AN: Wow, thanks everyone for the positive feedback! First part of this chapter is in Rosefall's point of view, second part is Icepaw's. Hopefully it won't be too confusing or boring /=
For the last few days Rosefall had been different. She had been quiet and refused to speak with any of her Clanmates besides Briarleaf. Even Whiteclaw had a difficult time persuading her to eat something from the fresh-kill pile. Heatherstorm had simply told them that it was depression. Herbs couldn't bring back the loss of Icekit, no matter what Rosefall told herself.
"Please Rosefall, at least eat something," Briarleaf begged when she padded out of the nursery. Her three kits stumbled over one another. Ripplekit, Featherkit and Blossomkit were their names. They didn't have to worry about being Chosen. "I can't stand seeing you like this, you'll die of starvation!" Briarleaf added when Rosefall ignored her.
She was staring blankly at the tunnel that made up the camp's entrance. Her eyes held a distant, hazy look to them. When Briarleaf asked her a third time to eat something, Rosefall suddenly whirled around and glared.
"I can't eat, knowing that my daughter, my only daughter, is dead!" she snapped. "Not only have I lost my sister, but now Icekit is gone!" Her body shook with anger and sorrow as she glowered at the startled queen. "You don't know what is it like to lose everything!"
"I almost forgot about Seakit," Briarleaf admitted guiltily. She regretted her words instantly when Rosefall's eyes glittered with rage.
"Of course you have," she hissed. "It is against the warrior code to remember the Chosen. But I can never forget. Seakit is dead because of StarClan!"
All those moons of holding back the sorrow and rage were coming back at once. Rosefall knew that she shouldn't take it out on her only friend, but she couldn't help herself. Briarleaf was the first cat that had come to her mind when it came to saying something.
"Rosefall, I need to speak with you." Rosefall's ears flattened when she heard Graystar's voice.
She turned to see the old leader staring at her. By now most of the Clan had stopped to listen to her rant. Rosefall's eyes narrowed into tiny slits as she left a shocked Briarleaf to join her leader. Swampfoot was with him, but the deputy could tell Graystar wanted to speak with her alone. He dipped his head respectfully and stalked away.
"If you are going to cast me out than get on with it," Rosefall snarled. The cold venom in her voice had returned, and she glared defiantly at Graystar.
"Actually I have to agree with you," Graystar suddenly rasped. Rosefall stared at him in confusion as he went on, "You are my granddaughter, and losing Seakit was the hardest thing I'd ever had to do. And then Icekit became Chosen as well."
"Then why did you let her leave?" Rosefall demanded.
"It is the custom of the Clans," Graystar replied. "But I believe there is more to this than we understand. StarClan asked us to sacrifice one kit from each Clan for moons of peace each newleaf. Why would they do such a terrible thing?"
His question caught Rosefall by surprise. She never would have thought of asking that if Icekit was still alive. Why would StarClan ask to kill if it brought the Clans peace? Even when the kits were sacrificed there were still battles that waged on between the four Clans. No cat had ever thought of questioning StarClan's rule, until now.
"How are we going to stop them?" she whispered.
"I cannot do a thing," Graystar admitted. "I am old, and I feel as though my time is almost done. But you are young, strong and intelligent. Use those gifts to discover the truth. You could save the lives of future kits to come."
But it won't bring back Icekit or Seakit, Rosefall thought bitterly. Instead of arguing with him, she dipped her head gratefully and padded away.
Everything Graystar had said was true. She knew that in her heart, it was wrong to give up innocent kits. They had done nothing wrong. And worse, they were sent to their deaths every newleaf. How many lives had been lost because of it?
. . .
Icepaw's tail twitched impatiently as she watched the Clan gather around the fallen tree. Applepaw and Foxpaw were going to become warriors today. They had passed their final assessment the day before by chasing off a badger. Though Icepaw thought it was mousebrained to chase off a badger like that, the Clan had given them praise and respect.
And now they were gathered around the clearing to watch their ceremony.
"Flarepelt, Yellowtail, do you believe your apprentices are ready to become warriors?" Fallenstar was sitting on top of the fallen tree, tail dangling limply over the den's entrance.
Flarepelt was sitting beside Yellowtail while their apprentices sat in the center of the clearing.
"Applepaw has learned everything I have to teach her," Flarepelt replied confidently.
"Foxpaw is a strong apprentice, he is more than ready," Yellowtail added.
"Then I, Fallenstar, call upon my warrior ancestors so that they may look down upon these apprentices. They have trained hard to understand the ways of your noble code, and I commend them to you as warriors in their turn." Fallenstar looked down at Applepaw and Foxpaw, and Icepaw's ears flattened as she thought of StarClan.
We're all here because of StarClan's stupid rule! she reminded herself. Because of them the Clans think we're dead.
"Applepaw, Foxpaw, do you promise to uphold the warrior code, and defend this Clan, even at the cost of your lives?"
"I do." Applepaw's reply was quick and full of excitement. Icepaw knew how much this meant for her friend, and she couldn't help but feel happy for her.
"I do," Foxpaw replied.
"Then by the powers of StarClan, I give you your warrior names," Fallenstar began. "Applepaw, from this moment on you will be known as Appleheart, in honor of your courage and ability to make everyone feel at home, and we welcome you as a full member of LeafClan."
Appleheart's eyes glowed with happiness when she gave Fallenstar's shoulder a respectful lick.
"Foxpaw, from this moment on you will be known as Foxwhisker. StarClan honors you for your bravery and fighting skills, and we welcome you as a full member of LeafClan." Foxwhisker's tail flicked from side to side when he gave Fallenstar's shoulder a lick.
"Appleheart! Foxwhisker!" The Clan cheered their names as the ceremony drew to an end.
"And now you must sit vigil," Fallenstar purred when he greeted the two new warriors.
Appleheart ducked her head in embarrassment while Foxwhisker simply nodded respectfully. Icepaw had noticed how quiet Foxwhisker was since his assessment. She figured that something must have happened to make him lack the pride he normally showed.
With a shake of her head she stalked off towards the nursery to greet the kits. Seawhisker had told her that if she wanted to make a good impression on the Clan, meeting the kits was important. Icepaw doubted that was true, but she couldn't resist seeing how many kits there were. So far she had only seen two kits, Ravenkit and Mistkit.
"Intruder!" Icepaw was taken aback when she heard a yowl coming from the nursery. Her eyes widened in surprise when she felt tiny paws pummel into her sides. "Get off of my territory you rogue!" Icepaw recognized Ravenkit's voice.
Amusement coursed over Icepaw when she feinted getting knocked over. The two kits - Ravenkit and Mistkit - were pacing around in surprise. She opened a single eye to see a trio of kits hiding inside the nursery, watching the scene as it unfolded. When Ravenkit padded towards her, Icepaw suddenly reacted and jumped out of the way just as he was about to pounce. The tiny kit let out a squeal of surprise.
"The rogue's awake!" Ravenkit wailed when Mistkit fled.
"That's enough you two," a blue-gray she-cat meowed when she heard Ravenkit. "You're going to upset the elders."
"I think he's past upsetting them," Icepaw purred.
Spottednose and Mothflower were glaring at them, while Treewhisker had his back to the nursery.
"They're becoming a pawful," the queen sighed as Ravenkit pounced on Mistkit once more. "But they'll be apprentices soon, so I guess I should appreciate them while I can." The queen's tail flicked in surprise when she realized that they hadn't formally met. "I'm sorry, my name's Lakepool," she added with a purr of embarrassment.
"Icepaw," Icepaw replied with a dip of her head. "Who are the other three kits?" she asked when a ginger and black head poked out of the nursery's entrance.
"Emberkit, Sedgekit and Whiskerkit," Lakepool explained with a shrug. "They're mother is Midnightclaw, and she doesn't usually let them out." Her eyes darkened with some kind of memory as she looked away. "Like Seawhisker, she was the only Chosen of her season to survive. She's never gotten over it, and she's terrified of losing her kits."
Icepaw stared at the nursery in disbelief. How many kits had died because of StarClan's stupid rule? She tried not to think about it as she meowed goodbye to the queen. Lakepool was friendly enough as far as mothers went.
Those kits are lucky, she thought. They don't have to worry about being Chosen, or losing their mothers and fathers.
She barely remembered what her father looked like. Whiteclaw had never spent much time in the nursery. That was when the leader had decided to mark her as Chosen. She could still remember how horrified she had been when Rosefall told her what it meant.
Memories like those were constantly being pushed away. Icepaw almost wished there was an herb that would make her forget her old Clan. Or something that would wash away the scent that seemed stuck on her fur.
It's all in the past, she reminded herself. I won't ever forgive those cowards that sacrificed me.
"Are you okay?" Icepaw nearly leaped out of her fur when she heard Bramblepaw's voice. She turned to look at the dark ginger apprentice. He was standing behind her, head tilted in confusion when she narrowed her eyes. "You were just sort of... staring off into space," he added warily.
"I'm fine!" she snapped.
"You know, it's okay to miss them," Bramblepaw went on as she stalked away. "I miss my mother too, even if she was mean to me. She's the only family I had."
Icepaw wished she could tell the nosy apprentice to leave her alone. All Bramblepaw wanted to do was chatter about the Clans.
"Well, aside from Firepaw and Pebblepaw... but they never really got along with me," he continued meowing as if she really cared. "But I don't mind. I was just-" Icepaw suddenly whirled around and glared at him, cutting him off.
"Would you quit talking about them?" she snarled. "I'm trying to forget what those mousebrains did to me! And all you seem to care about are the cats that hated you." Bramblepaw flinched as though she had clawed at his face.
If he wasn't a Clanmate she might have. But instead she tried to calm herself down and turned away from him.
"I'm sorry if I offended you," she heard Bramblepaw whisper. She turned to see his ears were flattened in disappointment.
Icepaw sighed in frustration when he padded away. She knew that she would hear about this from Fallenstar. Getting along with your Clanmates was essential in LeafClan. Bramblepaw was just an annoying furball she needed to deal with. For now she would try to avoid him, but sooner or later she would have to face him.
AN: So yeah, that all just happened. I'm trying to keep every chapter above two K words. Not an easy goal for someone who has written a thousand k for most of her life. But it's something I'll stick with, so hang in there if the updates are a little slower.