Raystar's Ambition is a book running parallel to my collab New Night series. As of the time of writing, it is unfinished.
I hope you enjoy!
Cliffstar paced anxiously around the StarClan borders. Something told him that Firestar’s descendant was the right choice. But he seemed to have evil in him, buried somewhere inside of him.
Daytail entered the clearing and asked, "What's on your mind, Cliffstar?”
”I have found a cat that has potential and he is related to our hero Firestar, but he has evil roots. But yet… something makes me feel like he could be the one to bring light back to these dark times.”
”The roots don't make the cat. And if you feel like he is the right one, then go with it. We may never have this chance again,” Daytail replied.
"You’re right! Roots don’t make the cat, but they have the possibility to shape the cat.”
“Let me point some cats that had evil roots but were protectors of their clan. For example, Bramblestar! We all knew he was related to the notorious and evil Tigerstar. But in the end he did the right thing.”
“That is true, but that’s only one cat! Look at many who have good roots but turned evil. Look at Tigerstar for Starclan’s sake! He was the son of Pinestar, who was a great leader up until he left his Clan. Also, those who have evil roots are usually evil in the end! I mean think about those dark forest cats! Look at Creepypaw! ”
“If none of us agree, we should ask others what they think. I shall ask Bluestar!”
“Then I’ll ask Firestar!”
The two cats turned away from each other and raced away...
As Light was walked by her two-leg she heard a tiny mewling coming from a bush. She took a step closer, her legs knee deep in the snow. There, just sitting there, was a single kit; a tom who was shivering (due to a blanket of snow covering him) and near death. Quickly, she picked him up by the scruff and continued on her walk until they reached the barn where he could suckle with her other kits. The orange colored kit opened his eyes suddenly, and the amber pupils glowed for a second, but then he closed his eyes again. Light, astonished, forgot about it instantly thinking it was just a figment of her imagination or a trick of the light. She speculated how the tiny kit had gotten nearby without her realizing. Little did she know the few moons she had left would be the best of her life with this kit and his new ‘siblings.’
Ray and Air tackled Tar and they rolled over multiple times until they heard their mother Light walking towards them. “Don't hurt yourselves, kits! I have some mice for us to eat!” They got off each other and excitedly padded towards her. Light dropped two plump mice and took a bite. Ray took some of the mouse and gave the rest to Tar and Air, and then devoured the meal. It was only his third week of eating fresh-kill, but he had gotten used to the juicy flavor of mice. As he thought of sitting in front of a thousand mice, Light mewed, “I’ll take you three for a walk in the forest after we eat, but only if you behave.” Ray and his siblings bounced around in excitement. They hadn’t been outside much since they were born in leaf-bare, but now it was newleaf and the weather was warmer. “Hooray!” exclaimed Tar. “I wonder what we’ll see!” mewed Ray excitedly. Light laughed. “Let’s finish our meal before anything else, okay?”
After they had gotten ready, Light walked outside the barn and the kits bounced after her. Air and Ray spotted a butterfly and tried to grab it, but it fluttered away. Tar suddenly jumped up and down. “Guys, come here! There’s a bird and these weird dotted things!” “Wait, I want to see!” Ray and Air scampered towards him and saw a cardinal and its eggs. Suddenly, one of the eggs began to hatch. “What’s happening, Light?” inquired Air. “That’s an egg, and it is hatching.” Ray asked, “What’s going to happen to it now?” “You’ll see,” replied Light. Suddenly, a baby bird hatched. Amazed by this, the kits moved closer to see it, but Light said, “We should get home now, it's almost time for our next meal. Are you hungry yet?”
One moon passed, and Ray, Air and Tar were growing bigger by the day. Tar was very muscular for a four-moon old kit. Ray was slimmer but he used smarts more than strength. Air, his other brother, was more like Ray than Tar. He was similar in stature, just taller by a bit. As the sun rose on a humid rainy day, the birds fluttery chirping outside the barn woke Ray up. He then got up, stretched his paws and proceeded to hunt one of the many mice seeking refuge in the barn on the gloomy, wet day. He lowered into a quiet crouch and jumped on the unsuspecting mouse that was in a corner, nibbling on some seeds. He devoured the meal quickly, and soon Light woke up afterwards and went over to catch her own prey. Just then, the sound of pawsteps outside startled both cats. Light exclaimed, “Ray, take Air and Tar and run! Now!” Ray scrambled and dragged a groggy Tar out the back entrance. He was about to get Air when about 6 cats entered the barn. The biggest said, “It looks like we have some cats we need to clear out of our new base.” The white tom behind him replied, “We should bring both back and train the kit over there.” Light hissed, “You'll have to get through me before you take him!” “Fair enough,” the big cat responded and killed her with a single bite. Tar almost gasped, but Ray stopped him so they wouldn’t be noticed. Angered by this act, immediately tried to jump out, but Tar stopped him with a strong tug. “We have to run!” he exclaimed. They bolted for their lives into the dark, dense forest.
After what seemed like an eternity of running, they paused near a cave as they were out of breath. “We should rest here for the night, inside the cave,” Ray suggested. "Fine by me,”replied Tar. “As long as we don't run into trouble.” They quickly set to work gathering nearby moss and feathers to make nests. As they finished, quiet murmurs and pawsteps started approaching. "We have to hide!” Tar exclaimed. They bolted to the cave entrance. The two young toms hid in a corner and both peeked out and surprisingly saw the group of cats who killed Light! Tar hissed but Ray covered his mouth, and their eyes widened when they saw- Air! He was being carried by the rear cat, and he was squirming and flailing, hoping to escape, but the cats were strong and held on to him, albeit begrudgingly. They waited for what seemed like forever for them to pass, and by then it was already nighttime. As they curled up on their temporary nests, Ray asked, “Do you think we'll get Air back from those cats?” Tar replied with only silence. Ray sighed.
As he slept, he dreamt about a peaceful island with plentiful prey. Every cat there was living in peace. But suddenly, a grey wave appeared and crushed the island, and the prey all died. An image of a cat appeared in the sky. It looked exactly like him, but older and his amber eyes blazed with fury and hate. The island faded away and Ray rematerialized on another island with a cat staring at him. Still confused about the island, he tried to speak but couldn’t. The cat nodded at him and he fell into a dreamless sleep.
The next morning, Ray was still confused about his dream. He decided not to mention it to Tar, but he did think, Why did that cat look exactly like me? I'm not him. As he continued to ponder possibilities, Tar stepped into his line of vision. "C'mon sleepyhead,” he taunted. "We need food, water, and a better shelter." Ray looked out the cave and he prompted himself to get up and catch some prey. He climbed a tree to get a better view. A rabbit scurried towards him and he silently jumped down and bit it once. He went back into the cave and devoured the rabbit. It tasted different than a mouse, but it was tasty nevertheless.. As he took his second bite, Tar walked in with a plump mouse and some blue, odd-looking berries. "What are those?” Ray asked. “Some sweet berries,” replied Tar. “I had one, they're good. Try some!” “Ok,” Ray said. They truly were very sweet. They were brilliantly so. But Ray wanted to quickly keep traveling. "We’ll have to go soon. I want to get Air back as soon as possible.” "But we don't stand a chance against them alone!” Tar protested. "Then what we need is numbers.” Ray proclaimed.
They set out before sunhigh, and picked up the scent of the cats, keeping their distance to it but still nearby. They stopped every so often to catch a breath, or eat. After about 3 days of following, they heard pawsteps and talking. "Quick,” Ray warned. “In a bush!” The talking got louder as three she-cats that didn't look that strong. "We can take them!” whispered Tar. “I'll take the white one, you take the other two. They lept out of the bush and Ray pounced on his target. He cornered her and asked, "Where are the rest of you? We need to know your base location!” The white she-cat looked bewildered and she replied, "We're alone! Are you with that group of strange-smelling cats?” Ray relaxed, realizing they were innocent. “Tar!” he yelled. “Stop attacking!” Tar backed away from them. The white she-cat spoke when everyone was calmed down. “My name is Snow, the grey cat with green eyes is Wispy, and the other is Night. Why were you attacking us earlier?” "We thought you were part of the group of cats you mentioned. They killed our mother and kidnapped our younger brother. I wanna get them back,” responded Ray. "We hope to gather more people to join us in defeating them!” “Then why don't we all stick together for now,” advised Snow. "More cats will make it easier to do anything.” She’s not one to fight, thought Ray. She purposely avoided the idea of fighting those cats. Oh well. Meanwhile, Tar and Wispy were chatting about how their stories were similar, while Night lingered in the back. “Guys, we should make a shelter on the island Wispy and I used to live near! It’s not very far, just past this forest.” “Then we’ll head there now!” Rayclaw proclaimed. As the young group of cats journeyed out, they did not know there was no turning back.
After an hour or so of walking, they came to the edge of the forest. Snow pointed to a big cave, “We’ll be sleeping here for now, she announced.” Ray was pleased with this and followed her inside. They set up nests and the sun soon set. Ray silently thought, I will avenge Light, no matter what it takes.
He dreamt about being on the island again. The mysterious cat walked up to him after the dream repeated itself from the first dream. “You can choose your own destiny,” he said. “But don’t always seek revenge.” Another cat appeared, and she said in a prophetic voice, “The forest will burn, with the flames of destiny.” Ray, now very confused, replied, “Who are you?” “We are called StarClan,” the first cat replied. “You needn’t not know our names. Farewell, young Ray.” They dissolved away into black, and he dreamt about nothing else that night.
When he woke up the next day, he told no one about his dream. He was about to go out and hunt when Snow beckoned him to the center of the cave, where the other cats were already gathered. “What’s this all about?” he asked. “I wanted to address the importance of teamwork,” she replied. “No one has ever worked with me except Tar and Air,” he scoffed. ”It’s unnecessary. Now i’ll go catch some prey, and the rest of you can do your group bonding meet.” He deliberately walked out the cavern to make his point. Inside, he knew he had only done that because he was afraid to accept help that could divert his goal. “Wait!” yelled Snowstar. “Who’s Air?” He looked back, and sadly said, “Tar and I, we had a brother. He was Air. But he was kidnapped by those cats, and they also killed our mother, Light.” He bolted outside before anything else could be said.
He returned to the cavern with a rabbit and two mice and saw the other cats sharing two salmon and a mouse. He plopped down the prey and ate some of the rabbit he’d caught. Snow and Tar came over to him. Ray asked, “How was it?” “What?” she replied. “Family bonding,” he snorted sarcastically. “And since when did you know to catch fish?”
“Night taught us,” she replied. “And we’re still upset that you walked out on us earlier. We organized everything. That’s where we sleep, that’s for food...” The blabbering went on and on as she described what they had talked about and while Ray kept this duly noted, he was barely listening. After she was done, something new ignited in him, something that would make his quest even better. “Teach me how to fish,” he asked Snow. She was taken aback by this, but agreed.
A moon or so passed. One day, when Ray woke up he went to Snow and said, “Snow, I think we should make a clan like Brevin and Hayley.” They had encountered the two cats three sunrises or so ago, and they were making a ‘Clan’. Snow looked at him, surprised.” Okay, that was definitely not expected from you. But before we make it official, we have to ask the others as well.” she meowed in agreement. Great, now with a clan we can definitely destroy those cats and avenge Light. But we just have to grow strong enough for that to even happen. He just needed to plant the seed in her mind so the whole group could grow. He imagined them being a superpower so no cat would ever dare invade them or attack them.
Later that day, Snow called Ray into her den. “Hey Ray, you know there is a new group of cats called the Phil’s Quarry,” She spoke in a low whisper. “And I heard that they are bad news, they cut down trees in the forest and dig up the natural land for rocks and shiny things,” she said concretely. “Also, they are kittypets. They have Twoleg owners that do all the horrible stuff to the forest.” Snowstar paused, then continued. “Night told me that William, their leader, wanted to destroy all the cats and make Phil's quarry a powerful clan.” Interesting, Ray thought. They don’t sound friendly, so we will have to get rid of them, most likely. But maybe I could use them... “Wait, Ray before you try to befriend them or anything they were in league with the cats who killed Light.” She whispered. This is outrageous, now we are definitely going to destroy them. “Snow, let's just go hunting now,” Ray said, clearly irritated. He went outside and he saw Brevin and Hayley walking toward them, being escorted by Night and Tar. “ What do you want, you mangepelt?” Ray scowled.” We just wanted to tell you about the Phil’s Quarry.” Brevinstar spoke sluggishly. “They are sending out spies to spy on us and we heard them saying that they will spy on you guys too!” Hayleypelt exclaimed. ”So you guys better be alert.” Brevinstar warned. “Night, let them go, apparently they are no threat.” Ray ordered. Night turned around telling the captured cats to come. We have to tell Snow and the others, Ray thought. Then he yelled at the top of his lungs “MEETING!!!!!!” Startled, everyone came, even Tar who was busy fighting over a large rabbit with Night. “Guys, Brevin and Hayley just came and told me and Night that Phil’s Quarry, a group of kittypets are sending out spies to spy on us.” Ray’s voice boomed. “They are just a bunch of stupid kittypets,” Tar rolled his eyes, we can drive them out of here in no time!.” “Actually, you’re wrong Tar,” Snow stepped up onto the biggest rock in the clearing. “ We can’t just kill them, because they are kittypets,and kittypets belong to Twolegs. If we kill them then the Twolegs will come after us.” Ray nodded his head in agreement, and looked at her, rather impressed with her logic. “And if they were rouges, we would need a huge group to fight them.” Wispy muttered. Ray looked at Wispy realizing that this was his perfect opportunity to expand the clan, and actually make it a clan. Snow, thinking a similar thing, asked, “Guys, do you want to make our group a little more… permanent?” Ray, seeing this was his chance, replied, “Snow, do you mean like a, a, a clan or something!?!” trying to act stunned.“A clan is the perfect idea, Ray!” Night bounced up and down. “And we could claim the meadow as our territory!” Snow decided. “Yes, but what will we call this clan?” Wispy wondered aloud, ignoring her sister. “NightClan!” exclaimed Snow. “It describes us as a group.” “ But now we have to nominate a leader who will lead us.” Wispy spoke in a loud voice. Everyone looked surprised, because usually Wispy was always so quiet. “ She’s right, and we need a deputy and a medicine cat,” Tar meowed. Everyone was silent until Night broke the silence. “ I nominate Snow to be leader because she is wise and is always responsible for her actions.” Everyone murmured their agreement, even Ray. This way I can focus on my goal and not on keeping everything in order. “We need a deputy,” Snow announced. “I choose Ray to be my deputy. We honor your bravery and intelligence. But we still need a medicine cat, who can heal us!” Snow declared. “I choose Wispy to be my medicine cat.” By the power of StarClan I am now Snowstar. Ray will be Rayclaw, Wispy will be Wispyflower, Tar will be Tarfur, and Night will be Nightheart.” Excitement filled the air as the newly made warriors celebrated their new names. As the cats walked away from their old dens, there would be no turning back. That night, the whole Clan moved into their new dens and made a warrior code. It said that StarClan would give the leader nine lives, you mustn't be cruel when not necessary, only medicine cats, deputies, and leaders were allowed to go to the Moonjewel, where they met with StarClan cats. And the last thing was to protect your Clan with your life and be loyal to them.
Ray never thought that this might happen, but he was actually enjoying spending time with Tarfur, Snowstar, and the others. He enjoyed every moment with them, and he owed this joy to Snowstar. As he walked out of the camp one day, he saw Nightheart bring back a rogue into the camp. “I’ll bring him to Snowstar,” he said, and Nightheart nodded and headed to the fresh-kill pile. “Snowstar! We have an intruder! What should we do with him?” Rayclaw called.“What’s your name?” Snowstar asked the rouge. “Air,” he snarled. “What are you doing on NightClan territory?” Snowstar asked. “I’m hunting, isn’t that ok?” Air told her rudely. “This is our territory, don’t you know?” Nightheart mocked Air. “No, but what are your names?” Air asked the clan cats. Ray came to the realization of who this was. It was Air, Tar and his lost brother!“I’m Snowstar, leader of NightClan. This is my deputy, Rayclaw. Wispyflower is the medicine cat and my sister. Nightheart and Tarfur over there are our warriors. And we are the first five cats of NightClan!” Snowstar told Air proudly. “Wow, you all live together!?!” Air was both jealous and stunned.“Wait a minute,” Rayclaw said."Tarfur, this is Air! Our brother! Of course you can stay!" Tar looked at him like he was crazy but then came to the same conclusion.“I-I-I’m honored. Yes! Sure! Of course I’ll join your clan,” Air replied.
At sunhigh, Ray and Tar were tasked with teaching Air the warrior code and how to hunt. He was no normal talent, and learned as fast as Rayclaw. When they told Snowstar he was ready to be a warrior, she called a Clan meeting.“All cats old enough to catch their own prey, come to the Highrock for a clan meeting!” Snowstar called her clan and they came, “Air, you did amazing at your assessment, and I trust that Tarfur and Rayclaw have taught you about the warrior code, so I think you should receive his warrior name! I, Snowstar, leader of NightClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this cat. He has shown his skill and promise to uphold your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in turn. Air, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to defend and protect this clan with your life?”
“I do,” Air swore.
“Then by the power of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Air, from this moment on you will be known as Airclaw!” Airclaw hesitantly licked Snowstar’s shoulder when she bent down to touch her nose to his head. “Airclaw! Airclaw!” NightClan choursed the new warrior’s name. “Now stay silent and guard the camp for the night as your vigil. Dismissed!” Snowstar yowled, as Airclaw walked to the edge of camp without a word.
The next day, Nightheart brought back a kit after patrol. The cat was asleep, but he could feel an ominous aura coming from him. I’ll talk to Snowstar about this, he thought. He confronted her in her den after she had chosen to keep him. Rayclaw padded up to Snowstar once she was alone. “Are you sure about this, Snowstar? I’m just saying, we already have six cats. Plus he’ll be another mouth to feed! Are you sure we can survive with him?” he asked.
“Yes, Rayclaw. I’m sure about this,” Snowstar replied after a few moments, though Rayclaw knew her thoughts were much deeper than what she’d said. The young cat seemed to have a dark, dark past.
At sunset, Rayclaw called Tarfur over so they could talk with Airclaw. “How did you escape from those cats?” Rayclaw questioned.
“They called themselves the Abandoned Clique,” Airclaw said. “They said they had no more use for me about 5 sunrises ago and tossed me off the gorge near their base. A weird glowing cat appeared while I was falling and saved me by pushing me into a river nearby. He then told me to follow him and brought me to this forest. Eventually I found you guys, so I’m grateful to him.”
“That’s just like the cat in my dreams!” Rayclaw exclaimed. “He keeps showing me an island that some weird cat destroys.” He left out the part that the cat resembled him, knowing it could cause controversy.
Tar yawned, “This isn’t really accomplishing anything if you don’t know who he is. I’m going to sleep,” he muttered.
“I think I’ll take a rest too,” agreed Airclaw. “See you tomorrow, Rayclaw.” They left Rayclaw there and he stood there for a while before going to sleep himself.
The next morning the little kit was given his apprentice name, Nightpaw, and Rayclaw was asked to mentor him.
“That’s it! Now swipe your paws under his legs to make him lose his balance! Perfect! Now try pouncing on his belly to keep him down!” Rayclaw told Nightpaw. The black and white cat was learning fast, and proving to be a formidable opponent.
Airclaw stepped back, heaving. Nightpaw walked over to Rayclaw and sat down, clearly exhausted. “Did I do well?” he heaved.
“Yes, now I think that’s enough for today.”
In a few moons Nightpaw was given his warrior name, Nightshadow. “Nightshadow! Nightshadow!” all of NightClan was shouting, but the loudest was Rayclaw.
“Now you may sit your vigil and guard the camp!” Snowstar flicked her tail, signaling that the meeting was over.
Rayclaw went over to congratulate Nightshadow. “I’m so proud of you, you deserve to be here, Nightshadow!” he whispered. Nightshadow gave him a grateful yet sad look. I wonder why he looks so sorry. He was a great apprentice, Rayclaw wondered.
LightningClan had upped their antics for the past moon. They had attacked twice already, and Rayclaw was sure they’d come back for more. Last time, when Brevinstar led them to a clearing for a ‘truce’, Hayleypelt ambushed them and injured Airclaw badly. He was still recovering in the medicine den. Rayclaw was eating a rabbit on a sunny afternoon when he scented something unusual. A glowing cat appeared in front of him. His eyes widened as he recognized who it was. “Light!” he exclaimed before realizing his body was below him and he was glowing too. “Yes, my son. I am able to speak to you in this form. But do know revenge isn’t everything.” “But..” Rayclaw replied. “I know you enjoy being in a Clan, so don’t deny it.” She sighed. “However, the cats who killed me are a growing evil.” Rayclaw’s eyes blazed. “Then we do need to get rid of them.” “Just remember, revenge is not everything,” Light replied before fading away. Rayclaw returned to his own body. Dazed, he finished his rabbit and was about to take a rest in the warrior’s den when Brevinstar and Hayleypelt barged through the camp entrance. He snapped back to his regular self as the whole Clan stopped what they were doing as Brevinstar yowled and the battle raged on. Everyone fought long and hard, until at last Brevinstar left them. Rayclaw grimaced. “Are you okay?” Wispyflower asked. Blood was spilling from one of his forelegs, courtesy of Hayleypelt. “I’m not immortal, but I’ll be fine. I’ll make sure those mange-pelts never come back next time!” he spat angrily towards the ground. “No,” Wispyflower replied. You’re coming with me. No complaining!” Rayclaw sighed and obeyed. When she was finished treating his wounds, Rayclaw stumbled over to the warriors den and plopped down on his nest. He was woken up by Airclaw. He was surprised that he was healed. “When did Wispyflower let you go?” he asked. “A few hours ago,” he replied. “I thought I’d stay there forever! Anyways, get up. We’re going on patrol.” As he walked into the camp, he scented an unfamiliar cat. “One second,” he told Airclaw and ran off to the leader’s den, where there was a small kit no more than a few weeks old padding around Snowstar. “Oh!” Snowstar’s head snapped up and the kit stopped running around her and hid behind her back. “Angelkit, this is my deputy, Rayclaw! He organizes patrols and is really smart!. Angelkit, go say hello.” The kit padded over to him, and suddenly slashed at him with her paws. Rayclaw jumped, rather curious to what had just transpired. “Snowstar taught me that!” she said proudly. “She also said you’re skinny, but strong!” The kit's voice reminded him of something… but what?
A bit of time passed, and Angelkit received her apprentice name. One day, as Rayclaw came back from a patrol, he heard a sudden yelp. “INVADERS!!!!!!” Airclaw yowled. Everyone immediately stopped what they were doing and ran to where Airclaw was standing. “A Phil’s Quarry spy!!!!!” Snowstar shouted.
“How do you know that he is from Phil’s Quarry cat?” Wispyflower asked. “Because he has a collar, like a kittypet. Also he’s carrying odd rocks and Phil’s Quarry cats have scars and scrapes on their paws, like him,” Snowstar replied. Rayclaw growled. He’d known they would come, but not this soon. The cat sneered. “ATTACK, Quarry!” he yelled. What happened next was two dozen cats brutally and recklessly attacking six experienced cats and one who could hold her own. While the odds were about 1 to 4, in the Quarry’s favor, NightClan held together and Rayclaw took out 3 at once by jumping on one, then feinting an attack on another, causing him to hit his partner. He raced over to help Airclaw fight three at once, and they were easily disposed of until two more replaced each. Rayclaw scanned the area and saw Nightheart splayed on the ground, and Snowstar struggling to guard the medicine den and Wispyflower.
“Airclaw, help Snowstar guard the medicine den!” he urgently warned. “She’s in trouble!” “But you can’t take on 6 cats at once!” he responded. “That’s suicide!”
“Don’t worry about me,” he smirked. “I’ll do away with them.” Seeing Rayclaw was serious, he obeyed and scampered towards the medicine den.
“You won’t get away!” a Quarry member shouted, but Rayclaw attacked him viciously then jumped onto a tree. The Quarry cats were confused and started attacking one another. He looked over to Tarfur, who was heading towards him, and also saw Airclaw and Snowstar defeat the cats attacking them. Wispyflower used this opportunity to grab Nightheart to heal her. Tarfur finished the stragglers until one small cat that couldn’t be more than seven moons old. “I’ll get rid of the pest,” Tarfur hissed. Snowstar prodded towards Tarfur with Rayclaw replacing her.
“Tar, no! it is against the warrior code to attack kits.”
“Snowstar, he obviously isn’t a kit!!” Tarfur growled.
“Then we can hold him hostage and we can even possibly train him.”
”Whatever,” Tarfur groaned.
“What’s your name?” Snowstar asked the bewildered young cat.
“Matt,” he shakedly replied. “Please don’t hurt me! They kidnapped me when I was little and forced me to join them!” What an odd name, Rayclaw thought.
”You were forced to join them, right?” Snowstar asked gently.
”Yes!” He squealed.
“Then you can stay. It doesn’t matter if you are-”
A staggering Quarry cat came from behind and scratched her. She fell to the ground and her vision clouded. He cackled.
“You will pay for defeating us. This is one of the many tolls that will come for you.” He gasped a shaky breath and fell unconscious. “Snowstar!” Wispyflower yelled. But it was too late. She had lost one of her nine lives. Rayclaw tsked. Not many cats get a redo in life. She rose back up from the ground a few moments later, with a… different look in her eyes. Dying must take a toll on you, Rayclaw thought. Snowstar turned to a terrified Matt. “You can stay,” she echoed thoughtlessly. Rayclaw narrowed his eyes, suspicious of their leaders intentions. He followed her silently to her den, but she soon turned to the camp exit. Rayclaw was curious as to what she was doing, so he followed her. When she was out of sight, he climbed the nearest tree and nimbly hopped to the next until he caught up to her. His eyes widened as she swam to the island where the Moonjewel was! He knew he couldn’t risk being caught, so he tried to appear in StarClan to see what she was doing by closing his eyes and focusing so he could materialize there. Suddenly, he rose from his body and realized he was in StarClan! The same cat from his dreams appeared. “It's not nice to intrude in a dream, Rayclaw,” he said. "Who are you anyway?” asked Ray. "Stop being so mysterious, like a ghost.” “I am a ghost,” he replied. “And my name is Cliffstar. Oh look, Snowstar, over here!” Hearing this, Rayclaw hid in a bush, awaiting her arrival. She soon materialized near Cliffstar. "Hello, Snowstar. Why have you come today?” Cliffstar asked. “I-I'm doubting if Clan life is really the right path for me,” she stuttered. Cliffstar seemed unfazed by this, but Rayclaw could tell that he was surprised. Another she-cat emerged from the grass. "Daytail, what do you think?” Cliffstar asked her. She merely shook her head. “I'm not here for her. I'm here to help the other one.” Cliffstar appeared to understand, but Rayclaw was confused. The other one? Who's th- His thoughts were cut off as he faded into water, the reappeared in a meadow, where the cat named Daytail was. She smiled at him and said, “Rayclaw, you must find this cat. She will be instrumental in rebuilding the Clans.” “What? Who?” Rayclaw replied. Daytail walked to a foggy pond where there was a white and grey spotted cat with blue eyes. She looked about the same age as Rayclaw, but something seemed mystical about her. "She has the power of the stars,” Daytail said. “As do you.” "Me?” Rayclaw replied. “Yes,” she replied. “Snowstar is leaving, you should go now so you don't get caught. Farewell, scion of Firestar…”
Rayclaw woke back up on the tree. He quickly hopped to the next, and so forth until he was back at camp. All the cats had already gone to sleep in their dens. Tired, he walked to the warriors den and collapsed in his nest, falling asleep.
The next dawn, Rayclaw woke up ready for another day of Clan life. However, he was worried about Snowstar’s talk with Cliffstar the night before, and was suspicious of her true thoughts about the Clan. He assigned hunting patrols and went out to hunt privately, and found two rabbits. That was a good hunt, he thought passively. But there were other things he was nervous about too. He still needed to find the she-cat Daytail had told him about in his dream. Rayclaw sighed. He needed to do way too many things!
Rayclaw walked into camp with his fresh-kill when he scented something odd near Snowstar. He turned his head and was surprised to see a ginger she-kit! The clan was growing fast and soon, Rayclaw thought, they may even be hard to control. He relied on Snowstar to make decisions like those because she seemed to find good cats for NightClan. He headed over to the fresh-kill pile and dropped one of the rabbits’ there, and ate the other quickly and was about to lead a patrol when Snowstar screamed, “Get away from Cherrykit, you dirty rouge!” Shocked, he pounded over to help her fight… a single cat? The rest of NightClan rushed to help, but the rogue wouldn’t back down. He turned his head as the whole Clan realized they were surrounded by large cats. A dark grey she-cat said, “I call that scrawny orange one!” pointing at Rayclaw. “Who are you calling scrawny!” he yelled in retaliation and jumped at her, but was easily overpowered. He couldn’t even come up with an escape plan before getting clawed yet again. So fast, and so strong! How can any cat be this brutal? he wondered. He found himself pinned by the she-cat and Wispyflower being gagged by her, and all around him his Clanmates were struggling. He suddenly spotted Nightheart hiding in the shadows. Knowing she would be spotted, she nodded to him and Rayclaw started making a distraction by trying to claw the grey tom, and the rest of the Clan copied so Nightheart would escape. He then tried to roll under the tom and when he tried to attack him, he pushed him. Rayclaw got up and scrambled to his feet as another blue-grey tom approached “Help me out, Whirlpool!” the grey she-cat sneered. Soon all of NightClan was back up and fighting. But everything stopped after a yowl entered the clearing. The grey tom spoke. “Hello, I am Death, that over there is my brother, Killer, with him is Whirlpool, clan cats! We still haven’t had a proper introduction. The golden she-cat is Sun, Tooth is the white tom, Berry is over there with Sun, Scorch is up here with me, and these four new cats are Whirlpool’s sisters, Sky, Pine, Alani, and Ginger.” Outnumbered and bewildered, the Clan cats had no choice but to follow them back to their base.
When they reached the camp. He followed Snowstar to the leader but wondered why they were accompanied by Nightshadow. There were many cats who were whispering until a golden one emerged from the shadows.“Night? Is that, is that you?” she asked.
Nightshadow raised his head a little more to see the she-cat better. “Sunset,” his voice was barely more than a whisper. “Yes, it’s him!” she said softly before yowling, “NIGHT HAS RETURNED!!! ALPHA’S SON HAS RETURNED!!!”
Cheers erupted through the camp and Rayclaw felt confused. He’s related to them? he thought. As the many cats celebrated, one cat said to Nightshadow, “Now you can take your place as the next Alpha! Of course, you’ll need to find a mate so that Alpha’s blood still runs through the Alpha.”
“I-I’m. That-that’s n-not what I’m h-here for,” Nightshadow tried to explain.
“Then what are you here for?” a deep voice spoke from above them.
A large black tom with red eyes stood upon a tall rock. “Father!” Nightshadow exclaimed. He spoke to four cats and once the first three spoke, the last; a small she-kit exclaimed, “Our ancestors have spoken!” gasps went around the crowd of cats, “Night has chosen his path of doom, it is doubtful he will change, but I must warn you, Alpha blood will follow many generations in other places! Night-wait, he has changed his name! Nightshadow is what he calls himself now-Nightshadow will have kin both here and elsewhere! He will take on two mates! This I have seen and read in the stars!” The tension was high when the little white she-kit spoke.“We haven’t yet met his companions!” she told her mate. “Once again, my mate is right. Step forward, the leader!” Alpha ordered. Snowstar stepped forward and Starlight guided her to Alpha. “Your name?” he asked. “Snowstar,” she muttered. “Do you have someone to take your place when you die?” “Yes, my deputy, Rayclaw.” Death padded up to Alpha with Rayclaw hissing beside her.
“Are you the one called Rayclaw?” Alpha asked him. They’re treating me like a puny kit! he thought. Well then, do unto others, that’s what I say. “Are you the one called Axe? Oh, I’m sorry, Alpha,” Rayclaw mocked. “I’ll take that as a yes,” Alpha chuckled, “but yes, I am Axe, and Alpha.” “Kill this one,” said Alpha. “He’s annoying. I don’t care how you do it, just throw him off the cliff or something.” Rayclaw’s eyes widened as Tooth effortlessly threw off him off the cliff. He then saw black.
He woke up to see Cliffstar standing over him. “Am I dead?” Rayclaw groggily asked. “You almost died,” he replied. “Thankfully you landed in a pond. Daytail and I are trying to bring you back to your body now.” “Will I be able to get back to my friends?” Rayclaw inquired. “Not for a while, I’m afraid. But in the meantime, you are near the she-cat Daytail told you about. Find her and bring her back to NightClan. “But how will they get back safely to our camp?” he complained. “They will,” he replied. “I will make sure of that. Speaking of which, it’s time for you to go back in your own body. Farewell, Rayclaw.”
When Rayclaw woke up, he was near a shallow pond's edge. He came to his senses and realized everything that had happened. Suddenly, he heard a yowl coming from a nearby forest. He raced towards the noise, though he took a strategic approach and went by tree so no one could see him. When he was close, he saw the she-cat Daytail had told him to find, but she was surrounded by five hostile looking cats. They were rather scrawny, but Rayclaw knew to not judge by appearances. Thinking quickly, he saw a large but movable rock on a nearby hill. He pounced toward it and pushed it into some of the cats to paralyze them. The remaining three, seeing that their comrades were injured, looked around in confusion. Moving like a shadow, he hopped from tree to tree until he could blindside one. He did so but found himself cornered by the others. However, Rayclaw just overpowered them with sheer strength and killed both. He rushed to the she-cat. She appeared to be wounded, though only mildly. “Are you okay?” he asked. She pushed herself up, and shakedly replied, “Yes, but soon more will come, and they will avenge their comrades. That was just the smallest fraction of their group. Thank you for saving me though.” "Wait, then why were they attacking you?” Rayclaw questioned. "Because I am part of a small group of cats who aren't in their group. They don't tolerate such a thing. You can come with me if you'd like.” Not knowing what else to do, Rayclaw followed her.
Soon they came to an oddly positioned log. "This covers the cave in which we live in,” the she-cat said. “My family is also there. Come on, let's go inside.” Rayclaw easily fit in the log and realized there was a cave under it. He nimbly hopped down and found himself in a surprisingly cozy den. Five other cats walked over to greet them. "Hello, Frostflurry. And I see you've brought a visitor as well.” the largest, a grey tom said. "We haven't had a proper introduction yet,” said the she-cat. “I am Frostflurry, Brackenthorn is my father who just spoke, the two in the back are my younger brothers Amberkit and Gorsekit, and my mother is the one with the amber eyes, Meadowshine.” "Wait, do you follow the same naming style as Cliffstar told us about?” Rayclaw asked. "The tradition was passed on by my great-great-grandfather, who called himself a ‘Clan’ cat,” Brackenthorn replied. "But unfortunately, the Clans separated when he was at a young age.” “Me and my friends rebuilt the Clans!” Rayclaw proudly said. “So that's why you seemed to know of it,” he replied. "But you still haven't told us your name,” Meadowshine said. “Oh, my name is Rayclaw.” He then proceeded to tell them how they made NightClan, up until he met Frostflurry. "It seems like you've come a long way,” said Meadowshine. "You can stay here with us, though it is still a danger because of the Guardians.” "Who are they?” Rayclaw asked. Brackenthorn's eyes narrowed as he spoke. "They are evil cats who believe they control all of the forest. My family has lived under fear of them for many moons. They have hundreds of cats, all who are as evil as the last. They kill anyone who stands in their way.” “Is there no way to stop them?” Rayclaw asked. Brackenthorn sighed. “Alone they would be harmless, but as I said, their numbers are too great to overwhelm.” “Then I'll find a way to stop them,” he replied. "That will be the end of you then,” he replied. "Good luck.” Rayclaw defiantly jumped out of the cave only to see it was almost night. All the Guardians will be sleeping, he thought. A plan started to form in his mind. He jolted his head to the side as he heard a noise from behind him. Alert, he was about to hop in a tree when Frostflurry emerged from the bushes. "What are you doing here?” Rayclaw asked. "Telling me not to go to my 'death’, I presume?” She laughed. "Well, I couldn't leave all the fun to you, right? I want a life that's not restricted. I’ve lived my whole life in fear, knowing that I could be killed at any moment. And you don’t know the first thing about healing, am I right?” Rayclaw groaned. “So whether you like it or not, I'm following you,” she continued. Rayclaw started a run and bolted towards a place where he could smell other cats. “Where are you going?” Frostflurry asked. “To spy on them or even recruit other cats,” he replied. “Then follow me,” she said. “We can go to Twolegplace, where there are house cats who are like us, but Twolegs protect them. But they can never go outside in fear of the Guardians.” “That sounds like an ideal place,” Rayclaw replied. They soon reached a large place with large dens made of hard material “The house cats are awake,” she whispered. “We have to climb over their barrier. Then we get the attention of Flash and we can talk to him.” “Who’s Flash?” he asked. “I’ve been here before, remember? I know most of the cats here. Look, there he is!” Rayclaw saw a fit grey tom who was waving to them. When they got close enough to him, he attempted to walk into the den but hit his head on something. “It’s called clearthorn, according to Flash.” She rolled her eyes. “It is the most stupid name ever. But there’s a passage that opens easily. We can enter through that.” Frostflurry went over to a piece of the wall that was brown and opaque. She pushed it and it moved so she could enter. She motioned to Rayclaw to do the same, and he followed en suite. He finally got to see the inside of the Twoleg den. It had tall roofs and oddly shaped things everywhere. Flash spoke. “Hi, Frostflurry! Who’s that with you?” “We’re going to stop the Guardians once and for all!” she replied proudly. Flash snorted. “With three cats? You’ve got to be kidding me. I may know how to fight, but there are hundreds of Guardians, Frostflurry.” ”And that’s why we’re getting more cats to help us,” Rayclaw said. Flash glanced at him. “Who are you anyway, and why do you think you could take out all the Guardians?” “He took out six single-handedly,” Frostflurry replied. “WHAT?” Flash exclaimed. “There is no way, not in as many moons as you can think of, could he take out six Guardians. But I will join you. I’ve lived in captivity and fear long enough.” “Perfect,” Rayclaw replied. “We will definitely need Jasmine and Black too,” Flash said. “I’ll lead you to them and we can recruit them to join us. We have to be quiet to not wake their Twolegs, but thankfully mine don’t care about my whereabouts too much.” ”Then let’s go!” Rayclaw announced. They left the Twoleg den and followed Flash as their mission continued.
Soon the sun started to come up and Flash stopped at a den bigger than most of the others. “This is where they live,” Flash whispered. Rayclaw groaned. He hadn’t slept or eaten since the day he’d fought those Guardians. “I’m starving,” he weakly said. “Can we eat?” “C’mon, sleepyhead, we’re here,” Frostflurry replied. “We can eat inside.” They jumped over another tall barrier and saw two cats waiting for them. One was a grey she-cat, and the other was a black tom. “Hi Flash! Hi Frostflurry! What brings you here?” asked the black tom. “You’ve even brought friends!” said the other. “We plan on destroying the Guardians,” Raystar calmly explained. “I’m Rayclaw, by the way.” “Bountiful goal you have there,” the she-cat said. “But we haven’t introduced ourselves yet. I’m Jasmine, and my brother Black is over there.” “I’d like to help you, if that’s okay.” Black proclaimed. “Then I’ll go too,” Jasmine agreed. “This is perfect!” Rayclaw said. “We still need more cats to help us though.” “Can I ask a question?” asked Flash. “What is it?” Rayclaw replied. “We need a name for our group to bring a sense of order.” Suddenly a shiny cat appeared. “Who are you?” Jasmine asked. “I am Slenderleg, and I was a SunClan warrior under Cliffstar.” “Cliffstar?” Rayclaw remarked. “You know him?” asked Frostflurry. “I’ve met him,” he responded. Slenderleg cleared her throat. “That’s not what I came here to tell you.” “Oh, right,” Rayclaw snapped back to attention. “There is someone not too far from here that knows the Guardians weakness.” “What?!” everyone else yelled in surprise. “How?” Flash cried. “Wait, what if she is faking on us?” Jasmine warned. “It could be a trap.” “Not as much a trap as a difficult mission,” Slenderleg sighed. “He will not be easy to convince to help.” “So what do we do?” asked Rayclaw. “There is one thing…” responded Slenderleg.
“I can’t believe we’re doing this,” groaned Rayclaw. Frostflurry snorted. “You’re the one who asked for more information.” “That doesn’t mean I wanted to lure Guardians in a cave by risking our lives!” he replied, exasperated. “Enough arguing,” said Flash. “I see three Guardians over there.” Raystar anxiously whispered their plan again. “Okay, get their attention, then run like crazy until we get to the cave.” ”I don’t know if that’s crazy or brave,” said Flash. “But it’s the only way, right?” “Yeah,” Rayclaw replied. “NOW GO!” The five cats bolted towards the Guardians and leapt on their backs, then turned tail and ran. The Guardians, as expected, cut to the chase.”It’s working!” yelled Black as the wind rushed around them. The cave where the cat was supposed to live came into sight and they ran with all their might inside it. They skidded to a stop as they realized there was no cat… there was a coyote!
A long breath of silence occured, and it felt like everything was in slow-motion. The Guardians rushed in the cave and immediately turned their efforts towards the coyote, but were easily disposed of. The coyote threw them to the back of the cave, where they fell unconscious. The others were frozen in fear, until the coyote spoke in a gravelly voice. “And what business do you have with me?” “We n-need your h-help,” Rayclaw shakedly replied. “And who, exactly, told you about me?” he gruffly asked. He was hesitant for a moment, then replied. “A c-cat named Slenderleg.” The coyote’s eyes widened. “Very well. My name is Blaze, and I can assume you want to beat the Guardians?” “Y-yes,” Raystar answered, still shocked. “Well, their weakness is their leader. He is the most cunning and strategic cat ever.” Rayclaw had to stifle his laughter by coughing loudly at this. “But he is poor in combat, being small. However, to kill him you’ll have to get past his guards. They are the strongest Guardians he hand-picked from hundreds of cats.” He paused, seeming to order his thoughts. “He lives on the tallest hill in this gorge, which you may know as Blood Hill.” The other cats gasped. “Where’s that?” Rayclaw asked in confusion. Flash whispered, “The rumors, they’re terrifying. Tales of dark cats who consume any living soul.” “The rumors are exaggerated,” Blaze annoyedly said. “If I may continue?” “Oh, sorry,” Flash said, settling back down. “There are spirits that roam around Blood Hill, but if you avoid them by taking the pure river that flows into it, you’ll be just fine. I can lead you there, but I cannot come with you. If I do, then they will easily notice my scent. You are cats, so you’ll blend in. But... you may want more numbers. With an army only this size, you’ll never be able to get there. When you are ready, come back to me.” Rayclaw turned around and motioned the others to follow him. Once they were outside, he asked, “Do you have any cats that we could convince to help us?” “I have an idea,” said Jasmine. “We split up and get lots of cats to join us. Rayclaw, since no one around here is that familiar with you, can you set up a base?” “Sure, sounds good!” he replied. “Well, off we go then!” The other cats headed back to the Twolegplace. Raystar headed the other direction then stopped. He wondered, Why am I even helping these cats in the first place? He dismissed the thought, remembering that Daytail wanted him to do something like this. Rayclaw began to set up nests in a different cave, taking a break every so often to rest. Once he was done setting up extra nests (for the new cats they were gathering), and then he padded into the forest for some fresh-kill. I just want to go home, Rayclaw thought. But he had no idea where his Clanmates were; and if he did, how would he get to them? Rayclaw spotted a rabbit that was lazily eating. He began to stalk it, and then pounced. The rabbit was too slow to react, and Rayclaw killed it with a finishing strike.
A bit of time later, he returned back with plenty of food for everyone. It was nearly dark, but Frostflurry and the others still hadn’t come back. He started to get worried and panicked. I have no choice but to find them, right? Rayclaw asked himself. He headed out of the cave, and swiftly ran over to the Twolegplace. Rayclaw began to run through the large area, pausing every so often to catch his breath. He’d seen no cats yet, which was getting a bit scary. A yowl pierced through the night air. Rayclaw turned around, and headed for the noise. Tired and out of breath; he paused for a moment, then looked up and gasped at what was in front of him.
A full on battle was taking place in front of him. And Rayclaw could scent... dogs?!