Frost-tail looked around at the battlefield. More cats than she cared to count were lying on the ground, either dead or seriously wounded. Her mate and leader, Darkstar, lay dead beside his opponent, who was breathing in shallow breaths. As she watched, Hawkshadow drew in her last shaky breath, and then lay still. Frost-tail knew she'd been killed by the wounds given to her by Darkstar. She let out a sigh of relief as the rest of her Clan stopped fighting and instead turned to watch Darkstar.
When RainClan paused, so did StormClan. Before all their eyes, the spirits of the dead rose from their respective bodies, as the ancestors stepped down from the skies above. The ranks of StarClan welled out among them, and the living abandoned their places to greet their lost loved ones.
A yowl rose from Darkstar's mouth, and the cat's of all three Clans gathered. Darkstar spoke first. "Frost-tail, since my recent death, RainClan's leader is you. While we're down here, you might a well receive your nine lives."
The large black tom stepped forwards, his pelt littered with glowing stars. "Frost-tail, are you ready to receive the nine lives of a leader?" He asked.
Frost-tail nodded. "Yes, Darkstar, I am ready." she replied, trying to sound confident, though her flicking tail gave away her nervosity. After all, all the cats of StarClan, RainClan and StormClan were gathered to watch the most important ceremony of her life.
The first cat, a flame coloured tom took a step towards her. The last time Frost-tail had seen him he was lying dead in the jaws of a StormClan warrior. He gave a small smile and touched his nose to Frost-tail's white fur. "With this life I give you courage, use it well to defend your Clan."
A jolt of energy ragged through the white's small body, leaving her shaking on the spot. She hadn't expected it to hurt. If that was one life, what would the others feel like? She straightened herself and watched as the first cat left and a second stepped forth.
It was a dark tabby tom, amber eyes excited. "This is the first time I've given a life." Thrushclaw explained as he touched his nose to her forehead. "With this life I give you justice. Use it well to judge the actions of others."
If possible, this life hurt even more, as Frost-tail experienced all the pain and heartbreak the previous leaders had experienced when they judged and punished. This time though, she closed her eyes, drinking in the life, willing more of it to fill her.
The second cat stepped back, and a jet black she-cat took his place. "Duskflower?" she asked, voice barely more than a whisper. The she-cat nodded.
"With this life, I give you loyalty to what you know to be right. Use it to guide your Clan in times of trouble." She touched her black nose to Frost-tail's, and though the leader-to-be had braced herself for the pain, it never came. Instead, she was filled with wisdom, goodness and knowledge, and she willingly drank the life that had been offered for her.
The fourth cat stepped forward, his long sandy legs taking him there in a matter of strides. His amber eyes were bright and filled with energy. When he spoke, his voice was high pitched and fast paced. "With this life I give tireless energy. Use it well to perform your duties as a leader."
A jolt went through Frost-tail's small body, and she felt her legs lift off the ground and she ran as fast as she'd never done before, she caught more prey that in the rest of her lifetime, fought all the battles in the history of the clans, in a matter of seconds. At the end, all she could think of was the feeling of her paws pounding the ground, and wanting to do it all again.
A patched cat stepped forwards, her small frame matching Frost-tail's. "With this life I give you protection. Use it to care for your Clan like a mother cares for her kits." When she touched her nose briefly to Frost-tail's, her eyes filled with warmth.
Frost-tail, having believed this life would be loving like Duskflower's, was surprised at the immense pain that filled her from whiskers to tail tip. She felt invincible, as if she could lay down all her lives for her Clan in a heartbeat, not afraid of anything. In a blink of an eye, the pain was over, and the fifth cat stepped back.
Pain filled the white's eyes as the next cat came to stand in front of her. "Tawnykit? Please tell me you're happy? I'm so sorry I wasn't strong enough." she whispered, her leaf green eyes searching.
"I'm fine mother, I promise. I forgive you." her long lost kit replied. "With this life I give you mentoring. Use it to train the young of your Clan." The small tortoiseshell reached up and touched her nose to Frost-tail's chin, before stepping back and taking her place in the ranks of StarClan.
A great cloud of anguish filled Frost-tail's heart, the torment so great she was doubting her survival. Her heart was breaking uncountable times and she had no time to recover. She was overflowing with despair, and she felt the urge to turn and run. Her paws, however, were firmly rooted to the ground.
The seventh cat, a white tom, took his place before her. "With this life I give you compassion. Use it to care for the elders, the sick and all those weaker than yourself." he touched his muzzle to her head, and stepped back.
Even though receiving this life was painful, Frost-tail stood strong through this life, as it was nowhere near the pain she had experienced during the first few lives that had been offered for her. She once more drank the life, savoring the feeling of it pouring into her.
Next came Greytail, the deputy before her. He smiled warmly at her, almost more loving than when he'd been alive. "With this life I give you love. Use it well for all the cats you care about." He touched his nose to her muzzle.
Frost-tail had braced herself for the pain but it never came. Instead, she felt the infinite love that all of StarClan had experienced in their life times, being poured into her heart with such warmth and care she was lost for words. Her eyes gleamed with joy.
The last cat stepped forth, his amber eyes gleaming with pride, and his black shoulders squared. He looked down at Frost-tail. "Welcome, Frost-tail, my warrior and deputy. I knew you would make a great leader one day." Frost-tail dipped her head respectfully. "With this life I give you nobility, certainty, and faith. Use it well as you lead your Clan in the ways of StarClan and the warrior code."
After the calm of the last life, Frost-tail was in no way prepared for the agony that her final life brought. It brought joy and suffering, happiness and sadness, desperate madness, terror and power, before ending in a calm acceptance.
Darkstar lifted his nose from her head. " I hail you by your new name, Leafstar. Your old life is no more. You have now received the nine lives of a leader, and StarClan grants to you the guardianship of Thunderclan. Defend it well; care for the young and old; honor your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code, and live each life with pride and dignity."
The StarClan cats around her began to chant her name, then RainClan joined in. The StormClan cats stayed silent for a short time, before somewhat reluctantly joining in the chant. Darkstar summoned for silence once more with a yowl, and turned to face the gathered cats.
"Your rivalry has gone too far," he began. "The solution is to join the two Clans. From this moment on, you'll be known as DawnClan, in honor of the new beginning this will bring. It's a new dawn."