If The Dark Forest Won
Type: Fan Fiction
Series: What If? Series
DAKNESS WILL CONQUER,
BUT HOPE WILL GIVE NEW LIGHT.
Mapleshade jumped on top of the ThunderClan Highledge and yowled a call
"Let all winners join the clearing!"
When the Dark Forest cats appeared, Mapleshade told Maggotpelt, "Bring out the prisoners!"
Maggotpelt padded into the former apprentice den with some helpers, including orangeshadow and riptail, reappearing with Squirrelflight, Icecloud, Tawnypelt, Crowfeather, and Brambleclaw. All the other cats were dead, or had joined the Dark Forest.
Squirrelflight, Crowfeather, and Tawnypelt looked around defiantly. Icecloud looked terrified and Brambleclaw looked relaxed.
All the kits from all the Clans were being fed by Sorreltail. Kestrelflight and Brackenfur were helping her take care of the kits. The kits were going to be trained to fight for the Dark Forest.
Squirrrelflight shuddered. She didn't want to die, but she certaintly didn't want to live as a Dark Forest prisoner or even worse, a warrior for the forest of evil.
Tawnypelt stared at Mapleshade, daring her to react. Just looking at Maplesade made Tawnypelt's pelt itch. Mapleshade stared coolly back, then let out a yowl.
Icecloud trembled next to Crowfeather, hearing a small growl spring in his throat. Then she heard Mapleshade yowl. Maggotpelt pushed them forward and Icecloud stumbled. Maggotpelt raked his claws into her fur.
Crowfeather glared at Maggotpelt as the cat clawed Icecloud. She was easily the weaker one. She needed to be protected. Crowfeather opened his mouth, but Mapleshade beat him to it.
"What do you think you doing?" Mapleshade asked.
"Punishing Icecloud," Maggotpelt answered, dipping his head respectively.
Mapleshade started yelling at Maggotpelt but Squirrelflight wasn't listening. She inched over to Icecloud.
"Are you okay?" She asked in a hushed voice.
Icecloud looked up. "I'm fine, Squirrelflight," She said testily.
Mapleshade jumped back on top of the Highledge.
"As you all know, we have prisoners. What do you think we should do?"
As soon as she finished speaking they all started caterwauling different things.
Mapleshade let out another screech. The group fell silent instantly.
"I think," Mapleshade said, licking her lips, "I think we should have them hunt for all of us."
"Brilliant!" one of the cats shouted.
The next moon passed in a blur. Tawnypelt's stomach ached.
MapleClan, formerly the Dark Forest, ate more than the four of them, and now Brackenfur couldn't keep up with them. So the five of them hadn't had anything to eat. What's more, they couldn't find enough in newleaf, burnleaf, or leaf-fall, so with the beginnings of leaf-bare it will be even harder to keep everyone fed. The only reason why Kestreflight and Sorreltail got prey was because of the kits.
Even though MapleClan had four Clan territories, Mapleshade wouldn't let them leave ThunderClan territory. All MapleClan did, as far as Tawnypelt could tell, was practicing fighting moves and thinking of battle plans.
Icecloud pounced on top of a skinny squirrel, giving it a quick, painless death.
That's more than I'll ever get, Icecloud thought longingly. When I die, Mapleshade will make sure it's long and painful.
Icecloud was jolted out of her thoughts when a crow took off, screeching an alarm. Crowfeather stormed over to Icecloud.
"What did you catch so far?" he asked.
Icecloud thought. "A squirrel, and a mouse, and... that's it."
Crowfeather sighed. "Well, you know the rules."
Icecloud stared at him. What had happened to the old Crowfeather? Working all day, catching enough food for all of MapleClan, and not getting a mouthful in return was wearing him down.
Squirrelflight and Tawnypelt came out fom behind some bushes, lugging a rabbit. Brackenfur jumped over a tree stump, clutching a vole. Brambleclaw was holding in his jaws another mouse.
"It isn't enough."
Squirrelflight confirmed Icecloud's suspicions.
"Well, either way, we have to get back to the camp soon," Tawnypelt pointed out. The five of them padded to the camp, holding their prey.
When they arrived MapleClan parted to let Mapleshade through. Mapleshade stared at them for so long Squirrelflight started to feel awkward.
"This is the best you can do?" Mapleshade finally said.
"We can go out again right away," Squirrelflight said quickly.
Mapleshade appeared to be trying not to burst out laughing.
"You'll just come back again tomorrow with even less prey. You need to be taught a lesson. We are in need to practice some of our moves on cats unaccustomed to them. See how they really react."
Dewkit let out a wail.
"I know my sweet. It will be okay," Sorreltail replied.
Sorreltail stiffened. The scent of blood was heavy in the air. Then she heard Mapleshade yowling for a Clan meeting. Sorreltail quickly scampered out of the nursey and peeked her head out.
She had to bite back a yowl. What she saw before her tore her apart.
Brackenfur, Squirrelflight, Tawnypelt, Crowfeather, and Icecloud were lying on the ground. The sand aound them was a dark scarlet color. None of them stirred. Sorreltail rushed over to the cats and started licking them feircely.
Come on already! Wake up! Please! Maybe they'll be happier, away from this horrible place. Of course, as always, it was to much to ask for.
Several Mapleclan cats grabbed Tawnypelt, Squirrelflight, Crowfeather, Brambleclaw, and Icecloud. They carried them into the nursery.
Amberkit let out a screech. "Mommy, they have Daddy!"
Amberkit ran out of the nursery and started biting Mapleshade's foot.
Sorreltail winced. Amberkit was going to be slaughtered.
Mapleshade looked down at Amberkit. "You will make a good warrior. We should start training our kits."
Mapleshade jumped to the top of the Highledge. "We need more apprentices. We will train them in our way. They will be strong, brave, and like us. I will have Amberpaw. Maggotpelt will have Dewpaw. Sparrowfeather can have Lilypaw."
Tawnypelt opened one eye. The other was swollen shut. She could barely breathe without passing out. Every time she moved it hurt. Tawnypelt looked at her friends. None of them had woken up yet.
Squirrelflight looked around.
Am I dead? she thought hopefully. Then she saw Firestar. He bounded across the meadow next to her.
"My precious daughter. Don't worry, you will be fine. MapleClan is hiding a secret. And it's a good one. For you."
Icecloud stared at the ground. She saw her body, motionless. Icecloud turned and saw Ferncloud.
"Come. It is time," she said.
I'm dead! Icecloud thought.
"What do you think you're doing?" a scathing voice asked.
Icecloud turned and saw Mousefur. "It is not her time yet!" Mousefur was addressing Ferncloud.
"Fine. Let her suffer in misery for her whole life!" Ferncloud stormed away.
Crowfeather stared at Tallstar.
"You mean it! You're not lying?" Crowfeather looked excited.
Tallstar looked defeated. "Yes, but it may not be enough to save you."
"What do you mean? If there are-"
"Shush!" Tallstar snapped. "It's time to wake up." Crowfeather's image shuddered and dissapeared.
Tallstar turned to look at some bushes.
"You can come out now, Yellowfang!"
Yellowfang stalked out of the bushes. "Is it true?"
"Yes." Tallstar's mew was crisp.
"Oh StarClan!" Yellowfang looked like she wanted to scream with happiness. "There are more Clan cats!"
Mistystar padded away from dirtplace, then stopped so as not to run into Breezepelt. He had joined BreezeClan.
Why did they name the clan after that traitor?
Rowanclaw paused in getting fresh moss when he saw Breezepelt snap at Mistystar. Then he stiffened when he saw Breezepelt scratch her.
Mistystar walked over to Rowanclaw.
"Some help?" she asked.
"Sure," Rowanclaw replied.
Jayfeather ran into Mistystar and Rowanclaw. Jayfeather didn't apologize to them, just ran by.
"Hurry up!" Yellowfang whispered in his ear. When he reached the place where catmint grew, he collapsed.
"What is it Yellowfang?" he asked desparately.
Yellowfang materialized next to him. "There are more clan cats in other territories!"
Jayfeather almost choked on one of the leaves. "What do you mean Yellowfang?"
"Can't you hear me? Or are you deaf too?"
Foxleap was padding back to camp when Jayfeather ran into him.
"What?" Foxleap asked. There was an urgent look about Jayfeather that made Foxleap's fur prickle.
"Just bring everyone out. Meet where the catmint grows."
"Oh. You mean by the river?"
"No, I mean the catmint on the moon, obviously. Just come on!"
Soon, Foxleap, Jayfeather, Mistystar, Rowanclaw, Toadfoot, Tigerheart, Hazeltail, and Berrynose were clustered by the riverbed.
"Are you sure?" Berrynose asked.
"Of course I'm sure. I'm not a mouse-brain. Ahem, Berrynose."
"Well, what do we do then?" Rowanclaw asked.
"Simple," Jayfeather replied, "We just wait until the Gathering."
"But will there be a gathering?" Mistystar sounded worried.
"There should be. If you think about it, how else will the leaders check up on each other?" Tigerheart said.
Toadfoot, who had stayed silent the whole time finally said, "Even if they do have a Gathering, they will leave an army behind."
Toadfoot's words were met with silence.
"Well, we have to try," Hazeltail pointed out "StarClan would be disappointed if we didn't."
"What's the point of StarClan anymore? We lost the battle. We should just keep our kits safe," Mistystar said testily, "I'm going to hunt to feed the kits....and BreezeClan."
With that, Mistystar turned and left.
(I know peeps, I'm sorry. This gets awkward for a bit)
Applefur moved around ShadyClan's camp. The territory felt weird to her, even though it had been her home for so long.
The sky was turning even darker as the night went on. The marshy ground seeped in between her claws.
She head a cough behind her. Applefur turned and saw Scrapepaw, an apprentice. She was Shadyfoot's apprentice, so she acted like she was a gift fom the Dark Forest. She was certainly evil enough to be one though.
"Go hunting, you dolt. Don't just stand there. Do you think the prey will be placed before you?"
Applefur replied, "Well, as that's how you get it, I wouldn't be surprised if that is how you think we hunt."
Scrapepaw's eyes turned dark.
Applefur padded into camp later. Birchfall, Whitewing, Cloudtail, Dovewing, Lionblaze, Littlecloud, and Heathertail were staring at her. She was obviously distressed.
"Littlecloud, can I have a word?" Littlecloud looked up.
"Okay," he said, sensing her distress.
Littlecloud looked at her. "Yes, what is it?"
Applefur whispered something in his ear. Littlecloud's eyes flashed. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, Scrapepaw and Shadyfoot agreed that I should take a mate and have kits." Applefur looked distraught. "And what's more, I won't be able to choose. They want strong warrior blood for their disgusting veins. By the way, they want all the she-cats in Shadyclan to take a mate so there will be more warriors."
Littlecloud looked like he swallowed mouse bile. "I'll talk to Shadyfoot, don't worry."
"Shadyfoot!" Littlecloud bellowed.
"What?" Shadyfoot asked, looking shocked.
"Applefur can choose her own mate!"
"Fine, she can choose."
Littlecloud was trembling with rage. "You are the most lowdown coward I have ever seen. Pond scum is to good for you. Fleas and ticks are to good for you! Greencough is too good for your filthy fur!"
"that is enough" shadyfoot's mew turned taught with rage.
Tawnypelt was staring out over the water, thinking of all she had lost. Then she saw movement. She leaped to her feet, heart racing. Swimming in the lake was Mistystar. Tawnypelt just gaped. So did Mistystar.
"Oh my--StarClan was right." Tawnypelt's voice was hushed. Mistystar looked shocked.
"I need to get back to BreezeClan."
"No wait!" Tawnypelt called, but Mistystar dipped underwater and was gone from sight.
Squirrelflight stared at Tawnypelt, her mouth hanging open. "You saw Mistystar?"
She barely remembered to keep her voice down.
"Yes," Tawnypelt whispered back. Icecloud stretched in her nest.
"We should go find them"
"No we shouldn't," Crowfeather snapped.
"From what Tawnypelt said, Mistystar didn't look happy.
"Yeah, why wasn't she happy?" Sorreltail asked.
"Well, we aren't exactly happy with our predicament. And don't forget, she was a Clan leader. She probaby learned how to hide her emotions," Brackenfur pointed out.
"Yeah, but still. StarClan just proved that there are more of us," Crowfeather saidf angrily.
"Unless," Squirrelflight said slowly, "Unless she thought that we chose the Dark Forest. Just because StarClan visited us doesn't mean they visited her."
Squirrelflight's words were met with dead silence.
Jayfeather was staring at Mistystar so hard that her fur prickled. Mistystar finished and saw everyone glaring at her.
"What?" Mistystar got instantly defensive.
"You do realize," Berrynose said in a voice like ice, "That you treated survivors like enemies."
"Well," Mistystar said, "That's probably what they thought we were."
Tigerheart sighed. "Whatever. It doesn't matter anymore. StarClan is dead. All we do is help feed the enemy. But they're not an enemy anymore. They are our Clan." He got up and left with everyone staring after him.
ShadyClan's camp was sticky underfoot. Cloudtail stopped when he felt a stabbing pain in his hind paw. He went over to Littlecloud. Littlecloud looked up. "Thorn in your paw?"
"You know, it's weird. I never believed in StarClan so why should I believe in the Dark Forest? And I just wish this was all a dream," Cloudtail whispered.
"I wish this was a dream too, but sometimes you have to except what StarClan gives you." Littlecloud said.
Cloudtail just opened his mouth to say something, then closed it. He just stared at Littlecoud. Littlecloud yanked out the thorn.
"Do you wa-" Littlecoud started, but Cloudtail was already gone.
I hate this place, Applefur thought as she walked towards Littlecloud. And I hate myself for agreeing to this.
"Yes?" Littlecloud responded.
"You know how I have to choose a mate?"
"Yes..." Littlecloud's eyes turned dark.
"Well, I choose you to be my mate." Applefur said in a rush.
Littlecloud stumbled though ShadyClan territory. He wasn't aware of his paws. How did StarClan know? Littlecloud had secretly kept a burning love for Applefur. She was beautiful, and her eyes always sparkled and when she jumped her pelt was so seek and would catch the sun... he sighed. I love'you, Applefur, he would think every time he saw her with Blackstar. He longed to rub his muzzle over her flank and rasp his tongue over her ear... suddenly he heard a voice.
"Hey!" It was Tawnypelt. Littlecloud panicked. He was face-to-face with a former Clanmate, now a member of ShadyClan.
Tawnypelt stared at him. "Are you a survivor?"
"Um..." Littlecloud stammered.
"I hate MapleClan," Tawnypelt said, "You agree?"
"Oh, you don't know? I'm a survivor and prisoner of the war. I'm here with Squirrelflight, Kestrelflight, Brackenfur, Sorreltail, Crowfeather, and Berrynose. And I know Mistystar is okay."
"In my group there is Birchfall, Cloudtail, Whitewing, Dovewing, and Heathertail."
"I need to tell my group of survivors in MapleClan." Tawnypelt disappeared over the top of a rock and bounded away, obviously eager to tell her group of survivors all abut the meeting.
Tawnypelt walked back to camp, several mice in her jaws. She stopped when she saw Mapleshade and Shadyfoot talking to Breezepelt. She slipped stealthily towards them, staying hidden.
"-Gathering tommorow." Shadyfoot was saying, "We coud slip away and the prisoners woud think we were training the other cats. They are to stupid to know the difference."
Mapleshade nodded. "Agreed. I'll see you tommorow at sunhigh. When should we leave?"
"Moonhigh." Breezepelt said. "Disrespecting the traditions.
"Brilliant. See you then." Shadyfoot left. Breezepelt followed suit.
Tawnypelt quickly slid away and acted like she just came into the camp.
"Mapleshade," she said dipping her head shamelessly.
Mapleshade licked her lips. "Glad to see you learned how to behave. Go tell your other prisoners to go hunting."
"Yes, Mapleshade," Tawnypelt said. She ducked into the apprentice den, or as it was now called, the prisoner den. She looked at her friends, then hissed, "Come on!"
A description of what Tawnypelt saw later... Rowanclaw was hunting when he saw Squirrelflight in the bushes.
"There's going to be a Gathering tommorow. Meet the rest of the survivors on the WindClan-ThunderClan border, okay?"
Applefur stared at Tawnypelt. "-The ThunderClan-ShadowClan border."
"Okay," Applefur said and ran off.
Mapleshade rasped her tongue over her flank. She stared up at the starless sky and grinned. Those foolish prisoners had no idea that there were other prisoners from the battle. They thought they were the only ones! She purred, thinking of her brilliance.
Now, all I have to do is turn them against each other and vengeance will be mine, she thought happily.
And with Killfur having all of StarClan captive...
She was jolted out of her thoughts when Tearclaw stuck his head in the leader's den.
"We need you outside, Mapleshade."
"Coming," Mapleshade said, slipping out after Tearclaw.
MapleClan was gathered around four wriggling kits. Mapleshade openened her mouth.
"Their names are Moonkit, Silverkit, Mosskit, and Nightkit." Tawnypelt said, "And they're mine."
Mapleshade stared at the kits. "Fine, then. I have better things to do then stare at wailing kits." She padded away, her Clan staring after her.
Sorreltail stared at the mounds where her kits were buried. They had died during a training practice. A tear fell and splashed on Dewpaw's grave. St'arClan, if you can hear me, I send my kits to you. Please don't put them in the Dark Forest. Please!
She kept reliving the time when she was hunting, and saw Mapleshade dragging the three kits by the scruff, all of them limp and dead. She remembered biting back the wail that exploded inside of her.
"Hey, Sorreltail!" a cat yowled.
"What?" Sorreltail was angry at being disrupted out of her thoughts.
"Hunting," Icecloud said, her eyes wide with surprise.
Silverkit leaped on the fern lying on the ground and shredded it with her claws.
"Hey!" Nightkit mewed, "I want to try too!" Moonkit ran across the clearing purring with laughter.
"All right, who did that?" Crowfeather glared around the clearing. Then he strode over to the kits. "Which of you did that?"
"Did what?" Silverkit asked.
"Go away. We don't want to talk to yucky prisoners like you!" Mosskit snapped.
Crowfeather opened his mouth to say something, then turned and left.
"That's right, walk away!" Mosskit yowled.
"Why did you say that?" Moonkit asked angrily.
"Because Mom says to hate them," Mosskit said bluntly and strode into the leader's den.
Stupid, stupid, stupid, Mosskit, Silverkit thought. She knew that Mapleshade was not their mom. Tawnypelt was. She, Moonkit, and Nightkit knew everything. But not Mosskit. Sh'e believed Mapleshade!
"What do you want to do today?" Moonkit asked.
"We should follow Mapleshade or Tawnypelt for the gathering." Nightkit replied, "What do you think?"
"Um... Mapleshade. Tawnypelt will tell us everything tomorrow." Silverkit said.
"Yeah! And we could help mom by following Mapleshade!" Nightkit exclaimed quietly.
Silverkit, Moonkit, and Nightkit slipped out of camp after Mapleshade and saw others including Orangeshadow, Maggotpelt, and Riptail. Tearclaw stayed at camp to oversee things.
"Remember, Killfur won't be here today," Mapleshade said to her clanmates, "He is busy holding all of StarClan hostage." Moonkit opened her mouth and Silverkit quickly shoved a paw in her mouth. Nightkit turned, eyes wide, to Silverkit, who was wiping her paw on the ground.
The sun beat down on Moonkit, her pale fur now with dirt and twigs. She watched as MapleClan reached the tree-bridge and started crossing.
Nightkit stared at the tree-bridge fearfully, then squared her shoulders.
"Let's go," she mewed, then ran across into some bushes. Silverkit was soon by Nightkit, and Moonkit was so fast it was a blur.
"Let's move." Silverkit whispered, and the three kits crept along the edge of the island until they had a good view. Silverkit could see the Hightree perfectly. Breezepelt and Shadyfoot were a branch below Mapleshade. Silverkit was staring in awe at all the cats assembled.
Moonkit watched as Mapleshade let out a commanding yowl. Everyone fell silent and watched Mapleshade.
"As you know," Mapleshade began gloatingly, "We conquered those mousebrain Clan cats!"
Everyone yowled in agreement. Shadyfoot stepped forward into a ray of sunlight.
"Well, Applefur has a mate. We will be awaiting kits to train into warriors."
Breezepelt stepped up next. "My prisoners," he said in a gloating voice, "Are easily manipulated." He stepped back and gestured for Mapleshade to speak.
Nightkit wasn't listening. I' really doubt that anyone, especially Breezepelt, could manipulate Mistystar. She was jolted out of her thoughts when she heard her name.
"-Get Nightpaw, and I will have Silverpaw." Silverpaw was trembling. "And what's more, three of the four kits are here!" Nightkit felt herself being pushed forward by a BreezeClan cat.
Silverkit took lead. "MapleClan, BreezeClan, and ShadyClan, we are honored to meet you. Nightkit, Moonkit, and I know everything and we are on your side." She pulled her teeth back in a growl. "StarClan is weak. The Dark Forest is strong. We will be on your side, no matter what." Her littermates nodded.
Moonkit watched Mapleshade. Please buy it, she thought desparately.
"Well now, it looks like MapleClan has some new warriors."
"Um... Mapleshade?" Moonkit was hardly aware of anything. "Can Mosskit not train with us? She was too weak to come."
"Of course," Mapleshade said, purring. "But go back to camp. Training starts tomorrow."
"Yes, Mapleshade," Moonkit said. And the kits left.
Mistystar stood on top of the rock. "When will they get here?" she fretted. The ShadyClan prisoners appeared above the horizon and soon the remainder of the clans were clustered there. Suddenly Silverkit, Moonkit, and Nightkit dashed into the clearing right into Jayfeather.
"We need to tell you something," Nightkit gasped, "StarClan is captive in KillClan."
Everyone just stared at them. "I swear it in the name of StarClan."
Everyone kept staring. Finally Crowfeather spoke up. "I think we should have a name."
"How about HopeClan?" Squirrelflight said. Everyone agreed.
"When do we leave?" Applefur asked.
"Tommorow," Jayfeather said.
"No. How about the next Gathering?" Tawnypelt mewed.
"Fine," Brackenfur snapped, tail tip twitching.
"Guess what?" Silverkit said finally, "We're apprentices."
"You'll be dead by dawn," Mistystar said bluntly.
"Go home," Jayfetather said unsympathetically.
I can't believe it! Tawnypelt thought. M'y poor kits, they'll be dead by dawn.
"Please go home kits," Squirrelflight said.
When the kits got back, Mosskit was waiting for them. She was bored and her favorite passtime was littermate teasing.
"You guys are so bad, my DIRT is to good for you!"
MapleClan hooted. (yes at that. pathetic right?) Eveyone liked Mosskit best.
Today Silverkit was to tired to care. She just strode by Mosskit and vanished into the ursery. Moonkit and Nightkit followed suit. Actually, Moonkit went into the nursery and Nightkit tried to but was blocked off.
Nightkit glared at Mosskit. "Let me through."
Nightkit's voice was like ice and even Mosskit looked surprised. But she recovered quickly.
"Aww," Mosskit said in a baby voice, "Nightkit's pwetending to be wough. How cute." Mosskit unsheathed her claws.
Nightkit was aware of everyone watching, but she didn't care. When Mosskit lunged forward, Nightkit sliced her paw along Mosskit's throat. Mosskit fell to the ground, dead.
Squirrelflight padded into camp with a crow clamped in her jaws. Silvershadow, Moonfire, and Nightclaw had been made warriors. It was a surprise to everyone that they had made it to warriors. They were nearing their sixth moon.
Squirrelflight reached camp and saw Mapleshade calling a Clan meeting. Squirrelflight dropped the prey on the pile and crept to the back of the group.
"I have thought of a new initiation for warriors," All ears pricked in MapleClan.
"The practice will be a hunting assesment. They must bring in enough prey to feed the Clan, each."
The newly made warriors looked surprised.
The day after the asessment the prisoners and Moonfire, Silvershadow, and Nightclaw of Mapleclan went "hunting." Moonfire raced toward the Shadyclan border. The BreezeClan prisoners were already at the meeting spot.
Moonfire ran as fast as she could, controlling her breathing so she could run faster. When she reached the ShadyClan border, she saw the ShadyClan prisoners with two kits.
Moonfire gaped at the kits. Applefur looked proud but tired. "They're mine. I haven't decided on names yet," Applefur said.
"Let's go," Cloudtail snapped.
Icecloud was washing her flank, when she saw the rest of Hopeclan appearing on the horizon. And two kits?
Icecloud bounded over. "How old are they?" she asked.
Applefur licked one absentmindedly. "Half moon."
"Who's are they?" Applefur glared at Icecloud and didn't answer.
"They'e Applefur's and -" Heathertail began, but Cloudtail slapped his tail over her muzzle.
Berrynose stared at the kits. "They're to small to travel with us. We should leave them."
Tawnypelt looked like someone had dropped crowfood in front of her nose and told her to eat it. "No. They're coming with us."
Great. Squealing kits. Berrynose thought viciously. HopeClan stood up and began the hope path, one that would go through trials of trust, sadness, and joy.
Tawnypelt took the lead. "We need to find a sheltered place, with water and prey."
"No, duh!" Berrynose hissed. Silvershadow rolled her eyes.
Nightclaw purred then gasped. "Look!" she whispered. All eyes turned to where she was pointing. The clearing they were in suddenly felt vulnerable. A fox was stalking in some bushes.
Squirrelflight unsheathed her claws. W'e're to weak to fight the foxes, she thought with fear.
Then Brackenfur whispered, "There's another."
Squirrelflight then saw the second fox prowling the bushes. Suddenly, the foxes attacked.
Applefur quickly grabbed her kits and shoved them up a tree. She was turning when a fox flung her across the clearing into a tree.
The rest of HopeClan was fighting the other fox, trying to make it let go of Sorreltail, who was in its jaws. n
No one is here to defend me. The fox bared down on her. She closed her eyes, ready to die.
The bite never came. Applefur opened her eyes and saw Silvershadow, with her teeth deep in the fox's fur. The foxes ran away.
Silvershadow helped Applefur to her feet, then helped get the kits down from the tree. Applefur turned to her, eyes shining with gratitude.
"Thank you," she gasped, then started licking one of the kits. "I've decided on names," Applefur said finally. "This one," she said, pointing to a brown kit, "Will be Mousekit. And this one," she said gesturing to a white-gray kit, "Will be Hopekit."
Squirrelflight was sitting in the clearing, when a rogue walked into camp.
"Look, you're not welcome here. If you're looking for a place to stay, try SkyClan."
"SkyClan! Where is it?" Squirrelflight asked excitedly.
"Follow the river upstream until it ends," the rogue mewed, then turned and stalked away.
Then, next morning, HopeClan followed the rogue's instructions.
Squirrelflight was leading when she stopped. "Borders," she hissed.
HopeClan instantly smelled the air. "Hmm... reasononably fresh. Should we find the patrol?" Moonfire asked.
"Yes," Crowfeather said. The cats walked onto SkyClan territory. Cats jumped on them.
"Trespassers!" a tom yowled.
"Hey! We're from Firestar!" Squirrelflight exclaimed. Everyone in Skyclan fell silent.
"Come with us," the tom mewed tartly.
Jayfeather tripped over a log. And a bramble. And ran into a tree. '
"Is he okay?" he heard a she-cat ask.
"I'm blind." he said stoutly. When they reached the camp, the tom yowled, "Leafstar!"
Leafstar jumped down of a rock. A red-furred she-cat told everything.
"So... Firestar is dead?"
"Yes." The cat's voice was hushed. Leafstar threw back her head, and let a yowl of grief.
No! she thought sadly. This can't be happening!
Hopepaw stared at the roof of the apprentices den. No one had rescued StarClan yet. She sat upright, and crept into the warriors den.
Silvershadow, Moonfire, and Nightclaw saw her, and padded out of the den. The four cats padded out of camp.
Silvershadow snuck around KillClan's camp until she reached the apprentice den. She started unweaving the brambles that laced the back. The others joined in, and soon they got through.
Whitestorm nearly leaped out of his pelt.
Hopepaw hissed, "Come on!" and StarClan slipped out of the den. Whitestorm hung in the back while Hopepaw led them through water, ferns, and other obstacles until they were completely disguised. At least, scentwise. When they reached the SkyClan camp, everyone jumped to their feet.
Hopepaw told the story and Leafstar gave Hopepaw her warrior name, Hopeheart. The clans were safe, but they were one until one day a littermate would face against another in an epic battle.