Dovewing sat in a sunlit patch of grass close to the entrance to the warriors' den, and tucked into the plump gray squirrel she'd just chosen from the fresh-kill pile. The sun shone brightly in a mostly clear blue sky, dappled by small, puffy white clouds scudding across it. While the Clan deputy, Brambleclaw, organized patrols near the camp entrance, the ThunderClan leader, Firestar, shared tongues with his mate, Sandstorm. While Leafpool, a Clan warrior and formerly the medicine cat, spoke to Birchfall and Whitewing, Dovewing's own parents nearby, Jayfeather, Leafpool's former medicine cat apprentice who had been forced to become the full ThunderClan medicine cat when Leafpool switched from medicine cat position to warrior position, carried a stick wrapped in moss, probably soaked in mouse bile because the blind gray tabby was wrinkling his nose as though he was carrying fox dung, toward the elder's den, probably to clean the ticks off the Clan elder, Mousefur, who had been a warrior when Firestar had first joined ThunderClan as a young kittypet named Rusty.
Just as Dovewing was gulping down the last morsels of the juicy squirrel, her sister, Ivypool, padded over. "Hey, Dovewing, we've just been asked to join a water patrol, with Cloudtail, Brightheart, Brackenfur, and Toadpaw. Graystripe's leading." Dovewing nodded, quickly gobbled up the rest of the piece of prey, then followed her gray-and-white-furred littermate over to the group of cats sliding into patrol position: Graystripe at the head, with the two mates, Cloudtail and Brightheart, Dovewing's grandparents, just behind him; Brackenfur stood just in front of Toadpaw, mainly beside him; the senior warrior was probably going to see what the apprentice could sniff out on the patrol--Dovewing and Ivypool slid in behind them and, with a flick of his bushy, gray tail, Graystripe headed out of camp.
Dovewing padded into the shallows of the lake, only a few rabbit leaps from the sandy, pebble-covered shore. She dipped her gray muzzle into the slightly salty, cold water, filling her nose with fish-and-seaweed-smelling water, and watched her bundle of dry, pale green moss darken and become thick and heavy with lakewater. When her moss was thoroughly soaked, she lifted it out of the water and hurriedly splashed back to the lakeshore. How can RiverClan cats stand that salted, icy water, filling your nose and mouth with blocking, uncomfortable wetness, stinking of dead crabs and fish and rotted seaweed? Your fur getting soaked to the bone, and becoming cold and heavy with water? She looked around for rival RiverClan patrols, but instead saw the familiar shapes of her Clanmates dragging their dampened bodies out of the lake, dripping moss hanging from their jaws.
She padded over to the group, searching for her sister, but she couldn't see her. Dovewing hurried up to the nearest fellow patrol member: Cloudtail. The fluffy white tom was sitting on the sand, grooming his snow-coloured pelt. "Cloudtail, have you seen Ivypool?" Dovewing asked worriedly. Cloudtail glanced down at the younger warrior. "I dunno," he meowed, setting the wide, pale-coloured paw he had been licking onto the ground. "Last time I saw her, she was walking alongside you out of camp." Dovewing bit back a sharp hiss of exasperation. Cloudtail could be so dumb sometimes. Dovewing padded away from the long-haired senior warrior, and sat on the pebbly sand, curling her tail over her paws neatly, and gazed around, hoping to spot a gray-and-white shape somewhere that would announce the presence of her sister, and the icy feeling of terror clawing at her stomach could dissolve. Finally, she saw something which made her heart skip a beat, and worsened the feeling of dread in her belly. A patched shape, small and round, with pointed ears, was bobbing just above the surface of the lake. Paws thrashing wildly, and Dovewing continued to stare in horror as she experienced the image of Ivypool, her own littermate, drowning in the heavy, ice-cold waters of the lake.
Dovewing struggled to push away the ball of dread in her stomach that froze her paws in place, and ran like the wind back over to the rest of the water patrol. "Brightheart! Toadpaw! Graystripe! Cloudtail! Brackenfur! Come quickly! Ivypool's drowning in the lake! Help her!" All eyes turned on Dovewing as she spoke. Graystripe lept to his paws. "I'll save her!" But before the gray warrior could take another step toward the water, Brightheart pushed him aside. "Ivypool is my granddaughter. I will save her!" A horrorfied look came into Cloudtail's eyes, but the fluffy white tom stood still and held his tongue as Graystripe nodded swiftly to Brightheart, understanding her urge to save her kin, and the ginger-and-white warrior waded back into the icy waters of the lake. Soon enough, it became too deep for Brightheart to stand on her paws anymore, and her head disappeared beneath the rippling water, and Brackenfur, Brightheart's brother, and Cloudtail, Brightheart's mate, both yowled and ran across the sand toward the lake, but Graystripe barred their way with his bushy tail as Brightheart's head appeared above the cold waves again, and she splashed determinedly toward Ivypool.
Dovewing shut her eyes to block out the image of her sister drowning, until something soft flicked her shoulder, and she opened her eyes. A bright glow of happiness, warmer than the sun of the hottest and driest greenleaf, washed away the cold ball of dread in her stomach. There, on the sandy lakeshore, lay Ivypool. She was vomiting up loads of lakewater, but she was sitting up, and looked strong. She'll recover, Dovewing convinced herself, and sprinted over to her half-drowned littermate. Brightheart was sitting close by, shivering slightly, while her mate, Cloudtail, licked the cold, salty water from her ginger-and-white fur, warming her up. Dovewing hurriedly did the same to Ivypool. Finally, the patrol leader, Graystripe, padded over. "Brightheart, Ivypool, are you two fit to travel home?" he asked gently.
To Be Continued......