Series: Deathberries Series
Preceding: Lost and Unknown
|Littleclaw and Marshtail are the newest ShadowClan warriors, made so three moons ago. Four moons after Berry's death, three new additions are added to ShadowClan. When another comes along, it puts up a struggle. Another cat is being helped by their ancestors, but there is a horrible price to pay. And one cat is rising, much higher then their limits.|
- The hawk swooped and dropped a mouse from its talons. Berry clawed forward and grasped it in his mouth before it could get away.
- The mouse was dead, and Berry was close to that.
- The home he had picked did not have a food source or water. He was dying.
- He remembered the day, three moons ago, when Rockstar and Littlepaw pushed him down here. It had all gone according to plan then, except for his injuries. His face now had scars all over it. His sides were broken from his fall.
- But he knew that soon, he would get help. He always did.
- Littleclaw gasped one last time as the final kit tumbled out.
- "Good job," Deadpelt purred. Marshtail nodded beside him.
- Littleclaw nodded and sighed. She looked at the sky, which she could see through the tendrils of bracken forming the ceiling of the nursery. She could see the moon shining.
- The kits cried and squirmed closer to her.
- "Suckle, little ones," Littleclaw cooed to her three kits. "Boulderfoot will be so surprised..."
- "Littleclaw!" Boulderfoot mewed in surprise.
- She looked up sleepily. "What?"
- "These kits- whose are they? Rogue kits?" Boulderfoot's fur began to stand up on end, and Littleclaw knew why. No rogue could be trusted.
- "No," Littleclaw soothed, "they're ours, Boulderfoot."
- Boulderfoot gasped and began to purr. He nuzzled Littleclaw's muzzle, and looked at the kits in surprise.
- There were three toms. One was a brown tabby. Another was silvery-gray, and the third was black.
- "That one should be Nightkit," Boulderfoot mewed, poking the black one with his tail.
- "I agree," Littleclaw mewed. "The brown one should be Mudkit."
- Boulderfoot nodded.
- "What about the silver kit?" Littleclaw asked. She hadn't thought of ideas for names, as Marshtail had advised her to.
- "How about... Stonekit?" Boulderfoot suggested.
- "Yes," Littleclaw whispered. "Hello, Stonekit."
- "Hi, Nightkit," Boulderfoot mewed.
- "Greetings, Mudkit," Littleclaw added.
- "Welcome to ShadowClan, my kits," Boulderfoot whispered.
- Marshtail gasped in surprise as he blinked his eyes open. He was in StarClan's forest, he could tell.
- A cat stood in front of him. A black she-cat. And another emerged, a dark gray tabby tom.
- The black she-cat nodded at Marshtail. "Hello," she mewed.
- The tabby tom added, "We were important to ShadowClan."
- "I am Shadowstar," the she-cat mewed.
- Marshtail gasped. "Oh! Hi, Shadowstar."
- "I am Pebbleheart," the gray tabby tom mewed. "I was the first medicine cat of ShadowClan."
- "We have come with the permission of the other three original leaders and medicine cats," Shadowstar mewed. "Since we did not act alone to form the Clans, we do not act alone to watch over them."
- Marshtail nodded, letting the information sink in.
- "We are here for you," Pebbleheart mewed. "We think we can help you."
- Shadowstar nodded, her green eyes gleaming. Marshtail imagined her thick fur blowing in the breeze.
- "We think we can help heal you," Pebbleheart whispered. "But first, you have to do many things for us."
- Marshtail nodded. "Okay."
- Littleclaw stood up. Three moons had passed since her kits had been born, and they were no longer dependant on her.
- Stonekit looked up as his mother left the den. "Where are you going?" he complained.
- Littleclaw purred. "Hunting," she replied.
- Stonekit's eyes widened. "Woah! You can go hunting?"
- "Of course, mouse-brain!" Mudkit growled, cuffing his brother on the ear.
- "Guys..." Nightkit protested, "play with me!"
- Mudkit whipped around and leaped.
- Stonekit ran up to Littleclaw's leg. "Please can I come?"
- "I'm sorry," Littleclaw murmured, "but you have to wait until you're an apprentice to even leave the camp."
- Stonekit sighed. "Okay..."
- Littleclaw left the den, instantly confronted by Boulderfoot. "Are they okay? Did they do-"
- "They're fine," Littleclaw sighed. For three moons, Boulderfoot had only left the kits for ceremonies and patrols. He wanted to make sure that they were perfect every heartbeat.
- "But did they do anything cute?" Boulderfoot protested.
- "Go in and see," Littleclaw sighed. "And don't annoy Spottedtail. I think she's kitting soon."
- Boulderfoot licked her between the ears and rushed off, leaving her alone for the first time in moons.
- "Littleclaw," a voice mewed, "where are you going?"
- She turned to see Smokestar, her father and ShadowClan's leader. "Hunting," she replied. "Please? I need to be alone."
- Her father nodded, and she saw a strange pain in his eyes.
- And she could only think of the possibilities to come.
- Stonekit stared after his mother in dismay, then turned to Mudkit and Nightkit. "What are we gonna do now?"
- Nightkit sighed. "I don't know! We've already played the Long Journey and the Great Journey, and the BloodClan battle. What's left?"
- "There's always the beginning of the Clans..." Mudkit mewed thoughtfully.
- "Yeah!" Stonekit mewed. "I wanna be Windstar."
- "Okay," Nightkit mewed, "I'll be Shadowstar."
- "Shadowstar's a she-cat!" Mudkit snorted.
- "I wanna be Shadowstar!" Nightkit insisted.
- "Okay, fine," Mudkit murmured. "I guess I'll be Thunderstar."
- A small voice came from behind the kits. "Can- can I be Riverstar?"
- Stonekit turned to see... a strange kit.
- "I'm Blue." The kit flicked its tail. "I'm a rogue kit."
- At this, Spottedtail woke up instantly. "Get away, you three!"
- Stonekit and Mudkit backed away obediently, but Mudkit stayed put. "I'm not afraid," he declared. "Berry's dead, remember?"
- Spottedtail did not relax.
- Blue stared at Mudkit, and turned his gaze to Spottedtail. "My mother and father are dead. They died last night."
- "What were their names?" Stonekit asked.
- "My mother's name was Moth and my father's was Jasper," Blue murmured.
- "Do you have any brothers and sisters?" Nightkit asked.
- "Not anymore," Blue replied.
- Spottedtail looked sad. "Of course, you can play with these three... I think. We should ask Smokestar if we can take you in."
- "ShadowClan can't trust a rogue," Nightkit spat.
- "Yeah," Stonekit agreed. "Look what the last one did!"
- "Please," Blue begged. "I'm hungry, too."
- Spottedtail sighed. "Stonekit, go get Smokestar. I'm confined to this position."
- Stonekit nodded and left the den. He looked around for his leader, then bounded towards Deadpelt's den.
- "Smokestar," he called, "where are you?"
- "Here," Smokestar mewed, coming out of the den. "What do you need, little one?"
- "There's a rogue kit in the den," Stonekit mewed. "His parents died last night. And his littermates. He wants to stay here, and he doesn't need suckling. He's just as old as us."
- Smokestar looked throughtful. "Well, that sounds like a convincing story. Can I meet him?"
- Stonekit nodded and scampered away towards the nursery once more.
- "He says maybe," Stonekit announced as he bounded in. "Smokestar wants to meet him."
- Blue's eyes lit up.
- Smokestar came in slowly, his dark eyes looking around for any threat. He padded over to Blue, who looked up hopefully.
- "Let him stay, he's got nobody else," Spottedtail pleaded.
- Smokestar sighed. "I'll gladly take another cat, because it means another ShadowClan warrior."
- Stonekit cheered. "You can be Riverstar," he told Blue. "Even though Riverstar is a she-cat."
- Littleclaw stopped at the RiverClan border and set down the water vole she had killed.
- She peered through the trees on the other side of the border, looking for another cat. She would give anything to talk to another cat right now, to share her fears.
- And if as some cat had been reading her thoughts, one cat appeared out of the trees and stopped at the border.
- "Littleclaw?" Mossheart asked, her tail flicking back and forth. "What are you doing here?"
- "Nothing," Littleclaw sighed. "I was just... looking."
- "Don't steal any of RiverClan's prey," Mossheart grumbled.
- "We've got plenty here," Littleclaw mewed smoothly, gesturing to the water vole at her feet.
- Mossheart's green eyes flashed as she looked. "Water voles only live by the river."
- "The river is the border," Littleclaw replied. "At least, down there," she added, flicking her tail.
- Mossheart nodded. "Don't let me see you crossing it," she snarled, turning to walk away.
- "Wait, Mossheart!" Littleclaw called.
- The RiverClan cat turned, her pelt bristling.
- "Um, congratulations," Littleclaw mumbled.
- "For what?" Mossheart asked, her eyes softening. Her gray fur flattened along her spine, seeing that this ShadowClan cat was not a threat.
- "For becoming deputy," Littleclaw pressed. "Fishstar announced it at the last Gathering, remember?"
- Mossheart nodded. "I think I might be leader."
- Littleclaw did not know how to reply to this, so she asked, "Why are you alone?"
- "Why are you alone?" Mossheart retorted.
- "I'm- I'm just trying to get away from it all, you know?" Littleclaw prompted.
- "Yeah," Mossheart sighed, sitting down. "Being the deputy has its low points.."
- "I've dreamed of being the deputy," Littleclaw whispered. "You're so important to the Clan! How could you not like that?"
- "You're important already," Mossheart pointed out. "You killed Berry."
- Littleclaw nodded. "Did any of your warriors die?" she asked. She knew, though. Hailfoot had.
- "No," Mossheart murmured.
- Littleclaw felt a pang of sadness. Mossheart couldn't trust the ShadowClan warrior that had saved the Clans. All of them.
- "What's wrong?" Mossheart asked, standing.
- "I need to get back to my kits," Littleclaw mumbled.
- "Congratulations," Mossheart mewed.
- "For what?" Littleclaw purred.
- "For having kits," Mossheart purred back. "What are their names?"
- "Stonekit, Nightkit, and Mudkit," Littleclaw mumbled.
- "Good names," Mossheart mewed.
- A voice suddenly yowled, "Mossheart!"
- Mossheart groaned. "I've got to organize the sunset patrol."
- "It's sunhigh," Littleclaw pointed out.
- "They're coming," Mossheart suddenly hissed. "Go!"
- Littleclaw grabbed the water vole and disappeared, just as a patrol appeared from the forest beyond the border. Mossheart stood, nodded her head at them, and led them away.
- Littleclaw had never felt lonelier.
- "Littleclaw will be your mentor."
- Bluepaw bounded up to Littleclaw and touched his nose to hers.
- Littleclaw felt a surge of pride as her three kits became apprentices, with the rogue kit, now Bluepaw.
- "You'll be a great warrior," Littleclaw whispered to Bluepaw.
- "'Cause you're my mentor," Bluepaw purred.
- "Bluepaw! Bluepaw!" Stonepaw yowled. "Come on! Let's go make our nests!"
- Nightpaw's dark eyes glowed as he padded up to Littleclaw. "I'm an apprentice! And I'm the deputy's apprentice!" he added proudly.
- Littleclaw was Bluepaw's mentor. Smokeheart was Nightpaw's mentor. Stonepaw was apprenticed to another warrior, Heavyfur, and Mudpaw was Toadtooth's apprentice.
- Smokestar purred as he padded up. "If only Marshtail had kits."
- "Well, he hasn't fallen in love with a cat. No reason for him to have kits," Littleclaw pointed out.
- "Smokestar! Smokestar!" a voice squeaked. "When will we be apprentices?"
- Littleclaw looked down to see Spottedtail's last litter of kits, Dark-kit, Black-kit, and Yewkit.
- "Please can we be apprentices now?" Dark-kit asked.
- "Yeah, we're big enough," Black-kit added, puffing out his chest.
- Yewkit's blue eyes were huge. "Please, Smokestar?"
- "Not for two more moons," Smokestar told them. "And I promise, you'll get good mentors."
- "I wanna be your apprentice!" Yewkit told Littleclaw. "'Cause... 'cause you saved ShadowClan. I wanna do that, too!"
- Littleclaw purred. "I've already got an apprentice, and I still will when you get to be one."
- Smokestar nodded.
- "Littleclaw!" Bluepaw yowled from the apprentices' den. "Can you show me the territory?"
- Littleclaw sighed. "Sure," she called. "Tomorrow."
- "It's dawn!" Bluepaw protested.
- "I was planning on teaching you how to fight," Littleclaw mewed, walking to him. "Unless you think that it should wait..."
- "No!" Bluepaw purred. "Now!"
- "I don't think so," a voice growled.
- Littleclaw flinched and turned.
- And gasped.
- Berry was there.
- Berry was alive.
- Berry had won. For now.
- Littleclaw reacted instinctively. She leaped onto the rogue and-
- "Hey!" a voice protested.
- Littleclaw's eyes widened and she got off of him.
- "I'm- not- Berry..." Redpelt growled.
- "You two look similar," Littleclaw apologized. "I'm so sorry!"
- "You'd better be," Redpelt growled.
- Marshtail groaned as he sat up. There were Shadowstar and Pebbleheart.
- "We have our first assignment," Pebbleheart mewed.
- Shadowstar murmured a name that floated across the clearing. Marshtail gasped. "What about-"
- Pebbleheart's amber eyes glowed like flames. "We want him dead. He is not a noble addition to ShadowClan."
- Marshtail gulped. "Okay."
- Littleclaw led Bluepaw out of the camp, her fur still hot from embarrassment. Why did I attack Redpelt?
- "It's okay," Bluepaw mewed. "Obviously, Berry was bad. Redpelt can't blame you for defending yourself."
- "I hope he doesn't..." Littleclaw murmured. "Oh, we're here!"
- Bluepaw stopped. "Now what?"
- "I teach you basic defensive moves," Littleclaw told him.
- Bluepaw groaned. "No attack?"
- "Defense is more important then attack," Littleclaw told him.
- Bluepaw thought for a moment, then nodded slowly.
- "Okay. Watch me." Littleclaw dipped her head to the ground and rolled.
- Bluepaw stared. "What was that supposed to be for?"
- "That's the move. You try," Littleclaw told him.
- Bluepaw sighed, and tried it. He landed on his back, and couldn't roll either way. "Help!" he cried.
- "Use your speed to get off your back," Littleclaw told him.
- Bluepaw grunted and rolled; now he was standing.
- "Do that all in one move," Littleclaw suggested.
- Bluepaw ducked his head and rolled, he came up with his eyes glowing.
- "Good!" Littleclaw praised. "Now for the next one..."
- Marshtail crept along the outside of the clearing, watching the mentors train their apprentices. Now, for the first time in moons, there were apprentices.
- Toadtooth was there, training Mudpaw. Marshtail watched as Mudpaw dodged a blow from Toadtooth.
- He was my old mentor, Marshtail remembered.
- Smokeheart was training his apprentice, Nightpaw. Marshtail remembered that he was one of the warriors in the den when Berry had slammed him against the rock...
- Stonepaw rolled expertly onto his back and tripped a quick-running Heavyfur. Apprentice beats mentor, Marshtail thought, purring.
- And then, there they were. The ones that he had been looking for. The rogue cat and Littleclaw.
- Of course, Marshtail knew that Littleclaw deserved an apprentice, but so soon after being a queen? And why did her father give her a rogue kit for an apprentice? It wasn't Clan-born. Bluepaw should've gone to ThunderClan for sympathy, Marshtail thought bitterly.
- "Bluepaw," a voice whispered. "Wake up."
- Bluepaw opened his eyes drearily and saw a cat outside of the den. "What?" he whispered.
- "Come on," Marshtail whispered from outside, "I won't hurt you."
- Bluepaw crept out to the crippled warrior. "You can't hurt me."
- "I can fight," Marshtail murmured. "And I know a special move. I can show it to you, if you'd like."
- Bluepaw nodded eagerly. Wow! A special move!
- "Follow me, then," Marshtail mewed.
- Instead of leading Bluepaw to the training, Marshtail led him to one by the ThunderClan border.
- "Who killed your parents?" Marshtail asked Bluepaw.
- Bluepaw struggled to remember what the killer looked like. It had been dark, then. It was now.
- "I- I don't know," Bluepaw mumbled. "It was too dark."
- "Poor you," Marshtail whispered. "We could of found him."
- Bluepaw stared. "You know?"
- "Of course I do," Marshtail mewed. "I helped Littleclaw. She's my sister, you know."
- Bluepaw shook his head. "Not until now..."
- "Well, she hasn't told you enough. But I- I can tell you everything about the Clans, and all you have to do is one thing."
- "What one thing?" Bluepaw asked. There was a horror in the air.
- "Lay down on your back," Marshtail told Bluepaw.
- Bluepaw did, feeling the cold ground beneath him.
- "Okay, I'm going to lunge at you, and you don't defend yourself." Marshtail tensed, getting ready to spring.
- "What kind of move is this?" Bluepaw asked.
- Marshtail purred. "The most important one."
- Berry pawed the rock. He could feel himself healing, getting better.
- A cat appeared in the entrance of the cave. Berry knew instantly who it was, but he did not say anything.
- "I see you're ready," the cat mewed. His deep voice echoed throughout the cave. "But you'll have to follow the Code, Berry."
- Berry nodded. No, way! he thought. I just need to kill three cats.
- "Good," the cat mewed, "follow me."
- Littleclaw yowled in pain. Bluepaw was dead!
- Nightpaw came running, and when he saw the dead apprentice, he snarled, "You killed him!"
- "No!" Littleclaw protested.
- "I wasn't talking to you," Nightpaw spat. "I was talking to Marshtail."
- "What?" Marshtail protested. He slipped out from behind a bush.
- "You lured him away so you could kill him. A rogue kit in ShadowClan doesn't appeal to you, does it?" Nightpaw unsheathed his claws.
- "I didn't kill Bluepaw!" Marshtail protested. "Not my sister's apprentice! And I'm injured, I can't fight anyway."
- Nightpaw did not stop growling. "I know it was you, Marshtail."
- "Not me," Marshtail spat. "You might as well respect your elders, Nightpaw. I'm one of them. I didn't kill Bluepaw, and that's final."
- Littleclaw looked on in utter horror. Why was Nightpaw blaming Marshtail?
- Berry nodded at the cats.
- "This is Berry," the first cat mewed to the rest.
- "Hi, Berry," they all chorused.
- One stepped forward. "I am Eaglestar."
- Berry purred. "And I am Berry."
- The rest of WindClan stepped forward and introduced themselves. "Hazelclaw." "Airfur." "Moorstep." "Runningpelt." "Quickclaw." "Fastfoot." "Fawntail." "Breezeheart."
- All of WindClan had come.
- They had come to welcome Berry as a member of WindClan.
- Littleclaw shivered as a cold breeze blew by. The first signs of leaf-bare, she thought. She had survived leaf-bare, along with Marshtail, when she was a kit. Her mother had died for mysterious reasons during it.
- For the first time since she became an apprentice, Littleclaw wondered what had happened to her mother. Smokestar had told her that she died of cold, but Littleclaw had never seen the body.
- Had Berry struck before he killed Yewfoot, Grayfoot, and Dawnpaw? Or had she died of sickness? Greencough was common during leaf-bare, here at the mountain.
- Now, she was at the Gathering. The pond was the place where cats gathered every full moon, and where StarClan resided for medicine cats.
- This was the place they had found when the Clans had made the Long Journey, many moons ago.
- She saw Mossheart conversing with Fishstar. Deciding what to give away for the other Clans, Littleclaw decided.
- Rockstar and Tigertail had their heads together, too. Littleclaw saw the warrior, Antfoot, near them. Antfoot had helped her and Marshtail home after Berry's death.
- Littleclaw shivered as she remembered Berry. His body was at the bottom of the cliff.
- Toadtooth was sitting with the WindClan deputy, Airfur, at the bottom of the Big Rock, where all the leaders were.
- Eaglestar, the WindClan leader, hopped up onto the rock after conversing with an unfamiliar WindClan warrior, followed by Rockstar and Fishstar.
- Deadpelt was with Hazelclaw, the WindClan medicine cat. She was telling him something, and Deadpelt's droopy fur was bristling beyond Littleclaw's belief. "You can't do that!" he snarled, his voice just drifting to Littleclaw's ears.
- Stoneheart, the RiverClan medicine cat, was sitting with them, too. But he was having an intense discussion about something with the ThunderClan medicine cat, Mosstail.
- Smokestar noticed Deadpelt, too. "Let the Gathering begin!" he yowled suddenly.
- Littleclaw caught his eye. Smokestar nodded and looked quickly at Deadpelt, and Littleclaw realized he was trying to find out what Deadpelt was yowling about.
- "I'll go first," Rockstar mewed. "We have one new warrior, Dirtpelt."
- There were yowls of congratulations, and Littleclaw saw the brown tabby sitting straight and tall and proud. She remembered when Smokestar had announced when she became a warrior at the Gathering.
- Fishstar stepped forward next. "We are sorry to announce the death of Heavyfur, an elder. He has found himself a place in StarClan, and is watching over us," Fishstar mewed.
- Littleclaw overheard a cat behind her say, "Heavypelt was Fishstar's mentor, when he was still young."
- It was Smokestar's turn. "We have four new apprentices," he began. "Nightpaw, Mudpaw, Stonepaw, and Bluepaw."
- There were yowls of congratulations as Littleclaw's kits sat up proudly.
- "However," Smokestar continued sadly, "Bluepaw has been murdered."
- There was a gasp as the cats realized what this might mean. Had Berry come back?
- "Prey is running well," Smokestar finished.
- Now, finally, it was Eaglestar's turn.
- The WindClan leader stepped forward. "We have one new apprentice. Kestrelpaw will be training to be a WindClan warrior."
- There were yowls of congratulations as the new apprentice stood.
- Eaglestar looked tense. "We also have a new addition," he mewed.
- There were heads turning all over, looking for the new WindClan warrior, the one that no cat had seen before.
- "We are happy to announce the addition of our new warrior, Berryclaw," Eaglestar yowled.
- And as a new cat stepped out from behind a rock, Littleclaw screeched in terror.
- Berry was back.
- Berryclaw was a member of WindClan.
- Berry was really, really alive.
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