Amber Eyes in the Dark
Series: The Rise Series
Allegiances: Leopardclaw's WindClan Allegiances
Preceding: Nine Lives
Succeeding: The Steps of a Warrior
|In the first book of The Rise Series, Leopardpaw is training to be a Medicine Cat, but StarClan have a different destiny planned for her. A prophecy is revealed: Clouds and Claws will come... And the Ancient Laws will sleep at peace once more...|
'WindClan, to me! ThunderClan have crossed the border!'
The lake was bright, like a mirror. The near full moon was shining brightly. But blood would stain the night.
'These trees belong to us, Ashfoot!' cried a dusky brown ThunderClan tom.
'WindClan will fight for them Dustpelt' vowed the dark grey she-cat.
Battle cries rung through the night. Claws unsheathed, teeth bared, ThunderClan and WindClan were locked in a deadly battle. Slowly, a tiny insignificant cloud blotted out a part of the moon, plunging a cat into darkness forever.
Leopardkit gasped as she first saw the camp in which she lived in. Leopardkit was four days old and had just opened her eyes. She started running aroud camp, as she had no littermates and there were no other kits in the nursery. She wanted to see everything in the camp. She ran towards the camp entrance and crashed straight into her father, Eagletalon, who had been out with his - and the only - apprentice, Lavenderpaw.
'Father! Lavenderpaw!' Leopardkit sqeaked, excited.
'Leopardkit!' said Eagletalon. 'You've opened your eyes!'
Leopardkit's friend stared in wonder though. 'Your eyes are such a beautiful amber! Come on, Leopardkit, I'll show you around camp.' Leopardkit followed happily as Lavenderpaw pointed out where everything was. She pointed her tail towards an old badger den.
'This is Onestar's den. Don't go in there, you'll get into trouble. And there, there and there,' Lavenderpaw pointed with her tail to the apprentice, warriors and elders den in turn. 'Is where Apprentices, Warriors and Elders sleep. Come on, I'll show you my nest.' Lavenderpaw bouded across the clearing in a few strides. Leopardkit tumbled over as fast as she could. The apprentice den was too large for one cat, although Lavenderpaw didn't seem to mind. Lavenderpaw was talking about the elder's stories and of the warriors den, but Leopardkit was not listening. Quietly, she slipped out without her friend noticing and ran over to the only den she had not yet visited - the medicine cat den.
Leopardkit snuck in. It was different in the medicine den; the hollow tree had little dents all over where herbs were stored. Her curiosity took over her. She stepped towards a shelf of herbs; it was just low enough for her to reach. On the shelf were a few green leaves. They smell delicious! she thought. Tentatively, she extended a claw and pulled the leaves onto the floor.
'Leopardkit! No! Don't eat them!' But it was too late. As Lavenderpaw raced into the den shouting a warning. Leopardkit had nibbled at a leaf, but had spat it out immediatly.
'What were they? Show me!' Lavenderpaw's tone was sharp, but full of worry. The harshness of her tone was still enough to make Leopardkit step back right into the medicine cat himself. Leopardkit whipped around, and crouched on the floor with a whimper. Oh, StarClan, I'm in such trouble! Instead of giving her a telling off, however, Barkface mrewed with laughter.
'My friend, there is nothing to fear. Young Leopardkit only ate a little catnip. She will be fine. I have been watching her.' His kindly eyes turned to the frightened Leopardkit. He announced 'I need an apprentice. Well, Leopardkit? What do you say?'
Her eyes beaming, she said 'Yes.'
Six long moons passed for Leopardkit; but not without adventure. Finally, the time for her to become an apprentice had come. 'Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather for a Clan Meeting,' Onestar's voice rang through the clearing. 'We have a cat, ready to become an apprentice today. Barkface?'
The old medicine cat of WindClan padded slowly into the center of camp. 'Cats of WindClan. I have decided to take an apprentice, as I am not young anymore. The cat I have chosen, or rather, has chosen to become my apprentice shows great promise. She will be an excellent medicine cat. Cats of WindClan, your next medicine cat shall be Leopardkit.'
'Leopardkit, do you wish to become apprenticed to Barkface?'
Leopardkit looked with wide eyes at Barkface, and then at Onestar. In awe, she almost forgot to speak. She nodded, and stuttered 'I do.'
'Then tonight, you shall travel to the Moonpool to be accepted by StarClan.' rasped Barkface
Onestar finished the ceremony. 'From this day on, Leopardkit, you shall be known as Leopardpaw. The good wishes of all WindClan go with you.'
As soon as the ceremony has finished, the whole Clan chanted Leopardpaw! Leopardpaw! and Leopardpaw touched her nose to Barkface's. Barkface rasped 'Come on, Leopardpaw, we must set off to the Moonpool now.'
As Leopardpaw padded after Barkface out of camp, she could still hear the Clan chanting her name.
'Leopardpaw! Is it your wish to become a Medicine Cat and listen to StarClan?' Barkface's raspy voice echoed around the Moonpool cave. Leopardpaw nervously spoke.
'Then, Warriors of StarClan, I present you with this apprentice. She has chosen the path of a Medicine cat. Grant her you wisdom and insight so that she may understand your ways, and heal her Clan as you wish.' Barkface coughed once; he hardly ever did long speeches. He then lay at the edge of the pool. Leopardpaw cautiously padded up to the pool. The moonlight shone on the pool, and half lay in light. The other half of the pool was shrouded in darkness. Once, Leopardpaw thought she saw a dark tree; a movement in the shadows.
'You can read our pool, then.' A voice came from behind Leopardpaw, making her jump. The voice had not been unkind, but spoke with wisdom and knowledge. She turned around, slowly, scared, not knowing what she would see. She closed her eyes, and turned to face the unknown cat. She finally opened her eyes, to see a cat standing with a glowing outline. I'm sure I recognise this cat thought Leopardpaw.
'You will recognise me, young one. I am...' the StarClan cat was interrupted by Leopardpaw.
'Tallstar!! You're from StarClan!'
'Yes. I have an important message, just for you Leopardpaw. Your destiny is more important than ever before. It lies out there, in wait for you. Your choices could affect past and future generations. So, remember this!
"Clouds and Claws will come...And the Ancient Laws will sleep at peace again..."' And with that, Tallstar began to fade.
'Don't go! What do you mean?!' But Leopardpaw knew that StarClan would not give away their secrets so easily. Around her, the other medicine cats were beginning to wake. She dipped her head repectfully to Mothwing, and quickly followed Barkface as he ran from the Moonpool. She knew that he had recived a message from StarClan also; she decided not to speak of her prophecy.
'Onestar! I must speak with you immediatly!' Barkface's distressed cry echoed throughout the camp. Onestar emerged from his den, and said,
'Barkface? What has happened?' Barkface tried to speak again, but Onestar cut him short. 'How important is this? A message from StarClan? Prophecizing doom upon our Clan? Well, StarClan can wait! I do not want to hear of any prophecies of doom, nor do I want you to mention it again if it is! Is that understood, Barkface?' Onestar's cold, hard stare burned into Barkface's matted pelt. Barkface simply dipped his head respectfully, achknowledging accepting Onestar's cruel, bitter words. He slowly walked into the shadows of his den and disappeared. Leopardpaw quickly followed after him. She found him, sitting in the center of his den with his head bowed. He looked up and his green eyes were filled with sorrow.
'Hawkheart, the old medicine cat, spoke to me. He told me of danger that shall befall the Clan, he said that a cat shall be blotted from existance.' Barkface fell silent once more, and hung his head again. Leopardpaw went and licked his head, and slept.The next day, the two cats went hunting for herbs. Barkface showed Leopardpaw good spots for many herbs, and how to collect each. When they finally returned to camp, their jaws were full of leaves.
'Coltsfoot, Burdock, Catmint, Cobwebs, Feverfew, Juniper, Poppy seeds!' Leopardpaw recited all of the herbs by name as she separated them into piles. Barkface congratulated her, and placed all the herbs in their correct spots. When they had finished, the moon had started to rise. 'Let us sleep,' said Barkface. 'The gathering shall be in a few days time, and I wish to take you.' Leopardpaw was excited. She had imagined the island many times as a kit, and could only dream of the other three leaders. She curled up in her nest and dreamed of mice.
It was the night before the gathering. The moonhigh patrol had just left. Leopardpaw was busy ordering and sorting herbs, and Barkface was sleeping heavily. Barkface made a grunting noise, then rolled over. Leopardpaw was too busy concentrating, and so ignored the old medicine cat. She also didn't notice when the stranger walked into the medicine cat's den.
'Emmm, ex-ex-excuse me...' stuttered the strange cat. 'I w-w-wondered if you could help me...' Leopardpaw whipped around to face the stranger. 'Who are you!?' she spat, frightened and annoyed, for she had messed up her herb piles. The stranger's intense yellow eyes burned into her fur for a long moment, then turned to reveal a long, bleeding gash in his shoulder.
'C-c-can you help me?' The cat seemed lost, dazed and hurt. Leopardpaw tentatively took a pace forward to get a better look at his wound. It was long, and dirty, but not deep, or - as far as Leopardpaw could see and smell - not infected. I suppose Barkface wouldn't mind if I helped him. After all, he is injured. She stepped toward the cat more confidently. She pointed with her tail to a pile of moss. 'Lie there.' The stranger obeyed, and Leopardpaw could see, in the moonlight, that his pelt was a mottled, dark brown colour. She ran off into the shadows for a second, and brought back a mouthful of herbs. Ouickly, she chewed up a poultice of Marigold, Horsetail and Goldenrod and applied it to the tom's wound. She then took a wad of cobwebs and gently pressed it over the gash. The tom winced, and made Leopardpaw jump with surprise.
'There, done.' she said, standing back to allow the tom to get to his feet. Oh, StarClan, please say he's fine Leopardpaw sent up a prayer to StarClan, but it was unnecessary. 'Wait!' Leopardpaw cried. 'I've forgotten something!' She raced off into the shadows, and appeared a second later with a rolled up leaf. The tom was sat waiting for her. 'Here, eat these. They will make you sleep. You can stay here until your wound heals, if you'd like.'
'I need no Poppy Seeds, Leopardpaw.' Leopardpaw was astonished. How can he know what Poppy Seeds are! And my name! I never told him! The tom's kindly gaze settled upon Leopardpaw. She stuttered, unsure of what to say, 'Well, emm, let me show you out of camp...' She stumbled to her paws, and started walking. The tom followed her. They wandered in silence to the camp exit. 'Here we are.' mumbled Leopardpaw.
'Thank you, young one. I shall remember you, even when you are great and the time of clouds and claws come. I do not sway you from or to your destiny, but beware of your choices Leopardpaw! They shall have effect in years to come.' And with that, the stranger padded away as if he had never been hurt.
'Wait! What is your name!' called out Leopardpaw. The stranger halted, and turned to her. 'Hawkheart.' he said, simply. And she watched as he walked over the moors, and appeared to fade into the stars.
It was Hawkheart! thought Leopardpaw, still in awe of the old Medicine Cat. But her thoughts were interrupted by the waking Barkface. 'Leopardpaw? Why are all my herb scattered on the floor?' He gave her a stern look, and she bowed her head, mumbling her apologies. Her mumbles were soon cut short though, as a young warrior raced into camp.
'Pearlwhisker! What has happened? Where is the rest of the patrol?' Onestar's cruel voice rang throug camp.
'It's Thu-th-ThunderClan! They attacked our patrol. They accused us of being on their territory. And and and the moon!' Pearlwhisker's eyes widened.
'Enough.' Onestar was cold; he had no sympathy for the quivering cat. 'Barkface,' Onestar spat his name like he was a kittypet. 'Come and heal this cat. Oh, StarClan, help us through the doom.' Leopardpaw winced at the sarcasm laced in Onestar's words.
'It is as StarClan fortold!' Barkface's eyes were wide too. He was about to speak once more, but he was interrupted by Pearlwhisker collapsing on the floor. Barkface appeared to be rooted to the spot, so Leopardpaw quickly went and pushed Pearlwhisker into the medicine den. As she was preparing herbs for Pealwhisker, she heard many angry cats arguing; Onestar and Barkface's voices louder than the rest. StarClan! What is happening? Leopardpaw turned her attention back to the injured cat. Pearlwhisker had come round, and was trying to sit up.
'Pearlwhisker, lie down and eat these.' Leopardpaw pushed the herbs towards her. Obediently, she bowed her head and licked them up. 'A-ash-ash ashfoot, she, she, she...' Pearlwhisker tried to speak, but Leopardpaw stopped her.
'Here. You need to rest.' Leopardpaw had wrapped three tiny poppy seeds in a leaf. Once she was certain that the young warrior was sleeping, she warily padded out. She could feel the tension still high in the camp. Quietly, she sneaked over to her friend, Lavenderpaw. Lavenderpaw told Leopardpaw what was going on.
'After you had taken Pearlwhisker into your den, Crowfeather and Owlwhisker returned. Your father then carried Ashfoot's body into camp.'
'She's dead?' Leopardpaw had loved the deputy, and was deeply saddened at her death.
'I know. But then your father said something strange. He said No cat killed Ashfoot. As we were battling, Darkness covered her. She collapsed, dead, when the moon shone once more. Then Barkface started arguing with Onestar. They disappeared into Onestar's den, and have not returned since.'
Why has this happened? Who shall be the new deputy? Leopardpaw's mind was whirring. Onestar and Barkface then emerged from the Leader's den. Barkface scurried to his den, tail drooping. Onestar called a meeting.
'Cats of WindClan. The deputy is dead. Ashfoot's replacement will be Webfoot. Also, a new warrior shall be named today. Lavenderpaw, you have trained well. You shall now be known as Lavenderwish.'
'Won't my mother get a replacement in the name of StarClan?' Crowfeather's pained cry lashed the air. Leopardpaw could almost feel the tension in the air crackling when Onestar almost mockingly replied
'No. StarClan hold nothing but doom for us. I will never use their name nor let my Clan suffer their selfish wrath!' And with that, Onestar stormed to his den, leaving Webfoot to deal with the panicking Clan, whose leader no longer looked to StarClan.
The night of the gathering quickly arrived. Leopardpaw knew that she should be excited, but she could not help but worry. What is Onestar going to say? Will he announce that he no longer trusts our ancestors? She listened as Webfoot said who was going to the gathering. She heard him mention Lavendarwish, Crowfeather, Eagletalon and Tornear. He started to pad over to the Medicine den; Leopardpaw busied herself so he would not see that she had been listening.
'We are about to go. Are you ready?'
'We are coming now,' Barkface answered then turned to face Leopardpaw. 'Come on, this is your first gathering. We can not be late!' And with that he walked briskly into the clearing.
Leopardpaw was amazed at the amount of cats on the island. She knew that the log that they used as a bridge had killed the cat who should have become leader when Tallstar died. That was moons ago! Concentrate! Leopardpaw jumped up onto the log. It was slippery; she dared not look down. After carefully walking along the log, she was on the island. Looking up, she saw Firestar, Mistystar and Blackstar, the moonlight shining on their pelts, making them look like they were glowing. Barkface had gone over to the other medicine cats, so Leopardpaw followed.
'There you are Leopardpaw! I was starting to worry about you. This is Cinderpelt of ThunderClan,' Barkface pointed to a dark grey she-cat with blue eyes. Leopardpaw noticed that one of her legs was injured, so she looked away. 'This is Littlecloud of ShadowClan' Leopardpaw thought that Littlecloud looked small, and scared. 'And this is Mothwing of RiverClan with her apprentice, Willowpaw.' Then Barkface, Mothwing, Cinderpelt and Littlecloud moved slightly and started talking, leaving Leopardpaw alone with Willowpaw.
'Hi.' mewed Leopardpaw nervously.
'Hello.' Willowpaw mewed politely. Then both cats loosened up. They talked about the excitement of becoming an apprentice, their ceremonies and other things that young apprentices would talk about.
'Cats of the Clans,' Firestar's voice boomed over the island, cutting short Leopardpaw and Willowpaw's conversation. They stared towards him in awe. 'Let this Gathering begin.' He nodded to Mistystar; she had only recently been named leader of RiverClan. She was about to step forward, dipping her head gratefully to Firestar when Onestar stepped forwards.
'I will speak first. Cats of the Clans. I have recently had a most disturbing sign. Our medicine cat, Barkface is a traitor to the clan!' Gasps of horror echoed around the island. Onestar continued 'Yes. He is turning our Clan away from StarClan. He is a traitor, so he must die!' And before any cat could move or react Onestar was at Barkface's throat, clawing him viciously.
As a cloud covered the Moon, Blackstar shouted 'This Gathering has ended by the will of StarClan!' The cats around Onestar and Barkface started to clear, and Leopardpaw could see both of their bodies lying upon the ground.
'No!' came her choked whisper.
'Leopardpaw,' She raced up to Barkface; he was still alive! 'Don't say anything. I am going to StarClan. You cannot change that. I wish to tell you of Onestar's death. Although he still had six remaining lives, StarClan took them all. They killed him' Barkface then coughed up blood, breaking him off. 'Tell Webstar I would have named you Leopardclaw.' He coughed once more, and sighed.
The wise old medicine cat was dead.
'No! Barkface!' Leopardpaw's grief was overwhelming. Her mentor was dead, yet she was still an apprentice. Willowpaw came and stood with her friend, comforting her whilst saying nothing. Littlecloud, Mothwing and Cinderpelt came over to pay their respects to the noble Medicine Cat.
'I am sorry for your loss Leopardpaw. At the next half moon, bring your deputy to the Moonpool. I shall hold three ceremonies: one for your Medicine Cat name, one for your new leader and one for Barkface.' Cindepelt's kind words gave Leopardpaw hope. 'Thank you. But what if I haven't learnt enough to be a medicine cat?'
'Then come to me. I will help you if ever help is needed. May StarClan light your Clan's path.' All three Medicine cats departed, after a respectful nod of their heads. 'Sorry Leopardpaw, I'll have to go. Mothwing will be waiting. May StarClan light your path.' And her best friend departed, leaving her alone with Barkface.
'I, Cinderpelt, Medicine Cat of ThunderClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice. She has trained hard to understand the ways of a medicine cat, and with your help she will serve her Clan for many moons. Leopardpaw,do you promise to uphold the ways of a medicine cat, to stand apart from rivalry between Clan and Clan and to protect all cats equally, even at the cost of your life?' Leopardpaw stood boldly by the moonpool, waiting to recive her name. Cinderpelt had kindly offered to conduct her ceremony, Webfoot's leader ceremony and a special ceremony to send Barkface to StarClan.
'Then by the powers of StarClan I give you your true name as a medicine cat. Leopardpaw, from this moment you will be known as...' Webfoot broke into her sentence saying
'Wait! May I choose her name?' Cinderpelt looked puzzled, but agreed, telling him the words to say. 'Leopardpaw, from this moment on, you will be known as Leopardclaw, in Barkface's memory and hounour.' Cinderpelt then completed the ceremony. '
StarClan honors your wisdom and strength of mind and heart, and we welcome you as a full medicine cat of WindClan.' All the Medicine cats and Willowpaw bowed their heads to Leopardpaw.
'Now, Webfoot, to recive your nine lives, you must drink from our pool and dream. We wish you the luck of StarClan.' Webfoot nodded, but first asked
'May I first hear the words you say for Barkface?'
'Of course you may. This is not an official ceremony, but StarClan, we feel we must ask for Barkface's safe journey to join you. He was wise and well respected, and trained his apprentice, Leopardclaw, well. May you light his path to you.' Every cat bowed their heads, saying their own personal words to the dead Medicine Cat.
Webfoot then broke the silence, and lapped a few of the crystal drops from the Moonpool. He then slept. Leopardclaw followed, but she only put her nose in the water. When she awoke, she was in StarClan's territory with Tallstar.
'Greetings Leopardclaw. It is such a shame. You will make a fine Medicine cat.' Leopardclaw was puzzled at why Tallstar sounded so sorrowful.
'What does that mean? I can't be a medicine cat?'
'No, Leopardclaw. It is your destiny not to be a medicine cat. When you return to your camp, you will take on of Whitetail's kits to be your apprentice. You shall become a fine warrior. Do not argue! This is your destiny! You will suffer the wrath of Onestar in the Dark Forest otherwise!' Leopardclaw knew that the wise StarClan cat was right. she bowed her head, and as StarClan faded, she could hear Tallstar saying
Clouds and Claws will come...And the Ancient Laws will sleep at peace again...
Webstar was stood over her when she awoke.
'Come, Leopardclaw, we must return to camp.'
'Yes, Webstar.' So Leopardclaw followed, knowing what she had to do.
In the nursery, three 4-moon-old kits were sleeping by their mothers side. Leopardclaw padded in silently; careful not to startle them she whispered
'Whitetail, wake up. I need to speak with you.'
The two cats padded out of the nusery, and into the medicine den.
'What do you want? Are my kits ok?' Whitetail sat down, and listened to what Leopardclaw had to say.
'The kits are fine. Actually, it's good news. I would like to take one of your kits as an apprentice.' Whitetail looked very proud that Leopardclaw had chosen one of her kits to be an apprentice.
'Aren't you not much more than an apprentice yourself?'
'I am, but I feel I need an apprentice. I am allowed.' Whitetail mrewed with laughter, and took Leopardclaw to see the kits.
The kits had woken up, and were tumbling around, under the watchful eye of Leopardclaw's mother, Spottedfeather.
'Hello Leopardclaw! Well done on becoming medicine cat. If you have chance, please sent my congratulations on th Webstar. I'm sure he should do a fine job.' Leopardclaw smiled at her mother, and then turned back to the kits.
'The grey kit is Featherkit. She is the girl, she's going to be a warrior. The small, light brown tabby is Bravekit. He is fairly shy. And finally, the bluish cat is Thunderkit. He is loud and always wants to fight. Would you like to take one, or do you want to ask them?'
Leopardclaw took a step towards the now sitting kits.
'Hello kits. I'm the medicine cat, Leopardclaw. I would like one of you to be my apprentice. Would any of you like to be an apprentice?' All of the kits started talking at once, but then little Bravekit said
'Shhhhh. Be quiet you two! I want to be a medicine cat!' Bravekit's light orange eyes glowed with excitement.
'I'll talk to Webstar about your ceremony. Come to my den, I'll show you round.' Leopardclaw shot a glance at Whitatail that asked whether she could take Bravekit. Whitetail nodded, and the two cats set off across the clearing.
Webstar's voice was heard everywhere in camp.
'Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather here for a Clan meeting. Three kits are ready to become apprentices. Bravekit, Thunderkit and Featherkit, you have reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you all to be apprenticed. From this day, until you receive your warrior names, you will be known as Bravepaw, Thunderpaw and Featherpaw. I ask StarClan to watch over you and guide you until you find in your paws the strength and courage of a warrior.
Tornear, you are ready to take on an apprentice. You had received excellent training from Rushtail, and you have shown yourself to be fierce and brave. You will be the mentor of Thunderpaw, and I expect you to pass on all you know to him.' The two cats touched noses and Webstar continued.
'Lavenderwish, you are ready to take your first apprentice.' Lavenderwish was surprised that she was going to be a mentor, but stood up and padded up to where the apprentices were standing. 'You had received excellent training from Eagletalon, and you have shown yourself to be loyal and smart. You will be the mentor of Featherpaw, and I expect you to pass on all you know to her.' She touched her nose to Featherpaw's.
'Bravepaw, has chosen a different path to his siblings. Leopardclaw?' Leopardclaw stood up and walked over.
'Cats of WindClan, I have decided that I need an apprentice. I have chosen a cat who has shown patience and intelligence. Your next medicine cat will be Bravepaw.' Leopardclaw heard herself repeating words that Bakface had said to her, little more than three and a half moons ago.
'Bravepaw, do you accept the post of apprentice to Leopardclaw?'
'Then at the half-moon, you must travel to the Moonpool to be accepted by StarClan before the other medicine cats. The good wishes of all WindClan will go with you.' Leopardclaw and Bravepaw touched noses, and the Clan started to chant
'Bravepaw! Thunderpaw! Featherpaw!' All three apprentices stood proudly.
'And finally, to finish I must appoint a Deputy. I say these words before StarClan, that the spirits of our warrior ancestors may hear and approve of my choice. The new deputy of WindClan is Eagletalon.'
The whole Clan erupted into cheering for the new Deputy. Eagletalon was a popular choice. He nodded to Webstar, and to Leopardclaw and then set about organising patrols.
That evening, Leopardclaw and Bravepaw set off for the Moonpool. When they arrived, Cinderpelt came over.
'An apprentice already?'
'Yes. It is my destiny.' Cinderpelt appeared to understand, and nodded respectfully.
Leopardclaw then started the ceremony. 'Bravepaw, is it your wish to enter the mysteries of StarClan as a medicine cat?'
'Then come forward. Warriors of StarClan, I present you with this apprentice. He has chosen the path of a medicine cat. Grant him your wisdom and insight so that he may understand your ways and heal his Clan in accordance with your will.' Leopardclaw signalled to Bravepaw to lie down by the pool. Both cats did, and both cats dreampt.
Leopardclaw again dreamed of a moor and Tallstar. He looked at her approvingly.
'You have chosen well. You must train him as you would any cat. Whence he has his name, you must turn to the way of a warrior. That is your destiny, your path, your prophecy. Choose well Leopardclaw.' And with that, she awoke.
'Leopardclaw, that was amazing! I saw Barkface and the really old Medicine Cat, Hawkheart!' Her apprentice bounded over and started randomly talking about his dream. Leopardclaw smiled at him, rememebering her own ceremony. Still thinking about StarClan, both cats returned to camp.
'WindClan, we must take action. ThunderClan have started setting scent markers on our land, as they have been for the past moons, but today, our patrol found a patrol of theirs hunting, and when challenged, they said it was their territory. I, Leopardclaw, Bravepaw and Eagletalon shall go to the ThunderClan camp. If they refuse to allow us the territory that is rightfully ours, we will attack. A back up patrol of Crowfeather, Lavenderwish, Owlwhisker, Pearlwhisker and Weaselfur will come and help. We will regain what is rightfully ours!' WindClan were preparing for a battle, a battle with ThunderClan.
Webstar and his deputy and Leopardclaw and her apprentice set off to the ThunderClan camp, shadowed by their back up patrol. As they approched the border, a ThunderClan patrol stopped them.
'What do you think you're doing? You've crossed our border.' A brown tom spoke, and with him were three cats; one ginger, but not Firestar, one long legged cat and one gray cat.
'We have come to speak to Firestar. It's urgent and cannot wait.' Webstar replied calmly, and let his patrol be surrounded by the ThunderClan cats.
'We'll escort you there, then. We wouldn't want precious WindClan to get lost on their way to speak with Firestar, would we?' The brown tom spoke mockingly, as if he were the most important cat by the lake.
They approached the ThunderClan camp fairly quickly, and were greeted by lots of unfamiliar eyes, watching their every move. Leopardclaw did recognise three cats - Firestar, Brambleclaw and Cinderpelt.
'These WindClan cats are here to see you, Firestar. It's urgent.' Again, the tom spoke mockingly, and, although adressing Firestar, he seemed to be speaking to every cat in the clan.
'Very well, Dustpelt. Webstar, you and your patrol may come and speak to me.' Firestar headed into his den, and the WIndClan cats followed. Leopardclaw was burning to see Cinderpelt, and ask who her new apprentice was. Bravepaw looked around the camp, overwhelmed by all the new scents and sights. Eagletalon kept looking straight ahead, calm and serious.
'What have you come for, Webstar?' Firestar sounded a lot more friendly now no cat was watching.
'Firestar, first I shall introduce you to my cats. This is my new deputy, Eagletalon, his daughter, and the Medicine Cat, Leopardclaw, and her apprentice Bravepaw.' As Webstar said each cat's name, they nodded their heads respectfully.
'This must be important then. You have brought all of your Clan's important cats. I am listening, please make your point.'
'Firestar, I shall be blunt. You have stolen some of our territory! The stream is the border, not wherever your cats have marked! We will fight for our territory if necessary, but I have come to talk to you first. I will happily avoid a fight.'
'Webstar, that territory is important. We need it. Our Clan is growing, and we need it. Please, Webstar, leave it be.' Firestar was pleading with them. Leopardclaw saw the flick of her leader's tail; she gave the battle cry as she broke free of Firestar's den.
All at once, cats were fighting everywhere. Leopardclaw and Bravepaw raced to the safety of the Medicine den, where Cinderpelt and her apprentice were waiting. Cindepelt was haunted, and her words chilled Leopardclaw.
'StarClan said! This battle is doom for clouds and claws...'
Leopardclaw stared at Cinderpelt.
'Leopardclaw, what does it mean? What does this mean?' Cinderpelt was getting worried, and Bravepaw looked like he was starting to panic too.
'Nothing, it doesn't mean anything at all.' Leopardclaw decided that it would be best to try and calm the cats. 'Who is your apprentice, Cinderpelt?' Cinderpelt looked at her blankly for a moment.
'Oh, sorry. This is Jaypaw. He's Squirrelflight's son. And, he's blind.' Jaypaw looked towards Cinderpelt with his clouded blue eyes.
'I don't need your pity. I'm fine. Don't say anything!' Leopardclaw instantly saw Jaypaw's qualities, and decided that she liked the grumpy apprentice. Then, voices rung through the enemy camp.
'WIndClan, the battle is won! Return to camp!'
'You won this time! That land rightfully belongs to us!' And then many cats started talking and arguing as WindClan returned home, victorious.
Leopardclaw and Bravepaw said their goodbyes, and ran ahead of the warriors to give them time to prepare for any injuries.
'WindClan, we won!' Leopardclaw announced the news and went to her den. Then Clan cheered as the warriors returned home. As the Deputy padded in, the cheers abruptly died down. Leopardclaw stuck her head out of her den to see a lilac-grey cat laid limply on the floor.
Lavenderwish! 'Get her into my den now.' Leopardclaw ordered. She prepared a poultice and cobwebs, as Eagletalon gently brought Lavenderwish inside. He nodded to his daughter, and left the den.
'Leopardclaw, please don't waste your herbs on me. I'm going to join StarClan. I'm not afraid.' Leopardclaw was crying inside.
'Please, Lavenderwish, don't die. You can't die!'
'Leopardclaw, don't let my death destroy you. You are the claws, and the clouds shall come. StarClan is guiding you, do not be afraid, as I am not. Please do not grieve over me too heavily. I will be with you and watch over you always.' Lavenderwish sighed, and a gentle breeze ruffled her fur. Leopardclaw saw the faint outline of two cats, and as they padded off into the stars, she knew that her friend was being guided to StarClan.
Goodbye, Lavenderwish. I'll see you again, someday, up in the stars.
'Bravepaw, do you promise to uphold the ways of a medicine cat, to stand apart from rivalry between Clan and Clan and to protect all cats equally, even at the cost of your life?' Leopardclaw was holding Bravepaw's Medicine Cat ceremony. She knew that when they returned to camp, she would not be able to be a Medicine Cat, and she would train to be a warrior.
'I do.' Bravepaw was the only other cat that knew of her prophecy, and he was excited to become the Clan's Medicine Cat.
'Bravepaw, from this moment on, you will be known as Bravesoul. StarClan honours your courage and kindness, and we welcome you as a full medicine cat of WindClan.' Bravesoul dipped his head as his name was chanted over and over again.
'Now sleep, my friend, and let StarClan enter your dreams.' Leopardclaw watched sadly as her medicine cat dreamed by the poolside. She knew that this was the last time she would share tongues with StarClan as a medicine cat.
'Welcome, Leopardclaw.' She turned around; she knew it was Tallstar, but she had not yet fallen asleep. 'Do not be afraid; you are doing what is best for your clan.'
'It's true, Leopardclaw, this is for the best.'
Lavenderwish? The lilac-grey warrior stepped out of the shadows, soon followed by Barkface. 'You'll be the best warrior in WindClan!'
'Train hard, young one.' Barkface spoke with great wistom and knowledge.
'Now that Claws have come, you shall meet clouds.' Tallstar was still speaking of her prophecy.
'Where is Onestar? Is he in StarClan?'
'No.' Lavenderwish was the cat to reply. 'He turned away from us. We stripped his lives, and he joined the Place of No Stars. It was his choice.' All three cats spoke in harmony next, but they appeared to be joined by the whole of StarClan.
The Three have come together, but only you can save WindClan. You are the Claws, and remember
Clouds and Claws will come... And the Ancent Laws will sleep at peace once more...
'Leopardclaw, you have chosen to turn away from the path of Medicine Cat to be a warrior. Are you sure this is your wish?'
'Then, although you will not return to being Leopardpaw, and you may sleep in the Warriors Den, you will need a mentor. Pearlwhisker, you had excellent traing from Spottedfeather. You shall mentor Leopardclaw in the ways of a warrior. I trust that you pass on your speed and cunning, as well as your skills.'
As Leopardclaw touched noses with her mentor, she looked on, into the future.
Into a new life.
To Be Continued in The Steps of a Warrior...