Chapter One

"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join me beneath the Highrock for a Clan meeting!"

Eaglestar's voice rang out across the ThunderClan clearing. I stood nervously inside the nursery, watching my Clan crowd in front of our brown tabby leader on the Highrock. Beside me, my sister, Goldenkit, sat, her eyes gleaming with excitement.

I felt a nudge behind me. I turned and saw my mother, Steelfur, sitting there. "Go on, Bluekit," she mewed. "Don't be afraid. You're going to be made an apprentice." My mother looked much like me – a blue-gray queen. Goldenkit looked more like my father, Bladenail – yellow in color.

I padded nervously out of the nursery and stood behind Flowerpetal and Dappletail, with Goldenkit and Steelfur beside me.

Eaglestar beckoned the two of us with his tail. We walked up to the Highrock, with me looking down nervously and Goldenkit jumping with excitement.

"Patchpelt," meowed our brown leader, "you will mentor Goldenpaw."

I saw the warrior sitting next to Halftail, his head raised proudly.

"Waterpool," continued Eaglestar, "you will mentor Bluepaw."

Waterpool! I thought with excitement. ThunderClan's deputy!

Goldenpaw and I padded over to our new mentors. Waterpool was, like me, a blue-gray she-cat with white patches here and there. I touched noses with her as Goldenpaw did the same with Patchpelt.

Eaglestar stepped down from the Highrock, signaling that the meeting was over.

"You'll have your first training session tomorrow, Bluepaw," mewed Waterpool. "Sleep well tonight."

"Yes, Waterpool," I mumbled, and padded over to the apprentice's den.

The three of them looked up at Goldenpaw and me, amazed at two newcomers.

"Welcome to the apprentices' den, Bluepaw and Goldenpaw!" exclaimed Redpaw, greeting me with a nod.

"I can't wait to start training together," added Runningpaw.

The other apprentice was Spottedpaw, but she was a medicine cat apprentice and slept in Wolfpelt's, the medicine cat, den.

"Thanks!" exclaimed Goldenpaw, already making her nest in the moss. "I can't wait to start training. Patchpelt said he's going to teach me how to catch a horse!"

"A horse?" Redpaw repeated blankly. "What in StarClan's name is that?"

"Horses are animals that carry Twolegs on their backs," she answered, settling down and twitching her whiskers with amusement. "I guess even Twolegs want four legs sometimes!"

Redpaw and Runningpaw chuckled. Both of them had recently begun their training, but were born about half a moon before us. They were not brothers, of course – Redpaw's mother was Orangecoat and Runningpaw's Gingerpelt.

"Are you going to sit there all day, Bluepaw?" mewed Runningpaw to me. "Or are you going to get a wink of sleep?"

"Yeah," I said, looking at the clump of moss that was my nest. I flattened it out and curled up in it, quickly falling asleep.

"Wake up, Bluepaw!"

Goldenpaw's voice reached my ear. My eyes fluttered open. I stared at the yellow she-cat standing over me.

"Our mentors are waiting." She was nearly bouncing around with excitement. "Come on, Bluepaw, let's go!"

I stood up quickly. Redpaw and Runningpaw had already left with their mentors, Lionheart and Eaglestar. The two of us padded out into the clearing, past the nursery, where a dark brown she-cat with a white-tipped tail chased after another dark brown kit.

"Tigerkit, come back here!" called Tailtip. "You need to come back in the nursery.

"Aww." Tigerkit groaned. "I want to be an apprentice!"

"You're not six moons old yet; you're only three. Come on, Tigerkit!"

She nudged the dark brown tom, and he obidiently went back into the nursery, sulking.

"I can certainly wait until he becomes an apprentice," commented Goldenpaw. "I'd hate to share a den with that annoying scrap of fur!"

"Goldenpaw!" I exclaimed, cuffing her lightly on her ear. "That's rude, you know."

The two of us padded over to the entrance of the Clan, where Waterpool and Patchpelt were waiting.

"It's about time," grumbled Waterpool. She was a good deputy, but strict to her apprentices. "Who was the one who slept in?"

I started to say, "Me" but Goldenpaw meowed, "It was me, Waterpool; I'm really sorry."

"Don't be so hard on them," mewed Patchpelt. "They're new apprentices. Give them a break."

"Come on, then." Waterpool chose to ignore Patchpelt's remark. She exited out the tunnel.

Goldenpaw and I were in the forest for the first time. The smells were incredible. I could smell a strange scent to my right, and another a bit ahead of me.

"Today we'll just show you the boundries of ThunderClan," mewed Waterpool as we padded through the forest. "Let's go to Twolegplace first." She veered off to the right. The rest of us followed her.

Twolegs are very strange creatures, I thought as I stared at the strange, box-like things they lived inside.

"Those are their nests," explained Patchpelt. "The Twolegs live inside."

"Isn't this where kittypets come from?" asked Goldenpaw.

"Yes," answered Waterpool with a snort of disgust. "Kittypets. Soft, easy lives. No understanding of the warrior code."

I sniffed for a sign of a Twoleg or a kittypet, but there were none.

The four of us continued to the left of the forest this time. I was getting tired, but Goldenpaw has this amazing ability to stay energetic and awake at all times. She was pouncing at every leaf that fell.

"This is the Thunderpath," explained Patchpelt. "The Twoleg monsters carry Twolegs in their belly."

The Thunderpath was a horrible, wide, blackened line across the forest that smelled terrible. All of a sudden, a red – something – came hurtling across, going incredibly fast. I could just see a Twoleg inside. The awful thing left me coughing and spluttering with the fumes it left.

"That was a monster," meowed Waterpool. "They are dangerous, but never leave the Thunderpath."

"They are scary!" gasped Goldenpaw.

"Why can't the Twolegs just walk to their destination?" I asked.

"They can't go very fast because they just have two legs!" answered Waterpool, whiskers twitching with amusement. "Anyway, across there is ShadowClan territory."

"That must be part of the reason this place stinks so much!" exclaimed Goldenpaw. "The ShadowClan warriors stink."

"Yes, they do." Patchpelt and Waterpool glanced at each other.

"Sniff hard, apprentices," ordered Patchpelt. "That's the ShadowClan scent you smell."

I tilted my head and sniffed; another horrible smell entered my nostrils. Gross!

"So that's ShadowClan." I looked at Waterpool. "What does RiverClan smell like?"

"I'll show you," replied the blue-gray warrior. "Come on."

We journeyed almost right across our territory, toward the island RiverClan lived on. I watched a butterfly intently with my blue eyes. The four of us came to a halt in front of a rushing river that no doubt led to RiverClan.

"And this is the river," meowed Patchpelt. "Farther down, we have to cross it to get to the Gathering."

"Oh, I can't wait to see one of those!" exclaimed Goldenpaw.

"Shh," hissed Waterpool. "You'll scare all the prey away!"

Goldenpaw fell silent. I turned toward the river and scented RiverClan for the first time.

By the time we got back to camp, my paws were aching. Even Goldenpaw seemed to have lost her energy. We collapsed inside the apprentices' den and slept for a while before going to see what was going on in the Clan.

"Hello, Spottedpaw," I mewed to the medicine cat's apprentice. The pretty tortoiseshell she-cat looked up.

"Good morning, Bluepaw," she replied. "I'm getting poppy seeds for Wolfpelt. We're nearly out."

"It must be hard being her apprentice."

She shrugged. "It gets difficult."

It was then when a large black she-cat came out of the den. "Bluepaw," she meowed. "You should take some fresh-kill to the elders. And bring some for us, won't you?"

"Of course, Wolfpelt," I replied, biting back an angry retort. Wolfpelt was one of the best medicine cats in the forest, but she was certainly a grouch.

I mewed good-bye to Spottedpaw and then padded over to the fresh-kill pile. I saw with satisfaction that it was plenty full; the season was newleaf, there would be plenty of prey. I picked one up and carried it over to the elder's den.

"And then, the TigerClan deputy crept slowly threw the bushes, scenting for – Oh, hello Bluepaw. Is that for us?"

It was Snowfrost, telling one of her great stories. Next to her sat Palefur, One-eye, and Smallear.

"Yes, Snowfrost," I replied, setting down the mice. It was then when I spotted Tigerkit sitting across from them, listening intently to the stories.

"Bluepaw, you just interrupted the best part!" he complained. "Thanks a lot."

"Tigerkit, we're all hungry," meowed Palefur gently. "It won't hurt to have a bit of fresh-kill."

Tigerkit said nothing; just put his head on his front paws.

"Thanks a bunch, Bluepaw," mewed One-eye. "We were hungry."
"You're welcome, One-eye," I answered, and left, stopping by the fresh-kill pile to bring some to Wolfpelt and Spottedpaw.

"Bluepaw!" exclaimed a familiar voice as I left their den. I turned and saw my father, Bladenail, padding toward me.

"Hello," I mewed.

"Bluepaw, I can't believe you're an apprentice now." He purred proudly. "You'd better be made a warrior soon; I can't wait to learn your warrior name!"

"Of course," I answered, twitching my ears and tail.

"You'll listen to your mentor, won't you?" He looked past me. "Oh, there's Goldenpaw. Bye, Bluepaw!" Bladenail called over his shoulder as he went to greet my sister.

"Bye," I mewed after him, and went to the apprentices' den. Runningpaw was there, looking exhausted.

"Eaglestar took me hunting," he explained. "He wanted me to catch a rabbit…I had no idea they went that fast!"

I purred with amusement at the thought of the apprentice running as fast as he could after a rabbit. Still chuckling at the thought, I curled up in a nest and quickly fell asleep.