Thrasheart closed her eyes and got ready to rest under the night of Silverpelt. She could feel a cold breeze coming from the side of the river. She shivered as she curled her tail over her nose. Her eyes grew heavy, and finally they shut closed. When she opened her eyes, she wasn’t in the warrior’s den anymore. This was the territory of course… but it felt different. Thrash opened her mouth and tasted to air. There was a familiar scent. A faint image of a cat appeared in front of her.

“Crookedstar?” said Thrasheart. The old tom looked concerned, and deeply worried. Then he spoke. “A great threat is coming to the forest.”

Thrasheart shot him a look with a mixture of worry and confusion. “What do you mean?”

Crookedstar looked in the distance behind her. Then let out a ferocious hiss. Thrasheart looked behind her, only to see a big, brown beast four times her size curling his lips into a snarl. It unsheathed his great big claws and prepared for a strike at Thrash. As the paw whipped through the air, she shut her eyes and waited for the pain. But nothing happened.

“Thrasheart! Thrasheart, wake up!”

Thrash’s eyes flew open, and then relaxed to see the beast was replaced by her sister’s face. “Applepaw, what are you doing in the warriors den?”

“Leopardstar just announced a clan meeting. Hurry up, you lazy furball!” said Applepaw.  Shocked, Thrasheart jump to her feet immediately and scurried out into the crowd of cats. Everyone was glaring at her when she arrived, mostly the clan leader.

Leopardstar cleared her throat, and then spoke. “Someone has been killing our prey.” She began. Meows of disapproval rose from the crowd of cats. “Silence!” yelled Leopardstar. “I haven’t finished. Something has been killing our prey… but the patrols are right on one thing…. It was not a cat that did it this time.”     

Every cat stood there in shock. What could’ve killed it if it wasn’t a cat? Leopardstar went on.

“I will send out more patrols to find out what this mystery creature is. The next patrol shall be made up of Frecklepelt, Thrasheart, Applepaw, Gingerstreak, and Suntail. He shall lead the patrol.” Then she jump down from the Highrock, and crept back into her den.

A sudden voice made Thrasheart jump. “Ok, patrol! Time to head out near the river… the mystery animal might have been there.” said Suntail. Thrasheart rolled her eyes and followed the gang of cats out of the camp and towards the river. Suntail lead the cats with his head and tail held high. Thrash felt a sudden teasing nudge on her shoulder. She spun her head around and glared that Gingerstreak, who had a huge smirk stretched across her face. Thrash was going to gently cuff her ear with her paw, when a strange scent stopped her in mid-swoop.

“Yuck, smells like crow-food!” said Applepaw.

Thrasheart couldn’t help but agree.  It smelled like rotten fish, and the scent made her nose wrinkle. “I think it is…” said Frecklepelt. “Look.”

There was a half- eaten moldy piece of fish guts sprawled beside the river, with flies swarming around it. Suntail padded over and took a sniff. Then he looked like he was going to barf. Thrash let out a purr of amusement, and stopped suddenly when the disgusting aroma reached the tip of her nose.

“What could’ve done this?” said Gingerstreak, gagging.

“I don’t know.” said Suntail. “But we’d better report this to Leopardstar, for the sake of the clan. And our noses.”   

As Thrash got back to the camp, it was the time of sharing tongues.  The whole clan looked relaxed, even Leopardstar. The kits played while the queen laughed and talked. Many cats were just grooming themselves. Thrasheart felt a warm feeling to see that her clan was so peaceful. She let out a sigh.

“Thrasheart, it’s time for my lesson!” a little voice called.

She turned around to see Applepaw, padding her way.

“Oh, I’m sorry Applepaw, I guess you’re right!” meowed Thrash. “Let’s go get Gingerstreak to watch.”

The two walked over to Ginger, where she was sharing tongues with Mistyfoot, one of the actually nice elders.

“Hey Ginger, wanna come watch me train Applepaw?” Thrash yelled in her ear. Gingerstreak annoyingly swatted her away and replied, “Eh, sorry Thrash. Mistyfoot is telling me an awesome story, why not go ask Suntail to join you?” she teased.

Thrasheart suddenly felt cheeks getting red hot and painfully clawed Ginger with a swipe. “

Hey, ow!” said Ginger, then she pounced onto Thrash and they started play fighting. Thrasheart was just about to claw a fake death blow, when she heard a voice behind her.

“Uh… you said you wanted me to come watch you mentor Applepaw… I have nothing got do anyway, so I thought to myself, why not come?” said Suntail, awkwardly.

“Uhhh, sure, yeah. You can come if you want.” Thrasheart said as she strained an awkward smile. “Sure, let’s go.” said Suntail. “Applepaw’s waiting.”

“Sure, catch up with you in a moment, Suntail.” meowed Thrash.

As Suntail trotted away, Thrasheart quickly spun around to shoot a death glare at Ginger, who again had that big disgusting smirk.  Thrash ended it as she finished her fake death blow, striking Ginger gently but painfully in the stomach. Then she set out after Suntail, proud of herself as Ginger mrrowed in pain.

                                                          *                             *                                * “Ok, Applepaw.  You can catch one better with your right paw, and using your left paw for balance.” Thrash was sitting beside the river, watching carefully about Applepaw’s fishing technique. Beside her sat Suntail, staring. And staring. And staring. She felt a pang of annoyance, she didn’t know why. Maybe because he wasn’t paying attention to her? Suddenly the silence ended when Applepaw sliced her paw piercing into the river, splashing water all over her mentor and Suntail. Then a tiny squeal came out of Applepaw as she slipped off balance and fell into the river. She splashed and thrashed around until the she came to the edge and Suntail and Thrash pulled her up.

“Otter dung!” spat Applepaw. “It got away!”

“Don’t worry Applepaw.” said Suntail. “There is still plenty of fish in the river.”

“Let’s get you back to the camp, and get you dry.” purred Thrasheart. “You look like you’ve fell asleep in the rain for three moons!”

As they entered the camp, Gingerstreak was waiting for them.  Night had fallen and Thrash was practically asleep on her paws.

“Let’s get some fresh-kill and head to the den. I feel as if I could sleep until I wake up to find Suntail as the new leader!” said Gingerstreak. She finished her sentence with a huge yawn.

The three sisters padded over to the fresh-kill pile and each picked out something to eat. Thrash carried her vole back to the den. It was tough and stringy, but she hadn’t eaten at all that day. The vole tasted like most delicious thing she had ever eaten at that moment. But before she could finish it all, her legs just collapsed as she drifted off to sleep.

Sunlight shone through the den opening where Thrash was sleeping, and the brightness made her eyes sore, so she just decided to wake up.  The plan for today was that the trio sisters would go hunting together at sunhigh. Thrash looked across the camp, and the cats were already busy at work. Then she looked at the lump of fur beside her, and then quickly realized that it was her half-eaten vole from yesterday. She picked up the smelly vole with her paws, then placed and buried them in Gingerstreak’s bedding.  Letting out loud purrs of amusement, she trotted over to the fresh-kill pile where her sisters were waiting for her.

“Grab a fish then head to the river, Thrash! We’ll be waiting.” said Applepaw.

As they ran off, Thrasheart just decided to go with them. They’ll be hunting anyway, so why waste the clan’s food when you are just going to get your own? Thrasheart’s tail drooped as she walked past the fresh-kill pile.  It was so tempting.

As the sisters trotted though the forest, Thrash kept her eyes peeled for anything out-of-the-ordinary.  She stopped at her favorite scratching-tree, and one she used to sharpen her claws. But today there was something different about it.

“HUH!?” exclaimed Thrasheart.

Of course there are a million scratches on the tree, but one stood out. Huge claw marks ripped down the side of the poor oak, almost cutting it in half. Thrash’s eyes grew wide with terror. Some huge beast made these marks. Maybe a badger…? It didn’t smell like one though… Shrugging it off, Thrash continued to the river. Not knowing there was a rock in front of her, she tripped and landed in smelly muck.

“Otter dung!” she cursed.”Oh wait… fox dung…ew.”

She shook most of it off and trotted through the forest and to the river.

“I hope I don’t smell too bad…” she joked.

Suddenly two leaping figures pounced on her, letting out a fierce battle cry. Thrasheart felt a sharp pain as claws raked down her side. She raised a paw and unsheathed her long, piercing claws and sliced through both of the cats and watched them fall to the ground. Her heart lurched when she realized who attacked her.

“Gingerstreak?!” she exclaimed. “Applepaw?!”

“Thrasheart, is that you?” said a small reddish she-cat.

The two got up and shook the dirt of their pelts. They started licking their chest, embarrassed.

“Heh, sorry Thrash, we thought you were a fox. You certainly smelled like one.” said Gingerstreak.

“Well, you’d smell like one too if you fell in the pile of fox dung.” Thrash said, remembering how some of it got in her mouth….UGH!

Gingerstreak and Applepaw yowled in laughter, while Thrash swatted their ears, annoyed.  When they padded back the camp, with mouthfuls of fish, it was nearly sunset time and everyone was tired. Unfortunately, Thrash didn’t have time to rest. She had to get ready for the Gathering. She needed to know what was going on around here. “This way, we must get to the gathering early.” meowed Leopardstar. The group of cats was trotting through the forest, to the Fourtrees. Thrash could hear the yowling of cats ahead of her. As they steeped over into the clearing, Leopardstar leaped onto the Great rock, and joined the other leaders.

“I shall start first.” announced Blackstar, leader of Shadowclan. “Shadowclan is thriving well. We have enough prey to survive through leaf-bare. Under my guidance, most of us will make it to new-leaf, and maybe even some kits.” Thrash thought he looked happy for a second, then turn dead- serious again. “Although we are well, our patrols have scented Thunderclan cats in our territory.  If we do again, we will be forced to take action.” The Shadowclan cats let out a yowl of approval, then silenced again when Thunderclan stepped up.

“ Thunderclan is not responsible for crossing on your territory. We are happy in our own camp, thank you very much. Thunderclan is fine and doing great. Our fresh- kill pile is just enough for leaf-bare. Hopefully the kits will survive in time to be made apprentices in new-leaf.” sighed Firestar. “ On the other side, there have been strange scents and mysterious killings in our territory. Leopardstar, care to tell us what’s going on?” Thrasheart yowled in fury with the other cats in her clan.

“Riverclan has nothing to do with the killings. We have plenty of fish in our river, and we do not need any of your prey.” replied  Leopardstar, as she stepped forward. “ But you are right on one thing, Firestar.  Our patrols have also noticed that things are strange lately. Perhaps  there are a gang of foxes lurking around? We are not sure, but if we find anything we shall report to you on the next Gathering.”

“Yes. Thank you Leopardstar, same goes with Thunderclan” replied the flame- colored leader.

Just then Tallstar stepped forward on the Great Rock, slightly shoving the other leaders over a bit. “Windclan has been noticing weird things lately too. Our medicine cat Barkface has had several messages from Starclan, and we are starting to get worried.” Thrash felt a lump in her throat- did the great leader of Windclan just admit that his clan was weak and scared? She was startled when he quickly spoke again. “But we’ve got it all under control! We have strong, healthy cats to lead patrols and fight if there is a need.”

The leaders started to exchange glances, looking quite bewildered, as the same with a few other cats. There was an awkward silence- kind of eerie- that filled the clearing.

“Then it’s settled!” snapped Leopardstar, breaking the silence.

“She could’ve scared all the prey in the forest,” Thrash mumbled silently.

“This Gathering is over. There is nothing else we need to talk about, until the next gathering…agreed, leaders?” The other three clan leaders bowed their heads, and all started to leap off the Great Rock and out of the clearing. Leopardstar signaled us with her tail. “Move."

The next few days were just a blur. Leafbare had just settled in, not to mention unexpectedly,too. Prey was scarce and signs of whitecough were spreading around the camp. "We must have faith, Starclan bring us good luck" Leopardstar had said. In thenursery, the kits huddled close to their mother, and unlike any other times of leaf-bare, they were frightened to even look at the falling snow. I remember when I was just a kit, Thrasheart thought to herself.  I was dying to see my first snowfall. She was about to go give the elders a visit, but the sound of bushes ruffling behind her made her jump.

Bundles of snow-flecked fur appeared through the brambles. Hunting patrol. Nothing but a minnow, probably. Applepaw padded over to the fresh-kill pile, dropping her tiny, feeble shrew onto it.

"This probably won't feed a hedgehog, frog-dung." she cursed, sadley.

"Don't be a minnow-brain, Applepaw, fresh kill is fresh kill. I'm impressed that you actually managed to catch anything in this mangy weather," said Thrasheart, trying to cheer her up. "Let's get you warmed up with some training, what do you say?"

"Thrasheart... I'm so cold." replied Applepaw, exhausted and shaking. "I think I need... to lie down."

We have to get her to Mothwing, Thrasheart thought, panicking. Helping Applepaw up on one shoulder, they carefully lugged over to the medicine cat den.

Thrasheart set her down, and Applepaw laid half-asleep on the floor. Mothwing looked concerned.

"Mothwing, is there anything you can do?" asked Thrasheart. "Is she going to be okay?"

"I can't say she's perfectly fine right now. Maybe-" Mothwing's words were interrupted by a fit of coughing coming from the tiny scarlet body on the ground. Flinching, she continued. "

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