called a Clan meeting to see if still, anyone saw you. Nothing was reported.” Duststorm meowed.
“Old Dovestar was really worried! Dovestar sent, if I remember correctly, which I’m sure I did, about five ThunderClan Patrols to see if they could find you! Even Elders were told to join the Patrols! After the next few days and you didn’t come back, she called another meeting, but it wasn’t to ask if anyone had seen you. It was to tell us that no new Deputy would be appointed, because she was so sure that you would come back, and every day after that, were we left with no Deputy.” I gaped in amazement. “D-Dovestar really r-relies on you, Rainbelly. Y-you can’t let her d-down.” Meowed Spottedbelly softly, hanging his head.
“I know. And I’m really sorry about this, guys. Please forgive me for putting you thru this.” I begged. “Apology accepted, Rainbelly.” Duststorm said, smiling and with a flick of her sandy-colored tail. “Well, then. I guess we’ll stay here for today and then leave tomorrow morning.” With that, Duststorm and Spottedbelly trotted away, greeting Badger on the way. I looked at Scartail and flicked my ears. Scartail smiled and lay down next to me and the four kits.
He stared to lick my forehead, and I slowly licked the four kits. After several minutes of this repeated action, I crashed and ended up sleeping with my head snuggled into Scartail’s side, the kits squirming and doing the same, snuggling closer to my Rain-Drop marked belly for milk.
“Rainbelly! You’re back!” gasped Dovestar as she rushed up to me, beaming. Duststorm, Spottedbelly, the kits, and I, had just entered the snow-covered ThunderClan camp entrance, and I didn’t expect such a welcome. Duststorm carried Rainkit and Scarkit, while struggling, and Spottedbelly carried Spottedkit and Saltkit, also struggling. “Oh! What happened to you?” Dovestar asked, not noticing the kits. “I, uh…was captured by a Twoleg. I couldn’t escape for a while and was kept hostage.” I fibbed, suddenly coming up with the incredibly wild story.
“This morning, I was able to escape and run into ThunderClan territory.” “Oh! Rainbelly! I-what’s this?” Dovestar suddenly turned her attention to the kits and Duststorm and Spottedbelly. “Uh, Dovestar, Spottedbelly and I have mated a few days ago, and yesterday’s absence was because of their birth.” Duststorm meowed quickly as she set down Dewkit and Scarkit. “We apologize for not consulting you.”
“Well, that’s alright. Might as well go to the nursery, Duststorm. Oh, and ask Drynose for some Borage Leaves so that you’re milk supply won’t run low. All that matters now is that Rainbelly’s back!” Meowed Dovestar as she bounded away from me and then gracefully leapt onto the Highrock. I watched as she let out a yowl. “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Highrock for a Clan meeting.” She yowled, standing tall and strong. I smiled and followed, eventually gracefully leaping onto the Highrock beside Dovestar. Meanwhile, the rest of ThunderClan had obeyed and were suddenly settled beneath the mighty Highrock, looking up and their graceful Leader and me, their trusty Deputy.
“Everyone, I have a wonderful announcement to make. Our Deputy, Rainbelly is back!” Dovestar yowled happily as she jumped into the air an inch or two. I looked down upon the suddenly cheering ThunderClan Cats, although when I spotted Bramblethorn, he simply glared and me and seemed to want to let out a horribly angry hiss. But he held whatever he wanted to say back, continuing to glare at me. I flinched, but held my ground as I stood upon the Highrock beside Dovestar. “I hope you’re happy to be back, Rainbelly.” Meowed Dovestar. “I sure am.” I meowed back, smiling.
“Good, because I’ve got a special job for you, and it shall take place a season-or day-from now. Come with me. I must speak to you in my den.” With that, Dovestar leapt off of the Highrock and disappeared inside. I did the same and quickly followed, the moss and lichen draping the entrance to her den washing over me as I entered. I nearly jumped out of my fur when I saw Dovestar only a tail-length away, watching me intently. “Rainbelly, during your absence, I have noticed that the Sunningrocks may become of use to us soon, during Newleaf to be precise. It is very possible that the prey will run near or at the Sunningrocks, and ThunderClan needs what it can get. By the first day of Newleaf-tomorrow-the snow will have melted and the flowers will bloom. And more importantly, the prey will run heavily. Tonight at the Gathering, I will announce to RiverClan that tomorrow night, the first day of Newleaf, we are willing to fight to the death for Sunningrocks.” Dovestar meowed.
“What? But then why do you need me? And what did you mean by my special job?” I asked, confused. Dovestar smiled. “As the Deputy of ThunderClan, your duty will be…to lead an attack on Sunningrocks at the first day of Newleaf.” I gaped in amazement. “Really?”
I couldn’t believe it. My first Deputy assignment: Leading an attack. Wow. “Really.” Dovestar replied, nodding while smiling. “Thank you, Dovestar.” I said, dipping my head toward the ThunderClan Leader.
“Oh, and Rainbelly? In a moment, I will make Brindleface’s kits Apprentices, and you’ll have another Apprentice.” I smiled and lifted my head. “Thank you. I am honored.” I meowed. Dovestar nodded and dipped her head as well, and then flicked her tail, a signal that I was dismissed. I quickly nodded before turning and exiting Dovestar’s den.
“How are they doing?” I asked in a whisper as I looked in the Nursery and a Duststorm, my four kits snuggled against her belly. “They’re doing fine. I had trouble with the milk though. But Drynose fixed it with some Borage Leaves. They tasted horrible though.” Replied Duststorm. “I’m sorry I put you thru this.” I said. “It’s alright. You did it for the kits.” Meowed Duststorm. “Y-you know that I-I can’t thank you enough. You and Spottedbelly.” I whispered softly.
Duststorm smiled and nodded before leaned forward and licking Rainkit. I smiled and exited the Nursery. I confidently padded thru the slowly-melting snow and toward the fresh-kill pile. I reached it, grabbed a plump mouse in between my teeth, and then walked over to the stump where Duststorm and I usually ate. No cat was there, so I just lay by it and enjoyed the Mouse.
In only a few gulps, I had hungrily devoured it, for I remembered Dovestar’s words. I repeated them in my head. “I will be making Brindleface’s kits Apprentices…..” “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here, beneath the Highrock for a Clan meeting.” My head jerked up as I spotted Dovestar atop the Highrock.
Brindleface sat beside the mighty boulder, while her three kits, Mousekit, Robinkit, and Shrewkit sat politely and still by Dovestar. I slowly stalked toward the large crowd of cats, which grew by the second as I pushed my way thru the mob of cats. I looked up at Dovestar as she spoke. “Brindleface has lived a full life, and in this life, she has mated and given birth to three healthy kits. Now, those kits are to become Warriors this day.” Meowed Dovestar. She turned to face Robinkit, who shifted uncomfortably in nervousness.
“Robinkit, from this moment on, you will be known as Robinpaw. Pebblepelt, you are ready to take on another Apprentice. You will be Mentor to Robinpaw. Pebblepelt, you have shown yourself to be a brave and fit Warrior. Do all that you can to pass on what you know down to Robinpaw.” Meowed Dovestar. The silvery she-cat, Pebblepelt, appeared and leapt onto the Highrock. She leaned down to touch noses with the nervous Robinpaw. The new Apprentice hesitated for a moment, and then gingerly touched pink noses with Pebblepelt. Then, both new Mentor and Apprentice happily hopped off of the Highrock together and into the large crowd of cats.
Dovestar then faced Shrewkit. “Shrewkit, from this moment on, you will be known as Shrewpaw. Spottedbelly, you are ready to take on another Apprentice. You will be Mentor to Shrewkit. Spottedbelly, you have shown yourself to be a talented and very battle-worthy Warrior. Do all that you can to pass on what you know down to Shrewkit.” Said Dovestar. The cycle repeated, and my old love, Spottedbelly, touched noses with Shrewkit. After the two cats had leaped off of the Highrock together, soon sitting beside Pebblepelt and Robinpaw, Dovestar faced the tiny female, Mousekit, who shifted nervously atop the Highrock, a little bit like Robinkit, who was now proudly Robinpaw, a new Apprentice. “Mousekit, from this moment on, you will be known as Mousepaw. Rainbelly, you are ready to proudly take on another Apprentice. You will be Mentor to Mousepaw. Rainbelly, you have shown yourself to be a loyal and strong Warrior. Do all that you can to pass on what you know down to Mousepaw.” Meowed Dovestar, smiling at me.
I couldn’t believe my ears. Was StarClan kidding me and was it all some wacky dream? No! It wasn’t! I was getting another Apprentice, other than Foxpaw, who was now Foxleap.
I proudly raised my head as I gracefully leapt onto the Highrock beside Dovestar and walked up to the nervous Mousekit, who now recently became Mousepaw. I smiled and leaned down to touch noses with her. She stared into my eyes and smiled back as we touched pink noses together. “I have to admit, I’m nervous.” Mousepaw whispered into my ear. “Don’t worry. After some good training, you’ll be a great Warrior.” I whispered back, beaming.
With that, Mousepaw and I leapt off of the Highrock, sitting beside Pebblepelt and Robinpaw, and Spottedbelly and Shrewpaw. “Now, I want all Mentors and their new Apprentices to train. It will do them some good.” Said Dovestar, looking down at us Mentors and the nervous Apprentices. We all nodded and headed out of camp, only me heading to the Sandy Hollow, where the Apprentices were trained to fight.
“Now, Mousepaw, don’t be nervous. Just attack me. Do what I showed you. I won’t get hurt. I promise.” I assured, moving into an attacking position. Mousepaw stood shakily a tail-length away from me. “Well, okay.” She mewed uncertainly. Then, she leaped at me, claws pulled in so that I wouldn’t get hurt. She brought her paw down on my snout. It stung, and I jumped back, lashing my tail in eagerness to watch her fight and do her real best.
“I really felt that! Good job, Mousepaw!” I praised. My brand new Apprentice smiled happily. “I really did good?” She mewed, beaming. “You sure did! Now, let’s try another tactic. Use your instincts when you attack me again. Go where I plan to go, not where it seems I might go.” I meowed. It seemed confusing once you hear it, but it makes real sense, and it works perfectly. Trust me, I learned from Orangemane, who took me to the Sandy Hollow on my first time out as an Apprentice.
Mousepaw cocked her head in confusion. “Go on.” I urged softly as I lashed my thin, furry, and gray tail. I jumped to the side, and then jumped back to where I was, teasing Mousepaw, as Orangemane had once done to me. Mousepaw crouched and struggled to concentrate. Then, with a sudden grunt, Mousepaw threw herself at me, claws pulled in.
I dodged her attack and was able to hit a blow on Mousepaw’s shoulder, claws pulled in and hitting her gently. Mousepaw grunted as she tumbled to the ground and into the melting snow. But after a few seconds of just sitting there, stunned, Mousepaw got right back up and charged. I purred with amusement at her confidence. I crouched and jumped from side to side, hoping to outsmart her as she lunged at me.
It didn’t work, for Mousepaw was able to knock me off of my feet and pin me to the ground. Huffing and puffing, Mousepaw looked down at me as I squirmed and wiggled as her surprisingly strong and sturdy paws pinned me to the ground. “Excellent!” I panted. “Now if you don’t mind, get off!” Mousepaw giggled and obeyed.
I smiled and got up, shaking the damp and melting snow off of my gray fur. “I’ve taught you so many things in one day, and you are already catching on real quick.” I meowed, smiling. “Really?” mewed Mousepaw. I nodded before glancing up at the sky, which was becoming dark. “Well, I’m afraid that’s all for today. I promise, tomorrow we’ll try hunting. We have to get back to camp so we can see who is to go to the Gathering tonight.”
“Oh! Can I come!” Mousepaw begged, bounding up to me. “It’s not your time yet, little one.” I meowed softly before turning and padding toward the very well-hidden ThunderClan camp, the still cheerful Mousepaw by my side.
“Rabbitear, Orangemane, Brindleface, Spottedbelly, Lionblaze, Thornpierce, Pebblepelt, Silverstream, Bramblethorn, Moldfur, Elderflower, Clonetail, Foxleap, Leopardspots, Lasteye, Rainbelly, and I will attend tonight’s Gathering.” Dovestar announced from atop the Highrock. I smiled. It didn’t bother me that Bramblethorn would come. I would see Scartail, and lead an attack on Sunningrocks. “Let’s move out.”
I glanced up at Dovestar as she leaped off of the Highrock and stalked toward the ThunderClan Camp entrance. I bounded over to her and we walked side by side as we led the selected ThunderClan Cats toward Fortress. In less than a few minutes, we reached it, to see the three different Clan Leaders sitting atop the Great Rock, waiting for ThunderClan’s arrival, their Deputies by their sides. I smiled at Scartail as Dovestar and I passed him, the ThunderClan Cats heading elsewhere. He smiled back and winked. I did the same. Seconds later, I was sitting atop Great Rock beside Dovestar, looking down upon my Clanmates.
Suddenly, Dovestar yowled for the Gathering to begin, and since I was next to her, I wanted to cover my ears. Who knew that a cat could yowl so loud? I didn’t. Anyway, all of the cats below us snapped to attention and looked up at their Leaders and Deputies.
Dovestar nodded to Owlstar, the ShadowClan Leader. The black and white tom gulped but slowly nodded afterward, as if he was thinking about the Patrol of four cats intruding on ThunderClan territory. Did he tell them to do it? We would soon find out. “W-well, uh, that you, D-Dovestar. ShadowClan’s prey runs strong now, since the snow is melting. And ThunderClan and Dovestar, I apologize for the intrusion in ThunderClan territory. I indeed commanded them to do it, but now I realize that what I had done was horribly wrong.” Meowed Owlstar quietly.
Dovestar dipped her head toward the ShadowClan Leader. “All is forgiven.” She meowed in response. Owlstar nodded, shaking with nervousness, and then nodded toward Wolfstar, the RiverClan Leader. “W-Wolfstar, y-you may s-speak.” He stammered, shifting his paws nervously. Wolfstar smiled, nodded back, and dipped his head toward the nervous ShadowClan Leader.
“Thank you, Owlstar. RiverClan is stringer than ever, and the fish in our river is still plentiful, despite the cruel Leaf-Bare.” He meowed, dipping his head toward Hawkstar, the WindClan Leader, at the end of his sentence. “Hawkstar, you may speak.” Hawkstar dipped his head toward the RiverClan Leader in gratitude. “Thank you, Wolfstar. The Rabbits in WindClan’s territory bound and frolic, giving us plenty of prey.” Hawkstar meowed. He then dipped his head toward Dovestar, the wonderful, ThunderClan Leader.
“Dovestar, you may now finally speak.” Dovestar smiled and dipped her head toward the WindClan Leader. “Why, thank you, Hawkstar.” She meowed, smiling. “ThunderClan’s prey is running strong, but what is more important, is what we propose to RiverClan.” Wolfstar frowned and looked at Dovestar. “And that is?” he growled. “Tomorrow morning, oh, great and mighty Wolfstar, my Deputy, Rainbelly, is to lead a full attack to fight for the right for Sunningrocks. The Clan that wins the battle is to keep and then claim Sunningrocks. We will fight to the death if needed, but ThunderClan will indeed win this battle! Although, if RiverClan is willing, they may try.” Dovestar snickered.
Wolfstar snarled in protest, extending his claws. “Do you say that RiverClan is weak?” he snarled. Owlstar and Hawkstar glanced at eachother, along with their Deputies. With one swift leap, they were with their Clans, quickly leading them out of Fortress in a swift haste. I gasped and cowered as Dovestar extended her claws and growled.
Wolfstar snarled in response and lunged!
Lightning flashed as a fight broke out under the full moon, which soon became covered with gray clouds. Dovestar and Wolfstar tussled atop the Great Rock, and Wolfclaw’s Deputy, Ravenfeather, instantly sprang into battle, and when I mean that he sprang into battle, I mean that he sprang onto me! I yowled in surprise as the black tom barreled into me, clamping his jaws on my shoulder as he pinned me to the ground. “I never wanted this! I never wanted to fight! But what must be done, must be done!” yowled Ravenfeather thru a mouthful of my blood and now blood-stained grey fur. “ThunderClan will never be beaten!” I hissed as he released his grasp.
I raised a paw and raked my claws along his muzzle, slicing his pink nose open. Blood gushed out, blood dripping from his black-furred muzzle. Ravenfeather let out a quick yowl of pain, thrashing his head. I hissed and lunged at him, knocking us both off of the large boulder, where are two Leaders fought to the true, nine-live death. Ravenfeather and I fell into the mass of cats battling below the large boulder, only RiverClan and ThunderClan.
I yowled in pain as I landed onto the ground with a heavy and painful thump, Ravenfeather’s massive weight nearly crushing me. “You and your Warriors do not belong in this forest!” I snarled, kicking Ravenfeather off of me. “Threat all you like, Rainbelly, but RiverClan will once rule!” yowled Ravenfeather, leaping to his feet and lunging. I dodged his attack and then spun around to lunge at his back. But suddenly, teeth gripped my scruff and I was yanked away from the RiverClan Deputy.
I yowled in protest as I was thrown to the ground and quickly pinned down by powerful, spotted, black and white paws. I glanced up to see the hissing face of Sorrowpelt, the cat who had an unknown grudge against me. I gasped as she snickered and then lunged, biting down on my already blood and bitten shoulder. I screeched in pain and flailed my paws, my sharp, and blood-stained claws raking across Sorrowpelt’s exposed underbelly. She yowled and jumped back, blood dripping off of her belly fur as if she had just come out, belly-deep in river water.
I hissed at her and took advantage of this one-in-a-while-or-a-lifetime-moment, lunging and slashing out with my claws and teeth. Seconds later, Sorrowpelt was scampering away, drowned in blood and with a blood limp. Dark, red blood dribbled off of my fur. A scratch above my left eye stung like a double Bee sting. A deep slice scarred my side, and blood stained the Rain-Drop mark on my underbelly.
Shakily, I stood straight up and quickly looked around for my next victim, if I could find one and attack one. Glancing to the left, I saw Spottedbelly being cornered by a white she-cat with barley visible stripes that was much bigger than him, her white fur stained with blood. “Get away from him!” I managed to snarl as I leapt at the white she-cat, although a little lopsided. She spun around and gasped, but it was too late. I barreled into her and gave the RiverClan Warrior a sharp, painful, and blood-shedding bite on her left flank that sent her bounding away into the massive mass of cats, yowling in pain.
“Thanks, Rainbelly!” panted Spottedbelly as he scrambled away. Panting and gasping for breath, I glanced up at the Great Rock, where Dovestar and Wolfstar still tussled, biting and slashing viciously. I gasped in horror as Wolfstar raised a paw and brought it down on Dovestar’s chest, and blood splashed onto her fur as Wolfstar’s claws pierced her chest, right where her heart rested. I watched as she suddenly dropped off of the Great Rock and into the mass of cats. The fighting suddenly stopped, and a circle formed around Dovestar.
“Dovestar!” I wailed, bounding over to her and pushing past wounded cats and to her side. Dovestar lay on the ground in a pool of her own blood. Blood bubbled around her mouth, and her chest was drenched in the stinking, and sticky red liquid. Her blood-stained fur shone in the lightning that suddenly flashed. “Dovestar! Dovestar! No!” I wailed as Dovestar’s slight breathing slowed. A sudden realization washed over me: Dovestar was losing a life.
Who knew how many she had left? I continued to wonder if it was her last as I looked down upon my dying Leader, who gave a supposedly last breath and went totally limp.
THE END...OR IS IT?