DO ESTAR—pale fawn-and-white she-cat with amber eyes
PINEHEART—red-brown tom with green eyes
C LO UDBERRY—very old long-furred white she-cat with yellow eyes
(toms and she-cats without kits)
MUMBLEFO O T—brown tom with amber eyes
LARKSO NG—tortoiseshell she-cat with pale green eyes
RO O KTAIL—black tom with blue eyes
APPRENTIC E, STO RMPAW
W INDFLIGHT—gray tabby tom with pale green eyes
APPRENTIC E, SW IFTPAW
HAREPO UNC E—light brown she-cat with yellow eyes
APPRENTIC E, ADDERPAW
SQ UIRRELW HISKER—brown tabby she-cat with amber eyes
APPRENTIC E, RO C KPAW
HO LLYPELT—black she-cat with green eyes
APPRENTIC E, SMALLPAW
RAINFUR—speckled ginger-and-white she-cat with amber eyes
STAGLEAP—gray tabby tom with amber eyes
LITTLESTEP—black-and-white tom with blue eyes
FLASHNO SE—dark ginger cat with white muzzle
(she-cats expecting or nursing kits)
DAISYTO E—gray-and-white she-cat with yellow eyes (mother to Moonkit, a silver-gray she-cat with pale yellow eyes, and Goosekit, a speckled gray tom with blue eyes)
FALLO W SO NG—light brown she-cat (mother to Poppykit, a dark red she-cat with a bushy tail and round amber eyes, Heronkit, a dark brown tabby tom with yellow eyes, and Rabbitkit, a thick-furred light brown tom)
(more than six moons old, in training to become warriors)
STO RMPAW —blue-gray tom with blue eyes
ADDERPAW —mottled brown tabby tom with yellow eyes
SW IFTPAW —tabby-and-white she-cat with yellow eyes
SMALLPAW —gray tom with very small ears and amber eyes
RO C KPAW —silver tom with blue eyes
(former warriors and queens, now retired)
MISTPELT—thick-furred gray she-cat with green eyes
NETTLEBREEZE—ancient ginger tom
HO UNDSTAR—brown-and-white tom
C EDARPELT—very dark gray tom with a white belly
REDTHISTLE—dark ginger she-cat
APPRENTIC E, SAGEPAW (white she-cat with long whiskers)
HEATHERSTAR—pinkish-gray she-cat with blue eyes
GO RSEFO O T—gray tabby tom
C HIVEC LAW —dark brown tom with yellow eyes
APPRENTIC E, HAW KPAW (mottled dark brown tom with yellow eyes)
DAW NSTRIPE—pale gold tabby with creamy stripes
VO LESTAR—brown tabby tom
HAILSTEP—thick-pelted gray tom
EC HO SNO UT—old black-and-white she-cat
Goosekit whimpered and buried his nose under his thick gray tail. The elderly she-cat nudged him with her muzzle. “Don’t be scared, little one,” she purred. “It’s only a story.”
“But TigerClan is so mean!” Goosekit mewed, his voice muffled by fur.
“Goosekit! Where are you? Come outside!”
Goosekit lifted his head and scowled. “That’s my mother,” he muttered.
“It’s a lovely day! You should be out here, not moldering in the den!”
The old she-cat nuzzled the top of his head. “Go on, scamp,” she meowed. “We can finish the story later.”
“But I want to hear it now!” Goosekit wailed. “What if I meet the leader of TigerClan when I’m a warrior? I need to know how to fight him!”
“There’ll be time later, I promise. Now go find your mother. She’s right; it is a beautiful day.”
The she-cat prodded him with her fat brown paw, and Goosekit stumbled reluctantly out of the nest.
He pushed his way through the thorns and emerged blinking into the sunlit clearing. The brambles that circled the clearing sparkled from the recent fall of rain, and the air was heavy with the scent of unfurling leaves and warm fresh-kill. Goosekit’s belly rumbled, and he turned toward the pile of prey, but before he could take a step, a damp and prickly ball of moss knocked his legs from under him.
“Oof!” he grunted, tumbling onto his side.
A gray-and-white she-cat bounded over and stared down at him. “Oh, Goosekit!” she meowed.
“Are you all right?”
“Of course he’s all right!” huffed a silver-gray she-kit. She trotted up on sturdy, fluff-covered legs. “Aren’t you?”
Goosekit lifted his head. “Yes, I’m fine, Moonkit,” he panted. “I didn’t see the moss ball coming, that’s all.”
Moonkit prodded him with her forepaw. “Get up! I want to play!”
A dark red kit with round amber eyes bounced up and flicked the moss ball away. “Come on, Moonkit! Bet you can’t catch this!”
Goosekit’s littermate spun around and raced after the ball as it rolled across the clearing.
Poppykit followed, her longer legs keeping up easily. There was a flash of dark brown fur as her brother Heronkit charged to meet them. All three kits crashed together in a flurry of paws and tails, while the ball of moss kept rolling until it reached the fresh-kill pile.
Watching them, Goosekit winced. His mother licked the top of his head. “You should join in more,” she urged him. “You won’t get hurt.”
Goosekit looked up at her. “Really? Then why is Rabbitkit in Cloudberry’s den again? Did he fall off the half-tree? Get stuck in a bramble?”
Daisytoe shook her head. “He got a thorn stuck in his nose. He’s clumsy because he hasn’t grown into his paws yet.”
Goosekit looked down at his small furry feet. “I don’t want to stay this size forever,” he muttered.
“What if I never grow big enough to be a warrior?”
“That’s not what I meant,” Daisytoe began. She broke off as the gorse bushes at the entrance to the clearing quivered and several cats burst through.
A tortoiseshell she-cat with leaf-green eyes was at the head of the patrol. She dropped her catch—a plump young pigeon—on the fresh-kill pile and trotted over to Daisytoe. “You’d have loved it out there today,” she mewed. “The prey was practically falling into our paws!”
For a moment Daisytoe looked wistful. “Maybe next moon, Larksong,” she replied. “I need to get the little ones weaned first.”
The black tom who had followed Larksong through the tunnel came to join them. A red squirrel dangled from his jaws. He placed the squirrel on the ground and brushed the tip of his tail along
Daisytoe’s flank. “I caught this for you,” he purred.
“Thanks, Rooktail,” Daisytoe meowed, her eyes lighting up.
There was a gasp from the other side of the fresh-kill pile. Goosekit saw a broad-shouldered gray apprentice staring at him. “Wow, Goosekit, is that really you? Or just a lump of moss shaped like you?”
Goosekit sighed as the cat trotted over and sniffed him. “I haven’t seen you outside for days!” the tom went on. “Look, Rooktail! Your son doesn’t melt in sunlight!”
The black warrior twitched his ears. “That’s enough, Stormpaw. Go see if the elders want anything to eat.”
Moonkit ran over, her stubby tail straight up in the air. “Stormpaw! Watch this! I’ve been practicing that move you showed me!” She crouched down, waggling her haunches, then sprang forward with her front paws raised. Her ears were flat back, and she curled her lip to reveal tiny sharp teeth. “Pretty fierce, huh?” she panted, dropping back onto all four paws.
Stormpaw nodded. “You scared me for sure! Do you want to help me take fresh-kill to the elders?
Then I’ll teach you another battle move.”
“Yes, please!” Moonkit bounced on the spot, her yellow eyes shining.
Rooktail narrowed his eyes at Stormpaw. “You’re the apprentice,” he reminded him. “Don’t let the kits do your duties for you!”
“But I want to help!” Moonkit protested. “I hope Stormpaw can be my mentor when I’m an apprentice.”
“Of course he won’t be,” Goosekit mewed. “He’ll only just be a warrior!”
“Maybe, but he’ll be the ...