Snatched: The Story of Snowkit

Snowkit was always assumed dead by ThunderClan. But what if he wasn't? What if StarClan took him away from the Clan that would have never given him a chance? What if he had a greater destiny than anyone in ThunderClan could have believed?


27. TwoClan

Snowhawk opened his eyes slowly. The light was gone; the moon had passed the light-point, leaving the cave drenched in darkness once more. He blinked for a moment, and then glanced towards Lightningstar.

"Nine lives," Lightningstar whispered. "StarClan really did want me to be leader."

Snowhawk smiled, even though he knew Lightningstar couldn't see it. "Of course they did. Who else could lead these cats like you?"

Lightningstar sighed quietly. "Now what do we do? We have to get home…but how? We're so far away from home right now. We can't come here every moon, can we? It's too far."

"StarClan wouldn't have chosen this place if we couldn't use it," Snowhawk said. "There has to be a way out of these tunnels, maybe one closer to our home."

"The tunnels!" Lightningstar suddenly exclaimed.


"The tunnels, to the north of our territory. They were used by Twolegs a long time ago too, just like these," Lightningstar said. "Perhaps they're connected!"

Snowhawk's eyes widened at the idea. "Twolegs do like things to be big when they use them," he said. "The bigger the tunnels, the better…."Snowhawk stood, feeling emboldened. "Let's go home."

. . .

The winding tunnels began to weigh on Snowhawk's mind as they walked. How many more turns and bends would they have to walk before they saw the light? How many more times did they get their hopes up at the sight of light ahead, only to find it coming from a crack in the ceiling? How many times did Frostpaw have to run through his mind before he went insane?

And then, finally, just as Lightningstar and Snowhawk were going to resign themselves to another night in the caves, light appeared ahead of them. It wasn't pale this time, nor slender, but full and bright. Snowhawk looked at Lightningstar, seeing his face for the first time since the ceremony, and together they broke into a run, charging into the light.

Snowhawk skidded to a stop just outside the tunnel, squinting and blinking at the bright sunlight. Finally, sunlight warming his pelt and wind caressing his fur. Snowhawk raised his nose to the breeze, and caught the faintest scent of home.

"We made it!" Snowhawk whispered. They were on a ridge; just below them was the North River. Snowhawk quivered; he couldn't believe that after an entire moon, they were finally almost home again. And this time, he would rejoin his Clan as a medicine cat, and Lightningstar as a leader.

"Hurry," Lightningstar said, and with a flex of his powerful muscles, began running down the slope, with Snowhawk on his heels. The feeling of soft grass on Snowhawk's paws was pure bliss.

They stopped at the edge of the river, both cats dipping their muzzles into the cool water, gulping down as much as their stomachs could hold. They wouldn't eat yet, not until they reached camp and saw their Clanmates again.

They used several unevenly spaced stepping stones to cross the other side. Once there, Snowhawk frowned. Something smelled strange…something smelled different. Had some cat erected a new border along the river? Why?

He could tell Lightningstar scented the strange new border as well.

"It could be the Pride," Snowhawk said, although it smelled different than Fear's old rogues.

"Let's just be cautious," Lightningstar said softly, and the two of them began padding through the undergrowth together.

Sure enough, other signs of strange cats appeared as they continued deeper into the forest. A mound of disturbed earth here, a claw-mark there, a patch where dirt had been buried all pointed towards new cats. Snowhawk's pelt crawled with unease as he followed Lightningstar through the thick undergrowth.

Then, Lightningstar turned suddenly, and Snowhawk did as well. A scarred white tom was standing there, facing them with a disgusted look on his muzzle.

"Trespassers," he snarled, and Snowhawk noticed that his scent matched the border; he was one of the intruding cats.

"You're the trespasser," Lightningstar snarled. "This is my Clan's territory."

The tom seemed taken aback. "Your Clan?" he echoed, and then his eyes widened. "You must be Lightning and Snowpaw. My apologies." The tom dipped his head in respect. Lightningstar and Snowhawk shared confused glances.

"Why are you here? How do you know our names?" Lightningstar demanded.

"I think it would be easiest if Ruinstar was to speak with you," the tom said. "My name is Skullcrush; I'll take you to camp."

At this, Snowhawk was even more confused; the name was like a warrior name, but somehow not.

Lightningstar glanced at Snowhawk as if for assistance, before steeling himself. "We'll go," he said with a hardened look in his eyes, and Snowhawk smiled; with his nine lives, Lightningstar felt secure in his power, as he should. He didn't need Snowhawk to make decisions any longer.

Skullcrush nodded again, and flicked his tail, leading Lightningstar and Snowhawk through the forest. He finally stopped at a clearing, one that Snowhawk recognized as the clearing where Lightningstar had been helping Mudstripe and Ruin dig dens. There were many more dens now, and more cats to fill them. A small black tom padded forward; Snowhawk recognized his amber eyes and white paw.

"Hello," Ruin said, glancing at Lightningstar and Snowhawk. "You've returned."

"I found them just near the border, Ruinstar." Skullcrush said. Ruin flicked his tail dismissively, and Skullcrush padded away.

"Ruinstar?" Lightningstar asked. "Is that what they're calling you now?"

"TwoClan has embraced your Clan traditions," Ruin said, a smile playing on his muzzle.

"You cannot take the name 'star' until you've accepted your nine lives from StarClan," Snowhawk said. Why did StarClan not tell us there was another Clan now? Where did these cats come from?

"How has this happened? Why are you here?" Lightningstar demanded.

"We were just meeting with Mudstripe; I would explain, but perhaps you would be more willing to listen to him," Ruin said. "Come with me."

Ruin led them to a den. Lightningstar and Snowhawk entered cautiously. There was Mudstripe; his eyes widened as he saw Lightningstar.

"Lightningstar!" he exclaimed. "I didn't think I'd see you again!"

He moved forward to greet Lightningstar, but the golden tabby stopped him.

"What is going on?" Lightningstar demanded. "What has happened?"

"Our Clans have become one," Ruin said. He blinked, surprised by the ferocity in Lightningstar's gaze.

"Let me explain," Mudstripe said quickly. "Ruinstar and his two cats didn't move in after you left, they kept their distance as you directed. However, they carried some sort of disease with them – we think it came from their fleas – and although they were immune to it, we were not, save for Fernstep, Windheart, and Breezefeather. Many of our cats fell ill; Ruinstar knew how to cure the disease. He sent his two cats to go on a mission to find the cure. One of them died, but the other one returned, along with many other of Ruinstar's cats who had heard of our life here. He cured all of us, and we lost no cat. We were still very weak though, and so some of Ruinstar's cats moved into our camp to hunt for us and care for us until we recovered."

"Clans shouldn't need other warriors to take care of them," Lightningstar growled ominously.

"I know, but we had no choice," Mudstripe said quickly. "Ruinstar was very helpful, and eager to learn. He poses no threat. And we discussed the matter, and realized that the city was a very dangerous place, no place for cats, and there was room enough in the forest for all of us; unlike the Pride, Ruinstar was willing to share. So our Clans sort of combined; we rule the forest and live together now."

Lightningstar's eyes narrowed. "He is not Ruinstar; he has not earned his nine lives."

"So you did, then?" Mudstripe asked eagerly. "It worked? You got them?"

"Indeed. I am Lightningstar now," Lightningstar said, and Snowhawk thought he saw a gleam of greed in Ruin's eyes, but it quickly vanished.

"My mistake," Ruin said. "I must find StarClan at once and gain my own nine lives, yes? And you can retake your place from Mudstripe."

"My Clan will not be joined with yours—" Lightningstar started, but Mudstripe interrupted him.

"It isn't so bad, Lightningstar," Mudstripe said. "We can't all be in the same camp, obviously, we still have our own camp. We only have to patrol half of our territory now, they patrol the other borders. With them on one side and us on the other, it's perfect; we will never have to worry about invasion again!"

"No," Lightningstar growled again. "We fought for this territory by ourselves; we nearly lost cats to the Pride over it. Did we do all that, go on our great journey, only to have half of our territory given away to these strangers? For moons they lived in the city; they can do it again. There will be no TwoClan, only my Clan here and his in the city."

Silently, Snowhawk agreed with him.

"I'm sorry you feel that way," Ruin said, his words velvet-soft, even on his lips. "But you're tired from your journey; you should discuss this later with your Clan when you are in good health once more, yes? Mudstripe, why don't you accompany our friends back to your camp?"

Mudstripe nodded, and rose to his paws. Lightningstar looked as if he wanted to say something further, but he simply clenched his jaw and followed Mudstripe. Snowhawk did the same.

Mudstripe led them through the forest; Snowhawk could feel the dark tabby's nervousness. Lightningstar said nothing, clearly deep in through.

And then the scent of camp washed over Snowhawk's nose, and he felt himself walking a little faster, as the stone structure appeared. He could see shapes moving around at first, gradually forming into cats as they approached. Heads turned and eyes lit up as they saw Lightningstar and Snowhawk returning home.

A streak of gray raced forward, followed by two smaller ones, nearly knocking Lightningstar off his paws.

"You're home!" Mossflower cried, licking Lightningstar's muzzle furiously. "I never doubted it my darling, never—"

She was interrupted by two voices shouting "Daddy!" as Mossflower's kits caught up, tacking their father's forelegs. Snowhawk was surprised to see Sorrelkit and Willowkit, so much bigger than when he had left. Sorrelkit looked as strong as ever, but Willowkit looked weaker than before, if anything. The sickness had taken its toll on her; indeed, it had taken a toll on the entire Clan, as Snowhawk looked around the camp.

"Snowpaw!" He felt Frostpaw shout his name before he saw her, racing towards him. She buried her face in his white fur, and Snowhawk buried his in hers, feeling fierce joy welling up in his heart as he drank in her scent, the same as it had been when she left, except for the faint note of fading sickness. She was thinner than before, with her ribs showing through her pelt, but she was alive and waiting, which was all that mattered.

"I missed you so much," he whispered to her, and felt her purr in reply.

"Didn't meet any pretty city she-cats, did you?" she asked, and drew apart from him. "Why were you gone so long? We thought…we thought you were…."

"We'll explain later," Snowhawk promised. "For now we just have to try and figure everything out…what all has happened?"

Frostpaw simply shook her head. "So much has changed. Ruin and his cats…TwoClan…Mudstripe nearly died of the sickness, a lot of cats did, but Mudstripe had it the worst since he was around Ruin and the others so much as leader. He was so close to death, and then Ruin brought him back…Mudstripe thought it was a miracle, he was convinced that StarClan had sent Ruin, even though it was Ruin that brought the sickness in the first place. And after that, everything happened so fast…we're outnumbered, Snowpaw, by a lot of cats. Ruin led the entire city, and I'd say only a fourth of those cats are here now, but he has the others at his beck and call…if he decided to win the forest from us, I don't know what we could do to stop him."

"StarClan is with us," Lightningstar said confidently, causing Frostpaw and Snowhawk to turn towards him.

"You got your nine lives?" Mossflower whispered.

"Yes, and it was the most amazing experience of my life," Lightningstar said, "next to a few nights." He gave Mossflower a playful brush with his tail, and she flushed under her gray fur.

"You're so big!" Sorrelkit squeaked to Snowhawk. "Do you have stories for us?"

"Plenty," Snowhawk said, and although he smiled he could feel the weight of their journey on his shoulders. So much had happened, both on the journey and while they were gone, Fear's death most importantly of all.

"Our Clan needs to meet," Lightningstar said, and he padded past Mossflower towards the StonePile. Snowhawk could see the Clan's curious gaze as he ascended.

"My Clan!" Lightningstar boomed, so loud that Snowhawk could feel his rumbles through his paws. "We have returned from our journey, me with my nine lives and Snowpaw with his medicine cat name! We are now Lightningstar and Snowhawk!"

Snowhawk could see cats' jaws drop and surprised glances; he could feel their gazes burning into his pelt, but he kept his eyes squarely on Lightningstar's face.

"However, it seems we have returned during a time of trouble. Who is this Ruinstar, claiming to be a leader touched by StarClan? What is this TwoClan claiming to have us among its ranks?"

"Ruinstar is a liar and a phony!" Frostpaw whispered to Snowhawk, although he realized it wasn't her speaking, but Windheart as the golden tabby padded forward. His fur looked the cleanest of the Clan, and he looked healthy; living in the city meant that he had apparently built up immunities to the city sickness.

"He is not here by StarClan's choice, and I don't believe he is here to help," Windheart continued. "When he came to the city, he came peacefully at first, speaking with the other bosses and meeting with them. Gradually though, important cats began to disappear, until the bosses themselves disappeared as well. Ruin was the cause, and if we aren't careful the same will happen here." He met Lightningstar's gaze firmly. "I have told Mudstripe this, but he will not listen."

"Ruinstar has saved us!" Mudstripe exclaimed, causing heads to turn. "He could have let us die and claimed our territory then! But instead he risked his own cats to save us. Are those the actions of a future tyrant?"

"He's already a tyrant, in the city!" Windheart argued. "He doesn't care about his cats lives, and I'd bet a mountain of mice he doesn't care about us! He just wants power. Ruin is afraid of mortality; if he could get nine lives, he would be immortal in his own eyes. That is why he saved us; for his interests, not our own."

Beside him appeared Leafshine, her pelt almost touching Windheart's. "I agree," she said softly.

"Mother was very sick," Frostpaw said, her voice ragged. "She was near death too, but Windheart took care of her. When Ruin returned with the herbs it was Windheart that gave them to her, and it was he that nursed Mother back to health. I think we might be getting a new father soon." Her whiskers twitched slightly, and Snowhawk saw that she approved of the idea of Windheart being her father.

It looks like I didn't have to do anything for them, Snowhawk thought. Windheart and Leafshine worked their problems out together, at least.

"I do not trust Ruin either," Lightningstar said, "and we fought too hard for this territory to simply give it away." He paused for a moment. "Where is Ottertail?"

"He stays in Ruin's camp," Fernstep said.

"My apprentice Rainpaw stays there often as well, but I encourage it," Mudstripe said. "It is good to learn things from them as they learn from us."

"And Nightpaw?" Lightningstar asked, and Snowhawk knew he was thinking of how Nightpaw had insisted Ruin's cats were 'cool'.

"I see them sometimes, but not often," Nightpaw said, taking a step forward. "I don't like being around them as much as I did before. They're interesting, but very different from us, I've found."

Lightningstar nodded slowly. "I want them out of our forest," he said finally, "but we cannot hope to fight them all. I can only hope that Ruin will go quietly."

"Won't happen," Windheart said firmly. "He's found himself a patch of fertile territory; nothing can make him give that away now."

"Lightning – Lightningstar – no offense, but you've been gone for some time," Mudstripe said. "Things are different from when you left. If you could only wait a few days, see how things work, maybe you would understand."

Lightningstar was quiet for a moment. Snowhawk knew that the old Lightningstar, insecure of his power, would have either turned to Snowhawk for guidance or immediately rejected the idea. This newer, wiser Lightningstar however considered it.

"I will give them a half-moon of time," Lightningstar said finally. "I will watch, wait, and observe. At the end of that time I will make my decision and meet with Ruin if need be."

Some of the Clan seemed satisfied; Windheart noticeably did not. With that settled, Lightningstar descended the StonePile to speak with Mossflower and catch up on everything that had happened.

"Snowhawk!" a touch on his flank caused him to turn. Cricketpaw and Nightpaw both stood there, blinking at him anxiously.

"Yes?" Snowhawk asked.

"Lightkit's in a bad way," Nightpaw said nervously. "She's had a lot of those visions lately…one for Brindleface and one for Bluestar and one for Sin, she said, and one for Fear too…she had one while she was sick, and now though the illness is gone, she's still really sick. Can you help her?"

Snowhawk glanced at Frostpaw. He was itching to talk to her, about everything that had happened while he was gone…and everything that had happened before he left. Still, he knew his duties lay as a medicine cat first.

"Take me to her," he said, touching Frostpaw gently with his tail in farewell. She simply nodded, watching as Cricketpaw and Nightpaw led him away.

They took him to the old medicine cat den. It was almost bare now; Snowhawk guessed that Mossflower had exhausted it trying to take care of the sick cats, and simply hadn't stocked up again. Lightkit lay in the den on her side, her flanks rising up and down slowly. Her breath seemed raspy, and she didn't react as Snowhawk neared, or even when he touched her with his tail. It wasn't until he called her name softly that her blue-violet eyes opened slowly.

"Snowpaw," she whispered, recognizing him. "You're back."

"Yes," Snowhawk smiled down at her, before flicking his tail for Cricketpaw and Nightpaw to leave. He didn't look behind him to make sure that they did, but he felt their pawsteps leading away.

"You've had more visions, huh?" he asked. Lightkit nodded weakly.

"I don't remember them, but Nightpaw and Cricketpaw were there," she said quietly. "Snowpaw, they're tearing me apart."

Snowhawk didn't bother to correct her about his name; it was inconsequential when she was feeling so poorly.

"You'll be fine," he said soothingly, but she closed her eyes.

"With each one, it feels like I lose a bit of myself," she said. "Mudstripe wouldn't make me an apprentice. He said it was too dangerous, if I was in a tree hunting or sparring or something…if I had one of my visions…."

Snowhawk knew Mudstripe was right, but it wouldn't do Lightkit any good to hear it.

"We'll figure this out, and you'll be the greatest apprentice in the Clan," he said comfortingly. Lightkit let out a moan.

"Frostpaw, Rainpaw, and Cricketpaw will be warriors before I'm an apprentice," she groaned, and Snowhawk knew it hurt to think that she might never train with one of her closest friends.

"Nightpaw will wait for you," Snowhawk assured her. "He's your friend too."

Lightkit opened her eyes again, staring at Snowhawk. Her gaze was haunted by pain. "But what if I never get better?"

Snowhawk had no answer to that, and Lightkit closed her eyes once more. Silent reigned for a few moments.

"If I don't get better and I never will get better, would you do something for me?" Lightkit asked suddenly. Snowhawk blinked slowly.

"It depends on what it is," he said cautiously.

"Would you kill me?"

Snowhawk stared at her for a moment, completely taken aback. "Lightkit, I couldn't—"

"I can't take this!" she burst out. "I hate this, feeling when cats die. I don't even know how many deaths I've gone through, but it's too many! And what if we fight with Ruin, what then? Not only will I be useless, confined to this den, but I'll be feeling my Clanmates die too, Snowpaw. And I just can't take that…."

Snowhawk's gaze gentled. "I don't think it will come to that," he lied. "I'm sure we can figure this out, Lightkit, just given a little time. Surely there is a reason for this."

"I shudder to think what it could be," Lightkit said bitterly, and turned away from him to that her muzzle was facing the wall. Snowhawk waited for a moment, but when it became obvious that she would say no more, he sighed quietly and pushed a few poppy seeds in the corner towards her.

"Eat these, you'll feel better," he said gently, and rose to his paws. Behind him, he felt her lick up the seeds.

"Well?" Cricketpaw and Nightpaw demanded immediately as he left the den.

"There's nothing wrong with her physically, she's just weak," Snowhawk thought. "Just take her some prey, she'll get stronger."

"We do, every day," Nightpaw said, "but she doesn't want to eat it. Sometimes she just refuses. If it was any other cat I'd shove it down their throat, but with her…I can't."

Snowhawk found himself smiling as he realized the depth of Nightpaw's affections. If Lightkit wasn't careful, she might have two toms dueling over her. If she even made it to apprenticeship, that was.

"She's depressed," he said finally. "She's afraid of the battle that might come; she knows you might die, and she doesn't want to go through it with you. She's afraid of losing her Clanmates, which is understandable. I'll try to talk to StarClan about it sometime soon; maybe they can help me."

Cricketpaw and Nightpaw both sighed.

"Speak to them soon," Cricketpaw said flatly, and he and Nightpaw padded away. Snowhawk's pelt prickled; although he had said there had to be a reason for Lightkit's vision, he himself wasn't so sure. Why would StarClan put a cat through such a thing? Unless, of course, it wasn't them pulling the strings….

He was shaken from his thoughts by a gentle touch on his flank.

"Want to eat with me?" Frostpaw offered. "You're probably starving, huh?"

As if on cue, Snowhawk's stomach rumbled and he smiled. "Yeah," he said, and they padded to the fresh-kill pile together, selecting a mouse to share.

"Leaf-bare's coming soon, by the next full moon," Frostpaw said as Snowhawk took a bite. "There won't be much prey to share then, and we'll still be weak…do you think we can beat Ruin?"

"We beat the Pride, we can beat them," Snowhawk said.

"The Pride was already shattered when we returned," Frostpaw pointed out, "and they were all messed up. There are more of these cats, they're united, and they're killing machines. I watched one of them hunt, once…he about ripped his prey apart and ate it on the spot. They might pretend to be a Clan and follow the warrior code, but they're nothing of the sort. They'll never be true warriors…hopefully Lightningstar will see that."

Frostpaw nodded slowly. She took a bite, and then swallowed. "Was it scary?" she asked finally. Snowhawk laughed.

"Which parts weren't?" he replied. "We wandered around with no idea where to go the first couple of days. Finding Wander was a nightmare. Then, we decided to rob a Twoleg nest…." He continued, weaving his tale for Frostpaw, watching her eyes grow wide as he told her of being captured and imprisoned. By the time he got to the part where he realized Fear was just next door, he had attracted a crowd of cats, all listening intently to his story. He finished with the shine-tunnel – what they would call it, he had no idea; MoonTunnel? – since he couldn't tell them about the ceremony. The other cats sat back, thinking over his story.

"You really almost stole from Twolegs?" Sorrelkit asked in amazement.

"You escaped Twolegs?" Willowkit asked in wonder.

"And Fear really made it to StarClan?" Stoneclaw asked, his muzzle wrinkled in disgust. "The pile of foxdung."

"She wasn't so bad," Snowhawk and Mossflower said at the same time. They glanced at each other, amused.

"We both saw her softer side," Mossflower explained. "She was a bit gruff, but she was kind to her followers, gentle with them. I remember Mime, a little cat who took on the personalities – and flaws – of whatever cat was nearest to her. Once she adopted Fear's personality, and she was blunt and sarcastic; I think it surprised Fear quite a bit, and she was nicer after that. Mime was killed by Savage in battle…it was sad, she was a sweet thing."

"Or at least she was around you," Lightningstar said with a quiet laugh, licking Mossflower's ear. It was obvious how much he had missed for her; had his body ached for her, Snowhawk wondered? Had he longed to hear her voice and feel her touch, see the way her mismatched eyes sparkled?

Snowhawk realized he had somehow moved from thoughts of Lightningstar thinking of Mossflower to himself thinking of Frostpaw, and he blushed.

"We're exhausted," Lightningstar said finally, rising to his paws, "and I think we'll get some rest. Tomorrow, we'll see how this TwoClan thing goes."

Snowhawk nodded and rose to his paws, padding at first towards the apprentice den before remembering that as a medicine cat, he slept in the medicine den. He frowned slightly; it looked like he wouldn't be sleeping next to Frostpaw after all, and he couldn't ask her without it looking suspicious. It looked like his only company for the night would be Lightkit.

Snowhawk sighed quietly, and after touching Frostpaw's shoulder with his tail, padded to his den of solitude.

Before curling up to sleep, he could feel Lightkit trembling beside him. StarClan, he prayed, show me the meaning for this. Help Lightningstar do the right thing with TwoClan. And, most importantly…what can I do about Frostpaw?

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