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Warriors: The New Prophecy #4: Starlight (Warriors: The New Prophecy #04)by Erin Hunter
Brambleclaw stood at the top of the slope, gazing at the clawpricks of silver fire reflected in the lake below. The Clans had finally found their new home, just as Midnight had promised. StarClan was waiting for them, and they were safe from the Twoleg monsters at last.
Around him warriors from all four Clans murmured to each other, staring uneasily at the dark, unfamiliar space at the foot of the hill.
"It's impossible to tell what's down there in this light." Brightheart, a ginger-and-white ThunderClan warrior, swung around so that her one good eye could take in the whole of the landscape.
Her mate, Cloudtail, twitched his tail. "How bad can it be? Think what we've come through to get here. We can fight off anything on four legs."
"And what about Twolegs?" demanded Russetfur, the ShadowClan deputy.
"The journey has left us all tired and weak," Blackclaw of WindClan added. "Foxes and badgers could track us down easily when we're all out in the open like this."
For a moment Brambleclaw felt a tremor of fear. Then he braced his shoulders. StarClan would not have brought them here if they did not believe the Clans could survive in their new territories.
"What are we waiting for?" a new voice spoke up. "Are we going to stand here all night?"
Stifling a mrrow of laughter, Brambleclaw turned to see his Clanmate Squirrelpaw standing behind him. The ginger apprentice was tearing the tough, springy grass with her front paws, her green eyes glowing with anticipation.
"Brambleclaw, look!" she purred. "We did it! We found our new home!"
She tucked her hindlegs under her, ready to dash down the hill, but before she could take off, Firestar pushed through the cats and stood in her way.
"Wait." The ThunderClan leader touched his daughter's shoulder affectionately with the tip of his tail. "We'll go together, and keep a sharp lookout for trouble. This may be the place that StarClan wished us to find, but they would not expect us to leave our wits in the forest."
Squirrelpaw dipped her head respectfully and stepped back, but when she shot a sideways glance at Brambleclaw, he saw that her eyes still gleamed with excitement. For Squirrelpaw, their journey's end could not possibly be scary.
Firestar padded over to join Blackstar and Leopardstar, the leaders of ShadowClan and RiverClan. "I suggest we send a patrol ahead," he meowed. "Just a couple of cats, to find out what it's like down there."
"Good idea — but we can't just stand here and wait for them to return," Leopardstar objected. "It's much too exposed."
Blackstar grunted in agreement. "If a fox came along now, it could pick off the weaker cats with no trouble at all."
"But we need to rest." Mudclaw of WindClan came up to join the discussion. His leader, Tallstar, lay on the ground a little way off, with the medicine cat Barkface crouching over him. "Tallstar can't go much farther."
"Then let's send the patrol right away," Firestar suggested, "and the rest of us will follow more slowly until we find somewhere more sheltered. Yes, Mudclaw," he added, as the WindClan deputy opened his mouth to argue, "we're all tired, but we'll sleep more easily if we're not stuck out on the open hillside like this."
Blackstar called Russetfur over to him, while Leopardstar signaled with her tail for her deputy, Mistyfoot.
"I want you to go as far as the lake, then come straight back," Leopardstar ordered. "Find out what you can, but be quick, and stay out of sight."
The two cats flicked their ears, then whirled and raced away, loping along with their bellies close to the ground; within a couple of heartbeats they had vanished into the darkness.
Firestar watched them go before letting out a yowl to call the rest of the cats around him. Mudclaw went back to Tallstar and nudged the old leader to his paws. Their Clans clustered together behind the leaders of ThunderClan, RiverClan, and ShadowClan and began to follow them down the slope toward the lake.
"What's the matter?" Squirrelpaw demanded, noticing that Brambleclaw wasn't moving. "Why are you standing there like a frozen rabbit?"
"I want . . ." Brambleclaw glanced around and spotted his sister Tawnypelt padding past a little way off; he summoned her with a jerk of his head. "I want all of us to go down together," he explained when the tortoiseshell she-cat joined them. "All the cats who made the first journey."
Four cats remained from the six who had left the forest in search of a new home many moons ago. They had gained something very precious on that journey, as well as a safe place for their Clans to live: a strong bond of friendship had been forged between them, stronger than rock and deeper than the endless water that washed against the cliffs where Midnight the badger lived.
Now Brambleclaw wanted to travel with his friends one more time before their duties to their separate Clans forced them apart.
Tawnypelt let out a purr of approval. Meeting her green gaze, Brambleclaw knew that, like him, she understood they would soon be rivals again; that the next time they met could be in battle. The pain of parting swelled in his heart, and he pressed his muzzle to his sister's, feeling her breath warm against his whiskers.
"Where's Crowfeather?" she asked.
Brambleclaw looked up and spotted the young WindClan warrior a few tail-lengths away, anxiously pacing beside Tallstar. The WindClan leader looked so exhausted he could hardly put one paw in front of the other; his long tail dragged on the ground and he was leaning heavily on the brown tabby warrior Onewhisker. The WindClan medicine cat, Barkface, walked close behind, a worried look on his face.
"Hey, Crowfeather!" Squirrelpaw called.
The WindClan cat bounded across. "What do you want?"
Brambleclaw ignored his unwelcoming tone. Crowfeather's tongue was sharp enough to slice your ears off, but if danger threatened he would fight to his last breath to defend his friends.
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