Dawn of the Clans
CLEAR SKY’S CAMP
CLEAR SKY—light gray tom with blue eyes
FALLING FEATHER—young white she-cat
MOON SHADOW—black tom
PETAL—small yellow tabby she-cat with green eyes
QUICK WATER—gray-and-white she-cat
FROST—pure white tom with blue eyes
TALL SHADOW’S CAMP
TALL SHADOW—black, thick-furred she-cat with green eyes
GRAY WING—sleek, dark gray tom with golden eyes
JAGGED PEAK—small gray tabby tom with blue eyes
DAPPLED PELT—delicate tortoiseshell she-cat with golden eyes
RAINSWEPT FLOWER—brown tabby she-cat with blue eyes
SHATTERED ICE—gray-and-white tom with green eyes
CLOUD SPOTS—long-furred black tom with white ears, white chest, and two white paws
JACKDAW’S CRY—young black tom with blue eyes
HAWK SWOOP—orange tabby she-cat
LIGHTNING TAIL—black tom
ACORN FUR—chestnut brown she-cat
THUNDER—orange tom with amber eyes and big white paws
WIND—wiry brown she-cat with yellow eyes
GORSE—thin, gray tabby tom
THORN—she-cat with a short, thick gray coat and bright blue eyes
DEW—mangy tom with splotchy fur
RIVER RIPPLE—silver, long-furred tom
BUMBLE—plump tortoiseshell she-cat with yellow eyes
TURTLE TAIL—tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes
Thunder turned his head and saw his mother, Storm, licking his ears as she used to do when he was a tiny kit. Back then she would soothe him to sleep against her soft belly fur. Thunder drew in his breath in wonder.
Storm paused. Thunder’s gaze met hers and he felt like he was sinking into the green depths of her eyes. Reaching out with one paw, his mother drew him closer to her, and he felt the comforting beat of her heart.
Thunder’s mind whirled with the strangeness of this meeting, yet at the same time he realized how familiar it felt. In the waking world he had never been able to remember his mother, but now he recognized every marking on her fur. Even the faint scent of her breath was known to him, reviving memories of the dark, echoing Twoleg den where he had been born.
Seeing Storm again reminded Thunder of the she-cat who had taken care of him when Gray Wing brought him to the moor.
A purr rose in his throat. “Tell me the story again,” he begged, even though he wasn’t sure which story he meant, or where the urge to hear it was coming from.
Storm settled herself more comfortably around him, one paw protectively over his shoulders. Briefly she hesitated, gazing past Thunder as if she could see into some immeasurable distance.
“I first met your father in the forest,” she murmured, the words awakening a familiar echo in Thunder’s mind. “In the sheltered hollow where he lived. He was stretched out in front of a clump of brambles. Our eyes met, and then we… we just knew. I could sense the love in him.”
Thunder’s pelt prickled with confusion as if ants were crawling through it. “Why are things so different now?” he asked. “Clear Sky turned me out—my own father! Where did all that love go?”
He felt Storm shift uneasily. “It’s still there,” she replied. “It’s just… Clear Sky doesn’t know what to do with it. You’ll help him find a way.” She bent her head and drew her tongue along the side of his body with strong, comforting licks. “I know you will.”
Thunder relaxed, but before he could close his eyes, he spotted a sudden movement in the distance. The dark shape of a cat, his head and tail raised, paced across the shining circle of the moon. Though he was far away, Thunder instinctively knew that the cat was his father.
Storm must have seen him too, for Thunder felt her heartbeat quicken. His own heart ached to realize that his mother still loved Clear Sky.
He half rose, intending to go after his father, but the paw that Storm had laid across his shoulders tightened, drawing him closer to her side. “Leave him be,” she mewed softly.
“But you said—” Thunder protested.
“The time isn’t right,” his mother told him. “You will know when it is.”
She began to lick his ears again, and gradually Thunder settled down. “But he’s my father…” he murmured sadly.
“I know,” Storm reassured him. Briefly playful, she patted him on the nose, her claws sheathed. “You have so much of him in you,” she purred.
The ache in Thunder’s heart grew more painful still, as if sharp claws were gripping it. “Then why won’t Clear Sky acknowledge me?” he demanded. “Why can’t I go to him?” His voice rose to a wail. “Everything feels so wrong!”
Storm’s eyes were full of sorrow as she fixed her gaze on the full moon. The night breeze grew stronger, ruffling her fur, and she curled her body more tightly around Thunder, protecting him from the chill.
Thunder couldn’t see her face anymore. He could only hear her as she began to speak again. “You will make things right,” she murmured, her voice trickling through him like warm honey in his veins. “When the time comes, I know you will…”
A few tail-lengths away, Thunder was letting out excited squeals as he wrestled happily with Hawk Swoop’s kits, Lightning Tail and Acorn Fur. Gray Wing blinked affectionately as he watched them rolling around on the soft grass, batting at each other with flailing paws, their claws sheathed. He had asked Hawk Swoop for permission to take them out for a hunting lesson.
“Okay,” the tabby she-cat had agreed. “But mind you don’t let them go too far from the camp.” Now Gray Wing was content to let the kits play for a few moments, enjoying their carefree antics.
Farther across the moor, he could see Cloud Spots and Dappled Pelt returning from the direction of the river, bunches of fresh herbs clamped in their jaws. Rainswept Flower emerged from a clump of gorse carrying the limp body of a rabbit. She dragged the prey into the hollow where Jackdaw’s Cry and Shattered Ice were digging out more earth to open up a new sleeping tunnel. Hawk Swoop and Tall Shadow sat close together, grooming themselves while they talked.
“Lightning Tail, you be a hare.” Thunder’s voice brought Gray Wing’s attention back to the kits. “I’ll show you how to catch one.”
“Okay.” Lightning Tail began hopping from side to side, imitating the irregular movement of a hare.
Thunder glanced at Acorn Fur and meowed, “Watch this!” Flattening himself to the ground he crept toward Lightning Tail, who kept glancing over his shoulder to see whether t ...