Drinking: Maaaaany sodas...
TABLE OF CONTENTS:
A tortoise-shell cat padded through the dark leaf-fall forest. The leaves dropped from the slight breeze, and the wind pushed the she-cats collar, making it send quiet rings through the forest. A yowl erupted from the distance, breaking the quiet silence. The she-cat stopped to listen.
"A tornado is heading this way!" The voice yowled again.
"We must head for the Great Cave!" Another voice answered.
The tortoise-shell she-cat shook herself. A tornado? She thought, what's that? Is it something like a thunderstorm? She rolled her eyes, padding onward. If those cats were going to get worked up over a bunch of thunderstorms, then they must have been mouse-brains. She slipped agilely through the thick undergrowth, until she found a small pond. Her mouth was as dry as the dirt on a green-leaf day. She lapped at the cold water, purring.
She thought about Gorseclaw, the wild cat that had told her of all the Clan life. She thought Clan life seemed horrible, having to hunt for food, shelter in a bunch of ferns, and fight for territory. She wanted to live life in her Twoleg nest, lapping at the delicious white stuff and eating the delicious chicken stuff her Twolegs gave her. But Gorseclaw was a brave warrior, and he would protect her if she joined his Clan.
Suddenly fierce winds shook the thick trees, making them flap like bird wings. She shuddered. The winds pulled at her bell, sending loud rings through the undergrowth. She hid in some ferns, hoping for protection. Was this a tornado? She thought to herself wearily, was I mistaken? Are they not thunderstorms, but fierce winds?
A loud crack broke into her thoughts. A tree was sailing on top of her, inches from her head. She ducked lower, a shudder rippling through her as she looked above at the dark brown tree. It was going to crash into her. She wouldn't see Gorseclaw anymore. "No!" A tom's voice cried. "Belle!"
Suddenly she wasn't under the tree. Sharp thorns tugged at her neck, and she was flying across the open forest. She could hear a heavy panting beside her. Wait. Those can't be thorns... are they... teeth? Her eyes opened wide as she recognized the voice that had called to her. It was Gorseclaw. He had come to rescue her.
Gorseclaw! She thought excitedly.
Belle opened her eyes. All of that was a dream! Her fur ruffled, and she let a growl slip between her teeth. Gorseclaw didn't exist, and neither did Clans. She had to admit, she liked Gorseclaw. But there was no chance he would find him somewhere in the forest. She shook herself, standing up. She arched her back in a long stretch, and looked around. She found her food, but she didn't feel hungry. Or thirsty. That was odd.
Usually when she was hungry or thirsty in dreams, it was the same when she awoke, even if she had some water or ate something in her dream. She padded across to the entrance, and slipped through a small hole. The sun was at its highest...What did the Clan cats call it? She thought, frustrated. Oh! They called it Sunhigh. It was Sunhigh. Belle flicked her tail, annoyed with herself. Why was she following her dreams? Why was she calling the times of the day what the Clan cats called them? "Highsun," she meowed. "I'll call it Highsun."
"Highsun?" A voice echoed behind Belle.
"Ginger?" Belle turned around to face a ginger-colored she-cat. "What are you doing here?" She growled, unsheathing her claws.What am I doing? Belle thought, panicking.
Ginger flinched, and fell back to show peace. "What are you doing?" She asked, "why are you trying to attack me?"
"You are on my territory!" Belle hissed. Ugh! Those Clan cats... messing with my brain and making me turn on my friend! She sank her claws in the soil. She didn't usually care about any cats going on her garden, but this time she did. Because of my stupid dream!
"Okay," Ginger replied, "I'm sorry. Just tell me what Highsun is."
"Highsun," Belle answered nervously, "Is something I made up, because in my dream someone said something about Sunhigh, and I want my own version of that."
"Sunhigh sounds better," Ginger licked her fore paw. "Why don't you use Sunhigh?"
"Well, because it was just a dream." Belle flicked her tail. "Enough about Sunhigh. Why are you here?"
"I came to tell you goodbye."
"Goodbye?" Belle stared in horror at her friend. "You can't! Your Twolegs-"
"Twolegs?" Ginger echoed absentmindedly.
"Your Housefolk," Belle corrected, "will be worried about you. You can't leave!"
"Well, actually, my Housefolk kicked me out," Ginger explained, "They were yelling at me and they covered the entrance. It's been a day, and I haven't eaten yet."
"Why not catch a mouse?" Belle asked, then realized something. Ginger never hunted. "Or," she corrected herself, "I could catch you a mouse."
"No!" Ginger protested quickly, "I'll catch my own."
Ginger padded away, crouching into a perfect hunters' crouch. Belle stared after her in surprise. Ginger never hunted! She thought it wasn't easy or fun. She said she hated hunting! Belle shook her head. If Ginger wanted to hunt, that's what she could do. Belle padded into the forest unthinkingly, staring straight ahead. What was she doing?
Belle pricked her ears, opened her jaws, and glanced everywhere to smell, hear, and taste everything around her. This was something Gorseclaw taught her. Gorseclaw said that she should also make sure she felt the ground to make she knew where slopes were in case there was a sharp dip in the ground, and to make sure she could quickly rethink her step if she felt a stick. Then she could stop herself before she snapped a stick.
Belle shook her head sadly. She wasn't ever going to have Gorseclaw as a mentor again. She liked to hunt with him, but not alone. She liked to practice battle moves with him, but not alone. She paced along the forest, finding the pond where she drank just before the tornado hit. She stopped there, hoping that the wind would pick up and then throw a tree above her. Then Gorseclaw would pop in just in time, and push her away...
But that would never happen. Belle had woken from her dream, and dreams weren't real. She wouldn't meet any Clan cats. There weren't even the five Clans -- ThunderClan, WindClan, RiverClan, ShadowClan, and StarClan -- in the forest. Gorseclaw was from WindClan, but he wouldn't be if he were alive. He'd be a rogue or loner, since no Clans were ever in the forest. He wouldn't know of StarClan, but Belle would.
Belle believed in StarClan. StarClan was the warrior ancestors of the four Clans. They had been in StarClan for seasons after seasons, because they were already dead and they couldn't die again... could they? Belle lapped at the cold water, though she didn't feel thirsty. Belle stopped and pricked her ears. She heard faint paw steps approaching. There were multiple -- at least three -- coming slowly. Then one sniffed and everything went silent for a couple of heartbeats.
"Kittypet!" A voice hissed, and then the three cats charged. Kittypet? They knew? Did they have this dream, too? Then something occurred to Belle. This was a patrol, and these were Clan cats!
"No, they can't be," Belle muttered, "they had the same dream."
The three cats charged into the clearing, hissing and spitting challenges. "Get off our territory, Kittypet!" One tom, a light tabby, hissed. Another one, a white she-cat, lunged forward and knocked Belle backward. "Ufff!" The breath was knocked out of Belle. Belle wriggled, trying to squirm free. She tried to remember Gorseclaw's skills. She rolled, making the she-cat on her back, and Belle reached forward for a finishing bite.
She was suddenly lifted off by thorn-sharp teeth, and she was flung into the air. "StarClan, help me!" Belle cried. Gasps erupted from the patrol.
"StarClan?" The light tabby echoed.
"She knows about StarClan?" Another tom, a yellow-brown cat asked.
Belle hit a nearby rock, feeling the blood run from a deep gash. She panted hard, and turned her glare on the cats. She growled, and lunged forward at the yellow-brown tom, until she recognized him. Gorseclaw!
"Who are you all?" Belle asked, trying to hear the answer from Gorseclaw himself.
They ignored her question. "How much do you know about the Clans?" The light tabby stepped forward.
Belle glared at the light tabby. "Enough," she spat. "I won't tell you until you tell me your names!"
"Okay, okay. I'm Tigerheart, deputy of-" the light tabby began.
"Deputy of WindClan," Belle finished.
"How did you know?" The light tabby looked at Belle, but he glanced sideways at Gorseclaw.
"Another Kittypet told me," Belle lied quickly.
"Oh, okay. Well, this is Snowpaw," The deputy of WindClan began again, "and this is-"
"Gorseclaw," Belle interrupted.
Gorseclaw's eyes opened wide, and his jaw opened in surprise. "How did you know?"
Uh oh! Belle thought, I said the wrong thing! How will I fix this? Wait! I lied about a Kittypet once, and so I could lie again! But wait, what if Gorseclaw's never seen a Kittypet? "Umm," Belle answered, "A, uhh... Warrior said that Gorseclaw was brave and strong. Th-the warrior came to me one time..."
"A warrior betrayed us?" Tigerheart demanded, towering over Belle. Belle just sat down, and began licking her fore paw and wiping her paw over her face. She suddenly felt lightheaded.
"She's lost a lot of blood," Gorseclaw mewed, sounding worried.
"And let's keep it that way!" Snowpaw hissed. "She deserves that wound."
Tigerheart silenced Snowpaw with a glare, and turned to Belle softly. "Can you stand?" He asked.
Belle pushed slowly to her paws, and fluffed up twice her size. "I can take care of myself!" She spat, racing away. Gorseclaw raced to her side.
"Lean over me," he suggested, pressing softly against Belle's fur.
"No," Belle growled, trying to go faster. She staggered, and tripped, landing on a sharp stone. She looked up to see two blurry Gorseclaw's staring at her with identical masks of horror.
"Should I get some poppy seeds?" A she-cat's voice asked anxiously.
"It would be best to get some juniper berries, too," Another she-cat responded.
"Why juniper berries, and not coltsfoot?" The first she-cat protested.
"Juniper berries work better than coltsfoot for the shortness of breath."
"Should I get some comfrey and cobwebs, too?"
"Yes, Sunpaw," The second she-cat answered.
Belle opened her eyes slowly, shaking off. "Wha... where am I?" She asked, staring above herself. There were two she-cats, one a bright orange, and the other a dark blueish green. The smallest one, the bright orange one, raced off. This was Sunpaw.
"You are in the medicine den," the she-cat licked the top of Belle's head. "Now you should get some rest."
"But I'm not tired," Belle protested.
The she-cat narrowed her eyes. "That was an order."
"No buts. Get some rest," the she-cat ordered.
"Alright. But, first, I hate being in the shadow. What's your name?"
"Lilypetal," the she-cat answered, settling down and wrapping her tail neatly around her body.
"I'm-" Then Belle began to gasp for breath, unable to get any air in. "I can't breathe!"
"Ssh," Lilypetal soothed, "Sunpaw'll get you some herbs soon enough."
Just then, Sunpaw burst through a large crack, carrying a bunch of herbs in her jaw, and webs wrapped around her fore paw. "Just in time," Lilypetal murmured, arching her back. She padded over to Sunpaw, and snatched some berries out of Sunpaw's jaw. "Eat these," Lilypetal ordered Belle, shoving some purple berries at her. Belle bent down and licked them up, chewing slowly.
"I still can't breathe," Belle whispered once she was done. "And I hurt!"
"The juniper berries will take a little while to get done." Lilypetal turned to Sunpaw. "Give me the comfrey and cobwebs." Quickly Sunpaw passed a bundle of herbs and the bundle of webs over to Lilypetal. Lilypetal took them and turned to Belle.
Lilypetal started chewing on the herbs, while Belle looked at her, confused. She became even more confused as Lilypetal spat out the herbs onto her paw and leaned over toward Belle. "I'm applying this to your wounds," Lilypetal meowed, understanding why Belle was confused. She applied the herbs -- the comfrey -- to Belle's wounds, and then turned and grabbed some cobwebs. She poked the cobwebs around, and Belle winced.
"It's alright," Lilypetal purred, "you did well. Now, Sunpaw, did you forget the poppy seeds?"
Sunpaw looked at her paws. "Yes, Lilypetal, I did." She raced off to get some. She returned quickly with some seeds wrapped with a leaf. "Here you are," she meowed, putting the leaf down.
Belle looked down at the herbs, but before she could comment at the weird spiky green seeds, Lilypetal spoke. "Now, Sunpaw, what am I going to do with stinging nettle seeds?"
"Umm... for... poison?"
"Yes, but did this cat swallow poison?" Lilypetal pressed.
"No," Sunpaw responded. "I'm sorry, Lilypetal. I'll get it right this time." Then Sunpaw dashed off.
"Remember," Lilypetal called after Sunpaw. "They're small black seeds. Get three of them!"
Belle felt dizzy, but at least she could breathe slightly. She curled up and put the tip of her tail on her nose, trying to sleep. She couldn't sleep with the pain. "It's okay, Sunpaw's bringing poppy seeds for the pain," Lilypetal began to lick Belle's ruffled fur.
Paws padded closer, and an anxious voice asked, "Is she dead?"
"No! Of course not. She's in pain. Now let her sleep, Gorseclaw." Lilypetal said sharply.
Belle looked up at the sound of Gorseclaw's name, blinking. Her eyes squinted through the light outside, while Gorseclaw sat anxiously watching Belle. "How are you feeling?" Gorseclaw asked.
"Um... okay, I guess." Belle answered. "It's just... painful."
"Move, Gorseclaw, move!" Sunpaw called, slamming into Gorseclaw. "She needs her poppy seeds!"
Gorseclaw flinched, and met the apprentice's gaze. "Okay," he finally agreed, turning away. He padded away until he was engulfed by ferns.
"Thank you, Sunpaw," Lilypetal sighed. "He shouldn't be messing with her."
"Of course," Sunpaw answered, dropping the leaf bundle down. "Eat the black seeds," Sunpaw ordered Belle.
Belle dipped her head obediently and licked the poppy seeds, and stretched carefully. She curled up and closed her eyes. "That's right, go to sleep." Lilypetal whispered.
"I'm going to check on the elders. I think Barkwhisker mentioned a bellyache." Sunpaw murmured.
"Okay," Lilypetal agreed, "don't forget to also check for ticks. Bring him some juniper berries, and bring the other elders-"
"Mouse bile," Sunpaw interrupted. "I've got to bring them mouse bile for their ticks."
"Very good," Lilypetal praised her. "Now run along."
Sunpaw dashed off, and Lilypetal began to lick Belle's fur softly, purring. The sound of the quiet purring soothed Belle until she fell asleep, purring.
Belle opened her eyes to Lilypetal talking to a dark brown tom. The tom wasn't Gorseclaw, it was someone else. "...She'll be okay," Lilypetal said to the tom. "She just needs rest."
Belle stretched, yawning. "You're awake," the tom turned to Belle. She felt nervous with the tom's amber eyes watching her every movement. She shrank back, and felt the tom's confusion at the reaction.
Lilypetal leaned into the tom, murmuring something that Belle didn't catch. Then the tom shook his head and whispered something to Lilypetal. Belle shrank further back, staring up at the two cats. Was Lilypetal in with this tom's evil plans? If she is, Belle thought, then I should leave. Now.
Belle stood up, puffing out her chest. She turned and dashed off, nearly bumping into Gorseclaw on his way to the medicine den. Gorseclaw stared after her in surprise as she mewed, "Sorry" and ran away in another direction. "What's going on?" Gorseclaw asked loudly, padding in the medicine den. Belle stopped, fearing for Gorseclaw.
"No!" She yowled, shoving Gorseclaw away. "Don't you go in there!"
"That tom's planning something evil! I just know it!" Belle hissed.
"Oh. You mean Thornstar?"
"That dark brown tom."
"That's Thornstar," Gorseclaw responded, relaxing, "he's our leader."
"What are you doing?" A voice growled.
Belle looked back to see Thornstar glaring at her. She dashed off, yowling warnings to the other Clan members. The Clan cats peered out of their dens anxiously, relaxing when nothing was wrong. "Thornstar is evil!" Belle yowled, "he is going to kill us all!"
Every cat just stared in confusion, not seeming to feel the evilness from Thornstar. "He's evil! I'm serious!" Belle hissed, stopping.
"What's happening?" A cat padded out of a den, looking around.
Belle recognized Tigerheart, and padded up to him, panting. "Thornstar is going to kill us all!"
Tigerheart sighed. "Kittypets," he muttered, turning back.
Belle growled. If these Clan cats wouldn't finish Thornstar off, she would have to do it alone. She turned toward Thornstar, crouching to the ground. She snarled, concentrating on Thornstar's belly as she leaped forward. "No!" Gorseclaw yowled jumping forward, blocking her way to Thornstar.
Belle slammed into Gorseclaw, stumbling away. "Move!" She hissed, shoving Gorseclaw out of the way, revealing a shocked Thornstar and Lilypetal. "I know your secret, Thornstar!" Belle spat at Thornstar, unsheathing her claws and slashing furiously at Thornstar's muzzle.
"Stop!" Lilypetal cried. Belle stopped, staring at Lilypetal in fury.
"How dare you stop me from killing your bloodthirsty leader!" Belle hissed. "He was going to kill me!"
"He was not!" Lilypetal argued, standing in front of Thornstar.
"Yes he was!" Belle meowed angrily.
"Look. Thornstar is our leader, and he has nine lives." Lilypetal reasoned, "he has been our leader for many seasons. He has lead us to peace, not destruction. He has lead us away from bloodshed, not to it. Trust me."
Belle narrowed her eyes, but sheathed her claws. "I'm watching you," she told Thornstar. "Remember that you don't fool me."
Thornstar just stared at Belle. It was Lilypetal that spoke. "You can't when you leave the Clan," she meowed. "You're well enough. Leave our Clan."
"Okay," Belle responded, stalking off. "I'd rather be with my Twolegs than face doom here with Thornstar."
"Don't go," Thornstar pleaded, stepping forward.
"Leave her be, Thornstar." Lilypetal said.
"No," Thornstar shook his head. "She has potential. Look at my muzzle. She made some deep scratches. Imagine what she could do with a little training."
Belle turned. "I'm not going to join WindClan. I'm going to join ThunderClan, or ShadowClan, or RiverClan."
"Then you'll have to kill us," Thornstar turned away. "May StarClan go with you."
Belle padded across the moor, searching for the thick trees that marked where ThunderClan's territory would be. She found some trees, so she padded into the forests. She kept her ears pricked, eyes open, and she sniffed carefully at every smell. She smelled rabbit, so she lowered into a hunters crouch, slowly stalking forward. She jumped forward, almost landing on the rabbit, if it weren't for the twig that snapped nearby. "Mouse dung!" She hissed, looking around for whoever interrupted her.
Then she picked up cat scents. "WindClan is on our territory!" A voice growled.
"Where?" Belle asked, padding forward to meet the ThunderClan patrol.
Three cats were on patrol. One was a tortoise-shell she-cat like Belle, one was a blonde tom, and one was a coal-black tom. They looked at her, and the blonde tom crouched down. "It's a Kittypet. What were you doing with WindClan?"
"I was going to join them, but their leader is so mouse-brained and evil, I'd rather not." Belle answered.
"Oh." The tortoise-shell mewed. "Would you like to join ThunderClan?"
"Spottedpelt! You know better than to let random Kittypet's join ThunderClan just because they were about to join another Clan." The blonde tom hissed.
"I'm not doing that!" Spottedpelt protested. "She shows potential, that's all. If even WindClan wants her, than so should we."
"Let's see what Birchstar thinks." The black tom suggested. "Then we will see if she joins or not."
"Come," Spottedpelt beckoned, turning away and flicked her tail for Belle to follow.
Belle padded alongside the tortoise-shell, purring. "What's your name, young one?" Spottedpelt asked.
After that, the cats padded in silence. The dirt was cold with leaf-fall temperatures, and leaves blew around the cats, and Belle's bell rang out quietly. "We need to get rid of that bell," the black tom commented quietly. Belle murmured agreement. She didn't like the collar, either. They finally reached a clearing, with tall stones that rose high, with a small gap. This must be ThunderClan camp, Belle thought. It's so protected.