Pumpkin ran and ran further into the forest, carrying her tiny, grey kit in her mouth. The little, golden bell around her neck jingled as she ran, the rain pouring down over the both of them. She stopped and stared, turning her head slowly to look for a place to hide her kit.
"Stupid, pathetic Twoleg, abusing my kit like that," she growled to herself. "I wish they'd never taken me from my clan, turned me into a softy kittypet..." She snarled the last word as it rolled off of her tounge into the cold air.
The tiny kit meowed as Pumpkin jerked her head to the side. The kit's little sapphire eyes glowed like two small candle flames, flickering in the darkness.
Pumpkin sloshed through a puddle toward a large bush. "This will work nicely," she gently set the tiny grey kit in the bush, which was mysteriously dry. She nuzzled her and whispered in her ear. "Sorry, my little baby, but mommy's not coming back."
A lantern flashed around in the distance along with cries of, "Pumpkin! Where did you go?"
Pumpkin felt the stinging of tears in the backs of her green eyes, and she let one roll down her wet cheek. "Hopefully a nice clan will find you out here, my baby Lily. And if not...I'll see you on the other side, sweetheart."
The lantern light grew closer, accompanied by footsteps.
Pumpkin licked her kit's tiny head one last time, sobbing the whole time. "Well...This is goodbye..." And with that, Pumpkin darted after the light and was gone, never to see baby Lily again.
The poor kit remained there for days, discovered by nothing and no one. She continuously cried out for her mother, not knowing she was never to return again. Still she cried out in hunger, cold, and fear.
A small clan group approached the bush, drawn by the mewling kit. The small, black cat at the front pulled the branches of the bush apart, revealing Lily.
He smiled. "Fresh meat! And even better! A Kittypet!"
A huge, black-and-white cat with green eyes stepped forward. "Sir, look. She has a collar. I don't think we should-"
The black cat snapped at him. "Silence, Bone! That's not your decision to make!"
"Yes, Scourge, sir. I don't know what got into me."
Scourge smiled. "Now that's more like it!" He turned to face Lily, extending his razor sharp claws. "I'll be sure to make this as painful as possible little one."
He brought his claws ever closer to Lily's fragile grey body. He suddenly stopped, unable to bring himself to kill the kit. He hesitated, holding his paw over Lily, quivering slightly.
Bone took a few steps forward. "Scourge, sir, what's wrong? I can kill the kit if you don't want to get your claws dirty."
Scourge whipped his head around to face Bone, teeth bared. "Silence, Bone! You know very well I don't care about a little blood on my claws!" he retracted his reinforced claws and looked back at Lily. "There's something about this kit. I...can't kill her. I can't do it..." He paused.
A scrawny orange ally cat with a worried expression asked, "Sir, what are you going to do?"
Scourge looked at her sternly. "Bone, pick her up. She's coming with us..."
Bone pressed his ears down against his neck. "Are you sure?"
Scourge pushed past them all. "We discuss this later. Grab her and take her with us. She's one of us now." Scourge grinned smugly. "I have a purpose for her. And I'll raise her to discover that fate."
By the time they reached BloodClan territory, the sun had already begun to rise, rays peeking in between city streets, illuminating alleyways and dumpsters. The morning air was still cold and damp, mist hanging low in the streets. Fewer monsters were on the road at this time, but many still rolled along and crossing was difficult as always.
Scourge walked along an alley up to a large dumpster at the end, cats poking their heads out of cardboard boxes and trashcans to get a look. Pointing his tail at a small box lined with old newspaper, he ordered Bone to set her down. Looking around, he grabbed an old piece of fish hanging out of a garbage can and dropped it in front of the kit. As the rest of the cats dispersed, Scourge sat and watched the tiny grey kit eat hungrily.
Scourge eyed her appearance slowly. He stopped, gazing at her front right paw. It glistened silver against her pale grey coat. Scourge held his left paw against it. "Unbelievable..."
The tiny kit finished her fish with a small burp.
Scourge smiled a little and shook his head. "You really are just like me, little one." He leaned in close and whispered in her ear. "One day, you will be...my queen, my mate, and mother of my kits. That is your destiny, little kit." He reached out and grabbed the tiny, golden tag on her blue collar. "Lily, huh?" He smiled. "Don't worry. I'll give you a real name. Bone!"
Bone jumped up out of a trashcan with a fishbone in his mouth. He spit it out. "Yes sir?"
"Arrange for this 'Lily' to be renamed Silverkit." With a swift twist, Scourge pulled both the tag and bell off of Silverkit's collar. "You're officially one of us now."
"Silverpaw, focus!" Scourge yelled.
Silverpaw had been gazing off into the distance during battle training again. Her blue eyes widened as the brown kit she had been fighting pinned her to the ground and tried to scratch her.
"Get...off!" She fastened her back paws on his belly and kicked him off. "Taste claw, kittypet!" Using her claws, she scratched his chest, leaving a few small cuts that broken the skin.
"That's enough, that's enough." Scourge hopped down from the dumpster where he was watching. "That was very good, both of you."
The brown kit pulled himself off of the ground. "Thank you, sir." He then left to rest.
Scourge approached Silverpaw. "You just keep getting better. You're barely anything like that tiny kit I found in the forest." He pat her on the head, rustling her long fur.
Silverpaw giggled. "Thanks, Scourge. Can you give me a hunting lesson now? Please?" She gave a wide, toothy grin.
Scourge gave a small return smile. "Alright. Hunting was always your favorite." He suddenly lunged at a wall corner, returning with a rat dangling from his teeth. "Let's see you try it on your own this time," he said through gritted teeth.
He dropped the rat and it gave an angry shriek. It darted for a box. Silverpaw shot after it, grabbing its tail in her claws. She then stomped her free paw onto its back and with the crunch of tiny bones, the rat fell limp.
"Very good!" Scourge walked up to her, tail swishing.
Silverpaw released her claws and blushed a bit, tail quivering with excitement. "Thanks." She folded her ears back and brushed past Scourge, twirling her long, silky tail around his chin, then turning down another alleyway.
Scourge just smiled. "She's on her way."
The day had finally come. Silverpaw was finally getting her warrior name. Two, long, parallel lines of BloodClan cats lined up along the rock garden in the city park up to a larger rock, where Scourge and Bone were waiting.
Silverpaw walked along the pathway up to the boulder, her chin turned up and shoulders back. It's finally here. I'm a warrior now! She climbed the smaller rocks up to the top of the boulder.
Scourge smiled at her. "Look up at the stars. Your new name will be revealed." Scourge then grumbled to himself so Silverpaw couldn't hear. "Even though I don't believe in them."
Scourge and Bone parted as Silverpaw walked to the edge of the rock. She sat down and closed her eyes. She listened and finally heard the voice of StarClan.
"Your name is Silversky," the voice said.
She then opened her eyes again and smiled a bit.
Scourge then walked up to her. "BloodClan, you are dismissed. You too, Bone."
The cats dispursed as Scourge moved in closer to Silversky. When they were finally alone, he broke the silence.
"So, what's your warrior name?"
Silversky looked at him and smiled. "Silversky."
Scourge's blue eyes seemed to give off a shining glow. "To tell you the truth, there was...another reason I brought you out here."
Silversky turned her head to the side, confused.
Scourge silenced her before she could speak. "Just come with me and I'll show you."
The two leapt off the rock and Silversky followed Scourge to the pond, where a faint lantern remained lit. White and pink water-lilies drifted in the water and fireflies illuminated the air. Cherry trees were in full bloom, giving off a heavenly aroma and rose bushes lined them from behind.
"Sit down," Scourge whispered. "And I'll tell you everything."
Silversky was at a loss for words, so she sat silently and listened.
Scourge reached out and grabbed a blood red rose and tucked it behind Silversky's ear. "I've had my eye on you for some time now. I always felt we had a special connection, one that could lead down a whole new path in life." His eyes met Silversky's. "Silversky, I wish of you to be my queen, my mate and mother of our kits. Do you...accept my offer?"
Silversky sat for a moment, dumbstruck. A wide grin then spread across her face and she tackled Scourge, sending both of them into the dirt. She rubbed up against his chest. "What took you so long, jerk?" she said jokingly.
Scourge smiled. Silversky was finally with her true love and Scourge had finally won his prize.
War was coming. Scourge wanted the forest but the forest clans weren't so willing to give it up.
Scourge rallied all of his warriors, except Silversky. Silversky was due to begin kitting any day and Scourge didn't want her or any their unborn kits getting hurt or killed. A few other soon-to-be mothers were left behind with her.
One was left to comforting Silversky. "You know it's for the best. Think what would happen to your kits if you went to war."
"No, it's not that. I fear for Scourge. He might pick a fight he can't win and I'm sure that Tigerstar will betray him and the rest of us. If Scourge dies, what'll happen to our kits?" She hung her head in depression.
The cat pat her on the back. "It's OK. Scourge is strong. He won't lose to those forest cats. He'll win the forest then all of us will have a better home."
"You really think so?"
"I know he will win. Scourge isn't one to give up easily."
Silversky smiled. He just said I couldn't fight, he never said I couldn't watch. I could watch from behind a rock or up in a tree."
"Ooh, I don't know about that. It doesn't sound safe."
But Silversky was already gone.
"Oh, they have to be around here somewhere. Aha!" Silversky followed just out of view of Scourge and his warriors all the way to the forest, where she climbed into a large oak tree to avoid being seen. "So many forest cats!" she gasped. She narrowed her eyes at Tigerstar. Scourge had told her stories of how he attacked him when he was still a kit. She didn't trust him from the moment she laid eye on him.
A ginger tom stepped forward.
I think it's about to start! Silversky's heart began to race.
Tigerstar shouted something at the forest cats that Silversky could barely hear. "BloodClan, Attack!"
But BloodClan didn't budge.
Tigerstar turned around to face them. "Why do you disobey my orders?!"
Scourge bared his teeth. "I am the only leader of BloodClan!"
The ginger cat spoke again, but Silversky couldn't hear him.
Scourge thought for a moment. "There will be no battle today," he decreed.
Tigerstar's claws extended and he dropped into battle position. "Traitor!" And Tigerstar attacked.
Silversky lurched forward, nearly falling off of her branch. "No!"
Scourge and Tigerstar struggled for a while, scratching and biting at each other. Scourge then extended his reinforced claws and slit Tigerstar from chin to tail. Tigerstar collapsed in a bloody heap to the ground, motionless and dead.
The forest cats charged, led by the ginger cat. And the battle for the forest began. BloodClan cats charged into the forest cats and the air was filled with angry yowls and hisses. A white forest cat fell down, mortally wounded and bleeding. The ginger cat came to her side. After a pause, the ginger cat lunged at Scourge.
Silversky's heart nearly leaped out of her chest. "Scourge, no!" She paced on the branch anxiously.
The two cats circled each other for a short time, then attacked. Scourge managed to force the ginger cat onto his back. He dug his claws into his chest of the ginger cat and he fell limp. Scourge began to turn to walk the other way, when the orange cat got back up and faced Scourge.
Scourge gasped and stumbled backwards. "No, NO! That's impossible! You're dead!"
The ginger cat said nothing. He lunged forth and grabbed Scourge by the back of his neck. He bit down hard until all of Scourge's strength was sapped from his body. Scourge groaned and fell to the ground, bleeding profusely.
The BloodClan cats scattered and fled, no motivation to continue fighting. The forest cats then retreated into the forest, leaving the rainclouds to move in to cleanse the battlefield.
Silversky rushed out of her tree when they were all gone and rushed to Scourge's side, tears in her eyes. "Scourge? Can you hear me?" She was panting histerically, her heart rushing. "Scourge! You have to get up!"
Scourge groaned and his eye slowly flickered open. "Silversky? What...What are you doing here?"
Silversky nuzzled under his neck amongst the bloodied fur. "I'm sorry. I disobeyed your word and came anyway. I just wanted to make sure you were ok." She sobbed as thunder rumbled and raindrops began to trickle down.
Scourge managed to work up a smile. "No... I'm glad you came. Now you'll be here to say goodbye for the last time..."
Silversky began to sob as tears streamed down her face. "Scourge, No... You can't..."
Scourge reached up to touch her face weakly. "Please don't c-cry." In a broken voice, a single tear ran down his cheek. "N-No tears s-should stain a f-face as b-beautiful as yours..." He hissed slightly as a jolt of pain rocketed through his body.
The young she-cat began to cry even more. "P-Please...don't leave me!" she said in between sobs. "Everyone else has left me... N-NO YOU TOO!" Lightning cracked across the sky and thunder crashed against their ears as rain poured down over the two of them..
"T-Take care of our k-kits, my love... Firestar...has ended my life. Goodbye... Silversky..." Their eyes broke their gaze as Scourge's head tilted to the side and into the grass. His mouth opened slightly, as if to say one more thing before he departed this world, but his last breath left his body before he could whisper it to her.
"Scourge... please... don't go..." Silversky fell onto Scourge's body, burying her snout in his fur, sobbing.
As she felt the tiny, unborn kits move in her belly, she knew they had to take care of them... for Scourge's sake.
Silversky had gone to a secluded place near the forest clearing, unable to leave Scourge's body, where she gave birth to five healthy kits, one solid grey tom, one red and orange tom, one white she-kit, one solid black she-kit, and one she-kit who was identical to her late father.
While grooming her kits, she decided to name them. She named the grey kit Stormit, for the storm that went on during Scourge's departure, the orange kit Blazekit, after Firestar, who he'd train him to kill, the white kit Frozenkit, after the frozen feeling left in her heart, the black kit Deathkit, for what she'd be trained to do, and the Scourge-like kit simply, Scourge, after her late father.
She raided a store in the Twolegplace, called a 'Pet Store', where she stole five small collars for her kits in five colors, red, blue, purple, green, and black. Blazekit's collar was black, Stormkit's collar was green, Frozenkit's collar was blue, Deathkit's collar was red, and Scourge's collar was purple.
Silversky pulled a dog's tooth off of her collar for each of her kits. "You'll need these if you're going to be as fierce as your father was. If only he could see you now."
After a few weeks, the kits opened their eyes and began to walk, so Silversky decided it was time to bring them back to BloodClan territory. She would rule the cats in Scourge's absence, just until her kits were strong enough to take her place. But when she returned, she faced a whole new challenge.
"Who are you? And what are you doing in BloodClan territory?" Two tall, black and white toms blocked her way.
"I am the mate of Scourge, true leader of BloodClan." Silversky bared her teeth, showing her reinforced claws as her kits huddled behind her.
The two cats looked at each other and burst out laughing. "Scourge?! HA! That black rat was no leader! I Ice, and my loyal deputy, Snake are the new leaders of BloodClan! And for being Scourge's mate, you are hereby exiled from BloodClan territory!" The two cats laughed again and spat in Silversky's face.
"No, you can't do that! what about my kits?" Silversky began to panic. The fate of herself and her kits were on the line.
Snake let out a coarse laugh. "Fate, shmate! Now get out before we make you leave!"
Silversky had no choice. She folded her ears down in anger. "Fine. Let's go, kits."
Being banished from BloodClan and being an enemy of the forest cats, Silversky was forced to become a wandering rogue. Her along with her kit's only hope was that ShadowClan would bear some aid to her.
After several moons of mindless wandering, Silversky finally found her way back to the forest clans. The kits grew older and were more independent now. And more impatient.
"Mooom! Can we stop now? My paws are sore!" Frozenpaw's pleas were answered by the other kits.
Scourge rolled her eyes at her. "No, we can't, dumb-dumb! There are dangerous forest cats here! Ooooh, you'd better watch out, or they might get you!" she joked.
Deathpaw groaned. "You're both a buncha idiots. You know mom doesn't like it when we argue."
Stormpaw punched her in the arm playfully. "Awww, lighten up sis. You're always so tense."
Blazepaw said nothing, only snickering in the back of the group.
"Where are we even going? We've been walking forever." Deathpaw hadn't been apart from her siblings in a long time and desperately needed some time alone.
"I've told you already, we're going to a forest clan to see if they'll take us in and protect us. We're vulnerable out here." Silversky turned to the direction she was walking in again and grumbled. "Scourge would've never let this happen. But Firestar had to kill him."
Frozenpaw leaned over and whispered in Stormpaw's ear. "She's always talking about this 'Scourge' guy. I wonder who he is?"
"I dunno. She never talks to us about him. It can't be our Scourge. 'Coz she's a girl."
"Yeah, and she even says she looks so much like him."
Frozenpaw shrugged. "Who knows."
Silversky looked up at the trees. "It's getting dark. Into that hollow tree. We can spend the night there."
As the kits were funneling into the tree, they heard a strange sound in the distance.
The kits looked at each other. "Did you hear that?" Frozenpaw whispered.
Blazepaw swished his tail nervously. "Yeah, I did. I wonder-"
Deathpaw shushed him. "Sssshh...Do you feel that?"
The five kits looked around and heard the sound again.
Deathpaw leapt to a near rock. "Let's go see what it is. If we can prove our bravery to mom, she'll trust us more."
The three kits snuck through the bushes and as they drew closer to the sound, they also heard quiet speaking. As they peeked over a small cliff, they saw the ThunderClan camp in the distance. A low mist hung in the trees.
"Woah!" gasped Frozenpaw and Stormpaw, looking at each other.
Deathpaw smiled. "It's really creepy!"
Stormpaw looked at her. "But isn't it great! This is gonna be so dangerous!" he joked.
Frozenpaw looked back at the ThunderClan border. "We could get in big trouble!" she said jokingly. "This is gonna be so dangerous!"
Scourge pranced a little. "Danger? Ha! I walk on the wild side! I laugh in the face of danger! Ha ha ha!"
Just then, the ledge they were sitting on gave way and they slid down the hill, flying off the edge and being catapulted right into ThunderClan territory.
Frozenpaw sat up and rubbed her head. "Ow..."
"Ok, ow. That hurt." Stormpaw moaned.
They all gasped as they looked right into the green eyes of a ginger tom.
The tom gave the kits a strange look. "Where did you kits come from? You clearly aren't ThunderClan kits."
Frozenpaw felt her heart drop. "We, uh... We aren't in any clan, sir..."
The cat turned his head. "Rouge kits? But how can you-" He gasped, noticing their dog's teeth collars. "You... You're BloodClan kits!"
Scourge jumped to the front of the group. "Don't you dare touch my siblings!"
He stopped and stared in awe and fear. "Young kit, who was your father? Do you know his name?"
Scourge refused to answer, growling and extending her reinforced claws.
Stormpaw pushed her to the side. "I'm s-sorry about her, sir... But, we don't know who our father was. But our mom always told us that Firestar killed him."
The ginger cat noticed the fear in the kits' eyes. His expression softened a bit. "It's OK, little ones. Now, what did your mother say about me?"
Stormpaw's eyes widened with fear. "Y-You're Firestar!" He began to back away in fear.
Firestar smiled. "It's OK. I won't hurt you. But, your sister, she looks so much like- Never mind, I shouldn't have said anything."
Blazepaw folded his ears back and growled. "My mother told me you're nothing but a killer! She told me you killed our father!"
Firestar's calm expression changed to anxious. "What? What kind of-" he gasped. "Of course! That's why you look so similar." He gestured Scourge. "Little kit, what's your name?"
Scourge stood up straight, eyes narrowed. "Scourge. Why do you want to know?"
Firestar turned towards the camp. "Follow me. I need to show you something."
The kits all followed Firestar toward the medicine den. Firestar did his best to hide them from what little part of the clan was still awake. When they arrived at the medicine den, a small, grey she-cat greeted them.
"Firestar!" she said happily. "What are you doing here?" She gave him a small, shy smile.
"Cinderpaw, I need you to clean these kits up. We can't have them bringing outside diseases into the clan."
"Oh," she sighed, a bit disappointed. "I can do that."
Cinderpaw dipped a few rough leaves in a strange tree sap and ran it down the the kits' back, then rinsing them with clear spring water.
Once they were clean, Firestar brought them back outside. The entire clan was asleep now, as it was very late at night. Firestar sat the kits down and spoke to them about their father, Scourge.
The kits were stunned. Learning that their father was a manipulate killer really left a mark on their conscious.
The mark left on Scourge was the worst. She didn't truly know who or what she was anymore. Was she destined to become a killer just like her father?
With the pale sheen of silver fur and the glint of sharp dog's teeth watching from the bushes, Silversky lunged at Firestar.
"Don't touch my kits you murderer!" She grabbed Firestar by the neck and threw him over her shoulders. She approached a downed Firestar, claws extended. "Game over, killer!"
The kits jumped in front of their mother, blocking Firestar.
Frozenpaw put one paw forward. "No, mother! Don't!"
Silversky snarled. "You're even weaker than I thought! Get out of the way!"
Scourge's eyes narrowed. "No, mother... enough..."
A cold breeze whistled through the trees and made all the cats' fur stick up. A spirit apparition of a cat dove at Scourge and merged with her body.
She crouched on the ground and growled. Her voice was so much different than it was before, deeper and more masculine. "What have you become, Silversky. Get your act together...before it's too late." Her voice returned to normal, but the spirit did not leave her body again.
Silversky was too scared to move. The voice her own daughter just spoke with was the exact voice of her old mate, leader of BloodClan.
Firestar pulled himself back up from the ground and tackled Silversky, pushing her closer towards the river. After a light swat, throwing her off balance, she tumbled into the river and went with it downstream.
The river's powerful rapids and rushing currents carried Silversky far away from ThunderClan, all the way to the distant mountains, into a cave, and directly to the Moonstone.
After recovering from her rough ride down the river, Silversky positioned herself in front of the Moonstone. She lightly pressed her nose against it and instantly fainted, dropping into a strange trance and bringing her to visit StarClan.
After awakening from her trance, she looked around at the sunny plains bordered by a thick forest.
An orange she-cat and a silver tabby tom chased a bird into the field. The orange cat looked at Silversky and gasped, taking a step back.
"Lily? Is that really you?" she called out. "It's me. Don't you recognize me?" Her bright ginger fur shone in the light, her emerald green eyes sparkling with happiness.
"Gingerheart, she was just a young kit. She won't remember either of us." the silver tom mewed. He was huge, with striking blue eyes, just like Silversky's.
"Who are you?" Silversky said, holding back a growl. "Who's Lily?"
Gingerheart walked up to her and put a paw on her shoulder. "I know you don't remember me, But a mother never forgets her kit's face." she said, a smile on her face.
Silversky felt as if she'd just been hit with a monster. "M-Mother? Is it really you?"
Gingerheart's smile grew wider. "Stripetail! She remembers!"
The silver tom smiled with pride. "Looks like all this time you took after me, little one." he said, cupping her muzzle in his paw.
Silversky took a step back. "It's Silversky. Call me Silversky."
"Silversky..." Gingerheart said slowly, as if she were admiring the name silently.
Stripetail gave the dog's teeth collar a glance and all the joy seemed to drain from his face. "Silversky, you need to let go of the past."
Silversky looked her father in the eyes, noticing his left eye was blind and blurry. "What do you mean let go?"
"Give up your desire for revenge. If you continue, you will end up in the Dark Forest." Stripetail meowed.
Gingerheart gasped. "Stripetail, don't say that! She just..." She stopped, as if she had realized she was wrong.
Stripetail's gaze returned to his daughter. "You know I'm right, Silversky. You know I am." he said as Silversky's vision began to fade. The two cats seemed to grow farther away from her as they disappeared.
She ran towards them. "Wait, don't leave! I-I still have more to ask you!"
Silversky jerked awake on the cave floor. She sighed and held a paw to her head. "Come back..." she said, panting, as if not realizing the vision was over. She looked around the cave and sighed, pulling herself to her feet.
Jumping back into the water, she began to trace the river back out to ThunderClan territory. It was a good thing Scourge taught her how to swim.
The five kits ran until their legs were sore, not daring to turn back. The group, led by Frozenpaw, took a sharp turn and filed into a hollow log.
"I can't believe it!" Stormpaw panted. "We defended him and he killed our mom!"
"What are we gonna do now?" Frozenpaw asked, her blue eyes wide with fear.
Scourge licked her sister's snout. "It's ok. We'll all be alright when we get to ShadowClan. They can take care of us."
Deathpaw flopped down on the ground with a deep sigh. "I'm not going anywhere until morning."
Blazepaw laid down next to her. "Yeah, me neither." he said with a yawn.
All five of the kits were fast asleep within minutes, only hoping tomorrow would be better.
The next morning, the kits awoke to the sounds of a battle taking place right outside of their log. The sounds of hissing and snarling filled the air as cats bit and slashed at each other.
Frozenpaw pressed herself against the ground, her eyes open so wide, it looked as if they would pop out.
Scourge's eyes scanned the cats fighting outside of their shelter. A yellow spotted she-cat seemed to be leading one side. Leopardstar of RiverClan! she thought, amazed.
A white cat with black paws lunged at Leopardstar, pinning her to the ground. "Blackstar of ShadowClan!" Scourge said, filled with excitement.
Scourge felt a sudden rush shoot through her body. Her paws began to shake and she lunged out of the log at the nearest cat, a blue-grey RiverClan she-cat.
"Scourge! Are you crazy!?" Blazepaw yowled, running after her.
"This is a new one." Deathpaw said, a tone of sarcasm in her voice.
The she-cat thrashed and shook Scourge about, but she held on tight, refusing to submit.
"Mistyfoot, roll!" a tom yelled from somewhere.
Without warning, the she-cat flipped over onto her back and rolled on the ground.
Scourge's small teeth couldn't hold on anymore and she let go. But this didn't stop her. Her eyes glowed a menacing icy blue and she flung herself at the RiverClan cat, grabbing her by the neck.
Leopardstar's voice suddenly pierced the air. "RiverClan, Retreat!"
The warrior flung Scourge off of her and ran back to camp with the rest of her clan.
Scourge landed hard, sending up a cloud of dust as she hit the ground. She got up and shook the dust from her fur.
"Scourge, are you ok?" Frozenpaw asked frantically.
"Fine." her sister answered with a growl. The rushing feeling left her body, leaving her feeling drained.
The battlefield was eerily quiet with no cats around. Dust still lingered in the air, hanging just over the kits' heads.
Another voice filled the air, accompanied by a chilling echo. "Who's out there? Show yourself!"
Deathpaw recognized the voice immediately. "Mom!" she cried.
Just as she called, a wounded and limping Silversky emerged over the horizon. Her left shoulder dripped blood and she appeared to be limping. When she noticed her kits, she gave a smile of relief and ran towards them. She skidded to a stop in front of them and hung her head, holding back tears of joy. "You're safe. Thank StarClan you're safe."
"Mom." Frozenpaw said as she approached her. "I'm sorry. I didn't know he would attack you."
"It's ok." Silversky said as she nuzzled Frozenpaw. "You don't know him they way I do."
"Why didn't you tell us?" Scourge asked. "About... About Dad?"
Anxiety filled Silversky's face. "I didn't want you to find out about him until you were old enough to handle it." She cringed, the cut on her shoulder bleeding even more.
"You need help." Stormpaw said.
"There's nowhere to go." she said, her voice strained.
"There has to be. Try this way." Stormpaw said, pointing at a path in the trees. He ran towards it as the rest of the group followed.
As they walked, the kits spoke of the battle and Scourge's bravery, earning them all their warrior names. Blazepaw became Blazehunter, Deathpaw became Deathwish, Frozenpaw became Frozenheart, and Stormpaw became Stormhawk.
While continuing on their journey, which seemed to take weeks, Silversky's condition appeared to be worsening. If they did not find help soon, she would die from the infection.
While stopping to take one of their frequent breaks, Deathwish heard speaking coming from the trees. She followed it, leaving the others to care for Silversky. Peeking over a hill, she discovered what appeared to be an entire clan of cats.
Letting her curiosity consume her, she continued to watch them. Her black pelt did not allow her to blend in very well, however, and she was caught in the cold green-eyed gaze of a bob-tailed calico she-cat.
She gasped and ran back to the others, the grey stripe along her back standing straight up. She thought she could hear paws pounding behind her, but she didn't look back. Leaping through the bushes, she skidded to a stop, spraying the others with dirt. "We have to go, right now!"
Dark ginger paws hit the ground behind them. The bob-tailed cat had followed her. "I am Flowerstar, leader of FlowerClan!" She spoke in a strong, bold voice. "And you are trespassing on my territory!"
A band of warriors came up behind her, along with two kits, one calico and one a flame-colored tabby.
"We're here, Flowerstar! Do you need us to attack these intruders?" The she-cat was all white, except her black tabby tail.
"That won't be necessary, Darktail. I'll handle them myself." Flowerstar hissed coldly, eyes narrowing to leaf-green slits.
Another calico cat jumped in front of her. "Sister, no!" she meowed fearfully. "Don't hurt them!"
Flowerstar growled. "Get out of the way, Cherryshine." she mewed, reaching forward to swipe the she-cat out of her path.
Stormhawk's eyes were filled with confusion and fear. He darted them around rapidly. Did I do this? Is it my fault they found us here? His eyes stopped on a pale flame-gold she-cat's.
She was staring right at him, her big bright amber eyes full of curiosity. Her gaze wandered from him back to Flowerstar before lunging forward and landing alongside Cherryshine. "I stand with my mentor, Flowerstar. You won't harm these cats."
Two more apprentices and the two kits from before jumped to her flank. The first apprentice smaller than the first. Her curly fur was a creamy pale sand color with a white chest spot and tail tip, and the other was tall, deep brown tom with black tabby stripes and powerful, coursing, muscles.
Flowerstar looked surprised. "Hazelpaw! Milkpaw? Brokenpaw! What are you doing?!" Her gaze shifted from the apprentices to the two kits, who looked like overly fluffed squirrels. "Featherkit, Blossomkit..." Her voice sounded disappointed. She swallowed hard. "I can't believe you're defending them too."
Behind her, a golden she-cat with a white stripe on her back yowled in fury. "I can't take this anymore!" And, with a snarl, the golden warrior flung herself at Silversky.
Silversky, seeing the oncoming threat, pulled herself to her paws, wincing in pain.
Flowerstar barreled into the warrior's side, cutting her just short of Silversky. Two more warriors, both brown tabbies with striking white undersides, rushed to her side and helped her pin down the rampaging she-cat.
"Grasstail, Dewstone. Hold her down." Flowerstar meowed. Her attention returned to the attacking warrior. "Morningstripe! What was that mouse-dung?"
Morningstripe looked Flowerstar straight in the face, her amber eyes laced with malice. "Well, it was obvious you weren't going to do anything! You were too busy playing kit games!" she snarled, lips curling up to reveal thorn sharp fangs, yellowed with age.
Flowerstar ignored her remark. She flicked her tail at the two tabby warriors holding Morningstripe. "Take her back to the camp and put her in the Rosethorn-Place." she said, a cold hiss in her mew.
The two warriors dragged the golden she-cat back in the direction they came, thrashing and screeching.
Stormhawk's eyes met with the flame-colored apprentice's once again. She walked up to him, a smile on her face.
"Hi." she mewed quietly. "I'm Hazelpaw. What's your name?"
"Stormhawk." he meowed, hiding a purr at the apprentice's boldness.
Cherryshine turned to Silversky, who had a look of pain on her face. A look of sympathy spread across her face. "You're hurt. Come with us. Snowbreeze can help you." She reached out with one paw and placed it on Silversky's shoulder, earning an angry growl.
"Cherryshine, what are you thinking?" Flowerstar mewed, shaking the dust from her splotched fur.
"They're hurt, Flowerstar. And look how skinny they are."
"Please help them, Flowerstar." Hazelpaw meowed from behind her mentor. "They'll die if we leave them out here."
Flowerstar's whiskers twitched. "But... They have males with them."
Cherryshine gave her sister a frustrated look, but said nothing.
Flowerstar sighed, as now Hazelpaw, Milkpaw, and Brokenpaw were now all glaring at her the same way. "Very well, but keep the males in the Rosethorn-Place until they've earned our trust. Darktail, Mousetail, escort the two of them there now."
The black-tailed warrior and her companion, a rich, reddish brown tabby with black stripes and an elegantly long tail, strode out of the patrol and helped Stormhawk and Blazehunter to their feet before pulling them in the direction of the camp.
"As for the females," she continued. "Come with me."
Silversky leaned on Frozenheart's flank as they followed Flowerstar and the patrol back to their camp.
Once clearing a hill, they were in the FlowerClan camp. Flowers of all sizes, colors, and types grew everywhere. Dens made of flowering bushes littered the camp and a large, thorn-filled rose bush grew on one side of the camp, the Rosethorn-Place.
A young, splotched, grey apprentice and a tattered, battle-scarred ginger cat with reddish spots led Silversky to a willow tree with massive flowing branches, Snowbreeze's den.
Flowerstar gestured for Deathwish, Frozenheart, and Scourge to follow her, leading them into a thicket of trees. Green light showered the four she-cats as they strode through the forest, none daring to break the silence. Flowerstar stopped in front of a pond with a small island in the middle of it.
"Well? Are you coming?" she said, putting her black paws in the water.
"You mean... swim?" Frozenheart asked.
Flowerstar purred in amusement. "Well of course, sweetheart. How else can I give you a real tour without showing you the nursery?" She then pulled back and shot herself into the water, moving as gracefully as a bird through the trees.
The sisters followed her reluctantly, paddling to the other side and shaking out their wet fur.
Flowerstar flicked her tail at an entrance to a massive rose bush lined with pink flowers. "Guests first." she insisted.
Inside the nursery was surprisingly bright, with warm sunlight filtering down from the roof. Queens laid in moss lined nests all along the floor.
Flowerstar stood next to the same torn up orange cat from earlier, the one who guided Silversky to Snowbreeze's den.
How did she get here so fast? Scourge wondered silently.
"This is Flamebreeze. She and Snowbreeze, our medicine cat, are sisters who were once kittypets. "Flowerstar mewed.
"And these are my little bundles of happiness, Rosekit and Squirrelkit." the queen rasped, her voice as rough as her appearance.
Flowerstar gestured to a queen nursing three kits next to Flamebreeze. "This is Pantherfang. She was once a loner, until she came here."
The black, spotted queen raised one side of her lip in a snarl, glaring with angry green eyes. "Who are they?" she meowed, not a tone of happiness in her greeting as the queen before her had.
"Pantherfang, these are our new guests. I'm giving them a tour of our camp." Flowerstar mewed happily, all hostility from their first meeting gone.
Pantherfang stood up, leaving her mewling kits in the nest. She was huge, towering over all three sisters and Flowerstar alike. "And what are their names?"
"I'm Scourge. And these are my sisters, Frozenheart and Deathwish." Scourge answered, trying to match the spotted cat's intimidating tone.
A sparkle of respect entered the queen's eyes as she rested back down in her nest. "Deathwish, huh?"
Deathwish nodded, the grey stripe on her back standing on end.
Pantherfang smiled. "Nice name. Very strong. These are my kits, Stormkit, Cinderkit, and Nightkit." All three of the kits were as dark in color as their mother was.
Mousetail, the brown tabby from earlier, smothered a purr. "Well, since we're doing introductions, I guess I'm next. As you know, I'm Mousetail, and these are my kits, Ebonykit and Silverkit."
Blossomkit and Featherkit rushed into the nursery. They both tried to speak at once. "Mom! Flowerstar! There's mean cats in the camp! And they're trying to get us!"
Flowerstar's fur all stood on end, making her look like she was made of thistles. With a growl, she rushed out of the entrance and plunged into the pool, making her way back to the main camp.
Scourge, Deathwish, and Frozenheart rushed after her, following her scent back to the forest clearing the camp was in.
It was chaos. Cats were everywhere, screeches and hissing filled the air as the FlowerClan cats drove off the intruders.
Frozenheart rushed up to Flowerstar, whose face was smeared with blood. "What was that? Who were those cats?"
"The Tribe of Rushing Water." Flowerstar panted. "I'm sorry to have had to cut our tour short." She turned, revealing a huge gash on her left shoulder that bled profusely.
An old pale ginger cat rushed up to her. "Flowerstar, you need to see Snowbreeze now!" Her mew was urgent.
"I-I'm fine, Emberlight. I'm fine..." the FlowerClan leader insisted.
"Nonsense. Come with me." the old she-cat said, allowing the calico to lean on her flank as she led her to the tall willow.
Inside, there were herbs of all kind. A pale silver cat with white swirl markings turned from Silversky and looked at Flowerstar. Her eyes widened. "Flowerstar! What happened to you?"
As she got closer, Scourge could tell her left eye was blind.
She led the leader to a bed of moss and small white flowers and laid her down on it, rushing for some poppy seeds.
Emberlight leaned over to Scourge. "She's always getting into stuff like this. It's amazing she hasn't gotten herself killed already."
The black she-cat cocked her head. "But doesn't she have nine lives? All leaders have nine lives, don't they?"
Emberlight shook her head, her whiskers hanging low. "She did once. But she's on her last one. StarClan forbid if she loses her last one. We'll be without a leader."
"But isn't there a deputy or cat next in line to be leader?" Frozenheart chimed in.
A cool wind whistled through the branches of the willow as Snowbreeze began to speak. "Flowerstar is the founder of FlowerClan. She and her sister, Cherryshine, were once kittypets who were abandoned in the forest. As was I..." the pale medicine cat meowed softly. "I would have died if she hadn't taken me in. Every member of FlowerClan would have. We're all survivors. Loners and abandoned kittypets, even exiled clan cats. Flowerstar never had time to name a successor. If she dies now, the clan will be disbanded and we'll all be left homeless."
Scourge's tail stiffened. All of these cats. They'll all be left to die...
Two young cats ran into the medicine den, carrying mouthfuls of herbs. They set them down near Flowerstar.
"Thank you, Hawkflame. You too, Dovepaw." Snowbreeze meowed.
The brown tabby, Hawkflame, nodded. "Will she make it?" she mewed, looking at Flowerstar with fearful amber eyes.
"Yeah, will she be ok?" the smaller silver furred apprentice asked.
Snowbreeze hung her head, not answering. "I... don't know."
"Well, we need someone to lead while she's hurt. I know Cherryshine won't be up to it. And Featherkit and Blossomkit are far too young to lead." Hawkflame said, a hint of anger in her voice.
Snowbreeze's notched ears flicked up and she turned her head up toward the night sky. She was silent for a few moments before bringing her head back down to meet the young warrior's gaze again.
Emberlight stood up. "A message from StarClan?"
Snowbreeze nodded. "StarClan has spoken with me. Flowerstar won't recover very soon."
Emberlight and Hawkflame yowled in despair.
"But," she continued. "She will survive."
Everything in the den seemed to sigh in relief.
Snowbreeze's whiskers twitched. "But they... also said something else, a prophecy. With the leader of flowers down, the lionhearted five will unite under the ice-cold gaze of the savior in black."
Snowbreeze's shoulders began to relax. "Scourge, they're talking about you. You're the chosen one."
"You must lead our clan, Scourge. You are the ice gazed savior." the old medicine cat meowed, a glitter of hope in her wrinkling old face.
"Me? But... I've only ever been a loner. I-I don't know a thing about leadership." Scourge mewed, her black fur fluffing up.
"You can do it, young one. Just look to your heart. It's in your blood to lead, Scourge. Of should I say, Icegaze."
"Icegaze?" the black she-cat asked, looking down at her purple, dog tooth lined collar.
"That's the name StarClan has chosen for you to carry. It will empower you and push you closer toward your true destiny." the silver-and-white she-cat meowed.
"You have to do this, sister." Frozenheart mewed excitedly. "You have an important destiny. You can't disobey the will of StarClan."
"You should. You have a great destiny waiting for you, and it even comes with an awesome new name." Deathwish purred.
"I accept. But where do I start?" Icegaze asked.
All the FlowerClan cats filled the medicine den, all chanting her name in harmony. "Icegaze. Icegaze."
As she scanned her ice-blue eyes across the crowd of cats, she made out the ones she knew, Pantherfang and her kits, Mousetail, Dewstone and Grasstail, Hazelpaw, Brokenpaw, Darktail, even Featherkit and Blossomkit. They were all there. All chanting her, and her new destiny.
Taking a deep breath, she lifted her small black head to the stars and yowled as loud as she could. I accept, StarClan. I accept the fate you've chosen for me.
The FlowerClan cats yowled back. Even Silversky and Flowerstar had worked up the strength to join in.
As the sound of cats died down, and moonhigh drew nearer, Snowbreeze led Icegaze, Deathwish, and Frozenheart to Flowerstar's den. Three large nests had been made out and each sister picked their own.
The sound of yowling still filled Icegaze's ears as she drifted off into a deep sleep.
Stormhawk groaned, the darkness of the inside of the Rosethorn-Place had made him tired, but he didn't dare fall asleep. He looked over at Morningstripe. She was pacing and muttering angrily, the thorn-covered vines wrapped around her paws shaking madly. He looked over at a brown she-cat with ginger spiral patterns on her fur.
She was staring at him, her amber eyes seemingly piercing right through him. "Why are you still awake?" The abruptness of her voice made him jump.
"Who are you?" he asked, trying to sound fierce.
"I'm Honeydrop." she said, her voice sounding irritated and angry. "Now, referring to my previous statement, why are you still awake?"
Stormhawk notice her paws didn't have the vines wrapped around them. She must be the guard, to make sure none of us can get away. he thought. "Um... I-I was just wondering, when do we leave here?"
Honeydrop opened her mouth to speak, a look of fury on her face, but a voice from the other side of the darkened bush answered him.
"You don't." it said. The figure pulled itself out of the shadows, revealing a skinny grey cat with the same swirled markings as Honeydrop. Her yellow eye glowing dimly, her right eye completely missing, a grisly scar where it would have been. "Especially not you. Flowerstar hates males. She'd never let you live among her she-cats. Only the male apprentices can stay, but as soon as they're warriors, they have to leave and never return."
Honydrop's paw bashed against the scarred female's face, dust scattering from the female's grey and white fur. "Shut up Tall Flower That Faces the Sun! Don't you know you're a Tribe of Rushing Water cat? You're a prisoner, which means you don't have the right to speak until I say so. Understood?" she snarled, her lips lifted to reveal a mouth filled with sharp fangs that looked like they could snap bone.
Flower just laid there, not answering.
Honeydrop approached her, claws extended.
She's going to kill her! Stormhawk's mind was racing. He and Blazehunter leaped forward, snapping the vines around their paws and landed in front of Flower.
Just as they did, a cat that looked very much like Honeydrop landed next to them. "Stop it, Mother! Stop hurting Flower!"
Honeydrop's amber eyes narrowed to slits. "Get out of the way, Branchpaw." she said softly, but there was still anger in her voice.
Two more apprentices appeared, flanking Stormhawk and Branchpaw. One Stormhawk didn't recognize, a tall, ginger tabby tom with striking green eyes, and one he did, Hazelpaw.
"Hazelpaw!" he whispered softy.
Hazelpaw looked at him and smiled slightly, her ears folded back.
"Sunpaw and Hazelpaw. I thought I'd see the two of you here again. You always had soft hearts for the prisoners." Honeydrop snarled.
Two warriors rushed into the den, one spotted grey with sparkling blue eyes, and one a pale ginger with the same mackerel pattern Honeydrop and Flower had.
"What's going on in here?" the grey warrior asked, slightly annoyed to have been woken up from her sleep.
"Sootfur! Foxwish! Help me with these little mouse-brains! They keep defending the prisoners!" Honeydrop growled, flicking her tail at Branchpaw, Hazelpaw, and the ginger apprentice.
Foxwish's bright amber eyes were fixed on the ginger apprentice. "Sunpaw, what are you doing in here?" she shrieked.
He must be her kit. Stormhawk guessed.
Sootfur was much gentler and calmer. "Hazelpaw, Emberlight won't be happy with you defending the clan's prisoners again. They can be dangerous, and you're her very last kit. She'd die of grief if anything happened to you."
Hazelpaw hung her head. "I know." she whispered.
"Foxwish, Honeydrop was hitting Flower again! She's going to hurt her!" Sunpaw hissed, looking at Honeydrop, whose eyes were just slits of furious amber.
Foxwish didn't respond, focused on Honeydrop, a look of mild horror on her face. "H-Honeydrop, I'll take it from here. You should get some rest."
Honeydrop snarled, lashing her tail. She looked straight into Flower's one good eye. "This isn't over. One of these days, no kits will be around to save you..." She stormed out the entrance, rose thorns catching in her fur.
Hazelpaw's shoulders relaxed and she sat down next to Stormhawk. "That was really brave of you to stand up to Honeydrop like that. She's always that big of a grump. Just ignore her."
"Thanks." Stormhawk responded. "You were pretty brave too. If I didn't know better, I'd think you were a fox-hearted member of LionClan."
Hazelpaw's ears folded back, a smile on her face.
Branchpaw walked up to Blazehunter, a smile of gratitude on his face. "Thanks for defending Flower. My mom always likes to hit her, but I don't! She's my friend, even if she's from an enemy tribe!" he said puffing his chest out in pride.
Blazehunter purred. "That's a good lesson to live by, Branchpaw."
Sootfur cleared her throat, looking at Blazehunter and Stormhawk. "You shouldn't be in here. Didn't you hear? Snowbreeze heard a prophecy from StarClan and you two are in it."
Neither could respond.
Foxwish took a step forward. "Come with me, you two. I'll show you to Flowerstar's den."
The two brothers nodded at ear other and followed.
The next morning was cold, dew still on leaves even near sunhigh. The hunting party, consisted of Pantherfang, Cherryshine, Foxwish, Sunpaw, Hazelpaw, and Mousetail, returned with a bountiful catch, four rabbits, seven squirrels, and eleven mice. They dropped them on the fresh-kill pile and returned to the forest clearing.
Blazehunter and Stormhawk sat outside Flowerstar's den, on the rock ledge. Heather tickled their paws and a light breeze ruffled their fur.
"So, we're in a prophecy, huh?" Blazehunter mewed.
Stormhawk took a deep breath. "Guess so." he answered, not meeting his brother's eyes. "Can I be honest with you?"
"It's about Hazelpaw." Stormhawk continued. "I think I'm in love with her..."
Blazehunter smiled slightly. "You should tell her." he said, leaning down to lick his paws. "Besides, you're not the only one with a crush."
The grey tom turned his head. "I'm not?"
"Nope." he continued. "I have a crush too." He was must calmer in his confession than Stormhawk.
"Who?" Stormhawk asked, his ears flicked upward.
Blazehunter smiled. "Milkpaw." he said wistfully, images of the cream furred apprentice from their arrival in FlowerClan shooting through his mind.
A loud yawn sounded from the den as Icegaze managed to pull herself from her nest and outside the den. Her eyes widened in joy. "Stormhawk! Blazehunter!" she meowed happily, rushing forward to meet them. "They let you out? But how?"
Stormhawk and Blazehunter looked at each other and purred.
"Long story." Blazehunter said, his green eyes meeting hers.
Deathwish and Frozenheart rushed from the den as well, hearing their brothers' names called.
Hazelpaw, flanked by Milkpaw and another apprentice, a sand colored tabby tom with black stripes, walked up to the den.
"Hello." Milkpaw mewed, her white tipped tail twitching. "Would you like to help me take food to the elders, Blazehunter?"
Blazehunter's whiskers trembled. "S-Sure!" he said darting after her down the rocks.
Stormhawk purred. He's such a love-struck fool.
"Hi, Stormhawk." Hazelpaw meowed smoothly, brushing by him. "It's my morning duty to help Milkpaw and Beechpaw bring food to our elders." she said, flicking her tail at Beechpaw. "Can you come with me?"
Stormhawk almost couldn't respond. "I'd love to." he said, following her down the rock path the same way Blazehunter and Milkpaw had gone, Beechpaw trailing behind them.
As they made their way to the fresh-kill pile, two warriors wrestled in the dust, one a calico with bright ginger spots littering her pelt, and the other a silver cat with dark grey speckles covering her fur.
"That's Spottedfur and Pebblepelt." Hazelpaw said as the warriors crashed down behind them, laughing at each other. "They're Cherryshine's daughters and the two newest warriors in the clan."
Stormhawk hurried to keep up with her. "Hazelpaw, when will you be made a warrior? You seem pretty old to be an apprentice still."
"Well," she meowed. "I was the weakest of my litter. My two other siblings would bully me all the time. One day, we all got sick, and I was the only one to survive. My mother, Emberlight, was so upset, she didn't get me apprenticed until I was eight moons old." She shook herself out and smiled again. "But I'll be a warrior soon. Flowerstar says I'll probably be the next one." she said, bending down to pick up a rabbit.
Stormhawk grabbed a squirrel in his teeth and followed her into a hollowed out cherry tree. Nests made out of the tree's flowers covered the ground. The cats perked up to see them in the entrance.
As Stormhawk walked in, he noticed Blazehunter and Milkpaw talking near the back of the den. I wonder if he's confessing his feelings to her. I wish I was as brave as him...
"Stormhawk." Hazelpaw's voice cut him out of his trance. "I'll feed Feathershade." she said, handing the rabbit to an old brown cat with a patch of black on her back. "Can you give that to Oakfeather?" she said pointing her tail at a brown cat curled up near the back of the den.
"Sure." he said, the squirrel muffling his voice. He walked over to the old she-cat.
She lifted her head to look at him, one of her amber eyes blurry and blind. "Is that for me?" she asked, her voice quiet and hoarse.
Stormhawk nodded, laying the squirrel down on her front paws. As she ate, he noticed the black mackerel pattern on her fur was flecked with grey hairs. She must be the oldest cat in the clan.
"Stormhawk!" Blazehunter called out. He rushed toward hi brother, Milkpaw at his side. "Stormhawk, guess what?"
"Milkpaw says when she's a warrior, she'll agree to be my mate!"
"She did?" Stormhawk asked, half disappointed. He allowed his mind to wander to Hazelpaw.
Blazehunter nodded excitedly.
Hazelpaw skidded to a stop next to Milkpaw. "You picked a mate? You're so lucky, Milkpaw!"
"Thanks!" Milkpaw meowed. This was the first time Stormhawk had seen her smile.
Hazelpaw smiled even wider. "I hope I can find a mate soon too."
Stormhawk reached his paw out. "Hazelpaw, I-"
"Can't an elder get some peace and quiet?" Feathershade hissed.
Milkpaw pushed Blazehunter's side. "Come on, let's go take food to the queens now!" she said, running out of the den. "Last one there is a mouse-brain!" she yelled, Blazehunter trailing behind her.
"No fair!" he yelled after her. "You got a head start!"
Hazelpaw sighed. "She sure is lucky to have such a loving mate waiting for her, isn't she, Stormhawk." Stormhawk though he could she her looking at him, a dreamy look in her eyes.
Stormhawk couldn't speak. He only nodded.
Stormhawk had separated himself from Blazehunter and Hazelpaw for the rest of the day, spending his time with Silversky and Flowerstar in the medicine den.
Flowerstar's healing had started, but wasn't going too fast.
Stormhawk looked at her. "How have you been, Flowerstar?" he asked, dropping a mouse at her side.
"I'm alright." she said, grabbing the mouse to begin eating it. "Slowly but surely, I'll be up and running soon."
Silversky purred. Her shoulder had healed well, but it had left a scar and the fur around it was still stained red slightly. "It's so courteous of you to care so much, Stormhawk."
Dovepaw, the medicine cat apprentice, grabbed a few poppy seeds and nudged them toward Silversky and Flowerstar.
"Follow me." she whispered in Stormhawk's ear as she passed by him. She slipped out of the den and sat outside.
Stormhawk did as she instructed, following her. He sat next to her.
"I'm glad you came to FlowerClan, Stormhawk." she mewed. "It was so boring without you."
Stormhawk gave her a confused look. "What do you mean?"
Dovepaw smiled at him. She pushed him down, putting her paws on his chest. "For StarClan's sake, Stormhawk. Are you blind?" She leaned in close to whisper in his ear. "I love you."
She stepped off, allowing him to get up. "W-What? But... You'll be a medicine cat. Medicine cats can't have mates." he answered abruptly.
Sadness filled Dovepaw's eyes. She then smiled again. "I could leave all this behind. I would leave it all behind. For you." She leaned forward and licked his muzzle.
"S-Stormhawk?" It was Hazelpaw. "What are you doing?" Her eyes were open wide and her ears were pressed back.
"Hazelpaw, i-it's not what it looks like!"
"Maybe Flowerstar was right." Hazelpaw growled. "Maybe all males really are bad." She held back tears as she ran off.
Dovepaw reached forward and pulled Stormhawk toward her as he tried to run after Hazelpaw. "Stormhawk, stop!" she meowed, clearly hurt. "Can't you see? StarClan sent you here for a reason. They wanted us to meet. They want us to be together."
"Hazelpaw! Come back!" Stormhawk shouted in the ginger apprentice's direction. He was completely ignoring Dovepaw.
The silver she-cat pulled on him harder, sending him toppling on top of her. "Can't you see I'm the one for you?" she panted. Flicking her tail in Hazelpaw's direction, she continued. "It won't work. She doesn't love you like I do."
Stormhawk didn't respond. Is she right? Are Hazelpaw and I really not meant to be together?
"Geez, get a den you two!" Deathwish's voice taunted. "Hey, Stormhawk. I saw that Hazelpaw cat near the nursery. She seemed really upset. Did something happen?"
Stormhawk began to speak. "Well-"
Dovepaw's white paw pressed against his mouth, preventing him from speaking. "No, miss. Nothing happened to her." she answered abruptly.
Deathwish gave her a strange look, then turned and walked away, her bristled fur blowing in the faint breeze.
Stormhawk pushed Dovepaw off of him, his powerful shoulders reflecting the silver moonlight like a puddle of rain water. "What's wrong with you, Dovepaw? Why would you do this?"
Dovepaw tried to nuzzle him. "I love you, Stormhawk. More than I've ever loved anything before."
"But Snowbreeze needs you to become a medicine cat after she's gone."
She flicked her tail, whiskers twitching in annoyance. "There are others. I beg you. Please! Please pick me, Stormhawk! Please!" Tears were welling in her deep blue eyes.
Stormhawk panted a few times. He took one last look at her, then turned and ran away. He ran until his paws hurt. He didn't dare stop or look back for fear that Dovepaw would be there. He pounced through a bramble thicket and stopped, panting heavily. Paws ran past the brambles, but didn't stop.
Dovepaw must've followed me. he thought, silencing his loud breathing. She really wants this bad. But... I love Hazelpaw. He growled softly.
"Stormhawk!" Dovepaw's voice echoed in the distance.
Stormhawk pressed himself close to the ground, trying to be as quiet as possible.
She called out again. "Stormhawk!" Suddenly, she shrieked, and heavy, pounding pawsteps could be heard entering the bushes.
"I have to go after her! What if she gets killed!" The thought of the pretty young apprentice, on the ground, bleeding to death, was too much for Stormhawk to bear and he raced after her.
He ran until his paw felt like they were bleeding, but he didn't dare to stop for fear he might be too late. He kept on her scent, not letting it leave his nose. I need to save her. If I leave her behind, StarClan would never forgive me. He stopped, his paws skidding on slippery wet stone. The Tribe of Rushing Water's home opened up before his eyes. His eyes scanned along the rocky ground, falling on a brown tabby she-cat.
He stepped carefully down the hill to avoid being seen or scented. He then slipped past the she-cat without her noticing, still following Dovepaw's scent. He gazed into a small cave and saw Dovepaw, trapped behind a small creek of fast-moving water. She was facing the wall, her ears folded back.
He slinked quietly into the cave, gazing into the water. He gasped softly. "What am I going to do?"
Dovepaw's ears twitched as she looked up and over her shoulder. Her dismal expression immediately changed. "Stormhawk!" she whispered excitedly. "You came for me."
Stormhawk took a deep breath and dove into the water. The cold bit into his pelt as he swam, struggling to stay afloat. At last, he pulled himself ashore on Dovepaw's side.
The silver she-cat rushed forward, pulling him out of the water.
He flopped to the ground, soaking wet and gasping for breath.
Dovepaw nuzzled up to him, licking his wet grey fur. She pressed against him, her warm fur doing him justice in his current state.
Stormhawk pulled himself to his feet, Dovepaw doing the same. He padded over to the edge of the water again. He looked over at Dovepaw. "Hold your breath and hold on to me." he meowed.
Stormhawk jumped into the freezing water again, Dovepaw jumping in after him. She grabbed onto his back, holding on tight as he struggled his way to the other side. His claws hooked into the stone and he pulled himself up, both of them flopping to the ground for a moment before standing back up.
Dovepaw licked his neck, warming up his fur a bit.
Stormhawk looked at her. "Let's go. Before we're seen."
Dovepaw followed behind him, her short fur dripping profusely. "I'm coming." she mewed softly.
The two of them managed to sneak out of the cave, past the brown she-cat, and out of tribe territory. They ran as fast as their paws could carry them, not stopping for anything. Upon reaching warm FlowerClan territory, they stopped in a thicket of thistles, panting heavily.
Deathwish and Beechpaw sat near the fresh-kill pile, their conversation interrupted by Stormhawk and Dovepaw.
Deathwish whirled around and ran to them. "Stormhawk, what happened?"
Stormhawk turned to look at her, his wet fur sending beads of water to the ground. "The Tribe of Rushing Water got Dovepaw. I went after her."
Beechpaw stepped up next to the dark black she-cat, his sand-colored fur bristled in distress. "Is she ok? Are either of you hurt?"
Deathwish looked at Stormhawk's side. There were three large scrapes along his left flank. "Stormhawk is. We should get them to the medicine den."
"I'm fine, Deathwish." he panted. "Really, I am."
Beechpaw leaned his head back and gave an urgent mrrow, signaling the rest of the camp.
Brokenpaw, Quailpaw, Frozenheart, and Sunpaw came running to Beechpaw.
Frozenheart looked at Stormhawk. "What's wrong, brother?"
Deathwish nudged her away. "I'll explain later. Go tell Snowbreeze we need her."
Frozenheart nodded, running toward the medicine den with Sunpaw behind her.
Icegaze came down from the large rock formation, answering to the noise. Deathwish ran up to her and explained something that Stormhawk couldn't hear.
She then came over to them. "Come with me, Stormhawk, Dovepaw."
The two grey cats, now shivering, followed Icegaze into the medicine den across the clearing. The heather parted as Snowbreeze emerged to meet them.
"Frozenheart alerted me. Come inside. I have two nests ready." she meowed.
Icegaze led them in, showing them their nests. "It shouldn't take long for you to recover. It's late. You should probably get some sleep." she said as she bounded out of the den.
Stormhawk and Dovepaw climbed into their nests, right next to each other.
As time passed, Dovepaw, Silversky, and Flowerstar drifted off to sleep. Stormhawk stayed away, though. He stood up and walked out of the den, sitting down outside the entrance. He turned his head up to the sky, gazing at the starry sky. He sighed. "StarClan, why have you done this to me? I love Hazelpaw, but Dovepaw loves me. What do I do?"
An unfamiliar scent filled the air as a soft breeze ruffled his fur.
Stormhawk sighed, turning back into the den and returning to his nest.
Stormhawk was dreaming that night. He dreamt he was in the forest, hunting squirrels. His surroundings suddenly changed into a dark forest, filled with stars. A silver and black cat walked up to him, his pelt lined with stars and his deep blue eyes glowing.
Stormhawk looked at the tall, long-legged cat. "Who are you? Where are we?"
"We're in StarClan, Stormhawk." the cat meowed. "I am Stripetail of StarClan."
Stormhawk looked up at him. "What have you come to tell me, Stripetail?"
"I've come to answer your question." Stripetail meowed. "The one you're meant to spend your life with is-"
"Stormhawk!" Snowbreeze meowed loudly.
The grey cat snapped awake, looking around for Stripetail. He sighed, realizing he was gone.
Snowbreeze held out several poppy seeds. "Here, eat these."
Stormhawk took the seeds from her paw, swallowing them. "Thank you, Snowbreeze."
Dovepaw nuzzled up to him. "I'm glad you're safe, Stormhawk."
Stormhawk sighed. Stripetail, why couldn't you have finished? He draped his tail lightly over her, his fur bristling slightly.
Dovepaw began to purr as she pulled herself closer.
Milkpaw, Brokenpaw, and Hazelpaw padded to a stop in the medicine den entrance.
Brokenpaw's warm amber eyes looked at Snowbreeze. "Icegaze is calling a Clan Meeting." he meowed.
"It's time for some of the kits to be named apprentices." Milkpaw followed.
Hazelpaw's golden eyes scowled at Stormhawk. She flicked her snout into the air, turning around and trotting away.
Milkpaw and Brokenpaw followed.
Snowbreeze helped Flowerstar up from the nest she was in, allowing her to lean on her flank as she lead her out into the clearing.
Stormhawk brought himself to his paws and ran out of the den, padding up to the large rock, staring up at his sister, posed nobly on the heather covered rock.
"Cats of FlowerClan," Icegaze began. "Thanks to the information given to me by Softbird and Autumnwing, it has come to my attention that there are several kits who are ready to be named apprentices."
Snowbreeze was helping Flowerstar up the rock, next to Icegaze.
Flowerstar looked down at the cats assembled in the clearing. "Blossomkit, Featherkit, Ebonykit, Squirrelkit, Rosekit, and Silverkit, come forward." she mewed weakly.
The five kits walked into the opening of the ring of cats and stepped in front of the rock.
"In the name of StarClan, I name you Blossompaw, Featherpaw, Ebonypaw, Squirrelpaw, Rosepaw, and Silverpaw." Flowerstar continued. "Your mentors will be chosen now. Blossompaw, your mentor will be Adderspot."
The light brown she-cat walked up to the calico she-kit and touched her nose to her head.
Flowerstar gave an exhausted huff. "Featherpaw, your mentor will be Grasstail, alongside Brokenpaw."
Grasstail walked up to the ginger she-kit, Brokenpaw by her side, her long fur swaying as she padded up. She touched her white muzzle to Featherpaw's head.
The clan began to chant. "Blossompaw! Featherpaw!"
Flowerstar waited for the clan to quiet down before speaking again. "Squirrelpaw and Silverpaw, your mentor will be Spottedfur."
Spottedfur sprang from the group, her long, lean body flexing as she landed in front of the two kits. She tapped her nose to their pelts.
"Foxwish will mentor Rosepaw, along with Thornpaw and Hazelpaw."
The pale ginger she-cat walked up, her broad shoulders flexing powerfully. Hazelpaw and Thornpaw, Adderspot's daughter, walked next to her. She tapped her nose to Rosepaw's head.
"And Ebonypaw." Fowerstar breathed heavily. "Your mentor will be Icegaze."
Iceagze gasped as the calico she-cat finished her announcement. "Me? But- Are you sure?"
Flowerstar nodded, flicking her tail at Ebonypaw as the black and white apprentice stood in the clearing.
Icegaze jumped down from the rock, landing neatly in the grass. She touched her nose to the young cat's head.
The clan began to chant the new apprentice's names, beginning to disperse.
"Wait." Flowerstar yowled softly. "We aren't done here. We have warriors to name as well." She flicked her tail at three cats, Milkpaw, Brokenpaw, and Hazelpaw.
"Brokenpaw, in the name of StarClan, I name you Brokenfern." Flowerstar meowed. She then looked at Milkpaw. "Milkpaw, in the name of StarClan, I rename you Milkflower."
The clan began to chant. "Brokenfern! Milkflower!"
Flowerstar looked down at Hazelpaw. "Hazelpaw, your new name is Hazelflight. Make StarClan proud of their choice."