"ShadowClan warriors, attack!"
Yellowkit burst out of the nursery and hurtled across the
ShadowClan camp. Her littermates, Nutkit and Rowankit, scurried
Nutkit pounced on a pinecone that lay at the foot of one of the
pine trees overhanging the clearing. "It's a WindClan warrior!"
he squealed, batting at it with tiny brown paws. "Get out of our
"Rabbit-chasers!" Rowankit flexed her claws, growling.
Yellowkit leaped at a straying tendril from the brambles that
encircled the camp; her paws got tangled in it and she lost her
balance, rolling over in a flurry of legs and tail. Scrambling to
her feet, she crouched in front of the bramble, her teeth bared
in a growl. "Trip me up, would you?" she squeaked, raking her
claws across its leaves. "Take that!"
Nutkit began to scan the clearing, peering around with narrowed
amber eyes. "Can you see any more WindClan warriors on our
territory?" he asked.
Yellowkit spotted a group of elders sharing tongues in a shaft of
sunlight. "Yes! Over there!" she yowled.
Nutkit and Rowankit followed her as she raced across the hard
brown earth and skidded to a halt in front of the elders.
"WindClan warriors!" Yellowkit began, trying to sound as
dignified as her Clan leader, Cedarstar. "Do you agree that
ShadowClan is the best of all the Clans? Or do you need to feel
our claws in your fur to persuade you?"
Littlebird, her ginger pelt glowing in the warm light, sat up,
giving the other elders an amused glance. "No, you're far too
fierce for us," she meowed. "We don't want to fight."
"Do you promise to let our warriors cross your territory whenever
they want?" Rowankit growled.
"We promise." Silverflame, the mother of Yellowkit's mother,
Brightflower, flattened herself to the ground and blinked
fearfully up at the kits.
Lizardfang cringed away from the three kits, shuffling his skinny
brown limbs. "ShadowClan is much stronger than us."
"Yes!" Yellowkit bounced up in the air. "ShadowClan is the best!"
In her excitement she leaped on top of Nutkit, rolling over and
over with him in a knot of gray and brown fur.
I'm going to be the best warrior in the best Clan in the forest!
she thought with glee.
She broke away from Nutkit and scrambled to her paws. "You be a
WindClan warrior now," she urged. "I know some awesome battle
"Battle moves?" a scornful voice broke in. "You? You're only a
Yellowkit spun around to see Raggedkit and his littermate,
Scorchkit, standing a couple of tail-lengths away.
"And what are you?" she demanded, facing up to the big dark tabby
tom. "You and Scorchkit were still kits, last time I looked."
"But we'll be apprentices soon," Raggedkit retorted. "It'll be
moons and moons before you start training."
"Yeah." Scorchkit licked one ginger paw and drew it over his ear.
"We'll be warriors by then."
"In your dreams!" Rowankit bounded up to stand next to Yellowkit,
while Nutkit flanked her on her other side. "There are rabbits
who'd make better warriors than you two."
Scorchkit crouched down, his muscles tensed to leap at them, but
Raggedkit blocked him with his tail. "They're not worth it," he
mewed loftily. "Come on, runts, watch us and we'll show you some
real battle moves."
"You're not our mentors!" Nutkit snapped. "All you know how to do
is mess up our game."
"Your game!" Raggedkit rolled his eyes. "Like you wouldn't go
squealing into the nursery if WindClan really attacked our camp."
"Would not!" Rowankit exclaimed.
Raggedkit and Scorchkit ignored her, turning their backs on the
younger kits. "You attack me first," Scorchkit ordered. Raggedkit
dashed past his littermate, aiming a blow at Scorchkit's ear.
Scorchkit swung away and pounced on Raggedkit's tail. Raggedkit
rolled over onto his back, all four paws ready to defend himself.
Annoyed as she was, Yellowkit couldn't help admiring the older
toms. Her paws itched to practice their battle moves, but she
knew that she and her littermates would only get sneered at if
"Come on!" Nutkit nudged her. "Let's go and see if there are any
mice in the brambles."
"You won't catch any, even if there are," Raggedkit meowed,
rising to his paws and shaking debris from his fur.
"I wasn't talking to you." Nutkit's fur bristled and he bared
tiny, needle-sharp teeth. "Kittypet!"
For a moment all five kittens froze. Yellowkit could feel her
heart pounding. Like her littermates, she had heard the elders
gossiping, wondering who had fathered Raggedkit and Scorchkit,
asking one another if it could be true that Featherstorm's mate
had been a kittypet. The young she-cat had often strayed into
Twolegplace, and she'd never been obviously close to any of the
toms in the Clan. But Yellowkit knew that it was something you
should never, never say out loud.
Raggedkit took a pace closer to Nutkit, stiff-legged with fury.
"Whatdid you call me?" he snarled, his voice dangerously quiet.
Nutkit's eyes were wide and scared, but he didn't back down.
"Kittypet!" he repeated.
A low growl came from Raggedkit's throat. Scorchkit's gaze
darkened and he flexed his claws. Neither of them looked one bit
like a soft, fluffy kittypet. Yellowkit braced herself to defend
Yellowkit turned at the sound of her mother's voice. Brightflower
was standing beside the thornbush that shielded the nursery
hollow. Her orange tabby tail was twitching in annoyance.
"Nutkit, if you can't play sensibly, then you'd better come back
here. You too, Yellowkit and Rowankit. I won't have you
"Not fair," Nutkit muttered as all three littermates began
trailing toward the nursery. He scuffed his paws through the pine
needles on the ground. "They started it."
"They're just stupid kittypets," Rowankit whispered.
Yellowkit couldn't resist glancing over her shoulder as she
reached the thornbush. Raggedkit and Scorchkit stood in the
middle of the clearing, glaring after them. The force of
Raggedkit's anger scared her and fascinated her at the same time.
Behind it she could sense something else: a black space that
echoed with fearful questioning. She thought of her own father,
Brackenfoot, who told stories of patrols and hunting and
Gatherings at Fourtrees, who let his kits scramble all over him
and pretended to be a fox so they could attack him. Yellowkit
loved him and wanted to be like him.
What must it be like, not to know who your father is? Especially
if every cat thinks he was a kittypet?
Then Yellowkit realized that Raggedkit's gaze had locked with
hers. With a squeak of alarm she ducked underneath the branches
and tumbled down into the nursery after her littermates.