First, thank you to everyone who entered! I loved reading the entries. They were all exceptionally good and deserve recognition for their beautiful writing. And, as you can imagine, it was extremely hard to crown the winners! 😛
🥉3rd place goes to Willowstep! I really like the formatting and tempo of your story! It’s brimming with suspense, and has a satisfying end (albeit, a surprising one!) Your prize: a drawing
CLICK HERE to read her fanfiction: Cages!
The hills are alive with the sound of music
With songs they have sung for a thousand years
The hills fill my heart with the sound of music
My heart wants to sing every song it hears
My heart wants to beat like the wings of the birds
That rise from the lake to the trees
My heart wants to sigh like a chime that flies
From a church on a breeze
To laugh like a brook when it trips and falls over
Stones on its way
To sing through the night like a lark who is learning to pray
I go to the hills when my heart is lonely
I know I will hear what I’ve heard before
My heart will be blessed with the sound of music
And I´ll sing once more.
~The Sound of Music (Prelude), Julie Andrews
I’ve always been caged.
My life- a cage.
The expectations- a cage.
The medicine cat code- a cage.
WindClan- a cage.
No matter how hard I try to break free, I never will.
The fact that my mentor, Quailfoot dies before I can become a full medicine cat- the worst cage of all. I’m still an apprentice, technically, but I have my medicine cat name.
It’s quite pretty, but it’s not good. I’m chained in it, suffocating slowly, the air leaving my lungs, the light dying from my eyes.
When I was still an apprentice under Quailfoot’s guidance, no one expected anything of me. I was an apprentice, and apprentices could make mistakes. I could do anything I wanted. Once I got my name, though, everything changed in my small world. Everyone would look at me, hope in their eyes as I numbly inspected their scratches and scrapes or spread poultices through their fur. Hazelpaw and Hazeldawn were different cats. Hazelpaw was okay if she did something wrong.
I, Hazeldawn, have to do everything perfect, even if I’m only nine moons old and have no idea which herb treats a fever.
a very short story
I never wanted to be a medicine cat.
When I was a kit, I played with my littermates. Dreams of hunting and fighting consumed my mind like a wildfire and I was determined to be the best warrior ever.
This brought everything down. My hopes were torn apart. Visions of my freedom, of the wind rushing through my fur as I swept the grassy hills. All gone.
I’m alone in the darkness. The Clan watches me, eyes full of wonder and hope, but I can only do so much.
Hope is a dead word to me. It’s a lie you want to believe in.
back to the present
Leaf-bare sweeps through, setting a storm of snow and death on the Clans. WindClan is especially affected.
We’re starving. Sick.
Warriors have found rabbits encased in prisms of ice. Grass shriveled to wisps. Herbs with furled, curled black leaves.
There’s no trying to hide the truth: we’re dying.
The light of innocence leaves a kit’s eyes. A queen looks on hopelessly as she divides a tiny morsel of mouse among her litter of three. Energy is drained from a warrior’s paws. Icy hearts shatter at the lightest touch and no one is strong enough to provide for WindClan.
Naturally, everyone turns to me.
“Hazeldawn, do you have anything for Brightkit’s cough? It’s getting worse and worse.”
“Have you received an omen from StarClan? Any dreams? Prophecies? Please, please say yes, Hazeldawn.”
“You are our only hope. StarClan will communicate what to do through you, dear.”
But I don’t know. I’ve had no dreams. StarClan has not contacted me since I was crowned medicine cat apprentice at the Moonpool, three moons ago. Everything is dark. Silent.
I know I’m worthless and naive. I know I’m not enough to save my Clan. But if anything matters, this does.
I can’t hurt WindClan. If they know I don’t know anything, if they know I’m clueless and dreamless, if they know anything about me, everything will be lost.
All I am is a soul spun of ice and glass. I’m already broken. Unfixable.
My destiny is a shattered one.
That brings me to the next part of my doomed story.
One particularly freezing day, I’m out of camp. Gathering herbs, I tell my Clanmates. However, we all know that it’s not true. There are no herbs to be found in the wretched time of leaf-bare.
The real reason why.
Out in this white world, I feel like I’m the only one alive. The only one breathing in the chilled air. The only one staring at the silver clouds above. It’s not true, but it’s nice to believe for a while.
It’s very nice.
I slip through the frostbitten grass, a forgotten shadow in the vastness of this universe. Signs of life have all vanished by now. Nothing is out here, and nothing will be left by the end of this moon.
That is exactly when I feel myself crash into a hard object sitting in the middle of the moor. “Ow,” I grumble. But when my dewy-green eyes scan the “thing,” I realize it’s no ordinary rock or tree stump.
This is a Twoleg creation.
Warning bells scream in my ears.
Blinding lights flash through my mind.
The instinct to run tugs at me fiercely with the teeth of a lion.
I ignore it.
I’m not sure if I can describe this, but I’ll try. It’s square-shaped and oddly colourful. Smooth, powder-blue sides and a silky purple sash knotted into graceful flowers of ribbon.
Hazeldawn, you should be afraid.
Not one bit. I’m actually… kind of curious.
Hazeldawn, you should be reporting this to your Clan.
I don’t feel like it.
HAZELDAWN, YOU SHOULD NOT WANT TO SEE WHAT’S IN IT.
I cautiously tip over the box, and the lid shifts open. Just slightly.
Hesitating, I stare at the little crack of darkness. Should I? Should I not?
My instincts tell me to back off and get away.
My rebel heart sings with curiosity and a need to see what’s inside.
Of course, you know what wins.
Don’t the elders always tell you to follow your heart?
I push away the lid and blink as my gaze adjusts to the blackness inside the box.
My eyes widen. I take in the sight.
In the box are herbs. Bright green leaves. Dark, plump blue berries. Small, ebony-black seeds that glint in the faint light.
This is everything I need to make WindClan proud. Assured of my skills.
And maybe… just maybe…
I will be remembered as WindClan’s valiant savior, a heroic, young medicine cat. The only one who could rescue cats from this leaf-bare.
Thank you, StarClan.
I subconsciously decide to call them gift boxes in my mind. After all, they are gifts to me.
That’s when I see the trail. A long, long snaking line of gift boxes strewn through the moors.
Intrigued, I pad along the boxes, rows and rows and rows and rows of them.
When I finally reach the end, I pause in my tracks. I’m balanced precariously on the edge of Clan territory. The sun’s golden light casts a soft glow on the shimmering towers ahead of me, glittering like the Moonpool and shining like kit eyes. A kingdom of blinding lights and majestic spires.
Realization dawns on me, and I forget all about being a savior.
Me, me, me. I matter now.
WindClan is behind me.
I’m not a medicine cat. I can be whoever I want.
Nests dot the paths and monsters screech, their paws skidding against pavement. The Twolegs stroll through the massive maze of structures.
I’m not afraid. I’m not wary.
I feel a strange calmness thrumming through me. Nothing bad can happen.
Maybe now, I can finally be free. Out here, no one can and will ever find me. WindClan can’t find me here. They can’t cage me again.
I’ll be the only one in this world.
The brittle path pricks my paws with a thousand needles- my blood burns a scarlet trail into the blackness as I wander through the streets. It stings, but it’ll be worth it.
I’ll be free.
There are eyes, eyes watching me and every movement I make. But they are not the demanding, hungry eyes of my Clan. They are nothing, shiny orbs of nothingness, staring at me with a glassy glaze.
I never want to set paw in the hills again. That’s an old tale. A memory to be forgotten along with everything else.
Hope is what carries me. A flaming light in the darkness around me, the warm, steady pulse of my heart, energy fueling my muscles.
Embracing hope is like soaring through the sky, hearing the soft whispers of night mist, touching the stars. Nothing can go wrong… because hope is what powers you to try.
So this is what freedom feels like.
And this is what despair feels like.
I let out a cry as I feel myself getting snatched up into the air. A Twoleg’s loud laugh echoes through the alley and their warm, sickly paws press against my gaunt frame. Gurgling out a scream, I lash at the Twoleg, but it’s useless as I crash hard against wrought metal.
Pain explodes in my body and stars spin dizzily. A shattered snap vibrates from my jawbone, trickles of blood streaking across my face. Fire erupts in my veins and nausea swamps my stomach.
I realize why.
I’m trapped. In a monster.
No. No. NO.
I’m terrified. I screech and claw at the cold silver confines, wailing, crying, but I know I’m in a cage again. And this time, I’ll never be free.
Hope is a dead word to me.
It’s that lie you want to believe in.
🥈2nd place goes to Windspirit! Your story is phenomenal! Not only does it have an exciting plot, but it has a nice message to go along with it as well. And what an interesting turn of events! Your prize: a drawing OR the ability to choose chat colors for a week
CLICK HERE to read her fanfiction: The Clanmas Celebration!
Frosthawk awoke to the playful sounds of mewing kits. She flinched as the radiant morning sunlight seeped through the moss curtains of the warriors den. Right next to her, Lichentail, the deputy, was nudging her awake with his nose.
“Frosthawk! Come on, there is something outside!” The statement piqued her interest, and Frosthawk trudged upward to investigate. The joyful cries of young kits came from Smokekit and Lilykit tangled up in a red strip of…of… What is that? Frosthawk thought. It was shiny, but soft like Twoleg clothing. Lilykit had it wrapped around her tiny figure as the others watched on in awe.
“Where did it come from?” she asked. “From those,” answered Lichentail, nodding his head to where a cluster of square objects were nestled up against a tree. “They just appeared this morning, no cat knows where they came from.” Frosthawk trotted toward the objects and saw the medicine cat Fawnthrush investigating them. “I think it might be an omen from Starclan,” she inspected. “What does it mean?” Fawnthrush closed her eyes and reopened them, and them shook her head. “I have no idea.”
Suddenly the heavy fog of noise and talking turned into a silent hush as Hailstar emerged from his den. He regally strode toward the square object, touching it and sniffing it. It was the one the kits had taken the long red strip from. There was a patterned covering that surrounded it, and revealed a lid. All of the clan cats gasped as Hailstar gently nudged the lid off. Fawnthrush grew unnerved as her adrenaline pumped faster and faster. “Hailstar, what if it’s…”
The lid fell to the forest floor with a gentle thud. Everyone braced themselves for a dangerous creature to come out and attack them, a badger, a fox, it could be anything. The anticipation was met with continuous silence. Lichentail was shaking as Hailstar told him to turn over the container to reveal the contents. It tipped over and something slipped out. Everybody gasped, letting out the air they had been fearfully holding in. The thing that emerged was a strange object resembling a new born Twoleg kit. It held one expression and was cold and hard, unlike the soft flesh of Twoleg creatures. A murmur of confusion arose from the crowd. Hailstar batted at it with his paw and stepped back, confused. “It seems to be a Twoleg…” Before he could finish his sentence, a Twoleg monster screeched on the Thunderpath and the distant shouting of Twolegs grew louder and louder as their steps neared. Everyone froze. Suddenly, Hailstar jumped into action. “Everybody hide! Back to your dens!” The clan cats formed a loud cacophony of yowls and caterwauls as they struggled to get to shelter. “Quiet down and stay calm!” Hailstar ordered. Queens scooped up their kits and rushed them to the Nursery. Icewish picked up Lilykit by her neck, and retreated took her with the rest of the kits. Then, she heard mews for help outside. It was Smokekit! He started toward the Nursery, but was stopped as his paws were tangled up in the red Twoleg strip. Icewish opened her mouth to call for him but stopped abruptly as the Twolegs strolled into camp. They were putting down more Twoleg objects near the tree. They glanced at Smokekit and cooed at the scene. They marched closer to him and untangled him from the strip. Icewish was trying to run to him but was held back by the other Queens. The Twolegs remade the square Twoleg object the cats had torn apart and put it with the other ones. Then they took Smokekit! Icewish yowled and started running toward the Twoleg monster, as did Hailstar and Frosthawk, but it was no use. Smokekit was gone.
For the next few days, Twolegs came by to drop off more things. There were big planks of wood for the Twolegs to sit and eat on. There were oval floating objects filled with air, and inbetween two trees, a large banner was hung up. The clan cats were still grieving the loss of Smokekit when they attempted to read the banner. Fawnthrush stared intently at the hieroglyphics,
H O L I D A Y G I F T E X C H A N G E
“What does it mean?” Frosthawk inquired. “Perhaps it is a message from Starclan,” Fawnthrush replied. Hailstar had already talked to Riverclan and Shadowclan about patrolling borders and watching out for Twolegs, in case they could find Smokekit. The life seemed as though it was drained from the camp, and along with it, the hope.
Frosthawk fell asleep in the warriors den that night, troubled with fearsome thoughts that clouded her mind.
Frosthawk peered into the distance to see their former leader, Amberstar, calling for her.
“Frosthawk, this leaf-bare, you must unite the clans in a joyful celebration, called Clanmas.”
“Yes. Long ago, our ancestors decided to join the clans together in a joyful celebration of our love, faith and survival. It is celebrated every leaf-bare, but it has been long forgotten by our clans. Now it is your job to unite us once again.”
“When all seems lost, a light of kindness will lead the way.”
Amberstar faded away and Frosthawk woke with a start. “….Russetspeckle, Ashleaf, and Frosthawk.” Frosthawk walked outside where Lichentail was arranging patrols. “What?” she asked. “That’s your border patrol, go,” he ordered. Frosthawk leaped next to her patrol and made their way around the camp borders. For a while, they walked together in silence. Suddenly, the screech of multiple Twoleg monsters gritted shrilly on their ears. Without another thought, they bolted to camp and yowled warnings of the approaching danger. Everyone hid in their dens once again. Except for Frosthawk. “Frosthawk what are you doing?” Lichentail whispered fearfully. Frosthawk didn’t answer. She had a plan to bring the clans together. In a celebration called Clanmas.
Every cat in Thunderclan waited in anticipation for the Twolegs to leave and for Frosthawk to come back. Twolegs of all shapes and sizes were laughing and playing, eating and talking. But worst of all, as the night continued to envelope them in darkness, the Twolegs had lit a fire in the woods. All the sudden, Frosthawk appeared in camp, steering clear of the Twolegs. She ran into Hailstar’s den, and came back out with the Thunderclan leader by her side. One by one, they led each cat out of their dens. Frosthawk smiled. “Follow me.
Frosthawk led them to Fourtrees, where all of the clans were waiting. Lichentail’s curiosity could be held back no longer. “What’s going on here?” Frosthawk turned to face them with a gleaming smile. “Today, we celebrate Clanmas!” Fireflies flew from the trees, lighting up the silent gathering place in joyful spirit. Everyone gasped in awe at the sight. Frost hawk stood on the Highrock and spoke to them all. “Clanmas is a sacred holiday celebrated long ago, created to bring us together in friendship and happiness. But in the sadness and fear of leaf-bare, this is a holiday long forgotten. Though if we agree to come together even when things are bleak, we will find happiness.” Everyone cheered and Frosthawk leaped down and joined the crowd. Everyone was happy—except for Icewish. Frosthawk padded toward Icewish and smiled. “Are you okay?” Icewish looked down. “I don’t know what to do now that Smokekit is gone.” Frosthawk didn’t know how to comfort her. “Well maybe—”
“Smokekit!” Out of nowhere, Smokekit barreled into Icewish, laughing in joy and relief. “How did you come back?” asked Icewish in tears. “The Twolegs thought I was hurt, so they took care of me and then released back to camp!” Frosthawk backed away from the happy family and bumped into Lichentail. “Frosthawk! What you did is amazing, you brought everyone together!” Frosthawk smiled and looked down, embarrassed. Lichentail licked her cheek bashfully. The friends sat down to share tongues, maybe more than friends. Frosthawk was proud of what she had done, bringing everyone together when they all had lost hope. This was the magic of Clanmas.
🥇1st place goes to Sky! You utilized the prompt exceedingly well, and your writing is incredible! My favorite part of your story is the relationships between characters, and how easily you can sense their love for one another. You did a great job at showing it rather than telling. Your prize: a drawing AND the ability to choose chat colors for a week
CLICK HERE to read her fanfiction: Otter Hunt!
“Ivystar!” a frenzied voice cried, “Sister!” a white she-cat raced through the thick bramble surrounding camp, seeming to be uncaring of the thorns engraved in her pelt. Her snowy fur stood on an end, giving her an almost cloud-like appearance. A yellow flash streaked across the soft grass of camp, stopping near the she.
“Violet!” the golden cat cried in a concerned manner, “Violet, what is it that concerns you so?” Lynxfeather whispered, stroking the white she-cat’s fur flat.
“Yes,” Ivystar commented, gracefully striding out of her den, “What’s wrong, sister?”
The loner’s fur stuck up again, her wide eyes almost tearful. Her violet orbs flickered, “They… th-they took her,” she wailed, her legs finally giving in to her needle-caused pain, “They took my Otter.”
“Who took her?”
“Th-the twolegs,” she whispered, her voice almost too soft for anyone to hear.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
Their furless paws had swept me up without hesitation, giving me no time to run. The feeling of their cold, wet skin against mine sent unpleasant shudders up my spine as I screeched and clawed in a futile attempt to release myself. I could hear them – mother and father crying out my name as their paws thudded against the bracken-covered soil.
Don’t, I wanted to say, They’ll only take you too.
And now I’m curled up in this darkness, breathing in unmoving muffled air. There is no escape from this twoleg-scented trap.
Because all I can do is wait, wait, and wait until they come again, with their furless paws and rabbit-dropping pellets.
All I can do is wait and take glimpses of my future life that will undoubtedly come.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Nervous?” my mentor teased lightly, his tail flicking my shoulder playfully. I rolled my eyes in an equally playful manner and looked at him.
“Whitebelly, how could I possibly be nervous? We’re only just traveling into a twoleg den,” I sighed sarcastically. He looked amused.
“Don’t worry,“ he consoled, “We’ll be fine. There is no greater honor than putting yourself at risk for another.”
“Well, I’m not going to complain about that last sentence. But honestly, I don’t even need that information. Whitebelly, I have to save my kitten cousin!” I mewed, my voice rising at the last two words.
“Oh, I know that you’ll fight with the strength of LionClan if needed,” he purred before walking away. I sighed. Of course.
The clam – sorry, calm – before the storm.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Remember – you must be as stealthy as TigerClan, quick-footed as LeopardClan, and brave as LionClan,” Ivystar whispered, “Have faith, Clanmates, and don’t forget what you owe Violet and Heron.”
And with a flick of her gray tail, darkened in the shadows of night, we were moving into the heavily-scented twoleg den.
The moonlight and starlight cast shadows around the smooth wooden floor of this den. The scent of two legs flooded all of my senses, leaving me confused and utterly unable to process thoughts. How in StarClan was I supposed to find Otter if this stench was surrounding me in every way possible?
“I’m counting on you, daughter,” Ivystar whispered as she brushed past me. I blinked.
Why, oh why did I have to have one of the most sensitive noses in the Clan? When I was still an apprentice!
I closed my eyes, stilled my paws, flattened my ears and sniffed the dark air. The whiff flooded me with twoleg stench once again.
How in StarClan would I-
But there it was – the whisper-faint scent of a kit.
Without opening my eyes, I followed the thin trail, nostrils wide and maw twitching.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Violet,” I hissed softly, “Come here.”
The scent trail was a dead-end – I had ended up at the base of an elaborately-decorated cedar tree, the scent of pine cones strong in my nose. A whiff of cat scent was before me – but nothing but a circle of scattered objects was in front of me.
Useless nose! I silently snarled, angry at myself.
“Yes?” the white she whispered as she sat down next to me.
“Do you smell that faint cat scent?”
“No,” she replied sadly, “I am afraid that my eyes serve me better than my nose could ever – and has ever.”
“It’s okay,” I consoled my loner aunt, “However, could you describe Otter’s scent a bit to me?”
The pretty she tilted her head in thought, “One could only describe it as pine and fresh spring water,” she concluded after a moment of thought.
Hmm… an odd combination. However, I could detect strong pine – definitely not from this cedar tree – as well as a wet scent that tickled my nose.
“Is it slightly strong, this scent?”
“I suppose so. Perhaps it settles in the comfortable middle between strongly mild and slightly strong,” she replied.
“I’ve scented her,” I mewed excitedly before remembering where I was, “But she – well, she doesn’t seem to be here – her scent ends in front of this thing,” I mowed disdainfully. Violet rested her feather-soft tail on my flank.
“It’s a box,” she supplied. I sulked. The StarClan-forsaken boxes had messed up my smelling, barring the faint drift on cat scent from my nose. I snarled and kicked the box in front of me, letting out my building anger.
A faint, yet audible, squeal erupted from the box. I stared.
“Auntie,” I mewed cautiously, “Do boxes speak?”
“I don’t know much about them, but I’ve never seen one do so,” she replied, her eyes guarded and darting around the box.
I pounced on the box, making sure the thing moved forcefully. Another squeal, this time louder and shriller broke through the silence.
I nudged the box, trying my luck and whispering, “Hello?”
I got my reply, sparking energy and hope within me, “Who’re you?” A small, kitten-thin voice replied cautiously. Violet shuffled up besides me, her eyes alight.
“Mom?” The same kit voice responded hopefully. Violet didn’t need another sign. She pounced on the square box, shredding the exterior layer like it was fur.
“Otter!” she cried softly as she tore at the layer of shiny fur.
“Mom! The twolegs stuffed my in this box!” Otter wailed. I hadn’t noticed before, but now my senses were acutely aware of my Clanmates watching the scene. Ivystar was first to stand my Violet, helping her shred the fur.
Soon enough, a pile of box fur was scattered across the shiny floor of the den. All that was left was the white body of the box. I pounced, striking the box and broke it in a flash of teeth and claws. When I had finished, a gaping hole had replaced a side of the box and from within, a small, brown kit tentatively padded out.
Violet leaped, embracing her kit and covering the brown body with wet, short licks. Ivystar rested her tail on my spine and when I looked up, I saw something glimmering in her eyes.
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
“Stormpaw, do you promise to serve your Clan and follow the code for the rest of our days?”
“Then I strip you of your apprentice name. From now on, you shall be known as Stormdawn in honor of your shining, blazing spirit and courage like the blazing sun that rises at dawn,” Ivystar declared.
“Stormdawn! Stormdawn! Stormdawn!” The mingled cries of my Clanmates blended together as they chanted my new name. A ray of sunlight struck my pelt, setting to brown-and-white aflame.
Violet, Heron, and Otter stood near the base, their faces aglow as they shouted my name. The three were staying for the week and I couldn’t be gladder that my extended family was there for me, watching me get my final name.
Let’s hear it for Sky, Windspirit, and Willowstep! They deserve a huge round of applause for the creativity and effort they put into writing their fanfictions!!!!!!! 🙂
Now, once again, Wanda the Wheel is stealing the spotlight to choose the prize-drawers for December! And all it takes is one majestic spin for her to decide. . . *insert suspenseful music here* . . . Fawnspots will be drawing for the 3rd place winner, Fallenpaw for the 2nd place winner, and Bramblefire for the 1st place winner! HUURRRAAAYYYYY!!! 🎉
Now this January, we’re holding a brand new, one-time-only contest! And I am beyond thrilled to announce that the prompt is . . . to draw a new cover for Trailing Stars! WOOHHOOO! 😀 Rather than replace the old one by our lovely deputy, Jayfrost, it will instead go alongside it!
All in all, thank you for reading this post! I cannot wait to see everyone’s covers for the Trailing Stars contest! I am sure they’ll all be aammaazziinnngg!!! 😍