Its been another three moons since the rouges attacked ThunderClan. At the past Gatherings, WindClan reported as being attacked once as well, and RiverClan and ShadowClan would be on high watch.
Today was a special a day though, when Sunkit could forget what had happened and look to the furture. Thats because today was finally her turn under Highledge. It was her turn to become an apprentice!
"Is it almost time?" Sunkit asked excitiedly, bouncing around her mother.
"Even if it was, you look like a mess!" Cinderheart chided lightly.
Groaning, Sunkit quickly groomed herself. She raced out into the clearing and looked up at the sky. Leafless trees blocked her view partially, nad she had to fluff up her coat against the chilly air. Even so, she could make out the sun. It was at its highest point, the time Bramblestar said he would make her an apprentice.
"Hey, 'kit," teased Lilybreeze as she trotted past.
"I'm not going to be a kit anymore!" Sunkit declared proudly, padding after her older friend.
They stopped at the fresh-kill pile, and Lilybreeze gestured to a skinny mouse, "Leaf bare sure is taking a toll on the prey."
Sunkit sat down and began to wash her face, "Just a moon ago, we had a whole bunch a prey!"
"Thats what happeneds during leaf bare," Lilybreeze shurgged.
She leaned down and picked up the mouse and headed over to the elder's den. Deciding that thier short conversation was over, Sunkit decided to check on Ivypool, who was expecting Foxleap's kits. She had just moved into the nursey two sunrises ago, but was really far along.
Sunkit padded into the nursey, thoughts of being a brave and mighty warrior soaring in her mind like birds. Ivypool was resting in her nest, talking to Daisy and asking questions.
"Does it worse than being clawed?" Ivyool asked, almost playfully.
"Much worse," Daisy rumbled, a gleam in her eyes.
Ivypool flicked her toren ears, and caught Sunkit's attention.
"Hey, Ivypool?" she asked tentatively.
Ivypool looked at her, slightly shocked by her shy voice. Sunkit was never shy, but usaully confident.
"What is it?" She prompted the young cat.
"What happened to your ears?" Sunkit asked with tilt of her head.
Ivypool's gaze darkened, "Battles in cruel places, Sunkit."
Sunkit took a step forward, "Do they hurt?"
"In the cold, yes," Ivypool mewed carefully.
"Will your kits have shredded ears too?" Sunit asked, eyes wide.
Daisy and Ivypool both let out a mrrow of laughter. "Of course not," purred Daisy, "You get toren ears from battles."
"Oh!" Sunkit nodded, "Then how-"
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather beneath Highledge!"
Sunkit squealed in excitiment and bolted from the nursey, and under Highledge. She spotted Lionblaze and Cinderheart sitting close together, gazing proudly at her. She gave her chest fur a couple of good licks, making sure her pelt looked sleek and healthy, even she was skinner due to lack of prey.
Bramblestar, after what felt like a whole moon, came into view. He padded up to Sunkit, who was shaking with excitiment. Thoughts raced in her head, who was going to be her mentor? All of them were great warriors, or thats what she thought at least.
Bramblestar beckoned her forward with his tail. Sunkit gulped nervously, and stepped forward a bit wobbly.
"You ok?" Bramblestar whispered.
Sunkit gave a small nodded, and Bramblestar purred quietly, then he declared, "From this day forward, until she has earned her warrior name, this apprentice shall be called Sunpaw. Icecloud, for your intelligence and cunning, I deem you Sunpaw's mentor. May you pass down all you know to this apprentice."
Icecloud, a white she-cat, stepped forward, purring. She placed her nose on Sunpaw's head and whispered, "Lick my shoulder."
Sunpaw did as she was told, and quickly licked her mentor's shoulder. They stepped away from one another and Cinderheart and Lionblaze began the chant.
"Sunpaw! Sunpaw!" They both had bright gleams in their eyes.
Soon the other cats joined in with chant, raising their heads so that the sound echo in the clearing. Sunpaw felt a rush a pride in her belly, causing it flutter lightly. She looked up at Highledge, and she could picture herself there, sitting tall and proud with her happy and full clanmates blow her...
She shook the thought off, deeming it as a silly kit like dream. She didn't care if she was leader, she just wanted to be the best warrior she could be.
Once every cat calmed down, Cinderheart and Lionblaze wove around Sunpaw, purring loudly.
"I'm so proud of you!" Cinderheart rubbed her cheek on Sunpaw's.
"You are going to be a great warrior, Sunpaw," Lionblaze purred deeply, "Just like me!"
"You are so full of yourself, Lionblaze," Jayfeather hissed, but looked at Sunpaw in the weird way he does to every cat, "Congratulations, you're finally a 'paw."
Sunpaw bowed her head even though she knew he couldn't see it, "Thank you, Jayfeather."
Jayfeather nodded, and stalked off. Amberpaw, Dewpaw, and Snowpaw all came running forward, meowing how happy they were to have their old denmate back.
"I realy missed sleeping in the same den as you!" Amberpaw gushed, "I'm the only she-cat, so now it won't be lonely!"
Sunpaw purred her thanks, and then looked up when a tail flicked her ear.
"Come on," mewed Icecloud, "We got alot to do today."
Sunpaw nodded, her head spinning. She said goodbye to her new denmates, and followed Icecloud out the enterance. She gulped at the sight of it all. the trees stood tall over head, and white frost laid on the dead grass.
It amazed her. It was so big! And all of it was ThunderClan's. Her clan!
"Lets go!" Sunpaw mewed, dashing off.
She was quickly swiped off her paws when she was caught by her scruff. Icecloud set her down, and scolded her, "You can't go running off like that, Sunpaw."
"I'm sorry!" Sunpaw mewed sincerely, "It's just I want to see all of it!"
Icecloud purred, her anger forgotten, "Today, we're just going to the lake. Afterward, we're going to the training hollow to watch Leafpool, Snowpaw, Dovewing, and Amberpaw do battle moves, so you can get an idea on what you will be learning in the feature."
"Alright!" Sunpaw skipped along beside Icecloud as she walked with long, confident strides.
After awhile of silence, Icecloud asked, "So, what do you know about hunting?"
Sunpaw froze in her skipping and crouched down,"You gotta crouch, like this," she whispered.
"Why are you whispering?" asked Icecloud, amsuement in her blue eyes.
"You gotta stay real quiet or they'll hear you!" Sunpaw sat up, and cocked her head, "Right?"
"Very good!" Icecloud praised, making Sunpaw puff out her chest with pride.
Icecloud waved her tail and began walking again, and Sunpaw trailed behind her. She looked up at the leafless trees and tried to picture them with big, green leaves. In her mind, it looked really pretty, and she couldn't wait to see it.
SInce she wasn't paying attention very well, she didn't notice that Icecloud had stopped until Sunpaw ran into her.
Sunpaw looked around and then at Icecloud, who had her mouth open, taking scents. The white she-cat frowned and looked down at Sunpaw, "Do you smell that?"
Coping her mentor, Sunpaw opened her mouth wide, taking a deep breath and letting the scents of the forest bathe her tongue. She picked out an odd scent, and it was one she thought she recognized.
"I kind of remember it," mewed Sunpaw unsurely.
"Come on," hissed Icecloud as she lowered herself into a crouch and moved forward silently.
Sunpaw tried to mimic her again, but kept rustling leaves and other things on the ground.
"Hold your tail higher, a little more than a whisker from the ground," Icecloud hissed quietly.
Sunpaw nodded and did as she was told, snd still made noise.
"Here," Icecloud mewed quietly, "Put your paws down like this."
Sunpaw watched as her snow white mentor showed her. She copied the way Icecloud did it until the white warrior decided that she was quiet enough to move forward.
With their bright pelts, both she-cats had to stay concealed within the bushes and other low growing shurbs and bracken. Finally, after following the scent trail for what seemed like forever to Sunpaw, they came upon two cats, a tom and a she-cat. Both we're meowing in hushed voices.
"Do you think we shold attack again?" The she-cat murmured, her gray eyes flashing this way and that.
"They might have the herbs we need..." the tom mumbled, his tabby fur rippling over his muscles.
"Why can't we just get the herbs from the forest and leave?" The she-cat hissed, her dark brown fur dirty.
"I tried that with Swift, we couldn't find anything!" the tom hissed back.
"How about we try talking to the cats who live here?" the she-cat asked uneasily.
"They kicked our tails!" Growled the tom.
Icecloud looked at Sunpaw, who was shaking slightly. Icecloud leaned over and whispered in her ear, "We're going to talk them, ok? If there is a fight, run as fast as you can back to camp. Yowl when you get close, alright?"
Sunpaw nodded frantically, and couldn't help the waves of fear and excitiment that coursed through her veins.
Icecloud stalked forward through the bush they were concealed in, and gestured for Sunpaw to flow. The two strange cats jumped, and hissed at Icecloud and Sunpaw as they emerged.
"I recognize you!" hissed the she-cat, "You shredded my ear!"
Sunpaw was surprise to see that the she-cat was right, her ear was shredded. Sunpaw felt pride for her clanmate and mentor.
But, Icecloud shook her head, "My old mentor, Whitewing, did that to your ear, not me."
Sunpaw still felt proud, anyway.
"We don't want any trouble," Icecloud continued cooly, "We can take you back to our camp, or chase you off of our territory. It's your choice."
Sunpaw scooted a little closer to her mentor when she caught the rather large tom staring down at her. A shiver passed down her spine and she wanted to unsheath her claws.
"Why do you have a kit with you?" Asked the tom, his green gaze narrowing, "Isn't that irresponisble?"
"She's an apprentice," Icecloud told him, "I'm her mentor, we were training when we caught your odd scent."
Sunpaw frowned, they hadn't been training, just was strange for Icecloud to lie.
"Then why is she so small?" asked the she-cat, pointing a paw at Sunpaw.
Enraged, Sunpaw hissed and lashed her claws at the she-cat's paw, "I'm not small!"
Icecloud cupped Sunpaw over the head with her paw and hissed, "Be silent, Sunpaw!"
Sunpaw ducked her head, but glared at the she-cat.
"Shall we?" asked Icecloud, gesturing to the forest behind them.
The two cats shared a glance, then the tom nodded, "I'm Dusty, this is Mouse."
Icecloud bowed her head, "I'm Icecloud, warrior of ThunderClan, and this is my apprentice, Sunpaw."
Mouse snorted in discontent, and Dusty nodded. Icecloud looked down at Sunpaw and told her, "You lead the way, I'll follow in the back."
Sunpaw nodded, and began to follow her own scent trail back to camp. Occasionally, she got lost, and wandered off in the wrong direction. It didn't take long to get back on the right track though.
"Ok," Icecloud mewed to Sunpaw, who look a little tired out, "We're almost to camp, go and tell Bramblestar or Sqiurrelflight that we have two.. guests."
"Yes, Icecloud!" Sunpaw mewed, and dashed off toward the smell of her camp.
As she was running, she accidently knocked down Seedstone, Lilybreeze's littermate.
"Sorry!" She mewed, trying to go around the she-cat.
"Don't go that way," meowed Seedstone, "thats the cliff."
"Oh..." Sunpaw gasped, eyes wide, "Than which way is the enterance?"
"Follow me," Seedstone waved her tail and lead Sunpaw to the enterance.
Thankfully, Icecloud hadn't arrived yet.
"Bramblestar!" she yowled, and when she didn't see him she called out, "Sqiurrelflight!"
Finally, the dark ginger deputy appeared, a curious look on her face, "What is it? Where is your mentor?"
"We found strange cats!" Sunpaw explained quickly, "They were in our territory, Icecloud told me to tell you we had "guests" coming!"
As Sunpaw breathed, in she could smell her mentor and the two other cats with her, "They're here!"
All the cats that were in the clearing looked up, watching the enterance with hackles raised. Sunpaw scooted closer to Sqiurrelflight, hoping no cat noticed she was shaking. The cats padded calmly into the enterance, Icecloud right behind them.
"Greetings," bowed Sqiurrelflight, "My name is Sqiurrelflight, I'm the deputy of ThunderClan. May I ask what brings you here to our territory?"
Dusty and Mouse shared a glance, and then Mouse nodded to Dusty.
The dark tabby bowed his head to Sqiurrelflight, "I am Dusty, this is Mouse. We come searching for herbs. Many of our cats are sick and in need of catmint, badly."
"Catmint?" Hissed Jayfeather as he trotted up to the large cat, "You dare asked for catmint during leaf bare?"
"Jayfeather.." Lilybreeze mewed gently, trying to calm her angry mentor, "We're sorry," she meowed to the two cats, "But we have none to spear."
"No, we don't!" Hissed Jayfeather.
"Enough, Jayfeather," Sqiurrelflight scolded the medicine cat. Jayfeather glared at her with his unseeing eyes, and stalked away out of the camp.
"Please excuse Jayfeather," Lilybreeze told them in her soft voice, "He means no harm, he is very protective of the catmint."
"And for good reason," Sqiurrelflight's eyes glinted slightly.
"Is it greencough that is effecting your sick cats?" Lilybreeze asked.
"I don't know about its name, but several of the cats are coughing, and their noses are running Mouse meowed, her eyes narrowed.
"That sounds like whitecough," Sunpaw was amazed at how quickly Lilybreeze had determined that, "Actually, chickweed should be able to help, maybe even tansy. Please, wait a moment for my return."
Sunpaw watched as Lilybreeze trotted off, ducking into the medicine cat's den.
Sqiurrelflight moved slightly, blocking the other cats view of where the dark tabby and white she-cat had gone. Sunpaw could tell she was agitated, but she kept under control.
"I'm afraid to say that you'll have to stay here until our leader, Bramblestar, returns from his hunting," Sqiurrelflight told the cats, "I would offer you something to eat, but we don't have enough food for ourselves."
Sunpaw glanced over at the fresh-kill pile, and saw that had been larger than in the last half moon. Then she realized it was a ruse, and decided to play alog, "I'll bring some to the queens, before they go anymore stale."
Sqiurrelflight purred, and flicked her tail, "Very good of you Sunpaw."
Sunpaw saw the tinkle in her green eyes, and knew that she had done well. She padded over to the fresh-kill pile, and dug out two mice. Both were measly, but would be enough to fill up Daisy and Ivypool. She trotted into the wrong on purpose, instead of walking into the nursey, she walked in the warriors den. Cloudtail, Mousewhisker, Birchfall, and Hazeltail looked up from their conversation.
"Sorry," Sunpaw hissed around the mice tails, "We have strangers in the camp and I'm confusing them."
"How are you doing that by showing where the warriors sleep?" grumbled Cloudtail.
"They think this is the nursey!" Sunpaw mewed back.
Hazeltail and Mousewhisker nodded their approval, while Birchfall murmured, "Thats actually smart."
Cloudtail grumbled a bit more and rolled around in his nest. Sunpaw looked around, amazed at how big the warrior's den was.
"You're small enough to go this way," Hazeltail nodded to a tiny hole in the wall, "It leads straight to the nursey."
Sunpaw nodded, and barely manged to wriggle through. She did the new, silent crouch Icecloud just taught her, and snuck stealthily to the nursey. She new there was a secret place where there was a hole, so she found it and struggled into it.
"What are you doing?" asked Ivypool.
"Shh!" hissed Sunpaw, "hThey're stranger's in the camp. I let them believe that your den is the warrior den."
"Oh," mewed Daisy, we walked over to the enterance and crouched down without leaving the nursey, "Yes, I see.."
She came back and sat down in her nest, and Sunpaw placed the two mice in front of each she-cat, "Sorry," she whispered, "I wanted it to seem like we didn't have much. I was hoping you could share?"
"This is plenty," purred Daisy, "Thank you, Sunpaw."
Sunpaw nodded, and looked in dismay at the tiny hole that had scratched her yellow pelt. Ivypool looked up from her meal, and gave her a sympathic look, "You can do it."
Sunpaw sighed, and wriggled through the whole once more, this time scratching her skin. She hissed, but quickly silenced herself and began licking fiercely at the small wound. With each rough pass of her tongue, the scratch hurt worse. She didn't understand why, and finally stopped when she couldn't handle it anymore.
She hunched over and panted until the pain ebbed away, glanced back at the scratch and saw that it had quick bleeding, so she decided not to worry anycat about it.
She dove into the warrior's den once more, and quickly retreated into the cold clearing. She fluffed up her fur and looked over to see Lilybreeze, the two cats, and Bramblestar all talking. Sunpaw flinched at her growling belly, and went to find Icecloud.
It didn't take long, but by the time Sunpaw found her mentor, her paws were dragging on the ground with every paw step. Icecloud looked at her and her blue gaze was soft as she mewed, "Go and get something to eat, Sunpaw. The elders and queens are fed, and your nest is made in the apprentice's den."
Sunpaw nodded, and slowly made her way over to the fresh-kill pile. She picked out a scrawny sqiurrel, and ate until it was gone, even though she was not satsified. She dragged her tired body into the apprentice's den, and sniffed out her nest. It was toward the back, and filled moss and a few feathers. The look of it made her want to squeal and go around in too many circles, but she was too tired.
Just as she laid down, Amberpaw and her brothers came stomping into the den. All of them were way too loud. Sunpaw curled up tighter, rested her tail over her nose, and flattened her ears against her head.
"Oh!" Exclaimed Amberpaw a bit quietier, "Sorry, did we wake you?"
Sunpaw sighed and looked up at her, "No, but I was trying to."
"Here," Amberpaw mewed, and began to groom her, "Let's share tongues, Dewpaw, Snowpaw, and I all did it our first day, and it made us feel better."
The two she-cats began to clean and rest against eachother. Dewpaw and Snowpaw soon joined in, and all of them began purring. Sunpaw felt her muscles, sore from the todays work, relax and loosen. With her lids half close, she half-mindly groomed Snowpaw's head and ears.
The next morning, Sunpaw awoke to Snowpaw in her nest, snuggled closely to her side. She watched the rise and fall of his chest, but was interuppted by Icecloud's mew, "Sunpaw, wake up, we have training to do."
Sunpaw got up carefully from the nest, shook out her pelt, and gave a few wild tufts of fur some good licks. After she was done, went out into the clearing, and froze.
Littered on the ground was bright white stuff. Icecloud almost seemed to disappear, and all Sunpaw could do was look around in wonder.
"What is this stuff?" mewed Sunpaw.
Icecloud let out a mrrow of laughter, "It's snow, you silly 'paw. It falls from the sky like rain during leaf bare."
Sunpaw began to realize that she could barely feel her paws, and shivered, "Its cold!"
"Running will keep you warm," Icecloud nudged the yellow apprentice, "Come on. Today we'll learn some battle moves and get to the lake afterward. Hopefully, we won't run into any cat we don't know."
Sunpaw nodded in agreement, and took off after her mentor as she raced toward the enterance of camp. "If you lose sight of me," She yowled over her shoulder, "Follow my scent trail!"
Sunpaw did the best she could to keep up with her mentor, but her smaller legs and the snow prevented her from keeping up. Eventually, she lost sight of Icecloud, but didn't worry because her scent trail was strong.
Finally, she made it to a large clearing. Snow covered it, making everything glitter like starpelt. Icecloud sat toward the middle, washing her face. Sunpaw ran up to her, panting, "I'm... here!"
"I see that," she purred, "Feel warm?"
Sunpaw frowned, and realized she did. Amongst the cold snow, she was warm after the tiring run through the forest. She bounced excitiedly, her muscles loose and limber.
"I'm ready for anything!" She yowled to no cat in particular.
Icecloud suddenly lunged at her, growling. Terrified, Sunpaw squealed and turned tail and ran.
She didn't get far by the time Icecloud got a hold of her scruff, "You silly 'paw," she mewed around Sunpaw's fur, "You don't run away, you dodge!"
Sunpaw's ears burned with embrassment, "Sorry, I just got scared."
Icecloud nodded after she put the yellow apprentice down, "I was scared in my first battle too, all cats are."
"Really?" Sunpaw cocked her head at her mentor, comforted slightly.
"Really. Now, this time don't turn tail and flee, face until the last moment, then slide under me," the white she-cat told her.
Sunpaw nodded, and crouched as she waited for Icecloud's leap. Sunpaw watched as Icecloud bunched her haunches just before she leapt, and this helped Sunpaw to slide underneath her, effectively getting behind the blue-eyed warrior.
Icecloud purred loudly, "Very good, Sunpaw! You catch on fast."
"Can we do it again?" Asked Sunpaw, excitiment coursing through her.
"Of course," Icecloud meowed, "We did it well, but not perfect."
Sunpaw nodded, and they continued the move several times over.
"Ok," panted Icecloud, "I think you got it down. Now, this is a quick, basic move that can get you out of trouble."
"Alright, I'm ready!" Sunpaw meowed egarly.
Icecloud showed her move where when a cat gets close, that she should slam her paw over the cat's ear. Sunpaw didn't quite understand, and insisted that Icecloud do it to her.
"Come on!" Begged Sunpaw, "It won't hurt!"
Icecloud groaned, and finally conceded, "I'll do it gently. I know for a fact that this hurts."
Icecloud went up to Sunpaw and smacked her paw over her ear. Sunpaw immediatly fell back on her haunches, whimpering. The ringing in her ear was small, but would be worse if Icecloud hadn't done as soft as she did.
"It dazes your oppent, and showed give you enough time to get away if you're in danger," Icecloud explained, although guilt clouded her gaze.
Sunpaw nodded dazily, stumbling to her paws.
"Are you alright?" Icecloud asked, concerned choing in her mew.
Sunpaw nodded, and looked up at her with he brigth amber gaze, "I'm ok. Can we go to the lake now?"
Icecloud's ears perked, "Oh, yes. Come on, follow me."
Thank you for everyone who has read so far. I hope you guys like it. Read and Review please! ^-^ (oh, and sorry for any mistakes, like spelling a cat's name wrong or getting their pelt colors wrong.)