Thanks for your awesome reviews. I was worried about the cliche of the setting sun, but I guess it worked out in the end.


I watched helplessly as they began to succumb to the hunger of the desert. The blistering heat was agony to their coats. It might have been comfortable in the winter, but here, in the land of Blaze, it was torture itself.

I knew them. I knew what they were in the way they walked. How the leader selflessly lead them, how each was complete, save for a few scars.

Clan cats. Their were legends about clan cats. Some said that they had come from a far away place long ago, and were close by still. They said that when the clan cats walked, water was left in their pawprints. They said that a clan cat could make a cat disappear simply by looking at them. No bones, no flesh. Just vanished. Gone.

Long ago, the Blazes had attacked the clans in an attempt to take their cool land. They had been easily repelled. They spoke of a leader who changed into a flame and encircled his clan. But this was very long ago.

Most Blazes didn't believe in the Clan cats. They dismissed them as tales to keep the kits from wandering into the sands.

But I alone knew the truth. I was the one who had gone farther than anyone, and had uncovered the secret of the Clans.

The clans had been driven out of their home long ago. They gained a power when they were apprentices. Their leaders loved them and cared for them.

It was definitely different than here. Here, the leaders gained their position by murdering the deputy, then staying alive for six moons. Then they would kill the leader. They would have to fight their deputies many times, and to do this they killed any warrior that they felt like, only they could only kill one per moon.

It may have been cruel, bloodthristy and horrifying, but it was efficient. It was efficient.

Efficiency was what they had to have, the cats who had made Blaze. It was so efficient. All weaklings died, and only the strongest bred. You only lived if you benefited the clan in some way. If you were an old one, you had to give sound advice to the leader. Anytime the leader decided your advice was unsound, you were killed and left to burn in the heat, so your body would be used for fuel. If it was proved that your advice was sound, then they might let you fire burn to ashes, then bury them.

Kits were trained for battle from a very young age. They were prepared mentally by their mother, then either mother or father, whoever was more efficient, would train you for battle. Their was no transition from apprentice to warrior, like in the clans, but if you were an apprentice too long, they killed you as a mental incompetent.

There was no medicine cat. Only the strong lived. There wasn't any mourning, either. They would simply bury your ashes. Mourning was a ritual, not an emotional thing.

It had been efficient. The cats of Blaze, because of natural selection able to go without water longer, and had no fur. They were also stronger and tougher, and healed faster. They had an excellent sense of smell, to find water, and huge eyes, for the night.

Yes, Blazes were infinitely more efficient than the clans. It was only luck that the clans had become specialized.

But it wasn't better. I remembered the warmth of the clans. Not physical warmth, emotional warmth. It was a place were reason, not murder, defined the leaders. Where you didn't kill unless absolutely necessary.

And he was there, too.

I knew i would be killed soon. I refused to find a mate, and soon I would be too old to find one. Then I would be killed as a mateless. But I couldn't ever find one. Not after him.

He was kind, brave, and he could do everything. He had healed her when she was sick. His clan was the best. You got lots of water, lots of food, and it was refreshingly cool.

But for his sake, I could never return. I couldn't enjoy a life here remembering him. I couldn't go back to him.

And I was due to die soon. Oh well. Best not dwell on it.

But then I saw them.

How had they gotten here? How had they learned the path? Why?

But Blaze would kill them! They needed to leave, now! They were clan cats, but the cats of Blaze would simply wait till they were weak, or tempt them with food and water, then kill them.

I had to run down, but I couldn't bring myself to do it. They couldn't know. For him.

Stoneshadow and Waterdapple could never know that I was their true mother.