XoverMasta: HEY ALL I AM BACK! AND THANKS SO MUCH FOR THOSE REVIEWS!
Firestar: They really do mean alot to her.
Sandstorm: They really do... she wouldn't shut up about it forever!
XoverMasta: But can you really blame me!?
Firestar: I can blame you for alot of things.
XoverMasta: -.- Anyways... Disclaimer?
Sandstorm: XOVERMASTA DOESNT OWN WARRIORS AND NEVER WILL!
XoverMasta: NO NEED TO YELL!
To Defeat You
Shocked yowls rose from the Clan cats and echoed through the forest. Ravenpaw staggered slightly. His right foreleg glistened, wet with blood that flowed from the deep gash on his shoulder. "We m-met five RiverClan warriors beside the stream, not far from the Sunningrocks, he went on shakily. "Oakheart was among them."
"Oakheart!" Graypaw gasped beside Firepaw. "He is the deputy of RiverClan. He's one of the greatest warriors in the forest. Lucky Ravenpaw! Wish it could have been me. I'd have really—" Graypaw was silenced by Firepaw slapping his tail onto his mouth, as the elder from earlier shot them both a glance.
Firepaw turned his attention back to Ravenpaw.
"Redtail warned Oakheart to keep his hunting parties out of ThunderClan territory. He said the next RiverClan warrior to be caught in ThunderClan territory would be killed, but Oak…Oakheart would not back down. He said his Cl-Clan had to be fed, whatever we threatened." Ravenpaw paused to wheeze for breath.
His wound was still bleeding heavily, and he stood awkwardly to keep the weight off his shoulder.
"That's when the RiverClan cats attacked. It was hard to see what was happening. The fighting was vicious. I saw Oakheart had Redtail pinned to the ground, but then Redtail…" Suddenly Ravenpaw's eyes rolled in his head and he lurched sideways. Half scrambling, half falling, he slithered off the Highrock and collapsed on the ground below.
A ginger queen—Goldenflower—bounded toward him and crouched at his side. She licked his cheek briefly and called out, "Spottedleaf!"
Firepaw's heart almost stopped when the pretty tortoiseshell made her way out of the medicine cat den. She hurried over to Ravenpaw and mewed for the queen to stand back. Then she used her small pink nose to roll the apprentice over so that she could take a good look at the wound. She glanced up and meowed, "It's all right, Goldenflower, his wounds aren't fatal. But I'll need to fetch some cobwebs to stop the bleeding."
As Spottedleaf sprinted back to her den, the hushed silence in the clearing was broken by a mournful howl. All eyes turned to the direction it had come from, and Firepaw's fur bristled.
A massive dark brown tabby staggered through the gorse tunnel. Between his sharp teeth the warrior held not prey, but the lifeless body of another cat. He dragged the tattered creature into the center of the clearing.
"No..." Bluestar breathed.
Firepaw dug his claws into the earth trying his hardest to control his anger.
"Redtail!" a few cats shouted.
"How did this happen, Tigerclaw?" demanded Bluestar from her position on the Highrock.
Tigerclaw let the scruff of Redtail's neck fall from his mouth. He looked steadily back at Bluestar. "He died with honor, struck down by Oakheart. I couldn't save him, but I managed to take Oakheart's life while he was still gloating over his victory." Tigerclaw's voice was strong and deep. "Redtail's death was not in vain, for I doubt we'll see RiverClan hunters in our territory again."
Firepaw's tail lashed against the ground, but he calmed himself, before he gently put his tail on Graypaw's shoulder. The apprentice's head was hung in grief.
After a moment's pause, several of the cats moved forward to lick Redtail's bedraggled fur. As they groomed they purred hushed phrases to the dead warrior.
Graypaw stepped forward to share tongues with his dead deputy.
Bluestar had remained silent while the first cats came to pay their respects to Redtail. Now she leaped down from the Highrock and walked slowly toward Redtail's body. The other cats retreated and watched as their leader crouched down to share tongues with her old comrade one last time.
When she had finished she raised her head and spoke. Her voice was low and thick with grief, and the Clan listened in silence. "Redtail was a brave warrior. His loyalty to ThunderClan could never be doubted. I always relied on his judgment, for it bore witness to the needs of the Clan, and was never swayed by self-interest or pride. He would have made a fine leader."
Then she lowered herself onto her belly, her head bowed, her paws stretched neatly before her, and silently she grieved for her lost friend. Several other cats came and lay down beside her, their bowed heads and hunched backs echoing her mournful pose. Firepaw watched silently promising the cat to avenge his death.
Graypaw came and stood beside him again. "Dustpaw will be sad," he remarked.
Firepaw nodded, glancing at the brown striped apprentice…
Suddenly a movement caught the ginger cat's eye as Tigerclaw stood up and stalked over to Ravenpaw. Spottedleaf was crouching beside Tigerclaw's wounded apprentice, using her teeth and front paws to press wads of cobweb onto his shoulder wound.
Firepaw quickly came to his feet, Graypaw following his lead.
"Want to go see if that Ravenpaw guy is alright?' Firepaw asked.
"Sure." Graypaw shrugged.
They made their way through the grieving cats toward the spot where Ravenpaw lay and settled themselves a respectful distance away to wait until Tigerclaw had finished speaking.
"So, Spottedleaf." Tigerclaw addressed the tortoiseshell with a confident meow. "How is he? Do you think you can save him? I've spent a lot of time training him up, and I don't want my efforts to be wasted at the first battle."
Yeah right. Firepaw thought with a low growl.
Spottedleaf didn't look up from her patient as she replied. "Yes, a pity if, after all your valuable training, he dies in his first fight, eh?"
"Will he live?" Tigerclaw demanded.
"Of course. He just needs to rest."
Tigerclaw snorted and looked down at the motionless black shape. He jabbed Ravenpaw with one of his front claws. "Come on, then! Get up!" Ravenpaw didn't move.
Firepaw was about to run forward to tackle Tigerclaw, but before he could Spottedleaf placed a paw over Tigerclaw's sharp talon.
"Not so fast. This apprentice needs to keep as still as possible until the cut has healed. We don't want him opening his wound by jumping about trying to please you. Leave him alone." The big tabby stiffened, and seemed about to speak when Spottedleaf mewed teasingly, "Even you know better than to argue with a medicine cat, Tigerclaw."
Tigerclaw's eyes flashed at the little tortoiseshell's words. "I wouldn't dare argue with you, dear Spottedleaf," he purred. He turned to leave and caught sight of Graypaw and Firepaw. "Who's this?" he asked Graypaw, towering above them.
"He's the new apprentice," Graypaw mewed.
Firepaw managed to keep the hostility out of his gaze.
"He smells like a kittypet!" snorted the warrior.
And it came back.
"I was a… house cat," Firepaw said slowly, "but I am going to train to be a warrior."
Tigerclaw looked at him with sudden interest. "Ah, yes. Now I remember. Bluestar mentioned that she had stumbled across some stray kittypet. So she's actually going to try you out, is she?"
"That's right," he mewed respectfully… or at least trying too.
Tigerclaw eyed him thoughtfully. "Then I shall watch your progress with interest."
Just when he left Ravenpaw stirred and twitched his ears. "Has he gone?" he mumbled.
"Tigerclaw?" Firepaw growled going towards him, "Yep he's gone."
"Who are you?"
"Go away, both of you!" Spottedleaf protested, interrupting him. "How am I meant to help this cat with all these interruptions!" She impatiently flicked her tail at Graypaw and Firepaw and pushed her way between them and her patient.
"Come on then, Firepaw," mewed Graypaw. "I'll show you around. See you later, Ravenpaw."
Firepaw nodded, even though he knew the camp like the back of his paw he decided to humor him.
"You know the Highrock already," Graypaw began, flicking his tail toward the big, smooth rock. "Bluestar always addresses the Clan from there. Her den is down there." He lifted his nose toward a hollow in the side of the Highrock. "Her den was carved out many moons ago by an ancient stream." Hanging lichen draped the entrance, sheltering the leader's nest from wind and rain. "The warriors sleep over here," Graypaw went on. "The senior warriors sleep nearest the center, where it's warmest. They usually share their fresh-kill together over by that clump of nettles. The younger warriors eat nearby. Sometimes they are invited to join the senior warriors for eating, which is a big honor."
"What about the other Clan cats?" Firepaw asked, wanting the tour to be over as soon as possible… seriously all he truly wanted was a mouse.
"Well, the queens share warrior quarters when they work as warriors, but when they are expecting kits, or nursing them, they stay in a nest near the nursery. The elders have their own place on the other side of the clearing. Come on, I'll show you."
Firepaw immediately pricked his ears, as he padded across the clearing with Graypaw. If he remembered correctly he ate his first mouse there…
They stopped beside a fallen tree that sheltered a patch of lush grass. Crouched among the soft greenery were four elderly cats tucking into a plump young rabbit.
"Dustpaw and Sandpaw would have brought them that," whispered Graypaw. "One of the apprentices' duties is catching fresh-kill for the elders."
"Hello, youngster," one of the elders greeted Graypaw.
"Hello, Smallear," mewed Graypaw, nodding respectfully.
"This must be our new apprentice. Firepaw, isn't it?" meowed a second tom. His patchy fur was dark brown, and there was only a stump where his tail should have been.
"That's right," Firepaw replied, bowing to the elder respectfully.
"I'm Halftail," purred the brown tom. "Welcome to the Clan."
"Have you two eaten?" meowed Smallear. They both shook their heads.
"Well, there's enough here. Dustpaw and Sandpaw are turning into fine hunters. Would you mind if these youngsters shared a mouse, One-eye?"
The pale gray queen who lay beside him shook her head.
"What about you, Dappletail?"
Firepaw stared at the stubborn Queen his eyes shining with humor.
The other elder, a tortoiseshell she-cat with a gray muzzle, meowed in a voice cracked with age, "Of course not."
"Thank you," mewed Graypaw eagerly. He stepped forward and took a large mouse from the pile of prey, then dropped it at Firepaw's feet. "You still not tasted mouse?" he asked.
"No." Firepaw lied, his heart racing when the mouse was set in front of him… finally he stepped forward and ate a mouthful of the delicious meat.
"What do you think?" asked Graypaw.
"Fantastic!" mumbled Firepaw, his mouth still full, eagerly he took another bite.
"Move over then," mewed Graypaw, stepping forward and bending his head to take a bite.
As the two apprentices shared the mouse, Firepaw couldn't help but keep one of his eyes on Tigerclaw at all times. His greatest enemy was still in the clan… with him… this wasn't going to be good.
Firepaw stretched with his tongue to lick the last traces of mouse from his whiskers, then Bluestar's voice called from the Highrock. Redtail's body still lay in the clearing below, pale gray in the fading light. "A new deputy must be appointed," she meowed. "But first, let us give thanks to StarClan for the life of Redtail. Tonight he sits with his fellow warriors among the stars." Silence fell as all the cats looked up into the sky, which was beginning to darken as evening crept over the forest.
"And now I shall name ThunderClan's new deputy," Bluestar continued. "I say these words before the body of Redtail, so that his spirit may hear and approve my choice."
Firepaw flashed a glance to Lionheart who was looking to Tigerclaw expectantly…
"Lionheart," meowed Bluestar, "will be the new deputy of ThunderClan."
Firepaw held back a purr at the new deputy's shock, Graypaw shared an excited look with him.
Bluestar spoke again. "Redtail was also mentor to young Dustpaw. Since there must be no delay in the training of our apprentices, I shall appoint Dustpaw's new mentor immediately. Darkstripe, you are ready for your first apprentice, so you will continue Dustpaw's training. You had a fine mentor in Tigerclaw, and I expect you to pass on some of the excellent skills you were taught."
And his good mood was immediately soured.
The tabby warrior swelled with pride as he showed his acceptance with a solemn nod. He strode over to Dustpaw, bent his head, and rather awkwardly touched noses with his new apprentice. Dustpaw flicked his tail respectfully, but his eyes were still dull with grief for his lost mentor.
Bluestar raised her voice. "I shall keep a vigil with Redtail's body tonight, before we bury him at sunrise." She jumped down from the Highrock and walked over to lie beside Redtail's body once more. Many of the other cats joined her, Dustpaw and Smallear among them.
Graypaw touched his tail gently to Firepaw's shoulder, whispering in his ear. "Only those who were closest to Redtail will share his final night. I'll show you where we sleep. The apprentices' den is over here."
Firepaw nodded solemnly, bowing deeply in Redtail's direction he followed Graypaw to his old… very old den.
"All the apprentices share their fresh-kill by this stump," Graypaw told him quietly.
As they both settled themselves beside the tree stump, a young she-cat crawled out from beneath the ferns. Her coat was pale, with barely visible stripes of darker fur.
"So here comes the new apprentice!" she meowed, narrowing her eyes.
Firepaw dipped his head in greeting, even though she was bound to be… unpleasant he still thought she was beautiful. "Hello," he mewed softly.
The young cat sniffed rudely. "He smells like a kittypet! Don't tell me I'm going to have to share my nest with that revolting stench!"
Firepaw flicked his ears, "Sorry, I'll sleep outside if you want."
She looked at him taken aback.
Graypaw quickly spoke before the she-cat could speak, "You'll have to excuse Sandpaw," he apologized. "I think she must have a furball stuck somewhere. She's not usually this bad-tempered."
Before the she-cat could make a retort a deep voice rang out, "Hold on, youngsters." Whitestorm called. "Sandpaw! As my apprentice, I expected you to be a little more welcoming to this newcomer."
Sandpaw held up her head and looked defiant. "I'm sorry, Whitestorm," she purred, not sounding sorry at all. "I just didn't expect to be training with a kittypet, that's all!"
Firepaw's whiskers twitched, he couldn't help the amusement that filled his eyes. If he was told this she-cat would one day give him two beautiful daughters he would've died laughing.
"I'm sure you'll get used to it, Sandpaw," meowed Whitestorm calmly. "Now, it's getting late, and training starts early tomorrow. You three should get some sleep." He gave Sandpaw a stern look, and she nodded obediently. As he walked off, she spun around and vanished into the clump of ferns, sniffing once more as she brushed past Firepaw. He flicked her nose with his tail, earning a glare.
Rolling his eyes Graypaw pushed Firepaw into the den, and led the way after Sandpaw. Inside the sleeping area, the ground was lined with soft moss, and the pale moonlight turned everything a delicate shade of green. The air was fragrant with fern scent, and warmer than outside.
"Where do I sleep?" Firepaw asked.
"Anywhere, just so long as it's not near me!" snarled Sandpaw, who was prodding some moss with her paw.
At this Firepaw felt a flash of hurt, but he quickly brushed it away, he needed to remind himself she really didn't warm up to him until he became a warrior.
Sighing to himself he raked together a pile of moss with his claws. When he had gathered his bed into a nest, he circled until it was comfortable and settled down. He glanced longingly at Sandpaw, even if they couldn't be mates just yet... he'd still would like to at least be her friend.
Once again please review.
They mean a bunch!
P.S. Do you want little Firepaw to continously impress people, or would you rather have him 'join' Tigerclaw, but then reveal him to the clan, which will be alot harder to pull off...