The she-cat writhed in the shadowed walls of the nursery, shrieking in pain. She trembled as the wet bundle made its way into the world.
Another she-cat, cream in color, stared down at the newborn kits tenderly.
"You have a tom and two she-kits." she mewed, licking her sister's cheek.
The first cat, the new mother, feverishly licked her kits.
Her mate, a black tom, stared down lovingly upon her and their kits.
"I want to name them." she croaked weakly."Of course, love." he mewed.
The cream she-cat looked away shamefully.
"Can the rose-cream one be Rosekit?" she mewed softly.
The black tom's amber eyes glittered.
"Of course." he meowed, wrapping his tail around his mate's shoulders.
"Milkfeather, please name the other she-kit." the mother whimpered.
The cream she-cat whipped around, blue eyes flashing. She stared down at her weak sister. The medicine cat was gloomy with her failure.
"Stormkit, for her blue-gray fur." She choked out her words nervously.
"I want to name my brave little tom Darkkit, for the shadows that mark his black tabby fur..." the mother mewed. Her heartbeat faltered.
"Mousefoot!" the black tom screeched, startled.
"I love you Thundertail...take care of our kits..." she murmured, drifting off into the shadowy darkness...
That night, Milkfeather was filled with nightmares.
She awoke with a jump.
What had I just seen? she wondered, thinking of StarClan's dangerous prophecy.
"The Storm will rise, the Rose soon after. Evil while, Dark filled with laughter."
Then she had seen Darkkit, tears of blood running down his cheeks, while Rosekit and Stormkit standing on the highrock, side-by-side. What did it mean!? What was going to happen to her kin?
Only StarClan could save ThunderClan now.
Cloudstar raised his chin, his white fur puffed out in pride.
The clan below him raised their voices in cheer.
"Darkpaw! Rosepaw! Stormpaw!"
The excitement died down as the leader padded off. The crowd began to disassemble.
"Your mother would be very proud." Thundertail meowed distantly. Darkpaw nuzzled his dark grey father, who purred in response.
"Mum didn't die in vain, Da." the small, black tabby tom replied.
"Yes, I know." Thundertail replied, padding away, his bright yellow tail dragging against the grass.
Darkpaw stood there in the shadows of ThunderClan's camp for a long time before he decided to go ahead and explore the territory alone. His mentor, Snarltooth, wouldn't care anyways.Rosepaw and Stormpaw stopped him.
"Where are you going?" Stormpaw mewed, nuzzling him. Her blue grey fur pressed against him, her yellow eyes curious.
It wasn't long before his rose-cream sister spoke up as well, pressing close to her other sister's side.
"Yes, exactly where and what?" Rosepaw mewed
Her blue eyes darted to both.
"Nowhere, really. Just to a puddle to wash off the dirt on my paws." Darkpaw mumbled.
Stormpaw and Rosepaw glanced at eachother with smiles, making sure Darkpaw was by their side.
A light, misty rain began to fall over his head. He shivered in the cold evening, watching the pale grey skies overhead.
He padded forward, sniffing a clump of tansy when he heard a crow's call. He looked ahead.
Darkpaw had heard of the stories of the abandoned stretch of land called the Ashbourne Outskirts right outside the territories. His nose twitched. Claw marks on stumps, barren cold sand, and what? Rocks.
This had once been where the mighty Frostbane had appeared out of nowhere with cats smelling of evil and darkness, ripping away the life of the land.
This is a deserted battlefield. No man's land.
Curious, the young tom took a pawstep forward. Then another. Darkpaw slank across the soft sand.
He let out a shriek at the freezing cold. The rain became like ice.
His voice echoed across the land. His eyes widened in amusement.
The echo replied, "Hello!? Hello? Hello..." until it faded.
"Anbody there? Anybody there. Anybody there..."
He bounded across like a kit, ears twitching as he leaped at a strand of pale moonlight.
It had moved.
Darkpaw scampered after it, purring. The light kept moving. He tried to catch it. He wanted the moonbeam in his paw.
It wasn't long before the ground beneath him slipped, and he tumbled through small rocks. He landed on a smooth cave surface with an "OOMPH!"
The cave was dark and cold, blue-grey rock walls surrounding him. The light above him had vanished. He couldn't see where he was going as he slank forward, feeling around with his whiskers.
Why hadn't he stayed in camp with his sisters and father? Why couldn't he behave?
Then the voice startled him.
"What are the likes of you doing here?" it snarled into his ear.
Darkpaw whipped around wildly.
A black tom with menacing amber eyes was standing right behind him, his silver paws gleaming in the sudden light.
"I-I w-was exploring, s-s-sir!" the newly named apprentice shrilled, crouching down in fear."What's your name? Answer me!" the black tom snapped, baring his teeth.
Darkpaw shuddered, his violet eyes widening.
"Darkpaw! Darkpaw!" he yelped.
"I am-" The tom paused, coughing horribly, then continued, "Frostbane, ruler of Ashbourne Outskirts. You are now my loyal servant and apprentice."
The black tabby tom stared up at his second mentor in a questioning manner.
"Who says so?" Darkpaw spat. His single white paw unsheathed its claws and swiped at the bigger black tom with sadly no effect.
"I did, because if you don't, I will kill everything close to you." Frostbane mewed, tail flicking.
Darkpaw gasped in horror, eyes widening.
"Is it a deal?" the black tom finished.
"Y-yes sir!" the smaller cat meowed.
"Good." Frostbane grumbled, tail flicking.
"Return to your clan through there, and return tomorrow when the moon first appears on the horizon. Don't listen and lose your two sisters."
Darkpaw stumbled away, dazed, into the dark tunnels, Frostbane's meow still ringing in his ears. The old tom had vanished back into the shadows.
Darkpaw was scared for his life.
"Now, swipe to the left!" Frostbane snarled, adjusting Darkpaw's position.
Darkpaw sighed in relief when the ice blue tom nodded in approval.
"You can eat now." the old tom mewed.
Darkpaw nodded, brushing the sand off his pelt.
"I'm recruiting new apprentices soon, then you won't be alone. The time will come soon, my loyal servant, for your rise to glory. I promise you that you will lead ThunderClan."
The small black tabby tom nodded eagerly at the promise this tom was making him.
Milkfeather licked Darkpaw's forehead, grooming the matted hairs.
"You've been at the edge of Ashbourne Outskirts again. Stop straying there or Frostbane will get you." his aunt teased, stroking him gently.
"Milkfeather, you're messing up my fur!" he complained.
Rosepaw blinked in sympathy, she was so excited. Stormpaw sat in the shadowed walls of camp.
"Is it true that Frostbane had nearly destroyed the clans long ago? Is it true there was once a WindClan?" she meowed curiously, pawing at a leaf childishly.
"Yes, Stormpaw, there was once a noble WindClan." the cream she-cat meowed. Stormpaw's dark blue-gray fur heaved as she got up on her strong paws.
There was Cloudstar again, up on the highrock.
"Snarltooth! Bluewillow! Silverclaw! Are your apprentices ready to recieve their warrior names?" Cloudstar called.
"Yes!" all three replied.
"Stormpaw, your bravery and willingness to defend her clan above all has earned you your name, Stormheart!"
"Stormheart! Stormheart!" Darkpaw rose his voice above all the others.
"Rosepaw, you are like a bird, ready to soar the skies in the name of victory, earning your new name: Rosewing!"
"And last but not least, Darkpaw. Your heart knows no boundaries, ready to sprout into your new name: Darkbloom!"
All of them cheered their names.
He had never been happier in his life.