|The Soaring Wren Series: Return to the Clans|
|Returning Willows||Succeded by: |
- 1 Blurb
- 2 Prologue
- 3 Chapter One - Soarpaw
- 4 Chapter Two - Wrenstar
- 5 Chapter Three - Hollypaw
- 6 Chapter Four - Leafpaw
- 7 Chapter Five - Leafpaw
- 8 Chapter Six - Soarpaw
- 9 Chapter Seven - Hollypaw
- 10 Chapter Eight - Wrenstar
- 11 Chapter Nine - Leafpaw
- 12 Chapter Ten - Hollypaw
- 13 Chapter Eleven - Wrenstar
- 14 Chapter Twelve - Soarpaw
- 15 Epilogue - Soarpaw
- 16 Author's Note
In the fourth and final book of The Soaring Wren Series: Return to the Clans, WillowClan have finally found a place to live, but naturally it doesn't come without struggles.
It's hard for the four Clans to accept that it's really five of them now: and WillowClan needs to adapt to having rivals. However, there are greater priorities for the fifth Clan: and that is to set up a home. However, it's hard to find a good place.
With the help of one of their new neighbors, WillowClan might just have the strength that they need. And maybe, soon, WillowClan can gain back the peace they once had when the willows started to fall.
While the living Clans struggled to deal with the fact that there was actually five Clans, not four, StarClan rejoiced as WillowClan's ancestors rejoined with theirs at last.
Many spirits joined together: slightly separated as the ancestors of the smaller group joined with the larger one. Before they converged, five cats, barely even a whisper in the territory, stepped forward to rejoice.
From the smaller group, it was Willow herself. The dark gray she-cat, whom had watched her Clan since its inception, touched noses with the other four founders. They all were excited, whether they showed it or not. There was Cloudfeather, his blue eyes shining as he touched noses with his old friend: Currentwind, who seemed much more composed, but a pleased look was on her face as she reunited with Willow. Then, there was Hollowskip, who didn't appear to show any emotion at all, and Leafheart, who whispered a "Welcome back!" to Willow as they too touched noses.
Once upon a time, these cat had founded their respective Clans: WillowClan, CloudClan, CurrentClan, HollowClan, and LeafClan. Naturally, they were close, even though Willow had been separated from them for countless moons.
After their brief talk, Hollowskip - often known as Hollowstar, founder of HollowClan - silenced all the spirits. All cats, no matter whether they'd been WillowClan warriors or CurrentClan medicine cats in their past lives, didn't dare to utter a word. "StarClan has been reunited," the dark brown tabby cat mewed, "and I assure that this time they will not get ton apart again. Now that we are whole again, I want it to be that way. Cats, go talk with our Clanmates that have come back to us."
And with that, there were yowls and a thrumming of paws as the two groups ran towards each other and embraced, leaving the five founders stuck in the middle of them all.
They had to admit, they liked what they saw. They could hear some the conversations from where they were standing.
They could see a brown tabby WillowClan she-cat approach a russet HollowClan tom, eyes wide. "...The name's Flowerheart." Her words seems kind of unsteady, unsure. "I'm from WillowClan... who are you?"
The russet tom smiled over at Flowerheart. "My name's Russetripple. I was a HollowClan warrior, once upon a time." His gaze looked wistful as he talked about his former Clan. "How was the journey over here? Was it hard?"
While Flowerheart and Russetripple initiated a conversation between themselves, the five founders looked down at the ground, to the living world. The full moon had clearly risen high in the sky, and usually at this time the Clans would be talking peacefully about news and stuff. However, this Gathering was definitely not in that case - as the unexpected WillowClan cats had gone and shaken that up.
"They'll realize," Leafheart whispered from among the leaders. "They'll realize what they are."
"Well, obviously, the medicine cats know," hissed Hollowskip in reply. "Thank StarClan for that. The Clans will listen to them."
"...But warriors... they won't want to listen to their medicine cats in a situation like this!" Currentwind spoke next, the blue-gray cat's eyes wide. "It'll be too late."
"But they know," Cloudfeather reminded the other leaders, seeming calm. "Hollypaw and Soarpaw... they know this is the end. They'll convince them to listen."
"I don't know if Wrenstar will, though... that's the only problem," Willow whispered, amber eyes staring at the ground. "They're apprentices... and her daughters." She let out a sigh, and closed her mouth.
However, as much as they wanted to help, they all knew that they couldn't. They were confined to StarClan, to watch it all. The only thing that they could cling into now was to wait and see how the Clans reacted...
...and they'd be left to see what had happened to them at the end.
Chapter One - Soarpaw
Soarpaw was at the front of the group of WillowClan cats as they looked down to see some other cats. There were more there than her Clan combined, that was for sure. Behind her, she heard a few cats making some surprised remarks about all the cats:
"There's so many!" A rather excited, apprentice-like voice mewed - Soarpaw was sure it was Wolfpaw. "How many cats live in this place?"
Not many of the cats, however, shared Wolfpaw's enthusiasm about seeing so many cats. "...Is this good or bad?" Splashstrike mewed softly as she leaned on Aspendusk, tail curled over her stomach. The two were officially mates now, according to the latest Clan rumors. Soarpaw believed it, too - she'd heard some news from Meadowcloud that Splashstrike was expecting his kits, but the couple had decided to keep it secret for the meanwhile.
The older cats - notably Smallspeck, the only elder - were completely against it. "This isn't going to be good," the silver-and-black cat grumbled, looking annoyed. "Other cats were trouble, back in the old territory. I don't see why this will be any different."
Meanwhile, a voice echoed from below: "WillowClan? What...?"
Soarpaw heard a cat say that rather loudly. Peering back over in the direction where the voice was from, she saw a disturbance in a tree in the area. She saw one, two, three, four shapes leap out of the tree, landing on the ground. Faintly, she heard a voice mew: "Deputies, lead your Clans back to the camps. We have something important to deal with."
...Wait a moment. Clans...? Soarpaw shot a look at Meadowcloud, her mentor, who was standing nearby. The dark gray she-cat glanced back at her, mouthing: "I think this may very well be them," to her, before looking back up.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Clan had erupted into chaos. WillowClan themselves knew about the other four Clans, yes - the myths mentioned them, about WillowClan leaving for the willow territory - but they knew little about anything else about them, apart from the names. Hisses of: "Is that really them?" shot through the crowd, and relies of "They don't really exist, they're only in myths," to "I don't know, for StarClan's sake, why are you asking me!"
"So, you're called WillowClan, yes?"
Soarpaw turned around as she heard a tomcat speak. A gray tabby cat had padded up to Wrenstar - WilowClan's leader - and was eyeing her up. Behind him was a brown tabby, a black-and-white cat - both toms - and a dark gray tabby she-cat.
"That's what my Clan is called, yes." Wrenstar looked calm in her response, meeting the gray tabby's gaze. "My name is Wrenstar, as I mentioned earlier. You are...?"
At the mention of names, the gray tabby's fur fluffed up in annoying, as if he wished Wrenstar hadn't asked that question. "...My name's Rockstar," he mewed slowly, after pausing for a moment. "I am the leader of CurrentClan. The brown tabby is Thornstar, leader of CloudClan. The she-cat is Fernstar, leader of LeafClan, and the black-andpwhite cat is Sharpstar, leader of HollowClan. We -"
Rockstar's speech was abruptly cut off by an excited shriek from Branchpaw, Wolfpaw's brother and another WillowClan apprentice. "So... it's really them?" the brown cat mewed, looking up at Wrenstar. "The cats that we heard about in those myths? They're... true?"
"Apparently," Nightfleck grunted in reply from behind the apprentice, the black tom's eyes narrowed.
While this incident had occurred, Soarpaw had seen the eyes of the other four Clan leaders round in surprise for a moment. They turned to each other for a moment, before the black-and-white cat - Sharpstar, from what had been mentioned earlier - turned to the WillowClan cats, and mewed: "Myths? We've never heard of a so-called WillowClan in our Clan's myths. We find it somewhat... odd."
At this, a few WillowClan cats stared stonily back. Soarpaw, meanwhile, was somewhat confused. She knew that WillowClan was telling the truth - she hadn't seen those medicine cats in those visions back in the old territory for nothing - but the question was this: how would she, an apprentice, convince them? But then again... I'm not the only cat to know... Meadowcloud could help, or -
"Thornstar, wait!" A cat's voice rang through the air, and Soarpaw was cut out from her thoughts as she saw a cat approaching. Thornstar himself turned - the brown tabby looking confused - as a small white cat appeared.
For a moment, the brown tabby leader looked over the cat, who appeared to be an apprentice. Then, he mewed: "Leafpaw? What are you doing here?"
"...The medicine cats are coming," the apprentice - Leafpaw - mewed breathlessly. "We have something to say."
At the name, Soarpaw jumped. This cat - she was the medicine cat of CloudClan! She'd seen her in that vision that time! "Leafpaw!?" she mewed in surprise.
At her name being called, she turned calmly, and met her gaze. "Soarpaw...?" In reply, she briskly nodded, causing Leafpaw to gasp. "So it is really WillowClan..."
As the two apprentices spoke, Thornstar - Leafpaw's leader - looked extremely confused. "What in the name of StarClan, Leafpaw?!" he mewed in surprise. "You don't even know this cat! None of us -"
"Actually," a new voice interrupted from nearby, "we know who they are."
Soarpaw watched as Thornstar turned. Five cats - the other medicine cats, Soarpaw knew - had appeared. The speaker had been a black she-cat, whom Soarpaw recognized as Pansypetal, the medicine cat of CurrentClan.
Rockstar then turned to his medicine cat, a shocked look on his face. "How do you know them?" he mewed, confusion obvious in his tone. "They've come from far away, haven't met any of these cats in my life - how do you know who they are, Pansypetal?"
Pansypetal sighed. "...I think we medicine cats need to tell you a story... the story of WillowClan, with help from our friends here." She then nodded at Meadowcloud, who stepped forward: Wrenstar and Dewfrost, too, stepped out from the crowd of WillowClan cats. Seeing as she was the medicine cat apprentice, Soarpaw joined them: Leafpaw was there, and she was definitely still in her training as well!
With that, every cat crowded around, and then Pansypetal turned to Wrenstar. "WillowClan, leader, I think it's best you start. It's your Clan, after all."
Soarpaw's gaze flickered to Wrenstar. She knew her mother was nervous, she could see it in her posture. However, she knew that Wrenstar had to do this. Shuffling her paws in anticipation, the ginger apprentice kept her gaze on Wrenstar, silently waiting for her to begin speaking.
Chapter Two - Wrenstar
Usually, when Wrenstar spoke to a group of cats, she felt completely fine - but for once, she actually ended up feeling slightly nervous. The dark tabby leader wasn't sure of the reason why, but she felt like shrinking away and hiding instead of having to speak about a Clan to lots of cats - some of which she only knew names.
Knowing the situation of her Clan stopped Wrenstar from hiding. Facing this feeling head-on, she knew, was the only way she was going to do any good for anyone. She opened her mouth, hesitating for a moment, before she began to speak. Before she spoke, she acknowledged the other leaders with a dip of her head.
"My name is Wrenstar," she began, as she rose up from the greeting. "I am the leader of WillowClan, this group of cats who has ventured far to find a new home. Our previous home in a willow forest, a half-moon's walk away from here, has been destroyed by Twolegs, so we were forced to move."
No cat spoke in response to this. WillowClan and the medicine cats from the other four Clans didn't react at all, as they knew this already, but there was a look of mild surprise from the four leaders. One of them - Fernstar, Wrenstar noted - even had her mouth hanging open.
The she-cat then continued, not wanting the silence to drag on for too long. "We..." Admittedly, Wrenstar wasn't exactly sure of what to say next, so she just let the rest of the sentence spill out. "We're pretty exhausted from travelling this far, and we've lost one of our warriors on the journey."
From behind Wrenstar, a cat wailed softly. The dark tabby winced: it was obvious that Tangleleap's death was still fresh in the minds of all the cats. Taking in a deep breath, she went on: "We are lucky to have not lost any more warriors."
"Yeah, yeah, whatever, quit telling us about your journey." An annoyed voice interrupted her, and Wrenstar turned to her gaze to see a disgruntled gray tom - Rockstar, Wrenstar thought his name was. "I've never heard of this 'WillowClan' before in my life. You guys, for all I know, could be some group of loners coming to attack us. How can I be sure to trust you?"
Surprised, Wrenstar took a step back. How am I meant to explain this to him!? She knew that for WillowClan, the other four Clans had been mentioned in the elders' stories - but for these Clans, it appeared that WillowClan wasn't mentioned at all! Didn't they know that they existed. "I -" she began, surprised, but then a cat swept in front of her, cutting her off.
"Wrenstar, don't worry, I've got this." The confident voice of Meadowcloud spoke to Wrenstar, and the leader nodded in response, feeling relieved. She knows all about them. Meadowcloud would be good at explaining.
"Leaders." Meadowcloud acknowledged the other four leaders with a dip of the head as well. "My name is Meadowcloud. I am the medicine cat of WillowClan, and I can assure you that we have existed for generations. There were five Clans in this forest, once upon a time - the five Clans that are standing here today. WillowClan, apparently, has lived here before."
The leaders looked surprised at this - especially Rockstar, who gave a defiant huff of annoyance. He, however, didn't move. The medicine cats, however, were nodding in agreement from where they were standing - Wrenstar knew at once that these were the only cats that knew of WillowClan's existence before now.
"However, many seasons ago," Meadowcloud continued, "there was an incident in WiloowClan's territory. Apprently, twolegs came and cut down some of the willows in the territory. The warriors of the Clan at the time starved, and it got so bad that they had to leave, as there was no room left in the forest for them."
Now, Wrenstar saw the HollowClan leader, Sharpstar, frowning. "...I've heard that they cut down some willows many moons ago," the leader mewed quietly, "but I was never told that there was a Clan involved with this." The black-and-white cat paused for a moment, obviously mid-thought. "...But the Twolegs then replanted the trees. That's how the story went."
"Yeah, that's right." A gray medicine cat that Wrenstar couldn't quite remember the name of spoke now, her amber eyes wide. "They replanted the trees." She too paused in the middle of what she was saying. "If WillowClan was to move back, they could -"
"Woah, woah, Streamreed, you're going a little fast there." The other tom leader - the CloudClan one, Wrenstar noted - looked at his medicine cat, eyes narrowed. "They might not even return to the forest. Now, you medicine cats, it appears that you've heard of these cats before. How do you know them?" The last sentence that the tom said rose in pitch at the end - he was evidently confused.
"I'll take back over this part." Pansypetal piped up again: the black medicine cat hadn't spoken since she'd asked Wrenstar to speak. Rising to her paws, the CurrentClan cat started to speak loudly, silencing any cat that had started to whisper. "We medicine cats know of WillowClan because by StarClan's powers we have managed to stay in contact. We've been able to talk through the many seasons apart, and the memories of each other have been kept alive. We know that they exist, leaders. We know them. We can't leave them." Her blue gaze turned to Rockstar's: the gray cat looked surprised, and also as though he was going to accept Pansypetal's words.
With a sigh, he admitted it. "If you say so, Pansypetal, I think... it could be true." He shook out his fur. "But if WillowClan is to settle down here... how in the name of StarClan is this going to work?"
At Rockstar's words, WillowClan started to whisper among themselves, and Wrenstar had to let out a resigned sigh. Rockstar was right - what would happen? Now that they were potentially in a place to call home, Wrenstar wasn't sure how to start. She'd just realized yet another issue that needed solving.
How in the name of StarClan are we going to build a new home?
Chapter Three - Hollypaw
After the question was raised about where WillowClan would go, murmurs broke out among Hollypaw's Clanmates as they predicted what would happen to them.
"...Will we have to fend for ourselves so soon?" Nearby, Hollypaw heard Stormstrike fretting about the issue, talking with Hareswift and Lightningsky. "This seems like an okay place, but I'm not sure if any of these other Clans will help."
Hareswift, Stormstrike's mate, seemed more optimistic. "That could be true, but I don't believe that all of the Clans would leave us to fend for ourselves. One, at least, will help - surely?" Swiveling her head to get a better look at the warriors, the apprentice saw Lightningsky nodding in agreement to the brown warrior's words.
Meanwhile, there was a different sort of debate amongst the apprentices. Hareswift and Stormstrike's four kits had crowded around in a circle, discussing loudly about which Clan they thought would help.
"So you think CurrentClan's gonna help us, Tanglepaw?" Ripplepaw was commanding the conversation as usual. Now, as she turned to look at the apprentices, she saw Tanglepaw nodding at his dark gray brother.
"Pansypetal seems nice enough," he reasoned with a shrug of his gray-and-brown shoulders.
"What about you two?" Ripplepaw looked at Sunpaw and Yellowpaw now. Yellowpaw opened her mouth to answer, but before she could speak she was cut off by a loud yowl from the front of the group of WillowClan cats:
"Silence, everyone! We need to discuss what happens now." A tom's voice rose above the clamor, and the apprentices, as well as every other cat, fell silent almost immediately. Hollypaw strained to look over the group of cats: it didn't help that she was at the back, especially because of her age. However, she did see the speaker - Thornstar, if she recalled correctly - pacing.
"Now," the tomcat mewed, "seeing as we have decided that WillowClan shall be staying, we need to decide what's going to happen to them tonight." He paused for a moment, then continued: "CloudClan is willing to offer hospitality to these cats if need be. What about you other leaders?" His head turned back towards the other three cats, asking them what they wanted to do.
"...I'm still a little unsure about this," another tomcat admitted from the group of leaders. "If CloudClan wishes to offer help... they can do that. Plus, HollowClan's camp has no room for extras right now - we need to expand the warriors' den."
So it's not going to be HollowClan, Hollypaw thought, as she heard Ripplepaw mutter: "Great StarClan, I've lost my bet."
"Fernstar? Rockstar?" Thornstar questioned, looking towards the other two leaders now that the HollowClan one - Sharpstar, she remembered - had spoken.
Rockstar shook his head. "I think that WillowClan would be more comfortable with LeafClan or CloudClan... they both live under trees. You WillowClan cats live under trees, yes?"
"That is correct." Hollypaw heard Wrenstar reply to the CurrentClan leader, even though she couldn't see her from where she was.
"Fair enough, Rockstar. Fernstar?" Thornstar now turned to the gray LeafClan leader, waiting to see what she'd say.
She sighed, before mewing: "I... I'm happy to help, but I'm not very keen to have this many cats in my camp." She then paused. "I'd rather not separate them, though. Take them, Thornstar, to CloudClan. I think that's the best option."
"Okay, deal. WillowClan will come to our camp," Thornstar agreed.
Hollypaw felt weary enough. This meant more walking - and she was so tired of that right now! However, she knew that after this, she'd be able to stop for once with her Clan, and rest.
They'd finally found a place to call home, even if it was temporary.
Let's do this.
Chapter Four - Leafpaw
"Here we are." Thornstar's mew echoed through the crisp night air as the two Clans arrived at CloudClan's camp. "This is our camp."
Leafpaw, being CloudClan's medicine cat apprentice, was one of the first cats to enter. WillowClan's important cats followed her, and then the remaining cats - WillowClan's members and CloudClan's representatives at the Gathering. After she'd entered, Leafpaw sat down near the entrance, watching cats as they came in.
Because of the large quantity of cats that had to enter, it took a while for every cat to fit inside the camp entrance. After every cat had entered, the white she-cat looked around.
The camp seems overcrowded now, she thought. Never before had there been so many cats that she'd seen in her Clan's camp! Looking behind her, Leafpaw saw WillowClan conversing within itself, while Wrenstar and Thornstar were hurriedly discussing arrangements with each other. The two brown tabbies broke apart at that moment, the tomcat letting out a yowl.
"All cats, gather below the Boulder for a Clan meeting!" he called, before heading over the smooth rock which he commanded meetings from. Leafpaw watched him leap up onto it, and then Wrenstar joining him on it shortly after - obviously Thornstar had invited the WillowClan leader onto his place to call meetings.
Confidently, Leafpaw stood up, moved away from the entrance, and approached the boulder. The CloudClan cats that hadn't gone to wake up their Clanmates for the meeting did the same. The WillowClan cats, meanwhile, hesitated, before Wrenstar beckoned them to come closer: and even then only half the Clan chose to move closer.
Meanwhile, the rest of CloudClan started to emerge, to a variety of reactions. Leafpaw saw her littermates, Duskpaw and Dawnpaw, staring confusedly at the visitors; nearby, Stealthstep and Swiftwind were looking annoyed at the sight of visitors. On the other paw, one of the elders - Blossomwind, the former medicine cat of CloudClan - looked surprised and pleased: she was one of the cats that knew of WillowClan's existence prior to now, and she recognized them as a result.
Due to the time of day, it took a while for all of the cats to gather. When they finally did, Thornstar started to speak, silencing everyone at once: "CloudClan, as you see, we have some visitors."
Some murmuring from among the CloudClan cats started at this, but was silenced quickly by their leader. Leafpaw, having an idea of what Thornstar was going to say next, stared intently up at him.
"This is Wrenstar," the brown tabby tom continued. "She is the leader of WillowClan... a fifth Clan."
Some outraged cries erupted from the CloudClan cats that hadn't been on the Gathering patrol at this.
"A fifth Clan!?"
"Since when did a fifth Clan exist?"
"Why are they all here!?"
Leafpaw understood the cats' surprise at this information - after all, it had been a surprise for her when she first found out about WillowClan's existence - but she was alarmed at some of the comments that some of the cats made.
"Silence!" Thornstar hissed, silencing the cats at once. "The medicine cats say they've existed for countless seasons like us, so I take their word. Now, as for our visitors, I don't know how long they'll be staying for. It could be half a moon, half a season, half a season-cycle. We'll have to see."
"It better not be a half season-cycle," a cat muttered from within the crowd.
"For the meantime," Thornstar continued, raising his voice and ignoring the cat that had spoken, "we have to organize cats for tonight. Elders, queens and kits, and apprentices, we have space in those respective dens for you. As for the rest of you WillowClan cats... we'll see. Clan dismissed - Wrenstar and I are going to start to sort this out."
A few CloudClan cats wandered off at Thornstar's dismissal, muttering to themselves as they went back to their dens. Some, however, stayed out, watching. Leafpaw stayed out as well, her gaze switching to the WillowClan elders, queens, kits and apprentices trying to figure out what was going to happen to them.
Already, so much change had happened, and it had been only a day! Leafpaw's head seemed to spin as she realized how much she'd have to get used to, for however long. WillowClan were here now, until a permanent solution could be found.
This'll be hard for both us and them... but I know we'll pull through it.
Chapter Five - Leafpaw
Finishing the sorting of herbs she was doing in the herbstore, Leafpaw brushed her paw against the ground after she'd placed the last tansy leaf where it belonged. Job done, thank goodness, she thought, as she stood up and left it, deciding to head outside.
Casually, she peered out the entrance. The cats that were in camp were relaxing - even the WillowClan ones that were there. They'd been in CloudClan's camp for half a moon, and although they had contributed to CloudClan, they hadn't started to consider moving off somewhere else yet. Part of Leafpaw wanted the cats to move on, but the other wanted them to stay a little longer. They've had a tough journey, apparently.
Sighing, willing to forget about the stories she'd heard about what had happened on their journey - she'd heard of them - Leafpaw looked around, deciding that she may as well do something. The end of the day was coming, after all.
As the white cat approached the fresh-kill pile, a patrol came into camp, with a couple of CloudClan and WillowClan cats in it. Vineclaw and Leopardfire from CloudClan put their catches on the pile, followed more hesitantly by Rippleberry and Yellowember, two newly appointed WillowClan warriors. Pausing, Leafpaw waited for them to leave before taking a small mouse off the pile.
While Leafpaw retreated, however, she noticed two cats leaping onto the Boulder. "All cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather below for a meeting!" one of them yowled - Wrenstar, the medicine cat apprentice realized, judging by the voice.
Hurriedly, Leafpaw scuttled over to the medicine den. There was no way that she was going to put her mouse back, so she ducked in and dropped it near the entrance inside the den, out of the way from cats. However, she did it just as her mentor was emerging from the den.
"Be careful no-one eats that," Streamreed mewed, half-serious and half-joking. The dark gray cat settled beside Leafpaw outside the den, followed shortly by the WillowClan medicine cat, Meadowcloud, and her apprentice.
"Stuff's starting to happen," the WillowClan medicine cat murmured to Streamreed as she sat down on the she-cat's other side, loud enough for Leafpaw to hear.
What's starting to happen?
But Leafpaw needn't have worried, as a commanding mew interrupted the conversations of many cats, making them fall silent. "Wrenstar has something to say," Thornstar mewed gruffly, turning to the other cat that was on the rock.
The CloudClan leader stepped back, letting the WillowClan one take his place. A few cats whispered to each other in this short break, but they silenced again as Wrenstar started speaking.
"Tomorrow," the dark tabby cat began, "some WillowClan cats and I are going to start searching for a new camp to my Clan to call home."
At once, cats from both Clans started to talk excitedly - CloudClan about having the cam to themselves again, WillowClan about finally having a camp after so long. Leafpaw stayed silent, her ears pricking as she gazed at Wrenstar.
"Quiet, everyone!" Interrupting all the cats in the clearing, Wrenstar spoke, commanding their attention back to her again. "I know this is exciting for all of us, but can you please wait until the end of this meeting to discuss this? Thank you for your consideration." Pausing to take in a breath, she continued: "Tomorrow, five WillowClan cats, as well as a CloudClan cat to help with their borders and whatnot, are going to help search for a camp to call our own. I have decided these cats who are coming, and I will announce them now."
Silence resounded after this. No cat dared to speak. Leafpaw felt her fur rise slightly as she watched Wrenstar take another deep breath before continuing:
"Aspenroot has been the CloudClan cat, requested by Thornstar, to come with us," Wrenstar announced. "As for the WillowClan cats... I, of course, am going, as is my medicine cat and her apprentice."
At this, Leafpaw shot a look at Meadowcloud and Soarpaw, who were close by. Meadowcloud simply nodded, giving Leafpaw the indication that she knew this was happening, while Soarpaw looked a little surprised. "Cool," she heard the ginger apprentice whisper.
"Finchsong and Tangleheart will be the other two cats coming," Wrenstar concluded with a flick of her tail. "These cats will be leaving at dawn tomorrow. Clans dismissed."
Only a few cats left as soon as the call for dismissal was given - most were discussing the cats chosen, especially among those from WillowClan. Leafpaw wasn't talking - she, rather, was contemplating WillowClan's situation silently.
They're finding a home... they're finding a home.
Chapter Six - Soarpaw
"So, this is the CloudClan border." Soarpaw watched Aspenroot as he spoke, the CloudClan deputy seeming to paw at the invisible scent marker. "You WillowClan cats said that in your old territory, you lived under willows, yes?"
A mixture of excitement and nervousness was running through Soarpaw at that very moment. Never had she thought she'd be among the cats helping with finding WillowClan a home! Although inside she felt all of this, the ginger apprentice stopped herself from giving away how she really felt. After all, she needed to be serious about this.
"Yes." Wrenstar, giving a brusque answer to Aspenroot's question, switched her gaze towards the willows. Soarpaw watched her mother silently, secretly wondering what she was thinking. This was her Clan, after all: she had to make the decision for them where they would go. The tabby she-cat paused, thinking, then continued: "Looks promising. Let's go on here."
"Sure," Aspenroot agreed, the CloudClan deputy flicking his gray-and-white tail at the rest of the patrol. The WillowClan cats all followed him, including Soarpaw. She and Meadowcloud went at the back of the patrol: Wrenstar and Aspenroot at the head, Tangleheart and Finchsong in the middle.
As they stepped under the willows, Soarpaw felt a surge of excitement. I haven't been under willows in so long! It was very early on in her apprenticeship when... at this, sadness hit Soarpaw. The Twolegs cut down the trees. Burninggaze, Cinderdust, and Pineleaf died. They should be here.
For a while, the six-cat patrol wandered through the willow forest. After a while, they abruptly stopped: Soarpaw, not really paying attention, crashed into Tangleheart in front of her. The gray-and-brown tom turned to stare at her, and she quickly backed off. "Sorry," she whispered to him, shaking her fur out as she spotted Aspenroot turning to Wrenstar.
"We're in deep enough?" the CloudClan cat asked.
Wrenstar nodded to him, before turning to the other cats. "Okay, we're going to go in pairs and go see if there's anything suitable." She then paused thinking, before adding: "Tangleheart, you can come with me."
From close by, Soarpaw watched as a suddenly-nervous Tangleheart went up to his leader. The ginger cat understood what he was feeling. He and his littermates only became warriors recently... this must be an honor for him.
"Meadowcloud can come with me," Aspenroot mewed, beckoning to Soarpaw's mentor. Soarpaw blinked, watching her mentor go off, before she felt a small nudge at her shoulder.
"So I guess you're with me, huh?" Finchsong breathed.
Soarpaw turned to face the senor warrior, and nodded. "I guess we are." She felt relieved at this - Finchsong was a nice-enough cat, and Soarpaw was happy to work with him. "Where should we go/"
Finchsong shrugged, before he turned to taste the air. After he had done so, he turned back to her. "Well," he began, "Meadowcloud and Aspenroot appeared to have backtracked a little bit. And Wrenstar and Tangleheart have gone this way." Finchsong flicked his tail to the right of where they currently were.
Soarpaw nodded. "Maybe we should head this way?" She flicked her tail in a direction away from where the other two groups were searching.
"Good idea. Let's go," Finchsong agreed, the tom leading as he went in the direction Soarpaw had pointed at. Scrambling to keep up, she followed him, excitement running through her again.
I hope we find something!
As time wore on, Soarpaw found that her optimism was starting to fade. She felt as though Finchsong and her and looked everywhere for something - yet they couldn't find anything! Feeling frustrated, she let out an annoyed sigh.
"Calm down, Soarpaw." Finchsong, who was nearby, called from where he was having a quick look. "The other groups probably haven't found anything either." Shaking his head, he padded back to Soarpaw. "I don't see anything interesting there, either."
"And we'll have to go soon," Soarpaw moaned, padding forward. "It's getting late." Frustrated, she looked at the ground and stormed off.
"Soarpaw?" Finchsong called, but the ginger apprentice ignored him and she continued to pad forward. Finchsong was right, but she couldn't help but feel frustrated. She wanted to help but she didn't feel as though -
"Soarpaw, stop!" Finchsong called again. Hearing the thrumming of paws that signaled his approach, Soarpaw decided to listen. As she stopped, she gazed forwards, and blinked. She'd almost run into a willow tree.
"Oh, thank goodness." Finchsong came to a halt beside her. Soarpaw twitched her ears to acknowledge that she'd heard him, but she gazed forward. It seemed like it was a little lighter here...
"Is there anything behind those willow trees?" she asked abruptly, shouldering by Finchsong. She heard him make an annoyed noise in response, but she wasn't focused on it. Instead, as she looked beyond the willow trees, she felt a surge of surprise - and then delight.
A clearing! "Finchsong, look at this!" she mewed, as she gazed at it.
"What?" Finchsong answered, before he appeared by her. Beside her, she felt the black, ginger-and-white tom's fur rise in excitement.
"This doesn't look too bad, Soarpaw... not bad at all."
Chapter Seven - Hollypaw
Hollypaw couldn't deny that - for once - she was jealous of Soarpaw.
It wasn't because of her medicine cat role. Hollypaw had never been interested in that - she'd always wanted to be a warrior, fighting for her Clan. No, she was jealous because of how important she was to WillowClan.
Just because she discovered the new camp...
Hollypaw hadn't gone to see WillowClan's new camp yet - it was still under construction. A half-moon had passed since the discovery of the camp, and she hadn't got to see it. Apparently, however, she heard it was great.
However, today was the day. Rockshine and her were getting tasked on to help with the building process at the new camp, and she felt excited.
"Ready to go?" a voice mewed from behind Hollypaw.
The black apprentice jumped, turning to see Rockshine. The gray tabby smiled as she turned towards him. "Imagining what the new camp's like?" he asked. "I assure you, it's great."
Another surge of jealousy ran through her as she was reminded Rockshine had seen the camp before. How come most of the other cats have seen the camp and not me?? However, Hollypaw suppressed it, asking: "Where's Sunwhisper and Hareswift? They're coming over too, aren't they?"
"We're here, Hollypaw." Sunwhisper poked his head around as he looked at his former denmate. The young warrior then turned towards Rockshine. "Ready to go. Let's get over to this camp." Hareswift, who was behind Sunwhisper, nodded in agreement.
"Okay, then." Hollypaw rose onto her paws as Rockshine spoke. Her mentor flicked his tail as the four WillowClan warriors left the CloudClan camp, heading off to their new territory.
Hollypaw wanted to get there faster - she felt as though she wasn't moving fast enough. New WillowClan camp, here I come!
"Here we are." Rockshine's tail waved as they approached the so-called 'camp'. "We're still not finished, but... we'll get there."
Hollypaw felt her paws tingling with excitement. They were finally here! Her eyes rested on a bramble tendril that was nearby, and it made her realize how incomplete the camp was, even though she hadn't been in it yet.
"We're going in," Rockshine added, and in the corner of her vision Hollypaw saw the tabby tom move off. She saw Sunwhisper and Hareswift follow as well, before she blinked. Right, me too, she thought, before joining them as well.
She had to come into the camp a little bit to see it, however. Hollypaw, being on the smaller side of height, was stuck behind the three toms marveling. She heard their comments, though:
"This seems more open than the old camp. Very light. It looks bigger, too."
Hollypaw tried straining to see the clearing more at that. Looking above her, she saw an expanse of blue, and the edges of a few willow trees. Hmm, maybe, she thought, giving up her attempt.
"Cool camp. Where's Dewfrost?" Sunwhisper mewed, being more blunt than his father was.
Having enough with the two talking toms, Hollypaw stepped out from behind them to get a look for herself. She took in a breath, and held it, feeling surprised.
It seems so... different to our old home.
Now, she was not paying attention to Hareswift's comment to telling Sunwhisper that Rockshine had gone to fetch Dewfrost. Now... she realized how much work there was left to do. Hollypaw saw a few cats - Yellowember and Lightningsky, by the looks of it - working on a den that looked barely started on.
A pang of homesickness hit the black apprentice at that very moment. Why did this all have to happen? For once, she wished that she didn't have to think of this. She wanted to be a kit again in that moment, and to not have to worry about it all.
But that that moment, Hollypaw swallowed. They'd come all that way for this, and now only the camp was left. They could do this. And as she took in more of the camp, she realized how much potential it could have.
Hareswift was right: it was large. They would have plenty of space. A fallen willow tree was sprawled at one end of the camp, and she could imagine Wrenstar sitting there. Also, it seemed lively here... not dark and shady.
This camp is beautiful... let's make it a home.
Chapter Eight - Wrenstar
Since Soarpaw had found the new camp a half-moon ago, Wrenstar hadn't found it easy.
It was hard having her Clan split up into two groups - one at the new camp undertaking the building work, and one still with CloudClan, and assisting them as a result of increased numbers in their camp. For the past half-moon since she'd assigned Dewfrost to be in charge of the build, she'd often had to wander between both Clans, assigning cats to go on and off the building work.
It'll be a relief when we're all in our own camp, the leader thought as she surveyed the day's building from along the willow branch that spanned across part of the clearing. By now, most of the dens had started work on them, and she could hear Dewfrost calling to the latest patrol of cats who had arrived for duty.
"We need to put the finishing touches on the medicine den," she heard the dark gray tom telling the four cats that had come. At this, Wrenstar's gaze flickered over to her left. They'd found a couple of large sheltered bushes at the clearing's edge that would make good cover for herbs, and they'd built a nice sturdy den from that. That's good: Meadowcloud and Soarpaw can finally start restocking their herbs.
"Newtfoot's over there by herself at the moment. Ask her what she's done, and then send her to me," Dewfrost continued, his conversation mainly towards Hareswift than to the other cats. Wrenstar's attention shifted back to them: she saw Hareswift nodding in response.
"And where is the medicine den?" Hareswift asked. "I've never set foot in this place before."
Before Dewfrost could reply, Wrenstar heard Rockshine reply: "I'll show you... been here before. C'mon." The silver tom flicked his tail, beckoning Hareswift and the other two cats to follow.
Deciding that now might be a good opportunity to discuss progress with her deputy before Newtfoot reported back to Dewfrost, Wrenstar leapt down from the willow branch she was sitting on. She swiftly padded over to him, calling his name. "Dewfrost!"
Dewfrost's head turned in Wrenstar's direction. "How do you think the building's going?" he asked her, cocking his broad head to one side. "The medicine den's pretty much done now, but we still have five more dens to get done."
"I saw that." Wrenstar gave an approving nod. "Good for Meadowcloud and Soarpaw: I'll let them know they can start putting herbs into that stock... maybe even move one of them into camp permanently." One den down, thank goodness, but... "You need to put more cats in on the nursery, too. Splashstrike's about a half-moon from kitting, and Meadowcloud has told me that she wants her to settle in there well before she kits."
Dewfrost groaned. "How did I forget that?" he complained. "Aspendusk hasn't shut up to me since he heard the news." He then puffed out his chest. "I can't wait for them to come, though! I hope they think I'm the best grandfather ever."
Wrenstar had admittedly forgotten that Aspendusk, the father of Splashstrike's kits, was Dewfrost's son. She kept quiet about it, however, and mewed: "Otherwise, keep doing what you're doing."
Dewfrost opened his mouth to respond, but a voice interrupted him. "Dewfrost, Wrenstar? What's my job now?" Newtfoot had appeared, the black-flecked she-cat sitting there as she waited for a response.
"We need more work on the nursery," Wrenstar mewed, telling the warrior what she had told Dewfrost earlier. "Mind if you help Yellowember and Lightningsky on that? That's where I saw them working."
"Sure, Wrenstar." Newtfoot bounded off, and Wrenstar felt admiration for all her warriors at that. She'd seen them work so hard on the building process - and the strength they had to get it all done made her proud to lead WillowClan. She knew it was tough, yet they all continued on.
"Thanks for that." Dewfrost's voice tugged Wrenstar out of her thoughts. "I'm assuming you're heading back to CloudClan now, to report that to Meadowcloud?"
Oh, right, back to what I was going to originally do. She was planning on heading back to CloudClan's cam anyway - not for the reason that Dewfrost had just specified, but for other ones. "I was heading back there anyway," Wrenstar mewed bluntly. "I'll pass it on to her."
The dark-furred tom nodded. "Good. I'm in charge tonight?"
Wrenstar nodded. "Yes, I'll be at CloudClan tonight. Send someone over if something important happens. See you tomorrow."
Her brother waved his tail in farewell as Wrenstar turned her back on him, and padded out of the camp. Now, it was time to make the long journey home. Wrenstar didn't know how much longer she'd have to make this walk, but she hoped that it wouldn't be for too much longer.
I want my Clan to be together, united... and we need to establish our new home.
Chapter Nine - Leafpaw
The camp was quieter now, quieter than it had been previously.
Another half-moon had passed. WillowClan had been slowly - but surely - been moving out of CloudClan's camp at last. Leafpaw couldn't deny the fact that she appreciated the peace and quiet - there had been a lot of ruckus in the camp when it was full to bursting with two Clans - but now that most cats had left, there was no denying that a silence hung in the air.
They brought some interesting stories, the medicine cat apprentice thought, sticking her head out of her and Streamreed's den to survey the camp. There was no denying that Smallspeck, the WillowClan elder, had some interesting tales. He'd moved out of CloudClan's camp yesterday: the elders' den had just been completed and there was no point in leaving the silver-and-black tom at their camp any longer.
Minus a couple of WillowClan warriors - namely Finchsong and Stormstrike - all of them had permanently moved in. Dewfrost and Wrenstar were still making trips over the border, but these were becoming less and less frequent. All the apprentices - even Soarpaw - had moved, as was Meadowcloud.
Leafpaw's heart ached at the mention of Soarpaw. In the moon or so the WillowClan medicine cat apprentice had stayed with CloudClan, she'd become good friends with her. At least I still see her often, she thought; they both met at the half-moon medicine cat meetings and at Gatherings.
In fact, the only other cats who hadn't been moved were the queens and kits. And this, for Leafpaw, was a concern.
Just then, Leafpaw heard a rustle, sounding from the camp entrance. The white-cat raised her head to see a dark tabby shape sliding through the entrance. Tasting the air, she recognized Wrenstar's scent at once.
"Wrenstar?" Leafpaw spoke, her voice coming out timid. She swallowed, then spoke again, her voice stronger this time. "Do you need something?"
The WillowClan leader's head snapped in Leafpaw's direction. Her brown ears flicked. "I was going to ask Thornstar something. It's related to our queens."
She wants to move them to her camp. Leafpaw, suddenly becoming a little nervous, unsheathed her claws and dug them into the ground. "Splashstrike still hasn't kitted yet," she mewed, concern in her tone. "I'm not sure if it's a good idea to move her now. I wouldn't be surprised if her kits came today or tomorrow."
Wrenstar frowned. The leader hesitated for a moment, her blue eyes showing that she was thinking. "Meadowcloud informed me that if she hadn't kitted the journey from here to my camp would be risky. We'd probably need you or Streamreed to tag along. Is she here?"
Leafpaw shook her head. "She's out looking for coltsfoot. Our supply's running low for that." She then paused, before adding: "I can't make any choices for you. I do think you should let Thornstar know, though. If I'm going to be on medicine cat duty, I'll need his permission."
The look in Wrenstar's eyes told Leafpaw that she really didn't like how she appeared to be bossing her around. Regardless, she nodded. "Very well. I'll go see him now." The tabby then turned towards Thornstar's den, calling his name before walking in.
Although the white cat couldn't hear the two leaders talking from where she was, Leafpaw felt like, if it were to go ahead, it would be a bad idea. She had a terrible gut feeling, and she didn't like what it was.
"We're out in the forest again?" Riverkit's cheerful voice burst out as they started to near the CloudClan-WillowClan border, his eyes widening. "Where are we going? Why are we here? Will we have to -"
"Hush, Riverkit, this is a serious matter." Silverfern swept her tail over her son's mouth, causing him to go silent. Leafpaw wished that she shared the young kit's optimism.
Thornstar and Wrenstar, much to Leafpaw's dislike, had decided to move the queens over to the WillowClan camp. Leafpaw had tried to convince them otherwise, but to no avail.
If only Streamreed had turned up... she would've convinced them.
There was no denying, however, that she thought Splashstrike should've stayed in camp. If only the leaders had listened to her! The queen was struggling. Her pawsteps were slow and weary; her face had pain on it. Leafpaw knew that her kits were close.
"You all right?" Leafpaw asked the queen, as she let out a particularly heavy sigh just as they reached the border.
It looked as though Splashstrike wanted to say that she was okay. The pain in her eyes told Leafpaw otherwise. "I'm fi -" she started to insist, but then she let out a screech of pain.
Leafpaw shook her head. There was no way that Splashstrike was going to make it to camp now. Her kits, it seemed, were coming.
The warriors stopped at once. Splashstrike was still standing, but she looked like she couldn't continue. There was no time to lose now, Leafpaw knew: it was better for her to have the kits now than to push on.
"Someone lie Splashstrike down," the white apprentice ordered. "I know we're not at camp yet, but she can't wait any longer. Splashstrike's kitting."
Silverfern swept her two kits behind her with her tail, both mewing irritably while she did so. Stormstrike rushed to Splahstrike's aid, lying her down and reassuring her. "You'll be fine, Splashstrike, it's only..."
Mercifully for Leafpaw, this allowed her to order everyone else around. "Alright! Silverfern, you and your kits can go stick-hunting. I'm sure you know what type of sticks we're looking for." The silver queen nodded in response and quickly started shepherding Fernkit and Riverkit away from the kitting queen. "Finchsong, go to WillowClan. Let the medicine cats know, and fetch Aspendusk. He's the father, is he not?"
"He sure is. I assume you want kitting herbs from them too?" Finchsong asked, to which Leafpaw responded to with a brisk nod. The senior warrior quickly ran off.
Meanwhile, Wrenstar was shaking her head. "I'm sorry, Leafpaw, I should have listened to you." The leader shook her head. "It's dangerous for her to -"
Leafpaw cut her off. "What's done is done. We've got to get this over with now." With a flick of her tail, Leafpaw started to help Splashstrike, worry coursing through her. This was her first time helping a she-cat kit alone. The last few times, she'd had Streamreed, but not anymore.
I've got to trust myself now. It's time to prove that I have what it takes.
Chapter Ten - Hollypaw
Hollypaw sat by the entrance to the new apprentices' den, tail twitching. For once, their new camp was quiet.
The building work was completed at last: and Hollypaw couldn't help but deny she was proud of their new camp. It felt bittersweet: knowing that they had managed to create a new home for themselves, but also knowing that they'd truly left their old one behind. It was a weird feeling. We really have moved on.
For a heartbeat, Hollypaw thought she heard a noise. Her ears pricked, and she looked around. Nothing out of the ordinary, she thought.
But then she heard it again. This time, it was louder. Hollypaw rose onto her paws, ears pricking again. Her gaze turned to the camp entrance in time to see a black, ginger, and white tom run in frantically.
The was panic on the senior warrior's face, and Hollypaw could see it, not to mention the scent that was coming off Finchsong in waves. "What's wr -" she began asking, but he appeared not to listen: he had taken off towards the medicine den, rushing in before she could say anything else.
The black apprentice narrowed her eyes. It was odd to see Finchsong, usually one of the most level-headed warriors, in a state like this. Clearly, something wasn't right.
Hollypaw paused where she was. Inside the medicine den, she heard an out-of-breath Finchsong speak. "Meadowcloud," he painted, "Meadowcloud, it's urgent." He paused to take a deep breath. "Splashstrike's kitting on -"
"For StarClan's sake!" Hollypaw flinched at she heard the medicine cat's voice. "I told Wrenstar to wait, and now look what's happened. Where is she!?"
Hollypaw flinched. She'd knew enough about the forest to know that it was dangerous. Kitting out there was definitely not a preferable option. The black apprentice approached the den slowly.
"She's at the border. Now, if you excuse me, I must find out where Aspendusk is. Didn't someone tell me he was on patrol?" There was a rustling noise, and Finchsong emerged back out of the medicine den, still looking panicked as he took off for the warriors' den.
Hollypaw blinked as she watched the warrior go off. Then, her attention flickered back towards the medicine den. The black apprentice heard Meadowcloud talking inside the den: "Right. I need kitting herbs..." The dark medicine cat broke off. "I won't be able to take all these by myself. Unfortunately Soarpaw's off collecting herbs for me: I can't ask her to come. Shame, it would've been good for her training."
Hollypaw, hearing the medicine cat, approached the den entrance. She wasn't doing anything - surely she'd be allowed to help. "I can help you, Meadowcloud," she mewed softly, as she looked at the medicine cat.
Meadowcloud's head turned, and soon the medicine cat and Hollypaw were looking intently at each other. They started for a moment, in silence, before Meadowcloud dipped her head. "Are you doing anything right now?" she queried, her heacd tuipping slightly to one side.
Hollypaw shook her head. "Rockshine's on patrol."
"Alright, you can come with me. I'll back you up if Rockshine chases after me later." The urgency, at that moment, seemed to return to Meadowcloud's eyes. "Come in here. Kitting outside camp is dangerous, and we need to get to Splashstrike as soon as possible."
Unquestionably, Hollypaw nodded. She stepped into the den, joining Meadowcloud, who was frantically rushing through her pitiful herb store. Worry bubbled up in the back apprentice: she'd forgotten about the lack of herbs the Clan had.
Splashstrike, please, be okay!
"No kits yet, but it's getting closer." When the two of them arrived, Hollypaw saw Wrenstar pacing frantically. "Stromstrike's been trying to help. Silverfern got a stick. You should probably help her, Meadowcloud."
There was no doubt that Wrenstar was worried: Hollypaw could see it in her mother's eyes. It was unusual of her to be so tense. Maybe it's because it's in the forest, she thought: after all, Wrenstar was a mother, and had gone through this before.
Meadowcloud, meanwhile, had set to work beside Splashstrike. The blue-gray she-cat had pain on her face, as well as a look of fear in her eyes. She hissed in pain from a spasm as she rested by the queen's belly, feeling it.
Hollypaw rested her herbs by them, darting away as the medicine cat gave her verdict. "Thank StarClan, we've arrive just in time. The kits are about to come." Her comments then switched from everyone in general to Splashstrike; Hollypaw saw the dark gray medicine cat turn towards the queen. "I'm feeling three kits in there, Splashstrike, so be prepared."
"Oka -" Splashstrike opened her mouth to reply, but she broke off with a loud yowl. Hollypaw found herself turning away from the queen, not bearing to look. Kitting's more painful than the queens let on, by the sounds of it.
She winced as she heard another yowl from Splashstrike. This time, however, she heard excited mews from the queen. "Lick it, Stormstrike," Hollypaw heard Meadowcloud mew.
Cautiously, the black apprentice looked back. Stormcloud was licking a small damp shape lying on the ground, and Meadowcloud was looking at it. "Congratulations, it's a tom!"
Suddenly, Hollypaw heard a thudding noise. For a moment, she rose onto her paws, worried that it was danger, but then two shapes appeared. "Has it happened yet? Is it -" Aspendusk's voice was broken off as his mate let out another loud yowl.
"We're expecting one more," Meadowcloud mewed. Hollypaw listened to their words: she'd turned away from the scene again. "So far, you have a son - that brown tabby - and..." she paused for a moment: "a she-kit. Yeah, the blue-gray one."
Hollypaw heard Aspendusk talking about how proud he was, and then she zoned out. She was barely paying attention when the cries died down, and the third and final kit - another brown tabby, but this time a she-kit - was born. She shook her head, paused for a moment, but then she looked back and smiled as the older cats swarmed around.
These are the first kits born to us in our new home... welcome to WillowClan, little ones.
Chapter Eleven - Wrenstar
It was chaos back when the group arrived at camp.
The newborn kits were rushed to the new nursery, with Silverfern nudging her two older kits into it as well, complaining as they went. Wrenstar sent them off quickly, before staring around their new camp.
She felt almost guilty for sending Splashstrike back. In hindsight, it was a stupid thing to do. I put Splashstrike's life - as well as her new kits' lives - at risk. I should have just waited until she'd kitted, and then they'd travelled across. I'll apologize to her later. However, she couldn't help but get a joyful feeling around her as she stared around their now-completed camp - their new home.
Certainly, it would take them a while to get established here. Wrenstar knew that. There would, perhaps, be trouble from other cats as they set up their outer boundaries. It was nowhere like the established home that they'd had in the old willow forest.
It will take getting used to, she thought, But we will manage it. We've survived this whole journey together. We've made it at last.
She broke out of her thoughts, hearing indignant shrieks from some of the warriors. News already spread like wildfire around her Clan, and the news about Spleashstrike's kitting was - evidently - not an exception. Warriors and apprentices were talking, and the dark brown leader couldn't help but hear Yellowember passing on the news to Sunwhisper, the young warriors discussing it near their new den.
Sighing, the leader padded up to her new meeting place. She shook her head as she leapt onto the fallen willow tree. This was their new meeting place: the place where she would summon her Clan together, like she was able to now. "Lett all cats gather at the foot of the willow for a Clan meeting!"
Most of the Clan that was in camp was in the clearing already. It didn't take them long to gather. A few cats came out from dens to join them. Wrenstar noted that, to nobody's surprise, Splashstrike and Apendusk were not present. Getting to know their new kits is very important.
Flicking her tail, Wrenstar settled down her warriors, and began: "I know it hasn't been long since I have arrived back, and I know that word has travelled fast. Splashstrike has indeed kitted, yes, while she was making her way over here. Fortunately, she is safe and well, and she had three healthy kits."
There were a few cheers at this in joy, and a soft murmuring arose.
"We look forward to the news of their names, and we also hope that they will bring much joy. They will be treasured, as they are the first kits to be born in our new home - perhaps, not in the camp, but at least in our new territory," she continued. "In hindsight, I made a bad decision to -"
"You should've known you were leaving her life at risk," a cat called out. Many cats turned, and Wrenstar fell silent, to see an indignant Stornstrike in the crowd. The gray-and-ginger warrior looked furious. "You're a mother, Wrenstar. How would you have liked it if you had to give birth in the forest alone? What if a fox got her kits?"
Another wave of regret coursed through the leader at that, and the dark tabby lowered her head. "I know. I'm sorry about that. I will apologize to Splashstrike herself about it later. Now's not the right time. But yes, you're right. I made a terrible decision."
Another lot of muttering cats broke out at that. Wrenstar couldn't pick up what they were saying, but she did sense a wave of disapproval. She wasn't going to be able to live this down for a while, that was for sure.
"On the bright side," she mewed, her voice loud to quieten down the speaking cats, "we are now all settled in our new camp. It will take a while to feel like a Clan again, like our own home. But we will do it. WillowClan will go strong. I can see it. I am proud of you all for overcoming this challenge. You have done a lot for this Clan. We shall continue to prosper in our new home."
And slowly, the warriors started to cheer. At first, it was a lone Rippleberry, at the back of the crowd, who started it. But then Hollypaw joined in, then Yellowember and Sunwhisper, and eventually the whole Clan. Wrenstar even joined in herself, and she felt joy in her warriors, all reunited once again.
We've done it. Thank you, StarClan. We couldn't have done this without you.
Chapter Twelve - Soarpaw
"Here's some herbs for you, Meadowcloud."
Soarpaw ducked into the shade of the medicine den, her eyes narrowing as she adjusted to the lower light level. Her eyes focused on her dark gray mentor, who was at the back of her herb store, sorting the herbs that they had been busy collecting over the last half-moon the Clan had completely settled in their new camp. She gently dropped the herbs on the ground - a few tightly bound catmint bundles - onto the ground.
"Catmint!" Meadowcloud's voice was joyful. "I know it's nowhere near greencough season, but we haven't found any of this yet! Great work, Soarpaw. Where did you find it?"
Soarpaw puffed out her chest. She was proud to have helped her Clan. "I was going along the CloudClan border. There's a stash around there. I saw Streamreed there, and she let me have some."
"You'll need to show me where that stash is next time, we coud use it later on," Meadowcloud purred. "Now, Soarpaw, I have to ask a favour of you. And it's a very small favour."
Soarpaw's ears pricked up in surprise. Not often did Meadowcloud ask favours: this, indeed, was unusual. "What's your... favour?" the pale apprentice asked, eyes narrowing. "It is -"
Meadowcloud quickly cut her off. "Oh no, It's nothing bad at all," she mewed. "Splashstrike wants to show her kits to the Clan today. As you know, they opened their eyes for the first time the other day... I just want you to make sure they're healthy for me. I also hear she's going to announcing their names."
Soarpaw pricked her ears. Splashstrike and Aspendusk, indeed, had taken their time in naming their three kits. It was much more common for kits to me named very soon after birth, and to get their name later was rare. "Okay," she mewed. "I'll do it."
"Good." The medicine cat have an approving nod, her amber eyes bright. "You'd better go out and do that now. I think she's about to do it."
Soarpaw nodded quickly to Meadowcloud and exited the den, walking out onto the camp. It was just after lunch, and many patrols had been sent out: very few cats were home. Dewfrost was one exception: the deputy had padded over, eagerly eyeing the nursery. It was obvious that he was eager to see his grandkits - possibly his only grandkits - make their steps into the Clan for the first time. Smallspeck was one of the others: the lder sitting outside his den, a wry expression on his face.
Hearing a squeak come from the end of the nursery, Soarpaw's gaze turned in that direction. A blue-gray nose was poking out: it was Splashstrike herself. The queen turned her head back inside the den. "Come on, kits," she cooed. "It's time for you to meet the Clan."
There was a life to the she-cat's eyes, and Soarpaw realized that this was what would help her heal: the losses from her littermates, her parents, and her apprentice. Through the bringer of new life. It was reaffirmed through Soarpaw as a small brown tabby shape shot out after his mother and stumbled onto the ground, mewling in protest.
The other two kits were more hesitant. The other brown tabby hesitated, but soon followed, while the young blue-gray one froze at the entrance, surprised. She seemed too scared to move until her father, Aspendusk, appeared behind her and nudged her forward. "Come on," he whispered, and she too joined her siblings.
The three kits looked around in awe and Splashstrike started to speak: "You will all be pleased to know that we have finally named our children. In remembrance of the past, we have named our children after three WillowClan cats who died too soon, and were dear to us especially. We hope they will bear their names with pride and live to become long-living warriors for WillowClan." She then paused, as one of the tabbies tripped over her paws, and let out a high-pitched mew of surprise.
They certainly look healthy, Soarpaw thought, looking at the kits with a small smile on her face.
"This little tabby," Aspendusk mewed, as his mate picked the kit up that had tripped over his paw and set him back down on the ground, "is our son. His name is Owlkit, after Splashstrike's deceased brother. Likewise, his blue-gray sister is Flowerkit, after Splahstrike's sister."
A smile etched on Soarpaw's face. She'd never met the first Flowerkit and Owlkit. They'd died before she was born of a mysterious illness which had also taken their mother, Bluemist. Splahstrike was the sole survivor of that litter. Who's the third kit named after?
"Our third kits is our brown tabby she-kit," Splashstrike mewed. Soarpaw's gaze flicked to the young kit, who was next to Flowerkit and was looking at the Clan warily. "As you all know, Pineleaf lost her life in the tree-felling that destroyed our old home." She paused for a moment, knowing that she was in thought. Sympathy flowed through Soarpaw: her only other family member, Burninggaze, had died in that tree-felling too. "Pineleaf was Aspendusk's only littermate. In keeping with the other kits, our tabby she-cat's name is Pinekit."
There were a few thoughtful hummings by the few cats in the clearing. Soarpaw couldn't help but smile too. Those are beautiful names, as well as a beautiful tie-in, she thought.
"They're perfect." Dewfrost spoke up, the deputy's yellow eyes full of pride. "It's gone full circle. It holds our connection to the past, while focusing on the future. I am sure my grandkits will be great WillowClan warriors in the future."
Soarpaw smiled and nodded, her eyes bright. She couldn't help but agree. It is a beautiful significance. Her gaze then flicked to Owlkit, who was zooming off again, and she couldn't help but smile.
You will be great warriors. Welcome to WillowClan.
Epilogue - Soarpaw
Six moons later...
"We're going to the Moonrock now." Meadowcloud's voice was brisk in the dusk light, as Soarpaw ducked her head out of the medicine den. The medicine cat apprentice hurried, her paws slowing slightly as she same into the clearing.
The Clan was truly settled now. The Clan had congregated for the evening: her eyes settled on the latest patrol heading into camp. Stormstrike, with Riverpaw in pursuit, Aspendusk with Fernpaw, and Hollythorn. The apprentices were progressing well with their training, and by the look on Riverpaw's face, he was very proud with the large squirrel he had in his jaws.
Soarpaw's eyes also flickered to her sister. Hollythorn had been named a warrior a few moons back. She'd well established herself. The pain at getting her full name hurt at first, but she knew it would be worth it when she got hers. Tonight, at the Moonrock, she would finally receiver hers, after so long.
"Let's go, then." Soarpaw stretched for a moment, before passing by the patrol putting their catches on the fresh-kill pile. The ginger apprentice shared a look with her sister: their eyes meeting for a moment, green against blue. "Good luck, Soarpaw," she whispered, a gleam to her eye. Soarpaw had told her the news the day before.
"Thanks, Hollythorn," she whispered, as she followed her mentor into the dusk.
All eight medicine cats congregated at the Moonrock that night. Soarpaw was the only one who still had her apprentice name, albeit for not much longer. After her heroics with Splashstrike's kitting, Leafsedge had received her name at the next half-moon meeting, and Soarpaw couldn't help but think back on the memory. It was a happy one, and the joy that Leafsedge had experienced would hopefully be something that would happen to her tonight.
Her head broke out of the memory as she heard Meadowcloud's voice: "I am pleased to announce that tonight I will be giving Soarpaw her full medicine cat name."
Murmurs of congratulations welcomed Soarpaw at this. Darkpool and Otterfur looked pleased, as did Pansypetal, Hawktail, and Streamreed. Leafsedge, meanwhile, simply winked at her, and mouthed good luck.
"Soarpaw," Meadowcloud mewed, "please step forward."
It's time. Soarpaw's breath spiraled up in the cold air as she padded towards the Moonrock. She looked at it, embracing the last moments with her apprentice name. Farewell, Soarpaw.
"I, Meadowcloud, medicine cat of WillowClan, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on this medicine cat apprentice. She has learnt the ways of the medicine cat code, and how to heal her Clan in accordance with your will. May you continue to guide her footsteps so she may be the mest medicine cat as she can be for WillowClan. Soarpaw, do you promise to uphold the medicine cat ways and to heal your Clan at all costs, and to follow StarClan's will?"
This is it. Soarpaw paused for a moment, her name echoing in her head for the last time, before she whispered: "I do."
"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your medicine cat name." Meadowcloud paused for a moment to breathe. "StarClan really honours your loyalty and dedication, Soarpaw. I hope that you will continue to show that. Remember that, Soarwing, and we welcome you as a full medicine cat of WillowClan."
It's beautiful. Soarwing. Soarwing smiled, her gaze bright. The medicine cats behind her cheered her name, and she relished the cheers. This would be the name she'd have for the rest of her life.
Soarwing… it's ben a fight to earn that name, but I wouldn't take back a thing. Not at all.
Even the journey.
The End of The Soaring Wren Series: Return to the Clans.
...definitely did not anticipate it would take me this this long to complete the second arc. oh well.
That is the end of Wrenstar, Hollythorn, Soarwing, and Leafsedge's story, and I hope you enjoyed it C: For whoever has stuck around with this series for that long, good on you! I'm proud C:
I think that likely, as far as the Soaring Wren Series goes, that will be the end of it. There is nothing more to tell of Wrenstar and her lineage, and I would like to leave them there. However, in the future I would like to explore WillowClan further, particularly in their new home! It would be under another series name, and would likely follow around Splashstrike's kits starting from the apprenticeship somewhere (so not too long after the epilogue). We'll see though! I'm certainly not as idle as I once was heh
As always, feel free to comment! Comments are great C:
Until next time,