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Prologue

”Squirrelflight, do you have a moment? I need to speak with you.”

Squirrelflight turned and stared at Leafpool. What did she want? Surely it couldn’t be that important. “Cant it wait?” She flexed her claws, and looked at her sister with green eyes shining with irritation. Did Leafpools whiskers twitch in amusement? Squirrelflight narrowed her eyes. “Brambleclaw wants me to fetch soaked moss for the nursery, even though it’s an apprentice task. He hasn’t stopped giving out orders since Firestar made him deputy!”

”I could come with you,” Leafpool offered.

Squirrelflight twitched her ears. “Okay, if there is really nothing more important you need to do.” What was it Leafpool needed to ask her? Squirrelflight couldn’t help feeling curious.

They passé Mousefur on the way to the entrance. The elderly she-cat eyed Leafpools belly. “Plenty of mice at the Moonpool, was there? You’re looking plump Leafpool!”

Squirrelflight gasped, and felt her sister flinch beside her. “StarClan has been generous with prey this season.” Leafpool mewed, and sped up, Squirrelflight following.

Once they had pushed their way through the thorns, Squirrelflight turned her sharp green eyes on Leafpool. ”Wow, that was rude of Mousefur. I mean, you are her medicine cat, but she’s right. Have you been taking more then your fair share?” Her tone was gentle and amused, but her words obviously embarrassed Leafpool.

”I’d never do that,” she meowed. She plunged into the ferns, heading down the slope toward the lake. Squirrelflight sighed, and followed her, muttering, “Who does Brambleclaw think he is, treating me like I’m still wet behind my ears? Toms are so much trouble! You don’t know how lucky you are, Leafpool, not having to worry about things like that.“ She broke off as she drew alongside her sister. “Well. I know there was Crowfeather...”

Leafpool didn’t answer. They emerged from the trees onto the edge of the lakeshore. Pebbles crunched under their paws, and in front of them stretched the lake, flat and silver. Squirrelflight trotted ahead, and broke the silence. “There‘s a good clump of moss up here,” she called to her sister. “It won‘t take long to soak some and take it back to the camp. I’m tempted to put it in Brambleclaw‘s nest,” Squirrelflight added under her breath.

Squirrelflight looked at Leafpool, who was staring at her oddly. ”What?” Leafpool seemed to take a deep breath, composing herself. “Well, I need your help, Squirrelflight.”

She frowned. “Sure. Do you need me to fetch some herbs for you?” She pulled a face. “You don’t need me to collect mouse bile, do you?” Leafpool, to Squirrelflights relief, shook her head. “No, nothing like that.”

Squirrelflight gulped. “Do you want me to take a message to Crowfeather? Leafpool, you know I can’t do that!”

Her sister winced, and briefly closed her eyes, and Squirrelflight took that as a no.

”What is it, Leafpool?”

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