Chapter Four

"At least we got Crowpaw out," Featherpaw mewed, flashing disgusted glances at Rainpaw as she talked with Ottersplash. "No thanks to that bird-brain!"

Rainpaw sniffled and turned her back towards the cats. She had just been informed that they had the lost battle and ShadowClan had taken back Heronpaw and Swanpaw. And she had been yelled at by a rather angry Featherpaw about how nobody actually wanted her in the clan after her episode with Ottersplash. "What kind of cat calls hunting murdering?" Rainpaw recalled her sister muttering.

Soon after the battle party returned home, Lakestar called a clan meeting. All the cats began to gather around the high ledge. "Yes, Rainpaw isn't what we expected, but I think she should still continue her training," Lakestar mewed from the huge boulder.

"Lakestar, what would I teach her? She can't hurt a living thing!" Ottersplash mewed. She glanced sympathetically at Rainpaw. "I think she'd be much better off learning from Catfish," the young warrior said, mentioning the old medicine cat. Rainpaw ducked her head as she retreated to the beach of the SeaClan camp. The salty air blew through her fur as she stared into the ocean waves. She could hear the rest of the clan meeting behind her, anxious for what Lakestar would decide.

"Nonsense. I'll teach her something," Lakestar meowed. After a few more announcements, Rainpaw left with Lakestar to the apprentices' training cave.

"Rainpaw? Are you sure you don't want to be a medicine cat? You do know how much they contribute to a clan, don't you? Without a medicine cat-"

"I know," Rainpaw murmured, dragging her feet in the well-worn path through the beachy trees. A seagull cried out far above, and Lakestar sighed.

"Rainpaw, there's a Gathering in a few moons. If you still feel like hating me-"

"I don't hate you," Rainpaw said, hastily. She didn't want to disrespect her leader. Lakestar was an idol to her. "And… yes. I would love to go with you to the Gathering."

Lakestar chuckled. "Alright, young one." She picked up the pace along the dirt path.

"Where are we going?" Rainpaw asked, trying to keep up. Her body had grown, but her legs had stayed the same awkward length.

"You will see," Lakestar murmured. Rainpaw turned her gaze back to the path, wondering where Lakestar was leading her.

A droplet spattered against Rainpaw's nose, cold and foreign. It had not rained since Mosspool and Skyhawk had gotten their warrior names a few moons ago. Rainpaw yelped at the icy shock, and Lakestar laughed.

Rainpaw's tail flicked in annoyance as the drops came down faster. "Isn't this wonderful?" Lakestar murmured. Rainpaw grumbled her objection. "Oh, lighten up, Rainpaw. The rain is a gift that StarClan has praised us with. Rainpaw looked up to the sky, trying to believe that there were cats out there looking out for them.

Rainpaw's ears flicked before she understood what she was hearing. A bolt of lightning crashed through the sky, illuminating the path ahead of her. A lone cat was huddled under a rocky overhang, next to a clear blue pool with bright green grass and soft-looking sand around the bank. Colorful flowers dotted the grass, and three small hills grew up around the little safe haven, as if guarding it.

"Catfish?" Rainpaw meowed, recognizing the brown tom. His head swiveled around, and his dark eyes rested on the young apprentice and her leader. "What are you doing here?" Rainpaw continued, lightly trotting up to the older cat.

"What are you doing here?" Catfish mewed, the annoyance clear in his voice. "I don't need a stupid apprentice to come messing up my time with the ancestors."

"Catfish," Lakestar's voice came through the rumbles of the storm, as if warning the medicine cat not to be rude.

Catfish glanced up at the leader. "My apologies, Lakestar," he mewed, dipping his head politely. "I'm just riled up, is all. First a deadly sickness roots itself in SkyClan, and now the stor-"

"SkyClan is sick?" Rainpaw interrupted.

Catfish's long brown ears flicked irritably. "Yes." Then he turned to Lakestar. "Why is she here?" he questioned. Lakestar sighed.

"I wanted to bring her along for the medicine cat's meeting. Let her see what happens here."

Catfish's eyes narrowed. "But this is supposed to a private affair. Only medicine cat apprentices and leaders are allowed to come."

"Yes, I know that, but what's the harm?" Lakestar meowed. Rainpaw was starting to get irritated by the way the adult cats talked like she wasn't there. She was about to butt in when a rustling from on top of one of the hills drew her attention. She watched in fright as two pure-white cats burst from the dull green bushes at the top. As they neared the other cats, they all stopped to greet Catfish and Lakestar.

"Who are they?" Rainpaw whispered to Lakestar as the new cats went to sit by the clear blue pool.

"Primrosepetal of SkyClan and Cloudtuft of FireClan. They have come to the Moonpool to share tongues with their ancestors." In awe, Rainpaw fell silent. Soon, other cats started to arrive. A light brown she-cat who said her name was Otterdash, a tortoiseshell she-cat, and a cat from brown tabby tom from ThunderClan who lumbered towards Rainpaw as if he wanted to smother her. She backed away quickly, tumbling over her own paws. The large brown tabby paused, and then let out a booming laugh.

"She's scared," he purred, his voice rumbling like thunder. "Is this the new apprentice?" Catfish chuckled.

"I don't know what she is, my friend. All I know is she's definitely not a warrior." The two cats laughed at this, and then the foreign cat trod up to her, his fur wet and sticking to his skin.

"Name's Hawkclaw," the tabby meowed. Rainpaw looked up, her eyes wide and frightened.

"I'm sorry, Hawkclaw, this is Rainpaw. I wanted her to see a little bit of medicine cat life. I have a feeling she'll like it." Hawkclaw turned his enormous head to smile at the much more frail-looking she-cat.

Then he turned back to Rainpaw. "Have you eaten anything today?" he questioned the young apprentice.

"N-no," Rainpaw stammered. She scrambled back to her feet, trying to look as dignified as she had before. "Why?"

The tabby chuckled. "The dreams wouldn't come to you if you had eaten even a mouse toe."

Ew, Rainpaw thought. Does this strange cat eat mouse toes?

"Where is Russetfeather?" a cat asked.

"She must be running late. We'll have to start without her," another cat meowed. Murmurs of agreement rose up around the cats. Lakestar turned her head to Rainpaw.

"Follow my lead, Rainpaw," she mewed. "And stick close. This storm is getting worse every second." With a nervous look around her, Lakestar stepped forward toward the pool, and laid down beside it. She let her tail fall into the water and her eyes drooped close.

Rainpaw hesitated only a moment before following her example. She expected a cold rush as she dipped her tail into the water, but instead she only felt a tingling warmth spread through her body. As she nestled down beside Lakestar, her vision started going black, but she did not panic. Something just felt right about it.

Hey guys, I would love a review, and I know not really a whole ton of people are reading this, but it's still fun to update. Anyway, a review would be much appreciated, and I will probably be updating in about a week, or maybe, if you're lucky, tomorrow. Anyway, see you later! :)

- Knifey