Chapter 1 of Morningfrost’s Faith

Morningpaw rose to her paws, seeing cats volunteering themselves to go hunting. She was eager to see what her mentor had planned for her today. She blinked her multi-colored eyes, which glinted in the latening golden sunrise. Morningpaw waited patiently as Palestreak sent cats out on patrol.
Shivering, Morningpaw stole a shameful glance at the fresh-kill pile, which had dwindled to nearly half its usual size. This was her first leaf-fall, and though it was nearing its end when leaf-bare would begin, she was fearful that her Clan would starve. The sun was by now casting its light through the trees over the camp, and Morningpaw bathed in it. She saw the other apprentices were already starting their day while she waited patiently on her mentor. She was proud, though a little envious of the other apprentices who had their early starts, that Palestreak had been chosen as her mentor. Palestreak was the Clan deputy, a role in which she took pride in. It was a privilege that not many apprentices had, nor would, Morningpaw believed.
She observed the camp, which was now quieter than it had been, only the queens who buried their kits close to them for warmth and the elders who spoke to them of tales from their great past. And the Medicine Cats who shuffled and gathered herbs, preserving them in the lofts of their den. Morningpaw wanted to make use of herself, so padded to the kill pile and plucked a fat squirrel, which before it had died had fattened upon its storage of nuts in green-leaf, and took it to the nursery. The kits swarmed the kill, and a queen nodded softly in gratitude as Morningpaw padded away, without a word.
Palestreak was finishing up, it appeared to Morningpaw, so she sat down nearby waiting for the sign for her and Palestreak to start the day.

“Morningpaw!” Palestreak called padding over to her apprentice, “We’re going to train by the Skypine today.”

Morningpaw nodded, whiskers twitching excitedly, and dipped her head in acknowledgement. “Yes Palestreak.” She mewed. She hoped to learn a new battle move, or perhaps a skill. She padded after her mentor, eager to learn.

The two cats padded into the forest, sheltered by the canopy of looming pine trees, Palestreak paused for a second, winking at her apprentice, “Race you!” She called, before pelting away through the trees.

Rockstrike saw Palestreak running through the trees. He shrugged and kept grooming his fur.

Morningpaw raced after, trying to keep pace with her mentor’s pelt and scent, and soon found a shortcut. She climbed a tree, bounding up it and leaping from branch to branch, seeing her mentor’s pelt below.

In a desperate lunge Palestreak crashed into the base of the Skyline, ” I win!” She called triumphantly.

Morningpaw struggled down, and inclined her head deeply in respect, panting. “That was great, huh?” She asked, pleased with herself that she had been even able to keep up with such a skillful cat. Her lungs hurt in the sharp, chilled air.

Palestreak nodded, “Great job, lets catch our breath before we start.”

Morningpaw nodded, silently agreeing. Her paws hurt as well from hauling herself up and down the trees. But though her breath could be seen in the air, her chest loosened. She felt good after the run, though she was exhausted, and she felt that she had done good by her mentor.

Alright” Palestreak straightened up, what do you want to do today?”

Morningpaw was surprised Palestreak had asked, as Palestreak usually had something set out for the day. But she tilted her head, pondering. “I was in the mood for battle practice, and afterwards maybe help around camp, then go on dusk patrol?” She responded. “Maybe we can learn something new, I’d like that. But then,” she paused, “what do you want to do?”

“Battle training sounds fine, show me what you’ve got.”

Morningpaw, at the command, ducked low to the ground and swiped at Palestreak’s paws, attempting to knock them out from under her. Palestreak may have recoiled, as it appeared she was on her paws again, maybe trying to get at Morningpaw. Morningpaw braced herself, leaping back in a twist. Palestreak caught her though, with a swipe of her paw. Morningpaw corrected herself, pressing low to ground as Palestreak reared to pin her, but in doing so Morningpaw flipped out of Palestreak’s grasp, and landed on her paws, prepared to strike again.

Palestreak rushed forward, rearing upwards about to crash down on her apprentice, “What do you do?” she hissed.

Morningpaw rolled out of the way.

Palestreak landed heavily on the ground, temporarily stunned.

Morningpaw took advantage of this and made an attempt to leap on top of Palestreak.

Palestreak quickly rolled away then turned aiming a hefty blow at Morningpaw’s flank.

Morningpaw, struck, stumbled, and realizing that her attacker now had the advantage, she used her training and climbed a tree, which most of the other Clans didn’t know how to do.

Palestreak used her strong hind legs to leap up after her, knocking the apprentice back down.

Sweetsnap went to stretch her legs outside of the camp, a yawn escaping her maw. She eventually came across the training session and sat down to watch.

Morningpaw rolled, and looked up at Palestreak, making her eyes look as if she were pleading, though she knew what was to happen next.

Palestreak sat down, panting, “Great job Morningpaw,” she purred, featuring for her apprentice to relax, “Now let me teach you something you don’t know.”

Sweetsnap was unsure whether to stride forward or just listen for a little longer.

Morningpaw rose to her paws, exasperated yet happy to learn something new. She noticed Sweetsnap, the permanent queen, watching. She returned her gaze to Palestreak.

She greeted the apprentice with a wave of her tail and took that as the time to pad over. “That seemed like a great training session,” She praised both of them with her soft smile.

“Come here” Palestreak whispered turning to shield them from Sweetsnap’a view, “You can try this one on her.”

Sweetsnap raised a catbrow but waited patiently, expecting some attempt of attack.

Morningpaw nodded, Sweetsnap was like a second mother to her, as she had been the one to help her father raise her. She listened attentively as Palestreak spoke.

Palestreak scooted forward a little so Sweetsnap couldn’t see what they were doing, “I want you to slide forward beneath her, quick as a snake, then while she’s surprised, thrust upwards with your head,” she murmured, “keep in mind this will only wind your opponent.”

Morningpaw nodded, “I bet it’s probably for defense, to stun an enemy.” She whispered.

Sweetsnap seemed to have crouched down, she had decided to put herself in the mindset of protecting a kit.

Palestreak flicked her tail, “Try it out.”

Morningpaw turned around, glancing at Sweetsnap’s position. She hurried over, and slid under the she-cat, then slammed her shoulder into the she-cat’s rib, a little modification to the move. As she felt the weight of Sweetsnap begin to fall onto her, she quickly slid back out from under the she-cat, and padded over to Palestreak. She hadn’t done it hard enough to hurt Sweetsnap, but hard enough to knock the breath out of her lungs.

Sweetsnap managed to grab her tail, she didn’t bite it or anything – more as just a warning of an easy target or if she wanted to stop her completely. She tried to catch her breath – coughing a little, “Good thing I wasn’t expecting-”

Morningpaw nodded at the she-cat’s gesture. “I wouldn’t have if you were.” She meowed, dipping her head.

Palestreak burst into laughter, “Alright, good training session,” she mewed, ” let’s get back to camp.”

“If you were going to do that in a battle, tuck that tail in. I could’ve yanked you from out under me or tore it.” Sweetsnap batted at Morningpaw’s tail. “I came out here to get some air, only to get it knocked out of me.” Sweetsnap rolled her eyes to Palestreak with a small laugh.

Morningpaw purred, nodding. “I’ll be sure to practice that.” She padded after Palestreak, beckoning with her tail for Sweetsnap to come along.

Sweetsnap padded after them, deciding to annoy the pair by swiping at Palestreak’s hind legs then Morningpaw’s before running ahead of them.

Morningpaw staggered, tempted to chase the she-cat. She chose to stay with her mentor, and would go after Palestreak if they decided to follow after Sweetsnap.

Sweetsnap managed to make it to camp, a satisfied purr rumbling from her throat.

They soon entered the camp, and Morningpaw knew the routine. She would get some prey, eat and hang with the kits, or with the apprentices, or help with the elders or with the Medicine cat. She found Sweetsnap and playfully cuffed her ear with a sheathed paw. “Hey! What was that for?” Her sharp mew rumbled with a purring laughter.

“Should’ve planned for me to get some revenge~” She gently knocked the apprentice with her lower back before heading to the nursery with a mouse in her jaws.

Morningpaw chuckled gleefully, and picked a fat shrew before heading over to the nursery to play with the kits. Sighing, she laid down. She wanted to finish eating before she had some fun. The shrew’s scent was delicious, and Morningpaw fought the urge to devour it by herself. She wanted to share it at least, leaf-bare was approaching and Morningpaw wanted to share any prey and savor every bite before it was gone. She took another glance at the shrew, its enticing scent made her mouth water, but she refused. She looked at the nursery, and at the Medicine Cat den. She had brought prey to the nursery earlier, but neither the Medicine Cat or the Elders had been checked on.

Palestreak padded up beside her, “You eat it,” she mewed, “we can hunt for the elders later.”

Morningpaw looked up at Palestreak, grateful that she had permitted her to eat. “Thanks.” She meowed, “I only want to help.”

Palestreak nodded to her, “Once you’re finished you can come with me,” She glanced up at the sun, high in the sky, “before it gets to late.”

Morningpaw nodded, then rose to her paws. “I can eat later,” she meowed.

Palestreak shook her head, “You need your strength, eat now.”

Morningpaw dipped her head, then looked at the shrew. “Okay, I’ll hurry. “she padded back and say down, ripping the shrew bite by bite, until there was only fur and bones.

“Alright, let’s go.”

Morningpaw nodded, and followed Palestreak.

Both cats padded beneath the pine trees, soft needles springing beneath their paws, “What can you smell?” Palestreak asked.

Morningpaw tasted the air, “The pines… and crow. There’s a mouse down there,” she nodded to the roots of a pine, “but we’ll have to dig it out if we want to get it.”

“We’re SkyClan cats, go for the crow.”

Morningpaw nodded, then bounded toward the trees. She saw the black feathers of the bird, its blue tinted wings, it’s dark eyes as it became aware it was being watched. She stalked through the branches of the trees, and when she was close enough she pounced. The bird struggled in her claws, but she slit its throat before she fell from the trees. She hauled the bird down, and padded over, dropping the creature at Palestreak’s paws. “Thank you, StarClan, for this prey.”

“Good,” Palestreak congratulated her, before quickly dropping into a hunting crouch, she suddenly darted forward, snatching a squirrel from between the roots of a tree, killing it with a quick bite to the neck.

Morningpaw dipped her head, “Good catch.” She meowed self consciously.

“You find one more thing, then we can head back.”

Morningpaw padded to the stump of a tree, and dug her claws just beneath a root that was exposed, she felt flesh tear beneath her claws, and a shrieking voice of a mouse. She swiped her claws, which scared the creature, and it ran out of its hiding hole. She snapped quickly, grabbing the the mouse in her jaws, and bit its neck, killing it.

“Or do you still want me to ‘find something else?'” She asked, wondering if Palestreak had wanted her to hunt down or discover a third piece of prey. She had already found the mouse while scenting the crow, so if Palestreak had meant for her to find prey besides the ones she had already found, she could do just that.

Palestreak shook her head, “No, that’s plenty, lets carry it back for the kits and Queens.”

Morningpaw nodded, smiling. “Good. My paws are a bit sore after that race!” She picked up her kill and thanked StarClan for their lives once again. She felt pride and honor burning beneath her pelt as she carried the prey alongside Palestreak back to camp, feeling as if she had already passed her upcoming assessment, and as if she were already striding among other warriors on her own patrol, bringing back prey from a successful hunt.

Palestreak purred happily as she padded beside her, before ducking into camp.

Morningpaw felt ready to burst with her pride, her odd colored eyes shining happily. She was purring and in such a good mood. Today was going great so far, and she was sure it was going to get even better. She quietly and happily padded over to the prey pile at the center of the camp. It was actually slightly closer to the nursery and the elder’s den than the rest of the dens, and then she set first her crow, and then her mouse on kill pile.

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