The Coldest Season


1. Prologue

Thunder slammed through the chilly air. Wind whistled through the outstretched tree branches, and cats huddled under large thickets, fur bristled and eyes round.


As lightning blasted down and slammed into the floor, a loud yowl echoed through the largest bush of them all, the nursery. A she-cat was giving birth, and no one could run to her aid except the young medicine cat apprentice, Yarrowpaw. He was a cream colour with white ear tips and amber eyes, a long tail that easily snagged against the bushes of the nursery as he went in and out, and curled whiskers that brushed his lean face.


"Frosttoes!" Yowled a small brown tom as he bursted through the thickets the border of the camp.


"Mousechin!" Meowed a tall and sleek warrior, her fur spotted with black. She bounded to Mousechin, seeing that he had a small, skinny mouse snapped in his jaw.


Will this sustain our sick? Frosttoes couldn't help but think. Their medicine cat, Kestrelflight, was ill and couldn't make it out of his den without feeling dizzy. He was sick ever sense the last gathering, and it seemed like Thunderclan wasn't the only clan paying the price. Windclan recently lost two young apprentices to the same unknown illness, and Riverclan's deputy was also killed during it. Shadowclan was fighting through it, and all medicine cats would have more frequent gatherings to each territory, mixing and trading herbs to help each other.


It's the most peace we've had in moons. Frosttoes thought.


"Yes, I'm sorry. It's so hard to track during this storm." Mousechin said, dipping his head in solemn. Frosttoes could always count on him, he was a wonderful tom, and always treated her like an equal and not an authoritative figure, a deputy.


"I understand." Frosttoes said softly, quickly remembering that she had too sent out her sister into the storm to hunt. She was always head strong like that.


"Have you seen Graystorm?" She asked.

"She passed me, but after that no." Mousechin blinked slowly.

"Frosttoes!" Meowed an old, flat-faced tom. His pelt was black with white splotches, pinched ear tips and a nervous, twitchy tail. "Is my niece doing okay-?" Thunder slammed into the ears of the cats, Mousechin slamming himself into the floor while Frosttoes felt her body stiffen.


Froststar. Froststar. Froststar.


"Frosttoes?" Breathed the old tom, now inches away from her face.

"Oh- sorry, Wildstar." Frosttoes felt her pelt burn uncomfortably, noticing how Mousechin was even staring at her with round, bright eyes. She quickly dipped her head, realizing that Wildstar had not groomed himself. 


"Mousepaw." Shock was clear in the old toms meow as he turned to Mousechin, who straightened up and raised his tail. "What are you doing in this storm?"


Frosttoes raised her head and stepped back, resting down to sit and glanced between the two toms. Mousechin was Wildstar's kin, so obviously the tom would be worried for his safety. She eyed Wildstar as Mousechin replied, sorrow pooling up in her. The once powerful leader was now old and weak, brittle and couldn't hang onto a thread of thought without trailing off or forgetting that his most powerful warriors weren't apprentices anymore.


"Sleekthorn said I should hunt for Kestrelflight." Mousechin said softly, and Frosttoes was grateful for his ability to act on the spot. He was always weary of Wildstar making mistakes, ready to go along with it so he doesn't hurt the leader's pride.


"Kestrelflight...?" Wildstar's eyes clouded with confusion.


"Don't you remember, Wildstar?" Frosttoes asked softly, "He's--" "Give the mouse to Cloudshade." Wildstar raised his head, gaze clear and strong. "I will bring a thrush to Kestrelflight, I need to speak to him about Yarrowpaw's Medicine Cat ceremony." The toms pinched ears twitched.


"Yes, Wildstar." Mousechin dipped his head and scurried along. Frosttoes realized that the storm had stopped, and so had the pained yowls of kitting. She looked over to the dens, noticing how apprentices slowly began creeping out and shaking their fur clean of leaves that had blown onto them. 


"Frosttoes." Frosttoes looked over to her leader, straightening up as he gazed at the nursery. "You'll take care of Cloudshade, won't you?" He asked.


Cloudshade was his niece, and Mousechin's sister. Frosttoes realized what he was asking, how deep the question truly meant. Wildstar knew he was getting old, knew he was about to join Starclan... and he wanted his kin safe. She knew the two shared a strong bond, one tighter than the collar of a kittypet. "I will, Wildstar."


"Thank you." Wildstar dipped his head, moving to the fresh-kill pile and paused at the sound of frighten yowls coming from the nursery. As though he was still in youth, the black-and-white tom bursted to the yowl and barged in, shoving past Yarrowpaw, who rushed to the Medicine Cat den, eyes round with worry.


"What's going on?" Frosttoes called, bounding over and moved in, pausing at Wildstar, Cloudshade, and the other Queens in the den, Blackbird and Ripplestripe. They looked shocked, and refused to turn their heads to face the newborn kit on the floor, who's pelt was as white as snow.


What's the trouble? Frosttoes thought, moving in and paused when Blackbird swiped her tail before her, looking at the queen. Her blue eyes were round, black pelt bristled.


"His name is Pinchkit." Cloudshade's soft meow sounded, and Frosttoes looked over to see her staring up at Wildstar. "He looks like you." She continued lovingly. Frosttoes slowly padded over, looking to see Pinchkit.


He was normally sized, if anything bigger, and had a long tail. His ears faded off to pink on the tips, and he had an odd reddish-colour around his eyes and nose. The kit did have Wildstar's features, however. His fur was short, ears pinched around the top, and large paws. 


"That is a fine name." Wildstar said, dropping his head to gently nudge Pinchkit, who mewled in protest and opened his eyes. Immediately, Wildstar jerked his head back and stared in shock and terror. Frosttoes looked to the kit, than gasped herself. his eyes were a milky blue, with red seemingly seeping in as thick as smoke around the corners. It was as though fire was lit in his eyes, blood red fire. 


"He's fine!" Cloudshade said quickly, "It'll leave over time."

"It's an omen! From Starclan!" Blackbird said in a whisper. 

"It can't be good." Ripplestripe pointed her nose up, teeth poking out.


"There's nothing wrong with him." Cloudshade defended, soft amber eyes rounding in worry. She quickly curled her gray-and-white tail over Pinchkit, as though shielding him from the stares.


"What does Kestrelflight think?" Blackbird breathed, "He's--"


"Nothing is wrong with this kit." A rough, hoarse voice make through. Frosttoes looked to the entrance of the den to see Kestrelflight, head bowed and fur kinked. He smelt of herbs, yet looked of illness. "I see a warrior ready to serve his clan just. What do you see?"


Frosttoes looked back to Pinchkit, Cloudshade's tail finally removed.

I see trouble, messaged to Thunderclan through a kit.

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