Chapter 1

A pair of gleaming talons shot past my nose. Leaping back, I raised my eyes and saw the huge eagle that had almost grabbed me. It soared away with a shriek of frustration.

Something slammed into me and I gasped in fear, terrified that a second eagle had snatched me from behind.

Whipping around, I saw it was only my mentor. Robinstripe was wild-eyed with fright and her fur was standing on end.

"Come on, Snowpaw, you have to move!" she hissed, "You can't fight an eagle yet; you have to hide!"

She began shunting me toward the edge of camp, where I could see a small hole amongst the roots of a tree.

"In, in! Get in!" Robinstripe pushed me forward and I stumbled into the dark hole. "I'll see you after the battle. Don't be afraid; be brave." She pressed her nose briefly against my white fur before racing off after an eagle with a fearsome yowl.

"Snowpaw?"

A quivering voice was coming from deeper in the hole. I squinted into the darkness and saw a patch of black and white fur and the flash of bright green eyes.

"Skypaw?"

"Snowpaw, it is you! Thank StarClan you're safe!"

I padded deeper into the hole and crouched down beside my best friend. I could feel her shaking.

"It'll be all right," I meowed.

Empty words.

"Be brave, Skypaw."

Just what my mentor had told me a moment ago. I decided not to say anything else, in case it sounded extremely stupid.

We waited in silence for the battle above to end, listening to the shrieks of eagles and the cries of our Clanmates. Eventually, they both faded to silence.

"Do – do you think the eagles are gone?" Skypaw asked shakily.

"Not sure," I whispered.

"I'll go check."

As Skypaw moved forward to peer out into the clearing, I held my breath. I was scared a pair of talons would appear and carry off my best friend.

"It's clear."

I let out my breath, relief coursing through me.

"But... oh no!"

Worry immediately replaced the relief. "What is it?" I asked hoarsely.

"Maybe you'd better come and see for yourself," was Skypaw's ominous reply.

Once Skypaw had scrambled out of the hole, I climbed up to see what awaited me in the clearing.

Most of the Clan was lying on the blood-soaked grass, motionless. A few cats, who looked no older than Skypaw and I, moved through the bodies. A single, grief-stricken yowl echoed from near the center of the camp, reverberating off the surrounding mountains.

"Snowpaw," Skypaw whispered from beside me, "The only cats I can see are Leafwhisker, all of the apprentices, and all of the kits."

I felt the ground sway beneath my paws and I gripped at the red grass with my claws.

We were all alone.