Asterbranch was still heavy with grief for her leader and mother, Silverstar. It would be hard to overcome the grief, but the young deputy had insisted that her sister, the medicine cat, came with her.
The medicine cat's name was Healingwish. Healingwish knew what Asterbranch was feeling, and she was also heavy with grief for Silverstar.
"We are at Mothermouth," Healingwish announced in her soft, soothing voice that sounded like she was always singing a lullaby. "There is no talking from here on out. Follow my scent, and press your nose to the Moonstone when the moon is shining on it."
Asterbranch kept quiet and followed Healingwish's scent. They arrived in the open cave not a moment too soon. Moonhigh came and the Moonstone glowed in the light emitted from the moon.
Quickly, Asterbranch touched her nose to the beautiful stone, and before closing her eyes, she saw Healingwish doing the same. She closed her eyes and then opened them. Instead of waking in the cave of the Moonstone, she woke in SpiritClan territory.
Healingwish sat a few tail-lengths behind Asterbranch and beckoned with her paw to go closer to the shining masses. On cue, a proud-looking she-cat emerged from the crowd.
It was Silverstar! Oh, joy! Silverstar's pelt seemed more silver than it had ever been in real life and shone with the bright glow of stars. You couldn't see through her, or walk through her, but their mother made Asterbranch's plain brown pelt and Healingwish's white with amber splashes look even duller than they really were.
"Asterbranch, my darling," Silverstar cooed. Her voice was softer and more caring, not like the rough, scratchy tone she had spoke with when she had had the greencough that had ripped her last life away from her body, and it was more like the voice she had used when Asterbranch and Healingwish were kits. Then, in Asterbranch's amazement, her old life was ripped away.
"Mother?" Asterbranch meowed wistfully, staring up at the beautiful figure. "Is it really you?"
Silverstar smiled. "Yes, it is I," she purred. She touched her muzzle onto Asterbranch's head. "With this life I give you love. Use it well in caring for your kits and your elders and the others who may need you." Asterbranch writhed in agony, but made it through.
Then Silverstar stepped back and made way for another cat. This cat was Asterbranch's dead brother, Thunderkit, who had not made it through a bad epidemic of greencough. He had been one of the first to get it, and he was one of the first to die.
Thunderkit's pelt wasn't dull like it had been when she had last seen him. It was brighter now, twinkling with stars woven into it, his eyes shining like twin suns.
"With this life I give you the protection of a mother," he squeaked. "Use it well to protect my old Clan, like Silverstar protected us."
Asterbranch didn't expect it to be so painful. Thunderkit's gift of protection made her feel like she had the power of the three mythical Clans. Now the young she-cat understood what Silverstar had felt when they had snuck out of camp.
Thunderkit made way for another cat, who had a pelt as brown as Asterbranch's, only it had stars in it.
"I am Oak," the tom said. "Your father. I used to be a Clan cat, but I left when you were two days old. With this life I give you good judgement. Use it well to determine what is right." After the jolt of pain, Oak licked Asterbranch's head to soothe her.
FIFTEEN MINUTES LATER
Silverstar had stepped forward again. "I hail you by your new name, Asterstar," she began. "Your old life is no more. You have now received the nine lives of a leader, and StarClan grants you the guardianship of LeapClan. Defend it well; care for young and old; honor your ancestors and the traditions of the warrior code; live each life with pride and dignity."
Then, all the present cats, including Healingwish, chanted "Asterstar! Asterstar! Asterstar! Aster..." and on and on and on.
A cat interrupted them. He beckoned Asterstar closer.
"My name is Mole," he began. "I belonged to LeapClan long ago. I have a prophecy for you. Five cats, one of each Clan, will have a dream. They will be sent on a quest. Be ready at all times."
Chapter One: Learning About Herbs Edit
Cloudkit and Berrykit lived in the nursery with their mother, Owlhollow, and the other queens and kits.
Cloudkit was a fluffy white she-kit and she was designed to live in LeapClan. On the other paw, Berrykit was blue-gray and had a fear of heights. But Owlhollow had told Asterstar, who was on her third life, that because of Berrykit's fear, Cloudkit and Berrykit must never be separated. This was a good measure.
The older kits were called Greenkit and Hiddenkit. Their mother was Wrenflutter, and there was also another queen, whose name was Dawnsun.
Owlhollow was brown and had twinkling black eyes. She was the smartest queen in the nursery, Dawnsun said.
"Where are Dawnsun's kits?" Cloudkit asked. Cloudkit was bouncy and excitable, and was a social butterfly. Berrykit was shy and preferred to stay in the shadows.
"They haven't arrived yet," Owlhollow replied.
"Arrived?" Berrykit asked, suddenly interested. "From where?"
"From her belly," Owlhollow said. "Her kits are still growing to the right size to come into this world."
Whiskermuzzle, the medicine cat, entered the nursery. "I'll take those two off your paws for a while," he said.
In the medicine den, Whiskermuzzle showed them herbs.
"I organize my herbs in little holes here," he showed them. "This is alder bark, it's commonest in SwampClan territory, but it grows on our side of the border too. A lot of the elders have complained about toothaches, and alder bark is good for easing the pain in their teeth. Over here are my stock of beech leaves, which grows in almost any soil that isn't waterlogged. LightningClan cats give us medicine cats permission to gather it from their territory. This here is bindweed, it's used to fasten sticks to broken legs to keep them in place." The white tabby tom with grey splashes and long whiskers purred. "Bindweed grows almost anywhere, giving each Clan a stock of it. See here, I'm pointing at blackberry leaves. These are very hardy, and they grow almost everywhere. They are chewed into a pulp and are good for bee stings. Borage leaves grow in forests, including ours, LightningClan's, and SwampClan's. Usually it is chewed and eaten by nursing queens to produce lots more milk, which is also better than normal. It also brings fevers down. Burdock root is common in dry areas, and are dug up, cleaned, and chewed into a pulp which is put on rat bites to lessen and heal the pain of them and stop infection. Here, we have burnet, which is a traveling herb and is eaten. It keeps our strength up. Catchweed burrs are put on poultices to stop them from being rubbed off without hurting skin. This is catmint, but kittypets call it catnip. It is eaten to stop greencough, and this is the best remedy for the kits and elders, who are more prone to greencough. Celandine was given to us by LightningClan, but LakeClan lets us gather some of theirs. The juice is trickled into the eye to soothe a damaged one. Chamomile grows in no-tail gardens, so we don't have much of it. We usually use it to strengthen the heart and calm the mind, but it is also a traveling herb."
He looked the entrance. Berrykit was still there, though. Weird.