|The Evil Rising Saga|
|Preceded by: |
The Rise of Evil 2: One
|The Rise of Evil 2: Two||Succeded by: |
The Rise of Evil 2: Three
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.
Dapplefur - Brown-and-white she-cat with dark 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.
Petalpaw - Pale red tabby she-cat with dark amber eyes.
Foxpaw - Dark red tom with bushy tail and amber eyes.
Honeypaw - Pretty golden she-cat with pale blue eyes.
Ashpaw - Pure black she-cat with grey eyes.
Sandwhisker - Pale ginger she-cat with light amber eyes, mother of Whitepelt's kits.
Snowkit - White she-cat with a sandy-coloured front paw.
Stormkit - Dark grey tom with sandy-coloured splotches.
Lightkit - White she-cat with pale yellow 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: Nightflash - Jet-black tom with grey patches and sea-blue eyes.
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.
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.
Skyflight - 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.
Dustpaw - Long-haired brown she-cat with pretty amber eyes.
Redpaw - Dark ginger tom with deep amber eyes.
Birchheart - Tortoiseshell she-cat with dark green eyes and a fluffy tail, mother of Silvertoes's kits.
Deerkit - Pretty brown she-cat with a dappled pelt and amber eyes.
Wolfkit - Small tom with a light grey pelt and blue eyes.
Crowkit - Black tom with blue 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.
Bluetalon - Dark blue-grey she-cat with pale amber eyes.
Autumnfall - Orange-brown she-cat with pale blue eyes.
Riverpaw - Blue-grey tabby tom with blue eyes.
Darkpaw - Dark grey tom with ocean-blue eyes.
Dewpaw - Light creamy-brown tom with a white tail-tip, paws and underbelly and amber eyes.
Cloverpaw - Dark brown-and-white she-cat with amber eyes.
Streampelt - Sleek silver she-cat with light blue eyes, mother of Tigerfur's kits.
Owlkit - Large light-brown tom with dark brown paws.
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.
Brightclaw - White she-cat with brown patches.
Mousepaw - Dusky grey tom with blue eyes.
Smokepaw - Sleek grey tabby tom with black paws, a white chest and muzzle and brown eyes.
Bramblepaw - Brown tabby she-cat with one white paw and sparkling green eyes.
Nightpaw - Charcoal grey she-cat with green eyes.
Badgerpaw - Black-and-white tom with long fur and blue eyes.
Pearlwish - Cream she-cat with blue eyes, mother of Pinemist's kits.
Lilykit - White she-cat with beautiful blue-green eyes.
Marshkit - Small brown tabby tom.
Snowtree - White-and-grey tabby she-cat with light amber eyes.
Swiftclaw - Grumpy brown tabby tom with amber eyes.
The four Clans had lived in peace for many many seasons, but now danger threatens them. Four cats have been chosen by StarClan, one from each Clan to try and save their Clanmates and friends.
Ashpaw of WonderClan is a plucky, adventurous she-cat who is very loyal. She is an incredible fighter, and a direct descendant of Shadowstar.
Dustpaw of GorgonClan can be stand-offish, and rather blunt towards others, but at heart she is a shy she-cat who is constantly thinking and wondering about the world around her. She is an extremely fast runner, and a direct descendant of Leopardstar.
Cloverpaw of MoonClan is a sweet, kind she-cat who is good at sorting out fights and arguments and generally keeping the peace. She is an excellent swimmer, and a direct descendant of Moonstar.
Bramblepaw of AshClan is a thoughtful she-cat who always has excellent ideas and values friendship highly. She has powerful hind legs, is amazing at climbing, and is a direct descendant of Bloodstar.
Together, these four apprentices must save their world.
Ashpaw trotted into the camp, a ball of moss clamped firmly in her jaws. Olivepaw was beside her, also carrying moss. They reached the elders den, and dragged their bundles inside.
Olivepaw spat out her moss eagerly. "This is the last time I clean the elder's den," she boasted. "The warrior ceremony for Larkpaw and I is tonight. Flashmark just told us!"
"That's great!" Ashpaw said enthusiastically. "Although that means that there will only be four apprentices to do all the work. I can't wait until Sandwhisker's new kits are old enough to help!"
Olivepaw purred, amused. "Have you seen them yet?" she asked.
Ashpaw shook her head. "Not yet, I was planning to go tonight, after the ceremony."
"Good idea," Olivepaw agreed. She shivered suddenly. "I don't fancy sitting vigil tonight! Don't be surprised if Larkpaw and I are frozen solid by morning!"
"Ice cats," Ashpaw purred.
They finished spreading the moss around.
"There you go," Olivepaw told the elders.
"Thank you," Palemist meowed creakily. "Say thank you, Spottedpelt," she added to the tom beside her.
Spottedpelt jerked his head up crankily. "I know how to say it myself, you bossy she-cat," he muttered. "Thanks. See? I can do it too."
Olivepaw and Ashpaw left the elders arguing and headed back to the apprentices den. Ashpaw's brother and sisters were all eating in a huddle just outside.
"Ashpaw!" Honeypaw called. "I saved you a mouse. Come here."
Ashpaw padded over, and settled into a space between Petalpaw and Foxpaw.
"Isn't the apprentice ceremony going to be exciting?" Foxpaw asked eagerly.
"I wish I was about to become a warrior," Petalpaw grumbled.
"You will be in another few moons," Ashpaw said cheerfully. "I like being an apprentice."
"You would," Petalpaw muttered, but she took the sting out of her words by flicking Ashpaw's ear lightly with her tail.
Sunstar leapt onto the rock and called a Clan meeting. All four apprentices padded over and sat in a bunch at the edge of the group.
Olivepaw and Larkpaw padded out of the apprentices den side-by-side, flanked by their mentors, Thornclaw, Ashpaw's father, and Mistysun, a friendly grey she-cat. They stopped in front of Sunstar, who leapt down from the rock to stand in front of them.
"Olivepaw, Larkpaw, do you promise to honour the warrior code and uphold it with your life?" Sunstar asked.
"I do," Olivepaw said quietly, her eyes gleaming with excitement.
"I do," Larkpaw added, his voice strong.
"Then I give you your warrior names. Olivepaw, from this day on you will be known as Oliveleaf. Larkpaw, from this day on you will be known as Larkpelt."
Ashpaw raised her voice with the rest of the Clan. "Oliveleaf! Larkpelt!"
Sagepaw, the medicine cat apprentice, bounded over to her brother and sister and rubbed her head against them, purring happily. Every cat was happy and excited. After Ashpaw had given the new warriors her congratulations, she headed into the apprentices den to sleep. Tonight was a night for meeting with Bramblepaw, Dustpaw and Cloverpaw, and she wanted to get there early.
Dustpaw waited in her dream for her three friends to arrive. She had fallen asleep earlier than usual because her brother Redpaw was out on a late patrol, and wasn't in the den to disturb her. The other GorgonClan apprentices, Birdpaw, Wildpaw and Littlepaw were still eating their prey in the clearing, so Dustpaw had arrived in her dream before she meant to.
"Dustpaw! Hey!" Ashpaw called, entering the clearing ringed by bushes.
"Hi," Dustpaw muttered, sounding unfriendly. She hated sounding like that. At home in GorgonClan she was always quiet, polite, and thoughtful, but with her friends she was blunt and sometimes rude.
"Oliveleaf and Larkpelt had their warrior ceremony," Ashpaw told her eagerly.
"That's great!" Dustpaw exclaimed, trying to sound friendly. "Listen, I've been waiting here for ages, and no sign of Cloverpaw or Bramblepaw. Maybe they had important things happening tomorrow?"
"We need to meet in real life," Ashpaw muttered. "How about next new moon, we meet in my territory, by the dead tree?"
"That sounds good," Dustpaw nodded. "I'll tell Cloverpaw, we share a border."
"And I'll tell Bramblepaw," Ashpaw added. "See you then?"
"Yeah," Dustpaw nodded, and the friends padded in opposite directions, and back to their dens.
Dustpaw woke up when Redpaw came into the den later on. He curled up beside her, and pricked her with thorns.
"What have you got on your pelt?" Dustpaw asked him, shoving him away from her.
"Dunno," Redpaw mumbled, curling up tightly and tucking his nose under his tail. "Burrs or something."
Dustpaw sighed and wriggled around in her nest, facing Birdpaw and Wildpaw. Sometimes she wished StarClan had never chosen her. She often felt oddly disconnected from the other cats in her Clan. Her best friends weren't supposed to be her friends, and she wasn't supposed to be meeting them in secret at new moon.
"Goodnight," Redpaw murmured sleepily.
"Night," Dustpaw whispered, and closed her eyes.
Cloverpaw bounded silently into WonderClan territory, heading for the dead tree. She hoped she knew where it was. Dustpaw had described the location, but Cloverpaw was still worried that she'd run to the wrong place, and maybe end up in WonderClan's camp!
"Cloverpaw! Over here," hissed a voice. Cloverpaw turned, skidding on the leaves, and saw Bramblepaw crouched in a tree high above her.
"Where's the meeting place?" Cloverpaw asked.
"Follow me," Bramblepaw muttered, and slid down the tree, digging her claws into the bark. She leapt onto the ground, and raced off, followed by Cloverpaw.
They soon reached the dead tree. It was huge, toppled over on its side, with long roots sticking into the air. Dustpaw and Ashpaw were crouched on top of it.
"Good, you're here," Dustpaw said impatiently. "We've been waiting for ages."
"No we haven't," Ashpaw corrected jokingly.
Dustpaw lashed her tail, rose to her paws, and padded in circles on the trunk. "I think we need to figure out what this prophecy means," she said anxiously.
"How?" Cloverpaw asked, settling down beside Ashpaw and tucking her paws under her body.
"We could go to the Moonplace," Bramblepaw suggested. "That's where StarClan is supposed to be heard the best."
"But do any of you know the way?" Ashpaw asked.
"I could ask Skyflight," Dustpaw suggested. "We've been friends since I was a kit, I'm sure she'd tell me."
"But we don't want to arouse suspicion," Ashpaw argued.
Dustpaw hissed, her hackles rising. "Are you suggesting I'm not careful?"
"No!" Ashpaw protested. "But Skyflight muight think there's something weird about you asking!"
"What, so you don't trust me?" Dustpaw snarled.
Ashpaw rose to her feet and faced the other apprentice. "No!" she insisted. "I'm just saying, we should be careful."
"Yeah, well maybe you should stop just saying things," Dustpaw said furiously.
"Calm down, you two," Cloverpaw interrupted, pushing between them.
Dustpaw opened her mouth to say something, but froze when there was a rustling in the bushes nearby.
"Who's there?" Ashpaw called, her voice high and fearful, her argument forgotten.
A handsome dark red tom stuck his head out of the bushes.
"Foxpaw!" Ashpaw snarled. "You followed me!"
"Yes, and lucky I did," Foxpaw snapped back, but his eyes weren't on his sister.
"We'd better go," Bramblepaw said urgently. "Hurry!"
She leaped off the log, and after a moment's hesitation, Cloverpaw followed. Dustpaw remained behind for an instant longer, then raced away, going straight into top speed and heading for her territory.
Cloverpaw arrived back at MoonClan panting and out of breath.
"Where were you?" her father, Hawkclaw asked. He had been on duty at the entrance and seen her arrive.
"Late hunt," Cloverpaw gasped. "Didn't catch anything."
"I can see that," Hawkclaw purred, amused. "Get back to your nest then."
Bramblepaw crouched in the undergrowth, watching for the twitch of the fallen leaves that would betray a hidden mouse. The late afternoon sun streaked through the trees above her and made dappled patterns on the ground.
"Keep your tail still!" Pinemist hissed from beside her.
Bramblepaw's tail froze in place. She hadn't realised that it had been twitching, and she was embarrassed. She had learnt to keep still while hunting in her first moon as an apprentice!
"Concentrate," Pinemist muttered.
Bramblepaw focused all her attention back to the hunt. Her green eyes scanned the leaves, moving slowly over every inch of ground. A small movement drew her attention, and she slowly sank onto her haunches, preparing to spring. A pink nose snuffled out of the leaves, and Bramblepaw launched herself forward, clapping her paws over the mouse and killing it with a swift bite to the neck.
"Well done," Pinemist praised. "Bury it with the blackbird and we'll keep hunting."
Bramblepaw did as her mentor suggested, and continued her search for prey. Suddenly, in the fork between two branches high in a nearby tree, a flash of red caught her eye. She sprang upwards without thinking, hooking her claws into the branch and leaping again, moving swiftly higher and higher. The ground swayed dizzyingly far below her, but she wasn't scared. One final leap, and her teeth snagged in the squirrel's tail, Pulling it with her, she let herself overbalance and fell triumphantly back to earth, toppling over mid-fall and landing on her feet, bending her joints for the impact.
"That was amazing!" Badgerpaw gasped from a clump of bushes a little way away. He and his mentor, Cricketclaw, the Clan deputy, had been watching.
Bramblepaw ducked her head, feeling self-concious. "It wasn't that great," she mumbled.
"Yeah it was!" Badgerpaw enthused. "Wow! Can you show me how to climb like that?"
Bramblepaw shook her head apologetically. "I don't really know how I did it." She grabbed her squirrel, and padded over to where she had buried the rest of her prey.
"I think we'll call it a day," Pinemist decided, looking up at the sky, which was fast becoming grey and cloud-covered.
"Do you want me to carry your squirrel for you?" Badgerpaw suggested. "I only caught a vole, and I can easily manage both! Besides, I know how hairy squirrels can be!"
"Uh, yeah, sure," Bramblepaw mumbled. She dropped the squirrel and grasped the blackbird and mouse.
Badgerpaw swooped down to grab the squirrel. As he gripped it firmly between his teeth, his fur brushed against Bramblepaw's side. Bramblepaw drew back hastily, and set off at a rapid trot for the camp, her fur tingling where Badgerpaw had brushed against her. He followed enthusiastically, keeping up a running commentary on what he and Cricketclaw had done this morning and how proud Pinemist must be of Bramblepaw's climbing and jumping skills. By the time they reached the camp, Bramblepaw was feeling a mixture of amusement, and embarassment towards the black-and-white apprentice, as well as wondering how he managed to talk constantly with so much in his mouth. It was a relief when Bramblepaw could take the prey over to the fresh-kill pile and head into her den to sleep, while Badgerpaw finally peeled away from her to talk to Nightpaw, his sister.
Bramblepaw curled tightly in her nest. She tried to remember if she was supposed to be meeting the other three chosen cats tonight, and felt a sudden reluctance squirm deep in her belly. She just wanted to lie here with her own thoughts tonight, not fuss about the fate of the Clans. She was glad when she realised that they weren't meeting tonight.
None of the apprentices had been taking the meetings too seriously lately anyway. They were all so busy with their own lives, in their own Clans, that they hardly had time for each other. Long gone were the days when Bramblepaw had been a lonely kit desperate for friends her own age. Now she just wished she could be a normal cat, without all these responsibilities and committments.
Ashpaw was stuck. She had ventured out of WonderClan territory on her hunt, into the territory that no Clan owned, and now her leg was caught in a loop of strange, shiny stuff that held her fast and seemed resistant to biting and clawing and everything else she tried. It was cold out here at night, and Ashpaw was trying to curl up as much as she could, and shivering.
She had had a wonderful idea, that maybe she could contact one of the other chosen cats in her dream and tell them where she was! The only problem was that she couldn't go to sleep. She kept closing her eyes, and they kept opening again, scared of every slight shadow that could be a badger, or a fox, or a rogue.
Eventually, her eyes closed of their own accord, and she fell asleep. When she jerked awake, much, much later, she realised at once that she hadn't dreamed at all. She felt warmer now, though, that was odd. Shifting position slightly, Ashpaw realised that another cat was curled up next to her.
Hissing and spitting, she jumped to her three free legs.
"Get away from me," she snarled, arching her back.
"Chill," the newcomer retorted calmly. "I was only coming to see who was thrashing around in the Twoleg's fox trap. When I saw you were asleep, I thought I'd keep you warm until you woke up. You don't have to be so grateful."
Ashpaw kept her hackles raised, but the suspicion in her eyes faded slightly.
"Who are you?" she retorted.
"My name's Dusky," the tom offered. He was very handsome, with long black fur and bright green eyes.
"Are you a rogue?" Ashpaw asked uncertainly.
"I am now," Dusky explained. "I used to be a Twoleg pet, but I was given to new owners, and when they saw that I was a black cat with green eyes they called me unlucky and kicked me out. They tried to drown me, but I clawed them and escaped to the forest>"
"That must have been tough," Ashpaw said sympathetically. "My name's Ashpaw. I'm an apprentice of WonderClan."
"Ashpaw is a beautiful name," Dusky said appreciatively. "But what's an apprentice, and what's WonderClan?"
"The Clans are like... big groups of cats. We all live together, and look after each other. Queens and kits and elders get to be fed first, and everything, and warriors are the hunters and fighters, and apprentices are being trained to be warriors!"
"It sounds complicated," Dusky muttered. "How many Clans are there?"
"Four," Ashpaw explained. "WonderClan, that's my Clan, are really brave and good at hunting. GorgonClan are really good at fighting, MoonClan are really peaceful, and AshClan is sot of a mixture! But WonderClan's the best."
"That sounds pretty cool," Dusky admitted. "Now, shouldn't we see about getting you out of that trap?"
"Oh, you know how to?" Ashpaw exclaimed.
Dusky nodded proudly. "Of course!" he told her. "Watch me."
He scrabbled with his claws at the base of the stick, and uprooted it. The loop around Ashpaw's leg slackened, and she was able to pull it free. She twisted around to lick her fur.
"Thanks!" she exclaimed. "I better be heading back now."
"I should probably escort you," Dusky suggested. "Your leg will probably be stiff."
Ashpaw shrugged. "Sure, why not," she agreed.
They headed back the way Dusky said was towards the Clans. "I've scented loads of cats over here before, I just didn't know they were so well organised," he explained.
Ashpaw nodded, being careful to limp a little so that the friendly rogue wouldn't feel embarrassed about escorting her back.
"M - Maybe I could join WonderClan?" Dusky asked, his voice rising nervously.
"Yeah!" Ashpaw exclaimed. "That'd be great. There aren't very many apprentices at the moment, since Oliveleaf and Larkpelt just became warriors. The other apprentices are just my two sisters, Honeypaw and Petalpaw, and my brother, Foxpaw."
"So are all the apprentices called Somethingpaw?" Dusky asked. "What if your Clan doesn't like my name?"
"We can always change it," Ashpaw said reassuringly. "Come on!"
The two dark-pelted cats dashed towards the forest, stiff legs forgotten, heading into WonderClan territory.
Dustpaw wriggled in her nest, trying to get comfortable. There was a familiar scent in her nostrils, something she knew she had smelled before, although she couldn't remember where. It filled her with a sense of excitement, and a memory of running.
A head suddenly appeared through the top of the apprentices den. Dustpaw jerked upright un surprise, craning her head back to see who it was, but it was too dark in the den. She glanced urgently around at the other apprentices, suddenly convinced that it was Ashpaw, come to say sorry about their argument a few nights earlier. She didn't know what gave her this idea, all she knew was that she was suddenly sure of it.
Birdpaw, Wildpaw, Littlepaw and Redpaw were all asleep. Dustpaw heaved a sigh of relief, and padded out of the den. It was still late at night outside, but the moon was almost full, and round, and Dustpaw could see clearly.
"You're not Ashpaw!" she gasped at the figure crouching on the roof of her den.
The figure cast a startled glance at her, turned, and ran. Pushing through some ferns near the nursery, he slunk out of her camp through a gap in the bushes that she'd never known about. She followed, and once they were out on the flat, caught up with him easily.
"What are you doing here?" she asked. She recognised the tom now. It was Ashpaw's brother, which explained why his scent had been so familiar, and why she had thought the strange cat was Ashpaw come to apologise.
"I wanted to see you again," the tom meowed cheekily. "I wouldn't have kept quiet about Ashpaw's secret meetings otherwise."
"Why did you want to see me again?" Dustpaw asked, her heart suddenly beating faster, although she didn't know why.
"Because I think you're the prettiest she-cat I've ever seen, and I don't even know your name."
"You're a bit... blunt, aren't you?" Dustpaw asked bluntly.
"I'm truthful," the tom said, offended. "My name's Foxpaw. What's yours?"
"Dustpaw," Dustpaw admitted grudgingly. "And i think you should go back to your own territory now."
"Why?" Foxpaw asked. "Don't you like me? I thought you'd feel the same way I do!"
Dustpaw took an involuntary step backwards. Talking about feelings with a cat she'd only just met from another Clan was not high on her list of things she enjoyed. Still, she found herself not wanting Foxpaw to feel hurt, and she answered quietly. "I might like you if we were from the same Clan and knew each other better," she hissed. "But I've only just met you!"
"So what?" Foxpaw snorted. "Haven't you ever heard of love at first sight?" he added mischevously.
Dustpaw rolled her eyes, and sat down on the grass, realising that Foxpaw wasn't going to go away easily.
"Of course I've heard of it, but that doesn't mean it exits!" she told him firmly. "Come on Foxpaw, we're not even supposed to be meeting here!"
"Says you," interjected Foxpaw, "who was meeting with my sister and MoonClan and AshClan apprentices half a moon ago."
"That's different," Dustpaw said quietly. "We have a..."
"I can't tell you," Dustpaw muttered miserably. "Sorry."
Fxopaw frowned, looking at the scratches he was making in the dirt. "Fine," he said at last, leaping to his paws. "I'll go home."
"Foxpaw, wait!" Dustpaw called, but the dark red tom was already running for the WonderClan border, his bushy tail streaming out behind him. Dustpaw sighed, confused, and padded back into her camp, wishing her life was less complicated. She and Foxpaw would never have known about each other's existence if StarClan hadn't chosen her. She glared up at the sky and stalked angrily back into her den.
Cloverpaw shifted uncertainly on the bank, watching Darkpaw splash around in the water. His grey fur looked black, it was so wet, and his vivid blue eyes gleamed even more brightly than usual.
"I hate swimming," the tom complained, wading out of the river and shaking himself.
Drops of water spattered all over Cloverpaw, turning the white patches on her fur to grey.
"I know you do," Sunheart, Darkpaw's mentor, said good-naturedly. "But we have to learn. Can you tell me why?"
He looked back and forth between the two apprentices expectantly. Darkpaw shrugged, twisting his head around to lick at his wet flank. In the end, it was Cloverpaw who answered.
"Because if there's another great flood we want every cat to be well prepared," she said firmly, reciting a lesson she had learned long ago.
"Right," Sunheart agreed. "Now, Cloverpaw, you get in some practice. I want you to try and keep your paws on the riverbed as long as you can. When the current washes you away, try and swim for the shore."
Cloverpaw picked her way delicately through the mud at the river's edge, and splashed into the middle. Her paws found the stony riverbed, and she scrabbled to find a footing, digging her claws into the earthy gaps between the stones. The current washed around her, pulling her downstream, tugging her fur backwards so that it floated in the water around her.
"You're doing great!" Sunheart called. "Let go now, or we'll be here till sundown!"
Cloverpaw nodded as well as she could, and lifted all four paws off the stones. Immediately, she was swept away backwards, striking out with each paw in turn, and lifting her chin as high as she could to keep herself afloat. She angled her body sideways, swimming across the current, not against it, and used her tail to help herself steer. It didn't seem long before her paws could touch ground again, and she was wading out of the river a little way further on, weighed down by her soaking fur.
"That was excellent," Sunheart said, clearly pleased. "I'll inform Lilyfur of your progress."
Cloverpaw gave a pleased purr, shaking the drops of water out of her pelt. Her mentor was back at camp with a bad cough, and Sunheart had mentored both apprentices today.
"Good job there," Darkpaw agreed, headbutting Cloverpaw on the shoulder. He laughed, and flicked her with his tail, adding; "But we all know I did better!"
Cloverpaw pretended to be shocked, running after Darkpaw. Sunheart let them chase each other, and the sun and the running slowly began to dry off Cloverpaw's fur. She ducked under the bushes and into camp. The MoonClan camp was well lit with the setting sun, amber beams of light striking the dens. The fresh-kill pile lay to one side, the biggest Cloverpaw had ever seen it. She sighed happily as she bounded over to fetch a mouse, then lay down outside the apprentices den with Dewpaw. Life was good.
Bramblepaw crouched in the forest, watching and waiting patiently. She could smell the pheasant, and knew that it was big enough to feed every cat in the Clan, and then some. Even though fresh-kill was plentiful, and it was new-leaf, more prey was always welcome.
In her mind, Bramblepaw was already halfway home, carrying her catch proudly, and being greeted with awe and astonishment. She was so focused, that she didn't scent the other cat until it was too late. There was a squak from the bushes, and the biggest bird Bramblepaw had ever seen rustled out and scooted away.
Bramblepaw spun around agressively, her hackles rising, her lips curled in a snarl. A dark brown she-cat with deep blue eyes was standing behind her. Curious, Bramblepaw scented the air, but the she-cat had no distinct scent that she could pick out. The scent she did have was very faint, and reminded Bramblepaw of AshClan scent, yet she knew every cat in her Clan, and this she-cat wasn't part of it.
"Who are you?" Bramblepaw asked wonderingly. A new thought struck her, and she looked around, light dawning in her eyes. "Am I dreaming?"
"Yes," the she-cat told her, dipping her head. "I am Nettlefang. We are distantly related, from a very long time ago, when AshClan didn't exist, and VanishClan ruled the forest, along with WonderClan and GorgonClan."
"VanishClan?" Bramblepaw gasped. "I think I've heard of them, in the tales the elders tell. They were one of the Clans who joined together to make AshClan!"
"That's the one," Nettlefang agreed. "I was a part of that Clan."
"How are you related to me?" Bramblepaw questioned.
"It is a complicated story, and one I would rather not go into now," Nettlefang explained. "I have come to warn you."
"Warn me? Of what?"
"The danger that you were chosen to save your Clan from is rapidly approaching, but you won't be here to see it."
"Are you saying I'm going to die?" Bramblepaw asked. Her legs felt weak suddenly.
"No, you won't die, young one. But you must leave. Travel towards the mountains, and you will find your salvation."
"What about the other chosen apprentices?" Bramblepaw protested. "Should I bring Ashpaw, Dustpaw and Cloverpaw, or is this just for me and AshClan?"
Nettlefang shrugged, and faded away, the last echo of her voice lingering in the air. "It is up to you."
Bramblepaw jerked awake.
Six cats weaved along a rocky ledge, their fur buffeted by the wind, their eyes narrowed against the harsh glare of snow.
“This is hopeless!” a slender grey she-cat yowled above the wind. “We should have waited the blizzard out! It’s only going to get worse!”
“There was nowhere to wait, Smokepaw,” a grey tom reminded her. “We would have frozen to death if we’d stopped moving.”
“We’re going to freeze to death here,” a black she-cat snapped. “So it’s not like waiting the storm out would have made any difference, Forestpaw.” She said his name with barely disguised scorn, her lip curled in anger.
“We shouldn’t be fighting now,” a grey she-cat called. “We need to work together to complete StarClan’s mission.”
“You just don’t want to fight because WindClan are a bunch of cowards,” Smokepaw snarled.
“Yeah? Well at least I’m not terrified to trust any cat, like ShadowClan are,” the grey she-cat responded with a hiss.
“WindClan traitor!” the black she-cat yowled. “StarClan should have entrusted this mission to worthier Clans.”
“You weren’t even chosen by StarClan, Birdpaw,” the grey she-cat meowed, twitching her whiskers. “Which clearly shows that even StarClan knows I’m better than you.”
With a snarl of rage, Birdpaw hurled herself at the grey she-cat, but her hind paws slipped, and with a yowl of terror she hurtled off the edge of the path, hanging in space.
“Hold on!” Forestpaw called urgently. He tried to weave his way through the other cats and reach her, but a golden-brown she-cat got there first, gripping Birdpaw’s scruff between her jaws. She hauled the apprentice back onto the path, and released her, panting.
“Thanks, Leopardpaw,” Birdpaw gasped, her chest heaving.
“You’re welcome,” Leopardpaw responded, dipping her head. “We all need to stick together.”
Smokepaw shoved past Forestpaw, pressing her nose into Birdpaw’s fur and glancing anxiously at her friend. “Are you hurt?”
Birdpaw shook her head. “No, I’m fine.” Turning to Leopardpaw, she continued; “You’re right. We do need to work together.”
“Clan differences shouldn’t set us apart,” a dark grey she-cat mewed. “Right now, we all have a lot of things in common. We’re all soaked to the bone, and freezing cold. We’re all apprentices, and we’re all on this journey to help the Clanmates that we love.” The dark grey she-cat fixed her eyes on the other WindClan apprentice. “Mistpaw, you shouldn’t have said those things.”
“You’re right, Wetpaw,” her sister meowed. “Smokepaw, Birdpaw, I’m sorry for what I said about ShadowClan.”
Smokepaw and Birdpaw exchanged a glance, then Smokepaw spoke. “We’re sorry too,” she muttered.
“Look, as glad as I am that the argument has been sorted, we still need to keep moving,” Forestpaw meowed urgently. “We’ll become ice-cats if we stay here much longer. We’ll try and find shelter.”
The group of cats moved off again, their pelts dark against the pure white snow beneath them, a smudgy, tiny line against the vast landscape.
End of Book 2.
Book 3 is called The Rise of Evil 2: Three.
The whole series can be found here.
Thanks for reading!