I'm now worried about going near anyone in camp now.

There is a strange sickness, never seen before. It causes awful bellyaches; you've had bellyaches before, but this is a whole new level. Eating and drinking seems to make it worse, but is weakening the cat. After that is death.

There is no cure.

Well, there is one but no cat would dare; seeking Twoleg help. Once you go into a nest you don't come out. Most of RockClan would rather die then have that.

But some cats' are willing to. Winterkit's mother and father; Ioheart and Runningstrike, took the sickest; Runningstrike's former mate, Stoatscar and Meadowbee.

Winterkit is scared that they won't return, so I sit with her. Me and her have grown close. She's nearly apprentice age, and I'm nearly ready to become a warrior. I am going to be disappointed we won't be sharing the den; unless something stops me from becoming a warrior that is. But I don't want Duskpaw to be made a warrior and not me.

Winterkit is one of the few Clanmates I'm not worried about touching. I know she is smart enough to know what can give you the sickness. It sucks even more that some of the prey have it.

"Are you alright?" I ask her quietly. "Yes. I know they will come back. They have to," she replies, but her cracking voice at the end betrays she doesn't believe that. "Of course they won't!" I hear the sneering voice of Winterkit's brother; Dewkit.

I can sense Winterkit tensed. "What makes you say that?" she asks boldly. Dewkit flipped his gray tabby tail around with a glint in his green eyes. "They don't care about us, or the Clan, at least mother doesn't, she hardly ever looks at us. And father is so crazy with his stupid 'voices in his head' nonsense, he wouldn't notice if one of us were taken by a fox right in front of his face!"

I can sense Winterkit is hurt, but is trying with all of her power to stop herself from crying out, or attacking her brother. "They do care, they just... have a hard time showing it," she said simply, then turned away and padded on to cower behind a tussock.

I give Dewkit a sharp glare. He doesn't believe his own words. He just wanted to upset Winterkit. "Watch your mouth, or you'll wake up one day wondering why your tail is cramed down your throat." I snap and pad away, tail and head held high and go to where Winterkit vanished. I can tell Dewkit is surprised. I'm snappy with my Clanmates but that was a whole new level for him.

"Are you okay?" I ask, once I reach her side. She is huddled up with her face in her fluffy tail. She looks up at me. I can't see her face, but I can tell how sad her dark colored eyes are. "What if he's right?'" she seemed to be asking herself more then me. "What if they don't come back?"

"Don't worry," I try to reassure her, giving her a quick lick, then wondering to myself why I did it. "...they'll come back," I tell her, though I don't even believe myself.

A terrible screeching wakes me up. I had fell asleep with Winterkit in my nest. "What was that?" she asks, her voice sleepy, although she's now wide awake. I burst out of the den, she's hot on my heels.

"Badger!" comes the grief-stricken cry of a queen. A kit must have been killed. As the scream fills my ears, I scent the rank scent of badger. My hackles raise. Winterkit charges past me, ready to fight. I lunge and grab her tail in between my teeth.

She whips around, she seems shocked. "You're not going into battle," I hiss, pulling her toward the apprentices den. I toss her in the den, not being very careful and plant myself outside the den.

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