"When I was an apprentice, just Wetpaw then, there was a loner accepted into the Clan. Her name was Zorro, and everyone thought she was one of the most beautiful cats around - with a sleek, dappled silver pelt and eyes as blue as the sky, it was probably easy for her to charm her way into the Clan, and get past Eustar's scrupulous eye. She was small, but Zorro claimed this was because of her mother's genes - we all accepted that. We realize now how we should have looked closer into this story of her's.
Zorro arrived in the Clan in the height of Greenleaf. Looking back on it, it was probably no coincidence that she stumbled upon the flourishing Clan when they were at their peak, with piles of prey and satisfied bellies, plenty of herbs and an abundance of apprentices. She was found at the border, looking afraid of crossing it but more wary of whatever she was leaving behind.
On the patrol that found her was Bramblepaw and Sunpaw, two apprentices, and their mentors Forestheart and Hawkfire. Braveheart, a middle-aged warrior, was along with them at the time as well.
Sunpaw pressed her nose to the ground, snuffling along. This earned her a teasing glance from Bramblepaw, who loudly declared, "Sunpaw, you're a Clan cat, not a dog! Behave like it!" At her imitation of her own mentor Forestheart's voice, both apprentices collapsed to the ground in giggles. Forestheart and Hawkfire looked reproving, but Braveheart settled for slightly amused. Clearly, he had seen nothing more interesting in recent days of being a warrior.
When the two apprentices finally calmed down enough to hear Hawkfire's words, the dark tabby she-cat mewed, "Regardless of how you were doing it, Sunpaw, what did you smell?"
The golden-ginger she-cat instantly sobered up, hopping to her paws and struggling to maintain a serious and professional expression. "It wasn't a Clan cat scent," she reported, "but definitely a cat's. Coming from our border, but it's not a scent that indicates this cat went through our land. I can just smell it - her, more specifically, I think - from here. She must be really young, I can still smell milk on her. Probably a rogue or a loner; that's my best guess."
Braveheart looked impressed, and he flicked his tail at Hawkfire approvingly. "Teaching your apprentice some good skills!" Hawkfire smiled warmly at Sunpaw, and the golden apprentice beamed, radiating pride and excitement and having been recognized by a senior warrior.
Bramblepaw pouted. "I have good skills too!" She darted to the nearest tree and lunged out with a paw, hooking her pad around the branch and hauling herself up. Unfortunately, not having fully grown into her body, she was still a bit unporportionate, and promptly fell down, her short claws scoring long marks in the trunk of the tree, at which she scrabbled to keep herself from tumbling to the floor.
Forestheart only clucked, clearly unamused, while Braveheart offered the apprentice a kind smile. Bramblepaw scowled and lumbered after Sunpaw, who was following the scent further along.
They came across the she-cat looking a bit wary, loitering at the edge of the border. Her silver coat sparkled in the bright light filtering through the trees in long, brilliant shafts, and her blue eyes, though exhaused, shone upon hearing the approach of cats. Her dappled coat covered a slender, small, and compact body, and though she was definitely too small to be an apprentice, she appeared about four moons. Though the apprentices were initially quite skeptical, the older warriors - Forestheart and Braveheart particularly - were quite eager to let her in.
"Here, let me help you," Braveheart said brightly, wrapping his tail around the she-cat's shoulders. Her eyes glowed, and without any words, they openly accepted her into the Clan - without consultation from Eustar.
By the time the group arrived in camp, word had spread that a border patrol had discovered a loner by the border. A few hunting patrols had caught sight of the mysterious cat, and had told their friends and spread the word throughout the Clan. When Braveheart and Forestheart paraded the small she-cat - Zorro, she called herself - into the camp, Eustar was waiting, seated on the high rock over his den. His beady eyes survyeed the newcomer, clearly unimpressed.
"What have we here?" the old cat thundered, having lost little of his authority even in old age.
Forestheart smiled, an expression most cats were quite unused to seeing on their deputy. It was clear he was eager to have a new asset to the Clan, especially an outsider who knew the ways of the land outside the Clan territories. She could provide valuable information to help them explore territory even further, to expand their land. There would be more hunting in leaf-bare, and--
"Forestheart! What have we here?" Eustar growled, jumping down. He paced in front of the cats, brain working.
"Oh! Right. Sorry Eustar. I was only--well, regardless, we found this loner by the border. I--we--think she'll be a valuable asset to the Clan. See, with her knowledge of the land outside of our land, we could get more territory, and thus have more prey in leaf-bare, and she has already proven herself a seasoned fighteer--"
Eustar interrupted him, directing a question at Zorro. "Let the she-cat speak for herself, Forestheart. Tell me, how old are you?"
Unwavering through her lie, Zorro replied, "Six moons, Eustar."
"Well, then, I see no reason to hold you back from apprenticeship!" Though the leader had first narrowed his eyes in skepticism, as though he could see plainly through Zorro's lie, now shrugged. If the she-cat wanted to lie about her age, train even when she was too young, have to care for her Clan when she should still be suckling at her mother's belly - then so be it. Eustar wouldn't hold her back.
The aged leader leaped back onto the massive rock and with a voice that boomed throughout the camp, summoned his Clan before him. "Zorro, you are six moons old. As a new addition to our Clan, it is only fit you get an apprentice name and a mentor so you can properly serve our - your - Clan. From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Moonpaw. Braveheart, you found this she-cat and so it will be your duty to train her. I hope Braveheart will pass down all he knows to you."
Zorro - or the newly-named Moonpaw - touched noses with Braveheart, and the pair retreated. The Clan chanted Moonpaw's name, welcoming her to the ranks of the Clan.
Eustar continued. "Now, as you all know, we've been having a bit of a problem on the border with ShadowClan. It's high time we take back the land they have wrongfully taken! Only a moon ago, that land was ours, and it should still be ours. Braveheart will take a small patrol to re-establish the scent markers. When challenged, Braveheart will give the signal and Hiddensun's patrol will follow. I will lead the third patrol, and Sunnyfrost the fourth." The Clan cheered in approval.
"On my patrol will be Forestheart, Bramblepaw, Moonpaw, Wetpaw, and Nightfern. Let's go," Braveheart called.
The rest of the patrols assembled at their leaders' calls, and within no time, the patrols had headed out. Braveheart was already at the border, and Hiddensun's patrol fanned out in the trees behind him. Already, five silhouettes appeared on a neighboring hillock, and then the ShadowClan cats were plunging towards their soon-to-be opponents. With a hiss, a challenge was made. To accept the aforementioned challenge, Braveheart raised his tail.
ThunderClan poured out from behind the trees with a yowl.
Moments later, ThunderClan and ShadowClan alike were writhing and twisting on the ground. Pelts clashed and teeth and claws flashed. The tang of blood filled the air as screeches and shrieks rippled through the day. Neither side seemed to be willing to give in, until the tide began to turn in ThunderClan's favor.
Forestheart was grappling with a nasty ShadowClan tom named Duskfern, a purple-blue cat with bright amber eyes. Beside him, Braveheart tumbled about with a vicious she-cat named Aspenblossom. Moonpaw was tussling with an apprentice far larger than her, and she looked exhausted, muscles almost ready to give out. Blood already crusted a gash on her right foreleg, and a large purple lump was swelling above her eye.
Just as Hiddensun chased ShadowClan's deputy back across the newly-instated border, Moonpaw's opponent flung her from his shoulders. She flew through the air, hitting one of the sturdy oak trees and falling in a crumpled heap to the forest floor. The ThunderClan medicine cat raced onto the batterfield, bolting towards Moonpaw.
Eustar received a small shake of the head from the medicine cat. The leader turned towards his own cats, his face grave.
"Moonpaw is dead."
"She was underage Rainkit, that's why! She wasn't fully-formed, so her body couldn't handle all the physical stress from the battle. I'm no medicine cat, but--yes, Ashkit. Yes, run along. Anyone else need to use the dirtplace? No? Good. All right, here we go. This next one is one Forestheart is quite familiar with..."