_- IN SHADOWCLAN -_
¨Oceanstar!¨ Meowed woodfur as she was walking out of the deputy´s den. ¨Are you awake? The sun has already risen!¨ Said the she-cat in an attempt to wake the leader, Who was slowly walking out of the den.
¨What? Have the kits gotten lost again? I swear we need to put some more warriors back out by the clan entrance.” She hissed as she went to the fresh-kill pile to get a mouse. Woodfur followed her to the fresh-kill pile too. she grabbed a squirrel and walked off. She then followed after her to continue speaking. ¨woodfur? Why are you following me?¨ she meowed. ¨Woodfur, I need to tell you something.¨ she said. She sighed ¨I-I'm pregnant…¨ woodfur froze in shock as she Cried. ¨whos the dad/mom?¨ she hissed. ¨ Y-You! Only you can know about this! Lunadust Will choose which queen will give birth tonight at moonhigh!.¨ ¨Please! woodfur!¨ She cried. Woodfur sighed. ¨ Oh oceanstar What would I ever do without you?¨. She meowed.
“Rosefur!” Leopardflame called,” Rosefur!”
“What is it?” The lean, black she-cat padded up to the deputy, flicking her tail to excuse the apprentices behind her. “Go on.”
“I need you to take a patrol down to the lake. There hasn’t been a patrol down there for a while, and if you're lucky you may even find some prey.”
“Sure. Who should I take?” Rosefur lifted her head high and looked around as the deputy replied.
“Anybody. You can choose. Take Pebblepaw, she needs to learn to hunt properly.”
Rosefur nodded gracefully and trotted back to the apprentices.
“Pebblepaw, you are coming with me to patrol the lake. Maybe hunt, too. Cinderpaw, you can come too, if you want.” The grey tom edged towards Pebblepaw and nodded several times.
“I’ll meet you two out by the thorn tunnel, ok? I just need a few more warriors.”
“Ok, Rosefur.” Pebblepaw meowed, flicking a pale ear.”Let’s go, Cinderpaw!”
Cinderpaw nodded and sped ahead, Pebblepaw just behind him. They burst through the tunnel and out into the forest, just as Maplefur and Jayglade arrived from hunting. The two apprentices bashed into the senior warriors, and lay, stunned, on their backs for a moment.
“I’m -sorry!” Pebblepaw panted, her eyes wide with surprise and guilt.
“Yeah, Sorry.” Cinderpaw nodded, scrambling to his paws.
At that moment, Pebblepaw’s mentor Rosefur came out of the camp, followed by Falconpaw and Yellowripple.
“Rosefur, Yellowripple. Falconpaw.” Jayglade nodded to them, and without saying anything more the two warriors padded back into the camp.
“Well well well.” Yellowripple glanced down at Pebblepaw and snorted.”How graceful.”
Pebblepaw pulled herself off the ground and sniffed in defiance. “I’ll show you!”
“I’ll be waiting.” Yellowripple’s voice was tinged with amusement.
“Stop arguing you two! We have a border to patrol and prey to catch!” Rosefur stalked ahead of them and lead the way through the bushes. Falconpaw followed her closely, her eyes wide in admiration. With a nod to Cinderpaw, Pebblepaw ran ahead and joined Falconpaw.
Falconpaw didn’t reply, just stalked onwards, her hackles raised slightly.
“Falconpaw, are you alright?”
‘Who put ants in her nest?’ Pebblepaw thought, falling behind her slightly.
“Come on! I see a Windclan patrol!” Whispered Cinderpaw, who had suddenly appeared by her side.” and best of all, Rosefur hasn’t spotted it!”
Cinderpaw nodded to Pebblepaw slightly from next to Yellowripple. The old Tomcat was making strange noises after every step, and Cinderpaw was beginning to feel anxious for the warrior. Very slowly, he slid backward, until he was a fox length behind the shuddering tom. Suddenly, he jerked sideways and slid into the bushes. From his hiding place, he could just see Pebblepaw sidestep into the shadow of a tree, where she stood straight and rigid, her blue eyes flickering as she watched the patrol move on. After a while, Cinderpaw came out from the bush. He followed Pebblepaw silently through the trees until they reached a small clearing, very close to the Windclan border.
“We did it! Now let’s go to the stream and catch that patrol!” He meowed happily.
“I’m not sure, Cinderpaw. They aren’t exactly doing anything wrong. They’re just patrolling.”
“But they could be stealing prey!”
“But they could also be patrolling.” She looked at him through stern eyes.”We could get ourselves into serious trouble, you know that, don’t you?”
“I- I- “ What Cinderpaw was actually going to say was, I didn’t account for that, but what he said was very different.” I know, stop worrying. We are doing something good for the clan!”
“Fine. “ She still looked very nervous and uncertain, but she followed Cinderpaw all the way to the border, where she stopped and sniffed the air. “They’re over there! “ She meowed, her eyes lighting up in excitement.
“Run to them! We need to stop them while we can!” Cinderpaw meowed, racing towards the stream. He leaped over it in one jump, landing perfectly before carrying on towards the patrol.
“STOP!” He roared, and all the Windclan cats spun around and stared at him. Suddenly, reality came rushing back to him at once. He must look stupid, a single apprentice all on his own, confronting a whole patrol for no apparent reason. A touch of fur against his own. Well, at least he had Pebblepaw.
“What is it, apprentice?” A lean she-cat padded forwards, her white pelt so sleek it looked like she had never been dirty.
“I um...” He shuddered, realizing that he didn’t want to accuse them anymore.
“Spit it out.” A tom, Cinderpaw remembered to be called Horse, hissed from the back of the patrol.
“Well... I ... We...”
“We wanted to ask for some herbs.” Pebblepaw put in suddenly, a confidence in her voice that Cinderpaw thought he could never manage.”Gol-Goldenrod, Sparknose said.”
“Where are you, mentors?” Horse asked, coming forwards.
“They are still in camp, helping to patch up all our dens. We were sent alone, as we are due to become warriors at sundown. This was our first mission.” Cinderpaw didn’t think his voice would sound as clear as it did.”May we have some herbs, then?”
“Why not?” The white-she cat turned to the rest of the patrol.”They can’t do any harm.”
Horse nodded, and the rest of the patrol muttered their agreement.
“There is a clump over there if you want it.” The she-cat meowed again, pointing with her tail.
“Thank you.” Pebblepaw meowed, and hared over to it, before picking a few stems.”That is all we need.”
“Go on then, you are free to leave.” Horse meowed kindly to the Cinderpaw as he padded to join Pebblepaw, who was making her way to the stream. They sped up their pace until they were racing along, and leaping over the stream, one by one.
Suddenly, Pebblepaw stopped. She lifted her nose and sniffed.
”It’s Rosefur!” She called.
“Run! Up towards the moonpool! If we get caught we’re crow-food!” He raced forwards, his legs moving faster than ever before. He sprinted through the reeds and, finally, reached the path leading up to the Moonpool. He leaped up to it frantically, his muscles burning with the effort. When he reached the top of the slope, he collapsed onto the ground, groaning slightly. Pebblepaw crouched beside him, her eyes blazing as she stared down at him. He rolled onto his side and watched through slowly closing eyes as Pebblepaw turned, only glancing at him once, and ran back down the stones, away from him, towards safety.
Pebblepaw gasped as she saw Cinderpaw’s chest. It was barely moving at all, he was so out of breath he was nearly dead. She gulped and turned to run back down the hill. She almost turned back but didn’t. He needed help. And fast.
Falconpaw crouched under Rosefur’s looming body.
“Are you sure you don’t know about where they went? Are you sure you have no idea! “ she questioned.
“I don’t know where they are! “ Falconpaw cried out. “I have no idea!”
“Fine then. If you say so. But you better be telling the truth, or you will regret it. “ Rosefur whisked away into the trees, leaving Falconpaw, pressed against a tree trunk, her eyes wide, and scared.
“Pebblepaw!” Jayglade yowled at the top of his voice.
“Pebblepaw! It’s Pebblepaw! She’s here! She’s here!” The clan called out.
“Pebblepaw! Up here!”
She lifted her gaze, and sprinted forwards, diving for the rock tumble and scrambling up it to the high ledge. Goldenstar glared down at her from her nest.
“ Where, is Cinderpaw?”
“ The moonpool!” Pebblepaw cried out, gasping for breath.
“Reedpelt, gather a patrol to get that apprentice. Now!” Her mate slid from the shadows and disappeared out of the entrance.
“Mother, honestly, I’m so sorry!”Pebblepaw whispered to Goldenstar.
“This will get you no punishment. There is nothing I can do to teach my daughter and her denmate to follow the rules. I have tried. I have failed. But know that you have disappointed me, Pebblepaw. Truly and completely. Your father was the son of the great Greystripe. You must feel disgraced by your actions! But, I know you and Cinderpaw have worked hard to receive your warrior names, so, even if I don’t wish it, you shall receive your warrior names, tonight.”
“Thank you, Goldenstar.” Pebblepaw whispered, and left the den.
Cinderpaw lay in the medicine den, his eyes shining. Sparknose stood over him, his ear twitching as he ran a paw over the apprentice’s chest. His gaze darkened and he pulled his paw off the limp body. He slid out of the den, leaving the limp form of the apprentice inside.
Pebblepaw watched as Sparknose appeared from the medicine den, looking grave.
“No!” She tried to shout, but her voice escaped her. She ran forwards into the middle of the hollow and bent down, burying her muzzle in her tail.
She blocked her ears as Goldenstar began to speak.
“Let all cats old enough to catch their prey gather here beneath the high ledge for a clan meeting.” She paused, then began again when everyone had assembled.” Today, we have lost a loyal apprentice. He may have joined starclan for the wrong reason, but his heart was always in the right place. We will never forget, CINDERPAW! May starclan light your path, young warrior.”
The clan fell silent in respect, and Falconpaw and Jayglade pulled out the limb body from the medicine den. Pebblepaw turned to look at the lifeless figure, and a shrill cry escaped her.
“No!” She yowled to the stars.”No!”
“We have a new warrior to announce!” Goldenstar called out, and the clan juried their agreement.” Pebblepaw, you have trained hard to learn the ways of a warrior and respect the code. I look upon our warrior ancestors, and commend you a warrior in your turn! Pebblepaw, do you accept the role and responsibilities of becoming a warrior, and promise to protect your clan at the cost of your life?”
Despite her grief, Pebblepaw still managed to reply,” I do.”
“Then, from now on, Pebblepaw, you shall be known as Pebblestream, to honour your ability and persistence in driving through any obstacle, like a stream through a rock.”
“Pebblestream! Pebblestream!” The crowd cheered, their eyes wide and bright.
“And also, Cinderpaw. He deserved his name, it’s just unfortunate that he cannot be here when he receives it. From this day forwards, Cinderpaw, you shall be known as Cinder-“
“Flame.” A young, bright voice sounded from the darkness.
“That’s... better than what I was godded and slid down into a nest. As he left the den, Pebblestream couldn’t help but wonder, what did Firestar mean by’ Something too important to be forgotten?’ and what did Cinderflame have to do with it? She couldn't sleep that night. Cinderflame jumped up in cold sweat. She worried if she would be thrown out by the clan to do... Cinderflame!” Goldenstar finished.
“Cinderflame! Cinderflame!” The clan called out after a moment of hesitation.
“LOOK!” Screeched Ashpool, a young warrior standing near the entrance” It’s Cinderflame!”
The whole of the clearing was a mass of confusion. Pebblestream leaped to her feet and peered through the darkness, her tail lashing from side to side.
A dim orange glow appeared in the center of the clearing. It slowly grew bigger and bigger, until it covered the whole of the camp. Suddenly, it flashed bright white, then disappeared, leaving behind two figures in the center of the camp, one standing strong and stiff, the other standing nearby, looking mildly confused.
“It’s- it’s Cinderflame!”
“It can’t be!”
“It’s... it’s Cinderflame... but...”Harewing shrieked from just outside the elders' den,” It’s Cinderflame and Firestar!”
Firestar nodded to Cinderflame.” He had to come back. He is part of something too great to be forgotten. “ The legendary cat slowly faded, until only his outline was visible. Just as suddenly as they had appeared, Firestar was gone.
“Cinderflame! “ Pebblestream called, her voice cracking.
“My love, Pebblestream!” Cinderflame was considerably taller than he had been before and had to lean down slightly to lick Pebblestream’s ear. They collapsed together onto the ground, staring into each other’s eyes.
“Cinderflame.” Pebblestream whispered.
“Yes?” ‘He looked as young and beautiful as ever though Pebblestream as he replied.
“Will you be my mate?”
He didn’t reply, just slowly rolled onto his paws and nudged her to hers, too. “Only if you will be mine.”
Their eyes met and a great light began to fill the clearing. Slowly, as the sun rose, the camp was bathed in a pinky-orange glow.
“Yes.” They said in unison.
“Clan dismissed.” Called Goldenstar, her voice tinged with love for her daughter.”You have made us proud!”
“Come on.” Cinderflame led Pebblestream into the warrior's den, and whispered about getting some prey from the pile.
Snowfeather’s tail swished across the grass as she and the other medicine cats returned from the moonstone. She had just given her apprentice his name, Oakpool. Redwing, shallowstone, echopebble, And dustbracken had split away from snowfeather and oakpool, to head back to their clans, Riverclan, and thunderclan. Raintail padded behind snowfeather, when they got further into the moor, raintail would disappear off to windclan, and she and oakpool, to shadowclan. Raintail meowed a quick parting message and slid away into the bracken. She was so intent on thinking about her dream from starclan that she didn’t notice his leaving
“Snowfeather! Snowfeather!” Oakpool yowled.
Suddenly he screeched in alarm and began to hiss and growl. Snowfeather spun around, her dream gone instantly. A dark grey she-cat with light blue eyes was standing over Oakpool, his blood splashed over her paws. She hissed and spun around, prowling towards snowfeather, her claws unsheathed. Suddenly snowfeather leaped forwards, lashing out with her forepaws. The grey she reached forwards towards where snowfeather had landed clumsily and dug her teeth into the medicine cat's shoulder. She ran her claws along the she-cats back, then sprang over the limp body, and disappeared into the trees. Snowfeather opened one eye, and looked across at Oakpool, whose flank was gently rising and falling, a single sign that he was alive.
Turtlewing sprang forwards, her tail streaking out behind her as she sprinted through the forest, Maplestar, and cloverfoot at her side. They slowed down and finally stopped in a tiny clearing, hidden by a huge tree root. Maplestar’s head disappeared as he looked over the root. Turtlewing scrambled up next to him and gasped. There was blood splattered over the grass, and the moss had been torn from the trees around them. In the center of the clearing lay Snowfeather, her white pelt stained red with blood. Next to her was a deep brown shape, Oakpool. They both lay motionless, the incredibly gentle breeze ruffling their fur. Maplestar slid down into the clearing, her ears twitching. Cloverfoot followed, but turtlewing stayed on the tree root.
“Fox?” Cloverfoot asked Maplestar.
“Cat.” He replied, sniffing at the clumps of fur caught on the brambles.
Turtlewing turned her head to look at oakpool, and suddenly saw a flash of fur. Not oakpool, not snowfeather, then wh- she gasped
“Loooooookkk ouuuuutttt!” She screeched to Maplestar and cloverfoot.” lookout!” Suddenly a flash of lightning lit the sky, and the clearing was filled with dark shapes.
Cloverfoot And Maplestar disappeared under a mass of screeching cats, their fur matted and stained with crimson blood. Suddenly a flash of black fur blocked turtlewing’s view, and half of windclan and thunderclan hurled themselves into the clearing, screeching and yowling in pain and anger. After a moment of hesitation, turtlewing leaped into the clearing to fight the rogue intruders.
Claws flashed around her as more cats from the clans, and rogues entered the battle. Oh starclan, turtlewing whispered, oh starclan save us. A second later a ginger Tom leaped on her and began to lash out towards her chest. But in the time he had taken to steady himself, she had acted. She leaped forwards towards his forepaws and bit in hard. He yowled, so she let go, spun around, and raked her claws along his back. He screeched in terror and struggled underneath her. Suddenly she felt herself being thrown off the Tom, and heavy paws landed on her side. She wriggled and tried to escape the newcomer's grip. Claws ripped her pelt and her teeth bit into her ears. Her heart raced, what would happen next? Then another bolt of lightning hit the sky, and rain poured down from silverpelt. The cat leaped off her and scrambled into the shelter of a nearby bush. The battle in the clearing slowly began to end, the rogues dashing off into the bracken for cover, or staying for a while longer, and fighting ever so slightly more weak, than before.
Maplestar stepped forwards, Lionstar and Blackstar followed, staying slightly further behind.
“Leave now, or face the consequence.” He hissed.
The grey she-cat stepped out from behind a small boulder.
“I could say the same to you.”
Snowfeather gasped and scrambled to her paws, the crisp tang on pine sap sharp on her tongue. Her silver fur was fluffed up, apart from where a long gash lay on her side. She stumbled and fell, landing heavily in the nest that had been made for her. Raintail lay a few fox lengths away, his nose twitching. Oakpool lay next to her, his eyes open and filled with pain. Froth bubbled at his lips, and his ears were hidden under a thick layer of blood. She sighed, she knew what a dead cat looked like. She silently lay back and stared at the limp body of oakpool.
“Why starclan Why!” Turtlewings mew sounded from the entrance. Snowfeather lifted her muzzle and gently spoke to the distressed she-cat. “Your brother is dead, Turtlewing. Dead. I’m sorry for your loss, it is mine too, as his mentor. There is no hope for him now, he has joined starclan.”
Turtlewing turned and fled through the bracken.
Snowfeather was meant to look after oakpool! And now, he is dead. All because of her! It’s not fair! Turtlewing sprang at a tree root and ripped the bark from it. She then turned, and stalked into the forest, her tail lashing against the piles of leaves.
“Turtlewing, you must go back to shadowclan.”
Her ear flicked and she lookout up.
“Turtlewing I’m always with you, so trust me, go back to shadowclan when they need you most.”
Turtlewing turned slowly, and only just caught a glimpse of oakpool’s brown pelt, before he faded back to starclan. Shadowclan! She silently padded out from the trees and followed the bramble wall back to camp. A yowl sounded from the trees. Her pace quickened and she bounded into camp. The rogue she-cat, her grey pelt matted and untidy, stood at the top of shade rock. Her gaze swung towards Turtlewing, and she muttered something to a cat next to her. It bounded away and disappeared into a den, the warrior's den, she thought. A second later a black cat appeared next to her and shoved her towards the grey she on the rock.
“Who, are you?” The grey cat asked, leaping off her perch.
“I am Turtlewing, of shadowclan!” She yowled, shoving the black she aside and diving for the rogue leader.
The grey she-cat whipped out a paw and smashed it into the side of turtlewings head. She gasped, and stumbled, falling into the dust. A small paw landed on her chest.
“Ahh, a shadowclan cat, I see. You shall be a prisoner of Bloodclan! Specklewing, take her to the rock cave.”
A white she-cat with brown dapples sprang forwards and grabbed Turtlewing by the scruff. She pulled the dazed she across the camp, and disappeared into a stone cave, pushing through a wall of heavy, sharp brambles.
Turtlewing glared at the she-cat as she covered the entrance with an extra layer of brambles, and sat down a few tail lengths away. A half-rotten mouse lay next to Turtlewing, its eyes swirling with mold and rot. she kicked it aside with a paw and lay against the cold wall of the cave.
“Storm! storm! storm!” The sudden roar from the clearing was deafening, echoing along the cave walls. So the leader is called storm, Turtlewing noted.
“Ok ok! Bring forwards the first prisoner!” Storm called.
Turtlewing stared through the brambles, her eyes sparkling in anxiety. A pale Tom was brought into a circle of cats, his fur spiky and unclean. Turtlewing gasped, that was Icepelt, a senior shadowclan warrior! Before she could think why he was out in the clearing, storm had leaped forwards and dug her teeth into his neck. He let out a mew of pain, then fell still. Oh no, Turtlewing gasped, storm is killing the shadowclan cats!
Snowfeather gasped as sharp teeth dug into her scruff, and she was dragged out of the den into the clearing. The rogue leader stood, her eyes sparkling with death, and faced her cats as snowfeather was dropped in front of her.
“My first medicine cat! This will be fun.” She raised her paw, and swiped at snowfeather’s muzzle, sending blood over the grass. Snowfeather hissed, But hard paws held her down. She was lashed again, then teeth dug into her shoulder and she was shaken, before being dropped onto the ground again. She yowled in pain, but her mew was cut off as storm’s paw landed on her throat, the unnaturally sharp claws piercing her skin. She kicked up hard with her paws and rolled into a crouch, eyes narrowed.
Turtlewing growled as she saw snowfeather being lashed and bitten, treated just how she shouldn’t be treated. With a roar, she leaped out the bramble thicket, and charged into storm, bowling her over and pinning her against a rock. The rest of the shadowclan cats did the same, attacking any enemy in their grasp. They growled and clawed at every rogue until only a small group of rogues were left. The shadowclan cats, their numbers now considerably less, stood panting and facing Turtlewing, her brown and ginger pelt shining in the sun. The limp form of Storm lay behind her, lifeless and silent.
“Run.” She hissed to the rogues.” Run or you will die.”
Slowly, the rogues turned and disappeared through the brambles. left in their place was a limp brown figure, Maplestar, lying on his side, panting heavily.
“Maplestar!” Turtlewing yowled, running towards her leader.
“I’m fine, I’m fine.” He said, slowly standing up.
“Oh no, you are not!” A battered, bloody she-cat leaped at him and began to tear at his throat, her claws still sharp and fatal. Then she leaped back and growled as Turtlewing prowled towards her. Seconds ticked by. Then she leaped, and Turtlewing was thrown to the ground. Storm yowled as her claws ripped up for blood, and Turtlewing went limp.
Turtlewing waited, her eyes half-open, her body convulsing in pain. Then with all the strength of starclan, she leaped up and ripped open storm’s throat, the she-cat's struggles becoming weaker and weaker until they finally stopped.
Snowfeather stood up, balancing on two paws and leaning on cloverfoot,
“Turtlewing, Mothshadow died early today, killed by the dreadful storm. She was the deputy, and as Maplestar, she indicated the limp form, has passed to starclan, it is my job as a medicine cat to appoint a new leader. I choose you, Turtlewing, the cat with more courage than the whole of the forest.”
Turtlewing gasped, she hadn’t expected that.
“Turtlewing,” a hoarse mew sounded a little way from her,” Turtlewing I’m still alive.” Maplestar whispered.”But I would like to retire from being the leader of shadowclan. But now I must choose a deputy to take my place, and I choose you.”
The joy in her heart flooded back, she was the leader of the best, truly the best, clan in the whole of clan territory!”
The shadowclan cats arrived at the gathering slightly later than they had meant to, as all the other clans were already there.
Turtlestar stood up on the rock next to the other leaders and faced the gathered cats. Reedstar from Riverclan nodded to her, and she stepped forwards.
“Cats of all clans! Let the gathering begin!”
“You may start, reedstar whispered under her breath.
“ I will go first! “ she nodded slightly to reedstar,” A recent attack on shadowclan has lost us many warriors, but despite our loss, hope remains. Maplestar has retired to become an elder, and he appointed me as deputy before he did. So here I am as the new leader of Shadowclan.” There were yowls of approval from the crowd.” Thank you to the clans, they helped us greatly in the great battle at the clearing.” She stood back.
The other leaders spoke in their turn, and the gathering was dismissed.
(13 moons later)
Turtlestar curled up next to Silverdusk, her tail entwined with his. In between they lay four kits, a deep brown kit, a grey kit, a dappled white and ginger kit, and a ginger kit, all of which were fast asleep, their tiny noses twitching in the breeze.
Snowfeather lay in her nest, her head on her paws. Her new apprentice, Brackenpaw, lay in the nest next to her, his ears twitching as he slept. She sighed and thought again about her vision from starclan, given so long ago.
A grey cat stood on a huge rock, lightning had lit the sky, then darkness. But after all, seemed lost a light shone out from the shadows, and glowed brightly, the light growing stronger and stronger still. Turtlestar was standing in the center of the camp, her pelt sleek and well-groomed. A black cat stood next to her, a silver streak running across his pelt.
‘When all hope seems lost, look to the skies and the sun will find you.’ A voice spoke from somewhere unknown. ‘And safe will you be, on the wings of the golden light that saves you.’
She sighed, and closed her eyes, letting dreams from the past and future surround her.
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