New territory brings new troubles for the fierce cats of the warrior Clans, who are still uncovering the secrets of their new home around the lake. Dangers they have never faced before are lurking in the twilight shadows, and former allies are acting strangely hostile.
As divisions between the Clans grow deeper, Firestar's daughters face troubling decisions. One is torn between loyalty to her calling and a forbidden love, while the other struggles with her best friend's betrayal and the surprising perils of the forest. The choices they make now could affect ThunderClan for generations to come...and with an unexpected enemy preparing to attack, their courage and strength will be needed more than ever if the Clan is to survive.
About the Author
Erin Hunter is inspired by a love of cats and a fascination with the ferocity of the natural world. As well as having great respect for nature in all its forms, Erin enjoys creating rich mythical explanations for animal behavior. She is also the author of the bestselling Seekers series.
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Warriors: The New Prophecy #5: Twilight
By Erin Hunter
HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.
Copyright © 2006
All right reserved.
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath the Highledge for a Clan meeting."
Squirrelflight woke with a start as the ThunderClan leader's yowl rang out across the stone hollow. Cloudtail was already pushing his way out through the thorny branches that screened the warriors' den. His mate, Brightheart, uncurled herself from their mossy nest and followed him.
"What does Firestar want now?" Dustpelt muttered, pulling himself stiffly to his paws and shaking scraps of moss from his fur. With an irritated flick of his ears, he thrust his way into the open after his Clanmates.
Stretching her jaws in a yawn, Squirrelflight sat up and gave herself a quick grooming. Dustpelt's temper was even shorter than usual this morning; Squirrelflight could see from his awkward movements that the wound he'd received in the battle against Mudclaw was still painful. Most of the ThunderClan cats still bore the rebels' clawmarks; Squirrelflight's side stung from a wound of her own, and she drew her tongue over it in rapid, soothing strokes.
Mudclaw had been deputy of WindClan until the Clans arrived in their new territory around the lake. The previous leader, Tallstar, had appointed Onewhisker to succeed him instead just moments before he died; furious, Mudclaw had led a rebellion against Onewhisker before he hadthe chance to receive his nine lives from StarClan. And Hawkfrost of RiverClan had helped him. Squirrelflight felt a surge of anger as she remembered how Brambleclaw still insisted on trusting his half brother, even after he had seen that Hawkfrost was up to his ears in Mudclaw's treachery.
Thank StarClan, Squirrelflight thought, that ThunderClan had discovered the plot in time, and had joined the battle against Mudclaw and his supporters. StarClan had proved who the true leader was when lightning struck a tree that fell on Mudclaw and killed him.
Giving a last lick to her dark ginger fur, Squirrelflight slid through the branches and padded into the clearing, shivering in the cold air. The pale sun of leaf-bare was just showing above the trees around the stone hollow where ThunderClan had settled at the end of their long journey. Wind rattled in the bare branches, but down here all was still. The air smelled crisp, and frost still edged the grass and bushes with white. Yet Squirrelflight could pick up a faint hint of growing things that told her newleaf could not be far away.
Digging her claws into the earth, she stretched luxuriously. Her father, Firestar, was seated on the Highledge outside his den, about halfway up the cliff. His flame-colored pelt gleamed in the slanting rays of sun, and his green eyes shone proudly as his gaze swept across his Clan. Squirrelflight guessed he wouldn't look so confident if he needed to warn them about more trouble.
The cats gathered in the clearing below him. Mousefur and Goldenflower emerged one after the other from the elders' den; Goldenflower was guiding blind Longtail behind her, the tip of her tail resting on his shoulder.
"Hi." Squirrelflight's sister Leafpool padded up and touched noses with her. "How are those scratches? Do you want some more marigold?"
"No, I'll be fine, thanks." Leafpool and her mentor, Cinderpelt, the ThunderClan medicine cat, had been busy ever since the battle, finding the right herbs and treating the cats' wounds. "There are plenty of cats who need it more than I do," Squirrelflight added.
Leafpool sniffed Squirrelflight's scratches and gave a nod of satisfaction. "You're right. They're healing well."
An excited squeal came from the nursery as Birchkit pelted out, tumbled over his own paws, and picked himself up in a scramble of light brown fur to take a place beside his father, Dustpelt. His mother, Ferncloud, padded after him and sat next to him, turning her head to smooth his ruffled fur.
Squirrelflight let out a mrrow of amusement. Her gaze drifted past them to the tunnel through the thorn barrier at the entrance to the camp. She felt the muscles in her shoulders tense. It looked like the dawn patrol had just returned: Brambleclaw was padding out of the tunnel, followed by Sandstorm and Rainwhisker.
"What's the matter?" Leafpool asked.
Squirrelflight suppressed a sigh. She and her sister were much closer than most littermates, and each one was always aware of what the other was feeling. "It's Brambleclaw," she mewed reluctantly. "I can't believe he's still friends with Hawkfrost, after the way he supported Mudclaw."
"Many cats supported Mudclaw," Leafpool pointed out. "They did it because they truly believed Onewhisker wasn't the right cat to lead WindClan. After the tree fell, Hawkfrost admitted he was wrong, and that Mudclaw had tricked him into helping. Onewhisker has already forgiven him, and all the other cats who fought against him."
Squirrelflight lashed her tail. "Hawkfrost lied! He was part of Mudclaw's plot all along. I heard what Mudclaw said before he died--Hawkfrost was trying to become powerful enough to take over RiverClan."
Leafpool's troubled gaze seemed to pierce Squirrelflight's fur. "You have no proof of that, Squirrelflight. Why should we believe Mudclaw over Hawkfrost? Are you sure you're not judging Hawkfrost because of who his father was?"
Squirrelflight opened her jaws for a swift retort, but there was nothing she could say.
"Remember, Tigerstar was Brambleclaw's father too," Leafpool went on. "He may have been a murderous traitor, but that doesn't mean his sons have to follow his pawsteps. I don't trust Hawkfrost any more than you do, but we can't assume he's as evil as his father without proof. And even if Hawkfrost is dangerous, it doesn't mean that Brambleclaw has to be like him--or like Tigerstar."
Squirrelflight twitched her tail uneasily. "I guess you're right." The three tabby toms were tangled together like the tendrils in a bramble thicket, and she wondered if either of Tigerstar's sons could ever be free of their father's treacherous legacy. "It's just--Brambleclaw won't listen to a word I say! He cares about . . .
Excerpted from Warriors: The New Prophecy #5: Twilight
by Erin Hunter
Copyright © 2006 by Erin Hunter.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
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