Author: Feathertail Millie
Series: Blazeheart's Secrets Series
Allegiances: None yet
Succeeding: Rogue's Legacy
|Blazeheart's getting frustrated- how can she defeat Ember, the new leader of BoneClan? She's not getting any younger. It's time to call on an old friend... and she's going to have to keep her feelings for him at bay...|
A beautiful silver she-cat was stalking a mouse. She could feel its heartbeat throb through the ground beneath her. The smell of it made her mouth water. The muscles in her hind legs tensed, waiting to pounce. Suddenly, images flashed through her mind, threatening to sweep her into their midst. She found herself standing in a hollow. She was surrounded by starry cats.
"Only Healers are meant to get dreams from the Tribe of Endless Hunting!" she protested.
"Your father is dead. He died of greencough moments ago," a dark brown she-cat mewed sympathetically.
"No! You're lying, mother!" said the silver she-cat.
The other she-cat shook her head.
"We have a prophecy for you, Starshine."
A golden tom had stepped out from amongst the Tribe of Endless Hunting cats.
"Father!" she cried, running forward to bury her nose in his fur.
"You must listen to me, my kit. There is one under the bright moon who must set injustice ablaze..."
The cats were fast fading.
"I will interpret it, father!" Starshine cried. "Rest in peace."
"Nightbreeze! Wake up!"
Nightbreeze opened her eyes to see her mate, Bearstep, standing over her, eyes shining.
"Blazeheart is back! She's back!"
"She's what?!" Nightbreeze yowled, excitement and happiness surging up inside her.
"See for yourself."
Bearstep led her out of the nursery, waiting for her as she gingerly stepped over the sleeping bodies of Mudkit, Aspenkit and Moonkit. The three kits were now four moons old, and were straying from her side. Dawnshadow was already up. Currentkit was curled up next to her belly. He was five moons old, but because his brother, Shagkit, was stolen by BoneClan rogues as a young kit, he was very attached to Dawnshadow. At the center of the camp, surrounded by her Clanmates, was Blazeheart. Her flame-coloured pelt was torn and matted, but she was alive.
"Sister! You're back!" Nightbreeze purred.
She bounded forward and buried her nose in her sister's fur. When she finally pulled away, she felt the need to ask her sister a question that was niggling in the back of her mind.
"What happened to you?"
"I was captured by BoneClan," Blazeheart replied with sadness in her eyes. "They held me prisoner and... killed my friend Scarpelt."
"That's awful!" Nightbreeze mewed.
"It was quite the ordeal," the flame-coloured she-cat sighed. "But I'm home now."
She touched her nose to Nightbreeze's. She was filled with joy at her sister's warm touch.
"How are the kits?" Blazeheart changed the subject.
"They're four moons old now. And they're already little warriors," she mewed proudly.
"Ah, I bet they're catching their first prey... leaves?"
"Yes," she purred. "They will make fine Clan cats."
Bearstep padded over, a rabbit dangling from his jaws.
"Here, have some prey," he mewed. "You must be hungry."
Nightbreeze purred sympathetically as her sister gobbled the food down hungrily.
"They must have starved you," she mewed.
"Please excuse my manners," Blazeheart apologized. "They fed me every half moon."
"That Ember...he's a piece of filthy, lying, BoneClan fox-dung!"
Darktail had padded over.
"Welcome back, my sweet kit," he mewed, licking Blazeheart's ear affectionately.
"Darktail! I'm a grown cat, don't forget," Blazeheart mewed.
Nightbreeze saw her sister's fur prickle with embarrassment.She purred in amusement.
"Can I see the kits?" her sister asked.
"Of course," she replied. "They feel a bit sad that Currentpaw has been apprenticed even though the ShadeClan queens are still here with their kits, so I'm sure they'd enjoy a visitor."
She missed Dawnshadow being in the nursery. The sound of her best friend's voice had always lit up the den. Plus, one of the ShadeClan queens, Orangeleaf, was getting on her nerves. The young queen was constantly wailing about how her milk hadn't come yet. The two she-cats padded over to the nursery. Inside, Blazeheart's face lit up with happiness.
"It's Blazeheart!" Aspenkit yowled, bounding over to the flame-coloured she-cat and prancing around her paws. "I was too young to remember when I first met you, but I heard you're a fierce warrior! I'm going to be just like you one day!"
The young kit's eyes were shining with excitement.
"You've got your mother's fire in your eyes," Blazeheart purred.
"I do too!" Moonkit squeaked.
Despite being the smallest of the litter, Moonkit's beauty and kindness astounded Nightbreeze. She had the same kind of determination she herself had possessed as a kit.
"You, young kit, don't have to be like Aspenkit. You will be a great warrior too. It wouldn't surprise me if you became deputy one day."
"I'll be the leader," Aspenkit boasted.
"No you won't!"
"Yes I will!"
The two kits tumbled on the ground together in a playfight. Nightbreeze twitched her whiskers in amusement, but when Aspenkit unsheathed her claws, she padded over to break up the fight.
"Please behave yourselves," she scolded them. "Blazeheart will think less of you!"
The two kits immediately snapped to attention and nodded. Nightbreeze purred and felt a surge of pride for her kits. They will be the best warriors they can be, she thought. I will never ask less of them.
It had been two moons since Blazeheart had returned to her Clan. She loved the feel of her old nest, and the daily routine of patrols which she had previously been bored with. Most of all, she loved being back with Nightbreeze and seeing the kits. But she still missed Eagle, Sun, Tiger and Dotty. It had been three moons since she had last seen them. At sunhigh, she was due to go on a hunting patrol with Foxpelt, Frostlight and two of the ShadeClan warriors- Duckfeather and Oakshadow. She had planned to meet Eagle and Sun then. As she slipped out the camp entrance, she felt the scents of the moor flood over her. In the midst of the overwhelming scents was a familiar smell. It was a cat, but she didn't know who. They smelled faintly of MoonClan. The patrol split up and she followed the scent. It led to the MoonClan border, a stream leading up to the Moonpool. Drinking from the stream a few fox lengths away was a light golden-brown tom. Two voles and a mouse sat beside him. He had obviously been stealing prey.
"What are you doing on MoonClan territory?" she yowled.
The tom whipped around. He snarled at her and unsheathed his claws. With two leaps using his long legs he was upon her. He tried to roll her over onto her belly but she rolled to the right. She leapt onto his shoulders, digging her claws in. He slumped to the ground. She loosened her grip in triumph, but to her surprise, he sprang upwards, throwing her off him and rolling her onto her belly. Within moments he was holding a claw to her throat. She closed her eyes and waited for the death blow to come, but it never came. When she opened her eyes again, the tom's expression had softened.
"Blazeheart?" he mewed softly. His voice was deep and husky.
"How do you know my name?" she asked fearfully.
"Blazeheart... It's me, Lionkit. Remember me?"
"You can't be..." she mewed, trailing off as she slipped into a chasm of memories.
"Blazekit! Bet you can't catch this."
Lionkit hurled a mouse at Blazekit, but she leapt to catch it, just managing to hook it with one claw.
"You're no stronger!"
She threw it back and it sent the tom kit flying into the bracken nursery behind them.
"We'll see who's the fiercest!"
Lionkit leapt onto her, bowling her over.
"Cut it out, you two," Nightkit squeaked from the nursery entrance. "I'm trying to sleep!"
"Me too!" Dawnkit agreed. "It's bad enough that Smokekit was killed by badgers!"
The two kits playfought until Lionkit was defeated. She sat on top of him.
"Grrtoff!" the golden-brown tomkit murmured through a mouthful of flame-coloured fur.
"You have to say this: Blazekit is the best fighter in all the Clans," she teased.
He repeated the words reluctantly and she slid off him.
"One day, we're going to be the best warriors in all the Clans," she mewed proudly.
"One day, you're going to be my mate," Lionkit mewed, licking her ear affectionately.
"What happened to you?" Blazeheart whispered. "I thought ForestClan stole you when Coldstar was leader."
Lionkit and Blazekit were pouncing on fallen leaves. The two kits were five and a half moons old. Wails sounded from the nursery.
"I have to go check on my sister," Blazekit mewed.
She padded over to the nursery. Inside she found Nightkit. The black she-cat was writhing in her nest with fever. Creekshine, Darktail, Swiftcloud, Dapplepaw and Sweetpetal, Lionkit's mother, were standing over her worriedly.
"She won't make it," mewed Creekshine.
"She will," Swiftcloud mewed.The old medicine cat's voice crackled as she spoke. "She's got fire in her eyes. She will make it."
Creekshine turned around and saw Blazekit.
"Blazekit," she mewed in grief. "Your sister is dying."
Blazekit shook her head.
"No she won't," she mewed. "StarClan won't take any lives today. Not after ForestClan massacred us."
Suddenly, yowls, shrieks and caterwauls sounded outside. Before they knew it, ForestClan warriors were breaking into the den. Darktail swiped at them viciously.
"I'm going to fight!" Blazekit yowled.
"Blazekit, no!" Creekshine shrieked as the young kit bounded out of the nursery.
Outside, ForestClan warriors tried to grab her. She struggled against a brown tom's grip. She bit his paw and he let her go. Across the clearing, she saw Lionkit being taken by two warriors. The warriors slipped out the camp entrance, taking the golden kit with them.
"LIONKIT!" she yowled.
Blazeheart snapped back to the present as Lionkit spoke.
"I was trained in ForestClan," he mewed. "I earned my warrior name- Lionstrike. I wanted to come back-"
"Then why didn't you?" she asked, hurt clawing her heart to pieces.
"Don't try to explain. You liked ForestClan and you couldn't give a mousetail about how worried we were about you! Lionstrike, your mother searched for you for seasons until she died... how could you leave her to such a horrible fate?!"
"Sweetpetal? No!" he whispered.
"She haed another she-kit, but she died before she could name her. Your father, Wolftalon, named her Sweetkit. Her name is now Sweetwind, and she had two kits- Flowerthorn and Stillpool. You have a family! Your father is deputy! How could you leave all that behind? We miss you! I miss you..." she trailed off.
"I'm so sorry," he whispered.
"Come back with me," Blazeheart mewed. "Please."
"I can't... what would the Clan think of me?"
"They'd think you'd been a hostage this whole time. Coldstar only lost his leadership recently, remember? I'd cover for you. You'd have your own nest. The whole Clan would welcome you back."
"Fine, fine. You've always been quite the stubborn one," he mewed, his eyes shining with humour.
"Hey! I'm not that stubborn."
"Yes you are."
"Do you want a rematch to find out?"
She leapt onto him playfully. The two cats tossled on the ground for a few moments. Eventually, Lionstrike stood proudly above her.
"You win," she sighed, panting.
The two cats wandered back to the MoonClan camp. It was now dusk, and only when they reached the camp entrance did Blazeheart realise she'd forgotten to meet Eagle and Sun.
I'll travel to Lifestream tomorrow, she thought.
Lionstrike's eyes flicked to her nervously. She purred and nudged him gently with her shoulder, encouraging him. He eventually slipped into the camp entrance. They were greeted by Nightbreeze, who had been sitting outside the nursery with Mudkit fast asleep beside her. She leapt to her paws carefully enough to avoid stepping on the sleeping brown and white body of Mudkit. She bolted over.
"Blazeheart! Where were you? I was getting worried! I thought you'd been captured by BoneClan again! Quickstar was about to-" Nightbreeze broke off. Her black neck fur was beginning to rise.
"Who are you?" the black queen growled, crouching in a protective stance.
"Nightkit? Is that you?"
"That's Nightbreeze to you, you piece of fox-dung. How dare you come into the MoonClan camp like this! And how do you know my name?"
"It's okay, Nightbreeze," Blazeheart soothed her. "This is... Lionkit," she finally croaked.
"Lionkit?" Nightbreeze's face softened.
"That's Lionstrike to you," the golden tom mimicked her playfully.
"It's so good to see you again!" The black queen touched her muzzle to his.
"Is that milk I scent on you? Do you have kits?"
"Yes, I do! You can see them later, if you like."
"That would be great! So, who's the lucky tomcat?" he teased.
"He's coming over, by the looks of it."
Bearstep had indeed made his way over. Quickstar was at his side.
"Who is this?" the brown tabby tom growled.
"Do you remember Lionkit? Well, he's back! And he's called Lionstrike now," Nightbreeze mewed excitedly before Lionstrike could introduce himself.
"How do we know we can trust this furball? Where has he been all this time?" Bearstep had a suspicious look on his face- one that Blazeheart didn't like.
"He was captured by ForestClan and held under Coldstar," she mewed hurriedly.
"I see." Bearstep stood back.
"Welcome back, Lionstrike. A nest will be made for you in the warriors den."
"Won't I need Streamstar's permission first, Quickstep?" Lionstrike mewed, a look of confusion spreading across his face.
"Sadly, he passed away a moon or so after you left," Quickstar mewed.
"Oh... forgive me," he apologised.
"There is no apology needed."
"My paws are cracked," he mewed. "May I go see Swiftcloud? With your permission, of course."
"Swiftcloud has also joined StarClan. Dapplestream is the medicine cat now."
With a nod of acknowledgement, Lionstrike turned tail and headed for the medicine den.
It had been an exhausting day. Blazeheart sighed happily as she settled down into her nest. She purred as she felt another body settle down beside her. She opened her eyes for a brief moment to see Lionstrike's blue eyes gazing back at her. She nearly jumped out of her nest.
"Don't scare me like that!" she hissed.
"I'm sorry," he purred. "You're just so beautiful."
"You've gained the gift of the smooth tongue while you were away," she mewed.
"Hey! Can you tone the sloppy love talk down a little?" Frogfoot complained.
"Some of us are trying to sleep," Lightwhisker added.
"Sorry," she and Lionstrike said together.
Blazeheart curled up in her nest again.
"Goodnight, Lionstrike," she whispered.
The next day at sunrise, she slipped out the back camp entrance, checking that no one was watching her. She was going to Lifestream today. As she bounded over the moor, she felt free and as light as a feather. A rush of happiness surged through her from the pits of her stomach. She realised that she had made it to the ForestClan border in a few moments and let out a mrrow of laughter at her own cluelessness. She turned and walked up the moor. The sun rose behind her as she ran over hill after hill, somehow drawing energy from her happiness. Finally, she came to a beautiful hollow with a grove of trees in it. THe vegetation there was beautiful; it was so green because of the stream that ran through it, hence the name her family gave it- Lifestream. She combed the grove in search of her family, but they weren't there.
"They must be at the Fireplace," she mewed to herself.
She padded up the hill next to the bowl and sure enough, smoke was rising from behind it, trailing the bright sparks of embers. She reached the top of the hill to find her family sitting around the huge fire.
"Blaze!" Sun bolted towards her as she said her true name and slammed into her, rubbing her golden muzzle against Blazeheart's.
Suddenly, Blazeheart felt fur rub against her ankles and wet noses press against her fur. She looked down to see four kits staring back at her; a long-furred golden she-kit with grey-green eyes, a ginger and white she-cat with blue eyes, a light brown she-cat with green eyes, and a black kit with a scar over her eye and pale golden eyes.
"Sun, who do these kits belong to?" she asked.
"They're mine," she replied. "Well, mine and Chase's, because he's the father."
She hadn't really had time to look around the Fireplace. Sure enough, Chase was sitting next to her father and Eagle. A beautiful silver tabby she-cat stood up and padded over to her.
"Blazeheart! It's so good to see you again," she purred. "As you can see, I'm bigger now."
"Flicker?" she gasped. "Is that you?"
"Yes," she purred.
"I knew by your eyes," Blazeheart mewed. "They're so... blue."
"It's good to have you back!" purred Dotty, resting her black and white tail on Blazeheart's shoulder. "How is your sis- how is Nightbreeze doing with her kits?"
"She's doing fine," she replied. "They're growing strong and healthy."
Eagle, Tiger and Chase mewed their greetings, but mainly let the she-cats share news. Brook, Mouse and Meadow were nearly fully grown, like Flicker, now. Meadow had grown into a gorgeous she-cat. Her fur was shinier than Sun's now, and she saw Sun give the ginger she-cat jealous looks. That night, she settled down into her nest in an old rabbit warren under the biggest oak tree in the grove.
"It's good to be home," she sighed, before drifting off to sleep.
"Just a moment..."
"Blaaaazzzeeeehhheeeart! It's been a moment!"
A chorus of voices yelled into Blazeheart's ear. She had promised Sun's kits the night before that she would teach them how to hunt like a MoonClan cat. Now, the litter of kits, led by Whistling Reeds, was pestering her to get up.
"It's only dawn," she mewed as she opened her eyes. "The prey won't be out yet."
"But you can still show us the technique!" squeaked Dawn Skies, his blue eyes shining with excitement.
"Yeah," mewed Spring Rain, dropping into a fake hunter's crouch.
"You've almost got that perfect," she mewed, astonished that the kit would almost get it on the first try. "Just keep your haunches and tail still." She guided the kit into the position, and Spring Rain's siblings did the same. Suddenly, she heard hissing and spitting outside.
"I'll be right back," she told the kits, and bolted out of her den. Outside, she found Chase battling with a golden tom. "Chase, stop it!" she yowled.
"He was after the kits," Chase growled, looking around quickly as if the tom behind him might take him by surprise. Blazeheart realised that the tom was Lionstrike.
"Lionstrike, what are you doing here?" she snapped. "Why in StarClan's name did you follow me?!"
"I was worried about you," he mewed, sounding hurt. "Your sister said you went out a lot-"
"She's not my sister!" she yowled. "This is my real family!" Then, realising her mistake, she turned tail and fled to her den.
Lionstrike followed her. "Why... why didn't you tell me?" he asked softly.
"Because I thought you would reject me if you knew my family were loners."
"Blazeheart, I would never reject you. I love you."
"You really mean it?"
"Of course! I just hope your family don't reject me."
"They will, trust me."
It was sunhigh when the two cats left. Sun said the longest goodbye.
"Nice mate you have there," the golden she-cat whispered into her ear. "Mind if I steal him?"
The two she-cats let out mrrows of laughter then said goodbye.
When Lionstrike and Blazeheart were a few fox-lengths away from the back camp entrance they heard Quickstar announce a meeting and hurried to take their place in their Clan. They carefully dropped many pieces of prey onto the pile to defend their disguise of having gone on an overnight hunting trip.
"I bet they went and rolled in wildflowers together," she heard Frogfoot groan.
Blazeheart looked at Frogfoot, annoyed at the brown tom's remark. Then she saw Lightwhisker sitting next to him. Owlclaw's tail was wrapped around hers. The she-cat was looking plump. Frogfoot was gazing at the light brown and white she-cat wistfully. He's in love with her, Blazeheart thought. She hadn't thought about the underbelly of the Clan for a while. She could see Sweetwind gazing lovingly at Blackstep, the ShadeClan deputy. If they were to become mates, it would only be able to continue until BoneClan was defeated and ShadeClan could move back into their own territory.
"Today, MoonClan have a new warrior to make," Quickstar announced proudly. "Rustlepaw, please step forward."
"Why can't we become apprentices?" Etchkit complained to her sister, Yellowkit at the nursery entrances.
"I want to be a warrior noooooww!" Yellowkit squeaked.
"Hush!" Orangeleaf complained, ushering the two kits out of the nursery. "You're becoming apprentices today! Now stay quiet for Rustlepaw's ceremony." The ginger queen began to lick her kits' pelts vigorously, starting with Yellowkit. The black she-kit grumbled but did not pull away.
"Rustlepaw, from this moment on you will be known as Rustlewind. StarClan honours your courage and vigilance." Nightbreeze turned her gaze from the queen and kits beside her back to Quickstar.
"Rustlewind Rustlewind!" The MoonClan and ShadeClan cheered their support. It was the first time Nightbreeze had noticed that the two Clans were becoming one Clan. I hope we don't become MoonshadeClan, she thought to herself, twitching her whiskers in amusement. That would be one weird name. She blinked in confusion when Toadstar spoke.
"ShadeClan have two new apprentices to make," Toadstar mewed. "Yellowkit and Etchkit, please step forward." The two kits did as their leader told them, trying to keep their excitement under wraps.
"Young kits, you have reached the age of six moons. It is time for you both to be apprenticed. Yellowkit, from this day forward you will be known as Yellowpaw. Shadownight, I give you your second apprentice and I hope now that you have recovered from the death of your first. I'm sure little Glimmerpaw is looking down on you proudly from StarClan." A black she-cat cautiously climbed up the Tallrock, managing to get to the top. "Skipperflight taught you well. I hope you pass down your skills to Yellowpaw," he continued. Shadownight touched noses with her new apprentice, then the two cats disappeared into the crowd of Clan cats. "Etchkit, from this day on you will be known as Etchpaw," Toadstar went on. "Unfortunately, ShadeClan are low on experienced warriors, so on this rare occasion, I am going to give you to a MoonClan mentor."
Shock rippled through the two Clans. "But that's crazy!" Duckfeather called out.
"I've never seen such a thing in all my seasons," Yellowtooth, a ShadeClan elder, yowled crossly. "What are you thinking?"
"I have chosen to do this because Quickstar and I have discussed this and we think this could bring our two Clans together. We will possibly be living in this camp for a long time, maybe even longer than Etchkit's apprenticeship. Without further ado, Bearstep, please join us on the Highrock."
Nightbreeze nearly reeled in shock as the brown tabby tom nervously braved the accusing eyes of the two Clans.
"Young warrior, I've heard much about you," the ShadeClan leader meowed. "I hope you will pass on your extraodinary mentoring skills to young Etchpaw."
"Yellowpaw!" the two Clans cheered. "Etchpaw!" they yowled again, with less enthusiasm. She saw Orangeleaf's eyes grow dull with worry. "Etchpaw will be fine," she reassured the ginger queen, resting her tail on the other she-cat's shoulder. "My mate is a good cat. He will make Etchpaw a fine cat too."
Cats started to swarm off to their dens or to their patrols, but Wolftalon halted them. He now stood on the Tallrock, and for the first time, Nightbreeze saw that his grey muzzle was flecked white with age, and his golden eyes looked dull with weariness. Even his pelt was lank. "As most of you know, I was older than Quickstar when I became deputy. I have decided to retire to the elder's den," he announced. Quickstar nodded reluctantly in agreement. "Wolftalon, is it your wish to give up the name of the deputy of MoonClan and to go to join the elders?" she asked, beginning the age-old ceremony.
"It is," he replied sadly.
"Your Clan honors you and all the service you have given to us. I call upon StarClan to give you many moons of rest," Quickstar finished. "I will choose a new deputy by moonhigh."
The two Clans streamed off in different directions.
At moonhigh that night, the Clans were already gathered before Quickstar's yowl. The MoonClan leader sat on the Tallrock, her light brown fur shimmering in the moonlight.
"I have made my decision," she mewed. "I say this before the spirits of StarClan, so they may hear and approve of my choice. The new deputy of MoonClan will be Bearstep."
"What?!" Foxpelt yowled. The Clan erupted into murmurs. Even Nightbreeze was shocked.
"Father's deputy!" Moonkit yowled excitedly, a little too loud. Mudkit nodded in agreement. She flicked her tail over Moonkit's muzzle.
"Inside voice, please."
"But we're outside," Aspenkit pointed out.
"Yes, but there's a Clan meeting going on," she replied. She purred at her kits' enthusiasm. "There's a Gathering tonight. When you're an apprentice, you can speak up there." She licked Aspenkit's head.
Suddenly, caterwauls echoed from the camp entrance. Heronstep, who had been guarding the camp entrance, bolted into camp, her eyes wide with fear. "BoneClan are attacking!" she yowled, just before the rogues broke through the camp entrance, led by Ember, who swatted the blue-grey she-cat aside.
"Don't you dare treat my former mentor like that!" Nightbreeze yowled defiantly. She charged straight at Ember. She leapt onto him and tried to slice her claws across his face, but he rolled out of the way. She jumped as he tried to hook her paws out from under her. His inner guard soon dragged her off him and thrust her to the ground a few fox-lengths away.
"I'm sorry," one of them whispered, a silver she-cat. She clearly didn't want to be in BoneClan. She looked to fragile to be in there, and she flinched every time Ember moved. Fear had driven her into the rogue Clan. But she could see muscles rippling beneath the she-cat's pelt and realised that the she-cat could look after herself.
"This is not very good manners, Quickstar," Ember chided, flicking his tail at Nightbreeze.
"What do you want, Ember?" Quickstar snarled. She and Shadestar had the advantage of height on the Tallrock.
"I only want to talk," the black tom mewed a little too pleasantly. "About your territory."
Blazeheart was horrified that BoneClan had invaded her home. Yet again, they wanted territory. Well, they're not going to get it, she thought, snarling.
"You will never claim this territory," Quickstar mewed, shaking her head almost as if she thought it was funny.
"Oh, dear. Then we'll have to do this the hard way," Ember hissed. Two BoneClan warriors bolted to the nursery.
"No! Not my kits!" Nightbreeze yowled. Orangeleaf and Rockshadow tried to stop them from getting in but the rogues were too strong. Mewling erupted from the nursery.
"Leave my kits alone!" Bearstep yowled and bounded forward. Blazeheart followed him at top speed. She slashed at a dark tabby tom. The tom turned around, too late. She knocked his paws out from under him and kicked him backwards so he skidded across the dirt. Bearstep managed to throw off a very dark brown tom. She spun around, panting, to see Ember watching her from across the clearing.
"You're mine," he yowled, and charged towards her. ShadeClan, MoonClan and BoneClan surged forward, starting a battle. Ember viciously leapt onto her and slashed at her belly. As the pain burned under her fur, she kicked him off with her back legs. She threw herself onto his shoulders, but he rolled and winded her. She went limp, and he stood up cautiously. She sprang upwards and pinned him to the ground.
"Go on," he hissed. "Do it. Kill me."
"No!" shrieked a voice from the other side of the clearing. "Blazeheart, stop it! He's my brother!"
The voice was Sweetwind's. She stood, frozen with horror, her beautiful cream fur stained with blood. The battle went quiet. Some cats froze were they stood, others scrambling to their paws.
"My kit," Wolftalon murmured. "I thought you were dead."
"Father, father, father," Ember chided. "You should have double checked! I'll leave you all to boil over. Ta-ta for now."
With that, he drew all of his rogues around him and left. The two cats that attacked the nursery lay groaning on the ground. Their fierce leader had just left them to die there. She rushed over to them. The dark tabby tom suddenly stopped groaning and went limp.
"He's dead," she breathed. "I killed him..."
"And you saved my kits." Nightbreeze licked her over the ear. "Thank you. Don't feel guilty. Those BoneClan scum deserve to die."
"Not this one." She glanced over to where the dark brown tom lay, twisting in agony. The two Clans watched, stunned, as she picked him up and padded over to Dapplestream's den.
"Blazeheart, no!" Rockshadow yowled, panic breaking her voice. "He tried to get our kits!"
"Leave him to die," Frogfoot hissed.
"Frogfoot..." Lightwhisker warned the warrior. Frogfoot gave her a bitter look and padded away to his den.
"Listen," she told the two Clans. "This is not an evil cat. He was probably forced to join BoneClan. I know how Ember works."
Quickstar nodded. "All of you-" she flicked her tail at the gathered cats "-go back to your dens. Bearstep, Blackstep, please organise a patrol to make sure that BoneClan has left our territory."
Bearstep and Blackstep nodded simultaneously.
"I'll take Drippingfur, Owclaw and Creekshine," mewed Bearstep.
"And I'll take Oakshadow, Bluecloud and Thinpaw," Blackstep added.
Blazeheart padded away with the injured cat still held tight in her jaws while the two Clans' attentions were focussed on the patrol organisation. She slipped through the entrance to Dapplestream's den.
"Dapplestream," she called. The medicine cat emerged. Just as the white flecked ginger she-cat came over, the tom's eyes opened. They were a scary ice blue.
"StarClan's grace!" the medicine cat gasped. "Who is that?"
"Do you know your name?" she asked.
"I... I can't remember..." he choked.
"He must have hit his head very hard," Dapplestream mewed sadly. "He has amnesia."
"I can remember... my brother. Shatter! Where is he? I was with him a moment ago."
He must have been the other tom, she thought.
"Your brother's..." Blazeheart struggled to tell him. "Dead."
"No! Shatter!" he cried, leaping to his feet.
"Settle down," Dapplestream reassured him. "Your brother is safe in StarClan now."
"StarClan? What's that?" the tom cocked his head to one side, puzzled.
"They really are rogues, then," the medicine cat murmured, shaking her head.
"We have to find something to call you," Blazeheart mewed.
She looked to the entrance of the den. A small breeze blew a feather across the entrance. It landed in between her claws.
"But shouldn't Quickstar name him?"
"Quickstar and the Clan don't care about him. I do," she mewed. "Well, Featherbreeze, what do you say?"
"It's a good name," Featherclaw mewed, a little happier.
I hope so, she thought.
Dear readers: EMBER WILL DIE! Trust me, in four chapters, he will die. Suspense, people. Suspense.
"Lionstrike, why didn't you tell me?"
Lionstrike looked into Blazeheart's eyes and found himself lost in them.
"You didn't tell me about your family," he replied.
"That's different. They're not the Clans' biggest threat!"
"Look, Blazeheart. I didn't know I had a sister. How was I meant to know I had a brother? And an evil, phsyco, Clan-domination-plans kind of one at that."
But he had known. It had been a long time since Lionstrike had thought of his past. He remembered considering returning. He hadsnuck out of the ForestClan camp one night when he was about an apprentice to go home. Outside the MoonClan camp was a moonlit bloodbath. And right in the center was a black kit. His eyes were opened. They had shone bright amber in the moonlight and a chill had run down Lionstrike's spine.
"How long have you been here?" he asked.
"Long enough to have eyes to see you, dear brother. I've heard much about you. I've been waiting for you."
Even in those first few days of his life, evil glittered in Ember's eyes. Lionstrike had run from them for years. He had run from everything.
"I just wonder how many more secrets you have, Lionstrike," Blazeheart hissed. "Clearly you don't trust me enough to tell me. I'm starting to regret telling you mine." His mate stormed out of the den.
"Blazeheart!" he called after her, but she didn't turn around. He saw Featherclaw stop Blazeheart. The flame-coloured she-cat said something to the dark brown tom, brushed her muzzle against Featherclaw's and dragged him out of camp.
"So it's a revenge game now, is it?" he mewed to himself, bounding out of the den. "No other toms, sweetie. Not on my watch."
He followed the two cats out of the camp and what he saw was horrifying. Blazeheart and Featherclaw were surrounded by BoneClan warriors. A brown tabby she-cat stepped out from amongst them.
"My father will be pleased with you," she mewed, circling Blazeheart. "Your claws will have the pride of place on his new collar."
Lionstrike longed to leap out and save his mate, but there were too many BoneClan warriors. He would have to warn the Clan and follow them when he had enough cats to overwhelm them.
"Lay a claw on me and you'll wish you hadn't," Blazeheart growled.
Tell that to phsyco murder princess, Lionstrike thought.
"Is that so? Bare, Shriek, get her." The she-cat flicked her brown tabby tail at a pale cream tom and a light grey she-cat. Blazeheart lashed out at them as they advanced towards her. She had nicked the tom's ear.
"Don't resist, sweetheart," the she-cat mewed. "I am Talon, deputy of BoneClan. If you hurt my Inner Guard, then my father will be very unhappy. And if I were you, I wouldn't want the BoneClan leader having an even bigger vendetta with me."
"Your father's... Ember?"
"Yes," Talon mewed simply. "Got a problem with that?"
Featherclaw flicked his tail over Blazeheart's mouth, and for once, Lionstrike was thankful for the young tom being there.
The BoneClan patrol soon left with their prisoners. Lionstrike ran back to camp as fast as he could.
"Blazeheart and Featherclaw have walked into a trap!" he yowled. "BoneClan have them!"
Nightbreeze's head popped out of the nursery entrance. "I thought she was with you!"
"We- we had an argument."
"Calm down, Nightbreeze." Bearclaw pressed his muzzle against the black queen's. He felt a pang of guilt for arguing with Blazeheart.
"I'm afraid there's nothing we can do," Toadstar mewed, bounding down from the Tallrock. "BoneClan is too strong. And besides, Blazeheart can look after herself."
"This time, Ember wants to kill her!" Lionstrike yowled angrily. "I heard his dau- deputy talking to her!" He didn't want to reveal he another relative who he had no idea existed.
"And since when do you tell MoonClan what to do, anyway?" Frostlight had joined the argument.
"You're not our leader!" Foxpelt yowled defiantly.
"He's ours!" Lionclaw growled.
"ShadeClan is a great Clan! We should call the shots around here," Duckfeather spat.
"What?" a voice yowled.
"How dare you!"
Caterwauls and yowls of defiance and rang across the camp. Tension rippled through the air. Every cat's haunches were bunched, waiting to spring and fight.
"Silence!" Quickstar yowled. The noise died down. "MoonClan, I would expect you to have more respect for your leaders." She flicked her tail in Toadstar's direction. "And ShadeClan, behave yourselves. You're not apprentices- and this is most certainly not your camp."
Duckfeather muttered something to Brackenberry under his breath. The mottled brown she-cat cuffed him over the ear.
"We must think about this rationally," Quickstar continued. "BoneClan defeated us last time. We can't have that happen again."
"Agreed," Lionstrike mewed.
"But we can't abandon a Clanmate," the MoonClan leader went on. "We need a plan. I will discuss things with Toadstar."
The light brown she-cat rested her tail on Toadstar's shoulder and led him into their den.
"Clearly you don't trust me enough to tell me." His mate's words played over and over in his head. Why hadn't he told her? And now she was gone, maybe forever if what Talon had said was true.
Nightbreeze's eyes flickered open. She stifled a purr as she saw her kits sleeping beside her. Mudkit was on his back and his ears twitched as if he were listening to something. Suddenly, he sprang upwards and his eyes opened wide.
"Shhh," she comforted him, licking him over the ear. "It was just a dream."
"But Blazeheart, and the dens, and the cats with stars in their fur! They were all so real!"
"Wait... the cats with stars in their fur? Where did they say they were from?"
"They-they said they were from S-starClan," Mudkit stammered.
"You remember what StarClan is, don't you?"
"Y-yes. They're our warrior ancestors."
"I'm glad you remembered," she purred.
"Me too! After all, I want to be a medicine cat," he mewed proudly.
"A medicine cat..." she trailed off. She had always imagined that her kits would be brave, courageous warriors fighting and hunting for the good of MoonClan, and maybe even ShadeClan now. She'd never imagined that any of her kits, let alone Mudkit, would aspire to be a medicine cat. She would be proud of him, of course... but she also felt a little disappointed.
"And what did they tell you?" She had a feeling she was on to something.
"They told me that Blazeheart was in trouble... and that the only way to save her was to find her real family."
"Her real family?"
"Didn't you know, Nightbreeze? Blazeheart's mother is a rogue."
"A rogue?!" she mewed shaking her head. "Oh, just go back sleep."
"No 'buts'. Now!" she cut in.