A dark, stormy night...
He stood in the darkness, shielded by the trees.
A cat emerged. ShadowClan. A she-cat. And they were pregnant.
He turned and hissed. "Get away from here."
"Hawkstep, you don't-" she began to say, but she was cut off by his leap.
Pinning her down, he hissed, "That's not my name, Sunshadow. You know that."
"But- the other one-"
"That doesn't matter anymore. My name is Bloodfang."
"And just to remind you," he mewed, "here's a surprise."
He clawed her across the belly, breaking in the skin near the womb.
He then ran off, leaving Sunshadow alone, and about to die.
Forestpaw: That's what happened a night before the Gathering that began Ravenkit's life.
Skypaw: But why would he do that?
Forestpaw: Hawkstep- er- Bloodfang- he hated Sunshadow. And he proved it that night.
Skypaw: What happened after that?
Forestpaw: *flicks his tail* You'll have to see. But it's something that you think about carefully. You might have bad dreams from this.
Skypaw: (boldly) I'm ready. *braces herself*
Forestpaw: Okay, then. Let's go...
The night after...
Reedstar stood, panicking. What if this cat didn't survive? he asked himself.
Softstep, the medicine cat, flicked his tail. "She'll be fine," he told Reedstar. "Or, the kit will, at least."
Reedstar tensed. "There's cats coming."
Softstep did not look up. "They can see. This cat is not one of ours."
Reedstar saw the WindClan cat, Hawkstep, first. "Hi," he mewed.
Hawkstep dipped his head in reply.
The injured she-cat shivered as Hawkstep approached.
Softstep noticed, too. "Are you the cause of this?" he asked.
Hawkstep replied, "No."
The injured she-cat gave a gasp of pain. A kit tumbled out of her, and Softstep gasped.
Hawkstep made an attempt to care for the kit, but the injured queen hissed as he approached. "Another... cat..." she mewed hoarsely, "not... Bloodfang..."
Hawkstep stepped back. "Whatever, I don't know what she means, but I'm going to the island now."
Softstep nodded and bent to care for the kit.
Reedstar looked at the cat, suddenly realizing who it was. "Sunshadow!"
Softstep gasped as he cared for the kit. "What? Sunshadow?"
Reedstar nodded. "Yes. But who is Bloodfang?"
"Hawk... step..." Sunshadow whispered.
"Hawkstep may be ignorant, but he is too kind to do something like this."
Sunshadow shivered. "Please... believe me..."
Softstep shook his head. "She's just not thinking. Any cat would do this when they're about to die."
Sunshadow did not protest, she seemed to know the truth.
Softstep added, "This kit is a tom."
"As black as a raven, with amber eyes," Reedstar described to Sunshadow.
"His... name... Raven..." Sunshadow whispered. Then her eyes glazed over. She was dead.
Softstep did not panic. He just mewed, "Ravenkit is one of RiverClan now. I will get a queen to feed him."
Reedstar did not protest. Sunshadow was a good cat, who had killed her?
He did not have time to worry now. There was a Gathering.
Forestpaw: That is what happened when Softstep, the RiverClan medicine cat, discovered poor Sunshadow dying on his territory. He knew she was pregnant, and that is what he dealt with. There was no avoiding her death.
Skypaw: But why would Bloodfang do that? And why did he not protest when Reedstar and Softstep called him Hawkstep?
Forestpaw: He wanted to cover up the death. He knew that Sunshadow may accuse him. So he changed his name back.
Skypaw: That doesn't make any sense.
Forestpaw: I know it doesn't, but that is what he told me when I found him.
Skypaw: In the Place of No Stars?
Forestpaw: That's right. Now let's see what Softstep did with Ravenkit...
The same night...
Softstep set down Ravenkit in front of Mistfur. "You're the only queen with milk," he began, "will you take him?"
Mistfur looked taken aback. "This is sudden, Softstep."
The other queens, Flowerfur and Fluffypelt, listened in.
"Please, Mistfur, if you don't he will die," Softstep proclaimed.
Mistfur's eyes clouded. "I know why you are worried, Softstep."
Softstep looked his adoptive littermate in the eye. "Then take him."
Mistfur nodded and grasped Ravenkit by the scruff. She pulled him closer to her, and Ravenkit began to drink the queen's milk.
"Why do you have him?" Flowerfur asked.
"His mother died after giving birth. She was about to die, anyway, because some cat had clawed her across the belly, near her womb. All we could do was save Ravenkit," the medicine cat explained, shivering as he imagined the wound again.
The three queens gasped. "Who was his mother?" Mistfur asked.
"Sunshadow, of ShadowClan," Softstep mewed."
Mistfur nodded. "I will take Ravenkit, and tell him the truth. About everything. He has no reason to be lied to."
Softstep nodded. "Good. Now, I must go to the Gathering."
Mistfur nodded. "Go ahead, then. Ravenkit is in good hands."
Forestpaw: Softstep made a good choice by choosing his adoptive sister.
Skypaw: What happened to him?
Forestpaw: That is a story for another time. Now, I will tell you Ravenkit's story.
"Ravenkit," a voice whispered, "I'm Mistfur."
He opened his eyes and stared into the face of a blue-gray she-cat. There was a kit on either side of him, prodding him with eager paws.
"Black-kit and Willowkit, stop it!" Mistfur scolded. "Ravenkit just woke up, he isn't ready to play yet!"
Ravenkit looked up and nodded.
"He doesn't talk!" one kit complained.
"Hush, Willowkit," Mistfur scolded. "He isn't ready yet."
"Well, why isn't he?" Black-kit asked.
"I don't know..."
Ravenkit stopped listening, his eyes were at their best, he thought. Now he could get a better look around while the other cats argued.
He noticed another cat come in.
"Softstep," Mistfur began, "why are you here?"
"To check on Ravenkit," the cat replied. "It looks like he's finally awake."
Finally? Ravenkit asked inside his head. Was I asleep for long?
Softstep padded across the soft moss to him. Ravenkit could smell him.
Softstep examined Ravenkit, then stepped back. "He looks fine, after what his birth was like."
Mistfur sighed in relief, while Willowkit and Black-kit looked confused.
"You should tell him," Mistfur told Softstep. "You were there."
Softstep nodded. "Not now. He must of just woken up."
Just then, another cat entered. They looked young and powerful.
"Reedstar," Softstep greeted. "Ravenkit is awake."
Reedstar was immediately near Ravenkit. "Is he okay?"
Softstep nodded. "Surprising, too. But I still haven't tried something..."
"He can hear, if that's what you're wondering," Mistfur growled. "Now can you leave him alone?"
"You weren't there, Mistfur," Reedstar mewed. "You don't know how important this is."
Mistfur's eyes clouded.
Softstep waved his paw in front of Ravenkit's face. Ravenkit blinked and looked up at him. What is he doing?
"He can see," Softstep mewed, relieved.
"Hi, Ravenkit," Reedstar mewed gently. "I'm Reedstar, I'm your leader. Are you okay?"
"Ravenkit, are you okay."
I already said yes, Reedstar.
"Ravenkit, say something."
I did! I think.
Reedstar turned, alarmed, to Softstep. "What's wrong with him?"
Softstep shook his head. "He might not be ready to say anything yet. Wait until tomorrow, and then we'll try again."
Reedstar's eyes clouded as he looked at Ravenkit, then he turned away. "Fine. You're the medicine cat."
"The whole Clan is worried about Ravenkit," Softstep prompted. "Shouldn't you tell them something?"
Reedstar nodded. "Okay."
Clan? What's a Clan? Ravenkit asked in his head.
Reedstar left, followed by Softstep.
Ravenkit was confused. What just happened? he asked himself.
But there was no way he could ask out loud. He decided, now, forever, that he would never speak until it was time.
And the time wasn't now.
Reedstar stuck his head into the nursery.
Mistfur purred a greeting. "You're looking for..."
Ravenkit emerged from behind Mistfur. His amber eyes looked like the moon reflecting on the water.
"Ravenkit..." Reedstar trailed off as the kit tilted his head.
Softstep bounded in. "Okay, let's see if Ravenkit will say something now."
Ravenkit suddenly looked guiltily triumphant, and Reedstar knew that Ravenkit knew exactly what was going on.
"I think he's mute," Reedstar muttered in Softstep's ear.
Softstep glanced at his leader. "You think so...?"
"I do," Reedstar replied.
"Well, let's see if you thought right," Softstep mewed. He approached Ravenkit and suddenly lashed out a paw.
Ravenkit was unharmed, but pinned beneath the medicine cat's paw.
"What are you doing?" Fluffypelt asked from a corner.
"I'm making sure he makes a sound," Softstep growled.
"He's not mute," Softstep mewed. He stepped back. "But he won't talk..."
Reedstar gasped. "Please, Ravenkit, say something..."
Softstep lashed his tail. "Ravenkit is smarter than he looks. He's not going to talk until he's ready, and that is final. We just have to wait." He stormed out of the nursery.
Willowkit and Black-kit looked on in horror.
Mistfur stood up. "Why did you-"
"He's the medicine cat. Now we know about Ravenkit's intentions. We may never hear his voice." Reedstar glared at Ravenkit. "Why won't you just say something?"
Ravenkit's eyes clouded. He looked genuinely sorry for Reedstar, but Reedstar didn't care.
He stormed out of the nursery, leaving behind a silent kit.
Ravenkit stared at the stump. Reedstar was there, and Willowpaw and Blackpaw were by his side.
Six moons had passed since RiverClan had discovered Ravenkit's muteness, but that didn't matter now.
He was about to be apprenticed.
Reedstar looked down at the mute kit. "It's time that one kit became an apprentice."
Willowpaw poked Ravenkit with her tail. Blackpaw looked proud.
Reedstar continued, "Until this kit has gained his warrior status, his name will be Ravenpaw."
Ravenpaw sat up straighter.
"And... I will be his mentor." Reedstar looked at Ravenpaw, and Ravenpaw shivered.
Reedstar hopped down from the stump and pressed his nose to Ravenpaw's.
Ravenpaw still hadn't forgotten when Softstep had pinned him down...
But he had to let it go. He was an apprentice now.
A good apprentice.
Reedstar's eyes flashed. "It's about time we made you talk..."
Ravenpaw shook his head.
"Leave him alone," Willowpaw pleaded. "Every cat has a small problem, Ravenpaw's is just unusual."
Reedstar hissed at her.
"Reedstar, please," Blackpaw pleaded. "It's not a big problem. It's just... a setback."
Reedstar stared at the three apprentices. "Fine," he growled. "Ravenpaw, we start training tomorrow."
He walked away, passing Softstep swiftly and quietly.
The Clan could be torn apart.
Softstep glared at Reedstar. "You have no right to treat Ravenpaw like that! He's different."
Reedstar glared back. "I don't need this. I know it's wrong."
"Then stop doing it!" Softstep screeched. Lowering his voice, he added, "You've been doing this for six moons."
Reedstar hissed. "I don't need this. Leave me now."
Ravenpaw felt horrible. If I had decided to speak, none of this would of happened...
Forestpaw: Ravenpaw made the decision on his own. He has to deal with it.
Skypaw: But why did he decide to not talk?
Forestpaw: He didn't find it necessary, I guess.
Skypaw: What was Bloodfang- Hawkstep... I'm confused! What was he doing during this time?
Forestpaw: I'll tell you now...
Hawkstep felt a pang as he awoke, six moons had passed since Sunshadow's death.
If her kit had survived, it would be an apprentice.
But it wasn't alive.
"Hawkstep, you're on the dawn patrol." A cat poked his head into the warriors' den.
"Yes, Crowstar," Hawkstep grumbled.
"You and Harestep are on it."
Hawkstep hissed. "Why him, I go everywhere with him!"
"Don't you think you should make more of an effort to like your littermate," Crowstar growled.
"I don't care, he's mousedung." Hawkstep stood up and stretched.
Crowstar hissed. "Just go. Me and Harestep's apprentice are going, too."
Hawkstep shook his head in disbelief.
"There's a Gathering tonight," Crowstar added.
Hawkstep hissed. He hated Gatherings. He hated the other Clans. He wanted to be exiled, but Crowstar claimed he was needed here, in WindClan.
But he was loyal to WindClan.
That was why he killed Sunshadow... he had to. To stay loyal.
Harestep bounded up to Hawkstep. "You ready?"
Hawkstep nodded, and they left the camp behind, with Crowstar and Gorsepaw.
"We're going on a patrol, Ravenpaw," Reedstar mewed.
Ravenpaw looked at him.
One day had passed since Ravenpaw had become an apprentice.
"We're going with Willowpaw and Fishfoot," Reedstar added as he padded away. "So hurry up and finish your mouse."
Ravenpaw rolled his eyes and took the last bite, then hurried to catch up to his mentor.
Willowpaw and Fishfoot were waiting by the entrance to the camp. "Are you ready?" Reedstar asked.
"Yes," Fishfoot replied.
Willowpaw bounced over to Ravenpaw. "I love patrols. They're so fun, and sometimes there's fights and arguments."
Willowpaw purred back. "Patrols are fun."
"Okay, let's go!" Fishfoot mewed. He led the way out of the camp.
Ravenpaw felt a twinge of excitement. He had never been allowed near the entrance of the camp. Now he was going through it.
Hawkstep hated this.
Harestep was pestering him, and Crowstar was, too.
Gorsepaw just got in the way of everything.
Hawkstep smelled a rabbit. "Crowstar," he mewed, "can I got get that rabbit?"
"Go ahead," the leader purred. "But be back soon. We're heading towards the RiverClan border."
Hawkstep raced away, feeling the taste of freedom for the first time in a moon.
Ravenpaw smelled a strange scent, different from all the RiverClan cats he knew.
"WindClan," Willowpaw mewed darkly. "And they're near."
Reedstar did not show any emotion.
As they approached the border, the WindClan cats approached.
"Crowstar, the leader," Willowpaw whispered, "the apprentice is Gorsepaw. His mentor, the other cat, is Harestep."
Ravenpaw nodded his thanks.
Crowstar yowled a greeting as he approached, and Reedstar stopped.
"What are you doing?" Fishfoot hissed.
"Making friends with a neighbor Clan," Reedstar growled back. "Now, be quiet. Ravenpaw should know who Crowstar is."
"And-" Willowpaw began.
She was cut off by Reedstar. "Be quiet."
As Crowstar approached, Reedstar mewed a greeting.
Crowstar's beady eyes scanned the patrol. "Who's this?" he asked, his gaze resting on Ravenpaw.
"Ravenpaw, my apprentice," Reedstar mewed.
"You have an apprentice?" Crowstar sneered.
Reedstar nodded. "We don't have any warriors that are ready yet."
"What about Waterwing, she's been ready-"
"She needs a break. She's always had an apprentice, for as long as I can remember. She was my mentor, anyway," Reedstar pointed out.
A cat appeared on the horizon, and Willowpaw hissed in disgust. "Hawkstep."
Crowstar gave her a nasty look, and Reedstar moved his body in front of Willowpaw's.
Ravenpaw glared at Crowstar.
"You're not going to insult me?" Crowstar sneered. "Or try and attack me?"
Ravenpaw kept glaring at him, and Crowstar seemed to shrink under Ravenpaw's gaze. "Stop it..."
Ravenpaw stepped back. Whatever.
Hawkstep looked at Ravenpaw. "You look like..."
"Be quiet, Hawkstep." Crowstar slapped his tail across Hawktep's mouth.
Willowpaw looked confused. Ravenpaw was, too.
"But-" Hawkstep stepped forward, shrugging away Crowstar's tail. "He looks like Sunshadow."
"I'm sure that's just a coinsidence," Reedstar mewed quickly, "nothing to worry about."
Hawkstep moved forward again, but Fishfoot leaped forward. "Don't cross the border," he growled.
"I just want to look," Hawkstep protested.
Ravenpaw's heart was thumping. What was going on?
Fishfoot hissed. "You step away from the border," he told Hawkstep. "We don't need the sudden 'looking'."
Hawkstep growled, "Why don't you trust me? I just want to look at him."
Ravenpaw couldn't take it anymore. Without remembering the rest of the patrol, he raced away, leaving the other cats behind.
He stopped at the river.
He couldn't help but think, Why did I look like Sunshadow? Who is Sunshadow? Why didn't Fishfoot trust him?
"Ravenpaw," a voice mewed, "we need to tell you something."
Ravenpaw turned to see Softstep and Reedstar sitting together, side by side.
"It's important," Softstep added.
Ravenpaw sighed and flicked his tail. Go on, he urged in his mind.
Reedstar glanced at Softstep. "Sunshadow is- was- a ShadowClan cat," he began. "We found her on our territory, bleeding to death."
Softstep continued, "She was a queen. I knew that all I could do was save the kit that she was carrying. Then she would die."
"She gave birth to one cat, a tom. She named him, then died heartbeats after," Reedstar added.
"His name was... Ravenkit."
Ravenpaw stumbled backward. What? I'm a RiverClan cat, not ShadowClan!
"I know it's a lot to bear," Reedstar mewed hoarsely, "but it's the truth."
Who was my father? Can I trust them? Do I know them? Will I ever see them? Who killed Sunshadow? These questions, and more, ran through Ravenpaw's head.
But he would get answers. And he vowed to get them as soon as possible.
He took his first step and nearly slipped off the log.
Fishfoot lunged forward, catching him with a grunt. He pulled Ravenpaw back onto the log and mewed, "Careful."
Ravenpaw went the rest of the way without falling.
He could smell WindClan, and another scent that smelled pleasant.
"WindClan is here," Blackpaw mewed beside Ravenpaw. He sniffed again. "And ShadowClan."
No wonder they smell pleasant, I'm actually one of them! Ravenpaw thought.
"Don't say anything-" Reedstar began to say, then he cut off. "Just listen. Don't give away anything about RiverClan, no matter how you may do it," he added, looking at Ravenpaw.
Ravenpaw purred at him and stood up.
WindClan cats were conversing with ShadowClan cats as RiverClan approached them.
"RiverClan's here!" an apprentice yowled.
Reedstar joined Crowstar and another cat up on a high branch in a tree.
"Crowstar is the leader of WindClan," Blackpaw murmured in Ravenpaw's ear. "He's the brown tom next to Reedstar. And the other cat, next to Crowstar, is Marshstar. He's the oldest leader in all of the four Clans."
"ThunderClan is coming," Blackpaw mewed.
Ravenpaw sniffed and smelled more cats coming, with a different scent.
A strong-looking tom led ThunderClan to the rest of the cats.
"Rockstar," Blackpaw whispered. "The youngest leader. He just became a leader, actually."
Ravenpaw nodded. I could never be a leader, he thought.
A cat came up to them. "Hi," they mewed, "I'm Sandtail."
"I'm Blackpaw," Blackpaw replied.
"Who are you?" Sandtail asked, turning to Ravenpaw.
"He's Ravenpaw," Blackpaw explained quickly. "He's mute."
"And he's becoming a warrior apprentice?" Sandtail spat in disgust.
"Mute cats can see and hear just as well as any other cat," Blackpaw spat.
"But they can't take messages to their Clan," Sandtail replied haughtily.
"Then he'll fight more," Blackpaw spat back. "More practice, and the harder it is to defeat him."
Sandtail dipped his head. "True."
"Thank you," Blackpaw replied.
"Have you ever spoken?" Sandtail asked Ravenpaw.
Ravenpaw shook his head, then prodded Blackpaw with his tail.
"Um, Ravenpaw wants to go explore. Bye, Sandtail!"
Sandtail waved his tail goodbye as he turned away.
Just then, Ravenpaw heard Reedstar yowl, "Let the Gathering begin!"
Hawkstep glared up at the leaders as they began to speak.
Reedstar told the Clans about Ravenpaw, his new apprentice. The one that looks like Sunshadow...
He had killed her for a reason. But he still couldn't tell any cat. ShadowClan would attack him as soon as they found out, and Ravenpaw would probably be with them.
Indeed, most ShadowClan cats were giving Ravenpaw strange looks. He knew they sensed that the apprentice looked like Sunshadow. So it's not just me.
Sunshadow was Marshstar's sister from a different litter, so he must of been devastated the night that Reedstar had announced Sunshadow's death. But they did not attack RiverClan. They mourned in silence as their borders weakened, and there were less patrols.
Hawkstep flicked his tail as an argument between the border with ShadowClan broke out. I don't need to be here for this.
He silently crept towards the new apprentice, his gaze fixed solely on the leaders, his tail flicking as the fight broke out.
And Hawkstep raised one paw, reached...
Blackpaw hissed and spun around.
Ravenpaw was knocked backward. What's going on?
Hawkstep was there, looking surprised at Blackpaw.
Oh. Ravenpaw stepped forward, feeling his tail fluff up and his claws slide out.
"Stop!" Willowpaw bounded over to the fighting trio, and shoved her way between them. "Look, the clouds are covering the moon." She pointed with her tail to the moon, which was a sliver in the sky, barely shining through the cloud that covered most of it.
Hawkstep hissed, and he stepped back.
"That's right," Blackpaw snarled. "Go away."
Ravenpaw just stood there, watching the scene unfold. Why did he try to hurt me? Was he really trying to hurt me?
Willowpaw noticed Ravenpaw for the first time and mewed, "Did he get you?"
Ravenpaw shook his head, thinking, What's so bad about Hawkstep? He just has a bad past... like me.
Ravenpaw stepped forward, flicked his tail at his Clan mates, nodded his head respectfully at Hawkstep, and pushed through the crowd, getting away from him.
Reedstar watched Ravenpaw in astonishment. He had expected a fight, but Ravenpaw obviously wasn't ready.
Crowstar looked apologetic. "I usually have my eye on him."
Marshstar sighed. "It's no problem. It looks like that apprentice has the warrior code in mind."
"Willowpaw?" Reedstar suggested. "Yes. Both she and her brother are very protective of Ravenpaw."
"He won't have them forever," Rockstar grumbled. "He'd better watch out."
Reedstar saw Willowpaw get between Blackpaw and Hawkstep, push them apart, and lead Blackpaw away, towards Ravenpaw.
"What a waste of moonlight," Rockstar grumbled. "ThunderClan is leaving."
He leaped down from the tree, and led his Clan out of the clearing, towards the log.
Ravenpaw stared at the stars.
One cat's eyes gleamed. They came forward.
They look like me, Ravenpaw thought sadly.
"Ravenpaw," the cat mewed. "I am Sunshadow, your mother."
Ravenpaw's eyes widened, then he began to purr.
"What would of happened if I hadn't...?" Sunshadow trailed off in the middle of a question.
Hadn't what? Ravenpaw thought.
"I'm here to warn you that the cat that killed me is a lot closer then you think," Sunshadow mewed.
Ravenpaw didn't say anything, but scuffed his paws in the dirt.
"Believe it or not, RiverClan respects you more than you think," Sunshadow added. "Softstep and Reedstar are just worried. They both have different methods that would like to use to take care of you."
Ravenpaw stared at her as she began to fade away.
"Good luck, Ravenpaw," thousands of voices whispered. "StarClan will take care of you..."
"It's time, Ravenpaw," Willowheart whispered. "It's time."
5 moons had passed since Ravenpaw was apprenticed. He was now a respected member of RiverClan- something that any other RiverClan cat would get at birth- and, according to Reedstar, one of the most powerful, cunning fighters in the history of RiverClan.
Today was the day of Ravenpaw's warrior ceremony.
Nodding to Willowheart, Ravenpaw pushed past her and headed back to camp; after attempting to hunt for fish.
But there weren't any today.
Ravenpaw shrugged it off, thinking, I'll eat later.
As he entered the camp, he saw a cat- one that wasn't supposed to be there- and Reedstar was... was...
All of RiverClan was suddenly there, and Ravenpaw was the at the front... closest to the cat... Reedstar- the cat- Ravenpaw...
And sleep overtook him.
It was blurry, but Ravenpaw could see Reedstar in front of him.
The cat wasn't there.
Ravenpaw stared into Reedstar's eyes.
"He's not blind," Reedstar informed another cat.
Ravenpaw turned and saw… Softstep. He looked relieved and happy and… old and tired.
Ravenpaw knew why.
He tried to stand, to comfort Softstep, but he collapsed as soon as he was a mouse-length away.
Softstep raced forward, shoved something in his mouth. "Swallow," he commanded.
Ravenpaw obeyed and slept again…
He could see. But this place, this place he couldn't remember.
He watched as Hawkstep pushed his way into the scene. "Sunshadow," he called softly. "I'm here."
Ravenpaw watched in dismay as Sunshadow emerged from behind a shrub, her tail flicking. Ravenpaw could see the happiness in her, smell the scent of ShadowClan that she carried.
Ravenpaw leaned forward to hear the words that Sunshadow whispered. "They're asking me whose they are, and I had to lie! I don't lie."
Hawkstep made a sound of comfort. "It's okay. If they found out you know what would happen."
Sunshadow looked unsure; her tail lashed. "But I don't like lying," she whispered. "You know that."
"Your mate's a lucky cat," Hawkstep purred.
"Yes, he is," Sunshadow replied.
The scene faded away, and Ravenpaw was lost once more.
"Wake up!" the voice screeched. It was pleading, desperation tinged it. "Please, Ravenpaw, wake up."
He stretched open his eyes.
Willowheart was there, looking calm. "You're awake," she purred, "did my presence heal you?"
Ravenpaw purred at her on the outside, couldn't feel happiness on the inside. Whose voice was that? he asked himself.
"Reedstar said that your warrior ceremony is whenever you're ready," Willowheart informed Ravenpaw. "He says that you don't have to have a vigil, StarClan told him."
Ravenpaw nodded and pushed past her, praying that nothing would attack him this time.
But the camp clearing was normal. Reedstar was sitting on the Tall-log and the deputy, Fishfoot, sat beside him.
When Reedstar saw Ravenpaw, his eyes lit up. "Are you ready?" he called.
Reedstar called RiverClan together and soon Ravenpaw was sitting beneath the Tall-log.
"Do you promise to defend your Clan, even if it costs you your life?" Reedstar asked Ravenpaw.
He nodded. Annoyance flashed briefly in Reedstar's eyes, but it was quickly replaced, controlled. "From now on, you will be called Ravensong."
The Clan chanted his name, and Ravensong was crowded by a crowd of warriors and apprentices, congratulating him, over and over…
RiverClan, look at him now!
Ravensong dreamed once more, understanding that this was some sort of memory.
Sunshadow was sitting next to Marshstar. They seemed to be having an intense discussion.
"But if ThunderClan attacks, Blazestar would've broken his promise," Sunshadow mewed. "Blazestar hasn't broken a promise my entire life."
Marshstar hissed. "Which means he's about due to break one."
Another cat, who Ravensong couldn't place, bounded up to the pair. "I think it's about time that Sunshadow moved to the nursery. She could have her kits any time now."
Marshstar's eyes dimmed, Ravensong guessed that his mother had been a good deputy.
Sunshadow nodded. "Whatever you say, Smokeheart."
As she was about to walk away, she turned back to Smokeheart and Marshstar. "Can I still hunt? I won't later, but..."
Smokeheart sighed. "Yes. But go easy."
Marshstar jumped in. "Can she still pick cats for patrols and do her deputy duties?"
Smokeheart shook his head. "No. You'll have to choose a new one for the time that Sunshadow is a queen."
Marshstar sighed. "Yes, Smokeheart."
Everything faded away, but Ravensong knew that there was more to come.
Sunshadow was sitting by the lake, her tail flicking. Ravensong wanted to tell her to go back to camp, but another cat appeared.
Under the cloak of night, Ravensong almost didn't recognize Hawkstep.
"Hi, Hawkstep," Sunshadow purred.
Hawkstep's amber eyes gleamed in the darkness. He looked scared, almost. But anger quickly took over. "Why do you always call me that?"
"Because that's your name," Sunshadow meowed evenly. Her green eyes shone, filled with happiness.
"Didn't I tell you to call me Bloodfang?" Hawkstep snarled.
"Yes, but… it sounds so horrible!" Sunshadow protested, standing.
With a growl, Hawkstep leaped onto Sunshadow.
Sunshadow seemed to melt as Hawkstep tore the fur near her womb, and then ran away.
Sunshadow was alone, and about to die.
Ravensong gasped as he awoke. I've got to get out of here! he thought, scrambling up, sending moss flying.
Blacktail was up in an instant. "Ravensong, what's the matter?"
Ravensong raced out of the den, across the camp… Hawkstep was after him, to kill him-
"Ravensong!" Blacktail screeched. "Wait up!"
Ravensong didn't slow down as he neared the pleasant scent, he was getting closer to-
Blacktail skidded to a halt in front of Ravensong. Ravensong ran into him.
When Blacktail had gotten up, he turned to Ravensong. "What's the matter?" he whispered.
Ravensong pushed past Blacktail and entered ShadowClan territory. Blacktail hissed and followed.
Ravensong flicked his tail to silence Blacktail, and continued, further and further into ShadowClan territory he went, until…
Had Ravensong's mother really sat there, looking out at WindClan territory? He moved closer, when-
"Help!" Blacktail screeched.
Ravensong whirled around, hissing.
A ShadowClan cat had Blacktail by the scruff and two others stood, blocking Ravensong's path to his Clanmate.
"Why don't you go tell Reedstar that you aren't getting him back-" one brutally clawed Blacktail- "until you give up half your territory?"
"Oh," the other mewed, "Dirtfoot, he can't. He's mute."
Dirtfoot pretended to look surprised. "Oh, really? Well, that's too bad, isn't it?"
And the three cats pulled Blacktail away.
He couldn't ambush the patrol.
He couldn't attack the camp.
So Ravensong returned to the RiverClan camp.
As soon as he arrived, Reedstar bounded up to him. "Where's Blacktail?"
Ravensong jerked his tail back to ShadowClan territory.
Reedstar gasped. "They captured him?"
Reedstar was at the Tall-log in an instant. Willowheart took her usual place next to Ravensong, but no cat was on his other side…
"Blacktail has been captured by ShadowClan," Reedstar yowled. "We need to get him back, now."
Cats stood up with ideas, each one worst then the last.
Ravensong had an idea, but he didn't dare do anything about it.
When Willowheart stood and suggested that they just left Blacktail alone, Ravensong knew…
"I have an idea," he mewed.
"Yes, Ravensong?" Reedstar mewed, "what is yours?"
A strange tingling ran through Ravensong, as if he had seen an enemy warrior.
Suddenly Willowheart gasped. "You said something!" she screeched in Ravensong's ear. "You said something!"
All of RiverClan suddenly realized the strange event. There were so many things going on...
Reedstar's congratulations hurt a bit, while Softstep's was warm and comforting. Willowheart apologized for hurting his ears and bounced around and around him as Fishfoot and Mistfur congratulated him.
Flowerfur's kits, almost apprentices, were astonished when Flowerfur told them about Ravensong. "You mean he never talked?" a silver one asked.
At this Flowerfur picked up the kit and placed them in front of Ravensong. "Ask him."
Ravensong felt a pang of nervousness as the kit asked, "Ravensong? Is it true?"
Fishfoot called the Clan to silence. "This is amazing, how he's talked, but we have a warrior to save, and... Ravensong had an idea."
The Clan quietly returned to where they had been before Ravensong had gotten his idea, and things quietly... almost... went back to normal. But now Reedstar asked Ravensong, "What's your idea?"
Ravensong took a deep, shuddering, breath, and he began.
Ravensong crept forward, and to his dismay, he saw a ShadowClan warrior come out of the trees.
"Why are you here?" they snarled. Ravensong realized that this cat was the one that had taunted him about not speaking.
"We're here to take up your deal," he mewed. He liked his voice- it was deep and light and slightly forced. Now it was hostile- which was what he wanted. But it could be warm and comforting just as easily- but now was not the time.
The cat looked astonished. "I never thought- I thought you didn't talk," he amended.
"Desperate times call for desperate measures," Ravensong retorted. "Where's Blacktail?"
The cat spat in his face, and asked a question in reply. "Why is your patrol so big?"
"We want to make sure that you don't attack our warrior when we leave with him," Ravensong explained.
The cat's eyes clouded for a heartbeat, then they turned back. "Follow me."
He led Ravensong and the patrol- which consisted of Fishfoot, Willowheart, all the apprentices, and half of the other warriors- to the ShadowClan camp.
"Attack!" a cat screeched inside the camp.
Ravensong's eyes widened- had the plan not gone right?- but their guide quickly called, "it's alright, RiverClan want to take up our deal."
Then RiverClan were led inside, where a nice-looking camp met their eyes.
Ravensong just looked for Blacktail, not smelling him. "Where's Blacktail?" he demanded.
"Oh, is that his name?" Marshstar asked. He looked calm, yet surprised- he hadn't expected RiverClan to give up so easily.
He was about to be proved wrong.
"RiverClan, attack!" Ravensong yowled, and the fight began.
Instead of fighting a cat, he began to search the ShadowClan camp, looking for signs of his friend.
"Blacktail!" he screeched.
A faint voice came from a den. "Here."
Ravensong rushed in, finding his Clan mate lying down, shivering from... cold? Fear? Pain?
"Blacktail," Ravensong mewed, "RiverClan came here to save you, you have to come back..."
Blacktail shivered more violently. "Too... weak..."
"Blacktail!" Ravensong screeched, "I'm talking! I came up with the plan to save you, don't die... no..."
But Blacktail was dead.
Ravensong wailed. His friend had died, he had spoken for nothing, cats would probably die...
Willowheart rushed in. "Where's Blacktail?" she croaked.
"StarClan," Ravensong murmured. "He's dead, and I didn't save him."
He walked though the screeching cats, locked together through hatred, and went to the only cat that he could take his anger out on.
He traveled across RiverClan territory, stepping over the border and heading across WindClan territory.
Another cat was coming, perhaps by coincidence, perhaps not. Ravensong knew, knew it was Hawkstep...
He stopped in front of the enemy cat, hatred coming off of him in waves.
"What?" Hawkstep suddenly spat.
"You know what," Ravensong growled.
"Oh, so now you're talking?" Hawkstep snarled. "What's next- you'll close your eyes so you can't see?"
"I might so I don't have to see you," Ravensong retorted.
Hawkstep hissed, "What? What in the name of StarClan do you want?"
"My mother," Ravensong croaked. "I want my mother. But you prevented that."
"What-" Hawkstep's voice stopped in his throat. "What do you mean?"
"You killed my mother. You killed Sunshadow."
Hawkstep's eyes widened. "How- how do you know?"
Ravensong felt his whiskers twitch, heard himself purr. "She sent me her memories. The last one was... was her death."
"She sent you... memories?" Hawkstep trailed off in a question.
Ravensong answered it with another. "Tell me, Bloodfang, why did you kill her? Do you like it that much that you'll kill any cat that calls you Hawkstep?"
Hawkstep's wide amber eyes were staring at Ravensong's, and Ravensong continued, "Tell me, is there another secret?"
Hawkstep slowly nodded.
"What?" Ravensong demanded.
"I-" Hawkstep cut himself off. "You don't deserve to know."
Ravensong stepped forward, growling menacingly. "I think I do, since you killed my mother."
Hawkstep lowered his head. "I had to, to stay loyal..."
"Why would you have to kill her? Why were you in ShadowClan territory? Did you two plan to meet? You met, she was worried about kits or something..."
"She was worried about my kits," Hawkstep mewed hoarsely. "I'm your father, Ravensong."
His reply was hoarse. "W-what?"
Hawkstep stared at Ravensong. "I. Am. Your. Father."
"I know that!" Ravensong spat, pacing. "I mean, how? You killed her! You killed her..."
Hawkstep held out his tail to keep Ravensong from running away. "I loved her, Ravensong."
"No, you didn't." Ravensong bared his teeth in a snarl. "If you had loved her, you wouldn't of killed her and left me alone."
"I didn't know that you were going to be born before she died!" Hawkstep protested. "If I had known I wouldn't of..."
"Well, you should have," Ravensong growled. "I hate you."
Willowheart stared in shock at the warrior in front of her. She couldn't believe it: Blacktail was dead.
She heard Reedstar behind her and realized that the other patrol had arrived to back Ravensong's up.
Where was he?
Now Reedstar was next to her, pleading... "We couldn't of lost him... he was one of the best warriors..."
"We have to save his body, at least," Willowheart heard herself saying. "Please..."
Reedstar didn't ask any questions. "ShadowClan surely didn't mean to kill him."
He bounded out of the den, screeching, "RiverClan, stop fighting!"
Willowheart grabbed Blacktail's body and hauled out of the den. Every cat in the ShadowClan camp gasped.
"We didn't mean to kill him!" Marshstar mewed helplessly.
"You are forever in debt to us, Marshstar," Reedstar growled. "You shouldn't of done this in the first place."
"Take one of my lives, then. I give you one of mine."
Willowheart and the rest of RiverClan gasped, while ShadowClan looked shamefully at their paws.
Reedstar nodded. "Tonight then, StarClan will take one of yours away. A ceremony will be given to me."
Marshstar nodded. "I'm sorry, Reedstar. May you go in peace, and feel free to hunt on your way home."
Reedstar nodded, and, with his tail, he beckoned the RiverClan cats out of the ShadowClan camp.
Willowheart was purposefully last, dragging Blacktail's body slowly across the camp, shaking with grief.
Marshstar came up to her. "You were his littermate, weren't you? I remember when you two became apprentices. Come, I have a gift for you..."
He whispered something in her ear, and Willowheart nodded her head in reply. "I agree."
Ravensong saw Reedstar approaching him.
"Blacktail's dead," he mewed.
Of course, Ravensong thought, I left before he arrived. He doesn't know anything...
He vowed to keep it that way.
"You're not my real sister," Ravensong began. "I've grown closer to you now, and you don't have to protect me all the time."
They didn't reply, instead, he heard only the wind.
"I, um, I wondered, would you be my mate?"
The log didn't reply.
Ravensong sighed and scuffed his feet. "Who am I kidding? I would never do it, even though I love her."
"Love who?" a voice asked.
Ravensong turned to see Willowheart slide out from behind the log.
Ravensong's voice caught in his throat. "Um..."
"I would love to be your mate," Willowheart whispered. "I could never live without you."
"Good work, Willowheart," Softstep purred. "I must say, I didn't expect this." He stared at RiverClan's newest members, three kits.
Ravensong purred at him. "I guess it was our fate."
Softstep purred. "I'll leave you in peace."
Willowheart nodded as he left the den.
"What will their names be?" Ravensong asked quietly.
"This one... Silverkit." Willowheart pointed to a white she-kit with gray spots on her paws.
"That's great," Ravensong purred.
"I want one to be a bird's name," Willowheart mewed. "This one can be Owlkit."
Ravensong nodded as she pointed to the light brown tom, the only one with darker flecks... especially around his eyes.
Suddenly he was reminded of the brown kit that stood above him asking with her brother, and Mistfur telling her to be quiet...
"Let's name the other Black-kit," he mewed.
Willowheart purred at him. "Let's, shall we?"