The four Clan leaders sat atop the huge rock formation to call the Clans together and begin the Gathering. Shorestar, a tawny he-cat with bright green eyes, the leader of LakeClan. Jetstar, a night-black tom with pale yellow eyes, the leader of SwampClan. Firestar, a reddish gingery she-cat with dark eyes, the leader of MeadowClan. Truestar, a dark brown tom with a white chest and kind yellow eyes, the leader of DuskClan. The four of them sat deep in discussion of when to begin.
"We must wait for the fifth Clan," Truestar insisted.
"There is no fifth Clan, mouse-brain!" hissed Firestar. "There are only four: MeadowClan, DuskClan, SwampClan, and LakeClan."
"The fifth Clan will come," Truestar assured her. "I don't know why they are taking so long to arrive, but..."
"Listen, Truestar," Shorestar meowed, "I'm sure you have good intentions at heart in waiting for this new Clan to come, but we must start before the moon dips too low in the sky. We must begin now!"
Truestar sighed. "Very well. DuskClan would like to speak first, if that is acceptable."
Jetstar nodded, as did Shorestar. Firestar hesitated. "But only if MeadowClan will speak after. We have news of our own."
Truestar nodded his agreement and took a deep breath to call the Clans together. Just as he opened his mouth, a voice yowled, "WAIT! Don't start yet!"
Every cat in the hollow turned as one to see who had spoken. It was a stocky, blue-gray queen. Stripes of dark fur ran horizontally across her back. Behind her ran a huge tomcat with dark ginger fur and light brown eyes. The two cats were leading a group of about ten others. A knot of young cats who looked like apprentices. A group of able-bodied warriors. Two cats who, by the look of their fur and the smell they gave off, were elders. The she-cat led them to the others, and leapt up on top of the rock formation.
"Sorry I'm late," she meowed to the other Clan leaders. "Firebelly needed to rest for a few minutes."
Truestar nodded approvingly. "Welcome, Riverstar," he said. "We were ready to begin without you."
"Truestar, is this the fifth Clan?" Shorestar asked, mystified. Truestar nodded. He turned to the she-cat, Riverstar.
"Has your Clan a name?"
Riverstar nodded. Turning to face the other three leaders, she mewed, "We are called PromiseClan. I would like to speak first, unless there is more important news? I can wait if I must."
"Go right ahead, Riverso—star," Jetstar meowed. "You...were...Riversong, weren't you?" Riverstar nodded, her eyes glinting happily. "I thought so. I saw you many times at Gatherings."
Truestar nodded and yowled to settle the Clans. PromiseClan's group associated mostly with DuskClan, he noticed, although one or two went over to mingle with Lake- or SwampClan cats. "Cats of all Clans, welcome. Tonight, I am sure you have noticed new warriors in our midst. They are of PromiseClan. Their leader, Riverstar, wishes to speak." He stepped back and allowed Riverstar to tell her tale.
"I'm sure you may recognize many of PromiseClan's warriors. We are comprised mostly of former DuskClan cats." Her voice rang out clearly; Riverstar was still fairly young. "PromiseClan was begun when my deputy, Sunface, and I left our old Clan to escape a brutal cat. Since driving out the cat, we left for a new territory with any warrior who wished to join our force." She paused, looking back at Truestar and the others. "If I may introduce my Clan?" Truestar nodded encouragingly. "We have four new warriors: Birdflight, Fishtail, Blazetail, and Mousefur. We also have four new apprentices: Summerpaw, Bearpaw, Greatpaw, and Promisepaw."
"And your warriors?" a cat in the crowd called. "Who have you brought?"
"Four our warriors, I have brought Sunface, Birdflight, Fishtail, Blazetail, Mousefur, and Sleetfur. We have two of our new apprentices: Bearpaw and Promisepaw," Riverstar replied. "...Are you Summer...? Not Summerpaw anymore."
"Summerheat," the tom told her, rubbing heads with the warrior called Blazetail. His sister purred happily.
"Our elders are Longfang and Firebelly," Riverstar concluded. "And you needn't fear PromiseClan invading your territory to steal prey. We live outside of Clan land, where there are no other Clans." She paused, looking down to the base of the rock. "Have I forgotten anything, Sunface?" she asked. Sunface shook his head. "Then I am finished. Truestar?"
"Indeed, Riverstar and Sunface were driven from our Clan, but not for disobeying the warrior code," Truestar meowed. "Many of you have heard the story of how they fled the Clan, so I would appreciate it if you told your Clanmates when the Gathering is over. We do not have time for such a long tale." He watched the crowd nod their assent before continuing, "DuskClan is growing as well. One of our elders was called to StarClan a few days ago, but the next day, one of our queens gave birth to a healthy litter of kits. That is DuskClan's news."
"MeadowClan is not doing as well as the others," Firestar admitted. "Twolegs have been bringing their monsters into portions of Wide Field. Prey is scarcer. Jetstar," she turned to the SwampClan leader, "I beg of you...There is a strip of forest that divides our territories. No cat has claimed it. Please...let our warriors hunt in that forest!"
"No Clan has claimed it," Jetstar replied. "I cannot give you permission, for it does not belong to me." His eyes softened. "You may hunt there, Firestar."
Firestar nodded, drawing her tail across his flank as a sign of thanks. "MeadowClan also has two new apprentices. They are here tonight: Weedpaw and Volepaw. We also have two new warriors, called Nightface and Dogbark. MeadowClan is finished...Delivering our news, I mean!" she added hastily. There were a few amused purrs. Firestar's whiskers twitched in embarrassment.
"And that leaves SwampClan," Jetstar meowed. "We have many new warriors, first of all is Bugwing. This brave tom gave his life to prove he was a warrior of SwampClan." There was a hush. Jetstar gazed down at his paws before he meowed, "Next are Sixclaw, Swanwing, Toadspot, Thornheart, and Littlefoot. All of them are here tonight, along with three of our new apprentices: Breezepaw, Nightpaw, and Shellpaw. A fox was scented close to the DuskClan border, so Truestar, you may want to watch out."
"Thank you for the warning," Truestar said with a nod. "Is there anything else to add? Riverstar? Firestar? Shorestar?" The leaders shook their heads. "Then this Gathering is over. However, we will wait a while before leaving so that the PromiseClan cats can get in touch with their old friends." Scattered cheers arose from the gathered cats.
Riverstar purred softly. She watched Blazetail lick her brother Summerheat and sister Heathfur's pelts over and over again. Bearpaw and Promisepaw had found the new SwampClan apprentices and were already making friends. Sunface cleared his throat to attract his leader's attention. Riverstar followed his gaze to where Birdflight was seated, gossiping excitedly with the warrior called Dogbark. Birdflight glanced up at Riverstar and hurried over, Dogbark behind her. "Dogbark wants to join PromiseClan," she mewed. "Can she, Riverstar?"
Firestar glanced over as Riverstar meowed, "Ask her leader. Dogbark is not my warrior. I will not steal another Clan's warrior."
"Oh, she can go, Riverstar," Firestar murmured. "Dogbark's a bit of an outcast. Any cat with eyes can see that she's found where she belongs. Go on, she can join PromiseClan."
Riverstar waited for the two she-cats to race off to spread the news. She sat beside Firestar. "Are you sure?" she asked the ginger she-cat. "I was one of DuskClan...are you sure you want me to adopt one of your cats?" Firestar met Riverstar's gaze calmly.
"You were. Were." Firestar gave the other she-cat a gentle lick on the ear. "But you smell of PromiseClan now. MeadowClan has nothing against PromiseClan. Besides, Dogbark has found a friend...I couldn't possibly hold her back from that. She'll find where she belongs in your Clan, I'm sure. She is a strong warrior; I trained her myself. PromiseClan has a part of all Clans now: DuskClan, SwampClan, LakeClan, and MeadowClan. Perhaps you are the future of all the Clans..."
Riverstar smiled. "Thank you, Firestar," she meowed. Sunface cleared his throat again. The clearing was empty except for MeadowClan and PromiseClan. Riverstar felt her fur grow hot with shame. "Well, I think it's time we parted. Farewell, Firestar. Thank you for Dogbark. She will be an honorable addition to PromiseClan."
The two she-cats exchanged a lick and parted, each calling for their own Clan. Riverstar made sure her newest warrior was with her before she began the long hike back to her own territory.