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Crookedstars promise, p.1
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       Crookedstar's Promise, p.1

           Erin Hunter
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Crookedstar's Promise







  Special thanks to Kate Cary



  Title Page



  Explore the Warriors World



  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Chapter 30

  Chapter 31

  Chapter 32

  Chapter 33

  Chapter 34

  Chapter 35

  Chapter 36

  Chapter 37

  Chapter 38

  Chapter 39

  Chapter 40

  An Exclusive Manga Adventure

  About the Author

  Also by Erin Hunter



  About the Publisher


  Book One: Into the Wild

  Book Two: Fire and Ice

  Book Three: Forest of Secrets

  Book Four: Rising Storm

  Book Five: A Dangerous Path

  Book Six: The Darkest Hour


  Book One: Midnight

  Book Two: Moonrise

  Book Three: Dawn

  Book Four: Starlight

  Book Five: Twilight

  Book Six: Sunset


  Book One: The Sight

  Book Two: Dark River

  Book Three: Outcast

  Book Four: Eclipse

  Book Five: Long Shadows

  Book Six: Sunrise


  Book One: The Fourth Apprentice

  Book Two: Fading Echoes

  Book Three: Night Whispers

  Book Four: Sign of the Moon

  Explore the World

  Warriors Super Edition: Firestar’s Quest

  Warriors Super Edition: Bluestar’s Prophecy

  Warriors Super Edition: SkyClan’s Destiny

  Warriors Field Guide: Secrets of the Clans

  Warriors: Cats of the Clans

  Warriors: Code of the Clans

  Warriors: Battles of the Clans


  The Lost Warrior

  Warrior’s Refuge

  Warrior’s Return

  The Rise of Scourge

  Tigerstar and Sasha #1: Into the Woods

  Tigerstar and Sasha #2: Escape from the Forest

  Tigerstar and Sasha #3: Return to the Clans

  Ravenpaw’s Path #1: Shattered Peace

  Ravenpaw’s Path #2: A Clan in Need

  Ravenpaw’s Path #3: The Heart of a Warrior

  SkyClan and the Stranger #1: The Rescue



  LEADER HAILSTAR—thick-pelted gray tom

  DEPUTY SHELLHEART—dappled gray tom

  MEDICINE CAT BRAMBLEBERRY—pretty white she-cat with black-spotted fur, blue eyes, and a strikingly pink nose

  WARRIORS (toms, and she-cats without kits)

  RIPPLECLAW—black-and-silver tabby tom

  TIMBERFUR—brown tom

  MUDFUR—long-haired light brown tom

  OWLFUR—brown-and-white tom

  OTTERSPLASH—white-and-pale-ginger she-cat

  CEDARPELT—brown tabby tom, stout and short-tailed

  LILYSTEM—gray she-cat

  BRIGHTSKY—nimble white-and-ginger


  PIKETOOTH—skinny brown tabby tom with a narrow face and protruding canine teeth

  LAKESHINE—pretty, long-haired, gray-and-white she-cat

  SHIMMERPELT—night-black she-cat with glossy pelt

  APPRENTICES (more than six moons old, in training to become warriors)

  SOFTPAW—small, lithe, white she-cat with tabby patches

  WHITEPAW—pure white tom with tabby-striped tail and brown paws

  QUEENS (she-cats expecting or nursing kits)

  ECHOMIST—long-haired gray she-cat, fur tipped with white to give her a soft, cloudy appearance (mother to Volekit, Beetlekit, and Petalkit)

  RAINFLOWER—pale gray she-cat (mother to Stormkit and Oakkit)

  FALLOWTAIL—light brown she-cat with blue eyes and soft fur (mother to Graykit and Willowkit)

  ELDERS (former warriors and queens, now retired)

  TROUTCLAW—gray tabby tom

  TANGLEWHISKER—long-haired tabby tom with a thick, knotted pelt

  BIRDSONG—tabby-and-white she-cat with ginger patches around her muzzle, flecked with gray


  LEADER PINESTAR—red-brown tom with green eyes

  DEPUTY SUNFALL—bright ginger tom with yellow eyes

  MEDICINE CAT GOOSEFEATHER—speckled gray tom with pale blue eyes



  STORMTAIL—blue-gray tom with blue eyes

  ADDERFANG—mottled brown tabby tom with yellow eyes

  TAWNYSPOTS—light gray tabby tom with amber eyes

  SPARROWPELT—big, dark brown tabby tom with yellow eyes

  SMALLEAR—gray tom with very small ears and amber eyes


  THRUSHPELT—sandy-gray tom with white flash on his chest and green eyes

  ROBINWING—small, energetic brown she-cat with ginger patch on her chest and amber eyes

  FUZZYPELT—black tom with fur that stands on end and yellow eyes

  WINDFLIGHT—gray tabby tom with pale green eyes


  SPECKLETAIL—pale tabby she-cat with amber eyes

  QUEENS SWIFTBREEZE—tabby-and-white she-cat with yellow eyes (mother of Leopardkit: black she-cat with green eyes, and Patchkit: black-and-white tom with amber eyes)

  MOONFLOWER—silver-gray she-cat with pale yellow eyes (mother of Bluekit: gray she-cat with blue eyes, and Snowkit: white she-cat with blue eyes)

  POPPYDAWN—long-haired, dark red she-cat with a bushy tail and amber eyes

  ELDERS WEEDWHISKER—pale orange tom with yellow eyes

  MUMBLEFOOT—brown tom, slightly clumsy, with amber eyes

  LARKSONG—tortoiseshell she-cat with pale green eyes


  LEADER CEDARSTAR—very dark gray tom with a white belly

  DEPUTY STONETOOTH—gray tabby tom with long teeth

  MEDICINE CAT SAGEWHISKER—white she-cat with long whiskers

  WARRIORS RAGGEDPELT—large dark brown tabby tom

  FOXHEART—bright ginger tom

  CROWTAIL—black tabby she-cat


  BRACKENFOOT—pale ginger tom with dark ginger legs

  ARCHEYE—gray tabby tom with black stripes and thick stripe over eye

  HOLLYFLOWER—dark-gray-and-white she-cat

  QUEENS FEATHERSTORM—brown tabby she-cat

  POOLCLOUD—gray-and-white she-cat

LEBIRD—small ginger tabby she-cat

  LIZARDFANG—light brown tabby tom with one hooked tooth


  LEADER HEATHERSTAR—pinkish-gray she-cat with blue eyes

  DEPUTY REEDFEATHER—light brown tabby tom

  MEDICINE CAT HAWKHEART—dark brown tom with yellow eyes

  WARRIORS DAWNSTRIPE—pale gold tabby with creamy stripes


  REDCLAW—dark ginger tom


  ELDERS WHITEBERRY—small pure-white tom


  Wind rattled the branches of the willow trees and tore the reeds from their beds.


  Thick storm clouds swirled across the night-dark sky. Rain battered the tightly woven dens where the RiverClan warriors had been sleeping.


  The RiverClan leader flattened his ears as he heard his mate’s terrified cry. He dug his claws into the mud, steadying himself against the water that swirled around his legs. The river had broken its banks and was streaming into camp. He twisted his head around, searching the shadows.

  “Hailstar!” Echomist shrieked again. Her cry was muffled by the kit who swung from her jaws. Another clung to her back. She was staring at a nest of twigs that was spinning away from her on the floodwater. A small kit was struggling to cling to it as the woven twigs collapsed like loose leaves.

  Hailstar dived for the nest and grabbed the kit just before he disappeared beneath the water. He thrust his son at Timberfur, who was chasing another nest. “Take Volekit to the elders’ den!” The brown tom took the dripping scrap of fur and bounded toward the high end of the camp where the elders’ den was still untouched by the rising water.

  “Follow him!” Hailstar ordered Echomist. She nodded, her eyes huge with fear, her long gray fur flattened to her body by the rain.

  Hailstar scanned the camp. Gleaming pelts darted in the darkness like panicked fish. A lithe ginger-and-white she-cat was clinging on to the remains of the warriors’ den, trying to claw together its fast-fraying walls. A stout tabby tom tried to block the foaming channel where nests swirled out into the river.

  The sky lit up with a white flare as lightning blazed. Thunder crashed and the wind hardened. A new wave of water surged through the camp.

  “Shellheart!” Hailstar called to his deputy. “What’s your opinion?”

  A dappled gray tom, peering upriver from a beech stump among the reeds, called back, “The water’s rising fast, Hailstar! The elders’ den isn’t going to be safe for much longer.”

  Hailstar lashed his tail. “We’ll have to abandon camp!”

  “No!” The ginger-and-white she-cat let go of her den and faced the RiverClan leader.

  “We must, Brightsky!” Hailstar urged.

  “We can’t leave everything our ancestors built for us!”

  “We can rebuild it!” Hailstar snapped.

  “It won’t be the same!” Brightsky plunged through the floods and clamped her paws around a floating nest.

  Shellheart bounded down from the stump and splashed toward his Clanmate. “Together we can rebuild anything,” he insisted. “Except cats who have drowned trying to save bits of twig.”

  Brightsky reluctantly let go of the nest and watched it spin away into the reeds, then raced for the high end of camp.

  Black, bubbling water surged around the edge of the elders’ den, making the woven willow stems sway with the flood. Hailstar bounded up the slope and shook the den with his paws. “Get out!”

  Echomist slid through the entrance. Three kits, like half- drowned mice, followed her. She stared at her mate. “Where should we go?”

  “Head for high ground.” Hailstar flicked his tail uphill, where the riverbank climbed toward a swath of trees and bushes.

  A tangle-furred elder slid out of the den. “I’ve never seen a storm like this.”

  A tabby-and-white she-cat followed. “Where are we going?” she rasped.

  The tom stroked her spine with his tail. “Further inland, Birdsong, where it’s safe.”

  Birdsong’s eyes widened. “Away from the river?”

  “Just for now,” Hailstar promised. “Come on, everyone.”

  “Wait!” Shellheart stopped halfway up the slope and stared over his shoulder. “Where’s Rainflower?”

  “Here!” A pale gray queen picked her way carefully through the swirling water toward him. Her belly was swollen with unborn kits.

  “Are you all right?” Shellheart asked, sniffing her.

  “I will be when I get my paws dry.” She was out of breath, and rain ran off her fur in steady rivulets.

  A small white she-cat wove around the queen, her eyes flashing. “She’s been having pains.”

  Shellheart narrowed his eyes. “Are the kits coming, Brambleberry?”

  “I don’t know yet,” the medicine cat meowed.

  Rainflower gazed at the RiverClan deputy. “Go and help Hailstar. I’ll be fine.”

  Shellheart blinked at her, then turned away. “Rippleclaw?”

  “Here!” A black-and-silver tabby tom was holding open a gap in the reeds beside the elders’ den while his Clanmates streamed through, heading for higher ground.

  “Make sure every cat heads straight into the trees.”

  Rippleclaw nodded to the deputy and nudged a graying elder who was refusing to go through the gap.

  “I can’t go without Duskwater!” The elder dug his claws into the wet earth. “She went to make dirt before the camp flooded. She hasn’t come back yet.”

  “We’ll find her,” Rippleclaw called over the wind. He glanced at his leader, who was rooted on the slope, eyes wide as he stared at his devastated camp. “Can you see her, Hailstar?”

  Hailstar shook his head. “I’ll make sure the dens are empty!” He plunged back toward the nursery, stuck his head through the entrance, and sniffed for warm bodies.

  It was deserted. He checked the place where the apprentices’ den had been next, and then what was left of the warriors’ dens. It smelled only of sodden reeds. He glanced around the camp, fighting to keep his balance as water tugged and pushed him. Then half running, half swimming, he crossed the clearing and followed his Clan.

  “Are we all here?” he asked as he caught up with his Clanmates on drier ground.

  Rippleclaw scowled. “There’s still no sign of Duskwater.”

  Brightsky stepped forward. “I’ll go back and find her.”

  Hailstar nodded. “The rest of you keep moving up to the trees,” he ordered.

  As Brightsky dived down the bank, Rainflower let out a low moan.

  Shellheart stiffened. “Rainflower?”

  The queen was crouching, her face twisted in pain.

  Brambleberry ducked down beside her, then lifted her head. “The kits are coming,” she announced.

  “Right now?” Shellheart demanded.

  “They won’t wait for the storm to end,” Brambleberry retorted. “We must get her somewhere safe.”

  “Into the middle of the trees,” Shellheart suggested. “The water never reaches that far.”

  “That’ll take too long.” Brambleberry glanced up at the wide, low branch of an ancient oak that hung overhead. “Do you think you can get her up there?”

  Shellheart blinked. “I will if I have to.” He grabbed Rainflower’s scruff and, half guiding, half dragging, propelled her toward the thick trunk. “Up you go.”

  Rainflower glanced upward and groaned. She opened her mouth as if she was about to protest, then her flanks convulsed and she shrank into the spasm, looking small and wretched with her fur slicked down.

  “Come on!” Brambleberry meowed briskly. “We don’t have long.”

  Rainflower dug her claws into the bark, and Shellheart shoved from behind. Panting, the queen hauled herself up until she reached a hollow in the trunk where the low branch jutted out.

  Brambleberry skittered up the trunk, lithe as a squirrel, slippin
g past Shellheart. She glanced at the hollow where branch met trunk and nodded. “Here will do.” Then she blinked at Shellheart. “Can you get herbs from my den?”

  Shellheart nodded. “I’ll try.”

  “Be careful!” Rainflower gasped, but Shellheart had already leaped from the branch onto the slippery ground below and was racing back toward the flooded camp.

  Brambleberry cleared wet leaves out of the low dip between branch and trunk. “Good. There’s plenty of room for you to lie down here.” She nosed Rainflower into the hollow and crouched beside her on the dripping bark.

  “Will he be all right?” Rainflower whispered. She stared into the darkness where Shellheart had disappeared.

  “He can take care of himself,” Brambleberry told her. Her fur was spiked, wet to the skin. She’d been RiverClan’s medicine cat for fewer than three moons since her mentor, Milkfur, had joined StarClan. This was the first time she’d dealt with an emergency on her own.

  Rainflower shuddered as a fresh wave of pain passed through her belly. Brambleberry took a deep breath, blocking out the howling of the wind and the growl of thunder. She laid her forepaws gently on Rainflower’s flank as another contraction gripped the queen.

  Brambleberry scanned the reed bed far below. No sign of Shellheart. “Here.” She nipped off a twig with her teeth and laid it beside Rainflower’s cheek. “Bite down on that when the pains come.”

  “Is that all you have?” Rainflower hissed.

  “It’s all you need,” Brambleberry told her. “Queens have been kitting since the ancient Clans. It’s the most natural thing in the world.”

  Rainflower groaned and bit down on the stick, her body shuddering.

  Claws ripped bark as Shellheart scrambled onto the branch. “Sorry,” he panted. His fur was drenched. “I had to swim to your den. I managed to get inside, but your herbs have all been washed away.”

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