There will be three,
Kin of you kin....
Who hold the
Power of the stars
In their paws.
A secret prophecy shapes the lives of Firestar's grandchildren, but only one of the three knows about it. Jaypaw is captivated by the power it promises, and he believes the key to that power may lie buried in the distant past -- with the ancient cats who once walked these woods and now prowl through his dreams.His search for answers leads him toward the mountains -- the home of the Tribe of Rushing Water. Lionpaw and Hollypaw feel drawn to the mountains too, for different reasons.
But the mountains hide secrets as well as answers, and if the three cats find a way to get there, they may discover more than they ever expected.
Jaypaw stretched, feeling the sun beat down on his fur. A warm breeze whispered around him, full of the scents of green, growing things. Somewhere above his head a bird was trilling, and he could hear the muffled slap of lake water on the shore.
Light paw steps ruffled the sound of the waves. Jaypaw pictured his mentor, Leafpool, splashing through the shallow water at the edge of the lake.
"Jaypaw!" she repeated, her voice sounding closer. "Come join me. The cool water feels wonderful."
"No, thanks," Jaypaw muttered.
For him, water was more than the gentle lapping of the lake against his paws. Instead, the sound of the waves brought back memories of cold water surging around him, the weight of soaked fur dragging him down, water filling his mouth and nose and choking the life out of him. He had drowned once in his dreams, lost in the underground tunnels with the ancient warrior Fallen Leaves, and had almost drowned for real when he and his Clanmates rescued the missing WindClan kits.
I've had enough water to last for the rest of my life.
"Okay." Leafpool's paw steps retreated, faster now as if she was bounding through the shallows, carefree as a kit.
Jaypaw padded on along the shoreline. He was supposed to be looking for mallow, but when he tasted the breeze he couldn't pick up any of the familiar pungent scent. As soon as the sound of Leafpool's paw steps faded, he veered away from the water and scrambled up the bank. He had something more important than herbs to find. He prowled forward, nose close to the ground as he sniffed his way through clumps of grass and around shrubs until he came to the gnarled roots of a tree.
Here it is!
He dug his teeth into one end of the stick and pulled it out from behind the root that held it fast to the bank, away from the hungry waves. Crouching beside it, he ran his paw over the scratches, finding the group of five long and three short that stood for the five apprentices and three kits who had been trapped in the tunnels as the waters rose. All of them were scored through: Every cat had made it out alive. Jaypaw remembered making the scratches with Rock's scent wreathing around him; he had almost felt as though the hairless paw of the ancient spirit was guiding his claws.
But Jaypaw could also feel the single unscored scratch. Fallen Leaves, the ancient cat who had guided them, still walked the tunnels alone.
He closed his eyes and listened for the voices that used to whisper to him, but he could hear nothing except the wind in the trees and the ripple of the lake. "Fallen Leaves? Rock?" he murmured. "Where are you? Why won't you talk to me anymore?"
There was no reply. Jaypaw dragged the stick farther into the open, rolling it down the bank until the lake water could wash over it. He sniffed along its length, but all echoes of the past had vanished.
Jaypaw swallowed hard, almost ready to start wailing like a kit that had lost its mother. He wanted to speak to Rock, to find out more about the cats who had lived around the lake so long ago. He wanted to know why Fallen Leaves had been left to walk the caves when all the other ancient cats, even the others who had died down there, had passed on somewhere else.
He was convinced these were the same cats he had felt around him at the Moonpool, whose paw prints dimpled the spiral path that led down to the water. They were far older than the Clans, older even than StarClan. What wisdom they would be able to share with him! They might even be able to explain the prophecy to him, the mysterious words he had heard in Firestar's dream.
There will be three, kin of your kin, who will hold the power of the stars in their paws.
"Jaypaw, what do you think you're doing?"
Jaypaw started. He had been so intent on the stick and his thoughts of the ancient cats that he hadn't heard Leafpool approaching. Now he could scent her close to him and pick up the irritation that flowed off her.
"Sorry," he mumbled.
"We need more mallow, Jaypaw. Just because we aren't on the brink of battle now doesn't mean that cats won't get sick or injured. Medicine cats have to be ready."
"I know, okay?" Jaypaw retorted. And who stopped the battle? he demanded silently. WindClan and ThunderClan would have ripped each other apart if it wasn't for me and the others finding those lost kits.
He didn't want to explain himself to his mentor. He could sense her looking on severely while he rolled the stick back up the bank and hid it again under the tree root. Then he padded away from her, along the top of the bank, jaws parted to pick up the scents of growing things.
Before he had covered many fox-lengths he paused, staring sightlessly out across the lake. Wind buffeted his fur, pressing it close to his body.
Where are you? His mind called out to those long-ago cats. Speak to me, please!
"Jaypaw! Hey, Jaypaw!"
That wasn't the voice he wanted to hear. Biting back a hiss of irritation, Jaypaw turned to face Hazelpaw; he could pick up her scent and hear her paw steps as she bounded up to him. Blundering through the bracken like a fox in a fit!
"Look what I've got!" Hazelpaw's voice sounded gleeful and also half stifled, as if she was speaking around a piece of prey gripped in her jaws.
Jaypaw didn't bother to point out that he couldn't look at anything. Besides, the strong scent of vole told him what Hazelpaw was carrying.
"This is my last hunting assessment." The apprentice's voice was clearer now; she must have put down her prey. "If we do well, Berrypaw, Mousepaw, and I will be made warriors today."