The Blazing Star

Dawn of the Clans

Warriors

The Blazing Star

Erin Hunter

With special thanks to Cherith Baldry

To Roberta

Allegiances

CLEAR SKY’S CAMP

LEADER

CLEAR SKY—light gray tom with blue eyes

FALLING FEATHER—young white she-cat

LEAF—gray-and-white tom

PETAL—small yellow tabby she-cat with green eyes

QUICK WATER—gray-and-white she-cat

NETTLE—gray tom

SNAKE—gray tom

THO RN—mangy tom with splotchy fur

KITS

BIRCH—brown-and-white tom

ALDER—gray-and-white she-kit

MORNING WHISKER—tiny she-kit

MOTHFLIGHT—she-kit with green eyes

DUST MUZZLE—gray tom-kit

TALL SHADOW’S CAMP

LEADER

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

KITS

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

LEADER

RIVER RIPPLE—silver long-furred tom

NIGHT—black she-cat

DEW—she-cat with a short, thick gray coat and bright blue eyes

ROGUE CATS

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

Map

Prologue

Gray Wing crouched at the top of the hollow, the faint sounds of his sleeping denmates just barely reaching his ears. The fat, white circle of the moon floated above his head, casting a frosty light over the moorland grass.

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. I’m back in our mountain cave! he thought. It’s been so many moons since we left!

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. She’s so old, Gray Wing thought. I can’t count how many seasons she’s seen.

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.

There’s Dewy Leaf… oh, she’s had her kits! Three of them, and they look so strong and healthy. And there’s Snow Hare. She used to tell such wonderful stories.

Curiosity swept over Gray Wing. When he lived in the cave he had never entered the Healer’s private den. But I’m dreaming! he realized. Maybe I can follow her now, and she’ll never know. He rose to his paws and padded after her.

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.

This is a dream, he told himself. How can Stoneteller know I’m here?

“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 allowed you to follow me. I called you here.”

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 always belong here.”

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. And I still miss the cats I left behind… especially Quiet Rain.

“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 mrrow of laughter. That’s going to be one fat spider very soon.

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?”

That’s a really dumb question, Gray Wing thought. But I can’t tell Stoneteller that! “Well, the spider saved herself,” he replied.

“Yes, it did,” Stoneteller agreed. “And what will she do now?”

What is this? Gray Wing asked himself, beginning to feel irritated. I’m not some kit who needs to be taught how to groom myself! Taking a deep breath, he answered, “She’ll build a new web.”

“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 ...