LEADER Seedwhisker – pretty, pale grey she-cat
DEPUTY Robinsong – reddish coloured tom
MEDICINE CAT Flightfeather –old ginger and white she-cat with a muzzle gone grey with age Apprentice, Bluepaw
Nightfall – dark grey tom with black legs
Icepool – very pale cream she-cat with blue eyes
Rowanberry – dark ginger she-cat
Snowbuzzard – long-haired white tom
Riverclaw – grey tom with blue eyes
Patchfoot – black and white tom
Tigerstripe – ginger tabby tom
Leafstep – tortoiseshell she-cat
Bolta – black she-cat with amber eyes
Hollyfrost – pale ginger tabby she-cat
Blackshadow – jet-black tom
Inkpool – black she-cat with a white patch covering her eye and ear
Foxwhisker – pretty ginger she-cat
Ravenflight – black she-cat
Elderflower – cream she-cat
Blackice – black and white she-cat
Bluepaw – blue-grey she-cat
Archpaw – grey tom with a black tail
Jay – blind grey tabby she-cat
Honeypaw - light brown she-cat
Rosepaw - dark ginger tabby she-cat
Daisynose – black and white she-cat, mother of Silentspirit’s kits: Redkit (rusty brown coloured tom), Whitekit (tiny white she-cat)
Flora – pale ginger tabby she-cat, mother of Nightfall’s kits: Songkit (pale cream she-cat), Larkkit (small light brown she-cat), Rushkit (grey tabby
tom), Marshkit (pale grey tom)
Appleseed – light ginger tabby she-cat, mother of Patchfoot's kits: Rainkit (grey tabby tom), Tigerkit (ginger tabby she-cat)
Willowheart - pretty pale grey she-cat, mother of: Moonkit (grey tom)
Runningfox – ginger she-cat
Speckledflower – ginger she-cat with darker specks along her sides
Cinderfur - grey tabby she-cat
LEADER Death – jet-black tom covered with scars
DEPUTY Tigerstar – large dark brown tabby tom
Hawkfrost - large brown tabby tom
Brokentail - grey tabby tom
Scourge - small black and white tom
Bone - pale grey tom
Chillheart – grey tom with blue eyes
Shadowstalker – dark grey tom
Yewtail – pale brown tabby she-cat
Darkstorm – brown tabby tom
Silentspirit – grey she-cat with black flecks and tail
Prologue, Jade, Leah and Jasper
Luna risked a glance at Jade, Leah and Jasper. Her pale fur was prickling slightly and she was itching to move forwards towards them. But Luna was a clever cat and she had the sense to stay still. Although Jade, Leah and Jasper were related to Aurora, she knew they were dangerous.
A few moons ago Blade had disappeared the same night Jade,Leah and Jasper had been on their First Hunt.
After a kitten reaches seven moons they go on their First Hunt. The kitten must catch a piece of prey and bring it back before nightfall. They then become a Soft Pad and get their mentor. If the kitten fails to do so they go and live with the Healers. It was all started by an ancient leader named Crescent - who believed that Soft Pads could hunt by the time they were walking. If they couldn’t then they were Healers and were expected to know all the healing herbs by heart by the time they could speak. She personally thought that this was all nonsense and that they should be able to choose if they wanted to be a Soft Pad or a Healer.
Jade, Leah and Jasper had managed to bring back two pieces of prey each before nightfall. Luna didn’t believe that they had done it. She thought that Blade had caught all of the prey and that Jade, Leah and Jasper had killed him and stolen his catches.
“Hey,” Leah meowed lazily. Luna jumped a tail-length. A small smile spread across Leah’s face. “Thinking up some other crazy scheme to get us in trouble?”
Luna narrowed her cloudy blue eyes. “When have I ever tried to get you in trouble?” she demanded. Luna’s ears flattened against her head. The fur along her spine was beginning to rise and her claws were sinking into the sandy stone floor.
But before she was able to move an inch a call came from the Main Cave. “Luna!” Luna lashed her tail in annoyance. It was Sky, her mentor.
“Well, see you later,” Leah meowed. Then she grinned and added sneakily,“Loony.”
Luna was tempted to tear her claws through Leah’s neat grey fur. But she was would get in trouble. Star had made it very clear that you must not ever attack another Tribe cat.
Luna’s lips pulled back to show her teeth. She stalked out into the long, narrow and winding tunnel that led to the Main Cave.
“That was mean,” Jade’s voice echoed after her. “You shouldn’t have called her that.”
“She would have called us that,” Leah retorted.
Luna quickened her pace and followed the rest of the tunnel to the Main Cave. Sky sat in the centre, his pale eyes glittering in the darkness. Luna padded reluctantly towards him.
Chapter One, The Fourth Power
Jay struggled to breathe. She hurt. Her ribs were all achy and sore as she lay on the wet grass. They had travelled for days and she had managed fine. But now, as she panted in the fresh morning’s air, she didn’t know if she could face another day of walking.
Closing her eyes, she lay her head down on the dewy grass and tried to relax. Her breathing sounded rough and ragged, but better than it had been when she had woken up. It was slightly worrying.
If she died again would she be able to come back? If she died again and it wasn’t her time would she be stuck in the Moonpool clearing, not alive but not quite dead until it was her time?
Jay bit her lip and tasted blood. It was scary. She tried to let the wet grass and the birds singing soothe her but it didn’t work. She was just as anxious as before.
Giving up completely in resting, Jay got to her paws. She could smell water up ahead and began to walk towards it. It would have been quite nice to go on an early morning walk if she didn’t hurt so much.
Her paws sank into the wet mud and she jumped back a couple of paces. She had walked straight into the pond. Jay crouched down beside it and began to lap up the fresh water. It tasted lovely and soothed her scratchy throat.
When she had drunk her fill, she sat back up and waded into the pond. It was quite deep and came up to her neck, but it was surprisingly nice. She supposed some cat like Willowheart would have found it terrifying. After all her son, Starkit had drowned.
But to Jay it just felt nice.
It was cool but not too cold and the best part was that it was the smell. It wasn’t a muddle of different scents. It was just one. That made it peaceful and not confusing or panicked.
After a while of just walking, Jay began to actually swim. At first it was just in small circles but soon she was swimming around the pond. When she began to tire though, she got straight out. She didn’t want to get too out of breath again.
Jay lay down beside the water, letting her tail skim over it. Her eyelids slowly began to droop and she fell asleep to the sounds of birds singing and water lapping her tail.
“Hey,” came a familiar lazy drawl. “She’s here.”
Jay felt the fur on the back of her neck prickle. Her breathing became even more ragged – if possible. But it wasn’t until a nose sniffed her side that she realized that it hadn’t been a lazy drawl. It had been anxious.
Blackshadow had been worried about her.
Jay felt a strange desire to laugh. That just sounded stupid. Blackshadow never worried about anyone. He hadn’t worried when his sister Inkpool had cut herself badly and was losing lots of blood. He hadn’t worried when his mother Icepool had badly twisted her paw. Why would he worry now?
“Of thank StarClan,” came another voice. “I thought something terrible had happened.” Jay gulped in air and tried to recognize the voices.
“Well, I don’t know,” mewed another she-cat. “She seems really out of breath.”
That was Rowanberry’s voice. She could recognize that voice easily. The other she-cat must be Seedwhisker. Jay panted. It felt as if some cat was squeezing her sides together. Like some cat was pushing her head under water.
“I’m... Fine...” Jay wheezed, forcing herself to sit up. She could imagine Seedwhisker narrowing her eyes and Rowanberry twitching her ears. But she imagine Blackshadow the best.
He had stopped pacing and was now staring at her with such... Concern? Jay blinked. She could feel his amber eyes scorching her.
“Are you sure?” Rowanberry asked uncertainly. “I mean you look...”
“Soaked for a start,” Blackshadow continued. “What, you thought you’d just take a dip? You could have frozen!”
Jay snorted. “Frozen?” she scoffed. “It’s still green-leaf you know.” Her fur was on end now, her blue eyes narrowed to glaring slits. Blackshadow couldn’t tell her what to do.
“It’s getting cold quickly,” he snapped. Jay knew she had won. Her tail curled triumphantly and she struggled to her paws.
“Come on Jay,” Seedwhisker meowed. “We have to get back to the clearing.”
Jay flicked her ears.
“Why aren’t we going any further?” she asked. It seemed stupid to hang around here. It was so open. She felt as if she could be seen from miles away.
“Appleseed has had her kits,” Seedwhisker replied, her tail tip flicking anxiously.
Jay knew exactly what she was thinking without asking. The pale tabby leader didn’t think Appleseed’s kittens would survive. But Jay thought differently. Appleseed was a strong cat and Tigerstripe had been too, but he had died during the battle against The Dark Forest.
“That’s great!” Jay exclaimed. She turned away from the three warriors and began to pad back to camp. She wasn’t out of breath anymore. She hadn’t noticed when it had happened; all she knew was that her ribs didn’t feel squeezed anymore.
Jay quickened her pace as she heard paw steps behind her. She didn’t really want to talk to Seedwhisker, Rowanberry and definitely not Blackshadow. She wanted to talk to Hollyfrost and Bolta.
Back by the lake Jay, Hollyfrost and Bolta had found that they had powers like no other cats had ever had. Jay could control the wind. Hollyfrost could control fire – well kind of. Bolta could control water.
They were also part of a prophecy; three will come again; the bright-eyed Jay, the prickly Holly and the brave Lightening. They were supposedly the only three cats who could destroy The Dark Forest.
Jay approached Bolta who was sitting beside Larkkit and Marshkit, two of Flora’s kits.
“Hi,” she mewed, sitting down next to them. Larkkit looked up. Jay could feel her soft golden gaze scanning her. Larkkit was special, Jay had found. She could remember things from when she had been just a tiny kit and had excellent knowledge on herbs.
“Hello,” Larkkit mewed softly.
“Hey,” mowed Bolta lazily, turning around to face her. Jay stared at the place where she thought Bolta’s eyes where.
“What are Appleseed’s kits called?” she asked. She obviously couldn’t speak of the prophecy in front of Larkkit and Marshkit. Bolta shrugged but Larkkit purred softly.
“Bluepaw let me see them being born,” she mewed. “Appleseed had a tom and a she-cat. They’re called Rainkit and Tigerkit.” Jay’s ear twitched.
“Bluepaw let you?” she asked. “But I thought Flightfeather was you’re medicine cat?” Larkkit shook her head sadly.
“Flightfeather is sick,” she meowed. “She says she wants to go and join the elders.” Jay gasped.
“But that’s terrible!” she cried. “Do you think she will make the journey?”
Larkkit hesitated. No. Jay knew what the small she-cat was thinking.
Larkkit looked up at Jay again.
“Flightfeather is an old cat,” she meowed. “She’s older than all of the elders. And she’s been getting a bit... Forgetful lately.” Jay knew she meant crazy. Not crazy like she was. Not hearing voices crazy. Larkkit meant insane, dangerous and maybe even scary.
You’re not crazy. Bolta, Hollyfrost and Bramble can hear us too.
Sorry. You haven’t met him yet.
(“What are you talking about, Ellie?”)
It doesn’t matter.
Jay jumped out of her thoughts. Her attention turned to Marshkit. He had sat in silence the whole time she had been there. He was a pale grey tabby tom. Jay had imagined him with green eyes, but she couldn’t be sure.
“What have you been doing, Marshkit?” she asked, trying to be friendly. Marshkit appeared not to have heard and continued staring into the distance.
Jay tilted her head to one side. There was something not quite right about the little tom. His thoughts were a hazy blur.
“He’s deaf,” Larkkit whispered in Jay’s ear. “But he doesn’t want any cat to know.” Jay knew how that felt. She felt sorry for the little tom cat.
“I’m blind,” she whispered back to Larkkit. “How do I tell him that?” Jay felt Larkkit’s golden gaze on her fur a few heart-beats.
Then she turned to Marshkit. Larkkit approached him slowly and tapped him with a paw. Jay watched the place where she knew they were. Marshkit turned his head.
Jay imagined Larkkit beckoning with her tail and using sign language that she couldn’t see.
“You’re blind?” Jay could barely understand him. Marshkit’s voice was as scratchy and dry as sand and he spoke so fast that the words flowed together. “I’m deaf.”
Jay approached him slowly and carefully.
“I promise I won’t tell anyone,” she meowed. Larkkit flicked her tail wildly.
“S’okay,” Marshkit meowed. “You can tell.” Jay purred then turned back to Bolta. But her scent was faint now.
Bolta left when you told Larkkit that you are blind.
Jay nodded and smelt the air. Bolta was sitting beside Hollyfrost. Good, thought Jay. Now I can finally talk to them. Jay was about to pad over them to them when three things happened very fast and at the same time.
First Jay could scent a scent she knew very well. A dog’s scent. A very hungry dog’s scent.
“Flightfeather?!” Jay whipped around at the sound of Bluepaw’s shriek. “Flightfeather’s dead!”
“Hey!” came another cry. “It’s getting all dark!”
Chapter Two, The Surprise
Bolta was confused. Clouds had covered the sky, making it as dark as a moonless night.
Bluepaw was crouching by Flightfeather’s unmoving body.
Pairs of ravenous dog eyes were staring out from the forest.
In the confusion Bolta was trampled on and pulled along with the crowd of running cats. Over the panicked yowls and cries, one shriek was loudest of all.
Bolta dodged tails and crawled under bodies to get to Flora who was still standing and staring out at the eyes that had still not moved. Bolta wrapped her tail around her daughter’s neck.
“Run!” she cried. “The dog’s will eat you!”
Flora didn’t move as the dogs stepped forwards. Bolta tugged at her neck, trying to get her to move. Every bone in her body was screaming at her to run. But she couldn’t leave her daughter. She just couldn’t.
The dogs moved out of the shadows and Bolta stumbled back a few paces. They weren’t dogs. They were cats. Huge cats but still cats.
Her eyes were locked with the green eyes of the biggest tom. He was magnificent. He had ginger fur as bright as flames and almost black stripes. He looked like a tiger.
Beside him was another tom. He was jet-black. Though as Bolta looked closer she saw that he was covered in scars and one of his ears was missing. A small white she-cat stood nervously at his side. She had one black paw and icy blue eyes. On the other side of the tiger-tom was a beautiful she-cat.
She looked slightly out of breath and her pale ginger fur was covered in cuts and scratches.
Flora was staring at the huge tiger-tom. Her eyes were wide but warm.
“Bramblekit,” she gaped. “I never thought...”
The tiger-tom narrowed his eyes and stepped forwards. Just the way he moved made Bolta think of a fox.
Quick, nimble and smart despite his size.
“Who are you?” he demanded and there was a hint of a growl in his voice. “What are you doing here?”
Bolta felt the fur on the back of the neck raise. She knew he was dangerous but... the way he said it.
“I could ask you the same question,” she meowed, her voice calm but deadly. “The lake belongs to the Clans.”
Tiger-tom clawed the ground, his green eyes dangerous slits.
“Well not anymore,” he mewed. He copied her tone but somehow on him it made it sound a lot more vicious. Bolta couldn’t help but glance at the scar-covered tom with the one ear. Had he done that?
“We were leaving anyway,” Flora meowed, gazing adoringly at the huge tiger-tom. “The lake is too dangerous to live by.”
Bolta glanced sharply at Flora.
What was the matter with her?
“Who are you?” tiger-tom demanded, but his voice was slightly softer. Flora and tiger-tom’s gazes were locked. It looked somehow as if they had met before. Bolta remembered now. `Bramblekit` was what she had yowled. So who was this tom?
“Don’t you remember me?” Flora asked in a whisper. “I’m your mother.”
The tom’s eyes widened for a heartbeat and then softened. The pale ginger she-cat beside him drew slightly closer and the jet-black tom stiffened and stepped in front of the small white she-cat.
(They think there’s going to be a fight. Make sure there isn’t.)
It was Blaze. She was back again. But that surprise wasn’t anything compared to the surprise Bolta had just experienced. Flora was this cat’s mother?
“What is going on?” Bolta demanded. “How many kits have you had?” It came out in a hiss. Flora turned to Bolta, her eyes sad green pools.
“You don’t think I gave birth to just Snowkit and Hollykit did you?” Flora meowed. “I had Bramblekit and Jadekit too.”
Bolta’s amber eyes narrowed.
To be continued...