Chapter 18: The gathering

The full moon shone through the trees, casting a ghostly light on the water, which rippled with the calm newleaf wind. The lake shone, casting a silver glow on the cat's pelts as they crossed the tree-bridge. Cherryblossom's whiskers quivered with excitement. This would be her first gathering as a warrior!

Jayfeather walked next to her, pressing his pelt into her ginger fur. A strong scent of Riverclan blasted her full in the face as she took her first step into the hollow. Cherryblossom's fur bristled as she remembered fighting the Riverclan patrol. "It seemed like it was moons ago." she reflected as she followed Bramblestar into the clearing.

The dark brown tabby leapt up onto the great oak to sit next to Mistystar. Bramblestar gave the Riverclan leader a fiery look before turning to face the tree-bridge. Cherryblossom turned to look where Bramblestar was gazing. Another group of cats were crawling over the log, the tips of their tails waving as they fought to keep their balance.

The breeze carried a strong scent of Shadowclan which flew up Cherryblossom's nostrils. She flinched as the scent reached her.

A large white tom with a jet-black paws leapt up onto the tree next to Bramblestar. The tom dipped his head in greeting.

"Greetings Blackstar," meowed Bramblestar dipping his head in return. "How's the prey running?"

Blackstar bristled unexpectedly. "It would be running well," Blackstar replied icily "if a certain clan would STOP HUNTING IN OUR TERRITORY!" he yowled, giving Mistystar a furious glance before turning back to Bramblestar.

Cherryblossom turned away to face the stone in the center of the clearing, it seemed to give off its own light turning the leaves into silver. On top of the stone, her tortoiseshell pelt gleaming with stars, sat Spottedleaf her eyes glowing.

"Spottedleaf!" Cherryblossom yowled joyously and ran through the crowd. Without a pause Cherryblossom leapt up into the stone and sat down next to Spottedleaf.

"I'm so glad you're here!" mewed Cherryblossom affectionately, as she licked the tortoiseshell's ear.

"I'm glad I'm here too," whispered Spottedleaf touching her nose to the young warrior's ginger forehead.

Cherryblossom licked Spottedleaf's shoulder in a respectful way.

As Cherryblossom and Spottedleaf we're talking they didn't notice another group of cats pad into the clearing.

Onestar, leapt up onto the great oak and yowled to start the meeting.

"Onestar certainly seems to be in a hurry," murmured Cherryblossom staring up at the mottled brown tabby, who stood precariously on the branch, eyes glittering and tail waving side to side.

There was no reply.

"Spottedleaf?" mewed Cherryblossom turning towards where the tortoiseshell warrior, had sat moments before. "Spottedleaf!" Cherryblossom gasped.

Spottedleaf was no longer in the clearing.

"Listen to Onestar,…" a voice rang in Cherryblossom's ears. The ginger warrior knew immediately that it was Spottedleaf "…this gathering will change the life of the clans forever."