The full moon shone in the sky that night, marking Rose's first moon staying with Lila and Ginger in the alley. She knew in the forest under the High Rock the gathering was taking place where all four of the Clans would meet in harmony. No, she could not think that again. She could not think of the lfe she left behind.
Times were hard for Rose, and often she thought about old Clan life.
Rose sighed and watched Pinekit and Tanglekit play amonst themselves. They ran and tumbled all over the shed floor. They did not know of their Shadowclan heritage. They didn't even remember their time in the Shadowclan nursery.
"Catch this, Pinekit!" Tanglekit exclaimed, and sent a wad of hay towards his sister.
The smaller kitten dodged it easily, and sent it back to Tanglekit who waited to pummel it with his claws.
Rose purred at the sight of them playing so happily. Darkclaw would be proud, she thought.
Suddenly Pinekit leaped up on Rose's shoulders, and playfully bit at her ears. "Tell us a story," she begged.
Her older brother pranced up from behind. He sat in front of Rose with pleading eyes. "Yes, please tell us a story!"
Rose purred and layed with her paws tucked under her, her tail curled around her side; a perfect storytelling postion. "I will tell you a story of bravery that I was told when I was small. It may be unfamilier to you, but to me it made my paws tingle, and my heart pound with the intensity of a tiger lurking after its prey."
Tanglekit batted at a piece of straw on the ground. "What is a tiger?"
Rose could remember her days in the ShadowClan nursery when she was told of the great TigerClan, the descendants of ShadowClan. She could picture a giant cat the size of a deer with stunning jet black stripes racing down its body lurking through the undergrowth, its watchful eyes scanning through the brush in the dead of night. How could she ever forget?
"Tigers are enormous cats big enough to swallow a dog whole. They were the descendants of cats today. They are orange with black stripes like a tabby, only they run in an endless pattern. I am going to tell you about TigerClan," Rose meowed.
"Wow!" Pinekit shrieked. "They must be so powerful to live in a Clan."
Rose nodded. "Yes, living in a Clan makes them more powerful, and it teaches them to protect and defend each other. The tigers bonded together and formed TigerClan."
Near the entryway Lila looked up at Rose and her kittens and smiled. She then vanished to leave them to their story.
"What did TigerClan do?" Tanglekit asked. He gave a little bounce of excitement.
"Well, I am going to tell you a story of how tigers got their stripes. This story was told to me many times when I was little, and I want to pass it on to you so younwill always remember the legends that make us who we are. They will remind you of life far away and sacred," said Rose.
"Please tell us," Pinekit begged.
"It all started in a forest. There were the three great Clans. TigerClan, LeopardClan, and LionClan. LeopardClan were powerful, and had distinct black spots over their pelts while LionClan were enormous, proud, and had golden manes the color of the sun. But what I am going to tell you is about TigerClan. They were smaller orange colored cats who had little special about them, and had nothing to show their greatness like the other great Clans did." Rose took a deep breath to start the story. "There was once a TigerClan warrior named Thorntooth. He was very jealous of the other Clans' distinct properties, and one day thought of a plan that would prove to the other Clans that TigerClan was a Clan to be feared. So one night he prowled through the undergrowth into LionClan territory and stole Petalkit from LionClan. Petalkit was the LionClan leader's kit, and Thorntooth knew Goldenstar would do anything to get her precious kit back. Perhaps even give them part of LionClan territory."
"Who would do something so mean?" Tanglekit asked. "Stealing kits is cruel."
"Yes, and TigerClan was severly punished for it. Their leader, Shadestar was furious at Thorntooth for bringing Petalkit into camp and ordered for her to be taken back immediately," Rose continued.
Pinekit's stubby tail swished with anticipation. "But why did TigerClan give Petalkit back. They already had her so why didn't they keep her? They could have finally had LionClan's respect."
"They would not have their respect, but their hatrid. Shadestar knew Goldenstar would slaughter them all to get Petalkit back. She was not going to risk her Clan for the sake of one stolen kit. So Shadestar called a gathering that night and returned Petalkit back to Goldenstar as a peace offering. TigerClan was punished. Goldenstar declared that TigerClan warriors could not be seen in daylight. They were only to hunt by night in the shadows for a whole moon. So they did just that."
"Then what happened?" Tanglekit mewed impatiently.
Rose felt her paws tingle as she told the ending that gave TigerClan uniqueness. She told Pinekit and Tanglekit about how at the next gathering the cats of TigerClan showed up with jet black stripes. They had their own marking, and since that night all TigerClan kits were born with stripes."
The kits stared at her with astonishment. "That really happened?"
"A long time ago it did," replied Rose warmly.
"That was a great story. I want to be a TigerClan warrior. I will be the most powerful leader ever, and you will be my deputy." Tanglekit pounced on Pinekit who did not expect his attack. Tanglekit had her pinned.
"No fair! I wasn't ready!" She pummeled him with her hind paws, and threw him off.
The two kits ran out the doorway, yowling and screeching like fighting cats.
Rose recalled the screeches of the ShadowClan warriors when Darkclaw died. The horrible screeching rang in her ears, and made her once again think of Darkclaw.
"Oh Darkclaw. How can I teach them the ways of their ancestors when we are so far from StarClan. Are StarClan still watching us?" Rose murmered.
She went to sleep that night once again thinking of Darkclaw, and of StarClan.
Rose woke up to find tall trees looming around her, their rich green leaves still. The night sky was a dark indigo blue lit by a blanket of stars. Rose crept through the undergrowth, recognizing the grounds she used to hunt on back when she was a ShadowClan warrior. She breathed in the fresh scents of the forest, and inside she never felt more alive. She felt so glad to be back home where she truly belonged, but then that joy was replaced by fear and hatrid. This was enemy territory. Her own Clan was after her, and her own Clanmates had killed Darkclaw. Her paws tingled to run away from the terrible place.
Suddenly from above her head the stars seemed to swirl down to the ground in front of where she was standing, and formed into a cat. There Darkclaw stood proudly with starlight glimmering in his fur. He looked nothing like the ragged, defeated cat he once was before his death. He looked as powerful as the day Rose first met him on ThunderClan territory.