Chapter Three

The apprentices' den was a rather small den covered with bushes. There were two apprentices there: a white she-cat with green eyes and a small dark brown boy cat.

"Hello," said the white she-cat. "You're Glacierpaw, aren't you? The new cat?"

"That's right," I answered. "What are your names?"

"I'm Whitepaw, and this is Shrewpaw," replied the white she-cat. I guess all the apprentices are named paw until…when? When do they earn their name like Brambleclaw or Speckletail?

I sat down beside them, hoping that I could make friends.

"Your mentor is Brambleclaw?" asked Shrewpaw curiously. "Wow. I wouldn't trust Brambleclaw. Have you heard of Tigerstar?"

"No."

"Shrewpaw!" exclaimed Whitepaw, cuffing him on the ear. "How could you say that? Brambleclaw's as loyal to ThunderClan as you or me."

"But the way he resembles Tigerstar…it's rather creepy."

"What did Tigerstar do?" I asked.

Whitepaw shivered, her eyes wide. "Oh, he was horrible…we have heard many tales about him, even if he wasn't around when we were born."

"He tried to make the forest completely his," said Shrewpaw. "First, he killed off Redtail, ThunderClan's deputy, thinking that he'd be made deputy."

"But he wasn't," continued Whitepaw. "Bluestar – that was the leader back then – chose Lionheart instead. But then Lionheart died in a battle against ShadowClan, and he was finally made deputy – until Firestar revealed the truth."

"Fireheart," corrected Whitepaw. "He was a warrior then, Whitepaw. Anyway, Fireheart really got Tigerclaw when he tried to murder Bluestar in her den. He was exiled for that, and for the murder of Redtail. But then Tigerclaw became Tigerstar when he became ShadowClan leader!"

"We hadn't revealed the truth about him to other Clans," added Whitepaw. "Moons later, Tigerstar sent a dog pack after ThunderClan for revenge. But Fireheart and the other ThunderClan cats figured out what was happening. Even so, the dogs knocked Bluestar in the river where she died, once she was pulled from it."

She let out a sigh, shaking her head. "Tigerstar finally died in a battle with BloodClan – a Clan consisting of kittypets to rule the forest."

"Good riddence," growled Shrewpaw.

"And so Tawnypelt, Brambleclaw's sister, moved to ShadowClan during the time when Tigerstar created TigerClan – consisting of ShadowClan and RiverClan. She has been there ever since."

"And if you're ever wondering what Tigerstar looks like," said Shrewpaw, "just have a good look at Brambleclaw. He looks exactly like him."

"Wow…" I mumbled, amazed by how evil a cat could be for power. Then I decided to change the subject. "So, er, who are your mentors?" I asked.

"My mentor is Brackenfur," answered Whitepaw proudly. "He's really cool. He just taught me how to climb a tree."

"Well, Thornclaw taught me how to catch a rabbit," said Shrewpaw. "He's way better than Brackenfur."

"But Brackenfur has been around longer!"

At that moment, a golden brown tabby appeared at the apprentices' den. I assumed it was Thornclaw because he said, "Time for training, Shrewpaw."

"Sure, Thornclaw," he replied, and padded out of the den beside his mentor, with a smug look at Whitepaw.

She let out a sigh. "That Shrewpaw thinks he knows everything," she muttered. Whitepaw looked at me. "So, anyway, that's my mother and father." She nodded toward a pair of white cats by the fresh-kill pile, one of them with ginger patches. "Cloudtail and Brightheart. Brightheart was injured by dogs when she was an apprentice, but look at her now! 'Course, it was Cloudtail who taught her how to hunt and fight again."

I spotted Brambleclaw beside the fresh-kill pile (which had dead mice and birds and rabbits in it! Gross!) and braced myself when he padded over to me.

"Hello Glacierpaw, Whitepaw," he said.

"Hello."

Brambleclaw sat, his tail curled around his paws. "Glacierpaw, your assignment at the moment is to get to know the cats in the Clan." He looked at the white she-cat sitting beside me. "Whitepaw, can you show her around the camp?"

"Sure, Brambleclaw," she answered.

Brambleclaw nodded and stalked away.

"Right," said Whitepaw, standing up. "I'll show you where everything is, okay, Glacierpaw?"

"Sweet," I said, and Whitepaw gave me this bewildered look. "I mean, great," I stammered, realizing that I'd have to be careful about the way I spoke.

Whitepaw took me over to the medicine cat's den, where she explained that medicine cats looked after the sick and injured, and scarcely knew how to fight. Cinderpelt, a friendly dark gray she-cat, greeted me respectfully.

"I will be looking forward to see how you do, Glacierpaw," she said. Something about the look she gave me… it was intimidating, like she was expecting something from me. "This is my apprentice, Leafpaw."

A light brown tabby she-cat appeared from the back of the den.

"Hello, Glacierpaw," she said. "I'm Firestar's daughter."

"Really!" I exclaimed. "Wow. That's really cool! I mean, good! I mean, great!"

Leafpaw stared at me, glanced at her mentor, and said, "My sister is Squirrelpaw."

"Squirrelpaw?" I repeated, trying not to laugh at the name. Leafpaw flicked her tail toward the entrance to the camp. For a second I thought I was looking at a younger Firestar – but no, this was a she-cat, and she had one white paw. She put her fresh-kill down in the pile and looked pleased when her mentor, Dustpelt, congradulated her.

"Squirrelpaw!" Leafpaw called.

The ginger she-cat looked up, and padded over to me. Her green eyes focused on me intently.

"This is the cat that Dustpelt found in the woods?" she asked, her harsh voice shocking me. "Well, he should at least find a cat older than this. And she's not exactly tough-looking, is she?"

Squirrelpaw turned around and stalked away, picking up a piece of fresh-kill to bring to someone else.

"You'll have to forgive Squirrelpaw," said Leafpaw, dipping her head to me. "She's been in such a bad mood since Dustpelt caught her wandering the forest alone, looking for something to do."

I nodded once and said nothing.

Whitepaw nudged me. "Come on, Glacierpaw, you've still got stuff to see."

"Right," I said as we padded away. "Bye, Leafpaw! Cinderpelt!"

Whitepaw showed me where the elders' den was, which was occupied by Frostfur, Dappletail, Speckletail, and Longtail. God, it's like the invasion of the tails in the elders' den. But when my blue eyes settled on Longtail, I couldn't resist saying,

"But he looks like he's still a young cat. Why is he in the elders' den?"

Longtail fixed me awkwardly with a intent stare, though I noticed that he was looking somewhere on my tail.

Whitepaw nudged me. "Shut up, Glacierpaw!" she hissed. I flinched. She dipped her head to the elders. "So, have you, er, heard any gossip lately?"

"Not really, except that Rainwhisker was taken by Twolegs," said Dappletail. "That's about it."

Whitepaw nodded. "Thanks, Dappletail!" she said, and led me away.

"So what was that all about?" I asked. "What's up with Longtail?"

Whitepaw glared at me. "He's going blind, you stupid furball," she snapped. "Don't speak until you have all the answers."

"Yes, Brambleclaw," I wanted to say, but instead I just said, "I didn't know."

"Well, now you do." Whitepaw nudged me to show that we were still friends.

The warriors' den was, well, where the warriors slept. Whitepaw explained to me that she and I were apprentices, training to be warriors. Our warrior names would come once we proved ourselves able to obtain them.

And then we came to the nursery. There was only one queen with kits in there, Ferncloud, and her mate was Dustpelt. Goldenflower had no kits, but was helping watch over them. And when we came inside the nursery to see the kits…oh, man, can you say cuteness? There were two toms and a she-cat: Larchkit, Birchkit, and Hollykit. They were incredibly small and were still at that playfighting age, and when they saw me, the she-cat, Hollykit, said,

"Look! New cat." Her voice became a growl. "Attack new cat."

"Yeah, attack!" cried Birchkit.

"No!" exclaimed Ferncloud, wrapping her tail around the two of them. Only Larchkit stayed silent. "Hollykit, Birchkit, meet Glacierpaw. She's a new apprentice of ThunderClan."

"Not in here. Never here."

"No," agreed their mother. "She's a loner."

At this, the kits' fur began to bristle. Ferncloud let out a sigh.

"I'm afraid they don't really understand a lot of…things yet," she said. "If they were a bit older, they'd welcome you, Glacierpaw."

"Right," I said, purring with laughter.

"I think that's the end of the tour," mused Whitepaw as we walked out of the nursery. "So. We have the rest of the day to ourselves."

I looked up at the sky. It was still relatively early – I had only been a cat for about an hour. Maybe it would wear off, I thought, and then laughed at the idea. If I suddenly turned into a human when I was surrounded by all these cats – it would be hilarious!

Did I even want to be human again? What was there if I did? Parents that barely noticed me? But as this cat…and this Clan…I had friends. Whitepaw, maybe Shrewpaw. Brambleclaw. Firestar. Not Firestar, I thought suddenly, my stomach clenching with anger.

"Glacierpaw! Wake up!"

Whitepaw's voice struck my ear. I blinked, and turned toward the white-pelted she-cat, who was staring at me.

"What?"

"You were staring into space," she said. "You okay?"

"I…yeah," I answered with a purr. "I'm fine. Sorry."

"Anyway, let's go find Brambleclaw. Maybe he'll take you on a training session."

"Good idea," I agreed.

We padded over to the warriors' den, but only Sandstorm, Ashfur, and Sootfur were there.

"Where's Brambleclaw?" asked Whitepaw.

"I don't know," answered Sandstorm with a shrug. Firestar's mate yawned. "Go ask Graystripe."

As we padded away, I looked at Whitepaw and said, "Why do we have to ask Graystripe?"

"Because he's deputy of ThunderClan," she answered. "He organizes the patrols and stuff. So he'll know where he sent Brambleclaw."

We found Graystripe by the fresh-kill pile. The long-haired gray warrior looked up and said,

"I sent Brambleclaw on a patrol by Sunningrocks with Brightheart, Cloudtail, Mousefur, Sorreltail, and Spiderpaw. They'll be back soon."

"Okay, thanks," I said, and turned toward the apprentices' den. "Who's Spiderpaw?" I had heard another 'paw.'

"He's Mousefur's apprentice," said Whitepaw. "He looks exactly like a spider!" Her whiskers twitched in amusement. "He's nice, though. Nice and quiet, like Leafpaw."

"Er..." I hesitated before saying, "what exactly is a...male kitty - I mean, a male cat called?"

Whitepaw stared at me as though I had grown an extra head.

"A tom, Glacierpaw," she said. "A tom."

"Oh, thanks...sorry, I've beena loner for so long that...well, you know how it is. Anyway, is it…all right if I sleep?" I asked her, settling down in a nest of moss.

Whitepaw purred. "Sure," she said. "You've had a long day. Brackenfur already took me out on a training session, and I'm so tired that I…" She never finished her sentence. The white she-cat fell into her nest, asleep.

Purring with amusement, I curled up in my own nest, quickly falling asleep.


Okay…pretty boring chapter…next chapter, something happens, I promise. It'll be up very soon.