Type: Fan Fictions
Medicine cat: Littlecloud (Apprentice, Berrypaw)
Mapletail woke at sunhigh to see Volepaw waiting dutifully with a rabbit in his jaws. She prodded Starsurface awake with one paw. "What!" she snapped. It was hard not to be cranky when you were an elder. Then she saw the rabbit and her eyes widened. Snaketail yawned and stretched.
While the elders were tucked in, Shrewpaw, Volepaw's brother, cleared out the old moss and brought in fresh moss. When they finished eating Volepaw checked them for ticks. Mapletail, without any ticks, laid down only to jump up with a shriek. "This moss is dripping with water!" She then proceeded to give Shrewpaw a lecture on respect until the patrols were out.
Shrewpaw fetched dry moss, and the other elders went to sleep. The next morning Mosskit, Flamekit, Thornkit, and Berrykit were begging to hear a story only to be interrupted by Mosskit. "Your stories are boring! I want to hear Snaketail!" So Snaketail told a story about a fox. Meanwhile Mapletail and Starsurface huddled in the other corner.
Mapletail hissed at the kits. "Even if we were lousy warriors, we should be respected as elders!"
"Well, I was a really irresponsible warrior," Starsurface said.
"But still..." Whatever she was going to say was interrupted by the kits leaving and returning with prey in their jaws.
Flamekit gave a fat, juicy frog to Snaketail. However, Thornkit gave some scrawny mice to Mapletail and Starsurface. Before they could complain, the kits left. Snaketail finished his frog and went to sleep. Starsurface and Mapletail, however, couldn't sleep with their empty bellies yowling. The mice had tasted bad, like crowfood, so they didn't eat it.
Finally, they gave up and talked. "I want to get fresh-kill, but I stole food as a warrior...." Starsurface sighed. "But we're elders!" Mapletail shot back. "You're right," Starsurface agreed. With that, they padded outside to the fresh-kill pile. By now it was around sunhigh so most of the Clan was on patrol. They found a couple voles, picked them up, and were heading to the elders den when a cat stopped them. It was Tigerheart.
"Didn't you already eat?" he asked. "Our mice tasted odd!" Mapletail shot back. "The Clan must be fed first!" he exclaimed. "It's okay," Starsurface mewed gingerly and put the voles back. "Good," Tigerheart snapped. "You know, youngster, I've got a few ticks that need mouse bile," Mapletail said loftily. "Yes, and I need my bedding changed. Shrewpaw gave us very poor quality," Starsurface added on, "Can you do that for us?" "That's an apprentice task!" Tigerheart exclaimed. "And I'm telling you to do it," Mapletail replied tartly.
At the end of the day, Mapletail and Starsurface, with new moss, clean fur, and an angry Tigerheart, went to the fresh kill pile and saw the two voles lying untouched.
The clearing that was the ShadowClan camp was a hectic mess, the apprentices all asking to go to the Gathering. It was considered normal, but Starsurface didn't like it. She wondered why there was no apprentice fetching her a freshly killed frog. Her belly rumbled.
Mapletail was by her side, taking a nap, unaware of all the chaos. Starsurface wished she could fall asleep like Mapletail. But with all the noise! She may be going blind, but she wasn't deaf yet!
She sighed. Although she was a cranky elder, she felt bad about being served. All her life, she had been mediocre. A derelict apprentice, who barely passed training because she once ate two pieces of fresh-kill before feeding her Clan. She was only chosen to lead a patrol once. She wished that she had an adventurous, carefree life. Her temper boiled over.
"Give me some fresh-kill, you frog-brained apprentices!" The busy clearing stopped and stared, waking Mapletail. Snaketail, the other elder in the den, ambled away from Blackstar.
"Hi, Snaketail," Starsurface mumbled. "Cheer up, Starsurface. You know how apprentices are these days. Lazy," he paused for a moment, hoping that she was reassured. "You're not still mad about that whole thing with the kits calling you boring, are you? Kits will be kits. The don't know what they're talking about," he croaked. "Anyways, you and Mapletail get to go to the Gathering! Just one night of gossip, then we can rest our old bones."
Starsurface ambled bak to the elders' den to tell Mapletail. But before she arrived, Volepaw came with a fat, juicy mouse. Volepaw was a good apprentice, not like the others, who favored Snaketail openly.
Snaketail. One name that stuck in her head. Had they been a bit younger, as warriors, she would've been happy with Snaketail as a mate. He had been very kind to her, even though she was a frog-brain as a younger cat. But Snaketail had a mate. Whitewater had joined StarClan moons ago. Snaketail was heartbroken. Starsurface and Snaketail were too old no. And her would feel as if he was betraying Whitewater.
Mapletail had gruffly agreed to go to the Gathering. Blackstar was a good leader, and he saw past their faults, and let them go to the Gathering. Starsurface wasn't looking forward to any of Purdy's stories though, that was for sure.
Snaketail, Mapletail, and Starsurface walked side by sie to the tree-bridge, making sure to stay next to the vast, swirling lake. The lake had been surprisingly rough all day.
Scorchfur rested the tip of his tail on Mapletail's shoulders. Mapletail whirled on him. "I'm not that old, you know!" she snapped. Scorchfur edged away.
They were almost across RiverClan territory, and they were nearing the tree-bridge. It shifted under the weight of all the cats. She was surprised that she didn't see RiverClan. They wer probably there already.
Snaketail and Mapletail prepared themselves to get on the tree-bridge right in front of her. They were nearing the middle of the bridge, and it was beginning to wobble uncontrollably. The choppy, gray water churned below, and wind whistled eerily through the trees on the island. Almost like a cat hissing. Mapletail's ears pricked at the creepy noise. Distracted, her paws slipped and she fell into the sucking black water.
"No!" Starsurface croaked. Mapletail thrashed frantically. A gray wave slapped her on the side of the head. "Help!" she called, coughing and spluttering.
Before she even thought of her creaky old bones and stiff joints, she plunged in the water after Mapletail. She was surprised by the force of the churning water. She tried to regain control, but she couldn't. She could just feebly move her paws. But she wasn't defeated yet.
She wriggled throught the water until she was beside Mapletail, who was rapidly sinking.
She opened her mouth to grap mapletail's scruff, but she accidentally took in more water. She coughed and spluttered, bringing more water into her lungs. Mapletail was no longer fighting--just sinking towards the lake's rocky bed.
She saw the shadow of another cat as they jumped into the water, little bubbles exploding around them.
But it was too late. Mapletail had no fight left in her. And Starsurface had sucked too much water inside of her. She was going to die. She went limp, and began to sink. She felt a huge pressure on her chest, and claws pricking her everywhere. The water pressed at her from all sides. Everything slowly faded away, with her thoughts: At least I might be welcome in StarClan....
Mapletail opened her eyes. She seemed to be floating above the lake. She stared at ShadowClan camp, scared at what she saw. No one was doing patrols. Only three cats sat vigil. There was Blackstar, who looked solemn, Volepaw, who looked upset, and Shrewpaw, who clearly didn't want to be there.
Snowdrop, her mother, appeared next to her. "Come, my daughters," she called. For the first time, Mapletail noticed Starsurface beside her. She sighed. "I've missed you, mother." "I need to take you to StarClan, my kits." they stood up on air and followed Snowdrop down a path. "I will leave you here," she announced. And with that, she left.
"Wait!" Starsurface shouted, scrambling to her paws. Mapletail hissed, "She abandoned us!"
"She died, Mapletail! What do you expect?" Starsurface retorted. A quiet cough interrupted their argument, and the sisters turned to see another cat sitting on a rock.
"Who are you?" Mapletail spat, "You smell like ThunderClan!"
"I'm Cinderheart," the cat responded, "And I'm here with a suggestion. StarClan allowed me to be here. When I was Cinderpelt, I was injured, and had to become a medicine cat. However, when I died, I was allowed to live again. You can do the same if you want to," Cinderheart announced.
"You can have the life you always wanted," she continued. Mapletail hesitated while Starsurface instantly agreed. It was clear that Starsurface wanted to have a second chance. Mapletail, on the other hand, pondered and thought of how she was the underdog. She agreed and Cinderheart rose to her paws. "Good choice." And then she left them, just like Snowdrop.
Mapletail and Starsurface scrambled through brambles and ferns. She felt the brambles getting thicker and sharper. She stopped walking and glanced back to see starsurface panting covered in scratches from the thorns. Mapletail felt the sting of the thorns, but she didn't admit it. They kept walking until they were exhausted.
They plopped down under a tree. There was no prey scent in the air, and they were hungry. Starsurface found cobwebs and applied them on their scratches. For a moment, Mapletail felt peaceful. Suddenly, a cat jumped out, claws unsheathed.
He was a muscular tabby with ice blue eyes. His claws were long and curved. Mapletail and Starsurface ran away in terror. They were now scared, hungry, and even more lost. They clawed through more brambles and thorn thickets. Suddenly, they arrived at a clearing. A growling, dark cat glared at them.
The cat blinked.
"I have been expecting you," he said coolly.
"Expecting us for what?" Mapletail snapped.
"Expecting you for your help. We have great plans for you."
Mapletail looked at him skeptically. "Great plans? For us? The greatest thing we've ever done is die!"
Starsurface agreed with Mapletail. They were just underdogs of ShadowClan, even though they were being reborn for 'another chance'. She doubted their 'other chance' would be so great. But maybe, just maybe, this cat could help them make it so.
But then she looked around her. Strange, primitive noises echoed throughout the forest with its twisting black trunks. Then she looked in the yellow eyes of the dark cat. He seemed....shifty.
But who knew? Mapletail looked convinced. The cat blinked at beckoned with his tail.
Maybe they could set things right with this cat. She hesitated. Mapletail began to walk forward.
"Stop!" a voice rang out. Mapletail and Starsurface looked to see who it was. The looming, shady cat let out a hiss and jumped into the dark, slimy weeds. Starsurface turned to see who had called out to them. To her surprise, she saw Jayfeather, the ThunderClan medicine cat, followed by Lionblaze, a ThunderClan warrior.
"Jayfeather! Lionblaze! What are you doing here?"
Jayfeather and Lionblaze were brothers. Their sister, Hollyleaf, died in the legendary battle between the Dark Forest and the Clans...
The Dark Forest! It was obviously where they were now! How could she be so stupid?
Jayfeather and Lionblaze led them out of the stinking forest.
"That was a close one!" Starsurface exclaimed.
Jayfeather turned to them and said, "That was a very close one indeed."
Then Lionblaze spoke. "I was once tricked by them. It almost cost me my life."
"How are you even here?" Starsurface inquired.
"Sit down, and let me explain."
Jayfeather began, "There were three of us born with the power of the stars in their paws. That was me, Lionblaze, and Dovewing. We thought Hollyleaf had powers, but she didn't."
Lionblaze continued, "I could never be defeated in battle, Dovewing can hear things from far away, and Jayfeather can walk in other cats' dreams, along with a few other things. StarClan permitted Jayfeather to bring me along with him to visit StarClan."
"Dovewing is young. But we are older. Even cats with the power of the stars die sometime. We didn't think so originally, but now we know. We used our powers for our purpose. Now it is time for us to pass our powers on to you; you will have powers beside Dovewing. We will die soon. And you, when you are reborn, you will be reborn with powers."
Jayfeather continued, "You will have the second chance that you have always wanted and deserve. A second chance to have an adventurous life worth living. But I can't guarantee that it will be carefree." How did Jayfeather know what she had always wanted? He blinked his blind eyes slowly at her. His powers. Of course.
Mind reeling, Starsurface turned to Mapletail. Mapletail shuddered.
"What will this feel like?" she questioned.
"I don't know. Not bad," Jayfeather responded.
"Get in a comfortable position."
"Comfortable position? I'm an elder! All my joints are stiff!" Mapletail said indignantly.
Lionblaze turned to her and said, "You won't be an elder for long."
Starsurface and Mapletail sat down. Suddenly, there was a flash of sparkling light coming from Jayfeather and Lionblaze. Then light burst all around. Starsurface felt a wave of shock, then she was blinded by the light. In the flashes of light, she saw Applefur sitting beside Blackstar.
Then, she had this feeling of endless energy. It felt as if she could run any distance, scale any mountain, defeat any enemy.
"This feels amazing!" Mapletail shouted through the blinding light. So she was feeling it too. Jayfeather and Lionblaze nodded at them as the light ended. Then they had the feeling as if they were drifting through the sky, down to the earth. Down to the Clans.
The dark brown tom that confronted the two dead elders earlier stalked into the twisted, slimy trees. There, another cat was waiting. She was beautiful, with a white pelt with orange splotches. But she had darkness in her eyes.
"I believe it is the correct time, Mapleshade," the dark tom said.
Mapleshade spoke back. "Very good, Brokenstar. I will call for her." She let out a caterwaul as a signal to one of the surviving Dark Forest cats, Darksky.
Darksky stepped through the trees.
"Thank you for choosing me over the others. I knew they were too weak for the challenges ahead," she said.
"Accept this with modesty, Darksky," Brokenstar growled.
"No, Brokenstar," Mapleshade said to him, "It is good to know the value and extent of one's power. Now, let us begin."
The dark canopy of trees before them became a projection of Dovewing sleeping peacefully in the warriors' den, unaware of what was happening.
"What exactly are the challenges? I wish to prepare myself."
Mapleshade turned to her and narrowered her eyes, not responding for a moment. When she does, her voice is practically a growl.
"I will tell you what shall happen. I will suck this weak cat's powers from her. I will not kill her, just weaken her. Then you, Darksky, will be reborn alongside Starsurface and Mapletail. You will be receiving orders from a select cat in ShadowClan that will be faithful to me. We cannot win against the Clans, I am afraid to admit. But we can figure out how to eat them from the inside, until they are a pack of rogues. Then they will be easily destroyed."
Darksky nodded with glee. She couldn't wait to begin. ~~
Dovewing suddenly woke up. Did she hear something? No. Just the usual sound of elders snoring. Some kit in WindClan was having bad dreams, and a RiverClan apprentice was grumbling about guard duty. But neither of those were what had woke her up.
Suddenly, she felt a jolt of pain, like something was being sucked out of her. Icy paws gripped her, draining her of energy. When it stopped, she couldnt hear like she usually could. She had the hearing of a normal cat. ~~
"Yes, perfect," Mapleshade said, watching Dovewing rigid with pain. A gray and purple smoke poured out of the darkness, and covered Darksky in a thick, choking cloud. There were some coughs from Darksky.
When the smoke cleared, Darksky said the words that would be know all throughout the Dark Forest.
"You're brilliant, Mapleshade! I can hear Thistleclaw scratching at that burnt tree on the other side of the forest!"
"Very good. But you're not finished yet. It is time for your rebirth....."
"I'm not sure how Applefur got pregnant. Her belly just started bulging."
Blackstar stood up and stretched. He was worried about his mate.
They were inside his den. Littlecloud was noticing how old Blackstar looked lately.
"Will she be okay?" Blackstar asked.
"Then she'll be fine. My mate is strong enough to do anything!"
A wail came up from outside.
Littecloud ran outside and stopped dead. Mosskit, Flamekit, Thornkit, and Berrykit were covered in blood.
He rushed and started inspecting them. They were all breathing, but just barely. He knew that they would have to set back their training for a long, long time.
He ordered Volepaw and Shrewpaw to get cobwebs and moss. He put herbs on wounds and wrapped them up.
"So you said a badger did this?" Blackstar's voice reached Littlecloud's ears.
"We need to attack the badger before it attacks again!" That was Toadfoot's voice.
The rest quickly agreed. Blackstar walked out of his den and stormed up the tree.
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey come below the Hightree for a Clan meeting," he called.
Littlecloud watched as the Clan gathered around him.
"The kits have been savaged by a badger. We will hunt this beast and see it brought to justice!" The rest of the Clan yowled approval. He selected Tawnypelt, Toadfoot, Shrewfoot, Starlingwing, and Scorchfur to take it down.
Blackstar was padding to his den when Littlecloud realized that Blackstar hadn't eaten in a few days. he picked up a mouse and followed Blackstar into his den. Littlecloud put down the mouse in front of Blackstar, then left.
"Which day do you think it went?" Starlingwing murmured to Scorchfur.
"I don't know."
"Wait!" Tawnypelt hissed, "There's a badger scent trail coming from these hazel bushes!" Scorchfur tensed up and sniffed at the ground.
"Yep, definitely badger," he reported smugly.
"Oh yes, and claws are sharp!" Tawnypelt muttered under her breath.
Tawnypelt led the patrol on, snuffling anxiously at the ground.
"It disappears here!" Toadfoot exclaimed as he lifted his head from the ground.
Tawnypelt snapped her head back up. "You're right. It does. What can that mean? We aren't even in the marshes yet."
Her question was answered by grunting and snarling. It came from the scraggly bushes behind the patrol. A huge badger, with it's teeth bared, lumbered out of the wilted leaves.
"We stand, we fight, and we win." Tawnypelt said, as the patrol looked at her with admiration before turning to the badger with a newfound determination in their eyes.
Scorchfur took the first leap at the badger. It swerved, snapping its sharp teeth. As it was distracted, Shrewfoot danced around behind it and attacked. It let out a yelp of pain. Then Tawnypelt and Starlingwing launched themselves at it. Scorchfur took the opportunity to land a few blows.
Although Scorchfur was successful, Starlingwing was not. The badger swatted him aside with a massive paw as the warrior scratched and bit at its flank. Then, Shrewfoot and Tawnypelt attacked together, with all their might, and sunk their teeth into its hideous ears. The badger bellowed with pain, and ran off towards the border.
Starlingwing got to his feet, relatvely unharmed, and yowled at its retreating form. The others joined in, shouting their victory to the sky. "That will teach you to hurt our kits!" Tawnypelt yowled after it.
The next morning, Littlecloud awoke to hear a different wailing. It was coming from the nursery. Littlecloud ran in and saw Applefur thrashing on the moss.
"Her kits are coming!" screeched Tawnypelt.
"What? It's not nearly time!" Littlecloud exclaimed, rushing out. His way was blocked by Blackstar.
"Where are you going?"
"To fetch herbs!" Littlecloud exclaimed.
"No! You are staying here!" Blackstar snapped, "You must make sure she is okay!"
"I can't do that without herbs!" Littlecloud frowned, "Alright, can you go get some?"
A few moments later, there was the first kit.
"This one will be Silverkit." Applefur gasped.
Then a second kit lay on the moss.
"This one will be Nightkit."
"One left," Littlecloud said. A third kit came out.
"And that one should be Eveningkit," Blackstar announced as he walked in with a bundle of herbs in his jaws.
Nightkit was wriggling with excitement for her ceremony. She finally got to train side by side with Silverkit and Eveningkit, her two best friends and siblings.
"Stop wriggling!" Applefur scolded. She ran her tongue over her three kits heads. "Your apprentice naming ceremony is a very big thing, and I want you looking nice!"
"I'm so excited, Mama!" shouted Silverkit.
"Me too!" shouted Eveningkit.
"Me three!" exclaimed Nightkit, "I'm more nervous than that time I fell in the lake!"
Applefur looked worried. Nightkit didn't know what she was so perplexed about.
"You never fell in the lake," Applefur said to her.
"But I remember a time where I had all this water around me, and, and, and--never mind. It must've been a dream," Nightkit said, dismissing the idea.
"I thought I remembered that too, but I guess it's not real," Silverkit said.
Eveningkit was looking back and forth between them with the strangest look on her face. Not confusion, but, for some reason, it was almost annoyance.
They were interrupted by Blackstar's call. "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join beneath the Hightree for a Clan meeting!" Bouncing with excitement, Silverkit, Nightkit, and Eveningkit stepped forward, shivering with excitement.
"Now, I do one of my favorite duties as a Clan leader. I am happy that my three beautiful kits are finally becoming apprentices," Blackstar said with pride. Applefur stood up straight, her eyes gleaming. A few she-cats purred.
"Silverkit, step forward. Until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Silverpaw. May StarClan light your path. Rowanclaw, you will be mentor to Silverpaw. May you pass on your determination and courage to this young apprentice."
Rowanclaw and Silverpaw touched noses. Nightkit bounced up and down; it was her turn next!
"Nightkit, come forward. Until you have received your warrior name you will be known as Nightpaw. May StarClan light your path. Kinkfur, you will be mentor to Nightpaw. May you pass on your wisdom and loyalty to Nightpaw."
Nightpaw bumped her nose against Kinkfur's. "Oops," Nightpaw said. Kinkfur winked, and she had to bite back the laugh that rose in her throat.
Then, finally, Blackstar said, "Eveningkit, come forward. Until you receive your warrior name you will be known as Eveningpaw. May StarClan light your path. Dawnpelt, you will be mentor to Eveningpaw. Pass on your skills and intelligence to this young cat." They stepped forward and touched noses. Dawnpelt had a strange gleam in her eye.
"Nice job!" Kinkfur said to Nightpaw. She had just gotten her first catch. It was a juicy frog. She dropped it and squeaked with excitement, her eyes bright.
Silverpaw crouched down, alert, ears twitching. Then she pounced, a mouse caught between her claws.
"Your first catch too!" Nightpaw purred. Silverpaw glowed with pride. But Eveningpaw hadn't caught anything yet.
"Don't worry, Eveningpaw! You'll catch something!"
"I hope so," Eveningpaw purred. Then she stalked into the bushes, and came out with a lizard. Nightpaw was so happy that she was finally an apprentice, side by side with her sisters. ~~
Moons passed. Silverpaw, Nightpaw, and Eveningpaw progressed in their training. Nightpaw was an excellent hunter, and she was embarrassed about how much warriors complimented her strategy. Same with Silverpaw, only more so for battle strategies and fighting. For some reason, she could always sense resentment off of Eveningpaw whenver Nightpaw got a good catch. She didn't know why. Eveningpaw had her strong points too!
Soon, Eveningpaw didn't want to spend as much time with Silverpaw and her as she used to. Why not? Wasn't Eveningpaw still part of their group? Apparently not, and soon it was like the two of them barely even knew their sister.
And Silverpaw sometimes had these strange flashbacks. She felt water pressing at her from all sides, choking her. Applefur said that she hadn't fallen in the lake, so what memory could it be?
It was time for the Gathering. Cats all over the ShadowClan camp were asking about going to the Gathering. Nightpaw felt as if she experienced this before. But she shook the feeling, and asked Blackstar if her, Silverpaw, and Eveningpaw could go to the Gathering. It was leaf-fall, and tempers were beginning to run short, sot it should be a good Gathering with a lot of gossip.
The lake was calm, and rippling in the moonlight. Blackstar led the Gathering patrol up to RiverClan territory, towards the tree-bridge.
They got to the tree-bridge. She hopped on right after Silverpaw.
"Should be a good Gathering, huh?"
"Yeah!" Eveningpaw looked way more excited than Silverpaw. "I heard a squabble on the WindClan/RiverClan border! Maybe WindClan will challenge those RiverClan prey-stealers!"
"Don't be ridicuous, Eveningpaw! You don't need to make stuff up to be impressive!"
Eveningpaw looked confused.
They were crossing the tree-bridge. It began to wobble a bit. A ThunderClan warrior, Spiderleg, reassured them.
"It's okay. It's always hard your first time."
But for some reason, it didn't feel like Nightpaw's first time.
Nightpaw was super excited about meeting cats from other Clans, and hearing all the juicy gossip. The three apprentices leaped off the log. Eveningpaw instantly went off by herself, to make new friends. Silverpaw and Nightpaw didn't have that much fun mingling. ShadowClan was late, so all the other apprentices already had went off into their groups. They were told not to speak to any of the warriors unless one spoke to them. So they were bored, and relieved when Onestar, leader of RiverClan, yowled to start the meeting.
"Cats of all Clans! The meeting is beginning!"
He continued, "It is now my duty as a leader to challenge prey stealers!"
Indignant yowls cam from RiverClan. Mistystar turned on Onestar, eyes gleaming.
"Told you," Eveningpaw muttered as she stalked up to sit by her sisters.
"RiverClan did not take that prey. You know very well that we have all the fish we need in the river."
"Yeah! We wouldn't waste all of our time piddling around on the moors after scrawny rabbits!" a RiverClan warrior shouted.
"Silence!" Mistystar hissed, "I do not believe that any of my warriors are stealing you rabbits, and if they are, I don't know of it. If they are found, I will punish them at once."
"You were always soft, Mistystar," Onestar growled, "Following that fool Firestar. It is a service to the forest that he is gone." Bramblestar, leader of ThunderClan, growled.
"Let's not forget, Onestar, that you used to be unusually close friends with Firestar. In fact, you were more of the follower than Mistystar," Bramblestar challenged, "Do not speak of Firestar that way. He did many great deeds for all of you, and you repay him for disrespecting him."
Bramblestar broke up the argument, by sharing some normal news. Onestar and Mistystar stepped back, their fur flattening down, from when they had spiked it in anger.
"The forest is still running with prey, and Cinderheart has had a litter of kits. They are named Snowkit and Meadowkit."
The Gathering continued normally after that. But Nightpaw wondered how Eveningpaw knew about the prey theft. Perhaps she had seen a RiverClan patrol, and to seem better than her sisters, she pretended to figure it out.
Nightpaw was jolted out of her reverie as Blackstar began to speak. And something strange happened.
He announced them as new apprentices. Silverpaw and Eveningpaw puffed out their chests in pride. But Nightpaw didn't. Something else was happening to her. Bramblestar congratulated ShadowClan. And she had a strange sensation.
She was standing in a place completely unfamiliar to her. But there was no mistaking the familiar scent of ShadowClan, and the pine trees that stretched over her head. This must be the ShadowClan camp in the old forest!
Blackstar was standing in the middle of the clearing, where cats had gathered. He looked awfully small, and she realized that he must be a kit or an apprentice. Two other cats stood next to him, bouncing in anticipation. A powerful looking cat stood on top of a boulder.
"Blackkit, from this moment on until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Blackpaw. May StarClan light your path."
The vision was beginning to frighten her. How did she even get there. Was she stuck in the past? Don't be ridiculous, Nightpaw told herself.
Suddenly, she woke from her vision to a paw prodding her side.
"Come on, Nightpaw, you rock. ShadowClan is leaving."
She shook her head to clear it. "Sorry," she mewed. And she began to walk hom, as she pondered the strange thing that happened to her.
Dawnpelt settled into her nest, listening to the forest sounds among the pines. She was hoping that she could get a good night's sleep...
But she woke up in the Dark Forest. She held up her head high, partially to impress, partially with excitement for what was happening that night, or so Mapleshade said.
Mapleshade materialized before her.
"Stop thinking of dreamless sleep, and be grateful that we are specially choosing you and your apprentice," she hissed.
"But I wasn't!" Dawnpelt lied, "Uh, I mean, what is my order, Mapleshade?"
"You need to inform Eveningpaw about who she really is, and her tasks. Then we can truly rot out the Clans."
"I have a question, Mapleshade," Dawnpelt mewed, "How long will this process take? How difficult will Eveningpaw's tasks be? We have to train her well, or she is likely to betray us, listening to her whining sisters."
"Have faith, Dawnpelt. The true end of the Clans is coming. Most Dark Forest cats who have survived are skulking in the shadows with shame." Mapleshade's eyes glinted with anger. "It is them we need to convince to come out of the shadows and act. We need few Clan cats."
"Shall I fetch her?" Dawnpelt asked.
"Yes, please do," Mapleshade said, "I will be waiting her with information for her." ~~
Dawnpelt waited at the edge of the Dark Forest, to meet Eveningpaw. Eveningpaw arrived.
"Eveningpaw. It is nice to see you." Mapleshade said smoothly.
"Hello, Mapleshade," Eveningpaw said, "What do you want to teach me tonight?"
"I don't wish to teach you. I wish to give you knowledge."
"Eveningpaw, here is your first order. Or should I call you Darksky?" Mapleshade said with glee.
"Darksky? What do you mean?" Eveningpaw said.
"you aren't really Eveningpaw," Mapleshade explained, "You are Darksky, one of the top Dark Forest warriors."
"What do you mean?" Eveningpaw whimpered.
"I mean that you were reborn. With one of the three's powers."
"Reborn? So....I'm actually Darksky? And you're my mother? What powers do I have?"
"You have the power to hear from a distance. We stole Dovewing's powers," Dawnpelt chipped in.
"Stealing? Isn't that bad?" Eveningpaw mewed nervously.
"Don't fret, Darksky," Mapleshade soothed, "You should be proud to be a part of the Dark Forest. You, Dawnpelt, and I wil make things great. We will teach you the meaning of power. But now, let's begin our training."
Dawnpelt leaped at Eveninpaw, claws unsheathed. Eveninginpaw felt happier than she had felt in a long time.
She was better than her sisters at something. She was a part of something bigger than her Clan. It was okay now that she wasn't the best hunter out of her siblings. She had Mapleshade.
Nightpaw headed into the forest with Eveningpaw and Silverpaw. It was their warrior assessment! She was so excited to become a warrior, and protect her Clan. She could lead patrols and get an apprentice and maybe even a mate! But then the nervousness hit her. What if she failed? What if she was so nervous that she messed up?
She shook the feelings. I know I can pass, she thought.
She took off after her littermates. She felt waves of excitement rolling off of Silverpaw. But Eveningpaw was more reserved, like smoke was clouding her vision.
"Ok, so here's what you're going to do," Rowanclaw explained, "you are going to hunt in your group. It is up to you to choose a good place."
Kinkfur continued, "You will try to display all that you have learned."
"Like we don't know these rules already," Eveningpaw muttered to Silverpaw.
"Shh, I'm trying to listen!" Silverpaw muttered back. Rowanclaw gave them a sharp look.
"Now you may begin."
"Ok, why don't we try towards the RiverClan border?" Nightpaw suggested.
"That's a good idea," Silverpaw said.
"I guess so," mumbled Eveningpaw.
They arrived in the spot they planned to hunt. They heard a call of the blackbird roosting in the pine trees. It flew down and began to peck at the ground. Eveningpaw chased it into Silverpaw's paws. She killed it with a swift bite. But Nightpaw was elsewhere.
A distinct sound of rabbit hit her nose. She was stalking along the ground, to see where the rabbit was.
"Over here," she whispered to Eveningpaw and Silverpaw. The smell of rabbit was very strong.
And then she saw it. It was a whole den of rabbits. There were babies and a mother.
"I'll carry this back to camp," Eveningpaw said, picking up the blackbird.
Nightpaw and Silverpaw ignored her, their eyes fixed forward. Then, Silverpaw leaped. With a swipe of her paws, she wiped out a few of the rabbit kits. Nightpaw felt pity for them for a moment, but then she shook it away. It would be a terrible time to let that show.
With a sharp nip, Nightpaw killed the mother. Silverpaw made quick work of the rest of them.
"Wait, there's more!" Nightpaw spotted it slowly skittering out of the burrow in terror. It tried to hide behind a rock. Silverpaw shifted into the hunting crouch once again. As soon as she was about to leap, a rustling in the leaves disturbed it. It dashed away.
Kinkfur and Rowanclaw stepped out of the bushes, beaming. "I think we've seen enough for today."
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath the tree for a clan meeting!"
Cats slunk from various places aound the camp, cats of every age, except elders. Mapletail, Starsurface, and Snaketail had joined StarClan right before she was born. She didn't know how, though. She felt like she knew them, though. Strange. Like how she knew that Snaketail was the best storyteller, and those sorts of things.
"And now, we welcome three new warriors to the Clan. Eveningpaw, Nightpaw, and Silverpaw, please step forward."
Trembling with a mix of fear and pride, Nightpaw stepped forward with her littermates. Blackstar turned to their mentors.
"Rowanclaw, do you believe that Silverpaw is ready to become a warrior?" Blackstar asked. Rowanclaw responded.
"She did well catching her prey today. Her stalking techniques were exquisite, and she caught several pieces of prey. I believe that Silverpaw is ready to become a warrior."
Dawnpelt butted in.
"Eveningpaw is definitely ready to become a warrior. She caught so much prey, even I was surprised. She did the best, if you ask me, for all of her catches were cleanly executed." Dawnpelt smugly sat down.
It was Nightpaw's turn. She was so nervous. She only caught a few of the rabbits! But Kinkfur was apparently impressed.
"Nightpaw expertly found a den of rabbits, and killed four with Silverpaw. She is thoughtful and listens well. I am proud to say that she should be a warrior." Nightpaw sighed with relief.
"Silverpaw, do you promise to protect the Clan even with the cost of your life?"
"Then from this moment on you will be known as Silverfire." Silverfire touched her muzzle to Blackstar's.
"Eveningpaw, do you promise to protect the Clan even with the cost of your life?"
"Then from this moment on, you will be known as Eveningstripe."
"Are you proud of me, Mapleshade?" Eveningstripe whispered, too low for anyone to hear but Nightpaw. She touched her muzzle to Blackstar. Who was Mapleshade?
Before she knew it, Blackstar was beckoning her forward.
"Nightpaw, do you promise to protect the Clan, even with the cost of your life?"
"Then from this moment on, you will be known as Nightshadow."
"Silverfire! Eveningstripe! Nightshadow!" the Clan chanted. Nightshadow brushed her muzzle against Blackstar's. She was a warrior now!
It was Silverfire's first time out as a warrior. She walked side by side with Nightshadow. It was beginning to be leaf-bare, so they had to hunt for their Clan. Silverfire felt a burst of pride. "I'm proud of myself, too," Nightshadow said. Nightshadow seemed to have a strange ability to sense her feelings. It annoyed her sometimes.
Then she noticed that faint shape of a Twoleg nest against the horizon. It was a farm.
"Hey, Nightshadow! Look over there! I found a place where we can hunt!"
Nightshadow squinted to see the farm.
"You're right," she said. They both dashed to see what the situation was.
As soon as Silverfire got there, she realized that the whole place smelled of prey. she heard little squeaks among the hay.
"Let's go!" Silverfire said.
"Wait," Nightshadow mewed, "Maybe it's against the warrior code to hunt here."
"Come on, Nightshadow," Silverfire pleaded, "Don't you want to impress Blackstar and all the senior warriors? Plus, we aren't hunting in another Clan's territory." Nightshadow's face brightened.
"All right. Let's do it."
They caught so many fat mice that they were completely weighed down. They dragged the first half of their kill to their camp. Gasps of awe sounded as they walked through the bramble barrier.
"Where did you get such fat mice?" gasped Tigerheart.
"How?" Kinkfur asked, with pride. Eveningstripe gawked with envy.
"We found a Twoleg farm just outside our territory," Nightshadow annonced.
"Twoleg farm? Outside our territory?" Owlclaw said disapprovingly.
"We weren't trespassing. Aren't you happy that we got a lot of prey?"
"That's great and all, but somehow I don't feel that it's right," Smokefoot said. Silverfire was downcast.
"At least fetch us the rest of the prey," she said.
Nightshadow and Silverfire headed to the Twoleg farm again.
"Do you think this will fly well with Blackstar?" Nightshadow asked. Silverfire knew it would. Blackstar was a good leader. She told this to Nightshadow.
They bent down to gather the rest of their catch. Then they heard a faint hissing sound. The hissing was joined with more hissing. Snakes! They should've known! There were so many mice, there were bound to be snakes!
"Run!" yowled Silverfire.
They dashed away from the Twoleg farm. A fire pulsed through Silverfire's veins. She turned, and with one swipe, she slashed to snakes' heads off. Then they ran back to their camp; the Twoleg farm was plentiful in prey, but of course, came with a catch.
"Blackstar, we didn't know there were snakes," Silverfire explained.
Blackstar began to speak.
"You have caused quite an uproar in camp, and went into a place where you didn't know that there would be danger." he paused. "But you found a source of prey that beats rats anyday, brought back tons of prey for the Clan, and escaped the snakes effectively. You are good warriors." Then his eyes narrowed slightly, "But, next time, double check. I do not wish to lose any warriors. Or family."
Nightshadow woke up groggily, blinking sleep from her eyes.
"Rowanclaw want you on the dawn patrol," Tigerheart said. Nightshadow was so tired from the Twoleg farm excursion from the previous night; it felt as if her paws were going to drop off. she crept out of her nest, careful not to wake Silverfire, who was snoozing peacefully. Lucky.
She walked into the morning air, with Tawnypelt leading the dawn patrol. Tigerheart and Olivenose walked behind her. They approached the ThunderClan border. Nightshadow sniffed the air. No sign of intruder scent.
But a sharp Twoleg scent wafted underneath her nose. Tawnypelt had her jaws parted to take in the scent.
"This way," she said. She bounded into the bushes, followed closely by the rest of the patrol. When the bushes parted, they saw a familiar object that couldn't be good news. It was a long, shiny loop attached to a stick. A fox trap. Which meant....foxes.
Suddenly, they heard a blood-curling yowl. Some ThunderClan warriors were chasing a big red-furred animal. A fox! Squirrelflight was leading the patrol with Lionblaze and a tom that she didn't know. They expertly chased it over the border. Then they noticed the ShadowClan patrol.
But before they could say anything, the fox attacked. Nightshadow reared and slashed its flank. The fox shrieked and swatted her aside with its paw. Then Tawnypelt attacked it from behind, clawing its back to shreds. Olivenose yowled and pounced, but he got knocked aside with the fox's writhing. Nightshadow bluntly lunged forward, aiming for the brute's eyes. Yes! Her claws met her mark. She began to scratch at the fox's eyes.
But suddenly, the fox bit her shoulder. It wasn't a deep bite, but it wasn't enough to send her sprawling with pain. Tawnypelt chased it directly into the fox trap. The loop snapped around its neck, leaving the fox writhing in agony, trying to escape.
"You didn't help us!" Tawnypelt hissed, "I can't believe it!"
So these ThunderClan fox-hearts could chase a fox onto their territory, and not even help!
"I'm sorry. I didn't want to risk ThunderClan warriors for ShadowClan," Squirrelflight mewed.
"Well, it's always ShadowClan that's complaining that we help others too much!" The tom she didn't know hissed.
"Quiet, Berrynose," Squirrelflight snarled.
"I'm sorry Tawnypelt," Squirrelflight said, "But we're not here to stir up trouble. We will just go now."
"Oh, no you don't!" Tawnypelt said. Nightshadow and Olivenose bristled with fury.
"Just because we went on the journey together doesn't mean that we aren't in our own separate Clans." Squirrelflight hissed, "Now you're starting to act like Crowfeather! Cranky! Betrayed the Clan with Leafpool! Now Lionblaze and Jayfeather hate me!"
Tawnypelt hissed and beckoned the patrol away.
"Let's not start a battle here."
Nightshadow turned to walk away with the rest of the patrol. But strong paws pulled her into a bush and slammed her down.
"Hi, Nightshadow. It's Lionblaze. Is your sister here?"
"No." Nightshadow responded, "What do you want?"
"Just be attentive, Nightshadow. That's all I have to say." Then he released her and bounded off with Squirrelflight and Berrynose.
Why would Lionblaze talk to her so secretively? She didn't even know her!
But she didn't have much time to wonder, because her patrol was about to report to Blackstar.
"Er, I'll go check to see if the fox is still trapped," Tigerheart said nervously.
"Thanks for offering, but I'm sure it is. Probably dead," Tawnypelt mewed.
"No, I should really make sure," he said. Then he sped off into the forest. Nightshadow could sense the conflicting emotions inside of him, and she knew that he wasn't just going to check something.
"I'll go help him," Nightshadow said. Then she dashed off after him.
Branches slapped at her face, as she ran in his direction. Then she stopped and crawled across the ground, stalking him. He did creep in the direction of the fox trap. The fox was still trapped in the shiny loop, alive. Now that Nightshadow looked closer, the mechanism didn't work correctly. The loop was looser, and the stick wasn't entirely in the ground.
The fox snarled and snapped at Tigerheart. It was bleeding in several places.
Nightshadow thought that Tigerheart was just going to go, knowing that the fox was successfully restrained. But he didn't go. He crept closer and closer to the fox.
"I'm sorry. you must be in pain," he whispered to the red creature. Then he began to dig the stick out of the ground.
Nightshadow was shocked. Why would he release one of the forest's greatest enemies?
As soon as the stick was loose, the fox ran forward with a burst of energy, tearing up the earth.
"Okay! You're free now!" Then Tigerheart turned to run. But the fox reared up, and smashed right on top of him.
"No!" shouted Nightshadow. She ran into the clearing to help him. It was too late. The fox shook Tigerheart like she would've shaken a rat. His bloody, limp form slapped onto the ground.
"Tigerheart!" yowled Tawnypelt, as she ran into the clearing and collapsed onto her stomach.
The vigil lasted all night. Dawnpelt, Tawnypelt, and Rowanclaw sat there from dusk to dawn. Silverfire felt grief for Tigerheart, but it was a mouse-brained idea, to try and free a fox. He knew it would've risked his life, and in the end, it cost him it. But Silverfire was contemplating the things that Nightshadow was saying.
"And so he just pulled me into a bush and said, 'Be attentive. That's all I have to say'."
She listened to Nightshadow's latest news. Apparently, Lionblaze was asking for her. It was one of the strangest things Silverfire had ever heard of.
Eveningstripe was sitting next to Owlclaw in the corner of the den, cleaning her ears.
"Stop making up stories, Nightshadow," she said, "You just want to impress everyone and make sure you'll always be the best."
"Shut up! Nightshadow is telling the truth!" Silverfire exclaimed.
"You shut up," Eveningstripe responded, "I hate how you two alway pair up against me and act like you're better than me. Like bragging about your mentors. Silverfire had the great deputy!" Eveningstripe said mockingly. "Nightshadow, gets a senior warrior! And poor, skill-less Eveningstripe gets poor, skulking Dawnpelt!"
Eveningstripe was still ranting.
"Well! Let me tell you! I have a better mentor than you two can imagine!" And with that, Eveningstripe stalked out of the den.
"What was that all about?" Owlclaw muttered. The sisters ignored him.
"I feel a bit bad now," Nightshadow said.
"Don't," Silverfire mumbled, "There was no call for that."
"You're right," Nightshadow said.
"I hate you!" Eveningstripe called from outside. There had been a rift driven though them by forces unknown.
Blackstar called a Clan meeting.
"I bring good news.It is time to apprentice Emberkit, Trailkit, and Lilackit. They came forward, trembling.
"Trailkit, come forward. Until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Flamepaw. May StarClan light your path." Silverfire looked up, surprised, as Blackstar said his next words: "Silverfire, you will be mentor to Trailkit. Pass down your fighting skills and quick thinking." Trailpaw firmly stepped forward and touched her nose to Silverfire's. An apprentice? Already? Happiness warmed her.
Lilacpaw was apprenticed to Nightshadow and Emberpaw was apprenticed to Littlecloud. Despite Eveningstripe's harsh words to her earlier, she felt a bit bad that Eveningstripe had been left out of getting an apprentice. Silverfire purred with amusement as Lilacpaw bumped her nose against Nightshadow's, exactly what Nightshadow had done to Kinkfur!
"Where are we going today?" Asked Trailpaw, unable to hide his excitement.
"Well, we'll explore part of our territory today. But it's getting late, and I don't think we'll get to all of it."
Silverfire led Trailpaw into the forest.
Nightshadow followed, "Is it okay if Lilacpaw and I come too?"
"Sure. Shall we start by the lake and the RiverClan border?" Silverfire asked.
"Sounds good," Nightshadow responded. She veered to the left. They arrived at the RiverClan border.
"This is the RiverClan border," Silverfire explained to the apprentices.
"Smell the markers and make sure not to cross them."
"Yuck. Fishy," Trailpaw mewed.
"Grr, I'm a RiverClan cat! I will slay my enemy!" Lilacpaw growled playfully.
Trailpaw meowed with excitement and bowled Lilacpaw over. "I win!"
"Apprentices," Nightshadow muttered under her breath.
Silverfire cleared her throat, trying to hide her amusement. "Now let's see the lake."
They turned around, and followed the marshes to the lake. The lake was cold and icy. It lapped at the pebbles along the shoreline. Silverfire didn't like the majestic lake for some reason. It looked calm now, but she could still feel herself drowning.
"Wow," breathed Lilacpaw.
They went on to show the Twoleg nest with the aggressive kittypets, the best spots for prey, and the other landmarks.
Silverfire was so glad that she had an apprentice. It was great teaching Trailpaw about their pine forest. But Silverfire had something nagging at her. There was something that she was missing, something that she couldn't quite put her paw on. Something about herself. Something about the strange memories that she had been having, that weren't hers. There was something she was missing.
Nightshadow stalked across the grassy ground. But, before her, was Mosscloud, stalking a juicy mouse. Why wasn't it it her in front of the mouse?
She woke up to a strong pain in her shoulder where the fox had bitten it. All the activity of getting a new apprentice had worn her out. Lilacpaw was a pawful, that was for sure. Nightshadow stretched and crept out of the warriors' den to make dirt.
The moon was still high in the sky. Nightshadow didn't dare wake Littlecloud up at this hour for her shoulder. He was getting old and frail, and he really needed his sleep.
She crept into the dirtplace. But something made her stop dead in her tracks. It was Eveningstripe and Dawnpelt, talking. They had exited through the dirtplace tunnel, and proceeded to talk right outside. Sneaky foxes, she thought.
She crept closer to see what they were talking about. She could hear Eveningstripe's sharp mew.
"I hear something using my powers. There are two cats on the Thunderclan lakeshore. It is significant for some reason....I don't know why. The cats are breathing heavily. I think they're about to die. Wait a second.....It's Jayfeather and Lionblaze!"
Shock hit her like an icy wave. She didn't know how this affected her, but it did. She had to wake Silverfire. she rushed into the warriors den and quietly prodded her awake.
"Come on," she whispered, "It's something important."
She managed to get Silverfire out of her nest without waking any cats, although she could feel annoyance coming off of her like waves.
They crept into the night, behind the back of Scorchfur, the guard. Nightshadow unsettled some rocks, and let out a whispery mew.
"Kits," Scorchfur muttered. Then Silverfire and Nightshadow snuck out as he was snuffling around the edges of the clearing.
"So what's all this about?" Silverfire grumbled.
"I heard Dawnpelt and Eveningstripe talking. They were saying something about Eveningstripe having powers. Eveningstripe said she heard Lionblaze and Jayfeather on the ThunderClan shore. They were about to die." She could feel the shock pulsing off of Silverfire, along with the questioning thought of Why should I care? For the first time, Nightshadow wondered how she could even sense feelings.
They rushed through the rest of ShadowClan territory. But once they got to the ThunderClan border, they were met with a major surprise. there stood Dawnpelt and Eveningstripe. And they were hissing, backs arched.
"You didn't think you could make it all the way to the Thunderclan shore, making noise like a couple of badgers?" Eveningstripe hissed.
"Just let us go, Eveningstripe. Remember when we were kits, and we had so much fun together? How could you turn your back on that?"
"I am not proud to say that I'm your littermate. A sister of cats that look to the stars." she spat. Dawnpelt hissed her agreement.
"Just let us pass through," Nightshadow said. Eveningstripe hissed, and launched herself at Nightshadow.
She was bowled over by Eveningstripe's weight. Probably been sneaking extra fresh-kill, she thought angrily. Eveningstripe lunged for her throat. Nightshadow quickly dodged and landed a blow to her ear. She was using darker moves than any Clan cat.
Right across the border, she could see Silverfire grappling with Dawnpelt.
As she was distracted, Eveningstripe reared up and jumped on her. She began pummeling at her stomach. Nightshadow went limp, and hoped that she could fall for it.
"Do you think I'll be tricked by that move?" she sneered. But suddenly, the great weight of Eveningstripe was lifted. She saw Silverfire grab her by the scruff, shake her, and throw her against a tree. There wasn't one scratch on Silverfire. It was strange. She saw Dawnpelt streaking away, scratches on her pelt.
"Don't come back, crow-food eaters!" Silverfire yowled after them. Nightshadow joined in.
"Okay, let's keep going. We could already be too late!"
They rushed across the border, towards the lakeshore. They heard a rustle of paws, and instantly crouched in the bushes. She saw Sorreltail from ThunderClan, doing some night hunting. Sorreltail didn't have any unusual thoughts. She didn't even notice that they were there! As soon as Sorreltail left, they kept on going.
"We're almost at the lakeshore," Silverfire hissed. They pushed through the last of the undergrowth and stood on the pebbly shore. The lake lapped hungrily against the beach, its gray waves slapping against some rocks.
Nightshadow turned and saw two little cats lots of fox-lengths down the shore.
"Come on!" she said. They rushed to Jayfeather and Lionblaze's side.
"Jayfeather! Lionblaze!" shouted Nightshadow.
"I'm glad you found us," Jayfeather rasped.
"Now you are ready to take our place."
"Take your place? What do you mean?" Silverfire mewed.
"You haven't figured it out yet?" Lionblaze said. "Did you not get my advice on the border? Did you not find your special strengths somewhat unusual?"
"What do you mean?"
"You are not really Silverfire and Nightshadow."
"How can we not be Silverfire and Nightshadow? This says Silverfire and Nightshadow" Nightshadow questioned, pointing at herself and her sister. What Lionblaze was saying was starting to fit together. She suddenly felt disappointment and guilt that she had never felt before. She felt water pressing at her from all sides, cradling her, then sucking the breath out of her. It was terribly cold. But Applefur said that we never fell in the lake!
"The lake was just like this the night you died," Jayfeather said.
"The day we died? How is that possible? Are we StarClan cats?"
"No," Jayfeather said, "Let me explain."
"Lionblaze, Dovewing, and I were born with the power of the stars in our paws. I could walk in dreams, sense cats' feelings, and sometimes disappear in their memories."
"I could never get hurt in battle. And Dovewing could hear things from very far away," Lionblaze mewed.
Jayfeather took up the explanation again. "We could not stay young and nurture our powers forever. So there you were, two elders of ShadowClan, wanting another chance. And worthy of one, too," he said.
Memories came rushing back. Tigerheart denying them prey. Her warrior ceremony as Starsurface. Her apprentice naming as Starpaw. How did he die, I wonder? She thought.
"But, how are we worthy? We did bad things in our lives." Silverfire argues. "You might have done bad things, but you both had the hearts of warriors." Lionblaze cut in. This seems to shock Silverfire into silence, and Jayfeather continues with his tale.
"You were reborn as Silverkit and Nightkit. the plan was for you to use your powers along with Dovewing of ThunderClan. Then we could pass on and....go to StarClan," Jayfeather said wistfully. Lionblaze spoke.
"But there was a flaw. StarClan was not watchful enough, and the Dark Forest stole Dovewing's powers, and gave it to another cat. there were only supposed to be two of you, but instead, there is three."
"Use your powers wisely," Jayfeather said, "You can have the life you always wanted now."
Their faces turned dark. "Listen," Jayfeather said, "The third cat could bring about your downfall. Not just you, all of the Clans. And there are others who are--" Jayfeather jerked, and fell silent. Lionblaze did the same. Their eyes were glassy. Nightshadow bent down to press her nose into their fur. But Jayfeather jerked again and rasped, "The forest shall rot.....all that has happened before will draw the end of the stars to a close."
Then all was silent, except for the rythmic sound of waves pounding along the shore.
She woke up next to Silverfire. Then the full memories hit her. My name is really Starsurface, she thought, I look just like Starsurface and I am Starsurface. Silverfire is Mapletail. We drowned in the lake, and this is our second chance.
Silverfire suddenly sat up. "what happened...." she moaned.
"It was a sign!" Nightshadow said quietly. "The forest will rot....all that has happened before will bring the end of the stars to a close."
She saw Jayfeather and Lionblaze's bodies, lying beside the lakeshore. The lake was now calm. Grief for the two cats she had barely known overtook her. It wasn't fair, them dying like that.
Silverfire and Nightshadow said their goodbyes, and began to head back to the shadowclan camp. It was now light outside. They would be missed now.
"Let's catch some prey, and hopefully the clan won't be as suspicious," said Nightshadow. So they were able to catch a good amount of prey, it being green-leaf.
"Do you remember everything now?" Silverfire said. Nightshadow did.
"Yeah. That time when we made Tigerheart change all our moss and get our ticks!" Silverfire purred in amusement. They now accepted the fact that they were actually Starsurface and Mapletail.
And other strange things they could do all made sense now. Nightshadow realized that it was her powers allowing her to sense other cats' feelings. She was sucked into Blackstar's flashback of him becoming an apprentice.
and that time she had watched Mosscloud chase a mouse in her dream; it wasn't her dream! She had not learned how to use her powers, accidentally stumbled into Kinkfur's dream! As for Silverfire, her powers explained her amazing fighting skill. Nightshadow now knew why she didn't get hurt in battle with Eveningstripe and Dawnpelt.
They arrived at the ShadowClan camp, trying to look nonchalant. They dropped their catches on the fresh-kill pile, and began to share tongues. But their acting didn't last. Eveningstripe and Dawnpelt walked up to them, followed closely by Rowanclaw, Blakcstar, and other senior warriors.
"Don't try to act innocent," Eveningstripe hissed, "Thanks to me, now the whole Clan knows all about your excursion. And you will be punished."
Then Nightshadow realized that Blackstar's angry face loomed over her, and she knew that Eveningstripe had twisted the story into a bloody nightmare.
Jayfeather was suspended above the lakeshore. He stared down at his body. It didn't looked mangled, but he didn't like the stare of his formerly blind eyes. He could see now that he was dead.
A wispy form of Lionblaze appeared next to him.
"We've lived quite a life, haven't we?" he mewed absentmindedly.
"Yes, we have," Jayfeather responded. But he knew his worries wouldn't end there. Nightshadow and Silverfire still had to decipher the prophecy. He hoped he hadn't scared them too much. If he did, they would take action less willingly. They are strong cats, though. They will handle it.
Jayfeather felt the cold morning breeze ruffled his star-laden fur. How long would he stay up here? When would he get to settle things with Rock and Yellowfang? And more importantly, see Half Moon, he thought guiltily. But what if he couldn't go to Half Moon? What if he was trapped in StarClan? Impossible. He was one of the three. He was more powerful than StarClan.
Then he realized his mistake. He used to be one of the three. Now Nightshadow was in his place. He felt a pang of frustration. I spent so much time wishing I wasn't one of the three. I'm finally powerless, like I wanted, and now I'm wishing I had my powers back. At least in StarClan Yellowfang couldn't nag him about getting into other cats' dreams.
He wasn't waiting there for long. Soon, he could see the outline of a cat with stars in their fur. Jayfeather squinted to see who it was. The cat came closer and revealed herself.
"Hollyleaf!" Lionblaze mewed.
"I'm so glad to see you again," Hollyleaf purred. Then she stopped. "I mean, I'm not glad that you died. Just glad to see you." Jayfeahter sighed in relief. Hollyleaf wasn't pretending to be all wise.
"Follow me," she said. Then she began to walk. Instead of just walking forward, she went forward and up at the same time.
Jayfeather began to walk too. Lionblaze followed him.
"It's amazing, the view we get from our hunting grounds. We get to see all of the Clans, and watch over them. And if you really want to, you can send them a message.
Hollyleaf leaped up into the sky, floating upwards. "You try."
Lionblaze jumped up next to her. Jayfeather took a huge inhale of the sweet, yet cold and crisp scent of stardust. "You try."
Jayfeather jumped, but was blinded by the starlight. He went plummeting to the treetops, branches snapping. He yowled, and began to walk again. He jumped up next to Hollyleaf and Lionblaze again, embarrassed.
They drifted through the sky; finally, they came to a portal, light shining and swirling. Jayfeather took one last breath, and leaped in.
"You were such great warriors. You never needed to prove yourselves. But kill?" Blackstar snarled at them.
"You have no place in ShadowClan!" Dawnpelt hissed.
"We didn't kill anyone!" Silverfire yowled. she was extremely angry. How could her littermate turn on her like this? With that liar Dawnpelt?
Eveningstripe began to talk, "Well, maybe they're derranged and have no clue what they're doing. Maybe I was seeing thing. Or maybe, could Blackstar's leadership and fathering be leading to murderers?" Dawnpelt nodded with agreement.
"See how well I've taught my apprentice? She knows how things work. I mean, Silverfire and Nightshadow probably were blinded by Blackstar teaching them bad things!"
"Blackstar has been a good leader!" Smokefoot growled.
Flamewhisker agreed with him. "Cats wouldn't murder under Blackstar's influence! Even if they did, it is them at fault, not Blackstar!"
Dawnpelt hissed at the crowd.
Blackstar was astounded. "I have done my best to make ShadowClan strong after Tigerstar's terrible leadership. And I was proud to lead a Clan of strong warriors. But this?"
Mosscloud snorted with disgust. "Let's just get back to business. These cats obviously just want to stir up trouble."
The gathering of cats broke up and continued with their normal day.
"Wait!" shouted Dawnpelt, "I know things about Blackstar that would shake you to the bone!"
Olivenose turned to her, disbelief in his eyes. "Like what?"
"Why don't we let Blackstar explain?" Eveningstripe hissed.
Blackstar turned on them. "I had not realized that all of you were so dissatisfied with my leadership."
"Fine, if you won't tell, then I will!" Dawnpelt hissed, "I have learned some very interesting information. It seems that some very controversial things have occured, as you padded after Tigerstar."
"Wait a second," said Scorchfur, "What do you mean? I know Blackstar has made some mistakes, but i never thought--"
"Well, it's about time you started thinking!" Dawnpelt snapped, "Blackstar loyally padded along with Tigerstar. Stonefur's blood still lies on his claws!"
"I knew it all along!" Blackstar hissed.
"After Darkstripe did not succeed, Blackstar killed Stonefur in cold blood to satisfy his hunger for destroying innocent half-Clan cats!"
"I've heard some rumors of Blackstar formerly following Brokenstar, too!" Oakfur hissed.
"And not only that," Eveningstripe said with glee, "Blackstar onced plunged ShadowClan in the darkness of not believing in starClan! He followed that loner Sol!"
There were some dark mutterings, some indignant yowls.
"Wait!" shouted Nightshadow, "Blackstar wants to forget his past! He is trying to lead ShadowClan, and make it strong after all of its terrible leaders!"
"What kind of warriors are you? You dispute the warrior code and turn against your own leader?"
"But it was Blackstar that turned his back on the warrior code first!" Ratscar hissed.
Blackstar yowled above teh noise. "Cats of ShadowClan! This is getting ridiculous! For moons, I have been helping you become strong, and now you are taunting me with my past! I will not deny that I killed Stonefur, or that I invited Sol! I regret it all, and am trying to make up for it. If you are really this angry, I will step down, and Rowanclaw will take over!"
Dawnpelt growled. "We don't just want you to step down. We shall overthrow you in the way you deserve!" Eveningstripe yowled her agreement.
Cats of ShadowClan were pitted against each other, some agreeing, and others still loyal. The clearing was in a frenzy, and Silverfire didn't know what to do.
In the end, Smokefoot, Applefur, Snowbird, Mosscloud, Pinenose, Tawnypelt, Pinenose, and Flamewhisker, Silverfire, Nightshadow, Rowanclaw, and the medicine cats were still loyal. But Shrewfoot, Crowfrost, Oakfur, Ratscar, Scorchfur, Ferretclaw, and Starlingwing stood behind Dawnpelt and Eveningstripe.
The number of cats supporting each side were nearly equal.
"There's only one way to settle this!" Eveningstripe screeched. She launched herself onto Pinenose. Soon, the camp erupted in battle. Crowfrost leaped onto Silverfire and nipped her ear. The teeth should've ripped right through, but they didn't. And only one other living cat knows why, she thought.
Using her back legs, she flung Crowfrost into the air. She let out a screech of defiance. Where was Nighshadow? She scanned the battling clearing for her. Suddenly, Eveningstripe knocked her over.
"You have been a terrible sister!" Silverfire screeched at her littermate.
"Oh, have I?" Eveningstripe hissed. Silverfire sank her teeth deep into her shoulder. Eveningstripe screeched in pain and let go.
She spotted Nightshadow grappling with Owlclaw.
"I liked you! Turns out you're just a traitor!" her sister yowled at the brown warrior.
"But how could Blackstar commit such evil?" Owlclaw said, trying to knock Nightshadow's legs out from underneath her. Silverfire rushed to help her, but Nightshadow said to her, "This is my battle." Then she threw Owlclaw off.
"Blackstar wasn't as evil as Dawnpelt said! He regrets his past!" Nightshadow hissed at him. Owlclaw hesitated.
Ratscar hissed at him. "Do you want to let these frog-brains continue following the code-breaker Blackstar?"
Owlclaw shook his head, and attacked Ratscar.
That was one less cat for their side. Silverfire hissed and attacked Starlingwing, who was trying to ambush Shrewfoot.
"Stop!" Snowbird shouted, "This battle shouldn't be fought!"
"Says who?" sneered Eveningstripe. "This is the only way to put ShadowClan in power! We need to be rid of evil!"
"Thats right!" Dawnpelt said.
To Silverfire's horror, Ratscar was thrusting Blackstar right into the center of all cats. "Let me go!" growled Blackstar. Dawnpelt unsheathed her claws. They glinted in the light.
"Stop. This has gone too far," Shrewfoot said, a Dawnpelt supporter.
"Quiet," hissed Eveningstripe. Littlecloud looked on in horror next to Nightshadow.
"What's wrong?" Silverfire hissed.
"Other than Clanmates turned on Clanmates? Nothing then!" Nightshadow snapped.
"Blackstar's on his last life," Littlecloud whispered in horror.
"No!" shouted Silverfire. Dawnpelt brought her claws down on Blackstar's frail head. Blackstar hissed, and knocked her over, his weight gaining an advantage. But Blackstar wasn't guarding his throat, assuming that Dawnpelt still followed the code. But the warrior code seemed to be nothing to her now.
She sunk her teeth into Blackstar's throat. Blood spouted out. Blackstar rasped some last words that never would be known. Then he went limp.
"Blackstar's last life!" Littlecloud wailed.
It couldnt be true. But her eyes didn't deceive her.
Anger pulsed through her veins. How could this, this traitor, tear out Blackstar's last life, leaving the Clan in disarray? Nightshadows face was grim. Her breathing was labored. How could this heap of fox dung do this?
The Clan was in panic.
"I dont believe it!" screeched Tawnypelt. Bristling with fury, Silverfire leaped striaght at Dawnpelt.
Silverfire landed on Dawnpelt with so much force that she had the breath knocked out of her. She pummeled her belly, claws unsheathed, flesh tearing.
"Cowardly traitor!" Dawnpelt hissed to her.
"Look who's talking!" Silverfire hissed.
The whole clearing was at a pause now, breathless, watching with horror.
"Clever with words, but not with your head. Think fast!" Dawnpelt twisted and rolled over, taking Silverfire with her, so she was now pressed against the earth. Silverfire had not anticipated this move, but she knew exactly what to do, like someone was feeding her instructions.
Instantly, Silverfire used her hind legs to thrust Dawnpelt into the air. While she was in the air, she used her hind legs to smash her in the face. Dazed, Dawnpelt landed about two fox-lengths away from her.
"Come-" Dawnpelt broke off into a cough.
"Come and get me!" Silverfire decided to stop. She didn't want any more pain to happen in the camp. But Dawnpelt egged her on.
Silverfire tensed, urging herself not to fight. But her instinct took over. Silverfire hurtled at Dawnpelt.
Her claws raked across the bruise on her face where Silverfire had kicked her. Danwpelt launched herself to meet Silverfire, but she tripped on a rock, and fell to Silverfire's mercy. Eveningstripe tensed up.
Dawnpelt screeched with fury as she tried to pull herself up, but Silverfire slammed her down again. she bit hard on her ear, and Dawnpelt slashed her. Silverfire pummeled Dawnpelt with her hind legs.
Cats everywhere gasped with horror. Silverfire looked down. There in front of her, lay the dead body of Dawnpelt.
She had no idea. She was horrified. She had not meant to kill Dawnpelt; but she felt satisfaction of ridding ShadowClan of his traitor. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Eveningstripe duck into the warriors' den.
"This battle is over," Rowanclaw hissed. No one questioned her. They all went back to their dens. The battle had been so vicious, that they were glad it was oer.
This is my second shot at being a warrior, Silverfire thought. And she wouldn't blow it like she did last time. What if I'm just an unwanted echo? The thought had never occurred to her.
Apparently, she wasn't the only one lying awake. She heard Tawnypelt stir a couple nest down from her, kicking moss around the den.
"Tawnypelt," she whispered. There was no response. "Don't pretend that you're asleep," she said. Tawnypelt sighed.
"As if it's only us two awake." Silverfire rose and beckoned Tawnypelt outside with her tail.
"What's the matter?" she asked.
"Well, we just saw our leader killed right in front of us in a gory and unnecessary battle," Tawnypelt scoffed. Silverfire gave her a good stare.
"Okay, fine. I'm upset that Dawnpelt died."
"But she was a traitor!" Silverfire mewed.
"But she was also my daughter." Tawnypelt's eyes gleamed with sadness. "All I wanted was to bring new lives into ShadowClan, and have them grow up into fine young warriors, or medicine cats."
"You still have your Clan," Silverfire pointed out.
Tawnypelt responded, "Flametail drowned. I thought he was going to make a great medicine cat on day. That fox killed Tigerheart. And you killed Dawnpelt. It's good the Clan is rid of her. But now I don't have any kits to watch grow up."
She felt another wave of guilt for killing Dawnpelt. It was against the warrior code.
"Even though Dawnpelt was evil, it breaks my heart to know that she was once a fluffy, overexcited kit. Now she became murdered and was killed. I know I shoudn't be mssing her this much. But I can't help remembering her kithood with Tigerheart and Flametail."
Silverfire yawned. "Thanks for opening up to me. I'm not sure that I can do much about it. But I can apologize for getting carried away with Dawnpelt."
Tawnypelt nodded her head. "I'm going to sleep now. Maybe things will look better in the morning. Maybe we'll wake up from this horrible nightmare."
Tawnypelt flicked her tail in farewell.
"But it's not a nightmare," Silverfire whispered after her. No matter how much she wanted it to be, it would never be a dream. And no one wakes up until they are gone.
"I will travel to the Moonpool tomorrow!" Rowanclaw announced, "Tawnypelt's in charge while I'm gone." Eveningstripe skulked over this. She wanted to become Clan leader, obviously.
The Clan still wasn't over the horrible death of Blackstar. Silverfire could tell Rowanclaw wasn't looking forward to going to the Gathering in three days, because he wanted to meet the other leaders as equals.
As soon as Dawnpelt had died, Eveningstripe had panicked, saying, "i've been mentored by a traitor!" Just like that, the Clan was fooled.
"At least the problems are over," Silverfire muttered to Nightshadow. But they were far from the truth.
Rowanclaw left the next morning with Littlecloud and Berryshade behind him. The next day, before the Gathering, he had returned to shouts of "Rowanstar! Rowanstar!" Littlecloud padded into his den along with Berryshade.
"At moonhigh I will appoint a new deputy!" he called. Then he headed into his den.
At moonhigh he padded out and called, "All cats old enough to catch their own prey join beneath the Talltree for a Clan meeting!" He hesitated for a moment, then yowled, "Tawnypelt will be the new deputy of ShadowClan!"
There was an uproar of mixed feelings because of her heritage, and the fact that she used to be in ThunderClan. There was no changing Rowanstar's mind though.
Silverfire, Nightshadow, and Mosscloud were the first to start chanting.
"Tawnypelt! Tawnypelt!" The rest of the Clan joined in.
Rownastar padded to the fresh-kill pile. It was large. He started passing out prey for a feast.
After everyone was full fed and sharing tongues, Tawnypelt announced the next days' patrols.
"....and Silverfire, Nightshadow, Lilacpaw, and Trailpaw will attend the Gathering!"
Lilacpaw let out a squeal of joy and ran to share the news.
"They'll be warriors soon," Rowanstar sighed.
The next night Clan cats who had been chosen to go to the Gathering crossed the tree-bridge. Silverfire hated that tree-bridge, simply because she had fallen off it and died.
The Gathering started normally enough. Onestar announced that there were two new kits in their Clan named Spiderkit and Jaggedkit. Misystar reported Twolegs near Clan territory.
It was Rowanstar's turn to speak. "Blackstar is in StarClan now." Grief echoed through the clearing. Then there were cries of "Rowanstar!"
ThunderClan was strangely silent. "Our new deputy is Tawnypelt."
There wasn't even a pause of silence. "ShadowClan intruded on our territory!" Bramblestar yowled over the mutters in the clearing. "We need more territory!"
"Didn't you get enough when you murdered Russetfur for more?" Rowanstar shot back. There was a dead silence. "Anyway, we taught ThunderClan a lesson not to go in our territory, isn't that right?" Rowanstar silkily finished.
Bramblestar began, "I am sorry for creating a disruption. But see, we have a strong, growing Clan, and we will go hungry if we don't get more territory. We also have two new warriors, Cherrywhisker and Molepelt!" All of the Gathering cats welcomed them as warriors, but it was weaker than the cheers before.
The leaders jumped down and joined their Clans. For the first time, Silverfire noticed how WindClan paired up with ShadowClan and RiverClan was now pairing with ThunderClan.
"I guess WindClan are no happier than us that ThunderClan wants more territory," Nightshadow muttered to her. Silverfire could see she was using her powers again.
Everyone knew WindClan had a piece of forest on their territory that thunderClan wanted.
"RiverClan's probably neutral," Silverfire murmured.
"But if ThunderClan takes our territory, we'll probably take some of theirs?"
"Whatever," Nightshadow replied.
When they got back, Rowanstar jumped onto one of the tree's branches.
"ThunderClan wants more territory!" he yowled so loud Silverfire was sure that ThunderClan would hear.
"Tell me something I don't know," nightshadow said.
All eyes were then on her. "We could start battle training our warriors!" she offered. Everyone instantly agreed.
Silverfire nudged Nightshadow gently. "That's a great idea!" she hissed playfully, "Much better than you're usual frog-brained stuff!" They started a mock fight in the clearing. Nightshadow was on top of Silverfire. Silverfire could taste the dirt in her mouth. She heard a cough. Nightshadow got off of Silverfire. She noticed the silence, and the fact that Rowanstar was standing right next to her. "Like that," she improvised. Rowanstar looked amused.
"So, why don't we get started? Let's see, first I'll bring Mosscloud, Shrewfoot, Silverfire, Nightshadow, and it wouldn't hurt to bring their apprentices--" Tawnypelt began.
"Oh, no you dont," Rowanstar said, "Not in your condition."
Silverfire noticed Tawnypelt's belly was nearly dragging on the ground. There would obviously be more kits in ShadowClan soon.
Rowanstar finished the report. Everyone headed to bed. Silverfire passed Eveningstripe, who wrinkled her nose and snapped, "No wonder thunderClan wants to take territory from us! Our warriors behave like kits!" she stalked into the warriors' den with a flick of her tail. Silverfire padded after Eveningstripe to see her already asleep on the moss. She snored softly. Eveningstripe almost looked like a kit as she slept. Sadness engulfed Silverfire.
Silverfire curled up next to Nightshadow and fell asleep.
Nightshadow needed to get away from camp. It was just too much. Blackstar's death, training her apprentice, dealing with the secrets of her rebirth and the prophecy. So she decided that hunting might clear her mind.
But she would barely call it hunting. All that she had caught so far was a pathetic shrew. But then she heard a soft squeaking. It was a fat mouse! Nightshadow jumped into her hunting crouch. But she stepped on a crackly twig. The mouse began to run away. But she wouldn't go back with just her skinny shrew.
She took off after it. It would be a messy catch, but at least she would have something to bring back. She kept after the mouse. It hadn't darted into a burrow yet, so it had obviously come from a far away to forage for food. Leaf-fall was beginning to affect everyone.
She lunged forward, the mouse almost between her claws. But she was a tad too late. "Fox dung!" she grumbled. Before her, was the lake's shining expanse. Nightshadow hadn't realized that she had come so far. she padded forward to the lake, and dabbed her paw in the water. She jerked back, the water icy cold. The waves lapped strongly against the shore.
The clouds broke, and rain poured out of them. So much for prey, Nightshadow thought, shaking her fur. She turned around to walk home.
Suddenly a weight slammed against her, pushing her into the terribly cold water. "Who is it?" she mrrowed with annoyance. It could just be Silverfire, ambushing her. But when she twisted her head to look, it wasn't.
It was an orange and white she-cat, darkness emanating from her. Her eyes gleamed with excitement as she had her pressed against the wet sand. Nightshadow hissed and slashed at her. But the cat ducked.
"There's no fighting Mapleshade, little one," she cooed. Then she dragged Nightshadow by the scruff onto the tree bridge. The emotions welling from Mapleshade were overwhelming. She felt her satisfaction, and sadness.
Nightshadow knew what she was going to do as soon as she appeared.
"You'll never win this," Nightshadow hissed.
"Oh, but of course I will," Mapleshade hissed back. Then she pushed Nighshadow over the edge of the tree-bridge.
She landed with a smack in the churning water. "Now you'll die as you died before!"
She managed to stay on the surface, considering she wasn't an elder anymore.
Mapleshade had forgotten this. She was a warrior, and therefore stronger. But the waves still threatened to drag her into the depths of the lake.
Mapleshade wasn't looking as confident now. Through her mind, was a big question: Why isn't she drowning yet? Mapleshade decided to act. "I've waited long enough!" Then she went sailing off the tree-bridge, and into the rapid water with Nightshadow.
"I'll kill you now, and your pathetic sister will be next!" she hissed. Mapleshade strongly swam through the water, and began to smack Nightshadow on the head. Nightshadow hissed and kicked her strongly with her back legs. But Mapleshade grabbed her scruff and began to drag her under.
"It doesn't matter if I die now!" yowled Mapleshade, "My worthy subordinates will kill your sister after you die!" Then they were both dunked in the water.
Nighshadow felt pure terror shoot through her. She knew this had happened to her before, but this time it was more terrifying. Mapleshade dragged her even closer to the bottom of the lake, a crazed expression on her face. Nightshadow was beginning to run out of breath. But she was soon to the depths of the shimmering lake.
She was on the bottom of the lake. She saw a flash of orange. Strange, she thought. I wondere what that could be.
But she didnt have much time to wonder, because Mapleshade was smothering her with her white paws. Nightshadow coughed up bubbles, sputtering for air. She broke free and started swimming away.
She noticed the orange thing in front of her almost as she was on top of it. it looked strangely fuzzy, like some underwater moss or something. But then she took a closer look, and shock poured through her.
"You haven't escaped yet!" Mapleshade hissed. But Nightshadow didn't care. Because the orange moss in front of her wasn't moss at all. It was a cat.
Judging by his size, he was pretty young.
Then Mapleshade came up behind her and slammed her onto the body.
"We'll have our own little warrior graveyard!" Mapleshade gurgled, not caring a bit about the water she was inhaling. But Nightshadow pulled a daring move. She used her paws to pry open Mapleshade's mouth, letting the water pour in. Mapleshade gagged and flailed, anger in her eyes. Soon she wriggled free and burst up to the surface. Nightshadow was on her own, and it wouldn't be long before Mapleshade regrouped for her other attack.
Nightshadow had been in the water for too long. She gagged, sinking deeper, to weak to try and escape. Her paw brushed against something soft. She jerked awake. She looked down, and it was more horrifying than the body of the orange cat. It was Silverfire, lying on the lake's rocky bed. Her eyes were glassy.
Nightshadow cried out. Not her, too! Without us, the prophecy will never be complete! But then she remembered Mapleshade saying that she would kill Silverfire later.
It couldn't be her sister. It must be Mapletail.
There was still no hope for her, as she began to rest again, and let the water suck the life from her. Her vision began going black. She saw the lithe form of Mapleshade plunge back into the water.
And her suspicion proved to be true. There was her body, lying on a rock, smothered with water, rippling in the current. It wasn't her. It was Starsurface. Her former body.
New strength pulsed through her. She wouldn't be defeated again. She was not reborn to let everyone down. She would survive this. With a burst of energy, she shot up to meet Mapleshade.
Nightshadow looked at her with pure hatred, telling Mapleshade that she wouldn't be taken down.
They fought. Nightshadow dunked her under the water. She now looked haggard, a shadow of her former self.
"Your stupid prophecy can be shattered like a raindrop striking the ground, along with your life! I'll show you!" Then she walked up into the sky.
Gasping with exhaustion, she limped to the shore. She struggled slowly to the camp. Once she was there, she was met with screeches and yowls. Which could only mean one thing.
ShadowClan was being attacked.
Nightshadow burst into the clearing, expecting ThunderClan warriors everywhere. But to her surprise, it was WindClan.
"Nightshadow! Where have you been?" Silverfire screeched in the thick of battle.
"No time for that now!" she hissed.
They fought off the WindClan cats side by side, until they ran out of camp in a stampede.
"Thank StarClan that's over," groaned Ferretclaw.
"But why would WindClan choose to attack us?" Mosscloud panted.
"Maybe ThunderClan's pushing at their borders," suggested Snowbird.
"But then they could just attack RiverClan!" Silverfire pointed out.
"Maybe they're allied with RiverClan," Nightshadow mewed.
Rowanstar called for silence. "We don't need to know why WindClan has attacked us. The battle has been won. And now Littlecloud and Berryshade will treat your injuries.
Silverfire, of course, was unscathed. Nightshadow only had some minor scratches, so she decided to wait. She took the opportunity to tell Silverfire about what had happened by the lake.
Silverfire panicked. Nightshadow told her about her near death, due to Mapleshade. She pictured her body, waterlogged in the beautiful lake.
Silverfire and Nightshadow spent the day out of camp, despite the fact that Nightshadow's scratches were slowly swelling. They finally decided to return to camp and face their Clanmates.
"Silverfire? Nightshadow? Where were you? You've been gone almost all day!" Applefur exclaimed. Then she began licking them vigorously.
"Ah, stop it," they grumbled.
"Yeah. Where were you?" Smokefoot asked curiously.
"Just out. We needed to escape for a bit, just us littermates," Nightshadow lied.
"You didn't bring back any prey," Scorchfur meowed suspiciously.
"They were probably eating before feeding the Clan," Eveningstripe snorted.
Ratscar snarled. "But look where listening to Eveningstripe got us? It got Blackstar killed!" Owlclaw reasoned. Rowanstar jummped from one of the Talltree's branches.
"They will not be punished. However, now they must tell me if they will be gone for this long."
Silverfire shrugged and looked at Nightshadow.
Tawnypelt, who had a belly overly swollen with kits, sauntered out of the nursery. "Tawnypelt! What are you doing?" Rowanstar hissed, "You should be resting!"
Tawnypelt yawned. "Don't be so overprotective. I'm just stretching my legs, maybe sharing tongues."
Berryshade stepped out of the medicine den. "Actually, Tawnypelt, your kits will be due any time now, so you had better stay in the nursery." she said.
Tawnypelt grumbled. "I guess if a medicine cat advises it, I should do it." Then she huffed back to the nursery.
The sun began to set behind the pine trees, where it would eventually sink into the vast churning water of the sun-drown place. Silverfire was very curious about it, and hoped that she could go there someday.
The next morning, she crept out of her den for some morning hunting. She heard a faint little croak, and a little splash. Silverfire instantly dropped into her hunting crouch, instinctively chattering. A little frog hopped out of the marshes. With a tremendous leap, she landed on it and killed it swiftly.
She took her catch back to camp. Tawnypelt would probably like it, she thought. She picked up the frog and carried it to the nursery.
She entered the nursery and dropped the frog at Tawnypelt's paws.
"Thanks," she said weakly. Littlecloud stood beside her with Berryshade.
"I've been feeling a bit funny," she said. Then she took a bite of the frog. She sat up stiff, rigid with pain.
"I think they're coming!" she gasped.
"They're coming?" Rowanstar hissed as he dashed into the nursery. "Relax" said Berryshade, "She'll be fine. Better if you stand outside. You too," she said to Silverfire. Littlecloud looked at his apprentice with pride.
Silverfire followed Rowanstar out of the den. He was tearing the grass up with his claws.
"There are many! At least four!" said Littlecloud.
This just made Rowanstar destroy the weeds even more.
There was a series of yowls from the nursery, and the splintering of a stick. Cats gathered in the clearing.
Nightshadow stepped up beside Silverfire. "You think she'll be okay?"
"I know she'll be okay."
Eventually, the yowls ceased. Berryshade let Rowanstar in. "Come see the kits!" Tawnypelt said from teh nursery.
Silverfire and Nightshadow walked in. Her breath was taken away. Before her was six kits, suckling.
"It's the largest litter I've ever seen," Littlecloud remarked.
She leaned over the bundles of fluff. "What are their names?" she breathed.
"Sunkit, Moonkit, Marshkit, Ripplekit, Cedarkit, and Pinekit."
Looking at the little lives, she knew that ShadowClan would always be strong no matter what befell it.