EDIT: Thanks to NAcha'z Ninja, San child of the wolves, Thisty, Leopardheart121, Anon user leturtlewings and DauntlessFlame for reviewing.
Dauntless, I fixed that one bit, Mistykit/paw. Thanks for catching that.
Funny how I had Thistleclaw get two special goodies in one day. *evil cackle* This kitty's about to gain some major power becoming deputy. What is his first step in his nefarious plan? Read to find out. Review also please.
"I name Thistleclaw as ThunderClan's new deputy."
Sunstar voice rang from Highrock and echoed through the ravine. His fiery pelt was gleaming in the sunlight. Tawnyspots, the greyish tabby standing by the new deputy, nodded painfully, hunching over as a cough racked his body. He looked as fragile as a newborn kit next to Thistleclaw, almost like a weak shadow. The now-former deputy struggled to his paws and hobbled away.
"I promise to make ThunderClan as mighty as LionClan, I swear." The mighty warrior shot a hidden grin of satisfaction at Bluefur with slitted amber eyes. Snarling, the queen passed the brambles into the nursery, settling into her nest. The bracken crinkled under her paws as she stroked her kits with her tail. They were old enough to become apprentices now, and they overflowed from the nest in a tangle of gray and white tails and paws. She was glad she didn't give them up to Oakheart as she had once pondered moons ago. They were all she had left, and she couldn't sacrifice them after Snowfur and Moonflower's untimely deaths.
Shaking the thought away, she wondered about Thistleclaw. Would he lead his Clan into blood, or to power as he had promised? If only this prophecy didn't exist...
Everything led back to Thistleclaw and the foretelling of fire. Maybe if she was a RiverClan cat, all would be easier. She could stand by Oakheart with his moonlit fur, confirm the safety of her kits without the risk of drowning in red tides, avoid the trail of hardship StarClan set her paws on.
Get it together, Bluefur! She was a ThunderClan cat, and StarClan laid a path out for her to follow. But it was too late. She failed StarClan's plan.
Bluefur looked out into the night to see Thistleclaw standing on Highrock alone. She whipped her tail aggravatingly. The queen stopped mid-lash and froze all together as she had a vision of him.
He was standing on a bloody Great Rock, head arrogantly high. His paws were covered in red, dripping from his thistle-like claws, digging extensive trenches into the unbreakable stone. Cats below were ominously chanting 'Thistlestar'. Two shadowy cats she identified as Adderfang and Tigerclaw stood on either side of him, claws glinting in the moonlight. The moon was a sheer silver disk, not a cloud en route.
Thistlestar raised his head to Silverpelt, smirking. His amber eyes began to glow, then shone to blot out the light. His body grew, covering the stretch of Silverpelt. With a jump, he raked his bloodstained claws across the sky, bringing with it a rainfall of blood and celestial spirits of StarClan. The dark-hearted cats below yowled in glee as the blood washed around their paws.
A wave of fresh red swept through Fourtrees, taking the bodies of fallen cats. Sunstar was one, pelt matted dark from the ocean of blood. His eyes rolled back, his tongue lolled, the red consumed his corpse. Bluefur gasped in horror from her perch on the hollow's edge as she saw her own body bob from under the surface. The kits were being tossed along like ragdolls yowling and gasping for one last breath of air, and Thrushpelt disappeared from view, his paw floating alone, then was swept fully away by the reeking tide. Oakheart himself was dying at her paws, snagging his claws in her fur. He parted his jaws to utter one word. "Why?..." Before she could react, a black-capped wave of cerise sent him churning helplessly into the sea of death.
Thistlestar yowled an order and the Great Rock shot skywards, commanding the whole forest. Red eyes glared from the shadowy trees and the lip of the hollow, yowling pure contempt and showing snow white teeth sharper than thorns. Blood drained into the moon darkly as the sky morphed into a bright maraschino. Bluefur turned around to escape the scene in front of her. Her ears flattened and her fur bristled as she tried to shut everything out: the sounds of battle, the sight of red, the smell of fury and fear, the taste of blood, the feeling of slippery scarlet under her paws. She couldn't take it.
A cackling laugh rang through the clearing. Bluefur covered her ears from her crouch on the ground, feeling blood seep into her belly fur. Not another prophecy! In the voice of Thistlestar, it rang out, 'A new star shall shine high above Silverpelt. It will send red shadows of despair through the whole forest. Drenched in blood... Coated in thistles... It's rule will last throughout the ages. Only fire will stand to challenge this leader to bring peace to the forest again.' She looked up once more. Thistlestar was staring straight at her, eyes blank and haunted. A twisted smile covered his face, and he leaped, landing on her, claws digging into her shoulders, teeth meeting her neck–
Her eyes flew open, but the den was still dark with night. Thistleclaw had left for the warriors' den long ago; his scent was faint in the moon-washed clearing. Bluefur visibly quivered, the vision of him replaying over and over in her mind. 'Blood... So much blood...' She sank her claws into the bracken of her nest and pulled her kits closer. "I'll never let anything hurt you. You or ThunderClan." She began to close her eyes once more, feeling a fitful sleep nagging at the back of her mind. "I am fire. I am fire..."
When she woke, sunlight was weakly streaming in the den. Her eyes jolted open when she felt the emptiness of the nest. She stood up and whirled around, then froze. The kits were carrying a huge squirrel, almost half the size of Stonekit. Snow dusted their whiskers, mud splashed their pelts and bits of bracken and dead leaves clumped their paws. "Eat up, Bluefur!" Mosskit squeaked, nosing it to her.
She was astonished for two reasons. One, it was the best bit of prey she had seen since leafbare started. Two, the kits had left out on their own. Why hadn't the high and mighty Thistleclaw on watch seen them? "Where did you get this?"
"We went out when you were sleep! It was really cold outside, but we found it nibbling on a nut, so Stonekit scared it, Mosskit chased it, and I killed it!" Mistykit held her head up, blue eyes proud.
Furballs. "You knew better than to go out."
The kits sank onto their soft-furred bellies. "We just wanted to help the Clan," Mistykit murmured.
"Yea," Stonekit pressed, "We aren't helpless."
Mosskit nodded in agreement. Bluefur knew she couldn't chastise fiercely enough with three pairs of sparkling azure eyes watching her.
She sighed. "I can't stay mad at you fluffballs." She batted at Stonekit and purred when he swiped back. "If Sunstar doesn't make you apprentices today, then I'm a mouse. I want you to find him for me."
The kits' eyes lit up with exhilaration and tumbled out of the nursery into a furry pile. Pride rushed through her, spilling into her paws. They are going to be natural warriors, I can truly tell.
"What are you kits doing?" An annoyed meow sounded through the brambles, betraying Redpaw's voice. Bluefur peered through the snow-caked entrance to the nursery and saw her kits facing off with the crimson-tailed apprentice, ears flat, excepting Mosskit.
"We were just getting Sun– mmph!" Mistykit was cut off by her gray-white-furred sister slapping a paw over her muzzle.
"Getting sun...warmed...moss...? Featherwhisker... said we could for Bluefur?" Mosskit gulped with her voice wavering as she made up the moss temperature.
Redpaw looked absolutely baffled. "What?"
"Nothing! The hunger is just getting to her, heh heh..." Stonekit quickly intervened and pushed in front of Mosskit while shrugging. "She's become delirious."
"No, I haven't!" She shoved her brother, facing the confused tomcat. "What's it to you?" She was probably the only one of her siblings who wasn't intimidated by him and she wasn't afraid to show it. Maybe she liked him, or hated him; Bluefur couldn't tell.
"Being a senior apprentice, you should listen to me. I deserve respect from a kit who's too young to even provoke an argument like this," he sniffed, meeting her nose-to-nose.
"Why question a couple of kits when you can be lecturing Mousepaw and Runningpaw for laying around instead of hunting?" Stonekit and Mistykit nodded and stared at the sleeping siblings.
She cut him off, waving her tail haughtily, sticking her nose up. "Well, that doesn't give you an excuse for being told off by a kit, who in fact is overdue for an apprentice ceremony with her littermates."
"Fine, see you never," the tom growled again, then stalked off.
"Not if I don't see you first!" Mosskit shouted after him, fluffing out her tail. Irritation and a trace of dreaminess floated in her blue eyes, but neither her brother or sister noticed.
"Don't do that again! I think we should let Mosskit do the talking," Stonekit meowed to Mistykit, who scowled and flounced off with Mosskit close behind.
"Wait for me! Mistykit! I didn't mean it!" Stonekit yowled to his littermates, charging off to the lichen den. "Don't be angry!"
"They're a pawful, aren't they?" Bluefur sighed to White-eye, who was grooming her gray pelt. She had decided to stay after her kits became apprentices to help any new queen. White-eye had help take care of Bluefur's litter, acting in place of Snowfur around the kits.
"They are," the pale shecat purred. She stood up and arched her back in a luxurious stretch.
"They left when we were napping, and they found this." She carried the squirrel to her denmate. White-eye gasped and her good eye widened.
"That's fantastic!" She murmured. "The kits should be apprentices by now."
"I asked them to bring Sunstar. Want to share?"
"Sure! He should see this first," White-eye pointed out, licking her lips.
"Sunstar should see what?" The flame furred leader padded in, nodding to the queens and shaking powdery snow from his fur.
"Look! Bluefur's kits caught it!" White-eye meowed excitedly, flicking her tail to the still-warm prey.
His mouth gaped slightly, then he purred in appreciation. "Not even StarClan would believe it! They will be made apprentices today, I insist. They're too overdue," he meowed, eyes glowing.
"That's great, Bluefur!" White-eye trilled, nudging her softly.
"Where's Thrushpelt?" The blue-gray shecat asked. Thrushpelt remained as the father image for the kits. He never betrayed Bluefur's secret of making him father in Oakheart's place. He never questioned the blue-gray queen of the true father, only held his place out of loyalty to his love.
Sunstar's voice snapped Bluefur from her thoughts. "He will be returning with Featherwhisker in a bit. They went herb hunting before the frost killed the leaves."
"Thrushpelt! Thrushpelt! Look!" The kits' voices rang into the nursery, alerting Bluefur.
"Seems he is back," Sunstar purred, stepping back.
"Bluefur! The kits are all over me!" He stumbled in, with Stonekit and Mistykit on his back, tiny claws hooked into his sandy-gray pelt. Snow sprinkled the opening and their fur, indicating a play-fight. The warmth of the cats filled the nursery.
"They went hunting." Her whiskers twitched as they nosed the squirrel.
"I can't believe it." He nudged Stonekit and licked Mistykit. "Where's Mosskit?" He looked around. Bluefur hadn't noticed Mosskit wasn't there.
Silence gripped the cats.
Mistykit piped up quietly. "She went hunting again. I dared her to go near Snakerocks. Winner gets to pick who goes next."
"What? I'll fetch her!" Bluefur jumped up with Thrushpelt, pushing past the brambles. They pricked her fur, but she ignored it, rushing out into the forest in a frenzy. They scrambled up the ravine, sending showers of snow-capped rocks upon Stormtail and his patrol. Bluefur dug her claws in the stone furiously, stumbling over the top.
"Kits!" He growled playfully, pounding the path to Snakerocks.
Snow dusted over their pelts as they shoved through bracken fronds and over fallen logs. Bluefur picked up her scent, along with fresh-kill, and blood. She veered back onto the main pathway, screeching, "This way! This way!"
Mosskit's yowl pierced the leaf-bare air. "Bluefur! Thrushpelt!"
Thrushpelt lengthened his stride, though he limped slightly. His eyes were already looking pained.
They halted behind a bush, staring furiously at the scene above their heads. Mosskit was cowering over a mouse, and two ShadowClan warriors were prowling around her. The little kitten had a wound on her shoulder with blood dripping onto the frosted rocks. "Hmm. Stealing prey, are we?" He glanced at the mouse.
"No! This was in my border! I'm just a kit!"
The gray furred tom shoved Mosskit down the steep ridge. The kit yowled as she hit the frost-speckled ground with a dull thump, where she collapsed into a shuddering heap. The ShadowClan pair stood silhouetted against the cloudy gray sky. A warrior flicked his tail and crowed airily, "Is ThunderClan pathetic enough to send their kits hunting for them?"
The kit barely moved. Only the slight rise and fall of her flank allowed notion of her living. Bluefur felt her heart leap in her throat. Not my daughter, you fox-hearted cowards!
The warriors slithered down the rocks and prowled around Mosskit. Her gaze flickered between them warily. "This is what we do to cats who break the rules." The tabby tom with a kinked tail raised a paw with claws unsheathed. She shut her eyes tight, just as Thrushpelt and Bluefur jumped into view. The warriors stopped in their tracks, jumping off Mosskit. She scrambled to her paws, limping for safety behind her mother.
"Get your claws off my daughter!" Bluefur shrieked, leaping on the nearest cat. She tore out pawfuls of tabby fur, feeling the ferocity of a lion ebb in her paws. Thrushpelt hissed insults at the other cat, then barreled him over. The warrior Bluefur attacked screeched as claws scored across his eyes. He rolled away from the ThunderClan warrior's claws and tumbled through the frost. Bluefur launched herself away from the scuffle with her pelt unmarked, coming to stand by Thrushpelt.
"What are you doing on ThunderClan territory?" Thrushpelt challenged, baring his teeth.
"This kit ran over the border, trying to take ShadowClan prey," the gray tom answered, pointing a hooked claw at Mosskit, then waving his tail toward the Thunderpath.
Bluefur slitted her eyes. "As if an inexperienced, defenseless kit would love to run across the Thunderpath, just let me know."
"So why are you on ThunderClan's territory? Hoping for an innocent kit to harm? Prey to steal? Leaf-bare must not have been kind for you," Thrushpelt resumed, standing in front of his friend and kit protectively, unsheathing his claws.
"No reason. ShadowClan is never desperate. Everycat knows that ThunderClan is going to submit, because they're the weakest in the forest. Will you send your kits to die in battle first?" The tabby tomcat goaded, stepping forward so he was nose to nose with the sandy gray tom. Thrushpelt swiped his claws, catching the warrior on the nose. The tabby lurched backwards into his partner; they turned and fled.
"Brokentail and Boulder. I'll report them to Sunstar and Thistleclaw." Thrushpelt turned, pressing his flank against Bluefur. He looked at Mosskit, gripping her by the scruff. "Let's get back. We have an apprentice ceremony to attend."
The blue-gray shecat looked solemnly at the kit. She looked barely able to respond, let alone walk. Bluefur picked up the mouse between her teeth gently. No use in wasting prey. They padded in grim silence through the snow-laden forest to camp. Thrushpelt staggered down the ravine on the return trip. Fear lurched in Bluefur's heart as he almost collapsed with the kit. They solemnly padded through the gorse and into camp. Bluefur turned to the sandy-gray tom. "I'll find Featherwhisker."
The tom was already hurrying out his den on three paws. Bluefur stepped back as he stumbled past and plastered the cobweb on Mosskit's wounds. Stonekit and Mistykit stared with wide eyes from the nursery, fearing for their sister. Thrushpelt was standing over them with dark concern shadowing his face.
Sunstar hurried over with Thistleclaw by his side. The spiky warrior was already shouting over the clamor of the crowded cats. "We must do something about ShadowClan! They have crossed our border, harmed one of our kits and have broken the warrior code all in one day!"
The flame-pelted leader looked at Mosskit, who dangled from Featherwhisker's jaws. She looked limp like a wet leaf, a piece of fresh-kill, a kit who couldn't become an apprentice. Sunstar looked sternly at his deputy. "I will announce this at the Gathering. ShadowClan will be warned off, as I shall send a patrol into their camp."
Thistleclaw grimaced. "We shouldn't go talk! We should attack them. They have crossed the line."
The ThunderClan leader turned on his second-in-command. "We shall speak at the Gathering! But now, I have more important matters to attend to."
Sunstar bounded across the clearing and leaped onto the smooth, tree-height gray boulder. His pelt flamed in the light. "Let all cats old enough to catch their own prey join here beneath Highrock for a Clan meeting!
"ShadowClan has crossed our borders, hunted our prey, and injured one of our soon-to-be warriors." Yowls of outrage resonated through the clearing. "We shall not attack unless further provoked."
Fuzzypelt got to his paws. "We should attack! They harmed one of our kits!"
Stormtail nodded. "We should do something."
"Fine." Sunstar swept his green gaze about the warriors gathered below. "We shall double patrols on that side of Fourtrees. Dawn, sunhigh, sunset, and moonhigh patrols will be assigned on the ShadowClan border tomorrow at daybreak."
The Clan murmured in acceptance. Thistleclaw's claws sank into the ground, though his eyes betrayed nothing.
The leader lifted his chin and carried on. "We have two kits joining us this leaf-bare as ThunderClan apprentices. Mistypaw, Stonepaw, come forward."
The pair stepped up into the circle from the nursery, though Stonepaw padded warily. "We're not in trouble? And what about Mosskit?"
Sunstar glanced at the kit warmly. "That's up to your mentors to decide, and Mosskit will have her turn in time, young one.
Sunstar turned to Stonekit, who looked like he would topple over backwards from sitting so straight. "From this moment on, until he has earned his warrior name, this apprentice will be known as Stonepaw. Goldenflower, you are ready to have your first apprentice. You will be mentor to this young tom. Goldenflower, you have much energy to help Stonepaw tirelessly, and I'm sure you will treat him with as much respect you receive."
"From this moment on, until she has earned her warrior name, this apprentice will be known as Mistypaw. Thistleclaw, I believe you are ready to take on another apprentice. You will be mentor to her. Thistleclaw, you have shown yourself to be a tactile warrior of ThunderClan with claws battle-ready and an urge to serve your Clan. I hope you train her as well as you did Tigerclaw."
The Clan erupted into cheers. "Stonepaw! Mistypaw!"
Bluefur sighed. Mosskit should be with them.
Clearly her other two kits though the same, for they kept staring anxiously at the medicine den. They padded over to Bluefur and Thrushpelt and hung their heads. "Mosskit should be Mosspaw right now." Mistypaw muttered. "It was my fault."
Her foster father flicked her spine with his tail. "It's quite alright. We'll deal with ShadowClan."
Mistypaw's eyes lit up with the excitement of battle. "Then we can rip them to shreds for hurting my sister?"
Thistleclaw had padded over from his shaded spot under the Highrock. He swept his tail around her kit, his new apprentice. Clearly overhearing, he meowed, "Someday, you can be the greatest leader of all the Clans. Then you can rip any intruders to shreds."
Thrushpelt added hastily, "Not without reason."
The spiky gray-white-furred tom's eyes glared hard as amber at the sandy-gray cat. Bluefur slitted her eyes as Thistleclaw carried on, leading Mistypaw away.
You will not have my daughter for your horrible purposes, Thistleclaw!