ƬΉΣ PӨIƧӨПΣD ΛПD ƬΉΣ PЦЯΣ

It's All In A Name

"May all cats old enough to unsheathe their claws gather beneath the Speaking Hill for a Clan meeting!" Morningstar's loud yowl echoed across the clearing, and the ragged ring of cats broke to re-gather below the golden leader.

Sablepaw moved with them, glad she'd finally stopped trembling, that she'd groomed the poor kit's blood from her fur. She stood beside Nettlepaw; Charpaw and Streampaw sat behind her, animatedly chatting and shooting her admiring glances she could see from the corner of her eye.

"May the apprentices known as Slatepaw, Nettlepaw, Smokepaw, Pepperpaw, Sablepaw and Strongpaw step forward from the crowd," she commanded, whisking her tail through the air in an elaborate motion.

Shouldered by Nettlepaw and Pepperpaw, Sablepaw complied.

"Blessed apprentices, the next generation of crusaders in our quest to vanquish the despicable poison. Do you promise to uphold and protect the warrior code, and to help protect PureClan from the invasion of the poison formerly known as love?" Morningstar's eyes flashed with a warning, and each cat in the line knew that if they refused, if they uttered a single wrong word, the spotted leader would not hesitate to rip them limb from limb.

"I do," Smokepaw called first, standing square, the blood on his ungroomed pelt slowly performing the metamorphosis of turning from gleaming and glinting to drying into a rusty unflattering brown. Strongpaw shot the grey tom an irritated look as he too said, "I do."

Sablepaw mumbled it with the rest; reluctantly resigning herself to a life of servitude and blood, of meek acquiescence to the higher powers and crude hostility to those who writhed with diseased, poisoned blood. She would be a warrior, a tool, another claw on the many-taloned paw of PureClan.

"Slatepaw," Morningstar boomed. Her teeth were bared in a pleased smile, and despite the beautiful midday light throwing her features into bright relief, on her muzzle it looked almost skeletal.

"Under the eyes of StarClan I present you with your warrior name. The Clan honors your quest to evade the poison. You shall be known now as Slatethorn, a full warrior of PureClan."

Smokepaw's brother respectfully dipped his head and stepped out of the row.

"Nettlepaw," Morningstar cried, but softer now, as if to acknowledge the fawn she-cat's femininity. Nettlepaw barely contained her squeak of excitement and bounced on her paws.

"Under the eyes of StarClan I present you with your warrior name. The Clan honors your quest to evade the poison. You will now be called Nettlecloud. You are a full warrior of PureClan."

"Smokepaw, under the all-seeing eyes of StarClan I present you with your warrior name. The Clan honors your quest to evade the poison. You shall be known now as Smokefang, and PureClan knows you as a full warrior."

Smokefang nodded and stepped back to stand beside his brother, where the contrast in their size was suddenly evident. Smokefang seemed to radiate a newfound sense of pride and power and it was this that dwarfed Slatethorn. Sablepaw felt a small prickle of worry worm its way into her heart. Finally killing a Tainted had seemed to change him; what if he was no longer the sweet and compassionate gentle giant she cared for, but a half-filled husk of meaningless strength and bravery?

Morningstar paused. Perhaps the whole Clan saw her eyes dart towards the medicine den, but the silence left in the wake of her last words was not broken.

"Pepperpaw!"

Sablepaw's brother pricked his ears expectantly.

"Under the eyes of StarClan I present you with your warrior name. The Clan honors your quest to evade the poison. You shall be known now as Peppermask. You may now be known as a full member of PureClan."

The tabby lowered his head and stepped back to wait by the other toms.

The instant before her named was called, Sablepaw realized that it was now her turn.

"Sablepaw," Morningstar said, her voice almost crooning. When Sablepaw glanced up, another warning lit her dark eyes.

"My own wonderful apprentice. Under the eyes of StarClan I present you with your warrior name. The Clan honors your quest to evade the poison. You shall be known now as Sablefrost. Be worthy of your name; PureClan accepts you as a full warrior."

Sablefrost, she thought- it wasn't so bad. There was perhaps nothing worse than having a plain and simple name. Sablepelt, for example, or Sabletail. A stupid name would have been just as bad. Sablenose, Sableeye or Sablesable, if Morningstar was feeling particularly vengeful. Sableheart would have been worst of all. Yet there was an emphasis on the suffix of her name that had the black she-cat wondering exactly what Morningstar knew.

Be worthy of your name.

She repressed a gulp and stepped back, leaving Strongpaw standing alone before his mother. There was no special greeting for him. The leader simply ploughed into the ceremony.

"Under the eyes of StarClan I present you with your warrior name. The Clan honors your quest to evade the poison. You shall be known now as Strongclaw, and PureClan welcomes you as a full warrior."

The calico tom had done well in his fight, in his own bold, show-offy way. His declawed target had never really had much of a chance.

Morningstar looked up to address all of the new warriors. "You have received your new names; discard your old ones like a second skin, because they are no longer a part of your life. You are now brave and loyal warriors with names to match. This evening, your final assessment will be held and your pairs will be decided. Clan dismissed."

The Clan broke apart and individuals trotted away to start or complete the day's duties. The new warriors, however, remained in a clump as Morningstar leapt off her hill and swaggered towards them.

"Well, well, youngsters," she drawled. "You must be tired. Go and sort out your nest, and take a nap. You all look awful," Morningstar observed dryly. "Anyway, just go plague Specklefrost for some moss or gather it yourself. No rowdy celebrations, if you will. You will also hold your vigil tonight."

Then the golden she-cat turned and, trying too hard to look casual, sauntered off the the medicine cats' den.

The young cats remained where they were for a moment, uncertainty milling around. Then the three toms silently trotted into the forest and left Nettlecloud with Sablefrost.

"You have such a nice name," the fawn warrior gushed happily. "Sablefrost is awesome! And here I am, being stuck with a name that makes me sound like I'm just a white speck in the sky stuffed with nettles."

Sablefrost snorted, then bumped her friend's shoulder with her own. "C'mon, let's go ask Specklefrost for some moss, hey?"

She nodded, and they trotted towards the grass tunnels. They moved away from the the two sister apprentices, who were still staring at their 'idols'. As they passed Sorrelstorm's den, Sablefrost caught a glimpse of entwined tabby and gold fur.

"Hello?" Nettlecloud called as they entered the female den. Here it was gloomy, and they had to wait for their eyes to adjust to the poor light before moving in any further.

"The striped form of the medicine cat appeared before them.

"Sorry, girls," she chirped. "Moss's all gone. You're going have to be brave and scavenge for some yourself." She turned away and began to methodically organise herbs in tidy, neat piles. With two disgruntled snorts, the she-cats turned and loped into the forest.

"Our first warrior duty," Nettlecloud said, her voice filled with false enthusiasm. "Gathering moss."

"Look, here's some," Sablefrost replied, stopping before a old tree with dead moss at its base. "Something's killed the moss but I'm sure it'd be all right to sleep on."

The pair began to scrape it together and roll it into small bundles, until the black warrior felt a tail tip trail down her spine.

"Need some help there?" Strongclaw purred sinuously. "You must be so tired after your magnificent fight, darling."

She jerked away and swung around to glare at the calico tom.

"Leave me alone, you piece of foxdung," she snarled.

"We're warriors now, dearest. I think you could act your age and try to be mature, couldn't you? Besides-" he leant heavily against her, "-this isn't prohibited anymore."

Sablefrost shoved him away with her shoulder.

"Go away, Strongclaw," Nettlecloud called, her voice quavering. After all, Strongclaw was an influential figure- son of the leader.

Strongclaw smirked. "For you, beautiful, anything," he drawled, and strutted off into the surrounding forest.

Sablefrost leant down to pick up her moss, shuddering as if she could shake the memory of Strongclaw's touch from her pelt.

"I hope to StarClan neither of us are paired to him," Nettlecloud muttered, before picking up her own bundle.

Me too, Sablefrost thought. I hope to high StarClan. But she knew that praying to StarClan would not help- it was Morningstar herself that mattered.

Errr mah SC, it's an early chapter! :D

I even managed to post this despite my exams. I've had my Algebra and Number, English narrative writing and my Social Studies ones so far. I have two three hour ones tomorrow, so wish me luck!

Now, I thought I'd explain the philosophy behind my names. Or rather, Morningstar's philosophy.

Slatethorn because...well, I know that Sable's never had much interaction with him but he's pretty silent, cold and prickly- pretty much Morningstar's ideal warrior.

Nettlecloud's just fluffy on the inside, y'know? She's quite bubbly.

Smokefang...dear old Smokey. Because of the sweet personality he never shows, Morningstar gave him the suffix -fang because he's always been a good hunter and he's good in a fight.

Peppermask has gotten good at hiding most of his expressions. Not cat really knows his innermost ambitions or anything.

Sablefrost got her name because of what Morningstar hopes she will become, rather than what she already is. Morningstar wants her to ice over and personally detach herself from everything.

Strongclaw...well, not much works with the prefix Strong. However, -claw just seems fitting for the grand new warrior himself. I find it slightly ironic because his Tainted had no claws :P

Is this it? Hmm, I think it is.

For the people that really want to send in future kits or something, there's a link to a forum thread where you can do so. It's at the top of my profile.

Well, ciao!

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