Clover walked through the forest with two kits dangling from her jaws, a tabby tom followed her with two mais and a white she-cat with one. Clover came to a stop and placed her kits between her paws. “Thank-you for helping me Tiger,” she nodded at the tom, then briefly touched noses with him “And Snow, I’ll never forget your help.” The other two gatos set down their bundles and touched noses with Clover, Tiger lingered a segundo longer “I amor you Clover I always have, but our kits belong with you and you have chosen to go somewhere else.” He said “Oh, I’m being torn in two. I’m trying to decide on whether to stay loyal to you or to leave!” Tiger wailed “Please keep the kits safe, and make sure they know who I was.” Then Snow and Tiger padded away. Clover began to mover the kits into a arbusto, bush were soft grama grew behind it when suddenly a voice came from behind her “What are you doing on our territory?” Clover spun around and came face to face with a russet tom, a brown and black tom and a brown and white tom. “Please don’t hurt me.” Clovers kits began to cry pitifully from the azevinho, holly arbusto, bush she had set them down behind “Kits!” exclaimed the tom; he pushed past Clover aside and shouldered his way through the azevinho, holly bush. Clover followed him, mewing desperately, “Don’t hurt my kits!” dodging around the tom Clover wrapped her body protectively around the kits “Please help us!” she begged. “We won’t hurt any of you,” the brown and white tom reassured her “But why are you here, surely your kits are are too young to travel.” The brown and black tom meowed. Clover bent her head to lick a brown tabby kit “When my sister, Snow had her kits the Nofurs took the kits away.” Clover began “Why would they do that?” asked the brown and black tom asked. Clover shook her head “No cat knows. They were so young their eyes weren’t even open.” The russet tom hissed “I would have clawed their face of!” he exclaimed “What good would that do?” Clover said “Snows kits would still be gone. Snow will never see them again. So when I had mine,” Clover went on lifting her head defiantly “I decided to leave before the Nofurs found them. I saw a lot of gatos going past the fence. I thought some of them would be friendly.” Clover turned her huge pleading eyes on the brown and white tom.
The warrior bent his head to sniff the five scraps of fur. The kits shrank away, 5 moons old they were still small and helpless, shivering; their mews grew stronger with panic.
“You will help us, wont you?” Clover went on “Back there” – Clover pointed with her tail to the place she had just come from “Some gatos chased us off”
“That would be Ice-clan,” the black and white tom meowed. “Don’t worry; you’re in Leaf-clan territory now.”
Clover nodded. “That must be why they left us alone when we crossed the stream. But I don’t think my kits can go any farther, and I won’t take them back. The Nofurs will steal them if I do.”
“We’ll help you,” the brown and white tom promised “I’m Hawk-fur, this is Claw-face,” Hawk-fur said gesturing to the brown and black tom “And Fox-heart.” Hawk-fur finished, gesturing to the russet tom “You can bring your kits to our camp, where Fern-star will tell you whether you can stay or not.”
Clover blinked warmly at Hawk-fur. “Oh thank-you! You are so kind!”
Claw-face shot Hawk-fur a look of surprise “six kitty-pets?” He murmured. “What’s Ash-star going to think about that?”
“Fern-star will understand,” Hawk-fur said “She is good about things like this; remember at one time her mother was a kitty-pet.” Hawk-fur gave Claw-face a hard stare before letting Clover lean heavily on his flank her two kits in her jaws, a tabby tom and a cream colored she-cat, Fox-heart gently picked up another tabby tom and a cream colored she-cat while Claw-face picked up the russet tom, he beckoned with his tail for Clover to follow. The warriors walked for only a short time when the group came to a halt outside a thorn mural with a small gap close to the ground. The warriors stepped through the gap, being careful to make sure the kits were not harmed. A small cat came racing across the clearing that opened up from the thorn barrier.
“Hawk-fur you’re back, how was...” The small cat broke off as he saw the bundles Hawk-fur was carrying
“Kit’s!” the tom exclaimed “Hey Brindle-paw, come and see this!”
“This is my mates apprentice Fuzzy-paw; it’s only his third moon as an apprentice, and one of his littermates, Brindle-paw.” These terms were confusing to Clover. Hawk-fur shot her a sheepish look “Oh, an apprentice is a young cat training to be a warrior.” Another apprentice hurtled across the clearing “Kit’s!” she exclaimed
“Were did you get them?” but every cat around Clover had a mouth full of kit, so no cat answered, the excited apprentices called the rest of the Clan to come and look. A dark grey she-cat came out of a shelter of brambles, her eyes widened as she took in the scene before her.
“Poor little scraps!” she gasped “Bring them into the nursery. Fuzzy-paw go and fetch Scar-face and Brindle-paw let Fern-star know what’s happened.” The apprentices scurried off.
“Are you their mother?” the dark grey she-cat meowed to Clover who was panting hard “Don’t worry we’ll look after all of you!” the white she-cat reassured her. “That’s Sedge-frost, she moved into the nursery over a moon atrás to have her segundo litter.” Hawk-fur told Clover. Sedge-frost ducked into the nursery ahead of Clover and began pulling a nest of moss and bracken together to make a warm, thick nest. Clover laid down her two kits gently in the middle of the nest; they had stopped wriggling long atrás and they lay scarcely breathing Claw-face and Fox-heart set down the kits they carried and Clover laid down beside them nudging them anxiously.
“Brindle-paw says there are kits here. Can I see?” A light russet tartaruga shell she-cat stuck her head into the nursery. When she saw Clover and her litter she pushed her way through the branches to crouch beside the nest.
“Oh, their beautiful! Have you given them names?” the she-cat asked.
“Yes. The cream she-cat with black paws is Heather, the she-cat with the spots on its tummy is Moth, she’s the smallest, the tabby tom with a black tipped tail is Tiger, the one with the brown tabby pele, peles is Bramble and the only russet tom is Fox.” Clover exclaimed
“Those will work very well as Clan names. Here they will be known as Heather-kit, Moth-kit, Tiger-kit, Bramble-kit and Fox-kit.” The golden she-cat said.
A grey tom pushed his way into the nursery with a White and grey she-cat hard on his paws.
“What’s this a gathering? Any cat who hasn’t got anything to do here get out! Give us some room to breathe.” Exclaimed the grey tom
“What’s your name?” asked the white and grey she-cat.
“Clover.” She answered.
“I’m Fern-star and we’ll take care of you.” The sparkle in Fern-stars eye was unexpectedly comforting to Clover
“Thank-you, that means a lot to me.” She said her voice cracking.
Fern-star nodded and padded out of the nursery “Do your best to help these gatos Scar-face.” To Clover she added “The light russet she-cat is Light-pelt she will also be accompanying you in the nursery shortly, for she is expecting kits, I will also be in the nursery shortly, it’s my first litter.”
Fern-star padded out of the nursery; Clover could see the worry in her eyes. Her coração started to pound as Fox-heart came back to the nursery his eyes connected with hers and her coração skipped a beat.
“Don’t worry about her, she’s just concerned about the welfare of the clan,” Fox-heart said “Nothing more!” he added hastily as Clover flashed him a suspicious look. Hawk-fur bounded into the nursery with a vole hanging from his jaws. He shot Fox-heart a glare from narrowed eyes. Only when Fox-heart moved out of the way and padded out of the nursery did Hawk-fur lay down beside Clover
“You didn’t have to do that, he was just being polite,” but Hawk-fur cut her off before she could finish
“He was being mais than polite, four moons atrás our old leader Ash-star joined Star-clan. Fern-star was her deputy so she succeeded her. We had another deputy after Fern-star became leader, but he died so Fern-star chose Fox-heart to replace him. He has been atuação king of the forest ever since.” Hawk-fur’s tone was hard and it scared Clover.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you I... me and Fox-heart used to be very close. We trained together, ate together, became warriors together. It all changed when he was chosen to be deputy after Larch-fur our last deputy died.” Hawk-fur took a mouth full of vole. He chewed thoughtfully suddenly his ears pricked up and he took a deep breath. He nodded at Clover then left the nursery. Clover was about to follow him when she heard what had detained him.
“How long are they going to stay?” Claw-face asked Fern-star
Fern-star twitched the end of her tail. “That depends on a lot of things. When do they want to leave?”
“I don’t think Clover ever wants to go back to that barn.” Hawk-fur said “Twolegs took Snows kits away, Clover had hers and she decided to take her kits to us, to keep them safe.”
“That’s a good reason, but it’s up to Clover whether she would like to stay or not, or whether or not she would like to earn her warrior name in this Clan.”
Clover stepped out of the nursery, her head held high.
“When I left the Nofurs I had no intention of joining anybody. I just wanted to keep my kits safe…but now that I think about it my kits would be much safer if I joined the clan. If that was an offer to cadastrar-se the clan Fern-star I will join. I will learn your ways.” Clover finished
“Of course. We wouldn’t hesitate, I will hold the ceremony right away.” With that Fern-star bounded off to the middle of the clearing were a branch came out of the earth.
“Let all gatos old enough to climb gather here beneath Highbranch for a clan meeting.” Fern-star yowled. Clover stared at Fox-heart, his eyes shone as he stood beside Fern-star. Warmth spread to her paws as he returned the gaze. Hawk-fur came up behind Clover and rested his tail on her shoulders and lead her to the bottom of the rock
“I Fern-star, leader of Leaf-clan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this cat. She has earned a place among the clan and wishes to learn the ways of your noble code and I commend her to you as a warrior in her turn. Clover do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect your clan even at the cost of your life?” Clover hesitated; Fox-heart came up behind her and whispered
“Say I do”
“I do!” She said.
“Then por the powers of Star-clan I give you your warrior name.
Clover from this moment on you will be known as Clover-blaze. Star-clan honors your determination and courage and I am proud to name you a warrior of Leaf-clan.” Fern-star jumped down off the rock and stooped to touch her nose to Clover-blaze’s head, she licked her shoulder in return.
“Clover-blaze! Clover-blaze! Clover-blaze!” the clan called out her name. It made Clover-blaze’s fear melt to nothing, only to be replaced por determination to protect her new clan with all she had.
* * * * *
Clover-blaze fell to the ground as Hawk-furs paw struck her side once more
4 dawns had passed since Clover-blaze had been made a warrior. She and Hawk-fur were doing battle training, but she was finding it difficult to pick the skill up. “No you got to hit me! Hard!” Clover-blaze stared at him.
“But I don’t want to hurt you!”Clover-blaze exclaimed. Hawk-fur’s tail curled up in amusement.
“Don’t worry, you won’t. Come now, try again.” Clover-blaze gave him a doubtful glance, and then ran at him, flashing out a paw, Hawk-fur tripped Clover-blaze as she ran towards him, she went sprawling forwards hitting the sandy ground hard. Clover-blaze glared at him, furious that she could still be tripped so easily. Hawk-fur seemed to get the point.
“Okay we’ll try again tomorrow.” Just as he was helping Clover-blaze up Fox-heart burst through the brambles that shielded the training area.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Fox-heart said, sounding furious.
“We’re doing battle training. Why does it concern you?” Hawk-fur hissed sounding just as furious as Fox-heart.
“Clover-blaze should be in the nursery, with her kits, why is she out here?” Fox-heart asked giving Hawk-fur a hard stare.
Hawk-fur bared his teeth in the beginnings of a snarl. He screeched and flung himself at Fox-heart, they struggled on the ground locked in a battle of teeth and claw.
“Stop!” Clover-blaze shrieked. To her surprise the two toms fell away from each other, sides heaving. Fox-heart was bleeding from a scratch along his flank and Hawk-fur was missing pawfuls of pele, peles from his shoulders.
“You can’t be fighting between your selves when you were such great friends. Until you figure out how to be nice to each other while I’m around I don’t want to talk to either of you!” Clover-blaze finished the word in the beginnings of a yowl. She let the pele, peles on her shoulders lay flat, as she stalked from the clearing. Her tail sticking straight up in the air, Clover-blaze entered the camp and bounded instinctively to the nursery where she could hear her five kits scuffling amongst themselves.
“You’re back!” she heard Heather-kit exclaim, and a heartbeat later all five kits hurtled out of the nursery and flew at Clover-blaze, knocking her ungracefully off her paws.
“O.K kits, that’s enough!!” Clover-blaze said cuffing Fox-kit over the ears with claws sheathed.
“Did you claw Hawk-furs ears off?” asked Bramble-kit.
“NO! Why would I want to do that?” Clover-blaze asked her kit. “Who was our father?” asked Moth-kit urged on por her sister and brothers.
“No one in Leaf-clan looks like us, except you!” Fox-kit said.
“Your father was… is a celeiro cat. His name is Tiger.” Clover-blaze said.
“Hey that’s my name, except I’m Tiger-kit.” He exclaimed raising his head proudly.
“Yes I named you after your father because you look most like him, but you all have a part of him. Moth-kit you have his gentleness, Heather-kit you have his determination. Bramble-kit you have his loyalty and Fox-kit you have his courage. You all remind me of him every dia and I’m glad I took you with me away from the barn.” Each of Clover-blaze’s kits heads lifted as she named their best personality traits. The kits looked solemnly at Clover-blaze their tiny tails waving in the air. Tiger-kit dipped his head and turned away, the rest of the kits followed.
“It’s never easy telling kits their not clan born.” said Sedge-frost as she appeared seguinte to Clover-blaze.
“I just wish I didn’t have to tell them so early.” Replied Clover-blaze. Clover-blaze glanced sideways at Sedge-frost. “Will you do something for me?” she asked. “Depends on what that is.” Sedge-frost promptly replied. “Will you tell Fox-heart I want to go hunting with him at moonhigh? Alone?” Clover-blaze asked lowering her voice so only Sedge-frost could hear. “Sure. I can do that for you.” Sedge-frost said tipping her head to one side. She bounded away, her plump belly swinging as she went; Clover-blaze feared for the young warrior, her belly was beginning to be a burden for her. She disappeared through the curtain of vines that grew from the hallow in the side of the Highbranch were the deputy’s antro, den was made. A moment later Sedge-frost ducked out again and caught Clover-blaze’s eye. She nodded and padded slowly to the warriors den.
* * * *
Clover-blaze sat at the entrance to the thorn barrier. Her eyes darted from side to side as the moon began to reach its peak. A swishing noise made Clover-blaze’s head snap around, her shoulder pele, peles began to rise. She let it lie flat as she realized that it was Fox-heart coming from his den. His pele, peles was groomed to a shining sleekness. His redish brown pelt gleamed silver in the moonlight. His golden eyes shined as he watched Clover-blaze hesitantly approach. Surprise flickered in them as she touched her nose to his, but it was only there momentarily, the surprise was replaced por a look of victory as he realized he had won her heart. Clover-blaze loved him, and he knew it. The two gatos walked side por side, their tails twining and their pelts brushed as they walked through the thorn barrier. Clover-blaze leaned her head against Fox-hearts shoulder and she murmured “I amor you, and I want to be with you for the rest of my life. I want to see us together at the worst of times, lifting each other’s spirits and keeping each other company while we are down. I want to share your destiny and intertwine it with mine, and maybe we will have kits together.” Fox-heart nodded. He licked her head and they continued on blissfully into the night.
Clover-blaze awoke the seguinte morning, the events of last night still lingered on her mind. Clover-blaze pictured the warmth in Fox-hearts eyes as she told him she loved him. Fox-heart sat beside her his ears pricked for signs of danger. This momentarily confused Clover-blaze, before she remembered they had decided not to return to the clan after their night together. They had instead made their antro, den por the stream, underneath some árvore roots, separating Leaf-clans and Lake-clan’s boarders. Clover-blaze scrambled to her paws, Fox-heart turned to look at her his eyes full of contentment, but oddly something else, worry maybe?
“Do you think we should be together?” he asked, his voice wavering slightly. “I mean … what about Hawk-fur, what if he gets angry …” Fox-heart voice trailed off until Clover-blaze flicked her tail over his mouth, silencing him.
“Hawk-fur will always be a good friend, at first I thought he would be the right mate for me … but he already has a loving mate, you and I will be together for the rest of our lives. That’s the way it’s going to be weather he likes it or not.” Fox-heart’s eyes shone with relief as he rubbed his head on Clover-blazes shoulder. Clover-blaze purred with content as she licked his forehead “Let’s go home.” She said as Fox-heart got up.
Fox-heart and Clover-blaze walked down the stream until they came to a halt por the thorn barrier. Clover-blaze sighed. Fox-heart walked through the barrier first, he signaled to Clover-blaze to follow. She walked through the barrier, the thorns nipping at her shoulders. The clearing was a blur of action, a thin wail came from the nursery, and Possum-fang bolted from the warriors antro, den and headed toward the nursery. Clover-blaze missed the moment when Fern-star came out of her den, but she was now sprinting towards them with a very worried look in her eyes. “Sedge-frost started kitting this morning, only one kit. Everyone has been high alert because no one had seen you since last night,” Fern-star dividido, dividir a look between Fox-heart and Clover-blaze. “Where have you been?” She asked, her pergunta was guarded Fox-heart gave Clover-blaze a quick dab on her nose, then pushed her towards the nursery “Go help your friend, I’ll be in my antro, den … come see me later.” Fern-star and Fox-heart walked to his antro, den their heads bent low, Clover-blaze gave Fox-heart one last sad look before heading towards the nursery at a sprint. As Clover-blaze arrived at the nursery Possum-fang’s head popped out “I need some honey in here … Oh you’re here good, can you come in and sit with Sedge-frost please while I go fetch some honey?” He asked with a twitch of his ears. A small mewl came from the entry. “Of course.” Clover-blaze said, with a dip of her head she entered the nursery. Clover-blaze’s five kits were, despite what had just happened, dosing in the nest at the back of the nursery. Clover-blaze turned her head and surveyed the nursery, moss laid scattered everywhere, a leaf embrulho, envoltório was left in the middle of the nursery and shards of sick lay scattered por the wall. Sedge-frost lay on her side, taking in gasps of air. At her belly six new born kits suckled hungrily, and between Sedge-frosts front paws was a white she-cat, the kit was dead. Sedge-frost whimpered and licked the kits already damp fur. “She was perfect,” she gasped “Absolutely perfect.” she murmured. She licked the kit again. Possum-fang pushed his way through the brambles and stopped dead. He took a hesitant step towards his mate, and then he rushed to her side, rumbling with sadness “Meet Bumble-kit, Dove-kit, Dusk-kit, Willow-kit, Grey-kit, Rain-kit and Vixen-kit” Her tail twitched back and forth. She looked at her kits with a nod of her head. “Thank-you Clover-blaze, I needed a friend, and you were there. Thanks for sticking por me.” Sedge-frost met her friends gaze slowly. Clover-blaze nodded and left the nursery with a swish of her tail. She padded slowly to Fox-heart’s side, he looked up and asked. “How is she?” Clover-blaze replied “Six healthy, beautiful kits, one tom and five she-cats.” Fox-heart looked at Clover-blaze with happiness blazing in his golden eyes “One day, we’ll have kits of our own, just like Sedge-frost and Possum-fang, we will be happy together.” Clover-blaze nuzzled Fox-hearts flank affectionately then walked off towards the nursery where her kits tussled outside the entrance. This is how it’s supposed to be. Clover-blaze thought as she walked into the nursery. She lay down and gazed out at the clearing. My home, this is my home. Clover-blaze settled deeper into the moss. Her eyes heavy with happiness Clover-blaze gazed happily at Sedge-frost who gazed back with equal happiness. Clover-blaze knew this was her home. Her destiny lay here with Fox-heart and Sedge-frost and Fern-star and every one. This is where she was meant to be and Clover-blaze was happy. That was what mattered most. What seemed like many heartbeats later Clover-blaze was sucked into a deep, glorious sleep.
* * * *
Clover-blaze sat at the entrance to the medicine cat den. It had been almost a moon since Clover-blaze and Fox-heart had spent the night together por the stream. Clover-blaze had spent the nights afterwards caring for her kits and spending countless lengths of time with Fox-heart, taking comfort in her mates scent as the days passed. Now Clover-blaze winced as her kits excited yowls filled the air. “We’re going to be apprentices at sunhigh!” They told Fern-star excitedly who sat por the cardo bush, licking her belly which was beginning to swell with her unborn kits. Clover-blaze was happy for her kits, but her stomach hurt and she had a terrible headache. Scar-face padded out of his antro, den with a leaf embrulho, envoltório in his mouth. “Okay there is some Watermint in there for your bellyache and som …. Wait… um … you said bellyache and headache right?” He asked. “Yes.” Replied Clover-blaze. Scar-face’s expression turned from concerned to very worried. “Um … can you come into my antro, den and lay down in one of the nests please?” Scar-face guided Clover-blaze into his den. He left her to sit while he got some herbs from his store. He came back out a heartbeat later. Clover-blaze lay down while Scar-face’s expert paws worked over her belly. He looked from Clover-blaze then across the clearing towards Fox-hearts den. “Clover-blaze, how long has it been since you had your kits?” he asked “Six moons at sunhigh. Why?” she asked. Scar-face’s tail twitched. “Because my dear, you are carrying kits, about six, but I can’t be sure. It’s too early to tell. Didn’t you experience this with your other kits?” He asked, his voice had arisen to a higher pitch. “No the Twolegs gave me something before I could feel this pain.” Clover-blaze tipped her head to one side. “Should I tell Fox-heart about this?” She asked. “I think you should. It is easier said than done.” Scar-face rested his tail on her shoulder for a heartbeat. Then he whisked it away as the bracken shifted and Hawk-fur stepped through. His eyes were black with rage, his whiskers quivered, and his nose flared. “You’re carrying his kits?” He asked, his voice was dangerously low. “I….. I’m so sorry. I …. Didn’t know. …” Clover-blaze stopped catching her breath as Hawk-fur glared at her through his milky blue eyes; anger flickered in them like minnows in the stream. Clover-blaze sat up and walked to her friend’s side. His eyes followed her every step. Clover-blaze laid her tail over Hawk-fur’s shoulder. He brushed it off and walked away, pele, peles bristling.
Clover-blaze’s tail drooped. Her eyes flickered back towards Scar-face; his eyes were filled with sorrow. “I am so sor…..” Clover-blaze didn’t let him finish, tail drooping, Clover-blaze walked out of the medicine cat den. The loss of her first friend here at Leaf-clan was a devastating blow. Then Clover-blaze heard some yowl her name. “Clover-blaze, there you are I’ve been looking for you, I was wondering who would make a good mentor for your kits, I’m sure you have som ideas on wh ….” Clover-blaze interrupted Fox-heart before he could finish “I’m carrying kits, your kits.” She whispered. Fox-hearts face was a mask of shock; he stood so still he looked like a tree, except the occasional twitch of his black whiskers. “Are you sure?” he whispered back. His eyes flicked over her face. “I just got the news from Scar-face. He says I’m carrying at least six, but he can’t be sure. What are we going to do? I can’t raise mais kits! I’m so new to clan life, maybe the clan won’t accept them a ….” Fox-heart cut her off with a flick of his ears. His eyes flicked over her face, his face had a look of fury mixed with …. Worry? “This is a blessing from Star-clan. We will raise these kits together, and you will do fine.” Clover-blaze slowly nodded her head as she listened to Fox-heart’s authority. Clover-blaze’s new life was a lot harder than she was thinking it would be.
Clover-blaze paced the clearing outside Fern-star den. Sunhigh had come and she was addressing the warriors they had chosen for her kits mentors. Fox-kit’s mentor would be Claw-face, Tiger-kit’s would be Hawk-fur, Heather-kit’s mentor would be Bright-sky, Bramble-kit would have Fern-star and Moth-kit had taken an interest in herbs, so Scar-face would be her mentor. Ash-star walked out of her den, the warriors close behind him, Bright-sky padded off towards the nursery. A heartbeat later an excited squeal came from the den. Heather-kit bounced out looking quite pleased, Tiger-kit followed looking a little distraught. His eyes blazed as he started towards Clover-blaze. “How come Bramble-kit gets Fern-star? I’m better than he is so I should get Fern-star,” Clover-blaze looked at her kit sternly.
“You are not better than Bramble-kit, and he is not better than you. We chose Fern-star for Bramble-kits mentor because we thought that Bramble-kit could learn best with a mentor who is compassionate, patient, and stern. We thought you would learn best with a mentor who is stern, intelligent, and who is brave. We chose Hawk-fur for your mentor because that’s who you can learn the most from. Now I don’t want to hear the words ‘I’m better than him’ leave your mouth again! If I do, I will make you wait another moon to be apprenticed. Understood?” Clover-blaze gazed sternly at Tiger-kit. As she said ‘wait’ his eyes got huge and he nodded his head a quick bob before stumbling away. Fern-star’s call came from high branch as Clover-blaze turned to walk away. “Let all gatos old enough to climb gather here beneath Highbranch for a clan meeting.” Heather-kit, Tiger-kit, Fox-kit, Moth-kit and Bramble-kit walked out of their antro, den and came to sit close to Highbranch, and the apprentices being made warrior’s followed swiftly.
Fern-star watched them very closely as they approached Highbranch.
Fern-star yowled, calling the clan to silence.
“We are here to welcome five new apprentices to the clan as well as three new warriors. Vole-paw, Rush-paw, Willow-paw, Come here. I, Fern-star, leader of Leaf-clan, call upon my warrior ancestors to look down on this apprentice, she has trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I command her to you as a warrior in her turn. Willow-paw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your clan at the cost of your life?” Willow-paw didn’t waste a heartbeat. “I do.” Fern-star nodded “Then por the powers of Star-clan I give you your warrior name. Willow-paw, from this moment on you will be known as Willow-whisper. Star-clan honors your courage and selflessness and we welcome you as a full warrior of Leaf-clan.” Fern-star called Rush-paw giving her the name Rush-tail, and Vole-paw Vole-pelt. Then she looked at Clover-blaze’s kits. “Heather-kit, Moth-kit, Tiger-kit, Bramble-kit and Fox-kit, Come progressivo, para a frente please.” Fern-star waited until the five kits, very neatly groomed, walked calmly up to Highbranch. “This is a proud dia for Leaf-clan, por naming apprentices we show Leaf-clan will survive and remain strong. Heather-kit, from this moment until you receive your warrior name you will be known as Heather-paw. Bright-sky you are ready for your first apprentice you will be mentor to Heather-paw. I know you will pass on your strength and intelligence to Heather-paw, and teach her the skills she will need to be a great warrior, you understand that you are young and I urge you to turn to other warriors for help when needed.” Heather-paw touched noses with Bright-sky and walked away side por side to the edge of the crowed and sat down. “Tiger-kit from this moment on until you receive your warrior name you will be known as Tiger-paw. Hawk-fur you are ready for your seguinte apprentice since Raven-wing was made a warrior, you will be Tiger-paws mentor. I know you pass on your wisdom and patience to your apprentice, and teach him the skills he will need to be a Valente warrior of Leaf-clan.” Hawk-fur and Tiger-paw touched noses then sat down beside Bright-sky and Heather-paw. Fern-star did the same with Fox-paw and Bramble-paw naming herself as Bramble-paw’s mentor was a shock but the clan settled down soon. Clover-blaze’s four kits were sitting at the edge of the crowd excitedly mumbling to each other when Fern-star called Moth-kit up to Highbranch. “Scar-face, please come here.” Scar-face walked up to Highbranch and sat down he twitched his tail back and forth then began. “Cats of Leaf-clan, as you know I will not be around forever. So it is time I took an apprentice. I have chosen a cat that uses patience and wits to her advantage. Your seguinte medicine cat will be Moth-paw!” Moth-paw dipped her head awkwardly at the yowls of pleasure that erupted from the clan; Clover-blaze realized she was like very much among the clan. Fern-star waited a couple heartbeats then waved her tail for silence. “Moth-paw, do you except the post of apprentice to Scar-face?” She asked daintily. “Yes Fern-star I do.” She replied with a quick glance in Clover-blaze’s direction. Clover-blaze gave her nod of approval. Moth-paws voice rang out across the clearing “I will be the best medicine cat I can be. I will make sure you are all taken care of.” Moth-paw looked so certain.
Scar-face shushed the warriors then meowed “Then at the half-moon you must travel with me to Moonrock to be accepted por and the other medicine cats.” Scar-face looked across the clearing, his eyes landing on Claw-face. Scar-face knew that Claw-face had misgivings about a Kitty-pet being a medicine-cat.
Fern-star dipped her head and continued “Then the blessings of the clan go with you.” Clover tipped her head back and yowled her kits names. Ash-star let the chanting go on for a few coração beats then flicked her tail for silence. Once the noise died down she raised her head proudly. “This is a very proud dia for Leaf-clan, five new apprentices, but that is not all. Fox-heart, share your news with the clan.” Fox-heart jumped up onto Highbranch and gazed over the clan “Clover-blaze is expecting my kits!” He exclaimed. Fern-star nodded to Fox-heart, ignoring the gasps of shock rising from the clan. “She will retire to the nursery once again. May Star-clan light her path.” The leader jumped down and the crowd broke up and formed smaller groups, chattering noisily. Cinder-dust and Lizard-stripe shuffled out of the elders den. “Did I hear someone is going to have kits?” Lizard-stripe asked. “Yes, Clover-blaze is going to have my kits.” Fox-heart informed the elder coming up behind Clover-blaze. “Congratulations.” Cinder-dust murmured. The elders nodded and shuffled back to their antro, den talking quietly. Clover-blaze turned to her mate, looking at him with big sad eyes. “I lost him. Hawk-fur won’t speak to me even though I try so hard.” Clover-blaze looked at Fox-heart worriedly. Fox-heart gave a quick flick of his tail. “Tonight is the gathering, you are chosen to come, eat now we leave at moonhigh. Hawk-fur will come around, don’t worry.” He murmured softly before padding away. Clover-blaze turned and began padding to the fresh kill pile. As she picked up a plump tordo, sapinhos she realized Hawk-fur had been watching her from narrowed eyes from where he sat under the oak árvore with Claw-face, Beetle-claw and Flint-fang. Hurt and anger flickered in his eyes, his tail twitched restlessly. Clover-blaze padded to the cardo arbusto, bush just outside the nursery. She took a bite of the thrush, its flavor melting on her tongue. She pushed it away angrily. Fox-heart trotted up beside her, a rato dangled from his jaws. He narrowed his eyes at the thrush. “You have to eat,” he meowed. His gazed followed Clover-blaze’s landing on Hawk-fur. Fox-heart growled, he sat down beside her and began to lap soothingly at her pelt, putting his scent over hers. He was claiming her. Hawk-fur ducked his head and tore into the vole at his feet. “Thank-you.” Clover-blaze purred.
* * * *
The cold nipped at Clover-blaze’s nose. Her ears twitched towards the noise coming from the clearing. She shivered from head to tail tip. Fox-heart cast a worried and anxious glance towards her. He padded towards her, his ears flattened as he pasted Hawk-fur who snarled at him. “Keep away from me Foxdung!” Clover-blaze hissed at Hawk-fur, swiping her paw in the air, who in turn backed away surprise and hurt flickered in his eyes. She padded progressivo, para a frente to meet Fox-heart who padded towards her casting an anxious glance over his shoulder. Fox-heart looked her over, his green eyes flashing in the moonlight. Clover-blaze crouched low as a tremor of fear passed over her, and a horrible stench threatened to choke her. Fox-heart let out an mrrow of laughter, he licked Clover-blaze’s ear affectionately. “What you smell is Moon-clan; they are very, um …. Unkempt at this moment.” Clover-blaze nodded and walked side por side with Fox-heart to the edge of the clearing. Fern-star waved her tail and the patrol came to a halt. Clover-blaze gathered her kits with her tail and positioned herself in front of them, keeping them close. Fox-heart licked her ear again, and then licked each of the kits heads reassuringly and then Fern-star’s tail waved signaling for them to move. The patrol surged forward, mixing with the other clan patrols. Fox-heart led Clover-blaze and her kits to the front close to a large pine tree. She could just make out the shadows of three large gatos perched on one of the thick branches. A large cream and white dappled she-cat was perched at the very edge of the branch her amber eyes were narrowed, her pelt was ruffled up against the wind. Another cat sat just two tail-lengths away from her, her white and cream pelt glistened in the moonlight, and seguinte to her was a brown and white dappled tom, his green eyes took in everything and gave away nothing. Fern-star jumped up beside the she-cat and nodded her greetings. The white and cream dappled she-cat stood up and yowled. “Let the gathering begin!” her pelt buffeted against the wind she sat again and nodded to the brown and white tom who stood up and padded forward, balancing on the edge of the branch. “Lake-clan is growing in size; to this gathering we welcome a new warrior and a new apprentice. Rye-paw has had his warrior ceremony and is now Rye-whisker and to this gathering we welcome also Rush-paw.” The other clans yowled the Lake-clan cat’s names. The tom let the cheering go on for a moment then silenced the other clans. “And Leaf-frost has had a litter of three healthy kits. We have had no problems with Twolegs and prey is plentiful” He finished sitting down again and giving his chest a few licks. The cream and white she-cat stood next. Her voice rang out around the clearing. “We also have had no problems with Twolegs, Ice-clan’s prey is plentiful and we are healthy. We also have had a new litter of kits; Dove-dapple gave birth to a litter of five kits, all healthy. ” She nodded to Fern-star who got stiffly to her paws. She looked over the clans her voice bounced through the clearing, and every eye was trained on her. “Leaf-clan is proud to announce that we have five new apprentices and three new warriors, a new litter of kits with another two to be here soon, I will soon be retiring to the nursery to have my kits, so my deputy Fox-heart will take over for me in my absence. We are healthy and happy to be at peace with the other clans.” Before she sat down she nodded to the white and cream dappled she-cat, giving her permission to speak. Clover-blaze noticed that her legs wobbled slightly as she got painfully to his paws, Clover-blaze could see every one of her ribs and Clover-blaze watched as she brought a paw up to her mouth and drew her tongue over the bleeding pad, Clover-blaze gasped. Her meow was clear and deep. “Moon-clan also has new kits, Blue-bee has given birth to a litter of three kits, two she-cats and one tom, named Eagle-kit, Echo-kit and Stone-kit, and we regret to say her fourth kit Poppy-kit died the night of her birth, she had a seguro journey to Star-clan. Echo-song please share the news you bring here.” She beckoned to a very pale white she-cat with one grey spot on her back to come forward. She leaped gracefully into the tree. “Poppy-kit was born with a russet pelt, we would like for the real father of Blue-bee’s kits to step forward. Blue-bee is grieving and will not eat, she is not providing enough leite for her kits and we have no other queens to feed her kits. Please, for the sake of your kits!” Echo-song watched the gatos below the tree. Clover-blaze looked around, her eyes landing on a tom with a russet pelt, his shoulders were tense, and his eyes glistened with grief. He rose to his full height and pushed progressivo, para a frente through the cluster of cats. A dark grey she-cat wailed in agony. “Reed-claw, no!” Reed-claw ducked his head and kept padding forward. He raised his head up to look at the white and brown tom. “Owl-star, I would like to leave Lake-clan and cadastrar-se Moon-clan, my mate and kits need me.” Clover-blaze glanced around and saw a russet she-cat looking at Reed-claw in disgust, anguish and sorrow. Clover-blaze guessed she was one of possibly many she-cats who like this cat. Owl-star nodded his permission and watched as the warrior padded into the mass of gatos and passed the russet she-cat, Clover-blaze watched as the russet she-cat leaned towards him and whispered something in his ear. He looked at the she-cat and shook his head, and then he walked towards a white she-cat, keeping his head high, Clover-blaze watched as he greeted the white she-cat who looked at him with relief and grief. Fern-star gazed out at the mass of shocked cats. “The gathering is over.” She meowed. Fern-star jumped down and led her patrol of gatos from the clearing.