Mist of Fate
Series: Mist of Fate: Series
Allegiances: Mist of Fate: Allegiances
Succeeding: Shadow in the Night
Hello readers. I noticed all of your reviews and I decided on something rather interesting. Instead of me picking who will fall in love with whom, I will let ya’ll decide. If there’s a sort of rivalry between two, I might make that a love triangle of something. I will keep an eye out for those when they begin to pile in. Anyways, back to the story. I have decided to transfer to first person because I can’t write in third person limited to save my life. It’s from Mistkit/paw’s point of view and, I should add, she has a Scottish accent. She sounds kind of like the main character for the movie Brave
Snow lay thick on the ground around the group of cats, gathered around the small cave within the hollow’s walls. At the front of the group was a long-furred white tom watching the bramble barrier to the nursery with worried green eyes. Beside him sat an elderly wiry gray she-cat with paling yellow eyes, her half blind eyes staring straight ahead. ‘’How much longer do you think we have to wait?’’ he muttered to the elderly cat.
The she-cat blinked her eyes and grinned. ‘’You always were an impatient one, Featherstar; have I ever told you that patience is a virtue?’’ she snickered in her hoarse voice.
Featherstar sent a glower at the she-cat but sighed in response to her advice. ‘’You… have a point, Frailwhisker,’’ he muttered. The she-cat continued to smirk then perked her ears. Featherstar did the same then found what the elder had heard.
Loud squeals and wails emitted from behind the barrier where silence had once been. The barrier rustled as the young black-and-gray medicine cat apprentice poked her head out. ‘’Congratulations, Featherstar, you’re a father to three healthy kits!’’ she announced, stepping aside to allow her leader entrance to the nursery.
Featherstar hesitated a moment, his paws trembling with excitement. Taking a deep breath, he padded into the nursery. Fresh scents of milk wafted his muzzle as he passed through, warmth washed over his pelt and the tiny squeals of newborn kits filled his ears. The dark ginger medicine cat was sitting by the nest of the newborn kits and their mother when Featherstar padded carefully to them.
‘’Featherstar, I’d like to introduce you to your sons and daughter,’’ the ginger tom purred, turning to face his leader. Featherstar nodded his thanks to the tom and padded closer to his mate.
A dark blue-gray she-cat sat in the nest, her tail wrapped around three small bundles of fur. Featherstar looked into her eyes with sheer joy; her eyes met his, filled with the same expression. ‘’I haven’t named them yet,’’ she purred. ‘’I wanted to wait for you.’’
Featherstar nodded and carefully took a seat beside his mate. ‘’Which ones are which?’’ he asked the medicine cat. The tom glanced up from his herbs and smiled slightly. ‘’The more gray colored ones are the toms, the paler of grays’ the she-kit.’’
Featherstar looked down at his kits again and smiled. He could make out the long fur on the largest of the toms and the little she-kit from himself, the white paws on the gray kit of his father’s littermates, and the same odd bridle stripes on the little she-kit that reminded him of his mate’s father. Though their eyes had still not opened, he got the feeling he had the names picked out.
‘’How about Snowkit for the larger tabby here? I think it suites him well,’’ Featherstar suggested, touching the kit lightly with his tail. The tom-kit squealed at the touch, opening his mouth wide to reveal a bright pink tongue and small teeth. The she-kit huddled closer to the tom, burying her berry nose into his thick pelt.
‘’I was thinking of naming the gray one Graykit, in honor of your father,’’ the queen whispered, gazing at the kits with love. Her green eyes shimmered with multiple different emotions at once. Featherstar hadn’t seen this many emotions in her eyes since she became a warrior alongside her littermates.
Featherstar glanced to his little kits and let his eyes wander towards the last, still unnamed, kit; her bridled pelt rippled with soft purrs. Each ripple brought back a faint memory, a memory of a battle between the ShadowClan warriors and RiverClan’s own patrol. It had been many moons ago when he had been a young, new warrior; RiverClan had been accused of stealing prey from ShadowClan’s territory, the start of a threat to many ShadowClan warriors.
The battle had begun when the ShadowClan battle patrol entered the cover of the mist, hiding in the shadows as they approached. Miststar, the leader at the time and a powerful she-cat told in many stories to date, had led them expertly through the cold vapor. Her pelt seemed to ripple with the mist and slowly, she became a part of the mist. Her whole body seemed to merge with the mist, flowing with her muscles as they began the battle. Featherstar felt the thrill as her claws, laced with the mist, came down against a dark pelted warrior.
Featherstar would always remember that elegant grace his former leader had performed in battle alongside the mist. ‘’How about Mistkit?’’ The words slipped out from his thoughts, filling the room with a soft warmth. The warmth reminded him of Miststar’s light touch as she rested her nose on his shoulder. Her bright orange eyes showering her clan with her warmth that continued to fill the hearts of every cat in the clan.
His mate nodded at the name. ‘’I like it; it reminds me of our former leader. She was such a gentle cat, even at the end.’’
Outside the nursery, a chill crawled up Frailwhisker’s spine, a chill she knew from her days as medicine cat. ‘’I thought I’d lost the ability to see your kind,’’ she whispered, not turning to greet the pale gray she-cat as she approached. Mist and stars shimmered on her pelt as the pale moonlight touched her fur. Her eyes touched the elderly cat hints of amusement touching the orange lightly. ‘’I guess StarClan is not finished even when you retired.’’ Her voice sounded as soft as the river, flowing from pebble to pebble with an innocent grace only found in that single instant.
Frailwhisker turned to the she-cat and smiled lightly. ‘’You look as healthy as you did when I was first made an apprentice,’’ she mused, her hoarse voice hitching with a light sob. ‘’Seems things never change where you sit, does it?’’
The StarClan warrior just smiled as she usually did and nodded. Something flickered in the cat’s eyes, something that unsettled Frailwhisker’s old bones. ‘’What? Does StarClan have plans for me?’’
The she-cat sighed and nodded lightly. ‘’They want you to… to keep an eye on the she-kit, trouble is brewing and she is the only chance for our Clan’s survival.’’
Frailwhisker grumbled a string of curses and looked up towards the half-lit moon. ‘’I’m getting to old for this, you know that right?’’
Again, the she-cat nodded. ‘’I know, but things aren’t right up in StarClan right now. Things have been changing and what happens here effects what happens there.’’ She turned her bright eyes towards the frail elder. ‘’You need to keep a close eye on the kits, a great destiny lies ahead of them.’’
Frailwhisker glanced to her old friend as she slowly vanished into mist, her eyes lingering before returning to the moon. ‘’I swear, Miststar, you still bring me trouble even after you die.’’
Pale sunlight drifted through the brambles of the nursery, carrying the scent of fresh dew into the milk warm space. The older kits awoke quickly, leaping onto their mothers and mewling for them to wake up. One queen, who'd given birth little over a moon ago, smiled at the kits before looking to her own. All three slept soundly, burrowing into her belly for warmth.
Mistkit buried her nose into her mother's milk warm fur, trying to get warmth. Her brother, Graykit's, long fur brushed hers as he nuzzled closer to the two. Mistkit felt her mother's tongue run over her head and let out a small purr. ‘’Your father will be here soon, little ones. Just rest until then," Mintleaf, their mother, whispered tenderly to her.
‘’When will they be able to go outside?" another queen asked. Her scent wafted the hair as she approached. Morningdawn, the only queen without the milk scent in her. ‘’Soon enough, Morningdawn. They are still less than a moon old; I will let them go outside soon."
‘’They opened their eyes yesterday, my kits should be good with them until they have to become apprentices," the last queen, Bumbleflight, pointed out. Her kits were audible in the background, play fighting as they usually did.
‘’When will Sparrowkink come?" Wolfkit quipped, pawing his mother's flank lightly, ‘’I want to show him the hunting moves that Splochpaw showed me!"
Mistkit heard him try to bat his mother away as she gave his head a quick lick before replying. ‘’He's on the dawn patrol, he'll be back soon enough and you can show him then."
Mintleaf let out a light chuckle before grooming her kits again. Mistkit purred again as her mother's tongue brushed her fluffed fur down. ‘’When will Featherstar be here?" Graykit muttered in his half-dazed slumber.
‘’He will be here soon little one, he may even show you a move or two for hunting. He wants his kits to be some of the best warriors in the clan."
Mistkit blinked her eyes open. A warrior, that's what she wanted to be. ‘’When can we be apprentices?" she asked, lifting her head to look at her mother.
The queen smiled and slowly began to explain. ‘’You won't be apprenticed to a mentor for a while, little one; you aren't even a moon old yet." Her eyes drifted to Bumbleflight's kits, play fighting near their nest. ‘’Bumbleflight's kits are four moons older than you, they will leave the nursery soon."
‘’We'll teach you guys some of the things our mentors teach us, if you want," Blossomkit said, bounding away from her siblings' fighting to sit near Mistkit. ‘’Besides, I can still teach you a thing or two right now about hunting."
Snowkit and Graykit leapt to their paws at the idea. ‘’You will? Really?" Snowkit asked, pouncing towards their den mate. She nodded, eagerly leading the three younger kits towards a more open space in the nursery.
The queens exchanged a glance then Mintleaf and Morningdawn exited the nursery while Bumbleflight kept an eye on the kits. Mistkit felt a thrill rush through her as Blossomkit demonstrated a simple crouch and pounce.
‘’Can I try it?" Mistkit asked, having watched the elder she-kit demonstrate it a few times. Blossomkit nodded, moving aside to let her try.
Mistkit crouched down, keeping her belly fur off the moss covered floor of the nursery, tail lightly brushing the ground. ‘’Good form, try to put you tail up a bit higher so it doesn't brush the ground," Blossomkit pointed out, using her tail to move the tail up a bit. ‘’Other than that, your form is pretty good."
Mistkit felt warmth heat her fur as she walked back to her littermates' side. Graykit gave her a little nudge of approval as Snowkit stepped forward to try. ‘’That was really good, it's like you knew what to do without even practicing," he purred, licking her ear lightly.
‘’Thanks, but I just watched. I still want to learn more," Mistkit exclaimed.
‘’To be a warrior?"
‘’Yep, that's what I want to be, a warrior."
‘’And you will be when the time comes."
All three kits turned in unison to see a large white tom standing before the brambles, his green eyes shimmering in the half-light. ‘’Featherstar!" the three kits cheered, racing to their father and tackling him to the ground. Their father, and leader, chuckled as his kits bombarded him with questions. ‘’Alright! Alright!" he chuckled, pushing his kits off and sitting up. ‘’You all look bigger, much stronger than the last time I saw you," he said, looking each kit over and giving each an approving lick.
Mistkit couldn't help the wash of pride that ran through her as her father gave her an approving lick. ‘’Can we show you what Blossomkit showed us?" she questioned.
Featherstar hesitated, something she was not expecting. ‘’I'm sorry, I have to go on a patrol right now. Maybe next time, alright?"
Mistkit felt sadness fill her, but nodded.
He turned, sadness hinting in his eyes then left. Snowkit grunted and sulked away, obviously annoyed at the short visit. ‘’He's the leader, he has a duty to the clan. He can't play with his kits like Sparrowkink can," Graykit assured, leading Mistkit back to their little training area.
She glanced over her shoulder one last time watching as the large white tom disappeared from view.
Leaf-bare continued to bring white blankets of snow for another quarter moon when Mintleaf finally agreed to let Mistkit and her siblings outside to explore. ‘’But you must stay near the elder kits," Mintleaf pointed out.
The three groaned but agreed. Mistkit glanced at her mother. ‘’Are you going to come with us?" she asked as her brothers scrambled towards the three elder kits. Mintleaf seemed pleased at her daughter's curious eyes. ‘’Do you want me to?" she responded.
Mistkit glanced over to her fellow den mates then to her mother. ‘’No, you don't have too; just curious," she admitted, trotting to Blossomkit's side before asking, ‘’Why are all the queens acting stranger?"
Blossomkit seemed surprised them grinned. ‘’Hollypetal thinks that Morningdawn's kits are coming soon. Her mentor suggested that the kits give her some space until their positive," she explained. Mistkit's eyes widened. Morningdawn had been getting plump, and did seem to be a bit on edge.
‘’Do they think they'll be alright," Mistkit questioned, generally concerned for her soon-to-be den mates' well beings. Blossomkit nodded. She explained as she led Mistkit outside.
‘’You, Graykit and Snowkit turned out fine and you guys were born during a storm; that was one of the coldest nights I've ever felt." Blossomkit seemed proud for a reason unknown to Mistkit.
Once outside, Mistkit squinted against the glare of the snow and surveyed the area. Many cats shared tongues by a large oak tree near the center of the clearing, some of whom Mistkit recognized as fathers, friends and kin of the queens, a few sharing pieces of fresh kill alongside the sunniest area in the camp. Mistkit continued to gawk as two cats, young yet older than the kits, trotted to the group. ‘’Hey, you guys showing the new kits around?" the tabby striped tom asked, his eyes brightening as he spoke.
Both toms had similar red-brown pelts and amber eyes, obviously kin at first glance. ‘’Mistkit, Graykit, Snowkit, this is Lionpaw and Oakpaw; they're the oldest apprentices right now. Lionpaw, Oakpaw... You know the rest, right?" Shadekit said, waving his tail at each cat in turn.
Lionpaw smiled at Mistkit and nodded a small greeting, Oakpaw flicking his ear as a response. It was no wonder they were so much bigger than the kits, an apprentice was at least six moons old or older. One question nagged at Mistkit. ‘’Are you guys training to become warriors?"
Lionpaw flushed slightly and nodded. ‘’Yeah, we can show you some hunting techniques if you want."
Mistkit wanted to say yes, but Wolfkit interrupted her thoughts, ‘’No thanks, we want to show them the dens and stuff." Mistkit angrily puffed up her fur but kept her thoughts to herself as they walked away from the apprentices and towards stone paths leading up into the higher areas of the hollow walls. Graykit seemed to notice her behavior and slowed to walk alongside her.
‘’Did you want to watch them train?"
Straight to the point, as always. ‘’Yes. I want to know how to hunt and fight and be one of the best warriors in the clan...." She averted her gaze to her paws as Graykit pressed his pelt into hers.
‘’You will, when you get older. We'll be apprentices soon enough."
Shadekit scampered to Graykit's other side. ‘’And when your apprentices, you stay here." He waved his paw towards a well placed cave surrounded by small patches of grass and ferns with brambles covering part of the entrance. Mistkit had to admit, it seemed to be a pretty good place for apprentices, not too far from the ground and the perfect place to practice what they'd learned in the grass patches and ferns.
'Soon, I'll be here,' Mistkit promised, a grin touching her muzzle.
The three elder kits continued their tour around the camp until they came to the large oak tree that stood at the center of the clearing. Mistkit sat in the shade, panting slightly. ‘’I never thought exploring the camp could be so tiring," she grumbled. Graykit took a seat beside her, obviously tired as well.
‘’Your muscles will get stronger as you get older." The two turned to see Lionpaw taking a seat with a small thrush and sighing. Mistkit couldn't help her eyes lingering to the thrush. It was oddly small.
‘’Why is it so small?" she asked.
Lionpaw let out another sigh, taking a bit of the bird. ‘’Because we can't find many; in leaf-bare the prey is slower and are harder to find. When newleaf comes, prey will surely come with it."
Mistkit nodded, slowly understanding the logic.
‘’All cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather beneath High Oak for a Clan meeting," a powerful voice roared through the stone hollow. Featherstar, his white fur barely visible against the snow, leapt up to a ledge bulging out of the trunk of the tree. His powerful muscles rippled as he sat and watched his clan gather below him.
Mistkit watched in awe as the cats gathered before her father. ‘’He's going to make an announcement," Lionpaw said taking a seat beside Mistkit, thrush forgotten.
His pelt was thick and warm against her long fur, letting her know that he was truly older and stronger. Soon, she'd be like him; strong and lean.
‘’We gather here to recognize the point in a Clan cats life when he or she becomes a warrior. Today, we have two who have been trained and assessed under the training of our Clan. Lionpaw, Oakpaw, please come to the bottom of High Oak," Featherstar meowed, watching his clan with his gleaming eyes.
Lionpaw stood from beside Mistkit and traveled to the base of High Oak, Oakpaw meeting him halfway alongside two other cats. Mistkit stared in awe as her father leapt down from the ledge and greeted the four.
‘’Dustypelt, you have trained Oakpaw in the ways of our Clan and how to honor the code of the Warriors and StarClan. Do you believe he is ready to become a full warrior?"
Dustypelt, his dark pelt fluffed from either the cold or pride, stood and nodded, announcing loudly to the Clan, ‘’Yes, he has shown skill in fighting and honoring the code of our ancestors."
Featherstar nodded his approval. ‘’Then, I, Featherstar, leader of ShadowClan call upon my ancestors to look down on this apprentice. He has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend him to you as a warrior in his turn.
‘’Oakpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and defend your Clan at the cost of your life?"
Oakpaw shuttered before responding, "I do."
Featherstar raised his head to the sky, looking to the stars above. ‘’By the power of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Oakpaw, from now on you will be known as Oakpelt. StarClan honors your loyalty and fighting skills, and we welcome you as a full warrior."
Mistkit strained to see as her father bent his head. The crowd of cats was large and many cats stood well over her height. ‘’Graykit, I can't see!" she whined.
Graykit didn't respond. Mistkit turned to see the spot beside her vacant. She felt her pulse race as she spotted him play fighting with Shadekit and Wolfkit. Her pelt felt heavy as sorrow set in. She was small, too small to play fight with. She wouldn't be able to even learn anything if she wasn't bigger.
‘’You'll grow, just wait and see," a soft voice drifted to her, stirring her ear fur slightly. Mistkit blinked and glanced around; no cat was close enough to have spoken to her. She sat there for a moment then noticed a frail brown wired furred cat sitting by the shade of a stone overhang.
Mistkit stood as her father began speaking again, ignoring his words. She trotted over to the cat and waited for a response to her approach. The cat perked its ears and turned dull yellow eyes to her. ‘’Are you alright?" Mistkit asked when she was close enough.
The cat squinted then smiled, ‘’I am fine, child, just wary and tired as usual."
Mistkit sighed and took a seat beside the elder. Lionpaw was barely visible from where she sat, but she could tell he was excited. Featherstar's head rose again as he called upon their ancestors to look down upon Lionpaw as a new warrior.
‘’By the power of StarClan, I give you your warrior name. Lionpaw, from now on you will be known as Lionstripe. StarClan honors your courage and independence, and we welcome you as a full warrior."
The Clan began to chat the names of the new warriors, pride and joy swelling with their voices. ‘’Oakpelt! Lionstripe!"
It was then that everything went wrong. A wail pierced the cold air filled with sorrow and regret. Mistkit turned to see Mintleaf exiting the nursery alongside Bumbleflight, both with heads bowed and eyes sorrow filled. Spottedwing bounded out of the crowd and towards the queens. Mistkit heard parts if the conversation.
‘’Are they here? How many? Is Morningdawn alright?" he asked.
Mintleaf exchanged a glance with Bumbleflight and Mistkit's heart sank. ‘’There were four born..." Bumbleflight muttered, her voice trailing off. Spottedwing looked desperate for answers. ‘’...Two are dead. One is near death and the last is barely breathing."
Spottedwing's face fell and he charged into the nursery.
The elder sat there, watching the scene unfold. ‘’When a kit dies, StarClan weeps for the life with no name," she whispered, sorrow lining her voice. Mistkit looked to the elder and felt regret fill her as she realized what she meant.
Blossomkit had been wrong. Morningdawn wouldn't be alright. Mistkit now knew what it meant to feel pity for another.
After what I began to believe was the worst day of my life, I found that while things like what happened to Morningdawn do happen, things always have a way of getting back on track. One way or another, that is. As leaf bare turned to new leaf, just as Frailwhisker told us during a rather nasty blizzard, my nursery mates began to explore the world their brothers and sisters could only see from the stars. Their names were Badgerkit and Stonekit; in honor of the great badger spirit from that once rescued a leader from our clan’s past and in honor of Morningdawn’s sister, who had died as a young kit.
For some odd reason, Badgerkit seems to have taken an odd liking to me. I asked Mama about it and if I should be worried for him. She just nudged me and said that I should only worry for myself. I don’t know what she meant by that, but, then again, I feel as though only Papa ever seems to understand her.
I watched them as they shared tongues under a large weeping willows leaves. Frailwhisker explained to me once that that was where my mother had been found once, when she was young. I tried to ask why, but she refused to say anymore on the subject. As I continue to grow, as do my brothers, both of whom find fun in trying to sneak up on me while I sun bathe. I wish they would learn to be gentlemen already.
Blossomkit and Shadekit have become apprentices; Blossompaw and Shadepaw under the tutelage of Lilyfur and Spottedwing. Wolfkit would have been an apprentice, had he not snuck out of camp and wound up crossing the ThunderClan border. Papa and Wolfstar were very unhappy about that matter, that scruffy ThunderClan cat accused our clan of sending a kit to spy on them. As far as excuses go, that has to be one of the better ones. Wolfkit’s punishment was his apprenticeship; it had been pushed back by two moons, the time when my littermates and I would become apprentices. He seemed rather ecstatic about, if I do say so myself.
“I mean, it is pretty cool,” Wolfkit insisted, his mouth full of squirrel guts. I was thoroughly disgusted but pushed my nausea aside in order to respond. “It shouldn’t be ‘cool’, Wolfkit, you’re being punished. A punishment shouldn’t be ‘cool’. It’s supposed to teach one something important,” I insisted, picking a slim thrush from the pile of fresh-kill. I ate as he tried to come up with a comeback.
“Go easy on him. He’s just excited is all,” Thrushwing pointed out from her place, picking up a shrew from the pile. “You should be, too, Mistkit. Today, you both become apprentices after all.”
I watched her as she found a place beside Blossompaw and Ravenfeather. She always seemed rather lonely; maybe she was hoping to have an apprentice by now. Whatever the case was, she had a point. Compared to my brothers, whom I assumed were making mischief again, I wasn’t nearly as excited as one my age should be. In fact, I felt only dread settling in the pit of my stomach. My pelt bristled at the thought of being an apprentice and I had no idea why. Wolfkit seemed to notice this and prodded me playfully on the shoulder. “Don’t worry,” he mewed, trying to sound reassuring. For a brief moment, I assumed he knew what I was going through.
He didn’t. “I bet you’ll get a great mentor! Maybe I could get Cloudsplotch; I heard from Oakpelt that he was actually a really great teacher. He apparently substituted for Dustypelt when he came down with greencough and taught Oakpelt some awesome fighting tricks and-“
I released an annoyed sigh and stood without taking a bite from my thrush. I doubt he even noticed. Mintleaf met me at the entrance to the nursery, ushering me in happily. “Featherstar will be announcing the ceremony soon.” Her voice was soft but filled with happiness. I allowed her to run her tongue between my ears as I began to think about everything that would happen soon. I would leave my mother, Morningdawn, Stonekit and Badgerkit and join the apprentices in a new den; all except for Oakpaw and Lionpaw.
Both had become warriors a little less than five moons ago: Oakpelt and Lionstripe. Since they had become warriors, things had gotten a little less hectic around camp; Oakpelt was vying to get an apprentice in order to be eligible for the deputy position. Lionstripe seemed to care less about having an apprentice, as Blossompaw informed me.
Oakpelt may very well get his wish.
“There,” Mintleaf took a step back to admire her handy work. She had done a rather good job at smoothing out my long pale fur. I gave her a pleased grin and a purr of amusement as I noted my brothers. They both scowled at me. “How can you stand that? Mintleaf still treats us like kits!” Graykit yowled, trying to launch himself at me.
As luck would have it, I side-stepped him and watched as he landed on the pine needle layered floor. “Graykit” -Snowkit muttered- “we are kits, remember?”
“Not for much longer! We’ll be apprentices and then nobody can do that to us!” Graykit puffed out his chest with pride at the thought.
Warmth spread through me when I thought about being a warrior, it excited me. And now, I was going to be one step closer to being one.
“All cats old enough to catch their own prey join below High Oak for a Clan meeting!”
My littermates perked and glanced to Mintleaf who gave a small nod. “It’s time.” I straightened, letting out a relieved sigh before Mintleaf lead us out of the nursery to join Wolfkit below High Oak. As we moved to the elder kit’s side, the clan began to swarm the space before the large elder oak tree. Nightfeather led Frailwhisker and Sandpelt to a shaded area close to the medicine cat’s den, helping Frailwhisker along so not to let her fall. Blossompaw and Shadepaw sat alongside their mentors as they waited for their brother to receive his name. Lionstripe accompanied Oakpelt and Ivyheart near the front. Oakpelt stretched his claws into the dirt, waiting for the announcements.
I watched him and prayed to StarClan that I didn’t get apprenticed to him. “The clan has had a harsh winter with the terrible loss of kits and elders alike, but still ShadowClan continues to grow and flourish.” Featherstar directed parts of the statement towards Morningdawn and Sparrowkink, who bowed their heads in thanks to his words. “Now, we have four new apprentices who deserve their names. Wolfkit, step forward.”
Wolfkit did so, looking up at the large tom with gleaming eyes. “Until he earns his warrior name, Wolfkit shall be known as Wolfpaw. Dustypelt, will you teach this apprentice in the ways of our warrior code and grow to be a warrior of our clan?”
Dustypelt took a step forward. “I will do my best, Featherstar.” Wolfpaw turned and ran to his mentor.
This cycle of naming and choosing who would get which apprentice. Graypaw was assigned to Thrushwing while Snowpaw was assigned to Cloudsplotch. All of them sat alongside Mintleaf, whose chest swelled with pride. My pelt had been buzzing with excitement since we had entered the clearing and grew even more as the time for my naming approached.
“Mistkit, step forward, please.” Featherstar watched me with kind green eyes. When I stepped forward, he began to speak to the rest of the clan. “From this day forward, until she receives her warrior name, Mistkit shall be known as Mistpaw. Ravenfeather, you know our ways and have served our clan well, I believe it is time for you to take another apprentice.”
Ravenfeather seemed surprised and took a few steps forward. “It would be an honor.” I bowed my head to Featherstar before turning to touch noses with Ravenfeather. We sat side by side as Featherstar concluded the meeting. “May StarClan watch over these new apprentices and ShadowClan thrive for seasons to come,” he announced before leaping off of High Oak.
“Wolfpaw! Graypaw! Snowpaw! Mistpaw!”
The clan began to chant our names happily until Rockflower leapt onto the roots of High Oak to announce the dusk patrol. “It’s too bad.”
I blinked and looked to Ravenfeather curiously. “If it wasn’t so late, I could have shown you the territory. However, we will have much more time tomorrow. Maybe teach you a few hunting skills,” he looked to me with one ear cocked. “That alright?”
I perked and nodded happily. Shadepaw and Blossompaw hollered at me to join them and I bounded over to them, alongside my brothers and Wolfpaw. I was glad to have Ravenfeather as a mentor, he was well known to all of us in the clan. Everyone suspected that he would be the next deputy. I had to agree.
“This is the apprentice’s den! It’s pretty large, but it gets really warm when everyone’s curled up in here. Here, I’ll tell ya where to build your nests,” Shadepaw explained, showing Graypaw, Wolfpaw and Snowpaw a space devoid of any moss-and-pine needle nests. When I tried to follow, Blossompaw halted me. “Where are you going?” she asked.
“To make a nest-“
“That’s the toms’ side of the den,” she meowed. I looked at her confusedly. “We she-cats stay on the side of the den where you can see the medicine cat’s den from the entrance. The toms stay on the opposite side.” I still looked at her confusedly.
With a roll of her eyes, she touched her tail to my shoulder and led me to an open space closer to the wall. “Splotchpaw will explain it. Until she becomes a warrior, it’s gonna stay like this.”
I opened my mouth to ask why, but shut it again. There was no point in asking any further.
From then until the moon began to rise, Blossompaw tutored me in how to make a soft, yet warm nest out of moss and pine needles. She seemed really well experienced so I paid a lot of attention to her instructions and tips. By the time Splotchpaw and Berrypaw joined us, I had all but forgotten about asking her about the odd sleeping arrangement.
Sleep settled over the den and soft snores filled the air as we all began to drift into a deep slumber. When I finally let sleep weigh my eyes down, I felt the warmth of my clan mates around me with only the sounds of the forest far outside accompanying the chorus of soft snores drifting around the camp.
It was so nice, so peaceful. I couldn’t believe this was what it was like being an apprentice. It felt amaz-
I blinked my eyes open in surprise. The den I had come to know only a few hours ago was now a field of chest-high grass under a starlit sky. Wherever I was, it wasn’t the camp.
“I have been waiting to speak with you for many moons now.”
My pelt pricked and I glanced over my shoulder. Standing behind me was a beautiful pale gray she-cat with wisps of mist drifting off of her fur. She watched me with beautiful deep green eyes surrounded by orange flecks. Her fur glowed like the stars.
My eyes widened as I came to a realization. Before me stood a warrior of StarClan.
I tried to breath, but found it much harder than usual. I wasn’t shocked, I was frozen with fear. The she-cat watched me for a moment before letting a soft giggle trickle out of her mouth as though she wasn’t at all surprised by my reaction. “There is no need to worry, little one, you have nothing to fear here; you are perfectly safe,” she purred, her eyes shimmering in the moonlight overhead.
That didn’t help, not one bit. “What do you mean ‘don’t worry’? Where am I? Why am I here? Who are you?” I managed to squeak out as I suddenly remembered how to breathe. My fur was standing straight, bristled to the point where I looked twice my size. Instincts took over and my body crouched into the simple pouncing position Blossompaw had taught me. It wasn’t much, but it would do in a pinch.
The StarClan she-cat giggled again, light and soft like my namesake. She gave me a small smile before she took a seat and wrapped her tail around her paws. “I will try to answer your questions to the best of my abilities, but I can tell you now, you are not in StarClan,” her mew was calming, “it isn’t your time to join our ranks yet.”
My body relaxed immediately with relief. Thank StarClan, I whispered inwardly before turning my full attention to the starry she-cat. She was beautiful; even more so then my mother whom I believed was the most beautiful of the clan. Her fur was long yet smooth with a very pale gray coloring and faded tabby stripes. Her eyes, a beautiful orange, looked like the full moon as they gazed at me. I had no idea who she was, but something told me that I could trust her. I followed that something and took a seat so that I faced her.
She nodded approvingly and flicked an ear as if to begin a training session. “Since I’ve already answered your first question, why don’t we move on to the second; where you are?” She raised her tail and waved it across the landscape. It was lush and green with fresh dew clinging to the blades of grass that shimmered in the moonlight like stars. I didn’t recognize it from the camp, but I still hadn’t seen the forest yet. “We are sitting in a place I like to call the Starlit Fields; it is a place that sits between StarClan and the other clans. Every cat that dies meets their late kin and friends here then are brought to StarClan where they join the ranks. I have greeted many old friends here as they passed into StarClan; I was also greeted by my parents and littermates when I came to StarClan.” She looked across the fields as though she was remembering all the friends and clanmates she had greeted on their journey to StarClan. I watched her as she remembered, but she soon turned her attention back to me.
“The third question is a bit harder to answer; why are you here? To be honest, I can only tell you a little bit on that subject.” I peered at her curiously. Why can’t she tell me? Is someone making her not tell me? I pushed the questions to the back of my head as she began to speak again. “StarClan has chosen you to save your clan. They want you to-“
“Wait, save the clan?!” I squeaked, shocked. “I’m an apprentice! How am I supposed to save the clan? I haven’t even learned how to climb a tree correctly yet, much less know how to hunt at night! I can’t do it!” She glared at me, obviously annoyed by my interruption and flicked her tail dismissively. I quieted down quickly and brought my ears back, ashamed at my own outburst. “I’m sorry. It’s just… I’m young, inexperienced and I haven’t even decided if I can be a warrior, much less save the clan.”
She still glared at me, but her annoyance wavered as though she could understand my reluctance to believe her. Slowly, she let her tail fall back around her paws and shifted her hind paws ever so slightly. “I know that it seems… well, flea-brained, but StarClan believes that, given time, you will prove that you can save the clan and your clanmates alike. Every cat in every clan has a destiny that they must follow, but how they follow it is completely up to them.” She paused, raising her head to look at the Claw-moon and glittering stars overhead. “We of StarClan try to steer them to the right path, but it is their choice.” Slowly, I followed her lead and raised my eyes to meet the Claw-moon and stars above us. My ears flicked back to how they usually sat and my eyes widened; never before had I seen so many stars in one sky. I wanted to stare at it for a long time, but the starry she-cat seemed to think that we had little time. “You may think it’s impossible, but you will have friends to help you along the way, a few of whom you’ve already met. Some you will meet soon enough.” She cocked her head as her eyes smiled at me with a knowing look. I think I knew who she meant, but I wasn’t going to chance it.
Suddenly, the stars began to vanish, and the light along with it. I shot to my paws in surprise. The moon started to fade and the starry she-cat began to fade along with it. “Wait! I have more questions!” I tried to run to her, but with every pawstep, she seemed to be fox-lengths away. She faded to the point where she was like the mist that flowed into the fields. “Who are you?” I yowled, desperate for an answer. Her fur glowed as she faded into nothing, but her voice still reached my ears. “Next time, I will tell you much more. But now, you must wake up…”
My eyes flew open and I leapt to my paws, fur standing on end. I looked around, trying to find her, but found that I was no longer in the field and she was no longer in front of me, fading into the mist. Sunlight rained through the opening of the Apprentice den as I slowly came to realize that I had been dreaming. “A dream, yeah, that’s what it was, a dream. It was all a dream,” I mewed quietly as I sat myself down on my haunches. I tried to convince myself that it was just a dream, but it was too unbelievably to be only a dream.
“Hey, mouse-brain, get your tail out of my mouth!”
I turned to find myself facing a very annoyed Blossompaw. I blinked and quickly whisked my tail out of her nest. “Sorry if I woke you up, Blossompaw, I didn’t mean to.” I tried to sound cheerful as I tapped her on the shoulder with my tail tip. “I was just waking up, so I’ll be out of your way.”
She watched me before nodding and curling back onto her nest. I sighed, and stood again. May as well see who else is up. Maybe I’ll see the dawn patrol as they head out, I purred as I made my way out of the den. The light struck me hard and I had to blink a few times in order to adjust them to the brightness. I had never woken up so early before, so it somewhat interesting.
My paws led me towards the fresh-kill pile where a small group of warriors were already eating. Sparrowkink, Lilyfur, Spottedwing and Ravenfeather were gathered around sharing a squirrel before the rest of the clan woke up. Ravenfeather was the first to notice me, raising his head in surprise. “I guess my apprentice is an early raiser,” he meowed as he straightened himself to greet me as I approached. The others perked in surprise as I took a seat beside the black tom. “I’m surprised you woke up so early, most new apprentices sleep in the first night,” Lilyfur purred.
My fur warmed as I nodded understandingly. “I guess I wanted to see what goes on in the clan so early in the morning, I’ve never been up so early so I was curious.” I shrugged and glanced around. The little group I sat with wasn’t the only one. Featherstar and Rockflower sat together at High Oak with their heads bent close together; Frailwhisker and the other elders were already sunning themselves beside the small stream that ran through camp; Firewhisker and Hollypetal were just exiting the medicine cats’ den with a few bundles of leaves in their mouths. I was somewhat surprised to see the clan so busy so early.
Ravenfeather nudged me and nodded towards a mouse. “You should eat up; Rockflower told us that we would be on the dawn patrol.” He smiled as he stood and stretched himself out. He began to walk away when he turned and smirked. “I told you I’d show you the forest today, didn’t I?” For a moment I was confused but then I remembered and my face lit up as I nodded. He continued to smirk lightly as he walked towards another group of warriors. I could hear Lilyfur and Sparrowkink chuckle as I dove for a mouse and devoured it. “Careful, furball, you don’t want to swallow a bone or something do you?” Lilyfur mused jokingly.
Soon enough, a patrol of Rockflower, Lionstripe, Ravenfeather and I assembled at the entrance to the camp. Rockflower looked over us with her calm amber eyes as she nodded and began to lead us out of the camp. I was excited, but nervous at the same time; I had never left the camp before, I’d never been anywhere without my brothers before. It was so frightening that it was exciting. Ravenfeather seemed to sense my emotions and nudged me encouragingly.
“Alright, it’s all clear out here. Come on through one at a time,” Rockflower called from the other side of the brambles. Ravenfeather nudged me forward. I glanced at him, took a breath and walked through the opening and out to the forest beyond. As thrilling as it was supposed to be, my fur had to be stubborn and get tangled in some of the thorns. Since my mentor was right behind me, he was able to claw me loose to the point where I could move again. After a while we managed to get outside. Lionstripe glanced at the stray tuffs of my fur in the thorns and tried to hide a smirk.
“I guess I should have warned you about how well done that tunnel of brambles are, huh?” Ravenfeather almost looked ashamed. I smiled and shook my head. “Its fine, my fur has always been high maintenance, so it’s nothing new to me.” He seemed to perk up and nodded to Rockflower, giving her the signal to continue on with the patrol.
We padded along, Ravenfeather pointing out things like the training grounds, hunting spots and the like, until we reached a river with willow trees hanging low over it. “Why are we stopping here?” I looked to Rockflower and Ravenfeather questioningly. Rockflower answered my question, “This is the border between RiverClan and ShadowClan. We may just see a patrol on their side if we stay here long enough, but that would make us look a bit suspicious.” Just as she finished speaking, a small patrol of cats emerged from the willow trees tendrils and looked at us inquisitively.
The largest of them, a dark gray tom with sharp blue eyes, stepped up to the opposite bank, looking directly at Rockflower. “I didn’t expect to see a patrol so early, I thought ShadowClan stuck to the shadows,” he hollered across the river. My fur bristled in anger, but I flattened it immediately. If he was trying to pick a fight, he was making a bad move. Rockflower pulled her lips back to reveal sharp white teeth. “We walk where we want whether there be shadows or not, as long as we are on our territory,” she sneered.
The gray tom knitted his brows, thinking of a comeback when a pretty pale gray cat stepped up to his side and nudged him away from the bank. She glared at him and whispered something under her breath before turning to us. “I’m sorry for our rudeness; it’s just odd to see you all out by the border to early.” She was kind, yet careful with her words. She was trying to halt any fighting, not start it. A tiny blue-gray cat beside the she-cat, her apprentice I guessed, meowed in agreement.
Rockflower let her lips fall back over her teeth and glanced towards the she-cat and nodded. “We decided to show one of our new apprentices around.” She flicked her ears towards me and the she-cat’s amber eyes followed. She smiled lightly and nodded.
“Well, it was nice to see you all again.” The she-cat and the patrol turned to walk back through the willow tendrils when the she-cat halted and turned to look at Rockflower over her shoulder. “By the way, Rockflower, we saw a fox wandering around your territory up river a little ways. We would have scared it off but we didn’t want you to get the wrong idea.”
Rockflower stiffened at the mention of the fox but nodded. “Thank you for telling us, Lavenderwhisker. We will take care of it and drive it away from the clans as soon as possible.” I looked up at the deputy curiously. She almost sounds… Afraid? I shook my head, Featherstar and Mintleaf had told them stories of the warriors of ShadowClan scaring away numerous foxes without any trouble, one more meant nothing.
They watched the RiverClan patrol vanish between the swaying tendrils of leaves and until they stopped shaking; Rockflower released a long sigh that she must have been holding since the mention of the fox. Lionstripe glanced at his former mentor before looking down at me. “We should probably get moving; make sure that the fox isn’t far into our territory. If it makes a den, it will be a lot more trouble to get rid of.” He tried to coax his former mentor into continuing the patrol, which she, reluctantly, did.
As they passed me, I glanced upriver where Lavenderwhisker had said they’d seen the fox. I saw nothing, but something made the fur on my back prickle uneasily. This fox could scare the deputy just by mentioning it, which was no easy feat. I looked towards my retreating clanmates before I slowly began to move away from the river.
Mistpaw glances back once then was gone. Miststar watched on silently from the willow tree and smiled; this kit was definitely interesting. She was, however, worried for Rockflower. It seemed that her last encounter with a fox still haunted her, just as this one would if anything went wrong. Still, the starry she-cat purred, Mistpaw will have her first trial soon enough. She glanced over her old territory before fading into the mist in order to watch the events that would soon unfold.
As we padded along, Rockflower began to relax and ease back into her position as deputy. Her voice was strong with no hint of the fear I had heard by the river. She seemed like the same tortoiseshell she-cat everyone knew, as though we had never heard any mention of the fox. She led us expertly, pausing every so often to sniff the border. “She’s checking to see if any cats crossed the border since the last patrol around this area,” Ravenfeather mewed, bending his muzzle to sniff the ground. He looked at me and motioned for me to come forward with his tail.
I bent my head and took a sniff, scrunching up my nose as the smell hit. “Yuck! That smells gross!” I looked to my mentor in shock. “What is that scent form?” He let out a purr of amusement as he explained, “That scent is of RiverClan, they tend to smell like fish because they hunt fish every day.” I glanced at the spot and grimaced, hoping I would never have to eat a fish as long as I lived in ShadowClan.
The forest began to thicken as we approached the ThunderClan border, the scents of ShadowClan and ThunderClan mingling just as RiverClan’s scent had a few fox-lengths ago. Ravenfeather insisted that I sniff the border again to familiarize myself with the scents of the other clans. I could see Rockflower, out of the corner of my eye, nodding her approval as I bent to sniff the unseen line dividing the territories. Their scent was more bearable, like the scent of dry moss mixed with something warm that I couldn’t identify.
Eventually, we made it all around our borders with no more incidents and back to where we had begun at the entrance to the camp. Unlike when we had left, Ivyheart and Lilyfur waited on either side of the brambles. They nodded to us as we passed. Lilyfur grinned at me as I passed her, her tail resting on my shoulder for a moment before it was gone again.
I surveyed the camp as I padded towards the Apprentices’ den where Berrypaw and Wolfpaw were play- fighting. Wolfpaw was the first to notice me as I approached and called out a greeting, “Hey, Mistpaw! Where have you been? Blossompaw thought you had been carried away by a fox.” I glared at him before looking to Berrypaw, who seemed to catch my glace and cuffed Wolfpaw on the ear. Wolfpaw yowled in surprise before turning and charging at Berrypaw, commencing their mock fight once again.
Blossompaw exited the den and glanced at me before glancing to her littermate and sighing. “Toms,” she muttered matter-of-factly. I snickered and followed her to the fresh-kill pile. “Where were you this morning? Snowpaw and Graypaw were worried,” she mewed as she picked out a small vole and began to eat. I took a seat beside her and stretched myself out slowly.
“I went on the dawn patrol with Ravenfeather; it was amazing! We got to go all around the border and we even got to see a RiverClan patrol across the river,” I explained. She looked up at me with large yellow eyes. “This one cat, a really fox-hearted gray tom, was trying to pick a fight with us!” Blossompaw sat up, her ears and tail perked in curiosity. “But then, this she-cat, Lavenderwhisker, told him to knock it off and he looked like a kit being scolded. It was pretty cool.” Blossompaw looked impressed and surprised before she proceeded to eat her vole.
“You tend to see that a lot from border patrols,” she mewed around a mouthful of vole. I looked at her, curiosity in my eyes now. “Border patrols have a job of protecting the borders from trespassers; some cats like to pick fights with them because they are smaller than normal patrols.” I could understand that, we only had four cats in our patrol, too little to fight a patrol of warriors. Blossompaw finished up her vole before continuing. “This isn’t the first time a RiverClan patrol has tried to start a fight with ShadowClan and I’m sure it won’t be the last, either.”
“You can say that again,” Badgertail muttered as he glanced over the fresh-kill pile with disdain. We looked to the gray-and-white tabby, waiting for more. He sighed and looked to us. “Those fish-hearted RiverClan cats never seem to realize when they are outmatched. Ever since a major battle many seasons ago, they’ve held a grudge against our Clan.”
I scrunched up my brows, trying my hardest to remember any stories about a battle between ShadowClan and RiverClan but wound up with nothing. Badgertail watched us silently before taking a thrush and padding over to join Acornwhisker. We glanced at each other and shrugged before trotting back to the den. Blossompaw crouched, demonstrating the normal hunting form before glancing at me. I smiled and crouched alongside her.
We trained by the apprentice den, using moss balls and our clanmates’ tails as makeshift prey, until Lilyfur called for Blossompaw and I was left without a partner. When I asked, Wolfpaw was eager to help, even if he knew just about as much as I did. “Alright, crouch so your fur barley touches the ground and begin to pad forward slowly,” I explained, doing the motions as I explained them. Wolfpaw nodded and crouched to the point where his tangled pelt barley stirred the sand and reached his paws out to take careful steps forward. I watched him as he did it, pointing out how he was putting his paws forward too much and would fall over if he kept it up. Whenever I would point something out, he looked at me with a smirk before doing it. Soon enough, we could sneak up on Berrypaw and Splotchpaw without them even hearing us. I lost count of how many times we scared them.
“That was fun,” Wolfpaw mewed as we settled beside each other in the sun. I nodded, stretching my paws out in front of me to loosen them up. “You were a great teacher, for a heartbeat, I thought you were Dustypelt!” I snorted at his remark before cuffing his ear. “Thanks, but I just did to you what Blossompaw did to me; it was easy to do when I had an example of it earlier.” I purred. He nodded before stretching out to give the fur on my cheek a quick lick. My fur heated in surprise and I glanced at him, head cocked. “What was that for?”
He smiled. “It was a ‘thank you’, for your help. Dustypelt promised to teach me how to hunt tomorrow, so it’s good that I got some pointers now than having my mentor pointing them out to me later.” He looked at me, his blue eyes shining like a river as the sun hit them, and smiled again. Slowly, I purred and began to smooth his tangled pelt with my tongue. We shared tongues until I noticed Graypaw and Snowpaw approaching.
“Hey, where have you two been all day?” I asked as I sat up. Snowpaw immediately launched into a tale about gathering moss for the elders’ nests and the stories they told him. Graypaw took over and explained how he was forced to do nothing but wait around camp until Thrushwing could spare a moment away from his kits long enough to teach him something. “I mean, I know that they are his kits, but our dad never visited us that often. I don’t understand why he’s so… so…” Graypaw scrunched his nose in thought.
“Clingy?” Wolfpaw volunteered.
“Yeah! He’s so clingy! It’s not like they’ll be gone forever the moment he leaves them alone.” Graypaw scoffed, annoyed. Snowpaw and I exchanged a glance before shrugging. We knew how it felt when our father was never around, but leaving two kits whom had already lost their littermates. It took me a moment, but I could understand why Thrushwing was reluctant to leave them alone. I would have said so, but a voice halted the words before they could leave my throat. “I need to borrow Mistpaw and Wolfpaw if you two don’t mind,” a hard-edged mew grunted from behind us.
Our heads turned to greet Wolfpaw’s mentor, Dustypelt, who looked at us expectantly. The two of us in question exchanged quick good-byes before standing to follow Dustypelt. The dark brown tom led us to High Oak where Ravenfeather and Lilyfur, alongside Blossompaw, waited. My mentor motioned with his tail for me to join him, which I did, although I still had no idea what was going on. Lilyfur looked around at our group before meowing in approval. “Now that we are all here, we should begin our lesson for the day.”
Wolfpaw’s pelt fluffed up considerably in excitement before he looked up at him mentor who tried to hide a smirk by licking his paw. My own fur fluffed up on its own in anticipation for my first lesson. I had been waiting for this for a long time.
“We will be going on a hunting patrol and learning the proper ways of hunting. This is one of the most important lessons an apprentice needs to learn because hunting is how we feed our Clan,” Lilyfur explained. She began to move towards the brambles guarding the entrance and exited with our patrol in tow. “You must learn how to hunt all kinds of prey because there are many forms of fresh-kill in our territory alone.”
Ravenfeather took the lead then and began moving us towards where our territory met the ThunderClan border. He pointed out things about the terrain around us, where hunting grounds were and which were best for certain types of prey. Every once in a while, he would halt and point with his tail where a mouse or vole would be hiding under a root or leaves. Eventually, he promised, we would learn how to detect prey just as easily.
We eventually reached a piece of land that held very few trees and a wide range of bushes and soft grass. Lilyfur quickly began to instruct us in the basic hunting crouch which Blossompaw demonstrated for us. Dustypelt and Ravenfeather instructed us to copy the hunting crouch and hold slowly pad forwards, just as we had practiced back at camp. Wolfpaw was in deep concentration as he lowered himself slowly and took short paw steps with his tail hovering just above the forest floor. Dustypelt nodded in approval.
I did the same, holding myself carefully and slowly taking short paw steps forwards with the ends of my fur barley touching the grass below me. Ravenfeather nodded and let out a soft purr of approval. “Very good, both of you, you two have been practicing very well,” Dustypelt commented. Wolfpaw grinned at his mentor’s praise.
“Now we should try it on real prey.” We both looked at Lilyfur in surprise; we had thought we were training, not hunting. One glance at Wolfpaw and I knew we were thinking the same thing, we could do this.
I kept low to the ground as I noticed a shift in the grass only a tail-length to my left, moving slowly so not to be as easily detected. I opened my jaws and let the scents of the forest waft me as I identified my target; a squirrel. It was odd to find squirrel in this area of the forest, I remembered, but when they came along, they could feed three apprentices easily. My eyes stayed on it as it raised itself to its hind legs and glanced around, never even seeing me from my hiding spot between two bushes. I crouched lower as I edged myself forwards ever so slowly.
The squirrel was plump; it was slow and clumsy because of the extra weight. Just get a little closer, and then get it. I told myself as I edged the tinniest bit closer. Now it was only a pawstep away from me. I brought my hackles up, unsheathed my claws that had been itching to leap since I’d spotted my target and leapt. The squirrel squeaked in shocked as I bit into its tiny neck and held fast to make sure it was dead. I waited as the throb of life slowly left its body.
“That was awesome, Mistpaw!” I blinked in surprise and looked over my shoulder to see Wolfpaw racing towards me at full speed. He skidded to a halt before me and stared at the squirrel hanging limply from my jaws. “That thing is huge! That would feed the entire apprentices’ den easy,” Wolfpaw exclaimed as he bounced around me like a kit.
Behind him, Ravenfeather, his eyes bright with pride, Dustypelt, Lilyfur and Blossompaw approached with their eyes staring at the squirrel I held. “Nice job, I didn’t catch anything on my first hunt,” Blossompaw squeaked. Lilyfur glanced at Ravenfeather as he continued to beam at me. Slowly, he approached and touched his muzzle to the fur that rested between my ears. “Good work, Mistpaw, you have made your Clan proud.” His breath stirred the fur on my head enough to make me shiver with pride.
I set my squirrel down and touched noses with him quickly. “Thank you, Ravenfeather, and you, Lilyfur, for teaching me how to hunt for the Clan.” Lilyfur bowed her head in thanks before looking to Dustypelt.
“Should we give Wolfpaw a chance to hunt now, Dustypelt, or do you believe your apprentice has already been outshined?” she joked as she nudged the tom with her paw. He glared at her before calling for Wolfpaw to begin hunting. Reluctantly, Wolfpaw padded away from me and began to look for a target of his own.
Ravenfeather carefully sat on his haunches beside me as he watched the dark gray apprentice try to scent out a target. “I am proud to be your mentor, Mistpaw,” he mewed quietly. I looked up at him before turning my attention back to Wolfpaw who had crouched suddenly and angled himself towards an area of grass shaded by trees. “I have only had two apprentices before you, but you are the first one to catch prey so quickly.” Ravenfeather touched my squirrel with his nose before looking to the slowly darkening sky. “I am honored that Featherstar allowed me the privilege to take on his kit as my apprentice.”
I watched him and smiled to myself. I was lucky to have such a great mentor. Thank you, StarClan for giving us this prey and for giving me this mentor who has trained me so well. I sent my prayer towards the still unseen Silverpelt, but I was sure StarClan would receive my message whether Silverpelt was shining overhead or not.
I looked quickly to my left to see Wolfpaw angrily trying to climb up a pine tree. Confused about what had happened, I glanced to Blossompaw. She shrugged then shook her head. He had missed his prey. “Nice try, Wolfpaw,” Dustypelt muttered as he padded over to stand beside his fuming apprentice. Wolfpaw glared at him before turning his glare to his paws. “Mind telling me what you think you did wrong?” His mentor nudged him with a paw, trying to encourage him to answer.
Slowly, Wolfpaw looked up from his paws and immediately looked to me for help. I grimaced inwardly; he couldn’t depend on his clanmates to tell him what he had done wrong. “Think about it,” I mouthed, flicking my tail. He blinked and closed his eyes in thought. When he opened them, he cringed. “My tail was too close to the ground so it made noise that alerted the prey that I was coming, right?”
Dustypelt nodded approvingly. “Very good, I hope you learn from that mistake. We can try again some more tomorrow; it’s getting close to Sundown.” Lilyfur looked up to the sky and nodded.
Carrying my squirrel back was tough, considering how big it was, but it was all worth it when Mintleaf and my littermates got a look at it. “You caught that?!” my brother yowled in shock. Mintleaf purred happily and licked the fur between my ears in approval. Splotchpaw and Berrypaw raced over to see my catch and gaped at me. “We’ve never caught anything that big before, nice job, Mistpaw,” Splotchpaw mused.
My pelt grew warm at the praise and I bowed my head. Praise came from all around me and eventually arguments broke out about who should eat it. “Enough!” Featherstar scoffed, climbing atop High Oak to address his arguing Clan. All fighting ceased instantly and all head turned to the large white tom. He watched us quietly before speaking, “I believe that Mistpaw should decide who it goes to, seeing as how it was her catch.”
All eyes turned to me again, this time in wonder. My pelt heated again, this time in embarrassment. If this was another test, I wasn’t sure I was ready for it. Mintleaf nudged me with her muzzle and I stood quickly. One glance and I knew the Clan was curious about my choice. I slowly looked at the cats before noticing Badgerkit and Stonekit crying at Morningdawn for milk. Firewhisker had said they were weak and that Morningdawn’s milk wasn’t coming easily. Another glance around told me that the elders weren’t fairing any better. I met Frailwhisker’s now blind eyes and gazed into them as the decision came to me.
“I believe the prey should go to Morningdawn and the elders,” I meowed as calmly as I could muster. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see Morningdawn raise her head in surprise and Nightfeather and Sandpelt look up from their sunbathing. No cat, I supposed, had expected that. But when I looked around at my clanmates, I saw approval spark in many eyes and quiet mutters of how there was other prey circulating around me.
Featherstar watched me as I picked up the fresh-kill and padded over to the queen I had named as the elders approached. Carefully, I set the squirrel before the stunned queen and watched her. The elders joined us and sniffed the prey curiously. Morningdawn just stared at in, her gaze never leaving it. “If you aren’t going to eat this gift Mistpaw has given us, Morningdawn, by all means, we elders will eat it,” Frailwhisker grunted from where she stood between her elderly denmates.
The pale tortoiseshell queen looked up in surprise before looking to me, seeking my approval. I purred and nodded, stepping back to allow the queen to take a bite. Morningdawn smiled at me and bent her head to take a bite. The elders took that as an invitation to begin eating as well. I watched them and continued to smile as Frailwhisker took a step back to sit beside me.
“That was a kind thing you did for us,” she purred softly. I glanced at her and pressed my side into her frail one. Her side reverberated with a purr as we watched the other elders step away to let the queen have the rest. “Morningdawn doesn’t need to grieve anymore for her kits, she still has two and they must live,” I glanced up at Frailwhisker, “as should you.”
The frail elder huffed, but grinned and rested her limp tail against my shoulder. “You will do many things for this Clan even after I have left, as will your denmates. I am just glad I could be here for most of them,” she muttered under her breath. I stared at her before turning my gaze to the rest of the Clan as they began to settle down for the night. Firewhisker and Hollypetal carried clumps of moss towards the elders’ den and Featherstar sat beside Mintleaf, sharing tongues as they usually did.
Frailwhisker stood slowly and turned away from the nursery, beginning her trek back to the tree den she slept inside of. I soon followed suite, heading towards the apprentices’ den where Wolfpaw and Blossompaw waited for me alongside my littermates. “You made the right decision,” Blossompaw said as I approached. I smiled and bowed my head in thanks. “I hope I did, Morningdawn needs to feed her kits and the elders need as much care as we can give them before they walk with StarClan.”
My denmates nodded approvingly, although Wolfpaw looked a bit dishearten at not getting a bite of the squirrel, before filing into the den. We yawned our goodnights and curled up into our nests. I settled myself onto my freshly made nest and pressed my muzzle into my side as I curled around myself to get warm. Snores filled the den and the sounds of the night wafted in through the bramble barrier like a lullaby that slowly lulled me to sleep. My eyes drifted shut and darkness surrounded me.
When I opened my eyes, I knew I was no longer in the apprentices’ den. Tall blades of grass swayed around me with dew drops clinging to them like a life line while Silverpelt shone overhead so brightly, the stars themselves seemed to be welcoming me. I knew where I was, I had been here before. Starlit Fields. Slowly, I uncurled myself and stood to my paws; glancing every which was as I did so.
Eventually I caught sight of a beautiful StarClan she-cat, the same one I had met last time. The same one whose name she had never told me. Carefully, I padded towards her. She turned to greet me when I was about a tail-length away from her; her orange eyes were bright and seemed to smile at me. “I see that we meet again in the Starlit Fields,” she mewed softly in greeting before bowing her head to me. I followed her example and bowed my head in greeting.
“I don’t know why you brought me here again, but I remember that you still owe me an answer,” I pointed out as I sat on my haunches. She watched me before letting a soft giggle loose. “A fair point, I do owe you an answer to who I am.” She flicked her tail in thought before settling it over her paws. “However-” I groaned inwardly, she was avoiding the question “- I want to commend you on your good judgment.” The starry she-cat watched me as my eyes widened. “You were watching?”
She nodded affirmative. “I had to; your choice was a precious one.” She glanced over her shoulder at Silverpelt and watching the stars as they flickered in the dark sky. “You had to choose who lived and died in that moment where Featherstar asked you to decide who got the prey.”
My eyes widened even more. “What do you mean by ‘who lived and died’?” My voice was high with worry. Had I killed someone? Was it my fault?
She seemed to realize what was going through my head because she turned back to me and placed her tail lightly atop my shoulder. “You have killed no one, Mistpaw. Rather, you have saved many.” Relief surged through me, but confusion still surfaced. Again, she seemed to know what I was thinking. “You see those stars over there, those tiny ones?” I followed her gave to where two tiny stars lay side by side. They somehow reminded me of Stonekit and Badgerkit, but I didn’t know how.
“Had you not given the prey to Morningdawn, those stars would have gone out and I would have cried for the life that was lost so young.”
That was when it hit me, the words Frailwhisker had told me when Morningdawn’s kits had died at her kitting. When a kit dies, StarClan weeps for the life with no name." Frailwhisker’s words bounced around in my head until the pieces fit together perfectly. “Those stars are Badgerkit and Stonekit, aren’t they?” I asked quietly, afraid of the answer.
The ghostly cat lowered her head and nodded.
Bile caught in my throat as I came to realize that the stars that gleamed on Silverpelt were not StarClan warriors but warriors from my Clan and all the other Clans; kits, elders, and warriors alike. Somewhere up there, a star symbolizing my life gleamed alongside my Clan.
“They would have died had it not been for the prey you gave to Morningdawn.” My mouth went dry as the words left her mouth. Had I chosen to give it to anyone but Morningdawn, two kits would have died and Morningdawn would have nothing to live for.
Tears stung my eyes as realization hit me; I had been given the chance to save the lives of my clanmates and I had done it. I had saved part of my Clan with a simple decision. The starry she-cat turned and flicked my cheek with her tail. “There is no need to cry, little one, they are alive and well and now Morningdawn has her reason to live on. You have saved three cats today and for that I am proud of you.”
I blinked and shook the tears from my eyes before smiling at my success. We watched the stars for a few heartbeats before I spoke again. “Could you tell me your name, please? I still want to know it.”
She nodded and smiled before everything changed. It was so sudden; I didn’t have time to think. The ground trembled under us and a star overhead, one of the brightest ones I could see, slowly flickered out into nothingness. My paws shook until the ground stopped and everything seemed to settle. I glanced to the sky again, but the star was still gone.
The starry she-cat looked over my shoulder at something that I spun around quickly to see. A frail, wiry gray she-cat with eyes so bright, it was impossible. A screech clawed at my throat as I realized who was watching us and again tears threatened to spill. “Frailwhisker,” I whimpered as tears fell from my eyes. Agony clawed at my heart as I realized what had happened, yet all I could do was cry.
Frailwhisker stared at me with no longer blind eyes and smiled. “I knew you would be here, little one, I knew it since this she-cat appeared many moons ago.” Her voice was strong and powerful, not like the voice the elder I had known used. She was younger, beautiful and her name no longer fit her. Slowly, she padded towards us and paused a fox-length from me.
It was then that she realized I was crying. She let out a purr of amusement as she bent her head and ran her tongue over my cheeks to catch my tears. “Don’t cry, Mistpaw, we both knew this day would come eventually,” she mewed softly, her now bright eyes meeting my own. She pressed her muzzle against my own in a comforting manner before turning to greet the starry she-cat. “It’s been a long time since I last saw you face to face, eh, Miststar?”
Miststar? I looked to the starry she-cat in shock; this cat was the former leader of ShadowClan, the cat that my father had succeeded? Miststar smiled at me, her eyes shining brightly as though Silverpelt was reflecting in them. This was the cat whose name I was given.
“I was about to tell this apprentice my name, you know? Thanks for spoiling the surprise, Frailwhisker,” Miststar muttered jokingly, her tail tip flicking. Frailwhisker snorted before touching muzzles with her former leader. “Still acting as kit-like as ever, eh, Miststar?” Frailwhisker retorted. Despite their harsh comments, I could tell the two cared for each other.
I watched them before trying to swallow the knot that had formed in my throat. “Does this mean that you are making your journey to StarClan, Frailwhisker?” I asked quietly. She turned to look at me before nodding sadly. “Nightfeather and Sandpelt are going to miss you a lot, so are Featherstar and Firewhisker and Hollypetal and… and…” I choked as a sob escaped my mouth. Frailwhisker appeared at my side and pulled me close with her tail, pressing her now lean pelt against my own. “And me! I’ll miss you so much, Frailwhisker,” I sobbed into her fur.
She chuckled into my pelt and nuzzled me until my sobs quieted then she released me. Miststar watched us quietly before nodding to Frailwhisker. The wiry she-cat stood and padded back to her former leader’s side. Slowly, more cats appeared and pressed their muzzles to Frailwhisker as she began towards them; towards StarClan. One starry cat, a handsome ginger tom with dark tabby stripes, raced up to Frailwhisker and gave her a lick across her cheek which she returned whole heartedly. Was that the tom she loved? I wondered inwardly as their tails intertwined and they began through the crowd of cats.
However, Frailwhisker paused and looked back, meeting my eyes. “Mistpaw, I’m giving you a very important task, you hear? I want you to get Featherstar and Firewhisker and Hollypetal and tell them I walk in StarClan now. Do that for me; that is my final request.”
When I awoke, I found tears slipping out of my eyes. I knew I hadn’t been asleep long because the moon was still rising, yet the camp was asleep. I stood and carefully padded out of the den and towards the Medicine cats’ den. Firewhisker and Hollypetal sat together, organizing leaves when I entered the den. Hollypetal was the first to see me and greeted me cheerfully, “Hey there, Mistpaw, what are you doing up so late?” Firewhisker turned and smiled at me and nodded in greeting.
I stared at them as memories of Frailwhisker with her friends and family that greeted her in Starlit Fields, how happy she was, how this was her last request. A power raced through my veins as I spoke, “I need to speak with you two and Featherstar. Could you get him for me?”
Firewhisker looked confused but sent his apprentice to fetch their leader nonetheless. Many heartbeats passed before Hollypetal returned with a half-awoken Featherstar trailing behind her. “What is going on, Firewhisker? Why did you send for me now?” It was then that he noticed me sitting in the den.
“If I knew what was going on, Featherstar, I assure you I would have told you immediately,” Firewhisker promised. He looked to me before continuing. “But I’m not the one who called for you; Mistpaw was.”
All signs of sleep left Featherstar’s eyes and he looked to me in confusion. “Has something happened? What is wrong, Mistpaw?” They watched me quietly, but all questioning and running different scenarios over in their heads. But they wouldn’t think of this. “I had a dream.” Not the best way to begin, but it caught their attention. “It was from StarClan and…” I paused to swallow the knot that had once again formed in my throat. “And I saw a she-cat there. She asked me to tell all three of you something very important.” Firewhisker and Hollypetal stared at me as though I was a cat with two tails while Featherstar kept his face neutral as best he could.
“The cat was…” I glanced at them and knew instantly that they weren’t ready. “But they have to know,” a soft mew whispered in my ear. I would know that voice anywhere. “Put me to rest, Mistpaw,” Frailwhisker mewed, pressing her starry fur against me. I took a deep breath and held my head high, this was an honor. “The cat was Frailwhisker.”
Hollypetal sobbed not a heartbeat after I spoke the StarClan warrior’s name. Firewhisker’s eyes were wide with grief for his former mentor. Featherstar just stared in shock and was silent. I watched them before continuing. “She wanted me to tell you all that she walks in the stars now with her ancestors and to not grieve for her for she has lived her life just as she wished it to be. She was smiling as she crossed into StarClan and was greeted by her friends and family who have waited there for her.
“I believe she wants us to smile when we sit vigil for her.” My own voice had creaked as I spoke and tears streamed down my cheeks. Frailwhisker’s spirit smiled down at me before moving around our makeshift circle and touching muzzles with every cat she had asked me to gather for her. Firewhisker and Hollypetal burst into tears when she touched muzzles with them while Featherstar looked up towards Silverpelt as Frailwhisker touched muzzles with him.
“Thank you Mistpaw, thank you for helping me to rest in peace,” she whispered as she faded into nothing but a memory.