The branches of the trees creaked in the breeze that blew through the forest. Birdsong filled the air, and the forest was alive with squirrels, and mice, and voles. Flowers bloomed amongst the bracken, and leaves dappled the ground. Bright golden sunlight shone through the trees, turning the ground into a pattern of dark, and light leaf designs.
Suddenly, there was a rustle in the bracken. A moment later, a blue-gray cat poked her head out, her blue eyes scanning the path ahead. Flicking her tail, she stepped out of the ferns. "Come on," she hissed.
"Bluekit!" a high pitched voice replied, and a little gray she-cat appeared. She flicked her ear as a fly landed on it. "Are you sure this is a good idea?" the kit replied.
Bluekit blinked. "Of course it is!" she exclaimed. "It's sunhigh, so most of the warriors will be snoozing in their dens. No one will catch us!"
"Yeah, come on! Lighten up, Graykit!" another voice mewed. The bracken rustled, and a dark gray tabby appeared, his orange eyes bright with the light of adventure. "This'll be fun!"
"Fun!" Graykit smirked at her brother as he trotted to Bluekit's side. "If you say so, Cedarkit."
"Guys!" another voice came from the undergrowth, and Bluekit's brother's black head appeared from the leaves. "Barkkit's got a thorn in his pad," Nightkit mewed. The black kit stepped out from the bushes to join his friends. Close behind, a brown, and white tom wobbled into the clearing, holding a paw off the ground, and squeaking "Ow! Ow! Ow! Ow!"
Graykit rolled her eyes. "Barkkit, I swear, sometimes you act like you were born yesterday!"
"Oh, put a mouse in it, Graykit!" Barkkit snapped as his sister as she yanked the thorn out of his pad. He squeaked when it came out, and flattened his ears against his head when blood spurted out. His green eyes were wide with panic.
Graykit rolled her eyes again. "For StarClan's sake, Barkkit, it's a thorn!"
Barkkit ignored her, and frantically licked his paw. Graykit looked at Bluekit, shook her head, and vanished into the undergrowth. "Give me a minute, guys!" she meowed from the bushes.
Bluekit sat down, and began to groom a few bits of leaves out of her fur. She hated it when her pelt got dirty, but it was worth it if it meant going to explore the abandoned Twoleg den. Cedarkit claimed he's been there before, and Bluekit had dared him to take her, Nightkit, Barkkit, and Graykit to it. He agreed, and now, here they were in the middle of SkyClan territory.
A teasing snort from nearby made Bluekit break away from her thoughts. "Really, Bluekit? That's the fourth time you've licked yourself clean today!"
Bluekit looked up, and narrowed her eyes at Cedarkit. "It is not!" she exclaimed.
"Yeah it is!" Nightkit agreed, snickering. "You're like a queen, and your pelt is your kit!" He, and Cedarkit let out mrrows of laughter.
Bluekit flicked her tail. "Oh, ha, ha, very funny, Nightkit," she mewed. "I could give a mousetail about what you have to say."
"Then, why are you arguing?" her brother countered.
Bluekit straightened up. "Because I can. So there!"
"You two never get along, do you?" Graykit mewed as she emerged from the ferns. She was carrying a large dock leaf in her jaws, and one of her paws was wrapped in cobwebs. She approached her brother, and chewed some of the dock leaf to a pulp. "This'll sting," she warned before spitting it out onto Barkkit's pad. The kit screwed up his face, and hissed when the green stuff hit his wound, but he held still while Graykit rubbed it into the scratch. Then, she covered it in cobwebs. "There," she mewed, a satisfied tone in her voice. "You should be fine now."
Barkkit nodded. "Thanks, Graykit," he mewed.
Graykit let out a tiny purr of amusement. "You're lucky I spend so much time with Flowertooth. I can't wait to be her apprentice!"
Nightkit snorted. "Don't you want to be a warrior? Don't you want to feel the thrill of the battle, and sink your claws into your-"
Cedarkit nudged him in the shoulder, nearly knocking him down. "If she wants to be a medicine cat, then she can," the smoky gray tom mewed.
Bluekit smiled. It was good that Cedarkit at least respected his sister's decision unlike Nightkit, who always broke into Bluekit's daydreams, and ranting about how one day, she would become SkyClan's leader, and follow in her father's pawsteps. I'll be the best leader this Clan has ever seen! she thought proudly.
"Now," Cedarkit said, looking at everyone around him, "are we going to the Twoleg den, or what?"
Bluekit swept her tail across the ground. "Lead the way," she mewed.
Cedarkit rose to his paws, and pushed his way through the undergrowth. Bluekit followed behind with Nightkit at her side, and Graykit and Barkkit taking up the rear. Excitment made Bluekit's pelt tingle, and itch like ants crawling through her pelt. She hadn't been out of the gorge, and it was exciting to finally explore her Clan's territory with her brother, and friends.
"Are we almost there yet?" Barkkit mewed.
"Sh!" Cedarkit snapped. "Do you want the border patrol to hear you?"
Bluekit opened her jaws to taste the air. Sure enough, the breeze carried the faint smell of the sunhigh patrol. She recognized Featherblaze, his apprentice, Cherrypaw, Scarletripple and Brindlepaw, Rowannose, and Crookedflight. They were far away though, and wouldn't be finding Bluekit, and the others any time soon. As the kits moved through the forest, another smell wafted toward her. It was just a faint smell, but Bluekit instantly snapped her jaws shut when she detected the musky, almost crow-food-like smell of BloodClan. Before Bluekit's mother was born, a mysterious band of cats appeared. They were scrawny, but they were strong, and their leader, Squirrelstar, had many warriors. After many moons of fighting, Aurorastar, the leader of SkyClan at that time, agreed to give them the territory that lay just past the clearing that the abandoned Twoleg den sat. Aurorastar's deputy, Gorsestar had tried to take the territory back, but the Clan voted, and he allowed BloodClan to stay. Now, Coldstar, Bluekit and Nightkit's father, tried to avoid trouble with BloodClan as much as possible. Bluekit respected his decision. She didn't like BloodClan as much as the next cat, but at least they follow the warrior code.
Suddenly, Cedarkit halted, his tail straight in the air. After a moment, he crouched, and crawled forward underneath a patch of ferns. Bluekit, and the others followed, squeezing into the little space. Wriggling around Cedarkit, Bluekit looked through the leaves, and her jaw dropped when her eyes rested on the Twoleg den. Whoa! she thought in awe. But as quickly as the awe came, it was replaced by foreboding. The den was run down, and falling apart. There was a giant hole in the roof, and the piece of wood that covered the entrance was gone. Weeds grew along the walls, and ivy entangled in the wire fence around the house. Black holes in the walls looked like dark eyes watching Bluekit, forcing her to take a step back.
Bluekit could feel the unease of her companions, especially Barkkit, who mewed, "Uhhh..." then shut his mouth as if he knew that once Cedarkit made up his mind, there was no going back.
Cedarkit looked at his companions, his amber eyes bright with the thought of adventure. "Come on! Let's go!" he meowed.
"But what about the border patrol?" Graykit called after her brother, angling her ears in the direction of the trees on the other side of the clearing. "What if they see us?"
"They won't," Cedarkit replied. "Now, come on! Or are you a scaredy-mouse?"
Immediately, Graykit crawled out of her hiding place. "I'm not scared of a stupid, old Twoleg den," the gray kit replied, holding her head high. I just don't want to get in trouble, that's all!"
"I'm not a scaredy-mouse either!" Bluekit exclaimed, and crawled after her friends.
"Me either!" Nightkit meowed, and pelted after her with Barkkit on his heels.
The five kits streaked across the clearing, and headed straight for the Twoleg den. It looked bigger than Bluekit had imagined, and she thought about going back. But I'm not a scaredy-mouse! she thought determinedly. I am a SkyClan warrior defending my territory! With that thought, she made her legs move faster until she almost rammed into Cedarkit, who skidded to a halt beside the old wire fence. Bluekit craned her neck to look at the top of the den, which to her looked like a crow's nest caught in a storm. She gulped, and sniffed the air. All she could smell was SkyClan. There was no sign of danger except for the faint smell of BloodClan. Let's just get it over with, Bluekit thought as she felt a chill run down her spine.
Cedarkit padded up to the ivy entangled in the fence, grabbed a tendril in his jaws, and pulled it back to reveal a slight dip in the ground that led under the wire. "Come on, go in!" he said, his voice muffled by the ivy.
Bluekit went first. She flattened herself, and crawled beneath the fence, feeling the sharp wire tug at her pelt. Barkkit was next, followed by Nightkit, and then Graykit. Suddenly, the fence gave a small lurch as it caught on Graykit's fluffy fur. Graykit held still until the fence stopped moving. When she tried to move again, however, she couldn't. She scrabbled at the ground, her eyes wide as moons. "I'm stuck!" she squeaked.
"Oh, for StarClan's sake!" Cedarkit sighed, and started to push Graykit with his paws. Bluekit stepped forward, and grabbed her friend's scruff in her jaws. She pulled as hard as she could, and nearly tumbled backwards when Graykit shot out of the dip like a weasel. Bluekit shook herself, and looked at the fence, which had a little tuft of gray fur on it.
Graykit twisted her head to lick the tiny patch of bare skin on her shoulder. "Fantastic," she growled.
Cedarkit crawled through the fence easily, his slick fur barely touching the fence. Once he was on the other side, he stared at the Twoleg den with awe; there was not a trace of fear in his eyes. I wish I could have that much adventure in me, Bluekit thought. She looked at the den. Though she wanted to explore it, a part of her wanted to go back to the camp.
Cedarkit nudged her shoulder. "What are we waiting for?" he mewed. "Let's go inside." Without waiting for the others, Cedarkit raced up to the den, climbing up to the entrance. Bluekit trotted after him while Graykit and Nightkit sprinted past her. A tiny mew made her turn around, and look at Barkkit, who was crouched on the ground like a terrified mouse waiting to be pounced on.
Bluekit padded up to her friend, and nudged him to his paws. "Come on, Barkkit," she mewed gently. "I'll stay by your side, okay?"
Barkkit nodded, and followed Bluekit up to the den. Bluekit couldn't help but be amused that she was braver than a cat who was older than her. Two moons older than me, two more moons until he can be an apprentice, and he's scared of everything!
When Bluekit and Barkkit arrived at the entrance of the den, Bluekit could hear scampering inside the den. She poked her head in, and saw the silhouette of a cat running through the den. She knew it was Nightkit. In a dark place like this, Nightkit would be the hardest to see. Carefully, Bluekit took a few steps inside while Barkkit stayed very close to her side, looking all around the place as if he expected a fox to jump out of nowhere. The den smelled of dust, cobwebs, and filthy leaves. No cat had been in here in a long time.
Suddenly, there was a high pitched squeal, and before Bluekit could turn around to see who it was, she was bowled over, and found herself rolling in the dust with someone on top of her. When she landed on her back, and looked up, she saw Cedarkit's amber eyes staring down at her with triumph. "Intruders!" he yowled. "SkyClan warriors, attack!"
Suddenly, there was a flurry of pawsteps as Nightkit and Graykit raced toward Barkkit. The brown-and-white tom turned tail, and ran. Bluekit slapped her paw across Cedarkit's face, sending him rolling off of her. Bluekit jumped to her paws, and lowered her head challengingly. "This territory is ours, Gorsestar!" she yowled playfully.
"Never, Squirrelstar!" Cedarkit exclaimed.
Bluekit rocked on her haunches before launching herself at her friend. Cedarkit quickly side stepped, and struck a blow on Bluekit's hindquarters, claws sheathed. Bluekit spun around, and raced towards him once more, but instead of running at him, she went for the place he would side step. Sure enough, she managed to get a hold of him. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she pulled him to the ground, and the two kits wrestled on the ground until Bluekit had Cedarkit pinned to the ground with her paws planted on his chest.
But before she could celebrate, someone rammed into her, throwing her off of Cedarkit. Bluekit recognized Graykit by her scent, and instantly began pummeling her friend's belly with her hind paws while Graykit landed blow after blow on her ears. Finally, Bluekit managed to push Graykit off. A streak of brown flashed past her, and Bluekit saw Barkkit disappear into another section of the den with Nightkit and Cedarkit streaking after him. Bluekit raced past Graykit to follow the others, and saw Barkkit underneath the jagged, wooden thing leading up to the upper part of the den. He was cornered by Nightkit and Cedarkit, his green eyes wide with fear.
Letting out a yowl, she landed squarely on her brother's back, almost crushing him. Barkkit reared up on his hind legs, and started flailing his paws wildly at Cedarkit. Nightkit lunged upward, throwing Bluekit off of him. She rolled out of the way, and jumped to her paws before Nightkit could attack. Bluekit lowered her head, and narrowed her eyes. Nightkit stared back, flicking his tail. Bluekit rolled her shoulders, ready to attack. Nightkit flattened his ears, and his dark blue eyes widened with fear. Bluekit tilted her head in curiosity. Do I really look that intimidating? she wondered.
Then, a low, loud voice sounded behind her. "What in StarClan's name are you doing here?"
Bluekit jumped, and spun around, and looked up. Standing in front of her was the dark ginger warrior, Rowannose. He stared down at her through narrowed green eyes, and his neck fur was bristling. Bluekit sat down beside Nightkit while the others came to join them, dragging their paws with guilt.
Rowannose's gaze swept over them. "You know you're not supposed to leave the camp, and you especially know not to come here!" the warrior yowled. "What if a badger or a fox attack you, or a BloodClan warrior? Then, what would you do?"
Bluekit stared down at her paws. She knew that the warrior was angry because he had been concerned for the kits. But he doesn't have to show his concern with anger, Bluekit thought mutinously.
"Did you find them, Rowannose?" a voice from outside called. Bluekit recognized the voice of Swiftstripe. She glanced at Cedarkit, Barkkit, and Graykit. All of their eyes were wide as moons, and they flinched when they heard the voice of their father.
"Yeah, I found them," Rowannose replied. "Come on," he added to the kits, his voice more gentle.
Rising to her paws, Bluekit stalked across the dusty wooden floor, and realized that she wasn't concerned about getting caught. She was worried about what Coldstar would do. As his kits, he probably expects us to be more responsible than the others, Bluekit thought. She raked a claw across the ground, sending a dusty leaf into the air. Just because we're the leader's kits doesn't mean we have to act differently!
When they emerged outside, Swiftstripe had crawled underneath the fence, and was covering his kits with anxious licks. "Oh, thank StarClan you're alright!" the black-and-white tom meowed.
Cedarkit shook his father's tongue away. "We were just exploring," the gray tabby kit growled.
"But what if something had attacked you?" Swiftstripe meowed, a slight hint of anger in his voice. He sighed, and shook his head. "I'll let Sandpool deal with you."
Bluekit felt sorry for her friends. Sandpool was the strictest queen in the nursery, and wouldn't be happy to find out her kits were running around in the Twoleg den near the BloodClan border. The kits, and the two warriors crawled underneath the fence, and Bluekit found herself face to face with three more warriors. Flowerface and Rainystorm were waiting along with Honeyflight, the SkyClan deputy. Bluekit refused to meet the golden she-cat's eyes, knowing that she would take them to her father's den to be punished.
"At least they're okay," Flowerface mewed in her gentle, soft voice.
Rowannose sniffed. "They shouldn't be out here in the first place," he growled. "Come on. Let's get back to camp, and tell Coldstar."
The five kits followed the five warriors. Nightkit and Bluekit stayed at the back of the group while Cedarkit, and his littermates sticked to their father's side.
"What do you think Coldstar's gonna do to us?" Bluekit asked her brother.
Nightkit shrugged. "Clean the elders' bedding? Search them for ticks? Help Flowertooth gather herbs? Stay in the nursery for a moon?" He shook his head. "This was a stupid idea."
"Well, we did dare Cedarkit to take us to the den," Bluekit pointed out. "And it was fun."
Nightkit nodded. "I guess so."
The kits stayed silent the rest of the way home. Occasionally, Rowannose or Honeyflight would look back as if they were making sure that Bluekit and Nightkit weren't going to run off all of a sudden. Bluekit sniffed. As if! she thought angrily. Bluekit could just picture the rage in Coldstar's blue eyes, and prayed to StarClan that she wouldn't have to search the elders for ticks. She did not want to get mouse bile on her paws.
The trees ended abruptly, and the ground dropped away to a deep gorge. Far below, the cats of SkyClan were going about their day, though Bluekit spotted Sandpool waiting outside the nursery, and a couple of the elders, Kestrelstorm and Shiningfang, were sitting by the stream, looking worried.
Suddenly, jaws closed around Bluekit's scruff, and she was lifted into the air. "Put me down!" she wailed. "I can climb down by myself!"
"No, you can't," Honeyflight said, her voice muffled by Bluekit's fur. Bluekit looked around, and saw Nightkit get plucked up by Rowannose. Swiftstripe was carrying Cedarkit, Flowerface was carrying Barkkit, and Rainystorm was carrying Graykit. Cedarkit looked too mutinous to argue, and Barkkit seemed glad to be back at camp. But Nightkit flailed his paws, and Graykit let out a complaining squeak. Rowannose disappeared down the side of the gorge, following a steep trail downward. Honeyflight followed with Flowerface behind her, and Rainystorm bringing up the rear.
As the five warriors made their way down with the kits, voices rose from the gorge below.
"They're back! And they have the kits!"
"Are the kits okay?"
"Sandpool is going to have a fit."
The warriors dropped Bluekit, and the others by the Rockpile, a pile of rocks that Coldstar stood on when he held meetings. As soon as the kits hit the floor, Sandpool was over her kits, her blue eyes narrowed like icy slits, and her ginger fur bristled like thorns. "Where in the name of StarClan have you been?" she yowled.
"They were playing inside the Twoleg den," Rainystorm answered when the kits just stared at their paws.
"The Twoleg den!" Sandpool screech, and for a moment, Bluekit thought she was literally going to explode with anger.
Swiftstripe went to his mate's side, and pressed his muzzle against her shoulder. "They're fine, Sandpool," he meowed gently. "It's not the worst thing that's happened. Remember the time Stripedpaw and Sagepaw literally wandered into the BloodClan camp, and Flowertooth was forced to give them herbs in order for us to get our kits back?"
Sandpool closed her eyes, and her fur flattened a bit. "Thank StarClan that didn't happen again," she murmured. Her eyes flashed open, and her gaze rested on her kits once more, but some of her anger was gone. "But you're still in big trouble. Come to the nursery, right now!"
"Yes, Sandpool," Graykit and Barkkit mewed while Cedarkit just grumbled as he followed his mother, and littermates up to the nursery.
A white she-cat with a black streak on her face suddenly appeared at Swiftstripe's side, her blue eyes full of relief. "It's such a good thing you found them," Swanpool meowed.
Swiftstripe looked at the she-cat, and nodded. "I'm just glad they didn't go over the border like Sagepaw and Stripedpaw," he replied.
Bluekit glanced from Swiftstripe to Swanpool, wondering why Swanpool would be so concerned about kits that weren't hers. Then, she remembered that Swanpool was Swiftstripe's sister, making her Cedarkit, Barkkit, and Graykit's aunt.
"Bluekit. Nightkit," Honeyflight meowed. She was standing at the base of the trail that led up to Coldstar's den. The golden she-cat flicked her tail tip, and reluctantly, Bluekit and Nightkit followed, their heads hanging. Let's just get this over with, Bluekit thought.
Before she knew it, Bluekit was standing in front of the entrance to her father's den. Honeyflight padded into the cave, and the kits followed. Inside, Coldstar was sitting in his mossy nest with his mate, Crystalfeather. The silver-and-white she-cat had her face buried in Coldstar's blue-gray fur as if she was trying to calm herself about her missing kits.
Coldstar turned his green gaze onto his deputy. "Did you find them?" he asked, his voice full of anxiety.
Honeyflight nodded, and stepped out of the way to reveal Bluekit and Nightkit hiding behind her. Bluekit looked at her parents, ready for her punishment.
Instantly, Crystalfeather was covering them with licks. "Oh, thank StarClan you're okay!" she exclaimed. "What were you thinking, leaving the gorge like that?"
Bluekit shrugged, and Nightkit replied. "We got bored."
Coldstar looked at Honeyflight. "Where were they?" the SkyClan leader asked.
"They were playing inside the abandoned Twoleg den," Honeyflight said.
"What?" The screech came from Crystalfeather. She lowered her head until she was eye level with her kits. "That close to the BloodClan border? Do you have bees in your brains?"
Bluekit looked away, and scraped the ground with her paw. She hated it when her mother made her feel like she was stupid.
"Crystalfeather," Coldstar meowed. "Let me deal with them. Go wait in the nursery."
At first, Crystalfeather looked ready to protest, but then, she nodded, and padded out of the den with a flick of her tail. Coldstar turned his green eyes on his kits. Bluekit dared herself to meet them, and was surprised when she saw a steady calm in them. "You know you shouldn't go that far, at least not without a warrior," he said in a low voice.
Bluekit nodded. "We know. Like Nightkit said, we just got bored."
"I can understand that," Coldstar replied with a nod. Then, a glimmer of amusement came to his eyes. "Did you know that I actually went to the Twolegplace when I was about your age?"
Bluekit stared at him. "Really?" she exclaimed.
"You never told me that!" Honeyflight mewed, flicking her ears.
Coldstar shrugged. "I went with Rowannose, Raincloud, Fernmark, and Featherblaze," he meowed. His whiskers were twitching with amusement. "Believe me when I say Gorsestar was so angry with us! We had to take care of the elders for moons!"
Bluekit and Nightkit let out mrrows of amusement. "I tried to convince Crystalfeather to come," Coldstar continued, "but she was always a goody two-paws, even as a kit."
Bluekit couldn't believe that she was actually not angry, or guilty anymore, and felt sorry of Graykit, Cedarkit, and Barkkit. Sandpool has forgotten what being a kit is like. So have a lot of warriors, she thought.
Coldstar sniffed, and flicked his ear, his eyes suddenly growing serious. "But don't get any ideas. I don't want you going out like that without a warrior." When the kits nodded, Cloudstar continued. "I will not punish you. You're kits, and I can understand your urge to explore the forest. All kits are like that... except Crystalfeather," he added. "Whatever Crystalfeather says, just tell her you can't leave the camp for a half moon. I'll take you outside if you want, but that'll be our little secret." He glanced at Honeyflight. The deputy's amber eyes were warm, and she nodded in understandment.
Bluekit nodded. "Thank you, Coldstar!" she mewed.
Coldstar approached her, and touched her nose with his, then did the same to Nightkit. "Now get back to the nursery, you little badgers!" he purred affectionately.
Bluekit stood a little straighter, and met her father's eyes one last time before pelting out of the den, hard on Nightkit's heels. Thank StarClan! she thought happily as she bounded down the trail to the nursery. No searching the elders for ticks! Bluekit felt strength in her tiny body, and realized how glad, and proud she was to have the SkyClan leader as her father.