Leader: Sparrowstar-dark tabby tom with yellow eyes, white socks and a graying muzzle.
Deputy: Gorsepelt-large pale-brown tabby tom with a white-tipped fur on his tail-tip.
Medicine Cat: Mousefoot-dusty brown tom with pale yellow eyes and darker brown paws.
Warriors: Sedgefur-pale brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes.
Crowtalon-dark gray tom with icy blue eyes, white paws and muzzle.
Beetlefang-large dark brown-and-white tom with yellow eyes.
Oakfire-pale brown tom with amber eyes.
Thornflame-ginger tabby tom with green eyes.
Sandclaw-pale ginger tabby tom with amber eyes.
Foxspring-bright ginger tom with white legs, tail-tip and shining green eyes.
Jaystone-gray tabby tom with ice-blue eyes and a white underbelly.
Featherbreeze-small, light-framed gray tabby she-cat with long, feather-like fur.
Rabbitclaw-light brown tabby tom with pale paws and blue eyes.
Breezetalon-large, jet-black tom with long claws and bright amber eyes.
Hazelfeather-gray she-cat with white paws, tail-tip, and blue eyes.
Hawkflight-large dark tabby tom with gleaming amber eyes and long claws.
Pounceclaw-ginger tom with a white dash on his chest and pale-green eyes.
Sandbreeze-pale ginger tabby she-cat with bright green eyes and pale-ginger paws.
Blossomsky=white she-cat with pale cream-furred patches and blue eyes.
Dawnberry-pale cream-furred she-cat with blue eyes.
Thistlefang-large dark ginger tabby tom with piercing dark green eyes and nicked ears. Apprentice-Ravenpaw.
Emberfall-reddish-ginger tom with green eyes.
Falconswoop-brown tom with lighter-colored tabby stripes and amber eyes. Apprentice-Ebonypaw.
Heatherwhisper-brown and white she-cat with yellow eyes.
Sharpfang-large pale ginger tabby tom with bright yellow eyes.
Aspenfur-pale-golden mottled tom with amber eyes.
Wrenwing-light brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes.
Nightheather-black she-cat with ocean-blue eyes.
Apprentices: Ebonypaw-black she-cat with piercing amber eyes (BreezetalonXNightheather)
Ravenpaw-black she-cat with smoky-blue eyes (BreezetalonXNightheather)
Queens: Sagefrost-small, long-furred dark gray-and-white she-cat with ice-blue eyes. Mother of Thistlefang's kit, Rabbitkit (dark ginger tabby-and-white tom).
Firewind-ginger tabby she-cat with bright green eyes. Mother of Foxspring's kit, Sunkit (bright ginger she-kit).
Dapplecloud-white she-cat with tortoiseshell patches and green eyes. Mother of Pounceclaw's kits, Sorrelkit (tortoiseshell she-kit) Morningkit (milky golden tabby she-kit) and Owlkit (pale brown-and-white tom)
Skystorm-dark tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes. Expecting Falconswoop's kits.
Elders: Sunsplash-ginger and white she-cat with green eyes.
Gingerbreeze-pale ginger tabby she-cat with green eyes.
Boulderclaw-large gray tom with pale-blue eyes.
Rabbitspring-pale brown tom with darker tabby stripes and amber eyes.
Hareleap-tawny furred tom with amber eyes.
Leader: Lionstar-dark ginger tom with yellow eyes.
Deputy: Stoneclaw-large dark gray tom with blue eyes.
Medicine Cat: Flowerpelt-gray she-cat with blue eyes. Apprentice-Graypaw.
Warriors: Ivysplash-calico she-cat with green eyes.
Icepool-white she-cat with black tabby-rings on her legs, tail and blue eyes. Apprentice-Eaglepaw.
Tigerfang-dark tabby tom with a white tail-tip, paws and yellow eyes.
Blacktalon-black tom with green eyes. Apprentice-Tigerpaw.
Stormwhisker-dark gray tabby tom with blue eyes. Apprentice-Shrewpaw.
Mistfeather-gray she-cat with darker tabby rings on her legs and tail.
Hailfang-dark gray tabby tom with pale-blue eyes.
Nightstorm-black tom with white paws, tail-tip and green eyes. Apprentice-Bramblepaw.
Wolfsong-dark gray-and-white she-cat with ice-blue eyes. Apprentice-Vinepaw.
Finchflight-dark ginger tabby tom with amber eyes.
Streakflame-red tom with green eyes and a darker red streak down his spine.
Cedarfur-black tom with blue eyes.
Owlpelt-pale ginger tabby tom with yellow eyes.
Cloudwhisper-white tom with gray splashes and blue eyes. Apprentice-Firepaw.
Fernmist-pale gray tabby she-cat with blue eyes.
Robinfeather-black and ginger she-cat with dark amber eyes.
Snowfern-white she-cat with gray ear-tips and blue eyes.
Apprentices: Graypaw-small gray tom with blue eyes (StormwhiskerXIcepool)
Tigerpaw-small light brown tabby she-cat with bright amber eyes (Unknown--Raised by Stormwhisker and Icepool)
Firepaw-pale dark-ginger tom with yellow eyes (FinchflightXRobinfeather)
Vinepaw-dark tabby tom with amber eyes (CedarfurXSnowfern)
Shrewpaw-dark brown tom with white socks and green eyes (CedarfurXSnowfern)
Bramblepaw-dark tabby she-cat with white tail-tip and amber eyes (CedarfurXSnowfern)
Eaglepaw-black-and-white tom with smoky-blue eyes (CedarfurXSnowfern)
Queens: Leopardheart-black she-cat with amber eyes. Mother of Blacktalon's kit, Darkkit (black she-kit)
Briarshade-dark tabby she-cat with yellow eyes. Mother of Hailfang's kits, Hollykit (black-and-gray she-kit) and Cinderkit (very dark gray she-kit)
Cherryfrost-ginger tabby she-cat with forest-green eyes. Mother of Owlpelt's kits, Thrushkit (small gray tom) and and Mousekit (very pale brownish-gray tom)
Elders: Ashclaw-gray tabby tom with darker paws and smoky-blue eyes.
Frostwing-white she-cat with silver paws and ice-blue eyes.
Birchshade-brown tabby tom with amber eyes.
Adderstorm-dark tabby tom with amber eyes.
Blossomlight-dark tortoiseshell she-cat with amber eyes.
Leader: Marshstar-dark gray tom with blue eyes.
Deputy: Spiderfang-large black tom with long legs and ice-blue eyes.
Medicine Cat: Dawndapple-white she-cat with dark cream patches and blue eyes.
Warriors: Crowflight-black she-cat with blue eyes.
Bramblepelt-dark tabby tom with amber eyes.
Scorchpelt-ginger tom with gray eyes.
Falconwing-dark tabby tom with amber eyes.
Rowanfang-dark ginger tom with green eyes.
Lionclaw-dark ginger tabby tom with green eyes.
Darkwhisper-large dark brown tom with amber eyes.
Specklefrost-dark gray she-cat with white flecks and blue eyes.
Flywing-black tom with amber eyes. Apprentice-Pinepaw.
Buzzardflight-dark tabby tom with ice-blue eyes.
Ashcloud-pale gray she-cat with blue eyes.
Webclaw-dark gray tabby tom with blue eyes and long claws.
Nettleblaze-gray tom with black tabby stripes, a white muzzle, and blue eyes.
Thornflower-she-cat with sleek, thick, flame-colored fur and bright green eyes.
Starlingclaw-dark ginger tom with green eyes.
Foxfang-bright ginger tabby tom with pale forest-green eyes.
Roseshade-dark ginger she-cat with pale yellow eyes.
Morningfrost-dark cream-furred she-cat with pale cream-colored socks and underbelly.
Apprentices: Pinepaw-black she-cat with amber eyes (DarkwhisperXHollyshade)
Adderpaw-brown-and-white tom with amber eyes (FlywingXMorningfrost)
Nightpaw-black tom with smoky-blue eyes (FlywingXMorningfrost)
Queens: Hollyshade-black she-cat with yellow eyes. Mother of Darkwhisper's second kit, Stormkit (very dark tabby she-kit)
Embershade-dark golden she-cat with a black stripe down her spine, black paws, ear-tips, tail-tip and dark amber eyes. Mother of Scorchpelt's kits, Seedkit (dark ginger tabby she-kit) and Mothkit (dark golden tabby she-kit).
Shadepool-black she-cat with gray tabby stripes and blue eyes. Mother of Buzzardflight's kits, Forestkit (dark tabby tom) and Shadekit (black she-kit)
Grayfeather-gray tabby she-cat with white paws and pale-green eyes. Expecting Webclaw's kits.
Elders: Eaglepelt-black and white tom with ice-blue eyes.
Hawkeye-dark tabby tom with piercing amber eyes.
Stormshadow-gray tabby tom with blue eyes.
Fireleaf-ginger she-cat with bright green eyes.
Dawnstripe-dark golden she-cat with black tabby stripes.
Leader: Froststar-aged, small white she-cat with frost-blue eyes.
Deputy: Waterwhisper-large very pale-gray tom with blue eyes.
Medicine Cat: Softwater-pale gray tabby she-cat with blue eyes. Apprentice-Sunnypaw.
Warriors: Hailclaw-large pale gray tom with black tabby stripes and blue eyes.
Stormflower-light gray tabby she-cat with blue eyes. Apprentice-Pikepaw.
Redspring-tortoiseshell-and-white tom with bright green eyes.
Mossleap-dark tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat with green eyes.
Ripplefur-dark gray tabby tom. Apprentice-Heronpaw.
Maplefire-very dark tortoiseshell she-cat with amber eyes.
Sootstorm-black mottled tom with bright blue eyes.
Minnowpool-dark gray tabby she-cat with blue eyes. Apprentice-Reedpaw.
Pebbletooth-gray tabby tom with pale-green eyes. Apprentice-Rushpaw.
Dewsplash-large white tom with dark gray splashes and blue eyes.
Icefall-large, thick-furred white tom with icy blue eyes and a nicked ear.
Weaselfoot-pale ginger tom with darker paws and green eyes.
Talonstrike-dark tabby tom with yellow eyes. Apprentice-Petalpaw.
Waspflight-black tabby tom with dark amber eyes.
Heronpelt-white tom with gray paws and blue eyes.
Pikesplash-pale gray tabby tom with blue eyes.
Reedstep-dark brown tom with pale-yellow eyes.
Rushstorm-dark brown tom with yellow eyes.
Petalsong-dark tabby she-cat with amber eyes.
Frostheart-dark brown she-cat with a snow-white underbelly, chest, and ice-blue eyes.
Shellwing-gray she-cat with blue eyes and long, thick fur.
Timberpelt-large dark brown tom withd ark, pale-amber eyes.
Duskheart-dark brown she-cat with a white splash on her chest and yellow eyes.
Slatepelt-dark gray tom with ocean-blue eyes.
Smokefire-pale gray tom with yellow eyes.
Lakesplash-white tom with pale blue-gray patches and ice-blue eyes.
Dustflower-pale brown and white she-cat with blue eyes.
Apprentices: Mothpaw-golden tabby she-cat with dark amber eyes (WeaselfootXDustflower)
Sunpaw-ginger tom with green eyes (WeaselfootXDustflower)
Beechpaw-pale-brown tabby tom with yellow eyes (WeaselfootXDustflower)
Queens: Vixenfur-bright ginger she-cat with black paws, a white tail-tip, underbelly and green eyes. Mother of Waspflight's kits, Larkkit (dark tabby she-kit) and Creekkit (dark gray, almost black, she-kit with white chest and underbelly)
Mistpelt-pale gray she-cat with ice-blue eyes. Mother of Ripplefur's kits, Splashkit (white tom with pale-gray splotches) and Blizzardkit (white tom with dark-gray tabby-stripes)
Elders: Hawkpelt-dark tabby tom with a white chest, underbelly, tail-tip and amber eyes.
Graystorm-large dark gray tabby tom with blue eyes.
Mossystone-dark tortoiseshell she-cat with gray socks and green eyes.
Reedfang-dark brown tom with amber eyes.
Streamflower-silver and white she-cat with green eyes.
‘’’Ryefrost's POV. ‘’’ Impatience and worry took place as I watched the battle-party return and that there was no sign of Badgerclaw. I glanced at Sagekit, who was curled up in a sleeping ball, then quickly darted out and met up with Jaystone.
"Where is he?" I asked, trying not to make myself seem too worried. "Where's who?" The gray tabby tom looked at me like I was crazy. Must've been some wild light in my eyes I guess.
"Badgerclaw! Who else would I ask for?"
"Maybe Foxspring, he was your apprentice after all," Jaystone shrugged. "And about Badgerclaw...." His eyes searched the camp for something. "Go ask Hawkflight about him, he was there."
‘’He was there?’’ Okay, I was confused, as well as having a bad feeling in my gut. I think I already knew what happened, but I didn't want to believe it, not for a moment. I trotted over to the large dark tabby tom, and flicked his ear with my tail. "Hey, tell me about Badgerclaw," I mewed quickly.
Hawkflight's amber eyes widened, then he sighed and rolled his eyes. "Badgerclaw...Your mate-he's...Gone."
"Gone? You mean he's dead?" My breathing quickened, and I tried not to wail out to the world.
"I'm sorry-" Hawkflight started.
"Sorry? What would you know?" I snapped, "You hardly even know Badgerclaw! You just barely became a warrior and never knew nothing about his past!" These new young WindClan warriors, they get on my nerves sometimes. "Actually, he was my mentor..." Hawkflight mewed.
"Oh, right..." My pelt burned in embarrassment. "Sorry. But who killed him?"
"Darkwhisper. Shoved him right off the gorge. He was with another tom, I don't know his name though--and since he was laughing, I pushed him off as well when the two weren't looking." Hawkflight seemed proud of himself for at least trying to avenge Badgerclaw, and I'll admit--he's not a bad cat.
"Well, thanks for killing that other cat," I muttered. "Even though the warrior code says not to kill another, Darkwhisper did pretty much lead Badgerclaw to his death. It was only fair that his little friend got what he deserved." I sulked over to the nursery, tail and ears drooping.
What about Sagekit? Badgerclaw will never see his daughter become an apprentice and a warrior. None of his kits know him that well. He abandoned his ThunderClan kits and even though he spent every day with Sagekit and I, she's only two moons old, and won't know him that well when she's older.
I sighed, casting my gaze over to the small gray-and-white fluff. I hid it well, but I wanted to claw and bite every cat in sight--except for Sagekit of course. The rustling of a heather nest distracted me and I turned to see Nightheather getting to her paws.
I felt bad for the black she-cat's kits, her and Breezetalon's--Ebonykit and Ravenkit. They were just born as the battle between WindClan and ShadowClan began. Not only that, but Nightheather had no patience for sitting around in a den for six moons, and Breezetalon gave some hints that he was a Dark Forest warrior.
I gave a small nod as Nightheather stretched and then padded out of the gorse nursery. Once she was out, I dug my claws into the moss that made up mine and Sagekit's nest. ‘’How am I ever going to live without you, Badgerclaw?’’
Why was my mother acting so down lately? For two days straight, she'd done nothing but fetch me fresh-kill and then flop into her nest with a heavy sigh. Another strange thing, where was my father? Badgerclaw always came in to see me literally every day!
"Mama, can I go play outside with Dawnberry's kits?" I asked, tugging at Ryefrost's brown tabby pelt.
Her ear twitched. "Sure," was all she said without even looking up at me. I stared at her for one moment, then bounded out of the gorse nursery. I spotted Thistlekit, Emberkit and Falconkit wrestling with each other near Sandclaw's paws. Their older sister Blossompaw, sat nearby, watching in amusement.
"Hi!" I greeted, "Can I join?"
Thistlekit shot up from where he was pinned under Falconkit's larger brown paw. "Huh, no!" He growled, shaking out his dark ginger tabby fur. "She-cats can't fight, right Emberkit and Falconkit?" Thistlekit looked to his brothers for back-up.
"Right!" Emberkit yowled.
"No," Falconkit muttered.
"What was that?" Thistlekit's tail lashed, and he scooted closer to the brown tom.
"Thistlekit!" Sandclaw snapped, "Stop harassing Sagekit. I will not have my sons be known as the ones who can never get along with their clanmates."
Thistlekit's tail drooped ."Fine," he muttered. "You can join."
My ice-blue eyes gleamed as I dodged a sudden attack from Falconkit. I swiped at his shoulder as he flew by, knocking the larger kit to the ground.
"If only Daddy could see me now!" I purred out-loud.
"Daddy?" Thistlekit sneered. "Who calls their father Daddy?" Emberkit covered his face with a reddish-ginger paw, trying to conceal his laughter.
"There's nothing wrong with it," Blossompaw put in. "You guys called our father that when you were Sagekit's age."
Thistlekit's fur fluffed in embarrassment, and Emberkit stopped snickering. Falconkit seemed to be the only normal one around here.
I glanced at Sandclaw. The large pale ginger tabby tom's amber eyes were shadowed. And without a word, he got up and padded away with a whisk of his tail. Blossompaw followed, giving a quick nod to me before trotting off.
"Why does everyone always get so down when I mention my father?" I asked to no one in particular.
"Don't you know?" Thistlekit growled, circling me. "Your father is dead!"
"Dead?" I echoed, eyes widened.
"Yeah, he wasn't strong enough to survive the fight with ShadowClan, unlike Sandclaw!" Thistlekit teased. Fueled by anger, I slammed into the older kit with unsheathed claws. Thistlekit let out a squeak of surprise, followed by him batting at my ears.
"What are you doing?" Dawnberry's yowl interrupted us as she emerged from the nursery.
"Thistlekit said Badgerclaw is dead!" I wailed.
"Did not!" Thistlekit lied. Dawnberry's tail lashed, and she grabbed her son by the scruff, hauling him inside the nursery.
"Looks like he's in trouble!" Falconkit mewed, bounding in after his mother and brother. Emberkit glared at me before following. I decided to stay outside, it's best I didn't intrude on other family's problems. Instead, I padded to the elder's den, which was near the nursery and under the gorse wall that lined our camp.
"Hi, Sagekit!" Rabbitspring greeted. He's my favorite elder, not just because he's my grandfather, but because he's not cranky and doesn't treat me like a little kit.
"Hi," I replied.
"What's up?" Boulderclaw mewed.
"Do you know where Badgerclaw is?" I was trying to get answers, to see if Thistlekit really is lying or not. The five elders exchanged worried and looks that said--I don't know what to say.
"Why don't you ask your mother about that, okay?" Gingerbreeze put in.
I grumbled under my breath, but didn't say anything. I just wanted to know the truth! Why does everybody think I'm just a kit that doesn't know what looks mean or that I don't know about life and death...Of course I know! "Okay..." I sighed.
"Go on now." Sunsplash flicked my ear with her ginger-and-white tail. I left the elders to do their chatting, and padded out into the bright sunshine that filled camp. I dropped onto the dry, wind-blowing grass and let out a wail.
I could feel all eyes on me, and Firewind went to fetch Ryefrost.
"What's wrong?" A large, black tom with piercing amber eyes padded up to me. Breezetalon. I didn't answer, I just wanted Badgerclaw here--and I'll never see him again.
"Sagekit?" Ryefrost bounded up to me, concern in her amber eyes. "What happened?"
"Dad's gone!" I wailed once more. Ryefrost had a look of sorrow on her face, and she curled up next to me.
"You'll see him again someday," she reassured.
"No I won't..." I buried my face into her soft, thick fur, wanting to just disappear--or at least have Badgerclaw still alive.
"Yes you will," Ryefrost promised. "You'll see him in StarClan one day." I ignored her statement, and allowed her to carry me back to the nursery. Once there, I felt rather embarrassed about my little outbreak.
"We all lose someone someday," Ryefrost mewed as she settled down next to me.
"I know. But I wish everybody could stay alive," I mewled.
"Well then we'd have a lot of mouths to feed! Go to sleep now, try to forget what's already happened and focus on upcoming or good things." I shut my eyes and curled my little tail over my nose. My mother waited a few moments before getting up and out of the nursery, leaving me to sleep in peace.
I sat at the back of the crowd, pouting. If Thistlekit, Emberkit, and Falconkit could become apprentices today, then why couldn't I? I'm almost six moons old now! I sat next to Hawkflight, one of the warriors my father mentored. I swallowed back my frustration, remembering three moons ago when all about Badgerclaw had been revealed--his death, his life in ThunderClan, even his other kits! Which made me a little bit jealous...Okay a lot jealous.
I was snapped back into reality as Sparrowstar summoned up the three young toms. "Thistlekit, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Thistlepaw. Dapplecloud--you are ready for your first apprentice, I hope you will welcome Thistlepaw." The tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat stepped forward to touch noses with the smaller dark ginger tabby tom.
"Emberkit-" Sparrowstar called. "Until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Emberpaw. Featherbreeze, you too are ready for your first apprentice, remember the training that Beetlefang taught you." The small, feathery gray tabby she-cat padded forward to greet her new apprentice.
"Hawkflight-" the dark tabby's ears perked at the sound of Sparrowstar calling his name. "Your apprentice will be Falconpaw. You had an excellent mentor and I hope you pass on the skills that Badgerclaw taught you." Hawkflight bounded forward and touched noses with the smaller brown tabby tom.
"Thistlepaw! Emberpaw! Falconpaw!" The clan cheered. I joined, but I only did it for Falconpaw. Thistlepaw and Emberpaw didn't deserve it--at least, in my mind I thought they didn't deserve it. Their three older siblings--Pouncepaw, Sandypaw, and Blossompaw--were looking on happily that they could all now train together.
Why can't I have any siblings? I thought sarcastically, Oh right I do. But Badgerclaw had them with a ThunderClan she-cat! I tried not to think much about it--I resented those three cats, but at the same time, I wanted to meet them. Though they probably won't think very highly of me because I'm WindClan and much younger than they are.
Sparrowstar leaped off the TallRock, and oddly enough--he went to speak with Ryefrost. Curious, I bounded over to the two. "Hi!" I mewed.
"Go play, this is warrior's business," Ryefrost ordered. I was a bit surprised by her tone of voice--normally my mother was a spunky, friendly cat. My eyes narrowed, and with a flick of my tail, I left to find the newest apprentices. I eventually found them talking to their brother and sisters.
"--We won't be able to train together very long, but it'll be fun while it lasts!" I heard Pouncepaw say.
"Hello!" I greeted.
"What's up, Sagekit?" Sandypaw mewed cheerfully.
"What are you all doing?" I asked.
"Nothing, we're about to go mess with the warriors!" Sandypaw purred in amusement, "We're planning to place ants in their nests!"
"Really?" My blue eyes gleamed. "Can I come?"
"No!" Thistlepaw growled firmly. "No kits allowed."
"Um, Thistlepaw--Unless I'm losing track of time, you were just a kit a few minutes ago," Blossompaw mewed.
"That doesn't matter!" Thistlepaw shot back. "I'm an apprentice now is what matters." His neck fur bristled. Does this cat hate me that much? Impressive.
"You know, Thistlepaw-" Sandypaw began. "You've become a real bully lately."
"See if I care," Thistlepaw snapped. He whirled around and stormed off.
"Wow..." I breathed.
"He has a few issues of his own." Sandypaw winked, then turned to Pouncepaw, "So--about those ants?"
Yes! Finally! It's my turn to have an apprentice ceremony! I faced Sparrowstar, who was reaching the TallRock. Ryefrost sat beside me, finishing my grooming. I tried not to squirm or do anything that set her off, because I learned that she has a short-temper. The hard way.
"Come on, let's get out! I hear Oakfire's pawsteps!" Pouncepaw warned. I flung the remaining ants off of my paw. Thank StarClan they weren't fire ants or else the burn of the stings right now would be as worse as a fox bite! I scrambled out of the warrior's den behind Falconpaw.
Luckily Oakfire wasn't exactly near the den yet, because he was still quite a distance away when we erupted into the sunlight.
"Pouncepaw, I think you forgot to mask our scent!" Sandypaw mewed.
"What do you mea-" Pouncepaw's expression dropped. "Great StarClan..."
"Apprentices!" Oakfire's angry yowl cut through the camp.
"Why were you putting ants in the warrior's nest?" Ryefrost growled at me.
"I just wanted to have fun!" I complained.
"There's other ways to have fun than giving the defenders of our clan ant stings!" Ryefrost let out a sigh. "You and Badgerclaw. There must be something that runs through his kits--from what he's said, his other three are troublemakers as well. No going out of the nursery for two more weeks!"
End of Flashback.
"--Your mentor will be Breezetalon." Through all my thinking back, I hadn't realized Sparrowstar began my ceremony.
Breezetalon? So I get a dark-hearted warrior as my mentor and all the others get cheery, fun ones? Whatever you say, Sparrowstar. I stepped forward to greet the large black tom. For whatever reason, I felt no emotion about my ceremony at all. All the thoughts I once had, were gone. Instead, I still felt empty inside, the same feeling I had every day for the past four moons.
“Sagepaw! Sagepaw!” The clan cheered. I flattened my ears and trotted to beside Ryefrost. Pride glowed in my mother’s eyes, but what was in mine? Nothing, probably.
“Come on, Sagepaw. I’ll waste no time in your training!” Breezetalon mewed. The black tom was with Sedgefur, Pouncepaw, Jaystone and Sandypaw. So I get to train with older apprentices today, huh?
“Be sure to give Pouncepaw the surprise of his life when you first train together!” Ryefrost called after me as I padded away after the mentors and apprentices.
“I promise I will!” I yowled back over my shoulder. ‘’I’ll train my hardest, and soon—I will avenge Father’s death! Watch out Darkwhisper!’’ I grinned as I imagined me cornering the large dark brown tom, slashing his throat. I could already feel the blo—What am I thinking?
My paws began moving faster as the surrounded camp gave way into an open, vast moorland. The golden grass in front of us looked like waves in a river as the strong wind blew, and the scent of rabbits was strong. It wasn’t long until my breath was heavy—I hadn’t ever run this far ever. But it seemed Pouncepaw and Sandypaw had absolutely no trouble at all.
“Are we almost there?” I asked Breezetalon, panting.
“Almost. But don’t you want to build your strength and endurance from running? Or do you want to be a lazy warrior who does nothing but eat everyone’s fresh-kill?” Breezetalon’s mew was clear, like he wasn’t even tired.
Pretty soon, we reached a space where the grass was naturally short, and boulders surrounded the clearing. Only a few clumps of heather was all that we could hide behind.
“Okay. Sagepaw—“ Breezetalon turned to me, where I had flopped onto the grass, gasping for breath. “Since you are a new apprentice, I want to see how your skills currently are. You will go against Pouncepaw.” I looked to the ginger tom, who was looking at Breezetalon like he had just lost his head.
“What?” Pouncepaw mewed. “I can’t fight her! She’s too small! I’d crush her with one blow!”
“Then go easy,” His mentor, Sedgefur, put in. Pouncepaw let out a huff of air, but nodded in agreement. Out of instinct, I crouched low, tail sweeping the ground and ears flattened.
Sandypaw let out a burst of laughter. “Sagepaw looks as if she thinks Pouncepaw is a mouse and that she’s a ThunderClan cat!”
“Quite, Sandypaw!” Jaystone snapped.
“She’s actually doing it right—ears are flattened. But Sagepaw, don’t swish your tail, you’re only giving away your position,” Breezetalon mewed. I gave a curt nod, and stilled my gray tail. “Go.” Breezetalon slammed his paw onto the ground.
Pouncepaw leapt at me, paws extended from his body. I hit the ground and rolled away from his large ginger paws—but only to feel paws slam onto my flank. I squeaked and pummeled the older apprentice away, leaving his ears ringing and blurry vision. I scurried away to a better position while I had time, Pouncepaw shaking his head to clear his vision. Once he was ready, the ginger tom raced my direction.
I tensed and dug my claws into the soft ground. ‘’What am I doing?’’ I asked myself. ‘’Fight back!’’ I hurled myself in Pouncepaw’s direction, hitting him directly in the chest. The breath was knocked out of Pouncepaw upon impact, and I looked on proudly as he fell to the ground.
“Good, Sagepaw,” Breezetalon purred. “See Sedgefur? I told you Sagepaw would beat Pouncepaw.” The black tom turned to look at the pale-brown tabby she-cat. Sedgefur sniffed and looked on as her apprentice trotted back towards her, fur ruffled.
I padded back to Breezetalon, tail high. “That wasn’t bad at all,” Breezetalon mewed. “Just a few things wrong—Your crouch, don’t ever turn your back on your enemy, and never just plant yourself into the ground. That doesn’t work. But don’t worry, I’ll teach you how to be the most feared warrior!”
The midnight moon shone over the patrol’s pelts as we bounded through the moor. Unfortunately for me, I had been put on the midnight patrol with my mentor Breezetalon, Thistlepaw, Dapplecloud, and Ryefrost. I remember when I first became an apprentice I had wanted to go on a midnight patrol, and Sparrowstar wouldn’t allow it until I had been an apprentice for at least three moons.
“It sure is cold tonight,” Thistlepaw mewed, his pelt fluffing up to protect against the chilling winds.
“Because it’s leaf-bare, rabbit-brain!” I growled at him.
“Sagepaw—“ Ryefrost began. “I would really appreciate it if my only daughter would sto—hey what’s that?” Ryefrost ran ahead of the patrol and stopped at the top of a hill.
“Yeah, what is that?” Dapplecloud echoed. I followed Ryefrost to where she was standing at the top of the hill. She was staring in shock at what lay below. I followed her gaze, and my jaw dropped. What was that?
There was a large split in the earth. No, it wasn't like the gorge. The surrounding ground was crumbling into it, but the split didn't seem to be expanding, only getting deeper.
Dapplecloud's eyes went wild. "Great StarClan! What's happening? This isn't supposed to happen!" I continued to stare down at the ground below, flattening my ears to drown out the sounds of falling and colliding rock.
"Breezetalon!" A voice called. My muscles instantly tensed as I spotted ThunderClan cats racing towards us. There was four of them--A large dark gray tabby tom, a red tom with a darker stripe down his spine, another black tom and a ginger she-cat.
"Hailfang? What is it?" Breezetalon turned his attention to the intruding warriors, trotting down the hill--seemingly without a worry.
"The ground! It's happening everywhere! ThunderClan has been evacuated, and Lionstar suggests that WindClan leaves as soon as possible," Hailfang began.
"What?" Breezetalon spat. "This is crazy! This isn't actua--" He was cut off by the flutter of thousands of wings as a countless number of birds took flight.
"Trust me-" Hailfang mewed. "It gets so much worse, that split in the ground is only going to get bigger. Then the fires will spread...and then--well you get the point. RiverClan is the only safe one for now, I would highly suggest giving Sparrowstar my word, now!"
At this point, I was trembling. My ears were ringing as the land below me fell away to seemingly nothing, causing loud crashes.
"How can the rest of the clan not hear that?" Thistlepaw muttered.
For once, I didn't bother argueing with him anymore. "I don't know. I don't even know what's happening!"
"Come on, Sagepaw." Ryefrost rested her tail on my shoulder and gave my ears a quick lick. "Everything's going to be fine. We'll go to RiverClan and see what they have to offer." My mother carried her gaze over to Breezetalon--"Are we going?"
"Of course, come on!" The black tom sped off down the hill, and the rest of us followed behind.
No, it's not going to be fine. My world is being destroyed.
"Sparrowstar!" Breezetalon yowled, dashing to the leader's den. Meanwhile, Dapplecloud, Ryefrost, Thistlepaw and I shook the others awake.
"Falconpaw!" I placed my paws and the light brown tom's shoulders and shook.
"Hrrm?" Falconpaw blinked sleep away from his eyes. "Sagepaw? Why are you waking me up in the middle of the night? And what's all that noise?" I swiveled my ears to find that the crashing was a faint sound, but still there.
"We'll explain everything later. Help me wake the others up!" I moved on to Foxspring, who was curled up with Firewind.
"Foxspring, Firewind--wake up, now!" I hissed into the ginger cat's ears. Firewind just stretched and buried her face into Foxspring's chest. "Firewind!" I snapped.
"Huh?" The ginger tabby she-cat jumped to her paws.
"It's okay!" I reassured her. "There's something going on, everyone has to be awake. Go get the others," I ordered. Firewind gave me a confused look, then trotted off. Only then did I notice the she-cat's swollen belly. Bad luck.
"WindClan!" Sparrowstar called from the TallRock, making his yowl loud enough for everyone to hear.
A few whispers and concerned mews were being exchanced as everyone gathered.
"What's going on?"
"The world is dying?"
"This isn't a nightmare? Dapplecloud, are you sure?"
"We're all going to die, aren't we?"
I shut my eyes and tried to drown out everything. We had to act fast. Even though that hole--or whatever it was--in the ground was going slowly, we still had to leave.
"WindClan, listen!" Sparrowstar yowled again. "Breezetalon has said there is a crack in the ground and it is growing. Hailfang from ThunderClan has mentioned that they have evacuated from their territory due to this threat. I say we go to RiverClan where everyone else is taking shelter."
Cats nodded and some were anxiously waiting by the camp exit. Sparrowstar gave the signal and we all bounded out. The queens were carrying their kits, and Breezetalon had Ebonykit in his jaws. I stayed behind the elders, making sure that all of them were able to keep up.
"Where are we going again?" Boulderclaw asked.
"RiverClan, they're the only ones safe," I mewed. There it was again. As we neared the sight, I could hear the loud roaring and crashing of the rocks and ground as the collided at the bottom.It had expanded now, though not by much. I rememebered what Hailfang had said about the fires, and I glanced up at the tree-line in the distance. Smoke flowed into the sky.
I felt rumbling beneath my paws, and suddenly, Thistlepaw was at my side. "Sagepaw, watch out!" The dark ginger tabby tom shoved me to the side as the ground below me gave way. I glanced behind me, seeing another split in the ground. My heart was beating, and I began to pant in fear.
"What'd you save me for? I thought you hated me?" I asked Thistlepaw as I got to my paws and continued on.
He shrugged, and his fur prickled in embarrassment. "It never hurts to save a clanmate." Then he bounded forward with his brothers.
I looked behind at the moorland that we were now leaving. Will we ever come back?
We reached the forest, but I had doubts that we would actually cross through it. There was fire spreading, branches falling and smoke inhalation would probably kill us all.
"Are we actually going to cross this, Sparrowstar?" Gorsepelt asked.
"We have no choice," Sparrowstar answered. He gazed at the hazy night-sky for a moment before his ear flicked. "We have to, it's either that or go around the whole lake. We'll go quickly and the kits will be covered."
"Are you sure?" Gorsepelt stared at the dark tabby like he was headless.
"We can do it," Sparrowstar assured. He took off quickly, and the rest of WindClan followed. I coughed and spat as smoke blew in my face. The creaking overhead of burning trees made me very uneasy.
"Are you sure you want to stay behind?" Thistlepaw asked, falling behind to me.
"I'm sure. The elders probably need help," I mewed.
"Whatever you say." Thistlepaw sped up and went to Falconpaw. I'll admit, the elders weren't moving very fast--which was really annoying.
"What's starting these fires?" Sunsplash asked, almost burying her muzzle into her ginger-and-white chest fur.
"I don't know," Rabbitspring coughed. "Whatever it is, we know it's not our friend."
Branches whipped at my face as I quicked my pace, a crash sounding as they fell behind me. Now I was beginning to panic. Whatever reason, I got ahead of Sparrowstar. My breathing became quick and shallow, and I my eyes darted in every direction, trying to find a way not blocked off my fire and tree trunks. Within seconds, the Thunderpath was in sight.
"Sagepaw, watch where you're going!" Gorsepelt's warning yowl came.
I glanced behind, but that was the wrong direction. I heard a split overhead and then the unbearable weight of branches.
I squeaked in pain as the branches crash onto my shoulders, burying me under their weight. The ends stuck into my fur, creating a small gash. I was blinded under the mass, and struggled to get up.
"Sagepaw!" Ryefrost yowled. I heard her pawsteps running frantically towards my way. But suddenly, the ground began shaking violently. Being so near to Twolegplace, I could hear strange, loud wails and howls.
Everything began shaking, and the branches slid off me. I scrambled to my paws and cowered underneath a bramble bush.
"What's going on?" Emberpaw hissed, planting his claws into the earth.
"I don't know!" Falconpaw mewed shakily. "I'm scared."
"Scared?" Thistlepaw scoffed. "Why are yo--" His growl was broke off as a loud squeak went off, then a crash boomed into the air, and a twoleg monster flew our way. It rolled through the air and landed on it's back. Now WindClan began panicking as wails came from the monster, going off-and-on quickly. It was deafening.
"Follow me!" Sparrowstar ordered. He veered from the Thunderpath and charged into the burning undergrowth. I coughed as I inhaled the smoke, but I whisked quickly through the forest. Sparrowstar once again began steering towards the Thunderpath. There, another twoleg monster was silent and still, large gashes were on it's side and it's metal fur was ripped.
"Will somebody quit that wailing?" Pounceclaw snapped, ears twitching.
"It's not us!" Foxspring growled back, neck fur bristling. "It's coming from Twolegplace. Looks like fires are spreading there as well." I followed his green gaze to the skyline of Twolegplace, where smoke flowed calmly into the dark sky. Yowls and screams erupted from there, and Sparrowstar immediately began towards RiverClan.
A large monster appeared around the corner, it was a lot bigger than normal, and had a long, narrowed, thin muzzle protruding from it's face. It rolled quite slowly, and was oddly colored with shades of forest-green, black and brown.
"That's weird looking," Sandbreeze gawked at the sight.
"Come on, let's stay away from the Thunderpath." Sparrowstar slowed as we escaped the burning fires and loud noises. The forest was gone now, and the Horseplace was coming into view. My pads burned with every step, and my gray-and-white fur was slightly singed.
"We're almost there," I heard Nightheather murmer to Ravenkit.
The calming sounds of a river reached my ears before anything else, and it was a relief to see an unharmed territory.
"WindClan!" A large, thick-furred white tom with icy blue eyes greeted us from where he sat watch at the edge of the river. "ThunderClan mentioned you'd be here. How're things looking?"
"Greetings, Icefall," Sparrowstar dipped his head to the RiverClan warrior. "Things look terrible. There's huge twoleg monsters, and the normal ones are being thrown into the forest. Very loud wails are coming from Twolegpalce and almost the whole forest is burning."
"Wow." Icefall gazed in the distance for a moment. "I guess RiverClan will be feeling it too soon, huh? We've offered the other clans shelter, and the other leaders have called for a truce so long as this treachery is going on." He scanned the whole of WindClan. "Come, I'll lead you to camp."
The RiverClan camp was nothing like WindClan's. For starters--it was on an island, and I hated getting my paws wet! Icefall led us inside, and it was so crowded from the other clans lingering around. How was this going to work, four clans in one camp?
"WindClan is here," Icefall reported to a small, frail white she-cat with glazed ice-blue eyes.
"Good, now I can order a meeting," She rasped. That must be Froststar, I've heard she's been around for ages--ever since my father was a kit.
"All clans gather around the Meeting Tree!" Froststar yowled. She bounded up a small tree that was leaned over.
Sparrowstar left his position with Gorsepelt and went to sit underneath the tree. The other two clans did the same. I took my place beside a large black tabby tom and Ryefrost.
"As you know," Froststar began. "There is destruction in Twolegplace, and it is reaching our territories. As a result, three of us have been driven out. Have any clans lost cats?" She scanned the camp, as if looking for familiar faces that didn't show.
"ShadowClan lost Dawnstripe and Redpaw," Marshstar announced. A sleek, thick-furred flame-colored she-cat stared at her paws, ears flat and murmered something to a dark ginger tom beside her.
Lionstar stepped forward. "Rainsong was killed by a falling branch that was caught in flames."
Rainsong? That's my aunt! I thought to myself, eyes widening.
"RiverClan are sorry for your loss. We must unite as four until we can shake this off." Froststar looked to her deputy, Waterwhisper, as if to gain approval.
"Shake this off?" a black ThunderClan tom lashed his tail, leaping to his paws. "I say we move from this place if it's to remain the way it is!"
"Move?" Jaystone stared at the black tom like his ears had just been ripped from his head. "Blacktalon, the clans have lived here for many generations, we should stay, and see what's to come after this disaster."
"I say--" Sparrowstar placed his paw forward. "We leave."
"I agree," Lionstar mewed, nodding to the dark tabby tom.
"I say we stay," Marshstar mewed gruffly.
"But Marshstar, it's killed two of our cats!" a ginger tom protested.
"Yes, but one was an elder and one was an apprentice, they weren't much use." Marshstar's ears flattened again his head, and his neck fur began bristling.
"Marshstar, I will not have our kits live in a world like this." A dark gray she-cat with white flecks padded up to her leader--and apparent mate. Her stomach was lightly rounded, and she pointed out two older toms that were their sons.
Marshstar growled, then bounded out of the RiverClan camp. My eyes trailed after him, then snapped back to Froststar.
"Then it is agreed, we shall leave our territories in search of new ones," Froststar announced. Cheers rang from the crowd, but I remained silent. Leave?
I hadn't ever felt my paws so tired, but when I saw the first peek of the dawn light, I immediately yawned and felt as if I was being dragged down. Cats were everywhere, and they mingled and shared-tongues. Not me, I headed for ThunderClan's side of RiverClan's shared camp.
"Sagepaw," Breezetalon's gruff voice stopped me as my head began to push through the moss-covered entrance of a cave.
"What?" I turned to face the large black tom.
"Be ready for training soon. I'll give you a few hours of rest, then it's back to normal apprentice duties," Breezetalon mewed.
"Really?" My tail lashed, all this destruction and he still wants to train me? "But what about all that's happening? Will it reach here?"
"Not yet. Froststar will give us a week stay here, before all the clans evactuate. And if necessary, we will leave before then. But we don't exactly know what lays in the path ahead, so we need to be prepared." Breezetalon padded away with a whisk of his tail. I thought about his words, and he was right--I don't know what lays ahead.
I entered the reed-cave, settling down into a nest at the back made of moss with feathers woven in. Moments later, I heard Thistlepaw and Emberpaw flop into the nests at the front. I shut my eyes, and fell asleep almost immediately.
"Wake up Sagepaw." I grumbled and turned onto my side at the sound of my mentor's voice.
"Just a few more minutes?" I huffed.
"No," Breezetalon mewed sternly. "Get up." He prodded my shoulder with a large paw.
"Fine, I'm up!" I hissed, getting to my paws. I shook the damp moss out of my fur, then followed Breezetalon out. I had almost forgotten where we were at and what had happened, as I was a little shocked by what greeted me outside. I wished I had forgotten. Like last night, there was cats from every clan everywhere, and the nursery was so full, the warriors had built a second one nearby last night--I guess.
"Where are we training?" I asked, stifling a yawn. My pelt flicked irritably as a dark gray ThunderClan tabby tom crossed my path.
"Outside by the river," Breezetalon mewed. He wound around the camp, ducking under the reed-woven entrance. We approached the stepping-stones, and I cautiously stuck out a paw, reaching forward. The stone was wet and slippery, but was also large enough to support me. While Breezetalon easily leaped across, I took my time, pouncing on each rock that stuck out.
"What about prey?" That was what concerned me, there wasn't going to be enough food to feed all four clans. "There won't be enough."
"There will be," Breezetalon promised. "We just have to be careful of our actions, or all the prey will be gone." He continued forward, ducking under bushes and stepping out into a small clearing. I was amazed at how quite and untouched RiverClan's territory seemed. The grass swayed together, the rustle of leaves as the wind blew, the quite rushing of the river--it was all just so perfect.
"Now," Breezetalon began. "I am going to teach you the Underbelly Slash."
"Underbelly Slash?" I cocked my head. "Never heard of that one before."
"It's for advanced apprentices," Breezetalon grinned. "What you do, you dart underneath your enemy and lash out at the back of their forepaws. They'll think you'll come out on the other side, but really--you're going to go back the way you came. Then you crush them with your claws and drag them to the ground. Easy?"
"Uh...You're going to have to show me," I mewed. Instructing me without visual is hard to learn when you're fighting. In a blink, the black tom quickly darted underneath me, and--forgetting his words--I looked to my opposite side. But his forepaws slammed on my shoulders and my legs crumpled beneath me.
"Got it now?" he asked, a gleam in his amber eyes. I nodded. "Now you try it," He ordered.
I dashed out underneath him, much easier since he's taller, and batted at the back of his legs. I forgot once again, and left the opposite side.
"No." Breezetalon shook his head. "You leave out the side you came in."
"I know!" I spat. "Give me time, this is training remember?" Breezetalon acknowledged my words with a single flick of an ear, then sat down. "Okay," He mewed. "Let's continue practicing."
My dreams were different tonight, a lot different. Different as in--joy. I awoke to a beautiful, sun-lit forest with a sparkling river in the distance.Then a huge black-and-white tom stepped into view. His glittering ice-blue eyes met mine, and I bounded forward with a purr. Badgerclaw looked much different than when he was alive and I was a kit. His aging body was now replaced with a healthier, younger one, and muscles rippled across his shoulders.
"Dad!" I mewed happily. I buried my muzzle into his chest fur, purring loudly.
"Sagepaw." Badgerclaw drew back and dipped his head.
"Do you know what's happening?" I asked, my mood dropping.
"I do," Badgerclaw answered. "Unfortunately, I don't know what is causing it. Something to do with twolegs, you know how stupid they are."
"I figured that," I mewed.
"So, how's your mother?" Badgerclaw asked, sitting down beside me.
"Ryefrost? She's doing great, though I think she still really misses you," I told him. "Why? Have you not visited her in her dreams?"
"Something is blocking me off, I'm not allowed in." Badgerclaw gazed out at the clear-blue sky.
"What do you mean?"
"In StarClan, the cat you wish to enter their dreams must have certain requirements, or else you're blocked off from them," my father explained.
"Requirements? Like what?" Wow, StarClan sure did seem weird to me right now, they're not even helping the clans!
"Emotional requirements, I can't really explain. But it is time for you to wake up now." Badgerclaw gave a heavy sigh. Already? Didn't seem like I'd been asleep that long.
"Okay..." I got to my paws.
Badgerclaw flicked my ear with his tail. "Goodbye, my daughter. I wish you well on your journeys and hope to visit you again soon."
I woke up to the sounds of rain battering at the den. I glanced over at Thistlepaw, who was shaking his dark ginger-tabby pelt free of raindrops.
"There's a leak in the den," he muttered, catching my eye.
I got to my paws, stretching. "Obviously," I grumbled. I padded outside, sticking underneath the bushes and reeds that lined the camp. I bumped into a dark gray-and-white she-cat, like me.
"Oh sorry," I apologized, veering away.
"No you're fine," The she-cat mewed. "What's your name?"
My name? Is that really so important right now? But I played it nice. "Sagepaw, I'm WindClan."
"Cool. I'm Wolfsong by the way, ThunderClan." Wolfsong? My ears perked up, This is my half-sister!
"Who's your father?" I know, awkward question, but it was just to see if this really was my half-sister.
Wolfsong's tail twitched. "I never really knew him. When I was barely a moon old, he came into the nursery and he and my mother had this huge arguement. After that, I never saw him again. All his attention went to my two brothers, but that was only during the few times he visited."
That doesn't sound like Badgerclaw...He was so nice to me! Guess I'm just lucky.
"Why do you ask?" Wolfsong sat down, as if ready to start a long conversation.
"I think..." Great StarClan, how do I say this? "I think you're my half-sister," I mewed finally.
"What makes you say that?" Wolfsong asked.
"Well, we look the same." I pointed out the same colored pelts and the same icy blue eyes. "Second, my father was originally from ThunderClan and already had three kits. Third...There's no third."
"Sagepaw!" Wolfsong burst out suddenly. "That's right, I remember now! At a Gathering moons ago when Sparrowstar first became leader, I remember my father's name being Badgerclaw. And Sparrowstar announced you had been born! It's true!"
"So...Is this supposed to be a special moment or something?" I mewed, feeling awkward.
Wolfsong ignored me. "Let me get my brothers, I bet they'll be excited to hear about you!" With that, my half-sister darted out into the pouring rain and disappeared.
Okay... I walked out, my paws sinking into the wet, damp ground. I loved the smell of rain, I don't know why.
"Froststar!" I heard a cat call. I turned my head and spotted a large dark brown tom racing across the camp.
"What is it now?" Froststar asked crankily, emerging from her den in the hollow of a tree.
"I've discovered something!" The tom mewed proudly. "Well...I didn't discover it but I figured out something."
"Get to the point Darkwhisper, I'm not getting any younger," Froststar mewed.
Darkwhisper! He's the cat that killed my father! I sunk my claws into the wet mud, holding my lips from curling back into a snarl. I focused my gaze on him. He didn't look like a cat that had just murdered somebody, sure he looked very intimidating, but not a murderer.
"Well, I figured if we split two of the clans onto the Island, RiverClan would have more room," Darkwhisper said. I have to admit, that is a good idea.
"That won't be necessary, Darkwhisper," Froststar told him. "Patrols are already reporting threats found near our borders. We'll have to evacuate this place within three days."
"Oh, okay." Darkwhisper's ears folded back, and his tail drooped. He looked like an apprentice with body language like that! I hurried across the clearing to find Ryefrost. I shivered as a bead of rain hit me, piercing my thick fur and sliding down my back. Ryefrost was chatting with a ShadowClan queen under the cover of a large bush.
"Oh hi, Sagepaw!" Ryefrost mewed cheerfully. She turned back to the jet-black ShadowClan queen. "That's my daughter Sagepaw."
"Greetings," The cat mewed, dipping her head. "I'm Hollyshade." A tiny, very dark tabby she-kit tumbled out from behind Hollyshade. Her resemblance to Darkwhisper was shocking, and I bit my tongue to keep from asking Hollyshade about him, as that was probably her mate.
"What did you need?" Ryefrost asked me.
"Nevermind," I stalked off, back under the storm. Thunder clapped overhead, and with it came the loud wails again, only they were much closer.
A patrol hared inside camp, tails and fur bushed. "Everybody out of camp, now!"
"What's happening?" Froststar got to her paws where she was speaking with her deputy.
"Those huge twoleg monster-things, they're here!" A black tabby tom gaspped.
"Thanks for the warning, Waspflight." Froststar acknowledged him with a flick of her tail. "Leaders, order your own clan the plans of evacuation! Meet by the Greenleaf Twolegplace!"
Everything became one big blur as cats from every clan began panicking, yowling and clawing each other in a frenzy to escape.
"WindClan over here!" Sparrowstar's voice called above the chaos. Rain seeped into my eyes, and I searched frantically as the wailing became louder and the deafening sounds of trees falling and bushes crumbling reached camp. I remembered the move Breezetalon taught me as a cats darted in front of me. I rushed underneath them--being smaller--and climbed out the other side. Eventaully, I was able to make my way towards WindClan's place.
I took my position beside Thistlepaw and Foxspring.
"We'll leave as soon as every clan is out safely." Sparrowstar raised his command above everything else.
"Why?" Thornflame demanded.
"To ensure every other clan is safe," Sparrowstar answered. I slowed my breathing, trying to stop the trembling of my paws.
"Relax!" Thistlepaw told me.
"Relax?" I spat back. "We're all going to die in this mess!"
"We're not going to die!" Thistlepaw reassured. "Just follow Sparrowstar's orders, he's lived longer than both of us and knows how to survive."
"Since when have you followed orders?" I asked sarcastically.
Sparrowstar then ushered us out as soon as the last remaining cats of ThunderClan were out safely. Crossing the river was a nightmare, and even a few WindClan warriors swam across just to get away quicker.
"There it is again!" Firewind yowled as the huge twoleg monster appeared. This time, a twoleg covered in the same shades of forest-green, black and brown, seemed to be riding on it. The monster's protruding muzzle seemed to swivel in every direction.
Breezetalon swung by Ravenkit and lifted her in his jaws, sprinting to safety. I followed my mentor, but halted, seeing Ryefrost. I fell in beside her as we raced away from RiverClan territory. Then suddenly, there was a sharp pain up my right front-leg as a thorn stabbed my pad and I fell to the ground.
"Sagepaw, get up!" Ryefrost ordered me. She nudged my shoulder, and I scrambled to my paws. I limped along, my mother supporting my bad side. Right where we had been, an explosion went off, sending twigs, thorns, brambles and dirt flying our direction.
I ducked under the roots of a tree, praying for safety.
"Meadowpelt!" Sedgefur yowled. Through all the confusion and danger, I managed to catch Sedgefur pawing at a lifeless Meadowpelt. There was a branch embedded in his throat.
I managed to shake off the pain in my paw, and run for safety, only to be confronted by yet another huge twoleg monster.
"This way!" A strange cat called. He was a rough-looking white tom with green eyes. Sparrowstar glared at him, then with a whisk of his tail, sent WindClan following them. The pounding of paws behind me told me how much Thistlepaw was determined to get away from here.
The stranger led us away from RiverClan territory, and to the Greenleaf Twolegplace.
"How did you know where to go?" Sparrowstar asked, collapsing to the ground in exhaustion as we reached the other three clans.
"Yeah," Gorsepelt added. "And who are you?"
The white tom shuffled his paws. "I heard the others yowling, and I heard about this place. My name is Flocon, it means Snowflake."
"What are those things?" ThunderClan's deputy, Stoneclaw asked.
"What, the huge car-things? Those are tanks," Flocon answered.
"What exactly are tanks though?" Stoneclaw asked again.
"Twolegs use them when they battle each other. This is the first time they've fought between each other in a very long time." Flocon licked his chest fur, embarrassed at his knowledge.
This rogue was smart, I admired that he wasn't afraid to leap into danger for cats that were unknown to him.
"Where do we go now?" A dark gray RiverClan tom asked.
"Well, Graystorm," Lionstar started. "I'd say this is the beginning of our journey to a new home."
What if one of the leaders die on this journey? I thought as I lie on the springy grass of the Greenleaf Twolegplace. Where will the next one go to get their nine lives?
"Worried?" Thistlepaw's voice sounded behind me as he approached.
I ignored his question. "Why have you been so nice to me lately? Is the Dark Forest threatening you?"
Thistlepaw shrugged his broad shoulders. "Everyone is in this together. It won't help if we're all arguing among ourselves, will it?"
"No, it won't help. You're actually talking sense for once, Thistlepaw," I mewed. "I'm still surprised the clans have made it this far without a fight among us. Yet." I began to lick my wounded paw steadily. "You know," I began. "You're starting to sound like a wise, old leader!"
"Maybe because I plan to become a wise leader, but not an old leader!" Thistlepaw mewed. He bounded off with a flick of his tail. When I first became an apprentice, I didn't know what his siblings and friends saw in him that made him cool, but now I understand. He's not always arrogant and rude. I'll admit, I felt a spark of feeling for him inside me.
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather around to hear my words!" Sparrowstar called out. I half-expected for it just to be WindClan--but no, four has become one, for now. "Thistlepaw, Emberpaw, Falconpaw--step forward."
Then I remembered it was Thistlepaw, Emberpaw, and Falconpaw's warrior ceremony today. I felt my heart begin to ache, like I didn't want them to leave me as the only apprentice.
"I, Sparrowstar, leader of WindClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in their return." The dark tabby tom turned to the three. "Do you promise to protect and defend your clan, even at the cost of your life?"
"I do." Thistlepaw's promise rang out loudest.
"I do," followed his brothers.
"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Thistlepaw, you will now be known as Thistlefang. StarClan honors your courage and bravery." Sparrowstar placed his muzzle lightly on Thistlefang's head.
"Falconpaw, you will now be known as Falconswoop. StarClan honours your loyalty and courage."
"Emberpaw, you will now be known as Emberfall. StarClan honors your courage and spirit."
I felt pride rush through me at Thistlefang's new name. I mean, he was important to me now--we were friends right? He's the first true friend I've ever had, Sandbreeze and Blossomsky never speak to me now, and I'm kind of an outcast in my own clan, either that or I'm just too quiet to speak to anybody. With that, I joined in the call of the new warriors.
"May I speak, Sparrowstar?" Froststar asked politely.
"Of course." Sparrowstar dipped his head to the old RiverClan leader, then padded forward into the crowd. Froststar seemed to be in control of everything, I guess the other leaders are newer, and look to her for guidance.
"Tomorrow night we will leave these territories for good, so I suggest getting plenty of sleep tonight. We will leave no matter what, if you don't wake in time, we won't be here," Froststar announced sternly. Wow, well thanks for your concern, Froststar! I padded off to ready a makeshift nest, then fell asleep for the night.
This was the day I finally received my warrior name! I was so excited to get it, but yet, some part of me still felt empty. Was it because we'd left our territories? No. I glanced at Sagepaw, who was padding off to collect moss. Ever since she became an apprentice, I found it hard to change my thoughts, it was always about her. It was always so hard for me to speak to her, and as a result--I often became very angry with myself and took it out on her. Why am I so stupid?
"Hey Thistlefang." The mew belonged to my older sister Sandbreeze. My other older sister Blossomsky, and my older brother Pounceclaw were behind her.
"What now?" I mewed impatiently.
"Want to come hunting with us?" Pounceclaw asked. He unsheathed his claws and swiped the air, as if catching prey already.
"Great!" Sandbreeze purred. "Come on!" She darted off away from all these cats, and we followed. I was a little worried, as we were far from known territory, and were straying away from ShadowClan's pine forest and beyond. There was a ridge up ahead, and I dug my claws deeper into the moist grass to go faster.
"Look down there!" Blossomsky panted, skidding to a halt at the peak of the ridge. I gazed down below and ahead, and gawked at the vast moorland in the distance. It was barely visible, but I had a clue as to where the clans were headed. It was so beautiful with the setting sun in the distance, and a forest to the other side, as well as not being extremely far from our old homes. I had to bring Sagepaw here before we left. I shook my head to clear my thoughts, Stop it! I scolded myself.
"Is that where we're going hunting?" I asked.
"StarClan, no!" Sandbreeze shook her head. "That's way too far, we'd never make it back in time! We're hunting just below this ridge, there's not as many trees, obviously." She led the way down, and there was plenty of brush to slow us down.
I expected this to be a fun trip, but it wasn't when a loud, rumbling growl came from nearby.
I stretched out below the hot, newleaf sun, munching on a hefty mouse.
"Mind if I share?" Ryefrost asked, padding up to me.
"Of course," I mewed, scooting over.
"Thanks." Ryefrost sat down, and took a small bite. "You know-" She started, mouthfull. "Thistlefang is really nice, and I see him looking at you all the time!"
"Mom!" I mewed. "Just where are you getting at?"
"Oh nothing, maybe I'm just imagining he's a squirrel." Ryefrost finished up the conversation, and we quickly destroyed the mouse, leaving nothing but bones. "Well," She began after a few moments. "I'm off to see what's happening."
"And I'm going to sleep." I headed off to where I had gathered moss and bracken, curling up into a tight ball. I shut my eyes tight, trying to drown out the sunlight flowing into my eyes. I was under a shady bush, for StarClan's sake, how is the sun still reaching through? Just as I was about to drift off, I was distracted by a sudden yowl of warning. Thistlefang! I got to my paws and darted out from underneath the brush, tail fluffed in alarm.
The large dark ginger tabby tom was covered in blood, and I tried my best not to go and comfort him. Why was I acting this way? I wasn't in love with him, that's just crazy!
"What happened?" Sandclaw questioned, rushing forward to meet his son. Meanwhile, WindClan's medicine cat, Mousefoot--approached Thistlefang and began applying chewed up poultices and cobwebs. Seconds later, Blossomsky, Pounceclaw and Sandbreeze came over the hill, bloodied.
"Foxes!" Thistlefang answered, panting.
"Where?" A ThunderClan queen asked frantically, curling her black-and-ginger tail over her singular kit.
"Way below the ridge. Don't worry, Robinfeather, we managed to beat them off," Thistlefang reassured. His tail was flicking in annoyance, perhaps wishing for Mousefoot to quit bugging him. But Thistlefang knew better than to tell off the dusty-brown medicine cat.
"Them? What do you mean them?" Dawnberry echoed.
"There was two." Pounceclaw spoke up, his sliced ear dripping blood into his face. "We had a hard fight, but warriors are more clever than foxes," He mewed with a grin.
"I have a bad feeling about this," Falconswoop mewed. "What did you four do?"
"We led them towards a large river way below the ridge," Pounceclaw answered. "There was an island, and a tree on it. We went into the tree and the foxes--being stupid as always-- decided to follow but were swept downstream."
"Wow!" Emberfall purred in amusement, padding up to Thistlefang. "My brother did all that?"
Sandbreeze frowned. "It was all of us, rabbit-brain!"
"Now we all see the dangers that await us on our journey." Froststar spoke above the murmering and mewing crowd. "Which is why we must be prepared."
"Actually Froststar," Thistlefang leapt to his paws, shooing away Mousefoot. "If you go sit upon that ridge a few miles from here--you can see possible territory way, way in the distance."
"Really?" Froststar twitched her ear. "Well we won't know until we get there."
New territory? Way in the distance? Well that sounded a lot better than not-visible at all. I turned tail and began to head for my nest when yet another yowl set off. This time it was from a birthing queen, Mistpelt of RiverClan. I flattened my ears to attempt to drown out the sound, but the pale-gray she-cat just wouldn't shut up. I stalked underneath the low, dark bush and settled into my nest. I shut my eyes and hoped for sleep.
I awoke during the middle of the night. Bored, I decided to go hunting. The shapes of a cat from each clan were outlined in the shadows--Hawkflight, Hailfang, Flywing and Sootstorm. I sulked low to the ground, prowling near the bushes. I knew I wasn't supposed to go out alone, but I honestly didn't care.
Once out of sight, I hared down the grassy hill. The moon shone over the flowing grass, creating a silvery-scene. Immediately, I caught a whiff of a wren. I crouched low, and scanned the fields for the little bird. There! It was crouching among the dirt, trying to pluck a worm out of the ground.
I got as close as I could to it, and then took off in full sprint. I reached the wren, and leaped with my claws out-stretched. But I wasn't the only one who was hunting. I crashed into a large beast, and then found myself staring into the small, black beady eyes of a badger.
I hissed in surprise and batted at it's massive face, claws slicing through thick fur. The badger roared and slammed it's paw down on me. I felt like my back had snapped in two, but no. I fell to the ground, dazed, and rolled away from it's hefty paw as it landed a blow right where I had been.
I let out a loud yowl, hoping the clans would hear from right above the hill. I leaped over the large badger, landing square on it's shoulders. I dug my claws in, feeling the sharp-tips piercing skin.
"Sagepaw!" A cry came from above. Ryefrost. She hurled herself down the hill and on top of the black-and-white creature. She began tearing at it's fur, and blood spattered as she wrenched her claws free. The badger threw her off, but Ryefrost landed on her paws. She gave a warning snarl, and I watched it limp away.
"Yeah, run away you stupid corward!" Ryefrost spat.
"How...?" I stared in awe.
"It's a mother's instinct," Ryefrost mewed like nothing had happened.
"Okay..." I began to pad back towards the clans' camp.
"Wait. Why were you out here alone anyway?" Ryefrost asked, bounding up to meet me.
"I woke up bored, and decided to go hunting." I was really beginning to regret my decision. Well at least I learned something--I should never go out alone. Then a question popped into my mind, and I couldn't help but ask it. "Will you tell me about my father?"
Ryefrost froze. Her shoulders fell limp, and for a moment, I thought I'd made her angry. "Badgerclaw? He was an amazing cat. I met him by accident, you know."
"How?" I sat down, fur fluffed against the cool breeze.
"Well, he happened to be hunting--we were both apprentices at the time--and he stumbled upon the WindClan border. I told him he must truly be a ThunderClan cat if he had no idea where he was!" Ryefrost stopped for a few heartbeats, wallowing in her past. "I had been hunting as well, and gave him a field mouse if he could do a favor for me, and he did."
"What was it?" My ears perked, curious.
"Amberblaze of ThunderClan--she's my mother," Ryefrost said.
"Yes. I told him to tell her that I said hi." Ryefrost stared at her paws. "So more about him. I knew that most cats were afraid of him, he was probably the biggest cat in the clans, even bigger than Lionstar! Well of course you know that. Most cats who didn't know him and disrespected him, he would hold a grudge and most likely lash out at them sometime or another."
"Wow..." I breathed. My father was really one of those warriors? That sounds like Tigerstar in a way, of course, Tigerstar was only a nursery tale I'd heard, or was he real at some point in time?
"I remember asking him to meet me at the Island, and he did. We continued doing that for about two moons, before he'd asked to join WindClan. I was so happy--I'd never been so full of joy in my life. He was an excellent WindClan warrior, and then four years later I learned I was expecting his kits. And I never told you but--" Ryefrost broke off, and swallowed. "You had a sister as well. There was two she-kits, and one was you--a fluff ball of dark gray-and-white. The other was like me--she was a brown tabby. A few weeks later ThunderClan attacked. Your sister disappeared--" Ryefrost cut off. This time I knew she had been choking back a sob.
"Come on," I mewed. "Let's go hunting. That'll take your mind off of everything." Even though my back hurt from the attack by the badger, I still wanted to comfort my mother, no matter what my condition was.
"Okay." We bounded back down the hill and into the dark night.
I woke my eyes to a dazzling bright light.
"Wake up!" Thistlefang's voice hissed in my ear. "The clans are leaving!"
I was on my paws in an instant, and darted out of the den. The clans were already assembled and cats chattered excitedly and nervously. Some cats helped the queens with their kits, and others herded up the elders. I followed Thistlefang where he calmly padded after Falconswoop and Emberfall.
What if my sister had lived? I thought, watching the three brothers, laughing together. Would we be that close?
It felt like ages before Froststar had began leading us away from everything we knew. We all went down the hill that the badger attacked me on last night, and into the barren fields beyond.
"So," Thistlefang began, coming beside me. "How do you think this trip will be?"
"Well, I think it's going to be tiring," I mewed sarcastically.
"Obviously. At least we have each other," Thistlefang said.
I flicked my ear and looked at him. "Each other?"
Thistlefang flattened his ears in embarrassment. "Uh...I mean all the clans."
"Right..." I didn't say anything else, trying not to get back on Thistlefang's bad side. I bounded forward to greet Cloudpaw, a ThunderClan apprentice. The white-and-gray tom was walking alone, trailing behind his sister Fernpaw.
"What's up?" I greeted cheerfully.
"Oh hi." Cloudpaw stared down at his paws, as in he was in shame.
"What's wrong?" I asked.
"Nothing. Well...yeah nothing," Cloudpaw mewed.
"Is it Rainsong?" I guessed, knowing that was his father's sister.
"Yeah," Cloudpaw answered.
"Well just know that everybody's gotta die sometime," I mewed. "Nobody lives forever. You'll see her in StarClan again someday." Cloudpaw's ears and head perked slightly at my words.
"You're right," He said. "But it doesn't help the grief."
"I know. But you can at least try to block it out. My father died when I was a kit, yet I don't ever think about him all that much anymore," I admitted.
"I'm sorry for your loss," Cloudpaw mewed. "Who was he?"
"Badgerclaw. He died in an attack by ShadowClan--pushed off the gorge."
"Badgerclaw? That's my uncle!" Cloudpaw exclaimed.
I felt stupid all of a sudden. If Rainsong was Cloudpaw's aunt as well as mine, doesn't that mean we're cousins? Wow I'm such an idiot. "So'd that make us cousins?"
"Yep!" Cloudpaw purred. "But what are you doing in WindClan?"
"I was born and have always lived in WindClan..." I mewed awkwardly.
"Oh. Well I'm going to go speak with Graypaw. He's Featherpelt's apprentice, apparently he's not having the greatest time being the medicine cat apprentice. Bye!" Cloudpaw bounded off, disappearing within the mass of cats. I didn't bother with responding.
We were approaching a ridge, and when I reached the top, I gazed down. The land that looked fitting for territory was far away in the distance, and I had to squint just to see the moorlands and pine forests.
What a journey this was going to be.
The hot newleaf sun burned through my thick pelt. I struggled to keep up with the group, often laying down for a moment and racing to catch up. Thistlefang was just ahead of me, and right now--his sleek, dark ginger tabby fur was one blur.
"Has anybody seen Gingerbreeze?" Hawkflight asked, scanning WindClan's side of the group. ShadowClan led everybody up front, WindClan at the back, RiverClan on the right and ThunderClan on the left--surely Gingerbreeze didn't mix with the others?
"I haven't," I called out.
"I just saw her..." Hazelfeather mewed, turning her gray head.
"Nope," Sharppaw answered.
"Last I saw she was drinking from that stream we passed a few moments ago." Everyone went silent at Skypaw's reply. The dark tortoiseshell she-cat definitely wasn't the brightest.
"And you allowed us to leave her?" Hawkflight pushed his way through the crowd and to Skypaw's side. "Sparrowstar, order the clans to stop!" He yowled over his shoulder. "We've got to get Gingerbreeze back." He gazed over WindClan. "Sagepaw, Breezetalon, Thistlefang and Blossomsky, come with me."
I glanced at Thistlefang, and he nodded at me--following Hawkflight. This rocky, flat terrain definitely didn't match my paws, who were used to soft, flowing moorland grass. I scraped over rocks, and my claws dug into hard soil as I ran. A coughing bout interrupted me from the gritty clouds of dirt that flew in my face from Blossomsky.
Pretty soon, the calm, quiet sound of a flowing stream calmed me. And with it, the horrific sight of Gingerbreeze's small, frail, lifeless pale ginger-tabby body laying on it's edge.
"Gingerbreeze!" Hawkflight cried. The dark tabby warrior skidded to a halt by his grandmother's side. "I have to tell Sedgefur and Mousefoot, she was their mother."
"Don't forget Brackenstripe," Breezetalon muttered.
"Brackenstripe's dead!" Hawkflight shot back. "Yes I know Gingerbreeze betrayed the warrior code by falling in love with a ThunderClan warrior, but doesn't every cat deserve at least final moments with their family?"
"She never got to see what our new home will look like," Blossomsky mewed under her breath. Gingerbreeze was a well-respected cat in the clan, despite all her mistakes. She was down-to-earth, and always kept the kits busy when the mothers weren't around.
"She must've passed from the heat. It's killing everybody right now, I wonder how many others will go down," Hawkflight mewed.
"Come on, we have to bring her body to the others. I don't know if we'll even sit vigil, but it's worth a try," Blossomsky suggested.
"You're right." Hawkflight gazed at Gingerbreeze's limp body for a few heartbeats before turning to Breezetalon and Thistlefang. "You two, help me carry her back."
I watched as my mentor and Thistlefang nudged their muzzle under Gingerbreeze, and then slid her down their shoulders, evenly placing their weight on either side. Hawkflight squeezed in between them, supporting the pale ginger tabby she-cat as well. "Let's go."
"Great StarClan!" Sunsplash mewed in surprise. "Gingerbreeze?" The ginger-and-white she-cat bounded up to her denmate, nudging her cold, dead body. "What happened?"
"If I had to guess-" Hazelfeather put in. "I'd say the heat."
Mousefoot swallowed back a wail, then padded up to his mother's body. He sniffed it a few times, then--being the medicine cat--examined it to check for wounds or injuries. "No sign of any wound. You're right, Hazelfeather, she must've suffered from heatstroke."
I walked away from all the grief and sadness. A white she-cat with silver, delicate paws and ice-blue eyes approached me. "Who are you?" I asked. I'd never seen her before.
"Are you Sagepaw?" She asked gruffly, not even answering my question.
"That's what I thought," The white she-cat sniffed. "Do you know Badgerclaw?"
"He's my father," I mewed.
"What?" The she-cat's blue eyes went wide. "Badgerclaw had more kits? Where is he?"
"He's dead! You didn't know?" I was starting to get offended by this weird she-cat.
"Of course I didn't know!" She spat. "Badgerclaw is my son! Why didn't anyone tell me? For nearly 5 years he's been dead?"
"So...You're my grandmother?" Walk away, Sagepaw. Walk away.
"Yeah I'm Frostwing. When did Badgerclaw die?"
"When I was a kit. I was told a ShadowClan warrior pushed him off the gorge, but I don't know the full story--I was only 2 moons old," I explained. Frostwing showed no signs of remorse or regret.
"Where's your siblings at?" Frostwing asked.
"I don't have any." Wait, I do have a sister! But she's either dead or missing right now...
Frostwing turned away, tail lashing. I could hear her muttering under her breath. "So many times I tried to apologize but no! Badgerclaw had to kill Snowkit and then escape to WindClan. And nobody ever told me he died!"
"Okay..." I mewed to myself. "Awkward moments." I bounded away to go hunting, and prepare myself for another day of walking.
I could now feel exhaustion dragging at my paws. It'd only been 4 days since we found Gingerbreeze's body, but now as we approached a cliff-side waterfall with no other way around but a ledge--I felt as if I could just collapse anywhere and pass out.
I gazed up at the beautiful sight--well, it was only beautiful if you were seeing it from a distance. If you're passing behind it on a tiny ledge...that's different. The sounds of it crashing at the bottom made me flatten my ears at the deafening sounds, and I could feel little drops springing back up.
"Ready?" Thistlefang asked me, glancing behind him where I was.
"Ready as ever," I mewed nervously. I glanced down at the swirling, clear water far below and felt my stomach clench. The ledge was slippery as I stepped on it, but I'd been to the Gathering at the Island a few times to at least know how to deal with slippery, narrow areas.
I held my breath.
"Don't think about anything," Thistlefang mewed suddenly. I kept my eyes trained on him, following his every pawstep. I sunk my claws into the moist rock, hoping to get a better grip. My eyes were shut, and I placed one paw directly in front of the other, and when I opened my eyes--the scene in front of me was the most hopeful thing I had in mind. I flopped onto the flat, grassy hill and gazed out in the distance. It was much closer now--the vast moorland, the marshlands, the foresty area, and the thick oak forest--all laid out so close.
"Hurry along," Sparrowstar called out. "We should be there within 2 days."
"Can't wait to relax in my own nest for once," I heard Rabbitclaw mumble as he leaped off the ledge. He brushed past me and began pacing down the hill.
"Race you down the hill," Thistlefang grinned.
"You're on!" I darted ahead of him, feeling the fresh-air blow on my gray-and-white fur. Then a flash of dark ginger tabby fur ran ahead of me. Thistlefang took a flying leap into the air and rolled onto the springy grass. I purred in amusement, and slowed down.
I look at all the cats, be it WindClan or ShadowClan. They all seemed so happy together, everybody was joking and playing with each other, mates padding along with their kits bounding ahead...It all seemed right. It seemed like a miracle all four clans were getting along so well. The leaders walked behind everybody, monitoring their actions.
I felt a rush of joy as we reached the border of the forest, and just beyond that lay the possible new territories. Evening was falling, and I went to sleep with thoughts of the new land whirling in my head. I felt safe as well that Thistlefang decided to share my nest. I curled against him, let out a breath of relief, and closed my eyes.
Three moons later.
I'm no longer Sagepaw--I'm now Sagefrost. I chose my name in honor of my mother, Ryefrost, who barely made it to the new territories three moons ago. With a pang of grief, I recalled her death.
Their jaws snapped at my heels. I whirled around and batted at the long muzzle of a fox. Ryefrost appeared beside me, amber eyes focused on what was in front of her. I began panicking as I saw what lay ahead--a gorge.
"Don't do that!" I hissed at her, panting.
"I have to!" Ryefrost mewed. "There's 6 of them, this is the quickest way!"
"No!" I yowled. She was right--this was the only way. But I didn't want her to go. We had founded WindClan's new territory, and it was similar to our old one. The gorge--which bordered every clan--was where the Gatherings were held. These foxes were a match for our warriors, and Ryefrost was willing to sacrifice herself for the clan--even if it meant leaving her daughter.
But what she planned to do didn't work. I heard a screech and I whipped my head to see my mother in the jaws of a fox. I snarled loudly and lashed out, my claws ripping at the fox's ear. It ignored me, and began shaking it's jaws violently. Blood splattered the ground as Ryefrost was ripped apart.
I was frozen to the ground. I wailed out loud, and watched as the others advanced on me. Then the shadows of my saviors came.
--End of Flashback.--
I shivered at the memory, and swallowed back a sob. But a moon after that, Mousefoot told me the greatest news I could have ever received. I walked into the underground tunnel that spread out into an old badger's den--the medicine cat's den.
Mousefoot had explained to me that the aches in my stomach was because I was expecting Thistlefang's kits! I was so joyful, I flew out of Mousefoot's den and flung myself at Thistlefang.
"Guess what?" I mewed excitedly.
"What?" Thistlefang looked at me like I was crazy.
"I'm expecting kits!" I purred.
"Really?" Thistlefang's piercing dark green eyes lit up with joy. "That's great!"
"I know!" All memories of the bad things disappeared--my father's death, the destruction of our homes, watching my mother be ripped apart in the jaws of a fox in front of me--it was all gone.
"Thistlefang!" Gorsepelt's demanding yowl sounded across the new camp. "Border patrol!"
"Ugh!" Thistlefang growled. He turned to me and gave me a quick lick over the ear, "See you later!" My eyes followed him as he bounded across camp, gathered his apprentice--Ravenpaw--and followed the border patrol out.
I gazed around camp, taking in the surroundings. The camp was up on a steep, rocky hill with bramble and gorse bushes surrounding the outside. The warriors and apprentices slept outside--if not there was old badger and fox burrows everywhere. The nursery was underneath a ledge, covered with gorse bushes. The elder's den was nearby--it was a cleared-out thorn patch covered with brambles. The territory...same as always.
I let out a breath--my kits would be coming anyday, it'd already been almost three moons. For today I would bask in the sun, savoring the last of greenleaf.
"Here's a field mouse," Skystorm mewed, padding up to me with a small gray mouse in her jaws.
"Thanks," I mewed. I layed it by my paws and dug in. After my last mouthfuls, I rested my eyes and ended up falling asleep.
Two days later.
I paced outside of the nursery, anxious and nervous. Mousefoot had assured me everything would be okay, but Sagefrost sounded like she was being mauled by a badger.
"Great StarClan, calm down!" Falconswoop growled. He sat nearby, amber eyes narrowed.
"Don't tell me to calm down!" I snapped. "You wait until Skystorm has your kits!" I turned my attention back to the nursery, and suddenly the pale-brown medicine cat pushed himself out of the gorse bushes.
"Would you like to meet your kit?" Mousefoot grinned. My tail rose high in the air in delight. After all I--and my clan--had been through, this was the moment where everything in my life changed for the better. I padded after Mousefoot and shoved my way through the thick gorse, adjusting my eyes to the dark, dimlit nursery.
My gaze softened at the small dark ginger tabby-and-white tom. Beside him lay a dark ginger tabby she-kit, but she had been born dead, or lived only a few moments. Whatever it was, I paid no attention. I purred happily and nuzzled the tiny tom.
"Have you thought of a name?" I asked, looking back to Sagefrost.
"Yes," She mewed. "What do you think of Rabbitkit?"
I looked back down at my son, he did fit the name Rabbitkit. "It's perfect."
"What about her?" Sagefrost flicked the she-kit with her tail. "She deserves a name, even if she didn't live that long." Sorrow creeped up in her ice-blue eyes, giving them a shadow.
I thought about all the things she had lost--her father, her mother, her daughter, her old home...And here I am living in my perfect, happy world with a wonderful mate, a son, all my siblings and my parents...My life was nothing compared to hers. To be honest, I didn't really care for the she-kit, but Sagefrost did, so I decided to give her a name. "How about Rosekit?"
"Rosekit. She'll go to StarClan as Rosekit. Have a safe journey my daughter." Sagefrost buried her nose into Rosekit's soft, cold fur.
This was it. My life was finally complete. We'd found new territory safely, I have a family finally, and I am respected in my clan. Only one thing remained, I still regret all those times I bullied Sagefrost, threatening her and snapping at her.
It bugged me. But of course, things bug me easily. I settled down into a nest and rested my head on my paws, watching Rabbitkit reach for Sagefrost.
One Moon Later.
"Rabbitkit, come back here!" I chased after the small dark ginger tabby-and-white tom, who had darted off with a piece of Skystorm's food. The mouse was his size, yet he held it in his jaws up high like it was as light as a feather.
Rabbitkit crouched in the grass, his tail waving in the air. "You have to catch it!" He squeaked. Then he dashed off again, this time heading for Sparrowstar's den. Aspenfur stared at me as I ran around the camp, acting like a fool.
Then Sparrowstar emerged from the cave. "Whoa!" He mewed, Rabbitkit bumping into his paws.
"Thank you!" I mewed, snatching the mouse from Rabbitkit.
"Hey that's mine!" He growled.
"Oh you were never going to eat it anyway. Go give it back to Skystorm," I ordered, handing over the fresh-kill.
"I see he's going to be a feisty one," Sparrowstar purred.
"You don't know how much trouble he is in the nursery." I rolled my eyes. I loved Rabbitkit, but he could be a real pain in the tail!
"Well, you'll miss him when he's an apprentice." Sparrowstar's gaze followed Rabbitkit as he pranced across camp, gleefully carrying the mouse.
"I know," I sighed. Sometimes, I wish he was an apprentice already. I hate being cooped up in the nursery. I watched as Thistlefang walked out of camp with his apprentice, Ravenpaw. The two were talking, and Ravenpaw acknowledged me with a flick of her tail before it's black tip disappeared.
"Well. I better go see what that little scrap is up to now." I began padding down the slope away from Sparrowstar's cave. Now that Rabbitkit was out of sight, he's likely to destroy camp if he wasn't under the paws of a warrior.
"Sagefrost, I'd actually like to discuss something with you real quick," Sparrowstar interrupted.
"Okay." I turned back to him.
"I was thinking of retiring. When Gorsepelt becomes leader, I would like you to be deputy." My eyes widened at Sparrowstar's words, deputy?
"Yes," Sparrowstar answered. "I believe you have been through a lot to realize how importany your family and your clan are. Of course, this wouldn't happen right away. I'll wait until Rabbitkit is an apprentice, and when Gorsepelt feels ready."
"Yes, Sparrowstar." I dipped my head to the old, dark tabby tom. He was already leader when I was born, and before that time he was a senior warrior. I headed down the slope to see what Rabbitkit was up to, heart pounding with excitement. I'm going to be deputy!
My paws steered me towards the nursery, where I slipped in through the tight gorse bushes. Rabbitkit was talking a mile a minute to Sunkit, Foxspring and Firewind's daughter.
"Oh, hi Mom!" Rabbitkit's yellow eyes lit up as the rustling bushes signaled my entrance.
I purred and licked my son's head, smoothing down a tuft of fur. I turned to Dapplecloud, Firewind and Skystorm. "Guess what?" I mewed excitedly.
"What? You're finally going to stop acting like the crazy queen who challenged five ShadowClan cats?" Skystorm muttered.
My whiskers twitched, remembering the day two moons ago when I was expecting Rabbitkit--I was at the Gathering, and Buzzardflight of ShadowClan began messing with me. I challenged him and four of his clanmates approached, I lashed out at Buzzardflight, but Thistlefang hauled me off.
"No!" I growled. "Sparrowstar's going to make me deputy!"
"That's great news!" Dapplecloud purred, flicking my shoulder with her tortoiseshell-and-white tail.
"Congratulations," Firewind mewed. "Sparrowstar has never once pointed me out, I don't think he likes me."
"I thought you were his apprentice?" I asked, remembering Ryefrost telling me long ago.
"I was, back when he was Sparrowtalon," Firewind pointed out "Once he became leader, he seemed to not care about his family and I anymore."
"Oh. Well maybe he does still care, he's just busy with the duties of a leader," Dapplecloud put in."
"Yeah you're probably right." Firewind sighed. "Anyways, when is he going to make you deputy? Surely not anytime soon?" She asked, turning back to me.
My attention was focused on Rabbitkit and Sunkit, who were play-fighting. I was snapped back at Firewind's words. "Sometime after Rabbitkit is an apprentice. He didn't say for sure though."
"Okay, well--good luck," Firewind mewed.
"Yeah just try not to get on his bad-side during that time." Dapplecloud laughed. "Or he must just decide he doesn't like you."
Firewind shot her an icy glare.
I lay down in my nest, preparing for a nap. With Rabbitkit around, I was asleep during my free-time, worn out by his constant energy. Thoughts about being deputy were whirling in my mind. Will I be a good deputy?
Three moons later.
Rabbitkit bounced at my paws. There had just been a battle with foxes outside of camp. There seemed to be plenty of those monsters out and about these new territories, and badgers. It was mostly around this time--late evening--when they would c Thistlefang trotted into camp behind Pounceclaw and Wrenwing. Aspenfur, Featherbreeze, and Hazelfeather followed behind the large dark ginger tabby tom.
"Dad!" Rabbitkit squeaked happily, rushing forward.
I flashed my paw out, tugging back at his dark ginger-and-white tail. "Leave your father be," I mewed sternly. "He won't be feeling too great after a battle with foxes." I knew that was a lie, Thistlefang craved battles, but he was always in a sour-mood afterwards.
"Aww..." Rabbitkit's ears and tail drooped. I felt bad, but it was best he didn't get under the warrior's paws right now. "Okay, well I'm going to go play with Sunkit and show Dapplecloud's new kits the camp!" He scrambled towards the nursery, dust and grass thrown up by his hind paws. He showed an interest and Pounceclaw's and Dapplecloud's new kits ever since they were born a few weeks ago. Two she-kits and a tom, Sorrelkit, Morningkit and Owlkit.
I padded forward and greeted Thistlefang. "How'd it go?"
"It was great!" Thistlefang growled, flexing his claws. "I don't think those foxes will ever near our camp again!"
"Well then it's a good thing you're not afraid of foxes." I glanced at the nursery. "Want to go hunting?" I asked.
"What about Rabbitkit?" Thistlefang's green gaze traveled towards where the squeaks of laughter came from the gorse and bramble bush.
"I'll see if Dapplecloud, Firewind and Skystorm can watch him. Be right back." I bounded off down the camp's slope. I gave a nod of greeting to Sunsplash, Boulderclaw, Hareleap and Rabbitspring, who were resting outside the elder's den, dozing in the long grass that hid the den.
I pushed my way through the nursery entrance, and landed on the other side, feeling soft feathers and moss beneath my paws. "Dapplecloud, would you watch Rabbitkit for me? Thistlefang and I are going hunting."
The white-and-tortoiseshell she-cat looked up from where she watched her kits."Sure. You have fun!" She answered cheerily.
"Thanks." I nodded my thanks and exited the nursery. I raced back up the slope and searched for Thistlefang. He was sitting near Sparrowstar's cave, talking with Oakfire.
"Ready?" He mewed, seeing my approach.
"Ready as ever," I replied, flicking my tail at Oakfire in greeting.
"Good." Thistlefang stood up and looked to the pale-brown tom. "See you later, Oakfire."
"Bye." Oakfire turned and padded off.
"So," Thistlefang mewed as we set off. "Where to?"
"I don't know." I ducked underneath the thick, low set of gorse bushes that protected the entrance of camp. "Maybe somewhere like the cliff nearby?" I loved that place, it was a high overhang, looking over the waterfall in the distance and the vast forest below.
"Hey I thought we were going hunting?" Thistlefang asked jokingly.
"You know I'm never serious!" I prodded him on the shoulder with my paw. "Come on!" I hared away, leaving Thistlefang in the dust. My paws carried me down the steep hill that held WindClan's camp, and down into the moor. It felt good to feel the strong wind in my fur again, instead of being cooped in the dark, crowded nursery.
I knew Thistlefang was right behind me, the hard pounding of his paws on the ground was enough to let a badger a mile away know we were coming. Eventually, the ground in the distance gave away, and what was left was an overhang. I skidded to a halt and began to slow down. Thistlefang however, couldn't slow himself down and ran past me.
The grass got much shorter towards the ledge, and I sat down on a clear spot near the edge. Thistlefang padded to my side and sat.
"It's pretty isn't it?" I asked, gazing out at the late sunset. The sun covered much of the land's horizon, the last of it's light reaching the cliff.
"Yeah." Thistlefang's green eyes were wide and curious, as if he'd never seen a sunset before.
"Did I ever tell you Sparrowstar was going to make me deputy?" I asked.
"Yeah like ten times!" Thistlefang purred in amusement. "You're such a rabbit-brain. You forget too easy."
"Hey!" I growled playfully. "You're just as much as a rabbit-brain as I am!"
"I know." Thistlefang dropped onto his back, mocking death. "StarClan I've forgotten how to breathe!"
"Okay," I mewed. "I'm not that stupid!"
"You think that!" Thistlefang flicked my shoulder with his tail. "Come on, let's go hunt. I'm hungry!"
"Okay, whatever. Ignore my plans!" I joked. We bounded off into the moor, winding paths and teasing each other. We didn't return until late that night, jaws full of prey.
Today was Rabbitkit's apprentice ceremony, and I couldn't help but almost burst with pride. I sat at the front of the crowd, as Sparrowstar ordered Rabbitkit forward. My son padded towards the leader, head and tail up high, yellow eyes glowing with excitement.
"Rabbitkit, until you receive your warrior name you will be known as Rabbitpaw." Sparrowstar turned to Aspenfur. The golden-mottled tom instantly beamed. "Aspenfur, you shall be mentor to Rabbitpaw. Teach him all the skills you know, and make sure to change him into a fine warrior."
"Yes, Sparrowstar." Aspenfur padded forward and he and Rabbitpaw rubbed noses.
"Rabbitpaw! Rabbitpaw!" I called out first. Thistlefang followed as soon as I started, his pride as equal as mine. I thought about Rosekit, and how her reaction would've been. Why am I thinking about her? I shook my head to clear my thoughts. She died moments after birth, there was no connection between me and her.
Rabbitpaw sprinted towards Thistlefang and I. "I'm finally an apprentice!" He mewed proudly.
"I know! I'm so proud of you," I purred, nuzzling his head, that was still kit-soft.
"Congratulations, son," Thistlefang mewed, gazing down at Rabbitpaw.
"Thanks, Dad." Rabbitpaw pulled himself away from my licks. I'll admit, I already missed him being with me in the nursery, even if it was only minutes ago when that was happening. I don't think I was ready to be deputy.
I padded up to Sparrowstar's den, tail lashing. I had spent days thinking about my descision, and it was final. I wasn't going to be deputy.
"Sparrowstar?" I called through the thick gorse bushes that hid his den.
"Come in," Sparrowstar answered.
I walked in, adjusting my eyes to the dim light, and heading towards Sparrowstar.
He dismissed Gorsepelt, and looked to me. "What is it you need to speak to me about?" He asked.
I shuffled my paws anxiously. I almost felt bad for turning down Sparrowstar's offer, he was kind to me. "It's about me being deputy," I began. "I don't feel ready for it."
Sparrowstar glared at me with his dark yellow eyes. Then finally his ear twitched and he spoke up. "Very well, I respect your wishes. Besides, I wasn't thinking and forgot you hadn't had an aprentice yet--but you do show good signs of leadership and maturity. You would've made an excellent deputy and leader, but I guess Breezetalon will do."
I nodded my thanks and went to the den's exit. I headed down the slope, my paws guiding me towards Thistlefang without thinking. He was speaking with Ravenpaw, probably discussing training. "Can I talk to you?" I asked, approaching my mate.
"Of course," Thistlefang meowed. He looked to the black she-cat beside him. "I'll be back in a minute, Ravenpaw. Keep practicing!"
"Yes, Thistlefang!" Ravenpaw said.
I led Thistlefang away from the site and outside of camp. "Remember how I told you I was going to be deputy?"
"Yeah," Thistlefang snorted. "You mentioned it a thousand times!"
I shook my head, tail lashing in annoyance. "That's not the point." I picked up my head, my ice-blue eyes meeting his dark green. "I told Sparrowstar I wasn't ready for it."
Thistlefang rolled his eyes. "Wait, you brought me all the way out here for this?"
"We're not that far from camp!" I growled, looking behind me to see the thick brambles and gorse bushes lining camp. "Besides, it was kind of hard for me to tell him that."
"I don't know. I just don't feel right, emotionally." I stared down at my paws, trying to block out the past.
"Well on the bright side we may be at war with ShadowClan!" Thistlefang purred, glancing at the pine forest in the distance. "In fact, Gorsepelt told me there may be a battle in a few days!"
"Great," I muttered. I left him, suddenly feeling very tired. I walked up the hill to the camp entrance and slipped in through the tight gorse tunnel.
"Hi, Sagefrost!" It was Wrenwing, Oakfire and Heatherwhisper's daughter. The light brown tabby was bounding towards me eagerly. "I'm leading a hunting patrol, want to join?"
"Sure." In camp, out of camp, in camp, out of camp. How many more times do I have to see the entrance today? I followed Wrenwing back to the entrance, seeing Hawkflight and Breezetalon on the spot.
"Ready?" Wrenwing gazed over the four of us, then led the way out.
I broke out into a sprint, grass being thrown into the air as my back paws dug into the soil. Everything was a blur as we quickly made it to the far side of our territory, near ThunderClan's border. The patrol slowed down, making their weight evenly spread across their legs so as not to let the rabbits and mice hear our approach. Almost immediately, I spotted a small gray hare hiding among the tall, swaying grass, munching on a plant.
I seperated myself from my patrol and headed it's direction, trotting silently. As soon as I was close enough, I let out into a full-on sprint. I leaped, claws extended, but just as I thought it was the hare's pelt beneath my claws, I collided hard with a large, dark brown tom with piercing amber eyes.