Chapter 7

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"Thank you for serving ThunderClan, and may StarClan grant you many moons of rest." Sunstar's deep meow reached the ears of ThunderClan.

"Thank you, Sunstar," Appleleaf meowed and dipped his head. "I appreciate being able to live this long, because StarClan knows there are plenty of cats who deserve to but don't," Skypaw could tell the elder was talking about Moonfur.

Skypaw had finished her mouse moments before Sunstar tore his eyes slowly off her pelt and leaped onto the Highrock. Appleleaf had requested to become an elder, for his long moons of fighting and hunting for his Clan had finally come to an end.

Skypaw took a moment to realize that Stormpelt would now be the eldest warrior in ThunderClan. The gray warrior seemed to take notice of it too, because Stormpelt's back straightened and he lifted his chin a little bit in pride, for his Clan would respect him even more now.

"Thank you, Appleleaf," The Clan meowed their thanks to the graying old tom. Skypaw decided she would visit her friend in the elder's den and thank him later. Appleleaf had lived a long time, seeing three leaders come and go as if it was nothing. She heard Russetsky tell her about how he saw Graystar, the leader before Sandstar, die in battle. Mostly all of the Clan was expecting Sandstar to die when she did, but only one cat didn't get to see it happen.

Moonfur.

Skypaw hadn't ever seen Moonfur, for she was too young to leave the nursery when she recieved her warrior name. The only time she saw Moonfur at all was when her bloodstained body was laying out in the clearing for vigil.Willowleaf didn't want to waste all her lavender to clean and scent the young warrior's body when she didn't have enough to even do half of it. She decided to save it. Russetsky didn't want her kits to see such a horrible sight, so they were rushed inside as quickly as they were forced out.

"Clan dismissed," Sunstar meowed before leaping off the Highrock. He quickly climbed the tumbled rocks up to his den, disappearing inside without looking back.

Skypaw climbed to her paws, ready to go head to the elders' den, where Appleleaf would be from now on. He's going to be so lonely, Skypaw thought.

"Skypaw!" Skypaw stopped and turned around, her mentor's black pelt running up to her. "Battle training?" Skypaw loved how Hazelflower asked her what she wanted to do. No matter how uneven Skypaw made her training plans, meaning three days hunting, one battle, Hazelflower always managed to make it all evened out in the end.

"I was just about to go to the elders' den," Skypaw explained. "but I could go after."

Hazelflower looked puzzled. "Why are you going to the elders' den?"

"I wanted to thank Appleleaf for serving ThunderClan personally," Skypaw explained. "I think I know him better than any other cat. Except Willowleaf, that is. He needs a friend." Hazelflower nodded briefly, her hazel eyes focused on something behind her.

Before Skypaw could turn around and look, she heard a familiar voice. "I appreciate you trying to be my friend, Skypaw, I really do. It means a lot that a young cat like you cares about an old tom." Skypaw whipped around, her ears hot with embarrassment. "But don't let me interfere with your training. The Clan needs you."

Skypaw was surprised when Appleleaf didn't look hurt or angry by her words. Instead, he looked sincerely appreciated and happy. His eyes were inviting, and she knew she had just made this old cat's day. Maybe he wanted to be her friend after all.

"Go train," He meowed. "We can chat later." Skypaw nodded and turned away, Hazelflower lingering a little bit before following. Padding towards the gorse tunnel, she turned back and was surprised to what she saw and heard.

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