A/N: This is a rewrite of an older story of mine—which was also my first fanfiction posted on this site—with the same title. I have taken the old version (written back in late 2008) down from the site. This version is much the same, except written a lot, and I mean a lot better. The old version is atrocious. XD
I wrote this because Blackstar is my favorite leader (and character), and I really don't think he's evil. I did take a few lines from The Darkest Hour, but I changed a few things, so I'm sorry that it's not entirely accurate!
DISCLAIMER: I own neither Warriors nor the lines I took from the book.
Your Predecessors' Mistakes
"We meet beneath Silverpelt tonight commanded by the truce of the full moon!"
The authoritative yowl came from the WindClan leader. Though he was small, Onestar's command carried clearly over the mingling cats below, who quieted when they realized that the Gathering had begun. "WindClan are doing well," he meowed. "Though the weather turns harsher, prey is still running." He hesitated, as if wondering whether or not he should say more, then dipped his head and looked to the other leaders. "Leopardstar?" he invited, backing up to give the spotted she-cat room.
The RiverClan nodded in acknowledgement and stood tall on the tree's thick limb. "We had a minor outbreak of greencough in the camp, and it greives me to report the death of Reedwhisker," she meowed, keeping her voice steady. She paused for a moment as the warriors expressed their sorrow over the warrior's death. "The first frost is fast approaching; already a thin layer of ice is beginning to cover the river."
The gathered cats began muttering again, their anxious mews filled with a mixture of shock and worry. It was late leaf-fall, but no one had expected frost so soon. It took a while for them to quiet down again, but when they did, Leopardstar finished her report, as calm as ever.
"Hunting is well, however, as the ice is easy to crack." Lowering her head slightly to indicate that she was finished, Leopardstar sat down.
Now it was Blackstar who stood, his large black paws balancing on the narrow branch with practiced ease. "ShadowClan is thriving," he announced. "Prey is still running, thanks to the cover of our trees." He turned to look at Firestar with a faint, smug grin. "Ever since greenleaf has ended, hunting has been well in the recent addition to our territory...the portion Firestar has so graciously given us." Discontented murmurs came from the ThunderClan cats in the crowd, which obviously pleased the ShadowClan leader. Eyes narrowed, he nodded to Firestar and sat down to show that he was finished with his report.
Firestar stepped forward on his branch. "I—and all of ThunderClan—are pleased that ShadowClan are making good use of the territory deemed poor by ThunderClan standards."
Amused purrs erupted from several cats, more approving ones coming from the ThunderClan warriors. Blackstar's fur bristled, but he flattened it again almost immediately, showing little sign of his anger.
"The prey supply could be better," Firestar admitted honestly as the laughter died down, "but the minor shortage of prey has not weakened us in the least."
Firestar gave Blackstar a short but meaningful look as he spoke. The ShadowClan leader suppressed a shiver; was that a knowing glint in his eyes? Could he possibly know of Blackstar's intentions...? But the glance lasted only a heartbeat before Firestar turned to look back at the gathered cats. Blackstar shook his head impatiently. He must have been imagining things. "If no one else has anything to say, then I declare this Gathering to be over," he growled, loud enough so that the warriors below could hear him.
No one protested; it was cold, after all, and no one really wanted to stay later than they could help. Blackstar leaped nimbly down from the tree and gathered his Clan together before leading them silently across the tree-bridge, across RiverClan territory, and back into their own section of the forest. As soon as they arrived back at camp, Blackstar dismissed his warriors with a flick of his tail and stalked towards his den, Russetfur, his deputy, close behind.
The two sat down just outside Blackstar's den under the Hightree. They were silent for a moment, both of them thinking. It was Russetfur who spoke first.
"So, we attack tomorrow, as planned?"
Blackstar nodded in assent. "We will attack at nighttime, as we discussed. There should only be one or two patrols out at the time, and if we can skirt around them, getting to the camp will be a simple feat."
"If we time things correctly and carefully," Russetfur added, "we can take out the night guard without alerting the camp. An easy ambush. And if all else fails, we can just swarm them. Trap them in their own camp."
"Precisely. Tomorrow then," the leader declared with a small snarl. He flex his claws, then twitched his ears slightly in a signal familiar to his deputy.
Russetfur stood and dipped her head respectfully. "Tomorrow," she agreed, backing away a few steps before turning around and padding off to the warriors den.
Figuring that Russetfur would inform the senior warriors, Blackstar slid into his den and curled up tiredly on his nest, thinking about the next day's—or, rather, night's—battle. A tiny voice in his mind told him what he already knew: A nighttime ambush was not the kind of honorable battle warriors should fight. Blackstar attempted to ignore the voice, screwing his eyes shut and drifting into an uneasy sleep.
"Filth!" yowled Blackstar—no, Blackfoot, for this was a different time and place. "Filth!" The large warrior stood beside a massive hill comprised solely of prey bones. Perched on top of the mound was none other than the tyrannical Tigerstar himself.
The mix of RiverClan and ShadowClan cats took up his cry, shouting their agreement loudly. Blackstar stopped and waited for them to die down; after they did, Tigerstar began speaking, his deep voice ringing out for all the cats to hear.
"Half-Clan cats have been tolerated until now, but..."
Blackfoot listened with half an ear as Tigerstar spoke, though he wasn't really paying attention. After all, they had rehearsed this a dozen times already, and Blackfoot would not have a role to play again until later. Instead, he watched quietly as his leader turned the Clan cats against Stonefur and the other half-Clan warriors.
"Come down here and tell me to my face that I'm a traitor!" yowled Stonefur, fur bristling aggressively. The former deputy continued defending himself against Tigerstar's claims, yelling about how he and Mistyfoot didn't even know Bluestar was their mother.
Tigerstar responded to Stonefur, his calmness a stark contrast against Stonefur's furious protests. Blackfoot felt a small bit of respect for Stonefur's boldness as he continued to argue. Still, he was only prolonging the inevitable. He watched as Tigerstar ordered Darkstripe to kill Stonefur.
The former ThunderClan cat leaped immediately. He and Stonefur rolled around on the ground. Blackfoot looked on impassively. Despite Stonefur's weakened state, the two seemed to be evenly matched, and Darkstripe began to lose his advantage as Stonefur dealt blow after blow.
"Get a move on, Darkstripe! You're fighting like a kittypet!" Blackfoot sneered.
Darkstripe hissed angrily at the taunt, attacking Stonefur with renewed ferocity. They battled furiously for a few minutes, but Darkstripe was soon pinned down. It looked as if the RiverClan prisoner had beaten Darkstripe.
Tigerstar regarded the warriors coldly. "Finish it," he commanded, nodding at Blackfoot.
Blackfoot nodded and lunged, his teeth closing around Stonefur's neck as he pulled him off of Darkstripe. He dealt the finishing blow, quickly ending the half-Clan warrior's life. Just like that, Stonefur was dead. Tigerstar nodded approvingly as Blackfoot stepped calmly backwards, claws glinting in the sunlight, black paws stained with blood.
There was a dull buzz, and the Bonehill, Tigerstar, Stonefur's limp form...everything dissolved and Blackfoot found himself in the middle of a huge battle. Glimpsing bone-studded collars, he realized that he must be in the battle against BloodClan. He looked around at all the fighting cats, dazed and a bit confused. He had just been at the Bonehill, hadn't he?
Before he could regain his bearings, a BloodClan cat pounced onto his back. Instinctively Blackfoot jumped back into action, twisted around with his jaws snapping. His enemy was, however, out of reach. Thinking quickly, he dropped onto his back, and the BloodClan cat squirmed helplessly under his weight. Ignoring the sharp bones of the studded collar stabbing at his back, Blackfoot flipped over and lunged for the cat's throat, finishing the brief fight with a killing blow.
"Blackfoot!" The startled cry came from Boulder, a ShadowClan warrior who had formerly lived in the Twolegplace. "You...you killed her! I thought warriors did not need to kill to win battles..."
"This a battle that will not end without cats dying," snarled Blackfoot. "These cats don't show us mercy, Boulder; why should we show it to them?" Ignoring the guilt pricking at him, he spun around and leaped away from Boulder and towards yet another BloodClan cat.
As he landed, however, the scene around him changed yet again. The battling cats around him dissolved into nothingness and Blackfoot found himself at the edge of Fourtrees. Several familiar warriors were there: Leopardstar, Firestar, Mistyfoot, Graystripe, and Sandstorm. The RiverClan leader and deputy exchanged a few words with Firestar, then left.
I'm sorry, Blackfoot thought, staring after Mistyfoot's retreating figure. I'm sorry I killed your brother.
He started slightly as he realized that Firestar had padded over to stand in front of him. "Firestar," he greeted coolly. "So we won the battle after all."
"Yes, we did. What will you do now, Blackfoot?" Firestar asked.
Blackfoot sighed. "Take my Clan home, and prepare for my journey to Highstones," he replied. "I am their leader now. We have much to do to recover, but life in the forest will go on as usual."
"Then I'll see you at the next Gathering." Blackfoot nodded and started to leave, when Firestar spoke again, his gaze darkening, "And Blackfoot...you would do well to learn from the mistakes of your predecessors. I saw what you did to Stonefur at the Bonehill."
Blackfoot clenched his teeth but did not respond. Narrowing his eyes slightly, he turned and stalked off in silence.
Blackstar blinked back into wakefulness, heart pounding. Many, many seasons had passed since the events in the old forest, so why would he dream about them now? He sat up, licking his paw thoughtfully. As he washed himself, the leader thought about what Tigerstar and Brokenstar did.
Both former ShadowClan leaders broke the warrior code to satisfy their own wants. Both did did horrible deeds. But what about ShadowClan itself? All the other Clans said ShadowClan were evil and cold-hearted, but were they really? After all, they were just following the orders of their leaders. You couldn't define the world in such black and white terms such as "evil" and "good." There were the shades of grey in between. And the personality of the Clan also depended on its leader.
Blackstar slipped out from his den and scrambled up the Hightree, making up his mind. He called a summons to the Clan and waited as everyone came out from their dens. When everyone arrived, he announced, without hesitance or preamble, "I am canceling tonight's raid and ambush on ThunderClan. We have enough prey, so there is no reason to. It is nearly leaf-bare; we should concentrate our efforts on keeping ShadowClan fed, not on fighting. We will not attack ThunderClan."
Several mews broke out from the cats before he had even finished speaking. Some were shocked, some were discontented, and still others were approving.
Blackstar smiled slightly. ShadowClan didn't have to be evil. Neither did he. He could do what was right, and work to change the Clans' opinion of ShadowClan.
He could change.