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This page contains a fan fiction written by Forestpaw13.
This page contains the opinions of the original author(s), and is not patrolled for factual accuracy.
Remember that this story is non-canon. It may contain false characters, plots, or locations.
Responses, comments & other feedback should be made on the comments section below.



Standards Series
Preceded by:
None
Standards Succeded by:
Healing

Prologue

A lone spirit walked in StarClan, heading towards the Stone of Rebirth.
"Rushclaw!" a cat called. "Wait for me, will you?"
Rushclaw turned to see an old friend of his, named Eaglewing. "Sure, I will, if you manage to catch me."
Eaglewing purred and leaped from a distance, aiming for Rushclaw. But Rushclaw dove out of the way, rolling across the soft grass to escape the fun-filled attack.
Eaglewing tried again, making Rushclaw annoyed. He let Eaglewing land, confused, and then he snapped, "We're going to fade if we don't hurry."
Eaglewing nodded and stepped back, allowing Rushclaw to stand and shake the dust off his pelt.
Together they raced through the forest, skidding to a halt in front of the largest stone Rushclaw had ever seen.
A cat slipped out from behind it. "Hello Rushclaw," it mewed in a calm, smooth tone. "Hello, Eaglewing. I've been expecting you."
Rushclaw glanced sideways at Eaglewing, who stared back.
"I see you would like to be reborn?" the strange cat asked, phrasing it as if it was a question. But it didn't give time to answer, either. "I have instructions for you to follow, and you two had better follow them carefully."
"What's your name?" Eaglewing's voice had fear tinged in it, as if there was something to be afraid of.
"Yellowfang," the cat snapped. "I was the ThunderClan medicine cat before I died, and I have chosen not to be reborn."
Eaglewing nodded.
"Both of you will put your right forepaw on top of my right forepaw, one at a time," Yellowfang instructed. "Then, you will make a choice."
"What kind of choice?" Rushclaw questioned.
She gestured to four small stones, each with a symbol on it. "You will choose what Clan you will live in," Yellowfang intoned. "The four stones represent ThunderClan, RiverClan, ShadowClan, and WindClan in turn."
"How do we choose?" Eaglewing asked Yellowfang.
"You will press your right forepaw to it," Yellowfang replied. "Any more questions?"
"What if we do something we regret in our chosen life?" Rushclaw asked. "What if something happens that we never wanted?"
"Live with it," Yellowfang snapped irritably. "No more questions," she added as Eaglewing opened his mouth.
Eaglewing stepped forward. "I'll go first."
Yellowfang stretched out her right forepaw and Eaglewing put his on top.
Rushclaw padded forward and placed his right paw on Yellowfang's, after Eaglewing had removed his. He felt a sharp pain and pulled back.
Eaglewing was standing in front of the four stones when Rushclaw turned around.
"Should I go to WindClan again?" he asked Rushclaw softly.
Rushclaw shrugged and pressed his paw to the ThunderClan stone.
"I'm finally free," he whispered.
Eaglewing, the giant rock, and the four stones faded away, and the spirit knew that he would not see them again.


Two nights later...

"Just one more, Nettlefur," Ravenheart crooned. "C'mon, you can do it..."
Nettlefur screeched in obvious pain and a tiny brown bundle tumbled out of her. The father, named Brackenheart, rushed forward to nip the kitting sack.
There were only two kits. A black tom, and a brown tabby she-kit. Both squirmed to be closer to their mother.
"Finally, no more secrets," Ravenheart whispered.
Brackenheart's eyes were distant-looking as he stared at his second litter of kits. "Wow..." he croaked. "Nettlefur, they're beautiful!"
Nettlefur nodded tiredly and nudged the brown tabby she-kit. "We can name her Mousekit," she told Brackenheart.
"That's beautiful," Brackenheart replied.
The black tomkit laid there, nameless.
"The black one's name-free," Ravenheart joked half-heartedly. His heart pounded desperately. Please name him! he thought.
Nettlefur nodded, then her eyes gleamed. "How about Freekit?" she asked.
Brackenheart nodded eagerly. "That's a wonderful name."
Ravenheart nodded and padded out of the nursery, his heart rising in happiness.
But another cat stopped him from going back to the medicine den, where he could sleep.
"Jaytail?" Ravenheart croaked. "You're dead."
His old mentor nodded. "StarClan have sent me with a prophecy."
Ravenheart gasped and let his ears perk up.
"Freedom isn't held by bounds," Jaytail told him, "but some cats have trouble finding it."
Ravenheart nodded and blinked. When he opened his eyes, Jaytail had vanished.
Ravenheart was alone this time. Truly, wonderfully alone.

Chapter 1

"Wake up, Freekit!" a tiny voice hissed.
Freekit had been hearing this voice for far too long. He knew it was his sister, Mousekit, because another, bigger cat had been hissing at her to stop.
"Freekit! C'mon, I wanna play!" Mousekit complained again.
Freekit blinked open his eyes and directed his eyes at his sister, who he knew was just heartbeats older than him. He had sensed it even before his birth.
"What?" he sighed.
"Freekit!" Mousekit crooned. "You're awake at last!"
"I am," Freekit grunted.
Mousekit paced around him. "C'mon! Let's go outside!"
"I don't wanna!" Freekit protested. "It's too big out there. I like it in here." In the nursery, he felt comfortable being in a small space.
Mousekit sounded disappointed. "Fine, I'll go on my own." She pranced out.
Freekit didn't know what to think. Mousekit seemed energetic enough, but her voice sounded sad.
He felt confused already, and he had just opened his eyes.


"Run!" Freekit cried.
The thing was huge, and it was right behind him. It was looming over him, and Freekit hadn't faced it yet.
Suddenly, he felt himself growing bigger and stronger, as big as a full-grown cat.
But he knew he was stronger. He knew what was going to happen before the threat attacked him, and he could figure out how to react.
And suddenly, his threat was gone, as quickly as it had come. Had it been a dream?
"Mousekit?" Freekit asked. He knew she was sleeping, she was showing all the signs.
Mousekit lifted her head. "Yeah?"
"Have you dreamed yet?" Freekit asked.
Mousekit nodded. "I dreamed I was fully-grown, Freekit, and the strongest warrior in ThunderClan."
Freekit purred, he had dreamed the same thing.
Mousekit continued, "But then, I dreamed of being overcome by a bigger, stronger cat. And I felt angry, y'know? Actually, that cat looked like you- but you looked like a warrior or something."
"Or something?"
"You know what I mean."
Freekit twitched his whiskers at her and fell asleep.


Two moons later:

He knew he was dreaming when he saw a very familiar cat in front of him.
"Yellowfang?" Freekit breathed.
"You don't look too familiar to me," she mewed, "but I can guess who you are."
Freekit flicked his tail. "I'm Freekit," he told Yellowfang.
Yellowfang muttered a name that Freekit don't catch, and then added, "Why are you here?"
Freekit shrugged and turned away. "I can go, if you want."
Yellowfang didn't reply, and Freekit padded into the trees, his sight fading like a shadow.

Chapter 2

Mousekit nudged Freekit into the medicine den. "Go on, he's not scary!"
Ravenheart had insisted on taking a closer look at Freekit for some reason. Freekit was strongly aware of his disability, but he had always thought of it to be normal to him. After all, he could see in different ways.
"I'm not different because I'm blind," Freekit hissed. "You know I can see just as well as any other cat."
Mousekit blinked. "You can?"
Freekit had said the wrong thing. "You know," he improvised, "I can smell stuff and hear stuff better than you."
Both kits definitely heard Ravenheart's annoyed call. "Get in here! I don't have all day!"
Freekit blinked and padded into the nursery, jumping over a branch.
"You were supposed to crash into that," Ravenheart protested.
Freekit sighed and backed up, allowing his tail to lightly touch the stick. "Happy?"
Ravenheart sighed. "You're blind. How do you seem to function like every other cat?"
Freekit shrugged and noticed as Ravenheart reached out a hesitant paw to touch his head. Freekit leaped backward, spitting, "Don't touch me!"
Ravenheart snapped his paw back, his frustration radiating from him. "I'm sorry! I'm trying to see how you do it."
Freekit spit at him and stormed out of the medicine den, banging into Mousekit.
"Hey!" Mousekit squeaked in protest, standing up. "Why are you so annoyed?"
Freekit just lashed his tail and stalked back to the nursery.
"I hate being blind!" he hissed to himself.


"Are you okay?"
Yellowfang's voice cut into Freekit's dreams, causing him to open his eyes.
At his startled expression, Yellowfang mewed, "Yes, you can actually see when you dream, or if you are in the presence of a StarClan cat."
Freekit knew that he could see. "Why do you keep talking to me?" he snapped. "I can see fine without your stupid help."
Yellowfang hissed. "You'll know eventually."
Freekit shut his eyes, telling himself to wake up, that he never wanted to see this she-cat again.
And when he opened his eyes again, she was there, tracing her claw in the dirt.
"Yes?" Yellowfang asked expectantly.
Freekit sighed and decided to be nice. "Why are you here? Why do you want to help me?"
Yellowfang looked up. "Because you have a history, Freekit."
Freekit sighed. This isn't helping! he thought angrily.
Yellowfang's calmness unnerved Freekit. It wasn't fair that she could sit up here and have endless prey and endless cats to talk to and endless sight. All she had to do was trace her claw in the dirt and she was happy.
"Well," Yellowfang spoke up, "tomorrow you become six moons. That means your apprentice ceremony is tomorrow, right?"
Freekit nodded.
Yellowfang's eyes shone with happiness. "I'll let you go, then." Her tail waved and Freekit closed his eyes.


When Freekit opened his eyes to darkness, he sensed a kit jumping around him.
"Apprentice ceremony! Apprentice ceremony!" Mousekit chanted.
Freekit allowed himself to purr. "Yeah, it's today, isn't it?"
Mousekit nodded vigorously.
Nettlefur, their mother, purred and stood up. "Good luck," she mewed.
"I'll need it," Freekit murmured to himself.

Chapter 3

"This Clan meeting," Reedstar mewed, "is to create two new warriors-in-training."
Freekit stared up at his leader. Mousekit squirmed beside him.
He could sense Ravenheart's eyes boring into him. He didn't turn, however.
"Mousekit, you first," Reedstar directed.
The kit stepped forward confidently.
Please get a good mentor! Freekit pleaded.
"Mousekit, from this moment on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Mousepaw," Reedstar mewed. "Your mentor will be Duskfoot."
"Mousepaw!" Freekit chanted with the Clan. "Mousepaw! Mousepaw!"
"Freekit?" Reedstar prompted.
Freekit stepped forward, and a shiver ran down his spine as he sensed Reedstar's annoyance at making a blind cat an apprentice.
I'm not blind, he thought. I can see!
"Freekit," Reedstar's voice rang, "from this moment on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Freepaw."
Freepaw wanted to leap into the air. But that would make his paws rise off the ground.
"Your mentor," Reedstar continued, "will be Thorntail."
Freepaw heard Mousepaw chant, louder than the Clan itself, "Freepaw! Freepaw!"
Freepaw sensed the cat he recognized as Thorntail pad up to him and touch his nose. "Good luck," he whispered.
Annoyance flashed through Freepaw. "I won't need it," he hissed.
Thorntail only nodded. "We'll begin training tomorrow," he told Freepaw quietly.
Freepaw only nodded curtly, and went with Mousepaw to find his nest in his new den.


Thorntail guided Freepaw through the forest.
Of course, Freepaw's senses were alert and alive with strange feelings.
A log was lying right in front of him. Thorntail was beginning the task of getting Freepaw over, but Freepaw backed up. "Let me do it," he mewed.
Thorntail stepped back, confusion and worry coming in waves.
Freepaw took one more step backward, then rushed towards the log and jumped.
He become completely blind. He had no way to see anything around him, and he began to urge himself to land.
He slammed into the ground with an uhf! and stood up quickly, so he could feel around him.
Thorntail landed behind him. "Wow," he mewed. "For a blind c-"
"I'm not blind!" Freepaw snapped irritably. Softening his voice, he added, "I just can't see."
He could sense his mentor looking at him for a long time. After a while, Thorntail mewed, "Let's go. I want to get back to camp by sundown."
Freepaw walked next to his mentor, hating every moment of it.


"And, then, I I swiped my paw like this." Mousepaw imitated the movement. "And I caught the mouse!" she finished.
Duskfoot was next to her, pride radiating from her. "What about you, Freepaw?"
Thorntail, next to him, answered, "He jumped over a log. It's like he can see."
Freepaw flinched, remembering his earlier words of wisdom to Thorntail. "It was luck," he mumbled modestly.
"You looked like you know exactly what you were doing," Thorntail protested. "It wasn't luck."
Duskfoot glanced at the young warrior and shrugged, awe and confusion now taking the place of her previous pride.
Mousepaw wasn't surprised at all. "He's been able to like, see,"- she paused- "or whatever, since we've been kits."
Freepaw flinched again and mumbled, "I'm going to go get a mouse."
The three cats looked after him as Freepaw stood and walked away.
Freepaw could sense his own frustration radiating from him as he padded towards the pile. Why am I so special? he asked himself angrily. How come I can't see like any normal cat?
He let those thoughts echo.

Chapter 4

Whispers.
That's what he heard. Whispers.
He urged them to stop, but they wouldn't.
Wake up, they told him. No, sleep. Sleep forever. No worries in the world.
Wake up, they told him. Wake up, and see.
Freepaw flattened his ears and hissed, "Shut up!"
The only way to quiet us is to open your eyes, the whispers told him.
Freepaw gritted his teeth.
The whispers continued, Hurry, Rushclaw! You have a mission.
Freepaw snapped his eyes open. "My name is Freepaw!" he snapped.
He felt around the apprentice den. Mousepaw and the other apprentice, Smokepaw, were awake, confusion radiating from them.
"Are you okay, Freepaw?" Mousepaw asked cautiously.
"It was the voices," Freepaw whispered. "They called me Rushclaw."
Smokepaw just stared.
Mousepaw shrugged at him.
Freepaw's heart was pounding. "They called me Rushclaw! There were voices- voices of cats."
And then, suddenly, he could see Yellowfang. He remembered her telling him that he could see in the presence of another cat.
Smokepaw's eyes were filled with confusion, Mousepaw's eyes were filled with fear.
Yellowfang shook her head gently. "Don't tell them any more," she whispered.
Freepaw flattened his ears and stomped out of the den, nearly crashing over a branch lying on the ground. He didn't see right when his eyesight was working.
Yellowfang followed him. "Look around at your Clan," she said. "Look. There's Reedstar, talking with Thorntail and Duskfoot, obviously about training you and Mousepaw."
Freepaw glanced over and picked out who he thought looked most like Thorntail.
"Over there is Ravenheart," Yellowfang continued, "who is talking to the Clan deputy and your father, Brackenheart."
He knew that the deputy was his father.
"That's the warriors den, over there," Yellowfang continued, flicking her tail.
Freepaw didn't even look. "Leave me alone," he growled. "I already know where everything is. I know every cat's scent!"
Yellowfang sighed and Freepaw was engulfed in blackness.


Freepaw tried not to dwell on what had happened for the next few nights.
But no matter what happened, the dreams would come.
His head told tales of a prophecy given to a cat named Rushclaw.
And he, supposedly, was Rushclaw. Somehow.
Smokepaw and Mousepaw always complained of the noise he made during the night.
So one night, Freepaw decided to go on a walk.
He had been on enough patrols to know the territory, and he had felt it from his birth. Hills rose and fell, the only thing keeping him from running were the trees scattered.
But tonight, he decided to run.
He had felt the other cats race across the ground. He understood that they were fast, and they ran for different reasons. Desperation might be clinging to them with every pawstep, or they might be running happily alongside a Clanmate. Either way, all of the ThunderClan cats were quick and hard-to-catch.
"There's a Gathering tomorrow night," Mousepaw whispered warningly. "You don't want to get caught."
Freepaw just snorted. "I won't, I promise."
Mousepaw sneered at him but didn't say anything more, allowing Freepaw to go without a fight.
He almost padded straight out of camp, using the tunnel. But three pawsteps away, he stopped short. Guard! he realized with a start.
He spun around and climbed the Highledge instead, creeping past Reedstar's den.
When he was safely out of the camp, he breathed a sigh of relief and kneaded his paws against the ground. I'll go to the ShadowClan border, he decided.
Suddenly, his vision opened. He spun around, hissing to himself, but didn't see any cat.
He let his fur fall and whispered, "Thank you, Yellowfang."
He could see. He could leap over logs and shrubs without panicking like he had before. He hadn't attempted jumping again after that incident.
He raced. He couldn't feel his speed, like he could with other cats, because he was leaping over logs and jumping up ledges.
And he lost his abilities when he could see.
Suddenly, a stench, recognizable by his patrols, slammed into him and he skidded to a stop. ShadowClan! he realized.
But he didn't only smell the scent markers, like he usually did. He could smell a cat, and it was close, too.
Freepaw dropped into a hunting crouch, creeping forward slowly.
And then he heard a snort. "What are you doing? Are all ThunderClan apprentices trained to hunt us down?"
Freepaw looked into the face of a ShadowClan cat.

Chapter 5

He was a ginger tabby with blazing amber eyes. His muzzle was white.
Freepaw's breathing was irregular. "I- I'm not trespassing. I just can't sleep."
The ShadowClan tom shrugged. "What do I care if you're trespassing or not?"
Freepaw's tongue caught between his teeth. "I-"
"My name's Jaggedpaw," the ginger tom mewed proudly.
Freepaw's worried floated away like a leaf on the water, blown by the wind. "I'm Freepaw," he replied.
"You sound relieved," Jaggedpaw pointed out mildly. His tone wasn't offended.
"I thought you were a warrior or something," Freepaw breathed.
Jaggedpaw just purred. "I trained late. I caught greencough as a kit."
Now Freepaw could see Yellowfang, off to his right. She was panting slightly. "You run fast!" she called.
"Thanks," Freepaw called back.
Jaggedpaw's ears perked. "Who are you talking to?"
"Yellowfang," Freepaw replied instantly, not thinking.
Yellowfang's face screwed up with annoyance.
"Who's Yellowfang?" Jaggedpaw asked.
"She's- er- a cat from StarClan," Freepaw answered truthfully.
"Oh."
"When she's around," Freepaw added, "I can see through my eyes."
"Can you see through your nose or something?" Jaggedpaw snorted.
"My paws," Freepaw corrected. I'm being way too truthful with this cat! he realized with a start. "I- I've got to go," he stammered. "Morning patrol," he added.
"Okay," Jaggedpaw mewed. "I'll see you at the Gathering tomorrow!"
Freepaw nodded at him and spun away, already running.
Too many secrets had come out.


Freepaw's vision was dark by the time Freepaw arrived back in the apprentice den, unseen by any cat.
As he padded in, however, Mousepaw lifted her head. "Where'd you go?" she asked groggily.
"A walk," Freepaw grunted. "I- er- I memorized a route."
Mousepaw sensed a lie, Freepaw could tell, but she lowered her head onto her paws again.
Smokepaw slept soundly. His chest rose and fell.
Freepaw lowered his head and reached out his mind, trying to make contact with Smokepaw's. He wanted to try something.
And, indeed, he could sense more than just emotions.
Smokepaw's thoughts were filled with Mousepaw, and what she looked like. But every once in a while, another thought would spark.
She's Freepaw's sister, Smokepaw thought. Darkness swirled around it, and Freepaw snapped his head up.
"Is something wrong?" Mousepaw's whisper reached Freepaw's ears.
"N-nothing's wrong. I just remembered something, is all."
"What?"
Freepaw searched for a lie. "Er... the Gathering's tomorrow. I'm exhausted."
Mousepaw nodded and breathed slower. She had fallen asleep.
Freepaw sighed and closed his eyes, too.
He saw Yellowfang instantly, and Freepaw felt a pang of annoyance.
"Why did you tell so much to that ShadowClan cat?" Yellowfang hissed. Freepaw felt himself be pinned down, and he looked up to see Yellowfang's face- seething- in front of his own.
"I-" Freepaw croaked.
Yellowfang cut him off. "Why did you?" she asked slower.
"I just- I just lost myself!" Freepaw burst out. "I just feel like I can trust him."
"He's a ShadowClan cat!"
"So what? It doesn't matter what Clan he belongs to, cats have gone bad in all four!" Freepaw felt anger brewing up inside of him.
Yellowfang sighed. "I left ShadowClan when I was alive," she told Freepaw.
Darkness seemed to swirl around her, and Freepaw didn't want to hear any more.
So he closed his eyes.
Distant yowling. "Freepaw!" he heard. "Freepaw!"
He opened his eyes to sense Ravenheart standing in front of him.
"I saw you leave," Ravenheart mewed darkly. "Why don't you come out in the clearing and tell me why?"

Chapter 6

Freepaw stood and followed the medicine cat out of the den. Some part of him wanted to claw Ravenheart and fall asleep again. His walk had exhausted him.
But the part of him that respected the young tom overruled, forcing Freepaw to follow Ravenheart to the medicine den.
As soon as they were out of hearing range of any other cat Freepaw burst out, "I couldn't sleep."
Freepaw was then astonished by the emotions that he picked up from Ravenheart.
"You can't be tired," Ravenheart whispered. "You have freedom ahead of you..."
Freepaw tried to connect to Ravenheart's mind, but it was clouded.
"What kind of freedom?" Freepaw asked finally.
Ravenheart just turned away. "Ask me later," he mewed. "When you're older."
Anger surged through Freepaw, but he didn't dare speak a word.
Instead, he turned and padded out.


"Training!" Thorntail called to Freepaw.
Freepaw stood from where he was seething about Ravenheart. How dare he doesn't tell me my destiny! he thought to himself.
Thorntail beckoned Freepaw with his tail and padded out of the camp.
I can't see! Freepaw thought to himself. How does he expect me to follow?
Then he flinched, remembering what he had told Thorntail earlier. He muttered to himself. "I'm not blind, I just can't see."
Thorntail stuck his head back through the tunnel. "Coming?"
Freepaw followed him through the tunnel.
He had already sensed confusion bubbling through Thorntail, but as he approached it became stronger and stronger.
"Is everything okay?" Freepaw asked his mentor.
Thorntail nodded. "Y-yeah."
Freepaw narrowed his eyes but didn't say anything.
"Today," Thorntail told him, "I'm going to teach you how to fight."
Freepaw's eyes widened. "R-really?" A flash of excitement shot through him.
Thorntail nodded, and regret seemed to radiate out of him. "Follow me."
Freepaw only sighed. "You don't want to train me..."
Thorntail stopped short from where he had been walking away. "What makes you think that?"
"You're regretting it," Freepaw replied.
Thorntail gritted his teeth but didn't say anything.
"I can fight better than you, anyway," Freepaw murmured.
With that, he leaped, claws sheathed, on top of his mentor, anticipating the surprise that it would bring.
Thorntail gasped. But by then, he was already pinned.
"I don't need to learn how to fight, anyway," Freepaw told his mentor. With that, he let Thorntail free and padded away to hunt.
He felt Thorntail's adoration for him rise. He never knew it was there.


Back at camp, Freepaw felt anger, annoyance, and fear radiating from every cat.
"What's wrong?" he asked Smokepaw in a low voice.
"Ravenheart's told Reedstar that he knows who the next leader is. He's going to die, and soon," Smokepaw explained. Darkness echoed in his voice, but it wasn't from his conversation with Freepaw.
"Ravenheart-" Freepaw cut himself off aruptly. "Oh, StarClan," he muttered.
Smokepaw just stood back as Freepaw raced to the medicine den.
"I'm the next leader," Freepaw told Ravenheart. "I know I am."
"You have one cat that's aiming to kill you," Ravenheart replied. "And if they do, you're not the next leader. They'll be."

Chapter 7

Freepaw had been about to continue, but when Ravenheart finished speaking, his tongue remained trapped in his jaws.
"I'm only telling you what StarClan told me," Ravenheart added, shrugging.
Freepaw was astonished. "S-some cat wants to kill me?" he stammered. "A blind cat?"
"Thorntail told me that you can see," Ravenheart retorted.
It was time for the truth to come out. "I- I can see through my paws, if they're on the ground."
Ravenheart's eyes widened. "What?"
"I can feel things. I can see cats doing things, and feel their feelings and their thoughts, and hear and smell them, of course." Freepaw's fur grew hot as he felt Ravenheart's astonishment growing. "You're astonished," Freepaw told Ravenheart. "I can feel it, like the wind on my fur, and I can hear it, like a cat talking to me."
Ravenheart lowered his head. "Have you seen the prophecy yet?" he asked.
Freepaw shook his head. "I only realized that I can last night." He shivered, remembering hearing his name in Smokepaw's mind, followed by darkness.
"I received a prophecy when you were born," Ravenheart mewed. "Further dreams told me to tell you when I discovered your abilities, and I thought they would just be- you know- like astonishing things that blind cats usually can't do."
Freepaw decided not to say that he could see, and asked, "Well, what's the prophecy?"
Ravenheart opened his mouth, but then Freepaw heard Reedstar call, "Ravenheart! Freepaw! Time to go to the Gathering!"
Ravenheart's thoughts grew dark, but he stood up.
Freepaw did, too. "Please don't tell anyone yet," he requested. "I- I'm just not ready for cats to know."
Ravenheart nodded and slipped out of the den, leaving Freepaw behind.


Freepaw could use his eyes at the Gathering. He knew Yellowfang was around somewhere, but he didn't want to look for her just yet.
He could see so many cats around him. Their scents burned his nose.
"Freepaw!" a voice called. Freepaw recognized Jaggedpaw's voice.
The ginger tom was standing with a couple other apprentices, including Mousepaw and Smokepaw.
Freepaw padded to them. "Hi, Jaggedpaw," he mewed.
"You know him?" Smokepaw asked.
Freepaw shrugged. "We've met."
Jaggedpaw winked at Freepaw. "Our patrols had a run-in."
Mousepaw looked suspiciously at Freepaw but didn't say anything.
Thorntail suddenly appeared behind Freepaw. "Stay away from ShadowClan," he growled.
Smokepaw's eyes narrowed but he didn't say anything.
Freepaw shrugged at Jaggedpaw and took a respectful step away.
"Why should they stay away from me?" Jaggedpaw asked Thorntail. "What part of me is dangerous? ShadowClan may have shadow in its name, but we are just the same as you. We just have a bittersweet history."
Thorntail gritted his teeth.
Reedstar called from the Great Oak, "Let this Gathering begin, while the moon is still high!"
Thorntail turned away to face his leader and the other three.
Smokepaw had already been to a Gathering, and was sitting between Mousepaw and Freepaw.
"We have two new apprentices," Reedstar began. "We welcome Freepaw and Mousepaw to ThunderClans' ranks."
Cats turned to stare at the siblings, and Freepaw felt himself shrink under their gaze.
Another cat stepped forward. Smokepaw whispered, "That's Tigerstar, leader of ShadowClan."
"We have a new apprentice as well," Tigerstar mewed. "Jaggedpaw, who has recovered from greencough."
Jaggedpaw, who was sitting behind Freepaw, puffed his chest fur out.
A third cat stepped forward. They were thin and lean. "That's Gorsestar of WindClan," Smokepaw whispered.
Gorsestar mewed, "We have no new apprentices, but we have a new warrior. Harepaw is now known as Harepelt."
Cats murmured congratulations, and a cat across the clearing sat up a bit straighter.
The fourth and final cat in the tree- besides Yellowfang, Freepaw noted- stepped forward. Their fur was shiny and thick.
"That's-" Smokepaw's voice suddenly caught in his throat. "What happened to Stormstar?"
"Stormstar has passed away," the cat mewed. "He lost his ninth life fighting greencough. I will make my journey to the Moonpool tomorrow night, and our new chosen deputy is Mossclaw."
Cats murmured sadly.
"The cat in the tree is Suntail," Smokepaw explained. "Stormstar was a strong cat," he added. "He couldn't have just died fighting greencough."
Mousepaw shrugged. "Maybe they're lying."
Smokepaw sighed. "Don't accuse RiverClan of that."
Suntail called, "This Gathering has finished."
Freepaw was left with questions turning through his head as his vision blackened.

Chapter 8

Smokepaw's thoughts were filled with plots.
Freepaw instantly thought, Plots for what?
But different things were swirling around. Mousepaw circled around Freepaw, a trap waved around...
Freepaw snapped out of Smokepaw's mind. All of the thoughts disappeared like smoke.
"What are you thinking about?" Freepaw asked Smokepaw.
Smokepaw lowered his voice. "Your sister," he confessed. Relief flooded from him. "I really, really like her."
Freepaw felt a pang of annoyance. You like my sister!
Smokepaw went on. "She's just so happy all the time," he mewed. Relief was even tinged in his voice now.
"You sure?" Freepaw asked shortly. "She's always angry at me."
"You're so sneaky," Smokepaw mewed. "You're always sneaking around, doing who-knows-what."
Freepaw's neck fur bristled. "Blind cats are different, Smokepaw. We think differently. We have to rely on smell and hearing. I've been roaming because I need to learn the territory just as well as I know the camp." It was a lie. A bad one.
"Of course," Smokepaw sneered.
Freepaw struggled with the urge to tackle him like he had done with Thorntail earlier.
He didn't. Instead, he tackled Smokepaw with his claws unsheathed.
Smokepaw retaliated with a kick to the chest that nearly knocked Freepaw away, but he hung on with his claws.
"I can see," Freepaw growled into Smokepaw's ear. "You're being stupid, and you're lucky I love my sister, or I would kill you right now."
Smokepaw tried to push Freepaw off again, with no avail. "Let me up!" he hissed.
Freepaw felt amusement rush through him. "If I do, you'll never call me blind again."
"You are blind!" Smokepaw protested.
"I'm not blind," Freepaw hissed. He placed a claw onto Smokepaw's throat. "You promise to me that you will never call me blind again."
Smokepaw muttered a curse to himself, but added, "I promise to never call you blind again." His eyes were looking towards Mousepaw.
Freepaw clambered off of him, not panting. He was now fully aware of the cats staring around him. The only cat without surprise radiating from him was Ravenheart.
Go figure, Freepaw thought.
Reedstar's shoulders were hunched. "Freepaw," he growled, "you know it's not right to attack a cat like that."
Freepaw snorted. "Who cares?"
"I do," Smokepaw told him.
"So do I," Mousepaw added.
Ravenheart crept to Freepaw's side and mewed, "His eyes don't work."
Freepaw stiffened and glared at him.
Thorntail sat on Freepaw's other side. "I think you should let him go."
Every cat was silent as Reedstar processed Thorntail's statement. "Why?" he asked eventually.
Thorntail just mewed, "It's just a thought of mine. He got angry, and he let himself attack. He didn't think."
Freepaw gritted his teeth as Ravenheart added, "And not being able to see makes him rely on other, different senses."
Freepaw just stood. "I'm going to sleep. Long day tomorrow."
With his senses alert, he padded towards the apprentice den.
A cat was sitting inside. Freepaw gritted his teeth as his sight opened and his touch weakened.
"StarClan, Yellowfang, can't you just leave me alone?" Freepaw asked.

Chapter 9

"Training this morning," Thorntail told Freepaw. "Although you don't need it, apparently, I want to show you moves so you'll recognize them in battle."
Time to tell, Freepaw thought. "Sure," he mewed.
"Can we come?" a cat called.
Grayfoot was standing across the clearing next to his apprentice, Smokepaw.
Thorntail shrugged. "Sure," he called back half-heartedly.
Grayfoot bounded across the clearing, Smokepaw trailing slower. "Thanks!" Grayfoot mewed, when he was closer.
"Let's go, then," Thorntail mewed, when Smokepaw had arrived.
Thorntail led the other cats through the forest, until they came to the training clearing.
For the first time, Smokepaw spoke up. "Why don't we have a mock fight?" he asked. "Me and Freepaw can fight. We can keep our claws sheathed." He hesitated for a moment, and added, "You know, for practice."
Grayfoot glanced at Thorntail. "Your apprentice is... he can't use his eyes. How will it be a fair fight?"
"ShadowClan don't fight fair," Smokepaw pointed out.
Thorntail nodded at him. "If there's any sign of unfairness"- he glared at Smokepaw- "it will be over. No questions asked. Understand?"
Freepaw nodded, and Smokepaw nodded, and stared at his paws.
"Well, what are you waiting for?" Grayfoot asked. "Go!"
Smokepaw instantly flung himself at Freepaw, and Freepaw lost sight of him for a moment.
Yellowfang! he pleaded. Help me!
His vision opened and Smokepaw was pushed off of him.
"What?" Smokepaw hissed. "Who did that?"
Freepaw flung himself at Smokepaw, tackling him and rolling. He turned out on top.
"Good!" Thorntail called.
But Smokepaw wasn't ready to be defeated. He unsheathed his claws and grabbed onto Freepaw's legs.
Freepaw gasped in pain and jumped off, giving Smokepaw a chance to tackle him.
Freepaw went limp, trying to fool him into thinking that he was defeated.
"I will kill you," Smokepaw whispered slowly.
He was pushed off again by Yellowfang, causing Smokepaw to spit.
"Unfair!" Grayfoot yowled. He bounded forward, but Yellowfang spun and pushed him away, too.
"Let us fight!" Freepaw muttered, before flinging himself at Smokepaw, claws unsheathed.
Smokepaw let himself be pushed across the clearing, causing Freepaw to skid to a stop.
Smokepaw instantly stood and pushed Freepaw down in his time of weakness.
"Good one," Freepaw grunted. "Kill me? I don't think so."
Smokepaw just bit Freepaw's ear in response, causing Freepaw to yowl in pain.
"I will kill you," Smokepaw hissed.
Freepaw decided to make the final move. He flipped Smokepaw over and placed a claw at his throat. "Not if I kill you first."
Freepaw's vision went dark as Thorntail yowled, "Freepaw! Smokepaw! That's enough!"


Freepaw trotted beside his mentor back to camp, feeling heat blaze on his fur.
"You're a fantastic fighter," Thorntail had told him earlier. "But how do you do it?"
Freepaw had only blinked.
Smokepaw had gotten in trouble. His punishment was to clean out the elder's den for a quarter-moon.
Thorntail suddenly stiffened.
Freepaw had already heard it. A yowl of pain. Misery. Fear.
And then he smelled the smoke.

Chapter 10

Freepaw gritted his teeth and launched himself forward, not caring if he stepped on a pebble or if he had to jump over a log.
Thorntail called, "What?"
"Fire!" Freepaw yowled over his shoulder.
Yellowfang's thoughts drifted into his mind. Do you need to see?
Probably. My eyes can't be damaged any more, can they? Freepaw thought back.
Yellowfang's regret was strong.
Freepaw only ran faster.


It was only when he reached the camp did Freepaw's vision work. Yellowfang was already pushing through the entrance.
Save your Clan, Rushclaw, the voices whispered. You can do great things.
Freepaw gritted his teeth and plunged through the tunnel, feeling the intense heat.
The fire was like a wall above him. Cats were racing around.
Thorntail raced by Freepaw and plunged into the flames.
"Freepaw!" Ravenheart called. "What are you doing? Help!"
Freepaw raced towards the flames, heading towards the apprentice den.
He heard Mousepaw's terrified squeak and saw Smokepaw trying to coax her out.
"There's no time for that!" Freepaw snapped. He dove past Smokepaw, kicked a smoking nest aside, and grabbed his sister's scruff. "Get out of here!"
Mousepaw squeaked with terror and ran out of the den, trailing Smokepaw.
"Coward," Freepaw grunted.
He heard cries from the nursery.
"Oh, dear StarClan, help us," Freepaw muttered as he raced to help there.
He saw Yellowfang shove a queen out into the camp.
"They'll be fine!" Freepaw yowled, diving into the den.
Three kits- named Flamekit, Waterkit, and Wingkit, were standing in the corner, shaking with fear. Brackenheart was standing there, too, not sure what to do.
"Grab one," Freepaw told him. "And run. I'll get the other two."
Brackenheart snatched up Flamekit and ran out of the nursery.
Yellowfang stepped forward. "I'll get Waterkit."
Freepaw shrugged, grabbed Wingkit, and raced into the clearing again.
He dodged a flame, leaped over a burning log, and dove through the tunnel, dropping Wingkit just outside, where he was snatched up by Nettlefur.
"I'm going back in to see if there's any other cats left!" Freepaw told his Clan, and ran back in again.
Good, Rushclaw, the voices whispered.
Freepaw ignored them and ran into Yellowfang, holding a terrified Waterkit. Freepaw grabbed her by the scruff and dropped her outside the camp. He instantly spun around again and raced back.
He ran to the elder's den, relieved that there were no cats in there. He was just about to turn and go out when...
The burning den collapsed.
Freepaw spun and ran, ran, rolling to get the flames off of his fur. He skidded to a stop, feeling the flame on his tail.
"Lash it," Yellowfang hissed.
Freepaw did.
And then he ran.
Straight into a fire.
he burst out, his fur covered in the monster.
Everything went black.



Be sure to look out for Healing, the next book in the Standards series! Forestpaw13

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