Whitestar-a white tom with blue eyes
Darkstar-black tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes
Smokestar-dark gray tom with blue eyes
Barrenstar-sand-colored she-cat with amber eyes
The stars danced in the sky around the pool of starlit water as a cat gazed into it. Her transparent, starry body gave off a slight hint of her original fur color, cream, as she slowly turned around, waiting for her companions to join her. Another cat, this time a tom, padded towards the pool and sat down, his eyes shut as he thought hard. Silence separated the two for a few moments, until the she-cat summoned the strength to speak.
"Good moonhigh to you, Thunder." the she-cat meowed, tipping her head in respect for the mighty tom, "What brings you to the Starpool on this lovely night?"
Thunder sat quietly for a few moments, then got to his paws. As he got up, his fur suddenly twinkled with ginger stars, white bordering his paws. "I am concerned about ShadowClan, Sky. After Snowstar came to us, Flowerstar has been a lovely leader for her Clan. However, I see something terrible approaching..."
Sky let out a chuckle, and looked back into the pool. As she looked into it, the image of three kits appeared- two tom-kits and a she-kit. As Sky watched, the kits began to play as they tumbled after eachother. Thunder watched from beside her, his eyes soft as the image faded away. He suddenly stiffened, his head held high as he sniffed the air. Turning around, Thunderstar gasped as another ghostly cat appeared from the shadows. It seemed as if she had appeared from thin air as she stalked towards Sky and Thunder, before sitting up beside them.
"How many times have I told you to keep your large nose out of ShadowClan's business, Thunder?" the she-cat spat, her teeth barred, and her fur on end. Thunder took a small pawstep back, alarmed by the she-cat's sudden anger.
"Shadow, calm yourself. I was only worried that-" Thunder hadn't the chance to finish. Shadow pounced on him, and soon, the two were in a fight beside the Starpool. Sky yowled in alarm as more cats began to enter the Starpool area, clearly driven by curiousity.
"Shameful." Sky spat, watching as the two leaders suddenly ceased to fight, "Two of the Clan's greatest leaders, and you're caught fighting over an issue that hadn't been discussed."
Shadow backed away, stopping a few fox-lengths from Thunder. Her starry claws were still unsheathed, ready for a fight if need be. Thunder eyed Shadow suspiciously, before turning away, back into the Starry waters of the Starpool. Once again, the image of the three kits appeared, but instead of fighting, they were now eating fresh-kill, their mother by their side.
"A prophecy." Shadow meowed, tipping her head as she watched the kits eat, "I should have known. What are you prepared to give the medicine cat, Thunder?"
Thunder closed his eyes, and light flashed into the clearing for a brief moment. "Three shall come, of Darkness and Storm, to save the Clans from the dangers of the forest."
As Thunder finished, the cats tipped their heads in respect. Shadow nodded to Thunder, and closed her eyes.
"Very well. Three shall come, and save the Clans." she meowed, before padding away, into the starlit forests that surrounded the Starpool.
The air was cool and fresh as Shadowkit bounded out of the nursery. As she looked up, the leaves on the trees surrounding ShadowClan's camp swayed peacefully in the faint breeze that ruffled Shadowkit's fur. She looked around for her siblings, Owlkit and Mousekit, but noticed they were no where to be found. Letting out a discouraged sigh, Shadowkit made her way towards the fresh-kill pile. After carefully selecting a plump mole from the pile, Shadowkit happily dragged it back to the nursery, winning a laugh from her mother, Mistystream. As Shadowkit ate, she watched her mother as the dappled gray she-cat groomed her nursery-mate, Riverkit. Pushing the rest of the vole away, Shadowkit watching in disgust as Mistystream continued. If she ever had kits, she would definately not let other queens groom them.
Shadowkit's gaze shifted to Crookedeye, shuddering as she returned the look. Crookedeye, as her name suggested, had an eye slanted downwards. It scared Shadowkit, although she hadn't the courage to admit it. Shadowkit stretched, then padded back out of the nursery. Surely Owlkit and Mousekit hadn't gone very far... after all, Flowerstar gave them a punishment they would never forget after stumbling out of the camp a few moons ago. Shadowkit's mind was racing as she recalled the frightening encounter they had with a ThunderClan patrol. She shuddered, before realizing that today was their Warrior Ceremony day! Her heart pounding with excitement, Shadowkit trotted past the Apprentice's den, poking her head inside to see the cats that would be her den-mates for a while. Inside was two sleeping cats, both brown-and-white. Shadowkit easily identified them as Oakpaw and Adderpaw, the kits of Thornbelly and Night-tail.
"Hey, Shadowkit!" came a cry from behind her. Turning around, Shadowkit purred as her siblings, Mousekit and Owlkit, padded over to her. Mousekit's gray fur shimmered in the sunhigh light as he puffed up his chest with pride.
"You'll never believe this, Shadowkit!" Owlkit meowed, shaking from head to paw, "But we learned who our mentors are gonna be! Swiftstep told us!"
Yeah, right... Shadowkit thought, Swiftstep hates kits. Like he'd ever tell you...
The kits froze as a cream-and-ginger she-cat passed by. Skypool, as everyone in ShadowClan knew, was a half-Clan, along with her brother, Fireclaw. Shadowkit watched in silence, as the cats passed by, headed towards the nursery. Shadowkit shuddered; if she had Skypool or Fireclaw as a mentor, she'd never be able to show her face again.
"Do you know who my mentor is going to be?" Shadowkit meowed, hoping her brothers would tell her. Owlkit laughed, flicking his black-and-white tail as he spun around.
"Nope! Swiftstep told us we aren't allowed to tell anyone," Mousekit explained, "Especially you, Shadowkit!"
"Mousekit!" Shadowkit meowed, disappointed. She leapt for Mousekit, and soon, the two were engaged in a play-fight. Shadowkit gasped as they knocked into a warrior. She jumped to her paws, eyes wide as she realized it was Redscar, the Medicine Cat!
"Be careful, you two. Swiftstep would have you cleaning ticks for a moon if you had of knocked into him." Redscar meowed calmly, before getting to his paws. The elderly ginger warrior padded into his den, and sat down.
"Wouldn't you hate to be a Medicine Cat, Shadowkit?" Mousekit whispered, "I certainly would. Being stuck with all those dusty herbs..."
Shadowkit nodded. Being a Medicine Cat had never appealed to her; and she couldn't see why it would appeal to anyone else. Just as Shadowkit and Mousekit turned away, three warriors padded into camp, their heads held high. The cat at the front, a tortoiseshell called Leafwatcher, padded over to the Leader's Den excitedly. Shadowkit and Mousekit watched in silence as Flowerstar appeared from the den, and sat down.
"ThunderClan was stealing our prey, Flowerstar! I knew it! But we taught those mouse-hearted warriors a lesson they aren't going to forget soon! We clawed the pelt off Lionwhisker!" Leafwatcher exclaimed, looking back at the rest of the patrol. Shadowkit stared at a golden she-cat who was between the other two patrollers. Leopardpaw, Shadowkit thought. Although she had only encountered her once, Shadowkit knew that Leopardpaw was a nasty cat. Leopardpaw had nearly torn the pelt off her when she had entered the Apprentice's den by accident!
"Lionwhisker, you say?" Flowerstar replied, "I'm sure that Whitestar won't like us hurting his deputy. I'd suggest not to do that again, Leafwatcher."
Leafwatcher's face fell. Shadowkit could understand- hadn't they chased off ThunderClan? Why wasn't Flowerstar content with that? Mousekit shifted uncomfortably as Flowerstar left Leafwatcher, and padded over to them.
"Do you two know where Owlkit is?" She meowed, her green eyes sparkling as Shadowkit shook her head, "Then may you find him? Bring him back here as soon as you can."
Mousekit lit up with pride as they padded away from Flowerstar. "Our first mission, Shadowkit! It may not be very big, but Flowerstar herself gave it to us!"
Shadowkit purred as she noticed Owlkit sitting in the nursery, teaching Riverkit and Cinderkit how to play-fight. Shadowkit laughed as she and Mousekit padded up to him.
"Hey, Owlkit, Flowerstar wants us by Redscar's den!" Mousekit meowed excitedly. Owlkit's eyes widened, and he got to his paws.
"But Owlkit!" Riverkit protested, her blue eyes full of disappointment, "You promised that you'd teach us! We wanna be Warriors, too!"
Owlkit purred, and gave Riverkit's forehead a quick lick. "I'll teach you later. I need to go now!"
Shadowkit purred with contentment as they padded back to Redscar's den. Shadowkit knew that this was probably going to be their Apprentice Ceremony- after all, Redscar's den was used for a gathering place. As they sat in front of Flowerstar, Shadowkit couldn't help but wonder who her mentor was going to be.
"Excellent. Now come up here with me." Flowerstar meowed, turning around. Shadowkit watched in awe as she jumped gracefully onto the Smooth-Rock, with a single leap. Mousekit followed, using all his strength to scurry up. Owlkit came after- Shadowkit noticed that it was easy for him to climb. Shadowkit took a deep breath, and placed her paws on the first rock. She pulled herself up, and using her tail to keep her balance, climbed to the top of the Smooth-Rock.
"Those old enough to catch their own prey, Gather beneath the Smooth-Rock for a Clan Meeting!" Flowerstar's familiar yowl rung out into the air. Abruptly, all life in the camp came to a pause as they padded over to the Smooth-Rock. Shadowkit wrapped her tail around her paws to keep from jumping. She couldn't believe it- it was her Apprentice Ceremony at last!
As more and more cats approached, Shadowkit couldn't help but feel nervous. She glanced at her tortoiseshell paws, unable to meet the gaze of the surrounding cats.
Shadowkit felt as if she was going to fall off the Smooth-Rock as Flowerstar began. "This is a proud day for ShadowClan, by naming apprentices we show ShadowClan will survive and remain strong. Shadowkit, Owlkit and Mousekit, from now on until you receive your warrior names you will be known as Shadowpaw, Owlpaw and Mousepaw."
I'm not a kit anymore... Shadowpaw thought, I'm Shadowpaw, now. So many responsibilities...
Flowerstar continued, as Shadowpaw thought. "Cloudwhisker, you are ready for an apprentice, you will be Shadowpaw's mentor. Swiftstep, you are ready for another apprentice, you will be Mousepaw's mentor. Shadowstripe, you are ready for an apprentice, you will be Owlpaw's mentor. I know you will pass on your wisdom and strength to Shadowpaw, Mousepaw and Owlpaw, and teach them the skills that will make them brave warriors of ShadowClan."
Pride surged through Shadowpaw as the three chosen mentors jumped onto the Smooth-Rock. She touched Cloudwhisker's cold nose for a brief moment, then stepped back, allowing the roars of her Clanmates to fill her ears. "Shadowpaw! Owlpaw! Mousepaw!"
Shadowpaw sat up straight, and closed her eyes. She was excited to become an apprentice, but she couldn't help but feel a strange feeling come over her. After all, she now had new denmates, and new responsibilities. She also knew that it was time to make new friends... and enemies.
As the cats began to scatter, Mousepaw began to think about his new position within the Clan. He was no longer a kit; no longer relying on other Warriors and Queens to keep himself alive. The power of life was in his paws; if he didn't hunt or couldn't catch anything, cats could die. Taking one last look at his new mentor, Mousepaw jumped off the Smooth-Rock, landing roughly on the ground. Mousepaw hissed quietly as he padded towards the Apprentice's den, his heart sinking as he realized other apprentices were inside. A cream she-cat, with black stripes going up and down her legs, padded towards Mousepaw. He had never seen this apprentice before.
"Who are you?" Mousepaw asked, quietly. The she-cat purred, and sat down.
"I am Tigerpaw. You've never seen me around? Y'know, Thornbelly's apprentice?" Tigerpaw meowed. The name clicked, and Mousepaw remembered one moment where Tigerpaw had brought him a squirrel during the end of Leaf-Bare. Mousepaw shuddered just at the thought of that Leaf-Bare. He had only been one moon old, and one of siblings, Dewkit, had died of cold. Now thinking of his sister, Mousepaw got to his paws and padded away from Tigerpaw, and sat down in front of the Camp Entrance. Dewkit had been buried right at the entrance, and it felt odd to be near his sister's body. As he turned around, he gasped as he noticed Tigerpaw right behind him. She purred, and flicked her tail.
"I've been sharpening my stalking skills, Mousepaw." Tigerpaw meowed, "In case ThunderClan wants to put one of their mangy paws on ShadowClan territory."
Mousepaw purred in return. He never expected the other apprentices to be this welcoming! He got to his paws, and flicked his tail. "Tigerpaw, do you think I could come hunting with you and Thornbelly? I really wanna learn how to hunt."
As Mousepaw finished, he wished he had never said that. After all, Tigerpaw was the eldest apprentice, and he was one of the youngest. To his relief, Tigerpaw nodded, and began to pad towards a large, brown tabby tom. Mousepaw followed behind, feeling slightly embarassed as Thornbelly turned and looked at him.
"What do you need, Tigerpaw?" the senior warrior meowed, his voice full of wisdom and age. Mousepaw felt a pang of pity for Thornbelly as he noticed the long scar up Thornbelly's side. More memories returned to him, this one reminding him of ThunderClan's power. Thornbelly had killed the former leader of ThunderClan, a cat named Thrushstar, but had been seriously injured in return. Shaking his head, Mousepaw snapped back into reality.
"Can Mousepaw and Swiftstep come on the next hunting patrol with us?" Tigerpaw asked, her voice showing not a hint of worry or nervousness. Mousepaw was very impressed. Although Tigerpaw had been an apprentice for nearly six moons, she spoke to the Senior Warriors as if they were her equals. Mousepaw shuddered; he had never had the stomach to speak with Senior Warriors. And when he did, he made sure he was being as polite as possible.
Thornbelly brightened. "Sure, Tigerpaw! Just make sure Swiftstep doesn't have anything else to do, alright, Mousepaw?"
Mousepaw nodded, and purred at Tigerpaw. Without another word, Mousepaw trotted towards the black-and-white deputy, who was sharing tongues with Smokenose, his mate. Sitting a few fox-lengths away from them, Swiftstep stopped grooming his mate.
"What do you need, Mousepaw?" Swiftstep meowed, his eyes fixed on Mousepaw as he shuffled his paws nervously.
"Er... I was wondering if I could go on a hunting patrol with Thornbelly and Tigerpaw..." Mousepaw trailed off, unable to think of anything else to say. Swiftstep purred, and flicked his tail.
"Tell Thornbelly you can go. I will not be going with you, however. I am leading a patrol shortly. I'm sure they'll teach you the basics." Swiftstep ordered. Mousepaw nodded, excitement now filling his body. He darted back over to Thornbelly and Tigerpaw, who were now sitting beside a black she-cat and a smaller black and white tom.
"Who are you?" Mousepaw asked the black Warrior. She gave no reply, infuriating Mousepaw. Was he really that small to the Clan that a Warrior even refused to tell him her name?
Thornbelly nodded, and flicked his tail. "Come, we shall head towards the border."
The black she-cat padded beside Thornbelly, while Mousepaw, Tigerpaw and the black and white tom were side-by-side after them. Tigerpaw turned to Mousepaw, eyes full of sorrow.
"Mousepaw, that Black she-cat is Lostsong. She can't talk." Tigerpaw explained quickly, her voice in a whisper. Mousepaw held back a gasp- that was why she never spoke to him! But Mousepaw couldn't understand- wouldn't a mute cat only be a nuisance to the Clan?
The black and white tom padded over to Mousepaw's other side, and tipped his head in respect. "Hi, Mousepaw! I'm Snowpaw, Eaglethroat's apprentice. Eaglethroat has Whitecough, though, so Redscar sent me out with Lostsong."
Lostsong. Mousepaw now understood the name. Suddenly, Thornbelly and Lostsong stopped, turning around to face the apprentices.
"Alright, Lostsong and I will hunt around here. Tigerpaw, you can go on your own. Snowpaw, I'm leaving you with Mousepaw... can you try and teach him to hunt?" Thornbelly meowed, winning a purr from Snowpaw.
"I'll try my hardest, Thornbelly." Snowpaw meowed, watching as the cats stalked away. Snowpaw turned to Mousepaw, and purred.
"Okay, first, drop to the ground, so your belly is touching the ground. Just barely, though." Snowpaw meowed, demonstrating for Mousepaw. Mousepaw mimicked Snowpaw's actions, and watched as Snowpaw continued.
"Now, do you smell that scent trail? A frog's been around here... it must have been near the Thunderpath, because I can smell it on the trail. So it must have gone away from the path." Snowpaw explained.
Mousepaw nodded, and began to crawl, following the frog's trail. The scent began to get stronger and stronger as Mousepaw continued- he was now completely focused on getting the frog. His heart skipped a beat as he looked up- through the short grass was a frog, sitting quietly on the fallen branch at the foot of a tree. Mousepaw turned around, and looked at Snowpaw, who gave him a nod, and pounced. Mousepaw landed clumsily on the branch, scaring away the frog. But Mousepaw was persistant- he pounced again, landing on top of the frog. He swiftly bit the frog, feeling sorry for it as it let out it's final croak.
"Did I do that right, Snowpaw?" Mousepaw meowed, dropping the frog a kit-step in front of Snowpaw.
"Yes, Mousepaw, you were excellent! I bet Thornbelly and Swiftstep are gonna be so proud!" Snowpaw meowed, picking up the frog, "Now let's go back to camp and put this in the fresh-kill pile."
As they made their way back to camp, Mousepaw felt content and proud. He had caught his first prey! Suddenly, he wondered what Shadowpaw and Owlpaw were doing. Border patrols? Getting to know the borders? What if they were in a battle? Mousepaw shuddered at the thought of a battle, but he knew it would happen someday.
And when that day comes, Mousepaw thought, I'll fight tooth and claw to protect my Clan.
As Owlpaw followed his mentor up the border, he felt a rush of excitement as they at last, arrived at the ThunderClan border. Would there be a fight? Owlpaw hoped so. How he wanted to prove to his Clan that he was a great warrior... even if it meant the death of cats that stood in his way. Flexing his claws as he hurried after Shadowstripe, Owlpaw felt as if he were just made Leader of ShadowClan. Suddenly, the entire patrol froze. A new scent wafted past Owlpaw, one he had never smelt before. His heart raced as he realized how lucky he was- ThunderClan was nearby! Four cats emerged from the trees on the other side of the border. One was a golden tom, by his side was a tortoiseshell that reminded him of Shadowpaw. The two near the back were too far away for Owlpaw to identify their fur color, so he simply stood, awaiting for ShadowClan's reaction.
"What are you mangy excuses for cats doing here?" Shadowstripe taunted. The golden tom barred his teeth, and unsheathed his claws. Owlpaw gasped as he realized how sharp and long they were, and immediately lost the will to fight.
"Look who's talking." the golden tom spat, "And by the way, Whitestar wasn't too happy when he saw my injuries yesterday. Tell that to Leafbrain or whatever her name was."
"Leafwatcher. And by the way, Lionwhisker, ShadowClan doesn't really give a mousetail about your injuries. If you take one kit-step accross the border..." Gorgeclaw spat, his fur on end. For a few moments, Owlpaw wondered why Gorgeclaw was acting so protective of Leafwatcher. Wait, he's her mate. Owlpaw suddenly remembered, before looking at the ThunderClanners.
Lionwhisker, who Owlpaw realized was the deputy, flicked his tail in annoyance, before turning to the smaller cats behind him. "Daisypaw, Bonepaw, go fetch more cats in case this gets ugly."
What a coward, Owlpaw thought, his head held high. Before he could do anything else, Shadowstripe turned around, and stared at Owlpaw. "Owlpaw, go get some back-up. We aren't letting ThunderClan win... no matter what."
Owlpaw froze for a moment, then ran. As fast as his paws would take him, Owlpaw darted towards the circle of trees that surrounded ShadowClan's camp. Slowing down to a fast walk, Owlpaw entered the camp, eyes wide as he sought out some cats to fight. Owlpaw looked at Skypool and Fireclaw for a moment, before shaking his head. Those Half-Clan mouse-brains can't do anything. Owlpaw thought, before noticing Flowerstar. Bounding towards her, Owlpaw stopped a fox-length away from the ginger-and-white leader of ShadowClan.
"What is it, Owlpaw?" Flowerstar asked, her head tilted slightly to the side, "Shouldn't you be with the patrol? Isn't Brookfur worried about you? And what about Shadowstripe and Gorgeclaw?"
Owlpaw nodded frantically. "ThunderClan... they're getting more cats... they want to fight! Shadowstripe sent me to get more cats..."
"Very well. I will get more cats... Owlpaw, you'd best stay here. You're only starting to fight, and Shadowstripe told me your pounce is messy."
Owlpaw felt frustration surge through him. He wanted to fight, not stay in the camp like a Mouse-hearted Half-Clan! As Flowerstar padded away, towards a group of warriors sharing tongues by the fresh-kill pile, Owlpaw noticed his sibling, Shadowpaw, in the group. She sat beside Leopardpaw, grooming her fur. Owlpaw couldn't believe it- Shadowpaw was friends with the most stuck-up apprentice! Owlpaw watched, angrily, as the cats got to their paws, and followed Flowerstar out of the camp, Shadowpaw following with Leopardpaw. So Shadowpaw gets to go, and not me? Owlpaw thought, getting to his paws, I think not!
Dashing after the cats, Owlpaw made sure he left some distance between them. In order to keep himself amused, Owlpaw began to identify the cats that were coming to help the patrol. Leopardpaw, Shadowpaw, Flowerstar... Shadestripe, Cloudwhisker, Tallear and Swiftstep. Owlpaw thought to himself, before remembering Swiftstep was Mousepaw's mentor. What was he doing here? Shouldn't he be out training with Mousepaw?
As the cats arrived at the border, Owlpaw gasped. The fight had already begun. Dashing towards the bunch of ThunderClan cats that were entering ShadowClan territory, Owlpaw latched on to the smallest cat there- a small, silver tabby she-cat. The she-cat let out a squeal of surprise as Owlpaw jumped on her backside. Remembering everything that Shadowstripe had taught him, Owlpaw dug his claws into the she-cat's backside, biting furiously at her neck. The she-cat howled, before going limp. Owlpaw knew that trick, though. It had been the first thing Shadowstripe had taught him. Refusing to let go, Owlpaw continued to rake his claws down her backside. There was a howl, but not from the she-cat. Owlpaw turned, and was pushed away before he could react. Landing on the ground a few fox-lengths away, Owlpaw watched as a large white tom began to lick at the she-cat's wounds. He glared at Owlpaw, and howled again for silence.
"Look what your Warriors have done, Flowerstar." the cat growled, his voice full of sorrow. Flowerstar stepped forward, her eyes full of shock and disappointment as she looked at Owlpaw.
"Great StarClan, Owlpaw..." Flowerstar whispered, her voice barely audible, "You have just killed Minnowpaw. Whitestar's daughter."
Owlpaw's mouth dropped open. He had killed the daughter of the leader! He shook his head, unable to believe what he had done... why hadn't he just let her go when she played dead? Better yet, why hadn't he just stayed at camp? Whitestar barred his teeth, and glared at Flowerstar.
"ThunderClan will never forgive you, Flowerstar. From this day forward, my warriors will hunt and do what they please on your territory. And I shall not stop them." Whitestar snapped, before turning away. Two cats from the crowd stepped forward, each one taking a side of Minnowpaw's body. The cats began to pad onto their side of the territory, none of them daring to speak. As they faded away into the woods, all attention was on Owlpaw.
"You. Are in big trouble, Owlpaw." Flowerstar spat, enraged. Owlpaw jumped back; he had never seen Flowerstar so angry before! Flowerstar stormed over to him, and picked him up by the scruff, as if he were a tiny kit. Although Owlpaw tried desperately to get away, he was stuck, until they arrived at camp.
Setting Owlpaw down in front of the Smooth-Rock, Flowerstar jumped onto the Rock and awaited her Clan. Without orders, the ShadowClanners gathered around, each one's eyes resting on Owlpaw.
"As you all know," Flowerstar began, her voice cold and jagged as she spoke, "Today, a foolish apprentice has just made us enemies with ThunderClan. And that is Owlpaw."
Owlpaw felt hot with embarassment as Mistystream yowled in shock. He noticed his mother's normally soft eyes glaring at him, each one as cold as ice.
"And I have selected a punishment which I think will suit Owlpaw- he will serve Redscar in the Medicine den for two moons. He will then return to his six moons of apprentice training." Flowerstar growled.
Owlpaw couldn't believe his ears. First, he made enemies with ThunderClan. Now, he had to sit around in camp, helping a boring Medicine cat with his boring herbs and poultices. Owlpaw shuddered, remembering the pus-filled wound that his father, Brookfur had recieved. He'd be treating wounds like that.
"As for my final order of business, all patrols will now consist of six cats. That is all." Flowerstar finished, much to Owlpaw's relief. As the cats dispersed, Owlpaw made his way into the Medicine den, the scent of multiple herbs hitting him as he entered. Inside, was Redscar. Sitting quietly by the herb storage, Redscar turned around and nodded.
"I heard it all. Owlpaw, you can start by helping any injured cats. Take these cobwebs, and wrap that around the wounds. But not until you chew these herbs and apply them!" Redscar explained, pushing a pile of bad-smelling herbs and cobwebs towards Owlpaw.
This is going to be a long, long two moons... Owlpaw thought, before taking the herbs.
Shadowpaw lapped up the water that had just been brought in, and' sat up, letting out a refreshed sigh. Glancing over at Redscar's den, Shadowpaw felt pity for her sibling as she noticed him sitting quietly by the herb storage. Newleaf was quickly turning into greenleaf, and for the past quarter-moon, while all the apprentices were out hunting, training or playing, Owlpaw was stuck inside the stuffy medicine den, either tending to Willowwhisker's leg pains or Morningwind's face. Grimacing as she watched him chew some herbs into pulps, Shadowpaw turned away. She sought out her mentor, Cloudwhisker, in the crowd of cats, knowing that they were soon to go training. Trotting up to her mentor confidently, Shadowpaw gave Leopardpaw and Oakpaw curt nods as they approached Cloudwhisker. So they were her opponents today.
"Oh, no! We're battling Shadowpaw, the cat who is the size of a mouse! Have mercy on me, Cloudwhisker!" Oakpaw meowed, mock horror in his voice. Shadowpaw rolled her eyes, and smirked.
Leopardpaw purred, and flicked her golden tail. After a brief examination by Cloudwhisker, Shadowpaw and the others were making their way towards the burnt-tree, the spot where all apprentices learned to stalk and climb trees. It was nice, being out of camp... for a few sunrises after the attack, Flowerstar refused to let any apprentices out of the camp in case Whitestar saught revenge for Minnowpaw. Shuddering as she remembered Minnowpaw's limp, dead corpse, Shadowpaw straightened up and continued after the others.
"Swiftstep?" meowed Cloudwhisker. Shadowpaw looked up- a warm feeling rising in her chest as she spotted the black-and-white deputy and her brother, sitting side by side near the burnt tree. Swiftstep got to his paws, and padded past them wordlessly, followed by Mousepaw. Shadowpaw couldn't help but notice that Mousepaw had changed in the last quarter-moon... he was awfully quiet and shy.
"Okay... Oakpaw, Shadowpaw, come up here. I want you two to practice your front paw strike on me. Claws sheathed!" Cloudwhisker meowed. Shadowpaw felt hot with embarassment as Cloudwhisker finished, remembering her first training session. She had accidentally clawed Cloudwhisker's muzzle, and now there were three long scars across it.
Still feeling queasy, Shadowpaw padded forward and tapped Cloudwhisker's face lightly. Cloudwhisker sighed, and sat up.
"Shadowpaw, when you're in battle, you can't just tap the warriors. You need to strike them! And don't worry about hurting me... you couldn't hurt a fly if you tried." Cloudwhisker teased. Oakpaw bounded over to Cloudwhisker, and delivered a blow to his face. Cloudwhisker recoiled, and purred.
"Excellent, Oakpaw! See, Shadowpaw? Hard, like Oakpaw has just done." Cloudwhisker meowed, signs of encouragement in his voice. Shadowpaw took a deep breath, and trotted over, not holding back as she striked his face. Letting out a small hiss, Cloudwhisker nodded, and flicked his tail.
"See, Shadowpaw? You're doing great! Keep that up, and you'll be as good as Leopardpaw some day." Cloudwhisker mewed, nodding to Leopardpaw.
Leopardpaw. Shadowpaw thought, remembering the day they had become friends. A mere quarter-moon later, and they acted like littermates. Shadowpaw let out a quiet sigh, remembering what Mousepaw had told her; now every apprentice but Oakpaw and Leopardpaw thought she was stuck-up and rude.
"You alright, Shadowpaw?" Leopardpaw meowed, voice soft, "You look sad."
Shadowpaw nodded, and awaited Cloudwhisker's next command. Before he could give it to her, a new scent filled the air. Not ThunderClan, nor RiverClan, but WindClan. Stiffening, Shadowpaw unsheathed her claws, backing away to Cloudwhisker's side. Surely they dared not intrude on ShadowClan's territory...?
Two cats appeared from what seemed to be nowhere. One was a silver tabby, once again reminding Shadowpaw of Minnowpaw. The other was a large black one. Stopping a few fox-lengths away, the black cat tipped his head, and looked at his paws.
"Pardon us for intruding," said the black cat, "But Darkstar sent us to tell you something."
Cloudwhisker growled, his green eyes flashing with impatience and suspicion. "Spit it out before I rip your fur off, Rabbit-head."
By the look on the silver tabby she-cat's face, Shadowpaw could tell they were insulted. She unsheathed her claws for a brief moment, and snarled. "Darkstar sent us to tell you that a patrol saw rogues headed this way. I don't see why she would, though... you're all ungrateful mouse-brains."
Cloudwhisker was now infuriated. Shadowpaw knew that Cloudwhisker had a short temper, but she never knew it was this short...
"You two are coming back to camp with us. I don't believe a word you two are saying." he snapped, barring his teeth. The black tom's eyes widened, and he nodded.
As they padded along the marshy ground, back to the camp, Shadowpaw listened closely to what the cats were saying to eachother, hoping they might say something good. After all, if Shadowpaw were to figure out if they were spies, then she would be the hero of the Clan!
"Stoneshadow, don't do anything stupid." the black tom hissed under his breath to the she-cat. Stoneshadow was her name... Shadowpaw thought, straining to listen harder.
"If they do hurt us, Darkstar can attack." Stoneshadow murmured in return, "Or we could run away... not like these sickly cats could catch us."
Shadowpaw snarled, and turned away, before Cloudwhisker could notice. Stoneshadow and the tom fell silent, and padded wordlessly into the camp.
"Flowerstar?" Cloudwhisker called out. Shadowpaw felt a wave of relief as Flowerstar padded out of her den, and padded over to them. If those WindClan scumbags had to wait for Flowerstar to return from a patrol, or whatever she could have been doing, they could easily examine the camp...
"Who are these two? Trespassers, I'm guessing?" Flowerstar meowed, no sign of hostility in her voice.
"I am Stoneshadow, and this is Blackfeather. We came to warn ShadowClan of rogues, but..." Stoneshadow meowed. Shadowpaw grimaced as a scowl came across Flowerstar's face.
"Are you saying ShadowClan cannot take care of our own problems? I think you two will be staying here until the next gathering." Flowerstar spat, her eyes enfuriated. Shadowpaw let out a sigh of relief, before slowly creeping away. She had enough adventure...
For one day.
Mousepaw sighed, and closed his eyes. So much had changed in the last few days, he didn't know what to think. Padding over to the fresh-kill pile, Mousepaw glanced over at his mentor, who was, as usual, sharing tongues with Smokenose. Letting out a low growl, Mousepaw turned away. He wasn't hungry, anyways. Stalking over to the medicine den, Mousepaw hoped that his sibling would speak to him. Ever since Shadowpaw had become friends with Oakpaw and Leopardpaw, she never spoke with him.
"Owlpaw? Redscar?" Mousepaw meowed, poking his head into the den. The scent of herbs wafted through the air, and immediately Mousepaw knew it was time for Owlpaw to make Willowwhisker's poultices. Mousepaw shuddered at the thought of Owlpaw applying the poultice to the mangy old beast. He suddenly wondered how Flowerstar could stand to be her offspring- Willowwhisker was the most grouchy, mouse-brained elder Mousepaw had ever seen...
Mousepaw purred as the familiar face of his black-and-white littermate appeared from the shadows of the den. Owlpaw purred, and dropped the bundle of herbs he was carrying. "Hey, Mousepaw! I didn't expect to see you here!"
Mousepaw flicked his tail in delight, but didn't bother saying anything. Owlpaw picked up his herbs, and scurried out of the den, nearly tripping on his paws as he darted over to the elder's den. Mousepaw flicked his ears, and caught the screechy yowling of Willowwhisker in the distance. Great StarClan, Mousepaw thought, Can't that old fleabag ever shut her muzzle?
Feeling a pang of pity for Owlpaw, Mousepaw padded over to the elder's den and poked his head inside. As usual, Willowwhisker was sitting in her corner of the den, yowling at Owlpaw with her high-pitched shriek, while Morningwind was blankly gazing into the distance. Then Mousepaw remembered- Morningwind was blind.
Mistystream had told him the story long ago, one night when he couldn't fall asleep. The memory of the story rung clear in Mousepaw's mind- It had been a cold, leaf-bare night, shortly before they were born, when a patrol made up of Morningwind, Mossfire and Eaglepaw had caught a WindClan hunting patrol catching a rabbit over the border. Morningwind had almost caught up to one of their warriors, when she spun around and raked her claws up his muzzle, blinding him. For some reason, Mousepaw wasn't all that scared of being blinded- after all, he'd be able to retire early...
"I'm done, Mousepaw. We can leave now." Owlpaw meowed, waking Mousepaw from his dream world. Mousepaw glanced around the camp, sheepishly, and followed Owlpaw back to the Medicine Den, sitting down on a pile of moss beside a sleeping cat.
"Who's that, Owlpaw?" Mousepaw meowed, unable to recognize the warrior. Owlpaw chuckled, and laid down across from Mousepaw.
"That's Tallear... Redscar smeared his fur with mud to keep him from getting too cold during the night. He's got a minor case of Whitecough." Owlpaw explained, chuckling as Mousepaw jumped away.
"Owlpaw!" came a hushed hiss from behind Mousepaw. Mousepaw spun around, eyes wide as the ginger medicine cat glared at Owlpaw.
"You're waking Skypool up! Take this conversation outside." Redscar spat, before turning away. Mousepaw got to his gray paws, and followed Owlpaw outside, to the fresh-kill pile. As he snatched a vole from the pile, Mousepaw realized that it was already dusk. Time flew by so fast...
"Skypool. I don't see why Redscar wastes his time on that filthy half-Clan." Owlpaw growled, taking a bite of the vole. Mousepaw nodded, but suddenly was curious as to why Skypool was even in the medicine den...
"Say, Owlpaw... do you even know why she's in there?" Mousepaw asked, between bites. Owlpaw nodded, and pushed the rest of the vole towards Mousepaw.
"She's pregnant with Eaglethroat's kits. Why in the name of time that warrior would mate with her is beyond me..." Owlpaw spat, digging his claws into the ground. Mousepaw glanced over his shoulder at Eaglethroat, and watched as the brown tabby padded into the Medicine den, worry on his face as he went.
"Oh, did you know about the Gathering in three sunrises, Mousepaw?" Owlpaw meowed. Mousepaw's heart raced with excitement, before remembering that only the eldest got to go to gatherings. It wasn't fair, though... after all, nearly all the apprentices had been to two gatherings already. Suddenly overwhelmed by tiredness, Mousepaw stretched and yawned.
"I'm going to bed, now, Owlpaw. See you tomorrow." Mousepaw meowed, before padding away. As Mousepaw reached the Apprentice's den, he noticed Dawnstorm sitting by the den. Her soft amber eyes rested on Mousepaw as he stopped a few fox-lengths away.
"Get some rest, Mousepaw," Dawnstorm meowed, getting to her paws, "Brookfur, Mistystream, Adderpaw, Shadowstripe and I are going on a patrol, and you're coming."
Wordlessly, Mousepaw nodded. A dawn patrol... Mousepaw thought, as he settled in the nest beside Shadowpaw and Adderpaw, Just what I need.
And he slept.
The chirps of birds woke Mousepaw, along with the wet nose of Adderpaw. Mousepaw groggily got to his paws, and shook his head as he followed after the brown and white apprentice. Surely enough, Dawnstorm and the rest of the patrol awaited them at the entrance to the camp. Mousepaw blinked- the sun was quite bright today. Stepping into the shadow of the nursery den, Mousepaw only had a split second before the patrol was off, headed towards the Carrionplace border. The sweet smell of rat and mouse filled the air as they approached, soon smothered by Twoleg Scent. Mousepaw shuddered- he never got used to eating Carrionplace food.
"Wait!" Dawnstorm snarled, stopping in her tracks, "I smell something."
Mousepaw eagerly scanned the horizon, just waiting to tear the fur off any intruders that may stumble across their territory. His heart skipped a beat as he noticed a group of cats appear from the northern forest, as they approached the patrol.
"Who are you?" Brookfur's snarl hung in the air as the cats stopped, nearly ten fox-lengths away from the patrol. The cat at the front, a tortoiseshell she-cat that was un-naturally muscular, snorted. Her green eyes glittered with amusement as she examined the patrol.
"Might I ask the same." she meowed, her strange accent smothering the somewhat-hostile tone she used. Dawnstorm's fur was now on end, and all the cats in the patrol were ready for battle, even if they were seriously outnumbered.
"This is ShadowClan territory, rogue." Mousepaw meowed, before he could stop himself. Adderpaw gave Mousepaw a look, before returning his attention to the cats. The tortoiseshell purred, and wrapped her black-and-ginger tail around her paws.
"Do remember that territory is something that can change. Mainly because the ones who have claimed it cannot defend it." she meowed, still calm and collected. "I am Syka, leader of the cats whom you call rogues. And you are...?"
"You have no need to know our names. All you should know is that we won't hesitate to chase you out if you don't leave now, Syka." Dawnstorm spat at the she-cat.
Syka purred, and got to her paws. "I do not wish to fight... yet. Send your leader to border of the woods. Only then shall I speak."
With that, Syka turned around, gracefully spinning on her paws. The group of cats padded away, but Mousepaw felt uneasy. Those rogues were on ShadowClan territory. And they had threatened to take away his land.
Preview for Withered Hopes
Shadowpaw let out a deep sigh. She was worn out to the bone, and was nervous. What if Flowerstar never came back? she thought, as she sat down in her moss bed, What if the Rogues tear her apart?
Shadowpaw couldn't bear to think about the meeting any longer. Shuffling her paws, Shadowpaw laid down and put her furry black muzzle on her paws. She pricked her ears, and listened- outside she could hear Swiftstep and Brookfur sharing tongues. But what were they discussing? Straining to hear anything, Shadowpaw just barely managed to grasp on to a few words the warriors were saying.
"I think it's time." came Swiftstep's deep voice, suddenly louder than before. Shadowpaw got to her paws, and took a nervous step towards the entrance to the den.
A discouraged sigh came from Brookfur. Her father. "No. I won't let you, Swiftstep. It will only cause more pain."
What would cause more pain? Shadowpaw thought, getting annoyed. Digging her claws into the soft earth beneath her, Shadowpaw sat down, waiting for the next fragment of the conversation.
"I can't let you tell them."
What? What's Brookfur doing? How could he question the orders of the deputy? Shadowpaw thought, kneading the ground in order to keep herself in place.
A howl pierced the silence, ringing in her ears as she darted into her nest, breathing heavily.
Don't miss Withered Hopes, the next book in the Clans of old Age Series!