- 1 This is the second book of my fanfiction series, Silence of the Stars! The first book of the series can be located here!
- 2 Silence of the Stars - Shattered Echoes
- 3 Allegiances
- 4 Thunderclan
- 5 Riverclan
- 6 Shadowclan
- 7 Windclan
- 8 Cats outside the clans
This is the second book of my fanfiction series, Silence of the Stars! The first book of the series can be located here!
Silence of the Stars - Shattered Echoes
Leader: Sorrelstar - Gray she-cat with red splotches
Deputy: Grassleaf - Tortoiseshell and white tom with big red paws
Medicine cat: Stemfeather - Golden tabby she-cat with amber eyes
Firewhisker - Ginger and white tabby tom with blue eyes
Shadepelt - Dark gray tom with blue eyes
Badgerclaw - Black and white tom amber eyes
Whitefang - White she-cat with yellow eyes
Sludgefur - Brown tabby tom with amber eyes
Brightpool - Calico she-cat with blue eyes
Feathersight - Light gray she-cat with green eyes
Amberflight - Black she-cat with amber eyes
Shadowfeather - Gray and white tom with blue eyes
Fangwhisker - White tom with green eyes
Scorchleaf - Dark gray tabby tom with amber eyes
Willowflame - Pale gray tabby she-cat with yellow eyes
Ashtail - Smoke gray tabby tom with blue eyes
Patchpaw - Tortoiseshell she-cat with amber eyes
Redflower - Black she-cat with dark ginger splotches and green eyes, mother of Sludgefur's kits, Applekit (Dark ginger tom with green eyes), and Icekit (White she kit with black paws and ice blue eyes)
Pineflight - Dark ginger tabby tom
White-eyes - Completely blind tortoiseshell she-cat
Leader: Reedstar - Dark ginger and white tom with blue eyes
Deputy: Pikestem - Brown tom with amber eyes
Squirrelpool - Ginger tabby tom with blue eyes
Beechflight - Golden tabby tom with blue eyes
Sunflower - Brown tabby tom with yellow eyes
Finchshade - Tortoiseshell tom with one blue eye, and one green eye
Skyshadow - Black and white tom with blue eyes
Ottershine - Black she-cat with green eyes
Waveflight - Blue gray tabby she-cat with amber eyes
Dustleap - Brown tabby tom with yellow eyes
Flowerfur - Cream tabby she-cat with green eyes
Hawkleaf - Silver tabby tom with green eyes
Greenpaw - Brown tabby tom with green eyes
Silverpaw - Silver tabby she-cat with amber eyes
Troutleap - Brown tabby she-cat with yellow eyes, expecting Beechflight's kits
Thrushheart - Brown tabby tom with yellow eyes
Lakeshimmer - Silver tabby she-cat with ice blue eyes
Leader: Larkstar - Black tom with blue eyes
Deputy: Gray-eye - Half blind white she-cat
Shadeheart - Gray tabby tom with blue eyes
Oakleap - Brown tom with amber eyes
Windclaw - Light gray tabby she-cat with amber eyes
Volewhisker - Dark brown tabby tom with blue eyes
Barklight - Brown tabby she-cat with green eyes
Silverstorm - Silver tabby tom with blue eyes
Fireflight - Ginger she-cat with yellow eyes
Yellowspring - Golden tabby she-cat with blue eyes
Mousepelt - Gray and white she-cat with blue eyes
Brokenwing - Golden tabby tom with green eyes
Feathershine - Light gray tabby tom with green eyes
Grasspelt - Golden tabby tom with green eyes
Petalflower - Light brown she-cat with amber eyes
Hollystripe - Golden and white she-cat with blue eyes
Redclaw - Dark ginger she-cat with green eyes, mother to Larkstar's kits, Sparkkit (Ginger tabby tom with blue eyes), Needlekit (Black she-cat with green eyes), and Runningkit (Pale ginger tabby tom with yellow eyes)
Poppyfur - Ginger and white she-cat with blue eyes
Leader: Kestrelstar - Brown and White tom with amber eyes
Deputy: Blackshade - Black tom with gray splotches and blue eyes
Liondawn - Golden tabby she-cat with blue eyes
Ferntail - Gray and white she-cat with blue eyes
Featherflight - Gray tabby tom with green eyes
Ambershine - Golden tabby tom with amber eyes
Shimmerclaw - Gray tabby tom with blue eyes
Sweetflower - Cream she-cat with blue eyes
Treeleap - Brown she-cat with green eyes
Leafnose - Tortioseshell and white tom with blue eyes
Rosesky - Ginger she-cat with a pink tint to her fur and blue eyes
Heathertuft - Brown tabby she-cat with blue eyes
Whitepaw - White tom with green eyes
Stormpaw - Dark gray tabby tom with blue eyes
Bluepaw - Gray tabby she-cat with blue eyes
Mudpaw - Brown tabby tom with green eyes
Goldenheart - Golden she-cat with amber eyes, mother of Blackshade's kits, Harekit (Golden tabby tom with amber eyes), and Smokekit (Black tom with blue eyes)
Crowleap - Black tom with green eyes
Bramblestrike - Brown she-cat with amber eyes
Cats outside the clans
Oreo - Black and white she-cat with blue eyes
Cream - Cream colored she-cat with brown eyes
Spark - Ginger tabby tom with yellow eyes
Night - Black she-cat with with a white muzzle and blue eyes
Max - Brown tabby tom with amber eyes
Raven - Black tom with blue eyes
Crystal - Pale ginger she-cat with ice blue eyes
Socks - Gray and white she-cat with green eyes
Shade - Gray tabby tom with green eyes
Sunny - A golden she-cat with amber eyes
Flamestorm - Ginger tabby she-cat with yellow eyes
Moonflight - Gray and white tom with blue eyes
Snowblaze - White tom with green eyes
"A flame will return, return with a vengeance, she will shatter the darkness, and the smoke will spread, disappearing into the sky. The blaze will be strong, and it will guide the lives of four, and shape the destinies of the clans forever. And two will come, Fire and Night, together, they will save the clans."
After being exiled from Thunderclan, Flamestorm, joined by some old friends, embark on a journey to find a new home, and escape the terrors of Scorchleaf's reign. But Starclan worries that the prophecy has been destroyed, and that there is nothing that can do to save Thunderclan, and they have to convince Flamestorm to return. But she refuses, and stays with her new clan for many moons, forming a new life. Until finally, a terrible leafbare comes to the forest, and Flamestorm must choose between her new life, and Thunderclan's survival.
Flowerstar sat infront of Starclan's map of the clan territory, looking down on Thunderclan, their warriors asleep in their nest. It hadn't been long since Flamestorm had been exiled, and Flowerstar had been desperately trying to contact Sorrelstar, but had been unable to. As she was about to leave, a dark gray tabby approached Flowerstar, who was sitting in a clearing, gazing down at the map of the clan territory. Her expression was unknowing, and she put a paw on the map, the greenery fading into charred ground, Thunderclan and Shadowclan camp was abandoned, and rotting prey scattered the clearing.
"Flowerstar?" The tabby asked. "Are you ok?"
Flowerstar's face darkened as she watched a shadow creep in on the camp, and the dark forest faded into the forest, unleashing terror into Riverclan. And one by one, the cats were picked off, until there was nothing left of the clans, and the dark forests cats spread across the territory, spreading darkness where ever they walked. Just as Flowerstar was about to answer, the entire map was consumed by a shadowy mist.
"No Stormwhisker." She mewed. "Without Flamestorm, all the clans will fade into nothing, and the dark forest will take over."
"But Flowerstar, what can we do?" A new voice squeaked.
Flowerstar looked over to see Spottedflower's speckled pelt among the undergrowth, her blue eyes shining like ice in the moonlight. Brackenstep was following her, his eyes soft.
"We'll have to get her to come back." Brackenstep decided. "We have to make her see that she's important the Thunderclan, and to the clan's survival."
"I know she won't let Scorchleaf win." Flowerstar responded, certain with herself. "And I know Sorrelstar, she'll eventually see the mistake she's made. She'll understand the prophecy after Scorchleaf brings chaos and destruction to the clans."
"Flowerstar!" Brackenstep snapped. "Can't you see how blind Sorrelstar is? She'll never see past him, and there's nothing we can do to change that. The only person who can make her see, is Flamestorm. And Sorrelstar doesn't trust her anymore!"
"She will Brackenstep, I know she will." Flowerstar replied.
"Flowerstar please! You have to accept that she never will!" Spottedflower insisted.
"No, she won't." Bearleap's voice sounded. "I know Sorrelstar, she's too stubborn to accept that she was wrong, and she's lost without me. She's been making all the wrong decisions, but what can I do? The more and more Brokenwing and Scorchleaf overtake the clans, the harder contact with the medicine cats get."
"That's the thing Bearleap, the only clan cat's we can contact are Flamestorm and Moonflight, and there's nothing they can do to get message's to their leader's." Brackenstep added.
"Their leader's wouldn't believe then anyways." Flowerstar sighed. "You're right, Sorrelstar is blind, blinded by lies. But there's nothing we can do, not until the Shadows clear from the Mooncrystal."
"Well then we'll just have to make Flamestorm listen to us." Stormwhisker declared, staring at the map of the clans as it changed from darkness into light. "It's the only way to bring peace to the clans, as I fear, that Grassleaf will be joining us soon, and Sorrelstar is sure to give Scorchleaf an apprentice when Redflower's kits are ready."
"Then it's settled." Flowerstar nodded. "We will make Flamestorm come back, no matter what we have to do to convince her."
* * *
"Sorrelstar? You wanted to see me?" Scorchleaf asked from outside her den inside the giant maple.
"Yes." She responded, signaling for him to come in. "I wanted to talk to you."
"W-what about?" He stammered, nervous.
"About Willowflame." She answered. "I want to know about Willowflame, I mean, why would she ask to be named after a traitor? And why was she so quick to follow Flamestorm to the place where she killed Snowblaze?"
"I don't know." Scorchleaf lied, keeping his face calm. "Maybe she thought Flamestorm was leaving the clans for good, and maybe she just wanted to say goodbye."
"But if Flamestorm tried to kill her, why did she want to be named after the cat who almost killed her-" She questioned. "Scorchleaf, you were there, was there anything else that happened?"
Quickly thinking of a lie, Scorchleaf answered. "I only saw her push Snowblaze into the river, and- never saw Willowpaw until Flamestorm saw me and dragged her wet body across the snow."
"Scorchleaf." Sorrelstar began, changing the subject. "I wish to give you Applekit to mentor. You deserve an apprentice more than anyone in this clan. I am putting all my trust in you, and if anything ever happens to Grassleaf, you will be his replacement. I have never seen a warrior with as much courage than you, and I'm proud that you were willing to tell me the treachery your littermate had planned." She finished, her eyes full of pure pride. "I- I wish that you could've been my son, but, I never had any kits of my own."
Scorchleaf saw an opportunity to further manipulate Sorrelstar and took it, his face smug. "If you want," He began, "I can make you feel like family. And then, you can finally have the family you deserved."
"Y-yes." She stammered. "I'd like that."
Scorchleaf's smug look turned into a smirk as he walked out of the den and towards the warrior's den. "Oh Flamestorm." He whispered, evil in his voice. "There's nothing you can do now, Thunderclan will be mine!"
Flamestorm kept on her paws, the wind and snow heavy, and there were no trees for cover here, they were close to the Mooncrystal, and the small tunnel into the cave was the closest shelter nearby. The forest had faded from trees into moorland, and thin rabbits were scurrying around close to their dens, searching for any source of food they could find. It was only then when Flamestorm realized how hungry she was, stopping to look back at the following cats.
"Flamestorm?" Moonflight questioned, his yowl muffled against the wind. "What's the matter?"
Flamestorm looked up at the sky as snowflakes showered down on her pelt, and she shivered as the wind blew strong, bringing a cloud of snowflakes whirling past them. Her belly growled, and Flamestorm narrowed her eyes to prevent the winds from blowing on them. "I think we should take shelter in the Mooncrystal cave!" Flamestorm yowled, digging her claws into the ground as the winds tried to push her around.
"I agree!" Cream responded from behind, helping Max to prop Crystal up. "Crystal needs to get away from the cold!"
Moonflight nodded and studied the area, the frosty winds making it hard to see. "Snowblaze!" Moonflight mewed, his eyes focused on a rabbit. "Take Crystal and the other's to the Mooncrystal cave, Flamestorm and I will stay back and try to hunt! This moor is filled with small rabbits, and I'm sure we can catch at least one!"
Flamestorm nodded in agreement, her belly still growling. The snow was deep, and Flamestorm didn't know how successful she would be in hunting. "Moonflight, let's split up!" She yowled over the wind. "That way we can catch more, just not enough for everyone to have one piece to themselves! We'll have to share!"
Moonflight ran off in the direction of a rabbit burrow, his paw steps light.
Flamestorm went in the other direction, spotting a very skinny rabbit outside of a dark burrow. Narrowing her eyes, Flamestorm crept up on it, but her ginger pelt stuck out against the snow, and there was no cover for her to hide under, and the rabbit spotted her. It ran into the burrow, and Flamestorm hissed in frustration. "Mouse dung!" She growled, refusing to give up.
She scurried into the burrow, realizing how big it was. Mud plastered her pelt, and het sides scraped across roots that stuck out of the small tunnel. Scenting rabbit, Flamestorm turned into a small section of the tunnel, and it held a nest of rabbits, small, but they would be fine.
Flamestorm extended her claws, and the rabbits trembled in fear, seeing no escape. Flamestorm grabbed a rabbit by its scruff and bit down on it's neck. Blood dripping out of the rabbit's wound, it tried to run, but Flamestorm quickly killed it before grabbing another, a small one. Must be a kit. Flamestorm thought, feeling bad about killing it, but it was big enough to fill a cat. She killed it, snapping its spine quickly. She repeated to process on the other two rabbit kits, and picked then up by the scruff, pushing one along with her paws.
She went back through the tunnel following her scent trail back towards the entrance, the smell of the rabbits making her mouth water. No. She thought. Even though we have no warrior code, the rest of the clan eats first. She decided, bursting out of the small space, dropping her catch and gasping in a breath. She saw Moonflight carrying a rabbit, he was heading for the cave. Flamestorm picked her catch back up and grabbed the other in her claws, she went as fast as she could, careful not to lose any. She shivered as she walked into the cave, shaking snow off her pelt.
Cream's eyes widened as Flamestorm dropped her catch, pushing the biggest rabbit to Crystal. Cream padded over to Flamestorm and thanked her before she grabbed a small rabbit and sat by Oreo. "This was a very lucky find." Cream mewed, looking at Flamestorm's catch. "There's hardly ever any rabbit kits in Leafbare, how'd you find them?"
"I chased a rabbit into a burrow." She admitted, the mud on her pelt had begun to dry. "It lead me right in its nest."
Moonflight padded over to Flamestorm, dropping his catch infront of her. "Should we share?" He asked, studying her pelt, noticing all the mud that clung to her pelt. He began washing it off of her as she answered.
"Yes!" Flamestorm mewed happily. "Of course we can share!"
Moonflight began to wash the mud off her pelt as she lied down on the cold stone floor, taking a bite of the rabbit.
Flamestorm pushed the rabbit over to Moonflight, who paused to take a bite, then resumed cleaning the dirt off of Flamestorm's pelt, and watched as Max and Snowblaze took the remaining rabbit kits, sharing stories with each other as they ate. Flamestorm happily moved closer to Moonflight, pressing her fur against his.
Moonflight did the same and resting his head on hers, love in his eyes. "Goodnight Flamestorm." He whispered to her. "I love you."
* * *
Flamestorm awoke to darkness surrounding her, and she narrowed her eyes to see Moonflight snuggled up next to her. She smiled at him, then got up to look around the cave, the stone felt lice ice on her paws. She padded up to the entrance, spotting a giant door of snow covering the small cave entrance.
Moonflight stirred behind her, waking up and padding over to her, staring at the snowy door that encased them. “Woah.” Moonflight began, looking at the mountain of snow in front of the entrance. “It must’ve snowed really hard last night.”
“What are you guys talking about?” Cream mewed as she stretched herself out as she stood up. Noticing how dark it was, she gasped. “What’s going on?” She asked, nervous.
“We’re snowed in.” Flamestorm mewed. “But it shouldn’t be that hard to-” but she was cut off by Snowblaze who plunged into the snow, unsheathing his claws and raking snow up behind him.
“We can dig our way out!” Snowblaze’s muffled mew came from inside the snow. “Come on guys! Start digging!”
Flamestorm shrugged and nodded, jumping into the snow and pushing it behind her, beginning to create a tunnel out of the snow.
Moonflight followed, pushing snow and ice out of the way, tunneling outwards from the large snowdrift.
Flamestorm and Snowblaze packed the snow they dug into the sides as the other cats crawled into the tunnel, awaiting the escape of the frosty cave. Flamestorm pushed a paw outwards and broke out of the snowdrift, she pushed her head through the snow and emerged from the snowdrift, studying the giant snow mountain that had trapped them inside.
Moonflight and Snowblaze helped the others through the tunnel who all looked up at the mountain of snow that had blown up to the cave entrance, creating a wall.
“The winds must’ve done this.” Snowblaze decided. “It blew snow up into the cave, eventually packing it into a wall.”
Flamestorm nodded, she was only belly deep in snow, and the winds had stopped. Gentle snowflakes fell, and rabbits were frantically digging under the snow, searching for any source of food they could find.
“We should get going.” Moonflight suggested. “We shouldn’t wait around for too long, it’ll start snowing harder soon.”
Flamestorm nodded and walked to the front of the group, heading past the Mooncrystal cave, and across the moor. Occasionally a heather bush would be hidden under the snow, causing sticks to push into their paws. A giant red barn stood ahead, and giant black and white animals were incased by a fence. They stood in the snow eating straw and sometimes they would grab a patch of snow in their jaws and eat it.
"We could go and see if there's any mice in that barn." Cream suggested, her paws numb. "And it would be nice to get off the snow for a moment."
Flamestorm nodded and hopped on top of the fence, walking along it to avoid the black and white creatures. She knew they meant no harm, but she didn't want to be squashed by one.
The rest of the cats followed her inside, scenting the area for mice. Giant stacks of straw were stacked inside, and the place smelled of fresh straw, as well as the dirtplace.
Flamestorm heard the straw rustle and decided to investigate, the scent of mouse was strong. She crept up on the sound, seeing nothing yet. And as she was about to leap over a clump of straw, a golden tabby jumped out from behind it, startling her.
"I'm so sorry!" The tabby apologized, helping Flamestorm up. "I'm not used to other cats around here."
"You should've heard us come in." Flamestorm meowed, studying the cat, she was plump, but not as plump as a kittypet.
The golden she-cat dropped the mouse in front of her, realizing how thin she was. "I know." She sighed. "But I was distracted, and the cows outside are really loud!"
"Cows?" Flamestorm asked her, puzzled.
"Yeah, you know, the black and white pelted animals outside. They make a very loud noise." She answered, pushing the mouse closer to Flamestorm. "Anyways, I'm Sunny." The she-cat meowed, changing the subject. "What brings you to my home?"
"Flamestorm?" Moonflight asked, dropping a mouse. "Who is this?"
"Her name's Sunny, she lives in this barn." Flamestorm responded, gratefully taking a bite of the mouse she gave her.
Sunny looked around the barn, seeing the other cats grouped up on a big straw bed. "Oh! You've brought friends!" She gasped. "Hold on! Let me catch you all a couple mice, the barn has plentiful!"
Flamestorm nodded in thanks and followed Moonflight over to the others, lying down on the straw next to them. "How's Crystal doing?" Flamestorm asked, looking over to Cream and Max.
"She's doing fine!" Max purred, pausing from licking Crystal's pelt. "Just tired."
Flamestorm smiled at the queen, she was doing so well, despite carrying kits. Her attention turned as Sunny returned, dropping three pump mice in front of the cats, which they gratefully accepted. A few moments later, she came back with a few more, dividing them up among them, and keeping one for herself.
"So." She began, taking a bite of her mouse. "What brings you here?"
"We came to get away from the clans." Flamestorm responded, finishing her mouse. "They exiled Moonflight and I." She explained.
"My littermate tried to kill use both." Snowblaze added, looking at Flamestorm. "And the other's are some friends who wanted to come with us."
Sunny's jaw dropped, and she began to speak. "You're own littermate tried to kill you?" She exclaimed. "Why would they do that?"
"Because, he wants power." Flamestorm growled, angry. "And I was the only thing in his way, so, when he failed to kill me, he turned the whole clan against me, which is why I'm here now."
"Surely it's too cold for you to be traveling? The snowstorm last night was huge!" Sunny mewed.
"We got snowed into our cave that we slept in." Flamestorm admitted. "It's not too far from here, it's just over a few hills."
"How did you manage to escape?" Sunny gasped.
"We dug our way out." Snowblaze replied simply. "It wasn't too hard, but walking her was. My paws still hurt from stepping on so many twigs."
Flamestorm laughed and batted her littermates ear playfully. "Come on Snowblaze! I thought you were a warrior!" She laughed.
Snowblaze rolled his eyes before he answered with, "Neither have us have even been a warrior for a quarter moon!"
Flamestorm laughed before she got up and took a mouthful of snow, and swallowed it as it melted. "We should get going." She decided, noticing that it was sunhigh. She scanned the cats to make sure everyone had finished their prey, said her goodbyes to Sunny.
"You're always welcome to come back!" She called as they left.
Flamestorm jumped off the fence and led the cats around it, happy to avoid the cows. They kept walking, slowed by the snow. Until they came to a frozen river that was coated in snow. Flamestorm took a step out onto it, and the ice cracked under her paws. She quickly ran across it as the ice continued to crack underneath her, and as it was catching up, she boosted herself into the air, landing on the other side of the river.
Moonflight laughed as a piece of ice shifted and splashed freezing water onto her face, and Cream noticed a small bridge that led across the ice.
“Guys look!” She exclaimed, pointing towards the bridge. “We can use that to get across!”
Flamestorm rolled her eyes as the other cats took the easy way across, meeting up with her on the other side. The forest was lined with snowy pine trees, and the sound of Leafbare birds sounded from the distance. Flamestorm breathed in the pine scent, spotting a small clearing up ahead. A giant hollow oak tree stood in the center of it, and maple trees grew in a small grove nearby.
“It’s- amazing!” Crystal gasped, taking in the clearing’s beauty.
Flamestorm nodded and studied the surroundings, spotting lots of different trees, maple, oak, beech, pine, and even a few willow trees had grown by a small stream nearby. A few clumps of bramble grew in close range of the clearing, and a few voles tunneled under the snow nearby.
“It’s perfect.” Moonflight meowed in awe.
“It is.” Flamestorm agreed. “And it is where we will start our new life.”
A giant patch of brambles hid behind a grove of small trees, its thorns sticking out of the dried up bush, and Flamestorm grabbed a vine off of it and pulled. The bramble snapped, and the thorny vine scratched across the snow behind her, leaving a large line in the snow.
Cream and Snowblaze followed close behind, carrying giant wads of wet moss with them, and Moonflight crept through the snow close by, chasing a thin squirrel who had decided to go looking for food.
“I think we should work on making a nursery first.” Flamestorm’s muffled mew sounded. “Crystal’s kits are due in about a moon, and she should be resting in warmth.”
Cream nodded and ran forward towards the clearing, spotting Crystal curled up in the hollow tree in the center of the camp. She ran up to her and dropped a few wet pieces of moss in front of her, instructing her to lick it. Crystal obeyed and began helping to dry the moss off as Flamestorm dropped the bramble in a corner of the clearing, panting as she walked over to them.
“Where’s Max?” She questioned, looking around the camp. “He should be back with a few bramble stems by now, and it’d be great if someone could help me gather some.”
“I will.” Moonflight responded, his mouth full of fur. “Oreo said she’d continue to hunt, and I caught enough for us to share.” He finished, dropping two starlings and the small squirrel he had been chasing.
Flamestorm picked out the biggest piece of prey and gave it to Crystal, who was still helping dry the moss off. Flamestorm smiled and picked a few feathers off the starlings, and passing Crystal a plump starling, it had clearly been feeding on berries and seeds all winter.
Crystal thanked her, and Cream gladly accepted the feathers, making a nest frame out of small sticks that were scattered around under the snow in the clearing.
Flamestorm watched as Snowblaze left the camp, going to search for more moss for nests. Flamestorm signaled for Moonflight to follow as Max greeted Snowblaze as he left, carrying multiple long gorse branches in his jaws, moving slowly. Flamestorm noticed him and ran over, taking a branch from him and carrying it to the corner that the nursery would be in. “Max, we need more brambles, start weaving them together while Moonflight and I go get more.” She instructed.
Max nodded and dropped the gorse branches he had gathered, beginning to twist them together into an arched shape.
Flamestorm and Moonflight ran out of the camp, following Flamestorm’s tracks back to the bramble bush, breaking a few branches off before heading back to the camp, dragging the brambles behind them. The brambles clawed dirt up from the ground, and Flamestorm’s pelt had thorns clinging onto it.
As they walked into camp, Max came in front of them and grabbed a branch, dragging it towards the frame that he had created.
Flamestorm took a branch from Moonflight and ran over to the nursery frame, beginning to weave two large pieces together, big enough to create the front wall of the nursery.
Max dragged another bramble over and reinforced it, making sure to stuff any extra moss into any holes in the wall to keep any cold air out.
Flamestorm watched as Moonflight dragged the remaining brambles over to the nursery and helped construct more walls, weaving them together carefully, and tying the walls onto the frame using small flexible bramble sticks, wary of their thorns.
As Flamestorm went to check on Crystal, Oreo walked back into the camp, Snowblaze on her heels. They were each carrying prey in their jaws, and Flamestorm’s mouth watered at the sight. They had been working since dawn, and now it was just after sunhigh. They had made lots of progress on the camp, and the nursery was halfway finished, they just needed a few more brambles and gorse stems.
Oreo dropped her prey beside the giant oak tree in the clearing where the rest of Moonflight’s lay, moving aside so Snowblaze could drop the rest of it.
“Wow!” Flamestorm exclaimed, studying the prey pile. “There’s enough for all of us! Great job Oreo!”
Oreo smiled and looked over to where Moonflight and Max were constructing the nursery, surprised by the progress. “Woah! I can’t believe how much you’ve done already!” She gasped.
“We could use some extra help.” Flamestorm meowed. “That way we can finish more dens before tonight.”
Moonflight padded over to them, eying the prey pile. “You caught all that yourself?” He asked, astonished. “Amazing!”
Flamestorm laughed and picked up a vole in her jaws, sliding it into Crystal’s temporary den, taking a very thin mouse for herself.
Cream, who had just finished Crystal’s nest, took the mouse from her and instead gave her a squirrel, sighing at her. “Take that instead, I’ll eat this.” She mewed, taking a bite of the scrawny mouse.
“But-” Flamestorm began, but was cut off by Moonflight, who brushed his fluffy tail up against her mouth.
“You need to stop putting the rest of us over yourself.” He insisted. “We’re all doing fine, you don’t need to worry about us.”
“You’re right.” Flamestorm sighed. “But how can I not worry? We don’t know what could be hiding in these woods! We also have no medicine cat, or leader! How do we know that nothing will go wrong?”
“Tell you what,” Cream began, “Tomorrow, we can go explore around our territory, and I’m sure Oreo and Moonflight can tell us what they saw when they went hunting.” She finished, taking a final bite of the mouse, then burying the remains in the snow.
“I’d like to get out and explore.” Flamestorm admitted, taking a mouthful of squirrel.
Max was finishing up on the nursery, filling all the gaps in with moss before joining them. “The front and back wall of the nursery is secured, we should only need a few more brambles, but we need a lot more moss, there’s still more gaps that need filled.” He explained.
“Ok.” Flamestorm mewed, thinking of a plan. “Snowblaze, Max, you two stay here and begin clearing all the snow out of the nursery while you wait for Cream and Moonflight to get back with more brambles and gorse. Oreo and I will look for moss outside the camp, Snowblaze, Max, make sure Crystal stays safe.” She ordered.
The rest of the group agreed, and Cream and Moonflight ran back along the trail to the bramble bush, and Oreo followed Flamestorm out of the camp, checking nearby trees for moss.
Once they found a tree with a giant clump of moss on it, they clawed it off, careful not to pick up any bark with it. They continued to claw all the moss off of the tree until there was none left, and they rolled it all into a few balls, grabbing one in their mouth, and pushing the others through the snow with their paws, going slowly so they didn't lose them.
The bark of a fox sounded off in the distance, and Flamestorm shivered, remembering the day she and Scorchleaf had almost drowned leading a fox away. That was the last day Scorchleaf liked me- after that, all he had done was try to get rid of me, but why? She wondered, but Oreo snapped her out of it as they neared the camp.
“Flamestorm, you almost lost one of our moss balls!” She laughed, shoving the moss ball forward through the snow, running along to the camp.
Flamestorm followed, going as fast as she could without losing the moss. Racing back to the camp, Flamestorm saw Cream and Moonflight dragging the brambles into the camp as she pushed the moss over to where Snowblaze and Max had created a giant mound of snow, and Flamestorm was showered in a cloud of snow.
“Oops! Sorry!” Snowblaze apologized, finishing up inside. “We finished clearing the snow out, and I think it could act as a blanket around the edges of the nursery, I mean, we might as well use it while it’s here.”
Flamestorm nodded and dropped the moss, following Oreo over to Cream and Moonflight, each grabbing one branch from them. Careful not to grab a thorn in her jaws, she grabbed a bramble and pulled it over to the nursery, followed by the others who began weaving two different bramble walls together.
Deciding to make herself useful, Crystal got up out of the oak tree and stumbled over to them, she was getting more sluggish and tired by the day. She grabbed a wad of moss in her jaws and dug around in the snow for twigs, finding just enough to make another nest.
Noticing her, Max’s gaze turned sour. “Crystal! You should be resting!” He exclaimed.
“Oh come on I’m fine!” She hissed playfully, walking into the newly cleared out den. “It won’t hurt me to get a little bit of exercise!”
Flamestorm silently agreed before helping Cream and Snowblaze lift one of the walls onto the frame, holding it up while Cream secured it on with another bramble stem, thorns digging into their pelts.
On the other side of the den, Max, Moonflight, and Oreo weaved the remaining brambles onto the den, securing it on to finish the den.
Inside, Crystal was stuffing moss into a nest frame, and Max began filling any large gaps with moss, making sure to secure the heat inside.
The nursery was big enough for a few cats at a time, and Flamestorm decided that some of them would sleep in it with Crystal tonight, while she slept in the nests that they had dug out in the snow the previous night.
“Or,” Moonflight began, “You and I can sleep in the tree tonight, while everyone else sleeps in here with Crystal.”
Flamestorm quickly nodded and walked outside, watching as the sun was beginning to set, the sky exploding in pinks and oranges. It’s so perfect here. Flamestorm thought. And tomorrow, we can continue to build ourselves a camp, and maybe, even explore this forest, and officially create our own clan.
Flamestorm awoke to oddly hot air inside the hollow tree, and she lifted her head off her paws to see that a lot of the snow outside had melted, and the forest smelled of rain. She carefully stalked out of the den, cautious of Moonflight who was still fast asleep. A drop of water fell off of a tree leaf onto Flamestorm’s head as she walked outside, her ears pricked at the sound of chirping birds. It was chilly out, but nothing like the previous days’ cold, and Flamestorm suspected the heat wouldn’t stay long.
Moonflight opened his eyes and stretched out inside the tree, noticing that Flamestorm was gone. He yawned as he walked outside, seeing Flamestorm staring up at the clouds. “Heavy rain last night.” He mewed. “I’m assuming it’ll snow later, it looks like there’s dark clouds coming this way.”
Flamestorm nodded at him as Cream and Oreo walked out of the nursery together, followed by Snowblaze.
Max was still inside with Crystal, asking if she needed anything. Crystal simply told him not to worry about her, and to go help the rest of the group.
Flamestorm watched as he walked backwards out of the den, still insisting to help his mate.
After a minute, he met up with the rest of the group, ready for the day's work on the camp.
Flamestorm had planned out the day the previous night, and had assigned everyone a role. “Ok everyone.” She began, getting their attention. “I have assigned you all roles for the day, and I will be explaining what everyone will be doing today.”
The group murmured in agreement and Flamestorm continued on.
“Snowblaze and Max, you are our best builders, and I want you to begin working on a den for our warriors.” She ordered, waiting for their agreement before moving on to the next. “Oreo, Moonflight, you are some of the finest hunters we have, and prey should be easier to find today with the warmth of today.”
Moonflight and Oreo nodded, already leaving the camp and splitting up to go hunting.
Flamestorm finished off the assignments, explaining the final one. “Cream, you will come with me to explore our new territory. We don’t have a medicine cat, which means I’ll have to use what I've learned from Stemfeather as a kit.”
Cream nodded and opened her mouth to speak, “I was always out of the Rougeclan camp, so eventually, they decided to make me gather herbs. We learned a lot about clan ways before ever showing our faces at the border, including the herbs.”
Flamestorm nodded and led her out of the camp towards the river, examining the trees around her. She heard the scuffle of leaves and her instincts were to track down the prey, but she decided not to and continued through the damp forest, the quiet sound of water dripping off the trees was soothing.
Cream sniffed around on the ground for any sign of life that had survived the cold of the snow, but scented nothing, not a single herb.
“Finding herbs in Leafbare will be difficult.” Flamestorm assured. “But not impossible.” She finished happily, spotting a patch of watermint up ahead on the river bank. “Stemfeather told me that this is good for bellyaches.”
Cream nodded and studied along the river bank, spotting a small patch of chervil under a gorse bush. She ran over to it, carefully taking a clump of it in her jaws. “Hollystripe told us that this is helpful during kitting.” She mewed. “Maybe we can use it for Crystal?”
“We could, but we could also use it to treat wounds.” Flamestorm responded, grabbing a patch of ivy leaves that had been growing inside an old fox den. She took the chervil from Cream and wrapped it up into a bundle, doing the same for the watermint. Flamestorm paused for a second, remembering what Cream had said. “Wait, Hollystripe?” She gasped. Hollystripe knew about this too?
“Y-yes.” Cream stammered. “I thought you knew.”
“No! And neither does Moonflight! He’ll be so upset if he finds out that his littermate betrayed him!” Flamestorm yowled.
“Well then don’t tell him, I don’t care!” Cream hissed, grabbing her herbs and turning in the other direction, her tail flicking in anger.
Flamestorm watched her leave, puzzled. What was that about? Surely what I said didn’t offend her?” But she snapped out of it as she heard something slink into the river, making a small splash. She backed away from the river, watching it carefully as a gray figure swam under the water, diving down into the depths.
“Hello?” Flamestorm called, nervously awaiting the creature’s return. It almost looks like a cat. Flamestorm thought. But what kind of cat around here would touch water?
She was brought out of her thoughts as the cat resurfaced, a large fish in her jaws. Flamestorm could clearly see who it was now, and she was shocked as she walked out of the river and dropped the fish at Flamestorm’s paws. “Waveflight?” She gasped.
“I was just sniffing around The Great Oaks at the gathering the other night, and scented a group of cats heading this way. But I never thought I’d actually find them.” Waveflight explained. “I just wanted to investigate, I didn’t mean to come this far!”
“You can stay with us if you want.” Flamestorm offered simply. “We’ve got plenty of room at camp, and we’re just now setting up-” But she was cut off by Waveflight.
“I- I can’t.” She answered. “I have to get back to my clan, and my mate, I’m sorry. But take this fish as a token that I was here, I’ll just hunt in the barn and stay in the Mooncrystal cave again.”
Flamestorm nodded with understanding as Waveflight swam back across the river, pushing water into ripples as she paddled across.
As she swam out onto the other bank, Waveflight turned around and looked at Flamestorm “Oh, and Flamestorm, be careful.”
“I will.” Flamestorm promised, watching as Waveflight turned her back and walked away.
“Who was that?” Oreo’s mew startled her.
“Waveflight.” Flamestorm replied. “A Riverclan cat I knew at one point.”
“Well what’s a Riverclan cat doing out here?” Oreo questioned, puzzled.
“I don’t know, she said she’d followed our scent trail, but why would she just leave her clan for a day without an explanation?”
* * *
As Flamestorm arrived back in camp with Oreo, who carried a large catch with her, Flamestorm had multiple herb bundles in her jaws. She had managed to find more Watermint, a small amount of Coltsfoot, a large patch of dock leaves hidden deep in a bramble bush, and the remaining chervil that was left. Cream had her back turned on Flamestorm, and she had left the herbs she had gathered in front of the hollow tree.
Flamestorm set her herbs down, they had been collecting since dawn, and it was now sunhigh. The warriors' den had a frame ready, and Moonflight was helping to collect brambles. The prey pile was stocked with plenty of prey, and Flamestorm took the plumpest piece of prey to Crystal, who was peacefully sleeping in the nursery.
She awoke as Flamestorm walked into the den, tiredness in her eyes. Flamestorm dropped the large vole in front of her and Crystal nodded in thanks.
Flamestorm padded out of the den to see Cream and Oreo weaving more brambles together, as Max, Snowblaze, and Moonflight left the camp in the direction of a large patch of gorse near the camp. The warriors' den was shaping up nicely, and the frame was strongly secured in the damp ground.
Flamestorm decided to go back to the hollow tree and sort the herbs she and Cream had gathered. She walked over to the hollow tree that had become her den and carried each bundle of herbs into the tree one by one.
Flamestorm studied the tree for a place to sort the herbs out, and she found a small rotting piece of wood inside, and began clearing away some of the wood into shelves, pushing the rotting dirt like wood outside, and small bugs ran from her as she dug her claws into the rotted wood.
Once she had created as many shelves as she could on the small chunk of rotting wood, Flamestorm took a mint leaf from outside her den and placed it on top to mask the stench that it gave off.
Flamestorm unwrapped all the bundles of herbs and examined what she had, chervil, marigold, dock leaves, a small amount of wilted borage leaves, feverfew, watermint and coltsfoot. It’ll be enough for now, hopefully it can get us through Leafbare.
Flamestorm used the remaining ivy leaves to wrap the herbs that Cream had found, and carefully placed each bundle on the shelves she had created. Flamestorm quickly checked outside the den to see if Cream had found any cobwebs, and to her surprise, there was a giant bundle of cobwebs outside, and Moonflight was walking away, his tail drooping.
Flamestorm sighed as she wrapped the cobwebs around her paws carefully and brought them inside the den and placed them with her store of herbs, walking out of the den to see the progress on the warriors’ den.
Max and Snowblaze were arriving back with large stalks of gorse in their jaws, and Moonflight was sadly helping Cream and Oreo bind a wall onto the frame. Flamestorm grabbed a mouse from the fresh kill pile and padded over to Moonflight, dropping the prey in front of him and lying down on the wet ground. Large snow clouds loomed overhead, and he clearly wanted to finish the den before the sun set.
“Moonflight, come here.” Flamestorm murmured. “I know somethings bothering you.”
“It’s just- why would Hollystripe side with Brokenwing? Didn’t she know he was trying to destroy the clans?” Moonflight answered sadly.
“Maybe she was in love with him.” Flamestorm suggested. “Maybe she was willing to do anything for him.”
Moonflight took a bite of his mouse, and Cream looked at him with guilt as she helped build the final wall of the warriors’ den. “That would mean she’d be going against the warrior code.” Moonflight sighed, “But it wouldn’t be the first time a medicine cat had kits, but why Brokenwing?”
“I don’t know.” Flamestorm admitted. “But you don’t need to worry about her anymore. You don’t need to worry about anyone, but your new clanmates.
“You’re right, Flamestorm.” Moonflight meowed with confidence. “And if the clans don’t want us to come back, is it really our responsibility to protect them?”
“It could’ve been.” Flamestorm sighed. “But our leaders- were blinded by lies, and there’s nothing anyone could do to stop them from believing.”
“Why couldn’t Starclan do something to stop them?” Oreo’s voice sounded from inside the warriors’ den. They had finished the final wall and were tying it to the frame to finish off the brand new den.
“Because, the stars have gone silent.” Flamestorm decided. “They must have nothing to tell us, because if they did, I know they would be trying to get Moonflight and I to come back. After all, I am the fire, and he is the night.”
* * *
Flamestorm jumped up onto a low branch of the central oak tree, looking around the camp as the group shared fresh kill. Flamestorm placed down the mouse she had carried up onto the branch and lied down, taking swift bites.
Crystal was wobbling out of the nursery, carrying a wad of moss in her jaws that had been collected the previous day.
It had begun lightly snowing, and Cream was collecting sticks from underneath the tree to use for nest frames.
Flamestorm licked her lips as she finished the mouse, and sat up facing the direction of the newly built dens. “Would everyone please meet under the oak tree for a meeting?” She summoned, flicking her tail.
Snowblaze and Crystal padded out of the warriors’ den where they had been building nests, and the rest of the cats carried their remaining prey to the oak tree.
“Over these past days that we have been in this new territory, we have developed a clan of our own, and protected one another from the bitter cold of the snow.” Flamestorm began. “We have also built ourselves a few dens, and now, all of us have a den to sleep in, and Crystal’s kits will have a safe den to sleep in.”
The group nodded, their focus on Flamestorm, who opened her mouth to speak once again.
“But, as we know, a clan cannot function properly without having an even system with different roles, so, I have decided that we shall turn our group into a clan.”
“But there’s so few of us!” Max protested. “If we were to turn this into a clan, how will we have enough warriors to train Crystal’s kits?”
“There’s enough of us.” Flamestorm promised, continuing on. “I know that you all expect me to be the leader, and I respect that, so, I would like to ask, Moonflight, will you be my deputy?”
“Yes! Of course!” Moonflight smiled.
Flamestorm looked at him, excitement in her eyes. My love, deputy of this small clan I’ve created. She thought before continuing. “Cream, you know a lot about herbs, would you be our medicine cat?”
Cream’s upset and guilty face had turned into a joyful one, and she beamed with happiness. “It would be an honor, Flamestorm!” She exclaimed.
“Then we will build you a den soon, but until then, the herbs will be stored in the shelving I created in the tree. But if you need any herbs, just come and get them.” Flamestorm instructed. “And finally, we need a clan name, but I don’t want to decide on my own.”
There was silence for a moment, then Snowblaze began to speak. “What about Oakclan? Or Forestclan? Or maybe-”
But he was cut off by Moonflight who simply laughed. “I like Forestclan, I like it fits well.”
Flamestorm nodded in agreement and got ready to dismiss the clan as the snow picked up, and large heavy flakes showered down from the sky. Oreo and Max helped Crystal hurry back to the nursery before running into the warriors’ den to finish the nests.
Moonflight walked over to Flamestorm as she jumped off the branch and headed for her den, stopping her. “Flamestorm, would you like some company?” Moonflight asked, something undetectable in his tone. “It’ll be cold tonight.”
Flamestorm smiled and pushed her nose into his fur happily, eyes full of love. “You’re always welcome to stay in my den with me.”
Moonflight rubbed his face against her head before Flamestorm turned and padded into the tree, moving over to one side to make room for Moonflight, who snuggled up close to her, his thick fur warm.
Flamestorm rested her head on his back, a snowflake blowing into the den and landing on her fur.
Moonflight put a paw onto Flamestorm and nervously began to speak. “F-Flamestorm.” He stammered. “I have something to ask you-”
Flamestorm moved around in the nest and looked at him, his blue eyes shining. “Go on.” She mewed, puzzled.
“W-will you be my mate?” Moonflight asked, his tone nervous.
Flamestorm’s jaw widened at the question, and she was silent for a moment before answering, her expression turning into happiness. “Yes!” Flamestorm gasped. “Of course I will! I love you…” Her voice went quiet as she spoke, not wanting to draw attention from the warriors’ den.
“I love you too.” Moonflight whispered, licking Flamestorm’s cheek before rubbing his muzzle against her fur, and finally laying his head down on her paws.
Flamestorm happily curled up and closed her eyes, taking in what had happened. Finally- we’re mates and we can have kits together…” But her thoughts trailed off as she was swept into sleep.
Flamestorm was awoken to Cream rummaging through the herb stock, examining how much they had. Cream looked behind to see Flamestorm wide awake, guilt on her face. “Sorry!” She murmured, careful not to wake Moonflight. “I just wanted to make sure we had enough borage in case Crystal needs any, we don’t have much, but it’ll do.”
“Wait!” Flamestorm stopped her before she left. “I’m sorry for snapping at you, and you were right, it was better off if Moonflight knew the truth.”
Cream’s eyes widened and she shook her head. “No, I’m sorry for running off.” She mewed.
“Well, it worked out.” Flamestorm answered. “We found more herbs by splitting up.”
“Maybe I should try that when I take Oreo to come help me find herbs, I’m hoping to find some burnet for Crystal, I want to be prepared for when she kits, especially since I’ve never done this before.”
“You’ll do fine.” Flamestorm reassured. “I’m sure nothing will go wrong.”
Cream nodded and looked at Moonflight solemnly, changing the subject, she began talking. “So, he finally asked you?” She smirked. “I knew he would, and it was about time too.”
Flamestorm blushed and quickly nodded before Cream left, happy that she would be able to get out of camp to hunt.
Moonflight stirred in the nest as Flamestorm ducked under the entrance and padded out of the den, snow covering the clearing. It’ll be hard for Cream to find any fresh herbs through the snow, anything that was growing will be wilted by now.
Moonflight padded out of the den behind her, snapping Flamestorm out of her thoughts. Moonflight locked eyes with her, his gaze full of love. “You want to come hunting with me?” He asked, licking his pelt.
“Yes.” Flamestorm answered happily. “I would love to.”
It was dawn, and the camp was already busy. Cream had fetched Oreo and they were heading in the opposite direction of the river, and Snowblaze and Max were planning out where they would build a den for Cream, studying the camp for the best spot.
Flamestorm breathed in the frosty air and followed Moonflight out of the camp, the snow cold on her paws. The forest was quiet, and all she could hear was the occasional call of a bird, and her own paw steps in the snow.
Moonflight led her towards a small grove of oak trees just off the edge of camp, and the scent of prey hung around the small space.
Moonflight walked to the other side of the clearing, scenting from prey hiding under the snow, and Flamestorm smelled a squirrel hiding up in a hollow spot in a large tree. She decided to climb up the tree to catch it, and unsheathed her claws, hooking them into the soft bark of the tree.
Once she got a good rhythm, she bolted up the tree, blocking the squirrel’s exit. It had heard her now, and had awoken from a deep sleep, hoping to escape, but Flamestorm took a paw and squashed it so it couldn’t move, hooking its flesh in her claws and quickly snapping its spine and killing it.
She grabbed it in her jaws and slowly clawed her way down the tree, careful not to fall. Once she got low enough, she dropped off the tree, landing in the soft snow below. The squirrel was scrawny, but it would do, and she watched as Moonflight dug up a patch of snow that covered a small opening in a tree, finding a family of voles cowering inside.
Flamestorm buried her squirrel in the snow and padded over to help him, grasping a vole in her claws and biting down on its neck, as it went limp, Flamestorm dropped it in the snow, grabbing the final vole, a tiny one, but any prey was useful to them.
Moonflight proudly examined the catch, a few scrawny snow voles, and buried them, not noticing as a plump mouse ran past, quickly taking shelter before Flamestorm could pounce. “Missed one!” She hissed to herself in frustration before spotting a starling hiding under a patch of brambles, pecking at the rock hard ground. It had its back turned, and Flamestorm easily snuck up on it, but at the last second, it noticed her. It let out a loud shriek and fluttered into the air, but Flamestorm was ready, and she leapt into the air, grabbing the starling’s wings and pushing it to the ground, killing it as it landed, flapping its wings frantically.
“This part of the forest is plentiful in prey!” Flamestorm exclaimed through a mouthful of feathers. Moonflight nodded, carrying his voles in his jaws, and Flamestorm took the squirrel that she had buried in her jaws.
The forest had awakened a little more, and birds were singing somewhere in the distance. The forest had treated them well so far, and the prey was easy to catch in their burrows. Flamestorm hoped that it would stay like this all through Leafbare, but she knew that eventually the forest would run dry, and prey would become scarce.
Off in the distance, the crack of a brack sounded, and Flamestorm suspected Max and Snowblaze were gathering the remaining brambles that still hung on the large bush, they had almost used every last stem from it to create the dens.
The trees were sagging, snow piled on top of them, some branches even holding icicles. Flamestorm shivered as a cold wind blew by, knocking snow off a nearby tree branch. She wondered if Cream had had any luck finding herbs, and if Crystal was doing ok back at camp.
Moonflight noticed the concerned look on Flamestorm face and dropped his prey, stopping her in her tracks. “Flamestorm, are you ok?” He asked, worried. “You seem to get more upset by the day.”
“I’m not upset- just… scared.” Flamestorm sighed. “I mean, what if a fox attacks? Or a badger? What if Crystal’s kitting goes wrong? What if-” But Moonflight cut her off, his gaze soft.
“I think you should go get some more rest.” He mewed. “And maybe Cream has a herb that can help calm you, I don’t want you to overwork yourself.”
Flamestorm realized how tired she was and staggered to the side, quickly shaking it off and grabbing her prey, agreeing to do what Moonflight had said.
They continued walking, and Moonflight propped Flamestorm up on one side, helping her to not fall over. Her eyes were half closed, and she saw a blurry vision of the camp ahead. She moved quicker, she would be happy to get out of the cold and into her nest. She veered away, and Moonflight helped her to turn back towards the camp, her tiredness setting in.
They walked through the trees and into the clearing where the camp was, Crystal standing outside the nursery. She stumbled over to them, worry in her eyes.
“Is she ok?” She asked nervously.
“She’s fine.” Moonflight’s muffled mew reassured. “She just needs to sleep.” He finished, dropping his prey on the small spot Snowblaze had cleared away for the fresh kill pile.
Flamestorm did the same, dropping her squirrel and starling on the pile, sleepily pathing to her den.
Moonflight followed, knowing that Cream was still gone, and Flamestorm thanked him as she lay down in her nest that he was lining with feathers from her starling.
“Save those for Crystal.” Flamestorm insisted. “I’ll be fine.”Moonflight nodded and left her alone to sleep, and the world faded away as she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.
* * *
It was past sunhigh when she awoke, and Cream was prodding her side with her paw, a juniper berry at her paws. Flamestorm narrowed her eyes at her, her vision clearing up.
“Moonflight told me that you needed something to help calm you down.” Cream explained, pushing the berry towards her. “Oreo and I found a juniper bush outside the camp, this should help you.”
Flamestorm gratefully ate the berry, watching as Cream bundled her herbs up in a wilted reed. She spotted a few poppy seeds and a large bundle of horsetail, along with a small amount of burnet and borage.
“We should be prepared for Crystal’s kitting.” Cream mewed, placing the herb bundles on the makeshift shelf. “If anything goes wrong, we should have enough herbs to fix it.”
“Great!” Flamestorm commented, hearing brambles and gorse being bound together outside, but she felt too tired to get up, and she waited a few minutes before finally deciding to get up and grab a piece of fresh kill, her belly growling.
“Flamestorm! You’re awake!” Moonflight purred, pausing from working on the den wall to greet her.
“I feel alot better now.” She meowed cheerfully. “Thanks Moonflight.”
Moonflight looked at her for a moment then continued to help Snowblaze, Max, and Oreo finish the den.
“You’re already almost done?” Flamestorm gasped, watching as they bound a side wall onto the frame.
“We did alot of work while you were asleep.” Snowblaze mewed.
Flamestorm looked at him guiltily. “I’m sorry, I should’ve been helping-”
“No, you needed the rest.” Snowblaze argued. “What would we be without our leader?”
“You’d still have Moonflight!” Flamestorm corrected. “He’d be a great leader!”
“But I want you to lead us, I’ll only lead this clan if you can’t.” Moonflight mewed, holding the wall up, catching thorns in his pelt.
Flamestorm blushed and decided to go check on Crystal, who was lying awake in the nursery, a vole scrap at her paws. “Crystal?” She asked as she walked into the den. “Are you ok?”
“I’m fine.” She winced, trying to reassure her. “I can just feel the kits kicking me, that’s all.”
“Cream found some poppy seeds. If you want some, they should help you sleep.” Flamestorm offered, worried for the queen. Her kits were due in less than a moon, and she hoped that nothing would go wrong.
“I’ll be fine, but thank you.” Crystal responded. “You don’t have to worry about me, or the rest of your clanmates, we'll be fine."
Flamestorm nodded and padded out of the den, seeing that the final medicine den wall was being built, and Cream was gathering moss off the oak tree, rolling it up into a ball. Flamestorm decided to help, unsheathing her claws and scraping the moss off the tree, and rolling it into a giant ball as Cream finished. Flamestorm grabbed the ball in her teeth and followed Cream into the den, the final wall being set up. Cream set aside her ball of moss and grabbed Flamestorm's, taking little pieces and plugging any large holes she saw in the brambles.
Moonflight walked into the den and smiled at Flamestorm, who returned his gaze and walked out of the den with him, leaving Cream to set up her den.
"Don't worry so much about us." Moonflight murmured. "I'm sure everything will be fine, whether Starclan is with us, or not."
Flamestorm pressed her nose into his soft fur, careful not to hit a thorn that had been weaved into his thick fur. Moonflight licked Flamestorm's cheek, then padded over to Snowblaze and Max, who triumphantly stared at the new den they had built, and Flamestorm smiled as she looked out at her clan, they had been working hard to build a new camp, and now, they had a medicine cat, and a deputy. And pretty soon, there would be kits in the camp, maybe, even some of her own.
Flamestorm had her pelt pressed up against Moonflight’s as they laid together on the Highbranch, sharing tongues happily. Flamestorm was purring as she looked out at her clan, who were sleeping soundly in their dens. She watched as the moon was rising over the camp, and Flamestorm was happy to be alone with Moonflight.
The stars seemed to be looking down on them, almost seeming disappointed. Flamestorm decided to ignore it and simply look at Moonflight, softness in her eyes. Purring, she dug her muzzle into his fur, pressing her face against him.
Moonflight smiled and his head on his paws, gazing out into the forest. “I love you, Flamestorm.” He whispered, feeling her warm breath on his back.
Flamestorm mumbled something back sleepily, closing her eyes to sleep, only to be woken by the sound of a nearby fox, its barking getting closer and closer. Flamestorm shot upwards, eyes alert as she scanned the forest. Moonflight jumped off the branch as the barking got closer, and a rabbit raced through the camp, taking cover in a nearby bush.
The camp had awoken, and rushed out of their dens, and as soon as they did, the fox burst into the camp, hot on the rabbit’s trail. Noticing the cats, it lost focus on the scent trail, and dropped into an attack crouch, stalking forwards towards Snowblaze, who hissed, his claws unsheathed.
Flamestorm saw a flash before the fox attacked, and Flamestorm watched as the fox overpowered Snowblaze, and Moonflight was ripping it off of him as Max and Cream stood defensively in front of the nursery.
In a flash, Flamestorm jumped down from the branch, landing square on the fox’s shoulders, her claws unsheathed. “Leave them alone!” Flamestorm spat, raking her claws up the fox’s face. She was distracting it, and Snowblaze limped over to Cream’s den, panting.
Moonflight slashed across the fox’s muzzle, and it screeched in pain and threw Flamestorm off, digging its claws into his flank.
Flamestorm stared over to the cats protecting the nursery, and Cream guiltily ran into the tree to grab herbs to treat Snowblaze’s scratches. The fox was standing over Moonflight, who was clawing at the fox’s throat. Flamestorm growled and ran forward, ramming into the fox’s side and digging her claws deep into the fox’s back with rage. “Don’t touch him you fleepelt!” She growled.
Moonflight stumbled to his feet and reared up on his hind paws, slashing the fox’s face with his forepaws.
Together, Flamestorm and Moonflight landed many blows on the fox, who’s pelt was stained scarlet. It bit down on Flamestorm’s leg as she landed a blow on its neck, and it lashed at Moonflight, shoving him backwards into the oak tree, and crept up on Flamestorm, as Oreo leapt overtop of the fox, clawing across its back.
Flamestorm knew it was almost defeated, and she lashed out at it, hissing as she scraped her claws across its neck. Yelping, the fox claws across her flank, but was being backed into a corner as Moonflight stood up dizzily and back towards the warriors’ den, where Oreo was ready to pounce. The fox knew it was surrounded, and it weakly scurried away, bolting through the trees.
Moonflight was shaking his head slowly, and Flamestorm could tell that it was hurting him, and even her own wounds were stinging, and Cream hurried out of her den with bundles of herbs, and Max went to check on Crystal, who was hiding in a corner of the nursery.
Cream ran over to Flamestorm and Moonflight, who were heavily injured, and she could tell that Moonflight’s head was hurting him, and she guided him to a nest in her den and ordered him to lie down.
Flamestorm followed them in, seeing Snowblaze sitting in another nest, covered in cobwebs. Cream was chewing dock and marigold into a poultice, smearing it over Moonflight’s wounds, and quickly placing a cobweb on top to stop the bleeding.
Snowblaze watched as Flamestorm ran over to Moonflight, beginning to lick his wounds clean before Cream applied the poultice and cobwebs, worry in her eyes. She saw that Moonflight was staring at her blurrily, and he blinked and shook his head every so often.
Flamestorm sat beside him, snuggling against him on the side that Cream had already treated, giving her space to work on the other side.
“He’s knocked his head pretty hard.” Cream explained. “He’s got what the twolegs called a concussion.”
“But he’ll be ok, won’t he?” Flamestorm asked anxiously, looking at her mate who wasn’t saying anything, but just simply sitting there with his eyes closed.
“Of course he’ll be ok.” Cream responded, moving two poppy seeds onto a leaf and carefully carrying them over to Moonflight. “In a few days he’ll be back to normal, but for now, he just needs to sleep.” She finished, placing the poppy seeds in front of Moonflight, who shook his head once more before licking them up and lying down in his nest.
Flamestorm padded over to Cream, who had a poultice prepared for her, and she applied the stinging mixture onto her wounds, Flamestorm flinched, but said nothing as Cream simply placed a cobweb on her leg and her flank, finishing her job as Snowblaze flicked his tail in thanks and left for the warriors’ den.
“You should get to sleep.” Cream mewed. “It’s past Moonhigh, and Moonflight won’t be able to do any warriors’ activities tomorrow, and we need to stock up the fresh kill pile while Snowblaze and Max begin to create a dirtplace area for us.”
Flamestorm nodded and looked back at Moonflight one last time, who was sound asleep in his nest, snoring softly. She looked at the blood stained snow below the spot where Snowblaze had almost been killed, and she sighed as she walked into her den, noticing that Cream had finished moving the herbs into her den.
Flamestorm curled up in her nest, realizing that they needed to change the bedding soon, as it was wilting and damp from the cold, and she was lying awake in her nest, unable to sleep. She was worried about Moonflight and his injury. What if it gets worse? She thought. What if he can’t remember any of us? But finally, tiredness overcame her, and she was pulled into the endless void of sleep.
* * *
Flamestorm stretched out in her nest, the cold was creeping into her nest, and she knew that she needed to make a small entrance cover to keep the cold from coming in, but she didn’t know what to use for it. In Leafbare, there wasn’t much that they could use.
It was just after dawn, and Flamestorm hurried over to Cream’s den, who was awake and sorting her herbs out into piles, picking out any wilted or dry leaves. She welcomed Flamestorm as she walked into the den, suspecting that she was there to see Moonflight.
Flamestorm saw that he was still asleep, and she carefully crept over to him, wary of his tail. She laid down beside him, brushing her pelt against his, noticing how cold his fur was. She scanned around the den to see where the cold air could have been coming from, and saw a large hole that hadn’t been patched up with moss.
Fortunately, Cream still had a bit of moss left, and Flamestorm used a few pieces to clog the hole, hoping that no cold air would get in, and that Moonflight wouldn’t freeze.
As she was about to leave, Moonflight awoke, looking around the den with more ease than he had the previous night. “Flamestorm?” He questioned. “Is that you?”
Flamestorm’s eyes lit up as she heard the sound of her mate’s voice, and she ran over to him, pressing her fur onto his. “You’re ok!” She purred excitedly.
“My head still hurts.” He admitted, pressing his cheek against Flamestorm’s. “And a little cold, but other than that, I’m ok.”
Flamestorm smiled as her mate licked the top of her head, he could clearly tell how distressed she had been, and he wanted to reassure her.
“He’ll be fine by tomorrow.” Cream mewed, studying her herb stock. “And if he wants, he can come out and help me look for herbs later. But for now, he should get some more rest, and you should go help Oreo scout out the territory.”
Flamestorm nodded at her, and slowly padded out of the den, where Snowblaze and Max were standing outside this warriors’ den, scanning the clearing for the best place to build a dirtplace. Snowblaze still had scratches across his pelt, and Flamestorm hopped that he would be ok to gather gorse.
Oreo walked out of the den and yawned, and Flamestorm padded over to her, waiting to leave as Oreo began licking her pelt, old moss clinging to it.
“I say we should head away from the river, towards where Cream and I gathered herbs from.” Oreo decided. “There’s a giant pond beside a twolegplace out that way, and Cream said it might be worth searching around there for catmint in case anyone catches Greencough.”
Flamestorm hesitated, then nodded and followed Oreo out of the camp, melting snow on her paws. She looked around at the nearby trees, consisting of oak, maple, and beech, and they crossed a small stream that cut through the forest.
Oreo led her away from the camp, and towards a giant fence that cut the forest off, turning into twolegplace right across it.
Flamestorm stared up the fence, narrowing her eyes. ”Catmint grows over there? Well then where does Stemfeather get her catmint?” Flamestorm mewed, puzzle. “Thunderclan doesn’t have a nearby twolegplace.”
“According to Hollystripe, there’s a Twolegplace on the far border of both Shadowclan and the old Skyclan territory. Stemfeather probably just crossed the old Skyclan border and took some from there.” Oreo explained.
Flamestorm nodded and decided to stay away from the Twolegplace, and to continue exploring the forest, watching as squirrels ran around through the trees, searching for any nuts and seeds they could find.
Oreo followed, the sound of her paw steps in the snow were loud, and she stalked forward through the snow.
Flamestorm stopped as she came to the frozen pond, thin melting ice covering the top. Wilted reeds lined the edges, and Flamestorm cautiously approached, hoping to find any bit of prey she could find.
A starling was hiding in a nest nearby, and it let out as screech as it fluttered upwards. Flamestorm jumped out at it, grabbing it in her claws and slamming it against the ice, not realizing where she had landed. The bird was fluttering its wings, and the ice was cracking under Flamestorm’s paws. She let the bird go, and it flew away awkwardly as she jumped away from the crack in the ice, her hind legs falling into the water at the edge.
Oreo grabbed her scruff and hauled her out of the water and onto the snow, watching as Flamestorm was lying still, frustrated with herself.
“Mousebrain.” Flamestorm mumbled to herself, angry. “You almost fell into freezing cold water.”
Oreo helped her stand up, and she was shivering slightly. “Are you ok?” She asked, worried. “You could’ve seriously hurt yourself!”
“I’ll be fine.” Flamestorm promised. “I didn’t fall all the way in.”
“Do you want to go back to camp?” Oreo questioned. “Or do you want to hunt first?”
“I’d like to catch Moonflight something before we go back.” Flamestorm admitted. “And maybe something for Crystal.”
Oreo nodded and walked away from the pond, the ice had cracks and holes in it now, and Flamestorm was glad to get away from it.
The two walked back towards the camp, stopping at the Oak Grove to hunt, birds chirping from high in the trees.
“There might not be much here.” Flamestorm explained. “Moonflight and I found a large amount of prey here yesterday.”
“I can go back out later.” Oreo responded, jumping onto a tree. “All we need is something for Crystal and Moonflight.”
Flamestorm nodded and sniffed around the trees, picking up the scent of a mouse somewhere nearby. She dropped into a crouch and scanned the area, spotting the mouse digging in the snow at the roots of a tree. Flamestorm stalked forward, keeping low as she quietly walked through the snow. As she got close, the mouse noticed her, but it was too late to run, and Flamestorm pounced on it, snapping its neck quickly.
It was plump for Leafbare, and must’ve been feeding on the remaining nuts that littered the ground under the snow, and Oreo had dropped a thrush down a tree as she climbed down it.
“This should be enough for them, and I’ll go back out later, but first, I want to help Snowblaze and Max build the dirtplace.” Oreo meowed.
Flamestorm nodded at her and carried her mouse back towards the camp, Oreo following slowly, almost seeming distracted. Flamestorm just chose to ignore it and she walked into camp to see a frame up on the other side of the camp. Snowblaze and Max were gone, and Flamestorm knew that they were out gathering more brambles.
She padded into Cream’s den with the mouse in her jaws, dropping it in front of Moonflight, who was sleeping in his nest, and Cream was out collecting herbs.
Moonflight awoke as he heard Flamestorm walk in, and he gratefully looked up at her as she laid down next to him, brushing against his warm fur.
“Flamestorm, your fur! It’s soaking wet!” Moonflight noticed, feeling cold water on his pelt.
“It’s nothing.” Flamestorm promised. “Only my hind legs are wet, I’m fine, but anyways, how are you feeling?”
“Much better.” Moonflight mewed. “I can see clearly again, and my scratches feel fine. Cream is a great medicine cat.”
Flamestorm smiled as she snuggled against him, she knew that she should be helping her clan to build the camp, but she wanted to stay with Moonflight until Cream came back, and she closed her eyes for a moment as she breathed in his warm scent.
Moonflight lovingly pressed against her, and Flamestorm happily closed her eyes. I love you, Moonflight. And I won’t let anything change that.
A halfmoon had passed since Flamestorm had almost fallen into the freezing pond, and the camp had been fully built, The dirtplace had been finished, and a long tunnel led out of the camp and into a small patch of soft dirt surrounded by brambles and gorse.
An apprentice den had also been constructed, and a small hole had been dug for the fresh kill pile to sit in. Snowblaze and Max had been working hard to construct the camp, and Max was happy that he was able to spend more time with Crystal.
Moonflight’s head injury had fully healed, and he was back to hunting, and keeping Flamestorm company in her den at night. Flamestorm enjoyed it, and they had kept each other warm on cold Leafbare nights, where winds swirled and snow showered from the sky at night.
Leafbare had been kind to them this year, despite the harsh snowfalls, and prey hadn’t been as scarce as most Leafbares. Most of it was scrawny, but some of it was plump, and had been feeding off of nearby berry bushes and spare nuts that had been left behind under the snow.
Voles had been quite easy to come across, as with the deep snow they would tunnel underneath and build warm nests where multiple at a time would live, and Flamestorm had been organizing the camp a bit more, sending out hunting patrols at dawn, sunhigh, and sunfall.
There was no need for border patrols, and Flamestorm knew that they had too few warriors to send out multiple patrols a day. Their only threats were foxes and dogs, and they had no borders, no enemy clans, not even so much as a trespassing cat.
Flamestorm was organizing a hunting patrol, sending Oreo and Snowblaze out towards the river, and sending Moonflight out to help Cream search for any herbs that might’ve survived the recent snowfall.
Max was still sitting in the nursery, and Flamestorm decided to check on him. He had been worried for her ever since he had stopped building dens, and spent any spare time he had sitting with her.
Crystal’s belly was very swollen, and her kits were due any day now. Flamestorm had been trying not to send Cream out, just in case Crystal began her kitting while she was gone, but this time, Cream had insisted on going out to find herbs.
Flamestorm nodded to Max as she entered, and Crystal looked up at her sleepily. “Crystal, do you need anything?” Flamestorm asked, quietly.
“Maybe some water.” Crystal yawned, laying her head on Max’s paws. “I just need to get some more-” But she was cut off by a spasm that pulsed through her body.
Flamestorm immediately shot upwards, and she could see the panic in Max’s eyes. Flamestorm’s mind was foggy, and Crystal was wincing at every ripple. Flamestorm knew that she had to do something, and she thought up a plan as quickly as possible.
“Max, go find Cream, she and Moonflight headed out towards the oak grove.” Flamestorm ordered. Max opened his mouth in protest, but Flamestorm stopped him before he could speak with a simple, “Now.”
Max obeyed and raced out of the nursery, running as fast as a Windclan cat, and Crystal was moaning in her nest. Flamestorm tried to remember anything Stemfeather and Cream had told her about kitting, and she remembered what Cream had said about chervil and Burnet. Chervil can be used to help during kitting… and burnet can give strength.
“I’ll be right back.” Flamestorm promised to the queen, her face full of pain. Flamestorm rushed over to Cream’s den, nosing through her herb stock until she found a bundle of chervil, and a small pile of burnet.
Flamestorm grabbed the herbs in her jaws, taking a juniper berry to help calm Crystal. She ran back to the nursery, dropping the herbs in front of her. “Eat these.” She instructed, pushing the burnet and juniper berry over to her.
Crystal nodded and swallowed them as more spasms rippled through her body. Flamestorm chewed on the chervil leaves then spit them out on an ivy leaf, instructing Crystal to eat them. Crystal painfully licked them up as more spasms pulsed through her, and Flamestorm instructed her to push whenever she felt a ripple pass through her.
Flamestorm pressed her paws to Crystal’s belly, desperately awaiting Cream’s return. Another spasm passed through Crystal and she did as Flamestorm told her and pushed, feeling stronger from the herbs.
Paw steps sounded from somewhere near the camp, and Flamestorm felt relieved that Cream would be back to take over, but her attention snapped back to Crystal as another ripple passed through her, and a small bundle wriggled on the moss.
“A tom!” Flamestorm mewed as she clawed open the tiny sac and began licking the kit fiercely as it began breathing, and Cream rushed into the den behind her to see the tiny pale gray, almost white kit below Flamestorm, and she rushed over to Crystal’s side as she continued to push as more rapid ripples passed through her.
Flamestorm nosed the tiny kit she had been licking over to Crystal as another small kit fell onto the moss, and Flamestorm clawed open the sac, dropping the kit at Crystal’s paws. “Lick it fiercely.” Flamestorm ordered.
“A she-kit!” Cream exclaimed as she felt around Crystal’s belly, feeling no more kits, and realizing the spasms had stopped. “Max! You can come in now!” Cream yowled.
The second kit was mewling loudly as it blindly wiggled its way over to Crystal’s belly, suckling on it happily.
Max rushed into the den as Cream left, taking the ivy leaves Flamestorm had left with her. Flamestorm smiled as the two kits suckled at their mother’s belly, their small bodies pressed against each other. The tom was a very pale gray tabby, and the she-kit was dark ginger with white splotches.
Max snuggled against Crystal, and Flamestorm suspected that he would be there for a while, so she left to give them some space to greet their new kits.
Cream walked over to Flamestorm as she greeted Moonflight, who was standing outside the nursery, asking about the kits.
“Flamestorm, that was impressive!” Cream gasped as she dropped a small bundle of borage leaves. “You knew exactly what to do!”
“It’s just a few things I remembered you and Stemfeather saying.” Flamestorm admitted awkwardly. “Besides, if I’m going to lead this clan, I need at least some knowledge of herbs, especially since you have no apprentice.”
“Actually,” Cream began. “I was hoping one of Crystal’s kits could be my apprentice, or, one of your’s.”
“One of ours?” Moonflight questioned, looking at Flamestorm, who returned his confused gaze quickly.
“Well yeah.” Cream responded. “Didn’t you know you were expecting kits?” She asked.
“No!” Flamestorm gasped, looking up happily at Moonflight. “We had no idea!”
“Well I’d expect that.” Cream explained. “It’s quite early on, and you’re pretty young, but you’ve probably only been expecting for a quarter moon. I’d say you can continue hunting for about another half moon.”
Flamestorm looked at her nervously, but Flamestorm knew that Cream would tell her when to lay off on doing warrior’s duties, and she was happy to continue hunting and going on walks in the forest while she could.
Moonflight happily purred as he pressed his muzzle to Flamestorm’s cheek. “They’ll be the most perfect kits in all the clans, who will be loved by the bravest and strongest warrior I know.
Flamestorm batted at his ear playfully, purring. “Cream is right, we are new warriors, but that won’t stop me from having these kits with you.” She promised.
* * *
It was nearly sunset, and Flamestorm had gone hunting with Moonflight shortly after Oreo and Snowblaze had returned, and she still hadn’t told her littermate the news.
Moonflight padded over to Flamestorm, who was lying in a small patch of ground where she had cleared away the snow, carrying a plump thrush that they had caught earlier, and a mouse. Moonflight gave the starling to Flamestorm, who took a large bite of it gratefully.
“Are you going to tell Snowblaze the news? After all, he is your littermate.” Moonflight asked, his blue eyes shining.
“I will.” Flamestorm nodded. “After we eat, seeing as Snowblaze seems distracted with Oreo.”
“He’s been getting close to her lately, do you think they might become mates?” Moonflight questioned, taking a bite of mouse.
“They’re probably just friends.” Flamestorm answered. “Snowblaze seemed pretty sad after Waveflight stopped seeing him, and he probably hasn’t gotten over her yet.”
“Maybe.” Moonflight meowed, watching them, eyes narrowed.
Flamestorm took another bite of her squirrel, her mind flashing to Crystal’s new kits. “What do you think they named them?” She asked, focusing back on Moonflight.
“I don’t know, I haven’t seen them yet.” Moonflight replied simply, shrugging.
“Oh!” Flamestorm gasped. “Sorry! I took you hunting with me before you could see them.”
Moonflight laughed and licked Flamestorm cheek as she finished her thrush, taking a few feathers off of it for Crystal’s nest.
“Let’s go see them.” Flamestorm mewed through a mouth full of feathers, getting up on her paws.
Moonflight nodded and followed her to the nursery, where Crystal was watching her kits as they suckled at her belly, and Max was taking vole scraps out of the nest, and burying them outside.
Flamestorm greeted Crystal as she walked in, sitting down next to her, and dropping the feathers, looking down at the tiny kits. Moonflight was close behind, and he sat in the entrance, watching as the two kits tripped over each other, and finally settled down next to each other sleepily.
“They won’t have their eyes open for another day or so.” Crystal whispered, “but I know that they’ll have beautiful eyes, just like their father.”
Flamestorm nodded, gazing at Moonflight simply. “So, has Cream told you yet?” Flamestorm asked, licking her paws.
“Told me what? That you’re expecting Moonflight’s kits?” Crystal asked. “Yeah, she has.”
“I’ll be moving in the nursery with you in about a half moon…” Flamestorm choked out. “Which means Moonflight will be helping me lead the clan for a while.”
“That’s what deputies are for.” Moonflight chimed in. “And I’ll make sure the clan stays safe while you’re in the nursery, I promise.”
Flamestorm nodded at him happily, and looked over at Crystal who was blinking sleepily. “What are their names?” Flamestorm asked, switching her focus to the kits.
“The tom is Silver, and the she-cat is Ruby.” Crystal answered.
“They’re beautiful.” Moonflight complimented, watching as they slept peacefully, Ruby had her head on top of her littermate’s.
Crystal nodded in thanks as Flamestorm and Moonflight got up to leave, and they traded places with Max, who had been sitting outside the nursery, and he rushed inside and sat next to Crystal.
Flamestorm glanced over at Snowblaze, who was grooming Oreo’s pelt happily. Maybe they’re a little closer than I thought… She thought for a moment, then snapped out of her thoughts as Snowblaze called out to her.
“Hey Flamestorm!” Snowblaze called. “Oreo and I were just talking about Crystal’s kits, they’re perfect!”
Flamestorm trotted over to them, Moonflight following behind her. She dipped her head in greeting, ‘Hi Snowblaze, Oreo. Moonflight and I have news.”
Snowblaze’s eyes widened, almost immediately knowing what she was going to tell him.
“I’m having Moonflight’s kits!” Flamestorm exclaimed happily, pressing close to her mate.
“Really? You don’t look like you are.” Snowblaze meowed with wide eyes.
“Cream said I’ve only been expecting for a quarter moon.” Flamestorm admitted. “Although I’m not quite sure how she could tell.”
“I’ve known Cream for a while, and she’s very good at telling when a queen is expecting kits, in fact, she predicted Crystal was having kits not long after she was expecting. It’s almost like she has a gift to know when queens are expecting.” Oreo explained.
Flamestorm nodded and looked at Snowblaze, who was staring at her belly, and he now realized that it was a little swollen, and he opened his mouth to speak.
“So, are you moving to the nursery?” He asked.
“No, not for another half-moon, but after that, Moonflight will be taking over most of my leader duties until I have the kits.” Flamestorm responded.
“Just be careful.” Oreo mewed. “We don’t want you getting hurt, especially not now.”
“I will.” Flamestorm promised. “Nothing will happen to these kits, I promise.” She whispered to Moonflight, who was gazing at her with trust in his eyes.
I know both of us will do everything we can to keep these kits safe, and give all of our attention to them, no matter what.
* * *
Flamestorm found herself in a small clearing, with nothing around her but trees and forest. She studied the clearing, looking around to see if Flowerstar was nearby, but saw no Starclan cats.
“Well, well, well, look who it is.” A voice sounded from behind Flamestorm, evil in its tone. “The traitor.”
Flamestorm whipped her head around to see Scorchleaf standing tall, a smirk on his face. “The only traitor here is you, you foxheart!” Flamestorm hissed.
“But that’s not what Thunderclan thinks, now is it? In fact, Sorrelstar trusts me so much that she’s promised me an apprentice when Redflower’s kits are old enough.” Scorchleaf responded.
“You’re not going to get away with this Scorchleaf! Starclan won’t let you!” Flamestorm growled.
“Starclan? You mean our ancestors who don’t care about us anymore? The ones who abandoned us?” Scorchleaf laughed. “They can’t stop me, and neither can you!”
“If they abandoned us, why does Flowerstar visit me in my dreams? Why does she give me prophecies, and warnings that you are going to destroy the clans?” Flamestorm questioned, matter-of-factly.
“But that’s just it, Flamestorm, I’m the Flame, and you’re the dark warrior, at least that’s what Thunderclan thinks.” Scorchleaf responded, licking his pelt with ease.
Flamestorm flexed her claws on the ground below her, she wanted to leap out and claw Scorchleaf’s throat out, but she controlled herself, and snarled at him. “Who are you? And what have you done with the littermate I once knew, the littermate who loved sneaking out of camp with me, the littermate who wasn’t afraid of me getting in his way, the littermate who didn’t care about power?”
Scorchleaf’s eyes filled with sorrow for a moment, then he snapped back into his rage. “The fool that almost got himself killed trying to save you!” Scorchleaf hissed. “You were always the one destined to lead Thunderclan, the hero in Sorrelstar’s eyes, but not anymore. I’m done being overshadowed by you, and it’s time for me to be the hero.”
“The hero to whom? The clan who you tricked into believing every word you say?” Flamestorm retorted.
“The hero of the Dark Forest of course.” Scorchleaf replied. “I do what they say now, and I have ever since the day you had to save me. They believe in me, and believe that I can be better than you.”
“And what will Starclan think of you once you give the Dark Forest control of the clans?” Flamestorm asked him.
“Who needs Starclan!” He snorted. “Brokenwing and I have gained valuable skills from the Dark Forest, and they train us to win every fight, including the one we will fight if you come back.”
“I should’ve told Sorrelstar the truth when I could’ve.” Flamestorm sighed. “Told her the truth about the treachery you would cause.”
“Well prophecy cat, there’s nothing you can do to stop me without getting yourself killed like a fool!” Scorchleaf laughed.
“Fine, you can kill me, kill me and tell the Dark Forest that you’ve won, but what will you gain by doing that? Think about that as you betray your clan day by day.” Flamestorm meowed simply.
“Who’s to say you’re not betraying Starclan by carrying that Shadowclan cat’s kits?” Scorchleaf retorted.
“Because,” Flamestorm breathed. “I am the fire, and he is the night, and together, we will save the clans. Starclan wanted us to be together, and I am proud to be carrying such a noble warrior’s kits.”
“You won’t win Flamestorm, you never will, not after what Sorrelstar and Larkstar said at the gathering. All the clans think the both of you are traitors, and that you killed Snowblaze.” Scorchleaf hissed, slowly beginning to fade.
“Snowblaze isn’t dead!” She blurted out. “He’s safe now, away from you, the clans and everything he had ever known.”
“It’s not like he’ll do anything to stop me either.” Scorchleaf laughed as he faded from the clearing and Flamestorm hissed one final time as he disappeared.
Suddenly, a fire whisks through the trees around her, swooping through the trees and forming a circle around Flamestorm, sending cinder and ash flying through the air.
“A flame will return…” A voice began, and Flamestorm recognized Flowerstar’s mew.
“Return with a vengeance…” Bearleap’s voice rang.
“She will shatter the darkness....” Spottedflower’s quiet meow sounded.
“And the smoke will spread…” Brackenstep’s loud mew rang across the clearing.
“Disappearing into the sky, bringing peace to the clans” A tom’s deep voice finished.
Flamestorm didn’t know who the tom was, but she knew that what the Starclan cats were telling her was about the prophecy. A flame will return, return with a vengeance, she will shatter the darkness, and the smoke will spread, disappearing into the sky, and bringing peace to the clans.
Flamestorm was awoken to Ruby and Silver wrestling and mewling outside her den, a mouse at her paws. Moonflight was gone, and the spot in his nest was cold, and water was trickling into the den, being soaked up by the moss. The snow outside was rapidly melting, and Flamestorm knew it would be a warm Leafbare day, and that prey would be coming out of their burrows to search for any remaining food.
Silver tumbled off of Ruby, rolling over into and sending snow flying at Flamestorm’s face, landing on her muzzle. Silver looked at her with an embarrassed expression on his face. “I’m sorry!” He mewed, flicking the snow off with his tail. “I didn’t mean to!”
“You’re only a tiny kit, and by the looks of it, just opened your eyes.” Flamestorm answered sympathetically. “Strange that Crystal would let you out in the snow, especially before it melts.”
Silver cocked his head at her, his eyes full of question. “You’re Flamestorm aren’t you?” He realized. “I heard Crystal talking about you in the den last night, you were there at her kitting right?”
“You’re a clever one.” Flamestorm responded, now noticing Ruby’s piercing green eyes staring at her. “I am Flamestorm, the leader of Forestclan, and I was there at Crystal’s kitting.”
Silver’s blue eyes beamed with happiness as Flamestorm complimented him, and he bounced over to Ruby. “You won’t tell Crystal we came outside, will you?” Silver pleaded.
“As long as you don’t catch a chill.” Flamestorm promised, watching as Silver peaked around the tree, looking into the den to see Crystal’s head lying on her paws.
Flamestorm padded out of the den to see Silver and Ruby dashing back to the nursery, hoping Crystal wouldn’t awaken before they got back. It was after dawn now, and the camp was awake, with Moonflight organizing a hunting patrol.
Cream was rustling through her herb store, examining what she needed to gather, and Max was watching his kits run into the nursery with concern in his eyes.
Flamestorm’s paws sank right into the slush that was melting snow, and she padded over to Moonflight, careful not to slip on the icy ground.
“Flamestorm!” Moonflight greeted happily. “You’re awake!”
Flamestorm nodded, blinking her eyes sleepily. “You didn’t have to organize a hunting patrol for me.” Flamestorm yawned. “I could’ve done it myself.”
“In the forest clans, the deputies organized the patrols.” Moonflight smirked, his mew playful. “Oh, and by the way, do you know why Crystal’s kits were out? They’ll catch a chill.”
“They snuck out.” Flamestorm laughed. “But I won’t tell Crystal, not unless they do get a chill.”
“Well you’ll make a great mother.” Moonflight teased, looking at Flamestorm’s belly.
“Very funny.” Flamestorm meowed with sarcasm. “What’s so wrong with kits going outside the den for a moment?”
“Nothing.” Moonflight answered simply. “I know you’ll be a great mother to our kits.”
Flamestorm looked into Moonflight’s eyes with love, leaning on his shoulder. “I couldn’t have a better mate, and the kits couldn’t have a better father.” She murmured.
“If you two are done flirting,” Snowblaze began jokingly. “Cream would like to have a word with you, Flamestorm.”
Flamestorm’s eyes filled with concern and she flicked her tail in goodbyes to Moonflight, padding over to Cream’s den, who was sorting her herbs, fully focused.
“Have a seat in one of the moss nests.” Cream ordered as she walked in, staying focused on her herbs.
Flamestorm obeyed and sat in the closest nest, worried. What does Cream need me for? What if it’s about the kits? What if- But she was cut off by Cream, who took her focus away from her herbs to speak to Flamestorm, her expression unreadable.
“Flamestorm, I have seen something.” Cream began. “Last night, I went on a walk, when I couldn’t fall asleep.”
“Has Starclan sent you a sign?” Flamestorm gasped, knowing that Starclan hadn’t spoken to anyone but her or Moonflight for moons.
“It is a sign, but not about the clans, I believe it is about your kits. Although it’s nothing bad.” Cream reassured, noticing how distressed Flamestorm seemed.
“Go on.” Flamestorm meowed, head high.
“I saw a stick, a stick with five branches.” Cream explained. “The stick had strange markings on it, almost those resembling the shape of a flame. I believe the five branches means you will be blessed with five kits, something I would never expect from a queen.”
“Five kits?” Flamestorm gasped, her eyes full of joy. “That’s amazing!”
“Yes, but it will be very hard. I’ve never seen a queen have five kits.” Cream admitted. “And you might have to move to the nursery sooner than expected.”
“I would do anything to keep these kits safe, whether it means moving to the nursery earlier or later.” Flamestorm meowed firmly.
“I suspect you should move to the nursery in about a quarter moon.” Cream responded. “And you shouldn’t go on many hunting patrols until then, but if you want, you can go on walks in the forest whenever you please, unless I say otherwise.”
“Thanks Cream.” Flamestorm replied, getting up from her spot in the mossy nest, and padding out of the den to where Moonflight stood outside.
“So? What’d Cream tell you about the kits?” He asked, his expression anxious.
“We’ll have five beautiful kits.” Flamestorm answered enthusiastically. “But, Cream said that means I’ll have to move to the nursery sooner.”
“That’s great news!” Moonflight mewed, “but will you need me to help you with your leader duties while you’re in the nursery?”
“I can still walk.” Flamestorm teased. “And still make decisions for my clan.”
“I know.” Monflight answered, love in his eyes. “I know you’re capable of holding all of Starclan in your paws, but won’t you at least let me send out patrols while you’re resting?”
“Of course.” Flamestorm replied. “That’s what deputies are for, and pretty soon, you can have one of Crystal’s kits as an apprentice!”
“Flamestorm, you know you shouldn’t put me above the rest of the clan.” Moonflight responded. “I mean, what about Snowblaze or Cream? What if they want an apprentice?”
“I’ll give them one of my kits.” Flamestorm promised. “But you and Oreo are the ones I want to give Crystal’s kits to.”
“Whatever you want.” Moonflight answered with trust in his eyes. “But how will we have enough cats in this clan to mentor seven apprentices at once?”
“Well, if you and Oreo take one of Crystal’s kits, then Crystal, Max, Cream, Snowblaze and I can each take one of our kits.” Flamestorm explained. “Everyone in the clan will have an apprentice.”
Moonflight nodded at her simply, his paws cold from the melting snow that was like sludge under their paws. “I have all my faith in you, Flamestorm, I know you will lead us well.”
“Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey, join here, beneath Highoak.” Flamestorm called, and all the cats in the camp grabbed their half-eaten prey and padded over to the Highoak, taking a spot underneath.
Crystal followed her kits out, who were excited to hear what news the clan had. “Keep quiet.” Crystal whispered. “Just listen.”
“As all of you know, Cream has told me that I am expecting Moonflight’s kits, but she has recently found out that I am expecting five kits.” Flamestorm began. “Now, this means I will be moving to the nursery in the next quarter moon, and Moonflight will be sending patrols out for me.”
“Five kits?” Snowblaze echoed, in shock. “No clan cat has ever had that many kits at once!”
“Which is why I’m making her move to the nursery early.” Cream responded quickly, nodding to Flamestorm to continue.
“But, in other news, Starclan has sent me a prophecy.” Flamestorm mewed, and the clan cats gasped in shock.
“But Starclan is silent! They won’t speak to any leader or medicine cat in any clan!” Oreo cried.
Flamestorm nodded to her and continued, “Now, I know that some of you used to be kittypets and rouges, but now, we are a clan, and I’m not forcing any of you to believe in Starclan, only to have faith in me.”
“Of course Flamestorm, we trust you.” Crystal answered. “And we do believe in Starclan, all of Rougeclan did except for…” Crystal paused for a second, then finished with, “Slash.”
Flamestorm shivered at the memory of Slash and his sharpened claw, silky brown pelt, and glaring amber eyes.
“Flamestorm, you were going to tell us about a prophecy?” Moonflight meowed, getting her back on track.
“Y-yes. Sorry.” She stammered. “Starclan has sent me a prophecy, a prophecy about the previous one I had been given as a kit.”
Moonflight jumped up on the Highoak, knowing that he was involved in this also.
“There will be a flame, a blaze so strong, that it will guide the lives of four, and shape the destinies of the clans, then two will become one, fire and night, together, they will save the clans.” Flamestorm echoed Starclan’s words.
“Maplestar has once called me the moon of the night sky, do you think it has to do with the prophecy?” Moonflight asked her.
“Yes, I am the fire, and you are the night.” Flamestorm responded, certain with herself. “And Starclan has sent a prophecy about me, about vengeance. I believe they are trying to call me back to the clans.”
“Why would they do that? They know you’ll be killed by Thunderclan before you can even step foot in their camp! And who knows what Sorrelstar has said about you? Every clan could be out to get you!” Oreo responded, distressed.
“I’m not the only one he wants…” Flamestorm answered. “He also wants Moonflight, he wants to destroy the prophecy, take over the clans.”
Snowblaze gasped in horror as Flamestorm spoke, immediately knowing who she was talking about. “How do you know this about Scorchleaf? What has he told you?”
Flamestorm drew in a breath, remembering the previous night when Scorchleaf had come to her in a dream. “Because… Scorchleaf visited me in my dream last night, evilly discussing his own plan with me, and explaining what the Dark Forest is planning… And I know what they want now, they want power, leadership over the clans.”
“We’re the only ones who can save them.” Flamestorm and Moonflight meowed at the same time.
“Flamestorm, you can’t just leave! Not now, after you’re expecting five kits!” Cream ordered. “I won’t let you leave until the kits are born, and are old enough to travel.”
“Who’s to say I want to go back?” Flamestorm almost regretted saying. “I’ve found a better life here, and the Dark Forest aren’t smart enough to invade the real world and win, not with four clans fighting against them. I know the clans will be fine without me.”
“But Flamestorm-” Moonflight began, but was cut off by Flamestorm, who simply said, “Clan dismissed.”
Flamestorm looked at the ground as she walked to her den, her heart heavy. Surely the clans don’t need me? There can’t possibly be enough Dark Forest cats to overtake the clans, and they have Starclan on their side anyways, it’s not like it’ll make any difference if I’m there, she thought, yawning, and she finally drifted off to sleep.
She opened her eyes back in the Starclan clearing, watching as Flowerstar, a large gray tabby, and Mothkit ran up to her, eyes full of worry.
“Flamestorm, we don’t have much time.” She mewed. “But, this is Stormwhisker, my mate, the one who was calling to you in the prophecy.”
“Flowerstar, tell me what’s wrong!” Flamestorm ordered.
“I can’t!” She cried, “You’re our only hope, the only one who we still have contact with!”
“But why me? Why am I so special?” Flamestorm asked.
“Because, you’re-” But Flowerstar was cut off by an endless shadow wall that was consuming the ranks of Starclan, and Flamestorm ran away as fast as she could, but she couldn’t outrun it, and she fell into an endless pit of shadows, spotting Dark Forest cats smiling down from above them, and Flamestorm tried to run towards them, but she was awoken by a paw prodding her side, it was Moonflight.
“Flamestorm, are you ok?” He asked, worried. “You were kicking and murmuring in your sleep.”
“What, I uh- I’m fine.” She lied. “Just a bad dream.”
Moonflight looked at her suspiciously. “I don’t like that you say that, you know you don’t have to lie to me.”
“I’m fine!” Flamestorm echoed her words.
“Well ok then, I just came to check on you since you went to bed earlier than usual.” He responded, his tail drooping.
“Wait, Moonflight come back!” Flamestorm called.
“What is it?” He asked.
“Do you want to sleep in the den with me tonight?” Flamestorm questioned, her eyes pleading.
Moonflight hesitated for a moment, then smiled and walked into the den, settling in the empty half of the nest, snuggling his fur close to Flamestorm, and lying his head on his paws.
Flamestorm smiled at her mate, rubbing her head against his cheek. “Goodnight Moonflight, you’re the best mate I could’ve asked for.” She whispered. “I love you,” and she drifted off into a deep sleep, where she was greeted by a real Starclan cat, it was Brakenstep.
“Don’t let them get into your head.” Brakenstep meowed, “They’ll try and make you think nobody is safe anymore, and bring you right into their trap.”
“Brakenstep I don’t know what to do!” Flamestorm bluttered out. “I don’t know what’s right and what’s wrong anymore! Should I stay with my clan, or go back home?”
“That I cannot choose for you, you must choose for yourself.” Brackenstep responded. “What do you think is right?”
“I can’t go marching back to the clans if I’m expecting kits! If I die, they die, and it’s not fair for them to suffer just because of my choices.” Flamestorm answered.
“But what about after the kits are born? Would you at least try and go back?” Brackenstep questioned.
“Maybe, but surely the Dark Forest can’t win the clans for themselves! They have all of Starclan with them!” Flamestorm replied.
Brackenstep sighed and looked around the small clearing they were in. “No Flamestorm, they don’t have us on their side. We can’t help them, and there’s nothing we can do to warn the leaders of the Dark Forest’s plans.”
“But why am I the only one that you can contact? What’s special about me?” Flamestorm asked.
Brackenstep raised a paw, quickly debating what he should say. “Ever since you were born as a kit, we all knew you were special, and destined for greatness, but it was the opposite of Scorchleaf, who we knew was evil and easily a great fighter.”
“So why couldn’t you do anything to stop him?” Flamestorm responded, confused.
“We can’t change a cat's destiny, even if they were destined to be evil, or to lead. We can try, but it almost never works.” Brackenstep explained.
“But you must have some way of warning the clans!” Flamestorm meowed.
“Our communication to the clans has been cut off, and all they think is that we don’t care about them anymore, but thought we may be silent, we care about their future, and you should too.” Brackenstep instructed. “The clans were your home, and they always will be. Listen to your heart, Flamestorm, whatever it says is the correct thing to do, don’t listen to your mind.” He finished, and faded away into mist.
Flamestorm outstretched her forepaws, reaching into the air and grabbing the wings of a hawk that swooped down from the sky, Ruby and Silver cowering in the nursery.
“Snowblaze! Moonflight! Help me hold this thing down!” Flamestorm hissed, putting all her strength on the bird's wings, and it screeched as it fluttered its wings as fast as it could.
Snowblaze rushed over to her, leaping up into the air and pressing his weight down on the hawk, and it flailed underneath him.
Moonflight raced over from his spot in front of the nursery and bit down on the hawk’s neck, crimson blood spilling out the wound. It screamed in agony, and soon after, it went limp. The hawk was scrawny, but it was still food, and would feed most of the clan.
Crystal padded out of the nursery cautiously, looking over to where the hawk lay, its limp body stained with blood.
“The kits are safe now, Crystal.” Flamestorm promised. “The hawk is dead.”
Silver and Ruby poked their tiny heads out of the nursery, their eyes wide and curious.
“Flamestorm? What happened?” Silver squeaked, running over to the hawk curiously. “Why did Crystal rush us over to the nursery?”
“Silver, come back here! It’s too cold for you to be outside!” Crystal ordered.
Silver’s head drooped, but Flamestorm stopped him from leaving with a flick of her tail. “Crystal, why don’t you let the kits play for awhile? There’s no snow or ice for them to trip on, and it’s warm for leafbare.” Flamestorm reasoned.
“Well I suppose it’d be nice for them to get some exercise, but only for a little while, they’re very young to be outside the den.” Crystal responded, lying down in the nursery entrance. “Stay where I can see you.” She ordered.
Silver nodded and happily ran back over to the hawk, breathing in its scent. “Can we eat it?” He asked, staring up at Flamestorm, who sat beside the hawk.
“You can’t, you’re a little too young. But it’ll feed some of the clan.” Flamestorm answered, gazing down at the tiny kit, who bombarded her with questions.
“Why did we have to run away from it? Is it dangerous? Why does it look so scary? Why-” Silver’s rapid questions were cut off by Moonflight, who laughed softly.
“You’re a curious one all right.” He mewed. “And a little eager too. You’ll be a great apprentice when you’re old enough.”
“Apprentice?” He asked. “What’s that?”
“A warrior in training.” Flamestorm answered, lying down on the damp, freezing ground. “I’m assuming Crystal hasn’t told you about the clans yet?”
Silver shook his head, intrigued. “Is that what we are? A clan?”
Flamestorm nodded her head and looked at the kit, her eyes soft and understanding. “We are Forestclan, a small clan that lives off of the territories of Thunderclan, Shadowclan, Riverclan, and Windclan.”
“Tell me more!” Ruby squeaked, jumping up and down as she walked over to them.
“Well, there’s one more clan, the clan where all of our ancestors live. They’re known as Starclan, and they send us messages and prophecies to help our clan.” Flamestorm explained.
“I remember Starclan, didn’t they say they had sent you a sign?” Silver questioned, cocking his head.
“Yes.” Flamestorm choked, “They did.”
“What does it mean?” Silver asked. “Why have no one else gotten signs from Starclan?”
Flamestorm bit her lip, thinking of what she could say. “Only leaders and medicine cats can receive signs from Starclan.” She decided.
“Crystal said Cream was a medicine cat, has she gotten any signs from Starclan?” Ruby wondered.
“Yes. But only one, one about my kits.” Flamestorm replied. “Normally, Starclan comes to us in our dreams, but Cream hasn’t had any Starclan dreams…”
“Why not?” Silver questioned, his eyes wide. “Is Starclan mad at her?”
“I- I don’t think-” Flamestorm began, getting cut off by Crystal, who was watching with worry in her eyes.
“Silver! Ruby! Time to come inside!” Crystal called. “I’ll tell you more about the clans so you can stop bothering Flamestorm. She’s very busy, and needs to prepare her clan before moving into the nursery with us. Then, you can ask her any questions you want, unless she’s resting.”
Silver nodded and walked over towards Crystal, turning and looking back at Flamestorm, who rolled over on her back as Moonflight lay down next to her.
Snowblaze was talking with Oreo nearby, and they shared a piece of prey, passing it back and forth through each bite.
Moonflight pushed the hawk over to Flamestorm, who looked at it hungrily.
“Are you sure you’ll be ok in the nursery? Silver seems like he’ll be quite a pawful with all the questions he has.” Moonflight laughed.
“I’m sure it’ll be fine, besides, the tree will be too small for five kits, especially as they get bigger.” Flamestorm responded, taking a bite of the hawk. It was stringy, and didn’t taste too good, but Flamestorm decided not to waste it, and pushed it over to Moonflight, who took a bite and passed it back to her.
“Do you think Starclan is mad at the clans?” Flamestorm asked, lifting her head to look at the sky, dark clouds were passing by, and she suspected they were snow clouds.
“Why would they be?” Moonflight answered, “Maybe they have nothing to say.”
“They’ve got plenty to say! Scorchleaf and Brokenwing are trying to take over the clans, Sorrelstar’s gone crazy, and who knows what else has happened in this past moon! Flamestorm snapped. “What if Grassleaf died? What if Scorchleaf has an apprentice? What if Sorrelstar’s promised him he’ll be the next deputy? What if-”
“Flamestorm! Everything will be ok!” Moonflight promised.
“We don’t know that! We don’t know anything! Flamestorm reasoned. “We don’t know if Scorchleaf is the deputy, we don’t know if Sorrelstar is dead, we don’t even know if Thunderclan is still alive!”
“Flamestorm, you’re overly stressed.” Cream meowed as she padded out of her den with poppy seeds on a leaf. “Come to my den and rest, you’ll feel better once you wake up.”
“But Cream, shouldn’t I be moving to the nursery?” Flamestorm asked, her vision blurry.
“If you want.” Cream responded, dipping her head. “Are you ready to hand the clan over to Moonflight, and give up hunting for the next two moons?”
Flamestorm closed her eyes and nodded at her, “Yes, I am.”
The gathered cats of Forestclan sat around Highoak, murmuring quietly as Moonflight helped Flamestorm onto the branch where she addressed the clan, her swollen belly making it hard to climb.
Moonflight took a seat next to her, his eyes full of pride.
“Cats of Forestclan,” Flamestorm yowled. “I have gathered you here today, to give you some news.”
The clan stopped murmuring and focused on her, and Silver and Ruby watched eagerly from the nursery, eyes wide.
“For these next few moons, Moonflight will be your new leader. I will be moving to the nursery and I know the clan will be in good hands until I can resume my duties as leader.” Flamestorm declared.
“But Flamestorm, what if you have another sign from Starclan? What if we need you?” Oreo called.
“If Starclan has anything to tell me, I will address the clan from outside the nursery.” Flamestorm decided.
Moonflight stepped forward and looked out at the clan, then back at Flamestorm. “I will do my best to serve this clan.” He promised.
“We don’t doubt you, Moonflight.” Snowblaze meowed. “We trust you, no disloyal warrior could show more courage than you.”
The clan murmured their agreements, and Flamestorm jumped down from the Highoak, landing awkwardly. “Clan dismissed.” She muttered tiredly, dragging her legs across the ground and towards the nursery, where Silver and Ruby were excitedly waiting for her.
“Flamestorm!” Silver squeaked. “We wanna learn more about the clans!”
“Yes! Tell us more!” Ruby begged as Crystal walked in, her face stern.
“Kits, don’t you think Flamestorm should get some rest before you start asking her questions? She’s had a long day.”
“Sorry.” Silver mumbled, padding over to the nest that Crystal lay down in, his tail drooping.
“Flamestorm, you can take the empty nest over there.” Crystal instructed, pointing her nose to a small nest in the corner of the den, and Flamestorm gratefully took it, lying down in the soft moss.
Flamestorm scanned around the new den, it was warm, and neatly constructed, with no cold Leafbare winds seeping in through the cracks. It had enough room for four nests, and would have plenty of space for five more kits.
Silver and Ruby suckled at their mother’s belly, and Flamestorm yawned, laying her head on her paws.
Moonflight padded into the nursery, spotting Flamestorm and walking over to her. “Are you going to be ok without me?” He asked, nervously.
“Of course I will.” Flamestorm responded. “Nothing’s going to happen to me.”
“Do you need anything? Fresh kill? Water?” He offered.
“I’m fine.” Flamestorm mewed. “You don’t need to worry about me.”
“Ok but, do you need some company?” Moonflight asked eagerly.
“I have Crystal.” Flamestorm assured.
Moonflight hesitantly looked over to Crystal, then back at Flamestorm. “But-”
Flamestorm cut him off with a simple, “No.”
Moonflight’s tail drooped as he padded out of the den, and Flamestorm’s heart sank. Was I too hard on him? Should I have let him stay with me?
Flamestorm, you should get some more rest, it’s nearly moonhigh, and I know you’re still stressed about Thunderclan.” Crystal advised.
Thunderclan! I forgot about Thunderclan! I need to know if my clanmates- no, ex-clanmates are ok! Flamestorm remembered, gasping as an idea came to her mind.
“Flamestorm? Is something wrong?” Crystal asked, lifting her head.
“No, everything’s great! If I can get Willowflame into a dream, she can tell me everything happening in Thunderclan!” Flamestorm answered cheerfully.
“How are you supposed to do that? I thought Starclan couldn’t contact the clans.” Crystal questioned.
“But I won’t be bringing her to Starclan, I’ll be bringing her to a blank dream world! Scorchleaf’s done it before, why can’t I?” Flamestorm reasoned.
“Be careful-” Crystal advised. “I don’t want you getting yourself hurt.”
“I won’t, there’s no way I could. It’s not like I’m going to the Dark Forest to spy.” Flamestorm joked. “I’m just going to try and pull Willowflame into a dream.”
“Good luck.” Crystal yawned, closing her eyes.
Flamestorm closed her eyes, trying to dream herself into a small clearing with Willowflame at her side, but she instead ended up in Starclan, with a vision of Willowflame in a pool, she was sound asleep.
Grassleaf padded up behind Flamestorm, startling her. “G-Grassleaf?” She stammered. “What are you doing here? Are you- dead?”
Grassleaf dipped his head in sadness, nodding. “I never should’ve doubted my own apprentice… what a fool I was! I thought Scorchleaf was a loyal warrior, being the first to call you out made me believe him even more.”
Flamestorm blinked, and he was gone, the clearing, Grassleaf, and the stars that speckled Starclan.
“Flamestorm?” A new voice mewed, getting distracted from a dream of hunting.
“Willowflame!” Flamestorm gasped, breathing in her friend’s sweet scent. “It worked!”
“Flamestorm! Stemfeather and I have been so worried! We thought you died!” Willowflame meowed in shock, finally noticing her swollen belly. “Oh… Moonflight’s I assume?”
Flamestorm nodded and looked at her friend, she was thin, and she suspected Leafbare had given them enough prey this year. “Yes, they’re Moonflight’s, but that’s not why I came.” She answered.
“Well then why- how are you here?” Willowflame questioned, cocking her head.
“Because, I need your help.” She responded. “I saw that Grassleaf was dead, and I desperately need to know who the new deputy is.”
Willowflame hesitated for a moment, wondering if she should tell her the horrible truth. “Well… over a moon ago, Sorrelstar promised Scorchleaf one of Redflower’s kits and- she appointed him as deputy.” She choked out.
Flamestorm’s eyes blazed, and she felt as if every muscle in her body longed to run, run back to Thunderclan, but she knew she couldn’t not now, Crystal’s kits were far too young to travel, and she couldn’t walk back to the clans, not while expecting five kits. “I knew it would come to this. Tell me how Scorchleaf killed Grassleaf.”
“Well,” Willowflame began. “We went on a border patrol at sunhigh, and since I can’t say anything unless I want to be killed or cast out by the clan… he murdered Grassleaf in cold blood. I watched as they battled, and I tried to help but- I was too late. Scorchleaf had blood on his paws as he held Grassleaf down, his eyes full of triumph.” She stopped and shifted her paws across the floor, shivering. “And he struck a paw down at Grassleaf’s throat, making a large wound… and not long after, he died right there on the ground, spitting curses at Scorchleaf, and calling him a traitor.”
Flamestorm bit her lip and rethought her decision. Who should I be caring about more? The clan that I was born in… or the clan that I’ve created, with cats who count on me?
“I was… in shock, watching Grassleaf die, guilt and pain passing through me. I didn’t know what to do… explain what had happened to Sorrelstar, or stay quiet, and not lose the only hope of exposing Scorchleaf the clan had left.” Willowflame meowed.
Flamestorm narrowed her eyes and looked up at the moon above the small clearing they stood in, her eyes full of anger. “Starclan, what should I do?” She yowled.
“Starclan! That’s right! You can speak to Starclan!” Willowflame exclaimed. “Haven’t they told you anything about what will happen to Thunderclan?”
“Only that I must follow what my heart tells me is right. They want me to come back…” Flamestorm admitted. “But it’s not safe for me to go back if I’m expecting kits…”
“So you’re going to leave me alone in Thunderclan with Scorchleaf for moons? Not coming back to the clan once called home because you’re scared?” Willowflame snapped. “Well then fine! Leave me alone in the clan, maybe I’ll be the hero who exposes Scorchleaf!”
“Willowflame wait!” Flamestorm called desperately as she pelted away.
“No! Leave me alone!” She spat.
Flamestorm stood in the clearing for another moment, her eyes full of hurt. The clearing faded and she was pulled back into Starclan, where it felt like all of Starclan had been waiting, waiting to give her the same message over and over. The flame will return, return with a vengeance, she will shatter the darkness, bringing peace to the clans.
Flamestorm blinked her eyes open and rolled over in her nest, the nursery smelled milky and warm, and Crystal’s kits were already awake, suckling at her belly. Flamestorm could tell she had slept past dawn by the golden light that illuminated the den, and a piece of prey had been left in front of her nest.
Flamestorm suspected Moonflight had left her what was left of last night's catch, a scrawny vole. Silver licked his lips and he looked over to where Flamestorm lay, his expression excited. “Crystal! Can we go ask Flamestorm about the other clans? Please!” He begged, his eyes stretching wide.
Crystal looked over at Flamestorm hesitantly, but she simply nodded, and Crystal allowed her kits to go ask Flamestorm all the questions they wanted.
Silver and Ruby bounced over to the small corner that Flamestorm slept in, laying down in front of her, wrapping their tails around their small bodies. “Tell us more about Thunderclan!” They begged.
“Well.” Flamestorm began, “Thunderclan lived in a small ravine in the middle of a forest, with bramble dens just like these.”
“Is that why we have dens like this? Crystal told us you used to be a Thunderclan cat.” Silver asked, his eyes curious.
Flamestorm flashed Crystal a quick look then nodded. “Yes, that’s why we make dens like Thunderclan.”
“Tell us about warrior training!” Ruby pleaded. “We wanna become warriors too!”
Flamestorm laughed and began to explain apprenticeship to the kits. “When a kit is six moons old, the leader appoints them a mentor to train them. And in the clans, you would have a second name of paw.”
“Flamestorm, why doesn’t everyone in this clan have second names? Why only you, Snowblaze, and Moonflight?” Silver questioned, his eyes wide.
“Because we used to be part of the main warrior clans, and received our full warrior name before being cast out.” Flamestorm mewed. “The rest of the clan were rouges.”
“But if they weren’t clan cats, how do you know them?” Ruby squeaked.
“Well… they were once part of a small clan, just like this one. They called themselves Rougeclan, and they had a big, muscular leader who wanted power over Thunderclan.” Flamestorm tried to describe it the best she could, remembering the battle in which she had almost died. “They were organized by a young apprentice, Scorchpaw… Scorchleaf now. They were meant to take down Thunderclan’s leader, Sorrelstar, so that he could be the next leader.”
The kits were in awe as Flamestorm continued to tell her story, envious of clan life, yet scared of Scorchleaf’s terror.
“Scorchleaf was a fine warrior, and he could’ve been one of the best the clans have ever seen, if it wasn’t for…” Flamestorm's voice trailed off as she tried to put Scorchleaf’s horrible betrayal into words. “His selfishness.” She meowed.
“What happened to Scorchleaf? Is he dead?” Silver questioned, eyes curious.
“No.” Flamestorm responded coldly. “He’s not.”
“Tell us what Scorchleaf did!” Rubykit squealed. “We wanna know more!”
“Well, after Cream and Oreo warned us that Rougeclan was planning on attacking us… we attacked them first. The battle raged on with a fury of teeth and claws, until finally, Slash, their leader, was dead. Killed by my own claws.” She remembered the day she was rid of Slash… the anger and hatred for her as he died, blood pouring out of his fatal wound.
“You killed Slash?” Crystal gasped from the other side of the nursery, padding over to her. “You’re the one who broke Rougeclan apart?”
“Yes, didn’t you see?” Flamestorm answered, nervousness in her tone. Is she mad? Did she like being part of Rougeclan?
“I only caught a few glimpses of the battle… I was resting in a den, peering out only to see a ginger colored cat striking their claws down on Slash, and the entire clan pausing in fear. You saved us.” Crystal responded, frightened and shivering. “Saved the cats of Rougeclan from Slash, who ordered us into battles we didn’t want to fight, and claimed to track down and kill any member who left.”
Silver and Ruby trembled in fear, until Silver mewed, “He sounds mean! Why would he do that?”
“Because of Scorchleaf.” Flamestorm meowed angrily. “He convinced Slash to lead Rougeclan, teaching him the ways of the clans, and that traitors deserve to be killed. Traitors like himself.”
“Tell us more about Scorchleaf! Please, please please, please, please!” Ruby pleaded.
“A-alright.” Flamestorm stammered, thinking of what to say. “Scorchleaf, my… littermate, is a power hungry traitor. All he cares about is overtaking Thunderclan, and letting the Dark Forest take over the other clans. And ever since he found out about the prophecy, he’s been trying to destroy it, refusing to accept that Starclan had chosen me to lead Thunderclan.” She growled. “Finding every way he could to make Sorrelstar turn against me, she was such a fool.”
“But why would he turn against his littermate? Why would he care so much about power?” Silver questioned, confused.
“Because, he wants everything all to himself. He’s selfish, and only cares about power.” Flamestorm hissed. “And now I don’t know what to believe, I had a nightmare last night… that Willowflame had told me Scorchleaf was deputy, I believed it at first… until I saw Scorchleaf’s amber eyes through the mist, he wasn’t angry, he was happy Willowflame had given me information he wouldn’t want me to know. He’s trying to get me to come back to the clans… only so I’ll be killed when I step foot back into the clan.
Silver flattened his ears and hissed, anger pulsing through him. “We should kill him!” He snarled. “He doesn’t deserve Thunderclan!”
“I know.” Flamestorm reasoned. “But he’s not as much of a fool to leave camp alone, in fact, none of the clan will after what they think I’ve done.”
Ruby looked at her, eyes wide. “Well then why not go back with all of Forestclan? They won’t attack such a large group of cats, right?” She asked.
“Not a patrol, but the entire clan would, they’re much larger than us.” Flamestorm answered. “Besides, it’s not safe for me to go back, and you’re far too small to travel through the cold.”
“So… you’re saying you might go back?” Crystal questioned.
“I’m not sure. The clan seems to be doing fine without me, and they’ll continue to do fine unless Scorchleaf becomes deputy, which he’s trying to convince me he has.” Flamestorm replied. “The Dark Forest has helped him transport me into a dream where he’s tried to kill me before, and by the looks of it, he’s forcing Willowflame to help him.”
“Silver! Ruby! Come back over here.” Crystal mewed firmly. “Let Flamestorm get some rest.”
“Ok.” Silver answered, tail drooping, turning to Flamestorm and sadly mewing, “Bye.”
Flamestorm laughed and stood up from her spot in the nest, padding outside of the den to bump into Moonflight, who held a piece of prey in his jaws. The dawn hunting patrol had returned, and the prey pile was stocked with enough prey for every cat to share.
“Flamestorm!” He meowed cheerfully. “I thought we could share prey.”
Flamestorm smiled at him, having a different idea. “I thought we could go on a walk, you know, around the territory.”
Moonflight hesitated, “Is Cream ok with this?” He asked.
“She said I could go on short walks.” Flamestorm assured. “I’ll be fine.”
“Ok, I trust you. Where should we go?” Moonflight responded.
“I was thinking we could walk to the river and look around.” Flamestorm suggested. “I want to see if anything has started growing near the water, and maybe collect some herbs for Cream so I can feel useful.”
“But you are useful Flamestorm! Every cat in a clan is useful, whether queen, kit, or elder, every clan member is important, and you’re our leader!” Moonflight replied, his tone serious.
“I know, I just want to feel like I’m being useful, even if it means collecting herbs.” She responded sternly.
“Well then let’s go, I’ve just sent out Max and Oreo to go scout around the Twolegplace border to check for scents or other cats.” Moonflight informed, “Hopefully they’ll report good news to me.”
Flamestorm nodded and followed Moonflight out of the camp, through a small opening in the bushes, which seemed to be sprouting leaves. It hadn’t snowed in a few days, but they still had a moon of Leafbare left, and Flamestorm knew it would start snowing again soon.
“It’s quite warm for a Leaf-bare day, good day for a walk.” Moonflight stated. “We won’t get to many days like this for the next moon, and you won’t get many long walks either.”
Flamestorm dumped into Moonflight’s flank and laughed, “You know I won’t freeze to death! I’ve got fur as thick as Riverclan cats, and they swim in freezing Leaf-bare water!” She teased.
“I know, I just worry about you. I don’t want you out in the cold for too long, it’s not safe for you or the kits.” Moonflight mewed lovingly. “I don’t want you hurting yourself.”
“I won’t, I promise.” Flamestorm replied softly, “Now let’s go see if we can find any herbs for Cream.”
Moonflight nodded at her and meowed, “Alright, whatever makes you happy.”
Flamestorm smiled at him and ran down the trail towards the river, the air was cold, and Flamestorm skidded to a halt at the edge of the river gorge, the bones of the fish Waveflight had caught a moon ago lying nearby. This forest couldn't be any more beautiful, and it’ll look even better in Greenleaf.
A moon had passed, and Flamestorm had been sleeping in the nursery for the past few days, too tired to do anything. Her belly was very swollen, and Cream had told her that the kits were due in less than a moon, and Flamestorm was happy, yet scared to have more kits in the camp.
Silver and Ruby had continued to ask her about the clans, interested in Starclan and clan culture. They were bigger now, and alot more energetic. They played in camp for most of the day, tackling each other and practicing pouncing on leaves, or rolling around in the snow for a moment before Crystal made them come back in and warm up before they froze.
The forest had begun sprouting with plants and flowers, the trees growing their leaves back, and prey had become much easier to find, and it was getting plump off the newly grown grasses and seeds. The clan was well fed, and they no longer needed a Sunhigh hunting patrol.
Moonflight had been insisting on sleeping in the nursery with Flamestorm, but she had simply declined with an, “I’m fine.”
Silver ran into the nursery laughing and taunting his littermate. “You can’t catch me!” He laughed. “I’m too fast!”
The small muscular tabby had dirt and leaves all over his pelt, and Crystal grabbed him by the scruff, licking him fiercely.
“I think it’s time for you two to come and take a nap, you must be tired from chasing each other.” Crystal meowed. “And besides, the rest of the clan will want to eat without two kits interrupting them.”
Silver’s eyes lit up as he saw Flamestorm looking at them with her piercing yellow eyes, her gaze soft and happy.
“Flamestorm!” He greeted. “You’re awake!”
Flamestorm nodded and yawned, hearing footsteps from outside the den, and Moonflight’s call rang out from the clearing, “Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey, join here, beneath Highoak.”
Flamestorm stumbled out of her nest, wobbling with every step. Silver and Ruby were sound asleep in their nest, and Crystal followed Flamestorm out of the den, making sure she could walk ok.
Moonflight was sitting on top of the lowest of Highoak, his head high, and his eyes shining. “Cats of Forestclan.” He addressed the gathered cats, who had all attention on him. “Starclan came to me last night- but only briefly. They had said something about their contact to the clans being cut off, and all they said was; Scorched flame comes after blazing fire.”
Flamestorm remembered the dream she had a quarter moon ago, Flowerstar and Stormwhisker had told her the same thing, only they had told her more. “I was told about this too.” Flamestorm raised her head and stood up, walking to the front of the gathered cats. “And I know what’s wrong with Starclan.”
The clan broke out into murmurs and Flamestorm silenced them with a flick of her tail. Moonflight jumped off the branch and pressed his side against her, wrapping his tail around her as she sat down.
“The Dark Forest has gained power, and with that power, they’ve been able to transport living cats into the world between Starclan and the Place of No Stars. I’ve been there multiple times, each time greeted by Scorchleaf, who keeps telling me various things about Thunderclan and his plans, knowing I wouldn’t dare try and stop him.” She explained, vividly remembering her past dreams. “Starclan has no control over what the Dark Forest cats have done to the Mooncrystal, and the two cats that Starclan were able to contact were Moonflight and I, until it was only me that they could frequently visit.”
The clan cats whispered among each other, some confused why Starclan wasn’t powerful enough to stop them.
“Starclan is not capable of doing everything, they can’t stop Scorchleaf, the Dark Forest, Leaf-bare from killing so many cats. All they can do is help us prevent this, and I believe the Dark Forest is draining their power.” Flamestorm finished.
“So what should we do?” Cream asked, worry in her eyes.
“I don’t think there’s anything we can do, and even if we could, who’s to stop Thunderclan from killing such a small group of cats? They’ve made it very clear that if I go back, I’ll be killed, which means the prophecy will be destroyed, and the clans will be doomed.” Flamestorm answered. “If I die, I can’t do anything to stop them, but as long as I live, the flame will never be scorched, it’ll stay ablaze by the power of the stars, the power… that Starclan has given me.