|The Evil Rising Saga|
|Preceded by: |
The Rise of Evil Special: And Then There Were Four
|The Rise of Evil 2: One||Succeded by: |
The Rise of Evil 2: Two
Leader: Sunstar - Pale ginger she-cat with light blue eyes.
Deputy: Flashmark - Pale golden-brown she-cat with large blue-green eyes.
Medicine Cat: Leafshadow - Dark brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes.
Thornclaw - Dark brown tabby tom with pale blue eyes.
Mistysun - Grey she-cat with friendly yellow eyes.
Tanglewhisker - Dark brown-and-white tabby tom with pale yellow eyes.
Whitepelt - Large white tom with pale blue eyes.
Sandwhisker - Pale ginger she-cat with light amber eyes.
Sagepaw - Pale tabby she-cat with deep green eyes.
Olivepaw - Dark tabby she-cat with deep green eyes.
Larkpaw - Black tom with pale blue eyes.
Dapplefur - Brown-and-white she-cat with dark amber eyes, mother of Thornclaw's kits.
Foxkit - Dark red tom with bushy tail and amber eyes.
Petalkit - Pale red tabby she-cat with dark amber eyes.
Honeykit - Pretty golden she-cat with pale blue eyes.
Ashkit - Pure black she-cat with grey eyes.
Palemist - White-and-grey tabby she-cat with blue eyes.
Spottedpelt - Spotted brown-and-black tom with amber eyes.
Leader: Talonstar - Dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes.
Deputy: Birchheart - Tortoiseshell she-cat with dark green eyes and a fluffy tail.
Medicine Cat: Cavelight - White-and-grey tom with amber eyes.
Duststreak - Rusty golden-brown she-cat with blue eyes.
Vinecloud - Light brown tabby she-cat with dark green eyes.
Darkbranch - White-and-brown tom with green eyes.
Nightflash - Jet black tom with grey patches and sea-blue eyes.
Swallowtail - Dark brown tom with a white-tipped tail and amber eyes.
Feathersky - Bright silver tabby she-cat with light blue-grey eyes and darker paws.
Raggedpelt - Huge dark brown tom with yellow eyes.
Moongaze - Grey she-cat with white underbelly, a black stripe along her back and bright blue eyes.
Silvertoes - Pale grey tom with amber eyes.
Skypaw - White she-cat with light blue eyes.
Birdpaw - Dark grey, almost black tom with green eyes.
Wildpaw - Calico she-cat with amber eyes.
Littlepaw - Attractive small, skinny white she-cat with flowing fur, a strikingly pink nose, and deep blue eyes.
Dustkit - Long-haired brown she-cat with pretty amber eyes.
Redkit - Dark ginger tom with deep amber eyes.
Tumblefoot - Dark brown tabby tom.
Duckleap - Pale ginger she-cat.
Leader: Maplestar - Orange tabby she-cat with dark amber eyes.
Deputy: Waterwing - Blue-grey she-cat with light blue eyes.
Medicine Cat: Silverpad - Silver tabby she-cat with ice-blue eyes.
Sunheart - Yellow-brown tom with blue eyes.
Hawkclaw - Black-and-white tom with green eyes.
Tigerfur - Black-and-orange striped tabby tom with dark amber eyes.
Lilyfur - Silver she-cat with vivid green eyes.
Birdflight - Grey tom with brown paws, a white muzzle and yellow eyes.
Waveheart - Dark grey tom with blue eyes.
Pebbleheart - Pale grey she-cat with blue eyes.
Autumnpaw - Orange-brown she-cat with pale blue eyes.
Riverpaw - Blue-grey tabby tom with blue eyes.
Darkpaw - Dark grey tom with ocean blue eyes.
Bluetalon - Dark blue-grey she-cat with pale amber eyes, mother of Hawkclaw's kits.
Streampelt - Sleek silver she-cat with light blue eyes, going to have Tigerfur's kits.
Dewkit - Light creamy-brown tom with a white tail-tip, paws and underbelly and amber eyes.
Cloverkit - Dark brown-and-white she-cat with amber eyes.
Wadefoot - Pale grey tabby tom.
Fireblaze - Dark ginger tom with amber eyes and a fluffy tail.
Leader: Beestar - Black-and-grey tabby tom with pale yellow eyes.
Deputy: Cricketclaw - Brown tabby tom with green eyes.
Medicine Cat: Streamheart - Light grey tom with yellow eyes.
Blacktail - Black-and-white she-cat with amber eyes.
Gorseclaw - Brown tabby tom with green eyes and a white muzzle.
Pinemist - Grey tom with green eyes.
Foxcloud - Light ginger she-cat with white belly and tail-tip.
Finchpelt - Sleek, small ginger tom with light tabby stripes.
Mousepaw - Dusky grey tom with blue eyes.
Smokepaw - Sleek grey tabby tom with black paws, a white chest and muzzle, and brown eyes.
Pearlwish - Cream she-cat with blue eyes, mother of Pinemist's kits.
Brightclaw - White she-cat with brown patches, mother of Finchpelt's kits.
Bramblekit - Brown tabby she-cat with one white paw and sparkling green eyes.
Lilykit - White she-cat with beautiful blue-green eyes.
Marshkit - Small brown tabby tom.
Nightkit - Charcoal grey she-cat with green eyes.
Badgerkit - Black-and-white tom with long fur and blue eyes.
Snowtree - White-and-grey tabby she-cat with light amber eyes.
Swiftclaw - Grumpy brown tabby tom with amber eyes.
Cats Outside Clans
Anjolie - Brown she-cat with reddish patches and blue eyes. Is a kittypet.
Smurf - Blue-grey tom with a white muzzle and chest. Is a kittypet.
Mint - Black she-cat with white-and-brown patches and bright green eyes. Is a rogue.
Shadowstar looked down on the four Clans that he had helped bring to peace. His mate, Snowdapple, purred briefly as she brushed around him, he white fur shining with stars.
"The new generation is here already," Shadowstar murmured. "Where are the ones I summoned?"
"I'm here, Shadowstar," a low voice growled. A black tom with light blue eyes was padding slowly towards them. He stopped, and turned to look behind him. "And Skyfeather should be here any minute."
"I'm here already, mousebrain!" came a playful purr. A light grey she-cat with dark blue eyes glittering with love and wisdom bounded over and twined herself around the black warrior.
"Shadefur, Skyfeather," Shadowstar meowed formally, inclining his head. "Thank you for coming. I brought you here today to ask you one thing. Do you think the Clans are ready for disaster to strike again?"
Shadefur shook his head solemnly. "I don't think so, Shadowstar."
"I think they are," Skyfeather argued. "I think they can do it."
"Shadefur and Skyfeather," Shadowstar began. "You must choose a cat from each Clan."
Shadefur bent his head, and stared down. At last, he spoke. "I have made my choices."
"I have chosen too," Skyfeather added, her voice serious now.
Shadowstar bowed his head. "Then the choice no longer rests with us. The future of WonderClan, GorgonClan, MoonClan and AshClan rests in the paws of four kits. They will make the choice when the time comes."
Ashkit bowed her head. "I'm ready for patrol, Petalstar," she squeaked.
"Good," her sister, Petalkit, meowed. "Take Honeyherb, the medicine cat, with you, and take the warrior Foxbrush."
Ashkit nodded. "Yes, Petalstar," she answered. Bounding over to where her brother and other sister waited, she beckoned with her head.
"Come on, Honeyherb and Foxbrush," she meowed eagerly. "We're going on patrol."
"Sure, deputy," Foxkit bounced to her side.
"My name's Ashpelt," she hissed in his ear.
"Sorry," he muttered out of the side of his mouth. Louder, he added, "I will keep watch for foxes and badgers while you hunt, Ashpelt."
"Good," Ashkit purred. "Honeyherb, make sure you collect everything you'll need to cure Foxbrush's greencough."
"I don't have greencough!" Foxkit protested.
"Not yet you don't, mousebrain," Ashkit whispered. "You can catch it later."
"But I don't want to..." Foxkit muttered, trailing after his sisters.
Honeykit walked slowly into the main clearing, and looked around. "I see some herbs!" she called, hurrying over to some stems of grass at the edge of the clearing and grabbing them between her jaws.
"Well done!" Ashkit meowed. "Foxbrush, escort Honeyherb back to camp while I catch us some prey."
Foxkit led Honeykit reluctantly back to the nursery, muttering under his breath. Ashkit scampered over to the fresh-kill pile and grabbed a plump mouse between her teeth. Gripping it carefully, she followed after her brother and sister, only to bump headlong into Tanglewhisker.
"Watch where you're going!" the tom snarled.
Ashkit backed away, frightened, and found that there was fur behind her. She turned her head, and saw Thornclaw standing protectively over her.
"Mind your tone with my daughter, Tanglewhisker," he said. His voice was pleasant, but there was a threatening level to it, and Tanglewhisker grunted, and bounded out of camp. "You should head back into the nursery," Thornclaw purred, nudging Ashkit with his nose.
She waved her tail to say goodbye before scrambling back into the nursery. She didn't say anything about her encounter with Tanglewhisker to the others, just tucked into the mouse with the rest of them.
"I'm bored of playing Clans now," Honeykit whined. "Besides, Petalkit always gets to be leader, and I always have to be medicine cat. I don't want to be a medicine cat, it's boring!"
"I want to be leader," Foxkit added. "Everyone else always gets to choose what happens to me, and I always end up dying so that you can sit vigil."
"Unless I die so that Petalkit gets to choose a new deputy before moonhigh," Ashkit muttered. 'Let's play tag instead."
"Alright, fine," Petalkit grumbled.
Dapplefur wrapped her tail around the four of them. "Actually, I think it's time to sleep," she purred.
"Mum," Foxkit complained, squirming free. "We're too big to sleep tucked up anymore."
"I want my own nest!" Petalkit whined. "Foxkit snores and Ashkit wriggles."
"Well there's the whole nursery to sleep in," Ashkit said grumpily.
"Fine," Petalkit huffed, and stomped off to a corner of the nursery. Foxkit bounded over to another corner, and Ashkit did the same. Only Honeykit stayed huddled close to their mother.
Ashkit closed her eyes. It was almost dark outside, and the last rays of sun were just hitting the nursery walls. She stayed awake for a while, listening to the breathing of the other cats, then rolled over and tried to sleep. However, it was no good, and after only a few minutes, she shivered with cold, got to her paws, and padded stealthily over to the middle of the nursery, where she huddled up close to Dapplefur and Honeykit. She was still cold, but she started to relax a little more. It wasn't long before Foxkit came over as well, followed by Petalkit, and by the time Ashkit finally fell asleep, she was tucked up warmly in the huddle of her mother, brother and sisters, just like she was every night.
Dustkit stretched out a paw into the darkness. She felt nothing there, and half-woke up, wondering where her mother was, until she remembered that her mother was dead, and she'd never feel the warmth of her fur again. Dustkit rolled over and snuggled into the fur of her brother Redkit instead. She wondered if her mother and father were watching her from StarClan right now. She didn't feel like they were watching her. The nursery felt dark and cold and empty, and she felt very small, huddled beside her brother in the middle of the den, all alone. It didn't feel like anyone cared about them.
"What's the matter?" Redkit muttered sleepily.
"I miss Mum," Dustkit replied miserably, her voice muffled because her muzzle was pressed into her brother's back.
"Don't worry," Redkit whispered. "Just think about our apprentice ceremony. That's what I'm doing."
"But it's not for a whole moon!" Dustkit yowled.
"Sssh!" Redkit hissed. "Keep your voice down, mouse-brain. Pretend one moon is up! I was just planning out the best battle move ever, stop waking me up."
"Sorry," Dustkit muttered, and tried to sleep. She couldn't though, and after a while she staggered to her paws, being careful not to disturb Redkit, and out into the camp.
Sitting in the middle of the clearing, beside the fresh-kill pile, she looked up at the stars, shimmering coldly overhead. They didn't look like friendly spirits.
"Are you alright, Dustkit?" a soft voice asked from behind her. Skypaw was sitting there, her white pelt gleaming softly in the moonlight.
"I couldn't sleep," Dustkit admitted guiltily. "Sorry. I suppose I shouldn't be out here."
"It's fine," Skypaw soothed. "I like to come out here at night too."
"Do you watch the stars?" Dustkit asked. Skypaw was the medicine cat apprentice, she must know all about StarClan.
"Sometimes," Skypaw nodded. "But sometimes I watch the clouds, and sometimes I watch the moon."
"Why?" Dustkit asked curiously.
"Just to think, I guess," Skypaw murmured. "I like to think about what cats in the other Clans are doing now."
"Like WonderClan and MoonClan and AshClan?" Dustkit asked.
"Uh huh," said Skypaw. "Listen Dustkit, if you can't sleep tonight, why don't you go and ask the elders for a story? I know that they're awake, because I just had to take Tumblefoot some herbs for his bellyache."
"Ok!" Dustkit agreed, feeling a bit more cheerful. "I could ask them about Fangstar!"
"Yep," Skypaw purred. "Go on then."
"Ok. Goodnight!" Dustkit called, bounding across the clearing, her small, neat paws sending up flurries of earth behind her. She had almost forgotten about the stars, and ran into the elders den with a light heart.
Skypaw remained behind, looking up with a hint of anxiety in her eyes. StarClan were warning her about something. but she couldn't figure out what.
Cloverkit batted at her brother with soft paws.
"Dewkit, come and play with me," she whined.
"No," her brother said grumpily, and turned his back to her.
"Please?" Cloverkit asked hopefully.
Dewkit ignored her.
"I said I was sorry that I pulled your tail," Cloverkit muttered. "I'll even say it again, look. I'm sorry. There, see?"
Dewkit closed his eyes and pretended to be asleep. Cloverkit huffed at him, and marched out of the nursery. Outside she marched crossly over to the apprentices den and stuck her head inside.
"Riverpaw?" she called hopefully. There was no answer.
"Riverpaw's out with Hawkclaw," Waveheart said, pulling Cloverkit gently out of the den.
"Why can Riverpaw go out with Hawkclaw and not me?" Cloverkit whined. She knew she was being unreasonable, but she was too bored and miserable to care. "Hawkclaw's my father, not Riverpaw's."
"Don't be silly, Cloverkit. You know Hawkclaw's Riverpaw's mentor. He has a duty to MoonClan."
"I wish I belonged to GorgonClan," Cloverkit said daringly. "I bet there are lots of kits and apprentices to play with in GorgonClan."
Waveheart rolled his eyes, and shooed Cloverkit towards the nursery. "You have a brother! Play with him."
"He won't play with me," Cloverkit muttered. "He's angry because I pulled his tail. It was an accident, and I said sorry two whole times, but he still won't play!"
Waveheart coughed, and spoke again. "Well, Streampelt's kits will be born very soon. I'm sure that they'll be fun to play with when they're a little older."
"I'll be an apprentice by the time they're fun to play with," Cloverkit said crossly, and she stomped back into the nursery. Dewkit was still curled up in their nest, but Bluetalon wasn't there. Cloverkit prodded Dewkit with a paw. "Where's Mum?" she asked.
Dewkit shut his eyes firmly and wrapped his tail over his nose.
"Bluetalon went to get you two some fresh-kill," a soft voice called from the corner.
Cloverkit stomped over to Streampelt. "I'm not hungry," she moaned. "I want someone to play with."
Streampelt purred softly. "I'm bored of being stuck in the nursery as well," she admitted. "I want to go hunting again like the rest of the Clan, and I want to be ready for any fights over territory."
Cloverkit settled into the nest beside Streampelt. "Who'd fight us over territory?" she asked with interest.
"Well I don't trust GorgonClan at all," Streampelt said suspiciously. "Every cat knows that they're prey-stealers. And AshClan is getting to be very big now, they might need more territory to support all of them."
"I want to be an apprentice and fight WonderClan and GorgonClan and AshClan," Cloverkit said with spirit. "I want to be an apprentice now!"
"Well you'll just have to wait another moon," Streampelt meowed. "Now, why don't you go and share that mouse with your brother," she added, flicking her tail at Bluetalon, who had just entered with some fresh-kill. "See if you can't make up with him."
"Yeah!" Cloverkit agreed enthusiastically, and bounced over to Bluetalon and Dewkit, her tail held high.
Bramblekit was lonely and miserable. It wasn't that the nursery of AshClan was empty or anything, far from it. The nursery felt way too full, with Pearlwish and her kits Lilykit and Marshkit and Brightclaw and her kits Nightkit and Badgerkit. But Bramblekit didn't have a mother in the nursery with her like all the others, or any brothers or sisters. Lilykit and Marshkit were too small to be any fun, only three moons, and Nightkit and Badgerkit were a whole moon younger than Bramblekit. Sometimes she just wished for conversation with kits the same age as her.
The sun had set ages ago, and Bramblekit was supposed to be asleep, but that was near impossible in the crowded den. Lilykit and Marshkit were taking turns to scramble over their mother, and Nightkit was trying to have a play-fight with her brother, who was curled up in a ball and ignoring her. Every cat seemed to be making ridiculous amounts of noise.
After a time, Bramblekit realised that she must have closed her eyes and fallen asleep at some point, because she wasn't in the nursery anymore. Now, she was sitting out in the forest. Slowly, she rose uncertainly to her paws. They looked very small beside the huge fallen leaves.
"Hello?" Bramblekit called cautiously, waiting for something to grab her. She didn't like dreams that were clear like this. They felt too real.
Suddenly, there was a shimmer through the trees ahead of Bramblekit. Someone was there! She leapt to her paws, and chased after the figure, hoping that it was a warrior of StarClan. Maybe her mother or father!
The path she was running along led her to a thick, tangled wall of spiky bushes. It rose up very high, way above her head, and seemed impossible to get through. After a few minutes of careful searching, Bramblekit spotted a small tunnel through the bushes. She carefully slipped through it, and found herself in a deserted clearing surrounded by the bushes on all sides.
"is anyone here?" Bramblekit called again. Her voice sounded small and weak, and she tried to puff up her fur and square her shoulders to look bigger and stronger than she was.
"I'm here," a small, tremulous voice replied. "Are you from StarClan? Are you here because I said I wanted to join GorgonClan? Because I'm really sorry about that."
"I'm not from StarClan," Bramblekit replied, padding over to where the voice had come from. A pretty dark brown-and-white kit was huddled next to the bushes. "I'm from AshClan," Bramblekit added. "Who are you?"
"I'm Cloverkit," the she-cat said, stepping out from the shadows and towards Bramblekit. "I'm from MoonClan."
"My name's Bramblekit," Bramblekit admitted. "When will you be an apprentice?"
"I'll be an apprentice in just one moon!" someone else said confidently. Bramblekit and Cloverkit both spun around, searching out the owner of the new voice. "I'm Dustkit. I'm from GorgonClan," the new kit added proudly.
"Yeah well, if you're from GorgonClan you're probably descended from RainClan or SunClan," Cloverkit muttered. "Everyone knows GorgonClan stole kits."
"I'm pure GorgonClan!" Dustkit said, offended. "I know it for sure."
"Don't believe you," Cloverkit laughed.
"Well I'm related to GorgonClan," said a quiet, shy voice. "I'm a direct descendant of Fangstar."
"You're not in my Clan!" Dustkit scoffed.
"I'm a WonderClan cat," the newcomer offered. "My name's Ashkit."
"Ashkit like the famous daughter of Shadowstar?" Dustkit asked, suddenly excited.
"I like my name best," Cloverkit murmured. "Can we play something fun?" she added. "There aren't enough kits for a really good game in my Clan."
"There are too many kits in my Clan," Bramblekit purred.
"It's just me and my brother in our nursery," Dustkit admitted, sounding smaller suddenly.
"Let's not play Clans," Ashkit pleaded.
"Alright," Bramblekit purred happily, and she leapt at Ashkit, bowling her over. "Tag, you're it!"
Ashkit leapt to her paws, as the other three kits scattered before her. "I'll get you!" she meowed excitedly.
"Can't catch me," Dustkit taunted, racing away. Her paws seemed to find easy purchase on the slippery ground, and she raced in tight circles, laughing.
Cloverkit crouched, hiding, in the shadow of the hedge.
"I see you!" Ashkit cried, and she leapt at Cloverkit, catching her on the shoulder and tossing her to the ground. "You're in!"
"Not for long!' Cloverkit laughed eagerly.
Bramblekit fled before her, running side-by-side with Ashkit, purring and laughing breathlessly, and having the most fun she'd had in ages.
Ashkit crouched before Sunstar, Honeykit, Petalkit and Foxkit beside her. She could hardly wait for her turn to get her mentor and apprentice name.
"Petalkit, from this day forth until you earn your warrior name, you will be known as Petalpaw. Your mentor will be Tanglewhisker."
Petalpaw walked over and touched noses with Tanglewhisker. She didn't look excited, just proud, as if this was something she really deserved. Ashkit was happy for her sister, but her paws itched with impatience for her own turn.
"Foxkit, from this day forth until you earm your warrior name, you will be known as Foxpaw. Your mentor will be Whitepelt."
Foxpaw strode over to Whitepelt, his eyes wide with excitement. The white tom was the greatest warrior of WonderClan, and Foxpaw could hardly wait to start training, Ashkit could see it in his eyes. She knew her siblings well.
"Honeykit, from this day forth until you earn your warrior name, you will be known as Honeypaw. Your mentor will be Flashmark."
Flashmark padded forward to touch noses with Honeypaw, and Ashkit thought she saw a shadow of uncertainty in the young warrior's eyes. Flashmark had been made deputy without an apprentice, because there hadn't been any kits born for ages, and Ashkit guessed that she was worried about having her first apprentice. But she didn't dwell on the thought for long. It was finally her turn.
"Ashkit, from this day forth until you earn your warrior name, you will be known as Ashpaw. I will be your mentor."
Ashpaw remained frozen in shock for a moment, until Honeypaw jerked her head, and Ashpaw realised that she should be touching noses with Sunstar. She leapt up onto the LeaderRock with a fluid surge of muscles, the first cool moment of her young life. Sunstar lowered her head, and Ashpaw raised hers, and the two touched noses for an instant. In Sunstar's eyes, Ashpaw saw the leader's eagerness, and trust in her new apprentice. The she-cat felt a surge of gratitude for the leader who had chosen to mentor her.
It was late, but Ashpaw was out in the forest. Of course, it wan't a real forest, but that didn't matter. Ashpaw felt so light she could be a cat made of air. She followed the familiar path and dashed through the tunnel into the clearing that they called the DreamClan camp.
"I'm sorry I'm late!' she gasped out as she hurried in. "I was talking to my new mentor!"
"Congratulations!" the others called.
"Who's your mentor?" Bramblepaw added.
"Sunstar," Ashpaw said proudly.
"Wow, well done," Cloverpaw purred, twining herself around Ashpaw.
"That's alright," Dustpaw muttered, but Ashpaw knew the apprentice well enough to tell that she was pleased for her friend.
The four cats had been meeting every week since they first met when they were still kits. They were great friends by now, even if they couldn't work out why StarClan sent them dreams of each other. Some days, when she was busy in her Clan, and it was sunny and bright outside, Ashpaw wasn't even sure that her friends existed outside of her dreams.
Bramblepaw had been made an apprentice first, Dustpaw second, and Cloverpaw after that. Ashpaw was glad that she could finally join her friends in apprenticeship.
"There's a Gathering soon," Cloverpaw pointed out. "I know Dewpaw and I are going, what about you guys?"
Bramblepaw shrugged. "I'm probably going. Since there are only two other apprentices in AshClan."
"I have to go!" Dustpaw yowled. "I can't be left behind, that would suck horribly. Plus, I think Redpaw said something about going just before I fell asleep."
"I don't know if I'll be allowed to go," Ashpaw muttered. "The Gathering's in two days time, and I'm still a really new apprentice. Besides, there are six other apprentices if I count Petalpaw, Foxpaw and Honeypaw. But I hope I get to go."
"Yeah, me too," Bramblepaw agreed.
"I want to see you guys in real life," Cloverpaw added. "And make sure that you really exist and I'm not just a bit crazy."
"Oh, you're crazy alright," Dustpaw purred, and leapt sideways as Cloverpaw took a swipe at her.
"We should probably go," Bramblepaw suggested, watching as Cloverpaw chased after Dustpaw crossly. "Ashpaw will have new apprentice duties tomorrow."
Ashpaw puffed out her chest proudly, and said goodbye to her friends. She left the clearing and bounded away into the gloom of the dream forest.
"What's wrong with you, Dustpaw?" Nightflash asked. "You're normally much faster than that!"
"Sorry," Dustpaw yawned. "I had a bad night."
"We'll try the move again," Swallowtail decided. "Come on Redpaw, defend yourself."
Dustpaw crouched down, watching her brother closely. Redpaw's amber eyes shone with excitement, and he lashed his tail from side-to-side as he waited. Dustpaw let her gaze drift off sideways, then, suddenly, she lunged, racing past her brother, her paws slipping on the earth of the training hollow. She skidded to a halt behind him, using the last of her momentum to spin herself around, then she pushed her forepaws forward and grasped his hind-quarters. She pulled him backwards, but he spun around and batted at the side of her head with a forepaw.
Her ears ringing, Dustpaw let go. "Watch where you put your paws, you great lump," she muttered, aiming a pretend blow at Redpaw.
He ignored her. "Swallowtail, are Dustpaw and I going to the Gathering tomorrow? Please?"
"It's up to Talonstar, not me," Swallowtail reminded him. "But you're lucky, Talonstar already told Nightflash that all four of us will be going."
"Yes!" Redpaw cheered. He leapt into the air, twisting around playfully. "Race you to camp, Dustpaw," he added.
"Go!" Dustpaw yelled. Both apprentices took off, but Dustpaw soon began to overtake her brother, pulling ahead, digging her claws into the ground and pushing with her hind legs to boost herself forward.
Dustpaw shoved through some ferns and into the GorgonClan camp. "I won!" she yowled.
Redpaw dashed in behind her. "Only just," he accused.
Birchheart, the Clan deputy, padded across the clearing and into the medicine den. Birdpaw and Wildpaw were scuffling together by the fresh-kill pile, and Littlepaw was crouched outside the apprentices den eating a blackbird. Duststreak emerged from the warriors den, yawned, stretched in the sunlight, then called over to her apprentice.
"Littlepaw, finish quickly, I want to take you out hunting!"
Littlepaw nodded to show that she had heard, gulped down a last mouthful of blackbird and padded slowly across the clearing. Redpaw's head turned to watch her as she went, and Dustpaw nudged him with her shoulder.
"You don't fancy Littlepaw, do you?" she scoffed.
"No," Redpaw denied instantly, but he kept watching the pretty she-cat until she was out of sight.
"Don't bother pretending," Dustpaw snorted. "It's painfully obvious."
"Well don't pretend that you...," Redpaw trailed off.
"Excuse me?" Dustpaw purred. "I don't like Littlepaw! Even if you and Birdpaw are obsessed." She purred again, with badly disguised amusement.
"Go away, mouse-brain," Redpaw muttered, and trotted over to the fresh-kill pile. He grabbed a thrush, and headed to eat beside the apprentices den.
Dustpaw was just about to join him when Nightflash came up beside her.
"Dustpaw, come with me on a special hunting mission," he whispered.
Dustpaw bounced after him, out of camp, her paws thrumming with excitement. "Where are we going?" she asked.
"MoonClan border," Nightflash answered shortly.
Dustpaw bounded after him. She gained on him slowly, and was almost in front of him when he hissed at her to stop.
"This is MoonClan's border," he whispered.
Dustpaw scented the air careuflly, her whiskers twitching. She smelt something different, and slightly unpleasant, but familiar at the same time. She kept scenting for the familiar scent as she followed her mentor across the border. He was looking for mice, but she was busy trying to work out what she smelt. Then, suddenly, she realised it. It was Cloverpaw! Her friend had been here recently. Trying to disguise her feelings, Dustpaw crouched beside Nightflash and looked for prey. But the only thing she could think about was whether she should be stealing prey from her friend's Clan. It felt wrong.
Cloverpaw followed Lilyfur across the stream that surrounded the Gathering place. By the mix of scents all around her, GorgonClan and WonderClan were already there.
"Are you scared?" Dewpaw whispered softly in her ear.
"Yes," Cloverpaw admitted. She had been taught never to lie to her brother.
"Me too," he muttered. "What if all the other apprentices are bigger than us?"
Cloverpaw shrugged, and concentrated on padding in Lilyfur's pawprints. Dewpaw's mentor, Tigerfur, nudged his apprentice gently with a paw.
"Hurry, Dewpaw," he said encouragingly.
Cloverpaw stopped, next to her mentor.
"You have to look sometime," Lilyfur murmured teasingly in her ear. Cloverpaw took a deep breath and raised her head, sending a glance spinning around the area. There were too many cats, and Cloverpaw shuddered with fear, pressing closer to Dewpaw. Then, out of the corner of her eye, she caught a glimpse of a familiar pitch-black pelt. Ashpaw and Dustpaw were huddled together at the edge of the clearing. Cloverpaw longed to bound over to them, but she weaved her way carefully around the edge to them instead, making sure that she slipped away when Dewpaw and Lilyfur were looking the other way.
"Cloverpaw!" Ashpaw exclaimed.
"Hey," Dustpaw muttered.
"You exist!" Cloverpaw gasped. It was stupid, but it was the first thing that came into her head.
"Nooo," Dustpaw said sarcastically.
"Have you seen Bramblepaw?" Ashpaw asked urgently. "There's something I need to tell all of you."
"Yeah, and she won't tell us until we're all here," Dustpaw complained.
"Over here," came a hiss from behind them.
"Bramblepaw!" Cloverpaw meowed joyfully.
Ashpaw beckoned them into the middle of a thick bush with her tail. "Listen carefully," she said softly.
"What?" Cloverpaw asked anxiously. Bramblepaw clamped her tail over the MoonClan apprentice's mouth.
"I had a dream," Ashpaw began. "There was a black cat, with black eyes. He said his name was Shadowstar."
"Shadowstar!" Dustpaw gasped. "Descendant of GorgonClan and Fangstar!"
Ashpaw jerked her head, and Cloverpaw shoved her tail in Dustpaw's mouth.
"Shadowstar said that there was going to be a great war amongst the Clans, and that the four of us had been chosen to decide what to do about it."
"Why us?" Bramblepaw asked. "We're just apprentices!"
Ashpaw shushed Bramblepaw with her tail.
"He said that we'll have the choice to flee, or fight. It's all up to us."
"Tha's redicos," Dustpaw mumbled through a mouthful of fur.
Cloverpaw spat Bramblepaw's tail out, pulled her own tail out of Dustpaw's mouth, and frowned. "Dustpaw's right. What are we supposed to do?"
"Something clever," Bramblepaw muttered, pinning Ashpaw's tail to the ground with a paw.
"Incredibly clever," Cloverpaw agreed. "Why does there have to be a war between the Clans anyway? I thought we got over that ages ago! We've been living in peace for generations."
"Yeah, but how long can that last?" Bramblepaw asked quietly. "Maybe Shadowstar knew that it would end one day, so he made plans, or something."
"I hope so," Ashpaw whispered, and all four apprentices gazed out at the Clans gathered under the full moon with fear in their eyes.
Bramblepaw was dreaming, but she wasn't with her friends. This was unusual. Instead, she was in a dark forest, all alone.
"Hello?" she called, reminding herself of the first time she had been in the DreamClan camp.
This time, however, the cat who answered was much older than her. "Hello, Bramblepaw. I've been waiting for you."
"Who are you?" Bramblepaw asked furiously.
"My name's Bloodstar," the cat hissed. "I'm your ancestor. My daughter was just a kit when the Great Battle happened, and I was killed. She joined AshClan."
"You were the leader of VanishClan," Bramblepaw remembered.
"That's right," the copper-pelted tom agreed.
"What do you want?" Bramblepaw meowed rudely.
"I just want to help you," he soothed. "Help you be the best in your Clan you can be! You're my last descendant, you know. Obviously I want you to succeed in everything you do."
"Why aren't you in StarClan?" Bramblepaw asked suspiciously.
Bloodstar didn't answer. He screwed his eyes shut for a minute before speaking again. "I know that you're smart, Bramblepaw, but you need to be more than smart if you want to lead AshClan, and maybe even the other Clans too."
"I don't want to lead the other Clans," Bramblepaw protested. "I like AshClan."
"You have to take AshClan away from here, or it won't exist anymore," Bloodstar warned. "Don't bother making plans with those apprentices from other Clans you call friends. They will desert your Clan in its time of need, and you will all die screaming under the claws of others."
Bramblepaw shuddered. "I don't believe you," she said crossly. "Dustpaw, Ashpaw and Cloverpaw are my friends. They would never betray me!"
"That's what you think," Bloodstar hissed menacingly. "They all have strengths, but you don't."
"I'm good at climbing trees," Bramblepaw protested.
"Climbing trees to hide?" her ancestor snorted derisively. "What use is that? I'll tell you; none."
Bramblepaw turned away from him, and realised that the forest was slowly fading away. "Wait!" she cried.
"Think it over," Bloodstar hissed menacingly. And then he was gone.
Four of the greatest Clan leaders gazed down at the scene below.
"They know the truth now," Shadowstar pointed out.
"But will all four rise to the occasion?" Leopardstar asked. He looked closer. "Dustpaw, from my Clan, is harsh and unforgiving towards others. They might not work well as a group."
"Cloverpaw can smooth out arguments," Moonstar, former leader of MoonClan, soothed him. "She is very agreeable."
"Stop worrying," Ashstar, leader of AshClan, told them. "I have faith in all four apprentices. Dustpaw is descended from you, Leopardstar. Cloverpaw is a direct descendant of you, Moonstar. Bramblepaw has strong ancestory from VanishClan, and Ashpaw is a direct throwback to Fangstar. She even shares my name."
Shadowstar purred as he looked at his daughter. "You are right," he agreed. "The four must be strong. All we can do is wait, and trust them."
End of Book 1.
Book 2 is called The Rise of Evil 2: Two.
The whole series can be found here.
Thanks for reading!