"Duskkit! Don't jump on the other kittens!" Morningrain, Duskkit's foster mother, yowled. Her blue eyes were filled with amused weariness. Duskkit's real mother, Streampool, had died at the kitting of her and her brother, Firekit. Their father, Leafsky, already died of greencough. Even the huge brown tabby tom couldn't survive the sickness. Duskkit thought. Had he have to die? "Come on, Duskkit! Let's explore the camp!" Firekit, the little brown tabby tom, eyes twinkling with playfulness. The two had already opened their eyes, but hadn't the chance to explore yet. "Can we go?" "Okay then." Morningrain sighed. "But don't make trouble!"
"What's this?" Duskkit wondered, surprised. She was standing in a soft white pile over the earth! A cold, frosty flake fell of her nose and she sneezed. A young cat emerged from the shadows."It's snow!" the cat answered. "I'm Lionpaw. And you must be Streampool's kits!" the apprentice said, flicking his tail. "Yes, we are." Firekit replied. Another apprentice came trotted to them. "Oh, kits! You are Streampool's kits, aren't you?" the beautiful blue-eyed dappled she-cat asked. "I'm Spottedpaw." "We're Duskkit and Firekit." Duskkit answered. "Have you been apprentices for a long time?" Firekit asked. "No, since yesterday!" Lionpaw answered, his amber eyes gleaming. "Come on, I'll show you the camp!" Spottedpaw exclaimed and the kits followed her. "Well, this is the apprentices den. Lionpaw, Berrypaw, Sandpaw, Hailpaw and I sleep in here. We had more, but Webstripe and Owlwing are warriors now." Spottedpaw told them. "When will we sleep there?" Firekit asked, curious. "Over five moons!" Spottedpaw purred. "And here is the elder's den."
The dappled she-cat led them to a large, hollow log."Oh, hello! Who is this, Spottedpaw?" asked a old she-cat. "Hello, Mistbreath! These are Duskkit and Firekit. They are Streampool's kits." Spottedpaw answered. "Here live Mistbreath, One-ear, Deadeyes and Lilypetal." Duskkit looked at the elders. They must have a lot of stories to tell. "Come on, follow me!" Spottedpaw said. "This is the warriors den. Here sleep all of the best warriors of this Clan. I will be sleeping here also soon!" Spottedpaw said enthusiastically. "Webstripe, Owlwing, Gingerpelt, Dustfall, Nightblaze, Jayflight, Hazelcloud and Acornstep sleep here. Nightblaze is our deputy, and my mentor. She organizes patrols for borders and hunting." "Where does the leader sleep?" Duskkit asked. "And the medicine cat?" she added. "Follow me!" Spottedpaw answered. She took them to a leafy, dark cave. "There, in that cave, is the leader's den. We can't go in, because he's planning Sandpaw's warrior ceremony." Spottedpaw said, and looked at Firekit, who was staring at the leader's den. "Wanna sleep there some day?" she whispered. Firekit did not answer. "And where's the medicine cat?" Duskkit asked. Spottedpaw turned to a larger, herb-smelling den. "This is Shortwing's den. He is the medicine cat!" Spottedpaw replied. "Spottedpaw! Training!" a voice sounded. Spottedpaw looked over at the apprentices. "I have to go! Have fun! I'm coming, Nightblaze!" she yowled.
"Duskkit, Firekit, you have reached the age of six moons, and it's time for you two to get apprenticed. From this day, until you receive your warrior name, you two will be known as Duskpaw and Firepaw. I ask HeavenClan to watch after you and guide you until you find in your paws the strength and courage of a warrior. Firepaw's mentor will be Jayflight, and Duskpaw's will be Acornstep." The leader, Wolfstar, said and the Clan called "Duskpaw! Firepaw! Duskpaw! Firepaw!" Duskpaw climbed down and walked to the other apprentices. "Hi! Congratulations!" a small white tom said. "H...Hi! What's your name?" "I'm Crowpaw!" Crowpaw answered. "And I'm not even black!" he added. Duskpaw felt her fur flush beneath her pelt. She liked this tom! "Shall I show you the apprentice den?" he asked. "Yes, thanks!" Duskpaw said, surprised. Firepaw watched them walk away.
Duskpaw opened her eyes. She heard the loud raindrops falling on the roof of the den. Her mentor died last night because he had greencough. She missed him. Her best friend Spottedpaw also had greencough. She decided to visit her. Duskpaw tripped to the medicine den, through the dark night. Shortwing, the medicine cat, heard her. "Hello, have you come for Spottedpaw? She lies apart, in that small hole. I will leave you two alone. I don't think she will make it; I have no catnip. But I have done my best" he whispered, sadness coming off his short coat. He trotted through the den and disappeared in the darkness of the night. Duskpaw whimpered as she heard Shortwing's quiet death sentence. "Spottedpaw?" Duskpaw muttered softly. "I'm here," a weak voice sounded. "It's me, Duskpaw." she whispered and lay down next to beautiful dappled she-cat. Spottedpaw's breath was ragged and short. Her flanks heaved with the effort to breathe. "Don't join HeavenClan! Don't go away!" Duskpaw cried. "Duskpaw," Spottedpaw whispered. "You and I know I don't live forever. But I'm your best friend, and I will live somewhere. In HeavenClan, and in your heart, remember? Don't go with me." Duskpaw looked at her friend franticly, but something about her voice made her fall asleep. Sometime later, she opened her eyes, but she wasn't in the den. She was in a beautiful forest, where the moonlight shined through the thick trees. "You're dreaming, young one." a voice called behind her. It was her mother. "Is it my time?" Duskpaw asked her mother, and looked in her blue gaze filled with love. "No, my dear. But for a good friend." "No! Spottedpaw!" Duskpaw screamed, half crying. Duskpaw could see Spottedpaw now, lying in the moonlit grass, paws tucked neatly beneath her slender body. Her dazzling blue eyes were filled with sorrow. "Duskpaw, I have to go. It's my time. Tell my mother I love her. And tell Lionpaw I love him too." Spottedpaw murmured. "No, Spottedpaw.." But Duskpaw knew it was no good wailing. "Goodbye." she cried. Spottedpaw's last word was "Goodbye. I will watch you in the endless skies forever," she whispered. Her paws jerked, her head rolled, and she disappeared into the light.
"Duskpaw?" Duskpaw's blue eyes opened. She saw Crowpaw's head above her. "Crowpaw? Is that you?" she whispered. "It's me. You haven't sleep well since Spottedpaw died, have you?." Crowpaw said calmly. "I know." Duskpaw sounded sad, but licked Crowpaw's white pelt. "When do they bury her?" "Tonight." he whispered. "Come on, Wolfstar's gonna give you a new mentor." he continued. Her new mentor also died after three moons. The two walked to the Lion's Rock, and Duskpaw settled down next to Wolfstar. The gray-white tom gazed at her with his yellow eyes. "Cats of SilentClan! Because the mentor of this apprentice, Blackbelly, died two days ago. It's time to give her a new mentor. Because there are no free mentors, will she be trained together with Swanpaw, so her mentor will be Cinderbird. Train well, young one." Wolfstar yowled. "Thank you, Wolfstar." Duskpaw added and climbed the rock to lay next to Crowpaw and share tongues with him. "You're lucky!" he breathed. "You have a friend to train with." "Well, I'm happy it's Swanpaw. She is very nice." Duskpaw said. "Cinderbird too. She's my mother." Crowpaw added. Yes, she was. Owww... She really was in love with Crowpaw! Duskpaw heard Firepaw calling to her, and she turned her attention to her handsome brother. "Duskpaw! Great, you can train with Swanpaw!" Firepaw yowled. Firepaw's paws kneaded the ground happily. "Firepaw! You like her, don't you?" Duskpaw asked, and she saw Firepaw gulp. "Well... ehm..." he stuttered.
"Admit it! You are in love with her!" Firepaw sighed. "Okay, I am, but you love Crowpaw!" "Yeah, that's true." Duskpaw admitted. "Duskpaw! Are you going hunting with us?" Crowpaw asked. "Of course!" and Duskpaw trotted after Crowpaw.
"Good catch!" Duskpaw's mentor exclaimed, surprised when she walked toward him with a huge, shiny black crow. "Well, it's huge, but not very smart. When I jumped on him, he didn't even do anything!" Duskpaw added proudly. "Good catch! You have any more?" Crowpaw asked with a voice filled with love and admiration. "I have! I also caught a water vole and a mouse." "Shall I help?" he asked. "Yes, thanks." Duskpaw said and showed him the place where she had buried them.
"I, Tallstar, leader of SilentClan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as a warrior in their turn. Duskpaw, Crowpaw, Firepaw, Swanpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect your Clan, even if it costs your life?" "We do." they murmured. "Then, by the powers of HeavenClan, I give you your warrior names. Duskpaw, you will be known as Duskdream. Firepaw, you will be known as Firebranch. Swanpaw, you will be known as Swanfeather. Crowpaw, you will be known as Crowsong. HeavenClan honors your power and intelligence, and we welcome you as full warriors if SilentClan." Tallstar ended. The four warriors touched his muzzle, and the Clan started to call. Swanfeather curled her white tail around her slender body and looked around proudly. "Duskdream! Firebranch! Swanfeather! Crowsong!" The new warriors stepped into their new den...
"Duskdream?" It was Crowsong. "Hello, Crowsong. Want a bite?" Duskdream yawned. "Yes, thanks... well, actually, I wanna ask you something. Would you...err...like be my mate?" he asked carefully. "Crowpaw, yes!" Duskdream said, and she licked him over his muzzle. "I love you." she whispered lovingly. "You know there is a spot in shape of a heart, that colors with your mood?" Crowsong asked. "I know. I think it's beautiful."
"What?!" Duskdream shrieked. "I can't be expecting kits!" "Well, you are!" a voice snapped gently. It was Spottedpaw! "Spottedpaw?" "It's Spottedflower now. And yes, you are expecting kits! From Crowsong." "But..." Duskdream added. Suddenly, the world darkened and Spottedflower disappeared. Duskdream looked at her smooth tabby belly and saw it was a little rounded, a little milky. And it was then she knew. "Spottedflower?" she called, but she faded away..."Crowsong? Are you there? I have to tell you something." Crowsong emerged from the shadows of the den.