## 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

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

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?”

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.

“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.

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.”

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

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.

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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

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.”

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.

“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.”

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?”

“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.

***********

## Taylor Swift Red Tour

Last night at Sprint Center I watched Taylor Swift’s Red tour. It was beyond amazing!! The opening acts were AWESOME, Ed Sheeran totally rocked it! After a series of commercials and whatnot, finally at 8:30 Taylor made her grand entrance. I sang along to all her songs, it was the best experience! Taylor was so nice and she looked incredibly pretty. While performing her red album, she also brought back some old hits, including Mean, Sparks Fly, and You Belong With Me. I was dumbstruck at how quickly she changed, that counts as a talent! She went through the concert with more than 5 outfits!
The concert ended at 10:00, all too soon. Finishing with a grand flourish, Taylor got everyone standing and singing along to We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together. Taylor Swift is one of my many favorite singers; I enjoyed the concert more than I can say. The special effects were over the chart; basically everything was over the chart! It was my first time at one of her concerts and I hope it isn’t the last!!

## 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.

## Geek vs. Nerd – “Geeks are fans, and fans collect stuff; nerds are practitioners, and practitioners play with ideas.”

### On “Geek” Versus “Nerd”

#### by burrsettles

To many people, “geek” and “nerd” are synonyms, but in fact they are a little different. Consider the phrase “sports geek” — an occasional substitute for “jock” and perhaps the arch-rival of a “nerd” in high-school folklore. If “geek” and “nerd” are synonyms, then “sports geek” might be an oxymoron. (Furthermore, “sports nerd” either doesn’t compute or means something else.)

In my mind, “geek” and “nerd” are related, but capture different dimensions of an intense dedication to a subject:

• geek – An enthusiast of a particular topic or field. Geeks are “collection” oriented, gathering facts and mementos related to their subject of interest. They are obsessed with the newest, coolest, trendiest things that their subject has to offer.
• nerd A studious intellectual, although again of a particular topic or field. Nerds are “achievement” oriented, and focus their efforts on acquiring knowledge and skill over trivia and memorabilia.

Or, to put it pictorially à la The Simpsons:

Both are dedicated to their subjects, and sometimes socially awkward. The distinction is that geeks are fans of their subjects, and nerds are practitioners of them. A computer geek might read Wired and tap the Silicon Valley rumor-mill for leads on the next hot-new-thing, while a computer nerd might read CLRS and keep an eye out for clever new ways of applying Dijkstra’s algorithm. Note that, while not synonyms, they are not necessarily distinct either: many geeks are also nerds (and vice versa).

## An Experiment

Do I have any evidence for this contrast? (By the way, this viewpoint dates back to a grad-school conversation with fellow geek/nerd Bryan Barnes, now a physicist at NIST.) The Wiktionary entries for “geek” and “nerd“ lend some credence to my position, but I’d like something a bit more empirical…

“You shall know a word by the company it keeps” ~ J.R. Firth (1957)

To characterize the similarities and differences between “geek” and “nerd,” maybe we can find the other words that tend to keep them company, and see if these linguistic companions support my point of view?

### Data and Method

(Note: If you’re neither a geek nor a nerd, don’t be scared by the math. It’s not too bad… or you can probably just skip to the “Results” subsection below…)

I analyzed two sources of Twitter data, since it’s readily available and pretty geeky/nerdy to boot. This includes a background corpus of 2.6 million tweets via the streaming API from between December 6, 2012, and January 3, 2013. I also sampled tweets via the search API matching the query terms “geek” and “nerd” during the same time period (38.8k and 30.6k total, respectively). Yes, yes, yes… I collected all the data six months ago but just now got around to crunching the numbers. It’s been a busy year!

A great little statistic for measuring how much company two words tend to keep is pointwise mutual information (PMI). It’s commonly used in the information retrieval literature to measure the cooccurrence of words and phrases in text, and it also turns out to be a good predictor of how humans evaluate semantic word similarity (Recchia & Jones, 2009) and topic model quality (Newman & al., 2010).

For two words w and v, the PMI is given by:

${\rm pmi}(w;v) = \log\frac{p(w,v)}{p(w)p(v)} = \log p(w|v) - \log p(w)$ ,

where in this case $p(\cdot)$ is the probability of the word(s) in question appearing in a random tweet, as estimated from the data. For instance, if we let v = “geek,” we compute the log-probability of a word w in the “geek” search corpus, and subtract the log-probability of w in the background corpus.

### Results

The PMI statistic measures a kind of correlation: a positive PMI score for two words means they ”keep great company,” a negative score means they tend to keep their distance, and a score close to zero means they bump into each other more or less at random.

With that in mind, here is a scatterplot of various words according to their PMI scores for both “geek” and “nerd” on different axes (ignoring words with negative PMI, and treating #hashtags as distinct):

Many people have asked for a high-res PDF of this plot, so here you go.

Moving up the vertical axis, words become more geeky (“#music” → “#gadget” → “#cosplay”), and moving left to right they become more nerdy (“education” → “grammar” → “neuroscience”). Words along the diagonal are similarly geeky and nerdy, including social (“#awkward”, “weirdo”), mainstream tech (“#computers”, “#microsoft”), and sci-fi/fantasy terms (“doctorwho,” ”#thehobbit”). Words in the lower-left (“chores,” “vegetables,” “boobies”) aren’t really associated with either, while those in the upper-right (“#avengers”, “#gamer”, “#glasses”) are strongly tied to both. Orange words are more geeky than nerdy, and blue words are the opposite. Some observations:

• Collections are geeky. All derivatives of the word “collect” (“collection,” “collectables”, etc.) are orange. As are “boxset” and “#original,” which imply a taste for completeness and authenticity.
• Academic fields are nerdy: “math”, “#history,” “physics,” “biology,” “neuroscience,” “biochemistry,” etc. Other academic words (“thesis”, “#studymode”) and institutions (“harvard”, “oxford”) are also blue.
• The science & technology words differ. General terms (“#computers,” “#bigdata”) are on the diagonal — similarly geeky and nerdy. As you splay up toward more geeky, though, you see products, startups, brands, and more cultish technologies (“#apple”, “#linux”). As you splay down toward more nerdy you see more methodologies (“calculus”).
• #Hashtags are geeky. OK, sure, hashtags are all over the place. But they do tend toward the upper-left. And since hashtags are “#trendy,” I take it to mean that geeks are into trends. (I take this one back. The average PMI score for all hashtags is 0.74 with “geek” but 0.73 with “nerd.” The difference isn’t statistically significant using a paired t-test or Wilcoxon test, or practically significant using a common-sense test.)
• Hobbies: compare the more geeky pastimes (“#toys,” “#manga”) with the more nerdy ones (“chess,” “sudoku”).
• Brains: the word “intelligence” may be geeky, but “education,” “intellectual,” and “#smartypants” are nerdy.
• Reading: “#books” are nerdy, but “ebooks” and “ibooks” are geeky.
• Pop culture vs. high culture: “#shiny” and “#trendy” are super-geeky, but (curiously) “cellist” is the nerdiest

The list goes on. If you want to poke around yourself, download the raw PMI scores (4.2mb) and let me know in the comments what you find.

(Update: I learned that Olivia Culpo — a self-described “cellist nerd” — was crowned Miss Universe on December 20, 2012. The event was heavily tweeted smack in the middle of my data collection, so that probably explains the correlation between “cellist” and “nerd” here. It also underscores the limitations of time-sensitive data.)

Conclusion

In broad strokes, it seems to me that geeky words are more about stuff (e.g., “#stuff”), while nerdy words are more about ideas (e.g., “hypothesis”). Geeks are fans, and fans collect stuff; nerds are practitioners, and practitioners play with ideas. Of course, geeks can collect ideas and nerds play with stuff, too. Plus, they aren’t two distinct personalities as much as different aspects of personality. Generally, the data seem to affirm my thinking.

I wonder how similar the results would be if you applied this method to the Google Books Ngrams corpus, or something more general instead of a niche media like Twitter. I also wonder what other questions might be answered with this kind of analysis (for example, my wife and I have a perennial disagreement over which word is wetter: “moist” vs. “damp.”).

Finally, when I mentioned to a friend that I was going to write up this post, she said “Well, I guess we know which one you are.” But do we really? I may be a science nerd, but I’m probably a music geek

## BTW AUTHOR’S NOTE

Hey Bloggers!

Just want you to know that I am having this terribly bad habit where I start a story, and don’t finish it. So from now on, I’ll be just wrting story prompts. If you’d like me to continue one, just comment.

Thanks!

## The Heir of Stardust-Chapters 1 and 2

Prologue:
It was a cool autumn night, the stars were clear and the moon dazzled from up above.
A cloaked figure was walking down Stardust Avenue, next to her stalked a beautiful snow leopard. The leopard’s powerful muscles rippled under her silky dappled fur, her cautious blue eyes glinted in the pitch dark.
The figure walked quickly into a small, rundown building, the leopard trotting beside her.
“Greetings, Mr. Birney,” a female voice rang out. Mr. Birney, a short bald man with wise twinkling eyes, looked up.
“Ahhh, my dear one, you have arrived! Do come in.” Without taking of her coat the figure walked in. Mr. Birney gasped as he set his eyes on the leopard then jumped up and screamed. Startled, the leopard crouched back and prepared to lunge. The figure quickly got up and calmed the leopard.
“Shhhh, Precious.” She said, running her fingers along the leopard’s soft, beautiful coat. Mr. Birney saw, her eyes barely visible under the figure’s hood, were glaring at him.
“Sorry,” Mr. Birney said quickly, his face turning crimson.
“Alright,” Mr. Birney said, getting back into business. “What would you like me to do?” The figure quickly handed him a sheet, as if scared, that even in this privacy, someone would see. Mr. Birney scanned through the sheet, nodding as he read through everything. “These are beautiful,” he murmured.
The figure gave an exasperated sigh, “Are you done yet?” she asked impatiently.
Mr. Birney nodded, “Meet me at the Great Hemlock, in the dip of the Seven Hills, at the full moon, 2 days from now.” Then his eyes narrowed, “Or should I even do this for you?” he said tauntingly.
The figure laughed, “Oh I think you should.” She said, taking off her cloak. Mr. Birney’s jaws dropped open as he saw the figure. The long, black hair that tumbled just down her shoulders, the breathtakingly beautiful features and a silver circlet around her head set with a sapphire.
She was…”Princess Aramina!” Mr. Birney exclaimed, quickly dropping to his knees. The princess rolled her eyes, “See you at the Great Hemlock!” She said, and walked out the doors, the leopard right behind her, leaving Mr. Birney gawking.
Chapter 1:
“Aramina, stop playing with the palace guards, it’s time to do your royal duties!!!” Queen Celestia yelled. Aramina looked back, disappointment clear as crystal on her face, “Just after I shoot ONE more arrow?” Aramina pleaded. Queen Celestia pursed her lips as she marched Aramina away from the palace guards.
“That’s enough young lady, you are a girl, a PRINCESS for heaven’s sake. You should not be spending your time shooting arrows or throwing spears or any of that JUNK!!!!!” Queen Celestia said through clenched teeth as she dragged the princess up the stairs. Aramina’s face twisted into a pout as she was thrown into her room.
“But Mom-“Aramina began but was silenced by the look on her mom’s face.
“Now, you can stay up here and think about what you did wrong until breakfast. It’s almost 7:oo and you haven’t done any work yet!” Queen Celestia said calmly but her eyes glinted with that ‘You are in big trouble missy’ look.
Aramina sank down into her mattress looking at her sickening pink walls. She racked her brain for eating etiquette for she knew that if she wasn’t semi-polite her mom would definitely lock her up in this unappealing room forever.
As she was thinking over which goes on the left; fork or knife? The thud of a rock brought her over to her tiny window. Her amber eyes shone and a smile broke across her face as wide as the Grand Canyon.
“Aramina!” Stephan called, pushing a lock of cocoa colored hair out of his eyes.
Aramina swung her legs out the window and pushed her slender body out. Then, balancing on the roof she sprang lightly and somersaulted onto a delicate ridge. Arching her flexible back she reached under and retrieved her bow and arrows. She took a brightly colored arrow with a string attached from her quiver, aiming it at a point in the ground. Then… BOOM! Direct hit! She strapped on her quiver and slung her bow across her shoulder. Holding on tightly to the rope, she jumped of the ridge. Stephan rolled his eyes as Aramina soared of the roof gracefully, landing like a cat.
“Do you always have to make a big show about escaping from your room?” Stephan asked, laughter sparkling in his grass green eyes.
Aramina laughed, “Yup, gives me a bit of exhilaration after curtsying and drinking tea.” Aramina looked earnestly at the woods beyond.
Stephan chuckled, “Yeah sure. Let’s go now!”
Aramina sprinted towards the woods, easily beating Stephan. They followed a crystal clear stream until they got to a strawberry bush. The bush loomed above them like a giant green curtain, sparkling with tiny dew drop lights and candy apple red strawberry ornaments. Stephan poked at a stick then suddenly the stick sprang wide, making a gate. Aramina slipped in noiselessly while Stephan arrived jumping around with twigs in his hair.
They sat down at their rock, which pretty much over looked the whole forest. The strawberry bush kept their secret hideout hidden from outsiders. Inside was a blooming hibiscus bush, its soft lavender color creating dappled patterns on the soft earth. A honeysuckle vine curled its way around a cherry tree, the blossoms speckled on the ground. Stephan picked a hibiscus blossom and tucked it behind Aramina’s ear.
“Happy birthday little princess” Stephan whispered
Aramina made a face, “My birthday is tomorrow and I am NOT a princess.”
Stephan laughed, “Technically you are”
“Am not! At least don’t wanna be.”
“Uh huh”
“Uh uh”
“Whatever”
Aramina smiled, “Happy birthday to you too”
Stephan smiled back. Aramina couldn’t help counting the colors in his eyes. Suddenly, the clock chimed. Stephan and Aramina gasp, “It’s 7:30!” they both shout. They slide out their hiding place then sprint back to the palace.
“See ya” Aramina said. Stephan nods and heads back to the village. Aramina took the brightly colored arrow and shoots it at the ridge. She pulls herself up just seconds before the door opens. Quickly kicking the sheath of arrows and her bow under the bed, she closes the window then dives into bed. The door opens with a creak.
“Aramina…? I hope you haven’t been lying in bed for the whole time.”
“No Mom practiced my pointe and table etiquette.”
Queen Celestia’s eyes slide to Aramina’s left ear. With a jolt she remembers the hibiscus. Celestia’s eyes brighten up,
“Oh! How wonderful! The palace gardener gave you a flower…. and you wore it! Like a girl!!” Queen Celestia says, “You look darling!” She cooed.
“Ummmmm, yeah! Does it look good with my hair?”
Queen Celestia brightens up, “It looks wonderful! You are such a pretty girl, pity you spend your time shooting arrows.” Aramina gathers her features into something that resembles a smile.
“C’mon, breakfast will be cold!” Celestia says in that trademark ‘Queen Celestia Enthusiasm’. With a sigh Aramina follows.
The smells of sausage and eggs greet her as Aramina enters the dining room. As she eats, her father and mother discuss her birthday. Aramina taps on her glass goblet.
“Yes, Aramina?” Her father says with his booming voice.
“I’d like to have permission to invite someone.” Aramina says nervously, pulling at her hunting jacket.
Queen Celestia gasps, “Oh, do tell!”
Aramina gives a nervous glance at her mother, “He’s from the village. His name is-”
“A poor, dirty, boy from the village! Definitely not!”
Her father shoots a sympathetic glance at Aramina, “Celestia, let us hear all that Aramina has to say.”
Aramina gulps, “His name is Stephan, and he’s the eldest of 3 sisters and 2 brothers. And he has the same birthday as me.”
“Alright” Queen Celestia says doubtfully, “But he better come in looking decent.”
Aramina’s eyes lighten up, “Thanks mom!” and she races out the door.
Chapter 2:
Stephan watched in awe as Aramina mashed up some hazelnuts and chestnuts. She drizzled it with honey and added a few mint leaves. Then she made a salad with tender shoots of young hawthorn and sprinkled on some thyme and wild garlic. Topping each off with a few strawberries, she presented both dishes to Stephan.
Stephan’s eyes pop, “Wow” he mouths.
Aramina laughed, “Try it!”
Stephan didn’t need to be told twice, he dug into the salad shoving greens into his mouth. He ‘ahhhhed’ as the honey of the nuts burst his taste buds.
“That was great!” Stephan exclaimed, licking his lips.
Aramina smiled then handed Stephan a scroll, the smile turning into a nervous smile.
The scroll was made of the thick, creamy, expensive palace stationary. The ink was a rich emerald green color. Stephan read through the fancy script.
“You’re inviting me to your birthday party?!” he exclaims disbelievingly, “Does your mom know?”
“Yeah, you can come as long as you look decent.” Aramina says with a snort
“Um…. define decent.”
Aramina grinned, “I’m taking you to the tailor, don’t worry I’ll pay for everything.” Stephan replied back with a groan.
***
“Rise and shine! You have a busy, BUSY day!” Queen Celestia called, knocking on the door 20 times. Aramina groaned, rolling out of bed.
“Wear that beautiful blue dress that Granny sent you. And don’t forget your circlet!” Celestia yelled and flitted away.
Aramina changed and brushed through her hair, leaving her hair down instead of putting it in a ponytail like she usually does. She fastened her circlet and slid her feet into her rarely used blue slippers.
The pile of presents grew and grew as fancy guests arrived. At the head of the table was the Aramina’s father, King Alvord. On the right of the King was Queen Celestia. On the left was an empty chair for Aramina.
Stephan peeked in nervously. He was wearing a rich navy blue vest over a pearly white undershirt. His silk pants did little to help his sweaty palms. He walked slowly, fearing he would trip. Aramina had reserved a special chair for him next her. The Queen smiled brightly but Stephan saw doubt in her eyes.
“Her highness, Princess Aramina!” King Alvord booms, his big voice bouncing off the walls. Stephan’s jaws drop open as Aramina appears. She wore a soft, sky blue dress that fluttered around her knees as though she were dressed in a cloud. Stephan knew that Aramina was pretty but here she appeared beautiful, her amber eyes bright with excitement and wide with shock, framed by long, dark lashes. Her perfect, full lips were a soft pale pink, and her cheeks blushing. The blue color brought out her skin as a fair cream. Her dark hair waved down the middle of her back. A silver circlet wrapped around the head, set with a dazzling sapphire.
“Let us all raise our glasses to the heir of Stardust, and honor Princess Aramina on her 13th birthday!!” a loud roar burst mixed with the tinkling of glass. Aramina flushed with excitement and walked down the carpet. Her dress flowed down, complementing her slender figure. She motioned to a servant, “Tell Stephan to close his mouth before a bird flies in.”
Aramina sat down and looked at Stephan in awe. The undershirt clung tight to his body, showing off the muscles. And the navy blue gave off an aurora that made his skin an attractive tan. Both eyes, wide with shock stared into each other.
“Ahem!” Queen Celestia coughed loudly. King Alvord shot Celestia a disapproving look.
“Let us all eat now!” King Alvord yells, barely finishing his own words before diving in the roast pork.
Finally, after all the plates have been licked clean, they gather in the ballroom. Presents after presents were presented to Aramina. When Stephan arrived with a tiny box, Queen Celestia snorted and shot him a critical glare. Aramina gave her mother a withering look then opened the box. Inside were two silver combs. Intricate flower designs were made out of a blue gemstone. Beautiful designs were carved deftly around the edges.
“Wow” Aramina murmured, even her mother gasped. “Oh Stephan, this would have cost you a fortune!” Aramina exclaims.
“They were my grandmother’s” Stephan says softly.
Queen Celestia gasps, this time not in awe. “A comb from a villager! Aramina will NOT wear those!” But her father maneuvered the comb into her hair, the silver and blue matching her circlet. Aramina thanked Stephan graciously as the next guest came up to her.
Finally, the time came when the King and Queen presented their gift to the princess. The crowd watched anxiously as a big box was hauled up. Her father lowered the box gently by Aramina’s feet. A tiny mew escaped from the box. Aramina gasped, hope shining in her eyes. The lids lifted up and a fluffy little snow leopard cub sprang out. Aramina laughed with joy as the leopard bounded into her arms.
“Daddy!” she squealed, all dignity forgotten. “A snow leopard all the way from the North!” her father smiled, “It was worth two bows, an eagle, an arrowhead, and 3 deer.”
“Aramina, you better train her. I don’t want that thing pooping all over my carpets.” Queen Celestia says, but she’s smiling too.
Aramina nods, “I’ll name her Precious.” She declares.

## Title: Unknown (any ideas?)

Hey guys, just a story idea. What do you think?
Prologue:
It was a cool autumn night, the stars were clear and the moon dazzled from up above.
A cloaked figure was walking down Stardust Avenue, next to her stalked a beautiful snow leopard. The leopard’s powerful muscles rippled under her silky dappled fur, her cautious blue eyes glinted in the pitch dark.
The figure walked quickly into a small, rundown building, the leopard trotting beside her.
“Greetings, Mr. Birney,” a female voice rang out. Mr. Birney, a short bald man with wise twinkling eyes, looked up.
“Ahhh, my dear one, you have arrived! Do come in.” Without taking of her coat the figure walked in. Mr. Birney gasped as he set his eyes on the leopard then jumped up and screamed. Startled, the leopard crouched back and prepared to lunge. The figure quickly got up and calmed the leopard.
“Shhhh, Precious.” She said, running her fingers along the leopard’s soft, beautiful coat. Mr. Birney saw, her eyes barely visible under the figure’s hood, were glaring at him.
“Sorry,” Mr. Birney said quickly, his face turning crimson.

“Alright,” Mr. Birney said, getting back into business. “What would you like me to do?” The figure quickly handed him a sheet, as if scared, that even in this privacy, someone would see. Mr. Birney scanned through the sheet, nodding as he read through everything. “These are beautiful,” he murmured.
The figure gave an exasperated sigh, “Are you done yet?” she asked impatiently.
Mr. Birney nodded, “Meet me at the Great Hemlock, in the dip of the Seven Hills, at the full moon, 2 days from now.” Then his eyes narrowed, “Or should I even do this for you?” he said tauntingly.
The figure laughed, “Oh I think you should.” She said, taking off her cloak. Mr. Birney’s jaws dropped open as he saw the figure. The long, black hair that tumbled just down her shoulders, the breathtakingly beautiful features and a silver circlet around her head set with a sapphire.
She was…”Princess Aramina!” Mr. Birney exclaimed, quickly dropping to his knees. The princess rolled her eyes, “See you at the Great Hemlock!” She said, and walked out the doors, the leopard right behind her, leaving Mr. Birney gawking behind her.
Chapter 1:
“Aramina, stop playing with the palace guards, it’s time to do your royal duties!!!” Queen Celestia yelled. Aramina looked back, disappointment clear as crystal on her face, “Just after I shoot ONE more arrow?” Aramina pleaded. Queen Celestia pursed her lips as she marched Aramina away from the palace guards.
“That’s enough young lady, you are a girl, a PRINCESS for heaven’s sake. You should not be spending your time shooting arrows or throwing spears or any of that JUNK!!!!!” Queen Celestia said through clenched teeth as she dragged the princess up the stairs. Aramina’s face twisted into a pout as she was thrown into her room.
“But Mom-“Aramina began but was silenced by the look on her mom’s face.
“Now, you can stay up here and think about what you did wrong until dinner” Queen Celestia said sternly and calmly but her eyes glinted with that ‘You are in big trouble missy’ look.
Poor Aramina sank down into her mattress looking at her sickening pink walls. She racked her brain for eating etiquette for she knew that if she wasn’t semi-polite her mom would definitely lock her up in this unappealing room forever.
As she was thinking over which goes on the left; fork or knife? The thud of a rock brought her over to her tiny window. Her amber eyes shone and a smile broke across her face as wide as the Grand Canyon.
“Aramina!” Stephan called, pushing a lock of cocoa colored hair out of his eyes.
Aramina swung her legs out the window and pushed her slender body out. Then, balancing on the roof she sprang lightly and somersaulted onto a delicate ridge. Arching her flexible back she reached under and retrieved her bow and arrows. She took a brightly colored arrow with a string attached from her quiver, aiming it at a point in the ground. Then… BOOM! Direct hit! She strapped on her quiver and slung her bow across her shoulder. Holding on tightly to the rope, she jumped of the ridge. Stephan rolled his eyes as Aramina soared of the roof gracefully, landing like a cat.
“Do you always have to make a big show about escaping from your room?” Stephan asked. Laughter sparkling in his grass green eyes.

## Pembroke Summer Camp

Hi everyone! I just just advertising something shortly. So this summer I have been doing mostly summer camps at Pembroke. I would just like to recommend summer camps there. The lower campus is very large and the classes are fun; (this week, my sketchbook class got walk into the plaza and get ice cream! and we made commercials for my Critical thinking class.) And for all of you in Shawnee, Olathe, and Blue valley, the food here (if you sign up for lunch bunch) is amazing. I mean, come on. They have a separate dining Hall and chefs.

## 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!

## (I DK yet)

Once there was a girl. Her name was Radine. The day Radine was born, was the day World War XI began. But life wasn’t much better before it started. The previous militia rebels stole and spent the last of the country’s money on boats, which were eventually sunk by British Marines. So the country looked as if it had un-aged for a century. No electricity was available, nor running water. So the citizens of Jorgen-Barta (no longer America) had to dig wells and farm crops to survive Tyrant Jorgen’s barren wastelands.

Since the Tyrant had claimed this land, traditions changed. Instead of looking for love on your own, he had his witchdoctors and witchcrafters change it. According to the witches, every couple had a special and different symbol or ensignia. The female (at birth) would recieve one half of the symbol as a necklace, and the male the other half. And when they each reached sixteen, they would journey on a pilgramage from their seperate villages to rejoice for the first time together.

Radine was born in a village laced in plague. Her mother died a moment before giving birth to her, and so Radine had to live on her own from the age of six, when her father was killed.

## How to make a Three layer cake

Hi there. Today is Park Ranger’s birthday, so I made her a cake! My sister, Prometheus, and I decided to make this year’s birthday cake extraordinary! It was a three layer cake with one layer German chocolate, one layer of crumbled marble cake, ( because when we took it out of the pan, it crumbled up. So we improvised.) and the last layer was pink vanilla cake.

You will require the follow to make the cake:

a whisk or an electric mixer

rubber spatula

3 regular tubs of frosting of your choice (I recommend whipped vanilla)

(optional) decorating icing

First, prepare each cake as directed upon the packages in seperate round pans, and don’t forget to grease the edges! After the cakes are done baking, then wait for them to cool. After they are cooled, take a knife ( no ridges) and cut a slight bit of cake top off so that the surface is moderately smooth. Do that to the rest of the cakes. then choose one cake as the base layer, and plop about a good two or three tablespoons of icing and smoothen it out with the rubber spatula. Then place the next cut layer of cake evenly on top of the base, and spread more icing on that, and place the last layer on top. Press the top of the cake firmly to ensure that the cake is intact. Then, using the remaining frosting, cover the edges and the top of the cake. then you may decorate howeveryou please!

Image

## Manicure and Pedicure

Today I got a pedicure which I think is pretty silly to write about but my mom insists so….. Here goes.

It was a manicure and a pedicure which means double fun! First I soaked my hands in this liquid, felt nice! Then she massaged my skin with lotion and cut my nails. After that came a series or oils, my hands smell good now! Then she messed around some more and I got to pick out nail polish. Now I have a pretty coral color, and I am happy!!!

For the pedicure it was basically the same only I soaked my feet in a very fancy hot tub. My feet smell good too. I have the same color polish on my toes only with a turquoise sparkle and white flowers. I’m really pleased with my first manicure/pedicure experience. I will definitely go back again. The service is great; I got water in a fancy cup! My person was Peggy, who gave my mom a manicure a few years back. She really likes me and is the nicest old lady ever!

We went a little overtime but that’s fine. I enjoy Peggy’s company. It’s at the Healthridge Fitness Center. I would recommend it to anyone (obviously not boys), she takes little girls too. It’s a great experience and I look forward to the next time I go!

## 2013 California Trip

“Okay, everyone get your bags, our flight leaves at 5:20.” My dad says, putting the bowls in the sink. It was Thursday, May 30th at 2:30 PM. We were getting ready to go to California to see my uncle. My aunt and cousins will be coming too, including my best friend Mariah.

The first 3 days were sightseeing, which was great! I saw beautiful landscapes and went to San Francisco. We saw the Golden Gate Bridge and went to China Town, but what I think was most exciting was June 4th.

Disneyland! That day was also when I got to see my Aunt and cousins. I’m so glad Mariah likes roller coasters or else I would have no one to ride with me! Well, there is my uncle and my dad but I’d rather have friends… BTW, I LOVE my uncle. Anyways, Adventureland was my favorite. My top 2 rides were the Indiana Jones Adventure and Matterhorn Bobsleds. It’s a Small World was really cute too, but the Adventure Park may just be better than Disneyland.

Paradise Pier was my favorite in Adventure Park. The saying is “its fun in the sun for everyone!” and that is SO true! All the rides in Paradise Pier are awesome! My favorite there was the California Screamin’. That ride goes everywhere, you’d think it is long but it’s actually like 30 seconds. Goofy’s Sky School was like a mini version of California Screamin’. My younger cousins went with us and they were scared to death, poor Emily and Elaine.

Then at this Hollywood place we went on the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. This one and California Screamin’ both tied for 1st place. You get in an elevator and basically drop 3 stories then 4 stories. When you get to a window it opens up so you can see how high you are then the window closes and you “plunge into the dark zones of Twilight”. My sister and cousins went on this, bad idea. In the pictures they weren’t even screaming, they just sat there looking scared to death. It was funny afterwards. Then Universal Studios comes next. The best ride there was the Mummy. If you haven’t noticed, I like thrill rides. It was all Egyptian like and moved 45 miles per hour! When the scarabs tried to eat us (there were 3D pictures on the walls) there were air vents around our feet that started going off and it felt so real. Mariah even screamed.

This trip was one of my favorites and it’s even better with family and friends!

## The Great Gatsby

Over Memorial weekend I watched the movie, the Great Gatsby, based on a book.

In the summer of 1922, Nick Carraway, an author and WWI veteran moves from the U.S. Midwest to New York, where he takes a job as a bond salesman. He buys a cozy cabin on Long Island in the fictional village of West Egg, next door to the lavish mansion of Jay Gatsby, a mysterious business man who holds frequent and extravagant parties. Nick drives across the bay to East Egg for dinner at the home of his cousin, Daisy Buchanan, and her husband, Tom, a college acquaintance of Nick’s. They introduce Nick to Jordan Baker, an attractive, cynical young golfer with whom Daisy wishes to couple Nick.

Jordan reveals to Nick that Tom has another secret lover who lives in an industrial dumping ground. (“valley of ashes”) between West Egg and New York City. Not long after this revelation, Nick travels with Tom to the valley of ashes, where they stop by a garage owned by George Wilson and his wife, Myrtle, who is Tom’s lover that Jordan mentioned. Nick goes with Tom and Myrtle to an apartment that they keep for their affair, where Myrtle throws a vulgar and bizarre party, with her sister Catherine, that ends with Tom breaking her nose as she taunts him about Daisy.

As the summer progresses, Nick receives an invitation to one of Gatsby’s parties. Upon arriving, he learns that none of the guests at the party, though there are hundreds, have ever met Gatsby himself, or been invited cordially, and they have developed multiple theories as to who he is, such as a German spy, or a thief. Nick encounters Jordan, and they meet Gatsby, who is surprisingly young and rather aloof, in person. Gatsby begins to get to know Nick Better and the two become mutual friends. Their friendship develops after Gatsby takes Nick out to lunch with his mysterious friend Meyer Wolfshiem. Through information given to Jordan, Nick later learns that Gatsby fell in love with Daisy in 1917, and is still madly in love with her. He spends many nights staring at the green light at the end of her dock, reaching out to it, across the bay from his mansion, hoping to one day rekindle their lost romance. Gatsby’s extravagant lifestyle and wild parties are an attempt to impress Daisy in the hopes that she will one day appear at Gatsby’s doorstep at a party. Gatsby now asks Nick a favor and wants Nick to arrange a reunion between himself and Daisy. Nick invites Daisy to have tea at his house, without telling her that Gatsby will be there also.

After an initially awkward reunion, Gatsby and Daisy reconnect, and they begin an affair. Shortly after, Daisy and Tom attend one of Gatsby’s parties, where suspicion builds up in Tom about the relationship between Gatsby and Daisy. During a lunch at the Buchanans’ house (with Nick and Gatsby invited), Gatsby stares at Daisy for such a long time that Tom realizes Gatsby is in love with her. Though Tom himself is involved in an extramarital affair, he is furious with both Gatsby and Daisy, but doesn’t say anything about it. He forces the group to drive into New York City for a ‘party’, where he confronts Gatsby in a suite at the Plaza Hotel. Tom boasts that he and Daisy have a history that Gatsby could never understand and never live up to, and he announces to his wife that Gatsby is a criminal. This pushes Gatsby to his breaking point, and he has an explosive outburst of fury, much to his own dismay. After this incident, Daisy realizes that her allegiance is to Tom, who contemptuously sends her back to East Egg with Gatsby, attempting to prove that Gatsby cannot hurt him.

When Nick, Jordan, and Tom drive through the valley of ashes, however, they discover that Gatsby’s car has struck and killed Myrtle, Tom’s extramarital lover. They rush back to Long Island, where Nick learns from Gatsby that Daisy, wanting to calm her nerves, had been driving the car at the time of the accident. But, Gatsby decided to take the blame, for he didn’t want to put Daisy in danger. Despite the events that occurred at the Plaza, Gatsby is convinced that Daisy will call him the next day, and waits in front of his telephone. That night, he reveals to Nick that he was born penniless, and his real name is James Gatz. In the morning, Nick leaves for work while Gatsby decides to go for a swim before his pool is drained for the season. He asks for the telephone to be brought down to the pool, still waiting for Daisy to call. The night before, Tom tells Myrtle’s husband, George, that Gatsby was the driver of the car. George jumps to the conclusion that Gatsby had also been Myrtle’s lover (because he had seen Myrtle wear a string of pearls that she couldn’t afford, and assumed that someone bought it for her), and he retrieves a gun. Back at the mansion, Gatsby hears the phone ring, and believes it to be Daisy. As he is climbing out of the pool while looking hopefully across the bay at Daisy’s mansion, he is abruptly shot and killed by George, who immediately turns the gun on himself. It is revealed that it is Nick on the phone, and he hears the two gunshots.

When Nick calls the Buchanans to invite Daisy to Gatsby’s funeral, he learns that she, Tom, and their daughter are leaving New York. Only the press, whom Nick chases out, attend the funeral. The media accuse Gatsby of being both the murderer and lover of Myrtle, leaving Nick as the only one who knows the truth. Evidently disillusioned with his fascination for the East Coast, he soon moves back to the Midwest to escape the disgust he feels for the people surrounding Gatsby’s life, as well as the moral decay and emptiness of the wealthy of the East Coast. Back in the sanatorium, Nick finishes his memoir and titles it, “The Great Gatsby”.

## Now You See Me

A few days ago, I went to Palazzo 16 to see a movie called Now You see Me.

Four magicians—Daniel Atlas, Henley Reeves, Jack Wilder  and Merritt McKinney —are brought together by a mysterious card that they each received to a mysterious location. One year later, perform as a magic troupe in Las Vegas as “The Four Horsemen” sponsored by Arthur Tressler , an insurance magnate. During one of their performances, the Four Horsemen invite a member of the audience to help them in their next trick: robbing a bank. A Frenchman is chosen to rob a bank of his choice, and he chooses one in France. He is teleported to that bank 10 minutes before opening time. Then, the Frenchman teleports (assisted by the Four Horseman through an earpiece) 30 million Euros through an air duct, and then it is blown out onto the Las Vegas stage in front of the crowd.

FBI agent Dylan Rhodes is called to investigate the theft and is partnered with French Agent Alma Vargas. They question the Four Horsemen, but release them when no explanation for the theft can be found other than genuine magic. Rhodes then meets Thaddeus Bradley, an ex-magician who makes money by revealing the secrets behind other magicians’ tricks. Bradley was in the audience and deduced that the Four Horsemen stole the money weeks before, and manipulated the audience into believing it happened in real time.

Rhodes, Vargas and Bradley attend the Four Horsemen’s next performance in New Orleans. The Four Horsemen’s finale involves them emptying Tressler’s bank account and adding generous amounts of it to the audience’s bank accounts, which is mostly made up of people whose insurance claims had been denied by Tressler’s insurance. Rhodes attempts to arrest them, but they escape with help from people in the audience that they hypnotized. (Merrit McKinney hypnotized a group of audience members into thinking they were football players, and whomever says ‘Freeze’ is the quarterback, whom they must tackle. When Agent Rhodes tries to arrest them, he yells, “Freeze!” and the hypnotized audience members tackle him.) Tressler is so infuriated, that he hires Bradley to expose and humiliate the Four Horsemen in their next performance. Later, while researching the Four Horsemen’s background, Agent Vargas learns about rumors of a secret society of magicians called “The Eye”, and suggests to Rhodes the case might be connected to a magician who was once exposed by Bradley, and was so humiliated that he attempted a dangerous underwater stunt and drowned.

Before the Four Horsemen’s last performance in New York City, Rhodes and Vargas locate the group’s hideout and catch Wilder there. He attempts to escape in a stolen car, but it crashes and explodes. Then, Rhodes and Vargas learn that the Four Horsemen are targeting a particular safe, which is under the surveillance of another FBI team, whom later takes over the case. They intercept the safe in route to Five Points, NY, but find it empty. The ability of the Four Horseman to continually outwit the FBI leads Rhodes to suspect that there must be a fifth member of the team, potentially Vargas or Bradley.

At the final performance, Rhodes and Vargas once again attempt to arrest the Four Horsemen. But Atlas, Reeves and McKinney jump from the rooftop as a finale, and seemingly transform into piles of money that rain from the sky into the cheering crowd, but it turns out the money is fake. After the performance, Bradley returns to his car, discovering it to be filled with the real money from the stolen safe. He is then arrested by the FBI and taken to prison, where Rhodes  asks what had happened that night. Bradley protests that he was framed and explains how the group performed the safe heist through use of mirrors. He hopes this will clear him of charges. But then, Bradley realizes that Rhodes is the Fifth Horseman, the mastermind of all of the schemes. Rhodes leaves Bradley in jail and reunites with the Four Horsemen, including Wilder, who faked his death. They are surprised to find out Rhodes is the benefactor that assembled them one year prior and are initiated into The Eye.

Rhodes later meets Vargas in France, and reveals that he is the son of the magician who drowned years ago. The plot was designed to obtain revenge on those involved: Bradley, for humiliating his father; the bank in Paris and Tressler’s company, which refused to pay insurance on his father’s death; and the company that produced the safe used in the trick. Due to its inferior quality of the metal in the safe it warped resulting in Rhodes’ father’s death. Rhodes was living in poverty until The Eye recruited him. He admits that he has fallen in love with Vargas, who decides not to turn him in.

## The Croods

On 4/27/13, my family and I went to the movies. We watched the Croods, a movie fun for all ages. We went a little late so we had to sit in the front rows and we weren’t sitting together. Either way, it was a great movie and one that I will remember for some time!

Eep is a girl in a family of  Cavemen living and hunting in pre-historic times, talking about how her family is one of the few to survive nearby, mainly due to the strict rules of her overprotective father, Grug . When in their cave home, Grug tells a story to the rest of the family which includes his wife Ugga, his daughter Sandy, his son Thunk, and his mother-in-law Gran with a character that mirrors Eep’s curious nature. He uses this story to warn the family that exploration and new things pose a threat to their survival, and says to never not be afraid. This irritates the bored and adventurous Eep, and when the family falls asleep after dark, she ignores her father’s advice and leaves the cave when she sees a light moving outside the cave.

Seeking the light’s source, she meets Guy, an intelligent caveboy. She becomes fascinated with the fire he manages to create and  is eager to learn more. He tells her about his theory that the world is reaching its ‘end’ and asks her to join him. She refuses and Guy leaves, but not before giving her a noise-making shell to call him if she feels the need for help. Shortly afterwards, Eep is then caught by Grug, who had been frantically searching for her. Grug brings Eep back home, planning to keep her in the cave for the rest of her life. He is joined by the rest of the family, who Eep then tells them about Guy and shows them  the shell given to her, only for them to destroy it in fear of ‘new things’. An earthquake then occurs, sending everyone running for the cave, only to be stopped by Grug moments before the cave is destroyed by falling rocks. When they climb over the wreckage, they discover a land with lush vegetation, much different from their usual surroundings of rocky terrain. Grug takes his family into the deep forest to find a new cave.

While becoming aware of their new surroundings, the family are chased by a “Macawnivore” (a large, macaw-colored machairodont later called ‘Chunky’) and attacked by a swarm of “Piranhakeets” (deadly red-furred, piranha-like birds). In an act of panic, Eep sounds a horn similar to that which Guy gave her. Guy hears this and rushes to her. Thinking quickly, he creates a torch of fire, which scares the birds away. The rest of the family are then captivated by the fire, having never seen it before. After feeling impressed with Guy’s intelligence and mind of ‘ideas’, Grug bottles him in a hollow log to carry him in, then suggests that they take solitude in the cave of a nearby mountain mentioned by Guy. Guy is forcibly persuaded to lead the way, and soon begins to learn of the Croods way of living, which he thinks of as unusual.

Having captured something afterwards, the family greedily devours everything they caught. Guy and Eep are more sparing. The others realize their greediness and stop eating. Grug then tells another of his morale-lowering tales, this time mirroring the events of their day, mentioning a girl Grug and Ugga had before Eep was born who did venture away from her cave and died. Guy then tells a story of his own about a paradise he nicknames “Tomorrow”.

The next day, the family reaches a path coated in spiked rocks. A freed Guy then presents one of his various inventions called shoes. He makes some out of all the resources he can find, for each family member. This gains him some respect from the others except for Grug, who starts to feel jealous of Guy’s cleverness. Ugga, Gran, and Sandy have their first idea to get past carnivorous plants, Thunk encounters a crocodile-like dog who he calls Douglas, Eep and Guy grow closer together, while Grug is stranded in a ravine forcing Ugga to go back for him. They all reach a tree to stop for another night except for Grug, who feels distraught by his family abandoning his traditions of ‘Yesterday’ for Guy’s traditions of ‘Tomorrow.’ The next day, a ‘desperate’ and left-out Grug shows the others some of his ideas which all end up failing and humiliating himself. They soon reach the mountain, where Grug is unable to convince the family that settling in nearby cave is a better option, reaches to full anger, and proceeds to attack Guy. The two become stuck in tar and Guy reveals his family died drowning in it and their last words inspired his traditions of “Tomorrow.” Grug has a change of heart towards Guy.

As they are about to reach their destiny, an earthquake opens a deep ravine in their path. Grug throws each of them across the gap and reconciles with Eep, but is left behind. Will they make it to Tomorrow? Watch the movie to find out!

## 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.