When the Time Comes
PrologueEditThe dark forest trees whispered cold secrets in the frozen wind, and the fungus glowed eerily. It was sad, lonely and depressing. That’s what it was supposed to be. A muscular tan colored Tom with brown, black, and white markings padded over the ice cold pine needles, his head lowered and his tail and ears erect.
“Dung I hate this forest.”
He raised his head to see a small grey kit with stars in his pelt sitting at the edge of The Dark Forest. This was where starclan and Dark forest met.
“Pebblekit?” The large tom padded over to the kit at top speed and skidded to a halt in front of him. “Great Stars above! You… I’m…” he stopped and lowered his head. “I’m sorry… so sorry.”
Purring, the kit touched noses with the tom. “Strikefire… it’s me who should be sorry. If it weren’t for me you wouldn’t be in dark forest.”
“That’s not true!” Strikefire’s fur bristled, and his eyes blazed with rage. “I…I killed you.”
“Oh don’t start that again!” spat Pebblekit, turning away and walking towards the Starclan trees. “Come on, they’re waiting for you. And I’m freezing in my pelt.”
“Oh so I’m allowed in now?” Strikefire smirked, following his brother.
“If Starclan is going to talk to you, then yes. It’s not safe to talk out here.” Pebblekit gave Strikefire a stern look. “And for the record, I was an idiot to get too close to the river in the first place. You had nothing to do with it.”
Strikefire didn’t answer for a few seconds, letting the warmth of starclan thaw his frozen body and looking at the sparkling trees and the beauty of the cats milling about him, stars glimmering in their pelts. His own pelt hung dull and ungroomed. Finally he spoke.
“I should have hung on. I should have died with you.” His voice had an edge to it.
Pebblekit opened his mouth to answer but another voice cut in.
“Welcome Strikefire, son of Tigerstar and Leopardstar. I’m sure you and your brother have much to talk about, but we have important business at hand.”
Pebblekit and Strikefire unlocked gazes to look at a ragged furred grey she cat with a scar covered muzzle. Her yellow eyes were narrowed impatiently.
“Yellowfang.” Strikefire closed his eyes and bowed his head in mock respect, a thin smirk on his face. “You’re as sweet and charming as ever.”
“I don’t have time to listen to your mousebrained jokes. The stars will move out of position very soon and I have to explain what it is you must do.” Yellowfang unsheathed her claws and tore the grass from under her. A blue she cat strode over to them.
“Strikefire, if it weren’t for your brother’s love for you we would have never even considered what we are about to now.” Bluestar (for that was who it was) growled.
Strikefire examined his claws arrogantly. “Whatever. Just tell me what it is I’m supposed to do.”
“This is your chance to enter Starclan. You will be made a living cat, and given the chance to live another life, and do a good deed worthy of Starclan.” Yellowfang wrapped her tail around her paws.
“Is that it? All I have to do is a good deed?” Strikefire cocked his head. “Doesn’t sound too hard.”
Bluestar sighed. “It will be. When the time comes.”
"Also." a brown cat walked out. Strikefire recognized him as Mudfur, his grandfather and best friend. "The clans you know are in serious trouble. some cats will leave to start a new clan. we want you to join those cats, so be on the lookout."
"A new clan?" Strikefire cocked his head. "I thought you were going to put me into riverclan again as a kit."
"No." Pebblekit shook his head. "You are going to be the age you were when you died, and you will be far from the clan territories, so all the peices of the plan can fit together."
"I see." Strikefire nodded.
“And also, you’ll need a new name. You are beginning a new life, and that requires a new name.” Yellowfang stood up. “From now on, your name is Howl. And you’re a loner.”
Howl smiled. “That’s not a bad name. Coming from you I was expecting something stupid.”
Yellowfang bared her teeth and made as if to attack him, but smoothed her fur down. “It’s time for you to go. Good luck Howl. You’re going to need it.”
The trees and cats in front of Howl seemed to fade from his vision. The last thing he heard before the darkness overwhelmed him was Pebblekit’s voice.
“Good bye Howl. and may you live the dreams we had when we were kits.”
Jayfeather sat beside the moonpool, his tail curled around his body. He was dreaming, he knew this. he looked up as a tortoise shell with a white muzzle bounded over to him.
“Why’d you bring me here tonight Spottedleaf?”
Spottedleaf purred and rubbed her head against Jayfeathers chest in greeting. “Now that’s no way to speak to an old Friend Jayfeather! I’m glad to see you again.”
Jayfeather ruffled his fur with embarrassment. “Is this… message important?”
Spottedleaf suddenly became serious. She nodded. “Yes. Your neice, Shadowpaw, has been one of the cats chosen to begin a new clan.”
“A new clan??”
“The four clan will be sieged by rogues. we have chosen a pawful of cats form the four to begin a new clan far from the rogues, so if all fails, the warrior code will not be forgotten. And We need your help. you must use your powers to guide them in dreams in ways we cannot.” Spottedleaf sighed and her ears drooped. “The rogues are getting more powerful and more clan blood is being shed. We believe Shadowpaw and these other cats hold the answer. Will you help them?”
Jayfeather stood up. “Of course! Shadowpaw is my brother’s daughter, and my best friend. I’ll help her in any way I can. But won’t you tell me what I need to do?” he shrugged sulkily. “I don’t like stumbling in the dark much.”
Spottedleaf turned away. “You’ll know what to do when the time comes. Good night Jayfeather. Pleasant dreams.” She disappeared.
Jayfeather woke in darkness, the scent of the medicine den wafting through his nostrils. He sighed and laid his head on his paws.
“For Shadowpaw’s sake I hope you’re right Spottedleaf.”
"So, excited about your first gathering?" Owlface cocked his head down to look at Shadowpaw.
Shadowpaw dug her claws into the earth. "I'm actually really nervous." she bit her lip. it had been two days since she and her sister, Turtlepaw, had been made aprentices, and they were going to their first gathering. Shadowpaw was the smallest cat ever, having been born a runt, so she was unsure what the other cats would think of her. "I'm so tiny. i'll make the clan seem weak."
"You'll just make yourself look weak." a snide voice said from behind her. shadowpaw didn't turn around knowing perfctly well who it was.
"Shut up Ashkit." Owlface said coldly, turning to Ferncloud and Dustpelts kit. "Your just jealous because you sprained your paw so you have to wait to be made an aprentice."
Ashkit sneered. "I'm a much better fighter than that stupid runt. she was just made an aprentice cause she's Lionstars daughter."
"oh really?" an amused voice purred from behind ashkit. Shadowpaw grinned as she saw her mother, Cinderheart, and her father, Lionstar walk up behind Ashkit. Cinderheart had a raised eyebrow and Lionstar was scowling.
"If you have issues with Shadowpaw being perfectly healthy and bing six moons old, Ashkit." Lionstar growled. "Then you take it up with me, not her."
Ashkit fluffed up his fur and sat sulkily, not meeting Lionstars gaze.
"Good." Lionstar glanced at the warriors. "Ready to go?"
"Wait. Jayfeathers not here yet." Cinderheart had been taking a headcount. she had been made deputy despite the fact she had been nursing Shadowpaw and Turtlepaw at the time, and had done her duties well.
"I'm here now." an emotionless voice called. Jayfeather made his way from his Den, Briarlight watching him from the entrance. "Briarlight had a headache."
Shadowpaw beamed at Briarlight, who had been like her second mother when Cinderheart had to keep up with her duties. Briarlight beamed back.
"Come on fuzzball." Lionstar nudged her affectionately. "you'll love the gathering. your friendly enough to get all the clans to fall over backwards for you. you don't have to worry about anything."
Turtlepaw gave Shadowpaw a playful push. "Or you'll talk their ears off so they'll surrender! what are we waiting for?" she bounced around happily. "I'm excited! and don't forget, it's Owlface's first gahtering as a warrior!"
Owlface puffed out his golden chest with pride. Shadowpaw thought he looked like a bullfrog. apparently Turtlepaw thought so too, because she poked him in the chest hard. "Being a warrior isn't the same as clan leader mouse-brain!"
"On the subject of talking cats ears off." Cinderheart said sternly. "turtlepaw, need i remind you to talk less and listen more tonight?"
"Yes Cinderheart." Turtlepaw's ears flattened humbly, but she perked up again and raced after everyone else leaving the camp.
"Hedhogs might fly." grumbled Jayfeahter, standing wearily up. Owlface and Shadowpaw followed him