THUNDERCLAN LEADER FIRESTAR—ginger tom with a flame-colored pelt DEPUTY GRAYSTRIPE—long-haired gray tom MEDICINE CAT LEAFPOOL—light brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes WARRIORS (toms, and she-cats without kits) DUSTPELT—dark brown tabby tom SANDSTORM—pale ginger she-cat CLOUDTAIL—long-haired white tom BRACKENFUR—golden brown tabby tom APPRENTICE, WHITEPAW THORNCLAW—golden brown tabby tom BRIGHTHEART—white she-cat with ginger patches BRAMBLECLAW—dark brown tabby tom with amber eyes ASHFUR—pale gray (with darker flecks) tom, dark blue eyes APPRENTICE, BIRCHPAW RAINWHISKER—dark gray tom with blue eyes SQUIRRELFLIGHT—dark ginger she-cat with green eyes SPIDERLEG—long-limbed black tom with brown underbelly and amber eyes QUEENS (she-cats expecting or nursing kits) FERNCLOUD—pale gray (with darker flecks) she-cat, green eyes, mother of Dustpelt’s kits SORRELTAIL—tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat with amber eyes DAISY—cream-colored, long-furred cat from the horseplace ELDERS (former warriors and queens, now retired) GOLDENFLOWER—pale ginger coat, the oldest nursery queen LONGTAIL—pale tabby tom with dark black stripes, retired early due to failing sight MOUSEFUR—small dusky brown she-cat
SHADOWCLAN LEADER BLACKSTAR—large white tom with huge jet-black paws DEPUTY RUSSETFUR—dark ginger she-cat MEDICINE CAT LITTLECLOUD—very small tabby tom WARRIORS (toms, and she-cats without kits) OAKFUR—small brown tom APPRENTICE, SMOKEPAW CEDARHEART—dark gray tom ROWANCLAW—ginger tom TAWNYPELT—tortoiseshell she-cat with green eyes QUEENS (she-cats expecting or nursing kits) TALLPOPPY—long-legged light brown tabby she-cat ELDERS (former warriors and queens, now retired) BOULDER—skinny gray tom
WINDCLAN LEADER ONESTAR—brown tabby tom DEPUTY ASHFOOT—gray she-cat MEDICINE CAT BARKFACE—short-tailed brown tom WARRIORS (toms, and she-cats without kits) TORNEAR—tabby tom WEBFOOT—dark gray tabby tom CROWFEATHER—dark gray tom OWLWHISKER—light brown tabby tom NIGHTCLOUD—black she-cat WEASELFUR—ginger tom with white paws QUEENS (she-cats expecting or nursing kits) WHITETAIL—small white she-cat ELDERS (former warriors and queens, now retired) MORNINGFLOWER—tortoiseshell queen RUSHTAIL—light brown tom
RIVERCLAN LEADER LEOPARDSTAR—unusually spotted golden tabby she-cat DEPUTY MISTYFOOT—gray she-cat with blue eyes MEDICINE CAT MOTHWING—dappled golden she-cat APPRENTICE, WILLOWPAW WARRIORS (toms, and she-cats without kits) BLACKCLAW—smoky black tom APPRENTICE, BEECHPAW VOLETOOTH—small brown tabby tom SWALLOWTAIL—dark tabby she-cat STONESTREAM—gray tom REEDWHISKER—black tom APPRENTICE, RIPPLEPAW QUEENS (she-cats expecting or nursing kits) MOSSPELT—tortoiseshell she-cat with blue eyes DAWNFLOWER—pale gray she-cat
THE TRIBE OF RUSHING WATER BROOK WHERE SMALL FISH SWIM (BROOK)—brown tabby she-cat STORMFUR—dark gray tom with amber eyes
OTHER ANIMALS SMOKY—muscular gray-and-white tom who lives in a barn at the horseplace FLOSS—small gray-and-white she-cat who lives at the horseplace PIP—black-and-white terrier who lives with Twolegs near the horseplace MIDNIGHT—a stargazing badger who lives by the sea
“It stings!” Birchpaw protested.
“What, worse than a badger’s claws?” Leafpool meowed skeptically. She squeezed the moss between her pads and a bead of green juice dropped into the center of Birchpaw’s half-closed eye. Birchpaw winced but Leafpool quickly placed her paw on top of his eyelid, keeping it closed while the juice treated the infection.
Inevitably, memories of the badger attack flooded back to her: the sight of her Clanmates battling for their lives when she and Crowfeather had stood, horrorstruck, at the entrance to the hollow; the sound of small furred bodies thudding into the ground, tossed by gigantic black-and-white paws; the snarls of the badgers rumbling beneath the shrieks of warriors. Birchpaw had been lucky to escape with nothing more serious than a clawed eye. Sootfur had been killed, and so had Cinderpelt the medicine cat, desperately protecting Sorreltail as she gave birth to her kits. Leafpool felt a fresh wave of grief, sharp as ever, when she thought of her mentor dying without her. Cinderpelt must have been terrified for the future of ThunderClan without a medicine cat, yet she still refused to leave Sorreltail’s side.
“Talking to yourself, eh?” Brackenfur mewed, appearing in the entrance to the den.
Leafpool shook the memories clear from her mind. “Just remembering something important,” she replied. “Is everything okay, Brackenfur?”
“Er, can I go now?” Birchpaw chirped, looking up at her with his injured eye closed and weeping with juice.
Leafpool nodded. “Of course, but you’re still not allowed out of the hollow! I don’t want any brambles poking you in that eye before it’s fully healed.”
Birchpaw trotted out, muttering under his breath. Brackenfur flicked the apprentice with his tail-tip as he passed. “Some cats need to remember how lucky they were to survive that battle,” he grunted.
Leafpool bowed her head. “And those who fell will not be forgotten.”
Brackenfur ducked to enter the den. Like most of Leafpool’s Clanmates, he glanced nervously up at the roof as if he was wondering how the weight of the cliffs above them was supported. “Sorreltail sent me,” he meowed. “Cinderkit’s picked up a couple of fleas and she wondered if you had anything that might soothe the bites.”
Leafpool pictured the tiny gray she-cat scratching at her fluffy pelt. “I’m sure I can help,” she purred. “Tell Sorreltail I’ll bring something over before sunhigh.”
Brackenfur narrowed his eyes. “There’s no rush. You look tired, Leafpool. Is there anything I can do?”
Leafpool shook her head. “I’m fine. It’s always busy after a battle, and a nursery full of kits doesn’t help!” She paused. “Not that I don’t rejoice at every kit born to ThunderClan,” she added.
Brackenfur’s gaze softened. “They are all precious,” he agreed. He padded out of the den and Leafpool followed him as far as the entrance, where she stood in a shaft of watery sunlight. On the opposite side of the clearing, her sister Squirrelflight was sharing a mouse with Brambleclaw, her dark ginger body curled into his. Leafpool felt a twist of concern in her belly. It looked like Squirrelflight had finally made her choice between their Clanmate Ashfur and the broad-shouldered dark tabby. Leafpool wouldn’t miss the tension between the warriors while Squirrelflight had been making up her mind, but she wished with all her heart that her sister had chosen differently. How could Leafpool tell her that she had dreamed of the Dark Forest and seen Tigerstar mentoring Brambleclaw in secret, training his son in the most terrible ways to kill and maim an enemy? However often Leafpool told herself that Brambleclaw was a loyal ThunderClan warrior, no cat could deny that his father was one of the most dangerous cats ever to live in the Clans.
And yet there had been the vision of stars over the lake, when Leafpool had been walking alone at sunset. Two starry shapes, unmistakeably Squirrelflight and Brambleclaw, padding side by side across the sky, tails entwined. What could that mean except that these two warriors were destined to be together? Reluctantly, Leafpool had told her sister what she had seen; it was not the duty of a medicine cat to choose which omens and visions to keep secret. Leafpool knew that this had helped Squirrelflight decide between Brambleclaw and Ashfur. And when Leafpool treated Brambleclaw for injuries that could only have come from fighting in his dreams with his Dark Forest father, she said nothing to her sister. She just hoped that Brambleclaw would make his own decision to leave his connection with Tigerstar behind, and learn only fr ...