No one really understand what it meant to be a clan yet, not the way Foxstar had come to understand it in the dream with the star-streaked cats. Some cats went out hunting when they wanted, some got distracted on patrols. It was time some real rules and consequences were established.
At that particular moment, several of her clan mates were hanging around camp.
Actually, Foxstar thought with interest, It appears that everyone is here...
She had chosen her clan mates with special care, heeding the advice of her starclan mentors about exactly what kind of cat would fit in Nightclan. She knew them all both by sight and smell and would be able to tell after the naming ceremony exactly who might be missing, but she could see everyone.
This was a chance that Starclan must have sent her; she must take it before anyone could run off.
Foxstar quickly trotted up to Beetletooth, the cat she had chosen as deputy soon after the first naming ceremony because of his aura of authority.
"I want a meeting," she told him briefly, "no one is to leave camp until it's over."
Beetletooth simply dipped his head respectfully to her and Foxstar knew he would do what needed to be done. She had known him for moons before this whole clan business had started and she knew he could be trusted.
She padded over to the large boulder she had used to instigate the great naming ceremony at the commencement of Nightclan. She was up on its summit in one graceful leap, looking down at her unruly clan.
"Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey gather here beneath the boulder for a clan meeting." she intoned as she had been taught by her starry guides.
A few warriors settled, looking up with respect in their eyes; but pandemonium continued for the most part. Beetletooth was herding a few cats into place, but there was some defiance from some of the more confident of her choice warriors.
"The next cat who thinks their business is more important than the clan meeting," she snarled in a voice that rang throughout the camp, "shall have to answer to me!"
That settled her restless warriors for a moment. The few who were listening already shot disapproving looks at those who were causing a problem and finally, everyone found a place to settle beneath the boulder.
"It is about time," Foxstar growled slightly less fiercely, "that you began following the laws of clan life.
"I have already made you aware of the code," she continued, glaring daggers at any cat that dared groan or roll their eyes at what she said, "but some of you seem to think you are above it.
"I am here to tell you that you are not." she stated with finality, showing her teeth in a silent snarl.
"From now on," she continued in her most authoritative voice, "any cat found breaking the code, or showing disrespect for their fellow clan mates and their ranks or duties shall not be welcome to take from our fresh-kill pile for duration of the day following their selfish act."
Instantly there were murmurs of surprise and some of scorn. Foxstar distinctly caught the resolution of one arrogant cat that if he were to be denied prey at the fresh-kill pile, then he would just go and hunt for his own. That would not do.
"Scratchfoot," Foxstar snarled at the cat in question, "step forward."
The murmur that had begun at the ultimatum just as quickly died to nothing. Every cat seemed to be holding their bread as Scratchfoot padded forward, meeting Foxstar's gaze fearlessly.
"Is it your wish to leave Nightclan?" she asked, her voice grave instead of fierce now.
Scratchfoot's confident stance faltered slightly.
"I mean it," Foxstar said softly but clearly, "this clan is about working together, supporting each other. That is the point behind the code and if you do not follow it, then you are not truly a member of this clan and do not belong on our territory.
"Answer honestly," she finished, "if you wish, I will allow you and any other cat who feels the same way to leave now unscathed. You will, once you have left this camp, be an enemy of the clan and shall be chased from the territory. It is your choice."
There was silence as Scratchfoot, whose gaze had taken on a thoughtful look now, continued to stare into Foxstar's eyes. Finally he dipped his head to her.
"No," he said with gravity, "I do not wish to leave Nightclan, and I will respect the code from now on.
"I understand now." he added, padding back to his place amongst his fellow warriors.
"Good," Foxstar said, not allowing her relief to show through her voice as she glanced over her now silent clan members.
"Beetletooth," she addressed her deputy who nodded to her, "who is supposed to be on patrol to protect our territory from Earthclan, Streamclan and any other intruders who could cause our clan harm?"
She saw a few cats flinch.
"That would be Blossomheart, Shadelight, and Wolf-fang." Beetletooth replied, amusement in his gaze as it rested on the slackers.
The three quickly dipped their heads respectfully at Foxstar and trotted out of camp.
Next, hunting patrols were established, Foxstar taking part in one of them herself with the most unruly of the lot.
It would be nice to say that after this episode, all of Nightclan peacefully settled down into clan life, but the truth is that Foxstar had to deal out the punishment she had threatened several times. However, the punished did not break their required fast and after she had spoken to them personally, they seemed to gain a deeper respect for the rules they had broken. While they still remained fierce warriors, they learned to follow orders and none decided to leave the clan.
Over time, Foxstar realized that she really wouldn't want her clan to be made of meek, blindly obedient warriors anyway.