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Warriors of the Lake - The Four Powers

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Essay
This page contains a fan fiction written by Forestpaw13.
This page contains the opinions of the original author(s), and is not patrolled for factual accuracy.
Remember that this story is non-canon. It may contain false characters, plots, or locations.
Responses, comments & other feedback should be made on the Talk Page.


     This story is from the point of veiw of four cats- Forestpaw (ThunderClan), Trailpaw (ShadowClan), Birdpaw (RiverClan), and Harepaw (WindClan). Together they are four chosen cats to bear the fate of their Clans by being able to contact StarClan. The story is done, and the sequel is called Falling Apart. This is what I think will happen in the future of the Warriors series. Don't take this story seriously! I hope you like it! And say what you think of it on the Discussion page! (You cannot edit, you don't have any permission!) Anyway, Enjoy!

I created a quiz to see if you actually know the story! See my user page for the link and stuff!

Chapter 1

Hollystar spoke. "From now on, until you have earned your Warrior name, you will be known as Forestpaw."
Forestpaw wiggled with excitement at his new name- I'm not a kit anymore! He thought.
He turned his attention back to Hollystar, who was meowing, "I will be your mentor."
Forestpaw jerked his head up, stunned. I'm the Clan leader's apprentice! He thought excitedly.
Other cats were murmuring around him- "What an honor!" or "He's so lucky!"
Hollystar was meowing again, now to Skykit, his sister. "Skykit, from now on, until you have earned your Warrior name, you will be known as Skypaw. Icewing, you are ready for an apprentice. You will be Skypaw's mentor."
Forestpaw walked forward to touch noses with Hollystar, and Skypaw did the same with Icewing. As they retreated, Skypaw hissed, "You are so lucky!"
Forestpaw felt his pelt growing hot. He liked that other cats were jealous of him- but he didn't want his own sister to be jealous of him! He just wanted to lead a life as normal as possible and to be the best he could be. But he couldn't be with Skypaw jealous of him. He turned to Skypaw. "It's a coincidence." he mewed solemnly. "Let's go find nests in the apprentices den!"
They raced off the den. Forestpaw quickly found a spot in the back of the den. This will keep me warm even in leaf-bare! He thought. He looked over at Skypaw, who had found one not far from the entrance of the den. Forestpaw shook his head. "Skypaw," he began, not sure what to say, "Make one closer to the middle- it'll be warmer in leaf-bare!"
"Ooh, good idea!" Skypaw raced over to him, messing up some of the nests in her way. "Mine will be next to yours!"
Forestpaw could only shake his head in laughter. "You might want to clean those up!" he mewed.
Skypaw looked back at the path she had taken across the den. She winced. "That might be a good idea." she meowed.
Olivepaw came to the den's entrance. She shook her head despairingly. "Not again! Waterpaw messed the nests up yesterday!"
Skypaw looked embarrassed. "I'm going to clean them up."
Olivepaw nodded. "I have nothing to do- I'll help."
Forestpaw mewed, "I'll bring some moss in for our nests, okay?"
Skypaw looked up. "You don't know where any moss is!"
Forestpaw was already scanning the clearing. "I could probobly turn this into a session with Hollystar."
"Go ahead!" Olivepaw encouraged. "It doesn't look like she's busy!"
"Okay." Waving his tail at Olivepaw and Skypaw, Forestpaw padded quickly across the clearing.
Hollystar looked up. "I was just about to call you for a training session!"
"And I was just about to ask if you could show me the territory. I need some moss." Forestpaw replied. She could teach me so much about being a warrior! Forestpaw thought.
"Okay," Hollystar said. "I just need a report from this patrol, and then we'll go. Meet me at the tunnel."
Forestpaw run across the clearing to where Skypaw and Olivepaw were cleaning. "I'll be back with the moss later!"
Olivepaw looked up. "Okay. See you!"
Skypaw mewed, "Bye!"
Forestpaw ran over to the tunnel. Hollystar was already there.
"Let's go!"

Chapter 2

Harepaw silently crept up on his prey- a rabbit. I'm going to catch it! he thought. A couple more steps...
Suddenly a cat erupted out of the bush beside him and startled the rabbit. "Gotcha!" he mewed proudly.
"What was that for?" Harepaw snarled. "I could of gotten that!"
The cat turned around. "This is my name!"
"Rabbitpaw!" Harepaw was still angry, although he wasn't very surprised. "I thought you were confined to camp!"
"Strongstar can't hold me back!" Rabbitpaw snarled. "He shouldn't be leader of WindClan- he's a fool!"
Harepaw gasped. "Strongstar is a strong, smart leader! That's why StarClan changed his name from Breeze to Strong! They did that for a reason, you know!"
"Whatever." Rabbitpaw picked up the still-warm rabbit and bounded across WindClan territory. "Race you to camp!" he yowled.
Harepaw bounded across the grassy moor and passed Rabbitpaw easily. He beat him to camp, and sat down to catch his breath.
"Good... race." Rabbitpaw panted. "You're.. really... fast!"
Harepaw purred. "You'll get better, don't worry. You're the youngest apprentice!"
"Not for long! Molekit is going to be apprenticed today!" Rabbitpaw purred. "I wonder if he's going to be Falconswoop's apprentice?"
Molekit doesn't seem very interested in medicine cat stuff." Harepaw mewed. "He's always asking us and the warriors to show him fighting moves."
"Good point." Rabbitpaw mewed. "The ceremony's about to start!"
Strongstar was already standing on the Largehill, a rise in the ground where all the WindClan cats could see him. "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here near the Largehill for a Clan meeting!" he yowled. Most cats were already there, but a couple padded out of the nursery to hear what Strongstar had to say. Molekit's tiny brown tail was lashing in excitement, and he was running around in circles.
"Today, Molekit has reached his sixth moon." Strongstar began. "It is time for him to become an apprentice." He beckoned Molekit forward with his tail. Molekit scampered forward, to the amusment of many of the warriors.
"From now on," Strongstar mewed, "until you have earned your warrior name, you will be known as Molepaw."
WindClan cheered. "Molepaw! Molepaw! Molepaw!"
Strongstar turned to Rushingwind, the Clan deputy. "Rushingwind, you are ready for an another apprentice. You will be Molepaw's mentor."
Molepaw scampered up to Rushingwind and touched noses with her. The ceremony was over.
Harepaw padded over to Molepaw. "Congratulations!" he purred, pussing his muzzle into Molepaw's flank. "You're going to make a great warrior with Rushingwind as your mentor!"
"Where's the apprentices' den?" Molepaw asked. Harepaw pointed his tail at the entrance, and Molepaw scampered off.
He will make a great warrior. thought Harepaw. But will he be better than me?


Chapter 3

Birdpaw sat with her paws at the ready, claws out, over the river that ran near RiverClan's camp. She was starting to get bored, but she knew that she had to catch at least one fish, or the elders would "starve". She wished she was a warrior already, so less cats could boss her around!
"Hey Birdpaw!" Birdpaw turned around to see Jaypaw running towards her. "I don't see any fish!" he called.
"You'll startle them!" Birdpaw mewed. "Be quiet!"
Jaypaw stopped aruptly in his tracks. "Oh. I'm sorry!" he mewed. "I was wondering where you were," he began, "and I wanted to tell you that Yewtail is looking for you. She wants to do some battle training!"
Birdpaw jolted. "Um... can she wait?"
Jaypaw looked confused. "Why? Every apprentice loves battle training!"
"I still need to catch a fish!"
"Are you having trouble?" Jaypaw asked.
"Yewtail never taught me how to fish! Only how to catch a mouse!" Birdpaw wailed.
"You're overreacting!" Jaypaw soothed. "Did she actually tell you that you have to catch a fish?"
Birdpaw stopped wailing. She only told me I had to catch something, she thought. She replied to Jaypaw's question. "No."
"Good." he suddenly stiffened. "There's a mouse over there!" He waved his tail in invitation for her to get it.
Birdpaw smelled the mouse too, and she started to creep up on it. The mouse quickly tried to make its escape, but Birdpaw pounced. Holding the mouse in her jaws, she mewed, "Let's go."
Birdpaw and Jaypaw padded back to camp together, side by side. Birdpaw noticed how close Jaypaw was to her, without actually brushing pelts. Does he like me? And then she answered herself. Yes.
"Whatcha thinkin' about?" Jaypaw asked.
You. "Nothing." Birdpaw answered.
A cat appeared on the horizon. It seemed to be running towards them. Suddenly it stopped. Its tail bristled, and it burst into veiw as it lept on Jaypaw.
"Get away from her!" the cat spat.
"She's mine." Jaypaw growled.
"She loves me more!" spat the other cat.
"Stop!" Birdpaw yowled. The two cats broke apart, spitting and panting. Now Birdpaw could see who the other cat was. "Fishpaw, what were you thinking!?
"About you!" Fishpaw spat back. "Jaypaw knows to stay away from you! You're mine!"
"I don't want to be any of your mates if you fight over me!" Birdpaw spat, overwelmed. "Fishpaw, you have no right to decide who I mate! I don't even like you!"
Jaypaw looked up hopefully from where he had been shamefully staring at his paws.
Birdpaw found that she couldn't spit at Jaypaw that she didn't like him either- he was so nice! He didn't deserve it. So, she mewed, "Jaypaw was only bringing me a message from Yewtail that I needed to meet her for some battle training. He had nothing to do, so-"
Fishpaw cut her off. "He caught that mouse for you?"
"No!" Birdpaw spat, unable to contain herself. "He walked with me back to camp!"
"Oh." Fishpaw mewed. "I'm sorry. To both you and Jaypaw." He turned to his littermate. "Jaypaw, are you okay?"
"I'm fine." Jaypaw mewed. "Next time, get the story before you attack me, okay?" he purred.
"I have an idea!" Birdpaw mewed.
A couple of heartbeats later, the three cats walked back to camp, with Birdpaw in the middle.

Chapter 4

Trailpaw trudged back to camp in the marshy territory of ShadowClan. When they made the Great Journey, why didn't they claim better territory? His paws kept on sticking in the mud, and more than once he startled a bird with a loud splash as he pulled it out.
A cat yowled in the distance. I recognize that yowl! Trailpaw trudged as fast as he could, but he didn't seem to be going fast enough. He heard the yowl again, but it was closer than he thought it would be.
An eagle swooped down out of the sky just as Trailpaw saw dry land ahead of him. He trudged faster. He made it onto the dry land and started to run. Finally!
The eagle swooped past Trailpaw and more to the right- he turned- and he saw a horrible sight. The eagle was going to capture his sister, Milkkit! Milkkit yowled again and Trailpaw bounded into action. He struck the eagle with his claws and brought it down easily, and killed it with a bite to the neck, almost like he was killing a mouse.
Milkkit lay, huddling under a tree staring at first Trailpaw, and then the eagle. "How did you do that?" she asked.
Trailpaw opened his mouth, about to answer when he realized he didn't know how. "Just pure luck, I guess." he mewed. "I had to save you, and I guess that was the best way to do it."
Milkkit shuddered. "Whatever you say!"
Trailpaw suddenly remembered something. "Hey, Milkkit! Do you know when your apprentice ceremony will be?"
"It was supposed to be today..." Milkkit began. "But I'm not sure after this."
"I'll bring you back to camp, and I'll get in trouble and say that you wanted an adventure and I gave it to you!" Trailpaw offered. But he knew it was a waste- Applestar was one of the smartest cats at the lake.
But Milkkit agreed. "It might work!" she mewed enthusiastically.
So Trailpaw grabbed his littermate, and they traveled together through ShadowClan territory. Milkkit wasn't looking around, and Trailpaw thought he knew why. When Trailpaw was a kit, he had been sick with greencough. Flamepelt, the Clan medicine cat, had insisted on Trailpaw staying in the nursery. While he was there, Milkkit and Trailpaw's other littermate, Oakkit, had decided to go on an adventure. The Clan noticed they were gone and quickly sent out search parties. Milkkit and Oakkit were found, and as punishment for leaving against the warrior code, their apprenticeship had been delayed. Their ceremony, according to Milkkit, should of been today, but now, according to the circumstances, might be delayed more. Trailpaw was glad that at least Oakkit was being apprenticed- it was lonely being the only apprentice!
When Trailpaw and Milkkit arrived at camp, Applestar rushed over immediately. "You found her!" he mewed. He raised his voice. "Trailpaw found Milkkit!"
Milkkit sat, shivering, obviously awaiting a cruel punishment. Trailpaw leaned down and murmured, "Applestar is not cruel. He is a fair, trustworthy cat. That's why he's the Clan leader!"
Applestar heard. "I will not delay your apprenticeship, Milkkit. Instead, you will be confined to camp as an apprentice. I hope dearly that it will teach you a lesson!" He paused. "It is time. Come, Milkkit. You are going to become an apprentice."
Applestar padded slowly over to the branch hanging over his den, where he made announcements. Trailpaw thought it looked very high up, but Applestar climbed it easily, and yowled, "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather here below the Thickbranch for a Clan meeting!" Most of the Clan was already there, but a couple of cats slid out of dens.
Applestar mewed, "Milkkit has been found. And she will be punished"-Milkkit shuddered- "as an apprentice." There were a couple of yowls of disbelief, but one yowl of great happiness sounded above the rest. It was Oakkit.
Applestar continued. "Milkkit, Oakkit, come here please." Milkkit and Oakkit quietly padded over, and Applestar leaped down from the tree. "Milkkit," he began, "until you have earned your warrior name, you will be known as Milkpaw." Milkpaw jumped up. "And your mentor is..." he took a deep breath- "Flamepelt."
Milkpaw turned around happily and touched noses with Flamepelt. "I will be the best medicine cat ever!" she promised.
Applestar turned to Oakkit. "Oakkit, from now on, until you have earned your warrior name, you will be known as Oakpaw. And..." he took an even bigger breath- "I will be your mentor."

Chapter 5

Forestpaw quietly padded through the forest with Hollystar. Hollystar's black pelt blended in with the shadows of the trees. Forestpaw wished that his gray pelt could do that. A couple of times Hollystar caught a mouse, and ate it with Forestpaw. But Forestpaw would not be happy until he caught a mouse of his own.
A stick snapped. Pawsteps sounded behind Forestpaw and Hollystar, and they whirled around to see that Skypaw and Icewing were running behind them. Icewing called, "Wait up!"
When Icewing and Skypaw caught up, they set on again. This time, it was more loudly and happily as Forestpaw was reunited with his sister. "Did you clean out the den?" he asked Skypaw.
"Yes, I did! We finished almost as soon as you left, and then Icewing took me out to explore the forest. She taught me how to track scents, and I found yours, and now we're here!"
"Good job!" Forestpaw purred enthusiastically. "Was it hard?"
"Not at all!" Skypaw purred. "Icewing says I'm a natural!"
Forestpaw wished Hollystar could of taught him something like that. Is she hesitating? Why?
Skypaw mewed, "What have you learned so far?"
"How to stay quiet. As if I'll ever trek onto enemy territory!" Forestpaw growled. He continued, "I mean, we've been exploring the territory all morning, but when are we going to do something interesting?
"It sounds like you need to learn patience." Hollystar mewed coolly. Forestpaw flinched- he didn't know that Hollystar and Icewing had finished their talk about prey.
"You need to learn how to wait." Icewing agreed.
"Why should it matter?" Forestpaw spat. "It's my first day- I want to learn something!"
Hollystar mewed, "Okay then, Forestpaw. Why don't you... lead us back to camp?"
Forestpaw instantly spun around, and started to trek back the way he came. The other three cats followed him. "Make sure you know the way!" Hollystar called.
Forestpaw took a big sniff of the air. Inhaling scents was wonderful, but he needed to find the right one. He inhaled again. Mouse! He recognized the scent from the times he had eaten one. According to the scent, the mouse was nearby. A bush rustled next to him, and he smelled the mouse. He saw it, and pounced. His claws sunk into raw flesh, and the mouse was killed. He picked it up in his jaws, and came up victorious.
"Good job, Forestpaw!" Skypaw congratulated. "It looks like our play-hunting actually caught on!"
Hollystar came up. "Good job, Forestpaw. And after no training?" she asked.
"I guess." Forestpaw agreed.
Hollystar turned to Skypaw. "There's a mouse over behind that bush." She flicked her tail at a bush not far off. "Try and catch it."
Forestpaw watched as Skypaw ran off and disappeared behind a tree. He sat absentmindedly flicking his tail across the ground while Hollystar and Icewing talked about RiverClan.
And then he heard a yowl. "MEOW-ROW!"
Forestpaw saw a white pelt thrashing around in the air. "Skypaw!"

Chapter 6

Harepaw was chasing a rabbit. It rushed around in WindClan territory, then crossed the stream bordering ThunderClan territory. He followed it, and the rabbit lost him outside of what seemed to be ThunderClan's camp. Should I go in?
A cat emerged from a place in the brambles. It was gray, with forest-green eyes. A second cat followed. She was solid black, with green eyes. Hollystar! The gray cat was bouncing around like an apprentice about to explore the territory for the first time. Hollystar meowed, "Forestpaw, calm down! We're only looking at the territory, you don't need to be bouncing around like a startled rabbit!"
Forestpaw stopped bouncing around. "Yes, Hollystar." he meowed obediently. "I'm excited to learn about what you have to teach me!"
He must actually be an apprentice about to explore the territory.! Suddenly Harepaw realized he recognized the young apprentice. He had been a very young apprentice when he had been assigned to take a message during a battle with RiverClan and ShadowClan to ask for ThunderClan's help. Forestpaw, then Forestkit, had been one of the overexcited kits about to explode with amazement, it seemed.
He rushed over to Forestpaw and Hollystar. "Hi!" he mewed. "Recognize me?" he asked.
But Forestpaw and Hollystar did not seem to notice him.
Harepaw tried again. "Hi!"
Nothing. No sign of happiness to see him, or annoyance, or anything. I must be dreaming! Harepaw realized. I should see what the ThunderClan camp is like so I can lead my Clan into battle one day!
"You may not." A voice sounded behind Forestpaw. He spun around, growling, to see a cat he had not seen before. "Who are you?" he spat.
The cat sat calmly. "Young Harepaw, calm yourself. I am Onestar, the leader before Strongstar."
Harepaw let his fur fall flat and his claws sheathe. "How are you still alive? A deputy only becomes a leader after the old one dies!"
Onestar purred before going on. "You are dreaming." he meowed. "I am a member of StarClan."
And Harepaw understood. "Why am I here?"
"There is no reason why you are here." Onestar began. "You have chosen to come here, you followed your own will." He paused and took a breath. "Unless a StarClan cat led you here."
"No, Onestar."
"Then you have come here of your own accord. Tell me, what made you come here?"
"A rabbit." Harepaw answered. "I was chasing it and it came into ThunderClan territory."
"Well, you must leave. I think you will have a very pleasant surprise tomorrow, when you wake up."
"How do I get back?" Harepaw asked, suddenly worried. What if I can't get back?
Onestar answered his unspoken question. "You can get back."
"Thank you, Onestar." Harepaw bowed his head respectfully, and bounded away.
He found the WindClan camp, his den, and his nest. Then he saw himself. He quickly bounded over. I'm on the morning patrol!
He woke to a cat prodding him with a foreclaw. "Harepaw, wake up! Strongstar just called a Clan meeting!"
Molepaw circled around him. "Come on Harepaw! It's important! Strongstar even delayed a patrol!"
Harepaw sat up and licked his chest fur, he knew what was coming. He silently padded out of the den and a whole bunch of cats whispered, "Here he comes!" or "There he is!"
Strongstar was already on the Largehill. He meowed, "Harepaw, you have served the Clan well as an apprentice. The Clan would like to see how you would do as a warrior."


Chapter 7

Birdpaw flung herself at Yewtail, claws sheathed. Now was a perfect time for a training session, when two cats loved her!
Yewtail dodged neatly out of the way. "Birdpaw," she began, "are you thinking about something else other than this training session? I know you're hungry-" Birdpaw's stomach growled- "but you need to get over that!"
Birdpaw didn't know what to do so she replied, "Yes, Yewtail."
"Now," Yewtail began, beginning to sound more brisk, "I want to teach you something new. You might as well fling yourself at me with a purpose."
Birdpaw sat with her attention fully on Yewtail.
"I want you to try and attack me. With your claws sheathed." she added. "Go!"
Birdpaw leaped up and threw herself at Yewtail, paw out. Yewtail, however, did something that she did not expect. Using her muzzle, Yewtail knocked Birdpaw's paws out from under her and neatly rolled over onto her back. She thrust out with her back legs and sent Birdpaw flying across the clearing. Birdpaw skidded across the grass, trying to come to a stop.
Yewtail mewed, "Now you try, Birdpaw."
Yewtail leaped at Birdpaw. Birdpaw knocked Yewtail's legs out from under her with her muzzle and rolled onto her back. Yewtail's legs were flailing, and Birdpaw got slightly scared that she could break one by accident. And with a mighty gasp of breath, Birdpaw realized that Yewtail was on top of her. Birdpaw struggled furiously, trying to get out from underneath Yewtail, but Yewtail held strong. Birdpaw noticed that Yewtail's claws were out. What is she doing? And Yewtail lunged, teeth bared, claws aimed a Birdpaw's face. Birdpaw felt claws rake her soft underside. Mouse-dung! Fight BACK! And with a yowl, Birdpaw unsheathed her claws and leapt at her mentor.
Yewtail was clearly surprised. She didn't react to Birdpaw's attack until Birdpaw had scratched her three times. Yewtail twisted, trying to get away, but this time it was Birdpaw that held strong. Yewtail yowled, and taking advantage of the shock it gave Birdpaw, she clawed Birdpaw and they got into a tussle. Neither one had the advantage for a long time, but eventually Yewtail gained it over an exhausted Birdpaw and pinned her down.
Birdpaw saw Yewtail leaning in to a death bite on the neck, and all Birdpaw's exhaustion suddenly faded away. She kicked up with her hind legs and Yewtail was knocked backwards. She lay, stunned by the impact.
Birdpaw started to dig a large pit with her claws, deep enough to keep Yewtail in.
Jaypaw rushed into the clearing. "She- she- she tried to kill you!" he stammered. "What are you doing, you'll get in trouble!
Birdpaw, for the first time, realized she was digging the pit out of instinct. She dragged Yewtail's stunned body into the pit and turned to Jaypaw.
"I was trying to knock her down and I- stopped- I don't know what for- and she landed on me with her claws out and started clawing me!" she explained. "So I fought back for my life and I got all tired..." and she stopped. Jaypaw knew what happened, there was no need to waste her breath on something unimportant.
Jaypaw started to growl, deep in his throat. "That mangy, flesh-eating-"
"Jaypaw, that won't solve anything!" Birdpaw interrupted. "Come on, lets go hunting!"
Jaypaw got a wild look in his eyes. "Okay."
And they walked together scenting the air for some prey.


Chapter 8

Applestar is Oakpaw's mentor!
All around Trailpaw cats were whispering. he heard the elders' conversation. Toadfoot was whispering, "This is rare! I remember Applestar saying that he never wanted to be a mentor!" Tawnypelt replied, "Well, maybe Oakpaw showed some promise!"
Applestar raised his tail for silence. "It is now time for regular patrols." When the cats hesitated, staring up at him, he meowed angrily, "Well, get on with it then!" The Clan scrambled around, getting together patrols. Trailpaw's mentor, Tigerpelt, padded across the clearing to Trailpaw. "You're in the morning patrol," he mewed harshly, "and it's about to leave."
Trailpaw waved his tail as a goodbye to his brother, who was sitting next to Milkpaw as the elders fired questions at him. As Trailpaw passed, he heard Oakpaw mewing, "I don't know... it's only been a couple of minutes..." Trailpaw thought he sounded depressed.
Tigerpelt led the patrol out of the camp and up a hill. The other two cats in the patrol, Dawnfire and Ivytail were gossiping about something. Trailpaw flicked his tail in annoyance- he couldn't be bothered with a she-cat mind.
Suddenly Tigerpelt stopped dead in his tracks. "I hear something!" he meowed urgently. Dawnfire and Ivytail stopped whispering and purring at once. Now that they had stopped, Trailpaw could hear something too- a rustling in the bush ahead of them. A cat emerged.
Tigerpelt dipped his head in respect. "Emeraldstorm," he mewed, "you are always welcome at our camp."
Emeraldstorm's eyes widened. She mewed quietly, "I need catmint. May I come with you back to your camp?"
"Of course, Emeraldstorm!" Dawnfire mewed loudly. Tigerpelt looked annoyed. Dawnfire continued. "Yeah, you can come into our camp. Why don't we let every poor, lost, ThunderClan cat into our camp?" she sneered.
"I'm not lost!" Emeraldstorm spat angrily. Her claws slid out. "I only need catmint!"
"Why would we beleive that poor excuse for a story?" Ivytail spat.
"Emeraldstorm is a medicine cat." Tigerpelt told Ivytail and Dawnfire sternly.
"That's what she wants you to think!" Dawnfire spat.
"We will take her back to camp so she can talk to Flamepelt!" Tigerpelt spat. "Understood?"
Dawnfire sighed. "Yes, Tigerpelt."
Tigerpelt looked at Ivytail expectantly. "And... Ivytail?"
"Sorry!" Ivytail spat crossly.
"Okay, Emeraldstorm, you're cleared!" Tigerpelt meowed. "Let's go!"
On the way back to camp Ivytail and Dawnflame were muttering something about brothers and age.
When the five cats arrived back at camp, Flamepelt rushed over immediatly. Milkpaw followed cautiously. She leaned over and asked quietly, "Who is she? Her scent is something I've never smelled before!" She wrinkled her nose in disgust.
Trailpaw answered, "She is Emeraldstorm. She is the medicine cat of ThunderClan."
Flamepelt mewed loudly, cutting into Trailpaw's and Milkpaw's conversation. "Have you met my new apprentice yet?"
Milkpaw looked up, alarmed, and slowly padded forward to Flamepelt's side. "Hello, Emeraldstorm." she mewed quietly.
"Milkpaw, can you go fetch the catmint?" Flamepelt asked. "I showed you which one earlier, can you remember which one?"
Milkpaw nodded eagerly and raced off to the medicine den.
Flamepelt turned to Trailpaw. "Emeraldstorm, this is Trailpaw, Milkpaw's sister."
Emeraldstorm nodded a friendly hello at him. "Trailpaw," she began, "how do you like being an apprentice?"
"Good." Trailpaw replied. "I've been an apprentice much longer than Milkpaw and Oakpaw. They were punished as kits and their apprenticeship was delayed."
"Why weren't you?" Emeraldstorm asked curiously. "Don't kits usually do everything together?"
"I had caught greencough." Trailpaw replied.
Emeraldstorm nodded. "Wasn't that just one moon ago?"
"I think so." Trailpaw replied. "I kind of lost track of the time because I was sleeping so much."
Emeraldstorm nodded knowingly. "I gave catmint to Flamepelt then, he never told me what it was for!"
Flamepelt nodded. "Applestar wouldn't let me."
"Hollystar would never let me tell, either." Emeraldstorm agreed.
Just then Milkpaw came rushing back with the catmint. "Good job, Milkpaw!" Flamepelt praised.
"I need to get this back to Twistflank." Emeraldsorm meowed.
"I will escort you to the border." Flamepelt replied.
Milkpaw looked up hopefully.
"I'm sorry, Milkpaw, I would let you come, but you're confined to the camp, remember?" Flamepelt mewed.
Milkpaw thrashed her tail angrily and stomped back to the medicine den.
Trailpaw waved his tail as a goodbye and, shaking his head, took a mouse from the fresh-kill pile.


Chapter 9

"Skypaw!" Forestpaw yowled as he rushed over to the thrashing white pelt. Hollystar and Icewing were right behind him.
Hollystar reached Skypaw first. "She's caught in a Twoleg trap!" she wailed.
Icewing skidded to a halt beside Hollystar, with Forestpaw right behind her. "How do we get her down?" Icewing asked.
"One of us has to climb up and chew through the rope." Hollystar replied. "But, we should make a cushioned landing."
"Put leaves under her!" Icewing mewed.
The three cats set to work, gathering leaves and putting them in a large pile underneath Skypaw, guided by Hollystar.
When they were finished, Forestpaw asked, "Can I climb up and cut her down?"
Hollystar and Icewing stared at Forestpaw, surprised. He took this as a chance to continue. "I- I just feel that- that because she's my sister- that- she would prefer it that I- that I cut her down." he stammered. "I think she would feel more comfortable if I cut her down. I think because she's my sister that she trusts me more." he finished awkwardly.
Hollystar straightened up and nodded, apparently thinking. Icewing just looked at her.
"I like- I like that idea!" Skypaw stammered from her place in the trap.
Hollystar looked at Forestpaw. "Go ahead!" Forestpaw flicked his tail eagerly, and leapt onto the lowest branch. He looked up and saw that the rope holding Skypaw up was tied to a thick branch. He flicked his tail in annoyance and climbed upward. Stupid Twoleg! Why did he want to trap something?
He reached the rope and started to chew. It was long, hard work.
"How are you doing?" Hollystar called up.
"Fine." Forestpaw replied. He paused from his work to stretch his back and find a more comfortable position. He started to chew again.
After what seemed like a couple moons, the rope seemed ready to break by itself. "Skypaw, you're about to be freed! Be ready!"
Skypaw nodded, obviously to hurt or tired to do anything else.
"The last bite!" Forestpaw called down. And he bit down. The rope broke, and Skypaw fell... and landed unhurt in the leaves below. Forestpaw purred happily, flicked his tail, and started down the tree. When he got down he pressed his muzzle against Skypaw's, and the four cats headed back to camp silently, Skypaw limping every other step.
When they arrived back at camp, the four were greeted with purrs and meows of, "We were so worried! We were about to send out a patrol!"
Forestpaw flicked his tail at Skypaw's injury, which she had gained during her time hanging from the rope. Mintpaw, the medicine cat apprentice, took Skypaw to the ThunderClan medicine den.
Forestpaw quietly padded across to the fresh-kill pile, where he took a small rabbit and started to chew on it happily. The other apprentices eagerly asked what happened. "One question each!" Forestpaw purred. "Waterpaw, you first!"
And so, after Waterpaw's question, Olivepaw, Emberpaw, Lightpaw, Steelpaw, Larchpaw, and Bumblepaw asked theirs. Finally, only Flamepaw was left. "Is Skypaw okay?" he asked. His eyes were fixed intently on Forestpaw, ready to absorb every word he said. This was a change of heart, because Flamepaw usually was ignorant and rude, and he liked to be alone. He loves Skypaw! Forestpaw realized with a pang.
"She's got a leg injury," Forestpaw began, "but she is fine, just shocked."
Flamepaw raced of to the medicine den, leaving his half-eaten finch behind him. Forestpaw, who had already finished his rabbit, took it for himself.
All of the apprentices were quietly getting ready to go to sleep, except for Forestpaw. He waited outside for a while before he went to his new nest in the apprentices' den. He felt a pang of loneliness at Skypaw's empty nest.
I didn't want my first day as an apprentice to end like this! And he fell into a cold, dreading sleep.


Chapter 10

Harepaw quivered with excitement. I'm going to get my warrior name now! After 6 moons of training, it was about to be fully realized. He looked back at Rabbitpaw and Molepaw. They both flicked their tails at the Largehill, and nodded their heads.
Harepaw walked slowly up to the Largehill, where he sat, staring up at Strongstar.
Strongstar began. "I, Strongstar, leader of WindClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down upon this apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn." He paused, and stared down at Harepaw, taking in the last moments of his apprenticeship. "Harepaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and defend this clan, even at the cost of your life?"
Harepaw barely managed to whisper, " I do "
"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior name." he paused, probably approving the name for Harepaw in his mind. "Harepaw, from now on, you will be known as Harerush. WindClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
Harerush padded over to Strongstar, who rested his muzzle on Harerush's head. In turn, Harerush respectfully licked Strongstar's shoulder.
WindClan chanted, "Harerush! Harerush! Harerush!" The ceremony was over.
"Tonight," Strongstar meowed, "you will sit your warrior vigil."
Rabbitpaw and Molepaw reached Harerush first. "Good job!" they mewed in unison. Then they looked at each other and let out small mrrows of laughter and padded away, with small glances back at Harerush.
Now the crowd was starting to gather, with meows of congratulations and purrs of good luck. All Harerush wanted to do was go back to sleep.
Rushingwind meowed, "Excellent name!"
Harerush had no time to reply. Crowfeather, an irritable elder, was padding over. "Good job, Harepaw." he mewed. "I mean, Harerush," he corrected. "Good job." And he padded away.
Now it was Voletail's turn. Harerush was obviously the love of her life, even though she never admitted it. Harerush didn't like her back. "Good job, Harerush," she purred. "You know, we have a hopeful future together. Want to go for it?"
"No." Harerush meowed curtly. When he saw the look of extreme hurt and surprise on her face, he meowed, "I heard that..." he hurriedly tried to think of a name, any one would do, "Lightingstorm of ThunderClan likes you!"
"He's already got a mate!" Voletail wailed. "And he would never cheat on her!"
"Oh, sorry." I get him and... Lightningstrike of ShadowClan confused." Harerush amended quickly. "They look alike to me."
"Okay!" Voletail meowed happily.
Harerush blinked, surprised. That was easy.
Strongstar padded over. "Do you like your new name?" he asked. "I think it fits you. You're the fastest cat in the Clan, you know."
"I love it!" Harerush praised his leader. I really do like it!
"Great!" Strongstar purred. He padded away.
A warrior named Trenchfoot padded over, well known for tripping over his own feet. His original warrior name had been Bigfoot, but Strongstar changed it to Trenchfoot. Trenchfoot mewed, "Good job, Harerush." For some reason, Trenchfoot sounded curt and annoyed. "Why are you called Harerush?"
"Strongstar probably has his reasons, but nobody ever asks." Harerush replied, wondering what was coming next. Trenchfoot was not a warrior for small talk, he usually had a reason to talk to anyone besides Strongstar or Rushingwind.
"Humph," Trenchfoot grunted. "Just keep in mind that I'm a senior warrior, and you just became one. So you have to listen to me."
Harerush narrowed his eyes. "Why?"
"Because I'm a senior warrior!" Trenchfoot narrowed his eyes, too.
"That doesn't mean you can bully me!" Harerush spat angrily. "Just leave me alone!" he stalked off to the other side of the camp. He thrashed his tail angrily. If he wants an enemy, he'll get one!


Chapter 11

Birdpaw walked slowly back to camp with a mouse in her jaws. I can't eat it now! I'm on a hunting patrol! But it's not official, and I am part of the Clan! She settled down to eat behind a large bush. Jaypaw was right behind her.
"What are you doing?" Jaypaw wailed.
"Eating some fresh-kill."
"But, this is a hunting patrol!"
"It isn't official, though."
Jaypaw thought for a little while. "Give me a bite of that mouse!"
The two apprentices settled down to eat the mouse, alternating bites. When they were finished, they walked back to camp.
They emerged from behind a large bush that no cat but RiverClan cats knew about. The back entrance is useful!
Clawstar was at their side in an instant. "Where have you two been?"
"Hunting," Birdpaw answered. At the same time, Jaypaw answered, "Training."
Clawstar looked at Birdpaw. "And, where is your mentor?"
"She said she was going hunting on her own."
Clawstar nodded his head. "Okay then. Be good." He bounded away towards an approaching patrol, led by Mooneye. Her sister, Suneye, was the medicine cat.
Clawstar looked up from his place of deep, stern conversation with Mooneye. "No!" he yowled. "Why Yewtail?"
Jaypaw's eyes widened in fear, and Birdpaw felt her pelt bristle. Both apprentices quickly walked over to the apprentices' den, which was shared only by them and Fishpaw. Jaypaw grabbed a rabbit from the fresh-kill pile and finished his walk to the den in deep thought.
"What are you doing?"
Jaypaw flicked his tail to show that he had heard. When they made it to the den, he dropped the rabbit and meowed, "Getting us some fresh-kill."
"To make us look less suspicious." Birdpaw guessed.
Jaypaw nodded his head. "You take the first bite."
Birdpaw bit into the rabbit. Jaypaw followed.
Clawstar walked over to them. "Do you know anything about Yewtail?" he asked.
"You mean, she went out hunting?" Birdpaw asked. "I don't know where, I bounded away before she did."
"A patrol found her dead."
Birdpaw stood up, forcing her tail to fluff up and her neck fur to bristle. "I'll kill whoever did it!" she growled. I can't kill myself.
"You didn't know anything?" Clawstar asked. "Are you sure?"
"Yes," Birdpaw spat, "and if I did know anything, I would tell you! I am your daughter, right?"
"Yes. You're my daughter." Clawstar meowed. "I believe you." He padded away.
"That was close!" Jaypaw hissed.
Birdpaw nodded. "And this is our little secret, right?"
Jaypaw nodded, too. "Yes."
How will I finish my training?


Chapter 12

A moon had passed. Trailpaw's training was going well, and he couldn't wait to become a warrior.
Oakpaw was doing well, too. He was learning complicated hunting and fighting moves, and some were even harder than what Trailpaw knew. Oakpaw purred with pride every day when Applestar complimented his skills in one way or another.
Milkpaw was doing well, and as a medicine cat, Flamepelt was saying that she was doing a better job than him when he was an apprentice. Milkpaw was also learning simple fighting and hunting techniques, and knew that she wasn't doing as well as her two brothers. "But then," Oakpaw commented, "you're not supposed to!" Milkpaw nodded wearily, and carried the yarrow she had been holding back to her den.
One day Tigerpelt padded over to Trailpaw. "Come with me on a hunting patrol. Today's the chance to see how you're doing compared to your siblings. Applestar, Flamepelt, Oakpaw, and Milkpaw are coming too!"
Trailpaw nodded. "Okay," he meowed. But he was unsure. There was only a quarter moon between their apprenticeships. What if they're better than me?
The patrol gathered and headed out of camp, leaving the ShadowClan deputy, Bushtail, in charge. When Applestar told him, he raised his head proudly and meowed, "I will serve my Clan well!" Then he glance uneasily at the nursery where his mate, Lakepool, lay waiting for her kits to be born. Neither Flamepelt or Milkpaw seemed to notice, or they didn't want to.
"Come on!" Applestar meowed quickly. "Let's head out of here!"
And so the patrol left. Almost instantly Oakpaw pounced on a vole, adding to Trailpaw's distress. But, he didn't mean for that to happen. he added. It was a coincidence.
Applestar praised Oakpaw, and the patrol moved on, with a small dead vole joining them. Oakpaw carried it proudly, every now and then glancing at one of the other cats in the patrol to see if they were looking. The only cat he caught, however, was Trailpaw, who quickly looked away.
Milkpaw killed a mouse. Tigerpelt found a squirrel, but it escaped. Flamepelt pounced on it before it managed to get out of harm's way, though, and so Tigerpelt looked sullen while Flamepelt glanced around, making sure no cat but the patrol saw Tigerpelt's mistake.
Finally, it was Trailpaw's turn to catch something. He looked around eagerly as they walked, and sniffed the air deeply. And, suddenly, he pounced. A mouse was trapped under his claws, now dead. Yes! Now I don't look like a kit in front of the patrol!
Tigerpelt managed to get some fresh-kill, although it was only a small crow. "But," Applestar commented, "at least it's fresh-kill, and it's edible."
"It's crow-food!" Milkpaw joked. When Applestar glared at her, she backed away slowly and looked at the ground.
"Let's see what you can catch, Applestar!" Oakpaw suggested boldly.
"Yeah!" Trailpaw added. "I want to see how well a Clan leader hunts!"
Applestar whirled around to his right and pounced at a bush, coming up with a small wood mouse in his jaws. "It nearly escaped," he grunted from behind the mouse, "but I got it anyway."
Milkpaw amazed even Flamepelt when she identified a herb that she hadn't been taught. "You told me the name once, though!" she protested. "At the beginning of training, when you showed me all the herbs!"
Flamepelt blinked. "I forgot." he meowed roughly.
When the patrol finally got back to camp, Bushtail raced over to Flamepelt. "Flamepelt!" he yowled. "Lakepool is having her kits!"
Flamepelt's eyes widened. "Okay," he meowed calmly, "tell everyone to get out except for her, me, and Milkpaw. Bushtail, you can gaurd the entrance, and I'll call you in as soon as possible after the birth," he added quickly.
He and Milkpaw raced off the the medicine den to gather a couple of needed herbs, and a couple of heartbeats later, raced towards the nursery.
Trailpaw stood waiting nervously in the clearing. He must of dozed off, because Flamepelt came out and announced the success of the birth way too soon. "Two she-cats and a tom!" he meowed to the Clan happily.
Milkpaw came out later and meowed, "They're so cute! There's a little gray one, the tom, that I hope that they call Ashkit, and a tortiseshell one that I really want to be called Nosekit. She has the cutest nose!"
Clan life is going so well! But how long will it last?


Chapter 13

Forestpaw was in a clearing, surrounded by four trees. Where am I?
At cat padded up to him, emerging from the shadows of bushes surrounding the clearing. He had a ginger coat, and green eyes. Like me. "I am Firestar, the previous leader of ThunderClan."
"Why am I here?" Forestpaw asked.
"Because StarClan wants you to be." Firestar answered.
"What is this place?" Forestpaw asked.
"This place is Fourtrees," Firestar answered curtly. "Back in the forest, this was the place where the four Clans gathered in peace for the full moon."
Forestpaw nodded. "And they didn't fight?"
"Not all things are worth fighting over, Forestpaw. You should know that."
"But why am I here?" Forestpaw asked desperately. "StarClan doesn't let you trespass on their territory for no reason!"
"This will eventually be your territory, too." Firestar meowed. "And there is a reason. I am the messenger."
"You called me here to tell me that you're the messenger?" Forestpaw asked, annoyed. "I could be sleeping now, for... your sake!"
"No," Firestar reassured him, "I came to tell you the reason."
"Oh."
"But first, I have to show you something." Firestar meowed. He stretched out his tail until it touched Forestpaw's, and visions flashed before Forestpaw's eyes.
First, there was three cats. One had a brown pelt and amber eyes. He smelled of WindClan. Another was black with brown spots down his back. He smelled of ShadowClan. The third had a light brown pelt with light green eyes. She smelled of RiverClan. All of the three cats seemed to be looking at him expectantly.
The scene switched to a short vision of four powerful looking cats. The three cats from his last vision were all standing next to him, growling.
As the scene switched, Forestpaw tensed. It was a battle scene, and he saw his claws slashing at a cat, unrecognizable because he was covered in blood. It was gushing out of so many places...
Firestar pulled his tail away. "And now I have to tell you what this is all about."
"Do I even want to know?" Forestpaw asked anxiously. "Can I wake up now?"
"You need to know." Firestar insisted. "I-"
Firestar was interrupted. A cat padded into the clearing. It looked a lot like Firestar, with his same rusty pelt and green eyes. But this cat, that Forestpaw could tell was a she-cat, had one white paw. "Tell him!" she growled angrily.
"I was just about to, when interrupted, Squirrelflight," Firestar growled angrily, "and you can watch, but no interruptions."
He turned back to Forestpaw. "I am about to tell you the next Great Prophecy." he meowed. "Are you ready?"
Forestpaw shivered. Why me? "Yes. I"m ready."
"So am I!" Squirrelflight yowled from across the clearing.
Firestar glanced at her before speaking. His voice became hoarse as he meowed, "There are two of four the determine the four's future. Whoever wins will carry the flame."
"Okay." Forestpaw meowed. He wasn't sure what to think. Why am I part of this? I never wanted to be!
"Meet the other three cats of the prophecy at the Gathering tomorrow night. They will be waiting for you under the tree with the lowest hanging branch." Firestar instructed.
Forestpaw nodded. "I will."
"Now get a good night's sleep. I don't want you to be tired all the time because of us."


Chapter 14

Harerush clawed his way across the log leading to the island. Rushpaw, his new apprentice, was in front of him and Thrushfoot was behind him.
Rushpaw jumped down from the log with his fur bristling in excitement and his tail waving back and forth. "You don't need me, right?" he asked Harerush.
"No, go explore!" Harerush replied. "Go over where those apprentices are and get to know them. Don't say much," he added, "just listen and learn. If you can, try and start a contest to see how good they are, so you can fairly judge them in battle."
"Okay!" Rushpaw meowed. "Bye!" He ran off.
Now to find that tree... Harerush walked around the clearing and saw a tree with three other cats sitting near it. That must be them! He bounded over and sat down.
A gray cat asked nervously, "You had the dream? With the prophecy about two of four?"
Harerush nodded. "I did."
The gray cat relaxed. "Okay. I'm Forestpaw. I"m from ThunderClan."
A cat with a light brown pelt meowed, "I'm Birdwing, of RiverClan. I just got my warrior name a quarter moon ago."
"I got mine a moon ago." Harerush meowed. "I'm Harerush."
A cat with a black pelt sat quietly, waving his tail silently back and forth. Forestpaw, Harerush, and Birdwing all stared at him. "Who are you?" Birdwing asked curiously. "You had the dream, right?"
The black cat looked up. "Of course I did. I'm Trailpaw, of ShadowClan."
Forestpaw nodded. "That's all of us, I think."
"What do we do now?" Trailpaw asked nervously.
"I think we should try and figure out the prophecy." Harerush meowed. "I can't figure out what it means!"
"Well, we're obviously 'The Four'," Forestpaw began, "but it says in the prophecy that there are two 'Fours.' Who are the others?"
"I know what 'carry the flame' means." Trailpaw piped up.
Birdwing, Forestpaw, and Harerush stared. "Tell us!" Birdwing meowed eagerly.
"My medicine cat's name is Flamepelt," Trailpaw began nervously, "and he has a very important position in the Clan."
"So we're all going to become medicine cats?" Forestpaw asked.
"I don't want to be a medicine cat!" Birdwing meowed. "I want to be a warrior!"
"Hang on," Harerush began, "it only says 'if we win.'"
"And," Trailpaw added, "that's only one important position. There's two left."
"Deputy..." Birdwing began.
"And leader." Forestpaw finished. "We're gong to be leaders!" he meowed excitedly.
"But only 'if we win'." Harerush meowed. "What if we don't?" he asked.
"Then something bad will happen." Birdwing meowed. "We can't let that happen. For the sake of the Clans."
"But what if it only affects one Clan?" Forestpaw asked.
"It won't." Trailpaw meowed. "One cat from each Clan got the prophecy. That's obviously a sign."
A yowl sounded from across the clearing. Strongstar was calling the meeting.
"Cats of all Clans! The Gathering is starting!"
The cats in the clearing settled down, stopping their interactions.
"I will begin." Strongstar meowed. "We have a new warrior."
Harerush straightened up.
"Harepaw has become Harerush."
All the cats in the clearing turned to look at Harerush. He felt the burning stares of all of them, and forced himself not to look away.
"We also have a new apprentice. Rushpaw."
The cats looked at Rushpaw, sitting with all of the apprentices.
"Harerush is his mentor."
A couple of cats looked at Harerush, but most of them were busy staring at Rushpaw, who was bouncing up and down on his feet.
"Life is good in WindClan." Strongstar finished.
Applestar padded forward now. "It is my turn, I think. We have three new apprentices-" he cast a meaningful look at Strongstar- "who are Trailpaw, Oakpaw, and Milkpaw. Milkpaw is the new medicine cat apprentice."
The cats all turned to look at Trailpaw, Oakpaw, and Milkpaw. Oakpaw was sitting near Rushpaw, and they were excitedly talking about something. Milkpaw was sitting near Flamepelt and the other medicine cats. Her tail was fluffed up and sticking up, but her eyes shone with excitement. Trailpaw slouched his back as the cats turned to stare at him.
Hollystar padded forward. "We have two new apprentices." Applestar shot a look of triumph at her. "Forestpaw-" Forestpaw sat up as the crowd turned to look at him- "and Skypaw." Forestpaw's sister fluffed out her cloud-white pelt and her sky-blue eyes shone.
It was Clawstar's turn now. "We have three new warriors, Birdwing, Jaywing, and Fishjump." Birdwing bowed her head modestly as the cats turned to look at her. She'll make very truthful warrior, Harerush thought.
Jaywing straightened up and tried to look strong and merciless in front of the Clan cats, but his brother, Fishjump, muttered something in his ear, and Jaywing slouched his back a little.
"Is there nothing else to say?" Clawstar asked. When the clearing was silent, he nodded. "This Gathering is over." He jumped down from the tree, followed by Hollystar, Applestar, and Strongstar in turn.
"Why don't we meet on the edge of ThunderClan and ShadowClan territory in a quarter moon?" Trailpaw suggested. "I have a place where we can meet from then on, but none of you know where it is. It's usually uninhabited by any other animals, so I think we'll be fine there."
"Where the stream goes deep into ShadowClan territory," Forestpaw added.
The other three cats nodded, and walked back towards their Clans. Rushpaw ran over to Harerush and started to tell him what the apprentices did, and how they were so nice...
Harerush could only think only of the prophecy. What if one of us fails? What if all of us fail? He couldn't help but think that there was trouble ahead for all four Clans.

Chapter 15

"Birdwing!"
Birdwing groaned as she opened her eyes to see Jaywing standing above her. "What, Jaywing?"
"You're in the morning hunting patrol, remember?"
Birdwing sat up. "Are they leaving already?"
Jaywing nodded. "I'm in it, too."
Birdwing felt her back straighten up and her tail curl around her front paws in excitement. "Who else is going?" she asked cautiously.
"I think Fishjump, but it might be another cat. I'm not sure," Jaywing replied.
Birdwing nodded her head. "Let's go find out, shall we?" she asked smoothly. She and Jaywing padded out of the den, pausing only to stretch their backs once they were outside.
Clawstar called from across the clearing, "I'm on the morning patrol, too! Let's go!"
Birdwing and Jaywing froze. What? "Are you the only one other than us?" Jaywing asked nervously.
"Yes." Clawstar meowed. "Come on! Let's see if you actually deserve to be warriors of RiverClan."
Birdwing looked at Jaywing before she left the camp. He was trembling from head to toe, but when he saw Birdwing looking at him, he made a obvious effort to stop. "Just go, and make up a story if he asks. I'll follow up," he muttered, and padded out of the camp, and Birdwing followed.
Clawstar slowed down to let Birdwing and Jaywing catch up with him. "You looked spooked," he meowed to Jaywing. "Why?"
Jaywing shivered once before answering. "It's just that I never imagined going on a hunting patrol with you before," he answered slowly, "with you being a leader and all."
"Don't worry. I can punish you, and make you train in a certain area, but you will always have your warrior name unless I change it. Your name will never be Jaypaw again."
Birdwing shivered. I hope. Imagine kits calling their father Jaypaw. That would be weird!
"Let's sit," Clawstar suggested. "I know a great place!"
Birdwing slowed down to let Clawstar take the lead. Jaypaw followed. "What do we do?" he asked.
"I'll make up a story, and you follow along." Birdwing meowed, suddenly calm. Nothing will ever be wrong, with Jaywing loving me. If Clawstar banishes me, he'll banish Jaywing too, since he was involved.
Clawstar chose a spot surrounded by bushes. He beckoned Birdwing and Jaywing over with his tail, and they sat in front of him. Jaywing sat with his pelt brushing Birdwing. I will never feel alone. Birdwing thought.
"So." Clawstar glared at Birdwing and Jaywing in turn. "What is up between you two? Are you going to mate?" he asked, "because I don't mind."
Birdwing felt a strange anger brew inside of her. "Why do we need your approval?" she spat. "Me and Jaywing have been in love since we were apprentices! Why should it matter if you approve?"
"I'm your Clan leader, and your father." Clawstar answered.
"Well, we don't need your approval!" Jaywing spat. "It's a cat's decision alone who they mate, and we've already made up our minds. It's final." He wrapped his tail protectively around Birdwing, and unsheathed his claws. "So don't bother us!"
Clawstar drew back. "I'm sorry, Birdwing. And to you too, Jaywing," he added when Jaywing growled at him, "but I just feel I should protect Birdwing. She is my only kit, and I don't want to lose her."
Birdwing relaxed her spine. He loves me.
Jaywing didn't relax. "How should I believe you?" he spat. "All I see is a overprotective father in the form of a Clan leader!"
"Clan leaders are supposed to protect their Clans!" Clawstar spat. "You don't understand that, do you?"
"I do, but you're protecting Birdwing as a father, too!" Jaywing spat. "She's a warrior now!"
Clawstar relaxed. "I understand, Jaywing. I was being too protective. I'm sorry if I offended either you or Birdwing, and I'll jsut stop being fatherly protective of Birdwing."
Jaywing didn't relax. "You'd better," he growled, and swept away.
Birdwing caught up to him. "I didn't mind him being fatherly protective of me. I was just angry that he approved of our mating."
Jaywing stopped walking, and stared into Birdwing's eyes. "I know," he murmured softly, "but I wanted to show you that I could protect you if I needed to."
Birdwing purred, and entwined her tail with Jaywing's. "I love you," she murmured softly into his ear.
"I love you, too." Jaywing licked Birdwing's ear. He let go of Birdwing's tail. "Race you back to camp!" he yowled.
They raced off, side by side.

Chapter 16

Trailpaw waited in the cold darkness at the edge of his territory, waiting for the other three cats, Forestpaw, Harerush, and Birdwing. Tonight was the night where he would show them their new meeting spot, and he was looking forward to it. I'll show them that I'm smart, even if I'm only an apprentice!
He heard the bushes in front of him rustle, and a voice whisper, "Trailpaw? Is that you?"
Trailpaw meowed, "Yes, it's me."
Forestpaw and Harerush emerged from behind the bush. "We came together," Harerush explained, "because I didn't know where the meeting place is."
"Hey!" Birdwing crept up from behind Harerush. "I followed you until right now!"
"You could of just come through ShadowClan territory and walked up the river until you found us." Trailpaw meowed.
"I didn't want to find the camp," Birdwing explained. "I heard it's the closest out of all the Clans to the lake, and I didn't want to find out how close."
"It's not within the two tail-lengths of the lake." Trailpaw meowed. It's not even close. It takes about 60 heartbeats to walk from the camp to the lake."
Birdwing nodded. "Okay. I'll keep that in mind next time."
"I'm going to show you the place we're going to meet from now on." Trailpaw meowed. "You'll find it's quite nice to eat fresh-kill there."
"I'm going to roll in the mud." Harerush meowed. "Birdwing and Forestpaw should do it too, because nobody should smell us in the territory."
Forestpaw obeyed instantly and rolled in the mud in front of him. Harerush found another place, and Birdwing waited until Forestpaw had finished until she rolled in it.
Trailpaw marked the boarder excessively before he lead the way to the meeting place. He didn't want the rest of ThunderClan and ShadowClan to smell Birdwing, Forestpaw and Harerush. They would think suspicious thoughts about the four Clans, and it would likely turn the relationships of the four Clans into turmoil.
Trialpaw showed the other three cats an abandoned Twoleg nest just inside ShadowClan territory.
"I don't want to meet there!" Birdwing meowed. "It's a Twoleg thing!"
"The scent's stale." Harerush meowed. "I like it."
Forestpaw agreed, and after some persuasion, Birdwing decided it was a good place to meet.
Trialpaw got four mice to eat out of the area, and told the three other cats, "After you!" The three cats entered the nest, followed closely by Trailpaw.
Trailpaw sat down in the center of the Twoleg den. With a sweep of his tail, he invited the others to sit down next to him. Forestpaw and Harerush sat willingly, but Birdwing hesitated. "Are you sure?" she asked.
"From now on, this is our place." Trailpaw replied. "We'll defend it like we defend our Clan territories."
"What do we do if one of our border patrols gets in a fight?" Forestpaw asked. "What if two of us are in it?"
"Try not to fight them," Harerush replied. "But if you have to, soften your blows and try to hit on the other cat's back. That hurts the least. But don't let your Clans see friendship between you. Do whatever you can to hide it. We're all apoligizing beforehand, right?"
All four cats nodded.
"So." Trailpaw began. "Who's been thinking about the prophecy?"
"I've been too busy training Rushpaw," Harerush put in. "I got too tired to think. But I tried, at least."
"Me and Jaywing got in trouble with Clawstar this past quarter moon. We've both been trying not to act too suspicious," Birdwing meowed. "But I tried, too. Hopefully I'll go to the next Gathering, at least."
"But aren't you Clawstar's daughter?" Forestpaw asked.
"I am. Why?"
"Because," Forestpaw meowed, "that should be enough to get you there. Have you ever missed one?"
"No." Birdwing replied. She looked daunted by Forestpaw's thinking.
"Perfect. Then we should meet at the next Gathering, then. But I for one, have thought about the prophecy a little," Forestpaw meowed. "I haven't gotten too far. It just got me thinking how great it would be to be known as Foreststar."
Trailpaw rolled his eyes. "You're all a bunch of mousebrains."
"Well, have you made any progress?" Harerush asked, obvioulsy offended.
"Well, no," Trailpaw began, "I've been to busy trying to be good so I can go to the Gathering."
Birdwing nodded in approval. "That's good," she meowed.
"I think we should go back to sleep." Harerush meowed. "We should also only meet at Gatherings, so that doesn't get in the way of our normal Clan duties, like morning patrols."
Trailpaw nodded. "Once the prophecy gets closer to revealing itself, then we'll meet more often."
"Okay. Should we have a password?" Birdwing suggested.
"Good idea!" Forestpaw mewed. "How about, star?"
The other three cats nodded in agreement. "And we all know each other's voices," Trailpaw added.
"Well, I should get going, since I'm all the way across the lake," Harerush meowed. "Want to walk with me, Forestpaw?"
"Okay," Forestpaw meowed. "Let's go!"
Harerush and Forestpaw left. "Wash the mud off in the river!" Trailpaw called after them. "You too, Birdwing," he added.
"I should be going, too." Birdwing stood up and streched her back before leaving the Twoleg den. "'Night, Trailpaw!" she called over her shoulder. " See you at the Gathering!"
Trailpaw waited a little before leaving the den himself. But he couldn't help thinking that Forestpaw had made a good point. It would be really great to be known as Trailstar, too.


Chapter 17

Forestpaw walked back to camp with a mouse in his jaws. He had just finished his hunting test, and he thought it would be surprising if he didn't get his warrior name. He had a lot of prey buried where he had found it, and he had already brought a lot to camp.
4 moons had passed since the prophecy first came to Forestpaw in a dream. Now the four cats were no closer to figuring it out than they had ever been.
Forestpaw had also advanced quickly on his training. He had learned to fight very well, and Hollystar had already commented on it to the Clan deputy, Treepelt.
Skypaw's leg ingury had healed well, and she was coming along just as well as Forestpaw was. Skypaw had taken her hunting test with Forestpaw. She was padding alongside him, but they weren't talking. They had too many more pieces of prey to get.
They arrived back at camp and dropped their prey into the fresh-kill pile. They were about to leave when Hollystar stopped them. "I've sent a patrol of warriors out to get it. Stay here and eat some of it. You've done well today!"
"Thank you." Forestpaw dipped his head to Hollystar. "It's because you are a good mentor."
"Just get some fresh-kill!" Hollystar meowed. She sounded embarrased.
Forestpaw and Skypaw grabbed some fresh-kill from the pile and dug in.
"This tastes great!" Skypaw meowed through a mouthful of vole. "Never had anything better."
Forestpaw nodded. This has got to be enough to prove that I deserve to be a warrior!
The patrol came back with their mouths stuffed full of fresh-kill. They dropped it on the pile and Flameheart, a new warrior, meowed, "I can't believe that you caught all this!"
Olivepaw nodded. "Yes. They deserve to be warriors. That must be half the prey in our territory!"
Hollystar jumped down from the Highledge, where she had been watching everything. "I think it is time," she agreed.
Forestpaw and Skypaw stared at Hollystar. "What?" they asked in unison.
"Yes," Hollystar meowed, "and you too, Olivepaw."
Olivepaw stared. "Really?"
Hollystar simply nodded. "Yes, you are ready too." She turned to leap on the Highledge, but before she leaped, she meowed, "I hope you like your new names."
She leaped and yowled, "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Highledge!"
Skypaw and Olivepaw stared at Forestpaw, and Forestpaw stared back. "I can't believe it," he whispered.
When the Clan had gathered, Hollystar mewed, "There are three apprentices that are ready to become warriors."
The Clan meowed in excitement. Jayfeather, an old elder, stared at Olivepaw, Forestpaw, and Skypaw in turn with his sightless eyes.
How does he know it's us?
Hollystar began. "Will you three please come forward?" She beckoned with her tail to the three apprentices, and leaped down from the Highledge. The apprentices walked to her.
"I, Hollystar, leader of ThunderClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down upon these three apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in their turn. Forestpaw, Olivepaw, Skypaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and defend this clan, even at the cost of your life?"
" I do, " Forestpaw mewed. Skypaw and Olivepaw followed.
"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior name. Olivepaw, from now on, you will be known as Olivepelt. ThunderClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
The cats of the Clan yowled and chanted "Olivepelt! Olivepelt! Olivepelt!" Olivepelt walked to Hollystar and respectfully licked her shoulder after Hollystar had rested her muzzle on Olivepelt's head.
"Skypaw," Hollystar began, "from now on, you will be known as Skycloud. ThunderClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
Again the Clan yowled and cheered. But this time they chanted, "Skycloud! Skycloud! Skycloud!" Skycloud padded forward to lick Hollystar's shoulder.
"Forestpaw," Hollystar meowed, "from now on, you will be known as Forestheart. ThunderClan welcomes you as a full warrior."


Chapter 18

"Harerush! Harerush!"
Harerush groaned and sat up. What?
He realized who was waking him up. "Rushpaw! What?"
"Strongstar says that if you test me today and I do well, then I'll become a warrior tomorrow!"
Great! After him, no apprentice training! "Okay! Let's do it!"
He stretched and left his den, the warm empty nest... and walked out into a world of what seemed to be endless chaos. The Clan's two kits, Beachkit and Quailkit, were racing around the clearing and almost knocked Harerush off his paws. A morning patrol was returning with wounds from a border fight with RiverClan. I hope Birdwing wasn't in it. Strongstar was giving orders to the apprentices to enforce the camp walls.
Thrushfoot walked across the camp to Harerush. "Crazy, isn't it?"
Harerush nodded drearily. "Yes." He already wanted to go back to sleep, in his warm nest... but he knew he couldn't. Today could be his second-to-last day with his apprentice. Rushpaw had to be tested.
"Are you testing Rushpaw today?" Thrushfoot asked.
Harerush nodded. "It might be his last full day as an apprentice."
"I'm going to test Fastpaw," Thrushfoot meowed. Fastpaw was Rushpaw's brother, and he had one sister, Brownpaw.
"I think Brownpaw is being tested today, too."
"That's right, she is." Harerush heard a cruel and angry voice behind him. Trenchfoot!
Trenchfoot bared his teeth in a snarl. "But if she's going to train with your apprentice, then she might not be tested."
Thrushfoot stared. "What is the matter between you two? It's like there's only one more position in StarClan!"
Trenchfoot stared at his sister. "Don't get involved. Harerush here doesn't seem to understand the power of senior warriors."
Thrushfoot snarled. "Why should he care? You're being horrible to him!"
Trenchfoot shook his head. "Both of us a senior warriors. Better than him. He's too young for you."
Harerush growled, deep in his throat. "What did you say?"
"You are too young for my sister." Trenchfoot said the phrase slowly, dragging out every word. "Right?"
"No." Thrushfoot denied her brother. "You're being a horrible badger to him. Go away."
Trenchfoot stared at his sister, growled angrily in defeat, and walked away to stand beside Rushingwind.
"I'm sorry," Thrushfoot apologized. "I didn't know he hated you so much!"
"It's okay. We're mates now!"
"But first, we have to test our apprentices."
"Rushpaw! Fastpaw! Test time!" Harerush called.
"What about me?" Brownpaw asked. "Isn't Trenchfoot going to test me?"
Strongstar walked across the clearing. "No. Harerush is." he meowed to Brownpaw.
"Great!" Brownpaw meowed. "Let's go!" The three apprentices raced out of camp.
Harerush and Thrushfoot stared at each other before following them.


The three apprentices had done well on their test. Now it was time for their warrior ceremony.
Strongstar had already called the meeting.
"I, Strongstar, leader of WindClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down upon these three apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in their turn. Rushpaw, Fastpaw, Brownpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and defend this clan, even at the cost of your life?"
" I do, " Rushpaw mewed. Brownpaw and Fastpaw followed.
"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior name. Brownpaw, from now on, you will be known as Brownpelt. WindClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
The cats of the Clan yowled and chanted "Brownpelt! Brownpelt! Brownpelt!" Brownpelt walked to Strongstar and respectfully licked his shoulder after Strongstar had rested his muzzle on Brownpelt's head.
"Fastpaw," Strongstar began, "from now on, you will be known as Fastfleet. WindClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
Again the Clan yowled and cheered. But this time they chanted, "Fastfleet! Fastfleet! Fastfleet!" Fastfleet padded forward to lick Strongstar's shoulder.
"Rushpaw," Strongstar meowed, "from now on, you will be known as Rushfoot. WindClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
Rushfoot licked Strongstar's shoulder while the Clan chanted, "Rushfoot! Rushfoot! Rushfoot!"
"This is great!" Harerush meowed. "We have three new warriors to announce at the next Gathering!"
Thrushfoot nodded. "Yes. Fastfleet was a good apprentice."
As was Rushfoot," Harerush agreed.
I can't wait for the Gathering tomorrow! I can prove to the other three that I'm as great as any of them!


Chapter 19

Birdwing stared.
Jaywing stared.
Fishjump stared.
Birdwing had just caught the biggest fish any cat had ever seen, it seemed like. It was 3 tail-lengths long, and half a tail-length thick.
"Great job, Birdwing!" Jaywing mewed. "That's enough to feed the elders!"
Fishjump flicked his tail. "I almost had it!" he muttered. "Dumb..."
"You would of gotten it if you hadn't yowled as loud as one of those Twoleg monsters!" Jaywing commented.
Fishjump grunted. "Fish is in my name! I'm going to have it changed for sure..."
Birdwing batted Fishjump's ear with her tail. "Don't worry, mousebrain! A cat doesn't get their name because of one mistake! They have to do it lots."
"That's what you think!" Fishjump wailed. "Why doesn't the Clan just call me Fishmiss?"
"Because the Clan needs you," Jaywing murmured. "Don't get all worked up about it. It was just one fish. And you caught enough to equal it."
Fishjump snorted. "Fine. I guess you're right. Clawstar isn't that mean!"
"His warrior name was Clawsheath," Birdwing commented.
"Thanks for making me feel better," Fishjump murmured. "It really helped. And Birdwing needed that. Clawstar looks on the edge of kicking her and Jaywing out of the Clan."
"Yes, he does." Birdwing replied. "Jaywing, can you help me hold this fish?"
Jaywing nodded. He picked up the fish's head with his mouth, and he helped Birdwing get back to the camp.
When they did arrive at the camp, Clawstar ran over. "Where were you three?"
Fishjump stared at Clawstar. "What do you mean, 'where were we?'" He flicked his tail at Birdwing's fish.
Clawstar stared at the fish. "That's enough to feed the apprentices!"
Fishjump nodded. He looked embarrased. "I almost caught that fish. But I missed, and Birdwing got it for me."
Clawstar tore his gaze off the fish and stared at Fishjump. "It's okay, Fishjump. I know that you tried, and that's what makes you valuable to RiverClan."
"You won't exile me? Or change my name to Fishmiss?" Fishjump squeaked.
"Why would you think that?" Clawstar murmured. "I am fair."
Birdwing nodded. "He is." Turning to Clawstar, she meowed, "I don't know why he's so down. We tried to comfort him."
Jaywing nodded. "We did!" he mewed anxiously.
Clawstar nodded approvingly. "Good job, you two. Why don't you go see if any of the apprentices want that fish?"
Birdwing and Jaywing nodded eagerly. He forgave us! The bounded away with the fish picked up between their jaws.
When the 6 apprentices saw the fish, they stared. Just like the rest of the Clan.
"You want it?" Jaywing asked.
The apprentices nodded eagerly. Stonepaw, the youngest, meowed, "Of course! Why don't you have a bite?"
"You caught it!" mewed Pebblepaw. "You deserve a bite!"
"The very first!" meowed Waterpaw, her sister.
Birdwing and Jaywing crouched down to eat a bite. It tasted wonderful, Birdwing realized, when you work so hard to get it. The best ever!


Chapter 20

Trailpaw felt the warm body of the mouse sink into his claws as he made his kill. I have to do well on my test!
He looked around for Oakpaw. He was testing now, too, and Trailpaw wanted to make sure he was doing okay.
He smelled Oakpaw, and the sudden overwhelming scent of a ThunderClan cat. Oh no! Trailpaw raced towards the direction of the smell.
He stopped, and peered through the trees. He saw Oakpaw being furiously questioned by... a brown cat. Trailpaw couldn't tell who.
"Hello," A voice behind him meowed. "We've been looking for you."
Oakpaw spun around and saw an orange cat standing behind him. "I am Flameheart," he meowed.
"What do you want?" Trailpaw asked.
Flameheart sneered. "This is hardly your place to get an advantage, apprentice."
"This is my territory." Trailpaw answered. He let himself have a flair of carelessness, without making him sound sarcastic. "I do whatever I want here."
Flameheart nodded. "Good point. Now..." He grabbed Trailpaw by the scruff, hauling him out of the forest towards Oakpaw and the brown cat. Trailpaw was so shocked, that he didn't try and fight back.
When Oakpaw saw Trailpaw, now thrown onto the ground in a merciless heap, he panicked. "Trailpaw!" he meowed anxiously. "What did they do to you?"
Trailpaw groaned. "I don't know," he answered.
But he sent a different message in his eyes. Bring help. Get out of here. I'll take the beating for you. He could only help that Oakpaw would understand.
Oakpaw's eyes flashed a message back. As soon as I get a chance, Trailpaw.
The brown cat paced around Oakpaw and Trailpaw. "Well, well, well. These cats are about to get into some serious trouble," she sneered.
"Olivepelt, don't be mean." Flameheart flicked his tail. "We only need to ask them a couple of questions."
Oakpaw stared at Trailpaw, his eyes flashing a message. Why would they need to do that? What are the questions about?
Trailpaw knew exactly why. They know I'm meeting with Forestpaw!
Olivepelt looked at Oakpaw. "We want to know why you've been meeting with Lightpaw."
Oakpaw stiffened. "I'm not." Trailpaw noticed that he spoke warily, in spite of his stiffness.
"You've been meeting with Lightpaw. Or should I say, Lightheart?" Flameheart sneered. "She's my sister. She tells me everything."
"I told her not to tell anyone!" Oakpaw was panic-stricken. "Light...heart betrayed me!"
"She said that you love her so deeply that no warrior code could come between that." Olivepelt looked angry.
"My mate makes a point. So admit it."
"Forestpaw said you loved Skypaw!" Trailpaw blurted out.
"Forestheart and Skycloud, now. And Skycloud loves Embereye, now. Forestheart wants to mate with Lightheart."
Oakpaw gritted his teeth. "Mousedung!" he spat. "Did Lightheart agree?"
"Of course," Olivepelt sneered.
Trailpaw shook his head. This is all too much! Forestpaw is a warrior now! He realized his mistake. Forestheart. And... Skycloud.
Oakpaw turned to stare at Trailpaw. Get help. flashed in his eyes before he meowed, "Did you know about this, Trailpaw?"
Trailpaw shook his head. "Not at all." He knew he replied solemnly, but he couldn't help but wonder why his brother had never told him. He's supposed to tell me everything! I think.
Oakpaw's eyes flashed. Now!
Trailpaw turned and raced out of the clearing. He dodged Flameheart, who had yowled in alarm and sprang up, and raced through the forest towards his camp. They're going to catch me!
He raced into the camp and found Applestar. "I need help!" he yowled. "Two ThunderClan warriors have got Oakpaw captured! Help!"
Applestar's eyes widened. "Okay!" he yowled to the camp, "I need warriors willing to save an apprentice!"
Dawnfire stood up. "I'll save him."
Tigerpelt stood up, as well. "As will I."
"Okay," Applestar meowed. "We will be going now." Turning to Trailpaw, he moewed, "Lead the way."
Trailpaw bounded out of the camp with Applestar, Tigerpelt, and Dawnfire hot on his heels. He ran until he smelled the intruders and skidded to a halt. "Can you smell them?"
Applestar sniffed the air. "Yes. What should we do?"
"Attack. Don't hurt Oakpaw." Trailpaw was worried about his brother. "He'll make a great warrior."
"He will." Applestar's eyes glowed with pride. He shook his head, clearing the moment, and yowled, "Attack!"
The four cats raced into the clearing, lead by Applestar. Trailpaw saw that Oakpaw was limp under a tree. No! He left his attack to go over to Oakpaw. He can't be dead!
Oakpaw stirred. Trailpaw felt a huge wave of relief come over him. He glanced at the other three cats of the rescue mission. They had Olivepelt and Flameheart cornered against three trees. They couldn't get away.
"Got to help." Trailpaw heard Oakpaw grunt in pain as he attempted to stand up, and collapse again. "Get them," he murmured. "For me."
Trailpaw yowled in anger and leaped onto Flameheart, making him stagger into the tree and fall. Trailpaw clawed his pelt furiously, until Flameheart's blood oozed into Trailpaw's claws. Flameheart yowled in disbelief as Trailpaw overpowered him again and again, knocking him over until he could only flail his paws in the air helplessly.
"Olivepelt! Help!" Flameheart yowled in anger and fear under Trailpaw's fierce attack. Olivepelt did not come to help, Applestar was fighting her himself, while Tigerpelt and Dawnfire were helping Oakpaw stand to go back to camp.
Flameheart finally managed to escape from Trailpaw's fierce claws, while Applestar stood to let Olivepelt go.
"That's what you get," Trailpaw growled, "when you hurt my brother. Now leave ShadowClan territory."
Flameheart and Olivepelt raced away towards their own territory where the aid of their medicine cat lay.
"You have done well." Applestar's eyes glazed with pride and disbelief as he stared at the apprentice standing in front of him, panting with anger. "It is time for you and Oakpaw to become warriors."


Applestar called the meeting. The cats of ShadowClan gathered beneath him. They all seemed to know what was about to happen, as if Tigerpelt and Dawnfire had already told them.
"It is time for Oakpaw and Trailpaw to become warriors. They have fought unbelievably well for two apprentices captured against their own will."
Oakpaw and Trailpaw stepped forward at their names being called. Trailpaw stood with pride as his brother stood in front of Applestar, waiting to become a warrior.
"I, Applestar, leader of ShadowClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down upon these two apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in their turn. Oakpaw, Trailpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and defend this clan, even at the cost of your life?"
" I do," Trailpaw mewed. Oakpaw copied him, but his voice quavered.
"Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your warrior name. Oakpaw, from now on, you will be known as Oakpelt. ShadowClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
The cats of the Clan yowled and chanted "Oakpelt! Oakpelt! Oakpelt!" Oakpelt walked to Applestar and respectfully licked his shoulder after Applestar had rested his muzzle on Oakpelt's brown head.
"Trailpaw," Applestar began, "from now on, you will be known as Trailspine. ShadowClan welcomes you as a full warrior."
Again the Clan yowled and cheered. But this time they chanted, "Trailspine! Trailspine! Trailspine!" Trailspine padded forward to lick Applestar's shoulder.
I'm a warrior now! Trailspine looked over a Oakpelt, who had Milkpaw's muzzle buried into his pelt in congratulations. Oakpelt seemed sad, for some reason, but Trailspine didn't stop to think why.
Instead he bounded over to the warriors den, and stared for the first time where he would now sleep.


Chapter 21

Forestheart clawed his way across the log that led to the island. Tonight was his first Gathering as a warrior, and he wanted all four Clans to know that he was now an equal, and maybe more powerful than others. He had reached the highest rank that he could get in his life, and he was going to enjoy every moment of it, whether it was good or bad.
"Hey! Forestpaw!" Forestheart spotted Birdwing and Harerush running across the clearing towards him. "How's your Clan doing?"
"Three new warriors," Forestheart replied proudly.
"Really? Who?" Birdwing asked.
"Olive...paw, Skypaw, and... me."
Harerush's voice rose into a yowl on congratulations. "That's great! What are you called now, Forest...?" He trailed off, leaving the end of Forestheart's name to be filled in by Forestheart himself.
"Forestheart." Forestheart informed them proudly. "And Olivepelt and Skycloud."
Birdwing nodded, taking in the information. "Great! That leaves only Trailpaw."
As if on cue, Trailpaw ran up, purring. "Hey!"
"Hi, Trailpaw!" Forestheart, Birdwing, and Harerush greeted Trailpaw enthusiastically. "How's life going?"
"Good," Trailpaw replied, turning to Forestheart. "Look, Forestheart, I heard you're a new warrior. And you're mating Lightheart."
Forestheart blinked. "How did you know that?"
"Flameheart and Olivepelt took me and Oakpelt captive and told us."
Forestheart gasped. "No way!" His Clanmates would never do that! Maybe in their territory...
"We fought them off, though. Me, Oakpelt, Applestar, Tigerpelt and Dawnfire."
"Who's Oakpelt?" Birdwing asked.
"My brother," Trailpaw responded quietly.
"But he was made an apprentice a quarter moon after you!" Harerush looked confused. "Why are you still an apprentice?"
"I'm not." Trailpaw was beginning to sound excited.
"You're a warrior?" Forestheart asked. "What's your new name?"
"Trailspine." The black tom looked elated, his entire body quivering with excitement.
Harerush let out another yowl of congratulations. "I can't believe it, Trailspine!"
"Neither can I." Trailspine's voice quivered. "But if it wasn't for that fight, I would of gotten it here, at the Gathering."
"Applestar can do that?" Harerush sounded confused. "Strongstar never has. He's never even mentioned it."
Birdwing nodded, to emphasize his point.
"Anyway," Trailspine continued, "he was going to."
"Hey, guess what?" Harerush bounced on his paws.
"Yes?" Forestheart asked. How much can happen in a moon?
"Rushpaw's a warrior now!" Harerush burst out.
"Great!" Birdwing meowed. "I've always wanted an apprentice."
"What's his warrior name?" Trailspine asked.
"Rushfoot." Harerush answered with a flurry of pride and relief. Will I feel the same way when my apprentice becomes a warrior? Forestheart asked himself.
"Let the meeting begin!" Applestar yowled. The cats' chatter died down slowly. When it did, Applestar mewed, "I will speak first." He paused, and began. "We have two new warriors, Trailspine and Oakpelt."
The cats began to yowl congratulations to Trailspine and Oakpelt. Both held their heads up proudly.
Applestar stepped back, allowing Clawstar to speak. "RiverClan is fine. Prey is running well, and we have nothing to worry about."
Birdwing's father stepped back to let Strongstar tell the other three Clans about the last moon. "We have three new warriors. Brownpaw is Brownpelt, Fastpaw is Fastfleet, and Rushpaw is Rushfoot."
The Clans yowled congratulations once more.
Finally, Hollystar spoke. "ThunderClan has three new warriors, as well. Olivepaw, Skypaw, and Forestpaw have become Olivepelt, Skycloud, and Forestheart."
Forestheart felt everyone's gaze fall on him. He sat up straight, trying to look strong and proud. He wondered if he had done a good job of it, though, because he heard Trailspine stifle laughter behind him.
"That is all." Hollystar jumped down from the tree, followed by the other three leaders.
"We should meet on the moorland," Harerush piped up.
"Okay," Trailspine agreed. "I don't mind!"
"Neither do I," Forestheart added. Birdwing nodded her okay, as well.
"In a quarter moon?" Harerush asked.
The three other cats nodded.
"Okay. The closest to the lake as possible, within the two tail-lengths." Harerush finished, glorifying the last five words so the cats understood.
"Okay," Forestheart agreed for Trailspine and Birdwing. "We'll see you there!"
He bounded off, thinking, The prophecy is bound to come true soon!


Chapter 22

Harerush let his teeth sink into the still-warm flesh of the rabbit. Wonderful, he thought.
Beside him, Falconswoop crouched, watching him. Harerush was starting to get a little spooked.
Flicking his tail, he asked, "What are you doing, Falconswoop?"
"Wondering if you'll be a good deputy. Rushingwind is retiring today."
Harerush flicked his tail, surprised. "Really?"
"Strongstar is wondering if you'll make a good deputy. It's either you, Trenchfoot, or Thrushfoot." Falconswoop looked at his tail. "You look like a deputy. Some cats in other Clans have commented on it."
Harerush blinked. "Great!" he mewed. "Just another thing to worry about..." he muttered under his breath.
"What?" Falconswoop asked.
"Nothing," Harerush replied quickly. "Want some of this rabbit?" he asked.
"I would be delighted," Falconswoop purred. The medicine cat crouched down, his jaws pulling off a piece of the tough meat.
"It is time for the ceremony," Falconswoop meowed, after he had swallowed the rabbit.
Harerush jumped up. "Okay!" He finished off the last of the rabbit, gulping it down as he could. As he finished, he eyed Trenchfoot, who was dropping a mouse onto the fresh-kill pile. Trenchfoot looked confused when he saw Harerush, and eyed him angrily.
Harerush padded over to Trenchfoot. "Rushingwind is retiring today," he told him.
Trenchfoot blinked. "That leaves the position for deputy open," he growled. "And I'm the only candidate."
Harerush shook his head. "Not just you. I can be deputy, along with you and Thrushfoot."
"My sister doesn't stand a chance," Trenchfoot growled. "And neither do you."
"Because you're a senior warrior," Harerush guessed.
"Of course," Trenchfoot meowed. "I have way more experience than you. And Thrushfoot's a she-cat. She doesn't stand a chance. She-cats are weaklings. You'll see."
Harerush blinked away his anger. "You're so full of it!" he spat. His anger was overflowing, into a tidal wave... he was leaping on Trenchfoot... clawing him... he wasn't satisfied, he would never be... and there were two cats breaking them apart...
"What are you doing?" Featherclaw spat. The gray warrior stood with her fur bristling, her back arched. Beside her, her mate Shortwhisker stood, appalled.
"He called she-cats worthless!" Harerush yowled.
A low growl emitted from Featherclaw's throat. "He what?"
"I called she-cats worthless," Trenchfoot mewed. "So what? They are."
Shortwhisker's eyes widened. "They are not!" he yowled, his voice filled with fury.
"I'll show you who's worthless!" Featherclaw spat, and she leaped onto Trenchfoot, her claws unsheathed. Harerush watched, impressed, as Featherclaw clawed Trenchfoot again and again. You shouldn't underestimate her in battle! Harerush thought.
"Stop!" Strongstar stood, watching, behind Harerush. "I command you to stop!
Featherclaw immediately got off of Trenchfoot, growling.
"What happened here?" Strongstar asked.
"Trenchfoot called she-cats worthless!" Harerush spat.
Strongstar blinked. "Wow," he began. "That can not be ignored." He leaped onto the Largehill, where he sat, waiting for his Clan. The Clan gathered around at his call.
"The first thing that will happen is this. Trenchfoot, you are no longer a member of WindClan. After sunset, if you are found on WindClan's territory, you will be treated as an enemy. Leave now."
Trenchfoot stared at his Clan. "I don't like it here, anyway," he mewed. "With all these she-cats, WindClan is weak."
Featherclaw leaped up from where she had been sitting. "I can claw you again!" she yowled.
Trenchfoot's eyes widened in fear. "No, thank you," he meowed. He bounded through the camp entrance, and the last thing Harerush saw of him was his tail.
"Now, it's Rushingwind's turn."
Rushingwind padded forward, to the dismay of many cats.
"Rushingwind," Strongstar began, "is it your wish to give up the name of warrior and go to join the elders?"
Rushingwind mewed, "It is."
"WindClan honors you and all the service you have given us. I call upon StarClan to give you many seasons of rest." Strongstar finished the ceremony with a pained look on his face.
"Rushingwind!" The Clan welcomed Rushingwind into the rank of an elder with loud yowls.
"Now it is my painful duty to name my new deputy. Rushingwind would of made a great leader."
There were murmurs from the cats around Harerush.
"I say these words before StarCan, so that they may hear and approve my choice." Strongstar paused, and finished his sentence.
"Harerush will be the new deputy of WindClan."


Chapter 23

Birdwing sat by the river that ran through her camp, with her tail wrapped around her front paws. She was thinking about the Gathering. Every cat seemed to think that Clan life was becoming wonderful.
But it wasn't. The prophecy was yet to be revealed.
So much had changed in a moon. Forestheart was a warrior- and mating Lightheart. Trailspine was a warrior, too. Harerush seemed more leader-like, and Birdwing wondered if he was just practicing for his turn. But, Strongstar is the oldest Clan leader...
"Hi, Birdwing!" Jaywing sat down next to Birdwing. "What are you doing?"
"Just thinking," Birdwing replied.
"About...?" Jaywing trailed off. "You aren't thinking about Yewtail, are you?"
"I actually have to tell you something about that..." Birdwing trailed off as she thought of a way to start.
Jaywing instantly moved closer to her, wrapping his tail around her. "What?" he asked softly. His voice was urgent, demanding, almost. "Tell me now."
"She attempted to murder me," Birdwing began, "for a reason."
Jaywing's eyes opened wide. "What?" he gasped loudly.
"Don't be so loud," Birdwing whispered quickly. "This is my only chance to tell you, and you might ruin it!"
Jaywing nodded. "Go on, then."
"The reason was..." Birdwing started, "I saw her... with another cat."
"Okay," Jaywing meowed. "Who was she with?"
"Trenchfoot, of WindClan." Birdwing stopped, thinking. What else should I tell him?
Jaywing's eyes opened wide. "What?"
Birdwing nodded, unable to speak.
"What were they doing?" Jaywing demanded.
"They twined their tails, and sat like we are now..." Birdwing described the things they did, the signs that two cats were in love.
"She betrayed the Clan!" Jaywing stood up and started to pace in a circle. "But why did she try to kill you?"
"She must of not wanted to be put at an apprentice's mercy," Birdwing meowed curtly.
Jaywing sighed. "We can't tell the Clan this..."
"No, we can't," Birdwing agreed. "Let's get back to camp."
The two cats paced side by side, pelts brushing, to the camp. They were both deep in thought. But there were a faint feeling of love in the back of Birdwing's mind.
When Birdwing and Jaywing appeared in the camp, Screechtooth, a loud warrior, yowled, "They're back!"
Birdwing jerked her head up, surprised. She and Jaywing moved away from each other, and meowed in unusion, "What?'
Clawstar padded forward to her, purring. "I'm going to give you and Jaywing an apprentice."
"To share?" Birdwing asked.
"No," Clawstar meowed, "one for each of you. Two apprentices, two mentors."
Birdwing leaped up into the air in excitement. "Wow!"
Jaywing flicked his tail in amusement. "You have the spirit of an apprentice!" he purred.
"Come now, you two!" Clawstar padded into the center of the camp. He jumped onto the Tall-log, where he made Clan announcements.
"By naming apprentices, we show that RiverClan will survive and remain strong." Clawstar beckoned to two kits, one gray and one brown.
"From this moment on, until he has earned his warrior name, this apprentice will be known as Stonepaw." The gray kit yowled in excitement, and lowered his head.
"Jaywing, you are now ready to take on an apprentice. You will be mentor to Stonepaw. Jaywing, you have shown yourself to be a warrior of bravery and determination. I'm sure you will pass on all you know to this apprentice." Clawstar pasued, and added, "I am sure."
"From this moment on, until he has earned his warrior name, this apprentice will be known as Tumblepaw."
The brown kit's head raised in determination. "I don't like that name. I like the name Patchpaw."
"Well, your name is Tumblepaw," Clawstar told him gently.
"My name is Patchpaw!" the kit yowled. "Not crummy old Tumblepaw!"
Clawstar's neck fur started to bristle. "Your name is Tumblepaw. That is final. Birdwing, you will mentor Tumblepaw." He leaped down from the Tall-log, and padded across the clearing to his den.
Tumblepaw stared at Birdwing. "We never touched noses," he meowed.
Birdwing gently touched noses with Tumblepaw. Jaywing seemed to realize that he had to do that, too, and Stonepaw's nose touched his in a heartbeat.
Will this apprentice be hard to train? Will he kill me, like I did with Yewtail? Birdwing stared at her new apprentice, imagining all the horrors to come.


Chapter 24

Trailspine ran towards WindClan territory, taking care to stay within the two Tail-lengths of the lake. I'm late for our meeting!
He whisked through ThunderClan territory, leaping over the river, and continuing to run.
My new apprentice would never be able to do this! Trailspine thought. He had gained an apprentice, Marshpaw, the day before.
He finally saw the three other cats on the horizon, staring into the distance. Trailspine put on an extra burst of speed. What if they've already started?
He skidded to a halt at the edge of the river on ThunderClan's side, dividing their territory from WindClan's.
"Hi, Trailspine!" Harerush's voice greeted him. "Don't worry, we're not angry."
"But-I'm-late," Trailspine panted. "Why-not-angry?"
"Because we're you're friends!" Forestheart meowed.
Trailspine recovered his breath and jumped over the river onto the WindClan side. "Can we go onto the moorland?" he asked.
Harerush looked startled. "Okay."
The four cats weaved through the trees and reached the moorland, unspeaking.
Trailspine sat down, staring away from the lake. "I'll keep watch," he meowed.
"Now that we're all warriors, the prophecy is about to start." Birdwing sounded confident. "It has to."
"We have to work our hardest," Harerush meowed.
"I'm going to get an apprentice tomorrow," Forestpaw mewed.
"I already have one," Trailspine meowed. "Marshpaw."
"And mine is Tumblepaw," Birdwing added.
"I'm Clan deputy," Harerush reported.
What? "Why?" Trailspine asked.
"Because Rushingwind retired," Harerush answered. "And Trenchfoot got exiled."
"Wow!" Forestheart mewed, "intense!"
Harerush nodded.
Trailspine saw four figures, distant on the horizon. They were walking in a straight line, matching paces perfectly. Not a problem yet, he reassured himself. Probably just travelers. We'll guide them on their way, and they'll leave.
The talk behind Trailspine continued. Harerush mewed, "How will the prophecy continue? Who are the 'two of four?'"
Trailspine jolted. We are the first. Those four cats are the second. "Hey," he meowed loudly, "look." He pointed with his tail to the four distant figures, which were drawing closer with every step.
Birdwing peered at them. "That's weird, probably just travelers."
The same thought as me. "No," he countered quietly, "they are the other Four."
The other three cats jolted. "Woah," Forestheart meowed. "Okay, that's weird."
Harerush nodded. "Let's meet them," he suggested.
The four cats got in a line just like the other four cats, and walked towards them. Trailspine and Harerush surrounded Birdwing, and Forestheart got on Harerush's other side.
The four cats were visible now, clearly walking faster than Trailspine, Birdwing, Harerush, and Forestheart. Oh, no! They're dominant!
The four cats stopped in front of Trailspine, Birdwing, Forestheart, and Harerush. The one in front of Trailspine mewed a curt, "Hello."
"Hi," Trailspine meowed nervously.
The cat in front of Trailspine meowed, "I'm Starpelt."
The cat next to him, a gold-colored tom, mewed, "I'm Goldheart."
A silver tabby she-cat meowed, "I'm Silverwing."
The final cat meowed, "I'm Bronzetail."
"Take us to your Clans," Starpelt demanded. "I'm going to ThunderClan."
"How do you know about the Clans?" Harerush asked cautiously.
"Our ancestor got exiled from WindClan long ago," Bronzetail began. "Her name was Gorsefoot. She swore she would get revenge on WindClan, but in a later generation of cats. Her descendants continued to get Clan names. We are the four cats that were chosen to make the journey. After our mother died..."
Silverwing flinched. "Don't talk about Harefoot," she meowed quickly.
"We decided to get revenge on all four Clans," Starpelt growled, lowering himself close to the ground. "I'm going to ThunderClan, while Goldheart is going to ShadowClan."
"I'm going to RiverClan, and Bronzetail gets WindClan," Silverwing finished.
"What's your name?" Starpelt asked Forestheart.
"Forestheart," Forestheart growled.
"I'm Trailspine," Trailspine meowed.
Harerush piped up. "Harerush."
"What about you?" Silverwing asked Birdwing.
"Bird." Birdwing sat down.
Trailspine glanced at Harerush. He looked confused.
"Just... Bird?" Silverwing asked
Birdwing nodded.
"You have a second half?" Silverwing quizzed.
Birdwing nodded again. "You don't deserve to know it," she growled.
"Then I'll call you Birdkit," Silverwing decided.
Birdwing started to growl. "Can you not see I am a warrior?"
"You look like a kit to me!" Goldheart mewed.
Birdwing yowled in pure fury, and leaped on Silverwing. She clawed furiously. "I- am- not- a- kit!" she yowled between her rhythmic strokes of claws. "I- am- a- warrior!"
Silverwing wailed in pain, and squirmed under Birdwing's grip. "Tell me your real name, then!" she gasped.
"Never!" Birdwing yowled.
Silverwing squirmed out from under Birdwing's grasp, gasping for breath. Bronzetail drew protectively in front of her.
"You will bring her to your camp," Goldheart snarled. He let his teeth snap next to Birdwing's ear. "Do you understand?" he growled softly.
Birdwing flinched, and nodded slowly.
"And you will bring me to the ShadowClan camp," Goldheart continued, directing his gaze towards Trailspine.
Trailspine nodded quickly, hoping to impress these cats. Maybe this won't be so hard! he thought to himself. But he knew it was hopeless. I'll resist as long and as hard as I can.
Trailspine began to walk towards his home. "Bye, guys!" he called over his shoulder. "I'm going back to camp! I have an apprentice to train!"
Birdwing, Forestheart, and Harerush instantly got the message. "Okay, Trailspine! Bye!" they called. They each headed towards their own territories, not pausing to do anything else. Birdwing went into the required two tail-lengths of the lake, and ran towards her home as fast as she could.
Harerush bolted off in a completely different direction of his camp, obviously trying to lose Bronzetail.
Forestheart jumped over the river into his own territory and started to weave through the trees. He was soon lost in the shadows.
The other four cats blinked, and started to attempt to follow their 'hosts'. Bronzetail raced off after Harerush, now lost in the distance. Silverwing bolted off in the direction Birdwing had ran, not knowing that she had run the wrong way, into ThunderClan and ShadowClan territory on purpose. Starpelt raced after Forestheart, and soon got confused. He started to weave through the trees randomly.
Trailspine didn't stop to see where Goldheart went. He just bolted away, trying to escape the terror of being chased.


Chapter 25

Forestheart bolted through the trees, weaving through them like a snake.
Why were we cursed with evil opponents? Forestheart asked himself.
Forestheart suddenly became aware of Starpelt tracking his scent. He saw the river, and waded across it, letting himself soak in the water from head to toe before leaping out again. He raced through the trees using the same method as before. Poor Harerush, he thought to himself, he doesn't have trees to run through or rivers to wade in.
Forestheart jumped up into a tree, and sat for a second, letting himself catch his breath. Then he began to leap from branch to branch, until he reached the secret entrance to his camp, used by climbing up a tree.
He finally reached the camp, and he reached his nest. He fell asleep, breathing heavily and letting the water in his fur evaporate.


Forestheart woke up to excited murmuring. What's going on? he asked himself.
Waterfoot, a black warrior, answered his question. "Forestheart!" he yowled. "It's time for you to get an apprentice!"
Forestheart jerked his head up from where he had been washing himself. I forgot!
A small brown kit was sitting by her mother, Dovefoot, at the entrance of the nursery. That must be my apprentice!
Another black kit padded out of the nursery. He touched his sister gently on on the nose.
"I can't believe we're going to be apprentices, Blackkit!" the brown kit squeaked.
"I know, Brushkit!" Blackkit replied. He sighed, and stared around the camp. "Everything's going to be so different by the time that we're warriors!"
Hollystar leaped up on the Highledge. "Brushkit, Blackkit, Beekit," she yowled. "It's almost time to start the ceremony!"
Who's Beekit? Forestheart asked himself.
A third gray tom kit came out of the nursery, visibly shaking. The black stripes down his flank moved like waves across his spine.
"What's the matter, Beekit?" Brushkit asked.
"Tigerstar's gonna get me!" Beekit wailed.
Brushkit and Blackkit collapsed in tiny squeaks of laughter. "He's not going to get you, silly!" Blackkit mewed.
"I wouldn't let him!" Brushkit added. She brushed her flank along Beekit's. "I promise."
Beekit visibly relaxed. "Okay," he mewed, sitting down.
"The next time we play-fight, it'll be as apprentices!" Blackkit squeaked. "I can't wait!"
"Are you sure?" Beekit asked. He jumped on Blackkit. Brushkit joined in, and the three tumbled around, squeaking in amusement.
"Wow." Forestheart turned around to see Skycloud standing beside him, watching the three kits tussle. "I'll be happy to get any one of them."
Forestheart nodded. "But I like Brushkit the most."
"I like Beekit!" Skycloud purred. "But I'll be happy no matter, right?"
Forestheart nodded, too absorbed watching the kits play. Brushkit is amazing, he thought to himself.
Waterfoot bounded over. "Well, I was just talking to Hollystar," he began, "and she says I'm getting Blackkit, Skycloud's getting Beekit, and Forestheart's getting Brushkit."
Forestheart wanted to squeal like a kit and jump into the air. I'm a warrior now, he thought. Warriors don't do that!
"And she says the ceremony will start whenever we're ready," Waterfoot added.
"Well, I'm ready!" Skycloud meowed eagerly.
"And so am I," Forestheart agreed.
"Okay, then! Let's go!" Waterfoot decided.
The three cats walked through the cats waiting in front of the Highledge.
"It's about time!" Steelclaw mewed loudly. His brown pelt bristled angrily.
"It's okay, Steelclaw," Forestheart replied. "I forgive you for being such a mouse-brain."
Steelclaw let out a low hiss, letting it get louder with every heartbeat. "You're lucky you have Hollystar's favor," he sneered. "Or I'd tear you apart."
"Glad to know you would," Forestheart replied smugly. "At least I wouldn't have to worry about you becoming deputy."
"Stop!" Skycloud mewed. "StarClan doesn't want you two to fight!"
"But I want to," Steelclaw hissed.
"Just leave him alone, Steelclaw." Waterfoot stepped in. "We all know that you want an apprentice, but Hollystar's already chosen us three. It looks like you'll have to wait until the next litter!"
Steelclaw hissed, and walked away.
"Is every cat ready?" Hollystar called from the Highledge.
The Clan yowled in agreement.
The three kits screeched in excitement, and Beekit raced in circles. Brushkit shook with excitement, and Blackkit squirmed against Dovefoot's furious licking. "Stop it!" he squeaked angrily.
Dovefoot stopped licking Blackkit and moved onto Brushkit, after realizing that Beekit would be hard to catch.
"Come here, you three!" Hollystar called.
Brushkit broke free of her mother's grasp, and the three kits raced across the clearing together.
"These three kits have reached their sixth moon," Hollystar began. "It is time for them to become apprentices." She gazed fondly at the three kits, and continued. "Beekit, from now on, until you have earned your warrior name, you will be known as Beepaw. Skycloud will be your mentor."
Skycloud and Beepaw touched noses.
"Brushkit, from now on, until you have reached your warrior status, you will be known as Brushpaw." Hollystar stopped, licked her chest fur, and continued. "Forestheart will be your mentor."
Forestheart was surprised at how gentle she was, comparing this moment to when she had fought fiercely with Beepaw and Blackkit. I will train her to be the same in battle.
"Blackkit, until you have earned your warrior name, you will be known as Blackpaw. Waterfoot will be your mentor."
Blackpaw and Waterfoot touched noses quickly. Blackpaw's eyes were shining with excitement, but he looked longingly at the medicine cat den when he stepped away from from Waterfoot. The excitement in his eyes changed to sadness.
Forestheart padded over to him and whispered, "You can always learn." Blackpaw's eyes shone with gratitude.
Brushpaw tore over to Blackpaw's side, noticing the sadness in his eyes. "Let's go find our nests in the apprentice's den," she mewed.
"Okay," Blackpaw sighed. He raced off with Brushpaw.
I wonder what she'll be like when she's a warrior, Forestheart thought.
"Hi, Forestheart," a cold voice said from the tunnel. "Glad to know that you waited for me."
Forestheart spun around.
It was Starpelt.


Chapter 26

Harerush raced through the entrance of the camp. I think I lost him! he thought excitedly. After swimming through a river to get rid of his scent of the three other cats, and to lose Bronzetail, he had finally reached the camp. All he wanted to do was lay down and sleep.
But, before he could fall asleep, he opened his eyes to the continuous prodding of his fur by none other than... Rushfoot.
Harerush groaned and turned over. "Do I have to get up?"
"Yes, you're on the dawn border patrol!" Rushfoot reminded him. "You said that you would lead it yourself, sleepyhead!"
"Fine," Harerush mewed. "But I'm going back to sleep as soon as I get back."
"Fine with me," Rushfoot shrugged. "By the way, why is your fur so wet?"
"I couldn't go to sleep so I left the camp and ran to the river, because I wanted to catch a fish," Harerush lied. "I fell in," he added.
"Come on, you swimming mouse-brain! Let's go!" Rushfoot mewed. "It's me, you, and Fastfleet. Are you ready?"
Harerush sighed. "Let's go."
The two cats found Fastfleet, still fast asleep, and they set off.
They were halfway around the border when Harerush remembered something. I met with the others last night! Their scent, with mine, is in our territory! And so is Bronzetail!
And then he realized that he had control over the patrol. He veered sharply to the left and started to head directly to the lake from where the patrol was.
"Hey, where are you going?" Fastfleet protested.
"To the lake," Harerush replied.
"But what if ThunderClan have been in our territory?" Rushfoot asked.
"They are in a prey-rich state right now," Harerush replied coldly. "They are very unlikely to raid our territory."
So the patrol continued along the lake at a quick pace. Nothing happened along the RiverClan border, so the patrol headed back to camp. They raced along the moorland to the camp, finding a loud conversation going on as they entered.
"We should go see what's going on," Fastfleet commented. Rushfoot and Harerush both stared at him.
"What?" Fastfleet asked. Harerush and Rushfoot simply padded away to see what was going on.
They found the most interesting place to be, right in the center of the crowd. But a cat seemed to be moving through the ranks, with loud jeers on either side of it.
Harerush pushed through his Clan mates to see the cat. To his dismay, he saw Bronzetail being escorted to the front.
"Harerush! Help me get him up here!" Strongstar called from the bottom of the Largehill.
Harerush hesitated before going; would Bronzetail recognize him from the night before? Harerush decided to keep his head down.
He bounded over to the two cats, one struggling to keep the other in check.
"Do you think that you're enough to overpower me?" Bronzetail sneered when he saw Harerush.
"Yes," Harerush growled.
"Humph," Bronzetail snorted. "Well, you're wrong!" He suddenly broke free of Strongstar's grasp, racing up the Largehill himself.
"Listen up, WindClan!" Bronzetail called. "I am your new leader!"
"No, you aren't a star, yet!" Brownpelt yowled back.
"Yeah, you aren't!" Rabbittail added.
He's sticking up for the Clan!
"Who asked you?" Bronzetail asked, sneering. "I sure didn't hear anybody!"
I have to make a stand for my Clan. Harerush stepped forward, ignoring the gasp from Thrushfoot, and mewed, "I did."
"Well, well, well!" Bronzetail sneered. "Look at you, standing up for your weak Clan! What are you going to do to stop me?"
"I don't know, because-"
"Because I'll help him. It'll be us." Rushfoot stepped forward. "Mentor and apprentice."
Bronzetail growled, and leaped on Rushfoot. All noise was lost except the tearing of claws at Rushfoot's fur.
When Bronzetail stepped away, WindClan gasped.
Rushfoot was dead.


Chapter 27

Birdwing ran as fast as she could, but she knew that Silverwing was catching up. There was no stopping the silver she-cat.
Birdwing heard paws thundering behind her, and she skidded to a halt to see who was pursuing her.
A ThunderClan patrol, led by Treepelt, the ThunderClan deputy, was getting closer and closer to... Silverwing!
"Go!" A black warrior with blue eyes yowled. He reached Silverwing first and jumped on her, claws outstretched. Birdwing could hear the fierce yowls of fighting, four on one, as she ran away towards her territory.
She passed the ThunderClan and ShadowClan border and raced onward, afraid to look back. She leaped over a creek, stumbling as she landed, and still continued to run.
When she finally passed the RiverClan and ShadowClan border, she raced to her camp, leaping in the river on the way to clear off the scents of the other three Clans and the four strange cats off her fur.
She made herself stop and catch her breath before walking leisurely into the RiverClan camp. Clawstar was already awake, mewing intensely to the medicine cat, Mooneye. He looked up as Birdwing entered the camp with her pelt thoroughly soaked. "Where were you?" Clawstar asked angrily. "Suneye woke up to not find you in your nest and panicked. We searched the entire territory with three search parties! Three! Do you even understand how serious this is? Cats have lost most of their much-needed sleep because of you!"
"I do understand!" Birdwing snarled. "And if you knew why I was gone, you would let me, and I could explain what just happened, and you would post a guard on the camp!"
"Okay," Clawstar snarled, "why don't you be that guard, then?"
"I will!" Birdwing stalked back to the entrance of the camp, and sat down outside the entrance.
After what seemed like seven moon-rises, she saw a distant figure on the horizon. Not a traveler this time, she thought.
She leaped up and hissed as the figure came closer. Silverwing was staggering across the territory, pausing now and then to let out a despairing wail.
Mooneye rushed out of the camp. "A injured cat!" she gasped. She raced over to Silverwing, and let her lean on her shoulder as Mooneye guided her into the camp and to the medicine cat den.
Clawstar raced out of his den, where had had obviously been resting, when he smelled the strange she-cat. "Who are you?" he spat. "Get out of here!"
Mooneye laid Silverwing down into one of the nests and mewed, "This cat is staying. Their injuries are serious."
Clawstar stared at the visitor, noticing her injuries for the first time. "Oh. Okay." Crouching down to Silverwing's ear, he murmured, "What is your name?"
The silver she-cat murmured, "Silverwing."
"My name is Clawstar, leader of RiverClan."
"Your name is long, Clawstar, leader of RiverClan," Silverwing muttered.
"Call me Clawstar. I am the leader of RiverClan."
"Okay, Clawstar." Silverwing's eyes drifted closed. "Thank you for providing hospitality as I heal," she whispered. She sighed deeply, and fell asleep, her moving flank the only indication that she was alive.
"Sleep well, Silverwing," Mooneye whispered.
Birdwing knew that she could not say anything. If she did, she could give away the prophecy. She left the den first, in search of some fresh-kill. She grabbed a mouse out of the fresh-kill pile and gobbled it up as fast as she could, and her tummy began to become peaceful again.
Clawstar sat beside her. "Waterwing is going to retire today," he whispered. "I want you to become leader after me. I am on my last life."
Birdwing's eyes widened. "Really?" she gasped. "I thought that Fishjump was more likely to!"
"Fishjump is not ready for the responsibility. He never will be. But I know you are." Clawstar stared at his paws at a moment, then continued, "I know you'll do a great job as leader."
Birdwing's head lowered. "I don't think I can," she whispered. "It's too big."
"But I know you can handle it," Clawstar whispered, and padded away. "The ceremony will be at sunset. Be ready!" he called over his shoulder.
Birdwing stared at the sun rising in the sky, and thought, I will become leader of RiverClan. Everything will be fine.


Chapter 28

Trailspine raced through the forest, with Goldheart hard on his heels. When Trailspine diverted his path away from the camp, Goldheart followed. Trailspine leaped into the river dividing ShadowClan territory with ThunderClan, and swam across. He turned back to see Goldheart shaking in fear.
I don't care... Trailspine thought. He's an evil cat. And with that he raced off, with an angry hiss from Goldheart.
Trailspine raced into the ShadowClan camp, running into Applestar. He let out an angry hiss. "What are you doing?"
"Running from an intruder!" Trailspine gasped for breath. "They're fast!"
"Shouldn't they be running from you?" Applestar asked. "And why were you out so early?"
"Because I couldn't sleep." Trailspine looked down, ashamed of his lie. But Applestar didn't know what he was ashamed of.
"Why are you ashamed of not being able to sleep?" Applestar asked.
"Because... I need to be able to service my Clan the best I can, and I can't do that without any sleep!" Trailspine was telling the truth, now.
"That's true, but you need not be ashamed of it." Applestar spoke with a calm, relaxing tone that nearly made Trailspine forget about Goldheart. "Cats sleep when they're tired. Not because everyone else is."
"This is all very touching," Tigerpelt inturrupted, from where he had been listening in, "but didn't Trailspine say that he was running from an intruder?"
Applestar's tail stuck straight up. "Yes, he did." Directing his gaze towards Trailspine, he asked, "Where is he? What does he look like?"
"Well, the last time I saw him, he was-"
"Standing right behind you?"
Trailspine turned around to see Goldheart's fur fluffed out, claws unsheathed, ready for battle.
"And this is our new prisoner." Trailspine introduced. "What's your name?"
"Gold..." Goldheart trailed off. "Why do you want to know?"
"Do you have a second half?" Trailspine asked sarcastically.
"Yes."
Then what is it?" Trailspine flicked his tail, inviting other cats to come take a look.
"You all don't deserve to know my name." Goldheart thrashed his tail, and bared his teeth. "None of you do," he growled.
"Then we'll call him Goldkit." Trailspine finished.
ShadowClan stopped talking for a moment, and then started to let out purrs and mrrows of amusement.
"It's not funny!" Goldheart spat. "If you really want to know, then my name's Goldheart! Heart!"
ShadowClan was quiet quickly. Applestar stepped forward. "I think we're going to keep you prisoner for a little while, Goldkit."
Trailspine blinked. A Clan leader called a prisoner a kit name?
Goldheart bared his teeth. "Never! I will overpower you and become Goldstar!"
Trailspine got instinctively in front of his leader, dropping into a hunting crouch. "You're going to be crow-food in a heartbeat, Goldkit."
"Make me," Goldheart taunted. "Let's see you try."
Trailspine lunged at Goldheart, claws unsheathed, jaws wide open to bite. He landed on Goldheart and clawed him furiously, unleashing all his anger. "Get out of here!" he snarled. "ShadowClan will be in peace without you!"
"ShadowClan will be in peace with me!" Goldheart snarled back. His teeth snapped close to Trailspine's ear.
Trailspine clawed, twisting his back until there was no way that Goldheart could defend himself from his claws. Goldheart was starting to claw feebly now, one scratch for many attempts.
Applestar dove between the two cats, knocking Trailspine off of Goldheart. "Stop," he hissed angrily. "We need him for information."
"He doesn't know anything." Trailspine twisted his back until he could see a long scar on his back leg. "Can I get my scratches treated?"
"Flamepelt!" Dawnfire called. "Trailspine's got a nasty cut!"
"I'm coming!" Flamepelt called. "Can you get him in here, please?"
"I'll get myself there," Trailspine offered. He limped into the medicine den which, thankfully, was not far away. Flamepelt had him lay in a nest of moss.
"Milkpaw's going to be treating you today. It's her final test. Is that okay with you?" Flamepelt asked anxiously.
"As long as they get healed as soon as possible," Trailspine sighed. "Can I go to sleep?"
Flamepelt nodded his approval, and Trailspine closed his eyes and drifted into a much-needed sleep.
He found himself in a tree. He was already three branches off the ground. He easily climbed onto the next-highest branch, which was just above his paws. I should get to the top, he thought.
The trunk was slippery, and it had no places to rest. He slipped once, and nearly fell off the tree itself. He grabbed the second-highest brach again, and began his climb again. Now, it seemed that his climb was effortless, and fast.
He climbed onto the top branch and stared at the world around him. A misty StarClan cat appeared beside him- Lynxheart, his mother, who had died in a fight against a badger.
"Mother," Trailspine whispered. "I thought I'd never see you again!"
"I will be seeing you a lot more now, my young warrior," Lynxheart replied. "But no matter what you do, you will always end up here." Her image began to fade away. "Good bye, young one," she whispered.
Trailspine dove forward and tried to capture his mother, to make her stay. But he couldn't touch her, and he fell off the branch...


Chapter 29

Hollystar's voice was strong as she asked, "Who are you?"
"I am Starpelt." The rusty-colored cat's eyes shone like fire as he continued. "I was supposed to have been escorted here." He stared directly at who he thought was Forestheart. But, the cat he was looking at wasn't Forestheart. It was Forestheart's father, Graystripe. His mother, Millie, had died in a bad accident that Graystripe would not put into words. Graystripe had Forestheart's strong, young-looking body, but Graystripe was the oldest cat in the Clan.
He doesn't know who I am! Forestheart thought confidently.
"Who's that strange cat? What's he doing here?" Brushpaw asked, cowering behind Forestheart. "Make him go away!"
"That strange cat's name, if you were listening, is Starpelt." Forestheart said his words quickly, looking for an opening. "And if he's staring at Graystripe like that, it can't be good."
Brushpaw looked even more scared. "Go get him, then! You are a warrior, right?"
"I am..." Forestheart whispered. His voice raised into a battle yowl as he repeated, "I am... a warrior!" He charged at Starpelt, leaping on top of him. "I don't know what you're doing here, Starpelt, but you sure aren't allowed to do it here!" he hissed.
"I don't have a warrior code to follow!" Starpelt sneered. "I can do anything I want, while you have to put your Clan first." And with that, he leaped up, throwing Forestheart across the clearing.
He could hear Skycloud's angry wail as she joined in the fight. "No, Skycloud!" he yowled. "Stay back!"
But Starpelt had already leaped on her. There was a fierce tangle of claws, and Starpelt came out on top. Skycloud let out angry wail of pain as she escaped Starpelt's claws.
Forestheart yowled angrily, but Hollystar was already rushing forward. She jumped on Starpelt, claws outstretched, and tore at Starpelt's fur. After what seemed like many moons, but may not have been any time at all, Hollystar had pinned Starpelt down on the ground, claws firmly dug in.
"Help!" Starpelt wailed. "Some cat, help me!"
Emeraldstorm bolted out of her den with herbs to treat Skycloud with, but at Starpelt's call, she called, "Mintpaw! Treat Starpelt!"
A whine came from the medicine cats' den, accompinaned with a voice saying, "But he might hurt me! I haven't had any advanced training yet!'"
"You won't need any!" Emeraldstorm called back.
"But..." Mintpaw protested.
"Now, Mintpaw!" Emeraldstorm turned back to her patient. "Where was I?"
"Poppy seeds?" Skycloud asked weakly.
"Yes," Emeraldstorm remembered, "a poppy seed."
Forestheart left them to their medicine cat things, and raced over to Hollystar, who had gotten off of Starpelt.
"Good job, Forestheart," Hollystar whispered.
"I didn't do as well as you, though," Forestheart protested.
"I'm going to make you my deputy," Hollystar mewed.
Graystripe heard Hollystar's comment and added, "He would make an amazing leader."
"I'm on my last life," Hollystar whispered in Forestheart's ear. "You're going to be the next leader."
Forestheart blinked. "Would you like some fresh-kill?" he asked weakly.


After the deputy ceremony, leaving Treepelt as an elder, Forestheart cuddled into his nest in the center of the warrior's den.
"You'll have to get up early, Forestheart, if you want to arrange the patrols," Waterfoot mewed.
"I will," Forestheart sighed, "but now, I must sleep."


Chapter 30

Harerush growled in pain and fury. We were supposed to work together! Mentor and apprentice!
Fastfleet stood over his brother's body, murmuring, "I'll get you to Falconswoop, everything's going to be okay..."
Brownpelt stood beside him, staring. "I hate you!" she spat, turning on Bronzetail. "I don't know who you are, or what your name is, or why you're here, but leave now!"
Bronzetail stood looking happily at Rushfoot's body, but at Brownpelt's fury he turned and mewed calmly, "I can't. This Clan obviously needs help."
Strongstar, who was crouched over Rushfoot's body, stood up. "No, we don't. You do. I know a cat that can help you, over by Horseplace. Go there."
"But what if I don't want to?" Bronzetail asked cheekily. "What happens then?"
"Then we'll drive you out." Shortwhisker mewed. "I don't want to see another Clan mate die, and you're sure not one."
Bronzetail blinked. "Fine," he mewed. "I'm leaving now... after this."
He jumped on Harerush, letting his cries echo through the ears of WindClan. Harerush could hear the blood pounding in his ears as he fought to stay alive. He kicked at Bronzetail and pushed him into Strongstar.
Bronzetail hissed and fought with Strongstar.
A pang came through Harerush as he realized, He's on his last life!
Harerush yowled, "For my Clan!" and leaped on Bronzetail. Bronzetail was thrown off Strongstar and tumbled on the ground, where he was attacked by Featherclaw.
Harerush turned to Strongstar, ignoring the fight behind him, and whispered, "Are you okay?"
Strongstar did not reply.
"Strongstar!" Harerush yowled. "Answer me, Strongstar!"
Strongstar did not reply.
He's not breathing, Harerush realized. He must be losing a life.
Harerush felt yet another pang go through him. That's his last life.
Harerush turned away from Strongstar's dead body and wailed in anguish.
WindClan cats stopped watching the fight and turned to their deputy, and only two kept on watching him after the rest had turned back to watch the fight between Bronzetail and Featherclaw.
"What's the matter, Harerush?" Thrushfoot asked quietly.
Harerush wailed loud enough for all of WindClan to hear. "Strongstar is dead!"
Thrushfoot's eyes widened. WindClan stopped watching the fight to look at Harerush and the dead body behind him. Featherclaw screeched angrily and clawed at Bronzetail faster, finding new energy inside.
"You're our leader now, Harerush!" Fastfleet called. He didn't seem at all disturbed by the loss of his leader. "Who's the deputy?"
"Nobody," Harerush growled. "Not yet."
"But it's sunhigh! You need to at least think about it!"
"I don't need to announce my decision until moonhigh, Fastfleet." Harerush turned away from WindClan and sat down. "I don't want to think about it yet," he murmured to himself. "StarClan, help me."
"It's going to be okay, Harerush." Thrushfoot whispered. She had sat down next to Harerush. "I'm expecting your kits, if it makes you feel any better."
Harerush gasped and stood up. "Really?" he mewed. "Oh, how many?"
"Falconswoop doesn't know yet. She won't know until just before they're born." Thrushfoot eyed her belly. "It won't be long now until it's swollen."
"We must name one Rushkit." Harerush paced around Thrushfoot. "And the other Windkit."
"Who said there would be two?" Thrushfoot purred.
"I just know there is," Harerush whispered, "there has to be."
"Harerush! We must go to the Moonpool tomorrow night," Falconswoop called across the clearing.
"Why not tonight?" Harerush asked.
"You do want to mourn for your dead Clanmates, don't you?" Falconswoop asked.
Bronzetail screeched and fled out of the WindClan camp, away from Featherclaw's claws. "He won't be coming back for a long time!" Featherclaw crooned.


Chapter 31

Birdwing stared after her father as he padded away. He's making me deputy!
She watched two figures leave the medicine den; Mooneye and Silverwing.
Birdwing bounded over to Mooneye and murmured in her ear, "She's recovered already?"
Mooneye sounded surprised. "No, but she wanted to watch-"
Silverwing stumbled into Jaywing, who hissed in surprise. "Get off me, cat!"
"The ceremony," Mooneye finished uncertainly. "But now I'm not sure."
"What ceremony?" Jaywing asked curiously. "Why?"
Mooneye and Birdwing exchanged looks. "Our deputy is retiring."
Jaywing's eyes widened. "You mean Waterwing?" he gasped. "Who's going to be deputy next?"
"I don't have any idea," Mooneye replied truthfully. "But whoever it is, they must be a great warrior, ready to become a leader."
Jaywing's chest fur puffed out proudly; Jaywing walked proudly around Birdwing. "You might as well call me Jaystar now!"
Birdwing snorted. "No, silly," she mewed, causing Jaywing's chest to flatten quickly, "me."
Jaywing blinked. "Wow," he whispered. "My mate- the deputy!"
"Not for long," Silverwing hissed under her breath. "Then I'll be Silverstar."
"What?" Jaywing asked, not hearing her statement.
"I didn't say anything," Silverwing mewed.
Jaywing stared at her for a long time before turning to Birdwing. "I know you'll be great."
Birdwing stared shyly at her feet. "I'm not sure..."
"Just think-" Jaywing interrupted, "two generations of stars, one after another. Will one of our kits become leader?"
"Who said we would have kits?" Birdwing purred.
"I did." Jaywing mewed curtly. "Anyway, the Clan needs something to remember me by." Jaywing's eyes were shining. "We'll name one Birdkit."
"No," Birdwing contradicted, "as Clan leader, our kit will not be Birdkit. How about Riverkit?"
Jaywing shook his head. "I don't want to think about this now. Too much pressure."
A brown cat named Reednose yowled across the camp, "Come on! The ceremony's starting!"
Birdwing jerked her head up and stared into Jaywing's eyes. "I'm not ready yet," she whispered. "I don't think I'll ever be."
"It's okay," Jaywing reassured her. "Everything's going to be alright."
The four cats padded to the Clan, where Clawstar was standing tall on the Tall-log. "Are you ready?" he asked.
Jaywing nodded for Birdwing, who had become petrified in fear. I'll never be a good deputy! she thought.
Clawstar raised his head in a yowl. "Waterwing is retiring!"
RiverClan stared at the blue-gray cat, murmuring surprise. "She was so strong!" Tumblepaw whispered beside Birdwing.
"Waterwing, is your wish to give up your status of a warrior and become an elder?" Clawstar asked, reciting the words as he done countless times before.
"It is," Waterwing whispered, lowering her head to face the dusty ground she was standing on. "It really is."
"Then StarClan may grant you many seasons of rest."
"Waterwing, Waterwing, Waterwing!" RiverClan called.
"I'll always be ready to fight!" Waterwing mewed above the chaos. "I will always be warrior in my heart."
Birdwing rolled her eyes. Waterwing had always been dramatic, but she was a trustworthy and strong cat. She had been a good deputy.
"Now, it is time for me to announce our new deputy." Clawstar gazed around his Clan, his gaze resting on every cat. "I say these words before the spirits of StarClan, so they may hear and approve my choice."
The Clan was quiet, except for Streamkit, who was quieted by her mother, Ryerush.
"Birdwing is the new deputy of RiverClan."
Yowls of protest and congratulations rose through the crowd. "Why her?" Fishjump wailed. "I am more worthy than her!"
Birdwing ignored her Clan and stared up at her father. Now, I just have to wait.


Chapter 32

Trailspine woke up with a gasp, finding himself in the medicine den.
"What's the matter, Trailspine?" Flamepelt gasped.
"Bad... dream." Trailspine didn't want to talk- he wanted to leave and find a hole to die in. To see his mother forever, whenever he wanted to. All he had to do was call...
"Milkpool! Stop him!" Flamepelt hissed. Trailspine realized that he had gotten up and was now hobbling towards the entrance of the den as fast as he could.
Milkpaw raced forward and grabbed her brother by the scruff, pulling him back towards his nest.
"Thank you, Milkpool," Flamepelt mewed.
Milkpool? "Why is he calling you Milkpool?" Trailspine asked Milkpaw.
"Guess." Milkpaw jumped eagerly around the den.
Trailspine blinked. "No way."
Milkpool nodded. "Yes."
"You're a full medicine cat now! Congratulations!" Trailspine looked at Flamepelt, silently asking permission to stand.
"Go ahead," Flamepelt mewed aloud. "You're the first cat besides us to know."
Trailspine hobbled over to his sister and nuzzled her flank with his muzzle. "This calls for a mouse!" he mewed.
"You're hungry?" Milkpool asked. "Here, I'll get it, and I'll get Oakpelt. StarClan knows, he needs some cheering up!" She padded out of the den as Trailspine sat down again.
"I can't believe I missed my sister's ceremony!" Trailspine whispered angrily. "Oh, I'm such a mouse-brain!"
"You were tired, and Milkpool didn't want to wake you up. We did it outside the camp." Flamepelt walked across the den and buried his muzzle into Trailspine's fur. "She did it for you."
Trailspine was comforted by Flamepelt's action. "If she did it for me, then... okay."
Milkpool came into the den with Oakpelt just behind her. Both cats had two mice in their jaws. Oakpelt laid one of his next to Trailspine and laid down next to him.
"How are you doing?" Oakpelt asked Trailspine. "Your scratches okay?"
Trailspine nodded.
"You've been asleep since sunhigh! Are you sure?" Oakpelt checked.
"He is," Milkpool interrupted. She had given her second mouse to Flamepelt and settled down next to him.
"So, why am I here?" Oakpelt's voice changed to the gentle voice he had been using with Trailspine to the disturbed voice he had been using with the rest of the Clan, including Trailspine, since his warrior ceremony.
"Milkpool has some news," Trailspine growled. "You could at least be happy about it."
Oakpelt leaped to his paws, hissing. "You don't know why, though!"
"Then tell me! And Milkpool!" Trailspine hissed. "You know, I liked you a lot more when we were apprentices. Why can't I like you as a warrior?"
"Because I don't think I deserve my warrior name." Oakpelt's voice suddenly turned to one of great sadness.
Milkpool stood up. "Why do you think that?" she asked, sounding astounded.
"Remember that fight, when Flameheart and Olivepelt...?" Oakpelt trailed off, and looked at Trailspine helplessly. "Do you?"
"Of course I do, Oakpelt," Trailspine whispered. "It was scary."
"They hurt me, Trailspine," Oakpelt continued. "Tigerpelt had to drag me back to camp."
"I know," Trailspine mewed slowly, "I fought back. Flameheart knows I'm a threat."
"I didn't fight." Oakpelt wimpered. "At all."
"And you think you should of fought to earn your warrior name?" Milkpool asked. "I too, think I should of done more to earn my full name. But Applestar and Flamepelt thought we were ready. And if they think we're ready, we are."
"Full... name...?" Oakpelt looked astounded. "Milkpool! Congratulations!" he purred. "Wow, I thought you were going to confront me about my behavior!"
"No," Flamepelt snorted. "We just wanted to make you the happy and great Oakpelt we've always known."
Oakpelt nodded. "Thank you."
"I have to go check Shrewtail's kits," Flamepelt mewed. "I'll leave you three to talk- Trailspine, you look anxious." And with that he walked out of the den with a mouthful of herbs.
"I had a dream," Trailspine began as soon as he was out of earshot. "I was hoping Milkpool could tell me what it meant. And I think Oakpelt should hear this, too."
"Tell me," Milkpool mewed, laying down next to Trailspine. Oakpelt lay across from him.
"I was in a tree," Trailspine began slowly, "already quite high up. I climbed easily onto the branch above me."
Milkpool nodded. "Go on," she mewed.
"I climbed onto the top branch. The trunk was slippery, but it hadn't rained in a long time, I could tell, and there were no claw-holds. I nearly fell once, but I caught myself and made it the top branch easily the second time."
Milkpool nodded again. "Continue."
"The top branch was stronger than I thought it would be. I saw our mother."
"You saw Lynxheart?" Oakpelt asked. "Was she okay? Did she look like she had eaten? What did she smell like?"
"I did see Lynxheart. But she talked to me, and disappeared."
"What did she say?" Milkpool asked, deep in thought."
" 'No matter what you do, you will always end up here,' " Trailspine recited.
"I know what it means." Oakpelt stood up, shaking.
Milkpool blinked. "That was fast," she commented.
"What does it mean?" Trailspine stood up, wincing at the weight put on his back leg.
"It means you're going to become leader." Oakpelt mewed firmly. "There's nothing to it. You're the obvious next deputy, with Marshpaw, and then you'll have some strange trouble getting to be a leader."
Trailspine nodded. "Milkpool?"
"He's right." Milkpool stood up and paced around the den, pausing once to sniff the herbs. "We're running out of parsley," she muttered. Raising her voice, she added, "You're going to be the next ShadowClan leader."

Chapter 33

Forestheart woke up to a cat staring at him. "Who's on the dawn patrol?" Brushpaw asked.
"Brushpaw!" Forestheart hissed. "You're not supposed to be in here!"
"I let her," Waterfoot murmured from across the den. "It's not like I was moving to ask a question like that."
"Then you can lead the dawn patrol," Forestheart decided. "And bring Blackpaw. He wants to see the forest."
"We need two more warriors," Skycloud mewed.
"You and Flameheart." Forestheart stretched his back, arching it until his belly touched the ground. "Get going, then!" he hissed at Waterfoot. "It's not like you have all day! If you don't go now, you're leading the dawn patrol tomorrow!"
Waterfoot scrambled up, streched his back, and cast a rebellious look at Forestheart before leaving the den. "Come on, then!" he called to Skycloud and Flameheart. "If you two aren't ready by the time I get Blackpaw, then..."
"Then you'll lead the dawn patrol tomorrow," Flameheart finished grandly. "Now, Olivepelt can lead the hunting patrol, with..." Forestheart looked around the den, searching for sleepy cats, "Lightheart and Grasspaw."
Olivepelt got up and stretched. "Do I have to?"
Forestheart nodded, and flicked his tail, telling the two cats to leave.
"Do you think we need two?" Lightheart asked.
Forestheart nodded. "Steelclaw and Whiteheart, with... Foxheart as their leader."
Three cats groaned, stretched, and left the den, followed by Forestheart and Brushpaw, who reluctantly came at Forestheart's annoyed look.
Volekit bounded out of the nursery. He and his sister, Creamkit, were kits to Waterfoot and his mate, Runningfoot.
"Hi, Brushkit!" Creamkit squeaked. Forestheart hadn't noticed her follow her brother out of the nursery.
"It's Brushpaw now, Creamkit," Brushpaw corrected.
"Sorry, Brushpaw!" Creamkit backed away, looking scared. "I won't make that mistake again!"
"She won't hurt you, Creamkit!" Volekit mewed, his black pelt ruffled in amusement. "She probably hasn't had any warrior training yet, and she's still our size!"
"Come on, Brushpaw." Forestheart flicked his tail towards the camp entrance, and walked towards it. "I'm going to teach you some hunting."
"Bye Volekit! Bye Creamkit!" Brushpaw mewed, and she raced to join Forestheart at the tunnel. She dove through first, nearly crushing Forestheart's paw, and crawled through. The second hunting patrol, led by Foxheart, was just in front of her.
Forestheart growled in disbelief. She might have a little more sense next time! he thought, and crawled through the tunnel after her.
"Wow!" Brushpaw whispered, staring at the forest around her. "I never thought it was this big!"
"It is," Forestheart commented, shaking his fur from scraps of leaves and other un-needed things, "and wait until you see the lake. We'll start there, and go around the territory. Can you scent the lake from here?"
Brushpaw opened her jaws slightly, tasting the wind. "It's this way," she mewed, padding in one direction, forcing Forestheart to race after her.
The two cats padded side by side until they reached the lake. "Wow," Brushpaw whispered again, inhaling the lake's fishy smell.
Forestheart inhaled, too. The wind is blowing from RiverClan today, he noticed.
"Inhale again," he instructed. "Besides the lake, what else do you smell?"
Brushpaw inhaled. "I smell... a fishy smell, but it also smells like water, and... grass. And mud," she added. "What is it?"
"That, Brushpaw, is the scent of RiverClan. If you smell it here, that must mean there's trouble, because their territory is across the lake."
Brushpaw nodded. "Okay. I smell squirrel!"
Forestheart inhaled. "Yes, you do! Why don't you try and... catch it?"
Brushpaw blinked. "Okay," she mewed hesitantly. "I'll try." She crouched down close to the ground and started to creep towards the squirrel. The squirrel, who was eating a nut, didn't notice.
Brushpaw pounced, missed, and the squirrel escaped, dropping its nut.
"Good job," Forestheart mewed, impressed. I wasn't nearly as good as her when I was a new apprentice!
"What did I do wrong?" Brushpaw paced in a circle, looking troubled. "Grasspaw made sure I mastered it!"
"Grasspaw taught you to track a squirrel?" Forestheart asked, surprised. "I thought he didn't have anything to do with kits, not since his apprentice ceremony."
"He got over that," Brushpaw informed him. "He taught me, Beekit, and Blackkit!"
"Beepaw and Blackpaw," Forestheart corrected. "You seem to have trouble with that."
"I just can't imagine that I'm a warrior apprentice! I love it!" Brushpaw leaped up and attempted to hook a falling leaf in her claws. In leaf-fall, leaves were strewn all over the ground.
"Great," Forestheart mewed. He paused, and asked, "What did Grasspaw teach you?"
"He said tracking mice and squirrels were the same." Brushpaw sat down where the squirrel had been. "Was he right?"
"Yes, he was," Forestheart assured her. "You just need to pull all your weight off your left side and distribute it evenly in your back legs, so you can put your front paws down lightly. Mice can feel the vibrations of your paw steps through the ground, you know!"
Brushpaw nodded. "Okay."
The two cats used the rest of the day and hunted at their will. Brushpaw caught three mice, and after learning how to track a rabbit, she caught one. Forestheart caught a shrew, three crows, a rabbit, and a squirrel. Forestheart thought that both of the cats had done well, but he himself could of done better.
The cats padded leisurely back to camp. The Clan greeted them back with yowls of "Good job!" before going back to what they were doing- some cats were eating, others were sharing tongues or reinforcing the camp walls. Beepaw was talking to his brother, and they seemed to be comparing days. The kits were playing outside the nursery, watched my their mothers. Along with Volekit and Creamkit, there was also Antkit, Softkit, and Mudkit, kits of Echostep.
"Time to come in, kits!" Echostep called. The five kits quickly untangled themselves and raced into the nursery. Softkit glanced at the medicine den before turning away and padding into the den.
"Brushpaw!" Beepaw called. "You caught all that?"
Brushpaw set down her catch and called, "'Yup!" before turning to Forestheart. "Where do I put this?" she asked.
"Give it to the elders. Apprentices always catch for the elders." Forestheart sat down and licked his paws, running them over his ears as he added, "I had fun today."
"Okay," Brushpaw mewed awkwardly. "Um, so did I." She picked up her prey and headed to the elders' den.
After making the patrols- Waterfoot with Blackpaw and Cloudstorm, and Gorsefoot with Skycloud and Beepaw- he headed to the fresh-kill pile.
He ate his mouse and fell asleep in his nest, with no dreams at all. StarClan, show me the way!


Chapter 34

Harerush woke up in his unfamiliar den. Where am I? he asked himself drowsily. He looked at his surroundings and realized he was in the leader's den. Where's Strongstar?
"Harerush!" a voice called. "Can I come in?"
Why do you need my permission? It's not like I'm leader or anything. At that moment, everything came back to Harerush. Sitting vigil for Strongstar in broad daylight with all of WindClan, appointing his new deputy, Featherclaw, and watching the elders drag Strongstar's body out for burial. I'm WindClan's leader now. I have to strong, for the sake of my Clan. Nothing has changed for them.
"Can I come in?" the voice repeated, sounding anxious. "Harerush, are you okay?"
"Yes, I'm fine," Harerush called back, hearing the sigh of releif from the cat outside his den. "You may come in."
Featherclaw walked into the den. "I wanted to see if you were okay. You've had a long night."
"I'm fine," Harerush repeated, but even he couldn't convince himself. "Do you think I'll be a good leader?"
"You already are, choosing me as deputy." Featherclaw purred in amusment. "I'm just joking. But if Strongstar thought you would be, then you are."
Harerush stared at his paws. "Are you sure?" he asked hesitantly. "Because I don't want to burden the Clan."
"Well, you'll have to find out later. Tonight you're recieving your nine lives, and two nights after is the Gathering. You'll be used to being called Harestar by then." Featherclaw spoke quickly, almost avoiding Harerush's gaze. "At least, I hope you will."
"Do you like being deputy?" Harerush asked, changing the subject.
Featherclaw's eyes brightened as she answered, "Yes! I love being able to boss around cats older than me."
"It's not just about that," Harerush warned. "When the leader is away from the camp, like tonight, you'll be in charge of the camp, and neither me or Falconswoop will be able to help you."
"Every cat respects me, though," Featherclaw countered. "I'll be fine."
"You'd better be," Harerush growled, turning away. "For the sake of WindClan."
Another cat padded through the entrance of the den- Falconswoop. Sitting down, she asked, "Are you ready? We'll be leaving at sunhigh," she added. "Not too long from now."
"Then I'm going to get some fresh-kill," Harerush mewed, and stood up.
He was halfway out of the den before Falconswoop stopped him. "You aren't allowed to eat before you go to to the Moonpool."
"But medicine cats do!" Harerush protested, hearing his belly growl. "Why can't I?"
"It's just... a rule," Falconswoop mewed quietly. "I never made it up. It's been tradition for longer than any Clan cat can remember."
Harerush snorted. "Fine," he mewed. "But I'm hunting right after the ceremony."
Falconswoop nodded. "That's allowed."
Harerush finished his journey to the entrance of the den. "I must address my Clan before I go."


Harerush stared at the StarClan cats before him. Nine of the most important cats in his life. He had one life left- to be given to him by no other cat than Strongstar himself. I hope it happens without any more pain.
Strongstar padded forward and stopped before him. "With this life, your final life," he began, "I give you strength." He touched his nose to Harerush's and let the life flow through him.
I need that strength to overcome this! Harerush thought in despair as the pain echoed through his body like an empty cavern.
Harerush stopped squirming as the pain faded away for the last time.
Strongstar straightened up and mewed, "Harerush, I hail you by your new name, Harestar. Lead your Clan well."
Harestar straightened up. "I will," he declared boldly. "The future of the Clans lies in friendship."


Chapter 35

Tonight's my first Gathering as the deputy! Birdwing couldn't help but think about boasting to her friends about how she got to sit on the roots of the big oak tree with Harerush, Treepelt, and ShadowClan's deputy, Bushtail.
Birdwing was walking next to Jaywing, pelts brushing, making her way to the Gathering with RiverClan. Clawstar was at the front, and he beckoned to Birdwing. "Come, walk next to me, Birdwing!" he called.
Birdwing sighed. "Yes, Clawstar," she called back. She bounded forward until she was matching pace with her father. "What's the matter?" she asked.
"I feel something's wrong." Clawstar sighed. "As my new deputy, I want you help me keep the Clan under control."
"What do you mean?" Birdwing asked, confused. "Life is good. Prey is running well, as far as I know, in all four territories."
Clawstar nodded. "You make a good point. But still, be prepared," he added as an afterthought. "You never know when Clan life may change."
Birdwing nodded and saw that they were approaching the tree-bridge. She was the first cat on and she quickly made it to the other side. She looked back and saw that Jaywing was helping Tumblepaw across the log. She saw Tumblepaw stumble; Jaywing lunged forward and grabbed Tumblepaw by the scruff. Tumblepaw's feet were touching the water. Jaywing grunted and hauled Tumblepaw back onto the log, and the two cats wasted no more time getting across the log to the island.
Tumblepaw instantly raced away into the clearing, away from the log.
"He didn't seem scared at all," Jaywing murmured to Birdwing. "I don't know why he's so anxious now, all of a sudden."
"It's his first Gathering," Birdwing mewed curtly. "Remember, both of us were like this, too."
"And you were the one that nearly fell off the log!" Jaywing purred.
Birdwing swiped her friend's ears with her tail. "At least I knew how to swim, after you and Suneye fell in the water!"
"I knew how to swim too," Jaywing retorted lightly. "Just not as well as now."
Birdwing nodded in agreement just as she heard a new voice behind her. "Hi Birdwing," it said.
Birdwing spun around to find Trailspine standing with his brother and sister beside him. "Hi, Oakpelt," she mewed. "Hi, Milkpaw!"
Milkpaw straightened up. "Milkpool," she corrected.
"I'm sorry, I didn't know," Birdwing stammered. She backed away from Milkpool and turned to Trailspine and Oakpelt. "What's new in ShadowClan?"
"New deputy," Trailspine muttered.
"Come on, Trailspine!" Oakpelt mewed. "I've always wanted to be deputy! You're so lucky!"
"You're deputy, Trailspine?" Birdwing asked. "So am I!"
Trailspine jerked his head up from where he had been staring at his paws. "Really?" he stammered. "Now I get to sit with you, and Harerush!"
"And Forestheart."
"Forestheart!" Trailspine gasped. "Really?"
Birdwing stumbled around to a gray cat with forest-green eyes looking straight down at her. "You're deputy?" Forestheart asked her.
Birdwing nodded. "Now it's the four of us!"
Forestheart sighed. "I wish I could be happy too, but Lightheart doesn't love me anymore. Now, I have no one, while she has Embereye."
"Embereye?" Trailspine asked.
Forestheart gestured with his tail towards a cat with a bright orange pelt.
"Oh," Trailspine mewed. "I'm sorry."
"Let's go sit down on the roots," Birdwing suggested quietly. She wanted to take Forestheart's mind off of Lightheart.
Forestheart sighed. "Okay," he muttered. "Let's go."
"Bye Milkpool! Bye Oakpelt!" Trailspine called over his shoulder as the three cats padded away.
As the three cats sat down, Forestheart seemed a little happier. "I wonder where Harerush is," he wondered aloud.
"Where is he?" Trailspine echoed thoughtfully.
"Is WindClan not coming tonight?" Birdwing asked.
The scent of WindClan suddenly filled Birdwing's nose. There they are!
Featherclaw sat down on the roots next to her. "Hi," she mewed.
"This is only for deputies," Trailspine snarled.
Harerush padded over to them.
"Hi, Harerush!" Forestheart mewed. "What's new in WindClan?"
Harerush ignored them and scrambled into the lowest branch of the tree.

Chapter 36

"Harerush!" Trailspine called desperately, "Come back down! Where's Strongstar?"
Harerush still ignored the three cats- his friends, and stared out at the rest of the cats.
Hollystar, Applestar, and Clawstar looked confused. "Why are you here?" they asked him.
Birdwing heard Harerush mutter, "I'll tell you when the Gathering begins."
Hollystar instantly stepped forward and yowled, "The Gathering has begun!" She politely nodded at Harerush and stepped away from the center of attention.
"What is he going to say?" Trailspine asked Featherclaw. I hope everything's alright in WindClan!
Harerush yowled, "A quarter moon ago, an evil cat, Bronzetail, attacked WindClan. He killed two cats."
There were angry hisses in all four Clans. "Who?" one brave cat asked loudly. Trailspine recognized the voice of Jaywing.
"Rushfoot." Harerush looked down at the four cats sitting on the roots of the tree. "My own apprentice."
There was a gasp among the Clans; many cats let out angry hisses.
Next to Trailspine, Featherclaw sighed. "He was an amazing warrior."
"And the other cat killed was..." Harerush trailed off. He looked like he couldn't bear to go on; he tail drooped and his head lowered.
"Tell them," Clawstar growled. "Tell me, Harerush. I'll tell the other cats."
"This is WindClan's duty!" Hollystar spat. "Harerush shall let one of us tell the Clans if he wants to."
"Don't call me Harerush," the WindClan cat mewed softly. He straightened up. "Call me Harestar."
Birdwing's eyes widened; she stumbled back into Trailspine. Trailspine could barely feel it. He couldn't hear the commotion around him. He could only stare around with a blank mind, not seeing anything. In his world, everything was okay, he was an apprentice again, just meeting Hare...star... and Birdwing and Forestheart. His memory flashed to an earlier time- his dream. Is that who I will become?
Harestar's voice rose over the commotion. "But that is why I chose my new deputy. She alone drove Bronzetail out. She alone was brave enough to fight Trenchfoot, showing him the true power of she-cats. She is truly Strongstar's daughter."
Forestheart stumbled back. His gray fur was bristling in disbelief. "You're Strongstar's daughter?" he asked. "Nobody told me."
Featherclaw stood up, her head bowed. "Is that so surprising?" she asked angrily. "Yes, instead of being the new leader, Strongstar's daughter is the new deputy of WindClan, never to be a leader," she spat to the Clans. "But I don't care. Harestar deserved it more. He was a strong kit, a strong apprentice, a strong warrior. He will be a strong leader, to lead WindClan to a time of greatness and power."
Harestar, in the tree, blinked. "Really?" he asked. "That's... good."
"Do you not believe me?" Featherclaw asked angrily, her teeth bared in snarl. "Well, it's true."
"Take it from me!" Trailspine added. "I know you, you'll be greater than any other leader of WindClan. I know it."
Forestheart nodded. "I agree."
"And so do I!" Birdwing yowled.
Harestar blinked gratefully. "Thank you," he mewed.
Hollystar stepped forward. "We have three new aprentices, Blackpaw, Brushpaw, and Beepaw."
Clawstar stepped forward. "RiverClan, too," he mewed. "Stonepaw and Tumblepaw."
"And ShadowClan has one, Marshpaw," Applestar added from the shadows. "This Gathering is over."
He leaped down from the tree, calling his Clan together. Trailspine obediently followed him, suddenly remembering he was deputy. "Come on, ShadowClan!" he called loudly through the talking cats. "It's time to go!"
His Clan gathered by the tree-bridge and crawled across, one by one. Applestar was first off and he bounded away, followed by the rest of ShadowClan.
Will these cats cause more trouble then they're meant to? Trailspine asked himself. How long does my leader have to live?

Chapter 37

Forestheart woke up to find his Clan in pure terror. What's wrong now? Wasn't last night enough? he asked himself angrily.
He crawled out of the den, still stretching, and yowled, "What now?"
Steelclaw hissed, "Starpelt's gone. We're going to send a patrol to ShadowClan."
For the last half-moon, ThunderClan had been keeping Starpelt prisoner. Starpelt hadn't seemed to be doing anything wrong- mostly because a younger warrior had always been on gaurd- but lately he been trying to get closer to Hollystar, trying to be friends.
"Why are you going to send a patrol to ShadowClan?" Forestheart asked cautiously.
"Oakpelt, a ShadowClan warrior, told me about this cat in their Clan," Waterfoot began, stepping forward. "He said his name was Goldheart, even though he didn't have a heart of gold at all."
Cloudstorm stood up from where he had been sitting. "And a RiverClan apprentice, Stonepaw, told me about a new cat in the Clan, named Silverwing."
"Did you tell him about Starpelt?" Forestheart asked.
"I didn't get a chance," Cloudstorm mewed, sounding cautious. "His brother, Tumblepaw, called him over so he could 'meet someone'."
Forestheart nodded his approval. "Then we send a patrol to ShadowClan, and one to RiverClan. Get their Clans, and have them all, excepting the elders and kits, to come. Guard the new cat yourself."
"Who's going?" a voice growled behind him.
Forestheart spun around. "Hollystar!" he gasped. "I... was just telling the Clan... m-my idea..." he trailed off.
"It looks like you were going to let it happen though." Hollystar paced around Forestheart, but Forestheart didn't turn with her. He stood, staring, straight ahead.
"Were you?" Hollystar spat suddenly, stopping in front of Forestheart.
Forestheart gasped, and stumbled back into Waterfoot. "Yes."
Hollystar's gaze softened. "I think it's a good idea. But what are we going to do here, with the three cats?"
"We're going to drive them out." Forestheart puffed out his chest. "But it's going to take a lot of work."
"Organize the patrols," Hollystar commanded. "I'll go to ShadowClan."
"I'll go to RiverClan, then," Forestheart decided. "With Waterfoot, Skycloud, and Cloudstorm."
The three cats nodded.
"And Steelfoot, Icewing, and..." Forestheart grasped for a decision. "Lightheart. And why not let Grasspaw go?"
"Can I come?" Brushpaw asked loudly from outside the apprentice's den. Grasspaw, Lightheart's apprentice, was sitting next to her. The green-eyed apprentice was looking surprised.
Forestheart twitched his whiskers in amusement. "Yes, okay."
Beepaw and Blackpaw emerged, too. "Can we come?" Blackpaw asked.
Forestheart sighed. He wanted to let the apprentices come, but he couldn't.
"Actually, Steelclaw and Waterfoot, switch patrols," Forestheart decided quickly. "Now the two apprentices can come."
Beepaw raced over to Skycloud in joy. "Really?" he asked in disbelief. "Wow!"
"Go with your mentors," Hollystar commanded gently.
Blackpaw raced over to Waterfoot and mewed, "Let's go!"
Hollystar's whiskers twitched. "Shall we?"
Forestheart nodded. "Let's go!"
The two patrols set out, each going different directions when they reached the ShadowClan border.
Forestheart reached the camp first, which was being guarded by none other than Applestar himself.
The ShadowClan leader's hackles raised. "What are you doing here?" he asked. "It looks like you're going to raid ShadowClan."
"Hollystar would be here, and most of the Clan as well. We are not here to invade. We are here to save you." Forestheart stepped forward, and nearly touched his nose to Applestar's. "Or is Goldheart already gone?" he whispered.
Applestar's tail raised in surprise. "We haven't gotten him out yet," he mewed.
"Then, I need you to bring all the apprentices and warriors and Goldheart and come with us," Forestheart commanded. "ShadowClan, ThunderClan, and hopefully RiverClan are going to team up to drive the three cats out for good."
Applestar gasped and raced into the camp, yowling, "Guard the entrance!" over his shoulder.
After what seemed like moons, Applestar came out, followed by half of ShadowClan. In the middle was Goldheart. "Let's go," Trailspine mewed.
Flamepelt, in the back, yowled, "We're ready back here!"
Applestar yowled, "Follow the ThunderClan patrol!"
Forestheart lead ShadowClan and his patrol through the forest to the ThunderClan camp. He could smell RiverClan approaching. Yes, Hollystar! Hurry! he yowled in his head.
One by one the cats crawled through the tunnel. Forestheart, Brushpaw, Skycloud, Beepaw, Steelclaw, and Cloudstorm. After him was Applestar and the rest of ShadowClan.
A gray apprentice crawled through and gasped. "Wow," he whispered. "I like this camp!" he yowled.
"Be quiet, Marshpaw," Trailspine mewed. "Our camp is perfectly fine. See that ledge? Cats have been killed falling over it."
Marshpaw shrunk back. "Oh," he whispered.
Trailspine nodded. "That's right."
RiverClan were crawling through the tunnel. "Hi, Forestheart!" Birdwing called. "I like it here!"
Trailspine sighed in exasperation and walked away.
"What was that all about?" Birdwing asked incredulously.
"Nothing," Forestheart mewed quickly.
"Get Goldheart, Silverwing, and Starpelt in the middle!" Applestar called.
Furious yowling began three places in the crowd as Starpelt, Silverwing, and Goldheart were shoved towards the middle.
Hollystar stepped forward. "You three have caused enough trouble in the Clans. It is time for you to leave now."
"Why would we want to?" Goldheart snarled. "As ShadowClan's prisoner, I get free food! Why would I want to leave?"
Applestar stepped forward. "If you leave, you'll get freedom and food. ShadowClan is no longer giving you any."
Goldheart blinked. "That's cruel," he spat.
Silverwing stepped away from having a intense conversation with Starpelt. "We'll leave," she mewed. "After this."
The three cats leaped on the three leaders. There was a yowl of pain from Hollystar, but Clawstar and Applestar were holding their own.
Forestheart shoved his way through the crowd, trying to find one of the medicine cats. "Where is Emeraldstorm?" he yowled.
Emeraldstorm appeared beside him. "What do you need?" she asked.
"How many lives does Hollystar have left?" Forestheart demanded.
"She's living on her last right now..." Emeraldstorm trailed off. "Oh, no."
"I've got to go!" Forestheart mewed. He pushed his way through the crowd once more, trying to find Flamepelt. Where is he? he asked himself angrily.
Another yowl came from Hollystar. Suddenly, she was silent.
ThunderClan cats were silent as they surveyed their leader. "Hollystar's dead!" Brushpaw yowled. "Forestheart, where are you?"
Forestheart did not call out, did not give away his position. He was still busy looking for Flamepelt.
He saw a flame-colored cat in front of him. Flamepelt! he exclaimed inside his head. "How many lives does Applestar have?" he demanded.
"After this one, just one life," Flamepelt replied.
Forestheart nodded, and pushed his way out to the center of the crowd, where the fighting was.
"I am leader of ThunderClan!" he proclaimed.
He saw Birdwing and Trailspine staring at him in disbelief. No time to think about that, Forestheart told himself. I have to protect my Clan.
A loud yowl came from Applestar. He was flailing his legs around, gasping for breath. Starpelt stepped back proudly, he had been fighting Applestar.
Applestar was quieted once, for what seemed like no time at all, but it could have been many days. He yowled again, and was silent. Forever, Forestheart realized.
Trailspine yowled in anger, and leaped on Starpelt.
Clawstar had stopped fighting, too. Birdwing was staring at her dead father in shock. She shook herself off and yowled, "I am leader of RiverClan!"
Goldheart spun around to face her. "You aren't any more," he snarled. "I am."
Silverwing leaped on Forestheart. Forestheart threw her off, and she landed, already running away.
Goldheart stared at his comrade and fled, too. Birdwing scratched him one time along his flank as he ran by her.
That left only Starpelt. "I'm not leaving," he snarled. "You'll never make me."
Trailspine yowled in pure anger and leaped on Starpelt. "You killed Applestar!" he yowled, dragging his claws down Starpelt's throat.
Blood gushed out of the wound as Trailspine stepped away and padded off. Starpelt was dead.
"I am leader of ShadowClan!" Trailspine proclaimed.

Chapter 38

Harestar walked to the Gathering with his Clan behind him. Three new apprentices, his kits, were walking directly behind him. Windpaw was excitedly talking to her brothers, Rabbitpaw and Rushpaw.
Rabbittail had been killed in a badger attack right before Harestar's kits had been born. That had been the only death in the Clan so far, but Harestar knew there would be more.
His Clan reached the tree-bridge and Harestar went first, making his way across like he had been his whole life. Featherclaw crossed after him and sat on the roots of the big tree Harestar scrambled up.
I wonder when ShadowClan, ThunderClan, and WindClan will get here? Harestar asked himself.
A strong scent of ThunderClan suddenly filled his nostrils as ThunderClan entered the clearing. Foreststar scrambled up beside him. "Hi, Harestar!" he mewed.
Foreststar's kits, Thunderpaw, Treepaw, Stickpaw, and Bouncepaw, were mewing greetings to WindClan cats. The ThunderClan deputy, Waterfoot, sat on the roots next to Featherclaw.
RiverClan came next. Birdstar came first, followed by her deputy, Suneye.
Birdstar's kits, Riverpaw, Reedpaw, Fishpaw, and Willowpaw, ran over to Harestar's three kits. Harestar noticed Fishpaw, who had been named for Birdstar's dead Clan mate, nuzzle Windpaw affectionately.
Last of all came ShadowClan, led by Trailstar himself. His kits, Shadowpaw and Greenpaw, were already racing around the clearing.
The ShadowClan deputy, Oakpelt, sat on the roots below the four leaders.
Harestar greeted the other three leaders. "Is it time to start the Gathering yet?" he asked.
"Go ahead," Trailstar invited. "You haven't started in two seasons."
"The Gathering has begun!" Harestar yowled. He let the cats quiet down, but flicked his tail impatiently as they realized many heartbeats later that Harestar had called the meeting.
"Life in WindClan is good," Harestar began. "Prey is running well."
Foreststar stepped forward. "We have three new warriors," he began. "Brushpath, Beeclaw, and Blacktooth."
Yowls of congratulations died down as Birdstar stepped forward. "Life in RiverClan is good, as well," she mewed. "There is nothing to report."
Trailstar stepped forward. "Marshpaw is now a warrior," he mewed. "Marshfoot."
"Is there nothing else to report?" Foreststar asked loudly.
The Clan cats shook their heads. "Nothing," Birdstar mewed aloud.
Harestar stared out at the Clan cats, purring to himself. Life in the Clans is good, he thought. But how long will it last?

Watch for the next book in the series! Warriors of the Lake - Falling Apart

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