Mintyheart padded back to camp to find that the sun was beaming down on the forest floor, gently warming the pelts of the cats that lived in the clearing. Winterstorm's hunting patrol just got back. They had returned early on the account of a thorn in Spiceheart's pad. Winterstorm carried a thrush and a squirrel. He dropped them off at the fresh-kill pile, which wasn't much of a pile. Winterstorm sighed. He would have to go hunting later; the clan needed it. He picked his squirrel and padded off to the nursery.
Sounds of mewls and shrieks of surprise filled the bramble thicket. He pushed his way in, feeling the brambles and thorns prick at his matted, white pelt. Oh well, I'll groom it later. "Good day, Skypool. I brought you a squirrel. I thought you might want something to fill you and your kit's bellies. It's still warm." He blinked warmly at her and the kits that were pouncing on Palekit.
Echokit looked up at the sight of the white warrior. With a nod of her head the three she-kits left Palekit and spread out around the nursery. When Shimmerkit gave a nod, Foxit walked over to where the warrior was, "Hello Winterstorm. Thank you for the fresh kill," Fox kit mewed.
"Yes, thank you, Winterstorm. Is prey running well today?" Skypool purred. As Skypool spoke Echokit and Shimmerkit lined up their attack...raising their tails in the air they pounced on the white tom, digging their thorn-like claws into his pelt. Winterstorm gave a small grunt as his eyes widened in surprise. Their unsheathed claws stung,but they were still young and small compared to the large warrior. He gave a small, patient hiss. "It was well, considering the time of year. Yet, it hasn't snowed so the prey is still out and
about." He turned around and grabbed Echokit by the scruff and pried her from his pelt. As for Shimmerkit he turned and faced her squarely, and murmured, "I expect better from one who is soon to be an apprentice." He frowned slightly at her before turning back to Skypool. Palekit gingerly unfolded his paws that were covering his eyes to gaze astonishingly at the she-cats, and shuddered in fear.
Echokit hissed as Winterstorm removed her from his pelt. As she was set down she looked over she shoulder at the tom, with a glimmer of mischief in her green eyes. Shimmerkit looked down, ashamed to be yelled at by a warrior. Skypool gave Winterstorm a quick glance about the words he exchanged with her kit but didn't comment deciding that
Shimmerkit ought to get used to it. Starclan help her mentor. Skypool thought. Foxkit, seeing that Palekit was starting to move leaped at him. Seeing a chance to play Echokit darted across the nursery floor to join in. "Leave Palekit alone girls" Skypool called. "In fact, Palekit, come here. You need your pelt groomed before Blazingstar returns. Shimmerpaw, you too. Do you want the clan to see you apprenticed looking like that?"
"I'll leave you be then, Skypool. Just call me if you need anything."
"Oh, don't worry Winterstorm! I can take good care of the kits, don't you worry. Isn't that right, kitties?!" Maplefur purred warmly at the little cats. Echokit, Foxkit and Shimmerkit looked at each other with worried glances. They prayed to Starclan that Skypool would never leave them alone with the she-cat. "Thank you Winterstorm"
Skypool purred as she twitched her tail and beckoned Shimmerkit and Pale kit to her. Echokit and Foxkit bounded after them wishing they were the ones to be made apprentices. As Skypool started grooming them she went over what each of them should do in the ceremony and scolding Echokit and Foxkit for making paw prints on Palekit's pelt after he had but been washed.
Winterstorm exited the nursery without further ado.
Maplefur crawled closer to Echokit and Foxkit. "Maybe the precious she-kits want a grooming too so they can look all pretty!" she purred with pleasure. She made a move to grab one by the scruff. Foxkit let out a screech of terror and spun around as quick as she could and pelted towards her mother. Echokit, on the other paw, arched her back in a challenging hiss and pinned her ears back. She stretched out her paw as slashed it towards the she-cat. "Get your crazy paws away for me."
"Darlings…" Maplefur broke off. She heard Mintyheart calling for her. Her heart lifted. "Bye now darlings!" and she padded out of the nursery.
Spiceheart limped painfully to the medicine cat's den. As she was out on her hunting patrol, whilst stalking a mouse, she had become aware quite suddenly of the shooting pain in her pad caused by a deeply embedded thorn.
"Peppernose!" she called anxiously, "I – I got a thorn in my pad and it's huge!"
"Oh stop; you're wailing like a kit, Spiceheart!" Sunstone meowed. "We are the only cats on the hunting patrol and now we have to waste time here." Looking around she saw Peppernose padding towards them. "I mean honestly. How to you expect Blazingstar to give me another apprentice if the one I trained still behaves like a kit? Peppernose tell her she's fine," Sunstone mewed.
"I do not behave like a kit!" mewed Spiceheart indignantly. She started fluffing up her fur until she looked much larger than she was. It didn't matter that Sunstone was her previous mentor, Spiceheart was not a kit. "I can't help that I stepped on that thorn!"
Peppernose padded over to the mewling she-cats and sat down, silently watching their interaction.
"Hello Peppernose." Sunstone mewed. "Can you just take the thorn out so we can go out hunting again? Give her some catmint or whatever." Sitting down, she lightly flicked Spiceheart over the head with her tail. "I'm sure the mice are missing us already."
Peppernose narrowed his eyes. "Don't tell me what to do!" he hissed angrily, lashing his tail. "And if you're so sure the mice are missing you, why don't you go on ahead while I tend to Spiceheart? Or are you scared about being in the forest by yourself?"
Narrowing her eyes she let a quiet hiss slide out. Not having anything to say to the fickled tom she padded out of his den with her head held high and out in the forest. She would take her anger on the helpless prey in the forest.
"Good riddance," Peppernose growled.
"Don't mind her!" Spiceheart exclaimed. "She's just frustrated that we didn't get much prey."
Peppernose let out a "hump" before sniffing the she-cat's paw. "Can I see it?" Spiceheart lifted her paw up to reveal a large thorn embedded in her flesh with some blood trickling into her fur.
Peppernose swiftly reached over and pulled it out with his teeth. Spiceheart let out a yelp of pain. "Quiet. It doesn't hurt that much."
"Oh right. Says that cat who didn't just have a thorn yanked out of their paw!" she mewed cheekily.
Peppernose ignored her complaining. "Well? What are you waiting for? Give it a good lick."
Spiceheart did as she was told as Peppernose made a poultice of marigold leaves and dock leaves. "Here. Spread this on."
"Why? Aren't you the medicine cat?" All she received was a glare. "Whatever." And she spread it on her paw and then left the den. "Thanks!" she meowed cheerfully as she padded away.
Blazingstar woke in his den. Looking up at the stone walls he still couldn't believe this was his den. No more than 3 moons ago he slept in the warriors den. As he gave himself a quick grooming he let his mind wander to that last battle, when Patchstar lost his last life. Earlier in that same battle Patchstar's deputy had died and Patchstar had unofficially made Bluefrost his deputy. But Peppernose received a sign form Starclan, so here he was. Giving his pelt a good shake he padded out to high rock. Looking down on the camp he couldn't help but purr as the clan began to awake. A movement caught his eye, bounding down from high rock effortlessly he padded up to Bluefrost and Icecloud. Tipping head to them he mewed, "Mind if I join you two for a patrol?"
Bluefrost flicked his ears in greeting but narrowed his dark eyes suspiciously. This young leader had yet to earn his respect. Not that Bluefrost would be disloyal, just . . . hesitant. He then dipped his head and meowed, "of course. The hunting patrol got back early. I saw Spiceheart limping towards the medicine cat's den. Probably a thorn in the pad or a torn claw. I'm guessing the former, going on from how eager she is." He finished up the short report. "Shall we leave?"
Nodding his head Blazingstar agreed and with a flick of his trail motioned to Bluefrost to take the lead. As they padded out of the camp Blazingstar couldn't help feeling over joyed to be out of camp. Bounding to catch up to Bluefrost he fell into paw step behind him, "Which border are we patrolling Bluefrost?" Blazingstar questioned. He flicked his ear to the side as he heard a thrush not too far off, but ignored it.
"I thought we'd check out the Meadowclan border and the river. The river might be low at this time of year. We haven't had much rain as it is colder, but we haven't had any snow either to make the river rise. That is an increase in the chance Meadowclan might invade because they might be able to wade across the river. Also, if the river is shallower, Meadowclan cats might attempt fishing because if the water is lower, they have a smaller chance of being tipped over by the current and drowning."
"Sounds like a well thought out plan." Blazingstar mewed. Just like Bluefrost. They were nearing the river soon and Blazingstar let the sound of the slowly flowing river carry his thoughts away.
Once he returned to camp he would be preforming his first apprentice naming ceremony. He laughed to himself as he thought that he may be more anxious then the kits in the nursery.
"Have you chosen their mentors?" Icecloud asked from behind him as if he could read his thoughts.
"I have, but I still have to speak with one of them still." Blazingstar replied.
"I'm sure you've chosen well" the gray tom replied coolly.
The patrol was finished smoothly. They did see a lone MeadowClan cat wandering among the tall grasses, but besides that nothing else interesting happened. They then padded back to camp to hold the apprentice naming ceremony.
Mintyheart padded into camp. He needed to get Featherstep out of his head. He needed to be normal. He knew what he had to do. Looking around the camp he didn't see Maplefur. Where is she? He thought desperately. Opening his mouth to get a better sense of where her sent was, he found her. Duh. Of course she's in the Nursery. Padding over he called out her name, shocked at how shaky his mew sounded.
Maplefur emerged from the nursery. "Mintyheart! Have you come to reason?" She twirled her tail happily.
His head still whirring, he looked at her, "Ummm...yes? Maybe we should try to work something out. Start slow or something. We may be able to make his work." Mintyheart mewed.
This is my only chance to be normal. I can learn to love her...I think...
She padded closer to him, invading his comfort zone, and breathed softly in his face. "Meet me at the Great Pine at moon high." She blinked what she thought was sensually.
So much for taking it slow... A tingle ran down Mintyheart's spine, not because of the she-cat strolling away touching his flank with her tail, but at the thought of Featherstep and the look in his eyes as he turned a pelted away. Looking over he saw Blazingstar, Icecloud, and Bluefrost returning from camp.
As Blazingstar was getting close to camp he saw Sunstone padding out of camp. "Sunstone" He called. "We are having a clan meeting soon. I'd like it if you were there."
Sunstone dipped her head to her leader. "Yes Blazingstar. Is there anything you need to talk to me about?" She cocked her head as she expected him you ask her to mentor.
Blazingstar mewed, "Nothing I can think of." He knew exactly what she wanted but she wasn't one of his choices. As he entered camp he saw Spiceheart coming out of Peppernose's
den. "Don't go too far" he purred to the young warrior. "Does your pad feel better?"
"Yes, it does. It still stings a bit, but not as much as Peppernose's tongue! Thanks!" Spiceheart mewed, happy that the leader of her clan was concerned about her.
"Good." Blazingheart purred. Seeing Mintyheart across the camp he nodded to Spiceheart and padded over to the silver and black tom. "Greetings Mintyheart." Blazingstar mewed.
Looking up, still raddled in his thoughts, his eyes were wide and pelt slightly puffed up. Seeing his leader, and old friend, lightened his spirit. "Greetings Blazingstar."
"Ha, what happened to you, Mintyheart. You look like you've seen a Darkforest warrior." Blazingstar snickered.
"Oh it's nothing. What did you want? Do you want to go hunting?"
"No. I'm about to make two new Forestclan apprentices. Palekit and Shimmerkit. And I was
wondering if you'd mentor one of them. Palekit." Blazingstar looked happily at his friend.
"I'd...I'd be honored. But do you think I'm ready? I mean I'm young to be a mentor..." Mintyheart stammered.
"You, to young? Really, Mintyheart. I'm leader and like what, 25 moons old? Mintyheart, look at me. You will me be a great mentor. Palekit is lucky to have you as a mentor."
Mintyheart looked up, Blazingstar always had a way of making everything okay again. And
an apprentice would help distract him from the Meadowclan warrior. "Good luck Blazingstar.
Don't mess it up." Mintyheart purred. Twitching his tail, Blazingstar padded off to the Highrock.
Blazingstar looked down at his clanmates. Taking a deep breath he called out, "Let all old
enough to catch their own prey gather for a clan meeting."
Mintyheart was already there. All he had to do was look up at his friend and leader. Maplefur padded beside him, and wrapped her tail gently around him. Winterstorm sat a few tail lengths away, a hidden proud and dignified look on his face. Spiceheart sat eagerly towards the front, not putting much wait on her recently injured paw. Peppernose sulked out of his den, glaring up at the sunlight. He sat not in the crowd, but near the entrance of his den. Icecloud and Bluefrost sat next to each other, representing the strength of the clan. The two elders, Heavystep and Elderleaf, crankily arose from their soft and warm dens to appear. Skypool padded out of the nursery, Shimmerkit, Echokit, and Foxkit in trail while Palekit tried to keep up.
"Those will be our kits one day," Maplefur breathed huskily in Mintyheart's ear. Mintyheart swallowed as Maplefur spoke and lightly touched his flank. Looking up to Blazingstar he focused on his leader. Shimmerkit couldn't stand still as she padded up to the Highrock. She looked over at her brother, who didn't look as happy as she was. Silly fur-ball She thought. Her heart started beating wildly as she watched Blazingstar leap nimbly from Highrock. He padded over to Palekit. Looking at the tiny tom he couldn't help but thinking that Mintyheart had a task ahead of him. Looking at Palekit, he felt as if the ranks of Starclan were watching, to see if they made a right choice with him as leader. "Palekit, from this day on until you earn your warrior name you will be known as Palepaw. Your mentor will be Mintyheart, I trust that you will pass down your wisdom, loyalty, and heart to this young cat."
Mintyheart nodded and padded towards the golden tom.
Palepaw looked as if he were shaking out of his pelt. His tail was rattling like a rattlesnake's tail. He tried to approach his new mentor, but tripped at the attempt. Skypool let out a little hiss of worry. He quickly hopped back on his paws and clumsily rammed his nose into Mintyheart's.
Mintyheart didn't flinch, trying to make it look as if they hadn't collided. "You're doing just fine, Palekit. Follow me." Turning he guided his new apprentice to the side of the Highrock as the clan called him by his new name.
Blazingstar looked as the two toms, Mintyheart will be a perfect mentor for Palepaw. He turned his gaze to Shimmerkit who was squirming out of her pelt. She looked up into her leaders eyes. "Shimmerkit, from this day forward until you earn your warrior name you will be known as Shimmerpaw, your mentor will be Winterstorm. I hope he will pass down his level headedness, loyalty and courage."
Shimmerpaw looked over to the white warrior across from her. Winterstorm gave Shimmerpaw a knowing look before padding up to touch noses with her lightly. She's going to be a handful! He thought to himself. But he also had a feeling of satisfaction of being her mentor. Shimmerpaw followed Winterstorm to the edge of the clearing as the clan called out her new name. The clan began to split off into smaller groups and congratulate the new apprentices.
Shimmerpaw looked over and saw Echokit dash over. "You look like a warrior already!" She
purred. The she cats touched noses and Echokit padded back to where Skypool was herding
Foxkit back to the nursery.
Shimmerpaw looked over to her mentor with excitement dancing in her eyes, "What are we
going to do now? Can you train me how to fight Shadeclan warriors or maybe how to sneak up
on a mouse. Or the best way to ambush a thrush on a tree branch?"
Winterstorm looked down at his new apprentice, pleased by her eagerness. "I think we will take a tour of the territory, that way you know where to attack Shadeclan when I show you some moves, or where to hunt a mouse when I teach you to hunt." He turned toward Mintyheart. "Would you care to join us?" his gazed flickered to Palepaw, who was the exact
opposite of Shimmerpaw, looking as if he'd rather never set foot outside of camp.
"We'd love to, thanks WInterstorm." Mintyheart mewed. "Come on Palepaw." Mintyheart looked over at his new apprentice, who had eyes the size of full moons. Purring to himself he sat up and started walking towards the tunnel with Winterstorm. Shimmerpaw bounded after the warriors but not after batting Palepaw over the ears.
Too late to react, Palepaw got his ears batted by Shimmerpaw. He stifled a whimper as he
padded after his mentor and sister, fur fluffed up.