Path of Stars

Dawn of the Clans

Warriors

Path of Stars

Erin Hunter

Special thanks to Kate Cary

Allegiances

CLEAR SKY’S CAMP

LEADER

CLEAR SKY—light gray tom with blue eyes

STAR FLOWER—golden she-cat with green eyes

ACORN FUR—chestnut brown she-cat

THORN—mangy tom with splotchy brown fur

SPARROW FUR—tortoiseshell she-cat with amber eyes

QUICK WATER—gray-and-white she-cat

NETTLE—gray tom

BIRCH—ginger tom

ALDER—gray-and-white she-cat

BLOSSOM—tortoiseshell-and-white she-cat

THUNDER’S CAMP

LEADER

THUNDER—orange tom with white paws

LIGHTNING TAIL—black tom

OWL EYES—gray tom with amber eyes

CLOUD SPOTS—long-furred black tom with white ears, white chest, and two white paws

PINK EYES—old white tom with pink eyes

LEAF—black-and-white tom with amber eyes

MILKWEED—splotchy ginger-and-black she-cat

KITS

CLOVER—ginger-and-white she-kit

THISTLE—ginger tom-kit

RIVER RIPPLE’S CAMP

LEADER

RIVER RIPPLE—long-furred silver tom

DAPPLED PELT—delicate tortoiseshell she-cat with golden eyes

SHATTERED ICE—gray-and-white tom with green eyes

NIGHT—black she-cat

DEW—gray she-cat

TALL SHADOW’S CAMP

LEADER

TALL SHADOW —black, thick-furred she-cat with green eyes

PEBBLE HEART—dark gray tabby tom with white mark on his chest

SUN SHADOW —black tom with amber eyes

JAGGED PEAK—small gray tabby tom with blue eyes

HOLLY—she-cat with prickly, bushy black fur

MO USE EAR—big tabby tom with unusually small ears

MUD PAW S—pale brown tom with four black paws

KITS

STORM PELT—gray tom-kit with blue eyes

DEW NOSE—brown tabby she-kit with white tips on nose and tail

EAGLE FEATHER—brown tom-kit

WIND RUNNER’S CAMP

LEADER

WIND RUNNER—wiry brown tabby she-cat with yellow eyes

GORSE FUR—thin, gray tabby tom

SLATE—thick-furred gray she-cat with one ear tip missing

GRAY WING—dark gray tom with golden eyes

SPOTTED FUR—golden-brown tom with amber eyes and a dappled coat

MINNOW —gray-and-white she-cat

REED—silver tabby tom

KITS

DUST MUZZLE—gray tabby tom-kit

MO TH FLIGHT—white she-kit with green eyes

ROGUE CATS

SLASH—mangy, scarred brown tabby tom with white slash across front legs

FERN—jet-black she-cat

Map

Prologue

The long sweep of clouds that lingered beyond Highstones began to tear apart, and the dying sun cut through and set the peaks ablaze. Far below them, crow-black shadows reached up to swallow the stone. Gray Wing, sitting at the edge of the moor, his pelt ruffled by the evening breeze, lifted his gaze toward the horizon and narrowed his eyes against the sun’s fiery glare. Turtle Tail shifted beside him, purring softly.

His heart swelled with love as her fur brushed his. “This moment is perfect. I never want to leave,” he murmured.

She stiffened sharply, and he turned to meet her gaze, puzzled by her reaction. Didn’t she want to be here with him?

Her green eyes shone wistfully. “Your life has already changed,” she told him.

“Has it?” Gray Wing struggled to remember. With a jolt, he recalled Slate. His heart quickened.

She was his mate now, not Turtle Tail. This was a dream.

He blinked, guilt weighing down his belly. How could he forget his beloved Slate?

Turtle Tail pressed her cheek against his as grief surged in his chest. For a moment, the gentle queen’s death seemed as fresh as when Thunder had first told him she’d been killed in Twolegplace by a monster.

“I still miss you,” he mewed hoarsely.

“I miss you too.” Turtle Tail drew away slowly. “But I’m glad you have Slate now. You shouldn’t be alone.”

“Are you sure you don’t mind?” Was Turtle Tail hurt that he’d fallen in love again?

“It comforts me to see you happy.” Turtle Tail’s tortoiseshell pelt rippled in the breeze. “I love you so much. You gave me such happiness when I was alive. And you raised my kits. I will always be grateful that they had you to take care of them.” Sadness flashed in her eyes. “Leaving them was even harder than leaving you.”

Gray Wing sensed her grief. It stabbed through his heart. Though he had never had his own kits, Pebble Heart, Sparrow Fur, and Owl Eyes had seemed like his, and he still missed them now that they’d left the moor to live among the pines and the oaks. Yet he was proud that they’d followed their instincts and chosen their own homes.

Turtle Tail went on. “You have been like a father to so many.” Her eyes glowed. “To Thunder, as well as to my kits. To any cat who has needed comfort and guidance. No other cat is as well loved as you, Gray Wing. You will be remembered.” She paused, her eyes suddenly glistening. “Even after you—”

The screech of an owl cut into Gray Wing’s dream. Ears twitching, he jerked awake.

Even after what? Turtle Tail’s words lingered in his mind as he blinked in the darkness of his nest.

Beside him, Slate rolled onto her back, her paws limp with sleep. He nuzzled her cheek softly.

Turtle Tail’s scent was still in his mouth, and happiness moved like sunshine beneath his pelt. He was lucky to have been loved by two mates. No cat is as well loved as you. He snuggled deeper into the nest to escape the leaf-bare wind, which whipped across the camp, making the heather shiver.

“Gray Wing?” Slate’s mew was sleepy. Her eyes opened, glinting in the darkness. She was staring at him. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” he promised. “I was dreaming.”

“What about?”

“About how lucky I am.” He nestled closer and purred as her musky scent mingled with his memory of Turtle Tail. “Let’s go back to sleep.”

Chapter 1

Dawn sunshine filtered through the canopy. The clouds were clearing at last. Snowmelt dripped from the branches and splashed onto the forest floor. Soggy leaves squelched beneath Clear Sky’s paws as he hurried along a trail between the oaks.

Star Flower had been missing since moonhigh. It felt like a lifetime.

He lifted his muzzle warily and tasted the air. Pausing, he glanced over his shoulder. Was some cat watching him? His fur pricked along his spine as he remembered Slash’s warning. There are more of us than you can imagine. Beyond his borders, rogues lurked in the shadows like foxes, preying on the weak.

Clear Sky growled. I’m not weak! But how could he fight Slash’s gang? They’d taken Star

Flower. He could do nothing but agree to Slash’s demands. The mangy tom’s threatening stare flashed in his thoughts. Fury rose in his chest. “Coward!” he hissed under his breath as he remembered how he’d woken to find Slash standing beside Star Flower. Two vicious toms had flanked them, snarling.

The tang of blood had soured the air. A wound had glistened on Star Flower’s cheek where Slash had raked his claws.

She’d looked so scared. Clear Sky shuddered, his heart twisting. And Quick Water had just watched without offering to help! She’d been his Tribemate and was his campmate now. And yet she’d hidden in the bracken and watched. If she’d joined him, they could have fought off the rogues.

Star Flower would be with him now instead of a hostage.

He’d challenged Quick Water after Slash and his rogues had dragged Star Flower away. The mountain cat had accused Star Flower of being one of them—of wanting to go with Slash. Clear Sky had scratched her muzzle angrily. Dumb old f ...