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Raven A novel By: Julie Choi

P age |2 Prologue As the sun went down, night arose with the glowing white moon. Whispers softly fluttered in the crisp, cool air of night. The careless ear wouldn’t care about these sounds, but if one strained to hear the conversation, and listened carefully, they’ll be surprised on what they hear. A yowl rang in the air, a cat’s voice, but the interesting thing was it wasn’t just a yowl; the feline voice was speaking words, human words. “What do you mean I can’t help my kittens?!” A slick, glossy cat the color of highly polished silver yowled into the black night. A thick furred tom was beside her. He was a bulky, stormy gray, with fine, thin lines slightly lighter than his fur, with a golden thunder bolt on his forehead, and his eyes were gleaming, rainy day blue. “Peacock, your kits can’t receive your help. I forbid it,” he growled. Peacock glared at him with piercing eyes the colors of the peacock’s feathers, turquoise and violet and emerald green. “You helped Storm when he needed assistance, Thunder. Why can’t I do the same?” Thunder rolled in the night, and the dark gray tom spoke, his voice dangerously calm, controlling fierce rage. “That was the last straw.” Then Thunder slammed a large paw into Peacock, all his fury and strength into that harsh blow. “Now, I order you to stop asking about this matter, the answer is no. Understand?” The blow should have killed the gleaming silver feline, but she struggled to her delicate paws. Peacock’s face wasn’t dignified now; instead her expression was of fear and obedience. “Yes, my lord.” She bowed deeply in front of Thunder. “Good, now farewell.” Gracefully, he walked off into the night sky. Peacock sighed heavily, and sat down under the silver willow tree. As she closed her eyes, she heard a soft rustle, and the sweet scent of blueberries. “Hello, Luna.” Looking up, Peacock greeted the newcomer. Luna was moonlight silver with snowy white paws. Her eyes were the frosty blue of midwinter. Luna lightly sat down next to Peacock, and asked, “How did it go?” Peacock said bitterly, “Thunder declared the case closed, and the answer is again no.” Luna flicked her long, silvery tail over Peacock’s silvery ear and whispered, “Maybe you can sneak out when no one is looking, and answer a prayer or send a gift. After all, Solar does that often.” Peacock gave her a strained smile and meowed, “It’s no use. I all ready tried that before, and they caught me. Besides, why wouldn’t they notice their own queen missing?” Luna watched her queen gaze at the glowing white crescent of the moon and sigh. Then she said, “I’m very sorry I couldn’t help.” Just when she was about to turn around and leave, the sweet fragrance of sweetly scented roses drifted around in the crisp, night air. There, standing in shimmering silver mist, was a pure white Angora cat. She was elegantly furred, with a feathery tail, tiny paws, and beautiful eyes the clear, sparkling blue of a perfect sapphire. “Sweetheart,” Luna said bitterly. Sweetheart daintily walked down the sloping hill, and stepped lightly down to a crystal clear lake. Gazing at her reflection, she delicately pushed the intricate diamond and gold necklace back in place. As she rearranged her diadem of glittering crystal and white gold, she called over her soft shoulder, “Luna, I hope you liked the cat I temporarily mated to you. I was planning on taking him myself, but I decided I wanted a little fun.” She giggled sweetly.

P age |3 Peacock held Luna back as she hurled feline insults at Sweetheart. “You little piece of lettuce! If the queen didn’t hold me back, I would have turned you into a shrew and feed you to Artemis’s dogs!” Sweetheart only snickered a little, and turned to look at her queen. “Thunder’s waiting for you. The masters and mistresses are stirring, and we need to return as soon as possible.” Peacock narrowed her multi-colored eyes and asked, “Why isn’t Flight bringing this message?” Sweetheart shrugged her snowy-white shoulders and answered, “Flight is too busy preparing for the new mail and packages. He had a few more messages to deliver, along with the new day’s work. And since I delivered this message, bye.” Sweetheart turned away from the other two female felines, and walked off. As she disappeared into the hills, the dawn rose with Eos and her cat, Aurora, and Selene the Moon disappeared with Moonlight. Peacock turned to Luna and said, “Luna, it’s time to go.” With the two cats side by side, Helios the Sun rose with Sunbeam and the dawn melted away to the cloudless blue sky. Chapter 1 As Raven opened his eyes, he breathed in the sweet fragrance of juicy strawberries, and fresh mint leaves. When he fully awoke, his sister was standing over him, smiling in her sweet, feline way. Her beautiful, sapphire blue eyes peered down at him teasingly as she said, “Hurry up, slowpoke. The year could come and go, and you would still be snoozing away.” Immediately, Raven flicked his paw up playfully, and Apple jumped away. “I would have been up if you didn’t pin me down.” Leaping to his feet, Raven chased after Apple, mrrowing happily. After the two had their playful romp, they settled down besides the crystal-clear lake, and drank some fresh water. As Raven gazed at Apple, he thought of the life they had before. Their father was a golden, rosy red with gleaming eyes of mint green. He was a bit bulky around the shoulders, with large, golden paws, and a long tail. Raven remembered how he laughed when Apple played a funny trick on him, or how he looked proudly at Raven when he caught a large piece of fat prey. His father’s name was Flame, named after his wonderfully thick coat. Raven remembered how fondly his father talked about Rosemary, the love of his life, the beautiful silver cat that enchanted Flame, and bore him two kits, Raven and Apple. After speaking of a few moments of the perfect life Flame once led, his expression would change from gentle happiness to disappointment and great sorrow, sighing heavily. Then he would speak about why their mother wasn’t there. She disappeared during a time when the humans came and took many cats away. Flame believed she was taken by them, and died during the cruel journey to the Great Unknown. His heart was broken, always wincing at the pain of remembering his true love, lost from him forever and ever. Then Raven remembered how Apple’s and his life broke to tiny pieces. He remembered it so well. Flame was looking for a mouse during a famine, and he crossed the street. He forgot to look both

P age |4 ways because of his desire to find food to feed his kittens, and a truck started to come. Raven cried to his father to reach safety, but it was too late. Ever since then, Apple and Raven moved from place to place, looking for a place to call home. Now they settled in the forest, where there was plenty of prey, and no one to fight over food with. As he lapped up some more lake water, he looked at Apple. Apple was a golden, rosy red like her father, with silvery-white paws, and had beautiful sapphire blue eyes the color of the deepest of the deep ocean. She was a slender cat, with small paws, a well shaped head, and sloping shoulders. Raven was glossy jet black, the color of his namesakes, with gleaming mint green eyes tinted with shimmering and sparkling emerald. He had a sinuous body, strong shoulders, and swift paws. Raven also had battle scars. There was a long, silvery scar that ran down his face from rival cats, and two ripped ears from the sharp teeth and razor claws of rats. As Apple licked her silvery white paw, she giggled teasingly, and asked, “Are you going to stare at your reflection all day, or chase mice?” Raven jumped to his feet and ran. Calling over his shoulder, he hollered, “Hurry up, Apple!” The two laughed happily, running as fast as their paws could go. Stopping at a clearing, they panted heavily, and started to sniff around for mice. Quickly, Apple caught the scent of a juicy, fat mouse, and immediately crouched down. Gently, and lightly, she stalked the mouse, taking care to keep her paws from crunching the crunchy dead leaves on the mossy, forest floor. Suddenly, the little brown field mouse looked up, sensing danger. It was just about to scamper off to safety, then Apple pounced. Holding the limp body of her prey in her jaws, she said in a muffled voice, “Foo you wad thum?” (Do you want some?) As they tore into the scrumptious juicy morsel, Apple heard a rustle, and she fell into fighting mode, with her ears perked up alertly, her head shot up, shoulders tense. Suddenly, a large, monstrous beast leaped from the air. It was a giant lizard, with glossy black scales, beady, scarlet eyes, sharpened claws, nine diamond-shaped snake heads, and fangs filled with burning poison. It stared at the two siblings, circling them. It spat at the two, snarling and hissing angrily. Then, it leaped.

Chapter 2 Raven was frightened. The monster was enormously massive. He never had seen any lizard that gigantic. The beast had poison, very painful poison. He saw what it could do, when the flying toxins hit a strong, young oak. It sizzled, and then melted into a thick, smoking puddle of black goo. The creature sniffed at the goop, and quickly turned away when it found out it wasn’t prey. As the monster swung his

P age |5 head around, Raven noticed that the lizard had glassy, milky eyes, a pretty good sign it was mostly blind. But its sense of smell was very, very powerful. Pretty soon, it found a faint trace of Raven’s trail, and started to sniff its way to him. Raven’s heart was racing. He shook with fear. Just when he thought the end had come, a golden, rosy red blur attacked the monstrous beast. It snarled with pain and rage, and lashed out with its sharpened claws, and struck Apple. She shrieked with pain and fell to the ground, unconscious. Raven felt his blood racing with fury, and he attacked the beast. With each strike, he felt the satisfying rip of warm, wet flesh under his claws, and drank in the sound of the bloodcurdling shriek of his victim. Soon the skin of the lizard was ragged, and all of its scales ripped and tattered. Its body was opened with a dozen wounds, and soon it dissipated to pale yellow dust, much to the shock of Raven. As the monster melted away into the wind, Raven fell to the ground, barely conscious. Raven was completely drained, his energy used to fight off the beast. He dragged himself to Apple with the last ounce of his strength, and then drifted into dizzying darkness Raven heard voices in his sleep. At first he thought the voices were just in his dream, but they started to get louder, and gradually he knew they were real. He opened his eyes and saw a pair of deep green eyes tinged with gold, and a female face with fur of shimmering, golden, hazel brown. Next to her was a tom with long, snowy white fur and rich amber eyes, a Persian. The sweet face was slightly plantlike, with her leaf shaped eyes, and furs the color of light brown bark. Her companion’s fur was slightly rough, and his paws seemed horny and flat, his claws were harder than most regular felines. Sweetly, she purred, “I’m Laurel. This is Birch.” She gestured to her strange friend. “We found you in the forest. Are you all right?” As Raven sat up, he noticed where he was. He was in a small clearing, with Apple snoozing gently pretty close. Birch caught him looking at her, and said, “She’s fine. She talked to us earlier, and she said something about a giant lizard attacking the two of you.” Quickly, Birch and Laurel exchanged a swift glance at each other, worry in their eyes. Raven would have asked them what is wrong, but the glance was so fast, he thought it was his imagination. For a few moments, Raven ignored them, and walked over to Apple. His sibling was gently sleeping, and she was well bandaged where she was wounded. Raven didn’t notice that he was holding his breath, and when he saw her treated well, he let it out with a sigh of relief. Then Laurel came over and touched his shoulder lightly with her tail. She tenderly purred, “See, she’s fine. Of course she damaged her side flank on her left side, and her right back leg is broken, but she was lucky. If she damaged her left back leg or if she damaged her spine….” Laurel trailed off. “So as I said before, she was lucky to survive.” Then Laurel walked off, nosing around for a few herbs and fragrant plants to treat Apple.” As the golden rays of the sun faded into the velvety blackness of the night, Raven thought about his mysterious mother once more. Blaze had described Rosemary so often and so detailed, Raven could practically see his mother. The way he thought of her was this: she had a pale gray coat, shining with silver hairs sprinkled all over her body to make a metallic sheen. Her eyes were deep blue, with tinges of frosty white, and traces of amethyst and clear bejeweled green. Her paws were a soft, cloudy white. And

P age |6 of course, the lovely motherly look on her face any good mother would have. He wished he could run up to her and mew like a baby and then curl up next to her. Snap out of it, Raven told himself. That’s just another fantasy that will probably not come true. As Raven looked around, he saw what his companions were doing. Apple was sleeping gently, Birch made a strange sound as he snored, a cross between a cat’s purr and a sound that slightly sounded like a whinny, or a bleat. Raven wasn’t sure. Then Raven looked upon Laurel, she was curled up around her namesake, a slim, youthful laurel tree. She made soft sighing sounds, the sounds of sleep. The only unusual thing about her, was, the tree seemed to be a part of her. The smooth tree bark seemed to flow into her fur, so it looked connected, almost like they shared the same life source. Oh cut it out, he scolded himself silently. She is not part tree. Soon, Raven curled up into a tight swirl of velvety black fur, and started to dream. And he had a very strange and interesting dream.

Chapter 3 He was surrounded by mist. It was chilly, and his fur was still a summer coat. He shivered slightly. Raven felt damp and soggy, and most cats didn’t like that feeling. Raven was one of those felines. His paws squelched in thick, oozing mud, where there was muggy water everywhere. I’m in a swamp, Raven realized. A gross, slimy swamp. As he searched around for a light to cut through the thick mist, light surrounded his shadow. Raven turned. There, floating gently was a faint, silvery-white light floating toward him. The closer the heavenly glow came toward him, the light grew stronger. Then there was a flash of bright light, causing him to shade his eyes. As the glow died, there, standing before him, was a she-cat he didn’t know, yet looked familiar. Her fur was the glistening polished pale silver of brand new silver, and piercing eyes of deep, sapphire blue that was flecked with amethyst and emerald green. She had paws as white as a midwinter blizzard, large, pointed ears of soft, fluffy light gray, and an elegant, graceful body. Her expression was proud and full of authority, her eyes slightly cold, but there was a warmer side of her, hidden by her imperial form. The she-cat’s face showed no expression of love, but Raven sensed affection generated from her, tender motherly love. Raven couldn’t help but ask, “Mom?” The beautiful cat smiled a feline smile and opened her mouth, but then a strong breeze blew. Raven watched, paralyzed as his maybe mother was whisked away by the wind, howling as it swished pass. When he could only see her as a speck, he shrieked, “Mom? Where are you!!?” The wind turned into a powerful storm, and soon it tugged Raven away from the ground. As he got blown away into the real world, he kept calling, “Mother!”

P age |7 Raven awoke in a start, shivering and whimpering from his nightmare. His mother was so close to him, he could have reach out and flick a whisker, and then she was gone, blown away by the fierce wind. Apple looked at him, worry in her eyes. “Raven, are you okay?” Raven quickly hid his fear, and struggled to his wobbly paws. “I’m alright.” Apple was still not convinced, but she left him alone. As he relaxed, he asked, “I’m starving. What are we going to eat?” Then Laurel appeared, with a trout in her jaws. “We’re eating this and this.” She nudged several mint leaves and ripe strawberries toward them. Then she walked over to Birch and nuzzled him awake. When he was fully awake, they nibbled on some raspberries and blackberries together. Birch caught him staring at the plants, and called out, “I can’t eat meat. It’s disgusting. Laurel is the same.” Apple shot a glance, meaning, what kind of cat doesn’t like meat? Then she padded over to the trout, Raven walking with her. They recoiled at the taste, being so slippery and cold. As they ate in silence, a bird chirped in the distance. When they left the fish as bones, they thought about eating the mint, but decided it was way too leafy to be good for one’s health. Of course, Laurel shot them a dirty look, and Birch gestured a very rude gesture to the cats, they didn’t say anything. The moment Apple and Raven declared they were leaving, Laurel insisted Birch and she will go. “Besides, if you will get wounded, who will treat your wounds?” Reluctantly Raven agreed to their wishes, and then they started the journey together. Chapter 4 Even heroes get the blues. By the time they reached a human house, they were exhausted. Apple was wounded at the left side of her flank; Birch got a gash on his front leg, and Laurel was limping slightly. Raven had an infected paw, and Laurel was doing everything to help. So far, the paw was getting hotter, and Raven was very ill. He couldn’t walk on that paw, or he’ll fall in pain. So he was walking on his other three legs, and the fevered paw was dragged in the dirt most of the time, bandaged with soft leaves and pieces of flax plant. He was healing, amazingly, but it was taking, well, forever. If it weren’t for Laurel, Raven would have died long ago, and Apple might have bled to death in the battle against several vicious rats, where she got her present day wound. Birch, of course, did the best he can, but he wasn’t really helpful at all. “If we don’t find a better kind of medicine soon, Raven might lose that leg,” Laurel remarked worriedly. As Laurel redressed the wound and wrapped fresh mint leaves to cool it down, Apple charged into the clearing they took shelter in. “Humans... me… came… fled….coming,” she gasped. Soon the thump of large feet echoed under their paws. Worriedly, Laurel meowed, “We better get Raven out of the way. The humans might, well, might…” Laurel trailed off what she was saying. But everyone knew what she was going to say. The humans might take Raven to the Unknown, where many cats went, but never returned. Birch immediately lugged Raven backward into the bushes by the scruff, straining his neck as far as it could go. But the thumping grew louder, and louder, until they could smell them.

P age |8 Soon, three adults came into the clearing, two adults, and one child. They were looking for something: cats. Everyone cowered behind the thick, leafy bushes, barely even trying to take a breath. Then the disaster happened. Apple stepped backward, right on top of Raven’s infected paw. As he yowled in pain, everyone scattered, blind with fear. Raven was too weak to move an inch. Of course, the humans heard that noise, and charged. In two swishes of a cat’s tail, they carried him, talking about the wound in their strange language. Gently they laid him down on a soft cushion, and Raven fell asleep.

************** Drowsily, Raven woke up. He was shocked. He was lying on a thing called a couch, and he was groomed like a house pet. When he got up, something caught his eye. Around his neck was a round thing made of plastic around his neck, and hanging from it was a round disk with tiny, squiggly shapes all over it. It’s a collar, his father had told him in disgust. Humans make us where it to show we belong to them. As he examined it, he remembered some of the human alphabet Blaze taught him. “Mittens,” he meowed. Mittens?! I am not Mittens! He yowled with rage and started to scratch the couch. One of the adults ran out of the warm section where there was a lot of food. “Blah blah bad Mittens!” Then the adult started beating him with a rolled up piece of paper. Raven yowled in pain and rage. But he was too weak to do anything. So he just sat there, yowling as the man beat him again and again, helpless in their mercy. Stop blah blah!” A little girl human bowled her daddy over, crying very hard. “Stop!” Then the daddy kissed her and talked to her quietly, and then left the room. Raven was very bruised and battered inside, but outside, he looked fine. “Mittens!” The little girl scooped him up and kissed him on the nose. Blah, disgusting, Raven thought. He griped. “I blah blah Mittens!” Over the next few days, he already understood what they say, and who they are. The big, male was Daddy, the thinner, tall female was Mommy, and the little girl was Jane. And Raven knew who to avoid. Avoid Daddy when angry, be close to Mommy because she gives you yummy food, and avoid Jane at all times. Jane was absolutely horrible. A witch, to be exact. She was a whiney, spoilt brat! Jane always cornered him once a day and tortured him. Humans might think it is adorable, but she’s a professional torturer. She dresses him in a pink tutu, a pink bow and worse of all, placed a pink ribbon around his neck. Then she’ll put him on a dainty white table painted with roses and leaves and then pour him hot chocolate. Not only she tortures, she poisons. Raven needs to yowl as loudly as he could for the adults to take away the chocolate from him. “You nearly poisoned Mittens. Chocolate is cat poison.” Then Jane will cry and say she’s sorry, and pour him yummy, sweet milk, but then she’ll do it all over again the next day.

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Chapter 5 Raven looked out miserably at the window, trying to recollect his memories he had before. I wonder what Apple is doing now, he wondered. Maybe eating a skinny old rat. Well, that is a lot better than the disgusting gravel they feed me once a day. Or maybe she’s drinking scummy pond water again, ugh, but that is way better than the icy cold water with flecks of disgusting flavors swirling in it in a bowl. Sighing he leaped off the couch and settled down on the way-too-soft pink cat bed they bought him. He was grateful of not taking him to the Unknown, and actually gave him shelter, but he wasn’t a house pet. He would rather be fighting a rabid rat than be cooped up in an old, big house with nothing wild to do. Then he heard a scratching sound. There, at the window, was a cat. She had long, silver fur, with large, clear blue eyes, and big, cloudy white ears. She was scratching the window, and she was saying something. Raven darted to the window and grabbed at the lock that held the window in place. With a swift, twist with his paw, he opened the wind and let the mysterious cat in. She was drenched and shivering. “Thanks,” she gasped. “Don’t mention it.” Raven leaped from the couch onto the floor next to her. “Who are you?” Raven asks. She breathed in a few breaths, and answered, “Diamond. As in Diamond, daughter of Rain and Chrystal. I’m an alley cat, but I’m also part Persian.” Raven escorted her to his food and water bowls, and persuaded her to eat. “Please, eat. You look exhausted.” Diamond didn’t need to hear another word. She took a deep breath, and chowed down. She ate and ate and ate. She nibbled a bit of the disgusting Beef Nibblets, she sampled the revolting Chicken Lick ‘ems, she gobbled the horrid Pork Pros, she chewed the gross Salmon Galore, she swallowed the gruesome Lamb Chows, she savored the foul Sally’s Sausage Bits, and she actually gorged on the loathsome Victorian Veggies. He stared as she ate the absolutely repulsive food. “I’m starving,” she looked up. “Anything else to eat?” Gulping, he led her to the Food. The Food’s real name is Granny’s Mixture of Cat Food. It was made by the same company that created the food Diamond just ate. And the most revolting thing about it was, it was a mixture of all the brands Diamond savored a few moments ago. Also, there was a twist to it. It had a dash of exotic flavors cleverly created so no cat will dare to take in a mouthful. There was Duck Drumsticks and Goose Gobblers with a trace of rotten catnip, and a sprinkle of horrible spices so spicy, your tongue will be set on fire. Diamond inhaled the stench of the Food deeply, and sighed happily. She leaped on top of the giant sack, stuck her paws in, and dove right into the heart of the Food. Raven couldn’t see her any more, but he could sure hear her. The vigorous chomping, and the loud smacking of lips, and the satisfying slurp of the lips, and the happy sigh of the love of finally silencing the growl of everlasting hunger was enough to make the most well run digestive system hurl.

P a g e | 10 Sure enough, Raven darted to the toilet and let it go. Soon, everything he had eaten before was floating around in groups of dripping wet nastiness, making the toilet water scummy and cloudy with disgusting half-eaten food. Clutching his stomach in his mind, he weakly waddled back to the Food, to only return to the toilet again, in quite a hurry. There with the sack completely empty, was Diamond. Her belly was as round as a beach ball, and covered with revoltingly gross crumbs. She patted her stomach contently, and let out a huge burp. Her mouth was dripping with water and crumbs, a clear sign that she visited Raven’s water bowl, and her paws were crusty with tiny bits of cat pellets and spices and dry crumbs. Diamond’s fur used to be silvery white, but now it was dusty gray with cat food heavily layered on top of the thickly matted fur. Diamond yawned loudly, and was about to drift off, but Raven nudged her belly with his paw. Groaning, she said, “Hey, stop that. It hurts.” Raven paid no attention, and started to push his paw in. Then he said, “Diamond I thought about something. Do you want a human home?” Diamond immediately hollered, “Of course!” Raven quietly said, “Well, I want to get out of this place. And if you accept, you can live here and take my place, while I go out and live in the outside world again. Do you accept?” “Definitely!” Then they shook tails, and then Raven walked over to the cat flap, calling over his shoulder, “Bye, human house!” He then tugged at his collar until it fell off, and then shook himself thoroughly to get rid of the collar feeling. “So long, house!” Chapter 6 It took a while to find Apple, Birch, and Laurel, but he made it. “Raven!” Apple bowled him over, and licked his ears over and over again. “Raven, I thought we lost you to the humans forever. I was so scared, thinking the humans might attack again. What happened to you?” Raven laughed slightly, and returned her licks on her shoulder. “I’ll tell you tonight.” As the moon rose up higher and higher, Raven told his story. He told them about the humans healing his paw, and bringing him to their home. His audience’s eyes grew wider and wider when he talked about Jane. “Brr, that girl must be truly wicked,” Laurel commented, shivering as she spoke. “She was.” By the time he finished his horrifying tale the gleaming crescent was at its highest point. Yawning loudly, Birch remarked, “We better get some sleep. Who knows what will happen next? We need to be fully energized to escape crazy humans and insane enemies.” When everyone agreed, Birch curled up and fell fast asleep. Everyone else followed his example. Well, I’m glad I’m back, Raven thought. Then he dreamed of dreamland.

******** The next day, Raven awoke to the smell of freshly killed prey. He awakened swiftly, eager to eat the fat sparrow next to him. Licking his lips, he hungrily pounced on the sparrow and ripped it to pieces as he ate. The meat sang with the flavors of raspberry and delicious hazelnut with the sweet tang of wild

P a g e | 11 cherry. Each bite was a wondrous feeling of warmth, and tasted better than the last. When Raven finished his delicious meal, he sighed with happiness. Oh how he missed the taste of sparrow! Apple bounded over, with two fat mice hanging by the tails in her mouth. She laughed at the large mess where the sparrow once been. “You missed sparrow that much?” Raven nodded his jet black head and then stared at the mice Apple just dropped. “You’re gonna eat that?” Apple laughed once more, and purred, “I was, but now you can have them.” Lunging at the freshly killed mice, Raven tore them as he ate in front of her eyes. His wild eyes danced with glee, as he swallowed the juicy prey. He barely even tried to chew; he tore the prey into such small pieces. When he finished, there was an even bigger mess in front of Apple’s shocked eyes. “You were really hungry, huh.” The insane light of satisfied hunger faded from Raven’s eyes. “Yeah.” They stared at the mess Raven made, then quickly turned away from it. “Well, we should soon move on. It’s getting brighter, and we need as much light as we can to move on. Staying at one place isn’t good for traveler.” “Yeah, right.” They stared at each other for a few more seconds, and then turned away from each other. “Laurel, gather your stuff, it’s time to move!” “Birch, come on, it’s time to go!” Soon, the quadruple group was together, heading off to the bright sunrise of a fresh, new day. Chapter 7 For a whole week, it was stormy, pelting rain and lightning shattered the sky. Soon, it began to rain so hard, they couldn’t see their paws in front of their faces, and was forced to shelter in an alley in a human town. They were terribly nervous, frightened of getting caught by paranoid humans. But they were going to face something more frightening than anything they faced before. “Apple, pass the rabbit.” “No Raven, I didn’t get my share yet!” The two fought over the skinny piece of worthless prey, while Laurel and Birch shared a flimsy pile of herbs. “You had your turn!” “No, I didn’t!” As the two sibling argued with both words and claw, Laurel and Birch commented the scene. “Raven is being too harsh about the prey.”

P a g e | 12 “Apple is taking too long on eating.” Then they agreed on one thing. “They should quit eating meat for a while, and eat plants for the time being.” Raven managed to grab the piece of food, and took a bite, and then Apple snatched it back again. The group didn’t notice the rumbling growl in the shadows, until Birch exclaimed, “Those are mighty bright light bulbs in the shadows.” Then the half-starved group froze at once, afraid to approach the glistening lights watching them. They heard a deep, rumbling growl, and then the leaves rustled in the shadows. Scatter!” The group ran into different directions, as a creature slammed onto the ground where they were once before. The beast was a deep black of nightmares, with large paws, sharp, glistening teeth, and a tail that lashed around, glowing with fire. It roared as loud as the thunder above them. Skidding on its paws, it charged after Laurel. She wove neatly around large boxes and towering stacks of crates, but the monster was getting ever so closer. Just when it seemed all was lost, and it would chomp down on Laurel’s golden brown tail, a wave of furious rose gold fur attacked the beast’s hide. Apple ferociously ripped at its fur, filled with wild anger. She tore through its pelt, making the beast howl with pain. Her furious paws dug deep into its flesh, then immediately rose up, claws tearing its skin. The monster fought back, but each blow got weaker and weaker. It seemed that she was going to win. Then disaster struck. The monster thrust out its hideous claws, sharpened into a deadly point, deep into her back. Apple screeched in pain, and fell, her eyes rolling to the back of her head. By the time she hit the ground, she was unconscious. Next to her, the monster changed to a pillar of sand, and blew away, the wind scattering its remains on the ground. Raven darted to Apple, fearful she was dead. When he reached her, he shook her, calling her name. “Apple, wake up!” Laurel padded up to Apple, and felt her breast. Worry melted away into an expression of deep pain and sorrow. Birch understood that face. “Raven, she’s gone,” he gently whispered. Raven sat there, paralyzed, then tilted his head up and wailed. “Apple, Apple!” he cried to the rising moon. The round white disk seemed to cry tears of stars. “No!”

********** The next day, they buried Apple, in a grove of apple trees in the forest. Raven gently whispered, “We’ll meet again someday, don’t worry.” Then he marked the ground with a gleaming stone half buried in the ground, the color of Apple’s lustrous, rosy gold fur. After the burial, Raven sat vigil before his

P a g e | 13 sister’s grave. Mom, please guide Apple until I join her, Raven pleaded silently. Then we can be all together. Raven sighed gently, and then walked over to Laurel and Birch. “It’s time.” Laurel and Birch nodded gently, and started to walk toward the setting sun. Raven went last, and took a final glace at Apple’s final resting spot. The spot was so peaceful, with the sweet scent of fresh apples mixed with the smell of grass. As he looked at his sibling’s special spot one more time, he thought, Sis, wait for me. One day, we’ll meet again. Then we’ll be together forever. Chapter 8 On a rainy day, with trees dripping droplets of crystal clear, Birch spoke with Raven. “Raven, was it your mom or was it your father who was missing in your life?” Raven was surprised on what he said. How did he know he had lost someone way before he could remember? He wondered. Slowly, he meowed, “Well, our dad raised Apple and me,” He cringed at the name of his fallen sibling. “And Rosemary had died during the Great Cat Loss.” Every word stabbed him at the very center of his heart. Then Birch said something Raven would have never expected. Birch sat there quietly, and answered, “Your mom’s not dead, Raven.” Raven’s heart fluttered a bit, then he asked, “Rosemary’s not dead? How?” Birch quietly answered, “Not Rosemary.” Raven’s hope drooped to the lowest point, and then rose. “Then why did you say my mother’s not dead?” Birch sighed, the purred, “Rosemary is just a fake name. Your real mother is Peacock.” Raven goggled at the idea. “You mean the Peacock, queen of the Olympian cats, ruler of the heavens, wife of Thunder, the cat of Hera, and lady of marriage, meaning she is not suppose to have kids without Thunder as the father??!!” Birch looked uncomfortable at that idea. “Well yeah, that’s your mom.” Raven was slightly worried. “Doesn’t that mean I will be like an enemy of Thunder, plus Zeus, and there won’t be anyone stopping them to get at me?” Birch whispered, “Uh huh.” Raven thought to himself, this is not cool. If Thunder catches me or anything, doesn’t that mean I’ll get incinerated or something? Raven shivered a little, and suddenly became hopeful. “Does Thunder have a kid or anything?” Birch perked up, thinking Raven just wanted to know names, well, one name in particular. “Yeah, he has a son named Storm. Even though he isn’t as strong, he is mightier than Heracles’ cat representative, Courage. He is very swift, smart, clever, and strong, and also, he has a girlfriend, maybe,” he added. He rattled on, not even looking at Raven’s sickening face. “He has a crush on Fawn, daughter of Luna. Can you believe it? Apparently, Cupid’s pet, Love, had been given orders from Sweetheart, to make Luna fall of the wagon, right on top of the paws of some cat named Chestnut. Even more so, if Luna had fallen in love with like, well a gray, white, or silver cat, Fawn would have looked like she only had a mother, not a single guy related to her. But, no, Sweetheart made sure that wouldn’t happen.” Birch laughed grimly. “She didn’t want to lose her fun. So he gave specific orders to Love, Luna fell in love for the second time in her life, and Fawn is laughed at by the Sweetheart cats. If it weren’t for Storm, she probably would have been the laughingstock of the camp.”

P a g e | 14 What camp?” “Never mind.” “Anyway, right now, Luna is right now in disgrace, and Artemis is angry for letting Love hit her so easily. She sentenced her to walking with the dogs instead of being by her side, where the most important section is, for 2 years,” Birch finished. He looked at Raven, who starred with wonder, amazed by what he just heard. And Fawn! She sounds so amazing .He could just see her. Her soft, fawn-colored fur, the soft creamy spots, the beautiful blue eyes, her fierce and gentle expression. Oh just by imagining it, he was in love. “Are you okay, Raven?” Raven shook himself awake from his daydreams, and looked at Laurel, who looked at him worriedly. “I’m alright. Just thinking.” Raven waddled over to a clear, clean lake, and gazed into it. His glossy black face looked back at him. His gleaming eyes the color of deep green grass mixed with the colors of the emerald stared. Raven’s eyes weren’t gleaming with mischief, or sparkling with fun, like they used to. They might be still gleaming and sparkling that lovely shade of green, they were filled with sorrow the kind when you seemed to have lost everything. He wondered if a cat could ever be interested in him. True, he had thick glossy fur, strong limbs, and those dazzling green eyes, but the scars could be gruesome looking. That long, silvery white gash slicing through his face, and the ragged ears. He could still open both of his eyes and see okay, and the ears can hear just fine, but he seemed frail, in a way. No girl would fall in love with a frail looking cat, probably. As he still thought these strange thoughts, Birch called, “Raven, we should move on. The sun is rising higher and higher.” Raven got to his feet, and swiftly snuggled between Laurel and Birch. “Where should we go?” Quietly, together Birch and Laurel answered, “It’s time for you to go to camp.” At his puzzled expression, they added, “We’ll explain when we get there.” As the three went off to the horizon, the sun arose. Chapter 9 After a month of traveling and very dangerous attacks, like the time when they ran into a flying sow and- well, on with the story. Raven was the first to reach the grounds. As he breathed in the sweet scent of mouse, the cats came in swarms. “Who are you? Are you a demicat or a mortal?” Question after question was tiring. “Guys!” Birch called. Panting heavily, he mrrowed, “He’s the remaining of Peacock’s kittens.” A gasp ran through the crowd. “His mother is Peacock?!” Then the sound of pushing came through the crowd, and from the center, came two cats. One was a deep gray tom, and the other was Fawn. She looked exactly like he imagined. The other cat must be Storm, Raven thought. “What’s going on?” Storm glared at Raven with stormy eyes. His voice rumbled. Raven glanced at Storm, then Fawn, and then gulped. Then Raven spoke quietly, saying, “It’s me.” Storm sized Raven up, then growled, “You’ll be staying in the Peacock Room. “ As Storm lectured on about him staying, Raven stared at Fawn. She glanced back with interest. Her beautiful eyes the color of a clear frosty blue watched Raven’s every move.

P a g e | 15 “And that’s it,” Storm gruffly finished. “Come on Fawn.” Swishing his deep, cloudy gray tail elegantly, he walked off with Fawn right beside him, glancing back at Raven with fierce eyes burning with hatred only Raven could detect. The moment Storm left the crowd, the other cats moved away to their other priorities. Raven sat down upon the dusty, dirt ground, and gazed at the sun slowly setting. Fawn is much lovelier and prettier than I thought. She is so amazing. Everything about her was. Her soft, fawn colored fur, her lovely eyes of winter blue, her sweet, cream spots. But Storm! Ugh, so proud, snobby because he’s a son of Thunder. So what if he’s a child of the king of the heavens. And the worst part, Fawn is moony-eyed about him. Huh. I can’t believe that. As he gazed at the setting sun, Laurel crept up to him and licked Raven’s jet-black ears. Raven jumped, and then stared at the lovely golden brown cat. She whispered, “Are you thinking about Apple?” Raven’s heart shuddered with sorrow. “Please don’t talk about her. It’s painful enough to think about her. But speaking her name?” He trailed off as he spoke those sentences. Laurel gazed at him with eyes of sorrow, and then sat down beside him. “I miss her too. But you can’t linger on such thoughts, the world can be a cruel place, and staring into the past can get you consumed by other creatures with no mercy. So shake off the past, and peer into the present.” With those final words, she walked off to Birch. As he sighed, he wondered if Fawn had a single feeling about him. When the sun finally disappeared, and the moon rose high as a gleaming sliver of glowing white, he went inside a wide building where the other cats were asleep. He entered his mother’s room, and inhaled the sweet fragrance of apples and pomegranates in the air. The walls were silver, with paintings of peacocks, ravens, and elegant eagles on them. The floor was snowy white tile, with large, soft rugs of soft, thick yarn the bright colors of sapphire blue, emerald green, amethyst violet, gold, and silver thrown upon it. Soft pillows of glossy raven black and soft white were strewn across the colorful room, hemmed with gold and trimmed with feathers. There also were soft blankets of thin cotton of reds and gold and greens. It was elegant and fine. And at the center, was a statue. It wasn’t any statue; it was Hera with her feline companion Peacock. Hera was clothed in a classic greek dress the color of fresh snow, and she wore a girdle of silver. Her hair was black, and decorated with delicate blossoms. In her hand was a gleaming staff topped with a large white lotus, and perched on her shoulder was a peacock. She was barefooted, and was sitting on a throne of polished gold. Nuzzling her other outstretched hand was Peacock. Her fur glistened the color of gleaming silver, and upon her dainty head was a glittering silver tiara topped with a sapphire and three brightly colored peacock feathers. She was wrapped loosely with a silken length of Caribbean blue cloth, hemmed with the violet of the amethyst. Hera’s face showed motherly love, while Peacock’s showed pride. Raven settled down on a plump pillow of black silk trimmed with raven feathers. As he yawned slightly, he wrapped a soft blanket the color of his late sister’s fur. Soon, he fell asleep, gently breathing in and out. Chapter 10

P a g e | 16 Sunlight streamed from a clear glass window onto Raven’s sleeping face. As he drowsily woke up, he heard the sound of quiet cheering outside the cabin building. He stretched, and groomed himself. The moment that last hair got smoothed down, he walked out of the Peacock room, and to outside. There he saw several cats cheering on two cats as they fought. One tom was large and bulky, a rich, gingery blood red. His eyes gleamed amber as he glared at the enemy. The other tom was sly and thin. His fur was a soft white patched with fluffy, light gray spots, and his eyes were as blue as the sky above. Raven walked up to a cheering white Persian with golden, amber colored eyes, and asked, “What are they doing?” Not paying much to him, she answered, “Blood, son of Scratch, the gingery red one, is mad at Cloud, son of Flight, the other tom. Cloud stole Blood’s favorite battle claws, and sold it to the naiad-cats. So Blood got his revenge by throwing Cloud’s girlfriend, Rose, a daughter of Sweetheart, into a stump, and ruining her favorite pink collar. So she temporarily broke up their relationship, and Cloud is now going to, oh, fight. It’s not to the death; it’s just ‘til someone surrenders first. Then the prize is this: Blood will either give his magical golden armor, or Cloud with give up his absolutely favorite winged battle claws. Also, they are not wearing any armor or weapons; it’s the classic kind, blood all over them in a sandy arena.” Raven shuddered at the thought of blood. But he couldn’t just barge into a fight and get killed, should he? Just do it, he told himself. Taking a deep breath, he barreled into the small space between the fighters. “Hey! What do you think you are doing?” Cats started screeching at Raven, jeering at his efforts for peace. “Cloud! Stop fighting!” Cloud hesitated for a moment, and then Blood bowled him over. Now Cloud was crazed. “Hya!” Cloud slashed and tore out fur, while Blood slammed into him time to time. “Blood, stop it!” But it was no use. The two toms were too busy trying hard to not get killed to pay attention. Suddenly, Raven jumped between them. “Stop!” Bad idea. Blood slammed into his chest, while Cloud ripped him to ribbons. Pain exploded all over Raven’s slender body. Raven fell to the sandy ground. As he closed his eyes, he watched jeering at him and laughing over and over again.

****************** Raven groaned, and then sat up. He was in the infirmary. He watched the Solar cats tend to wounds and feed the sick. As he stretched, spasms of pain rolled underneath his fur. “Ow!” Everyone looked up at Raven. “Oh, the guy’s awake.” Then they resumed to their tending to the sick and weak. Raven looked at his fur, and his eyes nearly popped out. His fur was ragged, like an old tattered piece of worn-out cloth, and was decorated with bandages all over. He looked like a mummy with tattered mummy wrappings. Raven’s stomach lurched a bit at the sight of all those bloody bandages. Raven turned away from the sight of his tattered fur, and stepped down from the medical cat bed. Immediately, his legs collapsed, and down he toppled on his face, upon the cold, hard floor. “Owwww….” He muttered. He bumped his chest, and it was still very sore from being head slammed by Blood. Struggling to his paws, he limped down to outside.

P a g e | 17 It was nice and warm, with Sunbeam glowing and glittering high above the camp. It was dinnertime, and something good was cooking. Licking his lips, his mouth watering a storm, he sniffed his way to the food. What he found made his stomach roll over and beg. There was creamy warm milk to drink, with delicious food everywhere. There was rabbit, buttered and sprinkled with spices. Mouse was being fried to a delicious crisp. Honey barbecued sparrow was on the grill. Fish was being grilled, covered with catnip leaves. And there was dessert. Soft, honey-sweet guava filled dishes. Cakes littered the tables. It was food paradise. As he waited for his supper, cats were whispering. “Raven actually tried to stop a fight. Can you believe it?” “I heard he gave Birch some trouble.” “Did you hear about his sister? She was supposed to be a beauty, and was pretty spirited.” “Yeah, I heard about her.” “Well, I heard she went to her death willingly, but all along, Raven insisted she go and defend!” “Really? That’s just cruel.” As Raven listened to these lies, he tried not to think about his sibling. Luckily, supper was ready by then. He ate and ate and ate, maybe as much as Diamond could. By the time he was finished, his belly was closer to the ground, and the moon was high. Slowly, he waddled to the Peacock Room, and crashed onto the pillows and slept. Chapter 11 Luckily, the longer he stayed, the more these stories melted away. They respected him, especially when he went to javelin fighting class. Raven picked up a simple javelin to throw with his tail. Already, in the classes before, he flunked plenty of them out. In archery class, he managed to pin a Solar cat to a tree on his first try with a dart. He left class, with curses and several darts chasing after him. Then he went to classic-fighting class. He managed to leave a few scratches on the Wheat toms, but the Scratch cats pounded him, literally. Raven received a very nice black eye during the fight. Battle claws class wasn’t so bad, but he wasn’t an expert, that’s for sure. The battle claws were pretty heavy, even though everyone tells him they are super light. By the time he came to javelin fighting class, he had a pretty heavy heart. But when he was told to try to touch the javelin instructor’s chest while fighting, his senses lit up. He seemed to know every battle skill on javelin practice, even when he never learned them yet. Raven could tell what the teacher was going to do. He was going to do a simple jab, a roll-over, a twist-in-thetail, and a belly slide, so he would be able to touch Raven’s vulnerable chest. But Raven had a few tricks up his collar too. A swish-slice manage to block the attack, a rather advanced dodge-and-twist left the instructor in twists, and a rocket piercer met Raven’s goal. Raven’s extremely sharp spear point was quivering slightly, a centimeter from turning the instructor into a kitty shish kabob. The teacher stared in

P a g e | 18 amazement at the simple javelin point. It’s been at least a century since a beginner has last beaten a well-trained instructor, and on their first try. Raven quickly lifted the spear away from the teacher, careful not to poke him or anything. “Ummmm, sorry?” “Sorry?!” the teacher, Ray, broke into a wild grin. “It’s been forever since something like that happen! You’re a natural! Maybe even better than Javelin!” “Javelin?” Someone called out from the back. “He was the best javelin fighter ever.” “So, if I’m better than Javelin,” Raven wondered aloud. “You’ll be the best javelin fighter of all time!” Ray finished the thought. Raven tried to twist his mind around that idea. Best javelin fighter of all time? Really? How can that be possible? Apple was always managing to pin me down with a stick, a simple stick. Unless, Apple is better than me, Raven wondered. “You’re the best fighter in the whole camp, that’s for sure,” Ray meowed. Suddenly, an idea popped into Raven’s head. “Ray, who’s Javelin’s godly parent?” Ray had to think hard on this one. “I’m not sure. No one really knew Javelin’s real godly parent. Solar just claimed him when none of the other Olympian cats called him their son. Of course, Javelin might be Solar’s son, but Solar cats are usually good at shooting, not exactly fighting. And there is the question of his parent maybe being a minor one. But the biggest guess was a big three one. Maybe his father was Thunder, or Splash, or Shadow. No one knows. And he also disappeared after a large fight with an enemy. Of course, that was 50 human years ago, and he was in the middle of his feline life. Only one person other than his own parent could have known, and she’s well, dead. Killed. She died during the fight right before he disappeared. She was expecting their kittens. Her name was Dawn, daughter of Aurora. A minor. And that’s the end of that, pretty much,” Ray finished. Raven stared at him. “That was pretty tragic.” “Yeah.” “Well I should go now; I want to see if there are any more skills that I can master as fast as javelin fighting.” He quietly walked out of the arena, with the spear still in his tail’s grasp. “Uh, Raven?” He turned around. There, running as fast as he could possibly can was Ray, carrying a long, thin bundle. “Here.” Ray dropped the bundle in front of Raven’s paws. “For you.” Then he left immediately. After wondering a few moments whether to open it here or not, he decided. Raven carried it carefully to Peacock Room to open the gift, and found a beautiful javelin.

P a g e | 19 The point was fine, shining silver sharpened into a deadly point, and it glowed so brightly, it looked like it was a part of the glowing white moon outside Raven’s window. Its very point was made of clear diamond. The shaft was a rod of ebony black wood encircled with designs of white gold shaped with glittering waves of precious metal. Near the end of the fine spear, was writing. “Whitewave, property of Javelin,” I read aloud. As I stared at the delicate writing, Whitewave winked and twinkled in the afternoon light. “Whitewave,” I repeated. “Whitewave, you’re my weapon, that’s for sure.” Chapter 12 Raven has been here for only a month, he was already at home. He knew practically everyone, and they respected Whitewave and him. Raven aced in every lesson in javelin fighting class. He was pretty happy, especially now Fawn was interested in him a LOT. As in ditched-Storm-and-sashayed-upto-Raven a lot. But he made an enemy. Ever since Fawn was really interested in Raven and not Storm, he glared at Raven with such intense hatred, Raven felt like he was turning into stone under Storms burning gaze. But Raven was okay with that. His life was perfectly great. Then Ray told him about the human demigods. “Once you have trained as a loner long enough, a human comes and becomes paired with a cat. Usually they have the same parent as yourself, like for me; the human paired up with me would be Apollo’s kid. But there are a few exceptions.” He looked at Raven with his large blue eyes. Raven could tell what he was thinking. Peacock’s human was the goddess of marriage, and wouldn’t dream of dating someone else besides her husband, and Peacock broke that ancient bond thing. Of course, Hera didn’t do that dating, so Raven won’t have a human with Hera’s blood flowing in their veins. Raven mrrowed,”Then where’s your human.” A long silence stretched between them. “My human, well, died against a giant monster. I barely managed to get away. Ever since that accident, I was the javelin-fighting instructor.” Ray stared at the sandy floor of the fighting arena. “Well, what about me. I mean, there isn’t a Hera’s kid that we know of.” “Well, you’ll probably be paired up with a demigod who just didn’t have a feeling for the demicats of their parent. Take Fawn for example. Artemis is NOT going to break her pledge of chastity, not now anyway, and Fawn will be chosen by some other demigod.” “OK.” Well, you should get some sleep. The demigods will be coming tomorrow, and you’ll be performing your skills so they’ll see if you have a feel of the same weapon and all. Night.” Ray walked off to the building, leaving Raven with Whitewave to figure out what he heard. After a few moment of thought, Raven walked out of the arena, into the camp building, and into the Peacock room. Laying Whitewave in its nightly position, he yawned and slept.


P a g e | 20 “Look at the fawn-colored one, what’s her name?” “Fawn, silly.” “Oh, yeah, I knew that.” Raven never saw so many people. They cheered a bit, and roared in his ears. Each cabin were in groups at the arena stands. They were watching a fight to see the skills of the cats. Right now, it was Fawn with her hunting claws against Scar, a son of Scratch, with his battle claws and iron knife in his mouth. Fawn slashed at his face with deadly points, and Scar howled with rage and pain. In return, Scar swiped his knife, and the point met her shoulder. She nearly collapsed at the impact. Raven was right now carrying Whitewave, neatly cleaned and sharpened. He was going to fight against Leopard, a golden cat with black spots, a son of Wine, who had the weapon of a pair of battle claws, Wineslash. Any moment now, one of the two fighting felines will fall. “Yooww!” Scar yelped when a single claw hooked onto his foreleg, and ripped down. He collapsed, and Fawn was victorious. She yowled her triumph and trotted off into the ditch of the victors. Raven breathed in heavily, and hefted his javelin. Slowly, but steadily, he walked into the arena. If cats could sweat, his fur would drip with nervousness. Leopard was already there. He shifted his claws eagerly, and hopped on one foot. A conch horn sounded. Then the fight began. Slice! Leopard twisted his slim body and made for Raven’s shoulder. The claws hooked into his pelt and ripped downward. Immediately, it exploded with pain. Raven was now in crazed-cat mode. With an expert twist, Whitewave flipped in the air and aimed for Leopard’s right paw. It scored perfectly. “Yow!” Leopard backed a way, his right paw raised. He now had one paw left for slicing. He snarled, and then lunged. At the last second, Raven jumped to the right, then jabbed him in the shoulder. Leopard’s forelegs buckled. “Argh!” Leopard tumbled, and then rolled toward Raven’s feet. Raven was knocked head over paws. Gasping for breath, he didn’t notice Leopard. Swish! Leopard brought down his claws and sliced over Raven’s back. Raven screamed in pain, and shuddered. Carefully, but swiftly, he slammed Whitewave into Leopard’s face. The gleaming point scratched his eyes, but not blinding him. Leopard stumbled about, trying to shake off the droplets of blood seeping into his violet eyes. Raven tensed, and then dropped Whitewave. As the cheers roared in his large ears, he leaped. He met his goal with deadly accuracy. Raven had landed squarely on Leopard’s already wounded shoulder. Leopard screamed, then dropped with exhaustion, and the crowd cheered with delight and amazement. Raven swooned a bit, and then dropped to the floor, exhausted of the fierce battle. He closed his eyes, and sleepily dreamed. Epilogue Raven yawned, and stretched. Little jolts of pain swiftly ran over his tired body. When he opened his eyes, he expected to see Ray, or Laurel, or Birch, or maybe even Apple, ready to take him to a paradise, so he could stay with her. Instead, he saw a pair of frosty-blue eyes, a wave of soft fawn-

P a g e | 21 brown fur, and a sprinkle of soft creamy white. “Hey.” Fawn smiled down on him, and licked his muzzle. Raven answered with a wash between her ears. As his eyesight came to focus, he saw that Fawn wasn’t alone. Two demigods were on the floor, their faces serious, yet their glittering eyes sparkled with pleasure. Fawn gently purred, “You see the girl with the chocolate hair and hazel eyes? That’s Sara Huntford, daughter of Nike, goddess of victory. The guy next to her, the one with the golden-brown hair and blue-green eyes, is James Mapleton, son of Apollo, the god of music and all that stuff. Sara’s taking me home, and James is your demigod.” Lightly, Fawn hopped up to Sara, and purred sweetly. Sara then grasped her gently, and then placed Fawn in her lap. James just looked at Raven. Then very slowly, he picked Raven up. Raven at first stared at him, and quietly purred. James laughed quietly, and then placed him in James’s arms. Finally, Raven thought. I have a home. After all those (cat) years in the streets, wandering with Apple, I finally have a home. Apple, I’ll see you again soon, but for now, this is my home. This is where I belong.


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