Author Archives: Moonshade

StarClan’s Rescue

I’ve been writing this with my friend, Maya Chan, for a while now, so it’s kinda long. It’s based on the Warrior’s series, (April’ll know what I’m talking about). If you get confused, just ask.

 

 

 

Allegiances

 

RiverClan

 

Leader: Mistystar – large, sleek, blue-gray she cat

Deputy: Reedwhisker – slender black tom with small, neat ears

Medicine Cat: Mothwing – small, golden, dappled, long furred she-cat

Apprentice – Willowshine  -  lithe, dark gray tabby she-cat

Warriors: Beechfur – cream colored tom with beige and brown dapples and amber eyes

Beetlenose – broad-shouldered black tom

Mossfire –  fire orange she-cat with deep green eyes

Hollowflight – dark brown tabby tom

Minnowtail – sleek, dappled gray and white she-cat with a light, strong body

Mossyfoot – brown and white she-cat

Troutstream – pale gray tabby she-cat

Icewing – pure white she-cat with blue eyes.

Icestorm – pure white she-cat with green eyes.

Apprentices: Lilypaw – lightly dappled pale gray and white she-cat (mentor is Mossfire),

Pebblepaw – pure gray tom with black eyes (mentor is Minnowtail),

Snowpaw – silver tabby tom with wavy white stripes (mentor is Hollowflight)

Queens: Skyfrost – black and silver she-cat with sky-blue eyes.

Graymist – pale gray tabby she-cat

Kits: Frostkit –  pure white cat with piercing blue eyes (mother is Graymist)

Moonkit – pure black she-cat with a crescent shaped silver marking and dark blue eyes  (mother is Graymist)

Ivykit – white tom with green eyes (mother is Skyfrost)

Elders: Brookstream – strong, sleek, gray-blue she cat with silver eyes

Rabbittail – grumpy, white fur with gray spots and an extremely short tail

ThunderClan

 

Leader: Bramblestar – big, broad-shouldered, muscular, dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes, powerful shoulders, long, curved claws,a massive head, huge paws, and a long scar on his shoulder.

Deputy: Squirrelflight – Small, light framed, dark ginger she-cat with one white paw, a bushy tail, and brilliant green eyes.

Medicine Cat: Jayfeather – small, silky, mottled gray tom, blind, blue eyes, short tail, scar down one side.

Warriors: Berrynose – large, cream colored tom with a stump for a tail and a torn ear.

Birchfall – light brown tabby tom with amber eyes and glossy fur.

Cloudtail – fluffy, snowy, white tom with thick long fur and round blue eyes.

Dustpelt – lithe dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes and broad shoulders.

Graystripe – Shaggy pure gray tom with bright yellow eyes.

Dovewing – fluffy, pale ashy gray she-cat with brilliant blue eyes.

Ivypool – small, slender silver white tabby she-cat with dark blue eyes.

Lionblaze – broad-shouldered golden tabby tom with amber eyes, a thick pelt, a nicked ear, and wide, pale paws with fur that bunches at the claws.

Leafpool – lithe, pale brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes.

Stormheart – unusually large gray tabby tom with bright amber eyes that have yellow specks inside of them.

Apprentices: Fernpaw – small, clever silver tabby she-cat with startling green eyes (mentor is Dovewing).

Firepaw – rusty orange tabby tom with light orange stripes like flames running over his back (mentor is Graystripe).

Queens: Cinderheart – slender, dappled gray tabby she-cat with round blue eyes and a fluffy, bushy long tail.

Poppyfrost – dappled, pale, tortoiseshell and white she-cat.

Kits: Dawnkit – cream furred she-cat, amber eyes (mother is Cinderheart)

Mistkit – very pale gray she-cat, misty blue eyes (mother is Cinderheart)

Cloudkit – pure white tom, amber eyes (mother is Cinderheart)

Rainkit – dark gray fluffy tortoiseshell she-cat, dark blue eyes (mother is Poppyfrost)

Lionkit – golden brown fluffy tom, green eyes (mother is Poppyfrost)

Elders: Owlflight – black she-cat with golden eyes

Sparrowwing – mottled brown tom with amber eyes

WindClan

 

Leader: Onestar – lithe, lean mottled light brown tabby with amber eyes.

Deputy: Ashfoot – broad faced gray she-cat with clear eyes

Medicine Cat: Kestrelflight – mottled brownish-gray tom with white splotches like kestrel feathers.

Warriors: Breezepelt – lean black tom with amber eyes and thorn-sharp claws

Crowfeather – sleek, smoky gray, almost black tom with blue eyes.

Nightcloud – well muscled pure black she-cat with amber eyes.

Harespring – brown and white tom.

Sunstrike – tortoiseshell she-cat with large white mark on forehead.

Sedgewhisker – light brown tabby she-cat

Whitetail – small white she-cat.

Apprentices: Rabbitpaw – small, sleek brown tom (mentor is Whitetail).

Cloverpaw – dark brown she-cat with green eyes (mentor is Nightcloud).

Queen: Larksong – silver and black tabby she-cat

Kits: None

Elders: Roseleaf – white she-cat, with beige and brown spots and a cream colored star on her chest. Has green eyes

ShadowClan

 

Leader: Blackstar – muscular, powerful,sleek,large, bulky,white tom with big, jet-black paws,darker ears, a long tail,long claws,a scarred pelt,  and six toes on one of his paws.

Deputy: Rowanclaw – dark ginger tom

Medicine Cat: Littlecloud – very small brown tabby tom with light blue eyes.

Warriors: Snowbird – sleek, well muscled pure white she-cat with blue eyes.

Applefur – mottled brown she-cat with green eyes

Kinkfur – golden tabby she-cat with long, unkempt fur that sticks out from all angles.

Tigerheart – huge,sleek, thick-furred,dark brown tiger-striped tabby tom with a torn ear, broad shoulders,a long tail, a powerful frame, and dark amber eyes.

Smokefoot – black tom with sharp claws and a ragged pelt.

Owlclaw – light brown tabby tom with amber eyes

Apprentices: Hawkpaw – black and dark brown tabby tom with yellow eyes.

Queens: Tawnypelt – lean, slender, mottled, pale tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes, well-muscled shoulders, and long, hooked claws.

Kits: Brackenkit – golden brown tabby tom with green eyes.

Maplekit – tortoiseshell and white she-cat with amber eyes.

Leopardkit – spotted golden dappled she-cat.

Elders: Ravenfeather – pure black tom, with black intelligent eyes

Minkfur – sleek white she-cat with amber eyes

Shadowpelt – dark gray tom with dark eyes

 

Even the most powerful must bow down to death someday.

To save the clan, the shadow of the moon must shine under the wings of ice,

and the kin of the moon will turn out to be the greatest warrior of all.

Prologue

Moonlight washed palely over the border as two she-cats padded softly along. Two pairs of eyes, one ice-blue and another pale amber, blinked in the shadowed undergrowth. The small brown tabby looked warmly at the other.

“Greetings.”

“Greetings, Brambleberry. Do you have any particular news you would like to share with me?” The other cat meowed just as warmly in reply.

“RiverClan is going to have much trouble with Twoleg kits,” Brambleberry cautioned. The blue-gray she-cat narrowed her eyes.

“They captured Willowshine when she was out gathering herbs last sunrise.”

Brambleberry nodded. “I saw. Come. Let us sit down here where we will not be

disturbed.” She flicked her tail towards a large rock almost hidden behind a waterfall. The sleek blue-gray she-cat meowed wistfully,“This reminds me of the Tribe of Rushing Water. I had many friends there. But how are we going to get to the rock?”

Purring, Brambleberry replied, “You are RiverClan aren’t you? You swim, of course.”

“Under that wall of water, Brambleberry? What are you thinking?”

Brambleberry laid her tail tip gently onto the blue-gray she-cat’s back. “This way. There isn’t as much water pouring down over here.”

The two cats swam over to the rock. Shivering, the blue cat meowed, “It’s chilly over here!”

Suddenly, Brambleberry got a distant look in her eyes, “Even the most powerful must bow down to death someday. To save the clan, the shadow of the moon must shine under the wings of ice and the kin of the moon will turn out to be the greatest warrior of them all.”

As if nothing had happened, Brambleberry meowed, “I apologize, I have forgotten you are not quite yet StarClan, my friend. Let’s continue walking.”

 

************

 

 Two cats emerged from the other side of the border: Dark Forest, both dark-brown tabby toms. Together, they silently stalked the two she-cats. The she-cats had no idea that they were being followed. The two toms looked at one another, reviewing their plan mentally, and nodded.Together, they leaped into the air, one landing on Brambleberry’s shoulders, the other knocking the surprised blue-gray she-cat unconscious.

“Quick, Hawkfrost! Drag her across the border where Brokenstar is waiting to help! We can’t let them know about the prophecy!” yowled the brown tabby with the amber eyes.

Brambleberry shook the cat from the Dark Forest off her shoulders, spraying drops of blood onto the leafy green plants.

“Tigerstar!” she spat. “I should have known!”

Growling, Tigerstar attacked Brambleberry once again. Brambleberry leaped into the air and twisted, sinking her teeth into Tigerstar’s long, matted fur. Tigerstar kicked his hind legs onto Brambleberry’s stomach. Yowling, she tried to get up but Tigerstar held her down and raked her belly until she drifted into unconscious.

 

        ******

 

“Spottedleaf!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “Brambleberry has been attacked!” Spottedleaf rushed to Brambleberry, her carefully collected herbs forgotten in her panic.

“This looks like Tigerstar’s work. I don’t even know how to treat this kind of wound. Yellowfang probably does though,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

Feathertail gasped. “Look at those paw prints!” Two pairs of paw prints, both fairly large, led deep into the Dark Forest.

“It looks like they dragged a cat with them!” meowed Spottedleaf, who looked as if she’d been struck by lightning, with her fur standing on end.

“Why would they do that?” wondered Feathertail, “Who did they take?”

Spottedleaf growled. “Look!” A pair of ice-blue eyes blinked once and disappeared. Feathertail turned to Spottedleaf.

“Hawkfrost.” Feathertail meowed, furious. “Hawkfrost must have dragged the cat away.”

“But why?” Spottedleaf was shocked.

“I don’t know, but I need you to go get Yellowfang. Quick!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “I don’t know ThunderClan camp as well as you do.” She hoped Spottedleaf would hurry. Brambleberry could die if Yellowfang didn’t come quickly and treat her.

Barely conscious, Brambleberry muttered “Feathertail,” before drifting back into unconsciousness.

“Brambleberry! You’re alive! Who was with you? What happened? Brambleberry, I need to know!” Feathertail meowed, her voice rising. What had happened? Would Brambleberry be all right? What would happen if she never woke up? Would she just…fade? Feathertail didn’t even want to think about it.

She shook Brambleberry.  “Brambleberry! Wake up! Please!” Feathertail glanced despairingly over her shoulder to see if Spottedleaf was back yet. They needed a medicine cat who could treat this, desperately. She began to lick Brambleberry’s pelt to wash all the blood away. Maybe that way she’ll wake up, thought Feathertail.

“Feathertail. Where is she?” murmured Brambleberry.

“Where is who?” meowed Feathertail, hope rising in her chest like a caged bird. Quick paw steps filled the air.

“What happened?” demanded Leapordstar.

“Brambleberry has been attacked and Spottedleaf is going for help.” meowed Feathertail.

“Brambleberry has been attacked?” repeated Leapordstar, dazed.

“Yes and Brambleberry keeps on talking about a she-cat. I was about to get an answer, you know,” Feathertail replied, annoyed. Why did Leopardstar interrupt when she was least wanted or needed? Why couldn’t she go and do something useful for once, instead of just lying around ordering other cats to get her fish? She was new in StarClan, for- well, for StarClan’s sake. She should stop ordering cats around and do some work for once.

“Mistystar……gone…….” Brambleberry drifted back into unconsciousness.

Feathertail was confused. Why was Mistystar gone? Where was she? Who took her? Then it hit her, like the monster that crippled Cinderpelt. “What?! Where is the RiverClan leader? Where is she? Where is Mistystar?”

Chapter One

Icewing was back in the forest. The yucky one with the muddy rivers that were as slow as a slug climbing to the old Highstones and the icky, leafless trees that blocked out the sky; not the forest that the ThunderClan and ShadowClan cats lived in – not the one by the lake.

“Hi, Icewing!” came a call from a few paces behind.

“Hello, Ivypool!” she called back. Ivypool was a cat from ThunderClan, and she was really nice, but she always seemed to have something other than training on her mind, meaning she was normally slightly distracted.

“More training, less talking!” growled a voice behind her. Icewing jumped. She turned around and saw Tigerstar stalking out from behind the leafless trees. Ivypool had disappeared.

“Sorry Tigerstar,” Icewing mumbled guiltily; she knew Tigerstar did not take kindly to distractions from experience.

“We are doing tree training today. Come on. The other cats are already assembled.” Tigerstar leaped over a fallen tree towards a clearing. Icewing scrambled over after him.

Tigerstar jumped onto a large rock, easily. “Those ThunderClan fools have been cheating in battle. They climb trees! Are they cats or are they weak little squirrels? We will do tree training too! We will play their own trick against them!” He growled. Tigerstar paused as yowls of approval rang out from the assembled cats beneath him. “We will work in partners. Snowtuft, you are going to be with Hollowflight, Shredtail, you are with Sunstrike, Thistleclaw, work with Breezepelt, Ivypool with Blossomfall, Hawkfrost with Icewing, and  Mapleshade with Tigerheart. Brokenstar and I will be supervising. We are not kits play fighting, so unsheathe your claws!”

It must be an important training session to have two leaders supervising!

“Who am I assigned to?” rose a voice from the crowd of cats.

Tigerstar narrowed his eyes. “You were beaten by an apprentice,” he spat, “You do not deserve to train any cats until you have proven yourself worthy again, Darkstripe!”

“ Hurry up Icewing, you slow slug! What are you waiting for, kittypet? ” Hawkfrost beckoned at  Icewing from next to a twisted, gnarled tree with his tail. “You’re going to climb first and try to attack me as you jump. Hurry!”

Icewing nodded. RiverClan has never climbed trees, she thought rebelliously. But another part of her mind said This is going to make me the best warrior I can be. She told herself that firmly again as she strained her hind leg muscles to push herself up the tree. Hawkfrost circled around impatiently. Quietly, Icewing tiptoed down the tree trunk half way and bunched her muscles in preparation for the spring. She landed squarely on Hawkfrost’s shoulders, yowling in triumph. But her triumph turned to confusion when Hawkfrost rolled over and smashed her to the ground. Thinking quickly, Icewing pushed Hawkfrost off herself and when he was still recovering, slashed his belly with unsheathed claws. Growling, he pushed himself off the leaf littered ground. Icewing backed up cautiously, unsure if he was about to pounce. She relaxed, though, as Hawkfrost hissed “You were so loud! Practice, and this time be quieter.”

“Like this?” Icewing scrambled up a tree and climbed down as softly as she could.

“No, but that will have to do,” meowed Hawkfrost. “Now hurry! We’re wasting training time!”

Thinking harder this time, Icewing climbed up the tree and waited.

“Faster! You can’t be a dead kittypet during battle!” Hawkfrost growled.

Icewing didn’t move. Hawkfrost had started circling the tree once again. This time, she silently jumped straight from the branch so as not to give Hawkfrost any kind of warning.Yowling, she bit down on Hawkfrost’s back. He jumped into the air to make her crash. She quickly retaliated and slithered under him, clawing his belly as he landed.

“Acceptable,” Hawkfrost meowed grudgingly, “Again!”
Icewing once again went up the tree. This time though, instead of jumping, she successfully got down on the other side of the tree without being heard  - where Hawkfrost wasn’t waiting to attack her. Icewing crept up onto Hawkfrost and attacked from behind.”

“You didn’t use the tree to your advantage! You must tree train, not pouncing like a newborn kit!” Hawkfrost glared at Icewing, “You must do everything I tell you!”

“But I did use the tree!” retorted Icewing, “I went up it and so when the enemy was preparing for me to jump down onto them, I leaped up onto their back so they got taken by surprise.”

“Clever,” Eyes narrowing, Hawkfrost growled, “However, your enemies may find that attacking you without you being on them is much easier than fighting you when you land actually on their back.”

“But I can always scramble up the tree and land on their backs while they are wondering where I went.”

“ThunderClan knows that trick. We must prepare for that,” Hawkfrost hissed, “You have a sharp and clever mind. Use that to your advantage, too. Let’s see how many more interesting strategies you can think of. More training and less talking!”

And so Icewing crawled up the tree, her muscles aching.

***********

“You know, I think I’m the first RiverClan cat to do tree training – ever.” grumbled Icewing. Her muscles ached and her back was on fire. It would be a miserable day when the sun rose. Hawkfrost’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Wrong, Icewing. I was the first RiverClan cat to climb a tree. But you were the second. Now, go tell Tigerstar I think it’s time.”

That’s just like Hawkfrost – always bragging. It’s time for what, though? thought Icewing as she ran over to Tigerstar to tell him Hawkfrost’s news.

“What’s it time for?” the green-eyed she-cat asked after she delivered her message.

“I can’t tell you!” snapped Tigerstar.

Icewing wanted to ask why, but she knew not to cross Tigerstar when he was grumpy. Still…

All of a sudden, Tigerstar yowled “Next time she visits, one of our apprentices will take her final assessment!”

Would that be her?

A high, reedy voice from the back of the crowd of cats yowled back “Who, might I ask, is this mysterious she-cat? It should be me!”

“And why would I tell you, Breezepelt? Anyways, you’re still not ready,” replied Tigerstar coolly. “I hope you’ll tend to the ‘cat-in-the-brambles,’ as our apprentices kindly call her, next moonrise instead of training with us. Have fun with the mouse bile and changing her moss. She’ll like that. The rest of you, go – oh, and whatever you do, do not go near the clearing where we used to train or I promise I will personally rip out your pelt and use it to line my nest; even my warriors. I am making an exception for Breezepelt because he must go there tomorrow. Now leave me to think for once, instead of helping train you mouse-brained young ‘paws’ to become ‘better warriors’.” And with that impressive speech, Tigerstar bounded off the “Announcement Rock” and away into the forest.

What is the matter with him? Icewing was bewildered. Tigerstar’s never been grumpy enough to threaten to rip out our pelts before. Humph. Who is this mysterious she-cat? Why can’t we go to the old training clearing anymore? So many questions, yet no answers.

Suddenly, Icewing felt a pelt brush hers, then smelled the slightly musty scent that belonged to Ivypool. Ivypool’s scent was a mixture of Dark Forest and ThunderClan, just like hers was a mixture of Dark Forest and RiverClan.

“Icewing, go home. I am warning you, do not fail your warrior assessment or else you may never go back to your clanmates by the lake.” warned the other white she-cat, then she turned and disappeared.

Icewing felt an ominous chill go down her spine at those words. Was Ivypool hinting that she would die if she failed?

Chapter 2

After Feathertail and Spottedleaf found Brambleberry hurt and Mistystar missing and Leopardstar discovered them, there was utter chaos until…

“Silence! Do you want all of StarClan to come rushing here right now?” yowled Leopardstar.

“Leopardstar, Mistystar is missing! Do you know the significance of that!” growled Feathertail. She’s interfering again, that arrogant furball, she thought, aggravated by Mistystar’s capture.

“I know, Feathertail. Calm down. Besides, if we’re too hasty, it could lead to our downfall as well as Mistystar’s,” soothed Leopardstar.

Feathertail thought for a moment. What Leopardstar says makes sense, she concluded. “Who else will help us?”

“No one but us. They will all try to take over, and this is only RiverClan’s business.” Leopardstar meowed.

Feathertail nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Leopardstar. What should we do now?”

Leopardstar narrowed her eyes. “Keep quiet and look for unexpected allies. Make sure they’re at least half RiverClan.”

Why at least half RiverClan? Has Leopardstar gone crazy? thought the silver she-cat. “I’ll do that. I think we should visit Willowshine to tell her what has happened,” meowed Feathertail.

“Yes, I agree. Could you do that? I must go. Crookedstar asked me to come to a meeting of Clan leaders and medicine cats to discuss Brambleberry’s situation.” Leopardstar took off running, her tail streaming out behind her.

Feathertail sighed. Why did Leopardstar always have to take charge? That night she visited Willowshine’s dreams. “Willowshine!”

“Feathertail! Mistystar went to the Moonpool and I went with her and Mothwing but she never woke up! We had to drag her back to camp. Everyone thought she was dead but she was still breathing,” meowed Willowshine in a hurry, “What are we going to do?”

“Her spirit was captured by the Dark Forest. The Dark Forest, or The Place Of No Stars, is where cats that are not accepted by StarClan go after they leave their bodies,” explained Feathertail. “Ask Reedwhisker to temporarily take the leader’s role, but tell him not to change his name to Reedstar as we can not give him nine lives since Mistystar still has all of hers. Don’t forget, Mistystar is still alive.”

“Okay, Feathertail. But how is Mistystar going to escape the Dark Forest?” questioned Willowshine.

“StarClan will rescue her!”

Feathertail’s voice faded away as she hurried back to StarClan’s hunting grounds. When she returned, Leopardstar was waiting for her. Humph.

“Our meeting went very badly,” announced Leopardstar.

“What happened?” asked Feathertail. Nothing could be worse than a hopeless quest into the Dark Forest to rescue Mistystar.

“Crookedstar brought Brambleberry in and he questioned her thoroughly. All we got out of her was that she was walking along the border and got attacked by two cats from the Dark Forest,” mused Leopardstar, “She doesn’t even remember anything about Mistystar’s capture.”

Feathertail nodded, “We need a plan to rescue her. Mistystar, I mean, not Brambleberry.” Though Brambleberry does need help, thought Feathertail privately. She knew not to cross Leopardstar when she was grumpy or happy, all the same.

Leopardstar thought for a moment, “Let’s go visit the Dark Forest. Come on, lets go now.”

Why now?

The pair padded along silently until they suddenly saw a spotted pelt flash by.

“Greetings, Feathertail, Leopardstar. Did you see Milkfur earlier?” meowed Featherwhisker .

“She was at Four Trees not long ago,” answered Feathertail. Why is he looking for Milkfur now?

“Thanks, I don’t think she knows about what happened to Brambleberry. And after all, she has a right to know since Brambleberry was Milkfur’s apprentice.” Featherwhisker trotted away, tail drooping.

Feathertail remembered that Featherwhisker always had liked Brambleberry. No wonder he was sad.

“Well, we will be looking like that for some time,” commented Feathertail. Leopardstar didn’t answer. They quietly strolled along for a while until they reached the border.

“I guess we’ll go in,” meowed Leopardstar. Not long after, they scented Brokenstar on the slightly musty breeze. Leopardstar tensed. Feathertail crouched. What does he want? she thought.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” purred Brokenstar in a silky voice. “I thought we made it clear StarClan was not allowed here.”

“You said was not allowed. We are allowed because this is not the past, but the present. Yes?” retorted Feathertail.

“A clever tongue, as usual. Now, if you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds, I will gladly let you visit my territory, as that is only fair…Now, get out!” Brokenstar barred his teeth.

Thinking fast, Feathertail meowed “Go ahead. Visit anytime.”

“Feathertail! What you are you thinking?! Since when were you so fish-brained?” interrupted Leopardstar, again. Feathertail silenced her with a glare. Leopardstar returned the glare but did not question her any further.

“Then go ahead and explore all you want.” Brokenstar took off into the dark woods.

“What was that all about?!” hissed Leopardstar, narrowing her eyes.

“Wait. I’ll tell you later,” murmured Feathertail distractedly.

“As you say, Featherstar,” grumbled Leopardstar. Humph. AnnoyingStars all over the place were invading, thought Feathertail grumpily.

“Really! Please stop insulting me! Now can we just get on visiting this place and get out of here? I don’t like it any more than you do!” Exasperated, Feathertail stalked off. With a heavy, exaggerated sigh and a rolling of her eyes, Leopardstar grudgingly followed. Why was Grumpystar always so hostile? thought Feathertail.

“Wait,” Leopardstar halted suddenly, “I smell a familiar scent. Tigerstar!” They spun around in unison to see a large dark brown tabby striding towards them. “The visitors Brokenstar mentioned.” He nodded, “Don’t let me interrupt you. Continue as you please.” Tigerstar disappeared into the shadows.

“He becomes more and more evil every passing moment,” Leopardstar growled.

“No one can deny that,” agreed Feathertail. How did they communicate so fast, and what makes me think that something is amiss? Those two can never be trusted.

“Humph,” meowed Leopardstar suspiciously. “He sounded like he was up to something.”

“Whenever was he not?” asked Feathertail, “ I wonder if his scheme has something to do with Mistystar’s capture…”

Leopardstar didn’t reply.

 

 

      ************

 

The two walked off into the forest, following the twisting and turning path. Feathertail’s mind was filled with questions, one after another. Whys and hows and lots of coulds floated around in the air. She was sure that even Leopardstar, who as lost in her own thoughts too, could hear her mind buzzing with questions.

“Feathertail,” Leopardstar voice was tense, “I think we’ve been going around in circles.”

“How come? We’ve been following this path,” replied Feathertail.

“Look at that same gnarled tree trunk. I’m sure we’ve been past it before.”

“Hmm,” meowed Feathertail thoughtfully, “You’re right.”

“I’m going to scratch a cross onto this tree so that way we’ll know if we’ve been here before.” Leopardstar did so.

After a few hundred heartbeats, they came back to the same tree. Feathertail gasped, surprised at how easily they’d been fooled. “We really are going around in circles!” Her voice rose to a wail, “ We’re hopelessly lost in the Dark Forest! Here, where no one would even think about us being in this horrible……place!”

Chapter Three

“What do think we are going to do? Obviously we just don’t follow the path. Now let me lead,” Leopardstar shouldered past Feathertail and growled “Come on!” With a humph, Feathertail followed her leader. Why was Feathertail always so slow? She obviously thought I am a grumpystar, but that doesn’t mean she has to be so hostile and sharp tongued with me. thought Leopardstar

“Hey! I didn’t see this fork in the path before!” meowed Feathertail excitedly.

“That’s because I’m leading,” grumbled Leopardstar. Really, Feathertail was so cheery she could beat a sparrow singing – that is, if she could sing. She couldn’t sing, only birds and possibly Twolegs could. Lost in her thoughts, she then crashed into a bush.

“Hurry up, Leopardstar! We’re losing our time for exploring!” hissed Feathertail.

Leopardstar didn’t like that and retorted “Well, stop singing like a bird!” With a growl of fury, she turned around and stalked off. She could sense that Feathertail was confused and wanted to say something back to her but even she knew better than to start an argument with a leader. Leopardstar felt a stab of self-satisfaction with that small victory of words.

Soon, they reached a clearing filled with cats surrounded by trees. They quickly hid themselves behind two of those disgusting under-growths and peered out from behind them. It seemed like the cats in the clearing were having a meeting of some kind. Some of the faces in the crowd looked familiar, and they scanned them with sharp eyes, gold and blue, to see what cats they knew. Feathertail was the first to spot a Lake cat they knew.

“Look! There’s Icewing with Hawkfrost! They’re training together. I never knew this was happening!” wailed Feathertail, clearly distressed.

“It’s all right. She might be a spy for RiverClan like Ivypool is for ThunderClan.”

Feathertail visibly relaxed.

“Let’s continue along. Mistystar is obviously not here,” meowed Leopardstar. She turned and headed off into the shallow undergrowth. With a sigh of exasperation, Feathertail followed. She sniffed, then stiffened. Leopardstar followed suit, and smelled a scent that she had never wanted to smell for the rest of her death years.

“Brokenstar!” she warned. Sure enough, Brokenstar appeared moments later. “Visits are over. I will show you the way out.”

***********

“That was useless!” growled Leopardstar, “And now he can visit our territory! He probably set us up to get lost. That way we can’t learn anything.” Brokenstar was the most obnoxious cat from the forest to the sun-drown place; from the mountains to the lake.

“Just wait. He’ll get his payback.” purred Feathertail.

What was that cat up to?

“You still haven’t told me why you are going to let Brokenstar into our hunting grounds,” reminded Leopardstar. Feathertail was so forgetful she would forget she was on a patrol the minute she left camp.

“He said ‘If you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds.’ Well, that is exactly what I plan on doing. I’ll give him a tour on the most boring and useless places,” Feathertail paused. “I’ll also give long uninteresting lectures. Then I’ll send him out of here like he did to us.”

“Brilliant, Feathertail!” meowed Leopardstar, “Great thinking!” How had Feathertail thought of that? Well, she’d add to that. “Try to somehow get him lost in the most uninteresting place – the island in the middle of  the small lake would do. Just make a bridge out of wood and lead him across, then destroy the bridge and swim away.” He’s such a drypaw, she thought in disgust.

“Amazing, Leopardstar!”

Leopardstar was pleased with the praise, but she decided not to say anything. Maybe if Feathertail gave her more compliments, she would make her her personal deputy – for helping the Clans only, of course.

******

“Cats of StarClan!” yowled Willowstar, “Brambleberry has been attacked by one of the Dark Forest. We are suspecting that Tigerstar did the fighting while a different cat dragged someone over the border and is currently holding them hostage. Leopardstar and Feathertail, would you like to speak?”

“We were there, not when the attack happened, but at the aftermath. Feathertail and I do not know who was taken except that they are not from RiverClan.”

Leopardstar felt guilty that she was lying at a Gathering, but she had no choice. She jumped down from Highrock in a graceful leap and meowed “Feathertail, would you like to speak?” Leopardstar meowed. She would probably mess up the whole lie and tell everything that had happened since the attack on Brambleberry and Mistystar.

“ Well, we went into the Dark Forest to investigate the matter…….” A chorus of cats started yowling “What! Why didn’t you tell us? You should have discussed with the rest of StarClan first!”

“I’m sorry but there was not enough time. As I was saying……..”

Feathertail got interrupted again this time by Mossleaf, an old StarClan cat. “Are you not telling us something?” she meowed suspiciously, “Something is missing and without it, your story smells quite fishy.”

“No Mossleaf,” assured Feathertail, “I have told you everything – well, almost everything, and I’m going to tell you the rest of it right now.”

Mossleaf sat down back on her haunches again but kept a glare on her.

“Right,” meowed Feathertail, ignoring Mossleaf, “Brokenstar is going to visit StarClan in return for our visit to their home.”

There was a few collective gasps but no one spoke.

“I plan on giving him a tour of some of the most boring places there are here; like the many different varieties of herbs in StarClan that grow next to the border drop-off. I will need a medicine cat sitting around just to  make it convincing” The border drop-off was when the territories just fell into space: the ground just turned right into sky. Of course, StarClan could walk on it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that most cats were just afraid of the sheer drop-off, even though they couldn’t die a second time. Yellowfang’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present.

“I’ll be the medicine cat,” meowed Yellowfang. Feathertail nodded with appreciation. Leopardstar was surprised. Yellowfang was usually much grumpier than even the cat Feathertail called Grumpystar – namely, herself. And, Yellowfang was Brokenstar’s mother. Hmm.

“ Also I will show him WarmRocks and the pond. It would be best to have some cats fishing there. The waterfall will be shown to him also, and best of all, I will make him swim! I’ll tell him he can either swim or be pushed into the water – his choice. Yellowfang will be my backup, since she’ll already be with me, making sure he doesn’t run away.”

Yowls of approval came from the assembled cats.

“We’ll fish,” came the voice of some cats. Feathertail had nodded again. Leopardstar craned her neck to see who had said that.

“Humph,” she muttered.

The cats were all craning their necks and Leopardstar couldn’t see over the heads of the other cats. She felt like a kit. All the other cats were so much taller than her when the ones in front of her were so much taller than her when they were all standing on their hind legs and craning their necks, so she did what they were doing.

“And Leopardstar has one last thing to tell us!” yowled Feathertail over all the cats meowing in a hurry.

Leopardstar gulped “I do?” Did Feathertail want her to tell the cats about THAT? Feathertail gave a little nod as if she knew what Leopardstar was thinking. Leopardstar burned with fury. She was a leader and Feathertail was a mere warrior! She was superior and Feathertail was a servant! Leopardstar humphed again. All eyes were on her now. “Well, Feathertail and I found Tigerstar training cats from the living clans. We suspect the Dark Forest is tricking them into training since we found Blossomfall, Birchfall, Icewing, Ivypool, Redwillow, Breezepelt, Sunstrike, Furzepaw…”

*******

After the Gathering was over, cats clamored around Leopardstar and Feathertail. Is that really true? was the most common question.

“Enough!” yowled Willowstar, “This Gathering is over and will all of you please return to your dens!”  Leopardstar headed off to her den but stopped. There was going to be a lot a whispering. Instead, Leopardstar had Feathertail follow her to a secret place where Leopardstar had found when she had just joined StarClan.

“It’s beautiful!” gasped Feathertail.

“What do you think?” grumled Leopardstar. They had just walked into a little clearing through a flowering arch. In the middle, was a little pond filled with every kind of fish, and to the back, was a small waterfall. They were surrounded by trees and flowers.

“No one knows about this except for you and me,” meowed Leopardstar proudly, “Now hurry and make your nest.”

“What about you?” asked Feathertail. Leopardstar pointed her tail tip to a small cave whose only entrance was under a willow tree. When Feathertail had finally gathered enough swan feathers, they both headed into the cave. Feathertail gasped. The cave shimmered and sparkled from all the shiny things Leopardstar had put in. The cave was so small, during the day, it was flooded with green light. Leopardstar pointed to a small hole right above her comfy swan feather covered nest.

“You can see the stars,” Leopardstar meowed quietly, “There’s enough room for you to sleep next to me.” Feathertail quickly constructed her nest and laid down and sighed softly. Of course, thought Leopardstar, rolling her eyes. Feathertail is awestruck by the beauty, once again. Then, they both lay down to sleep.

Chapter Four

 

Icewing woke up, stretched her matted fur and tired muscles, and yawned. It had been a long night.

“What in the name of StarClan happened?” her daughter, Petalfur, shrieked when she got a look at Icewing’s pelt.

“I went night hunting and fell into a hollow full of brambles,” Icewing lied. She felt bad about lying to Petalfur, but she would only tell Mistystar and Mistystar’s spirit was gone somewhere. Or so says Willowshine. And then how would Icewing become a better warrior? Who knew.

“The only bramble hollow is next to the Twoleg place, and there is absolutely no prey there,” meowed Petalfur suspiciously. I don’t blame her. I would be suspicious if my mother claimed she fell into a hollow full of brambles, Icewing thought sadly.

“I got spooked by an owl,” she invented, while she secretly slipped a long thorn into her nest. She wriggled around a bit. This felt just as bad as lying. But what could she do? Tell her daughter she’d been training all night with Tigerstar and Hawkfrost? Petalfur would tell Reedwhisker and then that would be the end of that. Well, she’d just have to hope.

“And there is this!” meowed Petalfur triumphantly, spotting the long thorn and pawing it out of the moss. “You have been sleeping on a thorn!”

“Oh! Thanks for finding that, Petalfur,” Icewing meowed, feigning surprise.

“Petalfur, Icewing! It’s sunhigh already and you’re needed on patrol!” Graymist yowled. She was the temporary deputy for RiverClan.

“Coming,” grumbled Icewing. She stood up and shook her fur. As she trotted out of her den, Willowshine walked into camp with a mouthful of catmint and saw Icewing’s scratches. She shrieked, “For StarClan’s sake, what happened?” She dropped her catmint and raced over to Icewing to examine her scratches. “She…..won’t……go……..on…….ANY…….patrols……..today,” she meowed between licks. Now that the blood was gone, the scratches didn’t look so bad. Icewing followed Willowshine to the den for treatment to her scratches. While Willowshine added patches of marigold and cobweb to them, Icewing told Mothwing what had happened. Even though she was a very convincing liar and had had to lie many times before, Icewing always felt guilty. “I couldn’t sleep and went night hunting,” explained Icewing. “An owl spooked me and I accidently ran into a bramble pit. A thorn stuck on me while I was sleeping and after rolling around, I got these scratches.”

“Hmm. No more night hunting for you. In fact, no more hunting for at least another two sunrises,” meowed Mothwing.

Well, the Dark Forest is still going to keep me training. And besides, I will just be a better, tougher warrior, thought Icewing.

All day, Icewing watched patrols come and go. Even the kits were doing something more exciting than her. When dusk came, Icewing felt that she was ready to face training. Then she remembered. Her warrior assessment. Ivypool had warned her about death. She had always been a reliable friend. Would she be right again?

***********

 

“There you are, Icewing!” yowled Hawkfrost, “Come over here!” Icewing nervously walked over to where the leaders were standing.

“You must fight one of us and win to become a warrior, but if you fail………” Brokenstar let his threat hang in the air. He bared his teeth and hissed impatiently. “Come on! We haven’t got all night!” Icewing looked around. Hawkfrost looked smug as if he knew his own apprentice wouldn’t attack him. Sadly, I agree with him, Icewing thought. He’s much too good a fighter. Tigerstar was staring around at the rest of the apprentices, but Icewing could feel he had trained at least one eye on her. Darkstripe looked bored but Brokenstar looked menacing. Mapleshade growled at Icewing. Then, in the shadows, Icewing saw a old warrior she had only met once. She couldn’t remember his name. Looking at the red pelt, the name came to her. Bloodfur. Icewing knew who she wanted to fight. But she would wait a little longer, just so she could have the advantage of surprise. Maggottail leered at her and inched forward a step. Time was running out. Snowtuft bunched his muscles for a leap, but before he got the chance, silently, Icewing jumped onto the distracted Bloodfur’s back. I bet he didn’t expect me to attack him! Icewing thought triumphantly. With a yowl, he rolled onto his back, but not before Icewing bit him on the ear.

Now at least he can’t hear on one side, Icewing thought with satisfaction. But then, as Bloodfur squashed her until she felt that she would suffocate, she realized it was a fight to death. To see if you’re a good enough fighter to take another’s space. And the only way to do that was to kill. Icewing mustered her strength and pushed Bloodfur off her belly. She hooked her hind claws into his belly fur as he flew across the clearing and landed with a thud. Icewing was pulled along, but was in the perfect position to rake his belly. Again and again, Bloodfur yowled in agony. But he wasn’t a warrior for nothing. He tried to bite Icewing on the neck, but she jerked her head out of the way and received a long scratch on her chest. In her moment of weakness, Bloodfur flipped onto his feet and pounced! He stretched out his forelegs and his paws collided with her head. Without hesitation, he jumped onto Icewing’s back and tried to kill her with a bite to the neck. But Icewing sensed this coming and pushed him off her for the second time. Icewing bashed her paws against Bloodfur’s head but stopped as soon as Bloodfur started stirring slightly. She didn’t want to kill him if she didn’t have to and besides, he could easily kill her right then if necessary. Then, spotting a tree three paces away, she raced towards it, then leaped up into its branches. Bloodfur was lying on the ground, moaning, and Icewing realized that this was her chance! She leaped from tree to tree, ignoring the pain in her muscles. Her blood continued to pour out of her chest wound and bits dripped on Bloodfur. Now he really is Bloodfur! chuckled Icewing. Her blood loss was giving her a strange sense of humor. When Bloodfur finally realized she had climbed the tree, he began to climb himself, because he knew the Dark Forest had not covered tree fighting for apprentices. Icewing was smart though, and by the time Bloodfur had climbed the tree and searched it, Icewing had made a loop to approach from behind. Looking around, Bloodfur understood Icewing’s plan a second too late. Icewing flew onto him with a mighty THUMP! His claws slipped and he tumbled, ears over tail, out of the tree. Icewing jumped down and landed gracefully on top of Bloodfur. She looked at him. Fear flooded his eyes. He was too weak to fight back. Icewing knew she only had one choice. She could not fight any longer. Soon, she would faint from all the lost blood. She could barely stand. She looked straight into Bloodfur’s amber eyes, trying to convey three words –  I’m sorry, Bloodfur, then bit his throat with the killing bite. Blood poured out of the fatal wound, and his eyes spoke to her. The cats of the dark forest are evil. Do not trust them. They are trying… but before he could tell her what they were trying to do, the light faded from his eyes. Tigerstar looked at her in awe. Hawkfrost proudly meowed, “See, Brokenstar, two of my apprentices have been made warriors already and both are alive. More than you can claim.”

Brokenstar glared at Hawkfrost and returned to watching Icewing. In his raspy voice, he growled, “Well, now you are a warrior, Icewing. No doubt about that.”

The apprentices looked at Icewing in fear. She hated terrorizing them. Her eyes sought out Ivypool and found her with the rest of the warriors. Ivypool looked urgently at her.

“Well, go and sit with the warriors,” hissed Mapleshade.

Numb with pain, Icewing went and sat with Ivypool.

“Good job,” she meowed but her voice was tense. What was wrong?  Ivypool began to lick Icewing’s fur. Suddenly, Icewing wished Ivypool was from RiverClan. She jerked back.

“Stop,” she meowed, “We are from different clans and we shouldn’t be making this friendship.” With a start, Icewing saw all the other cats looking at her. She had spoken too loudly.    

“But I had forgotten we are clanmates. Dark Forest clanmates. Since I have proved myself true to this place, we are now true clanmates,” she continued. “Whoever says otherwise will get ripped to shreds.” She glared at everyone, but inside, she just wanted to forget about the Dark Forest. But no. She also wanted to rip Tigerstar and Mapleshade to shreds. She wanted to wipe out the entire place, and never see any of these evil cats again.

After the meeting, Hawkfrost caught up with the pair of them. “It is not for you to make such speeches and decisions, but you acted like what I expect all my apprentices to become – menacing, powerful leaders.”
Icewing again felt like tearing him apart, but instead she meowed “I just wanted to begin a reputation.”

Hawkfrost nodded and walked away. Ivypool made no comment. They kept on walking until suddenly she veered off the path.

“Ivypool, where are you going?” asked Icewing.

“Somewhere we won’t be overheard,” meowed Ivypool without looking back at Icewing.

Icewing was confused. What was happening? Did Ivypool want to hurt her? Ivypool led Icewing to a bramble thicket.

“In here,” whispered Ivypool.

“What?” asked Icewing loudly.

“Shh! Keep your voice down!” hissed Ivypool. “This way.”

She led Icewing to a little opening in the midst of the thicket where they could see the old training clearing. In the middle was a cage built of thorns so tightly woven that Icewing couldn’t see what was inside. Was this the “cat-in-the-brambles” Tigerstar had mentioned? If there was a cat in there, how could they breathe? Then Icewing noticed little holes for air, big enough for oxygen to get in, but small enough so that even the tiniest kit claws couldn’t fit through. Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather were guarding the thorn cage while Breezepelt threw in two dead, rotten mice and a shrew that looked like crowfood into the cage through a large hole which was immediately covered by thorns again. Whoever was in there must be very weak; that way they didn’t stand a chance of clawing their way out, much less fighting, even if an apprentice purposefully walked in and let them attack first. Breezepelt went in through the hole and started clearing out moss so dirty it looked like it hadn’t been changed for many moons. Then he grabbed another ball of moss, less dirty but still looking like something else had already used it, and tossed it to the cat and snarled, “Spread that yourself.” Icewing watched, transfixed, as Breezepelt stalked away and the guards resumed their positions. Soon after, Shredtail and Clawface appeared to take Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather’s places. What was happening? Who was under such heavy guard? Icewing looked to Ivypool for answers, but Ivypool only shook her head and whispered, “I don’t know any more than you do, except that this place is always under guard by a dead Dark Forest warrior and that every sunrise, an apprentice will come and feed them that meager meal and every three sunrises, they get their moss changed. The cat doesn’t even get to use the dirtplace!” Mystified, Icewing watched some more.

“We have to go now, Icewing,” Ivypool meowed. “Meet me at the island at moonhigh tomorrow night. Now that you’re a warrior, you don’t have to come every time.” And with that, Ivypool disappeared and Icewing was left alone. Ivypool was definitely a friend, but what was her secret? Did she know about the true intentions of the Dark Forest that Bloodfur had hinted at?

Chapter Five

 

Feathertail waited near the border, her tail twitching with annoyance. She was waiting for Brokenstar to show up so she could take him on the most boring tour of his life. The tour would start at the Herb Meadow, where she would briefly hand him over to the grumpy Yellowfang, who would show him the herbs (and be quite hostile to him, which she was VERY good at.) Then she would take him to the best place to hunt rabbits, then to Warmrocks. And last of all, she would walk him onto an island using a fallen tree, then leave him there, jump into the water, and swim away while a crew of cats dragged away the tree, leaving Brokenstar trapped on the island until he found the courage to jump into the water and swim to shore.

“Finally!” she grumbled as the dirty tomcat slinked into StarClan’s territory.

“Brokenstar is not here, so I will take his place,” meowed Tigerstar.

Why? There’s something suspicious. Could he know my plan?

“This way, then,” Feathertail led Tigerstar to the Herb Meadow, feeling uneasy. When they had finally trekked through the Marshland, Yellowfang looked up in surprise, “What’s he doing here?” she growled.

“He took Brokenstar’s place,” explained Feathertail, then whispering in Yellowfang’s ear, “He’s up to something. Be careful.”

Yellowfang nodded and led Tigerstar to the far east side of the meadow. “At this side, catmint, marigold, borage, and alder bark grow here.” Yellowfang carefully pointed out important features of each plant and gave a detailed description of their uses and how to use them. “Any questions?” Looking bored to death, Tigerstar shook his head and hissed impatiently. “Next, we are going over to the southeast side of the Herb Meadow.” Yellowfang continued to give slow, exaggerated lectures on plants, herbs, and anything that heals. It was sunhigh when Feathertail picked up Tigerstar, who looked ready to faint from annoyance. He probably wanted to attack Yellowfang but didn’t dare to with so many others around. Feathertail snickered.

“ This way, Tigerstar,” Feathertail meowed, mockingly. “We are now going to the Prairie of Rabbits.” Feathertail slowly walked to the prairie, stopping to talk to StarClan cats, showing Tigerstar different plants, and sometimes veering off paths only to give Tigerstar a lesson on how to hunt various things. When they finally arrived, Feathertail handed him over to Tallstar, who was smiling with glee.

He probably wants to get revenge on Tigerstar for becoming the leader of ShadowClan after they drove out WindClan, and because Tigerstar helped Mudclaw, through Hawkfrost, to try and kill Onestar, thought Feathertail. This is going to get interesting.

*******

 

Feathertail just couldn’t wait to make Tigerstar swim in a freezing cold lake. She saw Leopardstar’s dark amber eyes watching through a bramble thicket, twinkling with amusement and gave a small smile.

“Tigerstar,” Feathertail meowed, “Over on the island is Warm Water Spring, which is a spring that lets StarClan cats to relax and enjoy it.”

Feathertail nimbly jumped onto the prepared tree ran to the other side. Grumbling how this was a complete mistake, Tigerstar followed reluctantly. Feathertail led Tigerstar over to the spring talking about the history of it.

“Now, lay down here and close your eyes, it is very comfortable,” instructed Feathertail. As soon as Tigerstar closed his eyes, Feathertail slid into the water and swam away without a single splash. A group of cats appeared and with great difficulty, dragged the tree onto the mainland. Everyone disappeared into the bushes, abandoning Tigerstar, who had fallen asleep.

*********

 

A half-moon had passed since the visit from Tigerstar – who had finally plucked up the courage to jump into the water and, shivering, clumsily paddled across the lake. Feathertail snickered at the memory. Tigerstar strictly trained members of the Dark Forest in water battle, but he himself couldn’t even swim! Why would he all of a sudden decide to train in something he obviously didn’t think was worth learning himself? She lay in her nest, listening to the quiet breathing of Leopardstar, thinking.

Feathertail bolted straight up from her nest. “That’s it!” she hissed. Grumbling, Leopardstar stretched lazily. “Can’t a cat get any sleep around here?”

“Leopardstar! It’s the Dark Forest who captured Mistystar!” Feathertail exclaimed.

Wide awake now, Leopardstar listened intently. Pacing back and forth, Feathertail meowed, “You saw how badly Tigerstar swam. The day that we visited them, they were training in water! Tigerstar didn’t learn swimming probably because he didn’t think he would ever need to use it. But Now, he is training cats to fight with other cats in water. There is only one clan Tigerstar can attack who can also swim. RiverClan. They will attack soon, when their leader is gone. When is it a coincidence that the Dark Forest decides to train their apprentices water battle only a few sunrises after Mistystar is captured?”

“You’re right, Feathertail! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. But we didn’t see Mistystar in the Dark Forest when we visited.”

“They must have hid her. We need to have a contact in the Dark Forest, but who is reliable? The only spy we know for sure is Ivypool, but she’s ThunderClan. So we need Spottedleaf, she’s the only ThunderClan cat who’s actually not hostile to us.”

“Can’t we get some sleep first?” grumbles Leopardstar crankily, now that her burst of excitement was over.

“Yes,” sighed Feathertail. And they both slept.

Chapter Six

 

Leopardstar yawned. Honestly, why couldn’t Feathertail stop waking her up at night? She had made so many “amazing discoveries”. Humph. Speaking of Feathertail, where was she? “Feathertail? Feathertail!” she called. Leopardstar felt the inside of her nest. It was still warm. Feathertail couldn’t have gone for long.

“What?” came an annoyed sound from outside of the cave. Leopardstar felt an immense sense of relief. She burst out of the cave. Feathertail was fishing. “I caught you a meal!” she meowed cheerfully. Leopardstar sighed. She was glad to see Feathertail, but really! I can catch my own meals, thank you very much, thought Leopardstar crankily. But she settled down to eat anyways. A trout was on the ground and Leopardstar padded over and snatched it.

“No, Leopardstar,” meowed Feathertail who was still busy concentrating on the fish, “The bass is for you.”

Leopardstar was surprised. Feathertail had actually thought of catching her a excellent fish. Then again, she was Leopardstar. The fish was large and had a few juniper berries on top. Delicious. Feathertail joined her in eating.

“What now?” she sang in her bird-like voice.

“What do you think?” Why did Feathertail always have to interrupt at such terrible times. Why

can’t she talk to me at a better time, like when I’m not eating or sleeping.

“You’re the leader,” meowed Feathertail.

Well, what do we do? “Let’s visit Brambleberry.”

“Okay!”

Feathertail sure was in a good mood right now. Too bad you couldn’t say the same for Leopardstar.

***************

“Hi Brambleberry!” chirped Feathertail.

“Hi Feathertail!” meowed Brambleberry in an equally annoying voice. Birds everywhere.

“Do you remember anything about Mistystar’s capture?”

“Do you mean if I know any more details? I don’t,” meowed Brambleberry.

“Okay,” meowed Leopardstar happily, though truthfully she was very disappointed. The pair turned to leave.

“Wait!” hissed Brambleberry. Leopardstar turned around and saw a strange look in her eyes. “Even the most powerful must bow down to death someday. To save the clans, the shadow of the moon must rise under the wings of ice and the kin of the moon…  Now go, and hurry!”

Instead of leaving, Feathertail meowed as calmly as she could (which was not calm at all), “Brambleberry, you just said a prophecy. Well, part of a prophecy. No, about two thirds of a prophecy. Hmm… Maybe that was three quarters of a prophecy…”

“Feathertail! Stop calculating mathematics! We are doing something important here,” yowled Leopardstar, “And yes, Brambleberry, you did says part of a prophecy.”

“Seven eighths of a prophecy,” corrected Feathertail. Leopardstar ignored Feathertail.

“I did?” questioned Brambleberry. Thinking hard, Brambleberry meowed slowly, “Wait a minute, I’ve said that before….I’ve said more to another she-cat…..

Chapter Seven

 

It was moonhigh. Icewing waited impatiently on the island. Will Ivypool come? Or will she betray me like so many others did? She was just about to give up on the ThunderClan cat when she spotted a white pelt streaking across the border.

“Where have you been?” Icewing inquired, exasperated. “I’ve been waiting since nightfall!”

“Sorry,” Ivypool meowed. “I had to sneak past the night watch, then run all the way here from camp. That takes a while, even if you start at nightfall.”

“Okay. So what were you going to tell me?”

“The Dark Forest is evil. They plan to try to wipe out the clans, even StarClan. I found out a long time ago and have been fighting against them in my own way. I am a spy. And now that you know this, you have to keep it a secret, otherwise they’ll kill you twice. I advise you to become a spy. That way, you can help me figure out who the ‘cat-in-the-brambles’ is and help them escape.”

“So you’re saying they lure honorable cats into their trap?”

“Yes. Exactly the way they did to you. Not only that, they force every apprentice to kill another cat to become a warrior.”

“And this is what Bloodfur wanted to tell me, before he died?” asked Icewing, her mind whirling, trying to process all this information.

“Yes.”

“Wow.”

“So will you help me?”

“But what if you’re lying, trying to kill me for your own evil reasons. I’ve seen too many betrayals from cats who have been in the Dark Forest. You were late and night watch doesn’t take that long to sneak past. And besides, you were quick to get to the point. No background information. That doesn’t sound like you. I’m glad for the information, but I can’t trust you, even though you’re my friend,” Icewing meowed sadly.

Ivypool sighed. “Well, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Oh, one last thing. Some of the cats actually support the Dark Forest’s intentions. They think the clans are too weak. I know Hollowflight’s one of them. Minnowtail’s been tricked, like you, though.”

 

                                                               ************

Back at camp,everyone was snoring. Icewing snuck back to her nest and curled up.

 

                                                                      ************

        It was a half-moon since Icewing’s meeting with Ivypool. Icewing sat with Icestorm and Ivypool at a Gathering. Mind wandering, Icewing assessed the conditions of the other clans, like Hawkfrost had taught her.

     “ShadowClan is thriving despite the early leaf-bare frost that has settled in our territory, and we remain as vigilant as ever,” Blackstar finished, glaring around. Hmmm… thought Icewing, Blackstar’s a bit thin.

       Bramblestar stepped forward, “ThunderClan has a new warrior, Stormheart!” The clans all cheered. Bramblestar spoke again as the cheering died down, “Leaf-fall has brought us no troubles and we are ready for this leaf-bare.”

        “WindClan is also ready for leaf-bare and the rabbits run as they always do,” Onestar announced. “However, we have smelled strange scents starting from our side of the border and trailing slightly into yours, ” at this, Onestar dipped his head slightly towards Reedwhisker. “I have no more to say. Reedstar?”

The WindClan warriors seem like they are starving, thought Icewing. Reedwhisker meowed, “I am not leader. I am filling in for Mistystar, who has developed…… an unknown sickness. She is doing fine, as is the rest of RiverClan. The prey is still in abundance in our territory and we have two new apprentices, Moonpaw and Frostpaw!” The clans cheered once again. ” And that concludes our Gathering,” finished Reedwhisker. Icewing leapt onto the fallen tree bridge and ran lightly across. Behind her, she could hear the Moonpaw and Frostpaw chattering. Icewing looked back to see if they needed any help. For new apprentices, the slippery tree bridge could be a bit of a challenge. Icewing was surprised. For Moonpaw and Frostpaw’s first time on the tree-bridge, they were surprisingly nimble and agile. Too busy watching the apprentices, Icewing knocked into the warrior in front of her and lost her balance. Icewing tipped sideways and plummeted towards the lake. She waited for the impact but it never came. Instead, there was a sharp pain in her tail as she realized someone had caught her as she fell. Icewing felt the motion of being pulled sideways and then being dumped onto the muddy lake bank. Icewing gasped, “Who saved me? I need to thank them.”

   There came a nervous reply, “me.”

    “Who’s that?” asked Icewing.

    Moonpaw stepped out of the shadows.

    Icewing was confused. Very confused. How could an apprentice have done that? Most of the warriors weren’t strong enough. Not only that, Moonpaw was her apprentice. “Well, good job, Moonpaw.  You’ll be a very interesting apprentice to work with.”

   “Um…….thanks?” meowed Moonpaw.

   “Now come, we are already behind,” Icewing bounded towards the rest of RiverClan. Moonpaw and Frostpaw followed.

Chapter Eight

 

 

“First day of training!” Moonpaw called, shaking the sleeping Frostpaw. Frostpaw tucked her head underneath her paw and muttered something like “Go away.”

“Wake up!” No response. “Humph. I’m telling Reedwhisker that his apprentice refuses to go to training.” Moonpaw ran off.

“Wait!” called Frostpaw, scrambling to her feet. Moonpaw stopped. “I’m coming,” she panted. Moonpaw hid a smile. Reedwhisker trotted out of his den with Icewing following him. She’s probably told him about your strange strength. meowed a voice in her head. Moonpaw jumped. What was that? she thought frantically.

          “Come on you two!” called Icewing, “We’re heading over to the sandy hollow to do battle training today!”

      Battle training on your first day of being an apprentice? Must have something to do with my sister’s power…the voice said again.

        My sister? Frostpaw is doing this mind speaking thing? Moonpaw’s mind whirled. What is happening? she thought.

         I can hear you, Moonpaw, meowed the voice, I am Frostpaw, just for clarification, and yes, I can speak in cats’ minds. I found that out a long time ago.

          Do you think we’re prophecy cats? wondered Moonpaw.

          Don’t tell anyone! hissed Frostpaw, I’m scared of my abilities. I don’t want us to be told we’re crazy.

         Okay, Frostpaw. Can anyone else speak back to you? asked Moonpaw.

         No, they just think they have gone mad. meowed Frostpaw.

        Interesting…is it because we are littermates?

       Possibly… Frostpaw’s voice drifted off and Moonpaw felt her sister’s presence leave her mind. The two apprentices wandered after their mentors, wondering about this new power they had found.

      “Okay,” meowed Reedwhisker, as they arrived at the sandy hollow, “First, just attack your mentor when I say go so we can find out what you already know and what your weaknesses are.”

     Moonpaw and Frostpaw stood, tensed, across from their mentors.

    “Frostpaw, Moonpaw’s supposed to stand in front of me. You stand across from Reedwhisker,” meowed Icewing. Muttering something, Moonpaw and Frostpaw switched places. Reedwhisker chuckled.

“Go!” yowled Reedwhisker. And the apprentices attacked. Frostpaw flew across to land on top of Reedwhisker’s back. Thinking that was the case, Reedwhisker jumped upwards and Frostpaw landed beneath him and started clawing his belly as he landed. I knew he would do that! Frostpaw told Moonpaw triumphantly. Moonpaw darted gracefully around Icewing’s blows, and didn’t let a single scratch hurt her. All of Icewing’s tricks were either missed or knocked aside. Reedwhisker jumped away from Frostpaw and prepared an attack. Frostpaw knew what he was about to do immediately, and as Reedwhisker jumped, Frostpaw flew onto his back and bit him gently, broadcasting her exuberant thoughts to Moonpaw. Reedwhisker, surprised by the sudden weight on his back, tumbled to the ground as Frostpaw bounded off her ride. Moonpaw used her tail as a whip, slapping Icewing across the face. As Icewing stumbled, Moonpaw flipped her over as easily as if Icewing was a troublesome kit. Moonpaw sat on top of Icewing and clawed her belly a few times before leaping off and running away. Icewing followed. Moonpaw jumped onto a tree branch, hidden from sight. As Icewing skidded to a stop, confused about where Moonpaw went, Moonpaw silently leaped off the branch, behind Icewing. Icewing only had time to look startled before Moonpaw bit her tail and mumbled, “I would love to swing you around a few times, but I don’t want to hurt you.” Icewing, having witnessed Moonpaw’s strength, didn’t doubt what she just said. She probably could swing a enemy by the tail a few times, thought Icewing, grumpy because her apprentice just beat her in a practice battle. Frostpaw was winning, too. She could predict Reedwhisker’s every move and use it to her advantage. As Icewing trudged back with a eager Moonpaw bounding along beside her, Frostpaw was sitting on Reedwhisker meowing, “If you were an enemy warrior, you probably would have surrendered by now.”

      Reedwhisker, seeing Icewing all battered and grumpy, humphed, “I think you are right. How did Moonpaw do?”

      Icewing meowed, “Amazing. Moonpaw easily beat me. It’s incredible how she fights.”

      Reedwhisker grunted, “Well, Frostpaw seemed to predict my every move.”

      That I did! spoke Frostpaw cheerfully into Moonpaw’s mind.

      “I don’t think these two need much battle training,” meowed Reedwhisker.

       Icewing nodded, “Perhaps we should take them on a tour of our territory.”

       The four cats walked along the edge of border. “Over here is the Thunderpath,” meowed Icewing. Frostpaw wrinkled her nose, “Why does it smell so bad?”

       “Often, there are monsters along this path. They give off the terrible odor,” explained Reedwhisker.

       Just then, Lilypaw appeared. “Reedwhisker!” panted Lilypaw, “Our hunting patrol has been attacked! Mossfire has been badly hurt and we need reinforcements!”

        Reedwhisker immediately replied, “Who is attacking us? How many attackers are there?”

        “It’s WindClan. They accused us of stealing their prey multiple times. We are outnumbered three to one. It seems like the whole clan is attacking us,” Lilypaw meowed, regaining her breath.

        “Go back to camp immediately. Lead the warriors to where the attack is happening. I’ll call for the rest of the patrols,” ordered Reedwhisker. Lilypaw rushed towards camp. Turning to Icewing and the apprentices, he commanded, “Icewing, there is a border patrol near the ThunderClan border. Take Moonpaw and tell them about the attack. Then lead them to help the hunting patrol.” Icewing and Moonpaw sped off. Reedwhisker turned to Frostpaw, “Frostpaw, you are fast on your paws. We need you where the attack is.” Frostpaw dashed away. Reedwhisker headed back to camp. When he arrived, Troutstream and Beetlenose were guarding camp, “Everything is fine over here,” reported Troutstream. Without stopping, Reedwhisker ran to check on Mossfire. Mossfire was laying on her side, unconscious and covered with blood. Willowshine was licking Mossfire. Mothwing appeared, carrying herbs in her mouth. “Spread these over Mossfire’s pelt,” meowed Mothwing. Mothwing retreated back inside her cave. Reedwhisker meowed, “How is Mossfire?”

       “She’s recovering,” meowed Mothwing without looking up from choosing her next bundle of herbs, “She should be fine, but she’s injured pretty badly.” Reedwhisker nodded. He would be needed at the battle.

       “Take that!” yowled Moonpaw, slapping Onestar across his face.

       Frostpaw pinned down Ashfoot, “Maybe you shouldn’t attack RiverClan next time,” she meowed, with a slightly amused edge to her voice.

       “Behind you!” called Icestorm. Sedgewhisker was creeping up on Frostpaw. With a gentle shove, Frostpaw pushed Ashfoot into the lake. Gasping, Ashfoot clumsily paddled to the edge of the lake. Once ashore, Ashfoot ran back camp. As Ashfoot was fleeing the battle, Frostpaw turned and saw Sedgewhisker pouncing. Frostpaw neatly sidestepped.

      Moonpaw’s battle, though, wasn’t going so well. Onestar had given her many scratches and he was on top of her, growling. With a huge heave, Moonpaw pushed a cat twice her size off her and got up, her fur bristling like a porcupine. Onestar ran in zigzags to confuse Moonpaw, but Moonpaw could run just as fast, if not faster.

       “Hello!” Frostpaw meowed cheerfully, blocking Onestar’s path. Onestar skidded to an abrupt halt, startled by Frostpaw’s sudden appearance. Onestar blinked, confused and Moonpaw jumped onto his back and sat there.

“Hello, Onestar. We haven’t been properly introduced yet. I’m Frostpaw, and the cat sitting on you is my sister Moonpaw,” meowed Frostpaw, circling Onestar.

“Do you surrender?” asked Moonpaw.

“Never,” groaned Onestar.

“Look up!” cried Frostpaw. Moonpaw looked up. Nightcloud had appeared in the trees. She jumped. Moonpaw batted her onto the ground as if she was just another bird that she was hunting. Nightcloud, unprepared for that, landed heavily onto the ground, winded.

       “Yes!” cheered Frostpaw. Moonpaw just smiled. Onestar, still beneath Moonpaw, was breathing heavily.

      “I have an idea!” Moonpaw exclaimed. Frostpaw backed up and climbed on to a tree to watch. Moonpaw jumped off and with astonishing speed, grabbed Onestar’s scruff and started dragging him towards the lake. Frostpaw chuckled from up above. Onestar growled and flailed about, but had no way to free himself. Moonpaw reached the lake and with a mighty swing, tossed Onestar into the lake. Nightcloud got up and hissed, challenging the two sisters.

      “Ready?” asked Frostpaw. Moonpaw grinned, always loving a challenge. Nightcloud leaped impossibly far and the two ran forward, letting Nightcloud miss them. But Nightcloud lowered her hind legs in midair and scratched them both. They had made a novice’s error. They should’ve ducked as well as moved forward.

     I knew that she was going to do that! spoke Frostpaw into Moonpaw’s mind.

    Then why didn’t you tell me? growled Moonpaw.

    I wanted to go back to camp with some injuries. We can’t be suspected as abnormal. Well, Icewing and Reedwhisker already know, but that’s because they’re our mentors. explained Frostpaw. While their telepathic conversation was going on, Nightcloud had noticed their distraction and hid in the shadows, hoping to surprise them.

    Nightcloud’s hiding in the shadows! meowed Frostpaw with her mind. Moonpaw confronted Nightcloud by yowling loudly, “Where are you? I thought that WindClan was braver than that! The scrawny little kittypets probably don’t know what hit them! A scratch and they flee! Even I, who knows how weak WindClan is, expected more than this! Their supposedly fast running skills are used for fleeing, but they aren’t even fast!” Nightcloud growled with anger. Frostpaw, quiet as a dead mouse, snuck behind Nightcloud. Crack!

    “Come on Nightcloud! Stop hiding behind trees!” Moonpaw yowled. Nightcloud turned around, having heard the branch snap. She faced Frostpaw and lunged. Frostpaw sidestepped and raked her claws along Nightcloud’s flank. Nightcloud growled and snapped at her throat. Moonpaw lept forward and bit Nightcloud’s ear. Nightcloud kicked Moonpaw’s partially exposed stomach. Moonpaw fell back, blood dripping. Frostpaw gasped as her sister’s pain filled her mind.

    Find Mothwing! Quick! screeched Frostpaw.

    No! insisted Moonpaw. Frostpaw and Nightcloud were battering each other with their paws. Frostpaw, being smaller and lighter, was being pushed back. Nightcloud, thinking that Moonpaw was unable to fight any longer, had grown confident that she could win. There wasn’t anyone that could help them. They were too far away. Moonpaw slithered across Nightcloud’s path and, being a black cat, easily hid in the shadows. When Nightcloud came close enough, she jumped and raked her front claws down Nightcloud’s exposed belly. Nightcloud let out a bloodcurdling shriek.

    Um…Moonpaw? I think you underestimated your strength…

    Moonpaw looked over at Nightcloud and saw what she had done.

Chapter 9

 

    Feathertail spotted her quarry and bounded over to intercept her. “Spottedleaf! I’ve been looking for you all morning! Where were you? You weren’t gathering herbs or sharing tongues or treating one of your few patients, so I didn’t know where else to look. I had almost given up when I saw you here!”

    “Calm down, Feathertail. If you want to know where I’ve been, come with me.” Spottedleaf’s whiskers twitched mysteriously as she turned and padded off across the moss and grass of the StarClan’s gathering-place. Curiously, Feathertail followed. They bounded across the clearing, dashed through the hunting grounds, and ran up and up and up, higher than Feathertail had ever climbed before. Finally, she found herself standing on the edge of a ridge, high above StarClan’s territory.

    “Wow! When did you find this place?” Feathertail meowed, astounded.

    “Yesterday, when I was gathering herbs, I wandered farther than I ever had before, and I found this.” Spottedleaf replied. “Look over there. See where our territory ends and the Dark Forest begins? You can even see into their territory. But look. That clearing over there has something in it. Something unnatural. It’s like a ball of thorns, and it has guards. I think the Dark Forest is keeping something in there.”

    “I agree, and I think I know what’s in there. Or, rather, who.”

    “Oh, come on. Don’t keep me in the dark, then. Tell me, what – who – is in that thorny ball?”

    “Mistystar. The Dark Forest started training their apprentices for water battles right after she was captured. This can’t be a coincidence. You have to tell Ivypool. She’s RiverClan’s only hope.”

    “I will. Tonight, when she sleeps, I will visit her dreams.”

    “Good.”

    “On a completely different topic, have you been watching RiverClan’s new apprentices lately?”

    “No. I’ve been a bit preoccupied.”

    “Well, they seem to have special powers. Moonpaw is stronger than anyone else and could become an incredible leader. She’s a better fighter and will make a better leader than all the current warriors. And Frostpaw…she’s intriguing. She seems to know everyone’s thoughts. It’s almost as if she can visit people’s minds and speak to them. The two of them together make a very interesting pair, and they seem to be able to speak to each other mentally. It’s quite mysterious, really.”

    “Odd. You think the Dark Forest’ll try to recruit them?”

    “Definetely.”

    “Then we have another chance at spies. They are quite promising.”

    Spottedleaf looked up at the sky. “My, it’s almost sun high already. I must rejoin my clan now.”

    “Until we meet again.”

    And, dipping their heads to one another, the two padded away.

Chapter 10

 

Frostpaw was standing in the starlight on a beautiful grassy plain. A small stream reflected the moon, whose light shone on the small pebbles at the bottom. A cat stood across the stream, looking at her. She looked around for her sister Moonpaw. Frostpaw blinked, and the scene changed. She was in a forest with Moonpaw, but there was no sound. The trees were silver and all was peaceful and serene, yet the two sisters couldn’t help but feel something was out there, watching them. Moonpaw started to say something, but no sound came out. Moonpaw and the forest wavered, and disappeared. Frostpaw was back at the river again.

“Hello, I am Hawkfrost,” spoke the cat from across the river. His fur was a dark gray in the moonlight and was sleek and shiny.

Cautiously, Frostpaw mewed, “Hello Hawkfrost, I’m Frostpaw.”

Hawkfrost dipped his head, “We in StarClan have heard much of your unusual…powers. Will you show them to me?”

Frostpaw spoke with her mind, This is what I can do. Hawkfrost was startled. This cat was telepathic!

“How will you use this power? Is this only with cats?” Hawkfrost wanted to know everything about this young apprentice.

Frostpaw shrugged, “I’ve entered the mind of shrews and birds and stuff for fun, but it makes me tired. Besides, they’re kind of boring. All they care about is food. How will I use it? Maybe if I get better, I can try to have mice and stuff come to me. But so far, I’ve only used it in battle.”

“Wait. You can hypnotize animals to do things?”

“Not really, but it would be cool if I could.”

“How do you use it in battle?”

Mischievously, Frostpaw smiled, “I’ll show you.” Crouching down, with her eyes sparkling, Frostpaw prepared for a battle. Hawkfrost did the same, and leapt towards her. Quickly, Frostpaw slithered forward and rolled over. Hawkfrost landed right in front of her and Frostpaw used her hind legs to claw him. Hawkfrost turned around, but Frostpaw was already facing him. Hawkfrost narrowed his eyes and pounced towards Frostpaw, but she leapt backwards, landing in the fast moving stream. Hawkfrost leapt again, but Frostpaw went underwater and let the stream carry her away. She sat up and saw that Hawkfrost was far away, but approaching. The sun was already rising behind him.  

“Stop!” he yowled. Frostpaw got out. Panting, Hawkfrost meowed, “That was really good! How did you do that?”

I read your mind and anticipated all of your moves, thought Frostpaw. Hawkfrost was impressed.

“Would you like me to teach you something?” asked Hawkfrost, “Watch.” He circled around her a few times and pounced. Frostpaw knew that it was coming and avoided him. Hawkfrost spoke, “I know that this doesn’t work for you, but you should always keep the sun behind you back, especially at dawn and dusk so that your enemy will be blinded.”

“Huh. I’ve never thought of that before. That could be really useful!” meowed Frostpaw, “Can you teach me anything else?”

“Come back here tomorrow, and I’ll teach you something new,” meowed Hawkfrost.

“How?”

“Just go to sleep wanting to come, and you will appear.”

“Thank you!” mewed Frostpaw.

“I will see you tomorrow night,” Hawkfrost disappeared.

 

***********

 

Universal Studios Hollywood: Studio Tour

Today, we are going to Universal Studios, Hollywood! When we get there, there are huge doors that welcome us into Universal Studios. We walk along the red carpet, which leads us into the park. After looking at the maps, we decide to go on the Studio Tour first. There, the line is over an hour long! When we get onto the tram, it takes us to the different sets, where actual movies and T.V. shows are filmed! The Voice and movies such as Despicable Me 2 are filmed there.

Then, we go into a 3D King Kong experience. The tram rolls along into a dark tunnel. For a moment, everything is silent and pitch black. Then, the screens that stretch over our head and covering everything we can see, lights up. We are in a forest, back in the time of the dinosaurs. A purple little dinosaur looks at us, cocking its head. We hear bird calls and other forest sounds. Everything stops. The purple dinosaur turns and runs, followed by its friends. A huge T-Rex comes into view, preceded by thundering footsteps. He roars, but another T-Rex decides to join the fun. Together, they are the kings of the forest until… A humongous ape crashes through the trees, beating its chest and roaring. The two T-Rexes and King Kong battle for dominance. King Kong throws one of the T-Rexes onto the tram. The tram shudders, but the T-Rex quickly gets up bounds off the tram and towards King Kong. The two foes battle each other for dominance for a while more. Then King Kong throws a T-Rex into the side of our tram. Our tram shakes and we seem to crash through the trees until we reach a cliff. The chasm isn’t too wide, and there are vines that stretch across it. King Kong bounds through the trees and pushes us off the cliff! We lay there, suspended by the vines and look up, seeing the tow still fighting. A T-Rex falls onto the vines as well, and they shudder, and break! We fall into the spiraling darkness… and the doors to the tunnel open and we are once again out into the bright sunlight. What an experience!

We next see the town where many things were filmed. It could look like any suburban neighborhood. Desperate Housewives was filmed there. Then comes a street. A random street. It could be in New York, Chicago, California, you name it. Multiple movies have used this street.

We then ride into a train station. We stop as the tour guide, Kevin, talks about the movie filmed in there. The movie was known as Earthquake. In the train station, there all of a sudden is a violent tremor. Kevin reassures us by telling us how LA/Hollywood often have these “little” earthquake tremors. But then the ground starts shaking really hard, the walls are trembling, about to collapse, and the roof comes crashing down, revealing a car that slides down and comes very, very close to the tram. I actually believe that it’s a real earthquake until I hear Kevin, telling us how this is just a little quake, that it will be over soon, but then, as he turns off his microphone, I hear him laughing. A train comes into the train station, but the collapsed roof is in the way. The train hits it, and crumples, because it was going at such a high speed. A roaring noise fills my ears and Kevin tells us that the water main must have broken. Flood! Water comes pouring out at us and we can fell it all over us. The tram shakes, but we aren’t hurt. Just wet. There is a cracking noise, and the train has broken in two. “Let’s get out of here!” exclaims Kevin, and the tram starts rolling forward. We’ve almost made it out, but then the second half of the train comes swinging towards us, but we get out of the way just in time.

We drive along until we reach Whoville from Dr. Seuss’s book Horton Hears a Who. The buildings are huge, making all the characters in there seem tiny. The bendy buildings, the pastel colors, it looked like I walked straight into a book. That was pretty cool. As we pass Whoville, we go into a section full of automobiles. The batman car was there, looking sleek and shiny, and so was the car from Jurassic Park that ended up in a tree. Kevin told us that the whole car was made from plywood so that it can land in the tree without breaking too many branches or falling out of the tree.

We roll along in our tram and approach a lake. I see a shark that was hanged and killed and immediately know that this is from the movie Jaws.  Kevin tells us that there have been no shark attacks since 1893, but a scuba diver is in the middle of the lake, swimming when a gray dorsal fin surfaces and heads right towards him. The water around the diver starts turning red. He screams and disappears under the surface. “Uh oh,” says Kevin, “Looks like there are more shark attacks! Why don’t we hide behind the gasoline cans?” We roll along behind the gasoline cans and watch as the dorsal fin approaches then leap out of the water, swinging his tail and…BOOM! His tail hit the cans and they exploded! Fire blazes out and we can feel the heat on our faces. Great idea, Kevin. We drive around the lake and leave it, as Kevin tells how Bruce the mechanical shark was built in freshwater, tested in freshwater, and filmed in saltwater. The system would go haywire and the shark would randomly swim around. They had to keep on fixing it, over and over, until…it worked…but failed again. Eventually, Bruce worked and the movie was finally filmed. The tour concluded then and we drove back into the tram station. It was so much fun! I hope to go again on this ride, even though the experiences won’t be as spectacular, because I know what’s coming. If you ever go to Universal Studios, Hollywood, be sure to go on the Studio Tour. 

 

 

Climbing Huayna Picchu in Peru

This is the second to last day of our trip. This morning, we had the option to climb Huayna Picchu, the Sun Gate, or do one of the resort (Inkaterra)’s excursions. My dad and I opted to hike Huayna Picchu, with Maya, of course. However, we got separated and we arrived to the peak later than them, because of our late start. The trail was well managed with steel ropes that you can hang onto when you climb the steep stairs. To blend in, the steel ropes were painted a green that has started peeling off. The hike is through the rainforest. There is vegetation surrounding you completely and in between the stone steps are little plants. The hike is very steep, especially near the top. When we arrived to the peak, there were two tunnels in which you had to squeeze through. The peak yielded a gorgeous sight of Machu Picchu. Everything looked so small! When we decided to begin our descent, there was two paths. We saw one of my classmates going down the left side. Unsure of where to go, we asked a random person. He had a map and said, “Both ways lead to Machu Picchu!” So we went to the left. The descent was long, arduous, and tiring. Oh well, at least it was better than ascending. We caught up to the Foyer family. After a short while, we decided to sit on a rock, look at Machu Picchu, and eat. That was when we lost the Foyers. We got up and walked two steps when we saw it. A sheer drop 20 feet down, with the only way down being a rickety wooden ladder balanced against the cliff. I got to go first. It was pretty freaky, knowing that if I fell, I would have a broken leg and still have to hike an hour back to our rendezvous point. What would happen if we didn’t show up? All these thoughts rushed through my head. And…I dropped my jacket. Carefully descending, I tried to pick it up, but only succeeded in pushing it down lower. That’s when my dad started climbing. Uh oh. What if the ladder tipped over? One side was a drop down to the bottom of the mountain which would mean a sure death, and the other was a stone wall. I finally reached the bottom with a sigh of relief. We hiked along the winding trail, down a bunch of steps, and rested some more for another hour. Suddenly, we came upon a Incan ruin. Huh. Why was that there? I remembered our guide saying that there were watchtowers stationed all around Machu Picchu. Aha. That just be it. We continued to the very bottom of the mountain. Something wasn’t right. The river that we saw at the bottom of the Machu Picchu mountain was right in front of us. Weird. We continued along the path as it flattened out into a field and green grass and yellow and purple flowers. To the left was a huge cave. The rock was white, with a hint of yellow. It almost seemed to glow, like the moon. But the main thing was the structure inside the cave. There were the niches in which statues were put, and a sacrificial alter with perfectly carved steps leading up to it. We could’ve explored more of the cave, but we didn’t know where we were and so we headed onto the path again. Then we saw the sign. The sign that said, “Machu Picchu: I hour, 30 minutes”. I couldn’t believe that we walked a hour just to visit some cave, and now we would have to walk ninety tiring minutes, but the worst was still yet to come. We walked a little before finding that we had to go uphill! That means a few hundred more stairs. We stopped for frequent breaks and were whooping with joy when we saw the trails merge and the first sign of human life for 2 and a half hours. We asked a guide where we had went and he told us that we had gone to the moon temple.
We went back to Machu Picchu and found the Foyer family and the guides (Patty or Patricia, our main guide, and Ro, a guide just for Machu Picchu). It turned out that we (the Foyer family and us) were the only family that actually went to the moon temple. At the time, I despised having to walk so much and was so tired, but now, looking back on it, it was so much fun and I’m glad to have done that great experience! 
 

Egypt Journal-Day One-Cairo

Cairo, Day 1
I’m finally in Cairo! The plane was really boring, though the food wasn’t that bad… I was actually really surprised that Cairo wasn’t as hot as I expected. The airport was really nice and organized; much better than New York’s JFK airport. A travel guide from Trafalgar, the company that we are following, met us as we exited the airport. Imead, our guide, pronounced (Ee-me-ad), told us some very interesting things about Cairo. Cairo is quite noisy and very busy, like China except all the signs are in Arabic. The time it takes to get in and out of downtown ranges between 18 min and 2 days. Our hotel, Fairmount, is very nice and has many trees and lush greenery. We slept off the time difference and took a walk around Cairo. When we got back, we ate at a Lebanon restaurant inside the hotel. The bread was wonderful and so was the flavorful chicken. The shrimp, fish, and lamb wasn’t as good, but it was still tasty.  We then went back to our hotel room, where we are at now.

 

Egypt Journal-Day One-New York

I’m in NY right now, in the New York Palace hotel. This journal entry is just a huge list of what I did today, so this is what I did today : 1) I went to a huge church that was intricately decorated with white marble and stained glass windows. It’s basically your average church with way more details and statues trimmed with gold. The interior was filled with tons of candles and it was known as St. Patrick’s Church. Not the most creative name but it was beautiful. 2) We went to the Rockfeller Center and saw a huge gold statue in a fountain in front of a huge ice skating rink that held about two people, but its maximum occupancy was about 250 people. 3) We looked around Legoland. There was a dragon, a replica of a statue in Rockfeller Center, a big red apple, and other things that were made entirely out of Legos. My estimate on how many Legos used and how much time it took? About 2500 Legos and some 12 hours with multiple Lego experts working on it. The statues were huge! One wall was lined with depressions that held some 2 million Legos (that’s an estimate). The whole wall, floor to ceiling, held small depressions, about one inch apart, filled with different types of Legos. There must’ve been about 200 types in all! 4) We looked around the Metropolitan Museum of Art shop and saw some really awesome glass birds. We also saw these glass magnets that had flowers and butterflies in them. They were beautiful. I read a book on optical illusions and the encyclopedia to immaturity. They had a few pretty good tips on how to disrupt classes and other crazy things. 5) By the time we got out of that shop, it was raining. We ate at a Chinese restaurant, thinking that in Egypt we wouldn’t be able to eat Chinese food. The things my mom ordered were pretty good, but half of them were spicy, and if you know me, then you should realize that I DON’T EAT SPICY FOOD. That being said, I tried the two spicy dishes and started on the fried rice. Nom nom nom. It was good food. 6) When we were rushing back to our hotel, it was raining, raining, raining. My coat got all wet. Humph. 7) I’m back at the hotel about to go to bed, so good night! 

StarClan’s Rescue

Allegiances

 

RiverClan

Leader: Mistystar – large, sleek, blue-gray she cat
Deputy: Reedwhisker – slender black tom with small, neat ears
Medicine Cat: Mothwing – small, golden, dappled, long furred she-cat
Apprentice – Willowshine  -  lithe, dark gray tabby she-cat
Warriors: Beechfur – light brown tom
Beetlenose – broad-shouldered black tom
Mossfire –  fire orange she-cat with deep green eyes
Hollowflight – dark brown tabby tom
Minnowtail – sleek, dappled gray and white she-cat with a light, strong body
Mossyfoot – brown and white she-cat
Troutstream – pale gray tabby she-cat
Icewing – pure white she-cat with blue eyes.
Icestorm – pure white she-cat with green eyes.
Apprentices: Lilypaw – lightly dappled pale gray and white she-cat (mentor is Mossfire),
Pebblepaw – pure gray tom with black eyes (mentor is Minnowtail),
Snowpaw – silver tabby tom with wavy white stripes (mentor is Hollowflight)
Queens: Skyfrost – black and silver she-cat with sky-blue eyes.
Graymist – pale gray tabby she-cat
Kits: Frostkit –  pure white cat with piercing blue eyes (mother is Graymist)
Moonkit – pure black she-cat with a crescent shaped silver marking and dark blue eyes  (mother is Graymist)
Ivykit – white tom with green eyes (mother is Skyfrost)

ThunderClan

Leader: Bramblestar – big, broad-shouldered, muscular, dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes, powerful shoulders, long, curved claws,a massive head, huge paws, and a long scar on his shoulder.
Deputy: Squirrelflight – Small, light framed, dark ginger she-cat with one white paw, a bushy tail, and brilliant green eyes.
Medicine Cat: Jayfeather – small, silky, mottled gray tom, blind, blue eyes, short tail, scar down one side.
Warriors: Berrynose – large, cream colored tom with a stump for a tail and a torn ear.
Birchfall – light brown tabby tom with amber eyes and glossy fur.
Cloudtail – fluffy, snowy, white tom with thick long fur and round blue eyes.
Dustpelt – lithe dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes and broad shoulders.
Graystripe – Shaggy pure gray tom with bright yellow eyes.
Dovewing – fluffy, pale ashy gray she-cat with brilliant blue eyes.
Ivypool – small, slender silver white tabby she-cat with dark blue eyes.
Lionblaze – broad-shouldered golden tabby tom with amber eyes, a thick pelt, a nicked ear, and wide, pale paws with fur that bunches at the claws.
Leafpool – lithe, pale brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes.
Stormheart – unusually huge tabby gray tom with bright amber eyes that have yellow specks inside of them.
Apprentices: Fernpaw – small, clever silver tabby she-cat with startling green eyes (mentor is Dovewing).
Firepaw – rusty orange tabby tom with light orange stripes like flames running over his back (mentor is Graystripe).
Queens: Cinderheart – slender, dappled gray tabby she-cat with round blue eyes and a fluffy, bushy long tail.
Poppyfrost – dappled, pale, tortoiseshell and white she-cat.
Kits: Dawnkit – cream furred she-cat, amber eyes.
Mistkit – very pale gray she-cat, misty blue eyes.
Cloudkit – pure white tom, amber eyes (mother is Cinderheart)
Rainkit – dark gray fluffy tortoiseshell she-cat, dark blue eyes.
Lionkit – golden brown fluffy tom, green eyes (mother is Poppyfrost)

WindClan

Leader: Onestar – lithe, lean mottled light brown tabby with amber eyes.
Deputy: Ashfoot – broad faced gray she-cat with clear eyes
Medicine Cat: Kestrelflight – mottled brownish-gray tom with white splotches like kestrel feathers.
Warriors: Breezepelt – lean black tom with amber eyes and thorn-sharp claws
Crowfeather – sleek, smoky gray, almost black tom with blue eyes.
Nightcloud – well muscled pure black she-cat with amber eyes.
Harespring – brown and white tom.
Sunstrike – tortoiseshell she-cat with large white mark on forehead.
Sedgewhisker – light brown tabby she-cat
Whitetail – small white she-cat.
Apprentices: Rabbitpaw – small, sleek brown tom (mentor is Whitetail).
Cloverpaw – dark brown she-cat with green eyes (mentor is Nightcloud).
Queen: Larksong – silver and black tabby she-cat
Kits: None

ShadowClan

Leader: Blackstar – muscular, powerful,sleek,large, bulky,white tom with big, jet-black paws,darker ears, a long tail,long claws,a scarred pelt,  and six toes on one of his paws.
Deputy: Rowanclaw – dark ginger tom
Medicine Cat: Littlecloud – very small brown tabby tom with light blue eyes.
Warriors: Snowbird – sleek, well muscled pure white she-cat with green eyes.
Applefur – mottled brown she-cat.
Kinkfur – golden tabby she-cat with long, unkempt fur that sticks out from all angles.
Tigerheart – huge,sleek, thick-furred,dark brown tiger-striped tabby tom with a torn ear, broad shoulders,a long tail, a powerful frame, and dark amber eyes.
Smokefoot – black tom with sharp claws and a ragged pelt.
Owlclaw – light brown tabby tom.
Ice
Apprentices: Hawkpaw – black and dark brown tabby tom with yellow eyes.
Queens: Tawnypelt – lean, slender, mottled, pale tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes, well-muscled shoulders, and long, hooked claws.
Kits: Brackenkit – golden brown tabby tom with green eyes.
Maplekit – tortoiseshell and white she-cat with amber eyes.
Leopardkit – spotted golden dappled she-cat.

 

Even the most powerful must bow down to death someday.

To save the clan, the shadow of the moon must shine under the wings of ice,

and the kin of the moon will turn out to be the greatest warrior of all.

Prologue

    Moonlight washed palely over the border as two she-cats padded softly along. Two pairs of eyes, one ice-blue and another pale amber, blinked in the shadowed undergrowth. The small brown tabby looked warmly at the other.
    “Greetings.”

“Greetings, Brambleberry. Do you have any particular news you would like to share with me?” The other cat meowed just as warmly in reply.

    “RiverClan is going to have much trouble with Twoleg kits,” Brambleberry cautioned. The blue-gray she-cat narrowed her eyes.    

“They captured Willowshine when she was out gathering herbs last sunrise.”

Brambleberry nodded. “I saw. Come. Let us sit down here where we will not be

disturbed.” She flicked her tail towards a large rock almost hidden behind a waterfall. The sleek blue-gray she-cat meowed wistfully,“This reminds me of the Tribe of Rushing Water. I had many friends there. But how are we going to get to the rock?”

Purring, Brambleberry replied, “You are RiverClan aren’t you? You swim, of course.”

“Under that wall of water, Brambleberry? What are you thinking?”

Brambleberry laid her tail tip gently onto the blue-gray she-cat’s back. “This way. There isn’t as much water pouring down over here.”

The two cats swam over to the rock. Shivering, the blue cat meowed, “It’s chilly over here!”

Suddenly, Brambleberry got a distant look in her eyes, “Even the most powerful must bow down to death someday. To save the clan, the shadow of the moon must shine under the wings of ice and the kin of the moon will turn out to be the greatest warrior of them all.”

    As if nothing had happened, Brambleberry meowed, “I apologize, I have forgotten you are not quite yet StarClan, my friend. Let’s continue walking.”

   

************

 

Two cats emerged from the other side of the border: Dark Forest, both dark-brown tabby toms. Together, they silently stalked the two she-cats. The she-cats had no idea that they were being followed. The two toms looked at one another, reviewing their plan mentally, and nodded.Together, they leaped into the air, one landing on Brambleberry’s shoulders, the other knocking the surprised blue-gray she-cat unconscious.

“Quick, Hawkfrost! Drag her across the border where Brokenstar is waiting to help! We can’t let them know about the prophecy!” yowled the brown tabby with the amber eyes.

Brambleberry shook the cat from the Dark Forest off her shoulders, spraying drops of blood onto the leafy green plants.

“Tigerstar!” she spat. “I should have known!”

Growling, Tigerstar attacked Brambleberry once again. Brambleberry leaped into the air and twisted, sinking her teeth into Tigerstar’s long, matted fur. Tigerstar kicked his hind legs onto Brambleberry’s stomach. Yowling, she tried to get up but Tigerstar held her down and raked her belly until she drifted into unconscious.

   
                             ******

“Spottedleaf!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “Brambleberry has been attacked!” Spottedleaf rushed to Brambleberry, her carefully collected herbs forgotten in her panic.

“This looks like Tigerstar’s work. I don’t even know how to treat this kind of wound. Yellowfang probably does though,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

Feathertail gasped. “Look at those paw prints!” Two pairs of paw prints, both fairly large, led deep into the Dark Forest.

“It looks like they dragged a cat with them!” meowed Spottedleaf, who looked as if she’d been struck by lightning, with her fur standing on end.

“Why would they do that?” wondered Feathertail, “Who did they take?”

Spottedleaf growled. “Look!” A pair of ice-blue eyes blinked once and disappeared. Feathertail turned to Spottedleaf.

“Hawkfrost.” Feathertail meowed, furious. “Hawkfrost must have dragged the cat away.”

“But why?” Spottedleaf was shocked.

“I don’t know, but I need you to go get Yellowfang. Quick!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “I don’t know ThunderClan camp as well as you do.” She hoped Spottedleaf would hurry. Brambleberry could die if Yellowfang didn’t come quickly and treat her.

Barely conscious, Brambleberry muttered “Feathertail,” before drifting back into unconsciousness.

“Brambleberry! You’re alive! Who was with you? What happened? Brambleberry, I need to know!” Feathertail meowed, her voice rising. What had happened? Would Brambleberry be all right? What would happen if she never woke up? Would she just…fade? Feathertail didn’t even want to think about it.

She shook Brambleberry.  “Brambleberry! Wake up! Please!” Feathertail glanced despairingly over her shoulder to see if Spottedleaf was back yet. They needed a medicine cat who could treat this, desperately. She began to lick Brambleberry’s pelt to wash all the blood away. Maybe that way she’ll wake up, thought Feathertail.

“Feathertail. Where is she?” murmured Brambleberry.

“Where is who?” meowed Feathertail, hope rising in her chest like a caged bird. Quick paw steps filled the air.

“What happened?” demanded Leapordstar.

“Brambleberry has been attacked and Spottedleaf is going for help.” meowed Feathertail.

“Brambleberry has been attacked?” repeated Leapordstar, dazed.

“Yes and Brambleberry keeps on talking about a she-cat. I was about to get an answer, you know,” Feathertail replied, annoyed. Why did Leopardstar interrupt when she was least wanted or needed? Why couldn’t she go and do something useful for once, instead of just lying around ordering other cats to get her fish? She was new in StarClan, for- well, for StarClan’s sake. She should stop ordering cats around and do some work for once.

“Mistystar……gone…….” Brambleberry drifted back into unconsciousness.

Feathertail was confused. Why was Mistystar gone? Where was she? Who took her? Then it hit her, like the monster that crippled Cinderpelt. “What?! Where is the RiverClan leader? Where is she? Where is Mistystar?”

Chapter One

    Icewing was back in the forest. The yucky one with the muddy rivers that were as slow as a slug climbing to the old Highstones and the icky, leafless trees that blocked out the sky; not the forest that the ThunderClan and ShadowClan cats lived in – not the one by the lake.

“Hi, Icewing!” came a call from a few paces behind.

“Hello, Ivypool!” she called back. Ivypool was a cat from ThunderClan, and she was really nice, but she always seemed to have something other than training on her mind, meaning she was normally slightly distracted.

“More training, less talking!” growled a voice behind her. Icewing jumped. She turned around and saw Tigerstar stalking out from behind the leafless trees. Ivypool had disappeared.

“Sorry Tigerstar,” Icewing mumbled guiltily; she knew Tigerstar did not take kindly to distractions from experience.

“We are doing tree training today. Come on. The other cats are already assembled.” Tigerstar leaped over a fallen tree towards a clearing. Icewing scrambled over after him.

Tigerstar jumped onto a large rock, easily. “Those ThunderClan fools have been cheating in battle. They climb trees! Are they cats or are they weak little squirrels? We will do tree training too! We will play their own trick against them!” He growled. Tigerstar paused as yowls of approval rang out from the assembled cats beneath him. “We will work in partners. Snowtuft, you are going to be with Hollowflight, Shredtail, you are with Sunstrike, Thistleclaw, work with Breezepelt, Ivypool with Blossomfall, Hawkfrost with Icewing, and  Mapleshade with Tigerheart. Brokenstar and I will be supervising. We are not kits play fighting, so unsheathe your claws!”

It must be an important training session to have two leaders supervising!

“Who am I assigned to?” rose a voice from the crowd of cats.

Tigerstar narrowed his eyes. “You were beaten by an apprentice,” he spat, “You do not deserve to train any cats until you have proven yourself worthy again, Darkstripe!”

“ Hurry up Icewing, you slow slug! What are you waiting for, kit? ” Hawkfrost beckoned at  Icewing from next to a twisted, gnarled tree with his tail. “You’re going to climb first and try to attack me as you jump. Hurry!”

Icewing nodded. RiverClan has never climbed trees, she thought rebelliously. But another part of her mind said This is going to make me the best warrior I can be. She told herself that firmly again as she strained her hind leg muscles to push herself up the tree. Hawkfrost circled around impatiently. Quietly, Icewing tiptoed down the tree trunk half way and bunched her muscles in preparation for the spring. She landed squarely on Hawkfrost’s shoulders, yowling in triumph. But her triumph turned to confusion when Hawkfrost rolled over and smashed her to the ground. Thinking quickly, Icewing pushed Hawkfrost off herself and when he was still recovering, slashed his belly with unsheathed claws. Growling, he pushed himself off the leaf littered ground. Icewing backed up cautiously, unsure if he was about to pounce. She relaxed, though, as Hawkfrost hissed “You were so loud! Practice, and this time be quieter.”

“Like this?” Icewing scrambled up a tree and climbed down as softly as she could.

“No, but that will have to do,” meowed Hawkfrost. “Now hurry! We’re wasting training time!”

Thinking harder this time, Icewing climbed up the tree and waited.

“Faster! You can’t be a dead slug during battle!” Hawkfrost growled.

Icewing didn’t move. Hawkfrost had started circling the tree once again. This time, she silently jumped straight from the branch so as not to give Hawkfrost any kind of warning. Howling, she bit down on Hawkfrost’s back. He jumped into the air to make her crash. She quickly retaliated and slithered under him, clawing his belly as he landed.

“Acceptable,” Hawkfrost meowed grudgingly, “Again!”
    Icewing once again went up the tree. This time though, instead of jumping, she successfully got down on the other side of the tree without being heard  - where Hawkfrost wasn’t waiting to attack her. Icewing crept up onto Hawkfrost and attacked from behind.”

“You didn’t use the tree to your advantage! You must tree train, not pouncing like a newborn kit!” Hawkfrost glared at Icewing, “You must do everything I tell you!”

“But I did use the tree!” retorted Icewing, “I went up it and so when the enemy was preparing for me to jump down onto them, I leaped up onto their back so they got taken by surprise.”

“Clever,” Eyes narrowing, Hawkfrost growled, “However, your enemies may find that attacking you without you being on them is much easier than fighting you when you land actually on their back.”

“But I can always scramble up the tree and land on their backs while they are wondering where I went.”

“ThunderClan knows that trick. We must prepare for that,” Hawkfrost hissed, “You have a sharp and clever mind. Use that to your advantage, too. Let’s see how many more interesting strategies you can think of. More training and less talking!”

And so Icewing crawled up the tree, her muscles aching.

                    ***********

“You know, I think I’m the first RiverClan cat to do tree training – ever.” grumbled Icewing. Her muscles ached and her back was on fire. It would be a miserable day when the sun rose. Hawkfrost’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Wrong, Icewing. I was the first RiverClan cat to climb a tree. But you were the second. Now, go tell Tigerstar I think it’s time.”

That’s just like Hawkfrost – always bragging. It’s time for what, though? thought Icewing as she ran over to Tigerstar to tell him Hawkfrost’s news.

“What’s it time for?” the green-eyed she-cat asked after she delivered her message.

“I can’t tell you!” snapped Tigerstar.

Icewing wanted to ask why, but she knew not to cross Tigerstar when he was grumpy. Still…

All of a sudden, Tigerstar yowled “Next time she visits, one of our apprentices will take her final assessment!”

Would that be her?

A high, reedy voice from the back of the crowd of cats yowled back “Who, might I ask, is this mysterious she-cat? It should be me!”

“And why would I tell you, Breezepelt? Anyways, you’re still not ready,” replied Tigerstar coolly. “I hope you’ll tend to the ‘cat-in-the-brambles,’ as our apprentices kindly call her, next moonrise instead of training with us. Have fun with the mouse bile and changing her moss. She’ll like that. The rest of you, go – oh, and whatever you do, do not go near the clearing where we used to train or I promise I will personally rip out your pelt and use it to line my nest; even my warriors. I am making an exception for Breezepelt because he must go there tomorrow. Now leave me to think for once, instead of helping train you mouse-brained young ‘paws’ to become ‘better warriors’.” And with that impressive speech, Tigerstar bounded off the “Announcement Rock” and away into the forest.

What is the matter with him? Icewing was bewildered. Tigerstar’s never been grumpy enough to threaten to rip out our pelts before. Humph. Who is this mysterious she-cat? Why can’t we go to the old training clearing anymore? So many questions, yet no answers.

Suddenly, Icewing felt a pelt brush hers, then smelled the slightly musty scent that belonged to Ivypool. Ivypool’s scent was a mixture of Dark Forest and ThunderClan, just like hers was a mixture of Dark Forest and RiverClan.

“Icewing, go home. I am warning you, do not fail your warrior assessment or else you may never go back to your clanmates by the lake.” warned the other white she-cat, then she turned and disappeared.

Icewing felt an ominous chill go down her spine at those words. Was Ivypool hinting that she would die if she failed?

Chapter 2

After Feathertail and Spottedleaf found Brambleberry hurt and Mistystar missing and Leopardstar discovered them, there was utter chaos until…

“Silence! Do you want all of StarClan to come rushing here right now?” yowled Leopardstar.

“Leopardstar, Mistystar is missing! Do you know the significance of that!” growled Feathertail. She’s interfering again, that arrogant furball, she thought, aggravated by Mistystar’s capture.

“I know, Feathertail. Calm down. Besides, if we’re too hasty, it could lead to our downfall as well as Mistystar’s,” soothed Leopardstar.

Feathertail thought for a moment. What Leopardstar says makes sense, she concluded. “Who else will help us?”

“No one but us. They will all try to take over, and this is only RiverClan’s business.” Leopardstar meowed.

Feathertail nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Leopardstar. What should we do now?”

Leopardstar narrowed her eyes. “Keep quiet and look for unexpected allies. Make sure they’re at least half RiverClan.”

Why at least half RiverClan? Has Leopardstar gone crazy? thought the silver she-cat. “I’ll do that. I think we should visit Willowshine to tell her what has happened,” meowed Feathertail.

“Yes, I agree. Could you do that? I must go. Crookedstar asked me to come to a meeting of Clan leaders and medicine cats to discuss Brambleberry’s situation.” Leopardstar took off running, her tail streaming out behind her.

Feathertail sighed. Why did Leopardstar always have to take charge? That night she visited Willowshine’s dreams. “Willowshine!”

“Feathertail! Mistystar went to the Moonpool and I went with her and Mothwing but she never woke up! We had to drag her back to camp. Everyone thought she was dead but she was still breathing,” meowed Willowshine in a hurry, “What are we going to do?”

“Her spirit was captured by the Dark Forest. The Dark Forest, or The Place Of No Stars, is where cats that are not accepted by StarClan go after they leave their bodies,” explained Feathertail. “Ask Reedwhisker to temporarily take the leader’s role, but tell him not to change his name to Reedstar as we can not give him nine lives since Mistystar still has all of hers. Don’t forget, Mistystar is still alive.”

“Okay, Feathertail. But how is Mistystar going to escape the Dark Forest?” questioned Willowshine.

“StarClan will rescue her!”

Feathertail’s voice faded away as she hurried back to StarClan’s hunting grounds. When she returned, Leopardstar was waiting for her. Humph.

“Our meeting went very badly,” announced Leopardstar.

“What happened?” asked Feathertail. Nothing could be worse than a hopeless quest into the Dark Forest to rescue Mistystar.

“Crookedstar brought Brambleberry in and he questioned her thoroughly. All we got out of her was that she was walking along the border and got attacked by two cats from the Dark Forest,” mused Leopardstar, “She doesn’t even remember anything about Mistystar’s capture.”

Feathertail nodded, “We need a plan to rescue her. Mistystar, I mean, not Brambleberry.” Though Brambleberry does need help, thought Feathertail privately. She knew not to cross Leopardstar when she was grumpy or happy, all the same.

Leopardstar thought for a moment, “Let’s go visit the Dark Forest. Come on, lets go now.”

Why now?

The pair padded along silently until they suddenly saw a spotted pelt flash by.

“Greetings, Feathertail, Leopardstar. Did you see Milkfur earlier?” meowed Featherwhisker .

“She was at Four Trees not long ago,” answered Feathertail. Why is he looking for Milkfur now?

“Thanks, I don’t think she knows about what happened to Brambleberry. And after all, she has a right to know since Brambleberry was Milkfur’s apprentice.” Featherwhisker trotted away, tail drooping.

Feathertail remembered that Featherwhisker always had liked Brambleberry. No wonder he was sad.

“Well, we will be looking like that for some time,” commented Feathertail. Leopardstar didn’t answer. They quietly strolled along for a while until they reached the border.

“I guess we’ll go in,” meowed Leopardstar. Not long after, they scented Brokenstar on the slightly musty breeze. Leopardstar tensed. Feathertail crouched. What does he want? she thought.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” purred Brokenstar in a silky voice. “I thought we made it clear StarClan was not allowed here.”

“You said was not allowed. We are allowed because this is not the past, but the present. Yes?” retorted Feathertail.

“A clever tongue, as usual. Now, if you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds, I will gladly let you visit my territory, as that is only fair…Now, get out!” Brokenstar barred his teeth.

Thinking fast, Feathertail meowed “Go ahead. Visit anytime.”

“Feathertail! What you are you thinking?! Since when were you so fish-brained?” interrupted Leopardstar, again. Feathertail silenced her with a glare. Leopardstar returned the glare but did not question her any further.

“Then go ahead and explore all you want.” Brokenstar took off into the dark woods.

“What was that all about?!” hissed Leopardstar, narrowing her eyes.

“Wait. I’ll tell you later,” murmured Feathertail distractedly.

“As you say, Featherstar,” grumbled Leopardstar. Humph. AnnoyingStars all over the place were invading, thought Feathertail grumpily.

“Really! Please stop insulting me! Now can we just get on visiting this place and get out of here? I don’t like it any more than you do!” Exasperated, Feathertail stalked off. With a heavy, exaggerated sigh and a rolling of her eyes, Leopardstar grudgingly followed. Why was Grumpystar always so hostile? thought Feathertail.

“Wait,” Leopardstar halted suddenly, “I smell a familiar scent. Tigerstar!” They spun around in unison to see a large dark brown tabby striding towards them. “The visitors Brokenstar mentioned.” He nodded, “Don’t let me interrupt you. Continue as you please.” Tigerstar disappeared into the shadows.

“He becomes more and more evil every passing moment,” Leopardstar growled.

“No one can deny that,” agreed Feathertail. How did they communicate so fast, and what makes me think that something is amiss? Those two can never be trusted.

“Humph,” meowed Leopardstar suspiciously. “He sounded like he was up to something.”

“Whenever was he not?” asked Feathertail, “ I wonder if his scheme has something to do with Mistystar’s capture?”

Leopardstar didn’t reply.

               

 

      ************

   
The two walked off into the forest, following the twisting and turning path. Feathertail’s mind was filled with questions, one after another. Whys and hows and lots of coulds floated around in the air. She was sure that even Leopardstar, who as lost in her own thoughts too, could hear her mind buzzing with questions.
    “Feathertail,” Leopardstar voice was tense, “I think we’ve been going around in circles.”
    “How come? We’ve been following this path,” replied Feathertail.
    “Look at that same gnarled tree trunk. I’m sure we’ve been past it before.”
    “Hmm,” meowed Feathertail thoughtfully, “You’re right.”
    “I’m going to scratch a cross onto this tree so that way we’ll know if we’ve been here before.” Leopardstar did so.
    After a few hundred heartbeats, they came back to the same tree. Feathertail gasped, surprised at how easily they’d been fooled. “We really are going around in circles!” Her voice rose to a wail, “ We’re hopelessly lost in the Dark Forest! Here, where no one would even think about us being in this horrible……place!”

Chapter Three

“What do think we are going to do? Obviously we just don’t follow the path. Now let me lead,” Leopardstar shouldered past Feathertail and growled “Come on!” With a humph, Feathertail followed her leader. Why was Feathertail always so slow? She obviously thought I am a grumpystar, but that doesn’t mean she has to be so grumpy and sharp tongued with me. thought Leopardstar

“Hey! I didn’t see this fork in the path before!” meowed Feathertail excitedly.

“That’s because I’m leading,” grumbled Leopardstar. Really, Feathertail was so cheery she could beat a sparrow singing – that is, if she could sing. She couldn’t sing, only birds and possibly Twolegs could. Lost in her thoughts, she then crashed into a bush.

“Hurry up, Leopardstar! We’re losing our time for exploring!” hissed Feathertail.

Leopardstar didn’t like that and retorted “Well, stop singing like a bird!” With a growl of fury, she turned around and stalked off. She could sense that Feathertail was confused and wanted to say something back to her but even she knew better than to start an argument with a leader. Leopardstar felt a stab of self-satisfaction with that small victory of words.

Soon, they reached a clearing filled with cats surrounded by trees. They quickly hid themselves behind two of these disgusting under-growths and peered out from behind them. It seemed like the cats in the clearing were having a meeting of some kind. Some of the faces in the crowd looked familiar, and they scanned them with sharp eyes, gold and blue, to see what cats they knew. Feathertail was the first to spot a Lake cat they knew.

“Look! There’s Icewing with Hawkfrost! They’re training together. I never knew this was happening!” wailed Feathertail, clearly distressed.

“It’s all right. She might be a spy for RiverClan like Ivypool is for ThunderClan”

Feathertail visibly relaxed.   

“Let’s continue along. Mistystar is obviously not here,” meowed Leopardstar. She turned and headed off into the shallow undergrowth. With a sigh of exasperation, Feathertail followed. She sniffed, then stiffened. Leopardstar followed suit, and smelled a scent that she had never wanted to smell for the rest of her death years.

“Brokenstar!” she warned. Sure enough, Brokenstar appeared moments later. “Visits are over. I will show you the way out.”

***********

“That was useless!” growled Leopardstar, “and now he can visit our territory! He probably set us up to get lost. That way we can’t learn anything.” Brokenstar was the most obnoxious cat from the forest to the sun-drown place; from the mountains to the lake.

“Just wait. He’ll get his payback.” purred Feathertail.

What was that cat up to?

“You still haven’t told me why you are going to let Brokenstar into our hunting grounds,” reminded Leopardstar. Feathertail was so forgetful she would forget she was on a patrol the minute she left camp.

“He said ‘If you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds.’ Well, that is exactly what I plan on doing. I’ll give him a tour on the most boring and useless places,” Feathertail paused. “I’ll also give long uninteresting lectures. Then I’ll send him out of here like he did to us.”

“Brilliant, Feathertail!” meowed Leopardstar, “Great thinking!” How had Feathertail thought of that? Well, she’d add to that. “Try to somehow get him lost in the most uninteresting place – the island in the middle of  the small lake would do. Just make a bridge out of wood and lead him across, then destroy the bridge and swim away.” He’s such a drypaw, she thought in disgust.

“Amazing, Leopardstar!”

Leopardstar was pleased with the praise, but she decided not to say anything. Maybe if Feathertail gave her more compliments, she would make her her personal deputy – for helping the Clans only, of course.

******

“Cats of StarClan!” yowled Willowstar, “Brambleberry has been attacked by one of the Dark Forest. We are suspecting that Tigerstar did the fighting while a different cat dragged someone over the border and is currently holding them hostage. Leopardstar and Feathertail, would you like to speak?”

“We were there, not when the attack happened, but at the aftermath. Feathertail and I do not know who was taken except that they are not from RiverClan.”

Leopardstar felt guilty that she was lying at a Gathering, but she had no choice. She jumped down from Highrock in a graceful leap and meowed “Feathertail, would you like to speak?” Leopardstar meowed. She would probably mess up the whole lie and tell everything that had happened since the attack on Brambleberry and Mistystar.

“ Well, we went into the Dark Forest to investigate the matter…….” A chorus of cats started yowling “What! Why didn’t you tell us? You should have discussed with the rest of StarClan first!”

“I’m sorry but there was not enough time. As I was saying……..”

Feathertail got interrupted again this time by Mossleaf, an old StarClan cat. “Are you not telling us something?” she meowed suspiciously, “Something is missing and without it, your story smells quite fishy.”

“No Mossleaf,” assured Feathertail, “I have told you everything – well, almost everything, and I’m going to tell you the rest of it right now.”

Mossleaf sat down back on her haunches again but kept a glare on her.

“Right,” meowed Feathertail, ignoring Mossleaf, “Brokenstar is going to visit StarClan in return for our visit to their home.”

There was a few collective gasps but no one spoke.

“I plan on giving him a tour of some of the most boring places there are here; like the many different varieties of herbs in StarClan that grow next to the border drop-off. I will need a medicine cat sitting around just to  make it convincing” The border drop-off was when the territories just fell into space: the ground just turned right into sky. Of course, StarClan could walk on it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that most cats were just afraid of the sheer drop-off, even though they couldn’t die a second time. Yellowfang’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present.

“I’ll be the medicine cat,” meowed Yellowfang. Feathertail nodded with appreciation. Leopardstar was surprised. Yellowfang was usually much grumpier than even the cat Feathertail called Grumpystar – namely, herself. And, Yellowfang was Brokenstar’s mother. Hmm.

“ Also I will show him WarmRocks and the pond. It would be best to have some cats fishing there. The waterfall will be shown to him also, and best of all, I will make him swim! I’ll tell him he can either swim or be pushed into the water – his choice. Yellowfang will be my backup, since she’ll already be with me, making sure he doesn’t run away.”

Yowls of approval came from the assembled cats.

“We’ll fish,” came the voice of some cats. Feathertail had nodded again. Leopardstar craned her neck to see who had said that.

“Humph,” she muttered.

The cats were all craning their necks and Leopardstar couldn’t see over the heads of the other cats. She felt like a kit. All the other cats were so much taller than her when the ones in front of her were so much taller than her when they were all standing on their hind legs and craning their necks, so she did what they were doing.

    “And Leopardstar has one last thing to tell us!” yowled Feathertail over all the cats meowing in a hurry.
    Leopardstar gulped “I do?” Did Feathertail want her to tell the cats about THAT? Feathertail gave a little nod as if she knew what Leopardstar was thinking. Leopardstar burned with fury. She was a leader and Feathertail was a mere warrior! She was superior and Feathertail was a servant! Leopardstar humphed again. All eyes were on her now. “Well, Feathertail and I found Tigerstar training cats from the living clans. We suspect the Dark Forest is tricking them into training since we found Blossomfall, Birchfall, Icewing, Ivypool, Redwillow, Breezepelt, Sunstrike, Furzepaw…”

*******

After the Gathering was over, cats clamored around Leopardstar and Feathertail. Is that really true? was the most common question.

    “Enough!” yowled Willowstar, “This Gathering is over and will all of you please return to your dens!”  Leopardstar headed off to her den but stopped. There was going to be a lot a whispering. Instead, Leopardstar had Feathertail follow her to a secret place where Leopardstar had found when she had just joined StarClan.
    “It’s beautiful!” gasped Feathertail.
    “What do you think?” humphed Leopardstar. They had just walked into a little clearing through a flowering arch. In the middle, was a little pond filled with every kind of fish, and to the back, was a small waterfall. They were surrounded by trees and flowers.
    “No one knows about this except for you and me,” meowed Leopardstar proudly, “Now hurry and make your nest.”
     “What about you?” asked Feathertail. Leopardstar pointed her tail tip to a small cave whose only entrance was under a willow tree. When Feathertail had finally gathered enough swan feathers, they both headed into the cave. Feathertail gasped. The cave shimmered and sparkled from all the shiny things Leopardstar had put in. The cave was so small, during the day, it was flooded with green light. Leopardstar pointed to a small hole right above her comfy swan feather covered nest.
    “You can see the stars,” Leopardstar meowed quietly, “There’s enough room for you to sleep next to me.” Feathertail quickly constructed her nest and laid down and sighed softly. Of course, thought Leopardstar, rolling her eyes. Feathertail is awestruck by the beauty, once again. Then, they both lay down to sleep.

Chapter Four

   

Icewing woke up, stretched her matted fur and tired muscles, and yawned. It had been a long night.

“What in the name of StarClan happened?” her daughter, Petalfur, shrieked when she got a look at Icewing’s pelt.

“I went night hunting and fell into a hollow full of brambles,” Icewing lied. She felt bad about lying to Petalfur, but she would only tell Mistystar and Mistystar’s spirit was gone somewhere. Or so says Willowshine. And then how would Icewing become a better warrior? Who knew.

“The only bramble hollow is next to the Twoleg place, and there is absolutely no prey there,” meowed Petalfur suspiciously. I don’t blame her. I would be suspicious if my mother claimed she fell into a hollow full of brambles, Icewing thought sadly.

“I got spooked by an owl,” she invented, while she secretly slipped a long thorn into her nest. She wriggled around a bit. This felt just as bad as lying. But what could she do? Tell her daughter she’d been training all night with Tigerstar and Hawkfrost? Petalfur would tell Reedwhisker and then that would be the end of that. Well, she’d just have to hope.

“And there is this!” meowed Petalfur triumphantly, spotting the long thorn and pawing it out of the moss. “You have been sleeping on a thorn!”

“Oh! Thanks for finding that, Petalfur,” Icewing meowed, feigning surprise.

“Petalfur, Icewing! It’s sunhigh already and you’re needed on patrol!” Graymist yowled. She was the temporary deputy for RiverClan.

“Coming,” grumbled Icewing. She stood up and shook her fur. As she trotted out of her den, Willowshine walked into camp with a mouthful of catmint and saw Icewing’s scratches. She shrieked, “For StarClan’s sake, what happened?” She dropped her catmint and raced over to Icewing to examine her scratches. “She…..won’t……go……..on…….ANY…….patrols……..today,” she meowed between licks. Now that the blood was gone, the scratches didn’t look so bad. Icewing followed Willowshine to the den for treatment to her scratches. While Willowshine added patches of marigold and cobweb to them, Icewing told Mothwing what had happened. Even though she was a very convincing liar and had had to lie many times before, Icewing always felt guilty. “I couldn’t sleep and went night hunting,” explained Icewing. “An owl spooked me and I accidently ran into a bramble pit. A thorn stuck on me while I was sleeping and after rolling around, I got these scratches.”

“Hmm. No more night hunting for you. In fact, no more hunting for at least another two sunrises,” meowed Mothwing.

Well, the Dark Forest is still going to keep me training. And besides, I will just be a better, tougher warrior, thought Icewing.

All day, Icewing watched patrols come and go. Even the kits were doing something more exciting than her. When dusk came, Icewing felt that she was ready to face training. Then she remembered. Her warrior assessment. Ivypool had warned her about death. She had always been a reliable friend. Would she be right again?

***********

   

“There you are, Icewing!” yowled Hawkfrost, “Come over here!” Icewing nervously walked over to where the leaders were standing.

    “You must fight one of us and win to become a warrior, but if you fail………” Brokenstar let his threat hang in the air. He bared his teeth and hissed impatiently. “Come on! We haven’t got all night!” Icewing looked around. Hawkfrost looked smug as if he knew his own apprentice wouldn’t attack him. Sadly, I agree with him, Icewing thought. He’s much too good a fighter. Tigerstar was staring around at the rest of the apprentices, but Icewing could feel he had trained at least one eye on her. Darkstripe looked bored but Brokenstar looked menacing. Mapleshade growled at Icewing. Then, in the shadows, Icewing saw a old warrior she had only met once. She couldn’t remember his name. Looking at the red pelt, the name came to her. Bloodfur. Icewing knew who she wanted to fight. But she would wait a little longer, just so she could have the advantage of surprise. Maggottail leered at her and inched forward a step. Time was running out. Snowtuft bunched his muscles for a leap, but before he got the chance, silently, Icewing jumped onto the distracted Bloodfur’s back. I bet he didn’t expect me to attack him! Icewing thought triumphantly. With a yowl, he rolled onto his back, but not before Icewing bit him on the ear.
    Now at least he can’t hear on one side, Icewing thought with satisfaction. But then, as Bloodfur squashed her until she felt that she would suffocate, she realized it was a fight to death. To see if you’re a good enough fighter to take another’s space. And the only way to do that was to kill. Icewing mustered her strength and pushed Bloodfur off her belly. She hooked her hind claws into his belly fur as he flew across the clearing and landed with a thud. Icewing was pulled along, but was in the perfect position to rake his belly. Again and again, Bloodfur yowled in agony. But he wasn’t a warrior for nothing. He tried to bite Icewing on the neck, but she jerked her head out of the way and received a long scratch on her chest. In her moment of weakness, Bloodfur flipped onto his feet and pounced! He stretched out his forelegs and his paws collided with her head. Without hesitation, he jumped onto Icewing’s back and tried to kill her with a bite to the neck. But Icewing sensed this coming and pushed him off her for the second time. Icewing bashed her paws against Bloodfur’s head but stopped as soon as Bloodfur started stirring slightly. She didn’t want to kill him if she didn’t have to and besides, he could easily kill her right then if necessary. Then, spotting a tree three paces away, she raced towards it, then leaped up into its branches. Bloodfur was lying on the ground, moaning, and Icewing realized that this was her chance! She leaped from tree to tree, ignoring the pain in her muscles. Her blood continued to pour out of her chest wound and bits dripped on Bloodfur. Now he really is Bloodfur! chuckled Icewing. Her blood loss was giving her a strange sense of humor. When Bloodfur finally realized she had climbed the tree, he began to climb himself, because he knew the Dark Forest had not covered tree fighting for apprentices. Icewing was smart though, and by the time Bloodfur had climbed the tree and searched it, Icewing had made a loop to approach from behind. Looking around, Bloodfur understood Icewing’s plan a second too late. Icewing flew onto him with a mighty THUMP! His claws slipped and he tumbled, ears over tail, out of the tree. Icewing jumped down and landed gracefully on top of Bloodfur. She looked at him. Fear flooded his eyes. He was too weak to fight back. Icewing knew she only had one choice. She could not fight any longer. Soon, she would faint from all the lost blood. She could barely stand. She looked straight into Bloodfur’s amber eyes, trying to convey three words –  I’m sorry, Bloodfur, then bit his throat with the killing bite. Blood poured out of the fatal wound, and his eyes spoke to her. The cats of the dark forest are evil. Do not trust them. They are trying… but before he could tell her what they were trying to do, the light faded from his eyes. Tigerstar looked at her in awe. Hawkfrost proudly meowed, “See, Brokenstar, two of my apprentices have been made warriors already and both are alive. More than you can claim.”

Brokenstar glared at Hawkfrost and returned to watching Icewing. In his raspy voice, he growled, “Well, now you are a warrior, Icewing. No doubt about that.”

The apprentices looked at Icewing in fear. She hated terrorizing them. Her eyes sought out Ivypool and found her with the rest of the warriors. Ivypool looked urgently at her.

“Well, go and sit with the warriors,” hissed Mapleshade.

Numb with pain, Icewing went and sat with Ivypool.

“Good job,” she meowed but her voice was tense. What was wrong?  Ivypool began to lick Icewing’s fur. Suddenly, Icewing wished Ivypool was from RiverClan. She jerked back.

“Stop,” she meowed, “We are from different clans and we shouldn’t be making this friendship.” With a start, Icewing saw all the other cats looking at her. She had spoken too loudly.     “But I had forgotten we are clanmates. Dark Forest clanmates. Since I have proved myself true to this place, we are now true clanmates,” she continued. “Whoever says otherwise will get ripped to shreds.” She glared at everyone, but inside, she just wanted to forget about the Dark Forest. But no. She also wanted to rip Tigerstar and Mapleshade to shreds. She wanted to wipe out the entire forest, and never see any of these evil cats again.

After the meeting, Hawkfrost caught up with the pair of them. “It is not for you to make such speeches and decisions, but you acted like what I expect all my apprentices to become – menacing, powerful leaders.”
    Icewing again felt like tearing him apart, but instead she meowed “I just wanted to begin a reputation.”

Hawkfrost nodded and walked away. Ivypool made no comment. They kept on walking until suddenly she veered off the path.

“Ivypool, where are you going?” asked Icewing.

“Somewhere we won’t be overheard,” meowed Ivypool without looking back at Icewing.

    Icewing was confused. What was happening? Did Ivypool want to hurt her? Ivypool led Icewing to a bramble thicket.
    “In here,” whispered Ivypool.
    “What?” asked Icewing loudly.
    “Shh! Keep your voice down!” hissed Ivypool. “This way.”

She led Icewing to a little opening in the midst of the thicket where they could see the old training clearing. In the middle was a cage built of thorns so tightly woven that Icewing couldn’t see what was inside. Was this the “cat-in-the-brambles” Tigerstar had mentioned? If there was a cat in there, how could they breathe? Then Icewing noticed little holes for air, big enough for oxygen to get in, but small enough so that even the tiniest kit claws couldn’t fit through. Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather were guarding the thorn cage while Breezepelt threw in two dead, rotten mice and a shrew that looked like crowfood into the cage through a large hole which was immediately covered by thorns again. Whoever was in there must be very weak; that way they didn’t stand a chance of clawing their way out, much less fighting, even if an apprentice purposefully walked in and let them attack first. Breezepelt went in through the hole and started clearing out moss so dirty it looked like it hadn’t been changed for many moons. Then he grabbed another ball of moss, less dirty but still looking like something else had already used it, and tossed it to the cat and snarled, “Spread that yourself.” Icewing watched, transfixed, as Breezepelt stalked away and the guards resumed their positions. Soon after, Shredtail and Clawface appeared to take Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather’s places. What was happening? Who was under such heavy guard? Icewing looked to Ivypool for answers, but Ivypool only shook her head and whispered, “I don’t know any more than you do, except that this place is always under guard by a dead Dark Forest warrior and that every sunrise, a apprentice will come and feed them that meager meal and every three sunrises, they get their moss changed. The cat doesn’t even get to use the dirtplace!” Mystified, Icewing watched some more.

    “We have to go now, Icewing,” Ivypool meowed. “Meet me at the island at moonhigh tomorrow night. Now that you’re a warrior, you don’t have to come every time.” And with that, Ivypool disappeared and Icewing was left alone. Ivypool was definitely a friend, but what was her secret? Did she know about the true intentions of the Dark Forest that Bloodfur had hinted at?

Chapter Five

    Feathertail waited near the border, her tail twitching with annoyance. She was waiting for Brokenstar to show up so she could take him on the most boring tour of his life. The tour would start at the Herb Meadow, where she would briefly hand him over to the grumpy Yellowfang, who would show him the herbs (and be quite hostile to him, which she was VERY good at.) Then she would take him to the best place to hunt rabbits, then to Warmrocks. And last of all, she would walk him onto an island using a fallen tree, then leave him there, jump into the water, and swim away while a crew of cats dragged away the tree, leaving Brokenstar trapped on the island until he found the courage to jump into the water and swim to shore.
    “Finally!” she grumbled as the dirty tomcat slinked into StarClan’s territory.
    “Brokenstar is not here, so I will take his place,” meowed Tigerstar.
    Why? There’s something suspicious. Could he know my plan?
    “This way, then,” Feathertail led Tigerstar to the Herb Meadow, feeling uneasy. When they had finally trekked through the Marshland, Yellowfang looked up in surprise, “What’s he doing here?” she growled.
    “He took Brokenstar’s place,” explained Feathertail, then whispering in Yellowfang’s ear, “He’s up to something. Be careful.”
    Yellowfang nodded and led Tigerstar to the far east side of the meadow. “At this side, catmint, marigold, borage, and alder bark grow here.” Yellowfang carefully pointed out important features of each plant and gave a detailed description of their uses and how to use them. “Any questions?” Looking bored to death, Tigerstar shook his head and hissed impatiently. “Next, we are going over to the southeast side of the Herb Meadow.” Yellowfang continued to give slow, exaggerated lectures on plants, herbs, and anything that heals. It was sunhigh when Feathertail picked up Tigerstar, who looked ready to faint from annoyance. He probably wanted to attack Yellowfang but didn’t dare to with so many others around. Feathertail snickered.
    “ This way, Tigerstar,” Feathertail meowed, mockingly. “We are now going to the Prairie of Rabbits.” Feathertail slowly walked to the prairie, stopping to talk to StarClan cats, showing Tigerstar different plants, and sometimes veering off paths only to give Tigerstar a lesson on how to hunt various things. When they finally arrived, Feathertail handed him over to Tallstar, who was smiling with glee.
    He probably wants to get revenge on Tigerstar for becoming the leader of ShadowClan after they drove out WindClan, and because Tigerstar helped Mudclaw, through Hawkfrost, to try and kill Onestar, thought Feathertail. This is going to get interesting.

*******

 

Feathertail just couldn’t wait to make Tigerstar swim in a freezing cold lake. She saw Leopardstar’s dark amber eyes watching through a bramble thicket, twinkling with amusement and gave a small smile.

“Tigerstar,” Feathertail meowed, “Over on the island is Warm Water Spring, which is a spring that lets StarClan cats to relax and enjoy it.”

Feathertail nimbly jumped onto the prepared tree ran to the other side. Grumbling how this was a complete mistake, Tigerstar followed reluctantly. Feathertail led Tigerstar over to the spring talking about the history of it.

“Now, lay down here and close your eyes, it is very comfortable,” instructed Feathertail. As soon as Tigerstar closed his eyes, Feathertail slid into the water and swam away without a single splash. A group of cats appeared and with great difficulty, dragged the tree onto the mainland. Everyone disappeared into the bushes, abandoning Tigerstar, who had fallen asleep.

*********

A half-moon had passed since the visit from Tigerstar – who had finally plucked up the courage to jump into the water. Shivering, he clumsily paddled across the lake. Feathertail snickered at the memory. Tigerstar strictly trained members of the Dark Forest in water battle, but he himself couldn’t even swim! Why would he all of a sudden decide to train in something he obviously didn’t think was worth learning himself? She lay in her nest, listening to the quiet breathing of Leopardstar, thinking.

Feathertail bolted straight up from her nest. “That’s it!” she hissed. Grumbling, Leopardstar stretched lazily. “Can’t a cat get any sleep around here?”

“Leopardstar! It is the Dark Forest who captured Mistystar!” Feathertail exclaimed.

Wide awake now, Leopardstar listened intently. Pacing back and forth, Feathertail meowed, “You saw how badly Tigerstar swam. The day that we visited them, they were training, in water! Tigerstar didn’t learn swimming probably because he didn’t think he would ever need to use it. But now, he is training cats to fight with other cats in water. There is only one clan Tigerstar can attack who can also swim. RiverClan. They will attack soon, when their leader is gone. When is it a coincidence that the Dark Forest decides to train their apprentices water battle only a few sunrises before Mistystar is captured?”

“You’re right, Feathertail! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. But we didn’t see Mistystar in the Dark Forest when we visited.”

“They must have hid her. We need to have a contact in the Dark Forest, but who is reliable? The only spy we know for sure is Ivypool, but she’s ThunderClan. So we need Spottedleaf, she’s the only ThunderClan cat who’s actually not hostile to us.”

“Can’t we get some sleep first?” grumbles Leopardstar crankily, now that her burst of excitement was over.

“Yes,” sighed Feathertail. And they both slept.

Chapter Six

 

Leopardstar yawned. Honestly, why couldn’t Feathertail stop waking her up at night? She had made so many “amazing discoveries”. Humph. Speaking of Feathertail, where was she? “Feathertail? Feathertail!” she called. Leopardstar felt the inside of her nest. It was still warm. Feathertail couldn’t have gone for long.

“What?” came an annoyed sound from outside of the cave. Leopardstar felt an immense sense of relief. She burst out of the cave. Feathertail was fishing. “I caught you a meal!” she meowed cheerfully. Leopardstar sighed. She was glad to see Feathertail, but really! I can catch my own meals, thank you very much, thought Leopardstar crankily. But she settled down to eat anyways. A trout was on the ground and Leopardstar padded over and snatched it.

“No, Leopardstar,” meowed Feathertail who was still busy concentrating on the fish, “The bass is for you.”

Leopardstar was surprised. Feathertail had actually thought of catching her a excellent fish. Then again, she was Leopardstar. The fish was large and had a few juniper berries on top. Delicious. Feathertail joined her in eating.

“What now?” she sang in her bird-like voice.

“What do you think?” Why did Feathertail always have to interrupt at such terrible times. Why can’t she talk to me at a better time, like when I’m not eating or sleeping.

“You’re the leader,” meowed Feathertail.

Well, what do we do? “Let’s visit Brambleberry.”

“Okay!”

Feathertail sure was in a good mood right now. Too bad you couldn’t say the same for Leopardstar.

***************

“Hi Brambleberry!” chirped Feathertail.

“Hi Feathertail!” meowed Brambleberry in an equally annoying voice. Birds everywhere.

“Do you remember anything about Mistystar’s capture?”

“Do you mean if I know any more details? I don’t,” meowed Brambleberry.

“Okay,” meowed Leopardstar happily, though truthfully she was very disappointed. The pair turned to leave.

“Wait!” hissed Brambleberry. Leopardstar turned around and saw a strange look in her eyes. “Even the most powerful must bow down to death someday. To save the clans, the shadow of the moon must rise under the wings of ice and the kin of the moon…  Now go, and hurry!”

Instead of leaving, Feathertail meowed as calmly as she could (which was not calm at all), “Brambleberry, you just said a prophecy,”

“I did?” questioned Brambleberry. Thinking hard, Brambleberry meowed slowly, “Wait a minute, I’ve said that before….I’ve said more to another she cat…..

Chapter Seven

   

It was moonhigh. Icewing waited impatiently on the island. Will Ivypool come? Or will she betray me like so many others did? She was just about to give up on the ThunderClan cat when she spotted a white pelt streaking across the border.

“Where have you been?” Icewing inquired, exasperated. “I’ve been waiting since nightfall!”

“Sorry,” Ivypool meowed. “I had to sneak past the night watch, then run all the way here from camp. That takes a while, even if you start at nightfall.”

“Okay. So what were you going to tell me?”

“The Dark Forest is evil. They plan to try to wipe out the clans, even StarClan. I found out a long time ago and have been fighting against them in my own way. I am a spy. And now that you know this, you have to keep it a secret, otherwise they’ll kill you twice. I advise you become a spy. That way, you can help me figure out who the ‘cat-in-the-brambles’ is and help them escape.”

“So you’re saying they lure honorable cats into their trap?”

“Yes. Exactly the way they did to you. Not only that, they force every apprentice to kill another cat to become a warrior.”

“And this is what Bloodfur wanted to tell me, before he died?” asked Icewing, her mind whirling, trying to process all this information.

“Yes.”

“Wow.”

“So will you help me?”

“But what if you’re lying, trying to kill me for your own evil reasons. I’ve seen too many betrayals from cats who have been in the Dark Forest. You were late and night watch doesn’t take that long to sneak past. And besides, you were quick to get to the point. No background information. That doesn’t sound like you. I’m glad for the information, but I can’t trust you, even though you’re my friend,” meowed Icewing sadly.

Ivypool sighed. “Well, just don’t say I didn’t warn you. Oh, one last thing. Some of the cats actually support the Dark Forest’s intentions. They think the clans are too weak. I know Hollowflight’s one of them. Minnowtail’s been tricked, like you, though.”

 

                                                               ************

Back at camp,everyone was snoring. Icewing snuck back to her nest and curled up.

  ************

        It was a half-moon since Icewing’s meeting with Ivypool. Icewing sat with Icestorm and Ivypool at a Gathering. Mind wandering, Icewing assessed the conditions of the other clans, like Hawkfrost had taught her.
     “ShadowClan is thriving despite the early leaf-bare frost that has settled in our territory, and we remain as vigilant as ever,” Blackstar finished, glaring around. Hmmm… thought Icewing, Blackstar’s a bit thin.
       Bramblestar stepped forward, “ThunderClan has a new warrior, Stormheart!” The clans all cheered. Bramblestar spoke again as the cheering died down, “Leaf-fall has brought us no troubles and we are ready for this leaf-bare.”
        “WindClan is also ready for leaf-bare and the rabbits run as they always do,” spoke Onestar, “We have spotted strange scents starting from our side of the border and trailing slightly into yours, ” at this, Onestar dipped his head slightly towards Reedwhisker, “I have no more to say. Reedstar?”
Reedwhisker meowed, “I am not leader. I am filling in for Mistystar who has developed…… An unknown sickness. She is doing fine, as is the rest of RiverClan. The prey is still in abundance in our territory and we have two new apprentices, Moonpaw and Frostpaw!” The clans cheered once again, ” And that concludes our Gathering,” finished Reedwhisker. Icewing leapt onto the fallen tree bridge and ran lightly across. Behind her, she could hear the Moonpaw and Frostpaw chattering behind her. Icewing looked back to see if they needed any help. For new apprentices, the slippery tree bridge can be a bit of a challenge. Icewing was surprised. For Moonpaw and Frostpaw’s first time on this bridge, they were surprisingly nimble and agile. Too busy watching the apprentices, Icewing knocked into the warrior in front of her and lost her balance. Icewing tipped sideways and plummeted towards the lake. She waited for the impact but it never came. Instead, there was a sharp pain in her tail as she realized someone had caught her as she fell. Icewing felt the motion of being pulled sideways and then being dumped onto the muddy lake bank. Icewing gasped, “Who saved me? I need to thank them.”
   There came a nervous reply, “me.”
    “Who’s that?” asked Icewing.
    Moonpaw stepped out of the shadows.
    Icewing was confused. Very confused. How could’ve an apprentice done that? Most of the warriors weren’t strong enough. Not only that, Moonpaw was her apprentice. “Well, good job, Moonpaw.  You’ll be a very interesting apprentice to work with.”
   “Um…….Thanks?” meowed Moonpaw.
   “Now come, because we are already behind,” Icewing bounded towards the rest of RiverClan. Moonpaw and Frostpaw followed.

Chapter Eight

   

    “First day of training!” called Moonpaw, shaking the sleeping Frostpaw. Frostpaw tucked her head underneath her paw and muttered something like, “Go away.”

StarClan’s Rescue (continued)

Prologue

    Moonlight washed palely over the border as two she-cats padded softly along. Two pairs of eyes, one ice-blue and another pale amber, blinked in the shadowed undergrowth. The small brown tabby she-cat looked warmly at the other.
    “Greetings.”

“Greetings, Brambleberry. Do you have any particular news you would like to share with me?” The other cat meowed as warmly in reply.

    “RiverClan is going to have much trouble with Twoleg kits,” Brambleberry cautioned. The blue-gray she-cat narrowed her eyes.    

“They captured Willowshine when she was out gathering herbs last sunrise.”

Brambleberry nodded. “I saw. Come. Let us sit down here where we will not be

disturbed.” She flicked her tail towards a large rock almost hidden behind a waterfall. The sleek blue-gray she-cat meowed wistfully,“This reminds me of the Tribe of Rushing Water. I had many friends there. But how are we going to get to the rock?”

Purring, Brambleberry replied, “You are RiverClan aren’t you? You swim, of course.”

“Under that wall of water, Brambleberry? What are you thinking?”

Brambleberry laid her tail tip gently onto the blue-gray she-cat’s back. “This way. There isn’t as much water pouring down over here.”

The two cats swam over to the rock. Shivering, the blue cat meowed, “It’s chilly over here!”

“I apologize, I have forgotten you are not quite yet StarClan, my friend,”  meowed Brambleberry, “Let’s continue walking.”

   

************

 

Two cats emerged from the Dark Forest, both dark-brown tabby toms. Together, they silently stalked the two she-cats. The she-cats had no idea that they were being followed. The two toms looked at one another, reviewing their plan mentally, and nodded.Together, they leaped into the air, one landing on Brambleberry’s shoulders, the other knocking the surprised blue-gray she-cat unconscious.

“Quick, Hawkfrost! Drag her across the border where Brokenstar is waiting to help!” yowled the first brown tabby.

Brambleberry shook the cat from the Dark Forest off her shoulders, spraying drops of blood onto the leafy green plants.

“Tigerstar!” she spat, “I should have known!”

Growling, Tigerstar attacked Brambleberry once again. Brambleberry leaped into the air and twisted, sinking her teeth into Tigerstar’s long, matted fur. Tigerstar kicked his hind legs onto Brambleberry’s stomach. Yowling, she tried to get up but Tigerstar held her down and raked her belly until she drifted into unconscious.

   
                             ******

“Spottedleaf!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “Brambleberry has been attacked!” Spottedleaf rushed to Brambleberry, her carefully collected herbs forgotten in her panic.

“This looks like Tigerstar’s work. I don’t even know treat this kind of wound. Yellowfang probably does though,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

Feathertail gasped. “Look at those paw prints!” Two pairs of paw prints, both fairly large, led deep into the Dark Forest.

“It looks like they dragged a cat with them!” meowed Spottedleaf, who looked as if she’d been struck by lightning, with her fur standing on end.

“Why would they do that?” wondered Feathertail, “Who did they take?”

Spottedleaf growled “Look!” A pair of ice-blue eyes blinked once and disappeared. Feathertail turned to Spottedleaf.

“Hawkfrost.” Feathertail meowed, furious. “Hawkfrost must have dragged the cat away.”

“But why?” Spottedleaf was shocked.

“I don’t know, but I need you to go get Yellowfang. Quick!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “I don’t know ThunderClan camp as well as you do.” She hoped Spottedleaf would hurry. Brambleberry could die if Yellowfang didn’t come quickly and treated her.

Barely conscious, Brambleberry muttered “Feathertail,” before drifting back into unconsciousness.

“Brambleberry! You’re alive! Who was with you? What happened? Brambleberry, I need to know!” Feathertail meowed, her voice rising. What had happened? Would Brambleberry be all right? What would happen if she never woke up? Would she just…fade? Feathertail didn’t even want to think about it.

She shook Brambleberry.  “Brambleberry! Wake up! Please!” Feathertail glanced despairingly over her shoulder to see if Spottedleaf was back yet. They needed a medicine cat who could treat this, desperately. She began to lick Brambleberry’s pelt to wash all the blood away. Maybe that way she’ll wake up, thought Feathertail.

“Feathertail. Where is she?” murmured Brambleberry.

“Where is who?” meowed Feathertail, hope rising in her chest like a caged bird. Quick paw steps filled the air.

“What happened?” demanded Leapordstar.

“Brambleberry has been attacked and Spottedleaf is going for help.” meowed Feathertail.

“Brambleberry has been attacked?” repeated Leapordstar, dazed.

“Yes and Brambleberry keeps on talking about a she-cat. I was about to get an answer, you know,” Feathertail replied, annoyed. Why did Leapordstar interrupt when she was least wanted or needed? Why couldn’t she go and do something useful for once, instead of just lying around ordering other cats to get her fish? She was new in StarClan, for- well for StarClan’s sake. She should stop ordering cats around and do some work for once.

“Mistystar……gone…….” Brambleberry drifted back into unconsciousness.

Feathertail was confused. Why was Mistystar gone? Where was she? Who took her? She was so aggravated that she yowled to the open sky “What?! Where is the RiverClan leader? Where is she? Where is Mistystar?”

Chapter One

    Icewing was back in the forest. The yucky one with the muddy rivers that were as slow as a slug climbing to the old Highstones and the icky, leafless trees that blocked out the sky; not the forest that the ThunderClan and ShadowClan cats lived in – not the one by the lake.

“Hi, Icewing!” came a call from a few paces behind.

“Hello, Ivypool!” she called back. Ivypool was a cat from ThunderClan, and she was really nice, but she always seemed to have something other than training on her mind, meaning she was normally slightly distracted.

“More training, less talking!” growled a voice behind her. Icewing jumped. She turned around and saw Tigerstar stalking out from behind the leafless trees. Ivypool had disappeared.

“Sorry Tigerstar,” Icewing mumbled guiltily; she knew Tigerstar did not take kindly to distractions from experience.

“We are doing tree training today. Come on. The other cats are already assembled.” Tigerstar leaped over a fallen tree towards a clearing. Icewing scrambled over after him.

Tigerstar jumped onto a large rock, easily. “Those ThunderClan fools have been cheating in battle. They climb trees! Are they cats or are they weak little squirrels? We will do tree training too! We will play their own trick against them!” He growled. Tigerstar paused as yowls of approval rang out from the assembled cats beneath him. “We will work in partners! Snowtuft, you are going to be with Hollowflight, Shredtail, you are with Sunstrike, Thistleclaw, work with Breezepelt, Ivypool with Blossomfall, Hawkfrost with Icewing, and  Mapleshade with Tigerheart. Brokenstar and I will be supervising. We are not kits play fighting so unsheathe your claws!”

It must be an important training session to have two leaders supervising!

“Who am I assigned to?” meowed a voice from the crowd of cats.

Tigerstar narrowed his eyes. “You were beaten by an apprentice,” he spat, “You do not deserve to train any cats until you have proven yourself worthy again, Darkstripe!”

“ Hurry up Icewing, you slow slug! What are you waiting for, kit? ” Hawkfrost beckoned at  Icewing from next to a twisted, gnarled tree with his tail. “You’re going to climb first and try to attack me as you jump. Hurry!”

Icewing nodded. RiverClan has never climbed trees, she thought rebelliously. But another part of her mind said this is going to make me the best warrior I can be. She told herself firmly that again as she strained her hind leg muscles to push herself up the tree. Hawkfrost circled around impatiently. Quietly, Icewing tiptoed down the tree trunk half way and bunched her muscles in preparation for the spring. She landed squarely on Hawkfrost’s shoulders, yowling in triumph. But her triumph turned to confusion when Hawkfrost rolled over and smashed her to the ground. Thinking quickly, Icewing pushed Hawkfrost off herself and when he was still recovering, slashed his belly with unsheathed claws. Growling, he pushed himself off the leaf littered ground. Icewing backed up cautiously, unsure if he was about to pounce. She relaxed, though, as Hawkfrost hissed “You were so loud!”

“Like this?” Icewing scrambled up a tree and climbed down as softly as she could.

“No, but that will have to do,” meowed Hawkfrost. “Now hurry! We’re wasting training time!”

Thinking harder this time, Icewing climbed up the tree and waited.

“Faster! You can’t be a dead slug during battle!” Hawkfrost growled.

Icewing didn’t move. Hawkfrost had started circling the tree once again. This time, she silently jumped straight from the branch so as not to give Hawkfrost any kind of warning. Howling, she bit down on Hawkfrost’s back as he jumped into the air to make

her crash. She quickly retaliated and slithered under him, clawing his belly as he landed.

“Acceptable,” Hawkfrost meowed grudgingly, “Again!”
    Icewing once again went up the tree. This time though, instead of jumping, she successfully got down on the other side of the tree without being heard  - where Hawkfrost wasn’t waiting to attack her. Icewing crept up onto Hawkfrost and attacked from behind.”

“You didn’t use the tree to your advantage! You must tree train, not pouncing like a newborn kit!” Hawkfrost glared at Icewing, “You must do everything I tell you!”

“But I did use the tree!” retorted Icewing, “I went up it and so when the enemy was preparing for me to jump down onto them, I leaped up onto their back so they got taken by surprise.”

“Clever,” Eyes narrowing, Hawkfrost growled, “However, your enemies may find that attacking you without you being on them is much easier than fighting you when you land actually on their back.”

“But I can always scramble up the tree and land on their backs while they are wondering where I went.”

“ThunderClan knows that trick. We must prepare for that,” Hawkfrost hissed, “You have a sharp and clever mind. Use that to your advantage, too. Let’s see how many more interesting strategies you can think of. More training and less talking!”

And so Icewing crawled up the tree, her muscles aching.

                    ***********

“You know, I think I’m the first RiverClan cat to do tree training – ever.” grumbled Icewing. Her muscles ached and her back was on fire. It would be a miserable day when the sun rose. Hawkfrost’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Wrong, Icewing. I was the first RiverClan cat to climb a tree. But you were the second. Now, go tell Tigerstar I think it’s time.”

That’s just like Hawkfrost – always bragging. It’s time for what, though? thought Icewing as she ran over to Tigerstar to tell him Hawkfrost’s news.

“What’s it time for?” the green-eyed she-cat asked after she delivered her message.

“I can’t tell you!” snapped Tigerstar.

Icewing wanted to ask why, but she knew not to cross Tigerstar when he was grumpy. Still…

All of a sudden, Tigerstar yowled “Next time she visits, one of our apprentices will take her final assessment!”

Would that be her?

A high, reedy voice from the back of the crowd of cats yowled back “Who, might I ask, is this mysterious she-cat? It should be me!”

“And why would I tell you, Breezepelt? Anyways, you’re still not ready,” replied Tigerstar coolly. “I hope you’ll tend to the ‘cat-in-the-brambles,’ as our apprentices kindly call her, next moonrise instead of training with us. Have fun with the mouse bile and changing her moss. She’ll like that. The rest of you, go – oh, and whatever you do, do not go near the clearing where we used to train or I promise I will personally rip out your pelt and use it to line my nest; even my warriors. I am making an exception for Breezepelt because he must go there tomorrow. Now leave me to think for once, instead of helping train you mouse-brained young ‘paws’ to become ‘better warriors’.” And with that impressive speech, Tigerstar bounded off the “Announcement Rock” and away into the forest.

What is the matter with him? Icewing was bewildered. Tigerstar’s never been grumpy enough to threaten to rip out our pelts before. Humph. Who is this mysterious she-cat? Why can’t we go to the old training clearing anymore? So many questions, yet no answers.

Suddenly, Icewing felt a pelt brush hers, then smelled the slightly musty scent that belonged to Ivypool. Ivypool’s scent was a mixture of Dark Forest and ThunderClan, just like hers was a mixture of Dark Forest and RiverClan.

“Icewing, go home. I am warning you, do not fail your warrior assessment or else you may never go back to your clanmates by the lake.” warned the other white she-cat, then she turned and disappeared.

Icewing felt an ominous chill go down her spine at those words. Was Ivypool hinting that she would die if she failed?

 

Chapter 2

After Feathertail and Spottedleaf found Brambleberry hurt and Mistystar missing and Leopardstar discovered them, there was utter chaos until…

“Silence! Do you want all of StarClan to come rushing here right now?” yowled Leopardstar.

“Leopardstar, Mistystar is missing! Do you know the significance of that!” growled Feathertail. She’s interfering again, that arrogant furball, she thought, aggravated by Mistystar’s capture.

“I know, Feathertail. Calm down. Besides, if we’re too hasty, it could lead to our downfall as well as Mistystar’s,” soothed Leopardstar.

Feathertail thought for a moment. What Leopardstar says makes sense, she concluded. “Who else will help us?”

“No one but us. They will all try to take over, and this is only RiverClan’s business.” Leopardstar meowed.

Feathertail nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Leopardstar. What should we do now?”

Leopardstar narrowed her eyes. “Keep quiet and look for unexpected allies. Make sure they’re at least half RiverClan.”

Why at least half RiverClan? Has Leopardstar gone crazy? thought the silver she-cat. “I’ll do that. I think we should visit Willowshine to tell her what has happened,” meowed Feathertail.

“Yes, I agree. Could you do that? I must go. Crookedstar asked me to come to a meeting of Clan leaders and medicine cats to discuss Brambleberry’s situation.” Leopardstar took off running, her tail streaming out behind her.

Feathertail sighed. Why did Leopardstar always have to take charge? That night she visited Willowshine’s dreams. “Willowshine!”

“Feathertail! Mistystar went to the Moonpool and I went with her and Mothwing but she never woke up! We had to drag her back to camp. Everyone thought she was dead but she was still breathing,” meowed Willowshine in a hurry, “What are we going to do?”

“Her spirit was captured by the Dark Forest. The Dark Forest, or The Place Of No Stars, is where cats that are not accepted by StarClan go after they leave their bodies,” explained Feathertail. “Ask Reedwhisker to temporarily take the leader’s role, but tell him not to change his name to Reedstar as we can not give him nine lives since Mistystar still has all of hers. Don’t forget, Mistystar is still alive.”

“Okay, Feathertail. But how is Mistystar going to escape the Dark Forest?” questioned Willowshine.

“StarClan will rescue her!”

Feathertail’s voice faded away as she hurried back to StarClan’s hunting grounds. When she returned, Leopardstar was waiting for her. Humph.

“Our meeting went very badly,” announced Leopardstar.

“What happened?” asked Feathertail. Nothing could be worse than a hopeless quest into the Dark Forest to rescue Mistystar.

“Crookedstar brought Brambleberry in and he questioned her thoroughly. All we got out of her was that she was walking along the border and got attacked by two cats from the Dark Forest,” mused Leopardstar, “She doesn’t even remember anything about Mistystar’s capture.”

Feathertail nodded, “We need a plan to rescue her. Mistystar, I mean, not Brambleberry.” Though Brambleberry does need help, thought Feathertail privately. She knew not to cross Leopardstar when she was grumpy or happy, all the same.

Leopardstar thought for a moment, “Let’s go visit the Dark Forest. Come on, lets go now.”

Why now?

The pair padded along silently until they suddenly saw a spotted pelt flash by.

“Greetings, Feathertail, Leopardstar. Did you see Milkfur earlier?” meowed Featherwhisker .

“She was at Four Trees not long ago,” answered Feathertail. Why is he looking for Milkfur now?

“Thanks, I don’t think she knows about what happened to Brambleberry. And after all, she has a right to know since Brambleberry was Milkfur’s apprentice.” Featherwhisker trotted away, tail drooping.

Feathertail remembered that Featherwhisker always had liked Brambleberry. No wonder he was sad.

“Well, we will be looking like that for some time,” commented Feathertail. Leopardstar didn’t answer. They quietly strolled along for a while until they reached the border.

“I guess we’ll go in,” meowed Leopardstar. Not long after, they scented Brokenstar on the slightly musty breeze. Leopardstar tensed. Feathertail crouched. What does he want? she thought.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” purred Brokenstar in a silky voice. “I thought we made it clear StarClan was not allowed here.”

“You said was not allowed. We are allowed because this is not the past, but the present. Yes?” retorted Feathertail.

“A clever tongue, as usual. Now, if you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds, I will gladly let you visit my territory, as that is only fair…Now, get out!” Brokenstar barred his teeth.

Thinking fast, Feathertail meowed “Go ahead. Visit anytime.”

“Feathertail! What you are you thinking?! Since when were you so fish-brained?” interrupted Leopardstar, again. Feathertail silenced her with a glare. Leopardstar returned the glare but did not question her any further.

“Then go ahead and explore all you want.” Brokenstar took off into the dark woods.

“What was that all about?!” hissed Leopardstar, narrowing her eyes.

“Wait. I’ll tell you later,” murmured Feathertail distractedly.

“As you say, Featherstar,” grumbled Leopardstar. Humph. AnnoyingStars all over the place were invading, thought Feathertail grumpily.

“Really! Please stop insulting me! Now can we just get on visiting this place and get out of here? I don’t like it any more than you do!” Exasperated, Feathertail stalked off. With a heavy, exaggerated sigh and a rolling of her eyes, Leopardstar grudgingly followed. Why was Grumpystar always so hostile? thought Feathertail.

“Wait,” Leopardstar halted suddenly, “I smell a familiar scent. Tigerstar!” They spun around in unison to see a large dark brown tabby striding towards them. “The visitors Brokenstar mentioned.” He nodded, “Don’t let me interrupt you. Continue as you please.” Tigerstar disappeared into the shadows.

“He becomes more and more evil every passing moment,” Leopardstar growled.

“No one can deny that,” agreed Feathertail. How did they communicate so fast, and what makes me think that something is amiss? Those two can never be trusted.

“Humph,” meowed Leopardstar suspiciously. “He sounded like he was up to something.”

“Whenever was he not?” asked Feathertail, “ I wonder if his scheme has something to do with Mistystar’s capture?”

Leopardstar didn’t reply.

               

 

      ************

   
The two walked off into the forest, following the twisting and turning path. Feathertail’s mind was filled with questions, one after another. Whys and hows and lots of coulds floated around in the air. She was sure that even Leopardstar, who as lost in her own thoughts too, could hear her mind buzzing with questions.
    “Feathertail,” Leopardstar voice was tense, “I think we’ve been going around in circles.”
    “How come? We’ve been following this path,” replied Feathertail.
    “Look at that same gnarled tree trunk. I’m sure we’ve been past it before.”
    “Hmm,” meowed Feathertail thoughtfully, “You’re right.”
    “I’m going to scratch a cross onto this tree so that way we’ll know if we’ve been here before.” Leopardstar did so.
    After a few hundred heartbeats, they came back to the same tree. Feathertail gasped, surprised at how easily they’d been fooled. “We really are going around in circles!” Her voice rose to a wail, “ We’re hopelessly lost in the Dark Forest! Here, were no one would even think about us being in this horrible……place!”

Chapter Three

“What do think we are going to do? Obviously we just don’t follow the path. Now let me lead,” Leopardstar shouldered past Feathertail and growled “Come on!” With a humph, Feathertail followed her leader. Why was Feathertail always so slow? She obviously thought I am a grumpystar, but that doesn’t mean she has to be so grumpy and sharp tongued with me. thought Leopardstar

“Hey! I didn’t see this fork in the path before!” meowed Feathertail excitedly.

“That’s because I’m leading,” grumbled Leopardstar. Really, Feathertail was so cheery she could beat a sparrow singing – that is, if she could sing. She couldn’t sing, only birds and possibly Twolegs could. Lost in her thoughts, she then crashed into a bush.

“Hurry up, Leopardstar! We’re losing our time for exploring!” hissed Feathertail.

Leopardstar didn’t like that and retorted “Well, stop singing like a bird!” With a growl of fury, she turned around and stalked off. She could sense that Feathertail confused and wanted to say something back to her but even she knew better than to start an argument with a leader. Leopardstar felt a stab of self-satisfaction with that small victory of words.

Soon, they reached a clearing filled with cats surrounded by trees. They quickly hid themselves behind two of these disgusting under-growths and peered out from behind them. It seemed like the cats in the clearing were having a meeting of some kind. Some of the faces in the crowd looked familiar, and they scanned them with sharp eyes, gold and blue, to see what cats they knew. Feathertail was the first to spot a Lake cat they knew.

“Look! There’s Icewing with Hawkfrost! They’re training together. I never knew this was happening!” wailed Feathertail, clearly distressed.

“It’s all right. She might be a spy for RiverClan like Ivypool is for ThunderClan”

Feathertail visibly relaxed.   

“Let’s continue along. Mistystar is obviously not here,” meowed Leopardstar. She turned and headed off into the shallow undergrowth. With a sigh of exasperation, Feathertail followed. She sniffed, then stiffened. Leopardstar followed suit, and smelled a scent that she had never wanted to smell for the rest of her death years.

“Brokenstar!” she warned. Sure enough, Brokenstar appeared moments later. “Visits are over. I will show you the way out.”

***********

“That was useless!” growled Leopardstar, “and now he can visit our territory! He probably set us up to get lost. That way we can’t learn anything.” Brokenstar was the most obnoxious cat from the forest to the sun-drown place; from the mountains to the lake.

“Just wait. He’ll get his payback.” purred Feathertail.

What was that cat up to?

“You still haven’t told me why you are going to let Brokenstar into our hunting grounds,” reminded Leopardstar. Feathertail was so forgetful she would forget she was on a patrol the minute she left camp.

“He said ‘If you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds.’ Well, that is exactly what I plan on doing. I’ll give him a tour on the most boring and useless places,” Feathertail paused. “I’ll also give long uninteresting lectures. Then I’ll send him out of here like he did to us.”

“Brilliant, Feathertail!” meowed Leopardstar, “Great thinking!” How had Feathertail thought of that? Well, she’d add to that. “Try to somehow get him lost in the most uninteresting place – the island in the middle of  the small lake would do. Just make a bridge out of wood and lead him across, then destroy the bridge and swim away.” He’s such a drypaw, she thought in disgust.

“Amazing, Leopardstar!”

Leopardstar was pleased with the praise, but she decided not to say anything. Maybe if Feathertail gave her more compliments, she would make her her personal deputy – for helping the Clans only, of course.

******

“Cats of StarClan!” yowled Willowstar, “Brambleberry has been attacked by one of the Dark Forest. We are suspecting that Tigerstar did the fighting while a different cat dragged someone over the border and is currently holding them hostage. Leopardstar and Feathertail, would you like to speak?”

“We were there, not when the attack happened, but at the aftermath. Feathertail and I do not know who was taken except that they are not from RiverClan.”

Leopardstar felt guilty that she was lying at a Gathering, but she had no choice. She jumped down from Highrock in a graceful leap and meowed “Feathertail, would you like to speak?” Leopardstar meowed. She would probably mess up the whole lie and tell everything that had happened since the attack on Brambleberry and Mistystar.

“ Well, we went into the Dark Forest to investigate the matter…….” A chorus of cats started yowling “What! Why didn’t you tell us? You should have discussed with the rest of StarClan first!”

“I’m sorry but there was not enough time. As I was saying……..”

Feathertail got interrupted again this time by Mossleaf, an old StarClan cat. “Are you not telling us something?” she meowed suspiciously, “Something is missing and without it, your story smells quite fishy.”

“No Mossleaf,” assured Feathertail, “I have told you everything – well, almost everything, and I’m going to tell you the rest of it right now.”

Mossleaf sat down back on her haunches again but kept a glare on her.

“Right,” meowed Feathertail, ignoring Mossleaf, “Brokenstar is going to visit StarClan in return for our visit to their home.”

There was a few collective gasps but no one spoke.

“I plan on giving him a tour of some of the most boring places there are here; like the many different varieties of herbs in StarClan that grow next to the border drop-off. I will need a medicine cat sitting around just to  make it convincing” The border drop-off was when the territories just fell into space: the ground just turned right into sky. Of course, StarClan could walk on it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that most cats were just afraid of the sheer drop-off, even though they couldn’t die a second time. Yellowfang’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present.

“I’ll be the medicine cat,” meowed Yellowfang. Feathertail nodded with appreciation. Leopardstar was surprised. Yellowfang was usually much grumpier than even the cat Feathertail called Grumpystar – namely, herself. And, Yellowfang was Brokenstar’s mother. Hmm.

“ Also I will show him WarmRocks and the pond. It would be best to have some cats fishing there. The waterfall will be shown to him also, and best of all, I will make him swim! I’ll tell him he can either swim or be pushed into the water – his choice. Yellowfang will be my backup, since she’ll already be with me, making sure he doesn’t run away.”

Yowls of approval came from the assembled cats.

“We’ll fish,” came the voice of some cats. Feathertail had nodded again. Leopardstar craned her neck to see who had said that.

“Humph,” she muttered.

The cats were all craning their necks and Leopardstar couldn’t see over the heads of the other cats. She felt like a kit. All the other cats were so much taller than her when the ones in front of her were so much taller than her when they were all standing on their hind legs and craning their necks, so she did what they were doing.

    “And Leopardstar has one last thing to tell us!” yowled Feathertail over all the cats meowing in a hurry.
    Leopardstar gulped “I do?” Did Feathertail want her to tell the cats about THAT? Feathertail gave a little nod as if she knew what Leopardstar was thinking. Leopardstar burned with fury. She was a leader and Feathertail was a mere warrior! She was superior and Feathertail was a servant! Leopardstar humphed again. All eyes were on her now. “Well, Feathertail and I found Tigerstar training cats from the living clans. We suspect the Dark Forest is tricking them into training since we found Blossomfall, Birchfall, Icewing, Ivypool, Redwillow, Breezepelt, Sunstrike, Furzepaw…”

*******

After the Gathering was over, cats clamored around Leopardstar and Feathertail. Is that really true? was the most common question.

    “Enough!” yowled Willowstar, “This Gathering is over and will all of you please return to your dens!”  Leopardstar headed off to her den but stopped. There was going to be a lot a whispering. Instead, Leopardstar had Feathertail follow her to a secret place where Leopardstar had found when she had just joined StarClan.
    “It’s beautiful!” gasped Feathertail.
    “Duh,” humphed Leopardstar. They had just walked into a little clearing through a flowering arch. In the middle, was a little pond filled with every kind of fish, and to the back, was a small waterfall. They were surrounded by trees and flowers.
    “No one knows about this except for you and me,” meowed Leopardstar proudly, “Now hurry and make your nest.”
     “What about you?” asked Feathertail. Leopardstar pointed her tail tip to a small cave whose only entrance was under a willow tree. When Feathertail had finally gathered enough swan feathers, they both headed into the cave. Feathertail gasped. The cave shimmered and sparkled from all the shiny things Leopardstar had put in. The cave was so small, during the day, it was flooded with green light. Leopardstar pointed to a small hole right above her comfy swan feather covered nest.
    “You can see the stars,” Leopardstar meowed quietly, “There’s enough room for you to sleep next to me.” Feathertail quickly constructed her nest and laid down and sighed softly. Of course, thought Leopardstar, rolling her eyes. Feathertail is awestruck by the beauty, once again. Then, they both lay down to sleep.

Chapter Four

   

Icewing woke up, stretched her matted fur and tired muscles, and yawned. It had been a long night.

“What in the name of StarClan happened?” her daughter, Petalfur, shrieked when she got a look at Icewing’s pelt.

“I went night hunting and fell into a hollow full of brambles,” Icewing lied. She felt bad about lying to Petalfur, but she would only tell Mistystar and Mistystar’s spirit was gone somewhere. Or so says Willowshine. And then how would Icewing become a better warrior? Who knew.

“The only bramble hollow is next to the Twoleg place, and there is absolutely no prey there,” meowed Petalfur suspiciously. I don’t blame her. I would be suspicious if my mother claimed she fell into a hollow full of brambles, Icewing thought sadly.

“I got spooked by an owl,” she invented, while she secretly slipped a long thorn into her nest. She wriggled around a bit. This felt just as bad as lying. But what could she do? Tell her daughter she’d been training all night with Tigerstar and Hawkfrost? Petalfur would tell Reedwhisker and then that would be the end of that. Well, she’d just have to hope.

“And there is this!” meowed Petalfur triumphantly, spotting the long thorn and pawing it out of the moss. “You have been sleeping on a thorn!”

“Oh! Thanks for finding that, Petalfur,” Icewing meowed, feigning surprise.

“Petalfur, Icewing! It’s sunhigh already and you’re needed on patrol!” Graymist yowled. She was the temporary deputy for RiverClan.

“Coming,” grumbled Icewing. She stood up and shook her fur. As she trotted out of her den, Willowshine walked into camp with a mouthful of catmint and saw Icewing’s scratches. She shrieked, “For StarClan’s sake, what happened?” She dropped her catmint and raced over to Icewing to examine her scratches. “She…..won’t……go……..on…….ANY…….patrols……..today,” she meowed between licks. Now that the blood was gone, the scratches didn’t look so bad. Icewing followed Willowshine to the den for treatment to her scratches. While Willowshine added patches of marigold and cobweb to them, Icewing told Mothwing what had happened. Even though she was a very convincing liar and had had to lie many times before, Icewing always felt guilty. “I couldn’t sleep and went night hunting,” explained Icewing. “An owl spooked me and I accidently ran into a bramble pit. A thorn stuck on me while I was sleeping and after rolling around, I got these scratches.”

“Hmm. No more night hunting for you. In fact, no more hunting for at least another two sunrises,” meowed Mothwing.

Well, the Dark Forest is still going to keep me training. And besides, I will just be a better, tougher warrior, thought Icewing.

All day, Icewing watched patrols come and go. Even the kits were doing something more exciting than her. When dusk came, Icewing felt that she was ready to face training. Then she remembered. Her warrior assessment. Ivypool had warned her about death. She had always been a reliable friend. Would she be right again?

***********

   

“There you are, Icewing!” yowled Hawkfrost, “Come over here!” Icewing nervously walked over to where the leaders were standing.

    “You must fight one of us and win to become a warrior, but if you fail………” Brokenstar let his threat hang in the air. He bared his teeth and hissed impatiently. “Come on! We haven’t got all night!” Icewing looked around. Hawkfrost looked smug as if he knew his own apprentice wouldn’t attack him. Sadly, I agree with him, Icewing thought. He’s much too good a fighter. Tigerstar was staring around at the rest of the apprentices, but Icewing could feel he had trained at least one eye on her. Darkstripe looked bored but Brokenstar looked menacing. Mapleshade growled at Icewing. Then, in the shadows, Icewing saw a old warrior she had only met once. She couldn’t remember his name. Looking at the red pelt, the name came to her. Bloodfur. Icewing knew who she wanted to fight. But she would wait a little longer, just so she could have the advantage of surprise. Maggottail leered at her and inched forward a step. Time was running out. Snowtuft bunched his muscles for a leap, but before he got the chance, silently, Icewing jumped onto the distracted Bloodfur’s back. I bet he didn’t expect me to attack him! Icewing thought triumphantly. With a yowl, he rolled onto his back, but not before Icewing bit him on the ear.
    Now at least he can’t hear on one side, Icewing thought with satisfaction. But then, as Bloodfur squashed her until she felt that she would suffocate, she realized it was a fight to death. To see if you’re a good enough fighter to take another’s space. And the only way to do that was to kill. Icewing mustered her strength and pushed Bloodfur off her belly. She hooked her hind claws into his belly fur as he flew across the clearing and landed with a thud. Icewing was pulled along, but was in the perfect position to rake his belly. Again and again, Bloodfur yowled in agony. But he wasn’t a warrior for nothing. He tried to bite Icewing on the neck, but she jerked her head out of the way and received a long scratch on her chest. In her moment of weakness, Bloodfur flipped onto his feet and pounced! He stretched out his forelegs and his paws collided with her head. Without hesitation, he jumped onto Icewing’s back and tried to kill her with a bite to the neck. But Icewing sensed this coming and pushed him off her for the second time. Icewing bashed her paws against Bloodfur’s head but stopped as soon as Bloodfur started stirring slightly. She didn’t want to kill him if she didn’t have to and besides, he could easily kill her right then if necessary. Then, spotting a tree three paces away, she raced towards it, then leaped up into its branches. Bloodfur was lying on the ground, moaning, and Icewing realized that this was her chance! She leaped from tree to tree, ignoring the pain in her muscles. Her blood continued to pour out of her chest wound and bits dripped on Bloodfur. Now he really is Bloodfur! chuckled Icewing. Her blood loss was giving her a strange sense of humor. When Bloodfur finally realized she had climbed the tree, he began to climb himself, because he knew the Dark Forest had not covered tree fighting for apprentices. Icewing was smart though, and by the time Bloodfur had climbed the tree and searched it, Icewing had made a loop to approach from behind. Looking around, Bloodfur understood Icewing’s plan a second too late. Icewing flew onto him with a mighty THUMP! His claws slipped and he tumbled, ears over tail, out of the tree. Icewing jumped down and landed gracefully on top of Bloodfur. She looked at him. Fear flooded his eyes. He was too weak to fight back. Icewing knew she only had one choice. She could not fight any longer. Soon, she would faint from all the lost blood if Icewing continued fighting. She could barely stand. She looked straight into Bloodfur’s amber eyes, trying to convey three words –  I’m sorry, Bloodfur, then bit his throat with the killing bite. Blood poured out of the fatal wound, and his eyes spoke to her. The cats of the dark forest are evil. Do not trust them. They are trying… but before he could tell her what they were trying to do, the light faded from his eyes. Tigerstar looked at her in awe. Hawkfrost proudly meowed, “See, Brokenstar, two apprentices made warriors already and both are alive. More than you can claim.”

Brokenstar glared at Hawkfrost and returned to watching Icewing. In his raspy voice, he growled, “Well, now you are a warrior, Icewing. No doubt about that.”

The apprentices looked at Icewing in fear. She hated terrorizing them. Her eyes sought out Ivypool and found her with the rest of the warriors. Ivypool looked urgently at her.

“Well, go and sit with the warriors,” hissed Mapleshade.

Numb with pain, Icewing went and sat with Ivypool.

“Good job,” she meowed but her voice was tense. What was wrong?  Ivypool began to lick Icewing’s fur. Suddenly, Icewing wished Ivypool was from RiverClan. She jerked back.

“Stop,” she meowed, “We are from different clans and we shouldn’t be making this friendship.” With a start, Icewing saw all the other cats looking at her. She had spoken too loudly.     “But I had forgotten we are clanmates. Dark Forest clanmates. Since I have proved myself true to this place, we are now true clanmates,” she continued. “Whoever says otherwise will get ripped to shreds.” She glared at everyone, but inside, she just wanted to forget about the Dark Forest. But no. She also wanted to rip Tigerstar and Mapleshade to shreds. She wanted to wipe out the entire forest, and never see any of these evil cats again.

After the meeting, Hawkfrost caught up with the pair of them. “It is not for you to make such speeches and decisions, but you acted like what I expect all my apprentices to become – menacing, powerful leaders.”
    Icewing again felt like tearing him apart, but instead she meowed “I just wanted to begin a reputation.”

Hawkfrost nodded and walked away. Ivypool made no comment. They kept on walking until suddenly she veered off the path.

“Ivypool, where are you going?” asked Icewing.

“Somewhere we won’t be overheard,” meowed Ivypool without looking back at Icewing.

    Icewing was confused. What was happening? Did Ivypool want to hurt her? Ivypool led Icewing to a bramble thicket.
    “In here,” whispered Ivypool.
    “What?” asked Icewing loudly.
    “Shh! Keep your voice down!” hissed Ivypool. “This way.”

She led Icewing to a little opening in the midst of the thicket where they could see the old training clearing. In the middle was a cage built of thorns so tightly woven that Icewing couldn’t see what was inside. Was this the “cat-in-the-brambles” Tigerstar had mentioned? If there was a cat in there, how could she breathe? Then Icewing noticed little holes for air, big enough for oxygen to get in, but small enough so that even the tiniest kit claws couldn’t fit through. Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather were guarding the thorn cage while Breezepelt threw in two dead, rotten mice and a shrew that looked like crowfood into the cage through a large hole which was immediately covered by thorns again. Whoever was in there must be very weak; that way whoever it was didn’t stand a chance of clawing their way out, much less fighting, even if an apprentice purposefully walked in and let them attack first. Breezepelt went in through the hole and started clearing out moss so dirty it looked like it hadn’t been changed for many moons. Then he grabbed another ball of moss, less dirty but still looking like something else had already used it, and tossed it to the cat and snarled, “Spread that yourself.” Icewing watched, transfixed, as Breezepelt stalked away and the guards resumed their positions. Soon after, Shredtail and Clawface appeared to take Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather’s places. What was happening? Who was under such heavy guard? Icewing looked to Ivypool for answers, but Ivypool only shook her head and whispered, “I don’t know any more than you do, except that this place is always under guard by a dead Dark Forest warrior and that every sunrise, a apprentice will come and feed them that meager meal and every three sunrises, she gets her moss changed. The cat doesn’t even get to use the dirtplace!” Mystified, Icewing watched some more.

    “We have to go now, Icewing,” Ivypool meowed, “Meet me at the island at moonhigh tomorrow night. Now that you’re a warrior, you don’t have to come every time.” And with that, Ivypool disappeared and Icewing was left alone. Ivypool was definitely a friend, but what was her secret? Did she know about the true intentions of the Dark Forest that Bloodfur had hinted at?

Chapter Five

    Feathertail waited near the border, her tail twitching with annoyance. She was waiting for Brokenstar to show up so she could take him on the most boring tour of his life. The tour would  start at the Herb Meadow, where she would briefly hand him over to the grumpy Yellowfang, who would show him the herbs (and be quite hostile to him, which she was VERY good at.) Then she would take him to the best place to hunt rabbits, then to Warmrocks. And last of all, she would walk him onto an island using a fallen tree, then leave him there, jump into the water, and swim away while a crew of cats dragged away the tree, leaving Brokenstar trapped on the island until he found the courage to jump into the water and swim to shore.
    “Finally!” she grumbled as the dirty tomcat slinked into StarClan’s territory.
    “Brokenstar is not here, so I will take his place,” meowed Tigerstar.
    Why? There’s something suspicious. Could he know my plan?
    “This way, then,” Feathertail led Tigerstar to the Herb Meadow, feeling uneasy. When they had finally trekked through the Marshland, Yellowfang looked up in surprise, “What’s he doing here?” she growled.
    “He took Brokenstar’s place,” explained Feathertail, then whispering in Yellowfang’s ear, “He’s up to something. Be careful.”
    Yellowfang nodded and led Tigerstar to the far east side of the meadow. “At this side, catmint, marigold, borage, and alder bark grow here.” Yellowfang carefully pointed out important features of each plant and gave a detailed description of their uses and how to use them. “Any questions?” Looking bored to death, Tigerstar shook his head and hissed impatiently. “Next, we are going over to the southeast side of the Herb Meadow.” Yellowfang continued to give slow, exaggerated lectures on plants, herbs, and anything that heals. It was sunhigh when Feathertail picked up Tigerstar who looked ready to faint from annoyance. He probably wanted to attack Yellowfang but didn’t dare to with so many others around. Feathertail snickered.
    “ This way, Tigerstar,” Feathertail meowed, mockingly, “We are now going to the Prairie of Rabbits.” Feathertail slowly walked to the  prairie, stopping to talk to StarClan cats, showing Tigerstar different plants, and sometimes veering off paths only to give Tigerstar a lesson on how to hunt various things. When they finally arrived, Feathertail handed him over to Tallstar, who was smiling with glee.
    He probably wants to get revenge on Tigerstar for becoming the leader of ShadowClan after they drove out WindClan, and because Tigerstar helped Mudclaw, through Hawkfrost, to try and kill Onestar, thought Feathertail, This is going to get interesting.

*******

 

Feathertail just couldn’t wait to make Tigerstar swim in a freezing cold lake. She saw Leopardstar’s dark amber eyes watching through a bramble thicket, twinkling with amusement and gave a small smile.

“Tigerstar,” Feathertail meowed, “Over on the island is Warm Water Spring, which is for StarClan cats to relax and enjoy it.”

Feathertail nimbly jumped onto the prepared tree ran to the other side. Grumbling how this was a complete mistake, Tigerstar followed reluctantly. Feathertail led Tigerstar over to the spring talking about the history of it.

“Now, lay down here and close your eyes, it is very comfortable,” instructed Feathertail. As soon as Tigerstar closed his eyes, Feathertail slid into the water and swam away without a single splash. A group of cats appeared and with great difficulty, dragged the tree onto the mainland. Everyone dissapeared into the bushes, abandoning Tigerstar who in meantime had fallen asleep.

*********

A half-moon had passed since the visit from Tigerstar who had plucked up the courage to jump into the water. Shivering, he clumsily paddled across the lake. Feathertail snickered at the memory. Tigerstar strictly trained members of the Dark Forest in water battle, but he himself couldn’t even swim! Why would he all of a sudden decide to train in something he obviously didn’t think was worth learning himself? She lay in her nest, listening to the quiet breathing of Leopardstar, thinking.

Feathertail bolted straight up from her nest. “That’s it!” she hissed. Grumbling, Leopardstar stretched lazily. “Can’t a cat get any sleep around here?”

“Leopardstar! It is the Dark Forest who captured Mistystar!” exclaimed Feathertail.

Wide awake now, Leopardstar listened intently. Pacing back and forth, Feathertail meowed, “You saw how badly Tigerstar swam. The day that we visited them, they were training, in water! Tigerstar didn’t learn swimming probably because he didn’t think he would ever need to use it. But now, he is training cats to fight with other cats in water. There is only one clan Tigerstar can attack who can also swim. RiverClan. They will attack soon, when their leader is gone. When is it a coincidence that the Dark Forest decides to train their apprentices water battle only a few sunrises before Mistystar is captured?”

“You’re right, Feathertail! I can’t believe I didn’t think of that. But we didn’t see Mistystar in the Dark Forest when we visited.”

“They must have hid her. We need to have a contact in the Dark Forest, but who is reliable? The only spy we know for sure is Ivypool, but she’s ThunderClan. So we need Spottedleaf, she’s the only ThunderClan cat who’s actually not hostile to us.”

“Can’t we get some sleep first?” grumbles Leopardstar crankily, now that her burst of excitement was over.

“Yes,” sighed Feathertail. And they both slept.

Written by Moonshade (Mulan) and Rainyshadow (Maya Chan)

StarClan’s Rescue (edited)

Prologue
Moonlight washed palely over the border as two she-cats padded softly along. Two pairs of eyes, one ice-blue and another pale amber, blinked in the shadowed undergrowth. The small brown tabby she-cat looked warmly at the other.
“Greetings.”

“Greetings, Brambleberry. Do you have any particular news you would like to share with me?” The other cat meowed as warmly in reply.
“RiverClan is going to have much trouble with Twoleg kits,” Brambleberry cautioned. The blue-gray she-cat narrowed her eyes.

“They captured Willowshine when she was out gathering herbs last sunrise.”

Brambleberry nodded. “I saw. Come. Let us sit down here where we will not be
disturbed.” She flicked her tail towards a large rock almost hidden behind a waterfall. The sleek blue-gray she-cat meowed wistfully,“This reminds me of the Tribe of Rushing Water. I had many friends there. But how are we going to get to the rock?”

Purring, Brambleberry replied, “You are RiverClan aren’t you? You swim of course.”

“Under that wall of water, Brambleberry? What are you thinking?”

Brambleberry laid her tail tip gently onto the blue-gray she-cat’s back. “This way. There isn’t as much water pouring down over here.”

The two cats swam over to the rock. Shivering, the blue cat meowed, “It’s chilly over here!”

“I apologize, I have forgotten you are not quite yet StarClan, my friend,” meowed Brambleberry, “Let’s continue walking.”

************

Two cats emerged from the Dark Forest, both dark-brown tabby toms. Together, they silently stalked the two she-cats. The she-cats had no notion that they were being followed. The two toms looked at one another, reviewing their plan mentally, and nodded.Together, they leaped into the air, one landing on Brambleberry’s shoulders, the other knocking the surprised blue-gray she-cat unconscious.

“Quick, Hawkfrost! Drag her across the border where Brokenstar is waiting to help!” yowled the first brown tabby.

Brambleberry shook the cat from the Dark Forest off her shoulders, spraying drops of blood onto the leafy green plants.

“Tigerstar!” she spat, “I should have known!”

Growling, Tigerstar attacked Brambleberry once again. Brambleberry leaped into the air and twisted, sinking her teeth into Tigerstar’s long, matted fur. Tigerstar kicked his hind legs onto Brambleberry’s stomach. Yowling, she tried to get up but Tigerstar held her down and raked her belly until she drifted into unconscious.

******

“Spottedleaf!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “Brambleberry has been attacked!” Spottedleaf rushed to Brambleberry, her carefully collected herbs forgotten in her panic.

“This looks like Tigerstar’s work. I don’t even know treat this kind of wound. Yellowfang probably does though,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

Feathertail gasped. “Look at those paw prints!” Two pairs of paw prints, both fairly large, led deep into the Dark Forest.

“It looks like they dragged a cat with them!” meowed Spottedleaf, who looked as if she’d been struck by lightning, with her fur standing on end.

“Why would they do that?” wondered Feathertail, “Who did they take?”

Spottedleaf growled “Look!” A pair of ice-blue eyes blinked once and disappeared. Feathertail turned to Spottedleaf.

“Hawkfrost.” Feathertail meowed, furious. “Hawkfrost must have dragged the cat away.”

“But why?” Spottedleaf was shocked.

“I don’t know, but I need you to go get Yellowfang. Quick!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “I don’t know ThunderClan camp as well as you do.” She hoped Spottedleaf would hurry. Brambleberry could die if Yellowfang didn’t come quickly and treated her.

Barely conscious, Brambleberry muttered “Feathertail,” before drifting back into unconsciousness.

“Brambleberry! You’re alive! Who was with you? What happened? Brambleberry, I need to know!” Feathertail meowed, her voice rising. What had happened? Would Brambleberry be all right? What would happen if she never woke up? Would she just…fade? Feathertail didn’t even want to think about it.

She shook Brambleberry. “Brambleberry! Wake up! Please!” Feathertail glanced despairingly over her shoulder to see if Spottedleaf was back yet. They needed a medicine cat who could treat this, desperately. She began to lick Brambleberry’s pelt to wash all the blood away. Maybe that way she’ll wake up, thought Feathertail.

“Feathertail. Where is she?” murmured Brambleberry.

“Where is who?” meowed Feathertail, hope rising in her chest like a caged bird. Quick paw steps filled the air.

“What happened?” demanded Leapordstar.

“Brambleberry has been attacked and Spottedleaf is going for help.” meowed Feathertail.

“Brambleberry has been attacked?” repeated Leapordstar, dazed.

“Yes and Brambleberry keeps on talking about a she-cat. I was about to get an answer, you know,” Feathertail replied, annoyed. Why did Leapordstar interrupt when she was least wanted or needed? Why couldn’t she go and do something useful for once, instead of just lying around ordering other cats to get her fish? She was new in StarClan, for- well for StarClan’s sake. She should stop ordering cats around and do some work for once.

“Mistystar……gone…….” Brambleberry drifted back into unconsciousness.

Feathertail was confused. Why was Mistystar gone? Where was she? Who took her? She was so aggravated that she yowled to the open sky “What?! Where is the RiverClan leader? Where is she? Where is Mistystar?”

Chapter One
Icewing was back in the forest. The yucky one with the muddy rivers that were as slow as a slug climbing to the old Highstones and the icky, leafless trees that blocked out the sky; not the forest that the ThunderClan and ShadowClan cats lived in – not the one by the lake.

“Hi, Icewing!” came a call from a few paces behind.

“Hello, Ivypool!” she called back. Ivypool was a cat from ThunderClan, and she was really nice, but she always seemed to have something other than training on her mind, meaning she was normally slightly distracted.

“More training, less talking!” growled a voice behind her. Icewing jumped. She turned around and saw Tigerstar stalking out from behind the leafless trees. Ivypool had disappeared.

“Sorry Tigerstar,” Icewing mumbled guiltily; she knew Tigerstar did not take kindly to distractions from experience.

“We are doing tree training today. Come on. The other cats are already assembled.” Tigerstar leaped over a fallen tree towards a clearing. Icewing scrambled over after him.

Tigerstar jumped onto a large rock, easily. “Those ThunderClan fools have been cheating in battle. They climb trees! Are they cats or are they weak little squirrels? We will do tree training too! We will play their own trick against them!” He growled. Tigerstar paused as yowls of approval rang out from the assembled cats beneath him. “We will work in partners! Snowtuft, you are going to be with Hollowflight, Shredtail, you are with Sunstrike, Thistleclaw, work with Breezepelt, Ivypool with Blossomfall, Hawkfrost with Icewing, and Mapleshade with Tigerheart. Brokenstar and I will be supervising. We are not kits play fighting so unsheathe your claws!”

It must be an important training session to have two leaders supervising!

“Who am I assigned to?” meowed a voice from the crowd of cats.

Tigerstar narrowed his eyes. “You were beaten by an apprentice,” he spat, “You do not deserve to train any cats until you have proven yourself worthy again, Darkstripe!”

“ Hurry up Icewing, you slow slug! What are you waiting for, kit? ” Hawkfrost beckoned at Icewing from next to a twisted, gnarled tree with his tail. “You’re going to climb first and try to attack me as you jump. Hurry!”

Icewing nodded. RiverClan has never climbed trees, she thought rebelliously. But another part of her mind said this is going to make me the best warrior I can be. She told herself firmly that again as she strained her hind leg muscles to push herself up the tree. Hawkfrost circled around impatiently. Quietly, Icewing tiptoed down the tree trunk half way and bunched her muscles in preparation for the spring. She landed squarely on Hawkfrost’s shoulders, yowling in triumph. But her triumph turned to confusion when Hawkfrost rolled over and smashed her to the ground. Thinking quickly, Icewing pushed Hawkfrost off herself and when he was still recovering, slashed his belly with unsheathed claws. Growling, he pushed himself off the leaf littered ground. Icewing backed up cautiously, unsure if he was about to pounce. She relaxed, though, as Hawkfrost hissed “You were so loud!”

“Like this?” Icewing scrambled up a tree and climbed down as softly as she could.

“No, but that will have to do,” meowed Hawkfrost. “Now hurry! We’re wasting training time!”

Thinking harder this time, Icewing climbed up the tree and waited.

“Faster! You can’t be a dead slug during battle!” Hawkfrost growled.

Icewing didn’t move. Hawkfrost had started circling the tree once again. This time, she silently jumped straight from the branch so as not to give Hawkfrost any kind of warning. Howling, she bit down on Hawkfrost’s back as he jumped into the air to make
her crash. She quickly retaliated and slithered under him, clawing his belly as he landed.

“Acceptable,” Hawkfrost meowed grudgingly, “Again!”
Icewing once again went up the tree. This time though, instead of jumping, she successfully got down on the other side of the tree without being heard – where Hawkfrost wasn’t waiting to attack her. Icewing crept up onto Hawkfrost and attacked from behind.”

“You didn’t use the tree to your advantage! You must tree train, not pouncing like a newborn kit!” Hawkfrost glared at Icewing, “You must do everything I tell you!”

“But I did use the tree!” retorted Icewing, “I went up it and so when the enemy was preparing for me to jump down onto them, I leaped up onto their back so they got taken by surprise.”

“Clever,” Eyes narrowing, Hawkfrost growled “However, your enemies may find that attacking you without you being on them is much easier than fighting you when you land actually on their back.”

“But I can always scramble up the tree and land on their backs while they are wondering where I went.”

“ThunderClan knows that trick. We must prepare for that,” Hawkfrost hissed, “You have a sharp and clever mind. Use that to your advantage, too. Let’s see how many more interesting strategies you can think of. More training and less talking!”

And so Icewing crawled up the tree, her muscles aching.

***********

“You know, I think I’m the first RiverClan cat to do tree training – ever.” grumbled Icewing. Her muscles ached and her back was on fire. It would be a miserable day when the sun rose. Hawkfrost’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Wrong, Icewing. I was the first RiverClan cat to climb a tree. But you were the second. Now, go tell Tigerstar I think it’s time.”

That’s just like Hawkfrost – always bragging. It’s time for what, though? thought Icewing as she ran over to Tigerstar to tell him Hawkfrost’s news.

“What’s it time for?” the green-eyed she-cat asked after she delivered her message.

“I can’t tell you!” snapped Tigerstar.

Icewing wanted to ask why, but she knew not to cross Tigerstar when he was grumpy. Still…

All of a sudden, Tigerstar yowled “Next time she visits, one of our apprentices will take her final assessment!”

Would that be her?

A high, reedy voice from the back of the crowd of cats yowled back “Who, might I ask, is this mysterious she-cat? It should be me!”

“And why would I tell you, Breezepelt? Anyways, you’re still not ready,” replied Tigerstar coolly. “I hope you’ll tend to the ‘cat-in-the-brambles,’ as our apprentices kindly call her, next moonrise instead of training with us. Have fun with the mouse bile and changing her moss. She’ll like that. The rest of you, go – oh, and whatever you do, do not go near the clearing where we used to train or I promise I will personally rip out your pelt and use it to line my nest; even my warriors. I am making an exception for Breezepelt because he must go there tomorrow. Now leave me to think for once, instead of helping train you mouse-brained young ‘paws’ to become ‘better warriors’.” And with that impressive speech, Tigerstar bounded off the “Announcement Rock” and away into the forest.

What is the matter with him? Icewing was bewildered. Tigerstar’s never been grumpy enough to threaten to rip out our pelts before. Humph. Who is this mysterious she-cat? Why can’t we go to the old training clearing anymore? So many questions, yet no answers.

Suddenly, Icewing felt a pelt brush hers, then smelled the slightly musty scent that belonged to Ivypool. Ivypool’s scent was a mixture of Dark Forest and ThunderClan, just like hers was a mixture of Dark Forest and RiverClan.

“Icewing, go home. I am warning you, do not fail your warrior assessment or else you may never go back to your clanmates by the lake.” warned the other white she-cat, then she turned and disappeared.

Icewing felt an ominous chill go down her spine at those words. Was Ivypool hinting that she would die if she failed?

Chapter 2

After Feathertail and Spottedleaf found Brambleberry hurt and Mistystar missing and Leopardstar discovered them, there was utter chaos until…

“Silence! Do you want all of StarClan to come rushing here right now?” yowled Leopardstar.

“Leopardstar, Mistystar is missing! Do you know the significance of that!” growled Feathertail. She’s interfering again, that arrogant furball, she thought, aggravated by Mistystar’s capture.

“I know, Feathertail. Calm down. Besides, if we’re too hasty, it could lead to our downfall as well as Mistystar’s,” soothed Leopardstar.

Feathertail thought for a moment. What Leopardstar says makes sense, she concluded. “Who else will help us?”

“No one but us. They will all try to take over, and this is only RiverClan’s business.” Leopardstar meowed.

Feathertail nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Leopardstar. What should we do now?”

Leopardstar narrowed her eyes. “Keep quiet and look for unexpected allies. Make sure they’re at least half RiverClan.”

Why at least half RiverClan? Has Leopardstar gone crazy? thought the silver she-cat. “I’ll do that. I think we should visit Willowshine to tell her what has happened,” meowed Feathertail.

“Yes, I agree. Could you do that? I must go. Crookedstar asked me to come to a meeting of Clan leaders and medicine cats to discuss Brambleberry’s situation.” Leopardstar took off running, her tail streaming out behind her.

Feathertail sighed. Why did Leopardstar always have to take charge? That night she visited Willowshine’s dreams. “Willowshine!”

“Feathertail! Mistystar went to the Moonpool and I went with her and Mothwing but she never woke up! We had to drag her back to camp. Everyone thought she was dead but she was still breathing,” meowed Willowshine in a hurry, “What are we going to do?”

“Her spirit was captured by the Dark Forest. The Dark Forest, or The Place Of No Stars, is where cats that are not accepted by StarClan go after they leave their bodies,” explained Feathertail. “Ask Reedwhisker to temporarily take the leader’s role, but tell him not to change his name to Reedstar as we can not give him nine lives since Mistystar still has all of hers. Don’t forget, Mistystar is still alive.”

“Okay, Feathertail. But how is Mistystar going to escape the Dark Forest?” questioned Willowshine.

“StarClan will rescue her!”

Feathertail’s voice faded away as she hurried back to StarClan’s hunting grounds. When she returned, Leopardstar was waiting for her. Humph.

“Our meeting went very badly,” announced Leopardstar.

“What happened?” asked Feathertail. Nothing could be worse than a hopeless quest into the Dark Forest to rescue Mistystar.

“Crookedstar brought Brambleberry in and he questioned her thoroughly. All we got out of her was that she was walking along the border and got attacked by two cats from the Dark Forest,” mused Leopardstar, “She doesn’t even remember anything about Mistystar’s capture.”

Feathertail nodded, “We need a plan to rescue her. Mistystar, I mean, not Brambleberry.” Though Brambleberry does need help, thought Feathertail privately. She knew not to cross Leopardstar when she was grumpy or happy, all the same.

Leopardstar thought for a moment, “Let’s go visit the Dark Forest. Come on, lets go now.”

Why now?

The pair padded along silently until they suddenly saw a spotted pelt flash by.

“Greetings, Feathertail, Leopardstar. Did you see Milkfur earlier?” meowed Featherwhisker .

“She was at Four Trees not long ago,” answered Feathertail. Why is he looking for Milkfur now?

“Thanks, I don’t think she knows about what happened to Brambleberry. And after all, she has a right to know since Brambleberry was Milkfur’s apprentice.” Featherwhisker trotted away, tail drooping.

Feathertail remembered that Featherwhisker always had liked Brambleberry. No wonder he was sad.

“Well, we will be looking like that for some time,” commented Feathertail. Leopardstar didn’t answer. They quietly strolled along for a while until they reached the border.

“I guess we’ll go in,” meowed Leopardstar. Not long after, they scented Brokenstar on the slightly musty breeze. Leopardstar tensed. Feathertail crouched. What does he want? she thought.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” purred Brokenstar in a silky voice. “I thought we made it clear StarClan was not allowed here.”

“You said was not allowed. We are allowed because this is not the past, but the present. Yes?” retorted Feathertail.

“A clever tongue, as usual. Now, if you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds, I will gladly let you visit my territory, as that is only fair…Now, get out!” Brokenstar barred his teeth.

Thinking fast, Feathertail meowed “Go ahead. Visit anytime.”

“Feathertail! What you are you thinking?! Since when were you so fish-brained?” interrupted Leopardstar, again. Feathertail silenced her with a glare. Leopardstar returned the glare but did not question her any further.

“Then go ahead and explore all you want.” Brokenstar took off into the dark woods.

“What was that all about?!” hissed Leopardstar, narrowing her eyes.

“Wait. I’ll tell you later,” murmured Feathertail distractedly.

“As you say, Featherstar,” grumbled Leopardstar. Humph. AnnoyingStars all over the place were invading, thought Feathertail grumpily.

“Really! Please stop insulting me! Now can we just get on visiting this place and get out of here? I don’t like it any more than you do!” Exasperated, Feathertail stalked off. With a heavy, exaggerated sigh and a rolling of her eyes, Leopardstar grudgingly followed. Why was Grumpystar always so hostile? thought Feathertail.

“Wait,” Leopardstar halted suddenly, “I smell a familiar scent. Tigerstar!” They spun around in unison to see a large dark brown tabby striding towards them. “The visitors Brokenstar mentioned.” He nodded, “Don’t let me interrupt you. Continue as you please.” Tigerstar disappeared into the shadows.

“He becomes more and more evil every passing moment,” Leopardstar growled.

“No one can deny that,” agreed Feathertail. How did they communicate so fast, and what makes me think that something is amiss? Those two can never be trusted.

“Humph,” meowed Leopardstar suspiciously. “He sounded like he was up to something.”

“Whenever was he not?” asked Feathertail, “ I wonder if his scheme has something to do with Mistystar’s capture?”

Leopardstar didn’t reply.

************

The two walked off into the forest, following the twisting and turning path. Feathertail’s mind was filled with questions, one after another. Whys and hows and lots of coulds floated around in the air. She was sure that even Leopardstar, who as lost in her own thoughts too, could hear her mind buzzing with questions.
“Feathertail,” Leopardstar voice was tense, “I think we’ve been going around in circles.”
“How come? We’ve been following this path,” replied Feathertail.
“Look at that same gnarled tree trunk. I’m sure we’ve been past it before.”
“Hmm,” meowed Feathertail thoughtfully, “You’re right.”
“I’m going to scratch a cross onto this tree so that way we’ll know if we’ve been here before.” Leopardstar did so.
After a few hundred heartbeats, they came back to the same tree. Feathertail gasped, surprised at how easily they’d been fooled. “We really are going around in circles!” Her voice rose to a wail, “ We’re hopelessly lost in the Dark Forest! Here, were no one would even think about us being in this horrible……place!”

Chapter Three

“What do think we are going to do? Obviously we just don’t follow the path. Now let me lead,” Leopardstar shouldered past Feathertail and growled “Come on!” With a humph, Feathertail followed her leader. Why was Feathertail always so slow? She obviously thought I am a grumpystar, but that doesn’t mean she has to be so grumpy and sharp tongued with me. thought Leopardstar

“Hey! I didn’t see this fork in the path before!” meowed Feathertail excitedly.

“That’s because I’m leading,” grumbled Leopardstar. Really, Feathertail was so cheery she could beat a sparrow singing – that is, if she could sing. She couldn’t sing, only birds and possibly Twolegs could. Lost in her thoughts, she then crashed into a bush.

“Hurry up, Leopardstar! We’re losing our time for exploring!” hissed Feathertail.

Leopardstar didn’t like that and retorted “Well, stop singing like a bird!” With a growl of fury, she turned around and stalked off. She could sense that Feathertail confused and wanted to say something back to her but even she knew better than to start an argument with a leader. Leopardstar felt a stab of self-satisfaction with that small victory of words.

Soon, they reached a clearing filled with cats surrounded by trees. They quickly hid themselves behind two of these disgusting under-growths and peered out from behind them. It seemed like the cats in the clearing were having a meeting of some kind. Some of the faces in the crowd looked familiar, and they scanned them with sharp eyes, gold and blue, to see what cats they knew. Feathertail was the first to spot a Lake cat they knew.

“Look! There’s Icewing with Hawkfrost! They’re training together. I never knew this was happening!” wailed Feathertail, clearly distressed.

“It’s all right. She might be a spy for RiverClan like Ivypool is for ThunderClan”

Feathertail visibly relaxed.

“Let’s continue along. Mistystar is obviously not here,” meowed Leopardstar. She turned and headed off into the shallow undergrowth. With a sigh of exasperation, Feathertail followed. She sniffed, then stiffened. Leopardstar followed suit, and smelled a scent that she had never wanted to smell for the rest of her death years.

“Brokenstar!” she warned. Sure enough, Brokenstar appeared moments later. “Visits are over. I will show you the way out.”

***********

“That was useless!” growled Leopardstar, “and now he can visit our territory! He probably set us up to get lost. That way we can’t learn anything.” Brokenstar was the most obnoxious cat from the forest to the sun-drown place; from the mountains to the lake.

“Just wait. He’ll get his payback.” purred Feathertail.

What was that cat up to?

“You still haven’t told me why you are going to let Brokenstar into our hunting grounds,” reminded Leopardstar. Feathertail was so forgetful she would forget she was on a patrol the minute she left camp.

“He said ‘If you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds.’ Well, that is exactly what I plan on doing. I’ll give him a tour on the most boring and useless places,” Feathertail paused. “I’ll also give long uninteresting lectures. Then I’ll send him out of here like he did to us.”

“Brilliant, Feathertail!” meowed Leopardstar, “Great thinking!” How had Feathertail thought of that? Well, she’d add to that. “Try to somehow get him lost in the most uninteresting place – the island in the middle of the small lake would do. Just make a bridge out of wood and lead him across, then destroy the bridge and swim away.” He’s such a drypaw, she thought in disgust.

“Amazing, Leopardstar!”

Leopardstar was pleased with the praise, but she decided not to say anything. Maybe if Feathertail gave her more compliments, she would make her her personal deputy – for helping the Clans only, of course.

******

“Cats of StarClan!” yowled Willowstar, “Brambleberry has been attacked by one of the Dark Forest. We are suspecting that Tigerstar did the fighting while a different cat dragged someone over the border and is currently holding them hostage. Leopardstar and Feathertail, would you like to speak?”

“We were there, not when the attack happened, but at the aftermath. Feathertail and I do not know who was taken except that they are not from RiverClan.”

Leopardstar felt guilty that she was lying at a Gathering, but she had no choice. She jumped down from Highrock in a graceful leap and meowed “Feathertail, would you like to speak?” Leopardstar meowed. She would probably mess up the whole lie and tell everything that had happened since the attack on Brambleberry and Mistystar.

“ Well, we went into the Dark Forest to investigate the matter…….” A chorus of cats started yowling “What! Why didn’t you tell us? You should have discussed with the rest of StarClan first!”

“I’m sorry but there was not enough time. As I was saying……..”

Feathertail got interrupted again this time by Mossleaf, an old StarClan cat. “Are you not telling us something?” she meowed suspiciously, “Something is missing and without it, your story smells quite fishy.”

“No Mossleaf,” assured Feathertail, “I have told you everything – well, almost everything, and I’m going to tell you the rest of it right now.”

Mossleaf sat down back on her haunches again but kept a glare on her.

“Right,” meowed Feathertail, ignoring Mossleaf, “Brokenstar is going to visit StarClan in return for our visit to their home.”

There was a few collective gasps but no one spoke.

“I plan on giving him a tour of some of the most boring places there are here; like the many different varieties of herbs in StarClan that grow next to the border drop-off. I will need a medicine cat sitting around just to make it convincing” The border drop-off was when the territories just fell into space: the ground just turned right into sky. Of course, StarClan could walk on it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that most cats were just afraid of the sheer drop-off, even though they couldn’t die a second time. Yellowfang’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present.

“I’ll be the medicine cat,” meowed Yellowfang. Feathertail nodded with appreciation. Leopardstar was surprised. Yellowfang was usually much grumpier than even the cat Feathertail called Grumpystar – namely, herself. And, Yellowfang was Brokenstar’s mother. Hmm.

“ Also I will show him WarmRocks and the pond. It would be best to have some cats fishing there. The waterfall will be shown to him also, and best of all, I will make him swim! I’ll tell him he can either swim or be pushed into the water – his choice. Yellowfang will be my backup, since she’ll already be with me, making sure he doesn’t run away.”

Yowls of approval came from the assembled cats.

“We’ll fish,” came the voice of some cats. Feathertail had nodded again. Leopardstar craned her neck to see who had said that.

“Humph,” she muttered.

The cats were all craning their necks and Leopardstar couldn’t see over the heads of the other cats. She felt like a kit. All the other cats were so much taller than her when the ones in front of her were so much taller than her when they were all standing on their hind legs and craning their necks, so she did what they were doing.
“And Leopardstar has one last thing to tell us!” yowled Feathertail over all the cats meowing in a hurry.
Leopardstar gulped “I do?” Did Feathertail want her to tell the cats about THAT? Feathertail gave a little nod as if she knew what Leopardstar was thinking. Leopardstar burned with fury. She was a leader and Feathertail was a mere warrior! She was superior and Feathertail was a servant! Leopardstar humphed again. All eyes were on her now. “Well, Feathertail and I found Tigerstar training cats from the living clans. We suspect the Dark Forest is tricking them into training since we found Blossomfall, Birchfall, Icewing, Ivypool, Redwillow, Breezepelt, Sunstrike, Furzepaw…”

*******

After the Gathering was over, cats clamored around Leopardstar and Feathertail. Is that really true? was the most common question.
“Enough!” yowled Willowstar, “This Gathering is over and will all of you please return to your dens!” Leopardstar headed off to her den but stopped. There was going to be a lot a whispering. Instead, Leopardstar had Feathertail follow her to a secret place where Leopardstar had found when she had just joined StarClan.
“It’s beautiful!” gasped Feathertail.
“Duh,” humphed Leopardstar. They had just walked into a little clearing through a flowering arch. In the middle, was a little pond filled with every kind of fish, and to the back, was a small waterfall. They were surrounded by trees and flowers.
“No one knows about this except for you and me,” meowed Leopardstar proudly, “Now hurry and make your nest.”
“What about you?” asked Feathertail. Leopardstar pointed her tail tip to a small cave whose only entrance was under a willow tree. When Feathertail had finally gathered enough swan feathers, they both headed into the cave. Feathertail gasped. The cave shimmered and sparkled from all the shiny things Leopardstar had put in. The cave was so small, during the day, it was flooded with green light. Leopardstar pointed to a small hole right above her comfy swan feather covered nest.
“You can see the stars,” Leopardstar meowed quietly, “There’s enough room for you to sleep next to me.” Feathertail quickly constructed her nest and laid down and sighed softly. Of course, thought Leopardstar, rolling her eyes. Feathertail is awestruck by the beauty, once again. Then, they both lay down to sleep.

Chapter Four

Icewing woke up, stretched her matted fur and tired muscles, and yawned. It had been a long night.

“What in the name of StarClan happened?” her daughter, Petalfur, shrieked when she got a look at Icewing’s pelt.

“I went night hunting and fell into a hollow full of brambles,” Icewing lied. She felt bad about lying to Petalfur, but she would only tell Mistystar and Mistystar’s spirit was gone somewhere. Or so says Willowshine. And then how would Icewing become a better warrior? Who knew.

“The only bramble hollow is next to the Twoleg place, and there is absolutely no prey there,” meowed Petalfur suspiciously. I don’t blame her. I would be suspicious if my mother claimed she fell into a hollow full of brambles, Icewing thought sadly.

“I got spooked by an owl,” she invented, while she secretly slipped a long thorn into her nest. She wriggled around a bit. This felt just as bad as lying. But what could she do? Tell her daughter she’d been training all night with Tigerstar and Hawkfrost? Petalfur would tell Reedwhisker and then that would be the end of that. Well, she’d just have to hope.

“And there is this!” meowed Petalfur triumphantly, spotting the long thorn and pawing it out of the moss. “You have been sleeping on a thorn!”

“Oh! Thanks for finding that, Petalfur,” Icewing meowed, feigning surprise.

“Petalfur, Icewing! It’s sunhigh already and you’re needed on patrol!” Graymist yowled. She was the temporary deputy for RiverClan.

“Coming,” grumbled Icewing. She stood up and shook her fur. As she trotted out of her den, Willowshine walked into camp with a mouthful of catmint and saw Icewing’s scratches. She shrieked, “For StarClan’s sake, what happened?” She dropped her catmint and raced over to Icewing to examine her scratches. “She…..won’t……go……..on…….ANY…….patrols……..today,” she meowed between licks. Now that the blood was gone, the scratches didn’t look so bad. Icewing followed Willowshine to the den for treatment to her scratches. While Willowshine added patches of marigold and cobweb to them, Icewing told Mothwing what had happened. Even though she was a very convincing liar and had had to lie many times before, Icewing always felt guilty. “I couldn’t sleep and went night hunting,” explained Icewing. “An owl spooked me and I accidently ran into a bramble pit. A thorn stuck on me while I was sleeping and after rolling around, I got these scratches.”

“Hmm. No more night hunting for you. In fact, no more hunting for at least another two sunrises,” meowed Mothwing.

Well, the Dark Forest is still going to keep me training. And besides, I will just be a better, tougher warrior, thought Icewing.

All day, Icewing watched patrols come and go. Even the kits were doing something more exciting than her. When dusk came, Icewing felt that she was ready to face training. Then she remembered. Her warrior assessment. Ivypool had warned her about death. She had always been a reliable friend. Would she be right again?

***********

“There you are, Icewing!” yowled Hawkfrost, “Come over here!” Icewing nervously walked over to where the leaders were standing.
“You must fight one of us and win to become a warrior, but if you fail………” Brokenstar let his threat hang in the air. He bared his teeth and hissed impatiently. “Come on! We haven’t got all night!” Icewing looked around. Hawkfrost looked smug as if he knew his own apprentice wouldn’t attack him. Sadly, I agree with him, Icewing thought. He’s much too good a fighter. Tigerstar was staring around at the rest of the apprentices, but Icewing could feel he had trained at least one eye on her. Darkstripe looked bored but Brokenstar looked menacing. Mapleshade growled at Icewing. Then, in the shadows, Icewing saw a old warrior she had only met once. She couldn’t remember his name. Looking at the red pelt, the name came to her. Bloodfur. Icewing knew who she wanted to fight. But she would wait a little longer, just so she could have the advantage of surprise. Maggottail leered at her and inched forward a step. Time was running out. Snowtuft bunched his muscles for a leap, but before he got the chance, silently, Icewing jumped onto the distracted Bloodfur’s back. I bet he didn’t expect me to attack him! Icewing thought triumphantly. With a yowl, he rolled onto his back, but not before Icewing bit him on the ear.
Now at least he can’t hear on one side, Icewing thought with satisfaction. But then, as Bloodfur squashed her until she felt that she would suffocate, she realized it was a fight to death. To see if you’re a good enough fighter to take another’s space. And the only way to do that was to kill. Icewing mustered her strength and pushed Bloodfur off her belly. She hooked her hind claws into his belly fur as he flew across the clearing and landed with a thud. Icewing was pulled along, but was in the perfect position to rake his belly. Again and again, Bloodfur yowled in agony. But he wasn’t a warrior for nothing. He tried to bite Icewing on the neck, but she jerked her head out of the way and received a long scratch on her chest. In her moment of weakness, Bloodfur flipped onto his feet and pounced! He stretched out his forelegs and his paws collided with her head. Without hesitation, he jumped onto Icewing’s back and tried to kill her with a bite to the neck. But Icewing sensed this coming and pushed him off her for the second time. Icewing bashed her paws against Bloodfur’s head but stopped as soon as Bloodfur started stirring slightly. She didn’t want to kill him if she didn’t have to and besides, he could easily kill her right then if necessary. Then, spotting a tree three paces away, she raced towards it, then leaped up into its branches. Bloodfur was lying on the ground, moaning, and Icewing realized that this was her chance! She leaped from tree to tree, ignoring the pain in her muscles. Her blood continued to pour out of her chest wound and bits dripped on Bloodfur. Now he really is Bloodfur! chuckled Icewing. Her blood loss was giving her a strange sense of humor. When Bloodfur finally realized she had climbed the tree, he began to climb himself, because he knew the Dark Forest had not covered tree fighting for apprentices. Icewing was smart though, and by the time Bloodfur had climbed the tree and searched it, Icewing had made a loop to approach from behind. Looking around, Bloodfur understood Icewing’s plan a second too late. Icewing flew onto him with a mighty THUMP! His claws slipped and he tumbled, ears over tail, out of the tree. Icewing jumped down and landed gracefully on top of Bloodfur. She looked at him. Fear flooded his eyes. He was too weak to fight back. Icewing knew she only had one choice. She could not fight any longer. Soon, she would faint from all the lost blood if Icewing continued fighting. She could barely stand. She looked straight into Bloodfur’s amber eyes, trying to convey three words – I’m sorry, Bloodfur, then bit his throat with the killing bite. Blood poured out of the fatal wound, and his eyes spoke to her. The cats of the dark forest are evil. Do not trust them. They are trying… but before he could tell her what they were trying to do, the light faded from his eyes. Tigerstar looked at her in awe. Hawkfrost proudly meowed, “See, Brokenstar, two apprentices made warriors already and both are alive. More than you can claim.”

Brokenstar glared at Hawkfrost and returned to watching Icewing. In his raspy voice, he growled, “Well, now you are a warrior, Icewing. No doubt about that.”

The apprentices looked at Icewing in fear. She hated terrorizing them. Her eyes sought out Ivypool and found her with the rest of the warriors. Ivypool looked urgently at her.

“Well, go and sit with the warriors,” hissed Mapleshade.

Numb with pain, Icewing went and sat with Ivypool.

“Good job,” she meowed but her voice was tense. What was wrong? Ivypool began to lick Icewing’s fur. Suddenly, Icewing wished Ivypool was from RiverClan. She jerked back.

“Stop,” she meowed, “We are from different clans and we shouldn’t be making this friendship.” With a start, Icewing saw all the other cats looking at her. She had spoken too loudly. “But I had forgotten we are clanmates. Dark Forest clanmates. Since I have proved myself true to this place, we are now true clanmates,” she continued. “Whoever says otherwise will get ripped to shreds.” She glared at everyone, but inside, she just wanted to forget about the Dark Forest. But no. She also wanted to rip Tigerstar and Mapleshade to shreds. She wanted to wipe out the entire forest, and never see any of these evil cats again.

After the meeting, Hawkfrost caught up with the pair of them. “It is not for you to make such speeches and decisions, but you acted like what I expect all my apprentices to become – menacing, powerful leaders.”
Icewing again felt like tearing him apart, but instead she meowed “I just wanted to begin a reputation.”

Hawkfrost nodded and walked away. Ivypool made no comment. They kept on walking until suddenly she veered off the path.

“Ivypool, where are you going?” asked Icewing.

“Somewhere we won’t be overheard,” meowed Ivypool without looking back at Icewing.
Icewing was confused. What was happening? Did Ivypool want to hurt her? Ivypool led Icewing to a bramble thicket.
“In here,” whispered Ivypool.
“What?” asked Icewing loudly.
“Shh! Keep your voice down!” hissed Ivypool. “This way.”

She led Icewing to a little opening in the midst of the thicket where they could see the old training clearing. In the middle was a cage built of thorns so tightly woven that Icewing couldn’t see what was inside. Was this the “cat-in-the-brambles” Tigerstar had mentioned? If there was a cat in there, how could she breathe? Then Icewing noticed little holes for air, big enough for oxygen to get in, but small enough so that even the tiniest kit claws couldn’t fit through. Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather were guarding the thorn cage while Breezepelt threw in two dead, rotten mice and a shrew that looked like crowfood into the cage through a large hole which was immediately covered by thorns again. Whoever was in there must be very weak; that way whoever it was didn’t stand a chance of clawing their way out, much less fighting, even if an apprentice purposefully walked in and let them attack first. Breezepelt went in through the hole and started clearing out moss so dirty it looked like it hadn’t been changed for many moons. Then he grabbed another ball of moss, less dirty but still looking like something else had already used it, and tossed it to the cat and snarled, “Spread that yourself.” Icewing watched, transfixed, as Breezepelt stalked away and the guards resumed their positions. Soon after, Shredtail and Clawface appeared to take Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather’s places. What was happening? Who was under such heavy guard? Icewing looked to Ivypool for answers, but Ivypool only shook her head and whispered, “I don’t know any more than you do, except that this place is always under guard by a dead Dark Forest warrior and that every sunrise, a apprentice will come and feed them that meager meal and every three sunrises, she gets her moss changed. The cat doesn’t even get to use the dirtplace!” Mystified, Icewing watched some more.
“We have to go now, Icewing,” Ivypool meowed, “Meet me at the island at moonhigh tomorrow night. Now that you’re a warrior, you don’t have to come every time.” And with that, Ivypool disappeared and Icewing was left alone. Ivypool was definitely a friend, but what was her secret? Did she know about the true intentions of the Dark Forest that Bloodfur had hinted at?

Chapter Five

Feathertail waited near the border, her tail twitching with annoyance. She was waiting for Brokenstar to show up so she could take him on the most boring tour of his life. The tour would start at the Herb Meadow, where she would briefly hand him over to the grumpy Yellowfang, who would show him the herbs (and be quite hostile to him, which she was VERY good at.) Then she would take him to the best place to hunt rabbits, then to Warmrocks. And last of all, she would walk him onto an island using a fallen tree, then leave him there, jump into the water, and swim away while a crew of cats dragged away the tree, leaving Brokenstar trapped on the island until he found the courage to jump into the water and swim to shore.
“Finally!” she grumbled as the dirty tomcat slinked into StarClan’s territory.
“Brokenstar is not here, so I will take his place,” meowed Tigerstar.
Why? There’s something suspicious. Could he know my plan?
“This way, then,” Feathertail led Tigerstar to the Herb Meadow, feeling uneasy. When they had finally trekked through the Marshland, Yellowfang looked up in surprise, “What’s he doing here?” she growled.
“He took Brokenstar’s place,” explained Feathertail, then whispering in Yellowfang’s ear, “He’s up to something. Be careful.”
Yellowfang nodded and led Tigerstar to the far east side of the meadow. “At this side, catmint, marigold, borage, and alder bark grow here.” Yellowfang carefully pointed out important features of each plant and gave a detailed description of their uses and how to use them. “Any questions?” Looking bored to death, Tigerstar shook his head and hissed impatiently. “Next, we are going over to the southeast side of the Herb Meadow.” Yellowfang continued to give slow, exaggerated lectures on plants, herbs, and anything that heals. It was sunhigh when Feathertail picked up Tigerstar who looked ready to faint from annoyance. He probably wanted to attack Yellowfang but didn’t dare to with so many others around. Feathertail snickered.
“ This way, Tigerstar,” Feathertail meowed mockingly, “We are now going to the Prairie of Rabbits.” Feathertail slowly walked to the prairie, stopping to talk to StarClan cats, showing Tigerstar different plants, and sometimes veering off paths only to give Tigerstar a lesson on how to hunt various things.

StarClan’s Rescue (continued)

Prologue
Moonlight washed palely over the border as two she-cats padded softly along. Two pairs of eyes, one ice-blue and another pale amber, blinked in the shadowed undergrowth. The small brown tabby she-cat blinked warmly at the other.
“Greetings.”

“Greetings, Brambleberry. Do you have any particular news you would like to share with me?” The other cat meowed warmly in reply.
“RiverClan is going to have much trouble with Twoleg kits,” the Brambleberry mused. The blue-gray she-cat narrowed her eyes.

“They captured Willowshine when she was out gathering herbs last sunrise.”

Brambleberry nodded. “I saw. Come. Let us sit down here where we will not be
disturbed.” She flicked her tail towards a large rock almost hidden behind a waterfall. The sleek blue-gray she-cat meowed wistfully,“This reminds me of the Tribe of Rushing Water. I had many friends there. But how are we going to get to the rock?”

Purring, Brambleberry replied, “You are RiverClan aren’t you? You swim of course.”

“Under that wall of water, Brambleberry? What are you thinking?”

Brambleberry laid her tail tip gently onto the blue-gray she-cat’s back. “This way. There isn’t as much water pouring down over here.”

The two cats swam over to the rock. Shivering, the blue cat meowed, “It’s chilly over here!”

“I apologize, my friend,” meowed Brambleberry, “Let’s continue walking.”

************

Two cats emerged from the Dark Forest, both dark-brown tabby toms. Together, they silently stalked the two she-cats. The she-cats had no notion that they were being stalked. The two toms looked at one another, reviewing their plan mentally, and nodded. As one, they leaped into the air, one landing on Brambleberry’s shoulders, the other knocking the surprised blue-gray she-cat unconscious.

“Quick, Hawkfrost! Drag her across the border where Brokenstar is waiting to help!” yowled the brown tabby.

Brambleberry shook the cat from the Dark Forest off her shoulders, spraying drops of blood onto the leafy green plants.

“Tigerstar!” she spat, “I should have known!”

Growling, Tigerstar attacked Brambleberry once again. Brambleberry leaped into the air and twisted, sinking her teeth into Tigerstar’s long, matted fur. Tigerstar kicked his hind legs onto Brambleberry’s stomach. Yowling, she tried to get up but Tigerstar held her down and raked her belly until she drifted into unconscious.

******

“Spottedleaf!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “Brambleberry has been attacked!” Spottedleaf rushed to Brambleberry, her carefully collected herbs forgotten in her panic.

“This looks like Tigerstar’s work,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

Feathertail gasped. “Look at those paw prints!” Two pairs of paw prints, both fairly large, led deep into the Dark Forest.

“It looks like they dragged a cat with them!” meowed Spottedleaf, who looked as if she’d been struck by lightning, with her fur standing on end.

“Why would they do that?” wondered Feathertail, “Who did they take?”

Spottedleaf growled “Look!” A pair of ice-blue eyes blinked once and disappeared. Feathertail turned to Spottedleaf.

“Hawkfrost.” Feathertail meowed, furious. “Hawkfrost must have dragged the cat away.”

“But why?” Spottedleaf was shocked.

“I don’t know, but I need you to go get Yellowfang. Quick!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “I don’t know ThunderClan camp as well as you do.” She hoped Spottedleaf would hurry. Brambleberry could die if Yellowfang didn’t come quickly and treated her.

Barely conscious, Brambleberry muttered “Feathertail,” before drifting back into unconsciousness.

“Brambleberry! You’re alive! Who was with you? What happened? Brambleberry, I need to know!” Feathertail meowed, her voice rising. What had happened? Would Brambleberry be all right? What would happen if she never woke up? Would she just…fade? Feathertail didn’t even want to think about it.

She shook Brambleberry. “Brambleberry! Wake up! Please!” Feathertail glanced despairingly over her shoulder to see if Spottedleaf was back yet. They needed a medicine cat, desperately. She began to lick Brambleberry’s pelt to wash all the blood away. Maybe that way she’ll wake up, thought Feathertail.

“Feathertail. Where is she?” murmured Brambleberry.

“Where is who?” meowed Feathertail, hope rising in her chest like a caged bird. Quick paw steps filled the air.

“What happened?” demanded Leapordstar.

“Brambleberry has been attacked and Spottedleaf is going for help.” meowed Feathertail.

“Brambleberry has been attacked?” repeated Leapordstar, dazed.

“Yes and Brambleberry keeps on talking about a she-cat. I was about to get an answer, you know,” Feathertail replied, annoyed. Why did Leapordstar interrupt when she was least wanted or needed? Why couldn’t she go and do something useful for once, instead of just lying around ordering other cats to get her fish? She was new in StarClan, for- well for StarClan’s sake. She should stop ordering cats around and do some work for once.

“Mistystar……gone…….” Brambleberry drifted back into unconsciousness.

Feathertail was confused. Why was Mistystar gone? Where was she? Who took her? She was so aggravated that she yowled to the open sky “What?! Where is the RiverClan leader? Where is she? Where is Mistystar?”

Chapter One
Icewing was back in the forest. The yucky one with the muddy rivers that were as slow as a slug climbing to the old Highstones and the icky, leafless trees that blocked out the sky; not the forest that the ThunderClan and ShadowClan cats lived in – not the one by the lake.

“Hi, Icewing!” came a call from a few paces behind.

“Hello, Ivypool!” she called back. Ivypool was a cat from ThunderClan, and she was really nice, but she always seemed to have something other than training on her mind, meaning she was normally slightly distracted.

“More training, less talking!” growled a voice behind her. Icewing jumped. She turned around and saw Tigerstar stalking out from behind the leafless trees. Ivypool had disappeared.

“Sorry Tigerstar,” Icewing mumbled guiltily; she knew Tigerstar did not take kindly to distractions from experience.

“We are doing tree training today. Come on. The other cats are already assembled.” Tigerstar leaped over a fallen tree towards a clearing. Icewing scrambled over after him.

Tigerstar jumped onto a large rock, easily. “Those ThunderClan fools have been cheating in battle. They climb trees! Are they cats or are they weak little squirrels? We will do tree training too! We will play their own trick against them!” He growled. Tigerstar paused as yowls of approval rang out from the assembled cats beneath him. “We will work in partners! Snowtuft, you are going to be with Hollowflight, Shredtail, you are with Sunstrike, Thistleclaw, with Breezepelt, Ivypool with Blossomfall, Hawkfrost with Icewing, and Brokenstar with Tigerheart. I will be supervising. We are not kits play fighting so unsheathe your claws!”

“Who am I assigned to?” meowed a voice from the crowd of cats.

Tigerstar narrowed his eyes. “You were beaten by an apprentice,” he spat, “You do not deserve to train any cats until you have proven yourself worthy again, Darkstripe!”

“Come Icewing! We haven’t got all night!” Hawkfrost beckoned Icewing other to a twisted, gnarled tree with his tail. “You’re going to climb first and try to attack me as you jump. Got it?”

Icewing nodded. RiverClan has never climbed trees, she thought rebelliously. But another part of her mind said this is going to make me the best warrior I can be. She told herself firmly that again as she strained her hind leg muscles to push herself up the tree. Hawkfrost circled around impatiently. Quietly, Icewing tiptoed down the tree trunk half way and bunched her muscles in preparation for the spring. She landed squarely on Hawkfrost’s shoulders, yowling in triumph. But her triumph turned to confusion when Hawkfrost rolled over and smashed her to the ground. Thinking quickly, Icewing pushed Hawkfrost off herself and when he was still recovering, slashed his belly with unsheathed claws. Growling, he pushed himself off the leaf littered ground. Icewing backed up cautiously, unsure if he was about to pounce. She relaxed, though, as Hawkfrost purred “Nice moves there ‘paw’ but I saw you coming down the tree. Try not to be quite so loud.”

“Like this?” Icewing scrambled up a tree and climbed down as softly as she could.

“Yes,” meowed Hawkfrost. “Now try attacking me.”

Thinking harder this time, Icewing climbed up the tree and waited.

“Hurry up!” Hawkfrost growled.

Icewing didn’t move. Hawkfrost had started circling the tree once again. This time, she silently jumped straight from the branch so as not to give Hawkfrost any kind of warning. Howling, she bit down on Hawkfrost’s back as he jumped into the air to make
her crash. She quickly retaliated and slithered under him, clawing his belly as he landed.

“Excellent,” Hawkfrost meowed. “Now do it again, but try to think of something different.”

Icewing once again went up the tree. This time though, instead of jumping, she successfully got down on the other side of the tree without being heard – where Hawkfrost wasn’t waiting to attack her. Icewing crept up onto Hawkfrost and attacked from behind.

“Sneaky!” Hawkfrost meowed approvingly, “but you didn’t use the tree to your advantage.”

“But I did use it!” retorted Icewing, “I went up it and so when the enemy was preparing for me to jump down onto them, I leaped up onto their back so they got taken by surprise.”

“Excellent thinking!” Eyes narrowing, Hawkfrost growled “However, your enemies may find that attacking you without you being on them is much easier than fighting you when you land actually on their back.”

“But I can always scramble up the tree and land on their backs while they are wondering where I went.”

“ThunderClan knows that trick. We must prepare for that,” Hawkfrost meowed, “You have a sharp and clever mind. Use that to your advantage, too. Let’s see how many more interesting strategies you can think of. More training and less talking!”

And so Icewing crawled up the tree, her muscles aching.

***********

“You know, I think I’m the first RiverClan cat to do tree training – ever.” grumbled Icewing. Her muscles ached and her back was on fire. It would be a miserable day when the sun rose. Hawkfrost’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Wrong, Icewing. I was the first RiverClan cat to climb a tree. But you were the second. Now, go tell Tigerstar I think it’s time.”

That’s just like Hawkfrost – always bragging. It’s time for what, though? thought Icewing as she ran over to Tigerstar to tell him Hawkfrost’s news.

“What’s it time for?” the green-eyed she-cat asked after she delivered her message.

“I can’t tell you!” snapped Tigerstar.

Icewing wanted to ask why, but she knew not to cross Tigerstar when he was grumpy. Still…

All of a sudden, Tigerstar yowled “Next time she visits, one of our apprentices will take her final assessment!”

Would that be her?

A high, reedy voice from the back of the crowd of cats yowled back “Who, might I ask, is this mysterious she-cat? It should be me!”

“And why would I tell you, Breezepelt? Anyways, you’re still not ready,” replied Tigerstar coolly. “I hope you’ll tend to the ‘cat-in-the-brambles,’ as our apprentices kindly call her, next moonrise instead of training with us. Have fun with the mouse bile and changing her moss. She’ll like that. The rest of you, go – oh, and whatever you do, do not go near the clearing where we used to train or I promise I will personally rip out your pelt and use it to line my nest; even my warriors. I am making an exception for Breezepelt because he must go there tomorrow. Now leave me to think for once, instead of helping train you mouse-brained young ‘paws’ to become ‘better warriors’.” And with that impressive speech, Tigerstar bounded off the “Announcement Rock” and away into the forest.

What is the matter with him? Icewing was bewildered. Tigerstar’s never been grumpy enough to threaten to rip out our pelts before. Humph. Who is this mysterious she-cat? Why can’t we go to the old training clearing anymore? So many questions, yet no answers.

Suddenly, Icewing felt a pelt brush hers, then smelled the slightly musty scent that belonged to Ivypool. Ivypool’s scent was a mixture of Dark Forest and ThunderClan, just like hers was a mixture of Dark Forest and RiverClan.

“Icewing, go home. I am warning you, do not fail your warrior assessment or else you may never go back to your clanmates by the lake.” warned the other white she-cat, then she turned and disappeared.

Icewing felt an ominous chill go down her spine at those words. Was Ivypool hinting that she would die if she failed?

Chapter 2

After Feathertail and Spottedleaf found Brambleberry hurt and Mistystar missing and Leopardstar discovered them, there was utter chaos until…

“Silence! Do you want all of StarClan to come rushing here right now?” yowled Leopardstar.

“Leopardstar, Mistystar is missing! Do you know the significance of that!” growled Feathertail. She’s interfering again. she thought, aggravated.

“I know, Feathertail. Calm down. Besides, if we’re too hasty, it could lead to our downfall as well as Mistystar’s,” soothed Leopardstar.

Feathertail thought for a moment. What Leopardstar says makes sense, she concluded. “Who else will help us?”

“No one but us. They will all try to take over, and this is only RiverClan’s business.” Leopardstar meowed.

Feathertail nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Leopardstar. What should we do now?”

Leopardstar narrowed her eyes. “Keep quiet and look for unexpected allies. Make sure they’re at least half RiverClan.”

Why at least half RiverClan? Has Leopardstar gone crazy? thought the silver she-cat. “I’ll do that. I think we should visit Willowshine to tell her what has happened,” meowed Feathertail.

“Yes, I agree. Could you do that? I must go. Crookedstar asked me to come to a meeting of Clan leaders and medicine cats to discuss Brambleberry’s situation.” Leopardstar took off running, her tail streaming out behind her.

Feathertail sighed. Why did Leopardstar always have to take charge? That night she visited Willowshine’s dreams. “Willowshine!”

“Feathertail! Mistystar went to the Moonpool and I went with her and Mothwing but she never woke up! We had to drag her back to camp. Everyone thought she was dead but she was still breathing,” meowed Willowshine in a hurry, “What are we going to do?”

“Her spirit was captured by the Dark Forest. The Dark Forest, or The Place Of No Stars, is where cats that are not accepted by StarClan go after they leave their bodies,” explained Feathertail. “Ask Reedwhisker to temporarily take the leader’s role, but tell him not to change his name to Reedstar as we can not give him nine lives since Mistystar still has all of hers. Don’t forget, Mistystar is still alive.”

“Okay, Feathertail. But how is Mistystar going to escape the Dark Forest?” questioned Willowshine.

“StarClan will rescue her!”

Feathertail’s voice faded away as she hurried back to StarClan’s hunting grounds. When she returned, Leopardstar was waiting for her. Humph.

“Our meeting went very badly,” announced Leopardstar.

“What happened?” asked Feathertail. Nothing could be worse than a hopeless quest into the Dark Forest.

“Crookedstar brought Brambleberry in and he questioned her thoroughly. All we got out of her was that she was walking along the border and got attacked by two cats from the Dark Forest,” meowed Leopardstar, “She doesn’t even remember anything about Mistystar’s capture.”

Feathertail nodded, “We need a plan to rescue her. Mistystar, I mean, not Brambleberry.” Though Brambleberry does need help, thought Feathertail privately. She knew not to cross Leopardstar when she was grumpy or happy, all the same.

Leopardstar thought for a moment, “Let’s go visit the Dark Forest. Come on, lets go now.”

Why now?

The pair padded along silently until they suddenly saw a spotted pelt flash by.

“Greetings, Feathertail, Leopardstar. Did you see Milkfur earlier?” meowed Featherwhisker .

“She was at Four Trees not long ago,” answered Feathertail. Why is he looking for Milkfur now?

“Thanks, I don’t think she knows about what happened to Brambleberry. And after all, she has a right to know since Brambleberry was Milkfur’s apprentice.” Featherwhisker trotted away, tail drooping.

Feathertail remembered that Featherwhisker always had liked Brambleberry. No wonder he was sad.

“Well, we will be looking like that for some time,” commented Feathertail. Leopardstar didn’t answer. They quietly strolled along for a while until they reached the border.

“I guess we’ll go in,” meowed Leopardstar. Not long after, they scented Brokenstar on the slightly musty breeze. Leopardstar tensed. Feathertail crouched. What does he want? she thought.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” purred Brokenstar in a silky voice. “I thought we made it clear StarClan was not allowed here.”

“You said was not allowed. We are allowed because this is not the past, but the present. Yes?” retorted Feathertail.

“A clever tongue, as usual. Now, if you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds, I will gladly let you visit my territory, as that is only fair…Now, get out!” Brokenstar barred his teeth.

Thinking fast, Feathertail meowed “Go ahead. Visit anytime.”

“Feathertail! What you are you thinking?! Since when were you so fish-brained?” interrupted Leopardstar, again. Feathertail silenced her with a glare. Leopardstar returned the glare but did not question her any further.

“Then go ahead and explore all you want.” Brokenstar took off into the dark woods.

“What was that all about?!” hissed Leopardstar, narrowing her eyes.

“Wait. I’ll tell you later,” murmured Feathertail distractedly.

“As you say, Featherstar,” grumbled Leopardstar. Humph. AnnoyingStars all over the place were invading, thought Feathertail grumpily.

“Really! Please stop insulting me! Now can we just get on visiting this place and get out of here? I don’t like it any more than you do!” Exasperated, Feathertail stalked off. With a heavy sigh, Leopardstar followed. Why was Grumpystar always so hostile? thought Feathertail.

“Wait,” Leopardstar halted suddenly, “I smell a familiar scent. Tigerstar!” They spun around in unison to see a large dark brown tabby striding towards them. “The visitors Brokenstar mentioned.” He nodded, “Don’t let me interrupt you. Continue as you please.” Tigerstar disappeared into the shadows.

“He becomes more and more evil every passing moment,” Leopardstar growled.

“No one can deny that,” agreed Feathertail. What makes me think that something is amiss? Those two can never be trusted.

“Humph,” meowed Leopardstar suspiciously. “He sounded like he was up to something.”

“Whenever was he not?” asked Feathertail, “ I wonder if his scheme has something to do with Mistystar’s capture?”

Leopardstar didn’t reply.

************

The two walked off into the forest, following the twisting and turning path. Feathertail’s mind was filled with questions, one after another. Whys and hows and lots of coulds floated around in the air. She was sure that even Leopardstar, who as lost in her own thoughts too, could hear her mind buzzing with questions.
“Feathertail,” Leopardstar voice was tense, “I think we’ve been going around in circles.”
“How come? We’ve been following this path,” replied Feathertail.
“Look at that same gnarled tree trunk. I’m sure we’ve been past it before.”
“Hmm,” meowed Feathertail thoughtfully, “You’re right.”
“I’m going to scratch a cross onto this tree so that way we’ll know if we’ve been here before.” Leopardstar did so.
After a few hundred heartbeats, they came back to the same tree. Feathertail gasped, surprised at how easily they’d been fooled. “We really are going around in circles!” Her voice rose to a wail, “ We’re hopelessly lost in the Dark Forest! Here, were no one would even think about us being in this horrible……place!”

Chapter Three

“What do think we are going to do? Obviously we just don’t follow the path. Now let me lead,” Leopardstar shouldered past Feathertail and growled “Come on!” With a humph, Feathertail followed her leader. Why was Feathertail always so slow? She obviously thought I am a grumpystar, but that doesn’t mean she has to be so grumpy and sharp tongued with me. thought Leopardstar

“Hey! I didn’t see this fork in the path before!” meowed Feathertail excitedly.

“That’s because I’m leading,” grumbled Leopardstar. Really, Feathertail was so cheery she could beat a sparrow singing – that is, if she could sing. She couldn’t sing, only birds and possibly Twolegs could. Then she crashed into a bush.

“Hurry up, Leopardstar! We’re losing our time for exploring!” hissed Feathertail.

Leopardstar didn’t like that and retorted “Well, stop singing like a bird!” With a growl of fury, she turned around and stalked off. She could sense that Feathertail wanted to say something back to her but even she knew better than to start an argument with a leader. Leopardstar felt a stab of self-satisfaction with that small victory of words.

Soon, they reached a clearing filled with cats surrounded by trees. They quickly hid themselves behind two of these disgusting under-growths and peered out from behind them. It seemed like the cats in the clearing were having a meeting of some kind. Some of the faces in the crowd looked familiar, and they scanned them with sharp eyes, gold and blue, to see what cats they knew. Feathertail was the first to spot a Lake cat they knew.

“Look! There’s Icewing with Hawkfrost! They’re training together. I never knew this was happening!” wailed Feathertail, clearly distressed.

“It’s all right. She might be a spy for RiverClan like Ivypool is for ThunderClan”

Feathertail visibly relaxed.

“Let’s continue along. Mistystar is obviously not here,” meowed Leopardstar. She turned and headed off into the shallow undergrowth. With a sigh of exasperation, Feathertail followed. She sniffed, then stiffened. Leopardstar followed suit, and smelled a scent that she had never wanted to smell for the rest of her death years.

“Brokenstar!” she warned. Sure enough, Brokenstar appeared moments later. “Visits are over. I will show you the way out.”

***********

“That was useless!” growled Leopardstar, “and now he can visit our territory! He probably set us up to get lost. That way we can’t learn anything.” Brokenstar was the most obnoxious cat from the forest to the sun-drown place; from the mountains to the lake.

“Just wait. He’ll get his payback.” purred Feathertail.

What was that cat up to?

“You still haven’t told me why you are going to let Brokenstar into our hunting grounds,” reminded Leopardstar. Feathertail was so forgetful she would forget she was on a patrol the minute she left camp.

“He said ‘If you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds.’ Well, that is exactly what I plan on doing. I’ll give him a tour on the most boring and useless places,” Feathertail paused. “I’ll also give long uninteresting lectures. Then I’ll send him out of here like he did to us.”

“Brilliant, Feathertail!” meowed Leopardstar, “Great thinking!” How had Feathertail thought of that? Well, she’d add to that. “Try to somehow get him lost in the most uninteresting place – the island in the middle of the small lake would do. Just make a bridge out of wood and lead him across, then destroy the bridge and swim away.” He’s such a drypaw, she thought in disgust.

“Amazing, Leopardstar!”

Leopardstar was pleased with the praise, but she decided not to say anything. Maybe if Feathertail gave her more compliments, she would make her her personal deputy – for helping the Clans only, of course.

******

“Cats of StarClan!” yowled Willowstar, “Brambleberry has been attacked by one of the Dark Forest. We are suspecting that Tigerstar did the fighting while a different cat dragged someone over the border and is currently holding them hostage. Leopardstar and Feathertail, would you like to speak?”

“We were there, not when the attack happened, but at the aftermath. Feathertail and I do not know who was taken except that they are not from RiverClan.”

Leopardstar felt guilty that she was lying at a Gathering, but she had no choice. She jumped down from Highrock in a graceful leap and meowed “Feathertail, would you like to speak?” Leopardstar meowed. She would probably mess up the whole lie and tell everything that had happened since the attack on Brambleberry and Mistystar.

“ Well, we went into the Dark Forest to investigate the matter…….” A chorus of cats started yowling “What! Why didn’t you tell us? You should have discussed with the rest of StarClan first!”

“I’m sorry but there was not enough time. As I was saying……..”

Feathertail got interrupted again this time by Mossleaf, an old StarClan cat. “Are you not telling us something?” she meowed suspiciously, “Something is missing and without it, your story smells quite fishy.”

“No Mossleaf,” assured Feathertail, “I have told you everything – well, almost everything, and I’m going to tell you the rest of it right now.”

Mossleaf sat down back on her haunches again but kept a glare on her.

“Right,” meowed Feathertail, ignoring Mossleaf, “Brokenstar is going to visit StarClan in return for our visit to their home.”

There was a few collective gasps but no one spoke.

“I plan on giving him a tour of some of the most boring places there are here; like the many different varieties of herbs in StarClan that grow next to the border drop-off. I will need a medicine cat sitting around just to make it convincing” The border drop-off was when the territories just fell into space: the ground just turned right into sky. Of course, StarClan could walk on it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that most cats were just afraid of the sheer drop-off, even though they couldn’t die a second time. Yellowfang’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present.

“I’ll be the medicine cat,” meowed Yellowfang. Feathertail nodded with appreciation. Leopardstar was surprised. Yellowfang was usually much grumpier than even the cat Feathertail called Grumpystar – namely, herself. And, Yellowfang was Brokenstar’s mother. Hmm.

“ Also I will show him WarmRocks and the pond. It would be best to have some cats fishing there. The waterfall will be shown to him also, and best of all, I will make him swim! I’ll tell him he can either swim or be pushed into the water – his choice. Yellowfang will be my backup, since she’ll already be with me, making sure he doesn’t run away.”

Yowls of approval came from the assembled cats.

“We’ll fish,” came the voice of some cats. Feathertail had nodded again. Leopardstar craned her neck to see who had said that.

“Humph,” she muttered.

The cats were all craning their necks and Leopardstar couldn’t see over the heads of the other cats. She felt like a kit. All the other cats were so much taller than her when the ones in front of her were so much taller than her when they were all standing on their hind legs and craning their necks, so she did what they were doing.
“And Leopardstar has one last thing to tell us!” yowled Feathertail over all the cats meowing in a hurry.
Leopardstar gulped “I do?” Did Feathertail want her to tell the cats about THAT? Feathertail gave a little nod as if she knew what Leopardstar was thinking. Leopardstar burned with fury. She was a leader and Feathertail was a mere warrior! She was superior and Feathertail was a servant! Leopardstar humphed again. All eyes were on her now. “Well, Feathertail and I found Tigerstar training cats from the living clans. We suspect the Dark Forest is tricking them into training since we found Blossomfall, Birchfall, Icewing, Ivypool…”

*******

After the Gathering was over, cats clamored around Leopardstar and Feathertail. Is that really true? was the most common question.
“Enough!” yowled Willowstar, “This Gathering is over and will all of you please return to your dens!” Leopardstar headed off to her den but stopped. There was going to be a lot a whispering. Instead, Leopardstar had Feathertail follow her to a secret place where Leopardstar had found when she had just joined StarClan.
“It’s beautiful!” gasped Feathertail.
“Duh,” humphed Leopardstar. They had just walked into a little clearing through a flowering arch. In the middle, was a little pond filled with every kind of fish, and to the back, was a small waterfall. They were surrounded by trees and flowers.
“No one knows about this except for you and me,” meowed Leopardstar proudly, “Now hurry and make your nest.”
“What about you?” asked Feathertail. Leopardstar pointed her tail tip to a small cave whose only entrance was under a willow tree. When Feathertail had finally gathered enough swan feathers, they both headed into the cave. Feathertail gasped. The cave shimmered and sparkled from all the shiny things Leopardstar had put in. The cave was so small, during the day, it was flooded with green light. Leopardstar pointed to a small hole right above her comfy swan feather covered nest.
“You can see the stars,” Leopardstar meowed quietly, “There’s enough room for you to sleep next to me.” Feathertail quickly constructed her nest and laid down and sighed softly. Of course, thought Leopardstar, rolling her eyes. Feathertail is awestruck by the beauty, once again. Then, they both lay down to sleep.

Chapter Four

Icewing woke up, stretched her matted fur and tired muscles, and yawned. It had been a long night.

“What in the name of StarClan happened?” her daughter, Petalfur, shrieked when she got a look at Icewing’s pelt.

“I went night hunting and fell into a hollow full of brambles,” Icewing lied. She felt bad about lying to Petalfur, but she would only tell Mistystar but Mistystar’s spirit was gone somewhere. Or so says Willowshine. And then how would Icewing become a better warrior? Who knew.

“The only bramble hollow is next to the Twoleg place, and there is absolutely no prey there,” meowed Petalfur suspiciously. I don’t blame her. I would be suspicious if my mother claimed she fell into a hollow full of brambles, Icewing thought sadly.

“I got spooked by an owl,” she invented, while she secretly slipped a long thorn into her nest. She wriggled around a bit. This felt just as bad as lying. But what could she do? Tell her daughter she’d been training all night with Tigerstar and Hawkfrost? Petalfur would tell Reedwhisker and then that would be the end of that. Well, she’d just have to hope.

“And there is this!” meowed Petalfur triumphantly, spotting the long thorn and pawing it out of the moss. “You have been sleeping on a thorn!”

“Oh! Thanks for finding that, Petalfur,” Icewing meowed, feigning surprise.

“Petalfur, Icewing! It’s sunhigh all ready and you’re needed on patrol!” Graymist yowled. She was the temporary deputy for RiverClan.

“Coming,” grumbled Icewing. She stood up and shook her fur. As she trotted out of her den, Willowshine walked into camp with a mouthful of catnip and saw Icewing’s scratches. She shrieked, “What in the name of StarClan happened?” She dropped her catnip and raced over to Icewing to examine her scratches. “She…..won’t……go……..on…….ANY…….patrols……..today,” she meowed between licks. Now that the blood was gone, the scratches didn’t look so bad. Icewing followed Willowshine to the den for treatment to her scratches. While Willowshine added patches of marigold and cobweb to them, Icewing told Mothwing what had happened. Even though she was a very convincing liar and had had to lie many times before, Icewing always felt guilty. “I couldn’t sleep and went night hunting,” explained Icewing. “An owl spooked me and I accidently ran into a bramble pit. A thorn stuck on me while I was sleeping and after rolling around, I got these scratches.”

“Hmm. No more night hunting for you. In fact, no more hunting for at least another two sunrises,” meowed Mothwing.

Well, the Dark Forest is still going to keep me training. And besides, I will just be a better, tougher warrior, thought Icewing.

All day, Icewing watched patrols come and go. Even the kits were doing something more exciting than her. When dusk came, Icewing felt that she was ready to face training. Then she remembered. Her warrior assessment. Ivypool had warned her about death. She had always been a reliable friend. Would she be right again?

***********

“There you are, Icewing!” yowled Hawkfrost, “Come over here!” Icewing nervously walked over to where the leaders were standing.
“You must fight one of us and win to become a warrior, but if you fail………” Brokenstar let his threat hang in the air. He bared his teeth and hissed impatiently. “Come on! We haven’t got all night!” Icewing looked around. Hawkfrost looked smug as if he knew his own apprentice wouldn’t attack him. Sadly, I agree with him, Icewing thought. He’s much too good a fighter. Tigerstar was staring around at the rest of the apprentices, but Icewing could feel he had trained at least one eye on her. Darkstripe looked bored and Brokenstar looked menacing. Mapleshade growled at Icewing. Then, in the shadows, Icewing saw a old warrior she had only met once. She couldn’t remember his name. Looking at the red pelt, the name came to her. Bloodfur. Icewing knew who she wanted to fight. But she would wait a little longer, just so she could have the advantage of surprise. Maggottail leered at her and inched forward a step. Time was running out. Snowtuft bunched his muscles for a leap, but before he got the chance, silently, Icewing jumped onto the distracted Bloodfur’s back. I bet he didn’t expect me to attack him! Icewing thought. With a yowl, he rolled onto his back, but not before Icewing bit him on the ear.
Now at least he can’t hear on one side, Icewing thought with satisfaction. But then, as Bloodfur squashed her until she felt that she would suffocate, she realized it was a fight to death. To see if you’re a good enough fighter to take another’s space. And the only way to do that was to kill. Icewing mustered her strength and pushed Bloodfur off her belly. She hooked her hind claws into his belly fur as he flew across the clearing and landed with a thud. Icewing was pulled along, but was in the perfect position to rake his belly. Again and again, Bloodfur yowled in agony. But he wasn’t a warrior for nothing. He tried to bite Icewing on the neck, but she jerked her head out of the way and received a long scratch on her chest. In her moment of weakness, Bloodfur flipped onto his feet and pounced! He stretched out his forelegs and his paws collided with her head. Without hesitation, he jumped onto Icewing’s back and tried to kill her with a bite to the neck. But Icewing sensed this coming and pushed him off her for the second time. Then, spotting a tree three paces away, she raced towards it, then leaped up into its branches. Bloodfur was lying on the ground, moaning, and Icewing realized that this was her chance! She leaped from tree to tree, ignoring the pain in her muscles. When Bloodfur finally realized she had climbed the tree, he began to climb himself, because he knew the Dark Forest had not covered tree fighting for apprentices. Icewing was smart though, and by the time Bloodfur had climbed the tree and searched it, Icewing had made a loop to approach from behind. Looking around, Bloodfur understood Icewing’s plan a second too late. Icewing flew onto him with a mighty THUMP! His claws slipped and he tumbled, ears over tail, out of the tree. Icewing jumped down and landed gracefully on top of Bloodfur. She looked him. Fear flooded his eyes. He was too weak to fight back. Icewing knew she only had one choice. She could not fight any longer. She could barely stand. She looked straight into Bloodfur’s amber eyes, trying to convey three words – I’m sorry, Bloodfur, then bit his throat with the killing bite. Blood poured out of the fatal wound, and his eyes spoke to her. The cats of the dark forest are evil. Do not trust them. They are trying… but before he could tell her what they were trying to do, the light faded from his eyes. Tigerstar looked at her in awe. Hawkfrost proudly meowed, “See, Brokenstar, two apprentices made warriors already and both are alive. More than you can claim.”

Brokenstar glared at Hawkfrost and returned to watching Icewing. In his raspy voice, he growled, “Well, now you are a warrior, Icewing. No doubt about that.”

The apprentices looked at Icewing in fear. She hated terrorizing them. Her eyes sought out Ivypool and found her with the rest of the warriors. Ivypool looked urgently at her.

“Well, go and sit with the warriors,” hissed Mapleshade.

Numb with pain, Icewing went and sat with Ivypool.

“Good job,” she meowed but her voice was tense. What was wrong? Ivypool began to lick Icewing’s fur. Suddenly, Icewing wished Ivypool was from RiverClan. She jerked back.

“Stop,” she meowed, “We are from different clans and we shouldn’t be making this friendship.” With a start, Icewing saw all the other cats looking at her. She had spoken too loudly. “But we are clanmates. Dark Forest clanmates. Since you just proved yourself true to this place, we are now true clanmates,” she continued. “Whoever says otherwise will get ripped to shreds.” She glared at everyone, but inside, she just wanted to forget about the Dark Forest. But no. She also wanted to rip Tigerstar and Mapleshade to shreds. She wanted to wipe out the entire forest, and never see any of these evil cats again.

After the meeting, Hawkfrost caught up with the pair of them. “It is not for you to make such speeches and decisions, but you acted like what I expect all my apprentices to become – menacing, powerful leaders.”
Icewing felt like tearing him apart, but instead she meowed “I just wanted to begin a reputation.”

Hawkfrost nodded and walked away. Ivypool made no comment. They kept on walking until suddenly she veered off the path.

“Ivypool, where are you going?” asked Icewing.

“Somewhere we won’t be overheard,” meowed Ivypool without looking back at Icewing.
Icewing was confused. What was happening? Did Ivypool want to hurt her? Ivypool led Icewing to a bramble thicket.
“In here,” whispered Ivypool.
“What?” asked Icewing loudly.
“Shh! Keep your voice down!” hissed Ivypool. “This way.”

She led Icewing to a little opening in the midst of the thicket where they could see the old training clearing. In the middle was a cage built of thorns so tightly woven that Icewing couldn’t see what was inside. Was this the “cat-in-the-brambles” Tigerstar had mentioned? If there was a cat in there, how could she breathe? Then Icewing noticed little holes for air, big enough for oxygen to get in, but small enough so that even the tiniest kit claws couldn’t fit through. Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather were guarding the thorn cage while Breezepelt threw in two dead, rotten mice and a shrew that looked like crowfood into the cage through a large hole which was immediately covered by thorns again. Whoever was in there must be very weak; that way whoever it was didn’t stand a chance of clawing their way out, much less fighting, even if an apprentice purposefully walked in and let them attack first. Breezepelt went in through the hole and started clearing out moss so dirty it looked like it hadn’t been changed for many moons. Then he grabbed another ball of moss, less dirty but still looking like something else had already used it, and tossed it to the cat and snarled, “Spread that yourself.” Icewing watched, transfixed, as Breezepelt stalked away and the guards resumed their positions. Soon after, Shredtail and Clawface appeared to take Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather’s places. What was happening? Who was under such heavy guard? Icewing looked to Ivypool for answers, but Ivypool only shook her head and whispered, “I don’t know any more than you do, except that this place is always under guard by a dead Dark Forest warrior and that every sunrise, a apprentice will come and feed them that meager meal and every three sunrises, she gets her moss changed. The cat doesn’t even get to use the dirtplace!” Mystified, Icewing watched some more.
“We have to go now, Icewing,” Ivypool meowed, “Meet me at the island at moonhigh tomorrow night. Now that you’re a warrior, you don’t have to come every night.” And with that, Ivypool disappeared and Icewing was left alone. Ivypool was definitely a friend, but what was her secret? Did she know about the true intentions of the dark forest that Bloodfur had hinted at?

Chapter Five

Feathertail waited near the border, her tail twitching with annoyance. She was waiting for Brokenstar to show up so she could take him on the most boring tour of his life. The tour would start at the herb meadow, where she would briefly hand him over to the grumpy Yellowfang, who would show him the herbs (and be quite hostile to him, which she was VERY good at.) Then she would take him to the best place to hunt rabbits, then to Warmrocks. And last of all, she would walk him onto an island using a fallen tree, then leave him there, jump into the water, and swim away while a crew of cats dragged away the tree, leaving Brokenstar trapped on the island until he found the courage to jump into the water and swim to shore.
“Finally!” she grumbled as the dirty tomcat slinked into StarClan’s territory.
“Brokenstar is not here, so I will take his place,” meowed Tigerstar.
Why? There’s something suspicious. Could he know my plan?
“This way, then,” Feathertail led Tigerstar to the Herb Meadow, feeling uneasy. When they had finally trekked through the Marshland, Yellowfang looked up in surprise, “What’s he doing here?” she growled.
“He took Brokenstar’s place,” explained Feathertail, then whispering in Yellowfang’s ear, “He’s up to something. Be careful.”

StarClan’s Rescue (continued)

Prologue
Moonlight washed palely over the border as two she-cats padded softly along. Two pairs of eyes, one ice-blue and another pale amber, blinked in the shadowed undergrowth. The small brown tabby she-cat blinked warmly at the other.
“Greetings.”

“Greetings, Brambleberry. Do you have any particular news you would like to share with me?” The other cat meowed warmly in reply.
“RiverClan is going to have much trouble with Twoleg kits,” the Brambleberry mused. The blue-gray she-cat narrowed her eyes.

“They captured Willowshine when she was out gathering herbs last sunrise.”

Brambleberry nodded. “I saw. Come. Let us sit down here where we will not be
disturbed.” She flicked her tail towards a large rock almost hidden behind a waterfall. The sleek blue-gray she-cat meowed wistfully,“This reminds me of the Tribe of Rushing Water. I had many friends there. But how are we going to get to the rock?”

Purring, Brambleberry replied, “You are RiverClan aren’t you? You swim of course.”

“Under that wall of water, Brambleberry? What are you thinking?”

Brambleberry laid her tail tip gently onto the blue-gray she-cat’s back. “This way. There isn’t as much water pouring down over here.”

The two cats swam over to the rock. Shivering, the blue cat meowed, “It’s chilly over here!”

“I apologize, my friend,” meowed Brambleberry, “Let’s continue walking.”

************

Two cats emerged from the Dark Forest, both dark-brown tabby toms. Together, they silently stalked the two she-cats. The she-cats had no notion that they were being stalked. The two toms looked at one another, reviewing their plan mentally, and nodded. As one, they leaped into the air, one landing on Brambleberry’s shoulders, the other knocking the surprised blue-gray she-cat unconscious.

“Quick, Hawkfrost! Drag her across the border where Brokenstar is waiting to help!” yowled the brown tabby.

Brambleberry shook the cat from the Dark Forest off her shoulders, spraying drops of blood onto the leafy green plants.

“Tigerstar!” she spat, “I should have known!”

Growling, Tigerstar attacked Brambleberry once again. Brambleberry leaped into the air and twisted, sinking her teeth into Tigerstar’s long, matted fur. Tigerstar kicked his hind legs onto Brambleberry’s stomach. Yowling, she tried to get up but Tigerstar held her down and raked her belly until she drifted into unconscious.

******

“Spottedleaf!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “Brambleberry has been attacked!” Spottedleaf rushed to Brambleberry, her carefully collected herbs forgotten in her panic.

“This looks like Tigerstar’s work,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

Feathertail gasped. “Look at those paw prints!” Two pairs of paw prints, both fairly large, led deep into the Dark Forest.

“It looks like they dragged a cat with them!” meowed Spottedleaf, who looked as if she’d been struck by lightning, with her fur standing on end.

“Why would they do that?” wondered Feathertail, “Who did they take?”

Spottedleaf growled “Look!” A pair of ice-blue eyes blinked once and disappeared. Feathertail turned to Spottedleaf.

“Hawkfrost.” Feathertail meowed, furious. “Hawkfrost must have dragged the cat away.”

“But why?” Spottedleaf was shocked.

“I don’t know, but I need you to go get Yellowfang. Quick!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “I don’t know ThunderClan camp as well as you do.” She hoped Spottedleaf would hurry. Brambleberry could die if Yellowfang didn’t come quickly and treated her.

Barely conscious, Brambleberry muttered “Feathertail,” before drifting back into unconsciousness.

“Brambleberry! You’re alive! Who was with you? What happened? Brambleberry, I need to know!” Feathertail meowed, her voice rising. What had happened? Would Brambleberry be all right? What would happen if she never woke up? Would she just…fade? Feathertail didn’t even want to think about it.

She shook Brambleberry. “Brambleberry! Wake up! Please!” Feathertail glanced despairingly over her shoulder to see if Spottedleaf was back yet. They needed a medicine cat, desperately. She began to lick Brambleberry’s pelt to wash all the blood away. Maybe that way she’ll wake up, thought Feathertail.

“Feathertail. Where is she?” murmured Brambleberry.

“Where is who?” meowed Feathertail, hope rising in her chest like a caged bird. Quick paw steps filled the air.

“What happened?” demanded Leapordstar.

“Brambleberry has been attacked and Spottedleaf is going for help.” meowed Feathertail.

“Brambleberry has been attacked?” repeated Leapordstar, dazed.

“Yes and Brambleberry keeps on talking about a she-cat. I was about to get an answer, you know,” Feathertail replied, annoyed. Why did Leapordstar interrupt when she was least wanted or needed? Why couldn’t she go and do something useful for once, instead of just lying around ordering other cats to get her fish? She was new in StarClan, for- well for StarClan’s sake. She should stop ordering cats around and do some work for once.

“Mistystar……gone…….” Brambleberry drifted back into unconsciousness.

Feathertail was confused. Why was Mistystar gone? Where was she? Who took her? She was so aggravated that she yowled to the open sky “What?! Where is the RiverClan leader? Where is she? Where is Mistystar?”

Chapter One
Icewing was back in the forest. The yucky one with the muddy rivers that were as slow as a slug climbing to the old Highstones and the icky, leafless trees that blocked out the sky; not the forest that the ThunderClan and ShadowClan cats lived in – not the one by the lake.

“Hi, Icewing!” came a call from a few paces behind.

“Hello, Ivypool!” she called back. Ivypool was a cat from ThunderClan, and she was really nice, but she always seemed to have something other than training on her mind, meaning she was normally slightly distracted.

“More training, less talking!” growled a voice behind her. Icewing jumped. She turned around and saw Tigerstar stalking out from behind the leafless trees. Ivypool had disappeared.

“Sorry Tigerstar,” Icewing mumbled guiltily; she knew Tigerstar did not take kindly to distractions from experience.

“We are doing tree training today. Come on. The other cats are already assembled.” Tigerstar leaped over a fallen tree towards a clearing. Icewing scrambled over after him.

Tigerstar jumped onto a large rock, easily. “Those ThunderClan fools have been cheating in battle. They climb trees! Are they cats or are they weak little squirrels? We will do tree training too! We will play their own trick against them!” He growled. Tigerstar paused as yowls of approval rang out from the assembled cats beneath him. “We will work in partners! Snowtuft, you are going to be with Hollowflight, Shredtail, you are with Sunstrike, Thistleclaw, with Breezepelt, Ivypool with Blossomfall, Hawkfrost with Icewing, and Brokenstar with Tigerheart. I will be supervising. We are not kits play fighting so unsheathe your claws!”

“Who am I assigned to?” meowed a voice from the crowd of cats.

Tigerstar narrowed his eyes. “You were beaten by an apprentice,” he spat, “You do not deserve to train any cats until you have proven yourself worthy again, Darkstripe!”

“Come Icewing! We haven’t got all night!” Hawkfrost beckoned Icewing other to a twisted, gnarled tree with his tail. “You’re going to climb first and try to attack me as you jump. Got it?”

Icewing nodded. RiverClan has never climbed trees, she thought rebelliously. But another part of her mind said this is going to make me the best warrior I can be. She told herself firmly that again as she strained her hind leg muscles to push herself up the tree. Hawkfrost circled around impatiently. Quietly, Icewing tiptoed down the tree trunk half way and bunched her muscles in preparation for the spring. She landed squarely on Hawkfrost’s shoulders, yowling in triumph. But her triumph turned to confusion when Hawkfrost rolled over and smashed her to the ground. Thinking quickly, Icewing pushed Hawkfrost off herself and when he was still recovering, slashed his belly with unsheathed claws. Growling, he pushed himself off the leaf littered ground. Icewing backed up cautiously, unsure if he was about to pounce. She relaxed, though, as Hawkfrost purred “Nice moves there ‘paw’ but I saw you coming down the tree. Try not to be quite so loud.”

“Like this?” Icewing scrambled up a tree and climbed down as softly as she could.

“Yes,” meowed Hawkfrost. “Now try attacking me.”

Thinking harder this time, Icewing climbed up the tree and waited.

“Hurry up!” Hawkfrost growled.

Icewing didn’t move. Hawkfrost had started circling the tree once again. This time, she silently jumped straight from the branch so as not to give Hawkfrost any kind of warning. Howling, she bit down on Hawkfrost’s back as he jumped into the air to make
her crash. She quickly retaliated and slithered under him, clawing his belly as he landed.

“Excellent,” Hawkfrost meowed. “Now do it again, but try to think of something different.”

Icewing once again went up the tree. This time though, instead of jumping, she successfully got down on the other side of the tree without being heard – where Hawkfrost wasn’t waiting to attack her. Icewing crept up onto Hawkfrost and attacked from behind.

“Sneaky!” Hawkfrost meowed approvingly, “but you didn’t use the tree to your advantage.”

“But I did use it!” retorted Icewing, “I went up it and so when the enemy was preparing for me to jump down onto them, I leaped up onto their back so they got taken by surprise.”

“Excellent thinking!” Eyes narrowing, Hawkfrost growled “However, your enemies may find that attacking you without you being on them is much easier than fighting you when you land actually on their back.”

“But I can always scramble up the tree and land on their backs while they are wondering where I went.”

“ThunderClan knows that trick. We must prepare for that,” Hawkfrost meowed, “You have a sharp and clever mind. Use that to your advantage, too. Let’s see how many more interesting strategies you can think of. More training and less talking!”

And so Icewing crawled up the tree, her muscles aching.

***********

“You know, I think I’m the first RiverClan cat to do tree training – ever.” grumbled Icewing. Her muscles ached and her back was on fire. It would be a miserable day when the sun rose. Hawkfrost’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Wrong, Icewing. I was the first RiverClan cat to climb a tree. But you were the second. Now, go tell Tigerstar I think it’s time.”

That’s just like Hawkfrost – always bragging. It’s time for what, though? thought Icewing as she ran over to Tigerstar to tell him Hawkfrost’s news.

“What’s it time for?” the green-eyed she-cat asked after she delivered her message.

“I can’t tell you!” snapped Tigerstar.

Icewing wanted to ask why, but she knew not to cross Tigerstar when he was grumpy. Still…

All of a sudden, Tigerstar yowled “Next time she visits, one of our apprentices will take her final assessment!”

Would that be her?

A high, reedy voice from the back of the crowd of cats yowled back “Who, might I ask, is this mysterious she-cat? It should be me!”

“And why would I tell you, Breezepelt? Anyways, you’re still not ready,” replied Tigerstar coolly. “I hope you’ll tend to the ‘cat-in-the-brambles,’ as our apprentices kindly call her, next moonrise instead of training with us. Have fun with the mouse bile and changing her moss. She’ll like that. The rest of you, go – oh, and whatever you do, do not go near the clearing where we used to train or I promise I will personally rip out your pelt and use it to line my nest; even my warriors. I am making an exception for Breezepelt because he must go there tomorrow. Now leave me to think for once, instead of helping train you mouse-brained young ‘paws’ to become ‘better warriors’.” And with that impressive speech, Tigerstar bounded off the “Announcement Rock” and away into the forest.

What is the matter with him? Icewing was bewildered. Tigerstar’s never been grumpy enough to threaten to rip out our pelts before. Humph. Who is this mysterious she-cat? Why can’t we go to the old training clearing anymore? So many questions, yet no answers.

Suddenly, Icewing felt a pelt brush hers, then smelled the slightly musty scent that belonged to Ivypool. Ivypool’s scent was a mixture of Dark Forest and ThunderClan, just like hers was a mixture of Dark Forest and RiverClan.

“Icewing, go home. I am warning you, do not fail your warrior assessment or else you may never go back to your clanmates by the lake.” warned the other white she-cat, then she turned and disappeared.

Icewing felt an ominous chill go down her spine at those words. Was Ivypool hinting that she would die if she failed?

Chapter 2

After Feathertail and Spottedleaf found Brambleberry hurt and Mistystar missing and Leopardstar discovered them, there was utter chaos until…

“Silence! Do you want all of StarClan to come rushing here right now?” yowled Leopardstar.

“Leopardstar, Mistystar is missing! Do you know the significance of that!” growled Feathertail. She’s interfering again. she thought, aggravated.

“I know, Feathertail. Calm down. Besides, if we’re too hasty, it could lead to our downfall as well as Mistystar’s,” soothed Leopardstar.

Feathertail thought for a moment. What Leopardstar says makes sense, she concluded. “Who else will help us?”

“No one but us. They will all try to take over, and this is only RiverClan’s business.” Leopardstar meowed.

Feathertail nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Leopardstar. What should we do now?”

Leopardstar narrowed her eyes. “Keep quiet and look for unexpected allies. Make sure they’re at least half RiverClan.”

Why at least half RiverClan? Has Leopardstar gone crazy? thought the silver she-cat. “I’ll do that. I think we should visit Willowshine to tell her what has happened,” meowed Feathertail.

“Yes, I agree. Could you do that? I must go. Crookedstar asked me to come to a meeting of Clan leaders and medicine cats to discuss Brambleberry’s situation.” Leopardstar took off running, her tail streaming out behind her.

Feathertail sighed. Why did Leopardstar always have to take charge? That night she visited Willowshine’s dreams. “Willowshine!”

“Feathertail! Mistystar went to the Moonpool and I went with her and Mothwing but she never woke up! We had to drag her back to camp. Everyone thought she was dead but she was still breathing,” meowed Willowshine in a hurry, “What are we going to do?”

“Her spirit was captured by the Dark Forest. The Dark Forest, or The Place Of No Stars, is where cats that are not accepted by StarClan go after they leave their bodies,” explained Feathertail. “Ask Reedwhisker to temporarily take the leader’s role, but tell him not to change his name to Reedstar as we can not give him nine lives since Mistystar still has all of hers. Don’t forget, Mistystar is still alive.”

“Okay, Feathertail. But how is Mistystar going to escape the Dark Forest?” questioned Willowshine.

“StarClan will rescue her!”

Feathertail’s voice faded away as she hurried back to StarClan’s hunting grounds. When she returned, Leopardstar was waiting for her. Humph.

“Our meeting went very badly,” announced Leopardstar.

“What happened?” asked Feathertail. Nothing could be worse than a hopeless quest into the Dark Forest.

“Crookedstar brought Brambleberry in and he questioned her thoroughly. All we got out of her was that she was walking along the border and got attacked by two cats from the Dark Forest,” meowed Leopardstar, “She doesn’t even remember anything about Mistystar’s capture.”

Feathertail nodded, “We need a plan to rescue her. Mistystar, I mean, not Brambleberry.” Though Brambleberry does need help, thought Feathertail privately. She knew not to cross Leopardstar when she was grumpy or happy, all the same.

Leopardstar thought for a moment, “Let’s go visit the Dark Forest. Come on, lets go now.”

Why now?

The pair padded along silently until they suddenly saw a spotted pelt flash by.

“Greetings, Feathertail, Leopardstar. Did you see Milkfur earlier?” meowed Featherwhisker .

“She was at Four Trees not long ago,” answered Feathertail. Why is he looking for Milkfur now?

“Thanks, I don’t think she knows about what happened to Brambleberry. And after all, she has a right to know since Brambleberry was Milkfur’s apprentice.” Featherwhisker trotted away, tail drooping.

Feathertail remembered that Featherwhisker always had liked Brambleberry. No wonder he was sad.

“Well, we will be looking like that for some time,” commented Feathertail. Leopardstar didn’t answer. They quietly strolled along for a while until they reached the border.

“I guess we’ll go in,” meowed Leopardstar. Not long after, they scented Brokenstar on the slightly musty breeze. Leopardstar tensed. Feathertail crouched. What does he want? she thought.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” purred Brokenstar in a silky voice. “I thought we made it clear StarClan was not allowed here.”

“You said was not allowed. We are allowed because this is not the past, but the present. Yes?” retorted Feathertail.

“A clever tongue, as usual. Now, if you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds, I will gladly let you visit my territory, as that is only fair…Now, get out!” Brokenstar barred his teeth.

Thinking fast, Feathertail meowed “Go ahead. Visit anytime.”

“Feathertail! What you are you thinking?! Since when were you so fish-brained?” interrupted Leopardstar, again. Feathertail silenced her with a glare. Leopardstar returned the glare but did not question her any further.

“Then go ahead and explore all you want.” Brokenstar took off into the dark woods.

“What was that all about?!” hissed Leopardstar, narrowing her eyes.

“Wait. I’ll tell you later,” murmured Feathertail distractedly.

“As you say, Featherstar,” grumbled Leopardstar. Humph. AnnoyingStars all over the place were invading, thought Feathertail grumpily.

“Really! Please stop insulting me! Now can we just get on visiting this place and get out of here? I don’t like it any more than you do!” Exasperated, Feathertail stalked off. With a heavy sigh, Leopardstar followed. Why was Grumpystar always so hostile? thought Feathertail.

“Wait,” Leopardstar halted suddenly, “I smell a familiar scent. Tigerstar!” They spun around in unison to see a large dark brown tabby striding towards them. “The visitors Brokenstar mentioned.” He nodded, “Don’t let me interrupt you. Continue as you please.” Tigerstar disappeared into the shadows.

“He becomes more and more evil every passing moment,” Leopardstar growled.

“No one can deny that,” agreed Feathertail. What makes me think that something is amiss? Those two can never be trusted.

“Humph,” meowed Leopardstar suspiciously. “He sounded like he was up to something.”

“Whenever was he not?” asked Feathertail, “ I wonder if his scheme has something to do with Mistystar’s capture?”

Leopardstar didn’t reply.

************

The two walked off into the forest, following the twisting and turning path. Feathertail’s mind was filled with questions, one after another. Whys and hows and lots of coulds floated around in the air. She was sure that even Leopardstar, who as lost in her own thoughts too, could hear her mind buzzing with questions.
“Feathertail,” Leopardstar voice was tense, “I think we’ve been going around in circles.”
“How come? We’ve been following this path,” replied Feathertail.
“Look at that same gnarled tree trunk. I’m sure we’ve been past it before.”
“Hmm,” meowed Feathertail thoughtfully, “You’re right.”
“I’m going to scratch a cross onto this tree so that way we’ll know if we’ve been here before.” Leopardstar did so.
After a few hundred heartbeats, they came back to the same tree. Feathertail gasped, surprised at how easily they’d been fooled. “We really are going around in circles!” Her voice rose to a wail, “ We’re hopelessly lost in the Dark Forest! Here, were no one would even think about us being in this horrible……place!”

Chapter Three

“What do think we are going to do? Obviously we just don’t follow the path. Now let me lead,” Leopardstar shouldered past Feathertail and growled “Come on!” With a humph, Feathertail followed her leader. Why was Feathertail always so slow? She obviously thought I am a grumpystar, but that doesn’t mean she has to be so grumpy and sharp tongued with me. thought Leopardstar

“Hey! I didn’t see this fork in the path before!” meowed Feathertail excitedly.

“That’s because I’m leading,” grumbled Leopardstar. Really, Feathertail was so cheery she could beat a sparrow singing – that is, if she could sing. She couldn’t sing, only birds and possibly Twolegs could. Then she crashed into a bush.

“Hurry up, Leopardstar! We’re losing our time for exploring!” hissed Feathertail.

Leopardstar didn’t like that and retorted “Well, stop singing like a bird!” With a growl of fury, she turned around and stalked off. She could sense that Feathertail wanted to say something back to her but even she knew better than to start an argument with a leader. Leopardstar felt a stab of self-satisfaction with that small victory of words.

Soon, they reached a clearing filled with cats surrounded by trees. They quickly hid themselves behind two of these disgusting under-growths and peered out from behind them. It seemed like the cats in the clearing were having a meeting of some kind. Some of the faces in the crowd looked familiar, and they scanned them with sharp eyes, gold and blue, to see what cats they knew. Feathertail was the first to spot a Lake cat they knew.

“Look! There’s Icewing with Hawkfrost! They’re training together. I never knew this was happening!” wailed Feathertail, clearly distressed.

“It’s all right. She might be a spy for RiverClan like Ivypool is for ThunderClan”

Feathertail visibly relaxed.

“Let’s continue along. Mistystar is obviously not here,” meowed Leopardstar. She turned and headed off into the shallow undergrowth. With a sigh of exasperation, Feathertail followed. She sniffed, then stiffened. Leopardstar followed suit, and smelled a scent that she had never wanted to smell for the rest of her death years.

“Brokenstar!” she warned. Sure enough, Brokenstar appeared moments later. “Visits are over. I will show you the way out.”

***********

“That was useless!” growled Leopardstar, “and now he can visit our territory! He probably set us up to get lost. That way we can’t learn anything.” Brokenstar was the most obnoxious cat from the forest to the sun-drown place; from the mountains to the lake.

“Just wait. He’ll get his payback.” purred Feathertail.

What was that cat up to?

“You still haven’t told me why you are going to let Brokenstar into our hunting grounds,” reminded Leopardstar. Feathertail was so forgetful she would forget she was on a patrol the minute she left camp.

“He said ‘If you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds.’ Well, that is exactly what I plan on doing. I’ll give him a tour on the most boring and useless places,” Feathertail paused. “I’ll also give long uninteresting lectures. Then I’ll send him out of here like he did to us.”

“Brilliant, Feathertail!” meowed Leopardstar, “Great thinking!” How had Feathertail thought of that? Well, she’d add to that. “Try to somehow get him lost in the most uninteresting place – the island in the middle of the small lake would do. Just make a bridge out of wood and lead him across, then destroy the bridge and swim away.” He’s such a drypaw, she thought in disgust.

“Amazing, Leopardstar!”

Leopardstar was pleased with the praise, but she decided not to say anything. Maybe if Feathertail gave her more compliments, she would make her her personal deputy – for helping the Clans only, of course.

******

“Cats of StarClan!” yowled Willowstar, “Brambleberry has been attacked by one of the Dark Forest. We are suspecting that Tigerstar did the fighting while a different cat dragged someone over the border and is currently holding them hostage. Leopardstar and Feathertail, would you like to speak?”

“We were there, not when the attack happened, but at the aftermath. Feathertail and I do not know who was taken except that they are not from RiverClan.”

Leopardstar felt guilty that she was lying at a Gathering, but she had no choice. She jumped down from Highrock in a graceful leap and meowed “Feathertail, would you like to speak?” Leopardstar meowed. She would probably mess up the whole lie and tell everything that had happened since the attack on Brambleberry and Mistystar.

“ Well, we went into the Dark Forest to investigate the matter…….” A chorus of cats started yowling “What! Why didn’t you tell us? You should have discussed with the rest of StarClan first!”

“I’m sorry but there was not enough time. As I was saying……..”

Feathertail got interrupted again this time by Mossleaf, an old StarClan cat. “Are you not telling us something?” she meowed suspiciously, “Something is missing and without it, your story smells quite fishy.”

“No Mossleaf,” assured Feathertail, “I have told you everything – well, almost everything, and I’m going to tell you the rest of it right now.”

Mossleaf sat down back on her haunches again but kept a glare on her.

“Right,” meowed Feathertail, ignoring Mossleaf, “Brokenstar is going to visit StarClan in return for our visit to their home.”

There was a few collective gasps but no one spoke.

“I plan on giving him a tour of some of the most boring places there are here; like the many different varieties of herbs in StarClan that grow next to the border drop-off. I will need a medicine cat sitting around just to make it convincing” The border drop-off was when the territories just fell into space: the ground just turned right into sky. Of course, StarClan could walk on it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that most cats were just afraid of the sheer drop-off, even though they couldn’t die a second time. Yellowfang’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present.

“I’ll be the medicine cat,” meowed Yellowfang. Feathertail nodded with appreciation. Leopardstar was surprised. Yellowfang was usually much grumpier than even the cat Feathertail called Grumpystar – namely, herself. And, Yellowfang was Brokenstar’s mother. Hmm.

“ Also I will show him WarmRocks and the pond. It would be best to have some cats fishing there. The waterfall will be shown to him also, and best of all, I will make him swim! I’ll tell him he can either swim or be pushed into the water – his choice. Yellowfang will be my backup, since she’ll already be with me, making sure he doesn’t run away.”

Yowls of approval came from the assembled cats.

“We’ll fish,” came the voice of some cats. Feathertail had nodded again. Leopardstar craned her neck to see who had said that.

“Humph,” she muttered.

The cats were all craning their necks and Leopardstar couldn’t see over the heads of the other cats. She felt like a kit. All the other cats were so much taller than her when the ones in front of her were so much taller than her when they were all standing on their hind legs and craning their necks, so she did what they were doing.
“And Leopardstar has one last thing to tell us!” yowled Feathertail over all the cats meowing in a hurry.
Leopardstar gulped “I do?” Did Feathertail want her to tell the cats about THAT? Feathertail gave a little nod as if she knew what Leopardstar was thinking. Leopardstar burned with fury. She was a leader and Feathertail was a mere warrior! She was superior and Feathertail was a servant! Leopardstar humphed again. All eyes were on her now. “Well, Feathertail and I found Tigerstar training cats from the living clans. We suspect the Dark Forest is tricking them into training since we found Blossomfall, Birchfall, Icewing, Ivypool…”

*******

After the Gathering was over, cats clamored around Leopardstar and Feathertail. Is that really true? was the most common question.
“Enough!” yowled Willowstar, “This Gathering is over and will all of you please return to your dens!” Leopardstar headed off to her den but stopped. There was going to be a lot a whispering. Instead, Leopardstar had Feathertail follow her to a secret place where Leopardstar had found when she had just joined StarClan.
“It’s beautiful!” gasped Feathertail.
“Duh,” humphed Leopardstar. They had just walked into a little clearing through a flowering arch. In the middle, was a little pond filled with every kind of fish, and to the back, was a small waterfall. They were surrounded by trees and flowers.
“No one knows about this except for you and me,” meowed Leopardstar proudly, “Now hurry and make your nest.”
“What about you?” asked Feathertail. Leopardstar pointed her tail tip to a small cave whose only entrance was under a willow tree. When Feathertail had finally gathered enough swan feathers, they both headed into the cave. Feathertail gasped. The cave shimmered and sparkled from all the shiny things Leopardstar had put in. The cave was so small, during the day, it was flooded with green light. Leopardstar pointed to a small hole right above her comfy swan feather covered nest.
“You can see the stars,” Leopardstar meowed quietly, “There’s enough room for you to sleep next to me.” Feathertail quickly constructed her nest and laid down and sighed softly. Of course, thought Leopardstar, rolling her eyes. Feathertail is awestruck by the beauty, once again. Then, they both lay down to sleep.

Chapter Four

Icewing woke up, stretched her matted fur and tired muscles, and yawned. It had been a long night.

“What in the name of StarClan happened?” her daughter, Petalfur, shrieked when she got a look at Icewing’s pelt.

“I went night hunting and fell into a hollow full of brambles,” Icewing lied. She felt bad about lying to Petalfur, but she would only tell Mistystar but Mistystar’s spirit was gone somewhere. Or so says Willowshine. And then how would Icewing become a better warrior? Who knew.

“The only bramble hollow is next to the Twoleg place, and there is absolutely no prey there,” meowed Petalfur suspiciously. I don’t blame her. I would be suspicious if my mother claimed she fell into a hollow full of brambles, Icewing thought sadly.

“I got spooked by an owl,” she invented, while she secretly slipped a long thorn into her nest. She wriggled around a bit. This felt just as bad as lying. But what could she do? Tell her daughter she’d been training all night with Tigerstar and Hawkfrost? Petalfur would tell Reedwhisker and then that would be the end of that. Well, she’d just have to hope.

“And there is this!” meowed Petalfur triumphantly, spotting the long thorn and pawing it out of the moss. “You have been sleeping on a thorn!”

“Oh! Thanks for finding that, Petalfur,” Icewing meowed, feigning surprise.

“Petalfur, Icewing! It’s Sunhigh already and you’re needed on patrol!” Graymist yowled. She was the temporary deputy for RiverClan.

“Coming,” grumbled Icewing. She stood up and shook her fur. As she trotted out of her den, Willowshine just happened to walk into camp and see Icewing’s scratches. She shrieked “What in the name of StarClan happened?” Willowshine dropped her herbs she had collected to look at Icewing. “She…..Won’t……Be……..On…….Any…….Patrols……..Today……” she meowed in between licks. Now that the blood was gone, the scratches didn’t look so bad. Icewing followed Willowshine to the medicine cat den. While Willowshine added patches of Marigold and cobweb to her scratches, Icewing told Mothwing what happened. Even though she was a very convincing liar and had had to lie many times before, Icewing always felt guilty. “I couldn’t sleep and went night hunting,” explained Icewing, “An owl spooked me and I accidently ran into a bramble pit. A thorn stuck on me while I was sleeping and after rolling around, I got these scratches.”

“Hmm. No more night hunting for you. In fact, no more hunting for at least another two sunrises,” meowed Mothwing.

Well, the Dark Forest is still going to keep me training. And besides, I will just be a better, tougher warrior, thought Icewing.

All day, Icewing watched patrols come and go. Even the kits were doing something more exciting than her. When dusk came, Icewing felt that she was ready to face training. Then she remembered. Her warrior assessment. Ivypool had warned her about death. She had always been a reliable friend. Would she be right again?

***********

“There you are Icewing!” yowled Hawkfrost, “Come over here!” Icewing nervously walked over to where the leaders were standing.
“You must fight one of us and win to become a warrior, if you fail………” Brokenstar let his threat hang in the air. He bared his teeth and hissed impatiently, “Come on! We haven’t got all night!” Icewing looked around. Hawkfrost looked smug as if he knew his own apprentice wouldn’t attack him. Sadly, I agree with him, Icewing thought, he’s much too good of a fighter. Tigerstar was staring around at the rest of the apprentices but Icewing could feel he had trained at least one eye on her. Darkstripe looked bored and Brokenstar looked menacing. Mapleshade growled at Icewing. Then, in the shadows, Icewing saw a old warrior she had only met once. Icewing couldn’t remember his name. Looking at the red pelt, the name came to her, Bloodfur. Icewing knew whom she wanted to fight. But, she would wait a little longer, just so she could have the advantage of surprise. Maggottail leered at her and inched forward a step. Time was running out. Snowtuft bunched his muscles for a leap, but before he got the chance, silently, Icewing jumped onto the distracted Bloodfur’s back. I bet he didn’t expect me to attack him! Icewing thought. With a yowl, he rolled onto his back but not before a bite on the ear.
Now at least he can’t hear on one side, Icewing thought with satisfaction. But then, as Bloodfur squashed her until Icewing felt that she was suffocate, she realized it was a fight to death. To see if you’re a good enough fighter to take another’s space. And the only way to do that was to kill. Icewing used as much strength as she could muster and pushed Bloodfur off her back. Icewing hooked her hind claws into Bloodfur’s belly fur as he flew across the clearing and landed with a thud. Icewing was pulled along too but was in the perfect position to rake his belly. Again and again, Bloodfur yowled in agony. But he wasn’t a warrior for nothing. Bloodfur bit Icewing on the neck but Icewing jerked her head head out of the way and received a long scratch on her chest. In her moment of weakness, Bloodfur rolled over and pounced. He caught his paws on the back of her head, knocking her forward. Without hesitation, Bloodfur jumped onto Icewing’s back and tried to kill her with a bite to the neck. But Icewing sensed this coming and seeing a tree next to her, staggered over and crushed him against it. Ever so quickly, Icewing scrambled up the tree and the dazed Bloodfur was momentarily confused where she had gone. Icewing jumped from tree to tree, ignoring the pain in her muscles. When Bloodfur finally realized she had climbed the tree, he began to climb himself, as he knew the Dark Forest had not covered on tree fighting. That was for warriors only. Icewing was smart though, and by the time Bloodfur had climbed the tree and searched it, Icewing had made a loop to approach from behind. Looking around, Bloodfur understood Icewing’s plan a second too late. Icewing flew onto him with a mighty THUMP. He bowled over and fell from the tree. Icewing jumped down gracefully on top of Bloodfur. She looked him. Fear flooded his eyes. He was too weak to fight back. Icewing knew she only had one choice. She could not fight any longer. In fact, she could barely stand. Icewing bit Bloodfur’s throat with the killing bite. He writhed around in his own blood before fading away forever. Tigerstar looked at her in awe. Hawkfrost proudly meowed “See, Brokenstar, two apprentices made warriors already and both are alive. More than you can claim.”

Brokenstar glared at Hawkfrost and returned to watching Icewing. In his raspy voice, he growled, “Well now you are a warrior. No doubt about that.”

The apprentices looked at Icewing in fear. She hated terrorizing them. Her eyes sought out Ivypool and found her with the rest of the warriors. Ivypool looked at her urgently.

“Well, go and sit with the warriors,” hissed Mapleshade.

Numb with pain, Icewing went and sat with Ivypool.

“Good job,” she meowed but her voice was tense. What was wrong? Ivypool began to lick Icewing’s fur. Suddenly, Icewing wished Ivypool was from RiverClan. She jerked back.

“Stop,” she meowed, “We are from different clans and we shouldn’t be making this friendship.” With a start, Icewing saw all the other cats looking at her. She had spoken too loudly. “But we are clanmates. Dark Forest clanmates. Since you just proved yourself true to this place, we are now true clanmates,” Ivypool announced, “Whoever says otherwise will get ripped to shreds by me, personally,” she glared at everyone.

After the meeting, Hawkfrost caught up with the pair of them, “It is not for you to make such speeches and decisions but you acted like what I expect all my apprentices to become, menacing, powerful leaders.”
Ivypool made no comment. They kept on walking until suddenly Ivypool veered off the path.

“Ivypool, where are you going?” asked Icewing.

“Somewhere where we won’t be overheard,” meowed Ivypool without looking back at Icewing.
Icewing was confused. What was happening? Did Ivypool want to hurt her? Ivypool led Icewing to a bramble thicket.
“In here,” whispered Ivypool.
“What?” asked Icewing loudly.
“Shh! Keep you voice down!” hissed Ivypool, “This way.” She led Icewing to a little opening in the midst of the thicket where they could see the old training clearing. In the middle, was a cage built of thorns so tightly woven that Icewing couldn’t see what was inside. Was this the “cat-in-the-brambles” Tigerstar mentioned? If there was a cat in there, how could she breath? Then Icewing noticed little holes for air but it was so heavily guarded by thorns that a cat would have no chance of clawing through. Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather were guarding the thorn cage while Breezepelt threw in two dead, rotten mice and a shrew that looked like crowfood into the thorn cage through a large hole which was immediately covered by thorns again. Whoever was in there must be very weak and that way she couldn’t stand a chance of clawing her way out, much less fighting even if an apprentice purposely walked in and let her attack first. Breezepelt went in through the hole and started clearing out moss so dirty it looked like it hadn’t been cleaned for many moons. Breezepelt grabbed another ball of moss, less dirty but it looked like something others had already used, and tossed it to the cat and snarled, “Spread that yourself.” Icewing watched, transfixed as Breezepelt stalked away and the guards resumed their positions. Soon after, Shredtail and Clawface appeared to take Thistleclaw and Sparrowfeather’s place. What was happening? Who was under such heavy guard? Icewing looked to Ivypool for answers but Ivypool only shook her head and whispered, “I don’t know any more than you do except that this place is always under guard by a dead Dark Forest warrior and that every sunrise, a apprentice will come and feed her that meager meal and every three sunrises, she gets her dirt changed. The cat doesn’t even get to use the dirt place!” Mystified, Icewing watched some more.
“We have to go now, Icewing,” Ivypool meowed, “Meet me at the island at moonhigh tomorrow night. Now that you’re a warrior, you don’t have to come every night.” And with that, Ivypool disappeared and Icewing was left alone. Ivypool was definitely a friend, but what was her secret?

StarClan’s Rescue (Warrior series; super edition)

Prologue

    Moonlight washed palely over the border as two she-cats padded softly along. Two pairs of eyes, one ice-blue and another pale amber, blinked in the shadowed undergrowth. The small brown tabby she-cat blinked warmly at the other.
    “Greetings.”

“Greetings, Brambleberry. Do you have any particular news you would like to share with me?” The other cat meowed warmly in reply.

    “RiverClan is going to have much trouble with Twoleg kits,” the Brambleberry mused. The blue-gray she-cat narrowed her eyes.    

“They captured Willowshine when she was out gathering herbs last sunrise.”

Brambleberry nodded. “I saw. Come. Let us sit down here where we will not be

disturbed.” She flicked her tail towards a large rock almost hidden behind a waterfall. The sleek blue-gray she-cat meowed wistfully,“This reminds me of the Tribe of Rushing Water. I had many friends there. But how are we going to get to the rock?”

Purring, Brambleberry replied, “You are RiverClan aren’t you? You swim of course.”

“Under that wall of water, Brambleberry? What are you thinking?”

Brambleberry laid her tail tip gently onto the blue-gray she-cat’s back. “This way. There isn’t as much water pouring down over here.”

The two cats swam over to the rock. Shivering, the blue cat meowed, “It’s chilly over here!”

“I apologize, my friend,”  meowed Brambleberry, “Let’s continue walking.”

   

************

Two cats emerged from the Dark Forest, both dark-brown tabby toms. Together, they silently stalked the two she-cats. The she-cats had no notion that they were being stalked. The two toms looked at one another, reviewing their plan mentally, and nodded. As one, they leaped into the air, one landing on Brambleberry’s shoulders, the other knocking the surprised blue-gray she-cat unconscious.

“Quick, Hawkfrost! Drag her across the border where Brokenstar is waiting to help!” yowled the brown tabby.

Brambleberry shook the cat from the Dark Forest off her shoulders, spraying drops of blood onto the leafy green plants.

“Tigerstar!” she spat, “I should have known!”

Growling, Tigerstar attacked Brambleberry once again. Brambleberry leaped into the air and twisted, sinking her teeth into Tigerstar’s long, matted fur. Tigerstar kicked his hind legs onto Brambleberry’s stomach. Yowling, she tried to get up but Tigerstar held her down and raked her belly until she drifted into unconscious.

   
                             ******

“Spottedleaf!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “Brambleberry has been attacked!” Spottedleaf rushed to Brambleberry, her carefully collected herbs forgotten in her panic.

“This looks like Tigerstar’s work,” she hissed, narrowing her eyes.

Feathertail gasped. “Look at those paw prints!” Two pairs of paw prints, both fairly large, lead deep into the Dark Forest.

“It looks like they dragged a cat with them!” meowed Spottedleaf, who looked as if she’d been struck by lightning, with her fur standing on end.

“Why would they do that?” wondered Feathertail, “Who did they take?”

Spottedleaf growled “Look!” A pair of ice-blue eyes blinked once and disappeared. Feathertail turned to Spottedleaf.

“Hawkfrost.” Feathertail meowed, furious. “Hawkfrost must have dragged the cat away.”

“But why?” Spottedleaf was shocked.

“I don’t know, but I need you to go get Yellowfang. Quick!” meowed Feathertail urgently, “I don’t know ThunderClan camp as well as you do.” She hoped Spottedleaf would hurry. Brambleberry could die if Yellowfang didn’t come quickly and treated her.

Barely conscious, Brambleberry muttered “Feathertail,” before drifting back into unconsciousness.

“Brambleberry! You’re alive! Who was with you? What happened? Brambleberry, I need to know!” Feathertail meowed, her voice rising. What had happened? Would Brambleberry be all right? What would happen if she never woke up? Would she just…fade? Feathertail didn’t even want to think about it.

She shook Brambleberry.  “Brambleberry! Wake up! Please!” Feathertail glanced despairingly over her shoulder to see if Spottedleaf was back yet. They needed a medicine cat, desperately. She began to lick Brambleberry’s pelt to wash all the blood away. Maybe that way she’ll wake up, thought Feathertail.

“Feathertail. Where is she?” murmured Brambleberry.

“Where is who?” meowed Feathertail, hope rising in her chest like a caged bird. Quick paw steps filled the air.

“What happened?” demanded Leapordstar.

“Brambleberry has been attacked and Spottedleaf is going for help.” meowed Feathertail.

“Brambleberry has been attacked?” repeated Leapordstar, dazed.

“Yes and Brambleberry keeps on talking about a she-cat. I was about to get an answer, you know,” Feathertail replied, annoyed. Why did Leapordstar interrupt when she was least wanted or needed? Why couldn’t she go and do something useful for once, instead of just lying around ordering other cats to get her fish? She was new in StarClan, for- well for StarClan’s sake. She should stop ordering cats around and do some work for once.

“Mistystar……gone…….” Brambleberry drifted back into unconsciousness.

Feathertail was confused. Why was Mistystar gone? Where was she? Who took her? She was so aggravated that she yowled to the open sky “What?! Where is the RiverClan leader? Where is she? Where is Mistystar?”

Chapter One

    Icewing was back in the forest. The yucky one with the muddy rivers that were as slow as a slug climbing to the old Highstones and the icky, leafless trees that blocked out the sky; not the forest that the ThunderClan and ShadowClan cats lived in – not the one by the lake.

“Hi, Icewing!” came a call from a few paces behind.

“Hello, Ivypool!” she called back. Ivypool was a cat from ThunderClan, and she was really nice, but she always seemed to have something other than training on her mind, meaning she was normally slightly distracted.

“More training, less talking!” growled a voice behind her. Icewing jumped. She turned around and saw Tigerstar stalking out from behind the leafless trees. Ivypool had disappeared.

“Sorry Tigerstar,” Icewing mumbled guiltily; she knew Tigerstar did not take kindly to distractions from experience.

“We are doing tree training today. Come on. The other cats are already assembled.” Tigerstar leaped over a fallen tree towards a clearing. Icewing scrambled over after him.

Tigerstar jumped onto a large rock, easily. “Those ThunderClan fools have been cheating in battle. They climb trees! Are they cats or are they weak little squirrels? We will do tree training too! We will play their own trick against them!” He growled. Tigerstar paused as yowls of approval rang out from the assembled cats beneath him. “We will work in partners! Snowtuft, you are going to be with Hollowflight, Shredtail, you are with Sunstrike, Thistleclaw, with Breezepelt, Ivypool with Blossomfall, Hawkfrost with Icewing, and Brokenstar with Tigerheart. I will be supervising. We are not kits play fighting so unsheathe your claws!”

“Who am I assigned to?” meowed a voice from the crowd of cats.

Tigerstar narrowed his eyes. “You were beaten by an apprentice,” he spat, “You do not deserve to train any cats until you have proven yourself worthy again, Darkstripe!”

“Come Icewing! We haven’t got all night!” Hawkfrost beckoned Icewing other to a twisted, gnarled tree with his tail. “You’re going to climb first and try to attack me as you jump. Got it?”

Icewing nodded. RiverClan has never climbed trees, she thought rebelliously. But another part of her mind said this is going to make me the best warrior I can be. She told herself firmly that again as she strained her hind leg muscles to push herself up the tree. Hawkfrost circled around impatiently. Quietly, Icewing tiptoed down the tree trunk half way and bunched her muscles in preparation for the spring. She landed squarely on Hawkfrost’s shoulders, yowling in triumph. But her triumph turned to confusion when Hawkfrost rolled over and smashed her to the ground. Thinking quickly, Icewing pushed Hawkfrost off herself and when he was still recovering, slashed his belly with unsheathed claws. Growling, he pushed himself off the leaf littered ground. Icewing backed up cautiously, unsure if he was about to pounce. She relaxed though as Hawkfrost purred “Nice moves there ‘paw’ but I saw you coming down the tree. Try not to be quite so loud.”

“Like this?” Icewing scrambled up a tree and climbed down as softly as she could.

“Yes,” meowed Hawkfrost. “Now try attacking me.”

Thinking harder this time, Icewing climbed up the tree and waited.

“Hurry up!” Hawkfrost growled.

Icewing didn’t move. Hawkfrost had started circling the tree once again. This time, she silently jumped straight from the branch so as not to give Hawkfrost any kind of warning. Howling, she bit down on Hawkfrost’s back as he jumped into the air to make

her crash. She quickly retaliated and slithered under him, clawing his belly as he landed.

“Excellent,” Hawkfrost meowed. “Now do it again, but try to think of something different.”

Icewing once again went up the tree. This time though, instead of jumping, she successfully got down on the other side of the tree without being heard  - where Hawkfrost wasn’t waiting to attack her. Icewing crept up onto Hawkfrost and attacked from behind.

“Sneaky!” Hawkfrost meowed approvingly, “but you didn’t use the tree to your advantage.”

“But I did use it!” retorted Icewing, “I went up it and so when the enemy was preparing for me to jump down onto them, I leaped up onto their back so they got taken by surprise.”

“Excellent thinking!” Eyes narrowing, Hawkfrost growled “However, your enemies may find that attacking you without you being on them is much easier than fighting you when you land actually on their back.”

“But I can always scramble up the tree and land on their backs while they are wondering where I went.”

“ThunderClan knows that trick. We must prepare for that. I am still a true RiverClan cat at heart,” Hawkfrost meowed, “You have a sharp and clever mind. Use that to your advantage, too. Let’s see how many more interesting strategies you can think of. More training and less talking!”

And so Icewing crawled up the tree, her muscles aching.

                    ***********

“You know, I think I’m the first RiverClan cat to do tree training – ever.” grumbled Icewing. Her muscles ached and her back was on fire. It would be a miserable day when the sun rose. Hawkfrost’s voice brought her back to reality.

“Wrong, Icewing. I was the first RiverClan cat to climb a tree. But you were the second. Now, go tell Tigerstar I think it’s time.”

That’s just like Hawkfrost- always bragging. It’s time for what, though? thought Icewing as she ran over to Tigerstar to tell him Hawkfrost’s news.

“What’s it time for?” the green-eyed she-cat asked after she delivered her message.

“I can’t tell you!” snapped Tigerstar.

Icewing wanted to ask why, but she knew not to cross Tigerstar when he was grumpy. Still…

All of a sudden, Tigerstar yowled “Next time she visits, one of our apprentices will take her final assessment!”

Would that be her?

A high, reedy voice from the back of the crowd of cats yowled back “Who, might I ask, is this mysterious she-cat? It should be me!”

“And why would I tell you, Breezepelt? Anyways, you’re still not ready,” replied Tigerstar coolly. “I hope you’ll tend to the ‘cat-in-the-brambles,’ as our apprentices kindly call her, next moonrise instead of training with us. Have fun with the mouse bile and changing her moss. She’ll like that. The rest of you, go – oh, and whatever you do, do not go near the clearing where we used to train or I promise I will personally rip out your pelt and use it to line my nest; even my warriors. I am making an exception for Breezepelt because he must go there tomorrow. Now leave me to think for once, instead of helping train you mouse-brained young ‘paws’ to become ‘better warriors’.” And with that impressive speech, Tigerstar bounded off the “Announcement Rock” and away into the forest.

What is the matter with him? Icewing was bewildered. Tigerstar’s never been grumpy enough to threaten to rip out our pelts before. Humph. Who is this mysterious she-cat? Why can’t we go to the old training clearing anymore? So many questions, yet no answers.

Suddenly, Icewing felt a pelt brush hers, then smelled the slightly musty scent that belonged to Ivypool. Ivypool’s scent was a mixture of Dark Forest and ThunderClan, just like hers was a mixture of Dark Forest and RiverClan.

“Icewing, go home. I am warning you, do not fail your warrior assessment or else you may never go back to your clanmates by the lake.” warned the other white she-cat, then she turned and disappeared.

Icewing felt an ominous chill go down her spine at those words. Was Ivypool hinting that she would die if she failed?

 

Chapter 2

After Feathertail and Spottedleaf found Brambleberry hurt and Mistystar missing and Leopardstar discovered them, there was utter chaos until…

“Silence! Do you want all of StarClan to come rushing here right now?” yowled Leopardstar.

“Leopardstar, Mistystar is missing! Do you know the significance of that!” growled Feathertail. She’s interfering again. she thought, aggravated.

“I know, Feathertail. Calm down. Besides, if we’re too hasty, it could lead to our downfall as well as Mistystar’s,” soothed Leopardstar.

Feathertail thought for a moment. What Leopardstar says makes sense, she concluded. “Who else will help us?”

“No one but us. They will all try to take over, and this is only RiverClan’s business.” Leopardstar meowed.

Feathertail nodded in agreement. “You’re right, Leopardstar. What should we do now?”

Leopardstar narrowed her eyes. “Keep quiet and look for unexpected allies. Make sure they’re at least half RiverClan.”

Why at least half RiverClan? Has Leopardstar gone crazy? thought the silver she-cat. “I’ll do that. I think we should visit Willowshine to tell her what has happened,” meowed Feathertail.

“Yes, I agree. Could you do that? I must go. Crookedstar asked me to come to a meeting of Clan leaders and medicine cats to discuss Brambleberry’s situation.” Leopardstar took off running, her tail streaming out behind her.

Feathertail sighed. Why did Leopardstar always have to take charge? That night she visited Willowshine’s dreams. “Willowshine!”

“Feathertail! Mistystar went to the Moonpool and I went with her and Mothwing but she never woke up! We had to drag her back to camp. Everyone thought she was dead but she was still breathing,” meowed Willowshine in a hurry, “What are we going to do?”

“Her spirit was captured by the Dark Forest. The Dark Forest, or The Place Of No Stars, is where cats that are not accepted by StarClan go after they leave their bodies,” explained Feathertail. “Ask Reedwhisker to temporarily take the leader’s role, but tell him not to change his name to Reedstar as we can not give him nine lives since Mistystar still has all of hers. Don’t forget, Mistystar is still alive.”

“Okay, Feathertail. But how is Mistystar going to escape the Dark Forest?” questioned Willowshine.

“StarClan will rescue her!”

Feathertail’s voice faded away as she hurried back to StarClan’s hunting grounds. When she returned, Leopardstar was waiting for her. Humph.

“Our meeting went very badly,” announced Leopardstar.

“What happened?” asked Feathertail. Nothing could be worse than a hopeless quest into the Dark Forest.

“Crookedstar brought Brambleberry in and he questioned her thoroughly. All we got out of her was that she was walking along the border and got attacked by two cats from the Dark Forest,” meowed Leopardstar, “She doesn’t even remember anything about Mistystar’s capture.”

Feathertail nodded, “We need a plan to rescue her. Mistystar, I mean, not Brambleberry.” Though Brambleberry does need help, thought Feathertail privately. She knew not to cross Leopardstar when she was grumpy or happy, all the same.

Leopardstar thought for a moment, “Let’s go visit the Dark Forest. Come on, lets go now.”

Why now?

The pair padded along silently until they suddenly saw a spotted pelt flash by.

“Greetings, Feathertail, Leopardstar. Did you see Yellowfang earlier?” meowed Spottedleaf.

“She was at Four Trees not long ago,” answered Feathertail. Why is she looking for Yellowfang now?

“Thanks! I wanted to tell her about a new herb I discovered recently.” Spottedleaf trotted away, tail and spirits high.

Aha.

“Well, we won’t be looking like that for a long time,” commented Feathertail. Leopardstar didn’t answer. They quietly strolled along for a while until they reached the border.

“I guess we’ll go in,” meowed Leopardstar. Not long after, they scented Brokenstar on the slightly musty breeze. Leopardstar tensed. Feathertail crouched. What does he want? she thought.

“Well, well, well. Who do we have here?” purred Brokenstar in a silky voice. “I thought we made it clear StarClan was not allowed here.”

“You said was not allowed. We are allowed because this is not the past, but the present. Yes?” retorted Feathertail.

“A clever tongue, as usual. Now, if you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds, I will gladly let you visit my territory, as that is only fair…Now get out!” Brokenstar barred his teeth.

Thinking fast, Feathertail meowed “Go ahead. Visit anytime.”

“Feathertail! What you are you thinking?! Since when were you so fish-brained?” interrupted Leopardstar, again. Feathertail silenced her with a glare. Leopardstar returned the glare but did not question her any further.

“Then go ahead and explore all you want.” Brokenstar took off into the dark woods.

“What was that all about?!” hissed Leopardstar, narrowing her eyes.

“Wait. I’ll tell you later,” murmured Feathertail distractedly.

“As you say, Featherstar,” grumbled Leopardstar. Humph. AnnoyingStars all over the place were invading.

“Really! Please stop insulting me! Now can we just get on visiting this place and get out of here? I don’t like it any more than you do!” Exasperated, Feathertail stalked off. With a heavy sigh, Leopardstar followed. Why was Grumpystar always so hostile? thought Feathertail.

“Wait,” Leopardstar halted suddenly, “I smell a familiar scent. Tigerstar!” They spun around in unison to see a large dark brown tabby striding towards them. “The visitors Brokenstar mentioned.” He nodded, “Don’t let me interrupt you. Continue as you please.” Tigerstar disappeared into the shadows.

“He becomes more and more evil every passing moment,” Leopardstar growled.

“No one can deny that,” agreed Feathertail. What makes me think that something is amiss? Those two can never be trusted.

“Humph,” meowed Leopardstar suspiciously. “He sounded like he was up to something.”

“Whenever was he not?” asked Feathertail, “ I wonder if his scheme has something to do with Mistystar’s capture?”

Leopardstar didn’t reply.

               

 

      ************

   
The two walked off into the forest, following the twisting and turning path. Feacertail’s mind was filled with questions, one after another. Whys and hows and lots of coulds floated around in the air. She was sure that even Leopardstar, who as lost in her own thoughts too, could hear her mind buzzing with questions.
    “Feathertail,” Leopardstar voice was tense, “I think we’ve been going around in circles.”
    “How come? We’ve been following this path,” replied Feathertail.
    “Look at that same gnarled tree trunk. I’m sure we’ve been past it before.”
    “Hmm,” meowed Feathertail thoughtfully, “You’re right.”
    “I’m going to scratch a cross onto this tree so that way we’ll know if we’ve been here before.” Leopardstar did so.
    After a few hundred heartbeats, they came back to the same tree. Feathertail gasped, surprised at how easily they’d been fooled. “We really are going around in circles!” Her voice rose to a wail, “ We’re hopelessly lost in the Dark Forest! Here were no one would even think about us being in this…..place!”

Chapter Three

“What do think we are going to do? Obviously we just don’t follow the path. Now let me lead,” Leopardstar shouldered past Feathertail and growled “Come on!” With a humph, Feathertail followed her leader. Why was Feathertail always so slow? She obviously thought I am a grumpystar, but that doesn’t mean she has to be so grumpy and sharp tongued with me. thought Leopardstar

“Hey! I didn’t see this fork in the path before!” meowed Feathertail excitedly.

“That’s because I’m leading,” grumbled Leopardstar. Really, Feathertail was so cheery she could beat a sparrow singing – that is, if she could sing. She couldn’t sing, only birds and possibly Twolegs could. Then she crashed into a bush.

“Hurry up, Leopardstar! We’re losing our time for exploring!” hissed Feathertail.

Leopardstar didn’t like that and retorted “Well, stop singing like a bird!” With a growl of fury, she turned around and stalked off. She could sense that Feathertail wanted to say something back to her but even she knew better than to start an argument with a leader. Leopardstar felt a stab of self-satisfaction with that small victory of words.

Soon, they reached a clearing filled with cats surrounded by trees. They quickly hid themselves behind two of these disgusting under-growths and peered out from behind them. It seemed like the cats in the clearing were having a meeting of some kind. Some of the faces in the crowd looked familiar, and they scanned them with sharp eyes, gold and blue, to see what cats they knew. Feathertail was the first to spot a Lake cat they knew.

“Look! There’s Icewing with Hawkfrost! They’re training together. I never knew this was happening!” wailed Feathertail, clearly distressed.

“It’s all right. She might be a spy for RiverClan like Ivypool is for ThunderClan”

Feathertail visibly relaxed.   

“Let’s continue along. Mistystar is obviously not here,” meowed Leopardstar. She turned and headed off into the shallow undergrowth. With a sigh of exasperation, Feathertail followed. She sniffed, then stiffened. Leopardstar followed suit, and smelled a scent that she had never wanted to smell for the rest of her death years.

“Brokenstar!” she warned. Sure enough, Brokenstar appeared moments later. “Visits are over. I will show you the way out.”

***********

“That was useless!” growled Leopardstar, “and now he can visit our territory! He probably set us up to get lost. That way we can’t learn anything.” Brokenstar was the most obnoxious cat from the forest to the sun-drown place; from the mountains to the lake.

“Just wait. He’ll get his payback.” purred Feathertail.

What was that cat up to?

“You still haven’t told me why you are going to let Brokenstar into our hunting grounds,” reminded Leopardstar. Feathertail was so forgetful she would forget she was on a patrol the minute she left camp.

“He said ‘If you’ll give me a tour of StarClan’s hunting grounds.’ Well, that is exactly what I plan on doing. I’ll give him a tour on the most boring and useless places,” Feathertail paused. “I’ll also give long uninteresting lectures. Then I’ll send him out of here like he did to us.”

“Brilliant, Feathertail!” meowed Leopardstar, “Great thinking!” How had Feathertail thought of that? Well, she’d add to that. “Try to somehow get him lost in the most uninteresting place – the island in the middle of  the small lake would do. Just make a bridge out of wood and lead him across, then destroy the bridge and swim away.” He’s such a drypaw, she thought in disgust.

“Amazing, Leopardstar!”

Leopardstar was pleased with the praise, but she decided not to say anything. Maybe if Feathertail gave her more compliments, she would make her her personal deputy – for helping the Clans only, of course.

******

“Cats of StarClan!” yowled Willowstar, “Brambleberry has been attacked by one of the Dark Forest. We are suspecting that Tigerstar did the fighting while a different cat dragged someone over the border and is currently holding them hostage. Leopardstar and Feathertail, would you like to speak?”

“We were there not when the attack happened but at the aftermath. Feathertail and I do not know who was taken except that they are not from RiverClan.”

Leopardstar felt guilty that she was lying at a Gathering, but she had no choice. She jumped down from Highrock in a graceful leap and meowed “Feathertail, would you like to speak?” Leopardstar. She would probably mess up the whole lie and tell everything that had happened since the attack on Brambleberry and Mistystar.

“ Well, we went into the Dark Forest to investigate the matter…….” A chorus of cats started yowling “What! Why didn’t you tell us? You should have discussed with the rest of StarClan first!”

“I’m sorry but there was not enough time. As I was saying……..”

Feathertail got interrupted again this time by Mossleaf, an old StarClan cat. “Are you not telling us something?” she meowed suspiciously, “Something is missing and without it, your story smells quite fishy.”

“No Mossleaf,” assured Feathertail, “I have told you everything – well, almost everything, and I’m going to tell you the rest of it right now.”

Mossleaf sat down back on her haunches again but kept a glare on her.

“Right,” meowed Feathertail, ignoring Mossleaf, “Brokenstar is going to visit StarClan in return for our visit to their home.”

There was a few collective gasps but no one spoke.

“I plan on giving him a tour of some of the most boring places there are here; like the many different varieties of herbs in StarClan that grow next to the border drop-off.” The border drop-off was when the territories just fell into space: the ground just turned right into sky. Of course, StarClan could walk on it, but that wasn’t the point. The point was that most cats were just afraid of the sheer drop-off, even though they couldn’t die a second time. Yellowfang’s voice suddenly brought her back to the present.

“I’ll be the medicine cat,” meowed Yellowfang. Feathertail nodded with appreciation. Leopardstar was surprised. Yellowfang was usually much grumpier than even the cat Feathertail called Grumpystar – namely, herself.

“I will need a medicine cat’s help on that. Also I will show him WarmRocks and the pond. It would be best to have some cats fishing there. The waterfall will be shown to him also, and best of all, I will make him swim! I’ll tell him he can either swim or be pushed into the water – his choice. Yellowfang will be my backup, since she’ll already be with me, making sure he doesn’t run away.”

Yowls of approval came from the assembled cats.

“We’ll fish,” came the voice of some cats. Feathertail had nodded again. Leopardstar craned her neck to see who had said that.

“Humph,” she muttered.

The cats were all craning their necks and Leopardstar couldn’t see over the heads of the other cats. She felt like a kit. All the other cats were so much taller than her when the ones in front of her were so much taller than her when they were all standing on their hind legs and craning their necks, so she did what they were doing.

    “And Leopardstar has one last thing to tell us!” yowled Feathertail over all the cats meowing in a hurry.
    Leopardstar gulped “I do?” Did Feathertail want her to tell the cats about THAT? Feathertail gave a little nod as if she knew what Leopardstar was thinking. Leopardstar burned with fury. She was a leader and Feathertail was a mere warrior! She was superior and Feathertail was a servant! Leopardstar humphed again. All eyes were on her now. “Well, Feathertail and I found Tigerstar training cats from the living clans. We suspect the Dark Forest is tricking them into training since we found Blossomfall, Birchfall, Icewing, Ivypool…”

*******

After the Gathering was over, cats clamored around Leopardstar and Feathertail. Is that really true? was the most common question.

    “Enough!” yowled Willowstar, “This Gathering is over and will all of you please return to your dens. Leopardstar headed off to her den but stopped. There was going to be a lot a whispering. Instead, Leopardstar had Feathertail follow her to a secret place where Leopardstar had found when she had just joined StarClan.
    “It’s beautiful!” gasped Feathertail.
    “Duh,” humphed Leopardstar. They had just walked into a little clearing through a flowering arch. In the middle, was a little pond filled with every kind of fish, and to the back, was a small waterfall. They were surrounded by trees and flowers.
    “No one knows about this except for you and me,” meowed Leopardstar proudly, “Now hurry and make your nest.”
     “What about you?” asked Feathertail. Leopardstar pointed her tail tip to a small cave whose only entrance was under a willow tree. When Feathertail had finally gathered enough swan feathers, they both headed into the cave. The cave shimmered and sparkled from all the shiny things Leopardstar had put in. The cave was so small, during the day, it was flooded with green light. Leopardstar pointed to a small hole right above her comfy swan feather covered nest.
    “You can see the stars,” Leopardstar meowed quietly, “There’s enough room for you to sleep next to me.” Feathertail quickly constructed her nest and laid down and sighed softly. Of course, thought Leopardstar, rolling her eyes. Feathertail is awestruck by the beauty, once again. Then, they both lay down to sleep.

Chapter Four

   

Icewing woke up, stretched her mangled fur and yawned. It had been a long night. “What in the name of StarClan happened?” her daughter Petalfur shrieked with one look at her pelt. “I went night hunting and fell into a bramble pit,” lied Icewing. “The only bramble pit is next to the Twoleg place and there is absolutely no prey there,” meowed Petalfur suspiciously. “I got spooked by an owl,” invented Icewing, while secretly slipped a long thorn into her nest. She wriggled around a bit. “And there is this!” meowed Petalfur triumphantly, holding up the long thorn, “You have been sleeping on this too!” “Oh! Thanks for finding that, Petalfur,” Icewing meowed, feigning surprise.

Branson!

Over the weekend, I went to Branson! It was so much fun. The tornado did close down some places but overall, there was no major damage. I went through a maze of mirrors which made me really dizzy and I also got to go to the Hollywood Wax Museum. I saw the New Shanghai Circus. It was amazing! There was this one person who balanced herself on one hand while she did splits and back bends; without touching the ground! I also went to the Table Rock Lake. The water was really cold and all my sister wanted to do was collect rocks. Humph. The Titanic museum was also really cool. We each got to be a person on board the ship. I was Lillian Minihan and I survived! My favorite though was Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede! We became sides on the Civil War I (sadly) was on the South. We ate and watched some friendly competition and the South won 7 to 4. I recommend the Dixie Stampede and Titanic Museum if you ever go to Branson!

Horse Riding Camp

For Spring Break, my mom signed me up for a up for a horse back riding camp at Iron Horse Creek Stables. It’s five days for about six hours each day and you have to bring your own lunch. We did lots of crafts and rode horses. There are 5 horses to ride except Wahoo didn’t cooperate and we couldn’t ride him. My personal favorite horse was Joker who is a sweet, old horse who is very obedient. For two days though, we weren’t allowed to ride him because he kept on falling down. Joker is 27 years old (human years around 90). My second favorite horse was Sally, a pretty, young chestnut. The two other horses were Bailey and Buck. Bailey is a white and brown paint who is very pretty but extremely hard to ride and is quite disobedient. Buck is TINY! He’s a miniature little pony who is really noisy. Buck gets dirty a lot so we had to hose him down. He didn’t like that. He is extremely cute when he lopes but the only way to get him to do that is if you slap him on his buttocks. Buck has these short little stubby legs that are so slow. When he trots, the other horses can beat him in a race when they walk. His lope is other horses’ trot and his gallop is equivalent to canter/lope. On the last day, we had a riding competition. Sadly, I had to ride Bailey and a super tough time with her. Normally though, you get to ride your top two choices. I advise this camp to all horse lovers!

A random picture

My friend Maya Chan and I have recently started a game based on the Inheritance Cycle (it’s a series of books). She is Autumn Islanzadisdaughter my character is Carmella Islanzadisdaughter. The last names are REALLY weird. We both have a dragon. Mine is Amethyst Saphirasdaughter and Autumn’s (Maya) is Flash Thornsson. We get these random quests and we create profiles for each one. The picture is my profile for the first quest. Please read the Inheritance Cycle! The first book is Eragon, then Eldest, Brisingr and the last book is Inheritance (and I am sure I did not spell anything wrong).

Santa Marta Performance

On Saturday January 28th 2012, six members of the Jasmine Dance Group went to the Santa Marta senior living community. Among those were Elan and Mulan Jiang and Cindy Wang. Together, all six did a fabulous lantern parade led by Cindy bringing holiday spirits to all. Next, Elan and Audrey Cheng performed a wonderful long fan dance that was so bright and cheerful. Also, Jet and Mulan danced Jasmine, a beautiful and graceful performance. The lantern parade and the two dances were all done three times in three different places in the Santa Marta senior living community. Everyone did their performances exceedingly well.

The 2nd Annual Dance Competition

On January 22nd 2012, KCCAA successfully hosted its second annual dance competition. This year, the contestants ages ranged from 6 to 14. Each performed wonderful dances in traditional style costumes, showing the strong influence of Chinese dance among the younger generations. The three amazing judges that judged the competition this year were the dance director from the Legacy School of the Arts Michelle Hamlet-Weith and two Chinese dance teachers Wang Zhi Jie and Cui Chun Jie. Special thanks to Chinese Culture Connection for sponsoring the event.
Jasmine dance group members Mulan Jiang, Megan Lu, Elan Jiang, Audrey Cheng, and Cindy Wang all participated in the competition. Everyone did very well. In the seven and under division, Audrey Cheng received third place and Elan Jiang was the first place winner. Mulan Jiang was the champion of the eight to eleven divisions while Megan Lu received runner up. Cindy Wang received first place in the twelve to fifteen divisions. Congratulations to all!

A Stream

A Stream

I love how
the fish
swim through me
tickling me
making me laugh

I run across
the river bed
under the morning sun

The summer heat
annoys me
yet I love
laying under
the twinkling stars

The wind
is my Mozart
playing concertos
and sonatas for me

When my friends come
we enjoy playfully
splashing each other

I am a stream

This poem is officially dedicate to my awesome dad

Like a sailboat blown from its course by a gale off the sea,
You have been a great influence in my life to me.
Like a thousand-year-old rock buried under the sand,
You are forever there to lend a helping hand.
From the math you taught me to the roof up above,
Everything you have done for me was done out of love.
I realize now why you never put down the burden you are carrying,
It is because you love your family, about us you are forever caring.
It is simple and now I do know,
I love you and you love me so
-Mulan
Happy 42nd birthday!

Journal Entry 5

I finally skied black diamond! First I went on Safari which was really fun but really hard. I felt like a TURTLE! I nearly stopped at the end of every single turn. I fell down twice and the bumps were TORTURE when I did it even though the second time was SUPER FUN! I still went like a turtle though. Even though I thought Safari was awesome, I HATED Pinderoon. It didn’t have any bumps but it was very, very, VERY HARD! I did stop at the end of every turn and each turn was so flat that instead of going down the hill, I was going across the slope while pros zoomed down the mountain at top speed. Not fun at all. If you ever go to Vail or Beaver Creek, I advise Simba, Cinch, and Safari.

Journal Entry 4 (in Vail now!)

“Yahoo!” I shouted. Kevin, Austin (two VERY annoying boys who I don’t like but am stuck with for no apparent reason) and I were skiing down Eagle’s Nest Ridge. We ha long since lost Jennifer and Anna and had went off by ourselves. We decided to go down Coyote Crossing the whole way. As usual, Kevin and Austin were already at the bottom of the slope, waiting. We continued to ski the green but occasionally a few blues if they lead back onto the green ( we wanted to ski blue the whole way down but Kevin said no because he didn’t want us to get hurt). Soon we came across a fork. Gitalong Road or Lion’s Way (or of course the double black diamond in front of us).  We chose Gitalong Road. But then when we ended up in Vail Village, we saw the lift Vista Bahn Express. Where were we?!? How did we end up here?!? How could be get back to Lionshead Circle? Kevin went up to  a ski school instructor and asked “Excuse me, could you please tell us how to get back to the Vail Chophouse?” (The Vail Chophouse was where we ate lunch). We took a crowded bus ride where I was holding all the poles, Kevin held his skis and mine, and Austin who only held his skis. When we got home, the parents were so relieved to see us I got three dollars! Best part of the day.