Sometimes I have to ask that.
Why did I do it?
I was neglected, and forgotten, a loner in a clan. They didn't care for me, and I didn't care for them. The hatred was mutual.
My name is Darkwinds, and I was a warrior of ThunderClan.
However I'd have been just as well off as a loner. I had no friends.
They looked at me as though I could never amount to anything, like I could never be important to the clan.
I thought I could prove them wrong.
I sighed. That was not Nettlepelt's happy voice.
My mentor stormed through the bramble tunnel. "Where were you? You were supposed to be on my patrol!"
I looked down. "Sorry Nettlepelt."
Nettlepelt growled. "A lazy cat will never amount to anything! Especially if they don't bother to get up in the morning."
My mentor snarled, "Get out there and hunt!"
I obeyed sadly. I hadn't meant to sleep in, but .. I shrugged. It really wouldn't have mattered anyway. Nettlepelt could always find some fault with me.
The bracken rustled beneath my paws as I walked through ThunderClan's woodland. I hadn't sighted prey, and I fervently hoped I would.
I jumped, startled. I had thought I was alone.
A sleek black tom sat behind me, the undergrowth clearly visible through his fading pelt. An ugly scar ran from his torn left ear, across the bridge of his nose, and into his thick cheek fur.
"Who .. who are you?" I stammered.
He got to his paws, silently circling me. "My name is not important, only what I can do for you."
I gulped. "What .. can you do for me?"
The tom smiled. If you could call it a smile. It was more of a sadistic grimace. "I have watched you long. You have great potential, a great destiny."
I was shocked. "Me? But .. my clanmates don't even like me!"
The black cat's amber eyes pierced deep into my copper ones. "Then they do not see your power."
I entered the camp, my thoughts muddled. The mysterious tom claimed I had a great destiny. But I couldn't see what it was.
As I headed toward the apprentice den, the cats in my path moved. I was not surprised, because it was always like this. Not one cat in ThunderClan would come near me. They avoided me like I had greencough, and they had since the time I was born.
Even my mother would not make eye contact with me, from the time I had opened my eyes.
I realized with a start, that the strange black tom was the first to ever look into my eyes and not flinch.
I had never really noticed this until now, and it baffled me. Did I look or act strange? Was there something wrong with me?
I shrugged as I settled into my nest, laying my head in my paws. Trust my dear clanmates to find something the matter with me. They hated me, so why not?"
The forest I walked through was wreathed in a thick, swirling mist. I couldn't see ten tail lengths ahead of me, and it made me jumpy.
I turned to see the black tom I had met before watching me silently. His presence was slightly unnerving, but I brushed the feeling away.
The cat purred a rusty purr. "Don't fear me young tom. I am not the enemy."
I nodded. "Then who are you?"
The cat shook his head. "As I said before, my name is of no importance, only what I can do for you."
I nodded again. "And what is that?"
The tom showed his yellow fangs. "I can make you great."
I blinked, dumbfounded as the cat continued. "I can see how your clanmates treat you, the same way mine treated me in my lifetime."
I took a step back. "You're ... dead?"
The cat nodded. "I am. But that makes no difference. I know how to make you the greatest cat that ever walked the lakeshore."
He blinked his emotionless amber eyes as he meowed, "In my lifetime, I was defeated because that which I fought against was too strong. But now it is weak. Meet me here every night, and I will show you what you must do."
Something about this cat scared me. But something about him attracted me too. The two emotions clashed violently, and morphed into one thing. Curiosity.
"But how will I come? I don't know where I am!" I meowed.
The cat brushed his tail in my face. "Sleep. I will call you to me in your dreams."
I was about to respond, but the mist swirled about the mysterious cat, and he vanished. I closed my eyes, blinking in disbelief. When I opened them again, I was staring at the walls of the apprentice den.
I blinked, confused. How did I get back here? I recalled the strange cat's words.
"I will call you to me in your dreams."
Could he do that? I was beginning to realize the black tom was very powerful. If only he could give me that power. I'd do anything!
The next morning I was tired. Why, I could not say, but I didn't really care, because my dream was still so vivid in my mind.
As I headed to the fresh kill pile, I was not really looking where I was going. All of a sudden, I ran into someone, and toppled to the ground.
The cat stared up at me with surprise in her brilliant blue eyes. She was silver tabby, and looked slightly younger than me.
"Sorry." I mumbled, intending to walk away, but she asked,
"Hey, wait! Who are you anyway?"
I turned around reluctantly. "I'm Darkpaw."
She smiled. "Well I'm Silverpaw! I used to be from ShadowClan, but they drove me and my family away. So we came to ThunderClan."
Great. ShadowClan's castoff. I thought, but said nothing.
Seeing that she could not make me talk to her, Silverpaw shrugged.
"Well, it was nice meeting you Darkpaw!"
"Yea." I muttered as I walked away, glad to be free of the she-cat's irritating chatter.
The rest of that day, Silverpaw was stuck in my mind. I couldn't understand why. I didn't even like her!
Whatever the case, the image of her blue eyes staring at me seemed seared into my memory, and I wondered if I'd ever be free of it.
Suddenly I realized why it had been so memorable. Silverpaw had looked into my eyes and held my gaze. She had not flinched away like most would have.
I settled into my nest and closed my eyes. When I opened them, I was in the mist shrouded forest like I had expected, and the strange black cat stood before me. Before I had time to say a word, he brushed his tail in my face.
I did so wordlessly. The black tom's faded pelt brushed through the dead undergrowth and fungus like they were non-existent, however I had a harder time. When the cat finally stopped, I was nearly twenty tail-lengths behind him. He waited patently for me until I reached him. Then he rasped,
"Look down there young tom, and tell me what you see."
I stared down the misty hill we sat on intently. At first I saw nothing. Then shadows begin disentangling themselves from the fog. They were cats, some of them little more then wisps of mist. They fought amongst themselves shamelessly, although their attacks seemed organized and planned, as if they were training.
"I see fighting cats." I meowed at last.
The black cat nodded. "Indeed. They are my army, my clan. We will teach you to be as powerful as us. More powerful then us."
I drank in his amber gaze, thinking of how wonderful it would be to have that much power.
He held up his tail in warning. "However, we must make a few rules for you."
I cocked my head. "Such as?"
The tom's gaze seemed to see into my very soul. "Even though you will live in ThunderClan, your loyalty belongs to us. Now and forever."
"Your loyalty belongs to us. Now and forever."
Those words echoed in my mind, long after I had awoke. I had agreed. After all, what loyalty did I have to ThunderClan, the clan I hated? The clan that hated me.
I jumped to see my mentor coming towards me, a grumpy expression on his face. I knew he'd far rather be spending time with his mate, Poppyglitter, then train me.
"You and I are doing battle training with those two former ShadowClan apprentices, Snowpaw and Silverpaw."
I curled my lip with distaste. I had to train with those ShadowClan losers?
When we reached the training hollow, I could see the two she-cats waiting with their mentors. Snowpaw said nothing, but Silverpaw smiled at me.
"Hi." I mumbled without excitement.
I surveyed the two new cats out of the corner of my eye, noting Snowpaw wasn't half as pretty as her sister. Her muddy tipped white pelt was rather long and very dull, and her green eyes were sharp and judgmental.
I looked away as Nettlepelt ordered, "Alright Darkpaw, try and attack Silverpaw. Keep your claws sheathed."
Silverpaw looked a little hesitant as I crouched, then leapt. She braced herself as I plowed into her, shoving her to the ground. She battered her paws into my belly futilely, for I would not let go.
"All right Darkpaw, that's enough." Silverpaw's mentor, Shineleaf ordered.
I let the silver she cat up, sneaking a glance at her sister, who was staring at me with smoldering green eyes.
Nettlepelt nodded to me. "Now attack Snowpaw."
The dull white she cat started toward me, a glimmer of fear in her eyes, and yet defiance. I leapt at her as I had done with her sister, and for a moment, she looked like she would fall for the trick. However she side stepped at the last second, allowing me to crash into the ground before swiping a stinging paw across my face. I slammed my shoulder into hers, and she reeled away before collapsing to the ground. I jumped at her, but she kicked out viciously with strong hind legs, winding me completely. I drew in gasping breaths as Nettlepelt ordered,
"Enough. Snowpaw, that was an excellent move. Where did you learn it?"
Snowpaw's voice was a little shy as she explained, "Onechance taught me."
I smirked as I thought of Snowpaw's looser of a mentor, the golden she-cat who couldn't even talk. Nettlepelt nodded to the cat I was thinking of, and she shrank back.
He turned to me. "Darkpaw, Snowpaw hasn't been training half as long as you, and she still bests you!"
"She used a move I'd never seen .." I protested, but my mentor was not listening.
"You and I will do extensive training. You should be able to do twice as well as you did."
I looked away, there was no point in arguing or complaining.
I moaned, blinking my eyes open. There stood the mysterious black tom. I sighed. Nettlepelt had worked me to death, and I wanted to sleep. But the tom motioned that I follow, and I did.
We padded away into the mist filled forest the black cat seemed to live in.