Snowpaw watched as Jaywing and Shadowveil tended to the sick cats. They had greencough in camp, and Brightfang was one of the patients. So Snowpaw was having a lot of free time alone.
She stared as a leaf twirled off from a branch and lightly fell to the ground, only to be trampled over by Kestrelkit.
Even though her enemy was a kit, she couldn’t shout out in annoyance. She just didn’t have the courage to.
She sighed as Kestrelkit grabbed the leaf by her paws and began chewing at it. She looked up and saw Cinderstar scrambling up the Tallrock. Then she called for a Clan meeting.
“All cats old enough to catch their own prey, gather here around the Tallrock for a Clan meeting!” She yowled.
Cats scurried around to sit next to their friends and listen to what their leader had to say. Snowpaw wondered if she should join them too, but after Spotpaw bumped into her, she decided to stay where she was, all alone by herself.
She tried to listen to what her leader had to say, but she couldn’t hear anything. Her belly grumbled miserably. She had not eaten yesterday, for she thought eating prey without catching any herself was wrong. She had to do everything she could for her Clan. But could she?
Snowpaw looked down at her pitiful stomach, howling out for food. You are hungry, Snowpaw, she thought. Why not go out and get some prey?
Snowpaw didn’t know what she was doing. She stood up as Cinderstar dismissed the Clan, and as the cats trotted back to their duties, Snowpaw’s paws magically guided her to the thorn barrier, and out from the camp. She sniffed the air.
“Ah, the smell of prey,” Snowpaw mewed, trying to sound like a normal apprentice out to hunt some prey with her, well, imaginary mentor, who understood her very well.
She was the same copy of Snowpaw; white pelt with green eyes and round-tipped ears.
“I’m gonna call you Snowwing,” Snowpaw decided and headed off to the right side where there was a pebbly stream trickling down to the Twolegplace.
She was wondering what to do when Snowwing pricked her ears.
“Is there prey nearby?” Snowpaw whispered to her. “Where?”
Snowwing beckoned with her tail. Snowpaw followed it to a small hole, where a vole scuffling among some leaves.
Snowpaw made an awkward crouch. She looked up to see Snowwing doing the same, only that she had made a perfect one. Snowpaw tried imitating her, and after she had shifted her paw a little, Snowwing nodded at her. Then she began stalking. Snowpaw followed.
Then Snowwing leaped at the prey. Snowpaw did the same. When the two parted, they each had a vole in their jaws.
“Where did that come from?” Snowpaw mumbled around her vole.
“It’s your vole’s soul,” Snowwing replied in an echoing voice. She dropped it between her paws and licked her lips. “It’s delicious as a normal vole.”
“Okay,” Snowpaw was about to bury her vole for later when Snowwing began eating the vole.
“Hey!” She hissed. “You can’t eat! The warrior code says kits and elders are first!”
“Huh! The warrior code.” Snowwing puffed up her chest. “You’re so stupid, Snowpaw, mingling with them.”
“Mingling with who?”
“Never mind that,” Snowwing rolled her eyes. “Think, Snowpaw. What had held you back from serving your Clan the best?”
“Fear?” Snowpaw shrank back.
“No, not that,” Snowwing mewed. “There’s a more specific reason; The warrior code you just mentioned.”
“What? Why that?” Snowpaw hissed in bewilderment. “Doesn’t the warrior code make warriors what they are?”
“No,” Snowwing munched on the vole. “Let’s take an example; what about the one where it says for kits and elders to eat first?”
Snowpaw grunted nervously as her mentor continued.
“If there wasn’t a code like this, you could have eaten all the prey you could and had the energy to fight. But because of the code, you can’t eat, and you can’t have strength, which is one of the many reasons that you became such a wimp under this power.”
Snowpaw thought about it for a moment, then nodded guiltily. “That sounds a bit like right.”
“Yes,” Snowwing nodded. “And now, to prove that you’ve learned a lesson, eat that plump juicy vole.”
Snowpaw gulped. She padded over to the lifeless vole and took a timid bite. Immediately, she felt energy surging through her, more powerful than ever. She took a couple more bites, and soon, the vole was gone.
She was cracking the vole’s bones miserably when she heard a cat hissing nearby. Unfortunately, the voice was heading this way towards Snowpaw and Snowwing. And the voice’s owner happened to be her sister, Dandelionfur.
“Snowpaw!” Dandelionfur shrieked. “What are you doing? The warrior code says that kits and elders should eat first, not apprentices!”
As Snowpaw shoved the remains of her vole for later, she fumed with fury. She screeched back, “The warrior code is stupid! You are stupid! I was stupid!”
Dandelionfur didn’t step back. “Is this what you were born for? To be a rogue?”
“Yes!” Snowpaw hissed. “What had kept me back all these moons? I had watched you and Sandygorse become warriors without me, the other apprentices keep calling me a wimp, and now my sister doesn’t believe me!”
“Snowpaw, you know I don’t--”
“Silence!” Snowpaw spat. “You don’t have to lecture me because I can live on my own, with Snowwing!”
Ignoring Dandelionfur’s questions, she grabbed the vole and ran for the Twolegplace with Snowwing on her tail.
Snowpaw paused to look back. “I’m never going back again.”
Snowwing nodded in agreement. “You never should.”
Snowpaw tasted the air, only to scent another cat. But this cat, maybe a rogue, was unable to identify. She wondered if she should go back and report to Cinderstar about this when Snowwing snapped her out of her thoughts by cracking the vole’s bones again.
“Ah, never mind,” Snowpaw mewed as she watched the cat she had just sniffed out pad towards the place where Snowpaw and Dandelionfur had just quarreled.
The cat was a young tom with a muddy pelt and dark eyes, and it was walking quite confidently, invading another’s territory,
Wonder what he’s doing, Snowpaw thought. She was continuing to watch the stranger padding around the place when she lost balance on the Twoleg nest’s fence and fell inside.
She was about to run for it when she heard a she-cat purring, “Jumping off the fence, are we?”