lol, I always wondered what would happen if something like this happened. xD
- 1 Alliegiances
- 2 Prologue
- 3 Chapter 1
- 4 Chapter 2
- 5 Chapter 3
- 6 Chapter 4
- 7 Chapter 5
- 8 Chapter 6
- 9 Chapter 7
- 10 Chapter 8
- 11 Chapter 9
- 12 Chapter 10
- 13 Chapter 11
- 14 Chapter 12
- 15 Chapter 13
- 16 Chapter 14
- 17 Chapter 15
- 18 Chapter 16
- 19 Chapter 17
- 20 Chapter 18
- 21 Chapter 19
- 22 Chapter 20
Leader: Pouncestar - Ginger tabby tom with blue eyes.
Deputy: Tawnyheart - Gray tom
Medicine Cat: Rabbittail - Brown tom with white paws and white tail tip.
Brackenfur: Ginger tabby with amber eyes.
Acornfall - Brown tom.
Amberpelt - Golden-brown she-cat with dark blue eyes.
Molefur - Black tom with amber eyes.
Darkwind - Dark warrior.
Mouseclaw - Small dusky brown she-cat with amber eyes.
Flowersplash - Tortoiseshell she-cat.
Weedstream - Ginger tom with green eyes.
Waspstripe - Golden she-cat with black stripes and amber eyes.
Starlingflight - Small brown she-cat with white paws, tail tip, chest, and belly.
Patchspot - Brown and white tom with yellow eyes.
Shrewpaw - Tan tabby tom with a narrow face and amber eyes.
Foxpaw - Slender ginger she-cat with black paws and a white chest, belly, and tail tip and glittering green eyes.
Runningpaw - Cream she-cat with darker paws, ears, and tail and blue eyes.
Robinpaw - Pale tabby with speckled blue eyes.
Lilypaw - Brown tabby she-cat with dark blue eyes;medicine cat apprentice.
Duskberry: Pretty tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes; Brackenfur's kit (Starkit - Black she-kit with white chest and belly and a tear drop shape on her head and blue eyes)
Bramblethorn - Brown tom
Lakesplash - Silver she-cat with green eyes.
Briarclaw - Tan she-cat with blue eyes.
Crowflight - Black tom with amber eyes.
Leader: Littlestar - A small tabby tom with amber eyes.
Deputy: Swallowfur - A slim silver tabby she-cat with green eyes.
Medicine Cat: Cloudfrost - White she-cat with black flecks and blue eyes.
Hazelswirl - Golden she-cat with amber eyes.
Crowclaw - Black tom with frosty blue eyes.
Thornheart - Ginger tom with green eyes.
Brightspot - Tortoiseshell she-cat.
Robinleg - Small ducky brown she-cat; expecting Thornheart's kits.
Medowpoppy - Golden tabby she-cat with brilliant green eyes.
Treefall - Brown tom
Stonestream - Once pretty silver she-cat
Leader: Fallowstar - Tan tabby tom with amber eyes.
Deputy: Nightwish - Black she-cat with green eyes.
Medicine Cat: Toadeyes - Ginger tom with green eyes
Shadowedfern - Black she-cat with tinted green eyes.
Ashstorm - Gray tom with black flecks.
Rustfur - Ginger she-cat with white flecks and belly with amber eyes
Oakclaw - Brown/red tom with blue eyes.
Smokecloud - Dark gray tom with ice blue eyes.
Rockpelt - Gray tom with white paws and tail tip.
Ivyvine - White she-cat with silver stripes and blue eyes; expecting Rockpelt's kits.
Bluepool - Blue furred she-cat with deep blue eyes; mother of Ashstorm's kits (Palekit - pale she-kit with blue eyes, Longkit - tabby tom with long legs)
Tinytooth - Small, old, tom
Leader: Birchstar - Small tan tabby she-cat with white paws, tail tip, chest, and belly and green eyes.
Deputy: Swiftstep - Black and white tom with amber eyes
Medicine Cat: Rippletail - Blue-gray tom
Eagletalon - Brown tom with a white stomach and muzzle.
Stormbreeze - Gray tom with swirly black stripes and blue eyes.
Daisypetal - White she-cat with yell eyes.
Leafpelt - Dark brown tabby
Badgerclaw - Dark warrior
Splashheart - Toirtoishell she-cat with amber eyes.
"There's only one kit." Rabbittail said. "A little she-kit. She's pretty weak so you'll want to watch her. What do you want to name her?"
Brackenfur looked at his mate. Duskberry was curled up against the tiny bundle, licking it. She looked up at the two toms, then back at her kitten. She paused for a moment thoughtfully," Starkit." she meowed. "Perhaps our ancestors will take pity on her and she'll live."
The she-cat clearly wasn't optimistic about her kit's survival and she licked it's head again.
"What if she becomes leader?" asked Brackenfur. He snorted. "Starstar?"
Rabbittail's whiskers twitched and Duskberry rasped her tongue against her kit for another moment, then stared directly into Brackenfur's amber gaze. Her green eyes were serious and sorrowful.
"Brackenfur, all of our kits have been dissappointments," she said, thinking of their other litters, not even trying to make him think more of Starkit. "Traitors, running away to be kittypets, evil and ambitious....what makes you think this one'll be any different?"
Brackenfur nudged Starkit with his tail, not noticing that Rabbittail had slipped out. "I dunno...." he muttered.
Duskberry broke her gaze with him, "So she's Starkit."
Brackenfur nodded and his gaze softened a little when he licked Duskberry's cheek, "Whatever you want."
Duskberry nodded and her eyes slipped back to her kit. Brackenfur licked her ear quickly and padded out.
"Oh Starkit," she meowed softly, drawing her kit closer, glad the nursery was empty. "Please don't be as much a failure as your older siblings....please. You don't have to be leader, just don't die....or..." she thought of all the things her previous kits had done and decided to save some time by not listening them all, "Or do anything your siblings haven't done."
Starkit didn't move much, just nudged closer to her mother's belly. Duskberry decided to take this as a sign that her kit was stronger then she seemed.
Lilypaw ran in. Duskberry looked up at the medicine cat apprentice. "Yes?" she said drowsily.
"You'd better come quick," the small she-cat told her worriedly. "Shrewpaw and Foxpaw have been in the medicine storage!"
"I just had another kit, surely some of my older children can wait!" Duskberry snapped.
Lilypaw nodded and backed away as the older she-cat turned back to her new kit, "Now where was I..."
Starkit opened her eyes and looked around the nursery. It was empty and the pale dawn light streaked into the shafts at the top of the nursery ceiling, casting a shadowy light on Duskberry's tan, brown, and black tortoiseshell pelt as she slept peacefully.
Starkit wondered what her pelt look like. Is it as pretty?
She twisted around, trying to glimpse it but her eyes were still not very good and moss was covering her pelt. She thrashed around, trying to see what she looked like but all she managed to do was crash against her mother and let out a squeal.
"Oof! What the-" Duskberry's eyes flew open and she saw Starkit and gave a purr. "Hey little one...you opened your eyes!"
"Yes!" meowed Starkit, pleased with how pretty her voice sounded. She looked at Duskberry's pretty green eyes and wondered what hers looked like in frustration.
Duskberry purred, "I can't wait to tell Brackenfur! And all your siblings!"
Starkit looked around. The nursery was completely empty. "Did they already go out?" she asked curiously.
"Well...in a way. They're all apprentices or warriors now."
"Really? How many? What're their names? Will they visit me?" Starkit perked her ears.
Duskberry didn't look too flustered and starkit got the feeling she'd been pestered like this a lot. "I've had 2 litters before you. One of 3 and one of 2. The first one was Mouseclaw, Flowersplash, and Darkwind. The second litter are apprentices now, Foxpaw and Shrewpaw. They might. They're very busy making tro-with their warrior duties."
Starkit blinked in confusion, wondering what her mother was saying. They she nodded. "Well..."
"Don't you want to go explore?"
The thought hadn't crossed her mind. She suddenly felt very excited, realizing that this was her chance to see her territory-or at least sme of it.
I'm going to be a warrior!
Excitement pricked at her paws and she nodded, "Yes please!"
Duskberry's whiskers twitched. Her eyes seemed confused though as though none of her other kits had ever not wanted to go exploring as soon as they opened their eyes. She blinked slowly, then licked Starkit's head.
"Go ahead little warrior. Come back soon."
Starkit nudged her mother with her nose and pushed her way out of the nursery, making sure to avoid the barbed brambles.
She blinked and gasped at the new world in fornt of her.
Starkit looked aorund, not trusting her eyes to take in the entire camp at once. An appietizing yet revolting planty kind of smell drifted from a cave. Complaints rose from a tree trunk with a gap in it. A few cats were playing outside of a lowhanging bush. One of them, a slender, ginger, she-cat with gleaming green eyes caught Starkit's eyes. A huge, huge bush was still, but then it trembled and a big cat pushed it's way out. Starkit let out a gasp. The other cats playing, that already seemed so large, were little compared to this cat-who could be nothing other than a warrior.
And there was still more! A big pile of grays and browns was in the middle of camp and Starkit tentavily padded over. She saw they were the dead bodies of different animals. A small animal with a tail as long and fluffy as its body, a tiny, round creature, a thing with feathers and wings....
Starkit nosed her way further and furth inside the pile. Suddenly she realized she couldn't see the way she had come back in. Was she lost?
"Hey, what's this?"
A voice sounded from all around her and there was a hard tug on her tail. Starkit let out a squeal and tried to squirm away.
"Hey, Acornfall, I think this one's still alive!"
Starkit was dragged out of the fresh-kill pile by her tail and out into the light. She stared up at a narrow faced tom in fear. Were his whiskers twitching? She was too frightened to care.
He looked puzzled and amused at the same time, "Starkit?"
He snorted. "Foxpaw! Come check this out!"
The ginger she-cat Starkit had seen before stalked over, her black paws hardly making a sound on the camp floor. She looked at the tom, "What Shrewpaw?"
"I found Starkit, you know, Mom's latest litter," both of them giggled a little at the last word and Starkit flinched. It wasn't her fault she was all alone! "Was trying to make a nest in the fresh kill pile!"
Foxpaw burst out laughing and Starkit suddenly realized these cats were her siblings. She ducked her head, wondering how she could've been so stupid as to make a fool of herself in front of them.
"Now what's this?" another voice sounded form behind Starkit. She turned to see a brown tom with white paws and a white tail tip staring down at her with kind amber eyes. She shuffled her paws, not knowing who this cat was.
Foxpaw purred, "Starkit's been at the fresh-kill pile, trying to make a den." her whiskers were still twitching.
The tom looked at Starkit again. "So, this is your first time out of the nursery Starkit?"
She nodded, wondering if everyone was going to greet her with the same question, acting as though they had known her all their lives rather than for only a few moments.
As if guessing her thoughts, the tom smiled. "I'm Rabbittail, the medicine cat. Come on," he turned, beckoning her with his tail.
"Let's go meet your Clan."
Rabbittail led Starkit away from her older siblings and Starkit glanced back at them, still stung by their comments. Rabbittail looked back at her, "That's just how they are." he meowed quietly. "Now come on, let's go see your Clan."
Starkit bounded to walk beside him, feeling proud of the way he had said 'your Clan'. She liked this cat.
He led her to the strange smelling cave she had seen earlier. "This is where I sleep, the medicine den." Starkit peeked inside. A small cat slept soundly in a mossy nest. There was a trickle of water and sandy areas with moss nests for sicks cats. A crack in the back was where the pungent smell came from. Starkit wondered what was in there.
Rabbittail touched her shoulder with his tail. "Come on." He led her past the two bush-dens.
"That one's the apprentice den." he meowed, nodding towards the place where Foxpaw had been playing. A few cats lounged outside now and one or two smiled warmly at Starkit who waved her tail shyly back. "The bigger one is the warrior's den."
Starkit stared in awe at the huge den. Some mews came from inside-and snores, sounding big and scary. She shivered. Would the warriors like her?
Rabbittail nudged her away. She noticed a big rock jutting out of the ground, surronded by a small pool. "That's River-Rock." Rabbittail explained. "Pouncestar's den is under there." he nodded to a crevice in the rock pile. Starkit's paws itched to go explore by she held her ground. Rabbittail led her past the nursery, then stopped at the tree where Starkit had heard the arguing.
"This is the elders den. Go ahead in, they love new kits."
Starkit wasn't so sure she wanted to go in a den where just moments before she had heard some cat yowling about clawing an apprentice for bringing in damp moss, but she padded in, Rabbittail following.
Four old cats sat in nests, talking or snoozing. A brown tom looked up and noticed Starkit. His eyes brightened.
"This is Starkit." Rabbittail purred. "Duskberry and Brackenheart's new kit."
The brown tom poked a silver she-cat awake. "Wake up Lakesplash!"
The other two elders, a tan she-cat and a black tom were already awake and smiling at Starkit. "Come in little one!" One of them invited.
Starkit looked to Rabbittail. He shook his head. "I have to go collect some herbs and wake up Lilypaw, but you go ahead." he dipped his head to the old cats and backed out.
Starkit turned nervously towards the elders. The brown tom beckoned her over with his tail. "I'm Bramblethorn. This lazy lump," he nudged the silver she-cat who was still half-asleep, "Is Lakesplash. Those two," he nodded to the other cats, "Are Briarclaw," the tan she-cat nodded, "And Crowflight."
Crowflight blinked warmly at Starkit. "Would you like to hear a story?"
Starkit's tail shot up. "Yes please!"
She padded over and curled up next to Bramblethorn. Briarclaw yawned, then meowed, "Well....let's see, I remember the one time that Foxpaw-"
Crowflight nudged her and Briarclaw's eyes widened as though she had just remembered something. Starkit was curious what they were going to tell her about her sibling.
"Well, once there was a family of badgers-"
"Badgers?" Starkit asked.
"Mean black and white things that could kill a cat." Lakesplash explained drowsily.
"There was a family of badgers," Briarclaw continued.
Starkit nestled into Bramblethorn's nest, thinking that maybe some cats besides her mother and the medicine cat could be her friends.
"She won't wake up!"
Duskberry's terrified skriek woke Starkit up. But she could barely open her eyes, they seemed stuck together. She tried to speak and tell her mother it was ok, but her throat burned and all she could do was cough.
"Someone fetch Rabbittail!"
Her father's strong meow made her flinch inside. Why did this have to be the first time he saw her-when she was sick and unable to open her eyes or speak?
"I'm here." Rabbittail's reassuring tone made her feel a little bit better. A paw felt her throat and she could almost feel the medicine cat's gaze burning into her pelt. "She has green-cough."
Duskberry let out a wail.
Someone pulled Starkit up and carried her out of the nursery. She scented the earthy scent of the medicine den before she slipped into sleep again.
Starkit was shaken awake. She opened her eyes blearily, discovering she could open them now though they were covered with sticky stuff and she could barely see. An unfamiliar brown tabby was staring at her with dark blue eyes.
"I'm so sorry Starkit. But we need you to take some herbs."
"Who...Who...?" she still couldn't talk very well,breaking into coughs.
"I'm Lilypaw, the medicine cat apprentice." the she-cat explained. "You have green-cough and you need to taste this catmint. It'll help and it tastes very good."
Starkit nodded, too weak to argue. She weakly licked up the herbs, letting out a raspy purr at the delicious flavor that seeped into her mouth.
Lilypaw looked worried and Starkit wondered why but she was already drifting back to sleep.
She hardly heard Rabbittail pad in but she did hear Lilypaw meow softly, "What if she dies? She was weak at birth, she's not strong enough to fight this off!"
Starkit felt a strong wave of indignation. I'm strong!
She would've argued with the medicine cat apprentice, but she was already falling asleep....
Starkit woke up in a starry forest. She looked around. I'm not in RiverClan...
It was a beautiful place, the chatter of prey and the sound of running water and the wind rippling in her fur calmed her and she sat, taking in everything.
Suddenly, a cat appeared by her. Starkit looked at it, eyes wide with shock. It was a tom with gray fur, silver with stars and river-blue eyes. "Who'e you?" she squeaked.
"I am your ancestor, River." the tom rumbled.
"Why'm I here....?" Starkit asked, trailing off as she noticed a huge rock rising out of the land. It sparkled with stars and a whole group of cats-more then there were in all of RiverClan- were sitting around at it, gazing at her expectantly.
She had heard enough stories from other cats to know she was in StarClan. And if she was in StarClan..."No..." she whispered.
River followed her gaze, eyes filled with sorrow. She looked at him and he meowed softly,
"You have a place here, among the stars. But it's not time for you to come here yet. Your mother named you after us, hoping we would watch over you." he blinked, "And we do. You have a great destiny Starkit. Your path is harder to tread than most, but you have the strength to walk it."
The starry forests of StarClan and River dissappeared and Starkit woke up in the medicine den, feeling completely better.
Starkit dreamt she was running through a lush forest, chasing a squirrel. It was fast, but she was faster. She grabbed it's tail and yanked it back.
"Get off of me!"
Her eyes flew open.
It was 3 moons after she had recovered miraculously from green-cough and the nursery was full to the brim. Amberstripe was in with Molefur's kits, Spottedkit, Redkit, Stonekit, and Thistlekit. Starlingflight was also in, expecting Weedstream's kits. Starkit was now the oldest kit and holding Stonekit's gray tabby tail in her mouth. The tiny tom's eyes were wide and his mother glowered at Starkit.
Starkit dropped the tail and muttered, "Sorry." She slunk outside, feeling like a warm thrush for breakfast. Now adays, Starkit liked to go outside early and watch the warriors come out of their den. She enjoyed watching them, getting to know them though she hadn't spoken to many of them. And wondering who would be her mentor in 2 moons was always fun. She looked around. Hardly anyone was up except for Darkwind who was talking to the Clan deputy about patrols.
The dark warrior saw Starkit and padded over to her. "C'mere." He led her over to Tawnyheart and Starkit blinked up at the deputy, wondering if any other kits were lucky enough to meet the deputy.
"This is my younger sister." Darkwind said, beaming proudly. Starkit's tail fluffed up proudly. She had been sure her oldest brother never looked at her, but it seemed he had!
Tawnyheart purred, "Perhaps you would mentor her? She is almost ready for her ceremony." He smiled down at Starkit and the she-cat noticed a surprised happiness as well as a deeper, more controlled fire of excitment in Darkwind's eyes.
"Well...I'd be honored!" he meowed. Tawnyheart dipped his head at him, then looked at Starkit. "If you ever need me, let me know."
Starkit felt a proud fire glow inside her as she dipped her head and padded away. Darkwind turned away from the kit and Starkit padded after him.
"Go away kit." he growled. Starkit stopped, surprised. The dark tom padded away and she tipped her head. Why had Darkwind pretended to like her when he really didn't seem to care? Why did he want her as an apprentice when he was ignoring her now?
She shook her head, utterly confused. She hadn't learned much from Darkwind during her morning watches. He was quiet and there always seemed to be a...a shield around it.
She rolled her eyes. Warriors sure are weird...
She turned away and padded back into the nursery.
Starkit was woken up by a loud call. "All cats old enough to catch their own prey gather here beneath the River Rock for a Clan meeting!"
She woke, yawning. Duskberry's eyes were bright and she groomed Starkit's fur. "Mom, I'm old enough to do it myself!"
Duskberry sighed, "I know." she kept licking though and Starkit rolled her eyes. She was 6 moons old, she'd be out of the nursery soon enough anyways.
Suddenly she knew what the meeting was about. She bolted upright in her nest. "Bye," she whispered to her denmates. She pushed out of the den, not wanting to hear the kits calling out good bye. She just wanted to get out, without having their sadness of loosing her weighing on her....
On her first day as an apprentice.
Her fur fluffed out in excitement and she squealed. The rest of the Clan was gathering and Starkit padded to them.
Darkwind shoved past her and sat down hissing, "Watch out! And get to the center! You should be there already! Mouse-brain..." he turned away, muttering. Starkit saw Tawnyheart watching the warrior and the kit and shifting uncomfortably.
Starkit hurried to the center of the Clan, a circle of no cats around her, concious of the fact no one was there with her. She was glad Darkwind wasn't going to be her mentor. Or was he? Tawnyheart didn't seem like he wanted him to.
Pouncestar waited a moment more, then twitched his tail. "It's time for one of my favorite duties as a Clan leader." his eyes twinkled. "Starkit has reached her sixth moon and is ready to be apprenticed."
Starkit's fur fluffed up proudly.
"Starkit," She stepped forword. "Do you promise to do your best to learn the ways of the Clan and train your hardest?"
"I do." Starkit said, surprised at how steady her voice was.
"Then by the power of StarClan, until you have earned your warrior name you will be known as Starpaw."
"Starpaw! Starpaw!" the Clan chanted, Fowpaw and Shrewpaw loudest of all. Starpaw felt warm and happy.
"Darkwind, you will be her mentor. You learned many skills from Lionclaw and his death made you stronger. Pass these traits onto your new apprentice."
Darkwind nodded. "I will do my best." He padded over to Starpaw and touched his nose to hers, but it seemed so cold and his eyes were full of barely controlled fire.
"What're we going to do first?" Starpaw asked brightly. She may have the weirdest, meanest brother/mentor in the Clan, but it was still her first day as an apprentice and she wanted to have fun.
"Well, I'd thought we'd do battle training." said Darkwind. Starpaw grinned and bounced a little. Maybe the dark warrior wasn't so bad! Most new apprentices spent their first day cleaning the elders den and things like that!
Darkwind led her out of camp and sat down, waiting paitently as she struggled over some rocks. "Ready?" Starpaw nodded, out of breath.
Darkwind led her through reeds and some willow trees and over some creeks and streams. Finally, they got to the Training Hollow.
It was a pretty place. Trees surronded it, except for the right side where the river swept by quietly. "We practice out water attacks there." explained Darkwind. Starpaw nodded, still glancing around in awe.
The sand was cool and nice and she thought she wouldn't mind falling on it, even though she'd have to clean her pelt, when a paw flashed out, catching her offguard and sprawling into the sand.
"A good warrior is prepared for anything at anytime." Darkwind growled. Starpaw got up, shaking her pelt. Was he trying to hurt her or just teach her? She couln't decide.
"We're going to start out with an offensive move." Darkwind said smoothly. "Just try and get past me. We can discuss good tactics later."
Starpaw narrowed her eyes and looked around. The edge of the clearing was foxlengths away and Darkwind was a big warrior. She was small and could slip past him, but he was fast and had more experiance. He was big enough that it'd be hard for her to get past him on eather side.
What else is there...?
Starpaw's eyes slid to the river. "We use it for water attacks..."
She sighed, determined. As all RiverClan kits, she had started swimming as soon as she could walk. She wasn't afraid at all.
She ducked to the left, onto the land. Darkwind followed her move quickly, but before he could attack, Starpaw darted away and into the river.
She splashed through the river, swimming strongly, almost to the other side of the clearing.
She looked over to her mentor. Darkwind looked stunned for a moment, then chased after her.
Unfortunately, she was focusing on Darkwind so hard, she didn't see the rock that jutted out in the middle of the river, directly in her path.
Padding back to camp, both cats soaked, Darkwind was still lecturing Starpaw.
"That was a good strategy. If you hadn't messed it up of course." he hissed. "Now both of us are soaked. Do you think you're off training if you get a cold? And Rabbittail is busy enough without foolish apprentices in his den! Now go," he flicked his tail towards the apprentices den as they entered camp.
Starpaw slunk to her den, head down.
I messed up!
"It's ok, everyone messes up." Rabbittail meowed calmly as he shifted through herbs. Lilypaw was out, getting moss. As soon as she had come back from the disasterous training session, Starpaw had padded to the medicine cats den. She didn't know why, but the medicine cat calmed her. He was the closest friend she had.
"But I was such a fail!" wailed the black apprentice. "Darkwind thinks I'm an idiot!"
Rabbittail was silent for a moment. Starpaw was about to leave, blinking tears of frustration and anger out of her eyes, when he spoke softly, "You want to hear about fails?"
Starpaw got up, not wanting to hear him gossip about his Clanmates and tell her she was bad, but not as bad as them. Rabbittail surprised her, "Flowersplash."
Starpaw's ears flicked at her sister's name, "What about her?"
"You know how she isn't around all that much?"
Starpaw nodded. Flowersplash would go missing at the weirdest of times, and come back days later looking well fed and happy.
"She goes to visit Twolegs." Rabbittail said calmly.
Starpaw gasped. Kittypets are against everything the Warrior Code tells us! "Does anyone else know?" she whispered.
"No. Just me. And now you. I was the only one who spotted her through a hole in a Twoleg house, purring with the Twolegs petting her. The others suspect, but don't know."
Starpaw hissed softly. Her sister was a traitor!
"And don't get me strarted on your other-" Rabbittail started, then quickly realized his mistake, "Never mind."
"My other what? Other siblings?" Starpaw asked eagerly. "What?"
"I'll tell you....I'll tell you when you're older." Rabbittail responded weakly.
Starpaw nodded, rolling her eyes.
"Now do you see?" Rabbittail said.
"What?" Starpaw had forgotten what had started this whole thing.
"Your 'mistake'!" eclaimed Rabbittail. "Do you see now that little mistakes made by day-old apprentices are nothing in compared to the mistakes of the Clan?!"
"I guess...." muttered Starpaw. Louder, she meowed, "I thought that being a Clan was about seeing their strengths, not all of their weaknesses."
"A Clan is only as strong as their weakest member." said Rabbittail ominously. "And who knows when you'll need that infromation?"
Starpaw thought of why she'd need to know her Clanmates weaknesses. It seemed unfair to distrust her Clanmates. But then she thought about how Darkwind had let her hit that rock and viciously shoved her, the way he had been so weird. Did she trust him?
She looked out at the clearing. Pouncestar was talking to Tawnyheart outside the River-Rock. Darkwind had slipped out of the warriors den and was watching the leader and deputy. His eyes blazed with hunger.
"Come on, do it!" encouraged Foxpaw.
Starpaw looked nervously at her two older siblings. Shrewpaw hung back a little. Foxpaw was right next to Starpaw and she nudged her sister, "You can do it."
Starpaw remembered complaining to Rabbittail. "What's Foxpaw's fail? She's perfect!" The medicine cat hadn't said anything, just shook his head and laughed.
Foxpaw and Shrewpaw were the only two of Starpaw's siblings she felt she was close with. The others were eather evil (like Darkwind) or distant to her (like Flowersplash). So Starpaw generally tried to stay on good terms with the two other apprentices.
Robinpaw and Runningpaw exchanged glances. Starpaw scented again. The RiverClan border was still right there.
"Scaredy mouse." growled Shrewpaw. Foxpaw cuffed him over the ear without taking her eyes off Starpaw.
"Y'know, this was a hunting mission..." Runningpaw began.
"We'll have some fun and then we can go look for food." Robinpaw assured his uncertain friend.
Shrewpaw nodded. Runningpaw still looked worried, but everyone else was watching Starpaw intently. She took a deep breath.
Now or never.
Another deep breath. Starpaw padded over to the first stepping stone. She hopped on it, then to the next one. 4 more to go and then she could touch ThunderClan land and come back, done with the stupid dare.
Another hop. This is wrong.
Again. I should go back.
1 more. Just stop!
Starpaw tottered on the last stepping stong, then pounced off, landing in ThunderClan territory. This is't so bad!
She turned and waved her tail at her friends, then prepared for the leap back when she heard a deep growl.
"Don't move Fish-face.'
Starpaw let out a frightened squeak and her fellow apprentices growls and hisses told her exactly what had happened. She turned her head ever so slightly so her attacker wouldn't claw her and saw a ThunderClan patrol. At least 6 battle ready cats and more were melting from the forest. Starpaw closed her eyes.
This was all my fault, I crossed the river...
Then she remembered something Rabbittail had said. RiverClan had taken back Sunning Rocks sometime when Starpaw had been sick. The ThunderClan cats were on RiverClan land! Her claws sunk into the ground with fury as she recalled this infromation.
The tom behind Starpaw was in her line of vision and she vaguely recognized his ginger pelt. Knowing his name, Thornheart, made this all seem less frightening. With as much strength as she could muster, Starpaw growled, "Get off RiverClan territory! Um....Tree....head."
It really sucked being in the one Clan that had the memorable mean nickname.
A brown tom who was a little bigger then her snorted, "Tree head?" his comment seemed more provoked by laughter then actual malice. Actually Starpaw wanted to laugh now too.
In the split second it took for her to think about this, he had her pinned. She struggled furiously, but the other apprentice was far bigger.
Starpaw recognized the welcome scents of Foxpaw, Shrewpaw, Runningpaw, and Robinpaw and knew they had come over to help her. But they were outnumbered and none of the Riverclan apprentices were close to becoming a warrior. Starpaw whimpered and the brown tom's eyes sparkled.
ThunderClan had just started to set it's boundry marked on RiverClan land when Starpaw heard the most amazing, beautiful, sweet thing.
Darkwind's battle cry.
"Release the apprentice," Starpaw's mentor growled, "And get off our land."
One of the ThunderClan cats curls his lip. "I don't think so."
Darkwind's fur rose ever so slightly and the tom who was pinning Starpaw down moved back a little. "Then prepare to loose."
Darkwind jumped straight at the leader of the ThunderClan patrol and several shapes streak after him. Mouseclaw, Weedstream, Waspstripe, Patchspot...
Foxpaw gives a battle yowl and the other apprentices follow her lead, charging at the ThunderClan apprentice. His eyes widened in shock. Starpaw surged upward, growling. The tom flew off and five RiverClan apprentices charged at him.
Starpaw was the first to reach him and she jumped onto him, clawing at his stomach. He gasps and she pulled back, suddenly afraid tha she killed him. But it seems the apprentice is just laughing....Laughing???
Robinpaw and Runningpaw appeared on either side of Starpaw, panting and glaring at the apprentice. Foxpaw and Shrewpaw jump in front of him and Starpaw gave him a winning smile. He grins back, knowing he's been beaten, like this is just a training session. Strangely, it feels just like that. A play fight, practice. Fun.
"Hey, looks like Adderpaw found some friends!"
One of the other ThunderClan cats, a massive black tom came up behind the RiverClan apprentices. Robinpaw and Runningpaw turn on him and within seconds they became a whirling mass of fur.
"Go help them," Starpaw told Shrewpaw. He nodded and she briefly wonders why he obeyed. He was older then Starpaw. Foxpaw springs after and Starpaw shrugged. As long as they beat the warrior.
The big ginger tom in charge of the ThunderClan patrols howled, "Retreat!"
The ThunderClan cats backed away growling. Adderpaw slipped away from Starpaw and gave her a charming smile.
"See ya round. Practice that belly rake."
Starpaw rolled her eye and the tom grinned again, then vanished into the woods.
Darkwind padded over to the apprentices as they began to celebrate and chatter.
"What were you thinking?!" he seethed. They stopped and turned to him with big eyes. "You had a hunting mission! You have no prey and almost got killed by ThunderClan!"
Starpaw stepped forward, not wanting the others to get in trouble. "It was my fault."
Starpaw was sure her mentor was about to claw her head off, but instad the shadowy warrior meows, "Training area, in a few minutes." Then he turned and stalks off.
The rest of the warriors turned and followed him. The apprentices continued celebrating and Starpaw tried not to show how worried she was.
"Don't do it!" Robinpaw begged.
"I'll be ok!" Starpaw meowed snappily. Robinpaw's eyes widened in dismay and she meowed in a kinder tone, "I'll be ok. Really! And if I'm not...well...Darkwind's my mentor! He won't kill me!"
She meant it as a joke but Robinpaw's eyes bulge. "You don't know!" he whispered in terror, "They never told you!"
Starpaw gave him an odd look and eventually he scampered back to camp after a awkward good bye. Starpaw continued to the practice hollow.
Darkwind was waiting alone, his tail twitching. "You're late."
"Something held me up."
His cold eyes met Starpaw's and she saw no sign of the cat who volunteered to mentor her so long ago.
Darkwind coruches suddenly and Starpaw blinked in surprise.
"Attack me." he growls.
She gaped at him. "Claws unsheathed?"
"Pretend I'm an enemy warrior." he snarls in exasperation.
Starpaw crouched unsurely, and then leapt at him. Darkwind clearly expected it because he dodged her and scoured his claws across Starpaw's flank. She was thrown away from him and stood up grimacing. The claw marks were deep and already bleeding.
She hissed and pounced again. This time she manage to leap onto Darkwind's back and she raised her paw. But Starpaw was unwilling to strike a Clanmate, no matter what a horrible mentor he'd been. Darkwind threw her off easily and spun around grinning.
"Are you trying little warrior?" he taunts. "I can feel your discomfort. I guess Duskberry and Brackenheart will be sad their kit has failed."
Starpaw let out a yowl of fury and charged him. He ducks and Starpaw wondered what he was doing. She was much smaller then him, he couldn't slide under her to give her a belly rake. But at the last moment Darkwind lunged up and latched onto Starpaw's neck. She clawed at his chest frantically
He was too big, too strong. His fangs were seeping deeper and deeper into Starpaw's neck. "Get off!" she rasped. "I can't breath...."
He smiles and droped her. "You should not have been allowed to live Starpaw. I won't spare mercy on you twice."
And then he lunged for her neck again.
Starpaw woke up in the medicine den almost 7 sunrises later. Someone told her Rabbit-tail had barely been able to save her.
"Death seems to be following you! First at birth, then as a kit, then now you've almost died!" he had meowed jokingly. When he saw how wide her eyes had been, he stoppped though.
Apparently Darkwind had seen Starpaw foolishly challenge a fox and it had almost killed her by the time he had chased it off and carried Starpaw heroically home. The storms that had raged just a few dys before I had awaken had, unfortunately, covered the scent of the fox.
Or, that's what he told everyone.
But Starpaw knew better.
Her mentor was a killer.
And he wanted Starpaw dead.
Starpaw sorted the herbs slowly. The names and uses of the berries didn't come to her as easily as fluid battle moves or hunting teachniques, but she was sure someday this knowledge of herbs would be useful. And Rabbittail had been so kind, she wanted to help him.
"Tell me a story." she said as she narrowed her eyes. Was that a juniper berry or something else?
"Aren't you a little old for that?" asked Rabbittail shrewdly, sorting his pile of herbs.
"I mean one of the stories about my siblings." Starpaw said, shrugging and tossing the berry into the juniper pile. "The fail ones."
Rabbittail rolled his eyes and muttered something. "Are you still curious about that? Maybe you should ask them yourself, I don't want them angry at me for telling you things they might not want you to know!"
Starpaw stared at him with huge blue eyes and Rabbittail caved. "Fine, fine....let's see...how about-"
"Darkwind?!" Starpaw piped hopefully.
"..Foxpaw?" Rabbittail finished. He continued, examining a mint green leaf. "Foxpaw is a curious case. She might seem completely unlike this, but she's a hopeless romantic."
"So?" Starpaw asked. She had completely abandoned her task now and was watching Rabbittail as he concentrated and told the story.
"Well, that'd be fine, usually, but...." Rabbittail looked up and over to Starpaw with narrowed eyes, "There don't seem to be many toms in RiverClan that she likes."
"Many? But then how is she-" Starpaw meowed before it hit her, "Oh."
Rabbittail nodded and went back to sorting. "A tom in ThunderClan, there've been two in ShadowClan she liked..."
"Wow...." Starpaw wondered if she'd ever look at her sister the same again. "What about Shrewpaw?"
"Shrewpaw's practically the opposite. He killed a dog once y'know." Starpaw glanced at Rabbittail.
"Really?" she asked curiously.
"Really." Rabbittail meowed. "And another time..." he hesitated, not sure if he wanted to tell the young apprentice these things. "There was a WindClan apprentice on over the border once...it was during a battle. It was an accident."
"H-He..." Starpaw whispered. "You mean Shrewpaw killed him?"
Rabbittail nodded gravely. Starpaw stared at her paws sadly.
"Would you like to hear another story?" asked Rabbittail.
"No," Starpaw said harshly. Then she said again, softer. "No more stories."
"Well you'll be please to know you're almost fully healed."
Starpaw looked at Rabbittail, eyes wide and dancing. "Really?!" He nodded happily and grinned at her.
Starpaw let out a triumphant whoop and continued to sort those herbs.
"Are you sure you've sorted these?" Rabbittail took the juniper berries in his paw. "Carefully? We don't want anyone getting hurt."
Starpaw nodded. "I'm sure." she replied happily. Her head was up in the clouds as she daydreamed about warrior duties and running through the forest.
Starpaw skipped happily out of the medicine den. The air was fresher, the sky was bluer, the Clan was happier. OIr that's how it seemed. A moon or so in the medicine den with only the occassional visator had made Starpaw appreciate the freedom of everyday life.
She looked around for Darkwind but her mentor was no where. Perhaps that was better. After all, if he wasn't around, she could do what she wanted! Starpaw suddenly noticed Foxpaw and Shrewpaw bounding over.
"You're better!!" Foxpaw exclaimed happily.
"It's about time you got out of the medicine den!" joked Shrewpaw.
But Starpaw couldn't shake what she had just heard about the two. Foxpaw's was easy to ignore, who cared about a heartsick apprentice? But Shrewpaw....Shrewpaw had killed.
"Guess what?" Foxpaw meowed after several moments of conversation.
"Pouncestar is evaluating us today! We could be warriors by tommorrow!!!"
"That's great!" Starpaw purred, licking her sister's ear. Foxpaw's eyes shone and Shrewpaw's tail was flicking back and forth happily.
Starpaw noticed Acornfall and Waspstripe standing by the enterence to camp. She flicked with her tail to them. "Looks like your mentors are waiting!"
Foxpaw turned to look and grinned. "Wish me luck!" she called as the two siblings bounded off.
"Good luck!" Starpaw called.
"Like we need it!" Shrewpaw tossed back over his shoulder.
Starpaw padded off laughing. In 4 moons that would be her. She had had two moons of training but a moon in the medicine den would push back her training.
As she padded back to the medicine den, she noticed Darkwind slinking out from the Warrior's den. She changed directions to go to talk to him, but the look in his eyes stopped her dead in her tracks.
He was staring at the medicine den intently. The fire in his eyes burned away at everything else and Starpaw suddenly felt dizzy. And sick. And absolutely terrified.
Darkwind slipped into the medicine den and Starpaw fought the urge in her paws to follow him. Probably has a belly ache or something... she thought, dismissing the thought from her head. She sat in the clearing, watching the camp for a few moments, then started practicing a battle move.
She was so intent she didn't notice when Darkwind had come up beside her. "Good," he praised as she finished the move. "But I find it more effective when you slash your claws like this..."
They practiced for a bit and Starpaw was having a good time when she saw Darkwind staring across the clearing. She followed his gaze and saw Weedstream heading to the medicine den.
I hope he's okay....she thought.
"Starpaw!" Darkwind's call snapped her back to attention.
The camp froze a few moments later. Lilypaw's horrified shriek filled the misty morning air.
Starpaw was one of the first to reach Lilypaw and Weedstream.
She gasped in horror as she entered the medicine den and was about to ask a trembling Lilypaw what was wrong when she saw Weedstream.
The tom's green eyes were wide and terrified. His paws churned in the dirt helplessly as he lay on his side. Rabbittail was by his side and Starpaw rushed over.
"What can I do?"
"Get back!" Rabbittail growled. Starpaw backed a pawstep or so away. She was pushed aside by a frantic Starlingflight. The brown she-cat's belly was swollen with kits that were only a moon or so away from being born and her blue eyes were frantic.
"Weedstream? What's wrong with him?!" she shrieked.
At this point the tom's struggles were getting shorter and his breath was more desperate, his eyes glazing over.
Starlingflight let out a wail and buried her nose in her mate's fur.
It didn't hit her until them.
Weedstream was dying.
The ginger tom's eyes found his mate's as she stood, staring at him sadly. His terrified expression changed to one of peace and he took one last breath.
Starlingflight gave a muffled sob as Pouncestar pushed his way through the crowd of cats into the medicine den.
"What happened?" he asked, eyes fiery. Rabbittail spoke, his voice only the taddest unsteady. "Weedstream is dead."
"How? When? Why?" growled Pouncestar.
Rabbitail sighed. "Just now. And I think...." He held out a paw. "That these were the cause."
Starpaw gasped at the blood-red berries he held in his paw. Somehoe two memories associated with them popped into her head.
She remembered her Rabbittail visiting the nursery, showing all the kits the berries. "These are death berries." he had said. "Never eat them, they will kill you before they reach your belly!!"
The other, was that she herself had remembered sorting those berries. Seeing that single blood red berry. Tossing it into the juniper pile without thinking.
How could I have been so stupid?!?!?!!
She squeezed her eyes shut and reopened them. Her head hurt and everything swayed.
"Starpaw?" Rabbittail's voice sounded far away.
"She must've eaten some berries too!" someone's hysterical voice called out.
Starpaw mumbled. "No....m'fine....s'okay..."
"She hasn't eaten a berry. It's guilt that she's feeling." Starpaw turned to see Darkwind.
His eyes glimmered and Starpaw felt an icy feeling of dread spread slowly through her paws, freezing her to the ground.
Starpaw didn't know how, she didn't know what was happening. But Darkwind knew she had made a terrible mistake. And he was telling.
The rest of the Clan was murmering uncertainly.
"You heard me!" Darkwind called, his voice clear and his eyes bright as the sun. "Starpaw killed Weedstream."
"No..." Starpaw gasped. She blinked, opening her eyes, then closing them again. Please let it be a dream!!! She silently begged.
But Darkwind continued in a malicious voice. "Didn't you Starpaw? I saw yu-you were sorting berries. So easy, such a horrible mistake. A deathberry in place of a juniper, who would know? And when Weedstream came in with a stomach ache....how was Rabbittail to know?"
"Darkwind, that's your apprentice!" said someone.
"Starpaw would never..." whispered Duskberry in a strangled voice.
"But she did," Darkwind growled. To the other cat, he hung his head and murmered. "No apprentice of mine would ever kill a cat."
"But you would."
Starpaw barely heard Rabbittail's muttered words and she stared at the medicine cat. What was that supposed to mean?
"What do you have to say for yourself Starpaw?" Pouncestar growled.
It took Starpaw a moment to find her voice. "I didn't do it." she rasped. "I liked Weedsteam. I mean, I could've mixed up the herbs, but I don't know." Tears flooded her eyes as she thought of what could happen to her. Pouncestar turned to Tawnyheart. Tawnyheart murmered something that made Duskberry wail but Starpaw couldn't hear it through her own sobs.
Pouncestar turned back to face Starpaw and the apprentice managed to calm herself down enough so that she could hear.
Pouncestar started to say something, but Rabbittail pushed his way to the front of the crowd. All the shock had vanished from his eyes and it was left only by grim sadness.
"It wasn't Starpaw's fault." he told Pouncestar. "I shouldn't have let anyone besides Lilypaw or myself touch the herbs. It was a costly mistake and I won't let anything happen again."
Pouncestar looked suprised, but he didn't let it unhinge him. He blinked twice, then meowed, "Very well then. Rabbittail, you are suspended for three sunrises while Tawnyheart and I decide what to do. Lilypaw is old enough to deal with this for a while."
He turned to the rest of the cats, ignoring my stuttered complaints, "The rest of you are dismissed."
"It's not your fault."
Starpaw watched the medicine cat stalk across the clearing in a pathetic hunter's crouch. "Yes it is."
"No it's-" Rabbittail stood, his nose twitching in frustration. "How do you do this again?"
Starpaw sighed. "You don't have to learn."
Rabbittail growled. "I can't stand the thought of doing nothing while I'm responsible for the death of a Clanmate."
"Partially responsible." Starpaw muttered.
"What was that?"
"Then show me how to do this mouse-brained hunting crouch properly!"
With a stab of pain in her heart, Starpaw padded over to the former medicine cat and tried to teach him how to do the crouch correctly. To Rabbittail's credit, he tried very hard, but it wasn't natural. His paws, which were so skilled at sorting herbs, skittered clumsily on the training area's soft floor.
No announcements had been made yet, but Starpaw was nervous. No one would talk to her except for Duskberry. Shrewpaw would occassionally try to start conversations but Starpaw would never say anything. She couldn't help thinking when she saw him, I'm like him now...
"You're obsessing." Rabbittail accused. Starpaw hadn't noticed him beside her.
"I'm not." she instantly denied.
He grinned, "You're not like Shrewpaw. You didn't mean to kill Weedstream. And-" he quickly bit his lip.
Starpaw tipped her head to one side. "And what?"
"Nothing." Rabbittail muttered, padding away. "Let's get out there, I want to see if I can catch something."
Pouncestar's call woke Starpaw up. She skidded out of the apprentice's den abd headed out into the main camp. The sun was over the horizon but many cats were yawning as they joined her outside.
Once everyone was seated, Pouncestar began.
"As you all know, Weedstream is dead."
There were several nods, a few glances towards Starpaw and Rabbittail, as well as a low wail from Starlingflight.
"Rabbittail, you will be reinnstated as medicine cat." Pouncestar smiled, "It wasn't your fault, and frankly, we need you."
Someone called, "What about Starpaw?"
Pouncestar's cold eyes found Starpaw in the crowd and she gulped, terrified.
"She hasn't done anything wrong." he meowed. "As far as we know."
Starpaw heard a small growl, and she turned, seeing Darkwind glaring at her. Shivering, she turned around again.
"On a happier note," Pouncestar went on, "We have two apprentices who need to be made warriors." he smiled warmly.
"Foxpaw, Shrewpaw, come here."
The two apprentices stepped forward. Shrewpaw confidently, stoically. Foxpaw with a little more grace and nervousness. Starpaw couldn't stop herself from being happy for them.
Pouncestar went through the ceremony, with occassional meows from Foxpaw, Shrewpaw, and their mentors. Finally he gave them their warrior names.
"Shrewpaw, you will now be known as Shrewclaw."
Shrewclaw dipped his head.
"Foxpaw, you will now be known as Foxstep."
And then it was over. Starpaw rushed forward to congradulate her siblings.
"That'll be you soon." Foxstep told her. Starpaw smiled.
"Great name by the way."
They chattered for a few moments before Foxstep's eyes drifted past Starpaw.
"Hey.....what's he doing?"
Starpaw turned to see Darkwind creep out of camp.
She tipped her head curiously and murmered to Foxstep, "I don't know."
"I now name you Starfur!"
"Starfur! Starfur! Starfur!"
Starfur looked at the Clan. She smiled when she saw Foxstep cheering loudly along with Duskberry.
Her last few moons of training had been uneventful. She trained hard and now she was a warrior. Starfur was uncomfortably aware that there was no one else to recieve a name with her. Scanning the crowd, she pinpointed Darkwind and narrowed her eye. He looked bored. At his own apprentice's ceremony! Starfur barely contained a hiss as she leapt down River Rock to her Clanmates.
It was a massive swirl of compliments on her names, congrats, and smiling friends. But as the sun sank, some cats drifted away.
Pouncestar found her and smiled. "It's almost time for you to start watch."
Starfur looked around, realizing that almost everyone had gone to bed. She nodded, not sure if she was allowed to talk anymore.
Pouncestar gave her a nod and padded into his den. Starfur looked around and smiled. At least it was a warm night. Her vigil wouldn't be spent with her shivering.
By moon-high, she was still awake and not feeling tired. Maybe it was the joy of being a warrior. Whatever it was, she was glad. Her mother had told her a story of a new warrior who fell asleep during his vigil. He was demoted back to an apprentice immediately.
Starfur looked aorund though and sighed. She was bored.
Looking around, she scampered up to the River Rock. She glanced at Pouncestar's den, then, before she could loose nerve, she jumped up onto it. She sat down and grinned.
Clan meeting she thought, imagining herself calling the Clan out. Her heart raced and she smiled.
Suddenly it hit her, I want to be leader.
Unbeknownst to Starfur, she was being watched.
Darkwind growled as she watched her from the bushes, "So Rabbittail was right. Well we'll see if she still wants to be leader when I get through with her."
He turned and slipped into the night.
Duskkit's large eyes watched intently as a leaf floated slowly to the ground. At the very last moment, she jumped, pinning it. She purred and looked up.
"Good job." Starfur said, "But don't wait so long next time. Remember, real prey won't sit there waiting for you to catch it."
Duskkit nodded and scanned the skies, clearly anxious to try again.
Starfur stifled a purr. She was in the nursery which only held two litters now. She visited it regularly now, hoping Pouncestar would see her interest and make her a mentor. She liked Duskkit most. The little kit was 5 moons, but she was inquisitive and insightful. She had the makings of a great hunter and a stealthy, smart fighter. She would be a great warrior, with the right teacher.
Starfur looked outside and noticed the setting sun.
"I have to go," she told Duskkit, "I'm due for a patrol."
The kit looked up frm her newest leaf, "Can I com-"
Trying not to smile, Starfur shook her head. Duskkit knew better to argue and said good bye.