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Prolouge

Mosstail stepped into the soft moonlight, careful not to wake the camp.Her feet treaded softly on the new-fallen snow, marking the gentle pawprints that would mark her leave forever. But, no matter how bad her heart ached, no matter how much she wanted to turn around and leave, she wouldn't. She couldn't. This was her destiny, she was made to do this. And, without looking back, Mosstail stepped out of the camp, leaving behind her only known home. But it wasn't her home anymore, nothing was.

Chapter One: A sunny new-leaf morning

"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the tallrock for a clan meeting" SkyStar Yowled across camp.

The cats rushed up and gathered below, watching with intent eyes. Frogkit was bouncing with happiness, her golden eyes shining in the rising sun. I walked slower, feeling the steady gaze of my clan staring at me. Today i would be an apprentice, one with an important task.

"Mistkit, please step forward..." Skystar told me, and the rest of her words became fuzzy as I stepped up to her. I clumsily touched noses with my new mentor, Hawkfur, and sat back down, nervous, and afraid.

Soon I sensed Frogpaw sitting down near me, her cool breath brushing my sholder. "We're apprentices!" She sqealed, "Aren't you happy?" She looked at me with gleaming eyes, then, not waiting for a response, she bounded off to her new mentor, Waterleaf. I was left alone, now, resting my tail on the cool ground and feeling blank.

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"Frogpaw, do you miss Mosstail?' I asked, dreading the answer.

"Mosstail? Oh, her.She was as traitor, she broke hearts, left cats behind her. She shouldn't have gone. I hate her for it." Frogpaw, said, voice filled with nothing but pure loathing.

"Yes, I know, but do you miss her?"I asked again.

Frogpaw stopped, thinking. Her face softened a bit and i thought she was going to say she did actually miss her. "...No. Why would I?" And she stood up and stalked off.

I walked sulenly over to the fresh-kill pile, and chose a feathery sparrow. Little did I want to admit it, but I missed Mosstail dearly. Why she had left, no one knew. But unlike most, I was sure there was a reason for her absense. She couldn't have just left on her own will, she was too nice, too kind. She would have at least told us anyway. But no one else thought that way, and I wasn't one to dissagree. Let them believe what they want, that was fine with me.

Chapter Two: Training

Hawkfur prodded me in the back. "Come on Mistpaw, get up, time for training!" She grumbled moodily.

Just my luck to get stuck with Hawkfur. She's a good mentor, and a great fighter, but we don't seem to see eye to eye about most things. "Just a minute," I mumbled, my mouth still full of my breakfast, a mouse, "I'll be ready in a bit," I gulped down the last bit of food and followed Hawkfur off to the training hollow.

"Now, I am going to attack you, and you need to fingh back. This is to see how good you are at fighting with no skill." Hawkfur told me, grinning. I sighed, and swerved as Hawkfur launched her brown body at me.

"Nice..." Hawkfur muttered, then lashed out, claws unsheathed. I jumped to the edge, narrowly missing her outstreched paw, and landing on the cool dewy grass.

"Average fighting skills for a newbie, I wouldn't expect any more from you anyway." Hawkfur scoffed, eyeing me dutifuly, "Now lets see your hunting,"

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"Okay, not bad," Hawkfur said as we settled down after a long day's training. Most cats had gone to bed, except for me,and Hawkfur. Hawkfur had insisted to keep me training until the last rays of sun finally dissapeared. My muceles were aching, and I felt like I could fall asleep right then and there.

"Was training fun?" I heard a voice ask me, and I turned around to see Frogpaw standing next to me, Hawkfur had dissaperared.

"Not bad," I replyed, "Hawkfur says I'm about as good as I should be for now. But she's been working me really hard. How was your training?"

"Okay. But you're sooooooo lucky to have Hawkfur as your mentor." Frogpaw smiled, and I found myself feeling glad that I had such a great sister- and friend.

"Training won't help me for what I'm going to do," I said, then instantly regretted it. Frogpaw was staring at me, her eyes widening, a look of loating and anger spreading across her face. I shrunk back.

Chapter Three: Friends no More

"I knew you would do it, you traitor. You freak! Whenever you're going, wherever you're going, I hope you never come back. This clan would be better off without you." Her eyes glowed amber, and she glared at me, seeming to forget that just a moment ago she had been my best friend. Tail high, Frogpaw walked off, her shadow flickering in the sunset.

Her words stung like thorns. Frogpaw...my best friend, my only sister, the cat who never let me down. She hated me.

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Hawkfur smiled cooly. "What's this your kind sister tells me?" She asked.

"I-I...I don't know what you're talking about...."I stammered, feeling my heart begin to race. Who was the traitior now, me or Frogpaw?

Hawkfur smirked at me, "Whatever you may be doing, I advise you to consider the facts. You are merely 6 moons, barly trained, with no one to help you." then lowering her voice, she said, Don't worry, I won't tell anyone. I like you Mistpaw, you're a good kid. Anyway, back to training"

Dizzy with relief, I continued to sniff out the faint smell of mouse drifting by. Then another smell- Frogpaw. She was walking up the slope, completly ignoring me. I felt so empty inside.

Chapter Four: Lost Hope

Mosstail limped out into the night, blood falling on the dead leaves below. With effort, she heaved herself onto the ground, her blood spattering the forest floor.

"Who is it, tell me!" Someone unseen screeched.

Mosstail, with her soul halfway to starclan couldn't bare it anymore. The pain was to much. "Mistkit..." She choked out

"And does she know?" The voice asked.

Mosstail seemed to consider this for a moment, then said, "Yes, yes- I think she does..." and became completly still.

Chapter Five: A Last Goodbye

I opened my eyes, shaking from head to tail. That had been the worst nightmare ever. Funnily enough, when I tried to remember it, all I could remeber was a screechy voice, getting lost in the wind. Strange.

I looked around the den, most apprentices had already left, but I saw Frogpaw whispering something to Lilacpaw. Lilacpaw smirked at me. Frogpaw smiled, satisfyed. Since when did Frogpaw hang out with Lilacpaw? Lilacpaw had always been my friend. I shook my head, trying to forget about it. Shrugging the last of sleep of me, I headed to Skystar's den.

"Skystar? It's me, Mistpaw. I-I've come to tell you something.

"Come In," Skystar called from within his den.

"Um...."I began, not knowing where to start, "Skystar, I'm le-"

"I. already. know." Said Skystar coldly, "Your lovely sister told me. And if you do do it, you will be banished. We will not welcome you back."

"Fine," I said, "Now I'm going to go get some traveling herbs, tell the clan I'll miss them." I was an apprentice. With a very important task.

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The sun seemed to glare at me as I walked out of camp near night-time. My herat was thumping so hard it felt like my chest was breaking. I gazed out at the clan, of which I would never see again. "Goodbye, everyone." I whispered, and the words seemed to stick in my throat. Was this how Mosstail felt, when she took her leave? Suddenly, I remembered something Mosstail had told me when I was only a tiny kit. "You are special Mistkit. Remeber that." Now that I came to think about it, why had she told me that? It didn't make sense. Anyway....

Eating my traveling herbs, I smelled my clan's border. My last chance to turn back, before it was too late. But I couldn't, not now. Anyway, how would the clan treat me now?

Chapter Six: Unknown

My legs ached. My paws hurt from walking. I was tired, hungrey, and my traveling herds had long since been depleted.

The sun seemed to glow in little speckles on the forst floor. The leaves crunched under my feet, hard and brittle, unlike home. Home. I hadn't seen one single sent of cats since I walked through my clan. I had searched hopefully for any trace of Mosstail, but found none. I was already regretting leaving the clan, I was wrong.

I stopped, frozen with fear. What was that? A low, crunching noise of feet on dead leaves sounded. My heart pounded. I ducked behind a nearby lavender bush, hoping the sent of flowers would disquise my sent and hide me. The cat walked past me, and I smelled a mix between rouges, kitty-pets, and all the clans. The cat looked around, its shaggy and matted black fur hanging loosly around it's skinny frame.

He had a ripped ear, a short, crooked tail and large grey eyes. I had a feeling that he sensed I was here.

I pressed myself father back among the lavander, into the shadows. A twig spapped beneath my paw. The cat spun around to face me, his bloodshot eyes staring crazily. Then he spoke, his voice rasping, "Whos there? I know you're in there!" He looked crazy, bloodthirsty. There was no way I was coming out. Nothing would make me.

Something large, gray and dog-like burst out, snarling and growling. Nothing would make me move. Except that. I fled after the strange cat, who had started running like crazy in the opposite direction. What was it?

Chapter Seven: The Wolf Pack

The huge animal charged after me, saliva dripping from it's open mouth, yellow eyes glinting meaincingly. I darted to the left, but I was so scared that I didn't see the ditch until I was in it. There was no escaping now. I was cornered. The wolf was looking down at me- it was so close. I could smell it's foul breath, see it's yellowed teeth glinting. And then a howl souned from beyond, and the wolf looked up, momentarily distracted.

In a second, I was up, running under it's feet before it could realize I was gone. I ran blindly through the trees, my heart thumping wildly in my chest. There was a clearing up ahead, where sunlight filtered through. Just like the clan camp. I though, and was so home-sick that I didn't notice the shapes moving in the clearing.

I ran straight into a wolf, then another. But they didn't attack. Instead they pushed me into the center, and I didn't struggle against them, in case they got vicious. There was another cat in the center, the rouge, and a body lying there motionless. When I was close enough I could see the face of the dead cat. It was Mosstail.

All energy seemed to flow out of me. This journey had been hopeless. Mosstail was dead, and now I was as good as dead too. The rouge cat was watching me. Then, suddenly, he hissed, "They didn't- I mean the wolves. They didn't kill her," There was an icy, unsettling tone in his voice, almost mocking. It sent shivers up my back. But the knowledge that the wolves didn't kill her sent a little bit of hope back into me. So maybe the wolves won't kill me.

Wishful thinking. They were circling me and the other cat now, all looking hungry, bloodthirsty, terrifying. I got into the pouncing position, ready to make a run for it if they attacked. The wolves were closing in, making their own tightly knit circle around me. Then one lunged, and I felt powerful jaws snapping the air near me.

Without thinking, I leaped onto the wolve's back. I jumped off, and ran out of the clearing, faster than ever before. I head the howls of the wolves who had lost their prey. I was safe.

Chapter Eight: The Hunted

Rain dripped onto my head from the leaves of the bush that I was sheltering behind. Sleep seemed impossible. I was already feeling dizzy from lack of food, and I had not smelled one single scent of mouse or vole.

I lifted my head wearily. The ground was spinning crazily, all the colors were merging together. I closed my eyes, willing sleep to grasp me at last. I could feel my thoughts wondering, my breathing growing heavier. But just as I was almost aspleep, I was jurked alert by something from behind.

The rouge from before stepped out, bleeding badly and staggering towards me. "M-mistkittt..." He said, his head sloping to one side and his eyes half-closed. "Leafkit, help me!" He limped closer.

At first I was anoyed and a little bit frighted. Who was he, thinking he could ask someone to help him? Then I was scared. If he was stalking me down like before, I better keep my distance. Then I was terrifyed, because I realized that he had called me by my former name, and how could he possibly know that I used to be called Mistkit?

I stared, horror-struck. "I....do-don't wan-nt to help yo-you," I stammered talking a step back. "And how do you know my name?Leave- I don't- I don't want you he-ere."

He was smiling despite his pain, limping even closer. I could smell his rank sent and see his yellow teeth. "Well, I guess that's just too bad, isn't it?" His eyes glinted red and suddenly I was surrounded by cats.

"Grab her!" he yelled, and they pinned me down.

I cringed as claws sunk into my skin and teeth punctured my neck. I tried to struggle free but it was no use. An undersized apprentice against three huge and well-trianed rouges. You don't need to be a genius to see who was better off in the fight.

Chapter Nine: The New Cat in the Sky

Mosstail woke up, expecting to see stars above her head, but instead found that the stars were below her head. Where am I? She thought, looking around bewildered.

A shadowy shape was approacing her. Mosstail jumped back, wary of the approaching cat. "Scar? Is that you? Please don't hurt me..." She whispered, stepping back, her face frozen in horror as the shape came closer. But then realization struck. "Father?! Father, it's you!"

The cat came closer. "Mosstail, welcome to Starclan."

Chapter Ten: Scar's Guard

Blood poured out of a gash on my side. I was dizzy, weak. Guards were standing, watching me from the entrance of the hollow log I was in.

As if I'd even try to escape.

I lay my lead down on the moss, trying to ignore the pain that seared like fire. They had practically ripped me to shreds.

"Shadow? Come here, I need you." Someone called, and the dark gray guard jumped down the the floor and padded off. Almost as soon as he left another cat took his place. Lean, muscular, this was a cat I didn't want to mess with.

He snarled at me. "Think you could outsmart us, huh, you little piece of foxdung."He spat.

The insults stungs. I closed my eyes and tried to block out the sound of his taunting.

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A few hours later, someone woke me up. "Scar wants you." He said in a gruff voice.

"Scar? Who's Scar?" I asked.

"The black cat. Now get up and follow me."

I got up hastily. He took me out to a clearing where several cats were seated in a circle. Scar was seated in the middle, his eyes glaring coldly at me. "Sit down Mistkit." He said

I sat immedialty.

"That's better. Now-" Scar was cut off by a loud yowl and pounding footsteps. He spun around. A cat had jumped up and had tried to run away. But the Guards hadn't let him get away.

He was on the floor, staring helplesly into the eyes of the large cat above him. "Please don't hurt me..." He whispered.

"Quiet Ice!" Scar ordered, glaring at the cat.

Chapter Eleven: Scar's Question

"That's not my name. My name is Rudy, not Ice," He said pleadingly.

"Your name is Ice,"

Rudy fell silent under the harsh glare of Scar.

"Make sure he doesn't get away," Scar said to the cats. They nodded obediently and grabbed Rudy, dragging him towards a dark opening.

"Leave him alone!" I whispered.

Scar whirled around, turning his gaze back to me, unwavering. He looked surprized but very, very angry. "Mistkit...what will we do with you?" he smiled nastily.

I stared up at him. "I'm...so-sorry. Really. I don't know why I said it." I told him truthfully. I didn't know what had come over me, saying that.

Scar's wicked grin grew bigger. "Lies. I'll deal with this later. But now I wanted to ask you a question. Do you know a cat called Mosstail?"

I froze, atounded. How did he know about Mosstail? I franticly wondered how I should reply to this. Scar was looking at me with intrest, as if waiting for me to speak. "I used to know a cat named Mosstail," I said hesitantly, "She died when I was a very young kit though." I had decided to partly speak the truth.

"I see," Said Scar. He looked throughly annoyed at me. "She died...I see," He repeated. I held my breath, hoping he believed me. "Very well Mistkit." he said grimly. Then he turned to another cat. "Gaurd her,"

I was pulled into the dark again.

Chapter Twelve: Rudy's Escape

I woke up bright and early. The sun was just peeking over the horizon.

I lokked around. I could see no cat anywhere. Cautiously I stepped out. Has yesterday just been a dream?

The a yowl sounded from behind. Ten cats were wildly chasing another cat, whom I reconized as Rudy. He ranstraight into me, knocking me off balence. I struggled up of the ground, then hurried to catch up with him.

He turned sharply off to the side, then depper into the woods. the ground was rocky beneath my paws, and the trees were blocking out most of the light. I stumbled after Rudy. I guessed his plan was for the cats to fall or lose track of us in the dark. But that wouldn't work, because later they could always track us with smell. It looked like we were doomed.

"How will we make it?" I called to Rudy. The wind whipped my words away.

"Whattttttt?" Rudy called

"How will we make it?" I yelled

But he didn't have time to reply because there was a furious yowl and Scar came tearing at us.

His eyes were bulging and a look of complete loating and anger was printed on his face. He was furious.

"RUN!!!" I screeched, tearing through the undergrowth madly. But Rudy was going in the other direction, towards a faint gurguling sound.

"Mistkit, over here!" He called to me, but I was already too far away. Scar was gaining. "MISTKIT, quickly!!"

But I couldn't or Scar would get me.

"MISTKIT!!!!!!"

Chapter Thirteen: The River

Rudy took oe last hopeless look at me, then ran and jumped. I heard a splash, and realized his plan. A river.

It was briliannce. And I knew I must try for it, even if it meant Scar might get me. But he wuld eventually get me anyway.

I ran and leaped. I fell into the river. Scar was standing above me, shocked. The current pushed me under a clump of reeds, and he was out of sight.

I had never learn how to swim. Being Thunderclan, I never had needed to. But now I was wishing I knew.

The river was storng and swift, as well as being dark, for the trees let little light in. I could feel fish brushing past me, and it gave me the creeps.

Gasping and spluttering I dragged myself up onto a piece of driftwood, desperatly trying to keep afloat. The wood was rotting and weak, but it served a purpose.

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After a while of drifting, the wood caught on a sandy bank. I got out, shaking my fur to dry off, I looked around. There was few trees, I could tell that it was the end of the forest. I hilly field strected out before me. Everything was quiet except for a low whining. It sounded like it was coming from across the field. I slowly made my way towards it.

There was a large clump of weeds and tangled branches and vines at the end of the Field. I could hear voices coming from inside.

Pushing my way through a small gap, I came face-to-face with a cat. He and three other were gathered around a small pit where a few dead mice lay. The whining stopped. "Mistkit? You found me! How?"

And then I noticed a last cat curled up in the corner. It was Rudy.

"I don't know..." I stammered, bewildered. I had found him! How?

"You're right, she definetly is one," Said a large golden tom

"But..." Rudy whimpered. The golden tom cut him off.

"I think it's best we all go home now." He told the cats.

Chapter Fourteen: Mosstail's Brother

The golden tom didn't leave. He stayed and offered me a mouse, and then made me a small nest to sleep in.

"Rudy really had gotten a liking for you," He told me. "Must've made him feel better that he wasn't Scar's only prisoner. We wern't sure we would ever see him again after Scar took him. Good thing Rudy is smart, though."

I nodded.

"So what's your name? Mistkit or something? Mine's Lion but everyone calls me Golden." He smiled.

"I'm actually called Mistpaw now." I told him. He nodded.

"Me, Rudy, Sand, Maple, and Tilo, we're all loners who live in these parts," I assumed Sand, Maple, and Tilo were the three other cats." We built this place to see eachother and use if one of our dens are destroyed. It comes in use sometimes. Now..." His voice quientened, and he looked around cautiously, "Now, listen. I'm surprized I met you. Mosstail told me about you, when she came to visit for an hour. I'm her brother, by the way. She- she knew you would leave the clan. Go looking on your own. She asked me to find you, make sure you were okay. But I didn't need to because you found me." He became even quieter, "You know what your task is? That it will be dangerous? Are you really up to it? Really and truly? Because you need to be sure of yourself, you need to feel confident," But he didn't sound confident though, "Are you?"

"I...think so. Yes." I stuttered. I knew what it was, and I knew it would be dangerous, and I was up to it. But I wasn't feeling confident at all. Not after what had happened so far.

"Good,"

I was starting to feel tired, the hard day catching up to me. "If you don't mind, can we talk later? I really need to rest," I was afraid he'd get mad at me, but he merely smiled and nodded knowingly.

"I understand,"

I settled down in the soft nest, feeling that my journey would finally turn out for the better. Tiredness closed in on me, and I was asleep.

Chapter Fifteen: Choosing

"Wake up,"

"Wha...t?"

Wake up!" It was Rudy.

My eyes snapped open and sunlight flooded in.

"You slept forever. It's sun-high aleady," I blinked with shock, and leaped up, ready to get going.

"Here, I caught this bird for you," Rudy pushed me a plump robin. I sat down to eat it gratefully, tearing at the tender meat. I was feeling properly full for the first time in half-a-moon. The food was really doing me good.

After I finished, I looked up. Time to decide. Whether to continue on my journey or rest for a few days. On one hand, I didn't have forever and time was certainly running out. Also, I couldn't get settled in or I might want to stay for a long time. On the other hand though, I was weakened and wouldn't last long traveling by myself. But I shouldn't count on them to help me. I got up again. This was it.

"Rudy...what do you think I should do? Should I stay here with you for a while, until I get better, or leave?"

"You're not staying?" He sounded bewildered. "Why not?"

"Well, um, I have something I need to do. Something important..." My voice trailed off. Rudy looked thoughtful, and I knew he was thinking hard. His tail was gently flicking.

"Please don't go." He said finally. "It would be nice to have some company. But I'm not forcing you to stay. If whatever you have to do is important to you, then I think you should go ahead and leave. That's what I would do," He sighed. Suddenly he whirled around, hackles raised. "Whhat's that!?" He yowled, staring at the bushes. Something was rustling about. Then a head popped up. It was golden, carrying something in his mouth. "Why didn't you use the entrance?" Rudy spat, clearly annoyed.

"Because of this," Golden dropped the small bundle and I realized it was stirring faintly. A smallnose appeared and I realized it was a kit, barly a few days old. It's fur was still not funny grown and it's tail was pink and hair-less. It looked more like a large rat than anything else. I gasped. I'd seen newborns before when I lived in the nursery, but never one this small or helpless looking. I instanly knew that I'd do anything for it.

Chapter Sixteen: For a While

"I think she's gonna need some looking after, and I certainly can't do that." He grinned. "I just found her lying in the woods, poor thing. Her mother, or maybe her two-legs must've dumped her,"

"Well, I can't look after her for sure," Rudy said. He winked at Golden. "Hey look, Maple!" Maple, one of the loners, was walking up to Rudy.

"I need you to come with me," Maple told Rudy. Rudy got up and said goodbye, before running off with Maple.

"I'll look after the kit," I suddenly blurted out. I had decided on what I was going to do. I was staying beause of the kit. "I'm good at taking care of things. I'll stay here for a while for her. Once she's old enough I'll leave."

Golden's smiled streched wide and he pushed the kit towards me. "She's all yours. Now you've gotta name her. She needs a name. Something nice..." He said to me.

I thought about all the clan names. But she wasn't a clan cat and neither was I. She needed a good name, a pretty one. It came to me in a flash. "Blossom. I'll call her Blossom," The words jolted out of me in a rickity, fast jumble.

Golden looked down at the kit. "I like that name," he said simply. For a moment he looked like he was about to wail. Then he bent down and gave Blossom a small lick. "G'bye, Mist, bye Bloss-blossom See you soon," He swung around and walked off.

I thought about how much Frogpaw would have liked the name Blossom. Then I stopped. I felt like wailing too now. Realization hit me like a stone. I probably wouldn't ever see Frogpaw again nor any of the other cats I cared about, and the true meaning of what I had chosen to do finally set in. My eyes grew foggy, and I swallowed hard. But there was no turning back now.

THE END The next book in the series is Shadows in the Snow

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