The first thing she ever felt in her life was cold. Every few seconds a burst of icy wind would rip through her wet fur causing her to shiver violently. She cuddled closer to the source of warmth she sensed nearby, and the bundle of heat rumbled back in pleasure.
"They're beautiful, Petalpool," a low voice commented from nearby. "What should we call them?"
There was a long pause, but eventually a new voice spoke with a certain softness and directness that the newborn kit liked.
"Cinderkit, the new voice commented softly, directing her voice nearby. A moment later the newborn kit shivered as a tail touched her lightly on the flank, "and Maplekit."
Maplekit padded around her sister, prodding her with a paw, as the first rays of sunlight began peeking over the edges of camp.
"Come on, Cinderkit," the tortoiseshell and white she-cat pleaded in a low whisper. "Olivekit's going to leave us behind if you don't wake up!"
The gray and white tabby she-cat's ice-blue eyes flashed open with a start and she leapt to her paws. "How late is it?" she asked loudly, or as loud as her voice got, before glancing fearfully at the queens, but none of them, not even Willowleaf, the lightest sleeper, stirred as a result of her outburst.
"Just past sunrise," Maplekit replied in a much softer voice. "But if we don't hurry, Whiskerkit will convince Olivekit to leave us behind. You know he doesn't like hanging out with us."
Cinderkit blinked at her sister guiltily. "Sorry…"
"It's fine," Maplekit assured her quickly. "We just have to go."
Cinderkit was constantly apologizing for things no matter whose fault anything was. In fact, Maplekit was fairly certain that her littermate's first words had been 'I'm sorry' after Petalpool had complained about how long it was taking for her other kit to talk. To most cats, Cinderkit's constant apologizing had become annoying after the first one hundred or so, but Maplekit just thought they were a part of her sister's shy, insecure personality, and she refused to hate any part of her sister.
The kits rushed out of the nursery, ducking out of the sight lines of a few cats who were already in the clearing. They managed to make it to the dirtplace tunnel without being spotted by any of the warriors and together the two kits let out a breath of relief.
Olivekit, Whiskerkit, Cloverkit, and Thrushkit were waiting in the bushes nearby. Whiskerkit was pacing impatiently while Olivekit and Cloverkit quietly conversed and Thrushkit washed himself quietly, seemingly unconcerned with the fact that they were breaking the rules.
As the sisters stepped into view, the she-cats' expressions brightened happily, but Whiskerkit's eyes narrowed as he stopped pacing, and Thrushkit didn't even look up.
"Finally," Whiskerkit murmured scornfully, glaring at the kits. "Do you want us to get caught?"
Olivekit turned around, glaring playfully at her brother. "Oh, come on, Whiskerkit. They're barely even late; give them a break."
"Sorry," Cinderkit apologized softly, drawing the attention back to her. "Maplekit was awake on time; it's my fault we were late."
"Don't worry about it," Cloverkit mewed kindly. "Like Olivekit said, you were barely late, and we're all here now, so let's quit arguing and just go."
Olivekit nodded approvingly, but Whiskerkit still looked annoyed, and who knew what Thrushkit was thinking.
"Fine," Whiskerkit mumbled, pushing his way to the front of the group and leading them into the forest, "but I still don't see why we have to drag around one moon old kits with us everywhere we go. They're just an annoyance."
His words got softer as he moved away, but Maplekit could still make them out, and apparently Cinderkit could too because her ears drooped sadly when he had finished talking.
"Just ignore him," Olivekit told her gently before Maplekit could say anything. "He's just frustrated that we're only three moons older than you and still have two moons to wait until we become apprentices. Being around younger cats reminds him of that." She smiled. "And besides, no one forced him to come anyway."
"Where are we going?" Maplekit chimed in curiously. Her amber eyes were eager and bright, and she bounced excitedly as the kits moved through the forest.
"This clearing that Cloverkit found a few days ago. The clan doesn't hunt there usually for some reason, so we should be safe as long as we stay quiet."
Strange… Maplekit thought curiously. Why would we leave an entire piece of territory untouched? But she didn't dwell on the thought for too long because soon they were at the clearing, and it was perfect.
The grass was soft under paw and oak trees that looked perfect for climbing lined the clearing. Butterflies fluttered around on the gentle wind from wild flower to wild flower, filling the area with their various colors and patterns; Maplekit was dying to chase some of them. Other than the odd smell in the air, the clearing was completely perfect.
"Wow," Cinderkit meowed in awe as Maplekit nodded in agreement. "It's beautiful."
"Race you to the other side!" Cloverkit called, darting forward.
"No fair!" Olivekit called, sprinting forward after her sister. "Everyone knows you're the fast-." She broke off as Cloverkit let out a squeak of terror and fell out of sight.
"Cloverkit!" Whiskerkit called as the kits raced towards the place where the brown and white she-cat had disappeared.
"I'm fine!" a small voice called back. "I just didn't see the hole! Can you help me up?"
Olivekit and Thrushkit hurried forward to the edge of the hole and peered down at their sister. The hole wasn't too deep, but it looked like it lead to a cave, and caves never held anything good.
As if the cave wanted to prove their point, a growl erupted from it, freezing Olivekit and Cloverkit in their tracks. Thrushkit's eyes widened, but he didn't stop trying to reach for his sister.
"Thrushkit!" she begged, stretching up to reach her brother, but she didn't have time and it was too far.
A black and white face erupted out of its den, clamping its jaws around the small she-cat who let out an earsplitting screech that made Maplekit's blood run cold.
As Cloverkit fell limp in the creature's jaws, Olivekit let out a screech and scrambled backwards, her eyes wide with anguish and terror. Thrushkit moved back more slowly, sizing up the huge creature that had killed his littermate. His typically empty eyes were wide and fearful, but he held his ground.
"Olivekit, take the kits and get out of here," Whiskerkit ordered. He stood beside Thrushkit, trying to get him to run, but his brother wouldn't move. "Come on, Thrushkit," he pleaded. "We have to go!"
Maplekit blinked in shock, momentarily distracted from their situation; she didn't think she had ever heard Thrushkit talk before, and evidently it wasn't a very normal experience for Whiskerkit either.
"W-What?" he stammered, his eyes flicking over multiple times to the creature that was making its way out of the hole as they spoke.
"Help Olivekit," Thrushkit commanded, not taking his eyes off of the black and white monster.
Whiskerkit glanced over at his sister who, with Maplekit, was struggling to get Cinderkit to move. He hesitated, but Thrushkit turned on him.
Whiskerkit shot one last terrified glance at the giant creature before rushing over to Olivekit and picking up Cinderkit in his jaws. Olivekit followed his lead and grabbed Maplekit, following her brother into the forest.
As they raced through the forest, Maplekit didn't think a cat had ever been so scared. She couldn't look back to see if Thrushkit was okay, and it was tearing her up inside. She couldn't help but picture his tiny body being crushed by the monster's jaws just like Cloverkit's had been. There was no way he would survive fighting that creature, but he had still stayed in order to give them time to escape. Maplekit didn't think anyone had ever been so brave and so stupid ever.
"Maplekit! Cinderkit! Where are you?" Petalpool's terrified meow rang out as she pushed her way through the ferns glancing around franticly before her eyes came to rest on the four kits.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, darting over to the kits. "Are you alright?
Her eyes were concerned, but there was also a hardness to them that Maplekit didn't understand.
"What have you all been doing?" she demanded. "And where are Cloverkit and Thrushkit?"
Before anyone had the chance to respond, not that they would, considering what they had just seen, Cinderkit let out an earsplitting screech. Her eyes were glazed and she stared at nothing as the moment of Cloverkit's death replayed in her head over and over again, driving her to scream even louder.
"What's wrong with her?" Petalpool demanded, her eyes flicking between her daughters, but Maplekit wasn't paying attention to her.
"Cinderkit!" Maplekit exclaimed, trying to comfort her littermate, but she was somewhere else, somewhere in her memories. "It's alright! You're okay!"
A scream rang out from the other direction, and Maplekit whipped around in terror. Had their experience really driven all of these cats insane? But no, Olivekit's scream wasn't directed at a memory, it was directed at Thrushkit.
Sorry about the late update; there was no internet at my grandparents' house. Hope you enjoyed even though it was late. 8D