“Can you please tell me a story?”
Twistedfoot turned to face the small, starry kit behind her.
“Well, what would you like me to tell?” she purred, sliding down onto her belly. Around her, StarClan shone magnificently. The kit spread out in her paws.
“Something other than Featherstar,” he squeaked, batting at her whiskers playfully. “I mean, she’s a great cat and all, but maybe something different this time?”
Twistedfoot chuckled. “Of course. Although Featherstar was like the daughter I never had, I suppose it is time for something new.” The kit scrambled onto her back, and Twistedfoot laid her head gently on her front paws. The kit was on top of her head now, and was peering curiously down at her eyes.
“What about you, Twistedfoot?” he asked innocently. “I hear about Oakstar and Featherstar all the time, but what about you?”
“I don’t know if that’s fit for a kit’s ears,” Twistedfoot murmured, closing her eyes. At once, the kit’s ears flew up and his eyes narrowed.
“I’ve been in StarClan way longer than you!” he protested. “I’ve seen far more than any normal kit!”
“Ay, you’ve got me there,” Twistedfoot meowed, rolling over on her stomach. The kit scurried up to nest in her soft stomach fur. Twistedfoot’s whiskers twitched in amusement. “Although, I am older than you.”
The kit huffed, then grinned. “Well, I was too young to remember before you were exiled,” he explained. Twistedfoot rolled her eyes.
“Alright, alright,” she meowed. Then she sighed, and her eyes glazed. “I guess I’ll tell you my story.”
Leader: Tansystar: calico she-cat with a thick tail and large brown eyes
Deputy: Wolfstorm: large, intimidating gray tom with orange eyes and large paws
Medicine cat: Frostberry: very old pale white she-cat with one pale blue eye, one yellow eye
Darkpool: Dark gray tom with black stripes and yellow eyes
Antfoot: dark brown she-cat with unusually small paws and yellow eyes
Volestep: dark brown tabby tom
Flamefoot: fluffy orange tabby tom with hazel eyes
Crowpelt: jet black tom with golden eyes
Copperblaze: Dark ginger she-cat with bright yellow eyes
Birchclaw: light ginger tabby tom with orange eyes
Honeyleaf: delicate golden she-cat with thick fur
Dustpool: “dusty” light brown tom with hazel eyes
Vixenheart: very dark gray she-cat with small orange eyes
Marshpaw: brown tom with yellow eyes and a fluffy tail (Kit of Volestep and Silvershade(deceased))
Chivepaw: silver speckled she-cat with slanted green eyes (Kit of Volestep and Silvershade (deceased))
Snakepaw: light brown tabby with dark brown stripes (Kit of Raggedfur (deceased) and Vixenheart)
Featherpaw: Gray she-cat with orange eyes and tufted ears (kit of Darkpool and Swiftcloud (WC))
Lilydawn: Gray tabby she-cat with purple eyes, mother of Birchclaw’s kits: Rosekit and Bramblekit (five moons)
Bluemist: blue-gray she-cat with ice-blue eyes, mother of Wolfstorm’s kits: Amberkit, Halfkit, and Furzekit (Three moons)
Adderfire: matted brown and gray tom with one cloudy, blind eye
Graywillow: gray tabby she-cat with speckles of silver fur, mate to Adderfire
Chapter One Edit
So where will you start?
Not the very beginning, there’s nothing interesting there.
Sounds like a start to me.
“Very well done!” Flamefoot exclaimed. Proudly, Featherpaw raised her head from her frog. The ginger tom padded over and sniffed it quickly. “That could feed both queens and their kits!”
Featherpaw was ready to explode with pride. “Thank you!” She squeaked, picking up her frog between her teeth. She heard the rest of her patrol- Birchclaw and Copperblaze- giggle affectionately at her.
When she reached camp, Featherpaw placed her prey on the top of the pile.
“Featherpaw!” Featherpaw turned to see Chivepaw, her fellow apprentice and best friend, race up to her. The silver she-cat scrambled to a halt in front of her. “Did you catch that yourself?”
Featherpaw nodded excitedly. “Yeah! Flamefoot said it’s the best catch any of his apprentices have ever had!”
“Really?” Chivepaw’s eyes widened. “Didn’t he train Honeyleaf? She’s one of the best hunters in ShadowClan!”
Just as Featherpaw nodded, Antfoot excused her conversation with Tansystar and trotted over. “How’s my favorite apprentice?” she soothed. When she saw the frog, her eyes widened. “My, did you catch that? I must tell Darkpool!” And then she was off. Featherpaw laughed. Although most of the Clan hated or lost respect of her father Darkpool after finding out his mate was a WindClan cat, Antfoot had supported him through his darkest times. Feather paw would often ask if they were mates, but Antfoot would only shake her head and reply, “I’m too old for that.”
Tansystar was equally appalled and enraged as the rest of the Clan upon finding out about Darkpool’s betrayal. Unlike the rest of ShadowClan, however, she did not wish to exile him or kill him, as “leaving her and facing the Clan was enough.” She also insisted that Featherpaw- kit, at the time- could not help her heritage, and that she would be treated like any other ShadowClan cat. ShadowClan, surprisingly, did a very good job of upholding their leader’s wish. Featherpaw liked Tansystar.
However, there was one cat that didn’t.
Featherpaw inwardly hissed as Vixenheart shoved past her and thankfully, took only a small sparrow and not her frog. Darkpool and even Tansystar had told Featherpaw specifically not to judge Vixenheart, as she had a troubled past. So Featherpaw tried to push away the thought of Vixenheart and instead focus on something else- her son.
Snakepaw was everything his mother wasn’t- brave, outgoing, and quick thinking. Vixenheart felt the need to spend every day feeling sorry for herself. Featherpaw didn’t know why, and assumed Snakepaw’s father- whoever he was- gave him most of his traits.
And speak of StarClan.
Snakepaw padded over, eyes glimmering. His tail waved from side to side as he approached the fresh-kill pile. “Mind if I give this to Lilydawn and Bluemist?” he meowed. “Halfkit, Furzekit, and Amberkit are just starting to eat meat, and I’m sure they’d be very thankful to you if they had this.”
Featherpaw nodded frivolously, unable to find words. Snakepaw turned, frog in his mouth, and she began to panic.
“Furzekit really is cute, isn’t he?” she rambled, then inwardly cursed. Snakepaw doesn’t care.
But Snakepaw stopped, placed the frog gently on the ground, and turned his head was a smile on his face. “There are cuter things,” he meowed, voice smooth as honey. His long tail lingered under Featherpaw’s chin for a heartbeat before he picked up the frog and bounded off towards the nursery. Featherpaw stood there, unable to speak.
“He likes you,” Chivepaw purred, appearing beside her. When Featherpaw processed what her friend had said, she bumped her with her shoulder and felt her fur flush.
“He does not!” she snapped, but she was grinning.
Chivepaw only laughed.
Chapter Two Edit
You sounded like you were happy.
I was indeed.
So what happened then?
You shall see…
“Featherpaw, there’s something we’ve been meaning to tell you.”
Featherpaw excused herself from her meal with Chivepaw and padded towards Darkpool. Antfoot scurried up beside him.
“Is something wrong?” Featherpaw asked, eyebrows drawing together. Antfoot and Darkpool exchanged a glance.
“No, not really,” Antfoot meowed hesitantly. Featherpaw purred.
“Dad?” she asked mischievously. “Are you and Antfoot a thing now?”
Darkpool looked astounded and Antfoot laughed. “No!” he insisted, but both she-cats were chortling. Then Antfoot regained her posture and gave Featherpaw her best stern look.
“But seriously,” she meowed. There was a fierceness to her mew that made Featherpaw lean in. “I’ve seen how Vixenheart has been treating you in particular lately.”
“Yeah, what’s her prob-”
Darkpool shushed her. “Her problem is, Frostberry doesn’t know. But there is something wrong with her, do you hear me, Featherpaw? I want to hear no complaining and I want to see no staring. Her past is troubled.”
“You’ve seen the way the Clan looks at your father after what happened between him and Swiftcloud?” Antfoot added quietly. Featherpaw nodded. “You’re lucky, you know, that they don’t look at you like that. So please respect Vixenheart. She’s a cat too, no matter how harshly she treats you.”
“She believes you and I are better off dead,” Darkpool admitted. “She doesn’t think half-blood cats- or ones that created them- should live in this forest. Kind of rich, coming from a cat who-”
“Darkpool!” Antfoot snapped. “It wasn’t her fault!” Darkpool merely dipped his head.
“Well, Featherpaw,” he meowed, shaking out his coat, “that’s all. Please don’t bother Vixenheart or take anything she says seriously. Oh-” he added as he was padding away, “-and stay away from her son.”
Featherpaw came back to Chivepaw, who was practically beaming.
“Guess what?” the silver apprentice squealed. “Dustpool said I could have my assessment tomorrow!”
“You’ll do great,” Featherpaw promised, licking her friend’s cheek. She pushed back her stab of hurt . Chivepaw was happy, why should she ruin that? Chivepaw’s purr faltered.
“Featherpaw,” she murmured seriously. “What’s wrong?” her eyes glowed with pity. “Did Snakepaw say something to you?”
Featherpaw shook her head and held back tears. “Why does everyone hate Snakepaw?” she wailed finally. “Darkpool won’t even let me talk to him anymore! It’s not his fault his mom’s crazy!”
Chivepaw only looked down. Finally she cleared her throat. “Yeah, you’re right,” she admitted. Her green eyes did not meet Featherpaw’s. Featherpaw stifled a hiss.
Chivepaw closed her eyes. Featherpaw continued in a growl. “You know why Darkpool hates him.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Chivepaw murmured, brushing up against Featherpaw. “Look, it doesn’t matter. Before my mom died, she would tell me...” Chivepaw paused and took in a shuddering breath. “She told me that love has no limits. She supported Darkpool through everything, you know.”
Featherpaw nodded. “So you’re saying…”
Chivepaw smiled. “I’m saying follow your heart, Featherpaw, wherever it may lead. And if it leads to Snakepaw, so be it.”
Chapter Three Edit
I don't think this is fit for a kit's ears.
Oh, come on. We already had this argument.
I know. But I don't feel it's fit for my ears either...
When Featherpaw found him, he was laying on his back and basking in the sun.
“Snakepaw,” she whispered, making sure Darkpool wasn’t watching. Snakepaw opened one eye and his tail flicked.
“Featherpaw?” he meowed. “What is it?”
Featherpaw took in a long breath. My dad hates you. Your mom’s crazy. Right when she began to let all her thoughts out, another one interrupted her.
“Featherpaw.” Featherpaw turned to see Graywillow looking at her patiently from the elder’s den. Featherpaw forced a smile.
“Yes, Graywillow?” she meowed silkily. Graywillow purred.
“I’ve got a tick and can’t quite reach it,” she explained. “Adderfire can’t see it. Would you mind-” “Not a problem!” Featherpaw chirped. When she turned towards Snakepaw, she made a disgusted face. Snakepaw sniggered.
“Hey Frostberry. Marshpaw. Do you have any mouse bile?” Featherpaw asked, dipped her head under the low entrance to the medicine den. Frostberry seemed hard at work with a polityce.
“‘S in th’ back,” she meowed around the leaves in her mouth. “Mars’paw?”
“Sure thing,” her apprentice replied, leaving her side. His thick tail waved as he went to the back of the den. He came out with a mouse.
“I was gonna eat this soon, you got lucky,” he meowed, eyes glimmering. “Do you know how to extract it?”
Featherpaw curled her nose. “No, and I’m not keen on learning,” she retorted. Marshpaw laughed. Featherpaw looked away while he extracted the bile. She nearly gagged at the smell.
“Here you go,” Marshpaw meowed triumphantly, handing her the mouse. “Remember to wash your paws when you finish!”
“Don’t worry, I won’t forget!” Featherpaw snorted jokingly. They both laughed before Featherpaw headed towards the elder’s den.
The inside of the den seemed darker than when she was a kit, but it had the same mossy smell. Adderfire looked up from his frog. Not as big as mine, Featherpaw thought proudly.
“There y’are,” he chortled. “Gray’s goin’ insane, with th’ tick just outta reach-”
“I am not!” Graywillow huffed. She flicked an ear at the back of her neck. “It’s right there, darling,” she meowed to Featherpaw. As Featherpaw made her way towards Graywillow, the former queen sighed.
“I’d tell you about my day, but I’ve done nothing but try to get this stupid tick off my neck. How’s your day been?”
Featherpaw told them about her frog (Adderfire seemed particularly impressed), then about her meal with Chivepaw, and then about Darkpool and Antfoot. Soon she was on the verge of a breakdown.
“-And I just don’t understand why Snakepaw has to be judged because his mom spends all her time feeling sorry for herself!” Featherpaw wailed, then exhaled deeply.
“Well, darling, Darkpool is right, you shouldn’t judge cats for how they beha-”
“Graywillow.” Adderfire set his cloudy gaze on his mate’s evenly. “They were our kits. Tell her.”
“Graywillow.” Adderfire’s mew was unusually steady. “I’ve seen th’ way she looks at ‘im. She deserves to know.”
Graywillow took in a deep breath and placed her paw on Featherpaw’s. “Snakepaw’s father was a tom named Raggedfur. He died before Snakepaw was born. The fact was, Raggedfur was nothing short of, well, different.” Graywillow smiled, but it looked more like a grimace. “Frostberry couldn’t describe it. There was something wrong with his brain, she said, was all there was to it. He’d be fine, she said. He was not.”
“So what happened then?” Featherpaw asked, suddenly feeling like she had eaten the bile. Graywillow took in a shaking breath.
“Featherpaw… the Vixenheart you know… she was different, back then. She was nice, caring. Probably too caring, looking back. She and Raggedfur were not mates when she became pregnant with Snakepaw. In fact-” Graywillow swallowed nervously, “-Vixenheart didn’t even want kits. She didn’t… she didn’t even want to be with Raggedfur. She had a mate of her own already. She was too nice, and he took complete advantage of her…” Graywillow looked ready to cry. Adderfire looked equally as sad. Featherpaw already felt like there were rocks in her throat, and now she could hardly breathe. Vixenheart was their daughter.
“Raggedfur… he raped her?” Featherpaw whispered, looking outside. Snakepaw was staring curiously at her from outside, and she quickly looked away.
“It was worse,” Graywillow rasped. A tear slipped down her cheek. “I know what you’re thinking: How could it possibly be worse?”
Featherpaw sat still. The world seemed to quiet around her as she waited for Graywillow to continue.
“Littermates,” Graywillow buried her face in her paws. “Raggedfur and Vixenheart were littermates.”
Featherpaw stumbled back. “What?”
“The pain that I felt, as their mother, is indescribable. When Vixenheart found out she was pregnant, she was terrified. Her mate was supportive, even though he didn’t want kits, and offered to father them. But when Raggedfur found out they were his, he tried to hide from his mistakes. He tried to run away that night, but Vixenheart’s mate blocked the path. They were both found dead the next morning. We all assumed what had happened. After that, Vixenheart fell into a depression she couldn’t dig herself out of. Snakepaw was born, but by that time everyone knew the father. She was so embarrassed and ashamed she dropped him off with another queen and hid from the world. But really, can you blame her?”
Featherpaw wasn’t sure how to reply. How could she, after learning what she did?
“No,” was all she could say. “I got the tick. Have a nice afternoon.”
Chapter Four Edit
I told you!
Her own brother?
I'm afraid so. That changed my view of Snakepaw, I admit. But he couldn't help his parentage, and we all knew it. I soon forgot about it. Maybe it was because we were in similar parentage situations.
You loved him?
I did. But I was blinded by the attention he gave me. He was far worse than what I was expecting.
What did he do?
I'm glad you asked...
Snakepaw had tried to talk to Featherpaw as soon as she exited the den, but instead she pushed past him without speaking. Snakepaw stared at her wordlessly, but Featherpaw felt his gaze follow her to the medicine cat’s den.
“Marshpaw?” she called. The brown cat’s ears perked up and he turned from the back. Frostberry looked done with her poultice, and was snoozing lightly on a bed of moss. Featherpaw kicked the prey towards him.
“Here’s your mouse, if you still want it,” she meowed. Marshpaw laughed.
“No thanks, I found a frog,” he replied. He paused awkwardly, then looked at Featherpaw. “Would you mind staying in here with me while I eat? It’s kinda lonely with Frostberry asleep all the time.” “Of course!” Featherpaw exclaimed, padding over and sitting next to her friend. “I already ate. Shared a bird with Chivepaw.” Marshpaw’s eyes softened at his sister’s name.
“Has she told you her assessment is tomorrow?” he asked. Featherpaw nodded. “She’s been telling everyone. I’m so proud of her.”
“When do you receive your full name?” Featherpaw queried as Marshpaw bit into his frog. His fluffy tail was waving excitedly.
“Half-moon,” he meowed around his meal. Featherpaw lowered her head.
“Do you think you’re ready?” she whispered. “Being a medicine cat seems tough.”
“Which is why I get a whole extra half moon of training,” he explained slyly.
Featherpaw was tempted to ask him about Snakepaw. He was older than him, after all, so maybe he knew? His mother, Silvershade, was probably the one to suckle Snakepaw. But just before she could speak, Frostberry coughed awake.
“Great StarClan,” she rasped, not even opening her eyes. “Juniper berries, Marshpaw. We’re low on juniper berries. Bluemist said her stomach was bothering her, and we’re not risking her or her kits’ health.”
Marshpaw’s ears pricked. “Would you like me to go alone?” Frostberry nodded.
“You’re almost a full medicine cat. Besides, I’m old anyway, and you need to learn to go out on your own.”
“You’re not old,” Marshpaw commented awkwardly. Frostberry scoffed. Marshpaw gave Featherpaw one last grin beside padding out, thick tail brushing past the wall. Featherpaw began to leave after him, but Frostberry stopped her.
“Your father’s right, you know.”
Featherpaw groaned. This again?
“Graywillow told me what happened,” she said defensively, spinning around to face the old she-cat. “He can’t help his genes, you know. The last thing he needs is cats hating him for something he can’t control.”
“I know,” Frostberry meowed evely. Her blue gaze bore into Featherpaw’s. “But my point is, stay away from him. Do you know what herbs I have to feed him every day just to keep him down to earth? His father was a maniac, Featherpaw.”
“That doesn’t make him one.”
Frostberry hissed. “Are you even listening to me, Featherpaw?”
“Yes.” Featherpaw straightened her back. “But I don’t care. I love him.”
Frostberry narrowed her eyes. “Be careful with that language, Featherpaw. This is Raggedfur’s kin we’re dealing with. And if you’re not careful now, well…” Frostberry laid back down in her moss and closed her eyes. “...you will be.”
Featherpaw left in a huff. She didn’t bother to look for Snakepaw and was glad, even, that he wasn’t nearby.
“Chivepaw!” she called to her friend. Chivepaw excused her conversation with Honeyleaf and padded over. Featherpaw felt herself flood with relief. Finally, I can tell her-
“Frostberry! Come quick!”
Featherpaw inwardly hissed. Why could she never speak? But when she looked up, she realized there was something much worse happening. Crowpelt’s fur was on end and he looked like he had run through the forest and back as he addressed the Clan.
“What’s wrong?” Tansystar bellowed, pushing past the meowing cats. Crowpelt landed his doe-eyed gaze on her.
“There’s been a terrible accident,” he stuttered. Frostberry appeared, looking concerned and confused.
“What happened?” she fretted, and suddenly, looking at the medicine cat, Featherpaw knew.
Half the Clan began to follow Crowpelt, but Tansystar ordered that only she, Frostberry, Crowpelt, and Featherpaw and Chivepaw (who were carrying extra herbs) go. Featherpaw felt her stomach squirm. What had become of her friend? Was he dead? On the brink of it?
Crowpelt suddenly halted. Tansystar froze, but Featherpaw gagged and nearly dropped the herbs. Chivepaw let out a thin, high-pitched wail.
“I found him like this,” Crowpelt explained bleakly. “It must have been some horrible accident-” Frostberry stalked by him, grimacing.
“This was no accident,” she growled.
Marshpaw was not moving. He was on his side facing Featherpaw. His limbs were splayed out, and his forepaw was bending in the wrong direction limply. His eyes were glazed and blood pooled from a long, ugly scar from his ear to his haunches. And, to top it all off, Featherpaw saw the fox trap. His beautiful, fluffy tail was caught dangerously between the silver snares.
“Who did this to you?” Chivepaw meowed, breaking the silence. Her voice raised to an angry wail. “WHO DID THIS TO YOU?” Tansystar wrapped her tail around Chivepaw, who looked away and began sobbing bitterly.
“Is he dead?” Featherpaw whimpered. Frostberry strode by, oddly calmed despite her apprentice’s disfigurements.
“No,” she meowed quietly. “He’s just unconscious, but he won’t live if that scar keeps bleeding out. An infection-stopper now is pointless; he’ll just bleed it back out. Cobweb for now. Chivepaw, may I see that cobweb?”
Chivepaw, who was still sniffling, handed the medicine cat the cobweb without looking at her brother. Tansystar was doing an oddly good job of calming her.
“We’re going to have to remove the snare from his tail as soon as possible,” Frostberry mewed quickly, not looking up from her patient. “Crowpelt and Snakepaw, lift it up as gently as possible and remove his tail before it snaps down again. It’s just a small section, but it’s still there. Quickly, now.”
Featherpaw jolted back to reality. Snakepaw? What’s he doing here? The tabby apprentice helped Crowpelt raise the gleaming iron jaws. Then Snakepaw batted his paw at Marshpaw’s tail-tip, which was completely slicked with blood, which slipped from the trap, before it snapped shut again. Featherpaw saw Frostberry look at the tail-tip, which was lolling weirdly. Crowpelt shuffled out of the way, but as he did, accidentally brushed the Marshpaw’s tail. And just like that, it slipped from Marshpaw’s body. Chivepaw gave a thin wail.
“His tail is gone!” She sobbed. “Is it ever gonna be the same?”
“Marshpaw’s appearance will change,” Tansystar soothed, “but he will always be the same. I promise that.”
Featherpaw had a sick feeling watching Crowpelt and Tansystar carry Marshpaw’s unconscious body back to camp. Snakepaw walked beside her, comforting her the entire time. Featherpaw wasn’t sure what to feel. She walked straight past Antfoot and Darkpool, ignored Volestep’s cries of grief at his son, and the unanimous horror shared by the Clan as they all began to realize that what happened to Marshpaw was no accident.
Chapter Five Edit
So what really happened to Marshfa- er, paw?
You’ll find out later. Marshpaw kind of healed, I’d say, but he was never completely his old self again. And, looking back, it was just what the doctor ordered.
Not for me, of course.
A month had passed. A month since Featherpaw found out about Snakepaw’s heritage, a month since Marshpaw’s accident.
Tansystar had told Chivepaw- Chiveheart, now- that Marshpaw would always be his same old self. That was partially true. He had regained consciousness to the horror that was his bobbed tail and broken paw and lost it. After he earned his full name, Marshface, he completely ignored Featherpaw, even going out of his way to not talk to her. Featherpaw was saddened by this, but couldn’t really blame him.
She could see Marshface sitting outside the medicine cat’s den next to Frostberry, looking as old as ever. His tail had healed, but was now inches shorter. The cut that traced his ear to his haunches was now a bright pink scar, and his front paw was still wrapped in poultice. Chiveheart had cared for her brother, of course, but after a while fell back on Featherpaw after he neglected her care.
Featherpaw had spent the past moon with her best friends, Chiveheart and Snakepaw. They had been an enjoyable moon: Flamefoot had told her she was progressing well with her training, and she and Snakepaw were closer than ever. Darkpool had retired to the elder’s den, with Antfoot promising to follow him eventually. As for Vixenheart, she never changed. She sat behind the nursery weeping bitterly and refusing to eat. Eventually, Birchclaw found her dead, alone. Featherpaw stayed up the whole vigil when no cat, not even Snakepaw, stayed all night. Graywillow had lost her sight and hearing, and Featherpaw was glad she didn’t have to see her daughter dead. And one other thing was happening: Snakepaw was becoming a warrior.
“Snakepaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code and to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life?” Tansystar meowed loudly. Although her muzzle was beginning to gray, she didn’t let it show. Snakepaw’s eyes shone as he sat beside Wolfstorm, his mentor. Wolfstorm looked ready to explode with pride. Snakepaw was his last apprentice; he was getting old too.
“I do,” he promised, tail flicking. Featherpaw grinned widely.
“Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior name,” Tansystar replied. Featherpaw sucked in her breath. “Snakepaw, from this moment you will be known as Snakefur. StarClan honors your skill in battle and courage, and we welcome you as a full warrior of ShadowClan.”
The Clan cheered as Snakefur reached up to touch Tansystar’s nose. He scrambled back to sit next to Featherpaw.
“We’re not done yet,” Tansystar meowed, whiskers twitching in amusement. “Wolfstorm has asked to step down from deputy and retire.” Wolfstorm dipped his head.
“Wolfstorm, is it your wish to give up the name of a warrior and go to join the elders?”
Wolfstorm’s voice was a confident rumble. “It is.”
“Your Clan honors you and all the service you have given to us,” Tansystar recited from Darkpool’s ceremony. “I call upon StarClan to give you many moons of rest.” Wolfstorm dipped his head and stepped back. Tansystar quickly assigned the new deputy, a bewildered Volestep, his position. Tansystar’s tail twitched cheekily as he hopped up beside her.
“Now, with all these elders to take care of and only one apprentice, we still have one more ceremony.”
Some of the stubborn cats groaned, but Featherpaw wriggled with excitement. Lilydawn’s kits were going to be apprenticed! She giggled as Rosekit scrambled up next to Tansystar, who whispered, “not yet, dear.” She watched Rosekit and Bramblekit became Rosepaw and Bramblepaw and were apprenticed to Copperblaze and Birchclaw, respectively. Finally, Tansystar dismissed the meeting. Featherpaw purred and pressed up against Snakefur.
“Congratulations,” she praised. “I can’t wait until I become a warrior!” Snakefur shifted his head to look at her fondly.
“Then we can truly be mates,” he whispered. “The two heritage rejects, heh.” Featherpaw stiffened.
“I know,” Snakefur replied, reading her mind. “You know about Raggedfur and Vixenheart. But I couldn’t help it, could I? And now that they’re gone and Darkpool’s confined in the elder’s den, it’s just us. I will let no one between us.” The determination in his eyes made Featherpaw feel that he meant it.
Just as they spoke, Bluemist’s kits scrambled past them. “Come on, guys!” Furzekit exclaimed. Amberkit and Halfkit followed wearily. Furzekit seemed to be fed up, as he humphed and stomped forward.
“You’re so slow!” he exclaimed. Bluemist approached and licked down a stray piece of fur on his orange head before explaining to him that he had to slow down sometimes. Featherpaw chuckled.
“Furzekit is adorable,” she remarked. Snakefur gave her a sidelong glance.
“That’s the second time you’ve said that,” he said There was a different edge in his voice. Featherpaw’s mouth opened, unable of what to say. But Marshface’s warning glare from the medicine cat’s den was enough to make her walk away.
“He’s missing!” Bluemists’s voice was a high pitched wail.
“I’ll send out patrols,” Tansystar promised the queen. “For now, your kits need you. Take care of them. Honeyleaf, you and Volestep are the best trackers. Both of you take patrols. He couldn’t have gone far.”
“Unless he had help,” Marshface growled from the other side of camp, but no cat listened. As cats filed out of camp, Featherpaw huffed and sat down beside Chiveheart.
“I hate being stuck here at a time like this,” she growled. Chiveheart nodded agreement.
“Too right,” she meowed. “Snakefur gets to go, and he just became a warrior three days ago.” Featherpaw groaned.
“Well, what should we do while they’re gone?” she asked. “Flamefoot isn’t in camp.”
Chiveheart suddenly broke out into a grin. “I have an idea,” she meowed.
“Are you sure this is a good idea?” Featherpaw huffed, running after Chiveheart. She regretted following the fastest cat in ShadowClan.
“Absolutely,” she heard from ahead. “We’re going to find Furzekit and bring him home before-”
Then she stopped, and Featherpaw scrambled to stop. “He was here,” Chiveheart announced. She jerked her head towards ThunderClan territory. “I can’t believe he got out this far, but-”
“No time!” Featherpaw exclaimed, following the newfound track. Suddenly, as they reached the empty Thunderpath, the scent grew stronger and stopped.
‘He’s around here somewhere,” Chiveheart whispered. Featherpaw narrowed her eyes.
“I’ll check the other side of the Thunderpath,” she meowed. “It’s quiet today, so he probably got across.”
“That’s ThunderClan territory,” Chiveheart warned.
“And that’s a ShadowClan kit,” Featherpaw retorted.
She had only made it halfway across when she heard Chiveheart give a small, horrified gasp. She turned around to see Chiveheart stumble back and make a gagging sound.
“What’s wrong?” Featherpaw demanded. Chiveheart looked up at her with round eyes.
“It’s Furzekit,” she spluttered, “I found him.”
“Well, then, tell him to come out,” Featherpaw instructed, losing patience. Chiveheart hissed.
“You want him to come out?” she snapped, though her voice was shaking. “Fine.”
Featherpaw felt suddenly sick as Chiveheart reached her paw in a bush and pulled out what was Furzekit. Featherpaw gagged and stepped back. The small kit’s stomach was ripped open, and his orange fur was soaked crimson.
Chiveheart closed her eyes and a tear slipped down her cheek. “What monster-”
Then she froze and stared at Featherpaw wildly. “Monster,” she whispered.
Featherpaw was still staring at Furzekit.
“Monster!” Chiveheart repeated, this time a scream. Featherpaw wasn’t listening. In fact, she wasn’t listening to anything. She knew. It was Snakefur. Snakefur had killed Furzekit. Snakefur had hurt Marshfang. All because he was jealous. She had just made friends, and he took it seriously. Maybe he was his father.
He was a monster.
But then Chiveheart’s words registered.
There was another monster, and it was coming straight towards her.
Is the accident, Twistedfoot?
Yes, my dear. I will explain what happens later. I'm going to nap now, all this nostalgia is hurting my head.
I guess I'll nap with you, then.
...You're a great kit, you know that, Furzekit?
Chapter 6 Edit
Twistedfoot? Are you ready to tell the rest of the story?
Agh, what? Yes, of course. How long was I asleep?
Well then. Where was I?
Twistedpaw woke up with a start. “Where am I?” she shouted, startled. She tried to scramble up, only to realize that there was a horrible pain shooting up her forepaw. She screeched in agony, and Marshface appeared above her.
“You’re awake,” he said flatly. Twistedpaw blinked groggily.
“What happened?” she asked, ignoring the throbbing pain in her paw.
“Chiveheart brought you back, along with Furzekit,” Marshface explained quietly. “Said you got hit while looking for him. Frostberry says you can never be a warrior, and Tansystar renamed you on her request.”
Twistedpaw’s jaw dropped. “Renamed me?” she snapped. “That’s ridiculous.” Marshface gave her a grim expression.
“No. I’m Featherpaw.”
Twistedpaw hissed as Frostberry entered the den. The old medicine cat narrowed her eyes. “It’s not my fault you snuck off,” she retorted. She said nothing more.
Twistedpaw twisted her head to see Darkpool and Antfoot rush into the den. Frostberry exited as soon as they did. Antfoot put her head on Twistedpaw’s shoulder.
“Chiveheart told us what happened,” she whispered. “I’m so sorry, Feath- Twistedpaw. It’s horrible, it really is.”
Twistedpaw had nearly everyone visit her den, except Snakefur and Graywillow. Chiveheart had seemed distant when she came in, but said nothing. Tansystar came in last.
“Hey kiddo,” she greeted. “How’re you feeling?”
“My paw?” Twistedpaw growled through gritted teeth. “Just fine. My emotions? Not so great.” Tansystar’s gaze softened.
“It was all Frostberry,” she admitted. “Seriously. Antfoot nearly attacked me for the naming ceremony. But since you can no longer be a warrior-”
“Who said that?” Twistedpaw sniffed. She stood, leaving weight on her good paws, and met Tansystar nose-to-nose. Tansystar looked shocked.
“I’m not going to be just a warrior,” she growled. “I’m going to be the best warrior ShadowClan has ever seen. I’m going to be deputy, then leader. And if I can’t be Featherstar, then Twistedstar will have to do.”
Tansystar nodded warily. “Alright,” she meowed. “Look, if you want to train, I’m not going to stop you. I’m busy worrying about who is hurting innocent medicine cats and kits in my Clan.” Twistedpaw bit her tongue. No one was going to believe her. No one except Snakefur, and that was a problem.
“Tansystar?” she asked as the ginger leader began to leave. Tansystar looked at her expectantly. “May I go to the Gathering tonight?” Tansystar shrugged.
“If you’re feeling up to it.”
That night was very cold. The full moon shone above Twistedpaw, who had stubbornly refused to stay. Frostberry had disapproved, but she was getting old and stayed in camp anyway.
When Twistedpaw reached Fourtrees, she was immediately greeted by new scents. The leaders: Tansystar, Pinestar of WindClan, a new she-cat Twistedpaw didn’t recognize, and Smokestar, the old ThunderClan leader, all gathered together on the rock.
Twistedpaw turned around to see a blue gray she-cat, a younger warrior, staring at her with wide eyes. She grinned.
“Hey,” Twistedpaw replied. “WindClan?” She she-cat nodded eagerly.
“My name’s Ashpoppy. What’s yours?”
Ashpoppy’s head immediately went down to look at Twistedpaw’s foot. Her eyes widened.
“Wow, you’re really good at walking it off,” Ashpoppy exclaimed. “When did it happen?”
“Not that long ago,” Twistedpaw explained. Literally. “I was hit by a monster.” Ashpaw’s eyes widened once more.
“How do you train?” Ashpaw asked. “I see you’re still a ‘paw.”
“I don’t know,” Twistedpaw sighed. “I’m in the process of figuring that out.”
“There’s a dream-world that helps you become the best warrior you can be,” Ashpaw explained. “I use it, and my mum trains me there. I see some of your Clanmates there, too.” Twistedpaw saw her gaze reach Snakefur before Pinestar called the Clans to quiet down.
Twistedpaw didn’t really pay attention. She was busy thinking about Ashpoppy’s dream-world. Could she join? If it could help her fight, maybe…
Before she knew it, the Gathering had dismissed, and Ashpoppy was saying goodbye to her. Twistedpaw walked out of Fourtrees with ShadowClan, but didn’t get far. Something hit her in the side, and she bowled over with an oof.
Twistedpaw tried to scream, but a paw stuffed in her mouth until there was no more murmuring of traveling cats. Two yellow eyes gleamed above her.
“Twistedpaw,” Snakefur whispered. Something about him made Twistedpaw extremely uncomfortable.
“Get off me, Snakefur,” she snapped. Snakefur grinned and leaned in close to her face. She could see the lust in his eyes.
“No one is going to love you anymore, cripple,” he hissed. “So I may as well be the last cat.”
In a horrible moment, Twistedpaw realized what he was going to do.
“Snakefur, no,” she begged. “Couldn’t you learn from your father?”
“What I learn from my father,” he growled, “is none of your business.”
Twistedpaw squeezed her eyes shut, unable to bear what was about to happen. It never came. Instead, Snakefur was flung off her. Twistedpaw scrambled to her paws and watched as a large tom snarled and fought Snakefur. Snakefur had the obvious disadvantage and scrambled away before anything close to a fight happened. Twistedpaw trembled as the tom turned around, golden gaze on her. And suddenly she recognized him.
“Thank you,” she gasped, relaxing her muscles. “I didn’t know you remembered me.” The tom smiled.
“Even if I didn’t, I couldn’t just watch it happen,” he explained, gazing at her softly. “That tom is crazy. Stay away from him, will you?”
Twistedpaw nodded vigorously. “You bet.” As the tom began to leave, Twistedpaw called after him.
“Thanks again, Oakthorn!’
Oakthorn stopped and smirked.
“Anything for my sister.”
Chapter Seven == That was dark.
I told you. Would you have preferred something else?
Nah. What happened with Snakefur afterwards?
He gave up on me, I guess. Hated me. It was painful, really, to think that not long ago, he was the love of my life.
So many moons had passed since the accident that Twistedfoot had lost count. Many cats had come and gone in those many moons, years, even.
Frostberry was first, of old age. Marshface became the sole medicine cat, and still avoided talking to Twistedfoot. Copperblaze had died saving her apprentice from a dog. Tansystar died soon after during a harsh leaf-bare and greencough bout, leaving Volestar as the leader and the young warrior Amberflower as deputy after Flamefoot (Who was the first deputy) retired. Many cats disapproved of this, as she was still training her first apprentice, but it only made Twistedfoot more determined to succeed her as deputy.
Graywillow had also died, then Adderfire, and then Darkpool. After his death, Antfoot became an elder. Twistedfoot comforted her the best she could, but nothing could mend the hole in Antfoot’s heart.
On the bright side, Honeyleaf had given birth to Birchclaw’s kits: Nutkit, Toadkit, and Brindlekit. They had been apprenticed to Amberflower, Bramblethorn, and Snakefur, respectively. Rosepaw and Bramblepaw had become Rosepool and Bramblethorn. Rosepool’s mentor Copperblaze had died soon after she was apprenticed, and Snakefur replaced her. Twistedfoot had disapproved.
On the bright side, Tansystar had let her apprentice Furzekit’s brother, Halfpaw. Halfpaw had been born with a birth defect that made him limp ever so slightly, and Twistedfoot saw him as a younger brother. Chiveheart had mentored Amberpaw, his sister. Once Halfpaw became Halfstep and found a mate in Rosepool and Amberflower became the deputy, Twistedfoot felt herself getting older.
After the accident, Chiveheart and Twistedfoot drifted apart. Chiveheart had grown closer and closer to Snakefur, and Twistedfoot never had the energy to tell her what he did to Marshface and Furzekit. They treated Brindlepaw like a daughter.
The only interaction Twistedfoot had with Snakefur was seeing him in her dreams. She trained with a strange dark tom, and sometimes saw Brindlepaw or Ashpoppy, training with a small cream WindClan tom.
But lately she hadn’t been training. Something told her otherwise. Something big would happen, she knew. She didn’t know how, or what it was.
She just knew.
Amberflower had just left. Twistedfoot stared at her wordlessly. Volestar had just died, and now Amberflower was on her way to become Amberstar. But she had made Twistedfoot deputy. She was in charge until Amberstar returned, and twistedfoot had to admit, it wouldn’t be easy. Snakefur and Brindlepaw were whispering to each other and shooting glares at her. She knew Brindlepaw thought Snakefur was more worthy than her.
She honestly didn’t like Brindlepaw all that much.
As the Clan dismissed, Twistedfoot was troubled. She was on her way to leader, right? She was deputy! But this wasn’t it. This wasn’t the big thing. She knew it. But what else could it be?
Two days later was the Gathering. Twistedfoot followed behind Amberstar, eyes narrowed. The thing was getting to her head, and she tried to clear it just as she nearly tripped over a light gray WindClan apprentice. She curled her lip, and the she-cat sprung back. Just when she thought she was out of earshot, she heard something hauntingly familiar.
Twistedfoot spun around to see the apprentice chatting with a ThunderClan cat. Featherpaw? Was that really her name? Twistedfoot curled her lip. I hope you get hit by a car.
In fact, she was so out of it she wasn’t even sure what happened the rest of the Gathering. She just knew she got a whole lot of glares afterwards.
“Remember the plan,” she heard Snakefur hiss to half of ShadowClan. Twistedfoot inwardly hissed. They were going against Amberstar and attacking ThunderClan! She watched from the Thunderpath as the ShadowClan cats, one by one, slid under the brush. She followed them without being seen and watched as Snakefur gave the attack signal.
Her eyes were all for Snakefur. She watched as he subdued a young she-cat with a sick feeling. He wasn’t showing any mercy. Then she saw him and Brindlepaw cornering two cats, hidden by Brindlepaw’s broad shoulders. Rage flared through Twistedfoot as she realized he was going to kill two apprentices, looking hardly out of the nursery. Angrily, she darted into the battle.
By the time she reached them, Twistedfoot realized Snakefur was already gone. Good. One of the apprentices had fallen backwards, leaving the last one, still blocked by Brindlepaw. Twistedfoot sucked in her breath. Brindlepaw was far bigger than the other cat. Without a second thought, she dug her jaws into Brindlepaw’s scruff and threw her off, not even feeling bad. She turned to the apprentice, but snarled immediately.
“Looks like I’ve got a little WindClan apprentice for meal tonight,” Twistedfoot growled. A burning hatred pulsed through her blood. “Next time, fight your own battles.” Twistedfoot yowled and leapt at Featherpaw. Come here, little brat! Featherpaw dodged to the left, but moons of training enabled Twistedfoot to catch on and nearly claw her chest. The two rolled over, and Twistedfoot realized with a stab of alarm that Featherpaw was on top. She slid out and jumped, leaving Featherpaw below her.
“I saw you at the Gathering,” she snarled, letting loose her emotions. “Featherpaw, eh? What a name.” She stopped and glared at Featherpaw and realized just how much she was scaring the little apprentice. She opened her mouth, and just as she did, she felt something ram into her. She looked up to see the emerald eyes of Greenstar, the ThunderClan leader. The silver tabby raised her head.
“Is this the cat you’re looking for, Amberstar?” she growled. Twistedfoot’s eyes widened as her leader appeared above her. Amberstar’s eyes were gleaming with anger.
“Yes,” she growled. “Thank you, Greenstar. I apologize for the attack. And don’t worry-” Twistedfoot’s eyes met Amberstar’s- “I’ll do something about my deputy.”
As soon as they left ThunderClan camp, Amberstar cut to the chase.
Twistedfoot’s eyebrows raised. “I beg your pardo-”
“You’re exiled,” Amberstar growled. “Get out of my Clan. You cost my leadership a reputation today.” Twistedfoot’s ears flattened.
“It wasn’t my attack, it was Sna-”
“Lying is getting you nowhere,” Amberstar snapped. “I don’t care where you go, but stay out of my Clan.”
She began to leave, and Twistedfoot watched her carefully.
“One step on ShadowClan territory and you’re dead,” Amberstar vowed before she disappeared. Twistedfoot met her gaze evenly.
“I’d like to see you try,” she snarled.
Twistedfoot stretched her front paws. “You know what happens after that,” she meowed, curling her tongue in a yawn. Furzekit tipped his head to the side.
“You hid on WindClan territory during exile and befriended Featherpaw,” he recited. “Then later, you gave you life for her.”
“I did indeed,” Twistedfoot replied. “And do you know who killed me?”
Twistedfoot chuckled. “It was ironic, really. But it was worth it. I got to give Featherstar one of her lives. She was like a daughter to me when her mother died, you know.”
“Yes, and I am thankful every day for it.”
Twistedfoot’s head raised. “Who’s there?” she asked. A small, starry tortoiseshell stepped out from behind a tree and dipped her head, and Furzekit purred.
“Sorrelbreeze,” she introduced herself. “And I would like to thank you for mothering my daughter.”
Twistedfoot opened her mouth to reply, but another cat stepped forward.
“Tansystar,” Twistedfoot whispered. The old leader smiled.
“Thank you,” she meowed, with the same authority in her voice, “for staying strong.”
More cats began to appear, and Twistedfoot and Furzekit watched in wonder.
“Thank you for your training,” said Halfstep.
“Thanks for understanding me,” Whispered Vixenheart from behind Graywillow. Graywillow smiled gently at Twistedfoot.
“Thank you for listening,” she murmured. Darkpool and Antfoot appeared beside her.
“Thank you for being brave,” Darkpool whispered. His eyes shone with pride.
“Thank you for being the daughter I never had,” Antfoot grinned. So many familiar cats filled the clearing that Twistedfoot lost count. They were all saying the same thing.
“Thank you for your wisdom.”
“Thank you for your kindness.”
One voice stood out among the rest.
Twistedfoot looked down in surprise. “Furzekit?” she whispered. “You don’t have anything to thank me for. It’s my fault you died.” Furzekit shrugged.
“I don’t need a reason to be thankful for you,” Furzekit purred, rubbing up against Twistedfoot’s neck, “I’m just glad we’re friends. Right, Twistedfoot?”
Twistedfoot smiled in a bittersweet way. Perhaps she regretted all the times she was only with Snakefur. He wasn’t a friend. Not like these cats. These cats loved her, and she had never seen it.
“Yeah,” she replied to Furzekit, tears misting her gaze. “I’m glad we’re friends too.”