Here is the fourth chapter, I hope you enjoy it =) x

Disclaimer: All characters in this story belong to Erin Hunter - I am merely experimenting with them XD.


Chapter Four ~ The Naming Ceremony

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

The clear call of their leader brought the ThunderClan cats trotting from their dens just as Lionpaw emerged into the open. Now that he was actually looking he could see Longtail's pale tabby fur among them, as well as the dark stripes of Dustpelt. Or is it Dustpaw now? he wondered, a little overwhelmed by all that he and his littermates had been through.

As soon as all the cats were assembled, Bluestar addressed them from the top of the Highrock, her piercing blue gaze surveying the crowd below her. "Every cat knows that ThunderClan has suffered these past moons due to lack of warriors and apprentices," she began. "Never before have we had so few in training. It has now been decided that ThunderClan will take in four outsiders to train as warriors."

The cats erupted into indignant protests at the end of that short speech, some shooting Bluestar looks of complete anger and disbelief. One of these, Lionpaw noticed, was Longtail. But Bluestar silenced them with a stern yowl and continued.

"I have found cats who are willing to become apprentices of our Clan. Lionheart and Whitestorm have seen these cats, and they agree with me that, someday, they will make valued warriors of ThunderClan."

At these words, Hollypaw couldn't stop herself from puffing out her chest proudly. However, her happiness was soon forgotten as a cat in the crowd, quickly identified as Longtail, called out mockingly, "That'll be the day!"

Bluestar fixed the tabby with a menacing glare. But before she got a chance to reprimand him, a loud caterwauling rose from the other Clan cats.

"Who are they?"

"Where do they come from?"

"Do they belong to another Clan?"

"What weird scents they have! I'm sure they aren't from any Clan I know!"

Then one yowl in particular was heard above the rest. "Look at that tom's collar! He's a kittypet!" It was Longtail again, eyeing Rusty sneeringly from his place in the crowd. "Once a kittypet, always a kittypet," the pale tabby added with glee. "This Clan needs wild-born warriors to defend it, not a soft Twoleg plaything!"

For some reason that she couldn't explain, Hollypaw felt a sharp prickle of anger at those words. Just as she was about to leap to Rusty's defence the flame-coloured kittypet charged out from behind her and pounced on the unsuspecting Longtail, who let out a snarl of surprise and fury, losing his balance on the sun-baked earth.

At once, the black she-cat was impressed by Rusty's fighting skills. The kittypet clawed and bit Longtail, giving as good as he got as they flipped and somersaulted around the clearing, becoming a screeching, writhing ball of fur and claws. But then she gasped as she saw Longtail grab Rusty's collar between his teeth and tug, hard. Hollypaw realised that if she didn't do something soon, Rusty would suffocate. Once again she was about to jump to his rescue; but, suddenly, there was no need. Rusty, panicking and struggling for oxygen, pulled as hard as he could away from Longtail, then – Snap!

With a noise unlike anything the apprentice had heard before, Rusty's collar broke and both cats tumbled away from each other, gasping for breath. Hollypaw saw that Rusty had a cut above his right eye and that Longtail's left ear was torn, the blood dripping freely down his lean shoulder. Neither opponent seemed too badly injured though, to Hollypaw's relief.

Bluestar sprang down from the Highrock and let out a thunderous yowl, silencing the excited cats. She stepped towards Longtail, took the collar from him and placed it on the ground at her paws. Then she meowed, "This young cat has lost his Twoleg collar in a battle for his honour. StarClan has spoken its approval – this cat has been released from the hold of his Twoleg owners, and is free to stay with us as an apprentice."

Hollypaw watched in admiration as Rusty nodded his acceptance to Bluestar and stepped forwards into a bright shaft of sunshine. The light blazing on his orange pelt made his fur glow like a flame. Bluestar approached him, her sapphire eyes shining, and murmured a few words that Hollypaw couldn't hear. Then she turned away from him and announced to the Clan, "We shall have the apprentice naming ceremony for the newcomers straight away."

No cat complained or jeered this time, and Bluestar seemed satisfied. She leaped back onto the Highrock and called the four young cats forward. They stood beneath the great boulder, looking up at Bluestar, and she gazed down at them for a few heartbeats before raising her head and declaring, "From this day forward, until he has earned his warrior name, the loner Lion will be known as Lionpaw. Mousefur, you are ready for your first apprentice. You shall be mentor to Lionpaw."

Lionpaw's eyes widened as he saw the wiry brown she-cat pad forwards from her place in the crowd and look over at him. He could hear Hollypaw softly purring with amusement, but he chose to ignore it as he walked towards his new mentor. They touched noses, Lionpaw feeling exceptionally awkward, and then waited for the other new apprentices to be named.

Bluestar focused her attention on Hollypaw and continued the ceremony. "From this day forward, until she has earned her warrior name, the loner Holly will be known as Hollypaw. Willowpelt, you also are ready for an apprentice. I trust you to train Hollypaw well."

Hollypaw couldn't help purring at the choice Bluestar made for her new mentor, as she had heard stories of the kind-hearted, pale-pelted queen who had given her life to defend her son from a badger attack. Willowpelt approached her, looking somewhat wary. But Hollypaw dipped her head in respect and awe, and the she-cat touched noses with her. Now it was Jaypaw's turn, and both Hollypaw's and Lionpaw's blood chilled; Bluestar had no way of knowing about the grey tabby's blindness, and it was now too late to inform her. But then Jaypaw suddenly did something that neither of his littermates had expected. Just as Bluestar was about to name him he interrupted by saying boldly, "Bluestar, I wish to have a word with you before you choose my mentor."

Shock rippled through the Clan and most of the cats suddenly had mutinous looks on their faces. Bluestar, on the other hand, was not among them, and she looked curiously at Jaypaw before nodding her acknowledgement. She jumped gracefully down to the ground and both cats disappeared into her den.

Hollypaw looked after them, concern clouding her expression. Surely the great Bluestar would not exile Jaypaw once she found out about his blindness? The black she-cat began to tremble, worried for her sibling, and Lionpaw had an odd look on his face as he impatiently waited to discover his brother's fate.

It was not long before both cats returned. Bluestar wore a thoughtful expression as she resumed her position atop the Highrock once again, while Jaypaw made his way over to Hollypaw and Lionpaw with a smug look on his face. Hollypaw soon found out why as Bluestar began to speak.

"Cats of ThunderClan," she meowed in a clear, carrying voice, "the loner Jay – who will now be known as Jaypaw – has chosen an important position in our Clan. He has informed me of his skill with healing herbs, and I have decided to take him on as ThunderClan's newest medicine cat apprentice. If that's alright with you, Spottedleaf?" she added, speaking to a very pretty tortoiseshell she-cat that was sitting slightly apart from the rest, observing the meeting with interest.

Hollypaw and Lionpaw hastily craned their necks in order to get a glimpse of the medicine cat that had played such a large part in their grandfather, Firestar's, life. Tragically, her own life had been cut short by Clawface, a ShadowClan warrior, and since then she had visited Firestar in dreams more than once. Hollypaw deeply admired and respected the tortoiseshell for helping her grandfather so much, and now that she actually got a chance to see her she could hardly contain her excitement. Glancing over at Lionpaw, she saw that he clearly felt exactly the same way.

Spottedleaf, after hearing her leader address her, got to her paws and made her way to the front of the assembled cats so that she was directly below Bluestar. She looked up at the blue-grey she-cat, then towards Jaypaw, and back again.

"Bluestar," she mewed quietly, "if it is your wish for me to train this young cat in the art of medicine, then of course I will oblige. But I think it is only fair for me to warn you that StarClan may not be as willing to accept him."

Jaypaw's fur began to bristle. But he never got a chance to protest because, just as he opened his mouth, Bluestar started to talk again.

"That is something I have considered, Spottedleaf, and you are still a young and able medicine cat. However, the Clans have taken in loners to train as warriors before – why not medicine cats? If StarClan objects, then I will certainly back down. But, for now at least, my decision stands." She finished this little speech with a finality that suggested the case was closed.

Spottedleaf bowed her head in submission and went to touch noses with her new apprentice. Jaypaw's eyes shone like stars, and Hollypaw knew he was happy to be Spottedleaf's apprentice.

Though most of the cats still seemed uneasy about this, Bluestar paid them no attention as she turned to the final new apprentice waiting to be named. "And Rusty, from this moment forward, until you have earned your warrior name, you will be known as Firepaw, in honour of your flame-coloured pelt."

Hollypaw, Lionpaw and Jaypaw stared, dumbfounded, at the ginger tom as he began to kick dirt and grass over his collar as though burying his dirt. No wonder he looks so familiar! Hollypaw thought. He's Firestar!