|None||Glowing Embers||Summer Breeze|
(A/N: This story will be going inactive for a while. I want to try writing a different fanfiction, but I will return to this story later. Thanks!)
This is my first fanifiction! See AshClan Rising for more information about this series (Rise from the Embers). PLEASE comment below or say something on the Talk Page for responses. (Note- The prolouge is longer than the average chapter.)
- 1 Alliences
- 2 Prolouge
- 3 Chapter One
- 4 Chapter Two
- 5 Chapter Three
- 6 Chapter Four
- 7 Chapter Five
- 8 Chapter Six
- 9 Chapter Seven
- 10 Chapter Eight
- 11 Chapter Nine
- 12 Chapter Ten
- 13 Chapter Eleven
- 14 Chapter Twelve
The Four Clans
Leader- Lightningstar: a silver she-cat with blue eyes and a jagged gray stripe on her back like a thunder bolt.
Deputy- Jumpfoot: a tall black-and-white tom with green eyes. (APPRENTICE: Spottedpaw)
Medicine Cat- Vineclaw: a grey tabby she-cat with blue eyes.
Sunwatcher- a golden-yellow she-cat with amber eyes.
Nighttooth- a black tom. (APPRENTICE: VOLEPAW)
Bramblefall- a brown tom with a bright pink nose and blue eyes.
Blazeclaw- a bright orange she-cat with green eyes. (APPRENTICE: Brightpaw)
Clawfoot- a ginger marmalade tom with green eyes.
Featherflight- a streamlined gray she-cat.
Rainfall- a blue-gray tom with blue eyes.
Silentwing- a white she-cat with amber eyes
Shadepelt- a tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes.
Dusteyes- A pale brown tabby tom with brown patches around his eyes.
Ospreyclaw: a brown-and-white she-cat.
Volepaw- A brown tabby tom.
Brightpaw- A white she-cat with yellow and orange patches. One patch is over one of her blue eyes.
Spottedpaw- A black-dappled brown tabby she-cat with green eyes.
Dappleface- a blue-eyed tortoiseshell. (KITS: Firekit, Moonkit)
Silverbreeze- a pretty brown she-cat with blue eyes. (KITS: Shadowkit, Duskkit, Pouncekit)
Echolight- A tan she-cat with blue eyes. (PREGNANT)
Firekit: A marmalade tabby she-kit with blue eyes.
Moonkit: A yellow and blue tortoiseshell-tabby with one brown eye and one blue eye.
Shadowkit: A brown-and-gray she-kit with amber eyes.
Duskkit: A brown tabby she-kit with blue eyes.
Pouncekit: A black tomkit with amber eyes.
Tanglepelt: An orangy-brown tom with a matted pelt and amber eyes.
Sweetdapple- A tan she-cat.
(A/N: NightClan has just as many warriors and apprentices as the other three Clans do, but not all of them are known to the rest of the cats. These alliences include only the cats known to the other Clans by name.)
Leader- Darkstar- a black tom with one white paw and amber eyes. Pelt criss-crossed with scars and one half-blinded eye.
Deputy- Stormstep- a gray she-cat with one ear and ice blue eyes.
Medicine Cat- Russetfoot- a little red she-cat with amber eyes. (APPRENTICE: Shadowpaw)
Brokenwing- A black-brown tabby tom.
Silentwind- A silver she-cat with blue eyes.
Lostheart- A brown tabby tom with grey eyes.
Brokenshadow- A black she-cat with amber eyes.
Blackheart- A black-and-white tom.
Deadtail- A brown tabby she-cat with a crooked tail.
Poisonpaw- An orange she-cat with amber eyes.
Sharppaw- A brown tabby tom.
Whisperpaw- a white she-cat.
Leader- Adderstar: A brown tabby tom with charming blue eyes.
Deputy- Leaf-feather: A tan tabby she-cat with green eyes.
Medicine Cat- Echoheart: A long-furred, pale she-cat with blue eyes.
Featherstorm: A sleek silver she-cat with blue eyes.
Thornnose- A black-and-white tom.
Darkfeather: A dark brown tabby she-cat with one amber eye. One of the toughest warriors in the forest. (APPRENTICE: Swiftpaw)
Barkpelt: A brown tabby tom.
Snowfall: A white she-cat with crystal blue eyes.
Flamemuzzle: A white calico tom with a distinctive orange patch on his nose. Amber eyes. (APPRENTICE: Oakpaw)
Runningfoot: A light brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes.
Grayfur: A gray tom with green eyes.
Squirreltail: A red-brown she-cat with a furry tail and yellow eyes.
Dustflight: A tan tom with a white chest and muzzle.
Cats Outside the Clans
Soot: a black, brown and white calico she-cat with green eyes. Lives in the Barn with Meadowlark.
Meadowlark: a long-furred brown tabby she-cat with green eyes. Lives in the Barn with Soot.
The hawk was upon him.
All Eaglekit heard was the rasping screech of the bird's call as it dug its talons into his bristling fur, churning and scraping his back until it stung like fire. The bird, brown feathers sticking up on its back, squawked in triumph as its prey yowled in pain, tiny paws gripping the ground. "Help!" squeaked Eaglekit to the warriors poking their heads out of the den.
Lightningstrike, the deputy, caterwauled a battle cry as at least ten full-grown cats rushed into the middle of the ravine camp from their cave-den. Screams rang out as the warriors launched themselves at the hawk, only to be knocked back by thrashing wings. Stormpelt was shoved back in one blow, and even the leader, Shimmerstar, retreated after a horrible claw to the flank. But there was one warrior who refused to give up.
"MOTHER!" screeched Eaglekit.
Ospreyclaw swiped the hawk in the head, who protested with an angry squawk. The creature fought fearlessly back, amber eyes glowing like fire. Eaglekit's mother pounced directly on top of the thrashing bird. The hawk, still clutching the kit in its talons, kicked out with a taloned leg, giving Ospreyclaw a nastly scratch to the eye. The brown-and-white queen yowled in agony as blood blinded her vison.
"MOM!" Eaglekit mewled worriedly.
"Eaglekit!" rasped Ospreyclaw, head thrashing back and forth blindly searching for her kit.
But it was too late, as the brown tabby tom-kit was wisped up into the sky, thrashing as the AshClan camp grew tinier and tinier.
Eaglekit flipped himself over in the hawk's talons, facing the bird. It screamed and swiped the kitten until his face grew numb. He tried to fight back, but he was quickly weakening. The hawk would fly back to its nest and feed him to its chicks.
Suddenly the bird squawked in alarm, looking up. Eaglekit perked up, startled. And when he looked up, he saw what was coming- but it was too late for the hawk to dodge it. It had been so distracted in trying to kill its prey that it hadn't noticed that it was straight in the path of a tree.
WHAM. The Eaglekit and the hawk slammed against the pine.
The bird went still, and suddenly Eaglekit was falling, still being clutched against the bird's rough feathers. He yowled as the treetops blurred past him, wind whistling in his ears. Go ahead and take me now, StarClan! he thought, panicked. Because I'm going to die anyways!
Eaglekit squeezed his eyes shut and braced himself for the landing.
It was a softer land than he thought, but it still made his head spin and his claws grip the hawk's downy feathers. I'M DEAD I'M DEAD I'M DEAD I'M DEAD, he thought. I'M GOING TO OPEN MY EYES AND I'LL BE IN STARCLAN. Eaglekit opened his eyes and the forest spun around him. I'MDEADI'MDEADI'MDEAD!!! Eaglekit closed his eyes again until he was no longer dizzy (which felt like moons and moons). Finaly, he opened his eyes and could see clearly.
He had never seen this place before. Tall pine trees swayed in the wind, shaking their needles off like a wet cat would to get dry. The floor was lined with the needles, a layer of dead, brownish ones beneath a thinner coat of fresh green. The roots of the trees were covered in moss and ferns, and their bark creaked in the soft wind. These trees must be very old. The scents of pine and tree sap overwelmed his nose, and birds and frogs called out into the beautiful woods.
Eaglekit glanced around. No sign of any cats.
Then he remembered the hawk. He looked down at its un-moving body. It's dead. He sighed and shuffled his paws against the pine needle-covered ground. Then his chest swelled with pride. I killed it. He had distracted the creature from its flight, and it had rammed into the tree.
Eaglekit shivered. The forest was quite cold. He glared at the dead hawk jealously. If it were alive, it would be warm right now, he grumped. From all of those layers of downy feathers. He sniffed its body. Or... maybe I can be warm. Then he tucked beneath the creature's body and snuggled against its feathers. That's better. He layed his head against the creature's wings.
He must have dozed off, because when he looked up, the sun was glowing against the horizon. It's sunset. He lifted his sleepy body off the ground.
Suddenly, a sound thrummed at his ear. Footsteps. And they were coming towards him fast.
Eaglekit's fur bristled as three cats shot out of the undergrowth. One was a dark gray color, muscles bulging from beneath his pelt. The second was a brown tabby she-cat, amber eyes searing his pelt maliciously. The last was another she-cat. She was quite small, almost kit-sized, with yellow fur and eyes, and was staring curiously at the strange kit sitting beneath a hawk's body.
The three cats stopped to stare at him; then the gray one stepped forwad. He sniffed the kit, cringing at the unfamiliar smell, and then spoke in a deep voice, "Who are you? Did you kill that hawk?"
The brown kit lowered his head, amber eyes shining nervously. Then he looked up and said confindently, "My name is Eaglekit. And yes, I killed this hawk."
The two she-cats eyes glistened with shock. Even the aggorant-looking gray tom was suprised. "H-how?" he asked.
Eaglekit glanced at the bird's body. "It picked me up and flew me away from our Clan's camp, but I distracted it and it ran into a tree."
The tomcat nodded, ears pricked. The small yellow she-cat said loudly, "What's a Clan?"
"Quiet, Yellow Sun," the other she-cat whispered. She stood up straight and said, "Where is your home? And your family?"
Eaglekit ducked his head. "I-I don't know," he said. "I lost them."
The tabby blinked, turning to look at the gray tom. "He's just a kit," she said. "He needs somewhere to stay the night."
"But where?" the gray tom asked.
"Come back to our Tribe with us!" the yellow cat meowed.
"Shhh!" the gray tom hissed at the kitten. He turned and looked at Eaglekit, and then back at the she-cat. "Well, we could do that, but only for the night. It isn't safe for a strange cat to be living amongst the Tribe." He nodded at the two she-cats. "My name is Stone Claws, and this is Birch Branch and Yellow Sun."
Eaglekit cocked his head. What strange names.
The gray cat, Stone Claws, beckoned with his tail. "Come, follow us to the Tribe of the Summer Breeze camp." Then they pushed back into the ferns. Eaglekit draped the hawk's body over himself, its wings dragging at his sides and its head resting on his own, and followed them.
Yellow Sun was quite talkitive. "Stone Claws and Birch Branch are camp-guards, which mean that they do all the fighting and stuff." She swiped her paws in the air as if she were mimicking a battle. "I'm going to be a prey-hunter, but I have to pass my to-be training first. Then Stoneteller will hold a ceremony for me. But before that, I have to pass my training, do all my chores, like feeding the kit-mothers and stuff..."
Although Yellow Sun was deep in conversation, Eaglekit didn't hear a word she said. He was staring back in the ferns they had just walked through. I wanted to be a warrior of AshClan one day, not of some stupid Tribe. I wanted to be leader. He sighed and looked back ahead of himself. They should've fought harder to save me. But they didn't save me. They wouldn't. They didn't like me.
But someday I'll show them. I'll be ruler of all the Clans.
And that's a promise.
I stalked among the ferns at the bottom of the ravine, pale-brown rock brushing my shoulders. I sniffed the air. The intruder was a few steps ahead of me.
I ducked into a hunter's crouch, stepping my paws lightly on the stone floor. I heard a cracking of twigs just ahead of me. The NightClan warrior, a tratior, an intruder, was coming my way. I shivered as I heard a his from one of the bramble bushes ahead.
She doesn't know I'm here, I thought. I wiggle my hindquarters, ready to pounce. The undergrowth cracking was growing faster and faster. And then...
"ATTACK!" squeaked Shadowkit as she hurtled herself at me.
"I'll get you, you mangy NightClan cat!" I yowled, battering her with my paws (claws sheathed, of course).
"Never!" my friend meowed and leaped on top of my back. I slumped down to the ground underneath the brown-gray she-kit's weight. She said, "Do you surrender?"
I layed silently on the ground for a few seconds. "Firekit?" squeaked Shadowkit.
"NEVER!" I yowled, pushing off with my hind legs and launching my friend off my back. "AshClan warriors never surrender!"
Shadowkit hit the ground a tail-length away, but quickly scramble up. "Hey! No fair!" she mewled. "You were supposed to die!"
"But AshClan warriors never get defeated!" I retorted.
"Now now, kits!" my mother, Dappleface, meowed. She had been watching us play while Shadowkit's mom was picking out her prey from the freshkill pile. "Don't fight."
"But she did an unfair move on me!" Shadowkit whined.
"But she was the NightClan warrior!" I said.
Dappleface smiled. "AshClan might be the best of the four Clans, but they don't always win every battle." She glanced over at Tanglepelt, who was attemping to groom his matted fur near the elder's den. "I bet Tanglepelt could tell you about it."
I clambered on top of Shadowkit, rolled off of her, and raced towards the elder's den. "Tanglepelt! Tanglepelt!" I shrilled. "Tell us a story!"
Tanglepelt looked up from his washing and pricked up his ears. "What story should I tell you?" he meowed to us.
Shadowkit jumped on top of him. "The story where AshClan got defeated!"
Tanglepelt looked suprised. "Well, there are many stories of how AshClan got defeated," he told us. I stared in suprise. AshClan has gotten defeated many times? Tanglepelt continued, "But I know of one terrible battle, where the whole world was filled with screeches and battle cries and the sound of bodies hitting the ground, and the the Four Rivers ran with blood."
"Tell us about it!" I mewled.
"Okay," agreed the elder. Shadowkit and I jumped up and down excitedly. "But let's go into the my den, where it'll be nice and warm."
My sister Moonkit was already in the elder's den. The kit, both erie eyes shining, was give Sweetdapple some herbs for her aches. Moonkit was always helping Vineclaw, the medicine cat, with delivering perscriptions- she looked up the the grey tabby like she was a StarClan cat.
"What herbs are you using?" Shadowkit asked, sniffing the lush, rounded leaves piled next to the tan-colored elder.
"Daisy leaves to ease the aching joints," recited Moonkit, "and poppy seeds to help her sleep."
"You're a smart little one, aren't you?" Sweetdapple mewed as Moonkit beamed.
"I'm going to tell Shadowkit and Firekit a story," said Tanglepelt. "Wanna listen?"
"Yeah!" Moonkit popped up from her work.
"Okay," said Tanglepelt. "Well, it was a real dark night, and I was walking along, when a NightClan cat jumped out!"
We all gasped.
"He was pretty scary- he had dark eyes, fur as black at the night sky and one white paw, with so many big scars all over his pelt, a few of them were criss-crossed! And his tail was cut short. It was the NightClan leader, Darkstar himself!"
"Wow!" I mewed.
"He leaped at me, but I swiped his face so hard he yowled! That got 'im going. He pounced on me, but I rolled over so that he was beneath me. But just when I thought I'd won, he raked my belly until I screamed and ducked down. He caught his claws on my tail, and it snagged. Then he almost yanked my tail out of its socket! I screeched so loud that soon all of AshClan was racing out of the bushes, clambering t'wards the DarkClan leader.
"But he was ready. He flicked his tail, and 20 warriors pushed out of the bushes. They glared at the AshClan patrol, evil eyes glinting in the dim light. Then Darkstar yowled, 'ATTACK!' And the battle began.
"A while later, imagine this- as AshClan warriors slumping injured to the ground, our medicine cat rushing from warrior to injured warrior, only to be pushed back by snarling DarkClan cats. The ground was splattered with blood, and yowled rang throough the chilled night sky. And finally, Shimmerstar, the old leader, yowled, "Retreat!" and the AshClan warriors limped off of the battlefield."
"Wow!" Moonkit mewled. "That wasn't a very happy ending."
"Well," Tangle pointed out, "life isn't always happy."
"That was a cool story, though," I meowed.
"Yeah!" Shadowkit agreed.
"Well, Firekit, I think it's time for your weekly check-up. I bet your mother is waiting for you in the medicine den."
"Okay!" I mewed. "C'mon, Moonkit!"
"I'm coming!" said the tortioseshell. We both scurried out of Tanglefur's nest, heading to the medicine cat den.
I have to take weekly checkups with Vineclaw because, when I was born, I had been much to small and I had had a lung problem. I'm all better now (it's been two moons), but Vineclaw demands that I have the checkups until I'm old enough to become an apprentice, just in case.
"Hi, Mom! Hi, Vineclaw!" I purred cheerily as I bounded into the cave den.
"Hello, Firekit," said Vineclaw, sitting next to Dappleface. She was very beautiful, especially because she always wore around an ivy vine tucked behind her ear. Today, tiny purple flowers adorned her vine.
The medicine den was also beautiful- it was a cave invaded by ivy, tendrils twisting gracefully around the stone walls. The scent of herbs drifted from the store in the back of the cavern. The ground was soft with dry moss. Smooth rocks jutted up from the floor, creating perfect places for nests. They were lined by moss and flowers.
As I hopped into a den, Moonkit walked over. "I'll go get the ginger," she meowed.
"Good, Moonkit," she mewed. "Also get some marigold out, because Lightningstar is coming out to get her leg wound check from the last battle against TreeClan."
Lightningstar! I thought. The leader of AshClan was coming to visit the medicine cat in only a few minutes! Maybe Firekit would get to see her.
Moonkit came out of the herb store, mouth stuffed with tawny-colored chunks of ginger. "Er'sh du dgin-dger!" exclaimed the kit, both her blue and her brown eye shining.
"Thank you, Moonkit," replied Vineclaw, taking the herbs from her, as if she were her apprentice. Looks like she's being groomed for becoming medicine cat.
First, Vineclaw tested my breathing by putting her head against my chest. She felt it for a moment, then mumbled, "Good, good." Then she nudged the ginger over. "Eat this while I finish," she said.
As I chewed, I heard a rushling in the ivy hanging over the den's entrance, and a beautiful silvery-gray cat stepped in. She had blue eyes and a nasty gash on her leg. As her tail flicked, I caught a glimpse of a jagged stripe running down it.
The she-cat trotted over to Vineclaw. "Hello, Lightningstar," greeted the medicine cat.
Lightningstar! My heart jumped. It was the real, live leader of AshClan! "Hi!" I mewled.
Dappleface brushed her furry tail against my mouth Lightningstar stared at me. Oops. I should have shown more respect to the leader.
But she didn't get mad. She said, "Hi, kit! What's your name?" Her eyes glowed with friendliness.
I suddenly felt very shy. "F-Firekit," I stammered.
Lightningstar picked a nest and sat down. "I'll go get the marigold," Vineclaw told her.
I perked my ears. "Why are you here?" I asked, glancing at the leader's injured leg.
The silver she-cat meowed, "I got hurt in a battle against TreeClan. They trying to take back Sky Tree Island on the border of our territory." She mrrowed in laughter and said, "That was one battle that they didn't win."
Once I had finished my herbs I stood up and hopped out of the nest. "Bye Vineclaw! Bye Lightningstar!" I meowed.
Vineclaw smiled, and Lightningstar said, "Goodbye, Firekit! Have a good day!"
Then we headed outside, leaving Vineclaw to dress the leader's wounds.
It was two moons later. I was almost big enough to be an apprentice. I had even outgrown Moonkit! But I couldn't be an apprentice yet; I still had to wait.
I lay next to my mother in the nursery, soft moss warming my fur. The nursery was a hollowed-out patch of brambles, brown and green thorns wrapping protectively around the den. I saw the faint outline in the dark of Clawfoot, my father, checking on Moonkit and I before we went to sleep. "Goodnight!" whispered the tabby cat.
"Goodnight," murmered Moonkit and I.
And soon after my dad left, I fell asleep.
And I dreamed.
In my dream, I was in a forest clearing. It was a very big clearing, with a tall, dead tree in the center. I looked just like Old Tree Island, the gathering place that the senior warriors always spoke of. At the edge of my vison, I saw a shape. It wasa butterfly. The orange-and-black insect fluttered just above my pawtips. I leaped at it, prancing around the mossy clearing, but I couldn't reach. You wanna play that way? Fine! I crouched down, wiggled my hindquarters, and leaped up at least a two tail-lengths into the air. Yes! I batted at the butterfly, my paw making it stutter in its flight.
I shot around, looking around for the cat that had just spoken. In front of me stood three cats I had never seen before.
My fur bristled. The cats' scent was unclear, so I couldn't tell what Clan they were from. One was a silver she-cat with blue eyes. The second was a big white cat, and the third was a tabby she-cat.
The silver one walked over to me. "Don't be afraid. I am Shimmerstar, and this is my deputy, Whiteclaw and my medicine cat, Leaftail."
Something in my mind clicked when the cat said "Shimmerstar," but I couldn't think of what it was.
I growled. "Are you intruders? Get out of our territory!"
Shimmerstar chuckled. The big white cat, Whiteclaw, I think, said, "No, we aren't intruders. We're StarClan cats."
My mouth gaped. "W-why are you here?" I suddenly remembered where I had heard about Shimmerstar- Tanglepelt's story.
Shimmerstar smiled. "We are here to send you a message. It will affect the destiny of all the Clans." She looked up into the trees at something I couldn't see. "There are dark times ahead. You'll need all the strength of TigerClan to battle your fears." She nodded to her medicine cat, Leaftail. "Leaftail has had a vision."
Leaftail stepped up to me, a StarClan warrior looming over a tiny kit. I'd never thought I'd be in this situation. Her sleek, lithe body supported a pale brown tabby pelt, and her green eyes shimmered softly with all the light of the stars.
"I was Vineclaw's mentor, and I hope to mentor you, too," she said. Her voice was as sleek as a spider's silk. Then suddenly, her eyes darkened and glazed over, and she said in a much different voice:
"Darkness is coming in the cloud-ridden breeze.
Fire must rise from the glowing embers.
For only the flames of thunder will destroy
The icey talons of power.
And only the stone of the stars
Will summon an end to the battle
With the storm of fire."
Leaftail's erie words sent a chill down my spine. "What-"
But darkness overtook me, an I was back sitting in my den.
I clawed the soft moss lining the nest. I need answers! What does the propecy mean? I glanced up at the sky, hoping the stars would answer my prayer. But their light kept shining like normal, glowing at the edge of the mountain. Thunder Mountain. Suddenly I remembered- the Moonstone was on the mountain! I could go there and find answers for the mysterious prophecy. There I could figure out what I needed to do.
I had hope on the mountain.
I needed to find it.
I snuck past the other kits sleeping around me- Moonkit, Shadowkit, her siblings Pouncekit and Duskkit, and the newest additions to the nursery, Snakekit and Flutterkit. Echoflight's new kits were not even old enough to go outside the nursery yet- they were born a few days ago. Snakekit was black-and-white, and his sister was white with a brown patch around her eye, kind of like her father Dusteyes.
I continued past them, slipping out a hole in the back of the nursery that was just big enough for me to fit through. I snuck behind the bramble patch and slid out from behind the den.
The next den up was the warriors den, a few fox-lengths away. It was in a cave, sloping down from the tan rock. Snores of sleeping warriors buzzed from the den.
I glanced at the Meeting Rock. It was a tall rock jutting from the ground, which Lightningstar would stand at the top of to address the Clan. I glanced for anyone guarding the camp, but saw no one. They must be in the dirtplace. She walked over to the base of the rock. Now where is the exit? The whole camp looks different at night. Then she spotted it- at the other side of the camp. There it is! She bounded across the jagged ravine to the tiny avalache that had created a stairway out of the camp.
After clambering up the rocky pile, I could clearly see Thunder Mountain looming over the camp, a huge, snow white stone hill shining against the black sky. The Moonstone was located in a cave chamber inside of it, in the base of the mountain. All the medicine cats from each Clan- AshClan, TreeClan, SunClan, and NightClan- would gather there to share tounges with their ancestors. And that's where I'll go.
I turned and trotted into the forest. It was so big! The trees stretched as far as I could see from under their branches. I glanced around at all the oaks and sycamores and pines, towering over me like giants.Which way now? I didn't know which way the Moonstone was anymore, because I had gotten too far underneath the trees to see the mountain. Hmmm... I'll go this way. I chose a direction and set off into the woods.
I walked for hours through the woods, but I seemed to not get anywhere. Everything looked, smelled, and sounded the same- the greenleaf trees rustled in the breeze, the ferns and brambles prickled my feet, prey-scent drenched every bush. As I dragged my exhausted feet on the ground, I wondered if I was walking in circles- until I finally heard the gurgling of water. A stream! I hadn't seen any streams yet.
Then there was a rustle in the bushes. My claws slid out. What's that? My nose twitched as a strange bitter smell washed over me.
Suddenly, an enormous creature pushed out on the brambles, despite the thorns. It had a silvery-black pelt and a black-and-white striped head, and its well-muscled legs rippled with each step. Its nose was a blackberry on its toothy snout. Its short, stumpy tail twitched in the sight of me. It growled, licking its lips.
Then it attacked.
"Help!" I screeched. "BADGER!"
The badger snarled and snatched me up in its snout, whipping me back in forth. I screamed. Its teeth were digging into my short fur. "HELP!"
The badger growled and flung me across the clearing. I yowled as I went flying, and landed with a thump against a stone. A horrid pain shot through my hip. OW! I hissed in fury and lept on top of the burly creature. The badger bucked as I clung tight to its hair. "HELP ME!!!" I yowled again. But I knew no help would come. I was done for.
Suddenly, five cats launched themselves out of the bushes.
Two brown tabbies, a gray cat, a white she-cat, and a calico lept at the snarling badger. I quickly ran off, hiding behind the rock I had injured myself on a few seconds ago. I poked my head out from behind it, watching the attacking cats. They smelled of meadowlarks and pine needles, not like AshClan. Are they rouges? I watched as the brown tabby she-cat, the lighter-colored one, pierced her teeth into the creature's leg, and the gray tom clawed its back until it bled.
Finally, the badger roared in defeat and lumbered away into the trees. "Yeah, you better run!" hissed the darker brown tom, whose teeth were stained pink with blood.
Then he turned to me. "Are..are you alright?" mewed the tom.
I ducked my head. "I'm okay," I meowed back. "I-I was looking for the Moonstone."
The tom looked supprised. "The Moonstone?" he questioned. He turned to the others. "The Moonstone!" he laughed. The other four cats cackled along with them, almost falling over with chuckles. I cocked my head.
"What?" I mewed.
"The Moonstone-" He was cut of with his own bout of laughter. "The Moonstone is all the way over there! Not here, near our territory!" He waved his tail towards the sound of the gurgling river. "Follow me!" He trotted into the bushes.
I followed him, and soon we were at a large stream. The black water reflecting against the dark sky gurgled and bubbled against an island in the middle, covered in a few trees and many types of grasses. It reminded me of Sky Tree Island. Maybe it is the Island. That would mean that, judging by what the brown cat said, these cats were TreeClan.
Then the cats caught my eye- they were waving there tails upwards, towards the sky. Now that I was out of the forest, I could clearly see a strange silouete of something, edging white against the black sky dotted with stars. It's Thunder Mountain! And farther away than ever. My frustration must have shown on my face, because the TreeClan warriors began laughing again.
I hissed. "What are you even doing on our territory? You're trespassing!"
The brown tabby opened his mouth to make a crude remark, but the pale brown tabby, the one that had bitten the badger's leg, interrupted him. "It's against the warrior code to ignore a kit in danger, no matter what Clan it's from."
The tom glared at her. "Yeah, what she said," he grumped.
"Okay," I said. "I guess I'll go back home now..." I took a step towards the trees.
"Oh, no you don't!" the calico tom said. He and the gray cat stepped in front of me, blocking my way. I tried to look past them into the forest.
The brown tom stepped up again. "You're going to be rescorted home."
I was thinking about yelling, "NO!" and running off into the woods to who nows where, but I ended up giving in. "Okay," I muttered reluctantly, dragging my feet as I stepped back into the forest, the TreeClan cats at my side.
Great StarClan, I thought, I'm going to get in big trouble when I get home!
I went to Punishment Trail the next day. Punishment Trail is costumary in AshClan. The leader, deputy, medicine cat, and senior warriors will collect as much information as they can about what happened, and then decide together what to do.
I sat patiently in the Trail Hold Island, which was on a pond and was where all the trails were held. They weren't really official trails- the apprentices had overheard rumors of NightClan's great trails, where there would be witnesses to take sides on the problem and judges to acknowledge them and many meetings held until they decided on a punishement- but more of a decison meeting, where the cats would talk over ideas.
I went over what I would say to Lightningstar in my head- that I had had a prophecy, and it was important that I found out what it meant. If needed, I would pummel her face. Okay, bad idea. But still!
I sat patiently at the clump of moss layed out for me. It was soft and covered in tiny daisy flowers (definetly a Vineclaw move). I shuffled nervously on my seat. What are they going to say? What if they hurt me? What if I don't become an apprentice? I shudder. I've been waiting so long to be an apprentice. I would be so upset if I didn't get to be one!
Lightningstar and her warriors arrived a few minutes later. Her fur was perfectly groomed, every hair in place. Vineclaw, with daisy leaves decorating her vine, stood next to her, as well as Jumpfoot, the deputy. He was all black, except for his muzzle, paws, and tail-tip, which were white. I hadn't looked at him up close before. When I looked at his neck fur, I noticed a dent on his pelt sloping from his neck into his upper back, wrapping around his neck like an invisible chain.
Lightningstar sat down on a fallen pine trunk, her medicine cat and deputy crouching beside her. The senior warriors sat to the left of the tree, in a small patch of ferns.
"Today, we will discuss the matter of a kit escaping camp," Lightningstar said. "She went as far as the TreeClan border until she was escorted back by an enemy patrol. She encountered a badger during her journey and could have been killed. I usually wouldn't call a Trail for a kit, but when dangers like this could affect the safety of an AshClan cat, we all know the rules." She turned to Jumpfoot. "What laws of the Warrior Code did Firekit break?"
Jumpfoot thought for a mmoment, and then mewed, "She didn't break any, Lightningstar. The Code doesn't say anything about kits not being aloud to leave the camp without permission."
One of the senior warriors, Ospreyclaw, jumped in. "But we all know that kits staying in the nursery is an essentail rule that isn't in the code. Besides, what about Rule Six?"
"Rule Six?" Jumpfoot cocked his head. "What does that have to does with anything?"
"It says that kits may not become apprentices until they reach the age of six moons. When you become an apprentice, you earn new privledges, such as leaving camp."
"Hmm..." Lightningstar glanced at Jumpfoot. "Well, yes. Firekit broke Rule 6." She shuffled her feet and continued. "Anyways, we have gathered as much information as we can on this topic. Dappleface told us that she woke up before sun-up and Firekit wasn't in the nest. After searching camp, a TreeClan patrol came in with the kit, and told us she was found at the border being attacked by a badger." Lightningstar turned to me. "Firekit, why did you sneak out of camp?"
Everything that I planned to say went blank in my mind. My throat turned dry. "Uhhh... I think I maybe sorta kinda... got a prophecy..."
"A prophecy?" Vineclaw's ears pricked.
Lightningstar looked suprised. "Vineclaw, we need to talk. Alone."
The two cats stalked off into the bushes. I couldn't here what they were saying. I looked down. What are they talking about?
After a long time, the two she-cats finally came back. "Firekit, we've decided not to punish you. It was an honest mistake."
Jumpfoot leaped forward. "WHAT?!" yowled the black tom. The fur on his neck ruffled, except for the strange dent in his fur that wrapped around his neck like a ring. "We need to punis her! She broke the warrior code!"
"And if the warrior code is that important, don't object to your leader," Lightningstar retorted. "The decision is final. We will not punish this kit."
I rushed away from Snakekit, tears streaming down my face. Snakekit, why are you so mean? I thought.
Snakekit had just offered to play Warriors. All seven of us agreed, and we chose what teams we would be on.
"I'll be an AshClan cat!" Moonkit had cheered.
"Me too!" Snakekit had agreed.
"Yeah, us too!" Pouncekit exclaimed. Duskkit nodded.
Shadowkit and Flutterkit offered to be in NightClan for the game.
"What Clan wil you be in, Firekit?" Flutterkit had asked.
"I'll be an AshClan warrior," I answered.
"No you can't!" Snakekit had interupted. He stepped in front of me and blocked me off from the other three kits. "You have to be a medicine cat."
What in StarClan? "What do you mean?" I mewed. I guestured to my sister, who was looking as confused as I had been. "Even she barely plays medicine cat, and Moonkit is-" Then I realized what Snakekit was meowing about. "What- I tryed to find the Moonstone two moons ago! You had barely opened your eyes when that happened, and you're still nagging me about it? I bet you don't even rember it."
Snakekit had been laughing by then, and Flutterkit was too. She always went along with what her brother did. Shadowkit and Moonkit were holding back giggles, too, with their eyes bright and smiles hiding behind their closed mouths.
"Haha!" laughed Snakekit. "You went to the Moonstone! You like herbs! You have to be a medicine cat!"
Moonkit had stopped smiling by then.
"I'm not a medicine cat!" I snarled.
Snakekit paused, a mischevious grin on his face. "Well... your as stupid as one."
Everyone except Moonkit and I began cracking up at Snakekit's sarcasm. And that's when I had stormed away, heading straight for the medicine den.
"Vineclaw!" I meowed grumpily. I would want her to be my mentor, if she was a warrior. But she is the medicine cat and will probably be Moonkit's mentor.
Vineclaw trotted out of the herb store. "What is it, Firekit?" Her flowers today were pure white with yellow centers, and curved petals. "Are the other kits bullying you again?"
"Yeah," I said. "They said that I had to be a medicine cat!"
Vineclaw looked slightly injured, but she said, "Oh, those kits! They think they can boss anyone around." She hissed and turned to me. "So, do you like herbs at all?"
"Nope," I mewed.
"Do you have any interest in healing?" she said.
"How about predicting omens?"
"Then you aren't destined to be a medicine cat," Vineclaw told me. "The kits are just being rude. Fate plays with cats' destinies like a 2-moon-old playing with moss." I nodded, agreeing.
"Just remember, Firekit." Vineclaw's eyes glowed like starlight. "Never follow the destiny that a living cat gives to you, for your path is already set out in the stars."
I groaned as my mother licked my headfur. It was evening, and my mother was cleaning my fur.
"It hurts!" I complained. "You just pulled my fur!"
"Sorry, I'm almost done." Dappleface gave me a final lick and then ended her session. Then she turned to Moonkit. "Your turn!" She began grooming my sister's torti-tabby fur.
"OWW!" yowled my sister, her brown and her blue eye widening.
Dappleface kept licking. "It's okay, I just have to get your fur nice and pretty!" she mewed.
I turned to look up at the Meeting Rock. Lightningstar was going to call a meeting in a few moments. Moonki and I were attending, and my mother wanted us to look extra special for our first time. I saw Jumpfoot talking to Lightningstar, probably discussing the coming meeting. Jumpfoot's strange sloping neckfur shown in the moonlight. It gave me the chills. It choked his throat, wrapping around his neck like a kittypet collar-
My eyes widened. Was the dent in his neckfur a scar of where a collar used to be? Was Jumpfoot once a kittypet?
"All done!" my mom said from inside of the nursery. Moonkit trudged out, her usually scruffy fur all soft and sleek. Dappleface followed, her tortiouseshell pelt swishing in the breeze. "Let's go find Clawfoot and get ready for the meeting."
I trailed after my mother over to the sandy rock where warriors eat their freshkill. Clawfoot was there, his ginger pelt glowing like honey. With him was Blazeclaw, an orange she-cat; Nighttooth, a muscular black tom; and Rainfall, a blueish gray tom. They were talking about prey and recent battles and gossip from the Gathering (which was almost a moon ago, because the next one would be held in only a few days). They chatted and laughed just like the other kits and I would do.
"Clawfoot!" mewed Dappleface. "The meeting is going to start in a moment!"
"Just a heartbeat, guys," Clawfoot told his fellow warriors. They nodded in approval, and Clawfoot turned to face his family. "Hello, kits! Are you excited for your first Clan meeting?"
"Yeah!" mewed Moonkit. I nodded solenmly.
"I wonder what news today will bring," commented Dappleface. There was a mysterious look of knowing in her eyes.
Suddenly, a yowl rang from the top of the Meeting Rock. "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Rock for a Clan meeting!" Lightningstar said. I trembled with excitement. My first Clan meeting! I wonder what it will be like? This is going to be great!
I trotted into the crowd of cats that had begun gathering in front of the Rock, following my mother's white tailtip. I felt nervousness rush through me. What were the older cats going to think?
As soon as the whole Clan had gathered, Lightningstar stepped forward to the very edge of the rock. It was so tall I wondered how she didn't get sick looking down at the far-away ground. Yikes! How can she stand up there?
"We have had a successful day of hunting today," Lightingstar mewed. "Greenleaf has been generous to us, and we have out freshkill pile stocked with prey. There was a border skirmish between a TreeClan patrol and our own today. A border patrol was accused of stealing fish from the river. It was a mistake, and it will not happen again." At the end of her sentence, the leader's voice became harsh, and I saw her eyes flicker towards Volepaw, who was grinning sheepishly.
"Anyways, the battle was won. Our patrol, Nighttooth, Blazeclaw, Shadepelt, Volepaw and Brightpaw, deserve an applause!"
The whole Clan raised their heads and cheered for the warriors. I joined in.
Lightningstar continued. "One of the most important things in our Clan is the naming of new rookies. The extraordinary times when wide-eyed, bumbling kits become wise, strong warriors in only 6 moons of training. Three kits have reached the age of their training time and will be granted their apprentice names." Then her head turned to look straight at me. "Shadowkkit, Moonkit, and Firekit, please step forward."
My heart jumped. I was being made an apprentice! I walked forward to the very base of the Meeting Rock, Moonkit behind me. Shadowkit emerged from the crowd and stepped forward too.
"Shadowkit," Lightningstar told my friend, "as the eldest kit, you take much responsiblility. You were born with the determination you need. From now on, until you earn your warrior name, you will be known as Shadowpaw." She turned to face the crowd. "Ospreyclaw, you are a senior warrior. You understand the feeling of hardship that comes to being a warrior... and a queen." A sorrowful look blazed in her eyes for a heartbeat, then dissapeared. "I know you will pass on your experience to this apprentice." Ospreyclaw, a one-eyed tabby she-cat, stepped out of the crowd and touched noses with Shadowpaw, whos eyes shone bright as tiny amber suns.
"Shadowpaw! Shadowpaw!" yowled the Clan.
Lightningstar then named Shadowkit's sister and brother Duskpaw and Pouncepaw, and gave them mentors- Shadepelt and Dusteyes.
Then she turned to me. "Firekit." My fur bristled as I heard Lightningstar murmur my name. I shuffled foward. "You have the loyalty and eagerness of a true warrior." A few mutters spread through the crowd as she said the word "warrior". Looks like Snakekit isn't the only one who thinks I should be a medicine cat. "From now on, you will be known as Firepaw."
Firepaw! I thought excitedly. What a beautiful name!
"Your mentor will be Bramblefall," Lightningstar added. A brown tabby tom walked out from the crowd, his blue eyes shining. "Bramblefall," the leader said, "You did not earn Spottedpaw as your apprentice, because Jumpfoot needed to mentor her to fullfill his deputy duties. Now, you will get what you have waited for. Pass on all you learned from your old mentor, Stormpelt." Bramblefall stepped up to me and leaned down to touch my nose.
"You'll be the best warrior ever," the tabby tom promised. "I just know it."
I smiled. The crowd behind me cheered- "Firepaw! Firepaw!" I could hear my mother and father's voices amongst the yowling cats.
Lightningstar looked down at my sister. "Moonkit, you have reached the age to become a warrior's apprentice, but you will be taking another path. With your generous and merciful spirit, you are destined to be the greatest medicine cat that the Clans have ever known. From now on, you will be known as Moonpaw." She turned to Vineclaw, who was in the front of the crowd. "Vineclaw, you have the heart of a warrior and the spirit of a medicine cat. StarClan honors your skill in both the healing area and the art of hunting and fighting. Because you trained as a warrior for four moons before you became a medicine cat, my wish is that you will pass on both your knowledge of medicine and warriorship to your new apprentice."
As soon as Vineclaw's nose touched my proud-looking sister's, the crowd erupted into cheers for the new medicine apprentice. "MOONPAW! MOONPAW! MOONPAW!"
I'd bet you a whole rabbit that I cheered the loudest.
A full moon glowed over the forest's top branches, illuminating everything in reach. I sniffed the cool night air- I could scent TreeClan, SunClan and NightClan cats just ahead.
I had gone on a tour of the territory a few sunrises ago- it was so fun! We got to see all over AshClan. That's where I learned the rival warriors' smells, too. Then we had done basic stalking and battle training. I knew all the essentials for being an apprentice.
I bounded over to Shadowpaw, whose brown pelt glowed under the moon's light. "Are you excited for the Gathering?" I asked excitedly.
"We might meet a NightClan warrior!" Shadowpaw exclaimed. Faint traces of memories skimmed my mind- stalking Shadowkit and calling her a NightClan cat, hearing legends of Darkstar and tales of terrible warriors that stalked cats in the dead of night from the elders, my father returning from a battle against the Clan with clawmarks fresh on his pelt. I couldn't believe that I was going to see the legendary, fierce Cats of the Night!
Then I remembered something Bramblefall told me. "NightClan cats usually keep to themselves at Gatherings," I explained, "but we might see them."