Dawn of the Clans
A Forest Divided
CLEAR SKY’S CAMP
CLEAR SKY—light gray tom with blue eyes
QUICK WATER—gray-and-white she-cat
THO RN—mangy tom with splotchy fur
ACORN FUR—chestnut brown she-cat
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
LIGHTNING TAIL—black tom
THUNDER—orange tom with amber eyes and big white paws
HOLLY—she-cat with prickly, bushy fur
MOUSE EAR—tom with ears the size of a mouse’s, missing part of one ear
MUD PAWS—tom with four black paws
OWL EYES—gray tom
PEBBLE HEART—brown tabby tom with amber eyes
SPARROW FUR—tortoiseshell she-kit
EAGLE FEATHER—brown tom
STORM PELT—gray tom with bue eyes
DEW NOSE—tabby she-kit with white-tipped nose and tail
RIVER RIPPLE’S CAMP
RIVER RIPPLE—silver, long-furred tom
DEW —she-cat with a short, thick gray coat and bright blue eyes
WIND RUNNER’S CAMP
W IND RUNNER—wiry brown she-cat with yellow eyes
GORSE FUR—thin, gray tabby tom
MO TH FLIGHT—she-kit with green eyes
DUST MUZZLE—gray tom-kit
STAR FLOWER—golden she-cat with green eyes
Clear Sky watched them from the edge of the clearing. Their pelts seemed to sparkle as though dusted with starlight. He shivered as he caught sight of Gray Wing, waiting at the far side of the clearing.
The spirit cats paused and glanced at him, then began moving once more, murmuring to one another in hushed whispers. Above them, the four great oaks creaked in the wind, their frost-whitened branches stripped clean by the cold.
Leaf-bare gripped the earth like a wolf holding prey. The earth felt like stone beneath Clear Sky’s paws. Couldn’t the spirit cats have summoned him to a greenleaf clearing, where warm winds could bathe his fur? After all, this
A dark gray she-cat split from the others and padded toward him. “You came.”
“Yes, Storm. I came.” Clear Sky’s heart ached with familiar grief. How different his life would be now if he hadn’t let her leave the forest when she was heavy with his kits. “But why have you called me here?”
Storm’s gaze hardened. “We’re growing tired of waiting.”
The spirit cats must have summoned all the leaders to the dream.
Fur brushed the frost-wilted grass behind Clear Sky, and he turned to see Wind Runner slip silently past him. She had separated from Gray Wing’s group. Had the spirit cats called her too?
Clear Sky shifted his paws uneasily. The living stood separately while the dead stood together.
Were the spirit cats all that united them now?
“Well?” Storm’s sharp mew jerked him back from his thoughts.
“We told you to grow and spread like the Blazing Star…” Storm glanced back at the living cats.
“You haven’t begun yet. Is fear holding you back?”
“Never!” Clear Sky puffed out his chest. “But how far can we spread? We already rule the forest and the moor. We recruit more cats whenever we can.” He thought of how his own group had grown since the last dream.
“It’s not enough!” An angry mew sounded beside Storm.
Clear Sky stepped back in surprise as he looked down and recognized the clear, bold gaze of a young cat he thought he’d never see again. The last time he’d seen this kit, her brown pelt had clung to jutting ribs. Hunger had killed her in the mountains before she’d ever left their mother’s nest. Now she stood, chin high, eyes blazing. Her sleek pelt sparkled in the starlight; firm muscle showed beneath.
His throat tightened as he gazed at his younger sister. “Fluttering Bird!” he rasped. “It’s you!”
“Of course it’s me.” Her yellow eyes blazed.
“I must go and speak with Thunder.” Storm dipped her head and backed away, leaving Clear Sky alone with his sister.
“It’s so good to see you—”
Fluttering Bird cut Clear Sky off. “Listen, you mouse-heart!”
Clear Sky stiffened. She was still a kit. How dare she speak to him like that? And yet… He frowned, puzzled. How long had she been with the spirit cats? She still looked like a kit, but she could see things he couldn’t. His pelt rippled uneasily. Could his younger sister be
She held his gaze. “There were still leaves on the trees when we told you to spread like the Blazing Star. You
Fluttering Bird’s ears twitched. “You should be thinking of your kits and your kits’ kits. Strength doesn’t come from cowering in hollows and glades like frightened prey.”
Clear Sky leaned over her, pelt bristling. “I
“Then act!” Fluttering Bird stood her ground. “Follow your hearts! They will lead you home.”
Clear Sky frowned. “You want us back in the mountains?”
“We can’t make every paw step for you. That will weaken you all! We have told you all you need to know.” Fluttering Bird’s gaze scorched into his. “Now you must start thinking for yourselves.”
Clear Sky stared past her, his gaze lighting on Tall Shadow as she shared words with Moon Shadow, Hawk Swoop, and Jackdaw’s Cry. Wind Runner was with her lost kits. She nuzzled them, and he could hear her urgent purr throbbing through the cold night air. Her mew was sharp with grief.
“My dear kits. Come closer. We won’t be together for long.”
Thunder paced to and fro, lifting his head eagerly as Storm padded to join them. Fox, Petal, and Frost crowded around River Ripple, their soft mews lost in the breeze. Gray Wing was several tail-lengths away, speaking with Shaded Moss and Turtle Tail. How separate they seemed. “We traveled here together,” Clear Sky murmured, half to himself, “but now we don’t even share prey.” Sadness tugged in his belly.
“And who’s to blame for that?” Fluttering Bird growled. “
“That’s not true!” he snapped back. “I’ve always done what I thought was best! I tried to take care of my own.”
“Then why do you stand here alone?” Fluttering Bird demanded. “Who do you have to care for you?”
Clear Sky swallowed, unable to answer her. Gray Wing seemed suddenly far away, the clearing stretching like a deep gorge between them. Thunder had not even met his eye since arriving in the hollow. Clear Sky knew the ...