"What do you think our kits will look and be like?" At this question, the black smoke tabby gazed up at the dark sky, letting out a heavy sigh, a smile appearing on her face.
"Beautiful and handsome, like us...They'll be strong and brave warriors, the strongest in the forest, maybe even leader one day..." Skylark eventually answered, pressing her face into her mate's shoulder fur as she lay on her back with him. The dark-furred tom nodded his agreement, letting out a low, rough purr, curling his tail gently around her's. "Have you thought of any names yet, Darkfang?" She asked quietly, her eyes gleaming in the faint, murky moonlight.
"Hmm...Hiddenkit?" Darkfang asked, gazing at his mate with a warm gaze. Her eyes brightened as he spoke his choice for a name.
"Mmmhmm, yes, I love it...For a tom, of course, as for a she-cat...Shadowkit, or Whisperkit, maybe just Whispkit." Replied Skylark, scooting closer to her mate and letting her warm body press against his.
"I love Shadowkit for a she-kit, but Whispkit even more...She'll be beautiful, just like her mother." The black tom slowly closed his eyes, gently breathing in his mate's sweet scent, the moon bathing their dark pelts as they lay together in the cool, dew-soaked grass. Skylark responded with a simple nod, closing her eyes as well as the warmth of her mate lulled her to sleep.
"...9....10! Ready or not, here I cooommme!" Squealed a high-pitched voice, followed by the swift patter of paws on the cold stone ground. Hiddenkit pressed himself closer to the cool cave wall, burned bracken brushing against his face. He could see his brother, Shadowkit, hiding behind a rock, his dark blue-gray fur fluffed, but his body was pressed against the cool grown. "I'll find you all!" Cried the voice again, the other kit's steps becoming quicker and louder.
Mouse-dung, she's getting close! Hiddenkit thought, holding his breath as he caught scent of the she-kit, hearing her pelt brush against the smoke-scented bracken. His Clanmate paused, scenting the air before moving along, causing Hiddenkit to silently sigh in relief. He watched as the she-kit let out a happy squeal, pouncing on a small she-kit cowering in a corner.
"Found you!" She cried out cheerfully, causing the other to groan in annoyance and anger.
"I wasn't playing Mouse-brain!" The kit snapped, stomping away. Shadowkit, getting a kick out of the scene, broke out into loud and obnoxious laughter, making the she-kit spot him and bolt over to the gray tom. Sticking his tongue out, Shadowkit fled, only to be pounced on and pinned.
"I win, I win!" Chirped the she-kit proudly. Shadowkit scoffed his response.
"Hah, not yet Mintkit, you still haven't found Hiddenkit, my very brother, the champion of Hide 'n' Seek!" Declared Shadowkit, shoving the small pale she-kit off. Mintkit snorted her response, her tiny tail lashing.
"I'll fine him, I will, I will!" She growled, her tiny tail held up triumphicly as she continued her search. Shadowkit slowly scooted closer to his brother, leaning towards the bracken and speaking to Hiddenkit in a low whisper.
"Woooow, no sense of direction much? She's passed you about fifty times!" Snickered Shadowkit, watching Mintkit waltz around cluelessly.
"I know right?! Bruh, I'm just that good." Hiddenkit replied with a cool smirk, causing Shadowkit to smirk as well.
"True that, you're the best at this game, you always win."
"Ah-hah! Speaking with the enemy?!" Mintkit howled, spotting Shadowkit and bounding over to him and his littermate. Hiddenkit rushed through the bracken, his tiny tail held high and his ears flat against his skull.
"You don't win until you catch me, and you can't!" Hiddenkit yowled, bolting out of the nursery and into the murky camp, his paws pounding in the peaty ground. Mintkit snarled from inside the nursery, taking off after the tom, but lagging behind. Before Hiddenkit could flee into the Leader's Den, the Leader himself, Phoenixstar stepped out, gazing curiously down at the kit. Hiddenkit stopped dead in his tracks, gazing up and the massive, proud leader as he studied him.
Whoa....He looks epicer and stronger and humbler in person! The black smoke kit though, amazed at the beast before him. Phoenixstar gave the small kit a slight smile.
"Well, looks like you're off to cause trouble. What's this, a game of tag?" He asked, watched as Mintkit approached, suddenly skidding to a halt, gasping in amazement.
"Hide 'n' Seek!" Responded Hiddenkit proudly, his eyes shining as his leader gazed at him once more.
"And I'm the best, unbeaten!" Hiddenkit told the towering tom proudly, a purr rumbling in his throat. Phoenixstar's smile grew as he watched the amusing kit.
"Well, then you'll make a great leader one day," with that, the magnificent tom turned and walked back into his den, leaving Mintkit and Hiddenkit stunned. Shadowkit had been leaving the nursery when the leader had spoken, but hadn't heard him. Hiddenkit's jaw dropped, as well as Mintkit's, and the black smoke tabby tom raced to his brother with wide eyes.
"Did'ya hear him, did'ya hear him?! He said I'd be leader!" Hiddenkit squealed happily, scampering around his confused brother.
"Really? Cool." Shadowkit responded, not sounding like he believed his brother. Hiddenkit pounced on his brother playfully with a happy look before racing back into the nursery.
"Momma, why can't I go outside?"
"Because I said so Hiddenkit." Skylark refused to look down at her son, who tried to look taller so she could see him. Skylark kept her ears back, looking even farther away from her son. Hiddenkit sighed, giving up and collapsing at his mother's belly, who inched away slightly so their pelts didn't touch. Hiddenkit frowned, confused by his mother's actions, though she always acted this way around him. Hiddenkit gazed longingly outside, watching his brother play with Flutterkit and Cinnamonkit. He sat up as his father entered, a squirrel hanging in his jaws for his mate.
"Hi daddy!" Hiddenkit happily greeted, scampering at his father's feet, who lifted the squirrel higher. He did not return the greeting, causing Hiddenkit to frown once more.
"I talked with Phoenixstar," Darkfang told his mate, causing her to gasp and straighten up.
"What'd he say?!" She asked excitedly, her eyes surprisingly bright as she placed a paw over her meal. Darkfang smiled, sitting close to his mate, and didn't notice Hiddenkit listening in.
"He said he'd give Shadowkit a mentor who had a higher position in the Clan, just as asked! As for you-know-who, he said he'd give him a simple warrior as we requested, but he didn't seem so happy to give him that kind of mentor. He asked why, and I explained to him why, but he still didn't seem pleased." Murmured Darkfang, his eyes lit with joy as well. Hiddenkit's shoulder slumped. He knew that "you-know-who" was referring to him.
"Pssst, Shadowkit, c'mere!" Hiddenkit whispered as his brother entered. He lead Shadowkit to the burned bracken he hid behind during hide 'n' seek to speak to him in private.
"What is it, Hiddenkit?" Shadowkit asked, his voice heavy with concern, gazing worriedly into his brother's kitten-blue eyes.
"...You're getting a good mentor, something like Medicine Cat, or leader, or deputy...I'm getting a lousy warrior." Sighed Hiddenkit, sadly watching his brother beam happily, but suddenly pause and frown.
"Why not you?"
"Daddy asked to give me a warrior, and you a cool cat..."
"That's not fair! I refuse, I'll only train if you're trained by a cat like my mentor!" Declared Shadowkit with a low growl, pressing close to his littermate. Hiddenkit let out a quiet purr, closing his eyes as his protective and caring littermate kept him company.
"Hiddenkit, get away from there, now!" Snapped Darkfang in the distance as Hiddenkit neared the Leader's den.
"But Shadowkit went inside!"
"I don't care, you're not Shadowkit, are you?" Growled the black warrior, barring his fangs in warning. With a loud growl, Hiddenkit stomped away with his fur on end, plopping down beside the Apprentice's den, which no-one cared about. He sat there for a few moments before Skylark snapped at him for no reason as well.
"Hiddenkit, get in the nursery. Now!" She snarled from the Freshkill pile. Stiff-legged with fury and blank with confusion, Hiddenkit returned to the nursery and lay down with a thud. Of course, his parents didn't follow, they simply chatted together, leaving the kit scowling angrily. His whole family treated him oddly, cruely, they bossed him around left and right, and he couldn't say a word in fear of getting cuffed around the ears. But not, nothing was wrong with Shadowkit...But unlike them, Shadowkit treated Hiddenkit like his bestest (yus, not a real word) friend! The black smoke tabby tom found himself crying himself to sleep...
A jab in the side from a small sharp claw awoke Hiddenkit.
"Hey! Move, wouldya?" Grumbled a voice, and the kit looked up to see Sisalpaw and Yewpaw, the she-cat standing back aways.
"I'm moving I'm moving...Jeez, no need to be so rude," retroted Hiddenkit, yawning and getting off the moss. It was getting dark, Skylark was already curled around Shadowkit, falling asleep with him. Hiddenkit boredly watched as Sisalpaw and Yewpaw cleaned up the nursery, replacing the dirty moss with a fresh batch before leaving. Of course, they didn't replace his nest, as it was an old nest for a queen awhile ago who had moved out due to the deaths of her kits. Now, there were only two nests: One for Skylark's litter, and one for Jasminepetal's trouble-some litter. So, if Skylark didn't let him in the nest, he'd be sleeping on the hard, cold ground. In the side of his vision, he saw Shadowkit shifting, awaking and yawning before gazing at his brother with calm blue-green eyes.
"Mhhhh...H-Hiddenkit? C'mon, get over here and sleep..." He mumbled, rolling back over to curl into a ball as he spoke. Hiddenkit trudged over to his brother, about to lay down when Skylark awoke and kicked him away to tell him he wasn't wanted. With a frown, Hiddenkit sat aways, watching his mother and brother slowly fall asleep. When all was quiet, he left the nursery and headed for the Medicine Cat Den. He wanted to see if he was sick, to see if that was why Skylark didn't want him around. He poked his head in the den to see a mottled gray cat, busyily playing with herbs.
"Sagenose?" Once Hiddenkit called out the tom's name, he turned and studied the young tom.
"Ahhh, Hiddenkit! What brings you here?" He asked with a small yawn, shaking his pelt free of herbs that clumped his pelt.
"Why doesn't my momma like me, Mr. Medicine Cat?" Hiddenkit asked, curiousity ringing in his tone as he cocked his head slightly. Sagenose sighed, approaching the exit before pulling Hiddenkit inside, gazing around to make sure all was quiet and empty. Upon seeing camp asleep, he gazed down at Hiddenkit, narrowing his eyes seriously.
"On the night of your birth, the sky was clear and the moon was bright, especially bright. When your brother was born, nothing changed, the moon continued to smile down at camp. But when you were born...The moon was immediately covered with clouds, and a storm began." He meowed, shaking his head slowly. Hiddenkit frowned, shuffling his paws slowly as he gazed at the ground.
"So StarClan didn't want me...?"
"No no, StarClan does want you! They gaze me an Omen that a kit born from the raging Sky and Darkness may destroy the Cats of the Swamp...That's you, Hiddenkit, you may destroy our very Clan." As the Medicine Cat rumbled this, Hiddenkit froze and felt shivers go down his spine. He would destroy his very Clan?
"So I wasn't meant to be born, or at least not wanted...That's why no-one likes me? So my momma wants to give me a terrible warrior so I do no harm?"
"Correct," replied Sagenose with a sad sigh. "But they said you may, not will. It is for you to decide, which path will you follow?"
"I don't know, I don't see any paths right now!" Wailed Hiddenkit, tumbling onto his haunches. Sagenose chuckled softly, helping the black-and-silver tom up with a nudge.
"You will eventually, soon actually..."
"May all cats old enough to catch their own prey, join me beneath the High Boulder for a Clan meeting!" Phoenixstar's voice echoed proudly across camp, and Hiddenkit found himself tumbling out of the nursery as his mother plowed him over.
"Oh my dear Shadowkit, you look so handsome, how proud you've made me!" Skylark purred as she gave the gray tom a few more licks on the forehead. Hiddenkit grumbled. He had to groom himself, and now, he was dirty again! Hissing quietly, he shook out his pelt and hurried after his brother, cutting in front of his mother and being sure to step on her foor and cause her to yelp as pay-back. Hiddenkit had grown tall, his fur sleek, his body muscular, and his head high. Shadowkit was a bit shorter than his brother, but just as handsome. He purred in amusement and told his brother "good job" as he stepped on Skylark's foot, picking up the pace to stand in front of High Boulder with his littermate.
"Shadowkit, you have reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you to be apprenticed. From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Shadowpaw. Your mentor will be Sagenose. I hope Sagenose will pass down all he knows on to you." Announced the majestic tom, causing Darkfang and Skylark to gasp, and then let out snarls of anger and protest.
"What?! You promised-"
"A cat with a higher position. Sagenose has a higher position, yes?" Retorted Phoenixstar as he continued on. "Hiddenkit, you have reached the age of six moons, and it is time for you to be apprenticed. From this day on, until you receive your warrior name, you will be known as Hiddenpaw. Your mentor will be myself. I will pass down all that I know to you." The hisses and threats from his mother and father made Hiddenpaw shift nervously.
"U-Ummm, but-" Phoenixstar cut the newly made apprentice off with a swift flick of his tail and a warm smile.
"No arguments shall be made, not a one!" The majestic leader touched his nose to Hiddenpaw's before staring down at him approvingly. "Come with me, into my den, we have important matters to discuss." The leader gave Hiddenpaw a firm nod before making his way to his den, sitting down in his nest as he gazed down at the black smoke tabby. Phoenixstar frowned.
"I understand the hardships you're going through, Hiddenpaw, I truely am sorry. I'm doing my best to make them see how worthy you are, I see you as leader, everyone does. You're brother is no match for you, Hiddenpaw, do you understand?" Phoenixstar's tone was flat and to the point, showing that he wasn't lying as he nodded down at the tom before him.
"R...Really? But Shadowpaw has always dreamed of being leader, I can't take that from him! And our parents approve of him!" Hiddenpaw sighed, growling quietly in frustration. Phoenixstar shook his head.
"Are they the leaders here? No." Phoenixstar dismissed his apprentice with a simple flick of his tail. Hiddenpaw left the Leader's den, scowling quietly.
"They may not be the leader, but they are my parents..." He quietly growled under his breath, stomping to the center of camp where his brother waited for him.
"Hey Hiddenpaw," the darkly colored tom greeted, his gaze dull with disappointment. Hiddenpaw was making his way to his brother to comfort him, only to yowl in pain as his father lashed out at the side of his face, sending him flying to the ground. The black warrior had raced at his son at top speed, and had held nothing back. The pain in his face was intense, causing the black-and-silver apprentice to grit his teeth in pain. He could feel warm blood trickling down his handsome face.
"What was that for?!" Hiddenpaw growled between his gritted teeth, flattening his ears in pain. Darkfang curled his lips in anger, revealing prickly fangs.
"Get away from my son, scum!!" Darkfang spat, threatening to strike another blow at the black smoke tabby apprentice. Hiddenpaw barred his fangs in warning, crawling away from his father as he clutched his face with a paw gently. Shadowpaw cast his brother a sorry glance, his shoulders slumped. How could he ever spend time with the brother he truthfully loved if his parents wouldn't let him? Shadowpaw thought his parents were scum, not his brother. As Hiddenpaw scuttled away to get his wound fixed up, his mother appeared, snarling down at him.
"You!!" She spat, raking her claws down Hiddenpaw's back. "Traitor, you were never meant to be born, and now you've taken your brother's glory! I hope you rot in the Dark Forest when I kill you!" Skylark lunged forward to bite at her son's neck, but he rolled over in the nick of time to send her flying. He then gasped in amazement.
And I was just made an apprentice! I've got so much power, maybe Phoenixstar was right?? Hiddenpaw fled at top speed to the Medicine Cat's den, blood flowing from his tender cuts. Sagenose flinched in surprise when he saw the massive apprentice, Sweetkit at the Medicine Cat's paws. She gazed up at him, her eyes round with fear.