This is one for the two sequels of The Fallen River! Because of this, it is meant to be read alongside the other sequel, which is called Clashing Metals. They are both part two of the River's Lineage series.
Saying that RiverClan was ecstatic would be a horrible understatement.
The rain beating down on their heads didn’t irritate them like it would a cat from any other clan. Having fur this wet was something that few cats in RiverClan ever thought they could have again. Every warrior rejoiced, yowling excitedly, bounding alongside each other on the trip back to their river. The first splashes were chaotic, rain crashing down on their backs as they leaped around in play that they had wished for for so long.
Puddlekit, the tiny kit that Silverscale had taken with her, was now in the silver-furred feline’s jaws, preventing the she-cat from joining her clanmates in play. But even if she wasn’t burdened by her brother’s kit - well, her kit now, she’d have to do important work within the clan camp.
The cat leapt into the river that surrounded the island she needed to get to, a purr ripping it’s way out through her throat. It had been long, too long, since she had been it water that she couldn’t just wade through. Cats, mostly queens and higher-regarded clan members, trailed loosely behind her, eager to get back home.
Gradually, the rest of the RiverClan cats made their way to camp. Silverscale was the first cat inside, her blue eyes wide with excitement. It was almost exactly the same as she remembered it, albeit a bit rougher due to the lack of patching up over the many moons the territory was uninhabited. She padded deeper, slowly taking in her surroundings.
Silverscale slowly wandered to the apprentices’ den, poking her head inside through the reeds that surrounded it. Placing the kitten down gently, she nosed at her old nest. It no longer smelled like her, but she knew where it was by heart. Silver fur was loosely scattered along the surface. She remembered the days when she was a kit, boldly running uninvited to the apprentices’ den and choosing exactly where she wanted her nest to be placed. Troutfin always said he’d put his right next to hers. Her gaze moved to below the moss, and to her brother’s sleeping area. He said that he was closer to the entrance, so he could protect the apprentices(and her) in case anything were to happen. Their nests were so close together that there wasn’t any visible separation.
Silverscale allowed herself a small chuckle. Oh, how close they were. Eyeing the reeds close to their little patches of old territory, she saw the shells of long-dead freshwater snails and the feathers of migrating geese that the two cats had collected together on the first days of the apprenticeship. Sighing, she turned around and scooped Puddlekit back up. On her way out, she saw Barkstar conversing with other cats, along with Creekblaze and Reedgale, two of the more injured warriors talking with the medicine cat. Silverscale nodded respectfully to all of them as she walked past, dead tired. She held all in high regard, due to the fact that they had all taken a major role in the plan to overtake ThunderClan. Without Creekblaze and Reedgale, she didn’t know what their warriors would do without such brilliant mentors.
Slipping into the warrior’s den, she laid on the ground groggily, avoiding the dried-out old moss. Her limbs ached and the buzz of adrenaline had long since left her body. Placing Puddlekit near her belly to warm the kitten up, she laid her head on her paws and shut tired eyes.
It was nobody’s business but her own if she awoke later in the night to take some of the old decorative shells and feathers from her old nest, and somberly dropped Troutfin’s into the river where they had happily collected them many moons before. He was gone, and she didn’t want to hold onto the past.
“Let all cats old enough to brave the currents gather around the tide rocks for a clan meeting!”
Barkstar’s voice rang out around the camp, the clan’s eyes set on their leader. “Today, three kits will become apprentices.”
Puddlekit took a deep breath, attempting to calm her heart, beating quicker than it ever had before. If she didn’t know any better, she’d be worried that the cats around her would hear it. Her eyes, a beautiful shade of blue, were fixed determinedly on Barkstar. She had been waiting for this day since she could start forming thoughts.
Beside her was Lavenderkit, and next to Lavenderkit sat Heatherkit. They were sitting just outside the reeds that made up the nursery entrance. They seemed so composed, like they were meant for this. Puddlekit wanted to be just like them, but wondered if deep inside, they were as nervous as she was.
“I’m happy to say that these kits are the first we’ll be apprenticing in our very own territory.”
Cheers erupted from the cats that were gathered already, murmuring their praises and looking towards the nursery. She could feel their eyes on her, approving, curious, and expectact gazes making her almost attempt to close in on herself.
The two sisters stood, tearing Puddlekit away from her thoughts. Quickly, she bolted upright and swallowed thickly, making her way to the large boulders that the leader stood on, smoothened by many moons of battling the waters. Barkstar gazed at them, pride shining in his eyes. She quickly glanced behind her, seeing Silverscale’s eyes on her. Instead of getting more worried, she offered the she-cat a shaky smile, and a bit of her nerves eased as the grey feline dipped her head in return.
First, the two sisters received their names. It only made sense, seeing as they were older than Puddlekit by a few days. Finally, it was time for her to become Puddlepaw. Sleetfall was mentoring Lavenderkit- Lavenderpaw, and Icefang was the mentor of Heatherpaw. It would take some getting used to before she could say their new names without slipping up a few times.
Barkstar gazed at her fondly, in a fatherly sort of way. After all, he was Silverscale’s parent, and he was proud of both his daughter and her. “Puddlekit,” the leader began.
“You have reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you to become an apprentice. From this day on, until you receive your warrior name..” Puddlekit’s nervous(although composed) expression was quickly turning into a gleeful grin. “You will now be known as Puddlepaw.” If she wasn’t supposed to keep still, she’d be bouncing around. Gazing beside her, she spotted Lavenderpaw and Heatherpaw beaming at her.
“Your mentor will be Silverscale. I trust that she’ll pass on all she knows to you.” Turning, she looked at Silverscale, who was already approaching.
“Silverscale, you are ready to take on an apprentice. You’ve received excellent training from your former mentor, and you have shown yourself to be determined, powerful, and our clan will never forget all that you have done for us in the battle to take back our home.” The clan murmured their agreement, looking at the slender she-cat with pride, as if they were saying that’s her, that’s our Silverscale. “You will be the mentor of Puddlepaw, and I expect that you will pass on your knowledge to her.”
The two she-cats looked into each other’s eyes for a heartbeat. Although her face didn’t show it, visible pride radiated from her eyes. Silverscale’s mouth quirked up in a pseudo-smile, and she leaned forward slightly.
Puddlepaw met her in the middle, and their noses touched.
“Lavenderpaw! Heatherpaw! Puddlepaw!” The clan chanted as they separated. After a few moments of glory, the noise died down. “Clan dismissed.” Barkstar ordered with a twinkle in his eyes. He almost resembled one of the elders, about to settle down and tell a story.
Striding away, Silverscale didn’t stop. She didn’t even look over her shoulder. “You coming?” Was the only thing that came out of her mouth.
“Only if you show me all the corners of the territory.”
And they left the camp with smiles on their faces.
The days training under Silverscale flew by like a feather in the rapids. Puddlepaw always opened her eyes to the sun peeking over the horizon, casting orange light on every RiverClan cat. There were a few warriors awake at that time, many laying on their sides to soak in the beginnings of the day’s sunlight. However, if they were in the mood to sunbathe or share tongues, the majority would make their way to the smooth boulders and rocks that were on the corners of their camp’s small island. There, they’d settle down on the stony surface, warmed by the light that the rocks soaked in.
RiverClan cats go by schedules. Depending on the prey they want to haul into camp that day, it changes dramatically. Their main territory is made up of their large river, and they have the largest portion of the lake. Of course, as every clan cat knows, their main prey is fish. Fish, depending on species, come at different times of day, and appear in different places in the territory.
RiverClan’s beginnings seemed rougher than the other clans. They survived off of small fish that they happened across, and resorted to eating the few mice that settled around their land. Even water voles didn’t spend very much time outside of their burrows.
But eventually, they began to learn. Chubs preferred smaller streams. Trout were more common during warmer seasons, and were found in the early mornings and the late evenings, when the world was starting to fall asleep. Information was found and passed on, generation through generation until eventually they ended up.. here.
RiverClan is considered the most well-fed clan, but it didn’t make them lazy. While they waited for the certain time of day to hunt the food to feed their comrades, they oftentimes trained. They travelled to the corners of their territory and re-marked their borders. And sometimes, they just laid on the sunningrocks and spoke to one another as they watched the river flow, and heard the sounds it made.
Puddlepaw was sitting on a stone, watching the river intently. It had only taken three leaps to reach, and it was near to the center of the depths. Her eyes were focused on the water, bubbling and splashing as it hit the rock, ripples shifting and forming at every slight movement. Her mentor Silverscale was beside her, stiller than any cat she’d ever seen before. It felt like she wasn’t a living thing, rather an object in the environment.
She felt Silverscale’s eyes on her, and she stiffened slightly. “You’re moving too much.” Of course, Puddlepaw already knew that, but it wasn’t like it was on purpose. Apparently, she must’ve opened her mouth to protest, and was cut off by her mentor raising her tail. “I wasn’t finished. Stillness is perfected by practice. This is one of the things I expect you’ll eventually master as your training goes on.”
The blue-grey she-cat made a humming sound, indicating she was listening. The silver feline beside her had barely moved during the entire conversation. Puddlepaw wished she could be that composed and skilled already. “Get back in your position.” Her mentor demanded, not unkindly. The apprentice quickly obliged.
This was a relatively new practice for Puddlepaw. The majority of the training she’d gone through with Silverscale was either combat or territory based. Of course, training revolving around territory was crucial for every cat in RiverClan after ThunderClan was driven out. ShadowClan took much of that territory, but none of it was anything RiverClan cared for. Their border was at the point where the small river turned into a thin stream. The cats couldn’t fish there. Naturally, WindClan also wanted a piece. At least it wasn’t any of RiverClan’s concern, because it was only bordered with ShadowClan there. Combat seemed to go over many more topics that it apparently once did, before Puddlepaw was born. Cats were trained to fight on land, but they were also taught to fight using the water as an advantage.
All the times that Puddlepaw hunted was the small fish, already gathered in small schools near the riverbanks. She’d even managed to catch a water vole at one point, with less difficulty than she originally imagined. Land prey was very different than water prey, and less tasty, too.
While they waited for the trout to swim near enough to swipe at, Silverscale took the time to educate Puddlepaw more in-depth regarding when the prey came out. It would take some memorizing, but she was told that eventually she’d be able to list it from memory. After all, medicine cats could retain information on all those herbs. Fish couldn’t be too difficult, right? There weren’t even as many species of them as there were plants.
Her eyes caught movement.
It was a fish, swimming just below the surface of the water. Focusing on it more, she saw that it was a trout. Well, of course it is! She chided herself mentally. What other fish could it be? Silverscale took her here specifically to catch a trout. It was obvious, really. The fish’s back was dark, speckles of the scales going down it’s lighter body.
“I trust that you remember what I told you already, but let me go over it again.” Silverscale said in a hushed tone, although her voice still held a cool, collected confidence, like she knew that each word was going where it was supposed to. “I take one, and you follow swiftly afterwards before the school knows what’s happening and moves away.” More trout were coming into view. “Keep your eyes on the fish, and pay attention to my methods. Go for something small.”
Puddlepaw resisted the urge to nod, fearing moving her body too much. She didn’t want to ruin the hunt. It was all going smoothly so far, the fish were getting close, they both were in positions easy to swipe in, their shadows were behind them and not casted over their prey, and nothing was spooked just yet. Although it wasn’t the first time she was going to catch a fish, and it certainly wouldn’t be her last, this just felt more important than any of her previous hunts. The buildup was more intense, and Puddlepaw couldn’t help but feel like this was her first real hunt, like it meant something more.
Silverscale’s eyes were on a large trout, it seemed quite heavy. WindClan cats could take rabbits almost the size of the hunter, and she was certain that this couldn’t be too difficult. However, Puddlepaw would need practice before she could take on larger prey. Her eyes were almost the exact same color as the clear blue water, the prey inside of it was just barely reflected in her gaze.
Her paw raised, and she struck the water, seemingly faster than lightning hit the ground. The fish appeared to flop around wildly in midair for a moment, unsure of what was going on but panicking all the same. Puddepaw lurched forward, swiping at the water.
Her form was nowhere near as good as the silver warrior’s, and her paw was much too far away from the water. One of the fish was momentarily caught on her claw, and was launched forward, splashing into the water farther than it should. It wasn’t even supposed to go anywhere besides up, to be caught in someone’s jaws. The other trout realized the disturbance and quickly began to swim away.
Puddlepaw could almost feel the disapproval, and her fur began to prickle with embarrassment. But she’d done a number on the trout, one of it’s fins seemed to be split. The water was turning slightly red with her prey’s blood. Almost without thinking, she sloppily leapt into the water. No turning back now, she began to paddle over to the struggling fish. She must’ve looked silly, her fur quickly dampened by the water as she began to furiously paddle to her destination. That probably wasn’t the only furious thing, though. Puddlepaw didn’t want to imagine the silent anger on her mentor’s face.
She treaded water for a second as she focused on the fish, and she knew that it wasn't dead and was also actively trying to go deeper into the river, away from danger. Doing the only thing she could do to reach it, Puddlepaw raised her head and then splashed it into the water. Squinting, she nearly blindly tried to snap around. Finding the trout’s fin, she picked it up, her head sopping as it emerged from the waves. She dropped it for a moment, but caught it once again just before it disappeared through the water.
Puddlepaw was almost afraid to turn around and see her mentor again. At this point, the trout was feebly wriggling in her jaws, but it soon stopped. Taking in a deep breath through her nose, she looked behind her, before moving her entire body in the same direction. Silverscale’s eyes were on her. She seemed composed, but there was a specific point in her gaze that made the apprentice know that she was actually irritated. Maybe even mad? Disappointed? Puddlepaw didn’t want to find out.
The large trout that her mentor had caught was right beside her. It was dead, of course, and there was no visible injury aside from the clean bite right beneath the head. Puddlepaw gulped nervously, and attempted to smile. With the fish in her mouth she wasn’t sure if it looked like a grimace, or if it looked sheepish, like she was a kitten caught batting a moss-ball into the warrior’s den.
She waded until she couldn’t anymore, and then lifted herself into a swim. It was much more graceful than when she chased her prey, and for that she was glad. She made her way to the boulder, and placed her paws on a small indent. Puddlepaw pushed her body up slightly, placing her catch next to Silverscale’s. It looked awful, but still edible. A beat passed, and Puddlepaw’s ears were about to anxiously pin backwards, when Silverscale placed a paw onto the smaller fish and slid it to a safer position.
The blue-grey cat, around the same size as the silver warrior at this point, although there was much space to spare on their large fishing spot. “I can’t say that was the most.. tasteful catch.” Silverscale said, glancing between the kill and the huntress. Puddlepaw smiled, and this time it showed properly. However, it was still awkward. “You do know you could have just allowed it to get away. Prey is abundant, every warrior can get their share. RiverClan is likely stronger than both WindClan and ShadowClan.” Although they had their differences, RiverClan didn’t have any qualms with WindClan. However, ShadowClan was a different story. With ThunderClan gone, there was more tension between them both. Since they now occupied all of the denser parts of the territories, they essentially took the place of the Clan they drove out. Those cats tended to have worse tastes when it came to leadership, and when RiverClan was on good terms with the flea-brained ThunderClan cats, they usually took their side when it came to the many, many squabbles had. They both seemed almost battle-hungry, their numbers going down with each big battle that WindClan and RiverClan often watched from the sidelines. WindClan and RiverClan had no interest in forest territory.
Puddlepaw nodded, making a small humming noise to indicate she was listening. “At least you caught it, hm? With that much of a show I’m sure you’d be happy to eat it yourself.” Silverscale said, less a question, and more of a statement. She rose to her paws, picking up the large trout in her maw. It was massive, and Puddlepaw found herself wondering if her mentor ever struggled to lift that much with just her mouth.
She picked up her catch, and began to follow Silverscale back to camp. It probably wouldn’t be too terrible. She’d eaten trout before, and it probably didn’t taste any different scratched up. At least she had something to look forward to besides eating. The gathering was going to be tonight, and many warriors were going to be there. Like the majority of gatherings nowadays, RiverClan was going to pick strong warriors. Cats of all clans worried about being driven out now that ThunderClan was completely out of the picture. They had to show that they were strong, to deter any possible threat. It didn’t matter if it was true or not, but in RiverClan’s case it was.
It was very likely that RiverClan would show off their new apprentices, especially because they were all being mentored by cats who held great importance to the return of RiverClan. Before she knew it, Puddlepaw was already in camp. Their prey was placed in the pile of food that was near the leader’s den. It was that season where it was warm outside, but not hot enough to attract flies or create a foul smell.
“If you want to go to the gathering, you should at least look presentable.” Silverscale mewed, eyeing her apprentice. Puddlepaw’s fur was matted and drying oddly, still wet to the touch. She nodded quickly, and almost immediately began to groom her fur. She hoped that her first gathering was all that everyone said. A place where you could see(and judge) other cats from other clans, converse, and share news. Of course, nobody would share too much, they had to keep a level of secrecy. It would be unwise to say anything along the lines of “we have sick cats” or “not many kits have been born in the past season”, because it would make them seem weak and attackable.
Puddlepaw vowed to look strong, elegant, and aloof. Following Silverscale’s example was her plan to look intimidating, and according to the other RiverClan cats, they were imposing enough already. Her tongue brushed over her paw, and she rose it to her forehead and continued her washing session. One of the older apprentices had told her that he once looked at a WindClan warrior and she nervously slunk away.
She felt a smile rise to her mouth as she remembered Heatherpaw and Lavenderpaw would be tagging along as well. The two sisters were her best friends, and she always enjoyed sparring and hunting with them whenever she could. As if thinking about a cat could summon them, Lavenderpaw strode up to her letting out a purr. “Hellooo!” She meowed, excited and bouncy as always. Heatherpaw padded after her sister, dipping her head in a silent greeting. She was calmer than Lavenderpaw, but always happy to engage in her shenanigans. “Looks like you had a rough morning, huh?” She asked, and Puddlepaw nodded sheepishly. “You have to tell us allll about it!” Lavenderpaw cheered.
They engaged in conversation and banter until the sun began to set. The deep oranges and reds cast across the camp, illuminating the cats in a warm glow. Every cat was in camp, awaiting Barkstar’s words to ring out. The apprentices shuffled out of the den and walked through the reeds, laying down near their mentors and resuming their talk. At a pointed look from Icefang, they quieted down to just whispers and too-loud giggles when someone said something funny.
“All cats old enough to brave the currents gather around the tide rocks for a clan meeting!” Every near-silent conversation came to a halt as the clan perked up, raising their heads to get a better look at their leader.
Barkstar was on the highest-rising stone, his brown fur appearing to be a fiery red. “I will now call upon the cats that will be going to tonight’s gathering.” The clan seemed to straighten up more, as if they were attempting to be more presentable or appealing to their leader. “I will be going, along with Reedcoat, our medicine cat.” There was a quick pause as his yellow eyes scanned the warriors.
“Naturally, Silverscale, Icefang, Sleetfall, and their apprentices will be attending. Those are Heatherpaw, Lavenderpaw, and Puddlepaw.” Puddlepaw exchanged bubbly glances with her peers. “Our other warriors who will be attending are..” She had already stopped listening at that point. She just raised her gaze to the sky, and awaited the moon. When the nighttime light shone down on them, they’d make their way to the meeting area.
And she could barely contain herself.