The Ferns of Night
Status: In the Making
Series: Moonlight Series
Succeeding: The Beginning
|A prequel to The Beginning, this carefully-written story tells the life of Nightfern, an honorable ThunderClan warrior, before she became one of the Clan's most loved and honored she-cats. Born a loner kit, hated by many, and despised by the one who she loves, Nightfern struggles through loner life before joining ThunderClan, dealing with her special powers, and hearing a prophecy that will destroy all the Clans. |
Note: This takes place decades after the Firestar saga.
A slender she-cat quietly walked into the dark, stone room, and placed her pink nose on a glowing rock, breathing hard. She was secretly here. No one knew where she was... they wouldn't have let her.
She was here why? She had a dream that night. A StarClan tom had told her she needed to come. They had an important message for her.
So she snuck out, avoiding night patrol and guards, and ran all the way here. She closed her eyes as the coolness of the stone relaxed her sore body.
A moment later, she opened her eyes, and gasped. A thick forest surrounded her all ways, and eight cats, including the silver tom who had appeared in her dream, watched her. Something was strange about the cats. All were silver cats, different and unique in their own way, yet the handsomest and most beautiful she had ever laid eyes on. They were all young, about her age.
"We've been waiting for you, she-cat of the Clan of noise and light."
"Why?" whispered the ThunderClan she-cat, her voice cracked with fear. A she-cat in the middle of the eight stepped out, gazing at white she-cat. The ThunderClan warrior stared at this she-cat, her voice dying in her throat.
She was beyond beauty, beyond a cat's imagination of prettiness. It was not normal. It was like StarClan had granted this she-cat eternal beauty. The she-cat had short, sleek silver fur, the marble tabby swirls covering across her glossy coat in a pattern. She studied the she-cat from "the Clan of noise and light" with amazing blue eyes flecked with forest green. Her white-tipped ears were alert, and her beautiful, soft-featured expression was kind. The silver tabby was slender and fit, and stars sparkled in her coat. A aura of silver light radiated from her in death. But something told the ThunderClan she-cat she radiated in life, too - literally.
Cats have always told the ThunderClan she-cat she was amazingly beautiful, but she didn't hold a paw to this creation. She was young, too.
"My name is Ferns of Night." she whispered. Her voice was enchanting, soft and sweet. "I am not a Clan cat. But I am your ancestor. I walk in StarClan, but also in greater heavens."
The she-cat choked. This splendid she-cat was her ancestor? And what was better than StarClan?
"Why do you need me?" she asked. The handsome silver tom who had appeared to her stood alongside the she-cat. His green eyes trailed over the ThunderClan she-cat. "Darkfern, explain the first part, please." said Ferns of Night.
Darkfern looked at her and sighed. "ThunderClan she-cat, Ferns of Night is a very very very old she-cat. She was the ancestor of Thunder, Shadow, River, and Wind. But you realize, ThunderClan warrior, that the Clans go far more back then when you settled in the forest, then the lake, and now the forest and lake. They were not called what they are now, but they were there. In fact, they go more than moons... for centuries, hundreds of thousands of moons." The she-cat stared. How old was this young she-cat?
"The four founders are related. Ferns of Night gave birth to four kits, who in turn had more kits, eventually having the four founders. They didn't know they were related. Before her kits were born, The Ferns of Night won a great battle and did a great deed. A heaven greater than StarClan, who I will not name, granted her eternal beauty, strength, and youth."
A striking silver tom, with black patches and blue eyes took up the story next.
"My name is Darknight. Anyway, since Ferns of Night's blood runs in every Clan cat, every century, a kit is born. It cycles from Clan to Clan. It is always a silver kit, with stripes or without, it does not matter. Any gender. But the kit is special. For reasons we shall never know, sometimes a kit with a destiny is chosen... they inherit the traits Ferns of Night was given. Eternal beauty, strength, and youth. But they age. And when the die, they are restored as young cats."
The pale silver she-cat, Lightfern, next to Darkfern flicked her tail. "And the kit has a destiny. There is always a great battle when this special kit, which we call the kai, or the blood of Ferns of Night's blood, reaches warrior hood. The battle is always horrible, against other cats or creatures, and the only way the Clan is saved is if the kai stamps out the source. Otherwise, the Clan is wiped out. And in honor of their ancestor, the kit always has fern or night in its warrior name. The leader gets a message from StarClan, though he doesn't know what it means. And the mother does not know."
"And we, the seven cats here, not including Ferns of Night, are the kai of the lake Clans. There are more, of different Clans and places, but they do not walk here. And we fear that the next kai is so powerful, and the danger is so great, we needed to warn you."
"Why?" she asked.
"We'll explain in a minute, I promise, young one." said Ferns of Night.
The she-cat couldn't believe it. These seven cats... Darkfern, Lightfern, Darknight, and three more unnamed silvers had saved their Clans from extinction. And it was real.
"But it's never happened before. I mean, a Clan wiped out."
A handsome silver-and-black tortoiseshell growled. "Have you ever heard or FireClan or EarthClan? No. It was because the chosen cat failed to save them. And eventually, over the centuries, the Clans forgot." The warrior studied the golden-eyed tom carefully. His eyes were full of grief, and a yellow-eyed dark silver tabby's were too.
"You failed your Clans... you didn't save them," whispered the she-cat. The tom snapped his head up. "I couldn't do anything to save FireClan! And Sunfern did her best. Obviously it wasn't good enough, but my effort wasn't either." he snarled.
That explains the young appearances. "But why do I need to know this?"
A stunning amber-eyed silver she-cat spoke up. "Because you will bear the next kai. You are the mother of the blood of our blood. And you must name her Nightfern."
Two weeks later the ThunderClan she-cat was captured by Twolegs.
Night opened her eyes, blinking. She was not like the other kits, who felt sleep tug them and struggled to open their eyes. Her eyes snapped open, taking everything around her, hungry for more. And for some crazy reason, she knew her name was Night, as well as words and sentences no other kit would know.
She yawned, revealing a tiny pink tongue, and looked around. She was curled up next to a amazingly beautiful white she-cat, in a stone cave, where the floor was grass and light shown from the entrance. Four tiny bundles were pressed against her tightly, sleeping soundly. The white she-cat, her mother, she guessed, watched her with love and surprise in her deep green eyes. But beneath the unyielding affection, something else- fear, was it?- flickered in her eyes. It was gone in an instant, and Night thought she imagined it.
"Hello. You opened your eyes quickly." she purred softly. She leaned forward and gently tugged Night between her front paws, licking her head gently until her fur looked like static. "I am Icefur, your mother."
Night squeaked, "I know." Her mother looked shocked, but quickly her expression disappeared, to be replaced with something else- like she knew she was going to do that. "You're speaking already? Oh, my little Night."
Night snuggled in her mother's long-furred paws, a purr rumbling in her tiny chest. Icefur studied her other kits, pride and affection mingling in her green gaze.
"I suppose I shall name your siblings. Can you help?" asked Icefur. Night leaped up like her rump was on fire and danced around the cave.
"Yes! Yes! Yes!" she squealed. Icefur laughed quietly and gently lifted a paw, moving all her sleeping kits where she could see their pelt colors. Night looked at them in astonishment.
The first was a tiny dark brown tabby she-cat with a white tail tip, sleeping silently. Night had a feeling her eyes, when the opened, would be a beautiful amber. "Amber." Night said.
Icefur looked at her. "It's perfect." Next to Amber, a pale grey, almost white, she-cat was sighing in her dreams. She looked gentle and vulnerable. Her mother studied the kit for a moment. "She looks just like me," she whispered. "Willow." she added.
The two others were toms, and Icefur named the first one Cloud, a white tom that had Icefur's pelt but a stockier, thicker, and longer body.
The other one was black, with grey paws. He looked fast and lean, so Night named him Breeze. Night looked up as pawsteps came towards the cave. Outside, the forest was thick and green, and the air was warm.
A stocky grey tom walked inside. He looked just like Cloud, except the dark pelt color. His tail flicked with pleasure as he saw Icefur, and then his gaze dropped to the tiny kit in her paws. His jaw dropped.
"Icefur... is this our daughter? She's the most beautiful cat I've ever seen... more beautiful than you, and that's definitely saying something." He hurried toward his mate and daughter, dropped to his belly, and touched his grey nose to hers. "What's your name?" he whispered.
"Night," she replied.
After gently pushing Night towards her siblings and convincing her to sleep, Icefur sat down and thought about her beautiful kits.
Night was the one. She was the kai, the blood of The Ferns of Night, the most powerful in centuries. There was no way she wasn't. She was the only silver one, and it was true- she was as beautiful as The Ferns of Night, prettier than the other seven kai. She was slender, with a sheen of silver coat, dark, rippling tabby stripes, amazing dark blue eyes, darker paws, and white tipped ears, like her grand ancestor. Her face was breathtakingly beautiful, soft-featured with a pink nose and long lashes. She was the first one to open her eyes, and talk.
And her other kits, in Icefur's opinion, were as beautiful as Night- inside. Willow and Breeze would turn into quiet cats, and Cloud and Amber would be outgoing- Icefur could just tell. She loved them all more than a mother could, but she had a special connection with Night.
And she missed ThunderClan. She had been missing from their for three moons, and the pain of not running back kept her in constant pain.
Icefur hoped she could escape the prophecy, by staying away from the Clans after she was captured by those stupid Twolegs who snapped a green band around her neck and put her in a wire cage, and shipped her off to a den. Luckily, she escaped. She didn't want Night's life to be doomed. She didn't want ThunderClan to lie in the paws of her innocent infant daughter. It wasn't fair. And she didn't give her kits warrior names, either.
She learned to love Storm, the stupid dark gray tom who she met in the forest after she had escaped her kidnappers. He had proved to be very intelligent (take it from Icefur), and bore his kits.
But... she didn't tell Storm about the warning, and about Night as the kai.
It was time.
After putting her kits to sleep, she curled her tail around Storm's shoulders and brought him outside. "Storm, I need to tell you something."
Her mate looked expectantly at her. "Storm, remember StarClan, and when I lived in ThunderClan? Well...."
After she told Storm everything, he just gazed at her. "Well, it seems like our daughter is something special." Icefur stared at him. "But... but... aren't you angry at me? I'm preventing myself from going to ThunderClan because I don't want Night to have that burden on her shoulders."
Storm rubbed his cheek against hers. "I'd never be angry at you, Ice. Night has a special destiny, and either she will chase it, or we'll keep her confined here."
Icefur was shocked. Was he suggesting that we go back to ThunderClan and await the prophecy when Night reached warrior-hood?
"But," Storm added, "For now loner life is good." He opened his mouth to add something on, but Icefur hurried to agree before Storm answered again.
Chapter IIIEditWhen Night awoke again, flicking her dark blue eyes, this time faster than the first, her siblings were awake. Her parents were gone... probably talking about something.
She was totally creeped out. They were looking at her with huge, astonished, wide eyes. "Who's that?" squeaked Breeze, his grey paws twitching as he looked at his sister in awe.
Amber was a bit more comfortable with Night. She bravely walked forward, touched noses with Night, and then sniffed her.
"This is our sister." Amber meowed. She had deep, intoxicating amber eyes, and a smooth tabby pelt. She was really pretty. "What?" growled Cloud. "No way. She doesn't look like mom."
Amber didn't let that get by. "She has the same frame as Icefur; just better, and Breeze or I don't look like mom either. At least in our coat colors."
Willow pressed her pale side into Night's. "We already met our parents, and they told us our names, but not yours. What is it?"
Night deeply appreciated Willow and Amber's defense against her brothers. "Night." she mewed.
Breeze nodded, flicking his long black tail. "Let's go outside." he mewed. "I want to see." Night studied him. He seemed a bit... frightened.
"Are you scared?" teased Night. "Of what, leaves?" she purred. Breeze's fur fluffed up in defense.
"No," he mewed weakly. Cloud held back a tiny purr as Night bounced to the front of the cave.
"I was just teasing," she giggled. "Let's go explore." The moss squished under her dark paws as her siblings followed her.
Night stuck her head out the cave, breathing deeply. The fresh spring air was warm and smelled like flowers. Butterflies flitted through the air.
To the side, she heard quiet arguing. "She's the one! We can't go back to the Clans." "We need to go back soon, Icefur. Listen to me. If what you say will come true, we can't let your home clan suffer."
Cloud nudged her, nearly knocking his sister over. He was going to be huge when he grew up. "Hey, are they fighting?"
Night nodded. "Let's get out of here. I don't like them arguing."
The kits explored the forest until they heard their mother calling them back inside.
Icefur and Stormpelt taught their kits well, and soon leaf-bare came upon the forest where they lived. Night and her siblings learned to hunt at an early age and became independent and brave.
Night shivered and nudged closer to Amber's warmth, letting her body heat sweep through the tips of her fur. It was a freezing leaf-bare, and snow rained down upon the forest in a storm. The family was piled up into a tiny corner of their den while their father was out hunting. Icefur pressed her four kits closely to her and nuzzled Night.
They looked outside the cave, seeing the thick snow pile up against the cave until only about a foxtail of the cave entrance wasn't heaped with snow. "Mother, is father coming back soon?" Breeze squeaked. The kit's stomachs growled with hunger.
Icefur wrapped her tail around them. "Of course," she mewed, but Night caught a glimmer of uncertainty flash in her eyes. The white queen sighed and murmured, "He must."
Suddenly the snow blocking the cave entrance caved in and scattered over the ground, causing crossed squeaks from the kits as they scattered to avoid the wet snow. Storm stumbled inside on a limping paw, blood oozing thickly from several cuts in his body and paws. Icefur gasped with horror and turned the kits around with her tail, escorting them into the opposite corner before scrambling towards her mate. The kits shook with fear.
"Is he alright?"
"I don't know, Cloud."
"He must be, Amber!"
"Looks like a rat attack."
"How would you know, Night?"
"Cloud . . . Shut. Up."
"Yeah, listen to Night."
"All you you, shhh!" Breeze snapped.
The kits shivered in a tiny ball, listening to their mother call, "Stay where you are, kits!" and Storm's groaning as Icefur cleaned his cuts with her tongue. Night nodded at her siblings. "I'll be right back. Don't move," she warned, and then tottered towards the front of the cave. Storm lay in the snow, eerily still, while Icefur hovered over him like a frantic birdmother. A pool of blood formed under Storm, and his body was scarred. Icefur glanced at Night, despair flooding in her green eyes. "I don't know what to do," she whimpered. "Night, can you help him?"
Night wouldn't let her father die. "I feel like there's water sweeping up from the floor and snow drifting down on me from above," she said quietly. Icefur stared at her for a second, and understanding swept through her eyes. "Night, put your paws on Storm and close your eyes. Concentrate." Night pattered over to her father and sat, placing her paws on his cold body. Storm moaned, nearly silent. She closed her eyes and imagined life flooding into her father by the shape of a silver thread, gently teasing him awake and then flooding through his veins.
A quarter moon later, the family was in turmoil. Storm was alive, but too weak to hunt for the family. Icefur couldn't leave her kits, and was too thin to hunt. The family was slowly starving to death.
Icefur tucked the kits into the cold, mossy corner as night fell and then quietly padded over to Storm. Moving to his ear, she whispered, hoarsly, "We need to go back. To ThunderClan." Storm's dark gray pelt fluffed up, and then flattened out again. "I know," he sighed tiredly. "I'm sorry. It's my fault; I'm-" Icefur cut him off. "It's not your fault. When will we leave?" Storm narrowed his eyes outside. "Honestly? Now. We have the cover of darkness." He coughed hard, rattling his skinny body. "We probably won't survive until morning." Icefur froze, and realized Storm was right. The kits were cold, sick, and thin. Night was doing the best, but she was coming down with a cough as well.
Icefur nodded. "I'll go get them." She padded towards her kits and nudged them awake. "Wake up. We're going to a special place." Breeze blinked up at her with wide amber eyes, and Cloud shivered, his thick white pelt not enough to keep him warm. The kits didn't say anything, but stumbled outside into the cold, where Storm was already limping ahead, waving his tail so the cats could keep up.
The family traveled for hours without rest until Icefur nudged Amber and Night onto her back and Stormfur the same for his sons.
The young cats slumped over their parent's backs and slept ceaselessly. Icefur finally halted her mate and kits in the middle of night, and they curled up into a tiny hollow hole at the base of a giant oak to conserve body heat. It was unbearably cold, leaf-bare at its deadliest.
Snow piled up thickly against the broad tree and when the sun rose, Night woke up, blinking rapidly in a panic. Her long black lashes were coated with white frost and for a moment, she had been afraid it had sewn her eyes shut.
She exhaled in relief as her eyes opened and she gazed at her surroundings. Her family was sleeping soundlessly, and outside it had stopped snowing, though it was still frigid. Night carefully stood up, delicately leaping over her siblings until she made it to the front of the hollow. A sniffing noise outside the den made her freeze. Night quietly drew closer to the entrance and padded out of the tree, pressing close to the ground. The sniffing got louder until Night came face-to-face with a tiny tom.
The tom squeaked and stumbled backwards into the snow, plopping on his rear. He scrambled to his paws, baring his teeth in a way that made Night's whiskers twitch in amusement. It was more of a please-don't-hurt-me-snarl. Night cocked her head curiously.
"D-d-don't come closer!" stuttered the little tom, his water-blue eyes wide as he stared at the gorgeous cat in front of him. "Stay away, silver." Night gave a gentle laugh that had an edge of panic. "Don't be afraid of me," she mewed. "My name is Night. I need your help, please! My family is starving." She pointed her tail at the hollow. "My mother's name is Icefur-"
The light brown tom gasped. "Icefur!" he choked. He had a slight accent. "By StarClan, come on! Need say no more!" He nodded at Night respectfully. "My name is Littlemoon. I am a warrior of ThunderClan. Your mother was a young warrior in our Clan when she disappeared." His eyes gleamed. "I would like to see her very much; you see, I was a friend of hers." Night nodded and spun around, tramping into the den. "Mother! Father! Get up! Help is here!" She purposely brought her voice up to a shrill shriek.
Her family drowsily got to their feet, peering at Night with bleary eyes. "Night, what is it?" snapped Cloud peevishly, obviously still asleep on his paws. Night bounded excitedly. "A cat called Littlemoon is here! He wants to bring us to ThunderClan!" Icefur shook her fur and turned to her kits. "Night, that's great. C'mon." She mustered her strength to bring her voice to a cheerful mew, but Night could tell she was diminishing rapidly, and it worried her so.
"Mom, dad, we need to go." Night strolled out of the den, turning her head to see her family following her. Littlemoon was on the edge of the tree, his blue eyes widening at the sight of Icefur. "Icefur!" he exclaimed. Icefur purred weakly, supporting Storm by her shoulder. "Hi, Littlemoon. This is Storm . . . and these are my kits: Breeze, Amber, and Cloud. And of course, little Night." Littlemoon dipped his head politely. "You're lucky. ThunderClan isn't far. I was on a sole patrol."
Amber padded up to Night and pressed her shoulder against hers. Littlemoon turned around, flipping his tail, and bounded in the snow, calling above his shoulder. "This way! Follow my pawprints!"
Amber stopped abruptly. "No way I'm going in there, sister." Night nearly agreed. Ten foxtails in front of them was a looming hole in a cracked, lined dark stone wall, surrounded by fearsome brambles and thorns. The scent of warm - and dangerous - cats was overpowering. Pawprints were etched into the hard-packed dust and dirt ground. Cloud and Breeze shuddered, and Storm was so tired he looked dead on his paws. But Icefur's green eyes were shining with joy. "Home." she rasped.
Icefur hurried forward, disappearing into the hole. Storm winced and looked at his kits. "Well, kits, I guess we better follow." Inside, Night heard the mews of ThunderClan cats.
Storm stepped inside, his fur bristling subtly. Night looked at her sibling's faces, fear etched into their expressions. "Let's go," she mewed comfortingly, wanting to be the one that her brothers and sisters admired and looked up to. She straightened her shoulders and lifted her head.
Night trotted into the camp, her siblings trailing right behind her heels. She was overwhelmed with shock as she looked into the faces of countless cats, all broad-shouldered and muscular, lined up in one straight line. Her mother was sitting next to a young black she-cat with stunning green eyes.
A collective gasp escaped from the ThunderClan cats as soon as Night stepped into the camp. She caught whispers - "no way that's natural," "she's so beautiful!" "blessed by StarClan," . . . and one ominous snarl coming from a handsome red-brown tom glaring at her with green eyes.
Amber growled and stepped forward, shielding her sister from the Clan's curiosity. Slowly, Cloud, Willow, Breeze stepped forward to protect Night. Night pressed herself to the ground, flattening her ears and pulling her lips back.
Icefur suddenly hurried forward, sensing the tension. "These are my kits, my pride, my future." she purred. "Night, Willow, Amber, Cloud, and Breeze."
"What a large litter! They're so pretty!" purred a spotted golden she-cat. Storm stood beside his kits, chest now puffed with self-esteem.
A small fawn-colored she-cat spoke up. "They're suffering from exhaustion, coldness, and Storm - from an injured leg. Stop stalling and get them to the fox-dunging medicine cat den!" she cried.
That was the last thing Night remembered before black edged into her visions.