Disclaimer: I do not own Warriors in any way, though it would be awesome if I did! The characters in this, though, are all original and created by me, with the exception of the mention of Owlstar, and Brightspirit. For those of you who don't know the story behind Brightspirit, check out the Brightspirit Relief Fund website, and it explains the story. I actually wrote this after a book signing where I got to meet Vicky Holmes (Erin #1), and my mom started talking with Lynn Wiman, the creator of the Brightspirit Relief Fund. Anyway, they kept in touch after the book signing, and I decided to write an original story featuring Brightspirit. Because Lynn is good friends with Vicky, she actually sent it on to Vicky, who replied with an e-mail saying that she really liked it! But what I'd really like is for fans to review, since you guys are generally a lot harsher with critiques. So, please review, and enjoy!

A Tale of the Ancient Clans:

The Battle of the Beast

Foxstar crept silently through the undergrowth. A mouse nibbled on seeds in front of him, oblivious to the danger. Foxstar stalked forward, his pawsteps light and undetectable, gliding over the forest floor. A twig snapped beneath a paw, and he tensed. The mouse froze, its ears pricked, then relaxed and went back to eating its food, assuming that there was no danger.

Foxstar leapt forward, his backlegs propelling him a great distance. The mouse squealed, the sound muffled under Foxstar's paws. The tom quickly bit the mouse's neck, then buried the fresh-kill to pick up later.

He was a young leader, only 18 moons. Some said he was too young. Cloudfur, the old deputy, had died several moons ago in an accident on the Thunderpath, and Goldenstar, the former leader, had appointed him. Sometimes Foxstar thought she had messed up. She had been on her last life when she appointed him, and he had always felt burdened. He had thought he was too young, too inexperienced. Why had Goldenstar chosen him?

But he'd never know now. She had been bitten by an adder on patrol by Snakerocks, and not even Tawnyheart, Thunderclan's medicine cat, could cure her.

Many of his clanmates openly scorned him. Some refused to obey orders, despite his being leader. After all, who wants a kit leading the clan?

The tom sighed and set off to look for more prey. Foxstar had to be extra stealthy. His fur, a short white coat with splotches of orange, stood out in winter and summer. Still, he'd proven he was a good hunter, though cats such as Thornfang far surpassed him in that particular skill.

Foxstar caught another squirrel, then, holding the prey in his mouth, went back to collect his mouse.

His jaws were full, carrying both pieces of prey, as he walked back to camp. The delicious scent of the fresh-kill wafted in the air, blocking his other senses of smell. Naturally, he was shocked when he saw his sister's dead body lying in the clearing, as he'd been unable to smell the drying blood coated on her white pelt.

Foxstar dropped his prey and ran over, letting out a yowl of anguish. "What happened?" He asked in anguish, crouching beside his sister, Snowfrost. Her throat had a long gash through it, and her body looked like it had been maimed even after her death. "Snowfrost." He whimpered, pressing his nose to the cold body.

Sympathetic eyes looked on, as the rest of the clan watched in sorrow. Snowfrost had been beloved by all.

A young tortoiseshell she-cat padded over and stood near Foxstar. Sensing she had something to report, the leader lifted his head and fixed his amber eyes on her. "Do you have something to report, Robinwing?" His voice didn't sound like his own. It sounded far away, like a different cat was speaking instead of him. He dug his claws into the ground. His sister was gone. His sole companion from birth had been…had been destroyed. Completely and utterly destroyed.

Robinwing bent her head in respect. Thank Starclan he had warriors like her. Warriors that actually listened to him. "We found her…we found her body…over by the Owl Tree. There were large tracks surrounding the area, and the dirt was tossed up…" Her voice broke, and she shut her eyes for a moment, as if to pretend none of this had ever happened. Snowfrost had been her best friend. "There was a fight. And it was with something big. We, don't know what, yet."

Foxstar kept quiet, trying to stay calm. His wisdom, according to Goldenstar, had been the reason she picked him to be deputy. He had always been a thinker, and had matured faster than most. His eyes widened as a realization hit him.

"This monster." He began. "You said it was by the Owl Tree?"
Robinwing nodded. The Owl Tree was a tall tree, and the Thunderclan leader before Goldenstar, Owlstar, had spent much of his time there, learning from the owl about ways to stalk silently through darkness. Unfortunately, the area the Owl Tree was in worried Foxstar.

"This is bad." He murmured. "Very bad." Robinwing cocked her head, but said nothing. Foxstar looked up at her. "Fourtrees is not far from there." The tortoiseshell blinked, then her face changed to a mask of horror. To have a monster on the loose in one clan was bad enough, but in the whole forest?

The young tom looked up, then at the rest of Thunderclan. He sprinted to the Highrock and leaped gracefully onto it, his muscles rippling smoothly under his pelt. "Let all those cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Highrock for a clan meeting."

In a short span of time, most cats were sitting below, waiting to hear what their leader had to say. Uneasy whisperings occurred below; terrified cats speculating on the horrible death of their clan member.

"Fellow clanmates." Foxstar mewed. "My sister, Snowfrost, was killed by, as of yet, an unknown beast." Frantic meowing could be heard, each cat scared of this new threat. Foxstar looked down to the base of Highrock, and noted with relief that his deputy, an experienced calico she-cat named Emberheart, was looking up at him. She gave a nod of encouragement, and Foxstar continued. "We have to prepare for this threat. If we don't, it could possibly pick us off one by one." He raised his voice to be heard above the clamor from below. "Silence!" The cats quieted, though a few still murmured to each other. "I want my sister to be the only cat who dies! I will not stand by and let a monster ravage our lives. From now on, all patrols will have four cats, and three have to be warriors. This will be safest if the monster ambushes any one. Also…" He hesitated for a brief moment, then went on. "I will be journeying to each of the clans to warn them." Several cats protested, though the main arguers were three cats towards the back: Snaketail, a skinny brown tom with an abnormally thin tail; Crowscar, a large black tom with a jagged scar running across his face; and Yellowpaw, a wiry golden tom.

"Leave them!" Yellowpaw called out.

"Yeah!" Crowscar exclaimed, eager for weakness in the other clans.

"Why should we be the monster's bait? Let the other clans get torn apart! Then we could also move in and take their territory!" Snaketail yowled.

A loud snarl broke the silence that followed the three toms' comments. "NO!" Foxstar roared. "I will not hear of such a thing! We will help the other clans!" He leaped down from Highrock and walked over until he was nose to nose with Snaketail. Though the brown tom was older than Foxstar by several moons, the leader could be quite daunting when he needed to be. "How would you like to be attacked by a monster, and know that others could have warned you?" He stared directly at Snaketail. "Or perhaps you could be the bait?" He hissed, then spat on the ground next to Snaketail, calling out as he walked away, "The clan meeting is over!"

Foxstar stormed into his den and lay on his mossy nest. He was hardly ever this short-tempered, but coming back to camp to find his sister was dead and a monster was on the loose in the forest…? It was too much.

He sank his head into his paws. "Why, Goldenstar? Why me? I'm too young for this!"

The leader lay there a while longer, than slowly got up. It was high time he started heading for the other clans, to speak with the leaders. Then again…

Foxstar looked up and realized with a jolt that tonight was a full moon. A Gathering. He'd been so distracted in the recent activities that he hadn't even noticed.

Emberheart padded over to him. As if reading his thoughts, she said, "You'll need to pick who you want to go the Gathering with you."

Foxstar nodded, glancing at the treacherous trio who had disrupted him earlier. "What do I do about them?" He asked her, distraught.

The older warrior smiled. "No worries. They can stay here, with the other senior warriors to keep an eye on them."

Foxstar flashed her a grateful look. "I don't know what I'd do without you." He said.

Emberheart nodded back. "Probably nothing." She teased. Foxstar made a face, then began to walk towards Highrock. Until Emberheart stopped him. She looked him straight in the eye. "Foxstar, I won't always be around. Remember that." Her gaze flickered to Robinwing. "There are others who are capable of taking my place when the time comes." She went over to Highrock and sat in her usual seat at the base, leaving Foxstar flabbergasted.

He looked over at Robinwing. She was about the same age as him, maybe a moon older. Robinwing, as if sensing his gaze on her, turned to look at him. He quickly tore his gaze from her, feeling heat flush through him. He shook his head, to get back to his senses. What's wrong with me? He thought.

Foxstar padded over until he was in front of the whole clan. "Emberheart, Robinwing, Duststorm, Graypelt, Shrewnose, Thornfang, Tawnyheart, Firepaw, Spottedpaw, and Bluepaw. You will all accompany me to the Gathering." Spottedpaw and Bluepaw, brother and sister, both squealed in delight. They'd been made apprentices not long ago, so this would be their first Gathering. Firepaw, a senior apprentice, nodded too, trying to look unexcited. Her eyes betrayed her eagerness, though.

Foxstar shared a glance with Spiderclaw, a fairly old tom with white paws and chest on a black coat. "Spiderclaw, you're in charge while I'm away." He jerked his head towards Snaketail, Crowscar, and Yellowpaw, letting him know to keep an eye on them.

He then raced through the forest, feeling the wind ruffle his fur, and he could hear the quiet pawsteps of the Thunderclan cats behind him.

He halted as Fourtrees came into view. The rest of his clanmates stopped too, though Spottedpaw bumped into him. "Sorry!" He squeaked, before running back to join his sister. Foxstar smiled slightly and shook his head. Young cats these days.

He flicked his tail up, then sprinted into the clearing. Shadowclan and Windclan were already there, by the smell, but Riverclan had yet to show up.

Thunderclan split up, different cats going to meet with others and take advantage of the truce. Foxstar himself went to sit on the Great Rock. Birdstar, the surprisingly large gray she-cat leader of Windclan, was silent, watching out over the three clans there so far. Though of Windclan, she was built with strength as well as speed. She was probably the biggest cat in her clan. Foxstar had always thought of her as the most observant of all the cats in the forest. She seemed to notice every detail. And judging from her hunched shoulders and tense muscles, she'd observed the signs of the monster.

The Shadowclan leader, Honeystar, a light golden she-cat, also surveyed the clans. Though leader of Shadowclan, Honeystar was one of the nicest cats Foxstar had ever known. You couldn't help but like the cheery she-cat. Not to mention, she'd welcomed him warmly as a leader, despite his young age. Tonight, though, a worried frown was worn on her face. The monster had been getting around. Thunderclan must have been the most recent clan it attacked.

Foxstar looked over as Riverclan poured into the clearing, Volestar leading the way. Volestar was getting old, and would retire soon, but for now, he was still leader. He was a bit jittery like a vole. Always slightly nervous, the brown tom's golden eyes constantly flicked back and forth, and his tail tip twitched nonstop. It was a good thing he lived in Riverclan, because he'd never have been able to catch a piece of prey in the forest.

Volestar jumped up to join the other leaders, his eyes revealing panic. "Three cats…" He mumbled. "Three…good warriors…why, Starclan, why? And they were so young." Foxstar glanced nervously at Volestar. Something bad had happened at Riverclan.

Birdstar yowled to start the meeting. She stepped forward. "I have terrible news from Windclan." Some Windclan cats looked uneasy that Birdstar was revealing a weakness of theirs, but they trusted her as their leader. "A monster is loose in the forest, as, I'm guessing, you all seem to know." Murmurs of agreement came from the clearing. "Windclan lost two brave cats because of this monster. Harefoot and Wildheart." Gasps arose. "They were on patrol together, along with Tigerpaw, when they were attacked. All three fought bravely, but Wildheart, realizing what the outcome would be, sent Tigerpaw running back to camp. She is still recovering from the shock. This happened two days ago. That is all." She dipped her head to Honeystar to continue.

The normally cheerful cat was grim tonight. "We, too, have lost cats. My son, Hazelpaw, was killed, as was Redpaw. The warrior accompanying them, Rocktooth, suffered grave injuries. We are not sure if he will live." The crowd was silent. To be losing so many cats at once…it was awful.

Volestar tentatively stepped forward. "Three-" His voice sounded much too high, and he cleared his throat. "Three," He began in a normal voice, "of Riverclan's cats were murdered as well. Briarclaw, Reedpaw, and Cinderfur." He stepped back, his head down.

Foxstar paced forward. It was his turn. "My sister, Snowfrost, was killed just this morning. We have no other deaths, but…that does not mean they will stop. I have an idea." The other clans looked at him, confused. Robinwing smiled up at him, and it filled the young leader with confidence. "We need to work together. If we can just sniff out this monster, we can drive it off or kill it. Then, we will be safe." Much to his surprise, no one complained.

Birdstar padded next to Foxstar. "He is right. We need to focus on this threat before it gets any more out of control." Volestar and Honeystar stated their agreement. Birdstar turned her gray eyes on me. "Foxstar, do you have a plan of action?"

He couldn't believe this. Birdstar was willingly letting him be in charge. He opened his mouth to speak, but a howl cut him off. "What the-" He muttered, then stared in horror as a large, black and brown, furry shape burst into the clearing.

Cats scattered in panic as it tore through them like a whirlwind. Its claws ripped through fur, and Foxstar shuddered as he heard the screams of pain coming from some of the cats. He began to run down, then froze at one scream in particular. It was Bluepaw. "Aaiieeeee!" She screamed. Her voice came to an abrupt halt as the monster grabbed her by the neck and hurled her against a tree. She crumpled to the ground and didn't get up.

"My sister!" Spottedpaw yowled, springing onto the monster. He was the first cat to directly attack it. That's it! Foxstar thought. We can defeat it if we work together! "Cats of all clans! Turn and fight! Together we are more than a match for this beast!" He ran forward and leaped onto the monster. Spottedpaw was still hanging on grimly, his claws digging into the beast's side.

"Spottedpaw, get to safety!" Foxstar demanded.

Spottedpaw shook his head. "No! I won't! It killed my sister!" He sobbed, and Foxstar grabbed him by the scruff and threw him off. The apprentice crept brokenheartedly to his sister, nuzzling her cold fur.

Foxstar snarled in the monster's ear. "You'll pay for that!" By now, other cats were attacking, darting in and out, trying to slash the monster without being sliced to ribbons by its huge paws. Foxstar sank his teeth into the monster's ear, and it roared in fury. The leader held on grimly, but was shaken off. He leapt once more at the monster, only to be batted away by a massive paw. He slammed into a tree trunk and felt his vision go fuzzy. Then, everything blacked out.

...

Foxstar awoke in a hollow he'd never seen before. The stars were shining brightly, and the hollow seemed to be awash in moonlight. He gazed around, confused. What about the monster? The battle? Where was everyone?

He jerked his head to the left as he heard pawsteps, and he caught his breath. A beautiful silver tabby was walking towards him, her green eyes shining with a certain spark. A youthful innocence, and yet wisdom beyond belief. "Hello, Foxstar." She mewed, her voice soft.

"Who are you?" asked the bewildered leader.

The tabby smiled, making the hollow seem all the more mysterious, but yet strangely comforting. "My name is Brightspirit." She meowed. "I'm here to help you. You have just lost your first life."

Foxstar nodded, finally understanding. "Ah. Now I see. But, why would you help me?" He asked. "And why am I here? I need to be back at Fourtrees, to battle that beast!"

"You need time to recover." Brightspirit said. "Your body has not yet healed from the broken neck that killed you. I am helping you because I want to. I do not want to see the clans destroyed by the wolverine."

"Wolverine?"

"The monster attacking. Wolverines are very territorial. They are big and fierce. But they are slow. And they do not work together. That is why only one wolverine has attacked you."

"But…how do I defeat it?" Foxstar asked, desperate for answers.

Brightspirit smiled. She mewed softly, "You will find a way. Remember, they are slow. Strong, but slow." With that, she disappeared, as if she'd never been standing there. Her voice whispered in his ear, "Good luck."

Foxstar could feel that she had left. "Good-bye, Brightspirit." He mewed, thinking. His eyes alit as he found the answer. "Thank you." He whispered, then closed his eyes.

...

He reopened his eyes and looked around, his ears taking a few moments to process the noise of battle. He sprang up, taking a moment to get his balance. The wolverine was still holding its own, though it had been wounded many times. Still, if they didn't do as Foxstar said, it would hurt many more cats before the night was through.

"Get around it! Attack it from behind! It's too slow to get you quickly!" He yowled, then dove at the wolverine's hindquarters. He was flung back, but other cats caught on and followed his example. But the wolverine still attempted to turn. "Someone needs to distract it from the front!" He yelled, but none of the cats looked eager. All of them were injured in some way or another, and the other leaders were probably in the worst shape. Volestar was limping badly, another Riverclan cat supporting him to the four medicine cats, who were waiting nearby to treat injured cats as best they could. Honeystar was struggling, and Birdstar had lost a life, like him.

Foxstar's heart soared as the sound of fresh reinforcements reached his ears. "Hold on, Foxstar! We'll hold 'em off!" He blinked in surprise as he realized it was Snaketail who'd said it. Crowscar and Yellowpaw were right behind. Together, the three of them attacked the wolverine from the front, dodging its paws and distracting it.

Foxstar looked up and saw Spiderclaw running with a few other Thunderclan warriors and several Riverclan and Shadowclan warriors. "Reinforcements are here!" Spiderclaw yowled, then plunged into battle. The cats with him were fresh, and this, combined with the fact that the wolverine was weakening, turned the tide in their favor.

A group of Windclan cats streamed down the other side of the hollow, yowling in fury. They, too, flung themselves at the wolverine.

Snaketail, along with Crowscar and Yellowpaw, were distracting the wolverine in front, and it was either too slow or too stupid to turn around and attack the cats who were slicing its hindquarters to bits.

With a mighty bellow, the wolverine, realizing it was dying, flung itself at Snaketail. It barreled into the cat, knocking him backwards. It rose on its sliced hindlegs, and fell back onto Snaketail. A sickening crunch sounded, and the wolverine lumbered back a step. Screeches of anger rent through the night air, and cats leaped onto the wolverine. Foxstar went in front of the wolverine and lashed out with his front paw, slicing the creature's throat and feeling hot blood pour across his fur to drip on the ground.

The wolverine grunted, then fell over, its eyes glassy and filmy. It was dead.

Cheers rang up from the other cats, but they quickly died down as the bodies scattered across the clearing were recognized and counted. So many. Foxstar thought. So many lives wasted because of this one, horrid beast.

The Thunderclan leader stepped towards Snaketail, and recoiled slightly as he heard a raspy breath. Snaketail was still alive!

"Snaketail, are you okay?" Foxstar asked, worried. The day's earlier incident was easily forgotten.

Snaketail looked up at Foxstar, his gaze already growing cloudy. "Foxstar…I…owe you…an apology."

Foxstar shook his head, frustrated. "Shhh. You'll be okay. We'll get Tawnyheart to treat you, and then you'll be fine."

"No. I…won't be…fine. Listen, Foxstar…I shouldn't…have argued with you. I realized…I was wrong to think of…taking advantage of the other clans like that. And even though…you are young…you are a great leader…and will be a great leader for a long time…We heard the fighting even back at camp…All the clan cats did…We all came to help…Spiderclaw, me, and the rest of the clan…met up with Riverclan and Shadowclan warriors…" Foxstar just stared down I shock.

"Don't die!" He whispered, but Snaketail just smiled, and Foxstar saw his body go limp.

The leader wanted to wail, to express his grief and sorrow. He turned as a tail tip touched his shoulder. It was Robinwing. "It's okay, Foxstar. Come on…there's more bad news."

Foxstar followed her numbly, then came to a halt, shocked. "No…not Emberheart." He murmured, and he crouched down beside his old deputy, whose body was battered and broken. "You served me well, old friend. Have peace in Starclan." He whispered over the calico.

Looking up, he realized all of Thunderclan had gathered around him. "I say these words before the body of Emberheart, so that her spirit may hear and approve my choice." He paused, then mewed, "Robinwing will be the new deputy of Thunderclan."

The tortoiseshell looked at Foxstar, surprise showing. "But, but…" She stammered, then took a deep breath. "I will be honored to serve as your deputy, Foxstar." She meowed, looking at Foxstar, though not as a leader.

Foxstar began to walk off into the woods, and he flicked his tail for Robinwing to follow. The new deputy scrambled after him.

The two sat in the woods for a while. Finally, Foxstar got up the courage to speak. "Robinwing…will you…I mean…will you be my…?" He stuttered through it, unsure of how to ask.

Robinwing smiled and gave Foxstar a quick lick on the top of his head. "Yes, I will be your mate, Foxstar." The leader beamed at her, then headed back to Fourtrees. "Come, Thunderclan. We are going home."

...

A little over a moon had passed since the battle with the wolverine. Cats now called it the Battle of the Beast, and Foxstar felt a shudder pass through his spine every time he heard the name.

Thunderclan had healed well. The dead had been buried shortly after the battle, and Yellowpaw and Firepaw were named warriors: Yellowblaze and Firefur. Spottedpaw had finally gotten over his sister's death (as had Foxstar) and he trained to be the best warrior he could be, to honor Bluepaw. Robinwing had adjusted to being the new deputy, and was now running everything quite smoothly. She had taken well to the post, and every time Foxstar saw her, his heart skipped a beat.

Still, the young leader couldn't shake the feeling that there was more out there, hidden dangers.

Foxstar went out for a walk in the woods, to settle his thoughts. He approached Sunningrocks, then blinked in surprise as a cat appeared a little ways off, deeper in the woods. A beautiful silver tabby.

"Brightspirit?" Foxstar asked, approaching her.

She smiled. "Yes, it's me."

"I need to thank you. Without you, so many more cats would have died."

Brightspirit smiled sadly. "Yet it wasn't enough. So many did die in the end."

Foxstar shook his head. "Don't say that. You did everything you could. Er…will there be any more dangers appearing any time soon?"

Brightspirit looked at Foxstar. "Not that I know of. For now, I believe that the clans are safe."

"Thank Starclan." Foxstar murmured, turning to leave.

"Foxstar?" The leader turned around to look back at Brightspirit. "Don't forget me. I want to always live on among the warriors of the forest."

Foxstar's face was solemn as he replied. "Do not worry. The clans will never forget you, Brightspirit. We would not have survived without you. You will always live on as a true Warrior."

...

I tried to honor Brightspirit's memory in this story, and I do believe that the real Brightspirit, Emma Cherry, will always be remembered forever in the Warriors books that she so loved.