A ragged black she-cat paced back and forth across a small meadow, the babbling of a a stream stirring her ear fur. “Leave the territory? What? Why should we? We have gotten here only moons ago, and you want us to leave again? Are you out of your mind, Bluestar?” A blue-gray she-cat padded out of the shadow of a tree, the moon's light dappling her fur. “Yellowfang, I know you do not want to leave our clans behind now, in their time of need. But we cannot stay here, either. I do not want to leave them any more then you do.” She meowed, her voice grave.
“Oh really? You sound as insane as you were as when you died.” She seethed. Bluestar flinched at the black cat's comment. “Yellowfang...” she began, but her mew was interrupted by a deep voice coming from the direction of the stream. “Now, now, ladies, let's not fight.” a golden tabby tom padded forward toward the two she-cats. “Yellowfang, you are right. We have not stayed here very long, and I, too, wish that we could stay here. But Bluestar is right as well. We cannot stay here, where we will surely die.” He continued on. “I know this sounds wrong to abandon our clans in their time of need, but we must be strong. We must-” He was cut short by Yellowfang, who bared his teeth at him.
“No! I am not leaving! I am going to stay, with the cats that survive. Surely some of them will. You two can go do whatever you want with your clan, but I am not leaving. Can't you see even StarClan is falling apart? Dividing up into clans has made us weaker! The Place of No Stars is going to pick us off, clan by clan, one by one! You said yourself, Lionheart, that the Dark Forest is attacking the clans we left. And what are we doing? Shaking like a newborn kit watching a battle! We must unite again!” She yowled. Lionheart and Bluestar stood, stunned by the ferocity and meaning of her message.
“Yellowfang...” Bluestar meowed softly. “I know StarClan is falling apart in front of our eyes. I know that, Lionheart knows that, every cat in StarClan knows that, if they look deep inside their soul. But it is not our decision. It is the Star's decision.”
“THE STARS ARE WRONG! Why can't any of you see that? Do you just sit there, cowering, while the Stars slowly lead us to our doom! Why are you all so mouse-brained! We are doomed!”
“Yellowfang, I--” Lionheart was cut short again.
“No. I'm not leaving. You go. I will stay.” She hissed, turned tail on the two cats, who were at a loss for words. They exchanged uneasy glances. “Should I go fetch her?” Lionheart meowed after several heartbeats. Bluestar shook her head.
“No. Yellowfang has made up her mind. If she wants to stay, she...will have to say. Come on, let's go catch up with the rest of StarClan. They're waiting on us.” She mewed in a grave return, and with a flick of her tail, she headed off. Lionheart cast his worried green gaze over in the she-cats direction, and with a small sigh, padded after his former leader.
Yellowfang was on her own.
Chapter one Dovepaw stirred in her nest, blinking as the sunlight filtered into the den. She jumped up from her nest, seeing Ivypaw's empty nest next to hers. Embarrassment warmed her pelt. It was nearly sunhigh, she was supposed to be out training by dawn. She scurried toward the entrance to the den and narrowly missed running into Berrynose. “It's about time you got up! Lionblaze has been waiting since dawn to start training.” He snarled, pointing his tail at Lionblaze. His pelt looked ruffled from his nest, as if he had just woken up a few minutes before she had. Dovepaw wondered if Berrynose had told Lionblaze the same think he had told her. No matter. Either way, she was still late for training.
“I'm sorry, Lionblaze! I-I just, well...” She began, but the golden tabby just shrugged. “It's okay. Just don't do it again.” Dovepaw nodded eagerly.
“I won't, I promise.” She mewed. Lionblaze cast his gaze toward Cinderhearts nest. Dovepaw noticed that it was no longer near Lionblazes' nest, but was near the wall of the den. “Did you have a falling out with Cinderheart?” She asked quizzically. His gaze hardened. “Nothing! C'mon, let's go to the Training Hollow. Ivypaw and Cinderheart are already there.” He hissed, starting toward the entrance to the camp. Dovepaw rolled her eyes. I wonder who put burrs in his pelt. She thought to herself, before starting after her mentor.
Dovepaw caught up with Lionblaze at the entrance to the training hollow, Seeing Ivypaw and Cinderheart already there. “Hi.” She meowed to them both, trotting over to stand by her sister. “Watcha been doing, Ivypaw?” She asked the silver and white she-cat.
“We were practicing some battle moves.” Ivypaw whispered and turned toward their mentors.
“What are we doing today?” Dovepaw asked eagerly.
Cinderheart and Lionblaze exchanged a quick glance, and Cinderheart mewed “The elders need some fresh bedding.” Dovepaw couldn't help feeling disappointed, and the expression on Ivypaw's face told her that she was as well. Lionblaze led them into the trees. “I'll show you where you can find some soft moss.” Cinderheart explained, following Lionblaze. Dovepaw fell in step with Ivypaw. “Do you think that Cinderheart and Lionblaze had a falling out of some sort? They're barely speaking to each other.” Ivypaw meowed. “They're usually mooning over each other.” Dovepaw purred in response. “C'mon, you two! Hurry up!” Dovepaw heard Lionblaze yowl.
“C'mon, Ivypaw, let's go. I bet I can't beat you!” Dovepaw mewed, breaking into a run toward Lionblazes' voice.
“Hey, no fair, you got a headstart!” Ivypaw yowled after her, darting at full speed after her sister. They both sped off, and Dovepaw skidded to a halt just in time for Ivypaw to crash into her. “Sorry!” Her sister said apologetically.
“There you two are.” Lionblaze meowed sternly. “Let's start gathering moss.” Cinderheart interrupted. “Ivypaw and Dovepaw, work over there on that tree. Lionblaze, help me work over here.” The gray tabby she-cat instructed. Dovepaw padded over toward the tree Cinderheart had designated and started clawing off some moss, Ivypaw working on the other side of the tree. “I think Rosepetal has a crush on Foxleap.” Ivypaw spoke as she worked. “Yeah, I know. Foxleap doesn't seem to know that Rosepetal is in love with him.” Dovepaw replied. “Of course, Bumblestripe also has a crush on you.” Ivypaw spun toward her.
“He does not! We're just friends!” She mewed harshly, and Dovepaw rolled her eyes.
“Only a mouse-brain wouldn't know that.” Dovepaw teased.
“Oh, whatever!” Ivypaw purred in return, and they both went back to slicing moss. Dovepaw pricked her ears to see if Cinderheart and Lionblaze were conversing behind them. “How am I supposed to deal with your 'power'? How can I be mates with a cat more powerful then StarClan!” She heard Cinderheart whisper. Dovepaw tilted her head. It made sense.
Lionblaze had been covered in blood, and Cinderheart had thought it was his, she remembered that. After Jayfeather had healed his 'wounds', The golden tom must have told his mate that he was part of the Three. Cinderheart must have freaked out. She had heard the gray tabby wail something before speeding toward the warriors den. She heard Lionblazes' reply. “You don't have to deal with anything, Cinderheart. You're not part of a prophecy. Why can't you just accept that this is the way I've always been?” he hissed in return. Dovepaw shook her head and stopped eavesdropping on the ex-mates, and concentrated on the moss, focusing to get the cleanest cuts.
Dovepaw bounced eagerly in place. “When are we going to the gathering, Lionblaze?” She had brought the moss that she and Ivypaw had cut to Mousefur and Purdy. Firestar had told her that she and Ivypaw were going to the Gathering, and she was excited to go. “Soon.” He grumbled in returned. “Be patient.”
At last, Firestar flicked his tail, the signal that they were to start. As Dovepaw padded after him, she couldn't help thinking that something bad was going to happen. She shook off the thought, and let the Ginger tabby tom lead them toward the Island, wondering what would happen tonight.
Jayfeather bunched his muscles, landing hard on the log that crossed to the gathering island. He had gotten much better on maneuvering on the log that laid across the lake. He remembered the stories he had heard about a cat named Mudclaw, who believed he should be leader instead of Onestar. It had been described as a short but fierce battle, and StarClan had a tree struck by lightning to show their approval of Onestar's leadership. Jayfeather rolled his eyes at the thought of it. Onestar is a terrible leader. They took the tree getting shocked by lightning for granted, saying that they had sent it. Typical StarClan. Jayfeather landed with a thump on the ground, and padded after the scent of his clanmates. Taking his place next to the medicine cats on the rock, he curled his gray tabby tail over his small paws and waited for the gathering to begin.
“Let the gathering begin!” He heard Mistystar's yowl over the muted conversations of the clans. The cats immediately fell silent, and Jayfeather felt the tension of hundreds of cats. “We have two new warriors, Rushfur and Hollowpelt!”
“Rushfur! Hollowpelt! Rushfur! Hollowpelt!” The cries erupted from the clans, and the two new warriors must have looked happy. Firestar took a pawstep forward. “Dustpelt has retired to the elder's den.” Firestar meowed evenly. “And Poppyfrost has given birth to two new kits, Molekit and Poppykit.” A murmur of congratulations rippled through the clans, like the lake. Jayfeather remembered that if Breezepelt had successfully killed her...No. Jayfeather didn't want to consider the consequences. Blackstar began to speak. “The prey has been running well in ShadowClan.” He said before turning, and Onestar took his place. “Some twolegs have been bothering WindClan, but we have chased them off. They should be no bother to the other clans.” He mewed. Suddenly, he felt a hard nudge from behind. It was Dovepaw.
“What?” He hised to the young apprentice. He felt fear rolling off the apprentices pelt, and stiffened.
“Jayfeather, there's danger coming. It's like the earth is rumbling, like it's angry. It's going to-” Dovepaws urgent mew was cut off by a deep rumbling. “What's happening?” He heard Blackstar yowl. The rumbling got louder, and suddenly a large CRACK! split the air. “Help!” He heard cats yowl from fright. Jayfeathers eyes suddenly opened. There was a large crack in the middle of the island, getting wider and wider. The rumbling grew until the island was positively shaking. Earth was thrown, hitting cats and bowling them over. “JAYFEATHER!” Lionblaze yowled, and Jayfeather's vision was plunged into darkness once more. “We need to get out of here!” Lionblaze yowled, and Jayfeather heard his pawsteps thundering over to him. “Dovepaw! Follow me and Jayfeather! We need to get you to safety.” Jayfeather blindly raced away from where the rumbling was and the yowls of pain.
Jayfeathers paws struck water, and he tried to paddle as fast as he could. One paw at a time. He thought, and after a few minutes of paddling, his paws hit ground again. He scrabble up on the surface. “Lionblaze? Dovepaw?” He yowled, and he heard Lionblaze's reply. “We're over here! We'll come over to you!” He heard pawsteps, and felt Dovepaw's voice in his ear. “It's...terrible. The island is shaking, and there's a crack in the earth getting wider and wider. Some cats are falling into it...Jayfeather, we have to help them.” Her voice croaked, but Jayfeather shook his head and focused his blind blue eyes on her. “It's too late. Some of them will survive.” He mewed in return. “There's nothing we can do.”
“But we have to do something!” Dovepaw started, but a large sucking sound suddenly hit his ear fur. “Jayfeather! A huge wave...It's starting toward the island! It's as tall as the trees!” A large crash. “JAYFEATHER!” Dovepaw shrieked next to his ear drum. “It-it the island!” Yowls of pain started, and he heard scrabbling as cats hopelessly tried to keep their balance. Minutes passed. It grew calm. “Jayfeather...” Lionblaze croaked. “Everyone's....gone. Some cats fell in that crack in the earth. Most of them drowned. Cinderheart, Mousewhisker, Firestar...All dead.” He felt Lionblaze stiffen. “We're...on our own now. We don't have a clan anymore. We're...alone.”
“It's my fault!” Dovepaw suddenly meowed. “I knew something was going to happen tonight! I should have told Firestar!” She yowled. Ivypaw...she's dead. All because of me!” Dovepaw yowled, and he heard thundering pawsteps. “I don't deserve to survive! I should be dead, like everyone else!” She called, and with that, her pawsteps faded.
“I'll go get her.” Lionblaze said, and he went after the young apprentice. Jayfeather pricked his ears. He heard...something. He listened harder. “...Gone.” He heard the mew. Jayfeather stiffened. He recognized that voice. Brambleclaw. Jayfeather raced toward the voice, and collided with a large body. “Jayfeather?” He heard Brambleclaw's surprised meow. “Well, I'll be. You survived?” Jayfeather nodded. There was a long pause. “Jayfeather...There's something I need to tell you. I just want to say that I've always loved you, like a father. Even now, I've always considered you my kit.” Brambleclaw said, running his tail tip across Jayfeathers flank. “I needed to tell you that.” He said briskly, and turned away. “Let's see if anyone else survived.” And with that, Brambleclaw started off. Jayfeather started after him, doubtful.
How could any cat survive that disaster? He wondered. He heard a soft surprised mew ahead of him.
“Brambleclaw, nice to see you again.”
Jayfeather stopped dead in his tracks. He knew that scent, that voice...