Shadestar of MistClan woke up with a start, his fluffy dark gray pelt bristling, amber eyes wide with alarm. Poking his head out of the thick canopy of brambles that covered the leaders den, he shuddered violently, nearly falling out from beyond the stone ledge that served as the calling place for the clan meetings and his den. A raspy mew escaped him before Shadestar could regain control. StarClan, why now do you tell me of this horror? He wailed silently into the fading starshine. There wasn't any answer from the lightening sky, and that made the tom uncomfortable. Below, the clan was getting ready for the especially harsh season of leafbare, which had come especially early this time. Cold weather had already driven most of their prey underground, while the remaining prey was already finding places to hide from their predators. A scanty fresh kill pile greeted the whole clan as they started to come from the dens. The two queens, Tornheart and Nightshadow, were both sharing tongues together quietly while choosing a scrawny squirrel from the pile to eat together. His heart leaped as Nightshadow's amber eyes sought him out, and a purr escaped. New life was coming soon to the clans, but for now, there was an odd silence that had fallen over the MistClan warriors, particulary Willowstep, Cedarfang, and his deputy, Tawnyclaw. All three had their heads bent together in a quiet discussion. Straining his ears, Shadestar caught a few of the words that Tawnyclaw was mewing.
"Leafbare was too early this year....." that would be Willowstep's quiet mew.
"I know, it's too unusual, are Starclan angry with us?" Ventured one of the newer warriors, Cedarfang.
"We'll find a way," came the reassuring voice of Tawnyclaw, her tail flicking back and forth, eyes calm as the round moon.
Leaping down from the stone ledge, Shadestar nearly landed on top of Moonclaw, one of the oldest elders. Moonclaw let out an irritated hiss, not bothering to try and appear just slightly surprised. The old tom was crotchety, and normally ill tempered, it was a wonder that he got along well with the more even tempered Brightpool. Both had been mates for moons, and had kits, Shadestar was among the two they'd parented, the other being the medicine cat, Silverflower. As if his thoughts had summoned her, a silver she-cat with long whiskers padded towards them, her golden green eyes shadowed with worry.
"Watch it, young'un!" Moonclaw grumbled to his son, distracting Shadestar quite briefly.
"Sorry Moonclaw, I didn't mean to surprise you," Shadestar meowed respectfully to his father.
Off with a grumbled "pay better attention," the elderly tom went over to sit with his old mate, Brightpool. The she-cat whispered something into his ear, and Moonclaw seemed to agree with her. Watching all of this, Silverflower felt a sliver of amusement go through her, and she purred in laughter. Shadestar's ears went hot, and he studied his paws.
"Did you need to tell me something?" The medicine cat asked, her voice breaking through his embaressment.
"Yes," Shadestar meowed urgently.
Automatically, Silverflower's ears pricked up, and eyes sharpened with such intelligence that her brother couldn't look away.
"Let's go into my den, no one will bother us there," Silverflower suggested in such a tone that the leader couldn't argue.
Without waiting for a reply, she turned abruptly in the direction of the den, and hesitantly, Shadestar followed her, prickles of unease running through him.
In the medicine cat den, herbs were stacked in neat piles, while a pool of blue water lay at the side, quite close to Silverflower's nest. Moss littered the place, making the den comfortable and springy. Sitting down, Shadestar tucked his tail around his paws, and as if a shadow, Silverflower did the same, her amber eyes boring into him all the while, making the tom uneasy.
"Last night I had a dream from StarClan," Shadestar began, his voice guarded. Sometimes, he really wondered if he could trust his medicine cat.
"Go on." Silverflower encouraged.
"Well, you know the old leader, Jaystar? She appeared to me."
Silverflower nodded patiently.
"And gave me a prophecy." His voice fell quiet.
"Come on, don't stop talking!"
"She said: An eclipse shadows the clans' distant future. The ground will shake, prey will go, and much blood shall be spilled."
Shadestar meowed, ending the dream talk.
His sister's eyes were narrowed in thought, though her face appeared quite troubled. Shifting around uneasily, she sighed, and then finally spoke in a distant murmur.
"It's a new prophecy, alright. The whole clan, and the other clans should know of this," Silverflower murmured, low enough that Shadestar had to strain to hear her.
It had been half a moon since Shadestar had last spoken to Silverflower, and his mate, Nightshadow, had recently had her kits. There were three kits total: Sandkit, Crookedkit (for her crooked paw), and Tigerkit. All three were beautiful, and so tiny, but that wasn't what Shadestar had his mind on this morning. Cold winds had swept away the snow, but made sure any remaining prey vanished. Nothing was going right this leaf-bare, and starclan hadn't sent him any further visions. Beginning to doubt the dream, Shadestar sighed, staring blankly ahead of him. To add to the clan's troubles, there had been that recent skirmish with StreamClan over prey, and they'd lost a warrior, Cedarfang. Willowstep had been devastated, for the tom had been her only kit. On a happier note however, Blackpaw had been made into a warrior, known as Blackfang in honor of his mentor, Cedarfang.
"Shadestar, whom should I take for on patrols?" His deputy, Tawnyclaw asked him, breaking through Shadestar's thoughts.
"Send Snakefoot, Stormpelt, and Mistyclaw, along with young Cloverpaw," Shadestar meowed urgently.
"Take them along the border with Twolegplace, I have a feeling that something's not right....." Shadestar commanded.
Nodding, the deputy sighed and looked at her leader with concern before signaling to Mistyclaw, a gray cat with black stripes and white patches, Snakefoot, a mottled tom, and Stormpelt, a dark gray she-cat with blue eyes, and Cloverpaw, a white she-cat, who was the oldest of Tornheart's latest litter.
Watching them go in silence, he gave himself a shake before suddenly being leaped on by one of his kits, Sandkit. The she-kit was followed by her brother, Tigerkit, and sister, Crookedkit. All three pressed their father onto the ground, letting out squeals of excitement. For a few minutes, he played with them, enjoying a break from his leader duties. A black queen followed them, her amber eyes glinting with amusement, and sleek fur rippling over her ribs.
"Well Shadestar, it seems as if these kits really do take a liking to you," she joked.
"Get off of me, little kits," he meowed gently. Reluctantly, Sandkit, Crookedkit, and Tigerkit all hopped off, muttering little protests.
"We want to go on a patrol, please!" Sandkit announced, her small ginger tail high in the air.
"Not until you're six moons old," Nightshadow meowed sternly, temporarily distracted.
Sighing, the she-cat gave her mate a lick on the ear before heading back to the nursery, her eyes worried for the three tiny lives that could be so easily lost this leaf-bare.