I watch in horror as Lightningkit hurdles towards the ground. Squeezing my eyes shut, I try to ignore the sticky stuff in my fur. Then I hear her yowl...
"I got it! Oh! My legs hurt! Ouch! Maybe I shouldn't have done that..."
Opening my eyes, I see her hopping around on the ground, shaking her legs. Next to her is a squashed mouse.
"What were you thinking!?" Thunderkit shrieks, "You scared me half to death!" She quickly crawled down the tree and raced over to her sister.
"I'm fine, honestly. Well... I am a bit shaken up but not really hurt. And, I caught it!"
I slowly crawl down the tree until I reach the first branch. Turning around, I creep down backwards. I reach the ground and suddenly Thunderkit is licking my fur.
"Hey! Your fur tastes good!"
Lightningkit comes over and joins her sister in lapping at my fur, "She's right! It's sweet!"
"Huh?" I twist my head around to look. The stuff on my fur is a clear/yellow/brown color and very sticky. I give it a quick lick, and another and another.
"How can such awful stuff taste so good?" I wonder aloud.
"Isn't it kinda like tree blood?" Lightningkit has climbed the tree and is dabbing her paw in the sticky stuff, "Maybe that's why it tastes good? Prey blood tastes good, doesn't it?"
"Yah, that's probably why." Thunderkit answers.
Once we get my fur reasonably clean Lightningkit meows, "Lets go hunting now."
She hides the mouse in the bramble and we set off, sniffing the air.
"After all that shouting there probably won't be any prey around here," Thunderkit points out, "And I hope that no one in camp heard us."
I hope nobody heard me screaming about the sticky stuff in my fur, I think to myself.
"Hey, lets race to the border!" Lightningkit shouts as she races off.
Thunderkit and I dash after her. Then we hear a sharp squeal from ahead, quickly cut off. When we arrive we see a soaked Lightningkit on the edge of a shallow stream.
"Why do you keep getting in trouble? First you jumped out of a tree then you fell in the stream! Next you will probably go to sleep on the Thunderpath." Thunderkit meowed irritably.
This time I lick Lightningkit's fur clean.
"It's not my fault! We came out here to hunt, remember? The reason l jumped out of the tree is because I saw a mouse. Then I was trying to beat you to the border, I didn't see the stream until I was on top of it!"
"You jumped out of the tree because you saw a mouse." Thunderkit meowed flatly.
"You had better not tell me that it is the worst excuse in the territories."
"Fine, I won't. It is the most terrible, horrible, awful excuse in all of Starclan and the whole world."
"That's even worse! You weren't supposed to say that!" Lightningkit launched herself at Thunderkit.
"Stop!" I shout, "It's like Lightningkit said, we are out here to hunt, not fight."
The sisters roll around on the ground.
"Watch out!" I warn. Too late. Splash!
Darting over to the stream I grab Lightningkit's scruff and haul her out. Thunderkit stalks out and shakes herself dry. I try to calm Lightningkit down,
"She said that I wasn't supposed to catch that mouse!" Lightningkit wailed.
"Is she right?"
"That has nothing to do with it!"
Thunderkit snorted, "Yah right."
"Lets just hunt." I meow.
Thunderkit stalks through the undergrowth and Lightningkit stands up and walks the other direction. I follow her. Scenting a sparrow, I follow the trail a few fox-lengths before spotting it. Crouching low I prepare to leap, but my twitching tail makes so much noise that the sparrow shoots off before I even finish lowering myself. When I find a rabbit it isn't even afraid of me, throwing me off when I leap on it. I finally give up on that. Wandering on, I find a vole. This time I think, imagining myself leaping on it and sinking my teeth into its neck. When I finally jump, I sail over the vole and land in the bracken on the other side. By the time I climb out the vole is nowhere to be seen.
Letting out a faint hiss of irritation I glance up at the sky. If we're not back soon, I realise, someone will notice we're missing, if they haven't already. It is a little past sunhigh and I start to head back.
There! Movement catches my eye, turning slowly I spot a shrew. Crouching down I gather myself to leap. I land on the shrew! I can hardly believe it! Quickly I nip its neck, killing it instantly. I trot back to the stream to join the others.
Lightningkit is there with a scrawny mouse. It looks like it's missing a leg. Thunderkit arrives just after me, carrying a plump water vole. As soon as she comes into sight I stand up and start in the direction of camp, hoping the fight doesn't start up again. At least I think camp is this direction. It is. I assure myself. Isn't it? Lightningkit nudged me forward and I realise that I had stopped.
Dropping my prey I ask, "Is this the right path?"
"I'm pretty sure." Thunderkit meows. Lightningkit takes the lead and finally we find the trees that we climbed earlier. Fetching her mice, Lightningkit starts to climb.
When we reach the other side Thunderkit leads us down the path. It is harder to go down with prey than to go up without and I slip more than once. Reaching the bottom, I slip under the bramble and peek around the edge of the nursery.
Moonfur is sitting in front of the nursery, her tail twitching. She is keeping a close eye on my littermates, and a hopeful one on the camp entrance. Looking around I notice that everyone is shooting a occasional glance at the camp entrance.
Uh oh, I think, they know we're missing! Thunderkit is the first to turn around and deposit her prey under a bramble, Lightningkit and I close behind her.
"Lets pretend we were hiding behind the elders den," Thunderkit gives a soft hiss, "we will sneak over there one by one. Lavakit, you go first."
I gulp, sneaking all the way over there won't be easy.
The camp entrance is to the west. The warriors den is the nearest to it, on the south side. Then comes the nursery, well protected in a mass of brambles. On the north side of the ravine is a small cave, the leaders den is only accessible by climbing the tree next to it. The stout branch at the entrance is the Tall Branch, where the leader makes her announcements. The apprentice den is east of that, a small bush that has pretty pink flowers in late newleaf. Then there is the medicine cats den, surrounded by tall grass, flowers, and even a few herbs. The den itself used to be a foxhole, now it has room for numerous nests, though at the moment there is only one. The herbs are kept in the wall, where someone made many little acloves. Between the medicine cats den and the nursery is the elders den, backed away into the corner. A few large rocks in the center make a nice spot to bask in the sun, some of the elders are there now.
All I have to do is crawl three foxlengths and I will be behind the elders den. Sticking close beside the bramble wall, I creep forward, hoping my bright ginger pelt attracts no notice. Step by step, I hardly dare to breath. Inching closer, I can stand it no longer. Dashing through the last taillength, I try to make no sound. I crouch behind the bush and look over to where the other kits sit.
Thunderkit comes next, her pelt blending in with the pale shadows, she stalks towards me. Her eyes dart to the rest of the camp, no one is looking. When she finally reaches me I can't help but sigh in relief, she echoes me. Turning around we spot Brokentooth headed our way. Thunderkit raises a paw in a clear and urgent message to her sister, 'Stay!'