I am afraid. I was just a kit the last time Swiftclan came. But I saw what they did. To my friends, my family. The memories still haunt me, often in dreams. Luckily, I evaded capture and wasn't killed. But, now I am the deputy of Riverclan and I know. Swiftclan has returned.
They say we shouldn't worry, that the food is disappearing. But I know they will when the kits start to disappear. Because I see the signs, and I know it will happen again.
"Poppyfrost!" A loud voice calls, interrupting my thoughts. I recognize the owner immediately as Toadpaw, my apprentice.
"Yes?" I reply.
"What are we doing today?"
I flicked my pale calico and white tail in agitation. This cat had no patience.
"Well, I was thinking hunting, sense our prey pile has gone down."
"We did that yesterday. And the day before." Toadpaw wined, his amber eyes rolling and dark brown fur spiking up momentarily.
"Well, I'm your mentor and your deputy, and I say we're doing it again!"
Toadpaw sighed. I knew he wanted to get to the battle moves, and I knew with Swiftclan returning, he would need them desperately. But we had to keep the clan from starving.
"Tomorrow okay? I promise." I told him gently, reminding myself he didn't know any better.
Toadpaw brightened and we made our way through the damp reeds, sniffing the wet air. Nothing.
We continued to search, but the streams were empty. Not one fish swam by.
Soon, the sun was setting and we still hadn't found any prey. Not even a water vole.
Miserably, Toadpaw and I made our way back, tails between our legs in defeat, when we heard it. A sound that has haunted my dreams for many years. The sound of a mother mourning her kit.
Simultaneously, Toadpaw and I took off, running as quick as our thick pelts would take us, back to camp.
Jumping over streams, skidding over stones we finally made it, to see the camp in chaos.
Unable to tell what was happening, I jumped on top of Streamstar's den, a cold stone slab.
"Enough!!" I roared, my authority as deputy causing every pair of eyes to turn to mine. Some of them full of fear, others worry.
"Let's assess the situation, what's happened?"
Fisheye, a pretty golden tabby with amber eyes stepped forward.
"Morningdew's kits have been stolen!" She announced.
A sickening feeling caressed my stomach. It had finally happened. I looked at some of the elders and saw it was dawning on them too.
"How do we know they were stolen? How do we know they didn't just run off?" I suggest, grasping onto one last strand of hope.
"Strange scents surrounded their nest Poppyfrost. Cat scents, but not the rotten smell of rouges and loners, something clan-like."
In the mist of the clan, I spot Streamstar who makes eye contact briefly. She'd saved my life during the Battle of Swiftclan, and I knew immediately she knew what was happening.
"Okay," I begin trying to keep my voice calm. I had too, for the sake of the clan. "We'll, send out patrols of our best trackers to hunt down the kits. Frostbite, Streamheart, and Sandflower you will lead the patrols. Gather up a patrol of your choosing. I will meet with Streamstar and the elders in the Elders' den." I glanced at her quickly, and she nodded to approve my commands. "Toadpaw, I want you to go with Pebblesky," I glanced at the muscular gray and white tom. "to the other clans. Tell them Riverclan demands an emergency meeting to be held at Fourtrees the night before the half moon, which if I'm correct, is three nights from now, with the leaders, deputies, and medicine cats. Go, and be safe." Toadpaw nodded importantly, and together, him and Pebblesky bounded out of camp. "Clan dismissed."
The clan broke apart, in clumps, some going to comfort Morningdew others heading to their dens for the night, talking in nervous whispers. I jumped down and walked over to Streamstar, who lead me silently to Elders' den.
As soon as we were inside, with all the elders, my troubled thoughts escaped. "Is this what we think it is?" I asked, tail flicking.
Raincloud, the oldest of the elders answers. "Yes. Swiftclan has returned."