Wow, I never thought I'd be uploading another chapter. It has been so long and I had nearly forgotten all about fanfiction. But I'm back and I hope by lovely reviewers are still around too.
Here's a summary in case you've forgotten: Breezepaw was captured by Danger and her Rogues and taken to BloomClan. He briefly lost his memory and allied himself with Blossomfrost, who escaped from OakClan. Blossomfrost doesn't trust Petalstar but has no other options. Petalstar gathered most of the Clan on a patrol to go across the river and attack OakClan. Breezepaw was able to take advantage and escape with the toms, including Duskkit. Blossomfrost wants to confront OakClan but doesn't want a full on battle while most of BloomClan does.
Time: Day 6
Character: Leopardheart of BloomClan
Ch. 17 Schemes
"Rise and shine," crowed Petalstar, speaking to loudly in my ear. Her voice sounded disgustingly cheerful for so early in the morning. I wanted to swipe the grin right off her face.
"Line up in rows of three," I shouted, rising to my rank. "Brightkit and Fernkit, I want you in the middle. Firepaw, you too should be in the center."
The blind she-cat gave me the most chilling gaze, but I shrugged it off. It was for everyone's own good that the brilliant but blind fighter remained where not being able to see would be of no consequence.
"What about some fresh-kill?" called Quickstreak. "Should we go hunting now so we have energy for the day? I know my stomach could use a little meat."
I opened my jaws, prepared to tell her to get in line and wait until I ordered a hunt, but Petalstar beat me to it. "We'll hunt now. Duskfern, Everpaw, Fallowheart, and Frostbreeze; I want you to from a hunting patrol. Spiritclaw and Leopardheart, I want you to stay in camp and teach Brightkit and Fernkit some fighting moves."
A small hiss escaped my mouth. I was the deputy, why did I have to teach the two fur-balls who shouldn't have even come along. "Yes, Petalstar," I snarled. "Wait till I'm leader," I mumbled under my breath.
Luckily she didn't hear me as she turned around to talk to Cloudblossom and Blossomfrost. Per usual, I wasn't included in whatever strategy they were planning. I was the deputy and officially second-in-charge. I had the right to know everything that was going on but for some reason, I never did. It really riled my already riled fur.
"Great task we got stuck with," whispered Spiritclaw in my ear. "You think she'd put warriors like us to better use. Training kits - what are we, kit-sitters."
"I know, you think we'd be given a more important task." I stopped my revengeful mumbling as Brightkit and Fernkit skipped over to the two of us. "Hello kits," I said, grinning a messed up grin, my sharp teeth barred. Maybe I was trying to be friendly but really just wanted to show the kits I could probably eat them if they angered me.
"What are you going to teach us?" asked Fernkit, bouncing up and down. "It think we should learn this one," she cried, leaping up Brightkit's back, claws sheathed.
Suddenly, Brightkit's eyes flashed from a pale green to a deep blue. She turned under a pouncing Fernkit, facing her belly to the falling claws. Doing some move I've never seen, she tossed her small friend back into the air.
As if I had just imagine the whole thing, Brightkit's eyes switched back to there normal color, and she rolled back onto her paws. I swear she has a smug look in her eyes.
"We will learn to obey orders," shouted Spiritclaw, not noticing Brightkit due to her focus on a dust covered Fernkit. "You will do what we say and only what we say. In battle, you will obey Petalstar and Leopardheart only."
I puffed up my chest, narrowing my eyes on Brightkit. She smiled sweetly at me, like she was taking pleasure in something I knew nothing of. I curled my lips, swallowing a hiss.
"I want you to try to attack me," I told Brightkit, wanting to pound that look of her face. Who cares if she was just a kit, she was mocking her superior.
She pounced like a weak kit and as I slowly stepped out of the way, she seemed to shift in the air. I winced as her claws dug into my back, and I saw the blue eyes again.
Spiritclaw laughed at me as I angrily threw Brightkit off my back. "What did you want to show me?" asked the annoying kit. I fluffed my fur out and huffed away, not giving the upstart an answer.
"Stupid mouse brain," I mumbled, sitting on the edge of our make-shift camp. I felt like a useless deputy, even Blossomfrost was more important than me. Me - the one who knew how to lead and fight and hunt.
My vision blurred as I looked at nothing in particular. The scenery seemed to blend together in an angry haze. I unsheathed my claws and gouged them into the dirt; I just wanted to attack something.
"What is your entire Clan doing so far away from your camp?" said a voice. I snapped out of my fevered anger and rose quickly to my paws. A molted she-cat stood in front of me with her peach-colored sidekick shaking beside her. I must have been really out of it to not notice their approach.
She looked at me with one good eye, like she was expecting trouble. I could see her fur rising on her back, and I wanted to slice it down with my claws. Looking past her torn up face, I realized it was Piper, Danger's upstart second-in-command.
"Why is this of any importance to you?" I snapped back. I knew I was only decreasing the chance of us gaining their assistance cheaply, but I honestly didn't care. "Your little gang of rogues is only still around because Danger pleases us."
"We just wanted to know. If we're no threat to you, why don't you lead me and Breeze to Petalstar. " The she-cat drew her claw across the ground, slicing blades of grass. "Just a nice little chat about our deal."
A growl ripped from deep within my throat as I turned away from the two she-cats. Of course, I hadn't been told of any deal made with the rogues, of course. "Follow me you pieces of mouse dung," I snarled. "Petalstar will probably be so pleased to meet you," I breathed beneath my breath.
"We aren't mouse dung," said the feisty she-cat, rolling her one eye at me, "but we'll follow you anyway. Danger is very curious as to why you need guides. BloomClan has never shown interest in crossing the river before; she hopes this doesn't threaten our business deal."
"It might, little she-cat," I told her, loving the sickly sweet tone my voice had gained. "We plan to take over a whole Clan of toms. Maybe Petalstar will have no more need for your petty services."
I could see Piper readying for an attack just like I was. The fire in her eyes were burning into mine as resentment pooled in their depths. Her cowardly she-cat companion looked nervous, bouncing on the pads of her feet.
One of us would have lunged for the others throat - probably myself- if not for Petalstar appearing at me side. I was nearly ready to bite hers out when she spoke.
"Leopardheart," she smiled and grinned at me like she knew everything I had said. "I see you found our guides. Smokefrost and Cloudpaw asked them to come after you had fallen asleep."
The way she said it made it hard for me to keep my claws under control; it was like I had been skimping on my job when in actuality, she had been. While she slept, I gathered the warriors and issued commands. I was the one who had to put up with the complaining of those who had been left behind. I was the one who had been up all night. Sorry if I was tired from all the work I had to do!
"Sorry," I growled through clenched teeth. It was hard trying to stop all the curses that were popping into my head. "I'll bring them back to camp right away," I turned away sharply, anger still boiling in my veins.
"No you won't," said Petalstar, looking at me with her unnatural blue eyes. I winced, recognizing the color. They were the same shade as Brightkit's when she turned on Fernkit. That was something I needed to check out at a later time.
"I won't?" I questioned, slightly nervous but still defiant. "I'm sure they need to eat, and I bet the Clan wants to meet the cats who will lead them somewhere they have never been before."
Petalstar bristled at my sarcasm, not liking having her leadership questioned. "As I was saying, you will bring the Clan and the fresh-kill over here. I don't want Piper and Breeze being so tired that they lead us astray."
"Yes, all mighty leader," I sneered under my breath, making my way back to camp. I hoped for my sanity that Fallowheart had saved me a piece of prey. I'm pretty sure Petalstar was telling the fox dung rouges that I was a poor choice for a deputy and apologizing like a tom who needed allies to survive.
Shooting a heated glance back towards Petalstar and the rogues, I snarled out to Spiritclaw who looked ready to curse me and the kits out. "Are the hunters back yet? We are going to bring the prey to meet out guides."
"They returned just after you left," replied Spiritclaw, shoeing the kits back to Moonstripe and Lightcloud. "One of them set aside a shrew for the two of us."
I could tell she was one snide comment away from blowing her fur off. She was probably ready to eat me for leaving her with the kits; especially crazy, bratty Brightkit.
"Okay," I said to her, eying the small piece of prey with distaste. But no, I wouldn't say anything negative about it … out loud.
To everyone, I made my announcement. "Petalstar has meet up with our two guides. To those familiar with Danger's rogues, it is Piper and Breeze. Bring the prey, we will share it with them when we reach the next gathering spot."
I could see the cats who had questioned Petalstar last night showing no signs of questioning me. It gave me a sense that if I wasn't respected and liked, I was at least feared and obeyed. That was definitely something.
They did just sit there looking at me. The queens who had been roused to go on the patrol looked exhausted; probably not used to actually doing work. "Hurry up, we aren't going to keep our guides waiting, are we?"
I expected Quickstreak to complain, but if anything, her and Ferretclaw standing made everyone else rise to there feet. "It isn't far, I hope?" called the elder. I could nearly hear her joints creaking from here.
"Only about five minutes north," I said to her, raising my voice so everyone could hear. If I had to answer that question again, woe to the cat who wasn't listening.
Together as a group, we made our way north to where Petalstar was waiting. I made sure to stand at the front of the column, showing Petalstar that most of the Clan looked to me for leadership, even if she didn't.
As soon as Petalstar came into view though, I was no longer the leader. Instead of looking towards me, they looked towards her. Brightkit was practically bouncing out of her paws.
"Eat quickly," announced Petalstar, smiling at the annoying Brightkit, "but listen up. Before we venture across the river, there is something I want to do. It is time that Cloudpaw is made into a warrior."
I growled a little in the back of my throat. As a deputy, Petalstar should have told me what she was planing to do. I got a say in the decision – not that I would've have said anything against it, but I had been left out again!
"From now on," announced Petalstar, breaking the traditional words usually spoken. "Cloudpaw will be known as Cloudflight. I know she will be a loyal warrior in the upcoming battle."
The whole Clan was silent until Smokefrost started a halfhearted cheer. I could see suspicion in her eyes, wondering why she hadn't been asked if her apprentice was ready.
Cloudblossom looked to the sky like she was trying to figure out what StarClan was thinking about the shortening the the ceremony. There was a worried look in her blind eyes.
I didn't care about StarClan, probably even less than Petalstar did, but she didn't realize she had just given me something I could use against her. Maybe I could induce StarClan's rage against her if I played my paws right.
"Brightkit and Fernkit will also become apprentices today. Instead of assigning them mentors, the whole Clan will watch over their training," she announced, looking especially at Brightkit.
I could see Moonstripe prickling up with her kit's apprentice ceremony being tossed in like an afterthought. She didn't dare to say anything though.
Fernkit …paw looked like she could care less about what words were spoken. Brightpaw, however, looked furious, like she deserved something better. Her little eyes were flaming with anger.
I grinned in glee for a second because it looked like Brightpaw was going to call Petalstar out. Then, at the last second, Fernpaw distracted her and stopped any chance I had of knocking Petalstar off her perch.
"That is all," said Petalstar, "gather ranks and move out!"
Complaining under their breath, all the warriors slowly got on their feet. I saw Firepaw and Everpaw walk over to Cloudflight. There were either congratulating her or apologizing for her messed up and rushed ceremony. Hopefully the second.
I walked a little closer to them to turn a ear to their conversation. "At least you are a warrior," said Firepaw, trying to wrap her tail around Cloudflight's shoulders. "I'm sure Cloudblossom will communicate with StarClan for you."
"Yeah," laughed Everpaw. "You did get a perfect name though, Cloudflight. It sounds mysterious and sweet at the same time- just like you."
"I know," breathed Cloudpaw- no, flight. "I had just imagined my warrior ceremony for so long. I would dream about how Petalstar could complement my mind and my hunting, how everyone one would cheer my name, and I'd swell up with pride. But, that wasn't it. The reality kind of sucks."
Seeing an opportunity for something, I joined the three young cats as soon as a good marching rhythm was developed. Didn't want to draw any suspicion upon myself because even without me doing anything, Petalstar still found a reason to distrust me.
"Congrats on your new name, Cloudflight," I said to her, throwing a genuine smile on my face; she was a good warrior, not afraid to use her claws when she had to. "Sorry your ceremony was rushed. I guess this invasion has really switched everything's order of importance."
Everpaw looked a little rattled that she had the deputy engaging her in normal conversation; probably terrified because I wasn't especially prone to talking to apprentices. Firepaw looked slightly suspicious, probably because her tom loving mother didn't like me.
"Oh, it nothing, Leopardheart," said Cloudflight, really looking like she was trying to choke back tears and sobs. "At least I'm a warrior now."
"Darling," I cooed, walking up on her right side and effectively pushing Firepaw away, "don't even pretend you aren't a little disappointed. I know how much a proper warrior ceremony means to a real BloomClan warrior. I can't believe Petalstar put a bunch of toms over you."
I think I was getting pretty decent at this whole lying and deceiving thing. And Petalstar didn't think I'd make a good leader. Mouse dung! That's all she really did anyway.
Cloudflight shrugged her shoulders and looked nervously towards her friends. She obviously didn't want to be talking to me, and I can take a clue. So I left the trio and walked up beside Spiritclaw near the front of the column.
Risking a glance behind me, Everpaw was watching me like she was trying to figure out why I had talked to them. Cloudflight and Firepaw had, at least visually, pushed my visit aside but she'd never guess, so I risked a sly smile at her.
Spiritclaw noticed my smile and nudged me with her paw. "A mouse for your thoughts?" she asked me. "Anything that will get us out of kit-sitting next time around?" She laughed a short vicious laugh that I wished I could imitate.
"Maybe," I said and left it at that. No need to give anything away. So with my answer, we fell into a comfortable silence. A silence that needed no words which was a blessing cause I was too tired to be in the mood for talking.
And most the of the Clan was silent too. Petalstar was talking with Piper and Breeze just out of my earshot and I could hear Brightpaw and Fernpaw somewhere behind me. I think I might've heard Cloudblossom and Blossomfrost but the two were naturally quiet so I couldn't hear them too well. There were birds above us and I just wanted to claw them out of the sky to stop their noise.
Then the silence was replaced with the rumbling of monsters as we approached a thunderpath. I held up my tail as a signal cause I could see we'd definitely be stopping. As soon as I did that, I could hear conversations pick back up as warriors began to mumble among themselves. Thank StarClan Spiritclaw wasn't a nervous furball and just quietly surveyed the scene.
Our three leaders, of course I'm not included in that count, turned around. I had to grin when Piper beat Petalstar to speaking.
"We're not going to be crossing the thunderpath," shouted Piper, getting everyone's attention. I could hear some relieved sighs from behind me. I had to watch myself because I almost felt one escape me. Going on the thunderpath was the worst part of visiting Danger's lair. Not that I was scared but I just really didn't like it. I had my reasons. "We're going to walk along side of it."
I think I just died a little bit inside, and I could see some of the cats around me looked a little ill too. Dawnlight especially looked liked she was going to vomit cause her younger sister had died playing around by a thunderpath. Remembering Leafpaw just made me hate Piper and Petalstar even more.
"We'll stop for a break now," announced Petalstar. "We'll need all our energy for the next part of the journey. We should reach the other side by moon-high!"
A couple cats yowled in response, but I could see most were nervous. Not only would we be marching into unknown territory beside a thunderpath but we'd be doing it through the night. Petalstar was making it too easy for me to turn cats against her.
"Spiritclaw, Cloudflight, Ferretclaw, Firepaw, and Everpaw," I called out, assuming my role as deputy but knowing sooner rather then later I'd either be the leader or be dead. "I want you guys to go hunting. Spiritclaw will lead the patrol. Stormbreeze and Smokefrost, you two will continue teaching Fernpaw and Brightpaw basic fighting maneuvers."
Seeing how everyone was doing something or settling down, I found my way to Dawnlight who was sharing tongues with Lightcloud. They both looked up at me, slightly fearful and slightly confused.
"Hey Leopardheart," said Lightcloud, breaking the silence that I couldn't seem to. "Is there something you want us to do or are you just looking for a conversation?"
The way she phrased her question made me positive she didn't want me to choose her second option. Which was fine with me cause I didn't want to talk to that spineless lump of fur anyway.
Swallowing hard, I said pointedly to Lightcloud, " I was just making sure that Dawnlight is fine with going by the thunderpath. I was wondering if she wanted to return home cause we could always use some more warriors back at camp. " Hopefully I sounded like I actually cared for her.
"What are you saying about her?" snapped Lightcloud. Really, what is up with that cat? Did she have a thorn in her paw or something? "Are you saying she's not a real warrior?"
I was about to snap back something kits shouldn't hear when Dawnlight put her tail on Lightcloud's shoulder. "I'd actually like that a lot, Leopardheart. I won't be much of a help for this trip. I'd probably slow you down."
Lightcloud and I broke our stares at each other to just look bewilderingly at Dawnlight. I guess neither of us were expecting her to take up my offer. Hopefully Petalstar wouldn't kill me for losing one of her – our – warriors.
"If you don't mind, I think I'll leave now," said Dawnlight, probably feeling the need to break our silence. Thank StarClan she did because I usually like silence but I didn't like that one. It had me unsettled and I like to feel like I'm in complete control.
Taking a deep breath, I pretended this was exactly what I wanted to happen. "You won't need an escort?" I asked. "I don't think I can spare another warrior to take you back to camp. We don't know OakClan's numbers and I'd rather play it safe."
"Yeah, I'll be fine," said Dawnlight. "You'll tell Petalstar for me, right? I want to be back to the Hollow Tree before sun-down."
Lightcloud looked at me like she was trying to read my mind and guess what I was going at. She'd never figure out that I had just been trying to earn Dawnlight's favor and not send her back to camp. You gamble and lose sometimes; and, I really had lost.
"I'll tell Petalstar later. She looks really anxious now and I don't want her to worry about you going back to camp by yourself. "
Dawnlight nodded like it all made sense. She gave Lightcloud a lick on the shoulder and walked out of your make-shift camp. No one seemed to notice her departure as they were too busy sharing tongues or sleeping.
Looking at the cats that were sleeping, I decided that's what I needed. Petalstar could actually try really running the Clan for a change cause I wasn't going to be able to stay awake till moon-high with the amount of sleep I had gotten the last few sunrises.
It felt like I had just curled up and closed my eyes on the far side of camp when I could hear the hunting group returning. Stretching, I sauntered over to where the prey had been put and began dividing it among the cats. None of the prey looked particularly appetizing so I didn't save much for myself. I made sure to give the biggest blackbird to Petalstar to make her seem greedy. Always thinking, I am.
Spiritclaw sat down next to me as I took a bite of my shrew. "Hunting's hard around here," she told me, obviously needing someone to vent to and knowing I'd probably stay quiet. "Every time I'd get close to a bird, some monster would come running down the thunderpath and scare it away. I don't know how they are still alive if they can't stalk prey silently. I just want to be across the river and over with this whole OakClan visit. We've been fine without them for moons. By StarClan, why do we even need to bother with them?"
I nodded along with what Spiritclaw was saying as I chewed but I knew I needed this battle that was coming up. If there was anything I was better at than Petalstar – though there was actually a lot of things – it was fighting.
This battle could also give me the excuse to rip out a couple of her lives. What a terrible accident that would be. Who ever would take her place?
So a chapter! I hope it didn't disappoint. Leopardheart adds another layer of conflict to the story. We might see her POV again because she's fun to write with her spunky and defiant personality.
Next chapter will probably be Breezepaw and his toms. We haven't heard much of BloomClan's toms and it's about time they develop a personality.
Remember to review if you're still reading this.