Leader: Silence of the Night (Silentnight)-black tom
Deputy: Risingmoon (Rising of the Moon)-pure gray she-cat
Healing Cat: Lightningclaw (Claws of Lightning)-yellow tabby with a scar that looks like lightning
Shinningnight (Shining Stars of the Night)-a white she-cat
Starynight (Stary Night)-a gray tom
Sunset (Setting of the Sun)-orange tabby tom
Sunrise (Rise of the Sun)-a yellow she-cat
Duskpelt (Dusk of the Night)-brown tom
Darkmoon (Darkest Shade of Moon)-black she-cat
Halfmoon (Half the Moon)-whitish-grayish tom
Wintersky (Sky of Winter)-white-gray tom
Snowpetal (Petal of Snow)-whitish-reddish she-cat
Nightsky (Sky of the Night)-pure black she-cat
Cometblaze (Blazing Comet)-a golden tabby she-cat
Breezetail (Tail in the Breeze)-a black and grey tabby she-cat with white markings
Swiftfoot (Swift on her Feet)-blue, white and gray she-cat
Dawnflower (Flower at Dawn)-dawn colored she-cat
Skypelt (Pelt of the Sky)-bluish-grayish she-cat (nursing three kits, Sun (a yellow tabby), Sky (a cream colored she-cat), and Cloud (a fluffy gray she-cat)
Cloudysun (Clouds of the Sun)-whitish-orangish she-cat
Moonpool (Moon in the Pool)-bluish tom
Leader: Fur in the Gorse (Gorsefur)-greenish-brownish tabby tom
Deputy: Heatherbracken (Heather in the Bracken)-a brown she-cat
Healing Cat: Blackleaf (Blackest Leaf)-black tabby
Tallbreeze (Tall Trees in the Breeze) gray tom
Windyhill (Wind on the Hill)-a tan colored she-cat
Summerair (Summer in the Air)-an orange-yellow-reddish she-cat
Rainstorm (Storm with Rain)-blue-gray tom
Stormcloud (Stormy Cloud)-blue-gray tabby tom
Lightningscar (Scar of Lightning)-an orange-yellow tabby with a scar running down his eye onto his neck
Mistycloud (Mist from a Cloud)-gray tortoise shell she-cat
Cloudyair (Clouds in the Air)-white tom
Windpool (Wind by the Pool)-bluish she-cat
Cracklefur (Crackle of Lightning)-brown tabby
Boomingthunder (Booming of Thunder)-grayish tabby tom
Floodwater (Flooding Water)-blue-gray she-cat (mother of Rainstorm’s kit, Whirl(a silver tabby)
Fogwater (Foggy Water)-white she-cat
Leader: Fur of Crystals (Crystalfur)-pure white she-cat
Deputy: Winterair (Air of Winter)-white-blue she-cat
Mistypool (Misty Water Pool)-white-blue she-cat
Hawkfrost (Frost of Hawk)-brown-white tabby tom
Poppyfrost (Frost of Poppies)-red tortoise shell she-cat
Frostytrail (Trail of Frost)-a black tom with jet white paws
Icyclaws (Claws of Ice)-a pure white tom
Hailfoot (Sky of Hail)-white-gray tom
Snowstorm (Storm of Snow)-white she-cat
Coldfangs (Fangs of Cold)-pale white tabby
Icecloud (Cloud of Ice)-pure white tom
Clearsnow (Clear Snow)-pale gray tabby tom
Icefire (Ice Fire)-a blue tortoiseshell tom
Snowdrop (Drop of Snow)-a bluish and whitish she-cat
Willowsleet (Willow in Sleet)-white tortoise shell she-cat
Snowfern (Ferns in Snow)-tortoise shell she-cat
Dewspot (Spots of Dew)-a gray she-cat with one huge white spot on her back
Leader: Tail of Cinder (Cindertail)-brown she-cat
Deputy: Redlight (Light of Red)-red tabby
Healing Cat: Bigheart (Big Heart)-a brown tabby tom who is completely blind
Dustfur (Dusty Fur)-dusky pale brown tabby
Goldenheart (Heart of Gold)-yellow she-cat
Silverfoot (Foot of Silver)-silver tortoise shell she-cat
Smokynose (Smoky Nose)-a smoky black tabby tom
Ashtail (Ash Tail)-a white-brown tabby
Leaffur (Fur made of Leaves)-dark tabby tom
Ripplepelt (Ripple Water)-dark gray tom
Morninglight (Morning Light)-a tortoise shell she-cat
Springshine (Sign of Spring)-white-brown she-cat
Blackheart (Heart of Black)-pale black tom
Pinefur (Fur of Pines)-short haired tabby
Tawnyfur (Tawny Fur)-tortoise shell she-cat (mother of Ripplepelt’s kits, Water (a bluish white tom), and Forest (a grayish greenish tortoise shell she-cat)
Kinkpelt (Pelt of Kink)-gray-brown she-cat
Runningrainbow (Running Rainbow)-white tom
Leader: Pelt of Honey (Honeypelt)-orange-yellow she-cat
Deputy: Weaslefur (Weasle Fur)-brown furred tabby
Healing Cat: Brightlight (Brightest Light)-brown she-cat blind in one eye
Shrewfern (Shrew in the Fern)-gray tabby tom
Otterfur (Fur of the Otter)-pale brown tabby
Birchfall (Falling Birch)-light brown tom
Earthwing (Wings of Earth)-brown tortoise shell she-cat
Rabbitfoot (Rabbit’s Foot)-white she-cat with pale brown paws
Mousewhisker (Whiskers of a Mouse)-a brown tabby tom
Grizzlynose (Grizzly’s Nose)-a black tom with a huge nose
Beetleeyes (Eyes of a Beetle)-greenish-grayish she-cat
Birdtrail (Trail of a Bird)-red-brown she-cat
Bumblestripes (Stripes of a Bee)-an unusually black stripped tom
Toadpelt (Toad’s Pelt)-dark brown tabby tom
Fishtail (Tail of Fish)-a silver-white she-cat
Voleear (Vole’s Ear)-pure white she-cat with two brown ears
Harespring (Spring of Hare)-white-brown tabby
Bluebird (Blue Bird)-bluish she-cat (mother of Otterfur’s kits Squirrel (a ginger she-cat with a bushy tail), Bear (a black tabby), Starling (a reddish she-cat), and Wolf (a brownish gray tabby tom
Peace night was unusually quiet as Nightsky walked around, dipping her head in greeting to warriors and apprentices of different tribes. The she-cat continued to follow Snowpetal to a group of familiar she-cats. Fishtail dipped her head curtly; sensing frustration and anger from the she-cat. But Nightsky understood; the battle wasn’t too long ago. The awkwardness filled the air the entire time and even the apprentices were affected by the battle. Nightsky was surprised to hear the leaders calling for peace night to start so soon. “Rainbow Tribe’s twoleg problem is over and we have been granted with two new warriors from Sky Tribe; Morninglight and Springshine.” Tail of Cinder reported rushing. Barely anybody muttered congratulations as the next leader continued. “Fox appearances have been scented in Rainbow Tribe.” interrupted Tail of Cinder rudely. Fur of Crystals glared at her when she didn’t give an apology. Nightsky soon realized that Tail of Cinder had cut in front of Pelt of Honey’s turn and the Swift Tribe leader had been glaring at the Rainbow Tribe leader as soon as they had started. Fur of Crystals stopped herself from starting her report as she saw Pelt of Honey’s expression. The white she-cat beckoned Pelt of Honey to start. “Fox have also been scented in our territory but other than that, every cat in Swift Tribe is healthy and hasn’t been badly injured from our feeble battle with Star Tribe.” explained Pelt of Honey exaggerating while she smirked at Silence of the Night but the tom didn’t seem agitated but stared back at her in triumph as the Star Tribe cats all let out yowls of approval. Before anyone could do anymore, Winter Tribe’s leader started to share. “Icefire and Snowdrop have become fine apprentices but fox scents around our territory have stopped them from being able to participate tonight.” meowed Fur of Crystals, concern showing in her perplexed voice. “Fox scents have also been in our territory.” “From what I hear, fox scent has been detected in every cat’s territory,” started Fur in the Gorse looking at the Star Tribe leader expectantly. “We have three new kits; Sun, Sky, and Cloud.” meowed Silence of the Night dismissing Fur in the Gorse’s question. “But fox has been a risk for newly made apprentices to be able to hunt in Star Tribe’s territory.” “Why hasn’t Silence of the Night mentioned the fox bringing us food or that Sun, Sky, and Cloud were found in a fox’s den?” “Shh! Keep your voice down!” hissed Starynight. “Do you really think anybody would believe him?” “Tail of Cinder may I speak?” asked Blackleaf unexpectedly as the leaders started to walk down the rock. Tail of Cinder looked bewildered at his request but resumed her natural, calm face before nodding her head acceptingly. “Foxes mysteriously popping up without a trace,” he mumbled half to himself. “This could be part of the prophecy.” “Why do you say that Blackleaf?” challenged Mistypool though Nightsky could tell she was already convinced. “Actually, Blackleaf could be right.” Lightningclaw chimed in, unaware of Mistypool’s small tease. “A few seasons ago, we discussed the prophecy already but, maybe the foxes are a part of it…?” The clearing went silent with horror. “Foxes?” Nightsky whispered quietly, her voice engulfed by Voleear as she rose her voice to be heard. “Seek the one with red fur…” exclaimed the healing cat apprentice her eyes focused on thin air as if reimagining the moment. “They could be right.” admit Fur of Crystals after a brief moment of silence. “We must be ready for anything to happen.”
A shallow, cool breeze blew through the drafty underground passage ways. Breezetail’s heart skipped a beat as she looked into the cold, beady eyes of a ruthless murderer. Scarlet, red fur seemed to be the only thing she could see. Though she felt the creature’s aggression, it did not bare its teeth at them but instead looked in curiosity; as if acknowledging their fear. The group was silent but ready to attack if the fox gave any sign of a threat. But then, a voice like no other shattered Breezetail’s mind with shock. “Why you here?” asked the fox tilting her head to one side. Breezetail felt her jaw open as wide as it could go while the fox continued to study the unusual group. “W-what?” meowed Grizzlynose disbelievingly. “I said why you come here?” repeated the mysterious animal, its eyes showing no impatience for the stubborn warrior. “How, how can you understand us?” asked Goldenheart barely able to actually comprehend what she was hearing. “I speak cat, dog, badger, and fox.” replied the she-fox staring attentively at Breezetail making the young she-cat shudder. “If you foxes speak cat, why do you make enemies with us?” snapped Grizzlynose stubbornly. “You do not understand my young warrior.” replied the fox. Everyone was taken by surprise at the she-fox’s reply; how did she know Grizzlynose was a warrior? Breezetail could tell Grizzlynose was taken aback by her reply and didn’t bother trying to argue; afraid of the fox knowing anymore than she should. “I am only one of my kind who knows how to speak cat.” she finished speaking quite fluently but Breezetail could tell she was still struggling at pronunciation. The she-cat let out a painful yowl when a sharp pain shot through her numb shoulder as she struggled to get into a comfortable position. Soon she found two beady, concerned little eyes staring directly at her shoulder. Breezetail felt a bit threatened as the fox stalked slowly towards her. Duskpelt quickly stood his ground protectively over the apprentice but the fox just shouldered past the warrior without even flinching. Duskpelt hissed threateningly and got ready to attack but Swiftfoot shoved him to the ground with a hard swing to the side; holding him down firmly. “What are you doing?!” he growled in annoyance. “Get off!” “Shh!” interrupted Swiftfoot gazing at the fox with a glitter of curiosity forming in her eyes. “Your friend hurt. Follow.” ordered the fox dismissively, leaving the cats no choice but to do as she says. Duskpelt and Swiftfoot gently brought Breezetail to her feet as she leaned on their supportive sides. “I don’t think we should trust this fox.” growled Duskpelt quietly. “Seek the one with red fur who holds great knowledge to learn the truth…” whispered Swiftfoot, her eyes shimmering with excitement. “It’s her; she’s in the prophecy.” “Rest here.” barked the fox pointing at a nest at the very back of the large cave. Assuming it was the fox’s sleep space, Breezetail hesitated but a demanding look from Swiftfoot told her it would be better to do as she was told. “Now tell me who you are.” asked the fox sitting down a short length from the travelers. Heatherbracken hesitantly stepped forward, unaware from where to start. “We are not from this place; we live in a forest with five tribes.” To Heatherbracken’s surprise, the fox didn’t seem surprised by the news as she nodded absent-mindedly. “You see, our ancestors sent us here to look for a cat with red fur who holds great knowledge…?” Breezetail could hear her words were forced, it was clear to everyone that the fox was who they were looking for. “Star Tribe, Tornado Tribe, Winter Tribe, Swift Tribe, and Rainbow Tribe correct?” asked the fox curiously. There was dead silence as the cats looked at each other with fear. “H-how do you know that?” asked Goldenheart. “I’ve been there.” she replied secretively. “What your names?” “I-I am Heatherbracken, this is Duskpelt, Breezetail, Swiftfoot, Goldenheart, Grizzlynose, Hailfoot, Clearsnow, and Rabbitfoot.” The fox looked at them with glowing eyes; seeming to go into a trance at the mention of their names. Breezetail’s fur started to bristle as she saw the fox lock eyes with Swiftfoot; seeming to be delighted to know who she was. “So who might you be?” asked Hailfoot bravely. The fox tore its gaze away from the healing cat apprentice. “Scarlet.” was all she replied with. “Scarlet…?” repeated Duskpelt uncertainly. All of a sudden Scarlet whirled around as if she forgot something important. “The prophecy.” she whispered just loud enough for every cat to hear. Breezetail’s heart bumped in her chest at the mention. What does she know about the prophecy? “You have come, Swift on your Feet.” “How do you-” gasped Swiftfoot but Scarlet didn’t let her finish. “We must talk alone young Swiftfoot; the future of tribes is in your paws.”
Swiftfoot followed the she-fox in utter silence; her mind was swirling with all new information. The prophecy was unraveling far too quickly for Swiftfoot to handle. Get a grip, she said to herself briskly; you need to stay calm! “Sit.” instructed Scarlet letting her hind quarters lazily drop onto the solid ground. Swiftfoot was about to speak before Scarlet started with a bone chilling voice. “Swift on her Feet,” she barked solemnly. “Sky Tribe sent message about a prophecy to me many seasons ago.” Swiftfoot went silent. “Sky Tribe sent you a prophecy?” Scarlet nodded her head intensely. “They told me to seek out someone who Swift on her Feet; but now I realize that you, Swiftfoot.” The healing cat apprentice felt dizzy. Now she was in a prophecy? How could this be? “Your home is in grave danger; the threat to all the tribes will come pouring in like Blood but only deadlier.” Swiftfoot looked at in disappointment. She had hoped Scarlet would tell her more that she already knew. Swiftfoot quickly changed her expression as she saw Scarlet staring at her curiously. “You have not looked deeper into the prophecy.” was what she simply said. “Prophecy say more cat blood spill onto battle field; blood will spill into your territory.” Spill into? Swiftfoot looked even more puzzled than ever. “Not just any blood will spill;” the fox’s eyes went grave before she continued to speak. “Blood Tribe is coming.” “B-blood tribe?” repeated Swiftfoot in bewilderment. “Yes Blood Tribe.” replied Scarlet looking grim. “Blood thirsty cats who kill for fun.” A block of ice laid itself heavily in Swiftfoot’s already upset stomach. “Go rest. Tomorrow we need all your strength and courage.” ordered Scarlet padding off and out of sight.
Cometblaze quickly sprang to her paws just as Sunset, Nightsky, and Darkmoon were about to leave for a border patrol. Sunset nodded his head in improvement as his apprentice made it just in time. “I didn’t even have to wake you this time.” he commented teasingly as they left camp. Darkmoon, who was leading the patrol, spoke up first. “Where should we go first?” she asked. “Roaring Water?” asked Nightsky confidently. Darkmoon looked at her curiously. “Roaring Water? For what reason Nightsky?” The she-cat looked at her mentor in the eye. “Well, it has been unusually quiet; for all we know they could be up to something.” Darkmoon nodded her head, surprised by her apprentice’s good reasoning. “Good idea; Roaring Water it is.” meowed Sunset, clearly forgetting he wasn’t in charge of the patrol. Cometblaze looked at her sister through challenging eyes before putting her tail in front of Nightsky in order to slow her down. “Why do you really want to go inspect the Rainbow Tribe border?” she hissed into her sister’s ear. “Huh?” her sister simply replied not meeting her intense gaze. “Is this about Swiftfoot and Blackheart?” she snapped in annoyance. “Swiftfoot hasn’t been here for several moons; why look now?” Nightsky sighed helplessly. “I know that but I thought since you’re such a good hunter, you must be good at tracking.” she whispered. Cometblaze looked at the ground in embarrassment. “Well, I could try. Where did you last scent her?” “We’ll need a distraction first.” she reminded Cometblaze. “Hey Cometblaze! Nightsky! You’re slacking.” yowled Darkmoon looking back at the apprentices. “Darkmoon, would it be alright if Cometblaze and I went looking for Goldenrod for Lightningclaw?” Darkmoon narrowed her eyes. “Why so?” she asked challengingly. “W-we just thought it would be a nice thing to do.” stammered Nightsky. Sunset purred in amusement. “If you would like to hunt by yourselves for a bit, you could just say so. Darkmoon and I will go on further ahead to renew the markings. We’ll meet back here in a bit.” Nightsky quickly led her to a small clearing close to the border. “This is where her scent started to fade away. Can you pick up Blackheart’s sent anywhere?” Cometblaze got a good whiff of her surroundings. “Pansy, Swiftfoot; there’s something else here…” meowed Cometblaze drifting off in though. “What else?” demanded Nightsky raking her claws across the ground with impatience. “I-I can’t identify it; it’s mixed in with Swiftfoot and herbs.” “Mouse dung!” spat Nightsky as she heard her mentor calling her name. “There you are.” meowed Darkmoon. “We finished marking the Rainbow Tribe border; did you two catch anything?” Cometblaze shook her head, trying to look calm. “Well we found some goldenrod.” teased Sunset but showed the goldenrod in his mouth. “Bring these to Lightningclaw and then meet us at the training hollow.” Cometblaze and Nightsky silently obeyed and headed off to camp with the delicate plants dangling from their mouths.
Frustration dwelled in Nightsky’s mind as they came into the clearing with the goldenrod still dangling from their gentle grip. She was hoping Cometblaze’s nose would’ve been strong enough to pick up any faint scents. “Here you go Lightningclaw.” greeted Cometblaze dropping the herb beside his tabby paws. “Thank you?” meowed Lightningclaw curiously, picking up the herbs. “I see your infected scratch has almost fully healed Cometblaze.” Cometblaze saw the approving look in his eye and she guessed he was referring to her urge to battle train.
“Finally.” muttered Sunset as the apprentices came into sight. “Did you get caught up talking with the other apprentices or did you take a quick nap?” “Before Sunset and I forget to tell you, Silence of the Night has ordered all the apprentices to train every single day.” explained Darkmoon flicking her ear as a fl buzzed around it. “Why?” asked Cometblaze bravely. “Don’t you remember?” interrupted Nightsky. “Silence of the Night announced what the prophecy meant when everyone came back from Peace Night; foxes are said to be in the prophecy and of course foxes are never good.” “Very good Nightsky.” praised Darkmoon. “But frankly, we have to end this conversation; we have to start battle training before sun down.” “And remember,” added Sunset. “It will be one more season before you become warriors; impress us while you can.” Nightsky looked at Cometblaze’s mentor in surprise; had it really already been two and a half seasons since they had become apprentices? All of a sudden, a flash of golden tabby fur hit Nightsky hard on the side. “We’re supposed to be training, not dreaming you stupid furball!” teased Cometblaze in amusement as she let her sister up. Nightsky’s fur went hot with embarrassment as she stood in a ready position. Darkmoon curtly nodded her head; not giving a big chance for either apprentice to decide whether that was the signal or an approving nod of Nightsky’s ready position. Either way, Nightsky hurled herself at her sister with controlling speed but fast enough to send her flying. As her sister got up and charged at her, Nightsky had an idea. The black she-cat swiftly, unnoticing, led Cometblaze to the nearest tree before climbing and jumping off a branch just above her confused sister as she strategically landed a back flip on the ground, touching Cometblaze’s flank with her whiskers. The apprentice quickly head-butted her sister’s flank hard, as she saw the ground start to move. Nightsky looked around disorientated, trying to find Cometblaze; her sister was on the ground, barely twitching. As she regained her sense of balance, Nightsky quickly but steadily trotted to Cometblaze’s side; only to have a paw to the face as the tabby she-cat pushed her away. Sneaky trick, she thought. But not as sneaky as this! Nightsky shook her pelt vigorously and skillfully skidded underneath her sister’s vulnerable stomach to give the she-cat’s tail a hard tug. Cometblaze flew a few fox-lengths in the air before crashing down into the undergrowth at the end of the training grounds. “Are you ok?” asked Nightsky panting heavily. Cometblaze’s only reply was a snort as she didn’t even bother to get up. “You seem to be better at hunting than at fighting.” teased Nightsky trying to hold back a purr on amusement.
Darkmoon held up her tail for silence as the apprentices continued to sharpen their skills. “It’s starting to get dark, we should head back in case we can go join a border patrol before sun-down.”
The way they had come had seemed like an easier route for every cat since but Scarlet had insisted on taking a “shorter” route and everyone knew there was no point in arguing with a fox. But everyone was still exhausted from yesterday and Breezetail seemed to be the most affected; especially with her shoulder slowing her down. Scarlet had given Breezetail some strange looking herbs to eat this morning to numb the pain but it had seemed they had worn out. “Swift on her Feet,” called Scarlet. “You find herbs to strengthen friends?” Swiftfoot nodded her head. “I’ll look around but there are no guarantees; Goldenheart could you come help me?” The golden tabby looked startled by her request but agreed without hesitation.
“It may be a bit difficult to find ragwort here.” exclaimed Goldenheart, showing certain knowledge of a healing cat. “Meadows aren’t exactly places where they would grow.” Swiftfoot looked at the warrior curiously. I wonder if she helps Bigheart with herb collecting? The sun was just starting to rise over the mountains; Swiftfoot had just realized how early it was compared to when they were on the mountains. Luckily, there were several trees in the terrain and the shade was enough for a tiny bit of ragwort to bloom. “This should be enough.” meowed Swiftfoot in satisfaction. “Let’s head back.”
“What kind of herb is this?” asked Scarlet as she curiously sniffed the huge, green leaves. “In our tribes we call it ragwort; it’s used for strength in a poultice but it works fine on its own too.” Swiftfoot quickly chewed all the leaves into a pulp before spreading liquid from the leaves out for everyone to take their share. “Now I remember.” exclaimed Scarlet. “To foxes, these herbs known as Shade Leaves.” Swiftfoot looked at her in shock. “Foxes use herbs as well?” asked Heatherbracken as she finished licking up the pulp. Scarlet nodded, her beady eyes focusing on what was left of the herb. “Shade Leaves very poisonous to fox; we stay away from them.” she explained and then more impatiently added. “We need to continue; Blood is coming.”
As they continued to pad through woodland away from the mountains, a question was making Swiftfoot uncomfortable with curiosity. She casually sped up to catch up to Duskpelt who was looking at the scenery before him. “Oh hi Swiftfoot.” he muttered barely realizing who was really talking to him. Swiftfoot nodded her head in greeting before speaking. “You’ve been awfully quiet the rest of the way back.” she meowed. “Yeah, well, I’m tired.” was all he managed to mumble back as he stared up at the sky frequently. “You and Breezetail haven’t talked either.” she pressed on, flinching as she could feel the tom tense. “It’s nothing, Breezetail just doesn’t want to be bothered right now after being injured.” choked Duskpelt forcing out a teasing purr before landing his sad gaze on the tabby she-cat at the very back of the group. Swiftfoot stopped herself from continuing; Duskpelt wasn’t going to give anything away either. The healing cat apprentice quickly veered away from the tom, making sure she wouldn’t disturb him in his sad state. All of a sudden, Swiftfoot recognized a familiar, unpleasant but reassuring smell; Swift Tribe. The traveling cats shot excited glances between each other. They were home!
Shiningnight’s patrol silently entered Star Tribe’s camp as they came back to report. Shiningnight, Wintersky, Nightsky, and Darkmoon were all about to head off into separate directions but before they could even move, Darkmoon spoke up. “Good luck.” she meowed to Shiningnight as the warrior made her way excitedly up to the leader’s den. The elderly warrior nodded her head in thanks before heading into Silence of the Night’s den politely. Nightsky looked at her mentor curiously. “What was that all about?” asked Nightsky in a quieter tone in case it wasn’t meant to be discussed out loud. “Wintersky is ready to be made a warrior; Shiningnight is announcing the news to Silence of the Night.” she explained though she didn’t seem all too pleased giving away a somewhat secret. Just then, Starynight headed into the den almost invisibly. Snowpetal too, she thought. “Risingmoon!” called Nightsky’s father calmly. “I must discuss something with you.” Was Halfmoon also ready to become a warrior? Jealousy clawed at her belly but she contained herself from thinking anything negative; she would soon become a warrior as well. “Greetings Nightsky.” meowed an exhausted voice from behind. The she-cat whirled around to see Skypelt emerging from the to-be-mothers den with Cloud, Sky, and Sun in the lead. “Hey watch it!” snapped Wintersky as Cloud attacked his tail. Beside him, Snowpetal purred in amusement. “Let it go Wintersky; they’re just kits.” The gray tom just snorted in reply and mumbled under his breath. “They’re a handful for sure.” meowed Skypelt flicking them a ball of moss to play with so they didn’t disturb any other cats. “But by the looks of it, they should become apprentices soon.” Nightsky nodded her head in agreement and let out a mrrow of amusement as Sun toppled onto the kill pile. “Hey you three! Watch it!” snapped Skypelt trying not to lose her patients. “Play closer to the to-be-mothers den from now on!” “Sorry Skypelt.” mewed Sky, though mischief still shone in her eyes as she raced over to her foster mother. “Kits.” mumbled Skypelt watching them in amusement.
Mere moments of silence passed by before a bellowing voice was heard from the leader’s den. “Fellow Star Tribe cats!” yowled Silence of the Night unexpectantly. “Let us all gather around for a tribe meeting!” “Settle down!” hissed Skypelt ushering the three kits closer to the center of the camp. “Today, is the day new warriors will be welcomed into Star Tribe.” meowed Silence of the Night, his gaze darting between Wintersky, Snowpetal, and Halfmoon as they looked at each other in excitement. The black tom patiently beckoned Wintersky up to the front with a flick of his tail. “Shiningnight,” acknowledged the tom looking at the she-cat from where she sat in the crowd. “Has this apprentice shown skill and loyalty for Star Tribe?” “He has shown many great strengths and has truly learned the ways of the tribe code; showing the heart and courage of any true Star Tribe warrior.” she replied looking sympathetically at her former apprentice. “Then from this day forward, you, Sky of Winter will now be known as a courageous warrior of this tribe.” concluded Silence of the Night nodding his head in acceptance to the newly made warrior before Wintersky headed back to Snowpetal and Halfmoon. The tabby she-cat gave him an affectionate lick on his ear as he settled back down. “Snowpetal.” welcomed Silence of the Night as she made her way to the front of the group in a hurry. “Starynight, do you think your apprentice has shown loyalty and bravery to our tribe in order to learn the way of the code?” “I do. Although her communicating skills could be better.” he teased gently before continuing his short speech. “But either than that, she has successfully met my expectations.” “Then by the powers of Sky Tribe, Petal of Snow, you are now a full warrior of Star Tribe for seasons on end; may our ancestors be with you.” meowed Silence of the Night, his sharp, yellow eyes blinking warmly down on the young warrior. The she-cat bowed her head in deep respect for his kind, praising words before rushing back into the crowd. As Halfmoon rose from his spot, Nightsky suddenly felt lonely; she had hoped Breezetail and Swiftfoot would’ve been back by now to watch a warrior ceremony take place. Nightsky sighed, sadness showing in her eyes as she saw Halfmoon pad back from his ceremony. Nightsky looked at him proudly and he dipped his head in return to her kind, quiet words. “According to our ancestors, these three new warriors must go on a patrol before sun down to symbolize their strength and honor; Starynight, Shiningnight, and Risingmoon shall company them for one last time as mentors.” concluded Silence of the Night.
As the ceremonies came to an end, Cometblaze padded up to her lonely sister. “Do you smell that?” she asked happily. Nightsky looked at her in confusion. “Smell what?” All of a sudden the faint scent of herbs lingered in the air and Nightsky’s eyes lit up with delight. The traveling cats were back!
Snowpetal was just chatting away with questions as the patrol kindly escorted them back to camp. “Snowpetal,” meowed Duskpelt in a stern voice, clearly annoyed by her lack of patience. “We’ll announce our news to everyone.” Snowpetal looked a bit hurt by his words but hardened her look as she realized the tom was right. The patrol had found Breezetail, Swiftfoot, and Duskpelt saying their goodbyes to Goldenheart from Rainbow Tribe as they parted into their own territories. Swiftfoot could still tell the patrol was wary and agitated of Scarlet’s presence as they continued to eye her uncertainly. Swiftfoot crossed her tail in an effort to reassure herself that everyone would believe why Scarlet was here and what their journey had been for. “Silence of the Night!” The name disoriented Swiftfoot for a few heart beats before she realized she would be seeing everyone again. “The journeying cats are home!” yowled Snowpetal gleefully as they entered camp. “Thank Sky Tribe!” meowed Skypelt rushing over with three kits. Swiftfoot looked at them curiously. Were those Dawnflower’s kits? Had they come so early? “Wait why is there a fox here?!” asked Lightningclaw in bewilderment as he popped his head out of the healing den. “Silence.” ordered Silence of the Night padding calmly down from the leader’s rock. “Let Swiftfoot explain.”
After everybody had settled down, Swiftfoot began to explain the challenges they had faced and the new prophecies that had been for told. The rest of Star Tribe just went silent with shock and fear; unlike the kits who stared up at Swiftfoot with awe. “Sky Tribe sent you a prophecy?” asked Lightningclaw when Swiftfoot had finished. Scarlet looked at him. “Yes.” she replied meeting his gaze intensely. “They never told me why.” “We should tell the other tribes about this.” demanded Risingmoon calmly. “Every cat needs to know.” Murmurs of agreement rose up. “From what it sounds like,” added Sunrise worriedly. “We’ll need everyone’s help in order to defeat Blood Tribe.” Silence of the Night flicked his tail dismissively at his deputy’s idea. “There is no need; Star Tribe weren’t the only cats on the journey. The information will spread from rest of the journeying cats. For now, we will continue with our regular duties but border patrols will have to be done more frequently and apprentices will continue training every day. Starynight I would like you to lead one and Risingmoon as well.” And with that, Silence of the Night padded away. The rest of the tribe gathered around Breezetail and Duskpelt as they continued to tell of their travels. “Move!” snapped Lightningclaw pushing through the crowd. “I must examine Breezetail’s shoulder.” Swiftfoot met the aging healing cat’s gaze and he nodded with approval as he ushered the she-cat into the healing den. Nightsky and Cometblaze happily bounded over to their sister, reunited at last for what seemed like eclipses. “Finally you’re back!” meowed Nightsky happily. “So much has changed; we must tell you all about it!” All of a sudden, high pitched squeals came from the to-be-mothers den as the three kits raced out into the open. “Are those Dawnflower’s kits?” asked Swiftfoot looking at them curiously. Nightsky shook her head. “We found Sky, Cloud, and Sun a few moons ago inside a fox’s den; we don’t know where they came from.” “Sun! Sky! Cloud! Get back here this instant!” snapped Skypelt impatiently. By the looks of it, Swiftfoot could tell her mother was taking care of the tiny fur balls. “Skypelt!” whined Cloud fearfully. “That scary fox is looking at us!” “She wants to eat us!” shrieked Sun racing under Skypelt’s legs. The rest of the camp turned their attention on the fox. “Did you…?” started Swiftfoot but the answer was already clear. Scarlet nodded her head, as if reading the she-cat’s mind. “I brought three kits here; left them in fox den for you to find.” Gasps of shock rang around the clearing and Skypelt pushed Cloud and Sky closer to her as Sun still cowered behind her legs. “You don’t understand.” explained Scarlet looking at Swiftfoot. “Friend gave them to me; wanted me to find new home for them.” “New home?” repeated Cometblaze warily. “Yes.” continued Scarlet, hoping they would trust her. “Friend, Lilac was kittypet. Lilac is true mother but didn’t want her kits to be harmed.” “So they are kittypets.” mumbled Starynight. “Great.” Silence of the Night glared at the warrior shortly before looking back at Scarlet. “They not true kittypets; father rogue.” “But why give them to Star Tribe?” asked Lightningclaw overhearing the conversation. “I don’t understand.” “Star Tribe safe.” she simply replied staring unblinkingly at the healing cat, even though everyone knew she wasn’t telling the whole story.
“Wake up!” hissed an agitated voice into the apprentice’s ear. Swiftfoot grumbled but didn’t try to open her eyes. “You brought me to it.” grumbled the voice before jabbing something into her shoulder. Swiftfoot yelped in alarm before glaring at her mentor. “What was that for?” she snapped drowsily. “Don’t worry.” meowed Lightningclaw. “I just used my paw.” The apprentice just snorted in reply. “You’ve been gone a while.” explained Lightningclaw finishing up his work inside the den. “And you need to continue your training; we’ll go out into the forest at once to look for herbs.”
The breeze was gentle but showed a chilly side as they headed out of camp. It’s good to be back, thought Swiftfoot looking around Star Tribe’s territory gratefully. “What do you smell?” prompted Lightningclaw sniffing the air for himself. “Chickweed; strong.” she exclaimed. “Hmm.” replied Lightningclaw looking a bit puzzled. “There is definitely a very strong scent around here, well no matter; the more we smell the more we know it’s still blossoming.” Swiftfoot nodded her head, but the thought continued to linger in her head; chickweed had never been that abundant in Star Tribe, not like this. “Swiftfoot?” called Lightningclaw a distance away. “We’ll look around for herbs on our own; you can get that chickweed as well. I’ll be close to the lake looking for catmint; who knows if greencough will come early this year.” Swiftfoot nodded her head and steadily followed the strong scent. The thunderous sound of water hit Swiftfoot’s ears with concern. “Chickweed never grows this close to Rainbow Tribe…?” she muttered half to herself. “Something is going on.” She continued to follow the scent into a small clearing; her meeting place with Blackheart. A small thud sounded from across the shallow, rushing water and chickweed lay before her paws. Swiftfoot looked around in fear; someone was watching her. “You finally came.” purred Blackheart jumping across his side of the border to greet his friend. “Blackheart!” greeted Swiftfoot happily. “You brought these…?” The black tom nodded his head. “I’ve been picking them for Bigheart but…” Swiftfoot knew what he was going to say. “I stopped coming.” she meowed in awe at his bravery. “Blackheart it’s not what you think. I was chosen to go on the journey; no cat knew who until the last minute. I would never break our promise on purpose.” The apprentice’s eyes went round with affection. “For a couple of moons I really thought you didn’t want to meet me anymore.” he confessed before giving Swiftfoot an affectionate nudge. “Swiftfoot? Swiftfoot are you there?” called Lightningclaw. A panicked feeling rose in her chest before she quickly hid Blackheart in some nearby bushes. “Swiftfoot? Oh there you are.” meowed Lightningclaw narrowing his eyes as he smelt the air. “The scent of Rainbow Tribe is very strong.” Swiftfoot felt the blood in her veins grow cold with fear. “I-I smelt it too.” she meowed. “I came over here to investigate.” “Did you manage to find all that chickweed?” he asked laying down the catmint he had been carrying. Swiftfoot nodded her head. “Lots.” “You left some chickweed to continue to grow too?” he prompted. “Yes.” she lied padding away from the border. “Well come now, we have to drop off these herbs back at the den before we go out training today.” As Lightningclaw slowly backed out of the small clearing, Swiftfoot looked back at the warm, blue eyes of Blackheart before nodding her head in farewell.
The camp was still bustling with energy, though it was only midday. Swiftfoot dipped her head to Breezetail as the she-cat padded out of the apprentice den drowsily. “How much longer do I have to stay in camp?” she asked padding up to the healing cats. Lightningclaw examined her movements carefully. “You can continue your training; your leg seems much better.” Breezetail thanked Lightningclaw before heading over to the kill pile to eat.
“Over here.” ordered Lightningclaw showing Swiftfoot where to drop off the chickweed. “Why do I have to battle train?” asked Swiftfoot unexpectedly. “No healing cat in history has ever been taught to battle train; there’s been no need for it.” Lightningclaw looked up at her. “Have you forgotten Scarlet’s prophecy?” he asked, sounding a bit agitated. “Blood is coming; all cats must be prepared for anything. Including us.” Swiftfoot decided it would be a risky move to object so instead, she kept her mouth tightly shut as they finished sorting. “Let’s go.” ordered Lightningclaw trotting out of the den.
As they neared the training grounds, Lightningclaw veered away and headed for a smaller clearing. “This,” explained Lightningclaw gesturing her to look around. “Is where healing cats train to fight; this clearing has never been used until now.” The clearing was small; barely enough for two cats to train, but the area was heavily protected by shrubs and bushes; making sure nobody could see through them. “Now, I know we’ve done no battle training whatsoever but for the upcoming days, it will somehow come into use.” The healing cat beckoned his apprentice forward. Swiftfoot was bewildered by the idea; she didn’t even know the starting position, and she suspected Lightningclaw didn’t know either. “Starynight showed me the basics yesterday.” explained Lightningclaw, as if knowing what she was thinking. “Now let us begin.” Swiftfoot did what her first instinct told her to do, run towards the opponent without thinking; or so she thought. Lightningclaw didn’t look impressed as he easily moved out of her way. “Try again.” he meowed as she skidded to a halt in front of the shrubs surrounding their training area. Swiftfoot bit her tongue; she was losing her patience too easily but she couldn’t help it. It was like Lightningclaw thought she knew all of this already. This time, Swiftfoot tried to pull his paws from under him, at first, it was successful, but Lightningclaw got back up in a flash before Swiftfoot even had time to think of what to do next. And before she knew it, her mentor had her pinned down to the ground, her face smushed against the dirt. “We’ll be training all day Swiftfoot.” meowed Lightningclaw. “Now try again.”
Breezetail’s belly growled hungrily; her scrawny vole hadn’t been a good choice for a midday meal. The tabby she-cat looked at the kill pile in dismay; all their prey seemed to have grown smaller in size. Maybe Sunrise and I could lead a hunting patrol, she thought. “Hey Breezetail, it’s time to battle train.” greeted Sunrise padding up to her apprentice. Breezetail couldn’t help letting out a groan. “I’d rather go out hunting.” she meowed looking desperately at the kill pile. “Our kills are so scrawny.” Sunrise sighed. “Fall is coming; it’s normal for our prey to go small.” she explained. “Plus, Silence of the Night wants all the apprentices to battle train every day. Choose someone to battle train with us if you like.” Breezetail cursed under her breath before stretching her stiff legs to go search for Cometblaze.
“Hi.” greeted Cometblaze as Breezetail approached. “Do you want to battle train?” Breezetail asked. “We’ll be glad to come.” replied Sunset not giving Cometblaze a chance to speak. “Cometblaze and I were just about to head out ourselves.” “Then it’s settled; let’s go.” meowed Sunrise padding up to the group. “I’ll even tell you an embarrassing story about Sunset while we get there.” Breezetail could see Sunset tense and his expression go dark, as if he knew what she was going to tell them.
As they trotted gracefully out of camp, Breezetail could feel Cometblaze swelling with excitement. “It’s been such a long time since I’ve even spoke to you; everything’s changed in Star Tribe too.” she whispered. “I know.” admitted Breezetail just remembering how long she had been gone. “But beware when we train today,” growled Cometblaze playfully. “I’m gonna win!” “We’ll see about that.” hissed Breezetail playfully knocking Cometblaze to the ground. Soon the siblings were a whirling heap of withering fur. “Hey stop that! You’re not kits anymore.” growled Sunset briskly as he broke up the apprentice’s play fight. “Now, before we get to the training grounds,” interrupted Sunrise looking at her brother in amusement. “There is a little secret I must tell you.” The apprentices padded up to the she-cat as they continued to walk. “When Sunset and I were apprentices, Sunset got his head stuck in a rabbit hole after he tried to catch a mouse that went into Rainbow Tribe territory. It was so embarrassing when a Rainbow Tribe patrol just happened to come along and watch an apprentice being pulled out of a rabbit hole by his tribe mates.” Breezetail couldn’t help but laugh; the warrior seemed furious as his sister finished telling the story that he looked like he was going to lash out. “Well then,” he growled competitively. “If you thought that was funny, how about this? When Sunrise was eating her first rabbit, she tore it into little pieces and threw them around camp; hitting Moonpool in the middle of the face. For her punishment, she had to stay in camp for two moons and had to be taught how to eat a rabbit properly.” Sunrise went red with embarrassment and tried to argue but no words came out as the apprentices continued to laugh. “Ok ok. You win.” she finally managed to say. “But we really need to start training before sun-down.” Sunset nodded his head in agreement before signaling the two apprentices to start. Breezetail barely had time to regain her strength after all that laughing before a flash of golden tabby fur hit her side. Breezetail struggled to get up and managed to grab her sibling’s legs as she gave a tug and Cometblaze’s legs gave way. Knowing this was her chance; she pounced onto her sister and clawed her unprotected belly with sheathed claws. Her attack didn’t last for long as she felt a sharp tug from her behind, sending her flying in the air; letting Cometblaze escape from her grasp. Breezetail knew she couldn’t lose to Cometblaze on their first round; so she thought up a quick plan. Swiftly climbing a tree, Breezetail aimed for her sister’s bare back as Cometblaze stared up at her sister with a puzzled look. As soon as the time was right, Breezetail jumped and squarely landed on top of her sibling. “I told you I’d win.” she teased jumping victoriously off of Cometblaze. “That was good Breezetail.” praised Sunrise. “Now what I would like to do is have Sunset and Cometblaze train together and so will we.” Sunset nodded his head before facing his apprentice. “Start when you’re ready.” instructed Sunrise waiting for her apprentice to make the first move. Breezetail pretended to run at her mentor sending the she-cat into a ready position. Sunrise looked embarrassed but decided to take the lead in the practice. The tabby she-cat hurtled herself at Breezetail but the apprentice knew what was coming and quickly ran up the nearest tree before copying what she had done with Cometblaze. Mouse dung, she thought to herself realizing what she had done. Being allowed no claws in practice combat, with Sunrise struggling under her as she continued to kick, Breezetail knew what was about to happen. She quickly jumped off the she-cat just before Sunrise gave a powerful kick to the air, not noticing until a few mere moments later that the apprentice had fled just in time. Breezetail quickly thrust her paws towards Sunrise’s vulnerable feet and pulled them towards her. Too startled to react in time from her apprentice’s quick movements and thoughts, Sunrise lay on the ground exhausted. The sound of paw steps echoed in Breezetail’s ears as she say a dark, brown pelt poke into the training area. “Silence of the Night wants you four to go on a hunting patrol; part of an assignment.” greeted Duskpelt not even glimpsing at Breezetail. Cometblaze looked excitedly at her sibling. “Did you hear that?” she whispered. “An assignment! It could be for us!” “We’ll get right on it Duskpelt. Thank you.” meowed Sunset as the tom padded away, flicking his tail in farewell.
“We should hunt somewhere close to either border; prey might be more abundant there.” explained Sunrise as they padded off. “We should let the apprentices hunt by themselves too; it’ll be good practice not having us around.” Sunset nodded his head in agreement. “We’ll hunt close to Protecting Tree.” As their mentors padded off towards the Swift Tribe border, she felt Cometblaze tense. “Well,” meowed Breezetail trying not to let her sister’s weird mood bother her. “We should hunt close to Roaring Water; like Sunrise said, there’s bound to be more prey along the border.” Cometblaze didn’t reply; she seemed to be off in her own world. “Ok,” snapped Breezetail after a moment of silence. “What’s wrong now?” Cometblaze looked at Breezetail with a serious expression. “You’re a good tracker right?” she asked. Breezetail looked taken aback. “I-I guess. But-” “I need you to try and identify a scent for me.” interrupted Cometblaze as if her sister had never even begun to speak. Breezetail help back a retort but. “What is this all about?” she snapped as Cometblaze led her to a clearing close to the border. “I know Swiftfoot hasn’t been here for a few moons but,” Cometblaze began. “Nightsky and I tried to identify a scent that was mixed in with Swiftfoot but our nose isn’t strong enough; could you try?” “So this is where you think Swiftfoot has been meeting Blackheart?” she asked avoiding the question to get more detail. “It is heavily surrounded by trees, undergrowth, bushes; this a perfect place.” explained Cometblaze. Breezetail nodded her head and tasted the air. “Swiftfoot was just here today; probably when I had just finished taking a nap.” reported Breezetail. “I smell a very strong scent of some kind of herb for sure; it also leads past Roaring Water and Rock Mist.” “Past Rock Mist?!” exclaimed Cometblaze in bewilderment. “Something is definitely going on here.” mumbled Breezetail. “Someone else was definitely here but, I can’t scent them. Water is all I smell besides Swiftfoot and that strange herb. Oh, Lightningclaw was here too.” “Water…?” meowed Cometblaze deep in thought. “Water! Rainbow Tribe cats smell like water!” Breezetail sighed fustratedly. “That doesn’t help; we have a river right here you know; there’s no way I can identify which is which. Another thing is, I may not be a healing cat but I know this many herbs does not grow this close to the border for sure.” “We should hunt before our mentors get suspicious of what we were doing; we can confirm everything to Nightsky when we get back.”
Breezetail, Cometblaze, Sunrise, and Sunset dropped off their kill on the pile as the sun started to go down. “Just in time for dinner.” meowed Sunrise settling down with a vole. “You gonna eat?” asked Cometblaze as she grabbed a mouse. “Already ate.” meowed Breezetail though her belly screamed with hunger. “Same; I’m going to bring this for the elders. Want to tag along?” asked Cometblaze. Breezetail nodded her head and picked up a measly shrew from the kill pile.
“Thank you.” rasped Moonpool kindly taking Cometblaze’s mouse. Cloudysun let out a groan from beside Moonpool as he quietly ate his mouse. “What’s wrong now Cloudysun?” purred Moonpool. “You don’t want yer shrew no more?” “My belly hurts.” complained Cloudysun. “We’ll get Lightningclaw to check on you.” volunteered Breezetail trotting out of the elder’s den in a hurry. She spotted Lightningclaw talking with Scarlet several fox lengths away. “Greetings Breezetail.” greeted the fox as the apprentice padded over. “Hi Scarlet.” replied Breezetail before turning to Lightningclaw. “Cloudysun has a bellyache.” “I’ll get Swiftfoot to check on her.” reassured Lightningclaw hurrying away.
Yarrow leaves and poppy seeds dangled from Swiftfoot’s mouth as she entered the healing den from her check up with Cloudysun. The healing den was clustered with herbs and leaves; there was barely enough room to walk around without stepping on a plant. I’ll have to help him clean up this mess, she thought. She could sense growing frustration and exhaustion coming from her mentor. “Is everything ok Lightningclaw?” asked Swiftfoot gently dropping the herbs into the proper piles. “What? Oh hello Swiftfoot; I didn’t hear you enter.” muttered Lightningclaw continuing to clean up the healing den. “How is Cloudysun?” “She’s fine; I gave her some yarrow to vomit and some poppy seeds to help her sleep.” explained Swiftfoot trying to help him. “Good job.” replied Lightningclaw though Swiftfoot could clearly tell he was hardly paying attention. The she-cat looked at her mentor with concern; something was definitely wrong. “Oh and I almost forgot to mention, we’re going to the River of our Ancestors tonight. You haven’t been there yet due to your journey so pay close attention.” meowed Lightningclaw not looking up. Swiftfoot almost jumped out of her fur in glee. She had completely forgotten about the river. “When do we leave?” Swiftfoot asked excitedly. “Sun-down; no later.” replied Lightningclaw pushing past Swiftfoot to head out of the den. “Take Snowpetal and Halfmoon to go collect more herbs; try to find catmint and watermint.”
Snowpetal, Halfmoon and Swiftfoot made their way down to the lake in no hurry. There was still plenty of time before sun-down, before she had to leave all the same. Swiftfoot flicked her ear in concern; there was a strong sense of dismay coming from Snowpetal. “Is something wrong?” asked Swiftfoot in a quiet tone, making sure Halfmoon couldn’t drop in on their conversation. “Oh Swiftfoot.” whispered Snowpetal unhappily. “What if someone you like doesn’t appreciate you but, you still love them?” Swiftfoot went quiet for a few moments. “Well, maybe you should talk it out?” she suggested trying to sound sympathetic. “You don’t get it Swiftfoot. It isn’t as simple as that. But what would you know, you’re a healing cat; you can’t fall in love.” snapped Snowpetal sulking away in her unhappy thoughts. Swiftfoot was stunned. She had never heard any cat speak to her like that, as if she was less important. The apprentice shook her head vigorously. “Don’t bring yourself down like Snowpetal.” she mumbled to herself. “Wait a second, I’m going to the River of our Ancestors tonight but…I wanted to meet Blackheart at the edge of our territories tonight as well!” I must warn Blackheart! But how? She thought desperately. First I have to get Snowpetal and Halfmoon occupied. “Halfmoon! I’d like you to go search down at the water’s edge close to Protecting Tree while you, Snowpetal go look down by the water’s edge. I’ll look around Roaring Water for catmint and watermint.” As the two warriors raced off, Swiftfoot started to panic. He won’t be there waiting for me in broad daylight! What am I going to do? “That’s it!” she yowled and quickly shut her mouth. Swiftfoot quietly headed towards Roaring Water and went into a lousy crouch as she neared. Making sure her scent couldn’t be detected once on Rainbow Tribe territory, she quietly jumped the shallow river and rolled herself in Rainbow Tribe scent. Swiftfoot gagged; the stench was unbearable. Putting up with Rainbow Tribe’s terrible odor, Swiftfoot quietly and cautiously wove through undergrowth, sniffing the air as she desperately looked for Blackheart. “What am I doing?” she exclaimed in bewilderment. “I’m breaking the code again!”
As she neared Rainbow Tribe’s camp, she decided it was time to head back; she had come too far and getting spotted would mean the end for Swiftfoot. “Do you mind if I hunt on my own for a bit near Rock Mist?” meowed a familiar voice a distance away. Swiftfoot swiveled her head around to catch a glimpse of who she hoped to be Blackheart. “Well, you will become a warrior very soon. Why not?” meowed Dustfur nodding his head in approval. “I’ll be close by.” As soon as she recognized the warrior’s scent, she immediately knew Blackheart was here as well. She followed slowly, making sure the elderly warrior didn’t spot her as she followed Blackheart unnoticed towards Rock Mist. “Blackheart!” she greeted as soon as his mentor was out of ear shot. The black tom turned around with a startled look. “Swiftfoot?” he asked in disbelief. “What are you doing in Rainbow Tribe territory?! You could’ve gotten attacked!” Swiftfoot didn’t reply but jumped back over into her own territory before anybody could notice and rubbed herself in Star Tribe scent. “I know it was a mouse-brained idea.” she confessed. “It was mouse-brained!” snapped Blackheart his eyes full of concern. “Something could’ve happened to you.” Swiftfoot nodded her head in apology. “I-I just didn’t want you to be worried.” she explained. “I can’t meet you tonight Blackheart; I need to go to the River of our Ancestors with the other healing cats.” Blackheart looked taken aback. “You came across the border just to tell me that?!” he snapped disbelievingly. Swiftfoot looked at him in shock; she had thought he would be glad; instead he seemed angry at her for doing so. “I-” Blackheart rudely interrupted her. “Didn’t you know Rainbow Tribe’s hostility is up ever since the prophecy Scarlet had for told?! They would’ve attacked you blindly!” Swiftfoot looked at him with hurt in her eyes. “Fine.” she spat trying not to show her pain. “Next time I won’t do anything!” Swiftfoot turned around and started to sulk away; what had she done wrong? “Wait Swiftfoot!” yowled Blackheart desperately. “I’m sorry! I didn’t mean for the words to come out like that but; I love you Swiftfoot and I don’t want anything to happen to you.” The she-cat stopped in her tracks. “Look, if you got seriously injured from my tribe mates because you wanted to warn me about something, I would bear that burden all of my life.” continued Blackheart jumping over Roaring Water. Swiftfoot turned around to meet his once again gentle, admiring gaze as the tom brushed his cheek affectionately against hers. Swiftfoot purred in delight and sighed in relief. “I’m glad you’re not angry anymore; I’m sorry to make you worry; I just…” “It’s ok.” interrupted Blackheart licking her ear. “I’ll see you tomorrow night.” And with that, the apprentice raced off back into the shrubs of his own territory.
After her short meeting with Blackheart, Swiftfoot had gotten back together with Halfmoon and Snowpetal to head back to camp in an attempt to be back before sun-down.
By now, it was moon-rise and all of the healing cats were treading up the hill in complete silence. The only cat that was missing was Brightlight, only Voleear represented Swift Tribe. “Where’s Brightlight?” asked Swiftfoot in a quiet voice. “Brightlight had to stay in camp; Squirrel was sick with whitecough and it looks like she might catch greencough as well. She says it could spread to everyone else so she wants to contain it before any outbreaks happen.” Swiftfoot nodded her head.
The gentle sound of flowing water slowly made its way into Swiftfoot’s ears. “We’re here.” whispered Voleear as all the healing cats padded up to the glistening river. The water was dazzling with reflections of the night stars. “It’s so beautiful!” gasped Swiftfoot gazing at it dreamily. “We will now connect with Sky Tribe.” explained Voleear as all the cats bent their heads to lap up five cold mouthfuls of water before lying down and resting their heads on their paws. The faint trickle of water was all Swiftfoot hear as she drifted off to sleep before getting swallowed up into the sky above.
The healing cat apprentice slowly opened her eyes, afraid of what she might see. Her surroundings seemed quiet, peaceful. She immediately recognized the forest she was in; she had met Cloudflare and Skyflame here for the first time but this time, they weren’t there. The sound of a twig snapping caught Swiftfoot’s attention as she looked around curiously. A pretty mottled brown, orange, and white she-cat was sitting a distance away; biting a stick out of boredom. “Hello?” called Swiftfoot uncertainly. The she-cat turned in her direction, looking startled at her income. “Why hello.” she greeted warmly. “Who might you be?” “S-Swiftfoot.” the healing cat apprentice stammered. “Have you by any chance seen two cats named Cloudflare and Skyflame anywhere around here?” The mysterious sky cat shook her head. “I’m afraid not.” she replied. “My name is Spottedsong; I once lived in Star Tribe.” “Really?” exclaimed Swiftfoot looking at the she-cat curiously. “I’m Lightningclaw’s apprentice.” Spottedsong looked at her warmly. “I died many seasons ago; bearing my only kit.” “Who is this?” a strange voice broke in. “Is this a new arrival?” “No Starshine, this is Swiftfoot, Lightningclaw’s apprentice.” explained Spottedsong dipping her head in greeting to the she-cat. “So that old furball finally managed to get an apprentice.” purred the newcomer in amusement. “She’s looking for Cloudflare and Skyflame. Have you seen them?” asked Spottedsong. “In fact, I just did.” exclaimed Starshine lying down beside Spottedsong. “They said they were looking for you, Swiftfoot.” “Starshine, Spottedsong; that is quite enough.” meowed Cloudflare dipping his head in greeting to Swiftfoot. Both she-cats left the clearing in complete silence, only glancing at Swiftfoot in farewell. “Swiftfoot, congratulations on making it this far as a healing cat; you have done well on your journey and have successfully brought back the one from the prophecy.” praised Skyflame dipping his head in deep respect. “But do remember, the prophecy is not yet fulfilled.” Cloudflare added quickly. “But more news is to bring as well; a new sky will rise after night falls and a new moon will be third. But only the tiger will know the answer.” Swiftfoot’s heart sank. Another prophecy? “What does it mean?” asked Swiftfoot. “You tell us.” meowed Skyflame with a snort. “Not even Sky Tribe holds all the answers.” “Swiftfoot.” meowed Cloudflare more calmly. “You need to wake up; it’s time for you to return to reality.”
Swiftfoot’s eyes snapped open in mere seconds after Cloudflare had said the last two words. She was lying beside the river; all the other healing cats seemed to be waking up as well. Swiftfoot looked around desperately, trying to see if anyone else had discovered anything new. But their calm faces gave nothing away.
The she-cat quickly waved goodbye to Voleear as she headed back into Swift Tribe territory alone. “Any new prophecies?” asked Lightningclaw as soon as Voleear was out of sight.” Swiftfoot fidgeted uneasily as she stopped to tell him. “Well,” she meowed hesitantly. “I met Cloudflare and Skyflame in a dream, they told me; a new sky will rise after night falls and a new moon will be third but only the tiger will know the answer…?” Lightningclaw looked on in wonder as they set off towards camp again. “We should discuss this with Silence of the Night immediately, but it doesn’t sound like anything to be concerned with right now compared to what we have to deal with already.” Swiftfoot nodded her head in agreement as they trotted into camp. Risingmoon greeted them at the top of the leader’s rock and let them in without a hassle. “Oh so you’ve returned.” greeted Silence of the Night warmly. “How was it?” “Fine thank you.” interrupted Lightningclaw apologetically. “You can discuss this with your daughter later, right now; we have some important news about a prophecy. Swiftfoot, tell Silence of the Night what you told me.” As Swiftfoot repeated the sentence that Cloudflare and Skyflame had told her again, she could see Lightningclaw’s expressions change drastically every time she said a new word.
“What does it mean?” asked the black tom in the end. “When night falls a new sky will rise…?” “We don’t know yet.” admitted Lightningclaw. “But it doesn’t seem like that much of a big issue compared to the other prophecy Swiftfoot had.” “And I don’t think we need to share this with any of cat; panic is already rising in Star Tribe.” Silence of the Night agreed seeming to be lost in thought. “Tomorrow being Peace Night, do not discuss this with anyone, do you hear?” “We won’t.” reassured Swiftfoot before Lightningclaw could answer. And with that, both healing cats padded out of the den. “I’ll continue to clean up the healing den.” meowed Lightningclaw heading towards the hollow. “If you could check on Dawnflower and Skypelt with her kits; that would be helpful."
Three lifeless mice dangled from Breezetail’s jaws. “Good hunting today.” praised Silence of the Night putting his catches on the kill pile. Would you like to battle train with me Nightsky?” asked Halfmoon a distance away from Breezetail. “Silence of the Night said young warriors must train too.” “Sorry Halfmoon but I already promised Breezetail we’d train together after her hunting patrol.” replied Nightsky apologetically as her sibling padded over. “Oh.” mumbled Halfmoon disappointedly. “Maybe tomorrow at sun-rise?” Nightsky added quickly. “Sure.” replied Halfmoon brightening up. “Well, I won’t keep you guys waiting then. I’ll see you around Nightsky!”
As the patrol was about to leave, Shiningnight raced up in a hurry. “Sorry for keeping you waiting.” meowed the warrior panting heavily. “I just came back from a border patrol.” Sunrise flicked her tail for everyone to follow as they headed out of camp. “Where’s Darkmoon?” asked Breezetail curiously. The she-cat hadn’t appeared for the patrol. Maybe she was too busy? “Lightningclaw thinks she might have white cough, she’s started to cough a lot and he wants to treat it right away.” explained Nightsky with a worried expression on her face. Breezetail looked at her in surprise. “Do you think she got infected from Swift Tribe?” she asked quietly. Nightsky nodded her head. “Swiftfoot says Darkmoon had eaten a rabbit crossing into Star Tribe territory from Swift Tribe the other day so that could most likely be the cause.” “Do you think Swift Tribe is infected with green cough?” exclaimed Breezetail. “That could mean we can only use half of our territory to hunt.” “Maybe we should ask Swiftfoot.” suggested Nightsky. “She did go to the River of our Ancestors yesterday with the rest of the healing cats.”
“Today is just a practice, no new moves will be taught.” meowed Shiningnight as they entered the clearing. “Remember, claws sheathed no fangs either. Start when you’re ready.” Breezetail sighed. Claw to claw combat, or in this case, paw to paw combat seemed rather boring; ever since she had gotten back from the journey battle training had become an everyday task. Aren’t we experienced enough? She thought to herself in frustration. “Got you.” meowed Nightsky as she fell to the ground with a thud. Breezetail blinked, how could she have been so mouse-brained? Complaining while entering combat was a bad idea. “Breezetail what’s the matter with you? You’re usually very focused.” meowed Sunrise in a stern voice from the other side of the clearing. The apprentice shook her head in embarrassment. “It’s nothing.” she mumbled. “I could just use a break from battle training every day, that’s all.” Shiningnight looked at the apprentice sympathetically. “We all feel that way but if we want to defeat Blood Tribe then we must all train hard and fight as one. Or at least that’s what Silence of the Night says.” “But, we could stop for a little break.” added Sunrise flashing a glance at Shiningnight. “Come on, let’s head back to camp.”
“Hey, you don’t mind if a train with Halfmoon for a while do you?” asked Nightsky as they padded back into camp. Breezetail shrugged her shoulders. She didn’t really care, she could train with Cometblaze instead but right now, all she wanted to do was stay in camp to relax. “Swiftfoot?” meowed Breezetail walking over to the pacing she-cat. “Is something wrong?” Swiftfoot looked up at her with tired eyes. “I had another prophecy.” she whispered. “Every word that Skyflame and Cloudflare told me doesn’t make sense!” Skyflame? Cloudflare? Who are they? Wondered Breezetail but decided not to ask. “How is Darkmoon doing?” asked Breezetail trying to change the subject. “She’s fine.” meowed Swiftfoot. “She might possibly have white cough but there’s something else about her…I just can’t put my paw on it.” “She has been acting weird lately.” exclaimed Breezetail. “She seems distant from everyone; even Nightsky.” There was a brief pause before Swiftfoot continued. “But that’s not the only thing on my mind. Yesterday, when I went to the River of our Ancestors, Brightlight wasn’t there; Voleear told me greencough has spread throughout Swift Tribe’s camp.” “Yes I remember.” exclaimed Breezetail. “Silence of the Night told everyone that Darkmoon ate a rabbit crossing into Star Tribe territory from Swift Tribe.” Swiftfoot looked up at her with concern. “Which means it could spread like a fire; we need to contain it.” “What are you saying?” meowed Breezetail in a low growling voice. Her sister’s eyes filled with a spark of determination. “I need to get catmint for Voleear.” “What?!” hissed Breezetail making sure nobody had heard her. “Are you mouse-brained?! You’d be breaking the code if you did that!” “I don’t care!” snapped Swiftfoot heading into the healing den and coming out a second later with catmint. “Five tribes need to exist; I’m going to help her. We have plenty of catmint down by the lake.” Breezetail sighed heavily. Her sister’s mind was made up, there was no way she could change Swiftfoot’s mind now. “I’m coming with you.” she hissed. “But only to keep an eye on you.” Swiftfoot looked at Breezetail with gleaming eyes and nodded her head in thanks.
Unforgiving trees loomed before them as they neared Protecting Tree. Now looking at Swift Tribe’s territory, Breezetail hadn’t realized how dark and isolated it looked. “Come on.” hissed Swiftfoot through a mouthful of herbs as she jumped Icy Groove. “Roll in their scent so they won’t recognize us.” Breezetail looked at her suspiciously. Had she done this before? “Keep a look out for Voleear or Brightlight. Most of the cats should be in camp since Peace Night is tonight.” whispered Swiftfoot as they cautiously wadded into Swift Tribe territory. “Could you try finding Voleear’s scent?” Breezetail nodded her head and tasted the air. A faint scent of the healing cat apprentice was still lingering in the air; Voleear hadn’t been here too long ago. Breezetail signaled with her tail to follow as Voleear’s scent got fresher.
“Duck into the undergrowth!” hissed Swiftfoot as they heard a rustling noise. Breezetail froze as the rustling got louder. “Are you sure you heard voices coming from here?” asked Mousewhisker as the patrol came into view from under their hiding place. “Positive.” replied Beetleeyes narrowing her eyes suspiciously. “Well there’s nobody here.” snapped Shrewfern from behind. “Let’s head back already. We’re wasting time.”
Breezetail waited, frozen with fear as the paw steps faded. “Breezetail look!” whispered Swiftfoot as they continued to hide. Breezetail followed Swiftfoot’s gaze to a white she-cat picking at herbs several fox lengths away. “She’s alone.” meowed Breezetail. “Hurry up and give her the herbs before we get caught this time.” Swiftfoot quietly got up from where she was hiding and padded over to Voleear. The healing cat apprentice dipped her to Voleear who had a startled expression on her face. “Follow me.” meowed Voleear not giving the apprentices time to explain themselves.
The three she-cats headed down to the lake close to the Tornado Tribe border. “What are you two doing here?!” asked Voleear looking around nervously. “For Sky Tribe’s sake I’m glad you weren’t caught-oh!” Voleear looked at the stems of catmint dangling from her friend’s jaws. “You brought that for me?” Swiftfoot nodded laying it next to the she-cat. “I can see how bad greencough is affecting your tribe.” she explained sympathetically though she didn’t mention anything about Darkmoon having whitecough. Voleear looked taken aback by Swiftfoot’s kind gesture and for a few heart beats, it seemed like the she-cat was going to refuse. “T-thank you.” she stammered gratefully as she added in a lower voice. “So many cats are catching whitecough already but these will do perfectly! How can I ever repay you? Oh wait I have an idea!” And with that, Voleear raced off with the catmint, appearing several heart beats later with a bundle of berries. “Here.” she meowed panting. “We don’t have many herbs to offer, this is the best I could do.” Swiftfoot dipped her head in respect.
Sun-set was nearing and the sky was growing darker with each passing second. “This is unbelievable!” snapped Sunrise padding around worriedly. “I go take a quick nap and the next thing I know my apprentice is missing!” Cometblaze perked her ears in curiosity. I wonder where they could be? “Has anybody seen Swiftfoot?” called Lightningclaw from inside the healing den. “She was supposed to come back and help me sort herbs!” “Breezetail and Swiftfoot are both gone?” meowed Skypelt from the nursery. “I hope their alright.” “We’re ok.” mumbled a voice from the entrance. The strong smell of water reeked from their pelts. “There you are Breezetail! Where have you been?” scolded Sunrise. “Apprentices shouldn’t be out of camp without a warrior!” “W-we went looking for herbs.” explained Swiftfoot. “Down by the lake.” added Breezetail quickly. Cometblaze had the itching irritation they were hiding something. “Alone?” snapped Lightningclaw. “Swiftfoot you should have told me.” Sunrise gave her apprentice a sniff. “Why are you both wet?” asked Sunrise suspiciously. “Swiftfoot fell in the water; I had to help her out.” “But you brought no herbs back…?” prompted Lightningclaw challengingly. Swiftfoot shook her head. “I dropped them in the water.” “Well for now you two can stay in camp; grab some mouse bile and help the elders with their ticks.” retorted Sunrise angrily. “And don’t even think of being able to participate for Peace Night Breezetail!” The two apprentices muttered their apologies before heading off to the elder’s den with mouse bile that Lightningclaw had brought out for them. “Where were you?” hissed Cometblaze, catching Breezetail before she entered the elder’s den. “Trespassing.” was all Breezetail told her before ambling away grumpily.
“May all cats big and small, kit or elder please join together for a tribe meeting.” announced Silence of the Night just as moon-rise was approaching. All the cats in camp slipped out of their nests, including Scarlet, looking confused. Usually, the announcement for who was attending Peace Night would be taken place when the moon was seen half way above the trees of their territory. “I know this is strange, to be welcoming new apprentices to Star Tribe this late, but-” Loud, excited squeals sounded from the nursery as Sun, Sky, and Cloud came bolting out with their fur smoothed down. Skypelt rushed after them and wrapped her tail around the three squirming kits as her mate looked at them proudly; respecting them as one of his own. “Me first!” screeched Sun, racing towards the front of the group. Skypelt gave him a menacing glare but Silence of the Night looked down warmly on the tom. “Strike of the Sun, do you wish to train in the ways of the warrior and stay loyal to your tribe?” prompted Silence of the Night, his yellow eyes challenging his son. “I do.” squeaked Sun, his voice filling with confidence. “The by the powers of Sky Tribe, I give you, Sun, you warrior and apprentice name. Strike of the Sun, from this moment on, you will be known as Sunstrike and your mentor will be Skypelt.” finished Silence of the Night as uproars of joy spread throughout camp. Cometblaze joined in happily; more apprentices would be good for Star Tribe right now.
As Sunstrike and his mentor, Skypelt, wandered back into the crowd, Cloud dashed forward eagerly. “Well then, Cloud, do you wish to train in the ways of a warrior?” continued the black tom trying to hold back an amused purr. “I do.” she meowed quietly, almost seeming like a whisper. “Cloudy Willow, from this moment on, your warrior and apprentice name will be Cloudwillow your mentor shall be Duskpelt. In the name of Sky Tribe, look down on this young apprentice and give her spirit.” Duskpelt looked quite ruffled at the idea of having an apprentice but before he could even greet his apprentice, Breezetail gave him a firm shove from behind. “Sky, step up to the front. It’s your turn.” instructed Silence of the Night in a gentle voice when the kit didn’t budge. Sky looked at him nervously before timidly making her way to the front of the group. “Do you wish to train in the ways of the warrior?” he asked quietly, making sure he wouldn’t scare the young she-cat. “I do.” she mewed in a rather unexpectedly strong voice. “Then by the powers of the stars, Watcher of the Sky, you will now be known as Skywatch for all your eclipses. Your mentor shall be Shiningnight.”
The noise died down as Skywatch and Shiningnight settled back into the crowd as Silence of the Night spoke once more. “Cometblaze, Sunstrike, Cloudwillow, Skywatch, Skypelt, Duskpelt, Shiningnight, Risingmoon, Swiftfoot, and Lightningclaw, it is time to leave for Peace Night.” he explained, ending the meeting as the chosen cats gathered around their tribe leader. “Silence of the Night, I do not mean to be rude but I cannot come with you tonight.” meowed Lightningclaw apologetically. “Darkmoon has greencough.” Gasps of shock rang around the clearing. “Is this because of Swift Tribe’s infection?” growled Starynight angrily. Lightningclaw nodded his head. “It seems so. I would like everyone to keep a distance away from Darkmoon but don’t hesitate to visit me if you start to cough as well.” Silence of the Night nodded his head in agreement. “Very well Lightningclaw. Let us leave now.”
Blackheart’s dark pelt lingered among the Rainbow Tribe cats as Star Tribe appeared in the clearing. Jealousy claws at Swiftfoot’s belly as she spotted her friend talking to Morninglight. She slowly made her way over to Blackheart’s side, glancing over her shoulder to make sure Cometblaze hadn’t seen her. “Oh hey Swiftfoot!” greeted Blackheart forcing his voice to show no affection. Morninglight looked at her suspiciously. Blackheart looked back at the tabby she-cat reasonably. “I’ve met Swiftfoot before; she had asked me once about the herbs growing in our territory.” “Why didn’t she just ask Bigheart?” asked the she-cat seeming even more suspicious. “Bigheart was busy talking to Lightningclaw; I didn’t want to interrupt their conversation and he was the closest cat I could find.” continued Swiftfoot quickly. “And I have more questions for him; do you mind Blackheart?” “I’ll be back.” he meowed to Morninglight, though she didn’t seem convinced as they headed off. “Over here.” The two apprentices hide behind some shrubs to make sure nobody could see them. “It’s good to see you again.” purred Blackheart licking her cheek affectionately. “Same to you.” she replied, returning his affection with a lick across his ear. “Congratulations on becoming a warrior too!” “Thanks.” meowed Blackheart continuing to purr. “Can we meet again tomorrow night? Just because I’m a warrior doesn’t mean I can’t meet you anymore.” Relief flood over Swiftfoot as she buried her head in his shoulder. A yowl sounded from the clearing, though Swiftfoot felt her heart ache at the thought of having to leave. “I guess we need to return to our own tribes.” she muttered in dismay, not moving her head from his shoulder. “Maybe we should meet tonight, before moon-down.” he exclaimed as if reading Swiftfoot’s mind. The healing cat apprentice lifted her head to meet his kind, soothing gaze. “That would be great.” she purred in delight. “I miss you.” “Same with me.” he meowed, choking out the words as if they hurt. “Well, we should go before our tribe mates get suspicious.” Swiftfoot sighed and licked his cheek lovingly before waving her tail in farewell.
Cometblaze’s green gaze darted between the crowds of warriors and apprentices; scanning for any sign of Swiftfoot. Her sister’s blue and white pelt made its way over to the other healing cats at last. Where has she been? Thought Cometblaze suspiciously. She had an unsatisfied feeling in her stomach but shoved it aside; the leaders were beginning to speak. “Swift Tribe is doing well, a small infection of whitecough has been spread through some of camp but besides that, Harespring has been congratulated into the warriors den.” reported Pelt of Honey looking embarrassed but Cometblaze sensed she wasn’t telling the whole story. “I also hear a fox by the name of Scarlet has taken refuge in your camp; is she here tonight?” Silence of the Night shook his head. “She didn’t feel comfortable attending this gathering of peace; did everyone hear of Scarlet’s second prophecy?” he meowed curiously. The four leaders nodded their heads, their eyes filled with worry. “Let us continue Peace Night before we discuss any further about the prophecy.” apologized Silence of the Night as Tail of Cinder flicked her tail impatiently. “Yesterday, a warrior ceremony took place in our camp; Blackheart was become a warrior.” Cometblaze cast a glance at her sister from where she was sitting; her tail was flicking back and forth in pride. Cometblaze’s blood grew cold with growing anxiety; she needed to tell her siblings. “Forestleaf and Waterflow have become apprentices as well.” finished Tail of Cinder flicking her tail in turn to Fur of Crystals. “Prey has begun to retreat away from the lake; there seems to be a piece of crow food floating in the water; it could be more than one piece as well so keep a look out.” explained the white she-cat. “Prey is better than ever in Tornado Tribe and no foxes or badgers have been scented in our territory.” meowed Fur in the Gorse. Wait badgers? Thought Cometblaze panic-stricken. I’ve never seen a badger before…
“Scarlet has started to settle in well; she will head back to her real home whenever she wants.” meowed Silence of the Night before dropping the topic. “We have three new apprentices here with us tonight; Sunstrike, Cloudwillow, and Skywatch. Snowpetal, Wintersky, and Halfmoon have also become warriors though they could not join us tonight.” No cat had seemed to notice that Lightningclaw had not come to join the gathering.
After the murmurs had died down, Tail of Cinder began. “The new prophecy that Scarlet had for told; do you really think we can trust a fox?” “Tail of Cinder if I may, Scarlet was the fox mentioned in Swiftfoot’s prophecy. There is no denying what is plainly obvious.” protested Bigheart politely. Tail of Cinder stayed silent, quietly debating the subject. “Is there really any point in discussing the prophecy further?” snapped Pelt of Honey in agitation. “There is nothing else to be said; the prophecy is clear, Blood Tribe will attack.” “But think about it,” meowed Fur of Crystals. “We have to decide in which direction to take this; what should our first move be?” “Star Tribe has already doubled border patrols and the apprentices and younger warriors have started to train claw to claw everyday to prepare for battle.” The other leaders nodded their heads in agreement. “We should do the same.” agreed Fur in the Gorse. “Has Swiftfoot had anymore prophecies?” Silence of the Night shook his head. “But I have thought about this for a while, we don’t know how powerful Blood Tribe is but maybe we should join forces for the battle to come.” Uproars of protest rang around the clearing. “I’m not sharing out territory with any of you mange-pelts.” snarled Pelt of Honey, her fur bristling aggressively. “That’s a load of fox dung.” The rest of the leaders didn’t speak. “But the prophecy Scarlet for told; it’s a threat to all the tribes.” protested Tail of Cinder at Pelt of Honey’s defiance. “We don’t need to share territory or prey.” Silence of the Night nodded his head in agreement, clearing knowing he had won over Rainbow Tribe though Fur in the Gorse and Fur of Crystals remained silent, deep in thought.
After a while, the remaining leaders nodded their heads. “It seems like a good idea to go into battle together than alone.” meowed Fur of Crystals in a reasonable tone. “Tornado Tribe shall help as well.” agreed Fur in the Gorse nodding his head curtly. The four leaders looked expectantly at Pelt of Honey. Clearly being outnumbered, Pelt of Honey finally gave in. “Fine.” she meowed dryly. “But if we find any of you mange-pelts in our territory; Swift Tribe will not hold back.” “After the battle, we will split up again, no alliances.” reassured Silence of the Night. Her golden tabby fur still stood on end with warning but she nodded her head slowly; as if trying to get a point across.
Barely audible whispered crept into the apprentices den. “Will you be quiet?” growled Nightsky in a low voice, opening her eyes to see who was there. Breezetail’s pale green, worried gaze brought Nightsky to her paws in a flash. “What are you doing out here?” she asked quietly. “Let’s leave camp first; we don’t need anybody getting suspicious.” meowed Cometblaze from beside Breezetail, her voice and scent the only thing that made her visible to Nightsky.
“What’s going on?” demanded Nightsky as soon as they were out of ear shot of the camp. “I-I’ve been having this strange feeling ever since I got back from Peace Night.” explained Cometblaze. “About Switfoot.” “Cometblaze strongly believes Swiftfoot is meeting Blackheart.” interrupted Breezetail rolling her eyes. “I do!” snapped Cometblaze in annoyance to her sister’s disbelief. “Blackheart was announced a warrior at Peace Night and ever since that; Swiftfoot has been acting happier than usual. Something is going on and I know it whether you believe it or not! And I’m willing to check it out.” Nightsky looked at her sibling, convinced. This really isn’t a good sign, she thought to herself. “Do you know if Swiftfoot has left yet to ‘meet’ him?” she asked, determination setting in. Breezetail gave the air a quick sniff and shook her head. “Her scent is stale; she hasn’t been here since this morning.” “Then let’s hurry and make a quick plan before she does.” whispered Nightsky beckoning her sisters to come closer.
The quiet patter of paw steps echoed around the surrounding forest. Nightsky could smell Swiftfoot’s scent immediately, as she saw her sister’s blotched pelt in the gleam of the moonlight. It had been mere moments after they got into position outside of Star Tribe’s camp after discussing the plan that Swiftfoot had appeared. Now, the healing cat apprentice was making her way over to Roaring Water with cautious paw steps. “I-I can’t believe it; I didn’t actually think she would show up.” stammered Breezetail lashing her tail in a moment of anger once Swiftfoot had disappeared from their sight. “I thought it was a load of fox dung.” Cometblaze and Nightsky stayed utterly quiet, not knowing how to reply to Breezetail’s comment. “Let’s just follow the plan.” instructed Nightsky pushing her thoughts aside. Breezetail tasted the air thoroughly and padded ahead of her sisters, making sure not to make a sound.
“She should be right through there.” hissed Breezetail, her pelt quivering as they ducked into undergrowth. They had followed Swiftfoot’s scent all the way over to Roaring Water. Nightsky recognized Swiftfoot’s voice immediately, though she could not see through the dense shrubs and bushes that surrounded their “hide out”. Nightsky held her breath as she brushed her way past the ferns she had been hiding in. Breezetail and Cometblaze followed hesitantly, not sure of how to react. Though Nightsky knew what was going on, she couldn’t help but let out a heartbreaking gasp. Blackheart stood beside Swiftfoot, his pelt brushing firmly against hers though his eyes were wide with terror. “Swiftfoot, how could you?” snarled Breezetail though Nightsky sensed hurt in her voice as she looked in disgust. “H-how did you-” was all Swiftfoot could say before Nightsky interrupted her. “Shall I tell our father about this?” Swiftfoot drew her ears back, looking taken aback by her sister’s words. “Neither of us will tell Silence of the Night about this unless you promise not to meet him anymore.” continued Nightsky sitting down neatly. “Are you threatening my loyalty to this tribe?” she spat, drawing her lips back into a snarl. For a moment, Nightsky was frightened; she had never seen Swiftfoot act like this before. “I have done nothing wrong.” she continued lowering her tone, though her fur was still bristling with rage. Blackheart stayed silent, though he looked at Swiftfoot with concern. “W-” meowed Cometblaze before an angry hiss sounded from behind her and she was shoved aside. “Nothing wrong?” spat Breezetail looking infuriated. “You broke the code!” The tabby she-cat loomed over Swiftfoot aggressively as her sister cowered before her rage and hurt. Blackheart met Breezetail’s gaze with a protective look. That’s when Breezetail snapped. “Breezetail!” shrieked Cometblaze trying to tone down her panicked voice. The apprentice sprang at Blackheart and bowled him into the low flowing river. Both cats wriggled around but only hissed at each other in order to make sure nobody could hear them. Swiftfoot quickly fished Breezetail off of Blackheart, who looked startled but not helpless by her attack though his pelt was soaking. Breezetail, though angry looked satisfied with a ripped ear showing off her work on the new warrior. Swiftfoot looked at him apologetically before he crossed his side of the border. “Happy?” she meowed in a defeated voice before pushing her way past the three shocked apprentices. Breezetail snarled aggressively at Blackheart from behind Roaring Water as the warrior looked after Swiftfoot sadly. “Stay away from Star Tribe before I do some real damage.” she snarled threateningly before stalking away. Nightsky looked back at Rainbow Tribe territory was Blackheart disappeared. Was this really the end?
TO BE CONTINUED…
Listen to the beautiful sounds of nature while reading Warrior Tribes.