Shocked mews and a few yowls of dismay rippled throughout the camp at this news.
Snowstorm trotted over to the elder's den and emerged a heart beat later, tail drooping and ears laid flat in grief.
"He past on in his sleep, a peaceful passing." The white tom mewed.
"A passing which he has earned," Cedarstar put in. "Bring him into the center of the clearing so that we may share tongues with him one last time."
A few moments later, the three remaining elders carried Brackenclaw's body into the center of the clearing. Brownfur was the first to press her muzzle into her father's pelt, it was clear that she wasn't taking her father's death very well. No cat could blame her, seasons ago her mother had been savagely attacked and mauled by a fox, she died of her wounds shortly after she had been carried back to camp. She had been devastated at her mothers death, it was her father who had been there for her and they grew close because of it.
Patchfur walked over to the distressed she-cat and went to lay down beside her when the small light brown warrior, normally an even tempered cat, hissed and lashed out at the tortoiseshell.
Every cat was shocked by Brownfur's suddenly act of aggression, but they understood why, it was never easy to lose blood kin, it was even harder to recover from such a loss.
The tailless tortoiseshell took no offence to Brownfur's strike, luckily her claws had been sheathed at the time. With a dip of her head, she backed away from the smaller she-cat and left her in peace. After a while, Brownfur allowed other warriors to sit vigil with her, the first cat she let approach was Cedarstar, the only cat she wouldn't lash out at.
"Brackenclaw was a respected warrior and will be greatly missed by all the clans." Cedarstar said before pressing his muzzle into the elder's pelt.
"Can Redkit and I pay our respects to Brackenclaw?" Moonkit asked looking up at Gingerfur.
"Yes, but wait until there's room to sit vigil." The queen replied.
After every cat had paid their respects to their oldest elder; Barktail and Ripplefur carried Brackenclaw over to the burial place.
"We will bury him next to his mate." Ripplefur told Brownfur before carrying him off.
Brownfur watched them vanish into the undergrowth her eyes were filled with sorrow, her ears laid flat as she made her way to the warriors den to be alone.
Moonkit watched as Cedarstar followed after the smaller she-cat, when she asked Gingerfur about it, the queen told her that a few seasons ago, Brownfur had been Cedarstar's apprentice.
"Cedarstar seems to be a great mentor." Moonkit observed.
"He is," Gingerfur replied. "Ever since he was young, he has always put other's needs before his own."
"I want Cedarstar to be my mentor." Moonkit mewed.
Gingerfur smiled and nuzzled her daughter.
"That's for Cedarstar to decide." Redkit put in almost smugly.
* * *
"Any cat strong enough to make the trek to The Fallen Red Wood meet beneath to Rock Ledge for a clan meeting!" Wolfstar's voice filled the clearing.
Once the warriors of Duskclan gathering the Rock Ledge, Wolfstar spoke again. "The time has once again has arrived for me to perform on of my favorite duties. Three kits have reached their sixth moon; Bearkit, Blackkit, and Badgerkit." Said kits were sitting by their mother's
all were covered in a light coating of dust.
Featherstone and Owlclaw were shaking their heads as they had just cleaned their kits.
Wolfstar and several warriors chuckled in amusement. Kits will be kits.
"Badgerkit, step forward if you please," The kit with the badger like pelt stepped forward and Wolfstar continued. "Badgerkit, you have reached your sixth moon and the time has come for you to be apprenticed. From this on, until you receive your warrior name, you'll be known as Badgerpaw."
The kits and other apprentices called out Badgerpaw's new name for a few heartbeats before quieting down.
"Your mentor will be Whitefur," Wolfstar looked over at a white she-cat with black ears and paws, who then stepped forward. "Whitefur, you mentored Hawkpelt, you've shown great skill and patience as a mentor. I ask that you do so again."
Whitefur dipped her head. "I will make her into a warrior that Duskclan can be proud of."
After Wolfstar nodded in approval, Badgerpaw bounded forward and raised her muzzle to noses with her mentor, who purred softly.
"Blackkit." Wolfstar said, once Badgerpaw had joined her mentor.
Blackkit's eyes widened as she suddenly became nervous at being the center of attention. Featherstone had to give her a gentle nudge to get her moving. Once the black she-cat was standing beside the Rockledge, her leader continued.
"From this day forward, until you're given your warrior name, you will be known as Blackpaw."
"Blackpaw! Blackpaw!" Bearkit said, standing on his hind legs for a moment, other soon followed his chant.
"Shadeclaw." Wolfstar called, after the chanting died down.
A smoky gray tabby tom padded forward and stopped beside Blackpaw.
"Two seasons ago, you were my apprentice, and I believe that you can be a great mentor to Blackpaw, use what I have taught you and you shall not go wrong."
Shadeclaw dipped his head before replying. "I will not fail you, Wolfstar."
Blackpaw was both nervous and excited as she touched noses with her mentor.
Bearkit was shaking now he was so excited, the real question was
who would be his mentor?"
"Don't think I've forgotten about you, Bearkit. Or should I say Bearpaw." Their leader said.
Badgerpaw and Blackpaw called out his new name before quieting down so their leader could continue.
Wolfstar jumped off the Rockledge and singled for Bearkit to approach him, once the kit was standing in front of him, he spoke again. "I will be your mentor."
Bearpaw's eyes widen in surprise, being the apprentice of your leader was considered to be a great honor!
No one saw Foxfur's eyes narrow at this, had Starclan giving him a warning about this? But Bearpaw was innocent and Wolfstar was a far more noble and honorable cat then Viperstar ever was.
Just to be sure, I'll watch his progress and look out for any strange behavior. Foxfur thought.
* * *
"Can we go see the Fallen Redwood?" Badgerpaw asked.
The three new apprentices were out scouting the edge of their territory with their mentors.
"You'll see it at tomorrow nights Gathering." Wolfstar replied.
All their apprentices eyes widened with glee, they would be going to the Redwood tomorrow!"
"We're approaching Mountain territory." Whitefur mewed, several heartbeats later.
The small group of cats stopped a small creek that marked the boundary between Mountain Clan and Dusk Clan territory.
"Mountain Clan has renewed their scent markers," Wolfstar observed as he caught wind of the scent.
Bearpaw inhaled deeply, taking in the scent of Mountain Clan, the scent of the other clan, said clan had a far different scent then his own.
"Their scent smells different then ours." Badgerpaw commented.
"That will help identify clan mates from warrior of other clans whether in battle or during a gathering." Her mentor replied.
"Come," Wolfstar said. "Let us continue with our patrol."
They continued their patrol and it wasn't long before they reached the Mist Clan boarder, they soon spotted a jet black she-cat on the other side of the boundary. The Mist Clan cat was carrying a bundle of white flowers.
"Who is that?" Blackpaw asked.
"I believe that's Ravenpaw, the Medicine cat apprentice." Shadowclaw replied coolly.
A heartbeat later, a long haired tabby appeared also carrying a bundle,
"What are the doing?" Wondered Badgerpaw.
"Gathering herbs by the looks of it." Wolfstar commented.
The two Mist Clan cats must have heard them because the larger of the two cats looked up and stared in their direction. His ears twitched in greeting and Wolfstar dipped his head in return before turning his attention to his clan mates as the two Mist Clan warriors vanished into the growing mist that surrounded most of their territory.
"Lets move on."
* * *
Bearpaw entered the nursery, carrying a crow in his jaws, he headed for Featherstone's nest and laid the fresh kill at her paws.
The gray tabby queen purred and nuzzled her son in thanks before eating the crow, the other three queens had already eaten and were now sleeping soundly in their nests. A heart beat later, Brownbelly; the small brown queen suddenly let out a yowl of pain, which caught the queens attention and caused Bearpaw to nearly jump out of his fur.
"Bearpaw, get Foxfur. Quickly." Featherstone said.
Bearpaw nodded before bolting from the nursery and made a beeline for Foxfur's den.
"Foxfur!" He cried skidding to a halt in front of the Med cat den.
The rusty furred Medicine cat trotted out of his den. "Yes, Bearpaw, what is it?" The tom said calmly.
"It's Brownbelly, something's wrong!" The apprentice replied, wide eyed and fur fluffed out.
"Ah, she's about to have her kittens," The tom said before looking over his shoulder. "Littlefang, get the Borage and Raspberry leaves."
"Yes, Foxfur." Came Littlefang's reply from the inside the den.
A heartbeat or two later, Littlefang emerged from the den carrying a small of herbs in her jaws, both apprentices followed the older clan cat back toward the nursery.
* * *
"They're so beautiful, Brownbelly." Owlclaw commented as she looked at the three kits who were now nursing against the new mother's belly.
"Like you." Tigerfur purred, nuzzling his mate.
Brownbelly purred in reply.
"Have you named them yet?" Littlefang asked.
"We have," The brown queen replied before pointing a rusty furred kit with her tail. "This is Firekit, he has the same pelt as his father."
Tigerfur smiled and nuzzled her again, purring deeply.
"His siblings are Ashkit and Shadowkit." She gestured to a gray and white kit then took a dark brown almost black kit.
"All three are healthy," Foxfur said with a small smile. "You did well, Littlefang."
Littlefang's tail shot up at her mentor's praise, being Foxfur's apprentice was a nice change of pace, she wasn't constantly on edge like she was with her Viperstar, her old mentor.
"Thank you, Foxfur." She mewed.
"Come, lets leave the new family in peace." The Medicine cat said.
Littlefang followed her mentor out of the nursery, then dipped her head in respect as Wolfstar strolled past them on his way to the nursery.
Bearpaw's ears twitched as the entrance of the nursery shifted then a heart beat later, Wolfstar's head popped into the nursery.
"Hello, Wolfstar. Have you come to see our newest warriors?" Icefur purred.
"Yes, I have," The Dusk Clan leader replied before fully entering the nursery. "Bearpaw, why don't you go to the Fresh Kill pile and get Brownbelly something to eat."
"Yes, Wolfstar." Bearpaw said before bounding out of the nursery toward the fresh kill pile.
His eyes widened when he saw the catch that Rockfang and Cloudfeather had caught.
"Whoa!" Blackpaw explained as she bounding over to her brother.
"What is that?" Bearpaw asked.
"A Pheasant, we found an entire flock over by the abandoned twoleg nest." Cloudfeather explained after placing the tawny bird on the fresh kill pile.
"Can I take it to Brownbelly? She just had her kits." Bearpaw asked.
"She did, how many did she have?" Cloudfeather replied.
"Three. A tom and two she-cats."
"That's great! And yes, you can take my catch to her."
Rockfang took her catch and headed toward the elder's den then stopped when Reedclaw trotted over to her.
Bearpaw tilted his head as he watched the two warriors, the dark tortoiseshell appeared to be acting shy around the black tom and he didn't quite understand why.
"Why is Rockfang acting like that?" He asked.
"You're kidding, right?" Reedclaw has been chasing after Rockfang ever since she became a warrior." Cloudfeather commented.
"Oh." Bearpaw said, fur growing hot with embarrassment.
Reedclaw purred then nuzzled Rockfang, who purred in reply before continuing on her way to the Elder's den, the tom watching her go, tail held high.
"Looks like we have another pair of mates." Cloudfeather observed with a smile.
Bearpaw didn't comment on this, he didn't want to risk sounding like a newborn kit again. Instead, he grabbed the prey that Cloudfeather had caught then half dragged/half carried the fresh kill over to the nursery.
* * *
Wolfstar and Featherstone purred in amusement when Bearpaw reentered the nursery rear first, by the time he and the fresh kill was inside, the poor tom was panting heavily.
"Here, let me help you," Featherstone offered, she took hold of the fresh kill then carried it over to Brownbelly and Tigerfur. "Here, this is from Bearpaw."
"Thank you, Bearpaw." Brownbelly replied with a friendly smile.
"Well done, young one." Tigerfur praised.
Bearpaw purred in reply.
"Go get yourself something to eat." Wolfstar said.
Featherstone couldn't help but purr at her son, she was so proud of him, she could tell that Wolfstar was proud of him as well. But she still had to make sure that neither he or his sister end up like their tyrannical mother.