Sootkit's POV

"After the Great Battle fought between the four Clans and the Dark Forest, a peace like never before descended upon the Clans. Every cat, every leader, knew that without every Clan and every warrior, the battle would not have been won. And so the borders were observed and respect for different Clans had never been so high in all of Clan history. But, like all good things, it didn't last long.

"The first sign of unrest was when Bramblestar, leader of ThunderClan, was attacked near the ShadowClan border. Bramblestar recounted how he had been hunting and how, as he'd crouched to take down a blackbird, a heavy weight dropped onto his back and his chin smashed into a rock, knocking him out. He was discovered by a patrol led by one of his warriors, Dovewing, covered in ShadowClan's scent. After he woke, Bramblestar led a patrol to speak to Rowanstar of ShadowClan about his attack. Rowanstar claimed no ShadowClan cat would have done such a thing and Bramblestar returned to ThunderClan. But Bramblestar suspected Rowanstar of not telling the truth. And that was how all the old rivalries started again.

"Soon enough, ThunderClan and ShadowClan were locked in a constant stream of border skirmishes, eventually ending with Bramblestar's death. Squirrelflight, his deputy and mate, immediately ordered a raid on ShadowClan's camp. She claimed they had gone too far.

"Squirrelflight ended up killing Rowanstar and being murdered in turn by Dawnpelt, his daughter. In that terrible battle, the ShadowClan deputy, Smokefoot, also met his end. That left two groups of hostile with no leaders.

"WindClan ended up sending a patrol to ThunderClan to make them see sense. Their plan backfired when Ashstar was killed not once, but twice, mistaken for a ShadowClan cat. They immediately got caught up in the constant battling, eventually ending in WindClan left with no leader or deputy either.

"RiverClan was known for its cleverness. Their leader, Reedstar, showed great intelligence when he proclaimed he was taking RiverClan and leaving to find a new, violence-less territory. And RiverClan left the lake.

"So the four Clans dissolved into a squabbling mass of cats struggling to survive on what territory they could manage to claim. And they're like that still."

I listened intently, soaking up every word my mother spoke. I'd already heard this story several times, but I still loved hearing it. Rainkit, my little brother, apparently did too, because he spoke up beside me to ask the same question he did every time.

"Why aren't we at the lake anymore?"

Lightwing shifted in her mossy nest, her fawn tabby fur like a shadow while her white muzzle, chest, underbelly, and legs seeming to glow in the half-light. Her hazel eyes glowed with love as she looked down at us. "Well, a group of the cats who still had some sense left decided that the lake could no longer be our home. We traveled away from the lake and settled here to raise our kits and live in peace. There are many kits here, for the group was comprised completely of queens and their mates."

Rainkit's brow furrowed right on cue. "The queens' mates came too? Then why isn't our father here?"

Lightwing sighed and her eyes got the faraway look she always got when talking about their father. I pricked up my ears, wondering if we'd get new information about him this time.

"Ashthorn was going to come with us. But at the last moment, he heard of a resistance group that was forming in the forest to try and restore peace to the lake. He decided he had to stay to make it safe for cats again. He promised me he'd come find me when it was safe for me and our kits to live there. He said we shouldn't be driven out of our home like that. He said we should take it back and show we won't go down without a fight. He was always a fighter." She smiled down at her third and oldest kit. "You've inherited that from him, Cinderkit."

I glanced around at Rainkit and my sister. She was lying curled in the farthest part of the nest, her flank rising and falling rhythmically. She didn't respond to Lightwing, acting as if she was already asleep. But I knew she was just faking it.

Ever since we'd been born, Cinderkit, Rainkit, and I had had a mental connection none of us could explain. For example, I could tell Rainkit was sleepy but trying to stay awake and that Cinderkit really had to visit the Dirtplace. But Cinderkit had been pretending to sleep for awhile now to exclude herself from the conversation and was too proud to let us know she hadn't really been asleep this whole time. So she was waiting for us to fall asleep to sneak out of the den.

I decided to spare her more excruciating heartbeats of lying motionless. Sending her a quick thought message telling her what I was doing, I have a huge, fake yawn. "I'm tired," I announced.

"So am I," Rainkit admitted. I glanced at him but couldn't tell if he was being sincere or if he'd picked up on what I was doing.

"How about let's all join Cinderkit in a bit of sleep?" Lightwing suggested.

"Good idea," I said, curling up on a soft bit of moss.

The other two began circling, kneading the moss to get the tough clumps out. Then, slowly, they grew still and quiet.

I stretched out my mind to Cinderkit. She was uncurling and stretching from her position near the edge of the nest. As she bounded away up the tunnel to the surface, she sent me a short thought message. I smiled to myself as I knew how much it had cost Cinderkit to send me that one word.