|New Generation Series|
|Preceded by: |
|Fallen||Succeded by: |
Change of Heart
The greatest promise is made to a friend but can be broken by the thorns of betrayal...
"The forest is lightening up." observed Feathertail, her tail curling in delight. Ashstar nodded, "Raincloud is regaining her hold. Tigerstar bansihed her by now I expect."
There was a few beats of silence, then, blushing, Feathertail said, "So...Crowstar is doing wonderfully isn't he?"
Ashstar smiled kindly at Feathertail, "It's ok. I know, I can't believe! My kitten the leader of a whole Clan!"
"I only wish..." Feathertail traled off. Ashstar smiled again, "Ah. But you will have other kits to watch over."
Feathertail smiled, "Bramblestar and Raincloud." then her gaze clouded, "But leaders aren't supposed to have kits."
"And live cats can't mate with dead ones." retorted Ashstar. The she-cats were quiet. Then Honeyern stepped out of the gloom, "I think that they will find a way. Raincloud is a rogue now, the code won't apply to her. But Bramblestar might have to tread a harder path."
Ashstar was going to say something but then, Bluestar stepped out of the gloom, "Have you all been spying on us?" Ashstar asked dryly. Bluestar ignored her, 'Well, at least the kits will have a father and mother in the same Clan."
The she-cats were all silent, each ones ears pricked as if listening to the calls of the future.
"This is hopeless!" complained Brightshadow. "We don't even know what the kits LOOK like and you want to name them!"
"They are just ideas! retorted Bramblestar, 'And it's not my fault you can't think of good names! Deadkit, what were you THINKING!!??"
Brightshadow gave a snort of laughter. Then his gaze turned serious, "How long?"
"About 2 moons." his mate told him, eyes softening.
"Wow." There was silence. Then Brightshadow burst out, "I hope there's 6 kits!"
"What????? No way! I want...3." Bramblestar laughed.
Brightshadow rolled his eyes, "Fine. 3 kittens. Come on, we have to go hunting."
Bramblestar rolled her eyes, "No. You have to hunt! As well as being Clan leader, I am having kits in 2 moons! I am not going to hunt."
"The prey would be scared away." observed Brightshadow. Bramblestar hit him and, laughing, the pair exited camp.
Leopardheart had felt left out. her sister and Brightshadow were spending so much time together. But now, she, Mossnight, and Scarshade, along with Scarshade's 5 moon old kits, were trying to find a nice gift.
"Do we have to get them something?" asked Scarshade. "YES!" yowled Mossnight and Leopardheart. Thye had searched for days but had found nothing. They had had fun at first but now it was getting boring. And annoying.
Leopardheart brushed through some bracken, "Let's just-" she started. then she saw it.
The perfect gift!
It was a small clearing with a tiny pool nestled in mossy ground. There were plenty of trees and cool shade as well as a few dips for cats to shelter in.
It was perfect.
"A family camp!" breathed Mossnight. The others agreed. "Now we just have to polish it up." murmered Leopardheart.
And with the help of the kittens, the 3 she-cats worked all morning on their friends' surprise.
Bramblestar returned to camp with Brightshadow to find a pleasant surprise. Spottedhorse had kitted! The tortoishell queen had moved into the nursery a few moons ago expecting Sundrizzle's kits. Cindermask and Mapleleaf pushed their way out of the brambles, looking at their leader and older sister.
"Go in there!" Mapleleaf called, "The kits are precious!" Bramblestar nodded. Leaving Brightshadow outside, she squeezed into the warm nursery. Nestled in a bed of moss was Spottedhorse and 2 small kits. One was a golden color with white on her paws, tip of her tail, and a small triangle on her face. The other was a ginger kit with small flecks of black, showing she would grow into a tortoishell. Both were she-kits.
"They're beautiful!" breathed Bramblestar. Spottedhorse smiled blissfully. She poked each kit gently, "The golden one is Goldenkit and the ginger one is Nightkit."
Bramblestar nodded, her heart swelling. She wondered what her own kits would look like. As if sensing her thoughts, Spottedhorse narrowed her eyes, "Are you ok Bramblestar? You seem...out of it."
Bramblestar had not..could not tell her clanmates about her kits. Leaders couldn't have them. But the kits would come anyways.
Bramblestar felt her stomach tighten. She hated lying to her former apprentice and sister. Then she gulped. Both she and Brightshadow would be in trouble if anyone found out.
"Yeah. I'm fine." she told her sister.
Bramblestar felt bad about lying to her sister but she had more pressing family matters to be worried about.
"Dusksky, don't do this!" she begged her mother. Dusksky rolled her eyes. "It is long past due!" she said. Bramblestar sighed. She leapt onto the highrock and called the Clan.
"It is time to make one of our most valued cats an elder!" she called. The Clan listened as she carried out the duty and at the end, Dusksky was not the proud, strong warrior she had once been. Now she was an old elder. But she still had the same spark in her eyes. The other elders welcomed her and they went off to sun themselves.
I should be grateful. she thought. The death of her mate, Bramblestar, had shaken Dusksky up and Bramblestar was not sure her mother was completely over it yet.
She bounded over to Brightshadow. "You look sad." he told her.
She sighed, "I know. It's just, I feel like my mom could die at any moment now that she's an elder!"
Brightshadow licked her ear tenderly, "It's ok. Warriors rise and fall." he said. Bramblestar pressed against him, "I never want to fall." she confessed.
Brightshadow laughed and they sat together, tails twined, watching the sun set.
"You should join a Clan. For the kits."
Raincloud lashed her tail, "No! I'm a traitor, remebner? No Clan will have me now! And then I wouldn't get to see you!" she told Hawkfrost, her voice softening.
Her mate stretched, "How long?" he asked her. Raincloud smiled proudly, "2 moons!" The couple stood together purring.
Hawkfrost suddenly jerked away as a new and horrifying thought accured to him, "What if you die?! We don't have any cat to help us, no herbs, no basic knowledge of herb.."
Raincloud laughed, "I've always been a fighter, haven't I?"
Hawkfrost rolled his eyes, "Why yes, I suppose."
Raincloud smacked him lightly with her paw, "Dumb furball!" She settled back down, "We should try and think of names!"
Hawkfrost snorted, "We have no idea what they will look like!" he teased.
"Yes I-" Raincloud started, remembering the dream she had had a while ago about 2 kits. But she didn't say anything, "I suppose you're right." she told her mate.
What was the point of spoiling the surprise?
Tigerstar was waiting. He had banished Raincloud but he had imagined that she would be back after a while. But she wasn't back yet. He missed when Hawkfrost had been evil and would sit, waiting with him. Now Darkstripe was there.
"Are you sure she's coming? I thought you banished her! Why would she come back after that? I think you screwed up. Admit it Tigerstar, you screwed up."
Tigerstar thought of killing the annoying cat but remembered that they were already dead so he just had Brokenstar drag Darkstripe away.
What if he had screwed up? he thought. That had never happened before. Well...maybe a few times. But Raincloud should be back by now if she was coming back.
Tigerstar roared. All the spirits near him rushed for cover as he stalked around, uprooting the glowing fungi.
Then he stopped. The cats began to calm down.
Tigerstar had an idea. He had used a similar one before Raincloud would be back. She just needed...a push.
He stalked to a clearing, ordering no one to follow him. He had buisness to attend to.
"No! come back here- Nightkit! What in the name of- OW! Goldenkit! That was my TAIL!!!?!"
Bramblestar smiled. Watching her sister bring her kits into the camp for the first time was more entertaining then watching a battle. It reminded her of the time Spottedhorse and her siblings had attacked Russetstar as kits.
Bramblestar sighed as her heart remembered those times. Raincloud had been good. Not nice...but good. The cats had all been excited. They had just recieved word of the prophecy and had just become apprentices. Everything was happy. But it had ended. Abruptly.
Bramblestar wondered if that was StarClan's fault. had THEY planned Raincloud's betrayal? Had they planned all of this sorrow and deception?
Bramblestar felt a kit shift inside her and grunted. Brightshadow rushed to her side, "What happened? Are the kits coming? StarClan help us!"
Bramblestar laughed, "No you daft furball! they won't be due for another moon or 2!"
Brightshadow nodded looking embaressed "Oh." he headed back to where he had been talking with Sorreltail. The tortoishell she-cat was watching Bramblestar intently but her eyes were full of laughter.
Bramblestar couldn't help giggeling. Many things, Raincloud, the prophecy, their very lives, had changed, but some things remained the same.
As the cats got into Leaf Bare, the forest began to change and sickness began to spread. One cool autumn day, Bramblestar was pulled aside by Jayfeather. "What is it?" she asked. Jayfeather looked tired. His eyes were red and bloodshot and his face was gaunt as if he had battled many nightmares. He had been one of the legendary 3 so he probably had. But with the sickness, Mapleleaf and Jayfeather had been busy, "It's Mousefur." he told her.
Bramblestar's mind flickered back to when Mousefur would tell stories of,'The Great Catch' when Bramblekit caught her first mouse.
"She's got greencough." Jayfeather said. "Oh no!" Bramblestar cried. Mousefur was easily the oldest cat in the Clan by now and would have trouble pulling through. But Jayfeather still looked troubled.
"She has it really badly." he admitted. "She's not going to pull through." Bramblestar thought the medicine cat was being pessamistic like he always was but her heart sank as he went on, "I know it, Mapleleaf knows it, Mousefur knows it. You need to let the Clan know so they can say good bye. While they still can."
Bramblestar nodded, her throat tightening, "How long til she..?" she asked.
Jayfeather shrugged, his eyes sad, "I don't know. Maybe 2 sunrises?" his voice grew a little more firm as he said, "Keep kits and weak cats away from her, we can't let it spread."
Bramblestar nodded and walked away, her heart heavy. She had to tell all the cats that loved and cared about Mousefur that the elder was going to die. She did not want to do it. But she had to. Or let them hate her for not letting them say good bye well they still could.
Mousefur was gone.
The whole Clan had said good bye to the dying elder and she had been good natured. But Bramblestar saw the fear and sadness in her eyes. Bramblestar had sat with the elder all night, listening to her talk about how much she wished that she could stay and telling stories about all her adventures.
Bramblestar kept track of the time. At exactly moon high that night Mousefur passed on to StarClan. Bramblestar swore to Leopardheart the next day that she had seen a brown tabby tom who she vaguly remembered as Runningwind and Mousefur's old sweetheart, Purdy come to take her to StarClan.
The next day the camp was almost silent. No other cat had been infected with green cough but a cat had died. The vigil was to be held at night. The whole Clan was in shock. It just seemed like it had happened so sudden.
But Cinderheart still sorted out the hunting patrols and the cats who were picked went on them. But everyone was still sad.
Bramblestar tried to visit the elders more often now. Along with her mother, Ferncloud, Dustpelt, and Squirrelflight were elders. Bramblestar would visit the nursery to check on Spottedhorse and all the other queens and kits and then she would head over to the elders den and listen to them ramble for a while before retiring to her den or going on patrol.
Because the truth was, she didn't want to lose any of her Clanmates without them feeling like she cared about them.
Tigerstar stalked up to his son. Hawkfrost had just materialized into the clearing looking confused. Then he saw his father and snarled. "What do you want?"
Tigerstar shrugged, "I'm just waiting for Raincloud. If you want to help you could call her for me."
Hawkfrost hissed, "You BANISHED her. And me! Why do you want her back???"
Tigerstar flinched, "I.....may have been hasty..."
Hawkfrost laughed, "Well I won't help you! Raincloud is beggining to go back to the way she was. I won't let you harm her! And she's expecting kits!"
Tigerstar rolled his eyes, "Fine. I'll just wait for her. She'll come."
Hawkfrost shook his head and backed away, "I can't do this. I used to think you were smart and noble. I was wrong. You were my hero! But I can't let you destroy the forest. Or Raincloud."
Tigerstar snarled, "Shut up! You might as well wait because you can't leave!"
Hawkfrost shrugged, "That's what you think." and turned and walked away, back to his den where he told Raincloud what had happened.
Squirrelflight was taking a walk. She decided to visit Leafpool's grave. The old medicine cat had been buried after the battle with the mountain lion where she died. Leafpool couldn't fight. She was and would always be a medicine cat. Her grave was over by WindClan. Right on the border. Squirrelflight hiked over, her bones aching from the hard journey.
She stopped where her sister was buried and murmered a few words. Then she heard a rustle. She looked up and saw Leopardheart, Bramblestar, and Brightshadow patrolling. She nodded at them and they nodded back before vanishing along the boarder.
Squirrelflight wandered a little way away and sat down, licking her white paw. She heard another rustle but this time it was a dappled gray she-cat and a tabby tom. She recognized the tom and snarled, "Hawkfrost!"
Hawkfrost looked frightened but the she-cat looked mad. "Well, you've seen us. That means you can't tell." she stepped forword threateningly and Squirrelflight stepped back. But it was too late. Raincloud raised her claws and killed the elder. But Squirrelflight managed a cry of warning before the light faded from her eyes.
Immediatly, Bramblestar, Brightshadow, and Leopardheart exploded from the bushes. Bramblestar's eyes took in Raincloud and Hawkfrost standing over Squirrelflight's dead body with blood on their paws.
Bramblestar wasn't feeling good today. And when she saw her old friend over an elders body she lost it.
"How COULD you?" she screeched. Raincloud looked shocked and back away. Bramblestar bent down and sniffed Squirrelflight's body. The elder was defininatly dead and she was covered in fear scent. Raincloud and Hawkfrost must have scared her out of her wits.
Bramblestar rounded on the 2 warriors. Her heart was racing and she knew she must have looked insane but she didn't care. First Mousefur, now Squirrelflight.
"You two have a sunrise to come up with a decision. Either come back to the Clans, change your mind. Or leave. Forever. Either way, I want to know."
She spun around and stalked back to camp. Brightshadow and Leopardheart snarled at the intruders and gently picked up Squirrelflight's body.
They carried her back to camp leaving Raincloud and Hawkfrost to run back home to make a decision.
When they got back to camp, they lay Squirrelflight's body next to Mousefur's and the queens began rubbing marigold on her body.
Bramblestar was about to say something when she felt a tight squeeze in her middle.
Bramblestar lay down in the nursery with Jayfeather above her murmering about 'insane queens' and 'crazy leaders' and 'never again'.
She just wished that when it came time to kit the kits would just appear but no. StarClan HAD to make it hard.
She could hear Spottedhorse herding her own kits out. No one else was in the nursery. She could hear Leopardheart and Brightshadow pacing outside and she sighed with a hint of annoyence. It wasn't like she couldn't take care of herself.
Mapleleaf had asked to not have to help with this particular kitting. Bramblestar understood. It would be weird and she knew her younger sister didn't want to see her in pain.
"Here comes the first one." Jayfeather told her.
A minute later, a kit appeared on the moss beside her.
Jayfeather poked her stomach, "Two more." he said.
Oh StarClan... thought Bramblestar.
Raincloud had resolved to keep the last few hours out of her memory. When Hawkfrost and her had killed that elder, she had felt twinges in her stomach. When they got home she realized it.
She was kitting.
But that was not important. The important thing was, just as they had been in her dream, was the gray she-kit and the brown tabby tom.
My kits she thought. Then she looked at Hawkfrost, Our kits she ammended.
She began to stretch and Hawkfrost helped her up. The kits fell to the ground and the brown one gave an unhappy mutter. The she-kit batted at her brother with a paw and Raincloud and Hawkfrost fell over laughing.
Raincloud looked at them, "What are their names?" she wondered. "Do we give them Clan names?" Hawkfrost nodded.
The pair sat down and studied the kits.
Finally Hawkfrost suggested one, "For the she-kit. What about Stormkit?" Raincloud nodded and poked the tom kit, "And this one? I think we should name him Talonkit."
Hawkfrost nodded and Raincloud settled beside her kits once more.
Welcome to the world my precious kits. Welcome Stormkit and Talonkit.
"3. Just like you wanted. Now we have to name them." Brightshadow told his mate. Bramblestar was exhausted but she managed a weak smile, "We can't name any of them Bramblekit." she told him. Brightshadow looked puzzeled, "Why?"
"Are you kidding?! I'm Bramblestar. My father was Bramblestar. What if the kit becomes Bramblestar?!" Brightshadow's whiskers twitched, "Still. We need names."
There were 2 she-kits and a tom. The tom was a dark brown with black stripes, a white belly and muzzle. One of the she-kits was black and white like her father and the last one was a pale silvery gray.
"I think the silver one should be Palekit." Bramblestar said, "Then I can name her Palepetal!"
Brightshadow snorted, "Palepetal???" Bramblestar hissed and turned back to her kits, "The black and white one should be Starkit."
Brightshadow came up beside her, "She could be Starwatcher." he commented
"Hey...that's not a bad name." Bramblestar said. Her mate rolled his eyes, "I get to name the tom!"
"Fine" Bramblestar said. Brightshadow studied the kit, "Sparkkit." he decided.
"Welcome to the world my kit. Welcome Sparkkit, Palekit, and Starkit."
Read the LAST (OMS!!) book: Change of Heart!