Secrets of the Clans

Warriors

Field Guide

Secrets of the Clans

Erin Hunter

Illustrated by Wayne McLoughlin

For Cyd, because she loves cats, and for Rebekah, because I’m sure she will, too.

Thunder, Wind, River, Shadow, and Star: The Clans

The story of the beginning of the warrior Clans has been passed down by cats of all Clans, from elder to warrior, from warrior to apprentice, from queen to kit. The story is never the same twice, and parts grow uncertain, or they become suddenly clear in the telling. There are some cats who walk dimly, their names and deeds lost in the sweet fog of the elders’ den, for the warrior Clans have roamed the forest for moons beyond counting…

History of the Clans

Many moons ago, the forest was a wilderness, untamed by territories. In the north lay sweeping moorland; in the south was dense woodland. On the edge of the trees, a tumbling river flowed out of a dark ravine.

Cats came into the forest. They were drawn by the soft rustlings of small creatures, shadows under the water, and the sudden commotion of birds’ wings in the trees. These were not warrior cats. They lived in small groups, not yet Clans. There were no borders set down. And they fought constantly, fearful that prey might run out and that their overlapping territories were being threatened. It was a lawless, bloody time for the forest, and many cats died.

One night, when the moon was full, the cats agreed to meet at a clearing in the forest surrounded by four great oak trees. They argued over stolen prey. Claws flashed; challenging yowls rang across the forest. A terrible battle followed, and soon the ground was wet with spilled blood.

Many cats died that night. Exhausted by their wounds, the survivors slept where they had fought. When they woke they were bathed in moonlight. All around them they saw the spirits of their slain kin, no longer torn and bloodied but shining like fallen stars.

They huddled on the ground, and, as the spirits spoke, they saw terrible visions of the future. They saw the forest drowned in blood, their kits stalked by death at every pawstep. And they knew that the fighting had to end.

“Unite or die,” said the spirits.

From among the living cats, a black female was the first to speak. She rose from the ground on stiff, battle-wearied legs. “My name is Shadow,” she mewed. “How should we unite, unless we have a leader? I can hunt in the depths of the darkest night. Let Shadow rule the forest!”

“And you would lead us into darkness too!” meowed a silvery gray tom with green eyes. “I am River! I move through the forest along secret paths and hidden places. It is River, not Shadow, who should unite the forest!”

“The forest is more than River and Shadow,” growled a wiry brown female. “Wind alone reaches its distant corners. I am as fast as the wind that blows from the high moors. I should be the ruler.”

The largest surviving cat was called Thunder. He was a fiery orange tom with amber eyes and large white paws. “What good is any of that compared to my strength and skill at hunting? If any cat was born to rule, it is I.”

A furious yowling broke out under the four great oaks, watched in silence by the spirit-cats. Dark clouds suddenly blew across the moon, and the living cats trembled in fear. On the top of a high rock, they saw a tabby cat, one of the fallen, her fur shining though there was no light in the sky. Her eyes flashed angrily at the cats on the ground.

“You are all as foolish as ducks!” she meowed. “Can’t you think beyond yourselves for one moment? Think of your kits!”

The four cats—Shadow, River, Wind, and Thunder—looked up at the tabby, but none of them spoke.

“The forest is big enough to feed all your families and many more,” she meowed. “You must find other cats like you, choose a home in the forest, and set down borders.”

At that moment, the moon broke free of the clouds, revealing a circle of starlit spirit-cats around the edge of the clearing. A white tom stepped forward. “If you do this,” he meowed, “we will reward you with eight more lives, so that you may lead your Clans for many moons to come.”

Next to speak was a slender tortoiseshell. She stepped forward and stood beside the white tom. “We will watch over you from Silverpelt,” she promised, and lifted her eyes to the crowded path of stars that swept across the night sky. “We will visit you in your dreams and guide you on your journeys.”

“Once a month,” meowed the white tom, “at the full moon, you will gather together here, between the four great oak trees, for a night of truce. You will see us above you in Silverpelt and know we are watching. And if blood is spilled on those nights, you will know we are angry.”

“You will be warriors!” yowled the tabby from the high rock.

Thunder, River, Wind, and Shadow bowed their heads.

“From now on, you will live by a warrior code. Your hearts will be filled with courage and nobility, and if you must fight, it will be not for greed, but for honor and justice.”

There was a long silence. Finally Thunder nodded his broad orange head. “This is wise advice. I believe we can choose our territories and lay down borders fairly, in peace.”

One by one, the other cats murmured their agreement. Then they returned to their homes and sought out cats like themselves, with similar strengths and abilities. River found cats willing to fish for their prey. Shadow gathered nighttime hunters with clever minds and sharp claws. Thunder found hunters who could track prey through the thickest undergrowth. To Wind came the fastest runners and cats who loved the open moors. Then they divided the forest so each Clan had enough prey to survive, and all the cats could live in safety. And when the leaders returned to the four great oaks for the first night of the full-moon truce, their starry ancestors gave them eight more lives, as they had promised.

There was not always peace between the Clans, but that was to be expected—cats are born with claws and teeth for a reason. Still, as long as they lived by the warrior code, their fallen ancestors would watch over them and guide them through their lives.

And so the age of the warrior Clans began.

The Warrior Code

1. Defend your Clan, even with your life. You may have friendships with cats from other Clans, but your loyalty must remain to your Clan, as one day you may meet them in battle.

2. Do not hunt or trespass on another Clan’s territory.

3. Elders and kits must be fed before apprentices and warriors. Unless they have permission, apprentices may not eat until they have hunted to feed the elders.

4. Prey is killed only to be eaten. Give thanks to StarClan for its life.

5. A kit must be at least six moons old to become an apprentice.

6. Newly appointed warriors will keep a silent vigil for one night after receiving their warrior name.

7. A cat cannot be made deputy without having mentored at least one apprentice.

8. The deputy will become Clan leader when the leader dies or retires.

9. After the death or retirement of the deputy, the new deputy must be chosen before moonhigh.

10. A gathering of all four Clans is held at the full moon during a truce that lasts for the night. There shall be no fighting among Clans at this time.

11. Boundaries must be checked and marked daily. Challenge all trespassing cats.

12. No warrior may neglect a kit in pain or in danger, even if that kit is from a different Clan.

13. The word of the Clan leader is the warrior code.

14. An honorable warrior does not need to kill other cats to win his battles, unless they are outside the warrior code or it is necessary for self-defense.

15. A warrior rejects the soft life of a kittypet.

ThunderClan

Firestar on ThunderClan

I am Firestar. Welcome to ThunderClan—the Clan of courage and loyalty. I was not a forest-born cat, but ThunderClan welcomed me, and once I proved myself as a warrior, they grew to respect me. I have risen to become their leader and I would lay down all nine of my lives for my Clan, just as my Clanmates would lay down their lives for me and for each other. There is no other Clan in the forest so true or so brave. I respect and admire the other Clans, but my heart is here, with ThunderClan—the Clan of heroes, the Clan of compassion, the Clan of destiny.

Clan character: In peace, respectful of other Clans. In battle, fierce, courageous, and loyal. ThunderClan cats speak out for what is right and are not afraid to challenge the warrior code.

Prey: Mice, voles, squirrels, the occasional rabbit, and birds such as starlings, magpies, wood pigeons, and thrushes.

Hunting skills: Excellent stalking techniques. They keep upwind of their prey, creeping across the forest floor unseen and unheard.

ThunderClan Forest Territory

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