“Mysticpaw, how did he do during the night?” asked a soft yet somewhat harsh voice. A small cat stirred near his side, yawning as she woke.
“He didn’t seem to be any pain or anything,” said the cat next to him whose name Rainpaw knew as Mysticpaw. “He did seem to be having some happy dreams, though. He kept laughing and running in his sleep as if he were a kit.” The first she-cat seemed to laugh at this, but then the sound stopped.
“How are the kits, Silverdew?” asked Mysticpaw. “Did they make it through the night?” It was quiet for a few seconds, making Rainpaw want to wake up faster. He’d been waiting quite a while to hear about the kits. Well, he wasn’t awake all that time, but still.
“Yes, they’re all happy with Reedfeather at the moment,” said Silverdew, the first she-cat who’d spoken. “The runt, the golden brown one, nearly died but he’s happy now. They need constant watching, however. You never know when they might take a turn for the worst.”
“That’s good,” said Mysticpaw as she seemed to stand and walked a few steps away from him. “Those kits were really cute. I just wish I knew who their real mother is. It must have been a sibling or something for this tom to have come so far considering his wounds and the blizzard.”
“It’s not a sibling,” said Silverdew. “I actually think it’s his mentor. You know, the long-haired black she-cat he had with him last time he came here? I think that she finally had her kits, but for some reason she couldn’t keep them.”
“But why bring them here?” asked Mysticpaw then. “Couldn’t his mentor just give the kits to another nursing Queen, or maybe to WindClan or ShadowClan?”
“Why would he do that?” snapped Silverdew. “ShadowClan is probably unfamiliar to him, since he’s a loner, and I heard WindClan did want him. For all we know, his mentor could have told him to bring the kits to another Clan and, feeling that we were the best place, brought them here. It was just his luck that got him caught up in a blizzard with those wounds.”
“He must be unlucky then,” Mysticpaw decided. “After all, do you think any other nine moon old apprentice has walked in on a fox when carrying three kits while a blizzard was going on?” Silverdew chuckled a bit at this.
“No, Mysticpaw,” said Silverdew. “I don’t think that’s ever happened before.”
Rainpaw finally started to wake up then, after listening to their interesting conversation. His eyes flickered open while his body seemed to tense up a bit. Mysticpaw and Silverdew both grew quiet, both of them look at him. Rainpaw did his best to sit up, though after a few seconds he just decided to lay there on his belly where he felt most comfortable.
Both she-cats in front of Rainpaw were obviously medicine cats. The youngest one, Mysticpaw, was a white and grey tabby she-cat with deep amber eyes that reminded him of fire. Silverdew, the older one, was a silvery grey she-cat with sharp yellow eyes.
“D-do you feel okay?” asked Mysticpaw with uncertainty. Rainpaw shrugged.
“I’ve felt worse,” Rainpaw muttered. “But it’s better than I did yesterday, that’s for sure.” Mysticpaw seemed to smile then, happy that she’d done a good job on healing him. Silverdew, however, seemed a bit more cautious.
“You must be insane, carrying three kits like that through a blizzard,” Silverdew sneered. “Do you have any idea how much danger you were in?”
“Yep,” said Rainpaw simply. “And don’t worry, a ShadowClan dawn patrol already gave me that lecture. I was doing it for a friend of mine—yes, my mentor—and I wasn’t worried of dying. If you want, you can call me crazy, because in a way, I did go insane yesterday.”
“I heard of that from Cloudpaw,” hissed Silverdew. “Exactly how crazy were you?” Rainpaw growled lowly for warning then, but just sighed to get his anger down.
“Enough to kill, Silverdew,” Rainpaw replied. “Your friends were actually lucky that the fox knocked me out before I killed it. The kits were lucky as well, actually, and so was I. If you want to know anything else you’ll need to speak with Bravestar.” Silverdew narrowed her eyes and stared at him for a few moments before shaking her head and looking away.
“Speaking of Bravestar, do you know where he is?” asked Rainpaw. He lowered his head then. “I have a feeling he’d want to talk to me once I’d woken up. . .”
“He’s asleep in his den, getting ready for the gathering,” hissed Silverdew. “And if I were you I’d stay right where you are until I tell you to get up, understand?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Rainpaw muttered as he lay back down to rest.
“What did you say?” asked Silverdew, actually more curious than angry. Rainpaw stopped breathing for a moment as he realised that cats didn’t understand the formal saying of “ma’am”.
“Er, nothing, Silverdew,” said Rainpaw. “Just talking to myself.” Silverdew seemed to leave then, as did Mysticpaw. Rainpaw was happy now that he got peace and quiet.
Well, not for long. The familiar scent of Cloudpaw filled his nose as she walked in a few moments after Silverdew left, though she hesitated. Rainpaw could tell she was afraid, and he didn’t blame her. However, he did wish that she would realise that he wasn’t insane and kill-crazy.
Cloudpaw seemed to lie down beside him, but she was still shaking with fear. Rainpaw tried not to move, trying to look asleep. He really wasn’t doing all that well, but it was enough to fool her. He smiled as her fur brushed his—it was so warm.
“Oh, wow,” she muttered to herself. “Silverdew was right: your fur is cold.” Cloudpaw seemed to calm down a bit then, probably feeling like she needed to warm him up more than she needed to be afraid of him. She sighed after a while, startling Rainpaw a bit.
“I just can’t believe you’d take such a risk,” said Cloudpaw, pretending to talk to Rainpaw. She was probably doing this to calm herself down. “I mean, if she wanted to take the kits somewhere, couldn’t she just have done it herself? She made you go through a blizzard! A-and with those wounds? I’m surprised you made it to RiverClan at all. And then with the fox, you were just unlucky. I-I’m afraid to ask about the whole “going insane” thing you did, mostly because I’m afraid you’ll do it again. You should have seen how scary you looked!”
“I’m sure I look scary enough to frighten a leader,” said Rainpaw then, startling Cloudpaw. The small apprentice suddenly got up and took a few steps back all while keeping her eye on Rainpaw. He sat up, seeing it fit to let her know he was actually awake.
Cloudpaw’s eyes were wide but she still seemed to be trying to hide the embarrassment. Rainpaw laughed, then, making her tilt her head in confusion.
“W-what?” asked Cloudpawpaw, curiosity burning in her bright blue eyes.
“You really were scared of me when I nearly killed the fox, weren’t you?” said Rainpaw, still laughing a bit. “I’m surprised! After meeting you a few weeks ago I thought nothing could scare the great almighty Cloudpaw!” Cloudpaw seemed unsure then, as if she were surprised that he was acting like this.
“Cloudpaw, I’m not crazy,” Rainpaw insisted, sounding a bit more serious now. “It’s just what happens when my scar is scratched—really! I don’t know why it does that, but it always has. Trust me, I hate it when that happens.”
“So you’re not evil?” asked Cloudpaw curiously yet cautiously. Rainpaw shook his head.
“Not unless my scar is scratched, which doesn’t really happen often,” Rainpaw replied. “Just the same boring loner cat that came to ThunderClan three or so moons ago.” Cloudpaw smiled and giggled then, licking his face.
“Well that’s good,” said Cloudpaw. “I was starting to wonder if I was talking to a monster.” Rainpaw frowned a bit when she said that, but then he put on a brave face and smiled.
“Sorry I was being so stupid,” Cloudpaw apologised, lowering her head. “I didn’t know what to think of you.” Rainpaw smiled before licking her cheek.
“It’s okay,” Rainpaw reassured her. “You can think of me however you want.
“That’s mouse-brain!” hissed Wolfheart, his pale yellow eyes narrowing tightly. “Why would she send you to give me the kits? Why not send a whole patrol?”
“It was meant to be secret,” Rainpaw growled. “She didn’t want anybody to know that she even had the kits so that they wouldn’t notice when they were gone.” Rainpaw was getting very irritated—he had just explained everything to the frustrating deputy, and yet he still didn’t seem to get it. Bravestar, on the other hand, seemed a bit more understanding.
“Couldn’t she have at least told Ravenstar?” asked Bravestar kindly. “It would have been the better thing to do.” Rainpaw sighed and shook his head.
“No, because I don’t think that he would let me go on in a blizzard with wounds like this and three kits,” Rainpaw replied. “He hardly lets me out at all anymore after the episode that happened last time I came here.” Wolfheart growled lowly for some reason, seeming very angry and distressed.
“She couldn’t have wanted the kits to be with me,” said Wolfheart, as if he didn’t even notice that two others were near him. “Not after what she said a half-moon ago. It’s unbelievable.”
“Wolfheart, I told you, she couldn’t keep the kits,” Rainpaw reminded him. “She wanted you to have them, stating that if she couldn’t have them, it was only right that you did.” Wolfheart just shook his head, making Rainpaw roll his eyes. Bravestar seemed a little more concerned, however.
“Rainpaw, you do realise that you’re giving us three mouths to feed, one of which might not even live through the next full moon?” asked Bravestar. “It’s a lot of work to take care of two kits, Rainpaw, but three? Reedfeather will need her strength of this, and to get that she will need food that we do not have.”
“I understand,” Rainpaw replied. “And if you do not want them I will take them back to ThunderClan when I’ve recovered.” Bravestar’s eyes widened a bit.
“You’d be willing to do that?” asked Bravestar. “After all of the work they’ve proven to be already?” Rainpaw nodded.
“As I said before, their mother means the world to me, and therefore if they died, I would count it as a failure, something I’ve seen too much of already.” Rainpaw answered. “If these kits died, I don’t think I’ll be sane. I don’t know how to explain it. . .it’s as if, by talking the vow that I would bring them here, I’ve now vowed to protect them until they are home as well. I’ve done this before, but I failed last time, and I will not do so again.” Bravestar eyed Rainpaw suspiciously for a few moments before shaking his head.
“You are a mysterious cat, Rainpaw,” said Bravestar. “And I’m just praying to StarClan that being unknown is a good thing.” Rainpaw smiled a bit then, and soon it was quiet.
“I’ll send a patrol to escort him back,” said Wolfheart after a long while. “ThunderClan will be missing him.”
“No,” Bravestar growled, his eyes still on Rainpaw. “Rainpaw will stay here until the Gathering. He needs time to recover before he can return to his Clan, and if he waits until the Gathering it will give him enough time. However, you should tell the dawn patrol to catch the ThunderClan patrol to let them know we have their apprentice and that we will be returning him at the Gathering.” Wolfheart narrowed his eyes, but didn’t say anything. He just left.
“You didn’t have to do that,” said Rainpaw. “I could have made it back on my own.” Bravestar shook his head.
“You just don’t know when to rest, do you?” asked Bravestar. “Stop giving away your life so freely—fight, and you’ll actually find that sometimes it’s better to let others take care of you rather than just do everything yourself.” Rainpaw tilted his head, confused as to what Bravestar was talking about. After a few seconds, however, he left the den and headed for their camp.
It was a peaceful afternoon, actually. Smokekit, Maplekit, and Oakkit were all playing happily, awaiting their apprentice ceremony that was soon to come. The elders were sunning themselves by some rocks, a few Warriors were sharing some fresh-kill, and a few others were having quiet conversations.
Rainpaw felt at ease. His wounds stung a little, but either than that it was, well, calm. It was something he hadn’t had the time to experience for a very long time.
“Hiya, Rainpaw!” said Cloudpaw, jumping up to him. Rainpaw jumped back to reality as the small black-and-white apprentice bounced beside him.
“Hi, Cloudpaw,” Rainpaw greeted, though when he saw a dark grey tom walk up to him his smile turned into a frown. This tom was very long and lanky, tall as well. He almost looked like the polar opposite of Rainpaw in conformation, and his narrowed bright blue eyes didn’t really help matters much. This tom did not look happy.
“Oh, this is Thunderpaw!” said Cloudpaw happily. “He’s a little angry at you for what happened the last time you came here, but he’ll get over it.” She then glared at her brother, narrowing her blue eyes. “You will, won’t you, brother?”
Thunderpaw didn’t answer at first, but then he relaxed a bit. “Whatever you say, Cloudpaw,” said Thunderpaw, though he still didn’t take his eyes off of Rainpaw. “As long as he behaves.” Thunderpaw left then, making Cloudpaw roll her eyes.
“Don’t mind him,” she said. “He has never really been fun.”
“It’s okay,” said Rainpaw. “I’m like that sometimes.” Cloudpaw, however, seemed to be trying to remember something and didn’t hear him.
“There was something I was supposed to tell you. . .” said Cloudpaw. “I was over visiting the kits, who was I talking to? Leopardclaw? No. . .OH! Reedfeather wanted you to help naming the new kits. Wolfheart didn’t want anything to do with them, so she sent me to go get you.” Rainpaw’s eyes widened. He hadn’t even thought of naming the kits, and right now he wasn’t really thinking up very many names.
“Oh. . .but I—” Rainpaw started.
“Oh, come on,” Cloudpaw insisted. “You carried them through a blizzard—you should at least be able to name one. Besides, Reedfeather wants you in there to see them. She’s been really wanting to see you.” Rainpaw thought about it for a few minutes, but then sighed and gave in.
“Okay,” he said. “Just don’t expect my names to be good. I’ve only been a Warrior cat for so long, you know.” Cloudpaw then took off, not even listening to the last part of his sentence. He followed reluctantly, trying to remember that these cats didn’t know about half of the stuff that he did.
When Rainpaw entered the den, he felt warm and comfortable. The smells were very good, and the sights were so cute. Leopardclaw, Wolfheart’s first mate, sat scolding Maplekit and Oakkit while Smokekit played with her sister’s tail. Waterstep, another queen, was nursing two kits while Reedfeather licked one of the five kits suckling at her belly.
Rainpaw walked over to her and instantly recognized the three kits that he’d brought over. They were a lot different from the other two kits, Foxkit and Mosskit. Foxkit was a flame coloured she-cat, and she was much bigger than the small golden tom he’d delivered. Mosskit was the soft grey she-cat, and the three kits he knew weren’t even close to that colour.
No, the three kits he’d brought over were much smaller than the two week kits they ate by. The black tom with a white tip on his tail was the biggest and the first born, if Rainpaw remembered right, and he seemed to be quite happy to finally have food in front of him.
The white she-cat was a bit smaller, but still larger than the golden tom. She had long fur like her mother, Thorntail, but that didn’t seem to get in her way. She did look like a little cottonball though.
The golden brown tom was the tiniest kit, probably three times smaller than Mosskit and Foxkit. He was gold like the sun when it’s setting—it isn’t orange, but it wasn’t a sand colour either. Just in the middle. It sort of reminded Rainpaw of dusk.
“So?” asked Reedfeather. “Do you know what you’re going to name them?”
“They aren’t mine!” Rainpaw reminded her. “Wolfheart should be naming at least one. . .”
“He doesn’t want them,” said Reedfeather with a very sad expression on his face. “He’s too mouse-brain to see what wonderful kit’s he has.” Rainpaw sighed, feeling that it would better if he didn’t argue.
“I don’t want to name all of them,” Rainpaw said then. “After all, you’re going to be the one taking care of them. It’s only fair that you name at least one.” Reedfeather looked like she was going to argue, but then she ducked her head.
“Well . . . I do have a name for the white one,” said Reedfeather. “She reminds me of the snow outside. The soft, fuzzy feeling you get when you’re inside watching it fall. I want to name her Snowkit.” Rainpaw smiled and nodded.
“That’s perfect for her,” he said. “Snowkit it is.”
“Maplekit, you get over here this minute!” Leopardclaw suddenly hissed. The dark ginger fur of Maplekit suddenly flashed by him, getting to the kits.
“They’re so cute!” exclaimed Maplekit. “I can’t believe they’re our siblings!”
“Half-siblings,” Leopardclaw corrected her daughter. “And they are too young for you to be around them. Get back over here! Now!” Maplekit’s ear flicked back to show she was listening, but she ignored her mother. Meanwhile, Smokekit and Oakkit were now joining their sister.
“Wow! They’re small!” said Smokekit.
“Very small,” Oakkit squeaked. “I wonder who their mother is. . .”
“Oakkit! Smokekit!” Leopardclaw yelled furiously. “Get over here!”
“But mum!” Maplekit whined. “They’re our siblings! I want to watch them!”
“Yeah, mum!” said Smokekit, “We should at least get to see them!”
“Well. . .”
“Pleeeeease?” the three kits begged all at once. Leopardclaw eyed them, but then sighed.
“Oh, alright,” she decided. “Just don’t get too close to them, okay?” The three kits nodded while Leopardclaw left, and then turned their attention to their siblings.
“The three of you came at a good time,” said Reedfeather then. “Rainpaw and I are naming the kits. So far, we’ve named the white one Snowkit. Would you like to name one?” The three of them nodded.
“Let’s name the black one Blackkit,” said Smokekit excitedly. “It suits his fur.”
“What about his tail, though?” asked Maplekit curiously. “We should name him Snowflakekit!”
“That’s a ridiculous name!” Smokekit argued, looking at her sister as if she was stupid. “Who would want the name their kit that?”
“Well then what about Ashkit?” asked Maplekit, trying to please her sister.
“The tip is white not grey!” Smokekit pointed out. “Cloudkit would be a better name.”
“No it wouldn’t!” Maplekit protested. “He’s mostly black, not white.”
“True,” said Smokekit thoughtfully. “Would Shadowkit work?”
“We can’t name him that!” said Maplekit. “There is already a Shadowpaw in ThunderClan!”
“What about Nightkit?” asked Oakkit then, the one who hadn’t even given one response during the kits’ argument. “The night has stars in it, which could represent his white tip on the tail, and the blackness of a moonless night could represent his fur. Would it work?” Smokekit and Maplekit looked at each other a bit before shrugging.
“That’s an excellent name, Oakkit!” Maplekit said cheerfully. “Why didn’t I think of that?”
“‘Cause you’re stupid,” said Smokekit teasingly. Maplekit glared at her brother playfully before jumping on him and starting a play-fight.
“Quit it you two!” hissed Reedfeather then, getting the two gets to stop almost immediately. “If you want to play go somewhere else. We still have the golden one to name.” The two kits then looked at the golden tom and tilted their heads.
“Why is he so small?” asked Maplekit, curiosity burning in her blue eyes.
“Because he was born that way,” said Rainpaw educationally. “Where I come from, we call those kinds of kits runts.”
“Well then that should be his name!” said Maplekit. “Runtkit!”
“Hey now,” said Rainpaw kindly. “It’s actually kind of rude to the kit to name it something like that. It’s like naming him Smallkit, to remind him of his shortness. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t like being called small.” The kits ducked their heads with embarrassed faces. “Besides, I want to name this kit. After all, I haven’t been able to yet.”
“Really?” asked Maplekit. Rainpaw nodded. “Okay, then. You name it. I bet you can’t come up with a better name than Oakkit did with Nightkit.” Rainpaw smiled before shrugging.
“How’s Duskkit?” asked Rainpaw. “His fur reminds me of the golden rays the sun gives off when it sets.” Maplekit scowled after that.
“Okay, you win,” she said. “Duskkit is a better name than Nightkit.”
“Nightkit’s a good name, too,” said Rainpaw, trying to make Maplekit happier. It was quiet after that, all of them watching the three kits feed off of Reedfeather’s milk. Rainpaw smiled, happy that he got to name Duskkit. He would always remember the day that he did, and therefore always remember the tom he was looking at, no matter what Clan he was in.
“So those are the names, then,” said Reefeather. “Snowkit, Nightkit, and Duskkit.
“Rainpaw, we’re ready,” said Bravestar after jumping down from whatever he was on to announce who he was going to take to the gathering. “We’ll wait for you by the camp entrance, but please don’t take too long. The other Clans will only wait so long.”
“I understand,” said Rainpaw, dipping his head respectively. Rainpaw then turned around to face Reedfeather, frowning as he realised what a friend he’d made. Now he’d have to leave her, and he didn’t want that. Rainpaw knew she was going to have to take care of the five kits on her own, and he just wished he could help.
Reedfeather licked him on the forehead then, noticing his displeasure. “I’ll be fine with the kits, trust me. I’ve taken care of a litter before, and I have Leopardclaw and Waterstep to help me.” Rainpaw nodded.
“If anything goes wrong with any of them—even Mosskit and Foxkit—please let me know however you can,” said Rainpaw. “I’ll be there for you, I promise. Wolfheart should be, but I guess I’ll just take the lucky job.” Rainpaw smiled, though he still felt uncomfortable leaving her. Reedfeather just nudged him, then, as Bravestar called for him.
Rainpaw turned his attention to the nursery where three kits came bounding up to him. It was Maplekit, Oakkit, and Smokekit. All of them looked very sad that they hadn’t been turned apprentices, but they all looked very excited for some reason.
“Thanks for letting us name Nightkit!” said Maplekit.
“Yeah, and don’t worry, you’ll see us again,” said Smokekit proudly. “Though the next time will hopefully be when we’re apprentices. I can’t wait until we are!”
“Good-bye, Rainpaw,” said Oakkit shyly. “I hope I see you soon.” Rainpaw laughed a bit.
“Yeah, I hope to see you soon too.” said Rainpaw, noticing his name was being called by Wolfheart angrily now. “Good-bye!”
Rainpaw then padded away, leaving his new friends behind. Bravestar nodded as he came and then led the Warriors and apprentices out of camp. Rainpaw fell behind everyone, feeling that he belonged last since he wasn’t exactly in this Clan.
Then he found that Thunderpaw was beside him, startling him a bit. Thunderpaw was staring at him, his bright blue eyes looking right into Rainpaw’s.
“What does Cloudpaw like about you?” Thunderpaw demanded. “I don’t see it. You could kill her, and yet she treats you like a friend.”
“Well, yeah,” Rainpaw replied. “We are friends. We understand each other.” Thunderpaw growled lowly, his teeth bared.
“What is there to understand?” Thunderpaw asked. “You’re an insane cat who thinks everyone is going to like him because he’s “special”. If you ask me, you’re faking it.” Rainpaw growled lowly, narrowing his eyes angrily.
“Faking it?” said Rainpaw. “How on earth could I fake it? Nobody is perfectly sane and then just like that snaps into insanity. Trust me, it’s not like that. I swear. Maybe your sister just likes me because I’m mysterious, and she thinks she needs to take care of me. That’s what my den-mate, Robinpaw, thinks of me in my opinion. To be honest, my whole Clan thinks that.”
“And you don’t mind?” asked Thunderpaw, widening his eyes. “You don’t mind that they like you just because they want to help you?”
“No, I don’t mind,” said Rainpaw truthfully. “It’s better than not being loved at all. In the future they might love me because of me and not just because of what I can become, but then again, maybe not. That doesn’t matter, though. I only care that I have a family because back when I was a loner, I had nothing. Now that I have something, I’m happy.”
“Wow,” said Thunderpaw, his eyes still wider than when they first began their conversation. “Someone like that would definitely get along with Cloudpaw. She likes to hang around people who want to protect, who don’t care how annoying she could be. I like that. She hasn’t found someone like that in a long time.” Rainpaw smiled at his words before turning his attention to where they were.
Rainpaw could smell ThunderClan, and now he knew why. They were close to the Gathering place from what he saw, because all three Clans seemed to be on a little island that had a fallen tree as a bridge. It was a very cool looking place, and he was wondering why he and Alfie hadn’t found it when he was human.
As RiverClan jumped onto the fallen tree, Rainpaw waited. His mind was racing as he got excited about going home to ThunderClan. However, he was polite as he waited. Finally, as the last RiverClan cat entered the Gathering place, Rainpaw leaped onto the slippery log and carefully walked across.
As Rainpaw reached the end, he jumped off of the log and into the Gathering place. There were so many sights and smells—it was so interesting. He looked continued looking around as RiverClan spread out, unable to take his eyes off of the pretty landscape.
“Rainpaw!” called a familiar voice. “Rainpaw, over here!” Rainpaw’s eyes turned toward Robinpaw, smiling as he saw Flamepaw and Amberpaw as well. He then ran up to his friends.
“Oh thank StarClan you’re okay!” said Robinpaw with a relieved expression. “We were all worried about you!”
“You were?” asked Rainpaw curiously. “But you knew that I’d be coming back!”
“We knew you were gone before that announcement, mouse-brain,” Robinpaw told him. “Everyone was looking for you! Oh, and the RiverClan patrol didn’t really help: ‘Your apprentice was found in RiverClan territory while one of our patrols was fighting off a fox. He unfortunately got in the middle of it and now carry’s serious wounds, and so will stay with our Medicine cat until the Gathering for recovery.’ Are you kidding me? Couldn’t Wolfheart have at least tell us how you were doing?”
“Wolfheart isn’t exactly the best cat to be around right now,” Rainpaw said, lowering his head. “He’s been a little moody around me, and I don’t know why.”
“So are you okay?” asked Robinpaw, ignoring what he’d just said. “You look terrible.” Rainpaw rolled his eyes.
“I’m fine, Robinpaw,” said Rainpaw. “The worst is over, and trust me, I’ve felt worse.” Robinpaw eyed him suspiciously, probably thinking he was lying, before looking away.
Rainpaw nearly jumped out of his skin as Cloudpaw yelled into his ear, but he calmed down as soon as he realised who it was.
“Oh, hi Cloudpaw,” Rainpaw greeted back politely before noticing Robinpaw glaring at Cloudpaw. “Oh, Robinpaw,” he said. “This is Cloudpaw. She was on the patrol that found the fox I ended up fighting. She’s been helping me around since then, and she’s really nice.” Robinpaw muttered out a “hello” and then looked away, forcing Rainpaw to frown. Robinpaw was getting jealous, he knew, and he just hoped that she would find that Cloudpaw wasn’t trying to steal him from her.
Rainpaw didn’t get any chance to tell her that, though. The Gathering had just started and everyone turned their attention to a big oak tree that the four leaders sat one. Bravestar sat on the highest branch while Ravenstar sat on the lowest. Rosestar, narrowing her eyes at the ground, sat on the second highest while Nightstar, ShadowClan’s leader, sat on the second to lowest branch. From what Rainpaw could tell, they seemed to be oldest to youngest.
Rosestar stood, then, her fur shining as the light from the moon bounced off of her coat. “I shall speak first,” she said. “Prey has been running well in our Clan, and we have not yet had any more run-ins with any loners. We have, however, had an invasion from a band of rogues a half-moon ago. We defended our camp easily and drove them off, though their scent seemed to disappear half way to ThunderClan territory.”
“I am happy that your Clan did not suffer from the attack,” said Bravestar then. “You must have had a good leaf-bare.” Rosestar nodded proudly, but did not say anything more. Nightstar stood after Rosestar sat down, his amber eyes looking at the Clan cats below.
“ShadowClan has lived through a harsh leaf-bare, and now has two new Warriors: Scorchspot and Tinyear.” The Clans began cheering, but then Nightstar lifted his tail for them to stop. “Besides that, ShadowClan has nothing new. However, I would like to mention a ThunderClan apprentice passing by. He’d fallen asleep—or collapsed I might say—on the two-length territory between our real borders and the lake. The patrol who found him noticed three kits, all of them days old. My patrol stated at he wanted to be left alone, and that he was heading to RiverClan. I don’t know that he made it, but none of patrols saw him after that.” Everyone was looking at Bravestar, now, awaiting the news on the mysterious ThunderClan apprentice. Robinpaw, however, was looking at him. He ducked his head, becoming even more embarrassed as a few more ThunderClan cats looked in his direction.
“The ThunderClan apprentice did make it, as did the kits,” said Bravestar. “Unfortunately, he came during a bad time. When he arrived in RiverClan he managed to run into a patrol of mine, one that was busy fighting a fox. He attracted the fox, turning everything into a disaster. The kits weren’t harmed, though the apprentice did get quite a few wounds. He is fine now, and has been reunited with his Clan just tonight. The kits are now being nursed by Reedfeather, a new queen of ours, and have taken the names of Nightkit, Snowkit, and Duskkit.
“I must tell you, however, that the kits have RiverClan blood in them. Their father is Wolfheart, though I don’t know the mothers name. Rainpaw, the apprentice who brought the kits, did not tell me. He only said that it was for a friend.” The murmuring then began. As Rainpaw’s name was said, they all started whispering to each other. All of them were similar, all of them wondering why an ex-loner would be doing anything for a friend and if that friend even existed. The murmuring stopped, however, as Bravestar began speaking again.
“I have decided to let the kits stay, as Rainpaw has told me the mother is too weak to nurse them. They will be raised in RiverClan, whether they are half-Clan cats or not. They are strong kits to have lived through their first few days of life.” Rosestar laughed, leaving all eyes on her.
“Is there a problem, Rosestar?” asked Nightstar, glaring at the cocky she-cat.
“There’s no problem here, Nightstar,” answered Rosestar. “I’m just wondering if my Clan is now the purest. I mean, after all, in the last three moons, ThunderClan has picked up a loner and, why look at that, RiverClan now has three half-Clan kits. I’m starting to wonder if it was RiverClan or ThunderClan that attacked WindClan, not actual rogues.” Many hisses and growls were heard throughout the Gathering Place, but Ravenstar and Bravestar did not look wavered from their usual expressions.
“Rainpaw has become a fine apprentice,” Ravenstar warned then. “He may be dangerous, but he is learning to be a great fighter, which he proved three nights ago before he took the kits to RiverClan. The rogues, probably the same that attacked WindClan, have attacked ThunderClan two times this moon. Rainpaw and his previous mentor, Thorntail, were hunting with Snowstorm, another Warrior of mine. The rogues surrounded the three of them and threatened them, though they were quick. Snowstorm was killed almost instantly, but they were not quick enough to kill the other two. Rainpaw broke free of their grip and distracted the rogues as Thorntail ran to get the rest of us. When we returned, seven bodies lay motionless on the ground. Dead. And unless another came to help him, which isn’t true, we can tell that Rainpaw did it all by himself.
“The second time he proved himself was three nights ago when the rogues actually attacked the camp. I wasn’t there to see him, but from my Warriors I can honestly say that he manage to wound two cats twice the size of himself, though he didn’t send them to retreat. Flamepelt, a new Warrior of mine, was there to help.
“It must have been then that Thorntail, the mother of the kits—” Ravenstar didn’t get to continue. The murmuring spread like a wild fire after he said Thorntail’s name. They all began to question how Rainpaw was even in this now, though they then figured it out that Rainpaw and Thorntail had become friends after nearly dying with each other, which wasn’t true. Thorntail was his first mentor—he would do anything for her. Ravenstar got it quiet, then, and continued.
“It must have been then that Thorntail, the mother of the kits, started kitting. Snowdrift, our medicine cat, must have told Rainpaw that Thorntail was too weak to raise the kits, and then the three of them must have decided to let Rainpaw take the kits to RiverClan. They did not get my permission for this, mind you. I have just realised where my apprentice was tonight.” Rainpaw felt sick, then, as Ravenstar’s eyes pierced into him. He was definitely going to get lectured when he returned to ThunderClan camp. It was quiet, then, before Ravenstar spoke again.
“Besides these unusual attacks and Rainpaw’s disappearance, all is well in ThunderClan. There was no green-cough this leaf-bare, and we now have two new Warriors: Flamepelt and Amberstorm. We also have two new apprentices, whose names are Frostpaw and Sweetpaw. Frostpaw’s mentor is Snowdrift, as he has decided to become a medicine cat apprentice. Sweetpaw’s mentor is Duskfeather.” Ravenstar then sat down, making Rosestar laugh again. Rainpaw seemed confused, as did everyone else, even Bravestar.
“Is that all you have to say?” asked Rosestar. “You’ve just announced that Thorntail, one of your Clan’s most loyal she-cats, has had kits that have the father of Wolfheart, RiverClan’s deputy, and then you just give a normal report? And what about that mouse-brain story of the rogue attacks?”
“Mouse-brain story?” asked Ravenstar. “Why is it a mouse-brain story? I was telling the truth—ask any of my Warriors.”
“Like they’d actually tell the truth,” hissed Rosestar. “It’s mouse-brained story because it’s impossible that a shrimp, such as your loner/apprentice, could take down seven full grown cats on his own. You’re just trying to gloat to the rest of us that you have the perfect apprentice.” Rainpaw growled lowly, alerting a few around him.
“Rosestar, I’m not trying to brag,” Ravenstar growled. “It isn’t such a good thing that I have an apprentice able to kill so quickly. It’s scary, and if he were in your Clan, you’d know what I mean.”
“Oh, so not only is he a loner, he’s a killer as well?” asked Rosestar. “Brilliant. How do you know he won’t kill any of your kits?”
“I never said he was killer,” Ravenstar snapped. “Only that he can kill, which is scary at such a young age. He’s actually rather the opposite. He hates killing, but when it needs to be done he’ll do it.”
“As if anyone here will believe that,” Rosestar said coolly. “As if anyone here will believe anything you say.” A few cats laughed, but Rainpaw was far from that. Rosestar was getting on his nerves, and it looked like she was getting on Ravenstar’s as well.
“I think a few disagree,” Ravenstar growled. “And if you don’t believe me, why don’t you just ask him?” Rainpaw lowered his head, then, as if trying to hide.
“Like I’d talk to a loner like him!” Rosestar hissed, a certain iciness in her voice that send shivers down Rainpaw’s spine.
“Oh really?” asked Ravenstar. “I heard that you talked to him first, before even any ThunderClan cats found him. I heard that you were interested in him, that you wanted to use him.” Rosestar’s eyes widened as Ravenstar said this, giving him what he wanted.
“W-what do you mean?” asked Rosestar. “I never talked to him!”
“Not from what I’ve heard,” Ravenstar hissed, grinning as fear washing through her face. “You’re cruel, you know that? All you care about is the ‘purity’ of your Clan, and about the fame. That’s what you were interested in, wasn’t it? You thought his star-shaped scar had something to do with StarClan, and thought that it would give you fame if it wasn’t for the fact that he was a loner.”
“Loners are for you ThunderClan cats!” Rosestar hissed, her eyes narrowing. “I was ashamed to even have that filth in my den, let alone talk to it!”
“Ah, so you admit it?” asked Ravenstar. “That’s not like you, Rosestar.” Now they were both in fighting positions, both ready to lunge at each other. Ravenstar seemed to be enjoying herself while Rosestar seemed a bit scared.
Meanwhile, down where Rainpaw was, WindClan seemed to also be trying to pick a fight with the other Clan cats. Many cats were hissing and growling at each other. Rainpaw was on his feet, ready to defend his friends if anyone attacked.
“You are good with your words,” Rosestar growled. “But are you good with your claws?”
“Ravenstar! Rosestar!” hissed Bravestar then, standing up from his spot. “This is a Gathering—this is not the time to fight!” Ravenstar and Rosestar ignored Bravestar, both continuing to growl at each other.
“Let’s test the treaty, shall we?” asked Rosestar, her ears pinned to her head.
“We shall,” said Ravenstar. “ThunderClan—attack!”
“WindClan! Attack!” yowled Rosestar, lunging at Ravenstar, pushing him out of the tree. The ThunderClan cats and the WindClan cats began to fight while the other two Clans stayed out, awaiting their leader’s orders.
“RiverClan! Stand back!” Bravestar hissed, noticing Wolfheart growl at a nearby WindClan cat.
“ShadowClan! Stay clear of the battle!” Nightstar hissed, his fur bristling. The RiverClan and ShadowClan cats then stood back and watched the battle between WindClan and ThunderClan.
Rainpaw hissed as a large tom suddenly lunged into him, pinning him down easily. He lashed angrily for skin until he finally caught some, making the tom yowl in pain. Rainpaw rolled out of the way, then, getting himself free. However, the tom that he was fighting was quick enough to catch him.
“Come here, loner!” hissed the tom. “You’re not going to get away from me that easily. You’re just a puny apprentice!” The tom then pulled himself on top of Rainpaw and raked his back claws down Rainpaw’s back. Rainpaw yowled, but it turned into a scream as he realised his scar was scratched. The tom seemed to notice this too as he widened his eyes and backed away.
Rainpaw was ready for the insanity that usually came. He was ready for the sudden urge to kill and the new reflexes. They never came. Instead, he felt an overwhelming ache in his head and his scar was stinging like a snake’s venom. He looked into a small puddle near him and realised what was different.
Instead of being a dark blue like usual, his eyes were a light, silvery grey, like a star. His scar also glowed, though this time it shined with the same colour of his eyes. Then he felt as if something was moving through him, something spiritual.
“Rainpaw, stay calm,” a familiar voice soothed. It was Cheetahfur. “Thunderstar and the others are holding back the insanity you should be in as good as they can. I know it hurts but it must be done—this is the only way we’ve found to stop this battle. Just hang in there.”
“C-Cheetahfur,” said Rainpaw, his voice full of pain. “H-hurry.” He could feel his body giving out, he could feel it weakening. He shoved his claws into the ground to keep himself from falling as he realised what was happening outside of his head.
Many glowing cats were running around now, pulling the real cats off each other. The glowing cats had a star tint to them, making it obvious that they were StarClan cats.
Two cats were by the two leaders. One was in front of Ravenstar and the other was in front of Rosestar. The same thing seemed to be happening to each and every cat of ThunderClan and WindClan, though the two cats in front of the leaders seemed stronger and wiser.
“The fighting must stop!” all of the StarClan cats said at once. ”You are breaking the treaty!” The cats had already seemed to stop, however, and now it was quiet.
“Ravenstar, Rosestar,” called all of the StarClan cats. ”When you became leaders you vowed to protect your Clan. Just a few heart-beats ago, you were doing the opposite. You both sent your Clans into danger, and therefore angering StarClan. You need punishment, and shall be given so. Ravenstar and Rosestar, we have taken one life from each of you, in hopes that you will lead your Clan with better care.” The cats then turned to the medicine cats, and then they stared at each other for a few moments.
“StarClan has decided, though we cannot say if our decision is absolute. The prophecy has been written in stone, and the cat that Destiny has chosen will save the evil growing within the Clans. Await the Saviour, for we will need it soon.” The cats then began to fade slowly, but they started whispering. It was something that shocked Rainpaw, something that made him shake even more.
“The martyr. . .the pariah. . .the shadow. . .the martyr. . .the pariah. . .the shadow. . .the unloved. . .the unprotected. . .the unwanted. . .the unloved. . .the unprotected. . .the unwanted. . .” It stopped for just a moment, making everyone look around curiously.
“The Saviour has come.”
Rainpaw then had to take a step back to keep standing. He looked at the ground as everything seemed to be pushed back. The voices in his head were blurred too much for him to hear, but he knew they were there. They were taunting him almost, though he knew they weren’t. Rainpaw was just too messed up at the moment to understand what was going on.
“Almost there,” said the clear voice of Cheetahfur. ”We’re almost done.” The ache then began to fade, making him smile a bit. Finally, it was all gone, leaving only the scratches he’d gotten from the WindClan tom stinging. Even that was numb, so he actually felt pretty good.
Rainpaw then made sure he was standing correctly so that he didn’t look weird to anyone else standing by. He still looked at the ground, knowing that if he looked up, he would get very, very dizzy. He the suddenly felt Robinpaw’s warm fur about against his.
“Are you okay?” asked Robinpaw softly. It was then that Rainpaw realised several ThunderClan cats standing near him, guarding him from view of the other cats. It didn’t look too obvious, but it was enough so that no one could see him.
“Better than I usually am,” Rainpaw replied, looking up into her jade green eyes. “That was. . .different.” Robinpaw smiled, then, and licked him on the cheek before standing up and giving a little signal to the rest of the cats.
WindClan was already gone by the time he looked around, though ShadowClan and RiverClan were still there. Both of the Clans had separated themselves from the scattered battlefield, forcing them to basically line up beside each other near the edge. Both Clans seemed tense, but with ThunderClan beginning to gather themselves, they seemed to ease up a bit.
Rainpaw then looked over to Ravenstar, shocked at what he saw. The dark furred leader was staring at the ground wide-eyed and shaky. It was as if he’d just seen a ghost, which in theory he did, but that didn’t matter. His leader was either in shock or pain, and he wanted to find out why.
“Don’t worry,” Flamepelt said then, interrupting Rainpaw’s thoughts. “Ravenstar just lost two lives tonight—he has a right to be in shock.” Rainpaw then looked at his friend with confusion.
“Two lives?” asked Rainpaw. “I thought he only lost one.” Flamepelt shook his head.
“When Rosestar pushed him off of the tree he fell and broke his neck,” Flamepelt explained. “Then StarClan took the other life away.”
“That must be horrible for him. . .” said Rainpaw.
“But he deserved to lose that life,” Flamepelt reminded him. “Both of them.” Rainpaw knew that, he knew it, but he didn’t want to accept it. Then a thought dawned on him, making him shake a bit.
Ravenstar only has two lives left.