This is from pages 136-139 of Sunset.

Beta'd by Kaisong.


Yes! Leafpool let me leave her den, I could start training again! I pranced over to Whitepaw and purred at her, "Hey, Whitepaw."

The elder apprentice turned to me and smiled, her tail flicking happily. "Hi, Birchpaw! I'm glad your back, I was worried about your eye." I smiled at her, but, before I could reply, Brackenfur trotted over.

The senior warrior informed his apprentice, "We'll be training soon, Whitepaw, so get ready and meet me by the tunnel." He nodded to me then stalked towards the thorns guarding our camp.

Whitepaw turned to me, excitement in her voice, "Well I have to go! See you later, Birchpaw!" I watched her as she bounded off to meet her mentor.

Turning around I watched Ashfur leave Leafpool's den. I bounded over to him excitedly. "Hi, Ashfur!" I paused and waved my tail at him. "Brackenfur is taking Whitepaw for a training session. Can we go with them?" My eyes gleamed hopefully. I haven't been able to train in forever! I needed to get out and catch up for I would NEVER become a warrior! My gentle mentor's reply took me by surprise.

He growled irritably, "No. I fell off a rock and opened this wound again. Leafpool says I can't leave the camp today." My high-held tail flopped low and I twisted my head, watching my friend and her mentor miserably as they left the camp. Between the two of us, we'd never get any training done!

My eyes flickered sideways as Brambleclaw came striding over. He flicked me, "Cheer up." My hopes lifted; did he have a plan? I let my head rise.

"I'm just leaving on patrol. I could take Birchpaw with me if you like." My tail shot up towards the sky and I nearly bounced. Fire blazed in my eyes and my whiskers quivered, uncontrolled. Yes, a real patrol!

I looked to Ashfur, begging him, "Please, Ashfur!" Ashfur's mouth opened and Brambleclaw showed uncertainty, but I kept my hopes up. I knew there had been tension between them lately, for whatever reason, but my mentor wouldn't let me fall behind because of something personal, would he?

Before any of us could do so much as blink, Firestar's voice came from behind me. "Good idea. Birchpaw missed a lot of training while he was hurt. He shouldn't miss any more." I turned around and saw Firestar bounding down from his ledge, coming towards us. His stride was authoritative and proud, I couldn't help but awe my leader's strong presence. Maybe one day I would be a leader just like him.

Brambleclaw told Firestar his plans, "I thought we'd go up by the ShadowClan border. We'll renew the scent markers and check for fox traps." Fox traps! My shoulders still hurt from losing the fur from badgers; I really hoped I wouldn't get hurt from a fox trap too! I had just left Leafpool, I didn't fancy going back too soon. I turned to see if Ashfur has anything to say to me, but he was halfway to the warriors' den. I frowned, a little crestfallen that he was ignoring me today.

Firestar spoke to me. "Off you go then. Do as Brambleclaw tells you and watch out for those fox traps. You don't want to loose your tail, like Berrykit."

Eep, not my tail! I nodded and promised sincerely, "I'll be careful!"

Brambleclaw collected Sandstorm and Thornclaw for the patrol, and then we were off. My body shook with excitement and pride as I walked quietly along with these three fierce warriors. I wanted to move faster, my muscles ached with pent up energy, but I had to keep with the patrol. If trouble came I would need to be here to fight for them! Out of nowhere Brambleclaw spoke. "Why don't you run ahead and see if you can spot the ShadowClan scent markers? Come back and tell us when you find them."

YES! I got to go do something useful! I relished the challenge and my eyes glowed. "Ok, Brambleclaw!" My tail lifted and I sprang off, barely hearing him as he warned me to watch for the silvery traps we had come to look for in the first place.

I opened my jaws and sucked in the scent, sorting the mingled tastes carefully. I wanted to impress the three great warriors behind me with my expert tracking skills; I couldn't mess this up! I had walked only a little when I found ShadowClan's reek. I stood beside some brambles, my mouth open and holding the trace of ShadowClan I had found. Soon the warriors came into sight. I reported seriously, "I've found the scant markers, Brambleclaw."

"What? You can't have. We're nowhere near the ShadowClan border," Brambleclaw commented.

My eyes flashed with hurt and I frowned sadly. I had looked so carefully. "But I'm sureā€¦" I wanted badly to impress these cats, and this was not the way to go.

Sandstorm came over to me and sniffed the area. She stalked back to Brambleclaw and agreed with me, "Birchpaw's have set their scent markers just beyond those brambles." I watched in silence as the explosion came.

Thornclaw, a warrior known to have inherited the fierceness of his mentor Mousefur, hissed angrily. "That's ThunderClan territory!"

Brambleclaw released a low growl and pushed through the wall of foliage, sniffing around. He hissed, "Those are fresh. If we follow them we should be able to catch up to the patrol and ask them what they think they're playing at." Catch up to the patrol? My ears perked with tension and fear. I haven't been trained in battle yet! ShadowClan would surely fight if challenged.

Brambleclaw seemed to think the same, because he turned suddenly and gave me an order. "Birchpaw, run back to the camp as fast as you can. Tell Firestar what's going on, and fetch help."

I scrabbled backwards and took off, keeping my belly low and tail straight behind me for speed and accuracy, and so I didn't trip. My heart pounded as I ran, my mind racing. I covered my tracks in lightning speed, bursting through the thorn tunnel without even glancing at Cloudtail, who was on guard. Firestar was talking to my father when I barreled over to him.

My eyes were wild with fear and I took in just one gasp for breath. I spilled out, "Brambleclaw sent me for help, ShadowClan has invaded the territory!"

Firestar leapt to his feet, a snarl rumbling in his chest. My father, Dustpelt, hissed ferociously. Squirrelflight's hunting party with Rainwhisker and Spiderleg appeared at the camp entrance. Firestar yowled to them, "Come on, you three. Birchpaw, lead the way, fast!"

I nodded and pelted out of the camp, determination in my eyes, fueling my tired body. I led the five cats over a little hill where the screeches of battle could be heard. I hung back as the warriors flung themselves into the fray to help our Clanmates against the ShadowClan scum. The four cats were driven off after some upset words from Russetfur. ShadowClan would not be stealing our land today!

I scampered over to Firestar and stood proudly beside him as Brambleclaw started to speak; "Thanks. And you, Birchpaw: that was well run."

My eyes sparkled and my fur prickled; hot from embarrassment as Brambleclaw recounted how I had found the scent in the first place. Squirrelflight came over and I slipped away, not wanting to intrude on there intimate moment. I padded over to Dustpelt, worry in my eyes. "Are you alright, father?"

He looked down at me and nodded. "I'm fine. From what I hear that was some fine scenting you did."

My tail waved and my eyes lit up, pride flooding me. I had done a good deed for my Clan, I think, and I promised to work extra hard from that day on, until I became a warrior.