Dawn of the Clans
The Blazing Star
CLEAR SKY’S CAMP
CLEAR SKY—light gray tom with blue eyes
FALLING FEATHER—young white she-cat
PETAL—small yellow tabby she-cat with green eyes
QUICK WATER—gray-and-white she-cat
THO RN—mangy tom with splotchy fur
MORNING WHISKER—tiny she-kit
MOTHFLIGHT—she-kit with green eyes
DUST MUZZLE—gray tom-kit
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
SHATTERED ICE—gray-and-white tom with green eyes
CLOUD SPOTS—long-furred black tom with white ears, white chest, and two white paws
WIND RUNNER—wiry brown she-cat with yellow eyes
GORSE FUR—thin, gray tabby tom
THUNDER—orange tom with amber eyes and big white paws
LIGHTNING TAIL—black tom
ACORN FUR—chestnut brown she-cat
OWL EYES—gray tom
PEBBLE HEART—brown tabby tom with amber eyes
SPARROW FUR—tortoiseshell she-kit
RIVER RIPPLE’S CAMP
RIVER RIPPLE—silver long-furred tom
DEW—she-cat with a short, thick gray coat and bright blue eyes
HOLLY—she-cat with prickly, bushy fur
MOUSE EARS—tom with ears the size of a mouse’s, missing part of one ear
MUD PAWS—tom with four black paws
STAR FLOWER—golden she-cat with green eyes
ONE EYE—mangy tom with knotted fur and one eye
A gentle breeze ruffled Gray Wing’s pelt. His eyes grew heavy, and he opened his jaws wide in a yawn.
He was sitting in the cave behind the waterfall. The gushing cascade glittered in the moonlight, and tiny specks of silver whirled across the walls and floor of the cavern.
Movement beside the far wall caught Gray Wing’s gaze. Stoneteller, the Tribe’s Healer, was pacing toward the tunnel at the back of the cave, which led to her den. Her paw steps were unsteady with age, her body scrawny and her pelt thin.
Gray Wing glanced around. He saw his mother, Quiet Rain, curled up in her sleeping hollow, and the rest of his Tribemates were asleep too.
Curiosity swept over Gray Wing. When he lived in the cave he had never entered the Healer’s private den.
But Stoneteller had vanished by the time Gray Wing reached the mouth of the tunnel. All he could see was a faint silver glow at the far end. Ignoring the prickling of his pelt, he slipped softly down the dark passage toward the light.
As he approached the end of the tunnel Gray Wing crept forward more cautiously and stretched his head into Stoneteller’s cave. He stifled a gasp as he gazed around.
The cave was much smaller than the one where the Tribe lived. Moonlight flooded through a jagged hole far above, washing everything with a frosty light. Stoneteller sat with her back to Gray Wing, gazing upward.
Pointed stones stretched down from the roof of the cave, and more of them grew up from the floor.
Several met in the middle, so that it seemed as if the Tribe’s Healer was sitting in a forest of stone trees. Ripples of water trickling down the stones shone in the moonlight and gathered in pools on the floor.
Fascinated, Gray Wing crept into the cave, drawing closer to Stoneteller as quietly as if he was stalking a piece of prey. He was sure that he hadn’t made a sound, but before he could dart out of the way, Stoneteller extended a paw to halt him. Gray Wing yowled in alarm.
“Why are you following me?” Stoneteller asked. Her voice was gentle, though she didn’t turn to look at Gray Wing.
His ears flattened in mingled fear and embarrassment. He had no idea how to respond. “I don’t mean any harm,” he protested. “I… er… I just wanted to…” His voice trailed off and he gazed up at Stoneteller, bracing himself for a sharp rebuke.
Sighing, Stoneteller drew her paw back. “You came here because I invited you,” she meowed, her voice full of wisdom. “I
Every hair on Gray Wing’s pelt prickled with amazement and he raked his claws across the hard, damp floor. “You can do that?” he whispered. “Even though I live so far away?”
Stoneteller looked at him for the first time. “Part of your heart will
Gray Wing knew that was true. Though life in the mountains had been harsh and cold, sometimes he still longed for the thunder of the waterfall and the sharp peaks outlined against the sky.
“Then why—” he began.
“Be quiet,” Stoneteller mewed.
Her trembling whiskers were angled toward a spider spinning its web in the silvery moonlight.
Gray Wing spotted some flies caught at the edge of the net; the spider was making her slow way over to them, the shining strands quivering with her movement.
Gray Wing stifled a
With a sudden flash of movement Stoneteller leaped up and raked her claws through the web, shredding it into scraps. Gray Wing let out a gasp as the spider hurtled down. Instantly it sent out a strand of web, halting its fall so it could lower itself slowly to the ground. It scuttled out of sight, its home destroyed.
“Why did you do that?” Gray Wing asked, staring at Stoneteller.
The Healer returned his stare. “Never mind that,” she meowed. “What did the spider do?”
“Yes, it did,” Stoneteller agreed. “And what will she do now?”
“That’s right,” Stoneteller mewed. “Wisdom and a long life come from being flexible. One day soon, you will need to be just as flexible. You will have to be strong for yourself, and for other cats.
You already know that life is hard. It’s about to become harder.”
Apprehension thrilled through Gray Wing from ears to tail-tip. He let out a snort of surprise and distress. “Can’t you tell me more than that?” he demanded. “Can’t you be more specific?”
Stoneteller’s voice softened and she dipped her head sympathetically. “It’s not for me to plan out your future, Gray Wing. I can only give you guidance. You must make your own decisions, but you will need to be strong—stronger than ever before.”
She glanced over Gray Wing’s shoulder. Turn ...