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Sapphire Storms is by BladeOfHope.


Allegiances

ThunderClan

Leader: Featherstar, a light gray tabby she-cat with silver eyes

Deputy: Nightfall, a black tom with sapphire-blue eyes

Medicine Cat: Petalbreeze, a creamy colored she-cat with green eyes

Warriors:

Snowdrift, a half-deaf white tom with icy blue eyes

Gorsethorn, a brown tom with green eyes (apprentice, Robinpaw)

Dapplesun, a tortoiseshell she-cat with amber eyes

Stoneclaw, a dark gray tom with amber eyes (apprentice, Smokepaw)

Larksong, a light brown she-cat with green eyes

Dawnlight, a golden tabby she-cat with blue eyes

Breezewing, a silver tabby she-cat with amber eyes

Ripplepelt, a blue-gray tom with blue eyes (apprentice, Pouncepaw)

Horizonsun, a golden and white she-cat with amber eyes

Apprentices:

Robinpaw, a reddish-brown she-cat with amber eyes

Smokepaw, a smoky gray tom with amber eyes

Pouncepaw, a gray tabby tom with green eyes

Queens:

Violetspark, a dove-gray she-cat with blue-violet eyes (mother of Ripplepelt's kits: Streamkit, a blue-gray and silver tom with blue eyes, and Marshkit, a gray tabby she-cat with blue eyes)

Elders:

Raincloud, a pale gray she-cat with green eyes

Hiddenblaze, a ginger tom with amber eyes

ShadowClan

Leader: Darkstar, a dark gray tabby tom with dark blue eyes

Deputy: Rockfall, a silver tom with green eyes

Medicine Cat: Dewdrop, a golden she-cat with light blue eyes

Warriors:

Timberflame, a brown tom with amber eyes

Fallensong, a white she-cat with green eyes (apprentice, Gingerpaw)

Shimmerfur, a tortoiseshell she-cat with blue eyes

Rosefur, a tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes

Ravenfeather, a black tom with deep amber eyes (apprentice, Sootpaw)

Apprentices:

Gingerpaw, a ginger and white she-cat with green eyes

Sootpaw, a gray tom with black paws and amber eyes

Elders:

Snagpelt, a gray tom with messy fur and blind blue eyes

Thistlefur, a brown tom with amber eyes

WindClan

Leader: Cloudstar, an old, silver she-cat with green eyes

Deputy: Rabbithop, a black and white tom with blue eyes

Medicine Cat: Graytuft, a long-furred light gray tom with amber eyes

Warriors:

Springfoot, a brown tabby she-cat with white paws, a white tail-tip, and blue eyes (apprentice, Dashpaw)

Heatherfrost, a silver and creamy colored she-cat with green eyes

Birdcall, a blue-gray tom with green eyes

Ambergaze, a brown and white she-cat with amber eyes

Blacktip, a light gray tom with a black tailtip and blue eyes

Tallflower, a white and gray she-cat with green eyes (apprentice, Hollypaw)

Scratchclaw, a black tom with amber eyes

Apprentices:

Dashpaw, a dark brown tom with a slightly twisted front paw and amber eyes

Hollypaw, a light gray she-cat with blue eyes

Elders:

Brightcloud, a white she-cat with green eyes

Mosspelt, a gray tom with one blue eye

RiverClan

Leader: Risingstar, a ginger tom with amber eyes

Deputy: Shadedsky, a blue-gray and dark silver she-cat with deep blue eyes

Medicine Cat: Reedfur, a dark gray she-cat with green eyes (apprentice, Willowpaw)

Warriors:

Mistysky, a pale gray she-cat with blue eyes

Lakewave, a blue-gray tom with deep blue eyes

Mudspot, a white tom with a brown spot on his back and green eyes

Berrypelt, a golden she-cat with amber eyes (apprentice, Silverpaw)

Minnowfoot, a black tom with green eyes

Apprentices:

Willowpaw, a pale silver she-cat with blue eyes

Silverpaw, a gray tom with green eyes

Queens:

Windstreak, a dark gray she-cat with blue eyes (mother of Mudspot's kit: Brownkit, a brown tabby tom with green eyes)

Elders:

Lightningstripe, a white tom with jagged ginger stripes and amber eyes

Cats Outside the Clans

Blade, a brown she-cat with a red collar, white paws, and green eyes

Voltage, a brown tom with green eyes

Storm, a white tom with gray eyes

Shattered, a white tom with silver eyes

Final, a young gray she-cat with blue eyes

Summit, a dark gray tom with amber eyes

Sigma, a young light brown she-cat with green eyes

Rho, a gray she-cat with a black collar and blue eyes


Prologue

Part One: Newleaf - Nighttime - Featherstar

My ears prick. That sound is getting way too familiar. Why don't they just cut it out already? The Clan isn't getting enough sleep with all that racket. Stupid rogues, thinking they can do whatever they want. I'll have to speak to Nightfall about arranging another patrol to go out and confront them. Of course, I'll have to do it come morning. He needs all the sleep he can get.

My name is Featherstar. I am the leader of ThunderClan. Let me tell you, leading a Clan of argumentative cats is not easy. I'm lucky to have a cat like Nightfall as my deputy. He helps break up the quarrels. There are some cats that are more agreeable, like Larksong and Horizonsun, but for the most part I wound up with a Clan full of featherbrains.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love leading my Clan, and when the cats aren't arguing among themselves we have a well-run camp. But between the stress of making decisions, keeping the Clan in order, and trying to get the noisy rogues living on our border to be quiet, my job as leader is pretty tiring.

No sense complaining about it, though, I guess. I need to remain strong for the sake of my Clan. I just wish it were a bit easier. I think every cat would struggle a little bit if they did what I do every time I fall asleep.

This really is a beautiful territory. I'm so glad Cloudstar and the other leaders from her time decided to settle here. The mountains are so special. They're like guards, keeping the bad things away from us. Evil can't reach us in here.

Time to get some rest. It's almost midnight, and I haven't been sleeping much lately.

Maybe they'll leave me alone, just this once.


Part Two: Newleaf - Midnight - Darkstar

My dreams are dark and chaotic, just as I expected. After all, he would never let me miss a night. Shadows close in on every side as I make my way through this StarClan-forsaken forest. Now if only I can find the cat I'm looking for and get out of here.

His scent hits my tongue and I start moving faster in the direction it's coming from. Sure enough, I see his glowing eyes in the clearing up ahead. I really wish he would stop moving our meeting places around. It's awfully confusing.

I can feel his bright red eyes on me as I pad into the clearing with my head down in a sign of respect. I stop in front of him and wait for him to speak.

After what feels like a long time his voice enters my ears. "You may look up now, Darkflight. And next time you will come earlier."

"Yes, Nightstar." He insists on calling me by my warrior name. He thinks it makes him look better if he has the leader name. His name isn't actually Nightstar. He told me that he's a living cat, although he's never said if he lives in the Clans or not. I assume he's a rogue.

"Have you discovered anything new about them?" he demands. It's just like him to jump right into everything. "We're running out of time. The cat is going to try to drive them off soon."

"I know we are short on time, Nightstar. All I know is that the plan seems to be working. At the Gathering last night, their leader was almost asleep on her paws."

"Good," he says in that creepy voice of his. He looks like he's thinking hard, and I wait patiently for him to talk.

By the way, I am Darkstar, leader of ShadowClan. I've been meeting with Nightstar for some moons now. He is planning some takeover of the Clans. Since I'm helping him, he has promised to spare my life and the lives of my closest friends. The rest will be annihilated when the time comes. If it weren't such an intelligent plan I would almost be regretful to see the destruction of so many lives. I think spending so much time with Nightstar has hardened my heart.

He speaks again, interrupting my thoughts. "We will carry out the plan soon," he promises. "Keep watching and listening. I will work out a plan. We will strike within the next moon."

"Yes, Nightstar."


Part Three: Newleaf - After Midnight - Cloudstar

This is making me nervous. If only Rabbithop hadn't discovered a way into these caverns.These things can't be safe. They could collapse on us at any moment!

If the cats in my Clan were listening to me as I say this, they would say that I'm worrying too much. I know I'm getting old, but is it so weird for me to be concerned about the well-being of my Clan? I am the only cat left who remembers how dangerous tunnels have been in the past.

My name is Cloudstar, and I am the leader of WindClan. I remember everything about the fateful event that led us here. The tunnels in the lake territory had been blocked off generations ago. All of the cats were forbidden from trying to go in. Of course, a group of apprentices from all four Clans had to go and open them up again. The tunnels collapsed, and all four leaders sent cats in to try and find them.

Instead of finding our apprentices, we found a large group of foxes that had apparently found some way in and had been living in the tunnels for a while. They killed a large number of warriors and apprentices, and the leaders eventually decided that it would be safer to leave. So we did, and we came here.

I was a new warrior at the time. My friends were all killed in that horrible time. By now all the other cats who went on the journey are dead as well; that or they were too young to remember. This means that I am the oldest cat in the Clans.

Foolish young cats. They're always getting us in trouble. Rabbithop, my deputy, is a good cat. There's no denying that. But he is still a younger warrior, and he always thinks he knows best. He discovered these tunnels and, with the approval of the rest of the Clan, decided that the oldest cats should move down into them for extra protection.

I can't help but worry that something is going to happen. I stretch and rise to my tired paws. I want to take a look around this place. I make my way down the nearest tunnel. My eyes have long since adjusted to the darkness, so I can just about see down here.

These tunnels are complex. I won't be able to go too far, or I know I'll get lost. I'll just go a little farther, and then I'll turn back.

Wait...

There's something up ahead. There is definitely a faint glow coming from somewhere down this tunnel. I move a little faster- as fast as these old bones will let me- and strain to see what's ahead.

Oh, no. The light is coming from the cracks between a pile of rocks and mud blocking the way. This tunnel already collapsed, and recently, by the look of it!

This can't be good. I must warn my Clan!


Part Four: Newleaf - Just Before Dawn - Risingstar

I can't sleep. There must be something I'm missing here. Something isn't right, I just know it.

I pace along the floor of my den. This has been a long, restless moon. The distant clamor of a group of rogues doesn't help, either. But that's not the main reason I'm still awake.

Something isn't quite right about this place. We've lived in this valley territory for many moons now, and yet it's just starting to feel wrong. The mountains around the valley seem to be closing in with every heartbeat. I just don't know why.

I am Risingstar, leader of the group known as RiverClan. I am the youngest of the four current leaders. I'm sure they all think they have to take care of me. I've seen the way they look at me at Gatherings. It's like I'm an apprentice who needs a bit of help learning the warrior code. Well, I'm not. Sometimes I think I know more than they do all put together.

None of them have said anything about this territory being the wrong one. They just came here, settled down, and accepted their new lives. I pity the other Clans, having such trusting leaders. I wonder, if half of the cats in their Clans were killed, would they accept it as fate and move on with life?

The rogues are still yowling into the sky. Some of the things they call stand out to me: The darkness is coming - stay away from it! and I'm so glad! He's going to spare us! What are they talking about? What darkness? Maybe their foreboding words are what's making me so uncomfortable.

Is a little peace and quiet too much to ask? All I want is for my Clan to be safe and happy. I will do anything to protect them from the threat I feel lurking at our borders. I just wish I knew what this threat is.

It must be nearly dawn. The sky is getting a little lighter. I think I'll go for a quick swim before helping Shadedsky sort out the patrols. Maybe the fresh, cool river water will distract me from these dark thoughts.

If only the waves could wash them away and send them off forever.


Chapter One

Part One: Greenleaf - Midday - Robinpaw

I watch as Gorsethorn demonstrates the hunting crouch. Again. Seriously, how dumb does he think we are? We learned the hunting crouch ages ago. I want to move on to other things. I know that Smokepaw and Pouncepaw feel the same way; I can tell just by looking at their expressions. But does my mentor notice? Oh, no. He just keeps showing us how to do the hunting crouch.

It's times like this that I want to shred someone.

If my mother, Jaystripe, knew how often I get mad like this, she would probably disown me. Send me off to, say, I don't know, ShadowClan, and say, "Here, take Robinpaw. ThunderClan doesn't want her anymore. She's too violent. Have fun with your new little monster." But Jaystripe died soon after I was apprenticed, and my father, Nightfall, is far too busy with his really important life as deputy. My denmates kind of just leave me alone.

So, needless to say, cats sort of don't pay attention to the things I do. Good thing, too. Gorsethorn's stupid exercises make me want to rip my own fur off. But cats would definitely notice that, and it would be pretty stupid, so I normally settle for going out into the forest and taking my anger out on the nearest piece of prey.

"Robinpaw, are you listening to me?" Gorsethorn's voice startles me out of my fur. I realize that he must have asked me something. Smokepaw and Pouncepaw are trying to hide their amusement. They're doing a terrible job. I shake out my fur and glare at Gorsethorn.

"Didn't think so," he sniffs. "I was just asking which variation of the hunting crouch is best for stalking rabbits. Smokepaw, do you know?" He turns to the gray apprentice, looking like he would rather be doing anything other than try to teach me. I want to rip that look right off his face and tell him that I'd rather have any other cat as my mentor.

"It's the second one you showed us," Smokepaw says with a triumphant smirk. "It's the best one for getting really close to the rabbit so you don't have to chase it."

"Very good. Now, Robinpaw," Gorsethorn says, turning back to me, "would you like to demonstrate the best way to stalk a mouse?"

I can feel Smokepaw and Pouncepaw watching me, waiting for me to mess up. Angrily I drop into the perfect crouch and start sliding forward in just the right way. After I go a few tail-lengths, I straighten up and glare at Gorsethorn. "Happy now?" I spit.

He blinks at the venom in my voice. Inwardly I smirk, glad I could show him up. After a few heartbeats he regains his mentors-know-everything attitude and says, "Not bad, Robinpaw. Your forward movement could use a little work. Come back to camp, now, and let's get something to eat."

Not bad? I walk behind my denmates, fuming. Gorsethorn knows I hunt better than most other cats in the Clan, including him, and he tells me I'm not bad? When they disappear into the tall circle of undergrowth that hides the camp, I veer away and run back into the forest.

I maneuver through the trees, coming to a stop once I reach the border, at the part of our territory that goes right up to the base of the mountains surrounding Clan territory. I look up at the mountains and to the sky beyond. Maybe I should climb up to the top of the biggest mountain. That would show him.

I really wish RiverClan or someone would invade our territory right about now. I just want to sink my claws into cat flesh, feel the blood gush out between my claws, and squeeze the life out of someone until they just fade away.

Is it wrong to be so bloodthirsty? Most cats would say so. They'd tell me that warriors don't kill without reason, and that a good warrior doesn't have to kill in order to win. But this is a different kind of fight. This fight is inside of me. My anger wants to triumph over reason, to flow through me until there's no getting away from it. I can feel it, deep inside. It wants to be let out.

I'm not a monster. Really, I'm not. Maybe if the other cats in ThunderClan weren't such mouse-brains, I wouldn't get so frustrated. But they are.

They had better learn to accept me for who I am.

Or I'll make them accept me.


Part Two: Greenleaf - Midday - Gingerpaw

I love this time of day. The sun slants down through the branches of the trees and warms the ground. It's so calm and quiet. Birds call to each other from the treetops, and the entire territory seems to be at piece.

I'm Gingerpaw. My brother Sootpaw and I are ShadowClan apprentices. I love being an apprentice. There's so much to learn! When I was apprenticed two moons ago, everything was so overwhelming. But my mentor is really nice. Her name is Fallensong. She's really patient with me when I don't understand something.

To be honest, there's a lot that I still don't understand about being a warrior. I don't get why we have to be enemies with the other Clans. We're all still cats, right? Wouldn't it be easier to join together so everyone could help everyone else?

I really wish we didn't have four Clans and such restricting borders. The cats from the other Clans seem really nice. Heatherpaw- I mean, Heatherfrost- told me about WindClan territory at the last Gathering. It sounds so free and open. I definitely wouldn't want to live there; the pine forest is the place for me. But it would be so nice to visit the moorlands and run around.

Fallensong is calling to me, I think. I stand up and pad in the direction of the call. Sure enough, she comes bounding over to me.

"Where were you, Gingerpaw?" she asks. "We were supposed to be on the midday patrol today, remember?"

I droop a little bit. "Oh, yeah. Sorry, Fallensong."

Her eyes are sympathetic. I know she's not too upset. "It's okay. I know you probably just forgot. Darkstar asked if I would take you hunting instead. Sound good?"

"Oh, yes!" I purr. 

I like hunting so much more than fighting. When I hunt, I know that I am helping my Clan. I can be glad if I bring back a lot of fresh-kill. I just get scared when I'm fighting. I don't want to hurt another cat. I know fighting is part of being a warrior, but I really don't like hurting others, no matter what Clan they're from.

I follow Fallensong as she makes her way through the forest. It's all so beautiful and serene. We're near our border with RiverClan when Fallensong waves her tail for me to stop walking. Her ears are pricked and she's tasting the air. Finally she nods in the direction of a juniper bush. I can scent a mouse underneath the branches.

"Think you can catch it?" she asks quietly. I nod, drop into a crouch, and move forward very carefully. I stay as low as I can without disturbing the undergrowth. When I think I'm near enough, I pounce, and sit up with a delicious mouse in my jaws.

"Very good!" my mentor praises me, her eyes bright. "You're getting to be a great hunter, Ginger-" She breaks off suddenly. Her ears prick like she's listening to something.

"What is it?" Is something wrong? I can't hear anything over the roar of the river.

"Shh!" she hisses. Suddenly she rushes forward, beckoning for me to follow. As we run, she pants, "I can hear the midday patrol! Something's happening!"

Scared, I follow her as fast as I can. Fallensong comes to a halt on the banks of the river. Nearby Timberflame, Shimmerfur, and Rosefur are confronting a patrol of RiverClan cats, who are standing on the other bank. The only one I recognize is Shadedsky, the RiverClan deputy. She has a gray she-cat, a black tom, a golden she-cat, and a silver apprentice with her.

"We didn't take your fish!" Timberflame growls. "You can keep your disgusting prey!"

"How dare you!" Shadedsky hisses. "RiverClan, attack!"

The RiverClan cats dive into the river like fish and pull themselves out on our bank. The two patrols meet each other in midair. I can only watch in horror.

Fallensong rushes forward, calling back to me, "Go get help, Gingerpaw!" She slashes at the black tom's ear and says nothing more to me.

I turn around and run back to camp as fast as my paws will carry me. I skid into camp and yowl for all I'm worth, "RiverClan is attacking!"

Darkstar hurries out of his den. "Where?" he demands.

"Down by the river," I cry. "They need backup!"

Darkstar starts ordering warriors to go and help. I stand there in a daze as the Clan moves around me. Why do we have to fight them?

Why?


Part Three: Greenleaf - Midday - Silverpaw

I groan as Berrypelt nudges me into the water. ShadowClan didn't take anything. They don't even like the water; we all know that! They'd be more than happy to leave the fish to us and go on their mysterious way. Yet Shadedsky sends us into battle at the first sign that a droplet of river water has so much as touched a ShadowClan pelt.

I pull myself out of the water on the ShadowClan side, fully aware that they now have a reason to fight us. We crossed their stupid border. Great StarClan, our deputy must not have seen that one coming.

I'd much rather be wandering around the territory than fighting in a useless skirmish, but I target a small tortoiseshell she-cat and slice half-heartedly at her ear. She yowls as a drop of blood falls from the small wound and turns on me.

I hiss and run straight at her. She moves forward to meet me, and we start clawing at each other's shoulders. She hooks one of my paws out from under me, and I stumble. She stands over me and sinks her claws into the ground on either side of me. I shove my hind legs into her underbelly and toss her away. Scrambling to my paws, I run at her and get ready to jump on top of her. Suddenly a dark gray blur crashes into me and throws me to the ground.

I look up and see that the ShadowClan leader, Darkstar, is the one that hit me. He stands at the front of a small group of warriors and waves his tail for them to attack. I notice that a small ginger she-cat hesitates for a heartbeat before miserably running forward behind her Clan. I wonder briefly what's up with that.

An angry yowl distracts me, and I see Darkstar confronting Shadedsky. Shadedsky, frustrated, yowls the call to retreat. I plunge into the water and swim with my Clan to our bank. Shadedsky turns around once she's back on our side and calls, "This isn't the end of this!"

Why can't she just get over it already? I shake my head and walk back to camp.

Berrypelt comes up beside me. "Hey, Silverpaw, you okay?" she asks. "You haven't been talking much." I glance up at her. Her eyes are full of concern, which is dumb. I've never really talked much.

She should know that. But she's a good cat, and I get that she's genuinely worried that something might be wrong, so I look her in the eye. "I'm fine," I tell her in what I hope is a reassuring tone. "I guess I'm just a little tired, is all."

"Oh, good," she says, brightening. "You just looked lonely and somewhat upset. I just wanted to make sure nothing was wrong."

"Yeah, thanks," I mutter, and move faster so I can get back to camp before she can say something else. I walk into the apprentices' den, where the only fresh scent is mine. My sister, Willowpaw, decided to become a medicine cat, so I'm the only warrior apprentice in the Clan at the moment. At least Brownkit is nearing his sixth moon.

I settle down in my nest and sigh. I know I should be excited to be a warrior in the best Clan that ever walked the territories, but it just seems so,  I don't know, repetitive? We get up each morning, send out patrols, hunt, eat, maybe have a couple of border skirmishes, and then go back to sleep. What kind of a life is that? There's got to be more than this!

With these thoughts, I rest my head on my paws and surrender to sleep's dark wave.


Part Four: Greenleaf - Midday - Dashpaw

I race after the rabbit. My paws are barely skimming the ground as I pick up speed. I jump and roll the rabbit as I do so. I kill it quickly and drag it as best as I can back to where Springfoot is waiting.

"Very good, Dashpaw!" she praises me. "WindClan will be very proud of you when you become a warrior."

I puff out my chest a little bit. "Are you saying they're not proud of me already?" I tease.

She nudges me with her shoulder so that I stumble. "Silly furball!" she purrs. "You know what I meant."

We keep up the friendly chatter as we walk back to camp. She's carrying two rabbits that I caught earlier. Now that my assessment is done, I can become a full warrior of WindClan!

I'm so excited. I've been training for this day for so long, and now it's finally here. Springfoot has been a great mentor. She's taught me to run really fast despite my stupid front paw. It's been twisted slightly inward ever since I was a kit. My mother, Ambergaze, named me Dashkit in the hopes that I would be able to run well. I've certainly lived up to her expectations.

We drop the three rabbits on the fresh-kill pile. I run over to where Ambergaze is grooming herself while Springfoot goes to speak with Cloudstar.

"I passed my assessment!" I announce to my mother and any other cat who's around to hear. "I'm going to be a warrior!"

Ambergaze pauses and looks up at me blankly. "That's great," she says quietly, and returns to grooming.

I'm confused. Isn't she proud of me? I've become the runner she always wanted me to be. I guess she's probably still sad about my father's death. He died trying to get the elders and Cloudstar out of a collapsing tunnel. I'm sad about it, too. Blazestripe was one of the best warriors we had. I just thought Ambergaze would be able to see past her grief and be happy for me.

I'm jolted from my thoughts as Cloudstar calls for the Clans. Excited, I rush to the center of the meeting area, then skid to a halt, embarrased at how much I must look like a kit. What must Springfoot think?

Cloudstar looks amused on top of the Windrock. "We gather today for one of the most important pieces of Clan life: the naming of a new warrior. Dashpaw has completed his assesment and has earned his warrior name. Dashpaw," she continues, jumping down from her rock to stand in front of me, "do you promise to uphold the warrior code, even at the cost of your life?"

"I do," I reply, trying to sound solemn.

"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior name. Dashpaw, you shall be known as Dashflight. StarClan honors your determination and loyalty, and we welcome you as a full warrior of WindClan."

My Clanmates call my name. Springfoot comes forward and calls my name loudest of all, pressing her pelt against mine. The other cats come closer to congratulate me, but I barely pay attention. I'm too busy trying not to stare at my former mentor. She brought me so far, and I think we've become more than just good friends over the time we've been together.

I'm a warrior. I can start shaping my future however I want now.


Chapter Two

Part One: Leaf-fall- End of the Day - Robinpaw

I rush through the forest with my Clanmates. It's my second Gathering, and although I'd never admit it to the other cats, I'm actually looking forward to it.

We pull to a halt in the center of the territories. There's a clearing in the trees that makes for a good Gathering place. Featherstar jumps up to her post on the Five Great Boulders. Each leader has one boulder that they stand on. Whoever's on the midde boulder is the one making announcements.

I look around the clearing. I see a group of apprentices gathered together. I walk closer to them.

"That's great, Dashflight!" a gray tom is saying.

"You're finally a warrior," a silver she-cat adds. "You've been waiting for so long!"

"I know," a dark brown tom- Dashflight, I guess- agrees. "If I hadn't been born with this stupid paw, I'd have become a warrior sooner." He waves a slightly twisted paw in front of the others.

A light gray she-cat sees me. "Oh, hello!" she calls. "Come join us."

They all turn to look at me. "I've seen you before," Dashflight says. "Redpaw, was it?"

"Robinpaw," I correct him. "So, you're a warrior?"

"Yeah," he says proudly. "I just got my warrior name a few sunrises ago."

"Congratulations," I tell him, doing my best to sound happy for him. Happy isn't something I feel a lot.

He looks at me a a little strangely, but turns to introduce his friends. "This is Pouncepaw, Willowpaw, and Hollypaw." The three she-cats meow a greeting as he says their names. "And I'm Dashflight."

"Nice to meet you," I mumble. A dark gray she-cat comes up behind Willowpaw and beckons for her to go sit with the medicine cats. Willowpaw casts an apologetic glance at us and follows the gray she-cat. Her mentor, I suppose.

One of the leaders- Risingstar, I think- calls for the Clans to settle down so the Gathering can begin. I weave through the crowd and settle down on the edges of the group. I can still see the boulders from here, but I'm far enough away from the other cats that I'm not rubbing up against everyone if I squirm at all. I hate that.

As the oldest leader, Cloudstar jumps to the middle boulder first. "WindClan is prospering, and our prey is running well. We have one new warrior: Dashflight!"

The cats call Dashflight's name. I stand up and look for him. He's sitting with a brown tabby she-cat whose blue eyes show pride, but something like affection at the same time. They must be good friends, or maybe she's his littermate.

The crowd quiets down again, and Darkstar moves to speak. I don't really listen, though. A shadow at the edges of my vision catches my attention, but when I look, there's nothing there. Doubtfully I keep watching it, but nothing ever shows.

There was something there, I know it, I think. But what was it?

I drag my attention away from the shadows. Featherstar is talking now, and I notice how carefully she picks her way around the subject of the rogues. It's like she doesn't want us to look weak. Doesn't she know that all the other Clans are suffering, too? Great StarClan, leaders' logic can be so... illogical.

Something else catches my eye. It's hard to tell from here, but it looks like  Nightfall, sitting at the base of Featherstar's boulder, is looking right at me. His deep blue gaze is thoughtful and almost malicious, like he's studying me. The way his eyes are narrowed, glinting in the moonlight, is frightening.

He's starting to creep me out, and that says something. I don't get scared easily. I wonder what he wants? Nothing good, I'm guessing, although I don't know why my father would have any evil intentions against me. Sure, he's kind of distant sometimes, and he never seems to get even as much sleep as the rest of us, but he's a loyal cat, and a good deputy. Maybe I'm just being paranoid. He could easily be looking at any cat in this direction.

I'm not managing to convince myself too well. I can't shake the feeling that between Nightfall's gaze and the shadows on the edge of the clearing, something bad is going to happen, and soon. An icy bolt runs up my spine.

What's going to happen?


Part Two: Leaf-Fall - End of the Day - Gingerpaw

I go back to sit with my Clanmates, their familiar shadowy scent bathing my nose. The other Clans all seem lethargic. I doubt anyone has gotten much sleep lately because of the rogues. The only sounds are the breeze blowing through the trees and the scuttling of prey somewhere nearby.

I glance around at the other cats. I'm right next to Fallensong; her brother, Timberflame, is on her other side. I don't see Sootpaw anywhere, although I guess he's talking to Silverpaw. They've become good friends since they met a few moons ago. Something about similar interests, I guess? Why toms like to talk about battle moves every waking moment, I'll never know.

Fallensong nudges me. I look up at her, and she beckons to the shadows around the clearing. There's a reddish-brown apprentice sitting off by herself. Fallensong whispers, "Why don't you go talk to her when the leaders are done?"

I nod, and try to pay attention. All the leaders really talk about is new warriors and prey running well. I cheer for Dashflight when his name is called, but otherwise I don't really hear a lot of what the leaders say. I'm curious as to who the other apprentice is. Maybe she just needs a friend.

Finally the leaders are done, and I rush over to the she-cat, who's standing up like she's ready to leave. "Hi!" I say quickly, skidding to a halt. "I'm Gingerpaw. I saw you sitting alone and thought maybe you wanted someone to talk to."

She blinks, like she's surprised. I realize that maybe I'm being a bit overeager. I'm about sad enough to walk away, but eventually she says, "I just don't like sitting in the crowd. I'm Robinpaw."

"I guess the crowd is a bit... crowded," I agree, shuffling my paws. "I'm sorry if you want to be alone. I can leave...." I trail off awkwardly.

"No, it's fine," Robinpaw says hastily, which surprises me. "I guess I could use someone to talk to." She sits back down and smooths down her fur.

"Great." I smile, sitting down next to her, fluffing my fur out against the cold. "I'm Gingerpaw. I'm an apprentice of ShadowClan!"

"I can smell that," Robinpaw informs me dryly. "So, caught any good prey lately?" She sounds awkward and distant.

"Ummmm... I caught a mouse the other day..." I shuffle my paws. "I like hunting, but I'm not always very good at it."

To my surprise, Robinpaw purrs. Before she can say anything, though, someone calls, "To me, ThunderClan!"

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