The Messenger

From the shadows he watches,
Waiting and listening,
For forest destruction;
Is his plan


5. Prologue

          This has been a hard leaf-bare for windclan, we've lost so many, including my mother Duskfall, but my leader has suffered the most. Quietly I padded into her den, Smokeshadow sat close by dividing herbs, she looked up at me, she had been spending every night with her for the past moon.

"Smokeshadow, you should go get some rest, I've got it from here"

She hesitated but nodded and padded out, I nuzzled my leaders dull gray fur, I could feel her ribs under her skin, she had lost the ability to eat.

"Speckledstar, are you thirsty?" 


She weakly opened her eyes and let out a raspy cough, she slightly shook her head before her head fell back once more.


"Ashfur, take care of my daughter, and protect the clan"


"No, don't say things like that, you can do that for yourself, you have to fight it Speckledstar!" 


Her voice was calm like the first day I met her "promise me Ashfur, that you'll protect the clan with your life, like it was your own kit"


Tears welded up in my eyes, I buried my face into her flank.

"I will! But I want you with me!" 


She ran her tail along my spine and sighed

"Dearest Ashfur, I will never truly leave you or anyone in this clan, but promise that you will live your life and follow your heart"

"I will, I will, for you" Tears streamed down my face

"Thank you" 

Her eyes closed, my eyes widened in horror


"Speckledstar?! Wake up! Please! I need you!"


Smokeshadow ran in and saw what had upset me, she sat next to me and curled her tail around me.


"She's in a better place now Ash, but the time has come for the roll of leader to fall to you"


I stood up broadly and walked out of the den and climbed up the high rock


"May all cats old enough to catch their prey come and stand before me" 

I watched all the clan members form at the base of the rock, I swallowed the lump in my throat before I continued speaking


"Tonight our dear leader lost the battle against her sickness, she now walks the paths of  Starclan in silverpelt with our warrior ancestors


I leaped down from the rock and sit by Speckledstar, I cried until the morning sun illuminated the moors, I shook the frost off my pelt and let out a sniffle. 

Her body was covered with the last herbs in our supplies and with the whole clan following we carried her to a great tree where we buried her.


"Goodbye Speckledstar " I said before I turned to leave


When we arrived back to camp it was quiet, sadness had settled in the clan, I sat on the moors and stayed there until dawn turned to dusk once more. Smokeshadow approached me with a bundle of herbs in her jaws, I looked at her, she nodded.

"The time for mourning is over, the time for you to start your new life is now"

I nodded and gulped down the herbs, we had a long journey ahead of us. It was just about dark we reached the cave of the moon stone, I knew what to do, I laid by the cold pale white stone and let myself go, when I opened my eyes I found myself surrounded by cats with starlight surrounding their paws. A broad tom approached me, I forced myself to look up at him. 

"It's great to see you again little sister"

I forced my self not to lunge and the black tom, but I swallowed.


"With this life I give you the gift of courage, to defend your clan in battle" he touched his nose to mine, I felt an electric jolt surge through my body.

Next a small white she-cat that I didn't recognize walked over to me 

"Greeting Ashfur, I am Snowwing, I was a former medicine cat many generations before you were born"


"With this life I give you the gift of the compassion of a medicine cat for all of those who need your help. It is an important gift for a leader, who must be mindful of cat weaker then yourself"

we touched noses and she went back to her place among the other cats

A black she-cat walked over to me her eyes were soft green


"With this gift I give you the same desire to protect your clan that a mother has for her kits"  She laid her muzzle on the top of my head.

I expected it to be a warm comforting feeling like a mother's touch but it burned like a fire, I unsheathed my claws as a low growl rumbled in my throat.


two small kits approached me, when I saw them it made my heart stop.


"Duskfall said we could give you two lives"

The gray and black kit stepped forward

"With this life I give you the gift of loyalty to what you know is right, this understanding will guide you even beyond the reaches of the warrior code"

Then the black and brown tom stepped forward, his little shoulders were broad and his eyes were a soft gold

"With this life I give you the gift of tireless energy, so you may serve your clan to the utmost of your abilities"


I bend down to receive their gifts, I couldn't swallow the remorse and pain I felt in my heart.


My next lives were given to me my a small orange tabby she-cat called frecklefur, she gave me the gift of mentoring and a tortoise shell tom named dewpaw gave me the gift of justice.


Then a bold spotted gray she-cat stepped towards me, I ran up to meet her



"Only one of these lives were mine to give, but I'm giving you both, my first is the gift of love, let love guide you and your clan. My final life for you is the gift of nobility, certainty, and faith, so you may lead your clan in the way of the warrior code"

The intensity doubled and from the tip of my nose to the end of my tail felt like I was being electrocuted, it was an exhilarating feeling.


"I hail you by your new name, Ashstar. Your old life is no more. You have now received the nine lives of a leader, and StarClan grants you the guardianship of WindClan. Defend it well; care for young and old; honor your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code; live each life with pride and dignity."


"Ashstar!" "Ashstar!" They called I was filled with pride but remorse still hung in my heart as my last glimpse of the kits disappeared 


I awoke to find that Smokeshadow was waiting for me, she bowed "it will be my honor to serve under you Ashstar"


"The pleasure is all mine, windclan is blessed to have a medicine cat like you"


We padded back to camp, there were few hushed words from my clan members, but I walked up to the high rock, not as a mourning deputy but the proud leader of Windclan.


"May all cats old enough to catch their own prey join me under the high rock"

I waited till everyone had gathered before I spoke 


"As my first duty as leader I appoint Shadowfang as the new deputy of windclan"


There were a few gasps from the crowd, but it was Falconclaw that started cheering first, I smiled at my old mentor as the rest of the clan joined in.


"I am Ashstar, the new leader of Windclan"

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