Chapter 7:

Daisypaw was padding across the tree-bridge with her brothers: Pouncepaw and Dirtpaw. So many cats! Daisypaw didn't know if she could do this. It was a bit overwhelming. Dirtpaw and Pouncepaw confidently padded over to a group of young looking apprentices. Daisypaw decided she would follow them and try not to seem anti-social. "Hello." Pouncepaw meowed politely. "Hi!" a silver she-cat meowed. "We're from Shadowclan, how about you?" a nice looking black tom meowed. "We're from Thunderclan. I'm Daisypaw and these are my brothers Pouncepaw and Dirtpaw." Daisypaw meowed taking over; she suddenly wasn't scared. "I'm Spiderpaw and this is Silverpaw." Spiderpaw mewed. "We became apprentices today and got to come, cool huh?" Dirtpaw bragged. "Lucky!" Silverpaw meowed. "Why isn't the gathering starting?" asked Dirtpaw. "We're waiting for Windclan and Riverclan." Spiderpaw explained. Pouncepaw nodded. Suddenly two new scents wafted over Daisypaw. "Here they come." Silverpaw meowed. Daisypaw looked around to see four smaller cats racing towards the already there apprentices. "Hi!" meowed a handsome gray tom meowed. "I'm Boulderpaw and this is my sister Softpaw. We were made apprentices last moon, this is our first gathering." "Hello, I'm Daisypaw and these are my brothers Pouncepaw and Dirtpaw; we're from Thunderclan." Daisypaw finished. It felt like she and the apprentices from Windclan, Riverclan, and Shadowclan had talked for a long time. As they began showing each other hunting techniques, they were interrupted by a loud yowl from a sleek gray she-cat. "Let the gathering begin!" she yowled. "I'll begin if you don't mind." the gray she-cat meowed and sat up on her branch in the leaders' tree. "That's our leader, Gracestar." Spiderpaw meowed. Daisypaw nodded. "All is well in Shadowclan. Prey is plentiful and Pinetail has moved to the nursery expecting Wolfleap's kits" as Gracestar finished Daisypaw looked around a saw a muscular black and gray tom looking proud and she guessed it was Wolfleap. Next to step forward was a skinny, dark tabby tom. "Leafstar, our leader." Boulderpaw whispered; he was so close to Daisypaw she hardly heard what he said, just breathing in his pleasant scent. "Windclan is wonderful, we have two new apprentices: Boulderpaw and Softpaw. Also, Heathertail is expecting Acornflight's kits." "Boulderpaw! Softpaw!" the clans cheered; Daisypaw yowled Boulderpaw's name. Boulderpaw looked over at Daisypaw happily. He has pretty blue eyes, Daisypaw thought dreamily. Next from the leader's tree to step forward was Hollystar. "Things are going great in Thunderclan we have eight new kits and three new apprentices: Dirtpaw, Pouncepaw, and Daisypaw," Hollystar waited for the clans to cheer the apprentices' names. "Dirtpaw! Pouncepaw! Daisypaw!" the clans cheered and Daisypaw grew hot as Boulderpaw cheered her name louder that her brothers. "Also, we have two new warriors: Ashtail and Fallowshade!" Hollystar stepped back. "Ashtail! Fallowshade!" the clans cheered and the two new Thunderclan warriors held their heads high. Last to come forward was a gray tom with a shiny pelt. "It's obvious, but that's our leader, Wavestar." Brightpaw, a new apprentice in Riverclan, meowed. Daisypaw nodded. "Fish are plentiful in Riverclan. As you can see, we are well fed and strong." Wavestar meowed and glared at Leafstar. Leafstar had a smug expression on his face, but his only response was a shrug. "Let us all share tongues for a while tonight because there won't be much time in this upcoming leaf-bare." Gracestar meowed. "Share tongues with me?" asked Boulderpaw. "S-sure." Daisypaw stammered. "Okay, but first follow me." Boulderpaw whispered. Daisypaw figured they were going to a quieter spot, but Boulderpaw led her into the bushed. "Why here?" she asked nervously. "I needed to talk to you in private." he mowed. Daisypaw suddenly got nervous. "What about?" she mewed, trying to sound nonchalant. "I was wondering… if you would meet me at the Windclan border tomorrow night?" Boulderpaw asked. "Er… sure." Daisypaw was about to burst with happiness, but before she had time to think Pouncepaw came up behind her. "Time to go, see you later Boulderpaw!" Pouncepaw meowed cheerfully. "Bye!" Daisypaw meowed. "Well, that went well." Dirtpaw mewed when she caught up to him. "Right?" Pouncepaw agreed. "We met so many new cats." Daisypaw meowed. "Hey! You two, stop chattering like a bunch of blackbirds and get your tail over here." The three apprentices scampered over to Dewleaf who was scolding them. "S-sorry." Daisypaw meowed appoligetically. "That's okay," Dewleaf reassured. "it's your first gathering I'm positive me and my littermates were like that too." Daisypaw let out a mrrow of laughter. "I can imagine." she meowed. Dewleaf flicked her shoulder and raced towards the group of Thunderclan cats who were starting to get far ahead of them.

By the time the group of Thunderclan cats returned to camp, Daisypaw was very tired. "Well, what did you think of your first gathering?" Whitefang meowed as Daisypaw was heading to the apprentice den. "It was great! We met so many new friends." Daisypaw meowed cheerfully. "Well, it doesn't last forever, you must be prepared to fight them in battle." Whitefang reminded her. "I know, I know." Daisypaw thought of Boulderpaw. Was his mother telling him this too? Whitefang licked Daisypaw's ear and padded away towards the warriors den with her father, Shrewclaw. "Time for bed you three, you'll be up bright and early tomorrow for hunting practice." Smokeflight meowed. "Oh, we will." Dirtpaw meowed excitedly. Daisypaw raced for the apprentice den, as she ran in she tripped over Rainpaw. "Watch it mouse-brain!" Rainpaw meowed tartly. "Hey Rainpaw! Give her a break, she didn't mean to." Tawnypaw defended her. "I'm the oldest apprentice, I'll say what I want!" Rainpaw retorted. "Not while I'm here!" Tawnypaw growled. "Guys!" Crystalpaw interrupted. "Stop fighting, it's not like you two." "S-sorry, Crystalpaw." Rainpaw stammered. He likes her, that mouse-brain! "It's okay, Crystalpaw. He was just joking." Daisypaw stepped in. Crystalpaw snorted, but Rainpaw shot her a glance of gratitude. "Goodnight then." Tawnypaw meowed.

Daisypaw felt a paw prodding her side, Smokeflight was standing over her. "Training." He meowed. Daisypaw sat up and looked around. All the apprentices were gone but her and her littermates. "Where-" Smokeflight cut her off. "Dawn patrol and hunting patrol. You'll be doing that soon as well." Smokeflight meowed. "Okay then, let's get a move on then." Pouncepaw mewed. Smokeflight flicked his tail and led the eager apprentices into the clearing. "Ready?" asked Yellowclaw. "Ready." Dirtpaw assured. "Okay then, let's go." Hawkfeather meowed. Hawkfeather took the lead and led the cats out of camp. Daisypaw followed the cats until she came to the place where apprentices trained called the mossy hollow. "Okay, so Hawkfeather, show them the hunting stalk please." Smokeflight meowed. Hawkfeather nodded and dropped down into a hunters crouch. He began to stalk forward with his weight balanced between his haunches and his front paws. "That's perfect Hawkfeather, now Dirtpaw, you try." Yellowclaw meowed. Dirtpaw mimicked Hawkfeather's move and to Daisypaw it looked good. "Careful with your tail Dirtpaw, you don't want it to brush the ground, but you don't want it straight up either." Smokeflight instructed. Dirtpaw did as he was told. "Now, stalk forward. Keep your weight balanced." Yellowclaw meowed. Dirtpaw did so. "Okay, now Pouncepaw and Daisypaw do what Dirtpaw did." Yellowclaw ordered. Daisypaw dropped down. "If you don't mind, I'm going to take Dirtpaw to hunt." Hawkfeather meowed. Surprise flickered in Yellowclaw's eyes which reflected in Dirtpaw and Smokeflight's eyes as well. "Well, okay…" Yellowclaw stammered. Dirtpaw's uncertainty changed to a grimace at his littermates. He thinks he's better than us! "Daisypaw began to stalk forward. "Perfect Daisypaw! Not a thing wrong with that." Yellowclaw meowed. Pouncepaw's crouch was perfect too. "Amazing Pouncepaw!" Smokeflight meowed. "Can we hunt now?" asked Pouncepaw. "Yes." Yellowclaw meowed. Yellowclaw and Smokeflight led the two eager apprentices to the abandoned twoleg nest. "What can you smell?" Smokeflight asked Daisypaw and Pouncepaw. Daisypaw sniffed and she had a mouthwatering scent on her tongue instantly. "Mouse." Daisypaw meowed happily. "Squirrel." Pouncepaw mewed. "Good." Yellowclaw meowed. "Watch and learn." Yellowclaw spun around and leaped across the air at a tiny brown creature. A squirrel! He slammed a large paw down on to the squirrel and nipped its neck with a killing bite. "With squirrels, you want to be extra fast so they don't flee up a tree." Smokeflight explained. "Okay now, off you two go." Yellowclaw meowed through the squirrel in his jaws. Daisypaw decided to go closer to the two leg nest. When she neared, she recognized the scent of a blackbird. She dropped into her crouch and stalked forward until the bird came into sight. It's huge! She crept closer and closer and when she thought she could grasp it she pushed off with her hind legs and grabbed the blackbird in her claws. Yes! Daisypaw nipped the bird's neck and it went limp. "Thank you Starclan." Daisypaw whispered. "That was a great catch!" Smokeflight meowed. Daisypaw jumped. "Thanks!" she meowed. "That was your first catch and it was really neat. Looks like we have a good hunter in our paws." Smokeflight praised. "Whoa! Did you catch that?" Yellowclaw meowed as he padded up to her. "Well, yeah…" Daisypaw mewed trying not to sound embarrassed. "Wow! That's great!" Pouncepaw meowed proudly. "Did you catch anything?" Daisypaw asked Pouncepaw trying to change the subject. "Oh yes, I caught a fat squirrel." he meowed. "Where is it?" she asked. "Oh I scuffed earth over it so I could catch more." Pouncepaw replied. "I should do that too right?" Daisypaw looked at Smokeflight. "Yes, go ahead." Smokeflight meowed. The rest of the day went by quickly. Dirtpaw and Hawkfeather were nowhere to be seen the whole day. When the group of Thunderclan cats arrived at camp, warriors padded up to congratulate the apprentices. "On your first day that much prey." Daisypaw and Pouncepaw just shrugged. It didn't seem like two squirrels, a blackbird, and a mouse was much. Whitefang came running up to the two apprentices. "I'm so proud of you two!" she mewed. "Where's Dirtpaw?" Daisypaw nudged her mother. "We don't know, he left with Hawkfeather." Pouncepaw meowed. Shrewclaw padded up to them. "Where's Dirtpaw?" he meowed. "We don't know." Daisypaw meowed. "What?" Shrewclaw mewed. "He left with Hawkfeather." Daisypaw explained how they left once Dirtpaw learned the hunting stalk. "How dare he do that to you guys, on your first hunting expedition." Daisypaw could tell Shrewclaw was getting angry. "Calm down, Shrewclaw." Whitefang meowed. Shrewclaw shook his head. "No, you tell Snowfall I went out to find them." Daisypaw looked at her father in dismay. Is he really that mad over Dirtpaw going away from us? Am I a bit mad? Yes. "Can I come?" Pouncepaw asked. "No, go to the apprentice den." Shrewclaw ordered. "Don't take it to heart, just do what he says." Whitefang mewed. She turned and padded over to the warriors den. Daisypaw flicked Pouncepaw's shoulder and headed for the apprentice den. "I can't believe he got that mad." Pouncepaw meowed. "Well, it was our first hunt and we didn't get to do it together." Daisypaw mewed. "Yeah, I don't really care for Hawkfeather. He scares me." Pouncepaw meowed. Daisypaw nodded. "Well, we should rest." she mewed. "Okay, but first, let's eat a squirrel." Pouncepaw suggested. He got up and grabbed a squirrel from them fresh-kill pile. They began to share it and they finished really quickly. Daisypaw swiped her tongue over her whiskers and curled her tail over her nose. She easily drifted into sleep.

Daisypaw woke up and the moon was well into the sky. Boulderpaw! She rose to her paws and looked around the den. All the apprentices, including Dirtpaw, were fast asleep in the den; some even snoring. She crept out into the moonlit camp and padded towards the dirt-place tunnel. She was surprised by the cold, but realized that the weather was changing to leaf-bare. She raced along which felt like forever and finally got close to the border between Windclan and Thunderclan. When she got to the stream, she looked around for Boulderpaw. "Hey, over here!" a voice whispered. "Boulderpaw?" she whispered. "Yeah, it's me." Boulderpaw crawled out of a bush on the Thunderclan side of the territory. "You're on our territory!" Daisypaw raced over to him. "I know, we're meeting." Boulderpaw explained. "On our side? Why not yours?" Daisypaw meowed. "We can go there if you'd like. It's just, you weren't here right away." Boulderpaw mewed. Daisypaw nodded. "Well, what do we do?" she asked. "Well, I have a feeling we shouldn't meet at the border, we should meet at the top of our territories." Boulderpaw mewed. "Good idea." Daisypaw meowed. "We should have our own clan!" Daisypaw mewed. "Yeah!" Boulderpaw agreed. "It should be called… Nightclan, because we meet at night." Daisypaw mewed. "Yeah!" Boulderpaw agreed. "You can be Boulderstar and I'll be your deputy Daisyflower." she meowed. "Great idea!" Boulderpaw mewed. Daisypaw and Boulderpaw played around which felt like forever. The darkness began to get slightly brighter. "I have to go; I'm going on the dawn patrol. See you later!" Daisypaw mewed and rubbed her muzzle against Boulderpaw's shoulder. "Bye, meet me in three days?" Boulderpaw asked. "Yes." Daisypaw mewed. She turned around and raced for camp; she knew she would make it at the perfect time.