Snowpaw was standing at the edge of a huge dip in the ground. Beneath her stood four cats. She scrambled down the dip until she was standing in front of them.
"Greetings Snowpaw." they all mewed simultaneously, then glared daggers at each other. The dark brown tom with the ice-blue eyes stepped forwards.
"My name is Kaw."
"My name is Enob." the huge black-and-white tom butted in impatiently.
"Hello Snowpaw. I am Loss." said the long-haired tortoiseshell-and-white tom.
"Snowpaw." the fourth cat meowed, dipping his head politely. His mismatched green and blue eyes gleamed eagerly as he looked at her, taking in every detail. "I am Golfur."
Kaw was looking at Snowpaw too. Now, she looked back at him, then at all the others.
"One of us will teach you to be the best cat you can in your dreams, Snowpaw. But you must choose which cat it will be." Kaw said softly.
Snowpaw spluttered awake in the Thunderclan camp, to hear Firestar calling a Clan meeting.
As Snowpaw joined the three other apprentices, Blossompaw, Briarpaw, and Bumblepaw out in the clearing, she yawned so loudly it drowned out what Firestar was saying. It was as if she had never been asleep at all. Pushing the memory of her strange dream away from her, she turned back to Firestar. Dovekit and Ivykit, both neatly groomed, were standing under the Highledge while their mother and father Whitewing and Birchfall watched proudly from nearby.
"Dovekit, from now on until you recieve your warrior name you will be known as Dovepaw."
Snowpaw joined in with the rest of the Clan, calling her new denmate's name loudly.
"Lionblaze. You will be mentor to Dovepaw. You are a loyal warrior and your battle skills are outstanding. I know that you will pass these qualities on to Dovepaw."
Dovepaw bounded over to her new mentor, and they touched noses.
"Ivykit, from now on until you recieve your warrior name you will be known as Ivypaw."
"Ivypaw!" called Snowpaw, trying to shake off the feeling of being unconnected to all this."Ivypaw!"
"Cinderheart, you have shown courage and endurance in your apprenticeship, and I trust now that you will teach Ivypaw to follow in your path."
As they touched noses, Snowpaw turned to the thorn tunnel.
"Where are you going?" asked Dustpelt, the nearest warrior to the tunnel. His dark brown tabby pelt reminded her of the cats in her dreams. Maybe once she was out in the forest, it would just seem like a simple dream. Clinging to this idea, Snowpaw muttered something about hunting, and pushed her way out of the camp.
Lionpaw bounded up to Pinepaw and touched noses with her.
"Where are we going hunting?" he asked. It was a whole moon since she had been dragged into camp, bleeding, and near death, after an attack on the ThunderClan border. She had slowly recovered, with the help of ShadowClan's medecine cat, Littlecloud, and his apprentice Flametail. Now, she was completely healed. It was no secret now how much Lionpaw and Pinepaw meant to each other, which hadn't helped relations with Ferretpaw, Lionpaw's denmate. It was almost full moon again, Lionpaw's third gathering as an apprentice, but only the second one he had been to. Lionpaw had missed the second gathering to stay at home with Pinepaw. This time, Pinepaw was coming too.
Lionpaw crossed the Thunderpath as warily as the rest of his Clan, even though it had been quiet for ages. Pinepaw bounded beside him, chattering happily about the gathering. Lionpaw let himself enjoy his closeness to her, and remained silent. Ferretpaw bounded past, letting his broad shoulder thump Lionpaw painfully. Lionpaw still remained silent, but anger was boiling inside him. He clenched his teeth furiously, not wanting to pad calmly along beside Pinepaw, wanting to sink his teeth and claws into Ferretpaw's shoulder, and bite him, and hurt him.
"Lionpaw?" Pinepaw asked. He turned to her. Her glowing golden eyes were gentle and reassuring, and as he looked at her, his anger faded away, leaving him with nothing but a dull horror.
I wanted to hurt my Clanmate!
Lionpaw shook his head.
"I'm fine, Pinepaw."
Lionpaw weaved his way among the branches on the tree-bridge. He was almost at the end of the bridge when he saw a familiar black pelt waiting for him.
Lionpaw didn't want to see any of his siblings. He wanted to seperate and distance himself from them, and be loyal to ShadowClan only. He didn't need to see Nightpaw tonight. He should be talking to enemy warriors, finding out their battle strategies and plans, not spending time with his sister.
Lionpaw leapt down from the branch. he avoided Nightpaw, and headed deeper into the shadows. He sson found himself on the opposite side of the island. No other cat was there, and Lionpaw steeled himself to plunge back into the babble and noise of the clearing.
"Lionpaw." hissed a voice.
Lionpaw spun around, and caught a glimpse of a black-and-white face peering at him from underneath a bush.
"You want to be strong, Lionpaw? I can help you there."
"See. I told you I saw him." Nightpaw muttered.
Tigerpaw didn't waste time getting angry for the 'I told you so'. He had more important things to do. Creeping closer to the bush, he peered underneath it. Nightpaw had been right, he could see his brother's dark brown fur. Lionpaw seemed to be talking to some cat Tigerpaw couldn't see. Nightpaw's fur brushed his as she crept closer. Both of them had wanted to all four meet up again, as only Tigerpaw and Nightpaw had been at the last gathering. They had soon found Snowpaw, but when they suggested waiting for Lionpaw at the tree-bridge, Snowpaw had run off, telling them she would meet them in the clearing. Tigerpaw didn't wonder about it. He was focused on Lionpaw now, and he pushed all other thoughts out of his mind and watched his brother.
"Who is he talking to?" Nightpaw asked.
Tigerpaw had been wondering that himself. Lionpaw was definetely talking to someone, but Togerpaw couldn't see anyone there, and it sounded like Nightpaw couldn't either.
"So, you are Enob, and I am to refuse offers from anyone else?" Lionpaw was asking a bush. He cocked his head, listening to an answer no one else could hear, then nodded slowly.
"I see. But, what is there to make me believe you? What if one of these others you mentioned is stronger? What if I want mentoring from them? Or what if I think Tigerheart is a fantastic mentor, and decide to ignore you?"
Again he listened. Tigerpaw was confused. Lionpaw definetely thought the bush was replying, and listening.
"I'm sneaking around to the back of the bush." Nightpaw whispered.
Tigerpaw barely heard her, so deep was he in thought. As Nightpaw slid off, Lionpaw spun around. Confronted suddenly with his brother's bristling dark brown pelt and amber eyes, Tigerpaw was reminded vividly of his dream. He had seen Tallstar, the former leader of WindClan, then a group of four toms, then a second group of four cats. Now, he realised that one of that second group had looked a lot like Lionpaw, yet older, and stronger.
"Come away, Tigerpaw." a soft, flowing voice called him.
Tigerpaw spun around. He saw a cat he recognised. He had dreamt about this cat, a tortoiseshell-and-white tom with pale yellow eyes.
Tigerpaw frowned at Loss. Suddenly, three other cats were in front of him too.
"Greetings Tigerpaw." Loss said.
Tigerpaw kept frowning. He wasn't stupid, he didn't like any of these cats, and he was late for the gathering.
A black she-cat fell in step with him as he marched away from the weirdo cats.
"Hi." Tigerpaw meowed grumpily. He didn't feel like talking to his sister just then.
"Hi. Have you seen Lionpaw? He's in my Clan."
At that Tigerpaw's head snapped around. he jerked in shock when he saw that it was not Nightpaw that he was talking to, but a black she-cat with golden eyes and, now that he sniffed it, ShadowClan scent.
"You need to scent more, Tigerpaw." Loss's voice echoed in his ears.
"Lionpaw was o...over there." Tigerpaw stuttered, realising the she-cat was looking at him expectantly.
"Thanks!" she mewed brightly, and hurried off.
Nightpaw scrambled under the bush, stifling a whimper of pain as thorns dug into her pelt. She had been too late, Lionpaw was gone.
"Mouse dung!" Nightpaw hissed venemously, then wriggled out again, being pricked painfull in the progress.
"Are you ok?" Troutpaw asked, coming up behind her. Nightpaw nearly jumped out of her skin.
"Yes, I just saw a mouse." she answered. Somwhere within a part of her was horrified at the way the lie rolled easily off her tongue. Did this mean she was a naturally untruthful cat? Nightpaw wanted so much to be like her mentor, Mistyfoot, but she couldn't be anything near as great if she lied.
"Actually," Nightpaw confessed, "I was watching Lionpaw. He was talking to nothing, and I was worried."
This was true, and Nightpaw felt relief at unburdening herself. Troutpaw blinked sympathetically, then bounded off. Nightpaw followed. She settled herself down between Hollowpaw and Rushpaw, and listened to Onestar, who had risen to speak first.
"WindClan has no new announcements of real importance. We are well-fed and relaxed, but not too relaxed that we will not defend our borders."
Blackstar stepped forwards. "ShadowClan has been blessed this moon, and Kinkfur has three healthy kits." There was a murmur of congratulations for Kinkfur.
Leopardstar stepped forward next, just beating Firestar, who looked increasingly frustrated.
"Greenleaf has been kind to us also. Mistyfoot and her apprentice Nightpaw drove a fox away from our territory, however, Onestar, it headed towards WindClan land." she warned. Onestar nodded.
Nightpaw could almost see Firestar mouthing 'finally' as he started to speak.
"Thunderclan has two new apprentices. Lionblaze and Cinderheart are now mentors to Dovepaw and Ivypaw."
The other cats, Nightpaw included, yowled their approval.
"That's two warriors last gathering, and now two apprentices. ThunderClan is doing well."
Nightpaw turned to see a strange golden cat with mismatched green and blue eyes sitting next to her. He blinked at her reassuringly. "Don't be scared."
'Nightpaw!" Hollowpaw yowled suddenly. He ran straight through the golden cat. The golden cat vanished. "You'll get left behind." Hollowpaw panted now, having caught up to her.
"Thanks." Nightpaw purred. As she followed her Clan leader away from the island, the strange cat was uppermost in her mind.
Did I just see a ghost?
Snowpaw was once again in the hollow where she had first met Kaw, Enob, Loss and Goldfur. However, Goldfur and Enob were no longer there. Loss looked furious about this, but he was trying to hide it. Snowpaw approved. She didn't like cats who were angry all the time.
Yet another reason to avoid Lionpaw.
Now, Snowpaw was facing the two cats.
"Greetings once again, Snowpaw." Kaw meowed politely, just beating Loss to it. Loss looked furious.
"Hello." Snowpaw replied warily.
"I shall train you well in the ancient fighting. I did not know it when I was alive, but the spirits of dead cats can gain many secrets."
"Are you dead too?" Snowpaw asked of Loss.
"Yes, killed by my own twin brother, So... never mind his name."
"Oh, sorry." Snowpaw said.
"Ah, but Snowpaw, are you now ready for me to train you?"
"I guess." Snowpaw answered, turning back to Kaw.
"Then all you have to say is, I accept Kaw as my mentor in the ancient fighting."
A little hesitantly, but determined, Snowpaw copied.
"I accept Kaw as my mentor in the ancient fighting."
As she finished speaking, Loss gave a howl of dismay.
"Great." he hissed. "Now I have to try and win over the hard one. Thanks, Kaw."
Something about the way he said Kaw's name alerted Snowpaw.
"I think I want to go now." she said politely, yet backing away rapidly.
"Very well. I shall call you for training every second night."
"O...ok." Snowpaw said, then turned and dashed out of the hollow as fast as her dream paws could carry her.
Great StarClan, what have I just agreed to?
Lionpaw was crouched beside Enob in the long grass. It was a day since he had agreed to let Enob mentor him, and he was starting to have serious doubts about the older cat's name. Enob was not a usual name, nor did it seem to mean anything. Lionpaw was vaguely irritated that whoever Enob really was, he couldn't trust Lionpaw enough to tell him his name. Pushing this out of his mind, Lionpaw concentrated on the fighting moves Enob was teaching him. They were like nothing he had ever seen before.
Wow, what are these moves? Lionpaw wondered.
"Now," Enob was saying, "push off the ground with your hind legs, launch over me, then, halt your passage in midair. You will fall back behind your opponent, but they will have turned around, thinking that you will sail right over, and so they are now at your advantage. Practise that move, and I will see you the night after next."
Enob turned, and walked away, vanishing into the mist. Lionpaw frowned, then shrugged, and suddenly he was awake. Much to his surprise, he could hear Blackstar calling a late Clan meeting, and he realised that it was only evening. He had met with Enob earlier than usual that night, and he wondered why. Padding over to where Pinepaw and Starlingpaw were sitting, he settled down next to Pinepaw, his fur brushing hers.
"What's happening?" he whispered.
"Warrior ceremony." Pinepaw replied.
Lionpaw nodded, seething with jealousy inside. To cool off, he watched Kinkfur's three kits, Mosskit, Thrushkit and Tanglekit, as they played. Kinkfur and her mate Smokefoot watched proudly as Ferretpaw and Oakfur approached the Rockpile. Lionpaw remembered that Kinkfur and Smokefoot were Ferretpaw's parents. Ferretpaw was the only survivor of his whole litter, his three littermates had all died when they were kits. Now, his parents were watching their oldest son become a warrior at last, and they had a healthy new litter of three. Lionpaw felt another twinge of envy as, for the first time, he truly realised the implications of not being Clan-born.
Lionpaw padded up to Ferretfur as he sat vigil.
"Congratulations. And, I really hope you get to mentor one of Ivytail's kits. You deserve it. I'm sorry, Ferretfur."
Turning, Lionpaw hastened away. As he walked back to the apprentices' den, Enob's voice sounded in his ear.
"Saying sorry is weak, Lionpaw." he hissed.
Just leave me alone!
Tigerpaw groaned as he raced over the hills. He had been stalked by the long-haired ghost tom all the way on patrol that morning, and he couldn't say anything, for fear the other members of his Clan would think he was mad. Tigerpaw wasn't even sure he was not mad, but he hoped not. He had soon discovered that the only way to escape the ghost cat was to run very fast, as Loss couldn't seem to keep up with him. Tigerpaw was also suspicious about the name Loss, which didn't seem like a good name for a cat.
Not even a rogue mother would call her son Loss!
Now, Tigerpaw stopped running. He sat down on the grassy hillside, with the wind blowing in his fur, and started washing his chest. He was thinking about camp. Sunstrike, a beautiful tortoiseshell she-cat with a large white mark on her forehead, was moving into the nursery, bearing Emberfoot's kits. This left Sedgewhisker the only cat in her litter who had not had something special happen to her, and she was not happy. Sedgewhisker's sister Swallowtail had an apprentice, Tigerpaw, and her other sister, Sunstrike, was having kits. Tigerpaw felt responsible, because Swallowtail was his mentor. He liked all three sisters very much. Tigerpaw gave a sad little sigh.
"What is it, Tigerpaw?"
Tigerpaw jerked, and spun around. Loss had finally caught up with him.
"Nothing." Tigerpaw said firmly.
"Was that sigh anything to do with a she-cat? None of them deserve you, Tigerpaw. You are special."
Oh, go away and leave me alone. I'm not in love with any of them...am I?
Tigerpaw stopped his train of thought, and glared viciously at Loss.
"Why do you lie about your name?"
"I don't. My mother called me Loss because I was the son she lost. I had a twin brother. We were identical, and had no other littermates, so we were very close. We were part of a Clan that called itself TheClan. They thought they were all powerful, and should be the only Clan. We, my brother and I, were taken for initiation. We stood in front of the Moonchunk, a piece of stone that had fallen from the moon, said the elders. Every cat had this initiation. We stood there, staring at the raw power of StarClan. We were only six moons old, and we had absolute power in our hands. It drove my brother mad. The power entered his body, and it didn't leave. He turned on me, his eyes glowing, and he killed me. My brother, who I loved above any other cat. When my mother found me, she changed my name to Loss."
"What was your name before you were killed?" Tigerpaw asked. The story had shattered him, and worried him. If it was true, it was very strange.
"My name was Sunny, and my brother's was Nim. We both had the same pale yellow eyes, you see, and in my mother's old language, Nim meant Sunflower. When it happened, both our names were changed. I became Loss, and my brother, became...Sol."
Nightpaw sat just outside the RiverClan camp, talking to Goldfur. He was explaining the prophecy she had heard just before the last Gathering.
"It meant that four possible cats who could be the father of you and your littermates will visit you all. Each of you will choose a cat to follow, but only one of us is your father. The other three cats were Hawkfrost, going under the false name of Kaw, Bone, Scourge's deputy, under the fake name Enob, Loss, Sol's twin brother, and me."
"Well? Which of you is truly my father?" Nightpaw asked anxiously.
"I am, but you don't have to believe me. It might be hard to believe me."
Since Zaffie is no longer on school holidays, this will only be continued on weekends. I will only have time to write two chapters per weekend, so I will write a chapter each of the series voted most highly on my talk page. Vote for The Four Clans series there if you want this story to continue. If it gets no votes, no more will be written. Each week I will reset the poll. On Saturday, the two series with the most votes will have a chapter each written.
Zaffie 22:16, February 1, 2010 (UTC)
If anyone recognises my reference to staring at the raw power of StarClan, all I can say is I'm a fan.