|The Soaring Wren Series|
A Shaded Heart
|Wren's Flight||Succeded by: |
This is Brams' first fanfiction on the WFW :) She hopes you enjoy it!
- 1 Blurb
- 2 Prologue - Soaringsky
- 3 Chapter One - Bramble
- 4 Chapter Two - Bramble
- 5 Chapter Three - Wren
- 6 Chapter Four - Soaringstar
- 7 Chapter Five - Bramble
- 8 Chapter Six - Wren
- 9 Chapter Seven - Wrenkit
- 10 Chapter Eight - Bramble
- 11 Chapter Nine - Soaringstar
- 12 Chapter Ten - Wrenkit
- 13 Chapter Eleven - Bramble
- 14 Chapter Twelve - Wrenkit
- 15 Chapter Thirteen - Wrenpaw
- 16 Chapter Fourteen - Bramble
- 17 Chapter Fifteen - Wrenpaw
- 18 Epilogue - Bramble
- 19 Author's Note
Abandoned on accident, running to get out of WillowClan territory, Wren is left alone. The Clan leader, Soaringstar, takes her back to camp, where she is renamed Wrenkit. Soon, Wrenkit's thoughts of her true past vanish, while her parents long to see her again.
Bramble suffers the issues of losing her kit, and tragedy that she should have checked if all her kits are there. But she still has to look after her other kits, and be alongside her mate.
WillowClan's leader, Soaringstar, also faces a prophecy, and he is unsure when the four signs of the prophecy will be fulfilled.
This is the first book in The Soaring Wren Series.
Prologue - Soaringsky
The pain started to ebb away from Soaringsky's bones, and in that moment, he felt himself still. In front of him, the previous leader, Tansystar, backed away from him. Her life had been given, and Soaringsky knew that his nine lives ceremony was nearly over.
One life to go, Soaringsky thought in relief, as he paused to catch his breath. One more life, and then I will be WillowClan's true leader.
The cat that replaced Tansystar was a cat Soaringsky had never seen before. It was a gray she-cat, with burning amber eyes. Her fur was shot through with starlight so much that Soaringsky knew she had been there so long.
Maybe she was one of the founding cats of WillowClan? The thought that hit Soaringsky was so strong that it felt like a bolt of lightning. It was possible after all.
Taking a closer look at the she-cat, Soaringsky revised his thoughts again. Or is it the Willowstar, the cat who had started his Clan all those moons ago? I wonder...
"You guessed right," the cat meowed, as her low voice echoed around the willow trees that edged the clearing, jolting Soaringsky out of his thoughts.
So it is the Willowstar, Soaringsky thought in awe. Why had she come to him, in this of all times?
"I always deliver the last life to new leaders of my Clan," Willowstar mewed, as if she knew what he was thinking. "Come forward, and I will give you your last life."
Soaringsky strided forward to touch noses with Willowstar, chin and tail high. After this, it would be all over, and he would be able to return to his Clan.
As their noses connected, Willowstar started to speak: "With this life I give you nobility. Stand strong, at the head of your Clan, for the many moons to come. From now on, you will be making the sacrifices for your Clan."
Soaringsky gritted his teeth together as the last life racked his bones. As he started to recover, and felt he pain ebb for the ninth and final time, Willowstar stepped back. The ranks of StarClan stood up, as if on cue.
"I hail you by your new name, Soaringstar," Willowstar and Tansystar meowed in unison. "Your old life is no more. You have now received the nine lives of a leader, and StarClan grants you the guardianship of WillowClan. Defend it well; care for young and old; honor your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code; live each life with pride and dignity."
"Soaringstar! Soaringstar! Soaringstar!" the StarClan cats mewed cheerfully, after Willowstar and Tansystar had finished their speech.
Soaringstar staggered on his four paws, and he was reluctant when he started to speak. "I promise I will lead WillowClan with all my strength," Soaringstar meowed, mustering all the strength that he could find. "I will promise to trek in the pawsteps of which other WillowClan leaders have followed. And when I come to join you, after my final life," he nodded to Willowstar as he said that, "I hope to be proud of my leadership, and about what my Clan has achieved."
The StarClan cats murmured approval, and quickly started to fade. Soon they were all gone.
Except for one cat.
The cream-and-black she-cat strode towards him, in the same style as she had done during her life. She came nose-to-nose to Soaringstar and started to speak to him:
"I have come to tell you of a warning," she meowed gravely. "Or, perhaps, a prophecy."
Soaringstar held his breath. He was not expecting this. Why did StarClan choose to send him a prophecy, when it was his first time here?
He was not prepared, as Tansystar's voice rang around the small clearing:
"You will see the flight, hear the song, witness the flash of a wing, and gaze at the feather of the cat who will change your path."
"What?" Soaringstar mewed, shocked. "Cats don't fly, or sing, or have wings, and the certainly don't have feathers!"
But Tansystar had started to fade. She just gave him a look that said 'I wish I could tell you' before she faded from sight.
Soaringstar felt himself starting to fall. He closed his eyes and gave way to the dark blackness that was enfolding around him.
Chapter One - Bramble
Bramble felt Rock's paw on her swollen belly. Ripples of pain shot through her body. After two long moons, of expecting Rock's kits, the time had come. Gritting her teeth, she raised her head. "How many?" she panted.
Rock, her mate, met his eyes with her own. He was well known among the rogues for his skill with herbs. Bramble felt very fortunate that he had asked to be her mate a few moons ago. And that was when all my dreams came true.
"Three," the silver tom replied confidently, his blue gaze set on Bramble. "The first one's coming."
Bramble wished she could feel as confident as Rock, but she split off again with a yowl. The pain was intense for a moment, and then it reduced again.
But this time, instead of nothing, a dark shape slid out onto the moss as Bramble trembled. Rock darted away, and licked it, until a tiny mewl escaped its jaws. "A tom," Rock reported, as the dark shape moved in the nest. "Two more to come."
Bramble gritted her teeth again, as another shape, dark like the first, slid onto the moss and feathers. Once again, Rock did what he did with the first, nipping the kitting sac and licking it. "Another tom," he mewed, as it squirmed in the nest, eyes closes, mouth open.
"One... more..." Bramble puffed, the yowled as another tide of pain swamped her.
"You're doing fine," Rock mewed quietly, as his silver tail brushed her ears lightly. "It's almost over."
A final shape came out as Bramble trembled again. She started to relax, as Rock took the responsibility of waking up their final kit. The pain had ceased - it was gone.
After a short silence, Rock raised his head, blue eyes shining with pride. "We have a she-cat and two toms," he whispered.
Bramble purred weakly as she swept her dark brown tabby tail around the three dark shapes, bringing their fragile, small bodies to her belly so that they could suckle. She lifted her head to meet Rock's gaze. "What should we name them?" she whispered weakly.
Rock looked down at the tree shapes nestled in the curve of Bramble's belly. Two were dark brown tabbies, like her, while one of the toms was dark gray. That little tom looks so much like his father, Bramble thought, as her mate purred beside her.
"We should call the gray tom Dew," Rock mewed proudly.
"I agree," Bramble mewed softly. "So what about the ones that look like me? Should we name the other tom first?" That was the biggest kit, and also the firstborn child of Rock and Bramble.
Rock stiffened as he heard a noise. When it had gone, he straightened up, but Bramble noticed that he was still twitching his ears fearfully.
"That was an adder," Rock mewed fearfully. His gaze softened as he saw his kits sickling below him. "Maybe we should the other tom Adder, in the memory of the first animal we heard after our kits were born? It would be a good story to tell him," he directed his tail to the dark brown tabby tom, "and his littermates, when they get older."
"What a brilliant idea," Bramble purred. "Yes, we'll call him Adder, if that's what you want."
After Bramble said those words, both Bramble's and Rock's gazes turned towards the remaining kit, the she-kit. She was the youngest, and the smallest of the three. She was a dark brown tabby, a striking resemblance to Bramble, and also her littermate, Adder.
"You choose the name for her," Rock mewed softly.
Bramble's mind flashed back to what her mother had told her when she was a kit, many moons ago...
"My mother's name was Wren. She looked a lot like you, Bramble. I see that you will have as much skill as her in everything that you do.
Bramble took a deep breath. "Her name will be Wren, in memory of my mother's mother."
Bramble felt the blackness start to swim over her. As she closed her eyes, feeling her kits suckle at her belly, she heard Rock's voice echo in her mind one last time:
"Sleep now, my precious Bramble. I will be here when you wake. May you have happy dreams and may our kits be safe, strong, happy, and healthy... and to be with us forever..."
Chapter Two - Bramble
Bramble saw Rock trotting into their makeshift place, his blue eyes wide. At once, Bramble knew that something was wrong. Curling her tail around her three kits - who were all trying to escape the nest - she turned to Rock and asked him: "What is it, sweet?"
"We have to leave this place," Rock mewed urgently to Bramble.
What? "Er - why?" Bramble mewed, dragging Adder back into the nest by his tail as he made an escape attempt. The dark brown tom mewled in defiance, and batted Bramble's paw with his smaller paws.
It had been half a moon since Bramble had kitted. Adder, the dark brown tabby tom, was a very curious kit. His eyes were amber like the setting sun. The gray tom, Dew, had yellow eyes, and Wren, the she-kit, had her father's blue eyes.
That is how I will always remember her by. Her blue eyes.
"I smelt fox," Rock mewed worriedly. "If the fox got to the kits, they will be killed like this." He placed his front paw on the ground swiftly.
Unfortunately for Bramble and Rock, one of their kits overheard. "The fox wouldn't get me!" Adder growled. "I would shred it!" The young kit bared his teeth.
"You're too young," Bramble meowed to the young kit. But as her green gaze turned back to her mate, she could sense something.
The feeling that her mate was lying to her.
"Wait a moment," Bramble meowed swiftly.
Rock stiffened. "What is it?" he meowed crossly.
"Tell me the truth. I can feel that you're lying. I know that feeling. Confess to me what's really on your mind, and if we really have to move or not." Bramble swept her tail around her kits. "I'm only moving if we have to."
Rock sighed. "All right, you got me," he mewed wearily. "But we are going to have to move." His head drooped down. "I'm sorry."
Bramble stiffened in shock. We have to move? she thought. Why? How will the kits cope? They're so young!
There was a moment of silence from Rock, when he stared. Then, he stared Bramble in the eye, and confessed:
"Well," Rock mewed sadly, "When I was hunting in the willow clearing yesterday, a group of six cats came into the clearing."
There are other cats living here? Bramble thought, surprised. Her parents had never told her, if they knew anything about it.
"You remember how I found those scents there a moon ago?" Rock broke her out of her thoughts abruptly.
"Well, these cats came in, and asked why I was in their territory."
Uh-oh! Bramble's eyes widened in shock. She was not expecting this!
"They were coming there for battle training, they said. The told me to clear off their territory by moonhigh tonight."
That's not that far away! It's about two hours past sunhigh! "We have to go now," she mewed urgently
Rock nodded. "I'll carry Dew, you carry Adder. Wren will have to walk."
The dark brown she-kit stiffened as she heard her father's voice. "Where are w-" she started, but then she was interrupted.
Paw steps thrummed past in a steady motion, and at once Bramble shot to her paws.
"Run!" Bramble hissed to no-one in particular.
Rock and Bramble picked up Adder and Dew, and rushed away.
But they had forgotten.
Forgotten about their only she-kit.
Wren was alone.
Chapter Three - Wren
Where's she gone?
Wren looked confusedly at the bush. Why had her mother disappeared? Where was she going? Wren wanted to go find her, but she knew that she wouldn't be able to catch up to her.
She'll come back to find me, I know she will.
But hours went past, and Bramble and Rock didn't come back. Neither did Adder or Dew.
As dusk fell in, Wren started to shiver. The chilling leaf-fall breeze ruffled her pelt.
I'd better go somewhere... But where? I'm too small.
Suddenly, she smelt a stench. She hadn't smelt it before, and it smelled yucky.
"Who's there?" she called weakly. She was tired from this ordeal. She needed Bramble...
A pale ginger tom rounded the bend, four cats behind him. All of them were muscular and lithe, and they fanned out behind the tom. They stared at Wren unforgivingly.
Goodbye, cruel world! Wren thought. I know they're going to kill me! She'd never seen any cats, apart from her family before.
But one gaze softened, of a white she-cat with pale gray paws and ears. She turned her head towards the ginger tom. "Soaringstar, we can't let her die!" she mewed. "She's only a kit!"
"I know that, Tinywish," Soaringstar mewed tersely, still keeping one eye on Wren. The ginger cat's ears flicked towards the she-cat who had spoken first.
Their names are really weird! "Why do you have weird names?" she squeaked.
All the cats on the patrol mrrowed with amusement, even the youngest cat, a black, ginger, and white tom.
"Let's get back to business." Soaringstar turned his head toward Wren. "What are you doing on WillowClan territory?" he meowed softly.
So these are the cats Rock was talking about earlier. Or, anyway, some of them.
"Uhh..." Wren mewed doubtfully. "I didn't know..." She yawned with tiredness as she spoke.
"Poor thing," a black she-cat with large ginger dapples mewed. "Soaringstar, please take her to camp. She can stay with Rosefall."
"Very well," Soaringstar mewed. "Kit, what's your name?"
Wren yawned. "Wren," she squeaked. "Who are you?"
"I am Soaringstar," the ginger tom meowed. This is Tinywish," he nodded to the light-colored she-cat, "Specklewing," he turned to the black-and-ginger she-cat, "Finchpaw," who was the smaller cat, "and Burninggaze." He was a ginger-and-white tom with amber eyes.
"Come on," Burninggaze mewed briskly. "We'll take you back to camp."
Wren felt a tug as Specklewing picked her scruff up by her teeth, and led her the way to a possible new home.
I hope this will be okay... she thought doubtfully. But.. what about Bramble?
Chapter Four - Soaringstar
The willow leaves rustled as Soaringstar pushed his way into the WillowClan camp, his border patrol behind him. Wren, the young kit that they had found on the patrol, was in Specklewing's jaws. She looked very tired, Soaringstar decided to send Specklewing to tell Rosefall. As he padded up to the black-and-ginger she-cat, Specklewing raised her head. "What is it?" she mewed politely. Her voice was muffled: she was still holding Wren.
"Do you mind going and seeing Rosefall?" Soaringstar mewed. "We need to tell her to please take care of this kit. She will probably let you, but please ask her anyway."
"On my way," Specklewing mewed, as she padded into the willow-branched nursery. Her tail was twitching as she went in.
Soaringstar was a little bit doubtful, but he knew that cats outside the Clan sometimes joined their ranks. Two of our elders weren't Clanborn...
"Rogue kit you found, eh?" A voice cut in, jolting Soaringstar out of his thoughts.
Soaringstar turned around to see a short-haired white she-cat with green eyes. The she-cat's eyes were narrowed as she stared at him, her tail flicking as she waited for an answer.
"Lilyleaf." Soaringstar mewed to his deputy. "Yes, we did find a rogue kit. There was cat scent, but half-stale. The trail led off into the distance, with no attempt at return. We've taken her back to camp. Specklewing is checking with Rosefall now, to check if she can stay with her. She will grow up in our ways. She might not know about her past life."
"How old, do you think?" Lilyleaf meowed, as she flicked her skinny, long white tail in the air.
"About a half-moon, Rosefall says." Specklewing had returned.
"What did she say?" Soaringstar replied, concerned. If Rosefall doesn't take them in, who will?
"She'll take her in. As their father looks rather similar to her pelt, some people will think he's his," Specklewing mewed.
True enough. Sparrowsong looks very much like her. So does Fennelkit, Soaringstar got reminded of Rosefall's mate and daughter.
"No, not in the nursery."
"Now," Soaringstar turned his gaze to Bluemist. The dark blue-gray she-cat had padded up to him. "How was the other border patrol? Anything to report?"
"Fox scent," Bluemist hissed. "I'll shred that fox."
Soaringstar flicked his tail to calm Bluemist down. "How fresh?" he mewed calmly. "And where?"
"Reasonably fresh," Bluemist mewed. "A few hours old. It was just outside the border," she added meekly, "but the fox could easily cross into WillowClan territory, and we don't want that happening."
"True point," Lilyleaf mewed. She turned her head to Soaringstar. "Shall I warn all hunting patrols to stay away? Or at least watch out for fox scent?"
"Watch out," Soaringstar replied. "As from what Bluemist says, the fox hasn't been over the border. Also, warn all border patrols heading that way about it."
"Yes, Soaringstar," Lilyleaf mewed, and she, Specklewing, and Bluemist padded to the warriors' den.
Soaringstar watched them wistfully for a while, then headed back to his den, made in a hole under a willow tree. Cats, leaders before him, dug holes and put willow branches along the sides.
For reminding us that I am, or we are, the leader, or leaders, of WillowClan.
Soaringstar padded down the wide hole and settled down is his feather-lined, mossy nest. After a long day, he was lulled to sleep by the whisper of the willows in the wind.
Chapter Five - Bramble
"Oh no, oh no, oh no!"
Rock's eyes were also alight with fear, as they realized what they had forgotten. Below them, Adder and Dew watched them curiously, unaware to the true horror that Rock and Bramble were facing right now.
"What's going on?" Dew squeaked, his voice echoing in the night breeze The dark gray kit stared up with round yellow eyes at Bramble.
"Be quiet," Bramble hissed, unaware of what she was doing.
The two kits backed away, pelts fluffed up in terror.
"Don't worry, you two," Rock swept his tail around Adder and Dew. "You'll be safe."
"Where's Wren gone?" Adder mewed. "Did she run away?"
"She went to go hide in the bush back there," Bramble lied. "She's waiting until you two are both asleep, and then she's going to pounce on you and eat you!"
"Oh, no!" Dew squeaked, chasing his short tail in lopsided circles. "She's going to eat me! Arrgh!!!"
Adder mrrowed with amusement. "No, she's not," he meowed. "I'm going to eat you!" He pounced on top of Dew.
"Rah!" Dew mewed, as Adder landed on top of him.
Bramble watched them sorrowfully. They might not remember their sister...! However, the two kits seemed to be convinced that she was hiding, so there was no need to worry about Dew and Adder.
But then again, she thought, she's no longer there. She's dead, I know she is.
Bramble pushed the thought away. I will find her one day. This will be my biggest vow yet.
Rock twined his silver tail with her dark brown tabby one. "We just have to accept that she's gone. Even if she's not dead, some cat would have found her by now." Bramble could tell he was thinking of the wild cats that had told him to move out of their territory. Bramble was sure they were out of it: as almost all of the trees in that territory were willows; it was mainly oak and birch here.
"Maybe..." Bramble mewed. "Maybe..."
"Maybe we will gradually find our way back there, and maybe we will see her again." Bramble tried to make her voice confident, but in truth, she wasn't really sure.
As they settled down to sleep that night, Bramble pressing Adder and Dew into the curve of her belly, she swore she heard a whisper: And that is exactly how it will be.
Chapter Six - Wren
"Get up, Ravenkit!" A small voice escaped from a cat's mouth. Wren, slightly worried, pressed her fur into Rosefall's, drinking in her sweet milky scent. Beside her, Fennelkit and Harekit squirmed, poking their small paws into Rosefall's and Wren's sides. Wren was not amused, and when Fennelkit poked a paw into her side, she mewled crossly.
"Leave her alone, Fennelkit," Rosefall mewed. "Why don't you ask one of the older kits if they would take you outside? Surely they won't mind."
"Really?" Wren could tell that Fennelkit's pelt was bristling with excitement, even though Wren was asleep.
"Of course," Rosefall purred. "They're allowed out when they choose: they're four-and-a-half moons old, and know where they're allowed to play."
"Great!" Fennelkit bounded over to the other kits nearby.
Wren squirmed again, then opened her eyes. She was in a mossy nest, pressed into Rosefall's creamy fur. Beside her, Wren saw the light brown shape of another kit, the one that Rosefall had called Harekit. He had nuzzled right into Rosefall's belly fur, and was sleeping soundly.
On the other side of the den, Wren could make out five shapes: a larger, black shape, a smaller one that was dark brown, and three around the same size, two black, one ginger. One of the black kits was sleeping, but he was wriggling a lot.
"Come on, Ravenkit," mewed the other black tom. He had little silver flecks dotted all over his body, which looked like stars.
The little dark brown shape scuttled around the bigger cats. "Can we go outside yet?" Fennelkit mewed, her voice eager.
"Come on, Nightkit," the ginger kit mewed. Let's not get Fennelkit going crazy!" She led the other two kits out of the den. Wren knew it was daytime: shades of blue were shining through the brambles and the willow.
A voice boomed around the camp: "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather below Bramblethorns for a Clan meeting!"
Ravenkit woke up, startled, and jumped to his paws. "There's a Clan meeting?"
Harekit also woke up and stretched. "Can I go to the Clan meeting?" he mewed hopefully, his green eyes stretched wide as he gazed at Rosefall.
Wren heard Rosefall sigh in defeat. "Okay," she mewed, as the cream she-cat rose to her paws. Beside her, a black she-cat also rose, and padded out of the den, Ravenkit behind her. Rosefall also padded out of the den, Harekit trotting behind. Wren followed, curious to what was going on.
A large group of cats had gathered around a pale ginger cat. His name was Soaringstar . He was the cat who asked her what her name was, was sitting on a rock, covered with sharp brambles. The top, however, was flat and free of them, because he sat there calmly and without pain. His head was held high.
Wren went to sit with Rosefall, Harekit, and Fennelkit, who had re-joined her mother after Soaringstar had called the meeting. The black queen was sitting with her three kits and a large ginger tom: Wren guessed that he was their father.
Soaringstar started to speak. "I am pretty sure you will all know about the discovery my border patrol found yesterday."
Murmurs rippled through the cats apprehensively, then fell to silence again when Soaringstar twitched his tail calmly for attention.
"I want to give that cat a Clan name, to welcome her into WillowClan formerly," Soaringstar continued. "Wren, come here, please."
Wren froze, shocked. What is this..? she thought worriedly.
Rosefall nudged her. "Just go up there, darling," she mewed, and nudged her gently.
Timidly, Wren slowly padded forward into she was close to Bramblethorns. The sight worried her: the brambles looked big and dangerous.
"Wren," Soaringstar meowed, "you have come to WillowClan because you were lost and alone. Today we shall give you your Clan name. From this day, until her apprentice ceremony, this kit will be known as Wrenkit."
Wren looked back nervously, but was relieved when they started chanting: "Wrenkit! Wrenkit!"
Wrenkit looked once back at Soaringstar, then slowly returned to her place beside Rosefall.
"This meeting is at an end," Soaringstar mewed abruptly, and he swiftly bounded off Bramblethorns.
A white she-cat herded some of the older cats together, and started to call out names.
"Wrenkit?" A voice squeaked from behind her.
"What?" Wrenkit turned around to see Harekit, his light brown pelt rippling in the leaf-fall wind.
"You want to play?" Harekit mewed, light coming to his amber eyes.
"You bet!" Wrenkit squeaked, as she jumped on Harekit and rolled over with him.
Chapter Seven - Wrenkit
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather below Bramblethorns for a Clan meeting!"
Soaringstar's call made Wrenkit freeze. While she lost concentration, Fennelkit jumped onto her and pinned her down. They were having a playfight, and Wrenkit was winning, until this all happened...
"Got you!" Fennelkit squeaked triumphantly, her tail lashing. "You were winning but then I won!" Her eyes were bright from her victory, and Wrenkit knew that the dark tabby she-kit didn't see Rosefall approaching behind her.
"Now, now, this is not the time to do this," Rosefall mewed to Fennelkit, making her jump. "Come on, there's a Clan meeting - let's go sit with your father."
Rosefall sat down next to Sparrowsong and Harekit, who was already there. Wrenkit and Fennelkit scuttled over and pressed their fur to Rosefall's. The early leaf-bare wind was chilling all cats to the bone, and Wrenkit often pressed into Rosefall's thick fur when she wasn't playing with her siblings.
Wrenkit looked up at Soaringstar, who had just raised his tail for attention. All the cats around fell silent.
"What's going on?" Wrenkit whispered.
"You'll see," Rosefall purred quietly in rely, her gaze warm as she gazed at Wrenkit.
Shadebreeze, Amberkit, Nightkit, and Ravenkit had padded up close to Bramblethorns. Sunfrost was with them. Not too far away, Rainpaw and Finchpaw, two of the Clan's apprentices, were sitting with Specklewing. Wrenkit suspected something was up with them...
"Today is a great day to welcome cats into the Clan," Soaringstar meowed. "First, I would like Rainpaw, Finchpaw, and their mentors to step forward."
Sparrowsong rose and walked toward Bramblethorns to join Rainpaw, Finchpaw and Specklewing, who all stepped forward in unison. Sparrowsong joined them as he joined them, and then Soaringstar continued:
"Yesterday, you proved that you are ready to become warriors. Your mentors agree with me in this decision."
The two apprentices' faces lit up with excitement as Soaringstar started to speak: "I, Soaringstar, leader of WillowClan, ask my warrior ancestors to look down on these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as warriors in their turn. Rainpaw, Finchpaw, do you promise to protect and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your life?"
"I do," Wrenkit just managed to catch Rainpaw's whisper.
"I do." Finchpaw responded louder and clearer.
"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior names," Soaringstar meowed.
Wrenkit had head of StarClan: it was the spirits of WillowClan's warrior ancestors. She'd also heard rumors that Soaringstar had none lives, and StarClan had granted them to him.
"Rainpaw, from this moment you will be known as Raindapple." Soaringstar's mew snapped Wrenkit back to what was going on. "StarClan honors your compassion and intelligence, and we welcome you as a full warrior of WillowClan."
Soaringstar, who had leapt down to the ground, rested his head on Raindapple's shoulder. She licked it, then backed away as Finchpaw stepped forward.
"Finchpaw, from this moment you will be known as Finchsong. StarClan honors your kindness and courage, and we welcome you as a full warrior of WillowClan."
Soaringstar then rested his head on Finchsong's shoulder, and he did the same as what Raindapple had done before stepping back.
"Finchsong! Raindapple!" the Clan chanted loudly. Wrenkit could tell that the noisy apprentice, Darkpaw, had started the chant.
"Now," Soaringstar mewed, as the cats fell into silence, as he beckoned Amberkit, Nightkit, and Ravenkit forward, "we will welcome some new apprentices. These kits are six moons old, and are ready to start training. Nightkit, Amberkit, and Ravenkit, from this moment until you receive your warrior names, you will be known as Nightpaw, Amberpaw, and Ravenpaw."
The Clan chanted the three names, Darkpaw once again starting.
"Ravenpaw," Soaringstar meowed, "Your mentor will be Burninggaze."
The ginger-and-white tom stepped forward and padded over to Bramblethorns.
"You are ready for your first apprentice, and you will be mentor to Ravenpaw. Spread your skills on to this young tom."
Burninggaze nodded, and padded over to Ravenpaw, where they touched noses.
Soaringstar then named Nightpaw's mentor as Tinywish, and Amberpaw's as Lilyleaf. When Soaringstar had finished, Darkpaw started chanting. After the Clan had fallen into silence, Soaringstar closed the meeting, and sent the cats off to do duties.
Wow, so many ceremonies, Wrenkit thought. But my apprentice ceremony is four moons away - that's ages! I want to be an apprentice now!
As Harekit demanded a play-fight, Fennelkit jumped at the task. She jumped on him, and started swiping like crazy.
"Wait for me!" Wrenkit yowled, eager to join the fight, as she scuttled over the camp floor.
Chapter Eight - Bramble
That night, Bramble wasn't in the best of moods. As Adder and Dew had bitten into their first bite of prey, Bramble had thought of Wren. She looked at Rock sadly, with a glare that meant that they needed to talk.
"I wish we still had Wren," Bramble mewed sadly, as Rock came over and sat beside Bramble, and started to lick her dark brown tabby fur.
"I know," Rock mewed, as he turned his head to make sure Adder and Dew hadn't wandered off. The two kits were playing nearby, in a small beam of sunlight. It was very cloudy, and the leaf-bare chill meant that there wasn't much sunlight about at the moment.
Two moons had past since that fateful day when they had to leave the wild cats' territory, and when they accidentally left Wren behind. Bramble often wished she could relive that day, so that Wren would still be there, with her, Adder, Dew, and Rock. But that decision had parted her from Wren forever.
If Wren was still here, Bramble thought, she would be two-and-a-half moons old by now.
As Rock went to see the kits, Bramble sat down and watched, but got bored quickly. Stretching her long, dark brown tabby legs, she padded over to meet him.
"Can you supervise the kits while I have a hunt?" she whispered. "I haven't hunted in ages."
"Can I go hunting with you, Bramble?" Adder begged. "Please, please, please!"
"No," Bramble mewed. "But ask your father if you can creep up on him, to practice for when you're bigger!"
Rock shot an amused glance at Bramble as the she-cat padded into the trees. She hadn't hunted in over three moons: it was great to be out in the forest, hunting once more.
I'll try for a mouse or two. Adder and Dew have started eating fresh-kill, and they're thriving on mouse right now.
Bramble pricked her ears as she heard a scuttling noise by an oak tree root. Picking up a scent of mouse, Bramble felt herself feeling hopeful. Maybe tonight is the night.
Dropping into a crouch, she moved stealthily through the undergrowth. The mouse didn't hear her, until Bramble was in paw's reach. Flicking out a paw, she cut off the mouse before pouncing on it and giving it the killing bite.
After the mouse had fallen still, Bramble inspected her catch. Sure, it was a bit messy, but she hadn't hunted in a while. Purring, because she had made a catch quickly, she quickly buried the prey under the leaves by the oak tree. No-one's taking my prey that I've caught, Bramble thought silently.
By the end of the hunting trip, Bramble was happy. After missing a sparrow, she managed to catch another stray mouse that was lurking around a small birch tree. Padding back to the makeshift den, the mice swinging in her jaws, Bramble was pleased.
What a successful hunting trip, she thought. We're not going to go hungry tonight.
As the sun started to sink, Bramble came back to the camp. Rock was watching Adder and Dew, who were playing with a feather: a bird must have been nearby. Bramble dropped the mice at his paws: Rock purred with delight.
"This is how life should be," Rock mewed happily.
Yes, this is how life should be, Bramble thought quietly to herself, but Wren should be with us too.
Looking up to the darkening sky, Bramble sent a silent prayer to the stars, wishing that she had still had three kits with her, and if, in the slightest chance that Wren was still alive, that she would be kept safe.
Chapter Nine - Soaringstar
Soaringstar padded through the forest, feeling the cold sun trying to warm him up. Leaf-bare had taken a toll on WillowClan, and every cat was hungry. However, there had been some pleasant recent news, with Specklewing kitting Smallspeck's kits, Stormkit, Lightningkit, and Thunderkit a half-moon ago. The other kits, Harekit, Fennelkit, and Wrenkit, were getting stronger with each day.
But does Wrenkit remember her true heritage? Soaringstar thought. I think she thinks that Rosefall and Sparrowsong are her parents, and that Fennelkit and Harekit are her littermates.
Should he tell Wrenkit about her circumstances when the patrol found her, and how she was renamed? Then she might remember more of her past life.
No. Soaringstar pushed the thought away. If she has forgotten completely, it might upset her.
Rustling made Soaringstar freeze with shock, but relaxed when he smelt a familiar scent, and a black shape hurtling around, in pursuit of a thrush.
Ravenpaw jumped through the air, the thrush a paw-step in front. The thrush tried to dodge the black paws, but it was trapped between Ravenpaw's claws. Quickly nipping it and dropping down, the thrush falling limply to the ground, the black apprentice panted hard.
Burninggaze came around the bush and came out to meet his apprentice. "It's good that you caught it," he meowed. "But next time, be careful of your surroundings." He stared at Ravenpaw, hus unblinking amber gaze scorching Ravenpaw's pelt. "Do you understand?"
"Yes, Burninggaze," the black apprentice mewed.
"Good," Burninggaze meowed briskly. "Let's go bury this prey, shall we, then let's see what else you can catch."
"Great!" Ravenpaw picked up the thrush, and darted away behind Burninggaze. "I love hunting!" he mumbled.
Eager apprentices! Soaringstar purred with delight. This is the apprentices we want in WillowClan.
Staring up at the willow branch overhead, he saw a brown bird on a small branch near the top of the tree. It stretched its wings, and then soared and flew away.
You will see the flight, hear the song, witness the flash of a wing, and gaze at the feather of the cat who will change your path...
Tansystar's prophecy rang in his ears.
You will see the flight...
Was that the first part of the prophecy? Soaringstar wondered if it was true. He was sure that all prophecies will eventually reveal themselves - or so it seemed.
It could easily not be part of the prophecy, Soaringstar thought quietly. Did it matter that much? He didn't even know what type of bird that was: he had never seen it before.
Sighing, Soaringstar directed his pawsteps to camp, hoping that he would have some peace from that niggling prophecy there.
Chapter Ten - Wrenkit
"Come on!" Wrenkit mewed, as she raced out of the nursery, Fennelkit and Harekit behind her. The early newleaf sun warmed her pelt as she raced across the camp, crossing paths with Toadleap and Meadowpaw.
"Watch out!" Toadleap mewed with shock, as the three kits pelted past. The herbs that he was carrying dropped to the ground.
"Hey!" Meadowpaw, Toadleap's apprentice, meowed as they scampered past. Luckily, she didn't drop her herbs, like Toadleap, who was sweeping the dusty leaves away, growling. "Be more careful next time!"
Wrenkit let out a mrrow of amusement. Toadleap was very fussy; it was amusing to surprise him and make him drop his herbs.
"You three!" Rosefall called to them. "Don't scare the medicine cats again, please! This is your only warning!"
"Okay!" Fennelkit mewed, but Wrenkit could tell she was only doing that so that Rosefall could leave them alone.
Thunderkit, Stormkit, and Lightningkit scampered out of the bramble-and-willow nursery. A moon old, they were a big nuisance, and bothered them a lot. Wrenkit thought they were a nuisance, and so did Harekit and Fennelkit.
"Fennelkit!" Stormkit squeaked, racing up to the larger kit, her gray-and-ginger pelt bristling.
"Can you take us to see the elders?" Thunderkit asked politely. He was the most sensible of the three; he asked if he could play with them, unlike his two littermates. They just joined in, even if they had said no.
"Fine," Fennelkit sighed, Wrenkit could tell she didn't want to do this. "Let's go."
Specklewing's kits bounced around with excitement as Harekit led them to the elder's den. Inside, the three elders, were talking about the old days, until Wolffoot noticed them.
"Hi, kits," the dark gray tom rasped, his green eyes brightening as he looked at the six kits. "Come to hear a story?"
"We want to hear the story about Willow!" Lightningkit squeaked. "Tell us that one, please!"
"Okay, then." Littlestep, the oldest cat in the Clan, mewed. "Come sit down here."
The six kits scampered over, and sat down.
"Now," the other elder, Cinderdust, mewed, "Willow wasn't from the other Clans. She was a rogue, and wanted attention. Her hunting skills impressed the cats around her. Soon, cats started to follow her."
"One night, on the full moon," Littlestep rasped, "Willow took her cats down to a large oak tree. There was a Gathering, and cats from the other four Clans were there. They asked Willow if her and her group would take on their ways, and become the fifth Clan. Willow accepted, and the group became WillowClan."
"Wow..." Stormkit whispered.
"The next night, Willow met with a cat called Currentstar. Together, with a cat called Lake, a cat who had a great interest in herbs, they went to a place called the Moonrock. Willow became Willowstar, and Lake became Lakeflower, the first medicine cat of WillowClan," Cinderdust meowed.
"How did Willowstar die?" Lightningkit mewed.
"She caught greencough and died many moons later," Wolffoot rasped.
"That's sad..." Thunderkit mewed absently. The ginger tom was staring off into space, his amber eyes cloudy.
"Kits!" Specklewing called from outside. "Time to go!"
"Okay!" Wrenkit shouted, running out swiftly, the other five kits trailing after her. They didn't need to see the elders the whole time, anyway, they could play instead!
Chapter Eleven - Bramble
"Are we going to go hunting today, Bramble? Please? "
Recently, Bramble's kits had become boisterous and bored. They were closing in on six moons, and needed to start to learn how to look after themselves. They had been begging for hunting lessons for the past few days, and Bramble was sick of it.
"Maybe I should take you for a look-see..." Bramble mewed slowly.
Adder bounced around with excitement. Dew just smiled.
"Our kits are looking forward to their first hunting session," Rock purred. His silver tail twined with Bramble's dark brown, as Adder reared up on his hind paws to get their attention.
"What is it?" Rock sighed.
"Can we go hunting now? " Adder protested. "I've always wanted to hunt!"
"We'd better get going, then." Rock padded ahead of the kits; Adder and Dew bounced around after them. Bramble padded along behind, so they wouldn't be caught wandering off anywhere they weren't supposed to.
"Now," Rock mewed, "from now on, be quiet. That applies particularly to you, Adder," he added, as he turned his broad silver head towards the young tom.
The dark tabby nodded quietly as his father stopped at a large oak tree. Bramble watched from behind as Rock taught her kits the basic steps in hunting.
"Okay, look around you. See those leaves?"
Adder and Dew nodded. Adder squirmed as if he wanted to say something, but he had obviously thought better of saying it.
"If you trod on them, you'll scare away the prey. Watch carefully."
Bramble picked up the scent of squirrel. Rock crept forward. When he was in paw's reach, he pounced. The squirrel had no chance as Rock landed on it and gave it the killing bite.
"Woah..." Dew meowed, as Rock brought the large gray squirrel over.
"It's huge," Adder gasped, his amber eyes round aas she stared at it.
"Now, you have a try," Rock mumbled, as he took the squirrel to Bramble. Bramble buried under the leaved under her tree, to make sure no predator got to it.
At the end of the day, coming back to the den, Bramble was happy. Adder eventually managed to catch a vole, and Dew a mouse. Rock and Bramble had purred happily when they saw their catches. All Rock's training, which he had spend half the day on, had paid off.
"We'll practice those techniques every day from now on," he told them as they padded back.
"Great," Adder mumbled; he was carrying his vole. "I can't wait!"
We will be happy for a while, Bramble thought. I hope.
Chapter Twelve - Wrenkit
"Let all cats gather below Bramblethorns for a Clan meeting!"
The familiar call rang through the WillowClan camp. Wrenkit could hardly stand still. Beside her, Harekit and Fennelkit were wriggling excitedly.
Nearby, Specklewing's kits were complaining very loudly, about what was going to happen. They were all jealous of the three older kits.
"Why can't we be apprentices?" Stormkit whined, looking up at her mother pleadingly.
"Can I please be one?" Lightningkit asked, his eyes bright.
"You're too young," Specklewing mewed brusquely, her eyes narrowed. "These kits are four moons older than you, and twice your size. They are ready to become apprentices, and you are not."
Stormkit and Lightningkit snorted angrily, but didn't reply. Thunderkit just watched quietly.
At the moment, there was a lot going on in camp. Toadleap and Meadowcloud, who had received her name at the previous half-moon, were sitting at the edge to the medicine den. The young warriors Molewhisker and Driftwing were sitting with Raindapple. Raindapple was purring and twining her tail with Driftwing. The whole Clan could tell there would soon be more kits. Ravenpaw, Nightpaw, and Amberpaw were sitting with her mentors. Newtfoot and Darkshade, the Clan's newest warriors, were sitting close to Bramblethorns.
The pale ginger cat on Bramblethorns raised his tail for silence. Soaringstar raised his chin as he spoke the words Wrenkit had longed to hear for her ceremony.
"Today I am doing a thing that I treasure highly; the making of new apprentices. Wrenkit, Fennelkit, and Harekit have reached their sixth moon, and they will become apprentices today." He beckoned with his tail for Wrenkit, Fennelkit, and Harekit to come closer. Soaringstar was also glaring at Wrenkit for some reason, and it was making her feel nervous.
Rosefall nudged Wrenkit and her littermates forward gently, beaming proudly. Sparrowsong was beside her, and he too had a proud expression on his face. They were purring happily; happy to see their kits become apprentices at last.
"Wrenkit, Harekit, and Fennelkit," Soaringstar meowed. "please step forward."
The three kits stepped forward, side by side. The warm newleaf breeze ruffled Wrenkit's pelt as Soaringstar spoke the ritual words:
"From this day onwards, until you receive your warrior names, these apprentices will be known as Wrenpaw, Harepaw, and Fennelpaw."
"Wrenpaw! Fennelpaw! Harepaw!" Even though he had more sense, and he had his warrior name, Darkshade still couldn't resist chanting the new names of the three apprentices very loudly.
The rest of WillowClan joined in: "Wrenpaw! Fennelpaw! Harepaw!"
The cats kept on chanting until Soaringstar raised his pale tail for silence.
"Harepaw," Soaringstar mewed, "Your mentor will be Tangleleap." Soaringstar's gaze switched to Harepaw, now, and finally Wrenpaw could relax.
A light brown she-cat with white dapples down her back padded towards Bramblethorns, purring loudly.
"This is your first apprentice, but I can safely say that I am putting Harepaw in safe paws. Tangleleap, share your agility and sense of adventure with Harepaw."
Harepaw's light brown pelt rippled in the wind as he padded up to Tangleleap and touched noses with her.
"Fennelpaw, your mentor will be Sunfrost."
The large ginger tom flicked his ear absently as he padded up to greet his new apprentice.
"Sunfrost, share your speed and strength with Fennelpaw. You are a warrior that I can trust, and I trust you to pass on those skills to your apprentice."
"Certainly, Soaringstar," Sunfrost purred, as he and Fennelpaw touched noses with each other.
"Now," Soaringstar mewed thoughtfully. "Wrenpaw. Wrenpaw, Wrenpaw." He was galaring at her - again - as he spoke.
Why is he being so mysterious and thoughtful? Wrenpaw felt her stomach tighten. And he keeps on staring...
"I have thought long and hard on who shall mentor you. You are a cat which shows agility, strength, speed, and skill." Soaringstar's words made Wrenpaw jump, and immediately turned to stare at her leader.
Hurry up and announce my mentor already! Wrenpaw thought impatiently. I want to get out of here - so that I know my territory, and I also want to learn to hunt.
Soaringstar leapt off Bramblethorns and stepped up to her. His amber gaze met her blue, like fire meeting water. Soaringstar took a deep breath, and the words that he spoke next shook Wrenpaw to the core.
"I will be your mentor."
Chapter Thirteen - Wrenpaw
Wrenpaw opened her mouth in shock as Soaringstar announced her mentor. The pale ginger cat approached her, tail held high as usual. He seemed unfazed by his decision.
While she gazed at him, murmurs of surprise rippled through the Clan.
Leaders never have their own apprentices.
Soaringstar's amber gaze burned into her pelt. "What are you doing?" he whispered. "We have to touch noses, remember?". While he whispered those words to her, he raised his tail for silence. The murmurs and whispers stopped at once.
I'm not a kit! Wrenpaw bit back a sharp retort. You just surprised me. Stretching up to reach Soaringstar's muzzle, she just managed to touch her brown nose to his pink one.
"Wrenpaw! Harepaw! Fennelpaw!"
Darkshade started to chant the names of the three new apprentices loudly. Wrenpaw gazed around, and saw many cats chanting; Amberpaw, Rosefall, Shadebreeze, Smallspeck, Finchsong, Sparrowsong, and others that Wrenpaw wasn't bothered to name in her head.
Meanwhile, Soaringstar had jumped back onto Bramblethorns.
"If there is no more news," he mewed, "this meeting is dismisse-"
"Wait." Driftwing stood up; Raindapple at his side. The dark brown tom's chin and tail were high as she stared at his leader.
Soaringstar narrowed his eyes. "What is it?" he mewed. He was smiling; maybe the Clan's gossip about Raindapple and Driftwing was true?
The Clan fell silent, although Newtfoot and Finchsong started to gossip quietly, but Soaringstar didn't hear them.
Driftwing cleared his throat, and then started to speak: "We are here to announce some news which will continue to help WillowClan to thrive."
Murmurs rippled through the Clan, while Molewhisker mewed loudly; "Raindapple! Are you expecting kits?" Even being beside Raindapple didn't stop the black-and-gray tom from shouting.
Raindapple and Driftwing flattened their ears, while the rest of the Clan stopped talking and fixed their gazes onto Raindapple and Driftwing, waiting for them to answer.
It was Raindapple who spoke first. "Yes, I'm expecting Driftwing's kits. They are not due for a moon-and-a-half, so I might continue my warrior duties for a while yet."
Yowls of congratulations serenaded the two young warriors, while a couple chanted Raindapple's name in congratulation.
"Is there any more news?" Soaringstar yowled after a few moments, quieting the whole camp.
The cats shook their heads; a couple chorused "No, Soaringstar."
"Then this meeting is over," Soaringstar meowed, agilely leaping off Bramblethorns. "Anyone who hasn't been assigned to go on a patrol, go see Lilyleaf now, please."
Cats streamed off to Lilyleaf, who was yowling names.
"Smallspeck, lead a hunting patrol with Newtfoot, Burninggaze, and Ravenpaw. Molewhisker, you will lead another, with..."
On the other side of the camp, Soaringstar, Sunfrost, and Tangleleap gathered with their apprentices. Wrenpaw listened carefully, ears pricked, as Soaringstar gave out instructions.
"Okay, so this morning, Sunfrost and Tangleleap will take their apprentices out for a tour of the territory. In the afternoon, they will be sorting out the elder's ticks and fleas, and changing their bedding."
Tangleleap and Sunfrost nodded, while Fennelpaw mewed: "Yuck! I hope the elder's ticks aren't as bad as Nightpaw says they are."
Sunfrost silenced his apprentice with a sharp glare.
"Meanwhile, Wrenpaw will be sorting out the beds in the nursery, then I will take her out on a tour of the territory. We will meet up with the evening patrol."
"Who's on the evening patrol?" Tangleleap meowed, while Wrenpaw thought: Yuck! I have to clean out bedding!
"Tinywish is leading, with Nightpaw and Driftwing. Wrenpaw and myself will join up at the beginning of the border, where the yew bushes are."
Tangleleap nodded, as she and Sunfrost led the apprentices out of the camp. Soon, all was quiet, except for Specklewing's kits playing and the occasional birdsong.
"Come on," Soaringstar mewed, flicking his tail. "I'll show you how to do the bedding. After this, you will be able to make your own nest in the apprentice's den."
Soaringstar padded off, and Wrenpaw directed her pawsteps to follow his.
I am an apprentice now, she thought. And now I will start my mission to being the best warrior WillowClan has ever seen.
Chapter Fourteen - Bramble
"Bramble! Look what I caught!"
Dew's voice alerted Bramble. Jolting awake, she saw the dark gray tom, a scrawny vole in his mouth.
"It's a bit scrawny..." Dew mewed apologetically, his yellow eyes sad. "I'm sorry..."
"No, it's okay," Bramble mewed, trying to soothe the young tom.
This seemed to brighten Dew up. "At least I caught some prey," he chirped, turning to look at Bramble. "There was some near a willow tree... good spotting, with all their long, drooping branches."
Wren! Bramble hadn't thought of her lost daughter for a while, and now that she did, it hit her like lightning. I wish I could reunite with her... but I'm pretty sure she's dead.
"Where's Rock?" Bramble yawned. "I thought he was hunting with you and Adder."
"Adder wanted to climb a tree." Dew pressed a large dark gray paw onto the vole. "Rock went with him. He wanted to make sure that Adder didn't fall out of the tree."
Bramble sighed. Sometimes my other son can be such a mouse-brain. She didn't notice, however, a dark gray shape moving behind her...
Suddenly, a weight landed on Bramble's back. Standing up, she went to shake it off.
"Ha-ha! Got you! Teach me how to fight!" A familiar voice entered Bramble's ears.
Oh, it's only you. Bramble was not impressed with what Dew had just done. "Get off!" Bramble meowed crossly, glaring at her son.
Dew jumped off. "Sorry, but please teach me how to fight!" he mewed. "Rock won't let me, and all Adder wants to do is hunt."
"Fine, then..." Bramble mewed, defeated by Dew's speech. "Come here." Bramble beckoned Dew forward with her tail.
Dew padded forward. "So you're going to teach me how to fight?"
"Okay, I'll show you some basic moves. This one is called the..."
For the rest of the afternoon, Bramble taught Dew some basic moves. In the middle of it, they shared Dew's vole. When the sun started to set, Bramble caught a whiff of Rock's scent.
"Your father's back," Bramble mewed, as Rock padded in with two mice. Adder followed with a crow.
"Hey, you caught a crow!" Dew meowed, as he bounded to Adder's side. "Did Rock teach you how to catch birds today, after you went tree-climbing?"
Adder dropped the black-feathered bundle. "Yes," he spluttered, trying to get rid of the feathers that still hung around his mouth.
"Hey, what are you waiting for?" Rock mewed, indicating the food. "Let's eat!"
As the four cats sat down to eat, Bramble, once again, thought of Wren.
My precious daughter, I vow that I will see you again.
Chapter Fifteen - Wrenpaw
"There you are, Soaringstar." Tinywish's head popped from behind a bush, her blue eyes full of relief. "We've been waiting for you. Why did you take so long?"
"Wrenpaw's enjoyed looking at everything," Soaringstar purred. "She tried to persuade me to climb up the big willow tree."
Wrenpaw was tired after looking over the whole territory. She'd seen the biggest trees, been shown the far borders, and learning where battle practice, and other training exercises, would be held. Now, Soaringstar, along with herself, were joining up with the evening border patrol.
"Come on," a voice mewed; Wrenpaw turned her head to see the dark tabby head of Driftwing. "We don't want to be mewing like a gang of starlings all day. We need to get this border marked."
"Okay, then." Tinywish led Soaringstar and Wrenpaw around the bush to a strong-smelling border marker. WillowClan scent flooded around the air. There was no whiff of intruders.
No strangers around here, Wrenpaw thought.
"Let's mark this border," Tinywish meowed. She padded up to the nearest tree and started to scent it.
Nightpaw and Driftwing scented the line as well, staying near Tinywish.
"See what they're doing?" Soaringstar whispered.
"This is how we scent our borders, to show that WillowClan will not accept trespassers on our territory. You don't need to do it today," he added, as Wrenpaw took a step forward to help. "I'd imagine that you'd be a bit tired after your long walk."
Wrenpaw realized that Soaringstar was right. Her paws were stinging from the effort.
Wrenpaw and Soaringstar followed the border patrol's process. But halfway through marking the border, Nightpaw's tail flicked up in alarm.
"Nightpaw?" Soaringstar asked, as the black tom raised his tail. "What is it?"
"I smell something yucky," Nightpaw complained.
Wrenpaw took a breath in, and she realized that Nightpaw was right. There was something that smelled yucky - and it wasn't cat, either. Weird...
Tinywish raised her head. "There's a fire in the distance."
Driftwing had a look at it, then dropped his gaze. "It'll be too far away to reach camp, thank StarClan. Not such a big deal." The dark brown tom shrugged. "Let's go back..."
"There might be rogue cats in there, in the fire. It's not too far away. Up to two hour's walk, I'd say." Tinywish replied defensively to Driftwing's comment, her blue eyes narrowed once more.
"Let's watch for a while," Soaringstar persisted - obviously, the pale ginger leader was trying to solve the problem. "There might be a rogue cat that runs towards our borders."
Soon enough, as if Soaringstar knew what was going to come, a small blur came into view. Wrenpaw could see it, getting slowly bigger and bigger...
"Something's in the distance," Wrenpaw whispered under her breath, hoping that no other cat would hear her.
Unfortunately, Nightpaw overheard her. "What? There's some-" He quieted down when he saw the blur.
By now, all the cats had seen it, and all of them, including Wrenpaw, crouched down.
A few minutes later, the cat approached. It had dark gray fur and worried yellow eyes.
"What are you doing on WillowClan territory?" Tinywish called.
The dark gray cat flattened its ears in worry. Eventually, they perked up. The sun-yellow gaze rested on Wrenpaw for a minute before turning to the rest of the group.
What does he want from me?
But the next words the cat stammered couldn't have shocked Wrenpaw more.
"I wa-ant to jo-oin your Cl-lan," the cat stammered nervously.
Epilogue - Bramble
The meal that Bramble, Rock, Adder, and Dew had shared was gone. The newleaf breeze ruffled her pelt as the darkness started to come. She was thinking about moving somewhere else, to make sure no other cats, or animals, come near her, when she smelt a smell that she wished wasn't there.
Fire! Bramble thought, terrified. Why?
"Fire!" Rock shrieked. "Fire!" Obviously, Bramble wasn't the only cat that smelt danger.
"What's a fire?" Adder asked, fur bristling. "It sounds bad!"
"Something that you don't want to come across," Rock mewed grimly. "Let's get out of here."
"Run, Adder!" Bramble yowled. "We have to get out of here! Rock, wake Dew."
The silver tom darted over to the dark gray heap, while Bramble and Adder ran to a river. Stopping to rest, Adder lapped from the river water, while mixed emotions were running through Bramble's head.
Rock, please hurry up. And you too, Dew.
The flames gradually got closer. Bramble shrieked in terror.
"Let's cross this river," she puffed. "It's the only way we can escape from this.. fire." She nudged Adder forward. "Cross the river."
"What?" Adder mewed. "We can't get wet. That would be gross."
"Do you want to die?" Bramble snarled, as she started to lose her temper. Cross the river! You mustn't suffer the same fate as Wren!
"Then you will cross this river," Bramble insisted, her tail flicking.
"Okay, okay." Adder sighed. "I'll jump in." The young dark tabby jumped into the rushing river. "It's cold!" he protested.
Bramble jumped in after him. Luckily, the river was shallow, and Adder didn't need to swim.
Is that because he's large?
Reaching the other bank of the river, Bramble padded out, shivering from the cold. Shaking her fur out, she saw a sight that tore her heart in two.
Rock was on the bank of the river, but she could see the small shape of Dew behind the flames.
"Dew!" Bramble called.
"I can't get through!" Dew's voice rose, panicked and high-pitched.
"Then you have to run away!"
"I can't!" Dew's voice rose in pitch, and it wasn't hard to tell that he was stressed.
"Do you want to die?" Rock called from the river.
"No." Dew's voice lowered again, but it was still high-pitched.
"Then you must go!" Rock yowled.
"Run, Dew, run!" Adder meowed.
"Yes, run!" Rock mewed.
The shape disappeared as the flames engulfed the bank.
Goodbye... A tear trickled down Bramble's cheek, and only hen did she realize the damage that this had caused on her family. She stifled a sob.
I've only got one kit left...
This is the end of Book 1 of The Soaring Wren Series. Be sure to read Book 2, Wren's Song!
Until next time,