Warriors Super Edition: Firestar's Quest

By Erin Hunter

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2009 Erin Hunter
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9780061833540

Chapter One

Firestar slid around the edge of a hazel thicket and paused to taste the air. The moon was nearly full, and he could see that he was close to where the stream followed the border with ShadowClan. He could hear its faint gurgling, and picked up traces of the ShadowClan scent markers.

The flame-colored tomcat allowed himself a soft purr of satisfaction. He had been leader of ThunderClan for three seasons, and he felt as if he knew every tree, every bramble bush, every tiny path left by mice and voles throughout his territory. Since the fearsome battle when the forest Clans had joined together to drive out BloodClan and their murderous leader, Scourge, there had been peace, and the long days of newleaf and greenleaf had brought plentiful prey.

But Firestar knew that somewhere in the tranquil night an attacker was lurking. He made himself concentrate, all his senses alert. He caught the scent of mouse and rabbit, the green scent of grass and leaves, and very faintly the reek of the distant Thunderpath. But there was something else. Something he couldn't identify.

He raised his head, drawing the breeze over his scent glands. At the same instant, a clump of bracken waved wildly, and a dark shape erupted from the middle of the curling fronds. Startled, Firestar spun to face it, but before he could raise his paws to defend himself the shape landed heavily on his shoulders, knocking him to the ground.

Summoning all his strength, Firestar rolled onto his back and brought up his hind paws to thrust his attacker away. Above him he could make out broad, muscular shoulders, a massive head with dark tabby markings, the glint of amber eyes. . . .

Firestar gritted his teeth and battered even harder with his hind paws. A forepaw lashed out toward him and he flinched, waiting for the strike.

Suddenly the weight that pinned him down vanished as the tabby cat sprang away with a yowl of triumph. "You didn't know I was there, did you?" he meowed. "Go on, Firestar, admit it. You had no idea."

Firestar staggered to his paws, shaking grass seeds and scraps of moss from his pelt. "Bramblepaw, you great lump! You've squashed me as flat as a leaf."

"I know." Bramblepaw's eyes gleamed. "If you'd really been a ShadowClan invader, you would be crow-food by now."

"So I would." Firestar touched his apprentice on the shoulder with the tip of his tail. "You did very well, especially disguising your scent like that."

"I rolled in a clump of damp ferns as soon as I left camp," Bramblepaw explained. He suddenly looked anxious. "Was my assessment okay, Firestar?"

Firestar hesitated, struggling to push away the memory of Bramblepaw's bloodthirsty father, Tigerstar. When he looked at the young apprentice, it was too easy to recall the same broad shoulders, dark tabby fur, and amber eyes that belonged to the cat who had been ready to murder and betray his own Clanmates to make himself leader.

"Firestar?" Bramblepaw prompted.

Firestar shook off the clinging cobwebs of the past. "Yes, Bramblepaw, of course. No cat could have done better."

"Thanks, Firestar!" Bramblepaw's amber eyes shone and his tail went straight up in the air. As they turned toward the ThunderClan camp, he glanced back at the ShadowClan border. "Do you think Tawnypaw will be near the end of her apprentice training, too?"

Bramblepaw's sister, Tawnypaw, had been born in ThunderClan, but she had never felt at home there. She was too sensitive to the mistrust of cats who couldn't forget that she was Tigerstar's daughter. When her father had become leader of ShadowClan, she had left ThunderClan to be with him. Firestar always felt that he had failed her, and he knew how much Bramblepaw missed her.

"I don't know how they do these things in ShadowClan," he meowed carefully, "but Tawnypaw started her training at the same time as you, so she should be ready for her warrior ceremony by now."

"I hope so," Bramblepaw mewed. "I know she'll be a great warrior."

"You both will," Firestar told him.

On their way back to camp, Firestar felt as if every shadowy hollow, every clump of fern or bramble thicket, could be hiding the gleam of amber eyes. Whatever Tigerstar's crimes, he had been proud of his son and daughter, and his death had been particularly dreadful, with all nine lives ripped away at once by Scourge's sharpened claws. Was the massive tabby watching them now? Not from StarClan, for Firestar had never seen him in his dreams; the ThunderClan medicine cat, Cinderpelt, had never reported meeting him when she shared tongues with StarClan, either. Could there be another place for coldhearted cats who had been ready to use the warrior code for their own dark ambitions? If there was such a shadowed path, Firestar hoped he would never have to walk it—nor his lively apprentice. Bramblepaw was bouncing through the grass beside him, excited as a kit; surely he had shaken off the legacy of his father?

As they slipped down the ravine toward the camp, Bramblepaw halted, his gaze serious. "Was my assessment really okay? Am I good enough—"

"To be a warrior?" Firestar guessed. "Yes, you are. We'll hold your ceremony tomorrow."

Bramblepaw dipped his head respectfully. "Thank you, Firestar," he mewed. "I won't let you down." His eyes blazed; he gave a sudden bound into the air and pelted down the rest of the ravine to wait by the entrance to the gorse tunnel. Firestar watched him, amused. He could still remember when he had felt as if he had too much energy to contain in his four paws, when he felt as if he could run through the forest forever.

"You'd better get some sleep," he warned as he joined his apprentice. "You'll have to sit vigil tomorrow night."

"If you're sure, Firestar . . ." Bramblepaw hesitated, working his claws in the sandy ground. "I could find you some fresh-kill first."


Excerpted from Warriors Super Edition: Firestar's Quest by Erin Hunter Copyright © 2009 by Erin Hunter. Excerpted by permission.
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