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Deathberries Series
Preceded by:
Air of Treason
Last Stand Succeded by:
None
After betrayals, many cats have something to say about their kin. One cat makes the hardest decision of their life, and one side wins the battle to save the Clans. 

Prologue - Berry

He was falling, falling...
With a crash, he hit the earth and screeched in terror, the blood already oozing from beneath his fur.
There was a shadowy figure in front of him, and he could stand.
No more pain.
Just love.
And lies.
A cat stood next to him, seducing him into an unwanted deal.
He agreed.
He was standing over four cats, secretly loathing them.
He lied once again, after a lifetime.
He crashed into a cat.
At first there was anger.
Then there was not.
He was standing, in the center of cats that hated him, and he told the truth.
That would not be the only time.
He finally was away from a cat he had lied to.
And stuck with the result.
He was falling... falling...
With a crash, he hit the earth and screeched in terror, the blood already oozing...

Chapter 1

Berry gasped. He raised his head, feeling his heart beat against the earth.
It's okay, he thought. It's over now. Over...
He stood up, looking around the makeshift den that was the five cats' shelter... for now. Mudpelt, to Berry's disgust, had joined them, and was only there because Eaglepaw liked him. He was sleeping in a far corner, next to Brackenpaw. Eaglepaw was between him and Boulder's empty nest.
"Berry," a voice whispered.
Berry hissed and spun around to see Boulder standing in the entrance of the den.
"On your paws much?" Boulder purred. "I thought we could go hunting before we patrol this morning."
Berry nodded eagerly. Anything to be alone with Boulder.


Littleclaw paced through the forest, Stoneheart and Toadstar beside her.
"I saw him here..." Stoneheart whispered.
Littleclaw stopped and peered through the shrubbery. She inhaled the scent of an enemy.
"What are you looking for?" a voice asked.
Stoneheart jumped a fox-length high in the air and faced his apprentice. "StarClan, you scared me!" he gasped.
Littleclaw could not help but purr as Stoneheart recovered himself and nodded at Dawnpaw.
"I- I'm sorry," Dawnpaw stammered. "It's just that you left the camp and I followed. It looked important."
Toadstar glanced at Littleclaw.
"It looked like it was about my father," Dawnpaw added quietly.


Berry followed Boulder through the forest, avoiding brushing against bushes and trees.
"I smell something!" Boulder whispered. Her tail stood straight up as she peered through the trees.
Berry tasted the air. "Uh-oh," he whispered.
He turned, and ran...
Ran to save himself. Ran to save Boulder. Ran to save happiness.

Chapter 2

"Bluepaw." One single whisper pierced the air in StarClan's forest.
The blue-gray tom turned around, his bright blue eyes gleaming. "What?" he whispered back.
A light brown she-cat stepped into the clearing, where Bluepaw was. It was sheltered by shrubbery, but the she-cat did not want to be found. "Come with me," she whispered.
Bluepaw, confused, obeyed quietly.
After a while of walking, the she-cat stopped. "I think we'll be okay here," she whispered.
"What do you need?" Bluepaw asked in a low voice.
The she-cat looked around for a while before she replied, "I need you to understand."
"What do you mean?" Bluepaw sputtered. His voice rose, and he quickly brought it down again as he added, "I understand everything."
"You understand that the cat that killed me is on the loose again?" the she-cat hissed.
Bluepaw gasped, and he felt his heart begin to beat.
"That's right," the she-cat murmured.
"But- Dawnpaw- how do you know?" Bluepaw asked, awed.
"The pool," Dawnpaw replied.
Bluepaw nodded. "I fear for Dawnpaw on the earth," he mewed suddenly. "How will she avoid Berry?"
"She won't," Dawnpaw murmured.
"And Mudpelt," Bluepaw added. "What will become of him?"
The whisper floated across the clear air, and Bluepaw gasped.

Chapter 3

Finally, Stoneheart spoke up. "It's not about your father," he whispered.
Dawnpaw stared at her paws. "Okay..."
"It's about RiverClan." Toadstar spoke in his quiet, demanding voice. "Dawnpaw, don't worry."
The small-looking apprentice nodded quietly.
"Let's go back to camp," Stoneheart mewed quietly. "I'll take you. Toadstar, Littleclaw, can you stay here?"
Toadstar nodded quietly, and his eyes remained on the retreating pair until they moved out of sight.


Berry flew into the den, quickly followed by Boulder.
Mudpelt, who was cleaning his ears, glanced up at them. "Why are you so out of breath?"
"Hunting is harder than it looks," Berry panted. Boulder nodded her agreement.
Eaglepaw sat up. "Did you catch anything?"
Boulder glanced at Berry. "No," she whispered.


Dawnpaw followed Stoneheart back to camp. She could feel the tension in the air as she realized- they were keeping information from her.
"I'm not a kit," she mewed loudly. "I can handle information about Berryclaw."
Stoneheart stopped and turned around. "I never said you're a kit."
"You're treating me like one."
Stoneheart's eyes clouded. "I never mean to," he mewed loudly.
Dawnpaw took a step backward before she continued. "Do you have information about Berryclaw?"
Stoneheart nodded. "You're not ready yet. Let's go back to camp."
Dawnpaw sighed. So close, she thought. So close to figuring out who I- and he- really are...

Chapter 4

Berry stared through the undergrowth.
Mudpelt stood next to him, his tail erect.
"Put your tail down!" Berry hissed. "Any cat could see it."
Mudpelt put his tail down. "Follow me," he whispered. "I know a secret way in."
Berry reluctantly followed Mudpelt.
As they reached a thorn barrier, Mudpelt stopped. "Here," he mewed.
"W-what?" Berry asked, astonished. "You can't get in here!" he spat.
Mudpelt laid down on his belly and pawed the ground. What looked like solid earth crumbled, and suddenly there was a tunnel.
"Woah," Berry whispered. "How did you find that?"
"I didn't," Mudpelt whispered. He squeezed into the tunnel.
There was a screech of surprise and terror as the cats in the ShadowClan camp realized that Mudpelt- a traitor- was inside their camp.
Berry squeezed through, too, excited to see his son.
And then his realization- Who have I become?


Littleclaw felt her claws sink into the soft earth as she saw her son shake his pelt off.
No voice rose. No cat told him to get out. Instead there was hope in the air.
Had Mudpelt finally decided to come back? Was Berry dead?
No. Berry was there.
Littleclaw heard two noises behind her.
She spun and saw that Dawnpaw had screeched in terror.
Boulderfoot was staring fixedly at his father.


Berry stared at ShadowClan, and their gazes bore into not him, but Mudpelt.
"I've brought Berry here..." Mudpelt finally meowed.
That broke the silence. Cats called, "Traitor!" and "Mouse-dung!"
Berry noticed the only silent cats were his kin and Littleclaw.
Mudpelt stood and bore the insults.
"Stop!" Dawnpaw finally yowled.
The cats were quiet. Berry breathed a sigh of relief- Mudpelt looked as if he couldn't take much more.
"Why are you here?" a cat asked. Berry stared them down and didn't recognize them.
"I- I don't know," Mudpelt breathed.
"You're not returning to ShadowClan?" another cat asked. He stepped forward and stared at Mudpelt.
"You- you look like Boulderfoot," Berry suddenly mewed.
"I'm his son," the cat snarled. "Do you have a problem with that, fox-dung?"
Berry hissed. "Don't talk to your kin like that."
The Clan was dead silent. A leaf blew by.
"I- I'm your kin?" the cat asked.
Mudpelt glared at Berry. "I'm your kin?"
"Y-you're my kin?" Berry asked.
"Stop talking!" Littleclaw screeched.
Every cat did, and Berry noticed two other cats were having a hard time keeping back something they wanted to say.
"Berry is Boulderfoot's father," Littleclaw announced. "I mated with him. Stoneheart, Mudpelt, and Nightfur are all Berry's kin. Dawnpaw is Berry's daughter."
Mudpelt looked hurt. "Why didn't you tell us before?"
"I didn't think it mattered," Littleclaw replied.
"Lies," Berry muttered.
"I have two littermates," Dawnpaw mewed. Her voice seemed to agitate every cat further, but she continued. "Their names are Eaglepaw and Brackenpaw."
"Forget this!" a cat screeched. "Every single cat that is Berry's kin is banished!"

Chapter 5

A silence fell over the camp, and Littleclaw's heart fell through her chest.
"What?" she asked. "Toadstar, no!"
Berry's eyes gleamed. "I win!" he screeched. "Littleclaw, all your protection is gone!"
"Just try and attack them and you die," Littleclaw snarled. "There's only two of you."
"Go!" Toadstar snarled.
"It's not fair!" Nightfur yowled. "You shouldn't ban a cat based on their kin!"
"Go!"
Littleclaw stood and watched as Stoneheart, Boulderfoot, Nightfur, and Dawnpaw retreated from the camp.
"You two, leave," Toadstar commanded. "Now."
Berry and Mudpelt left the camp slowly.
That isn't like Berry! Littleclaw thought. Dear StarClan, what's going on?
"They're gone..." a voice whispered.
Littleclaw turned to see her littermate, Marshtail, standing beside her.
She turned away.


Stoneheart clawed the earth.
Nightfur stared at his paws.
Boulderfoot scratched the back of his paw.
"You guys," Dawnpaw whispered. "Calm down. We just have to do something bad to Berry, and-"
"What kind of bad thing?" a voice asked.
Dawnpaw gasped as she heard her father's voice. "Y-you!" she stammered. "Go away!"
"Fine," Berry snarled. "Whatever."
He and Mudpelt left, and disappeared into the trees.

Chapter 6

"I can't believe they all got banished," Mudpelt mewed hollowly as they padded back to camp.
He sensed that Berry didn't care.
"What's with you?" he asked. "You're all nice all of a sudden."
"Isn't that good?" Berry asked quietly.
"It doesn't seem like you."
Berry nodded. Mudpelt wondered what he was thinking.


Stoneheart opened his eyes and gasped. "I have an idea!" he mewed loudly.
Nightfur groaned as he woke up. "Can't you be quiet about it?"
"It's on how to get back into ShadowClan," Stoneheart whispered.
Nightfur's eyes widened. "Already? Okay, what?"
"We have another Clan steal us," Stoneheart mewed.


Stoneheart led the other three cats to the border.
"Here was where everything started," Boulderfoot mewed.
Nightfur nodded silently.
"Where everything what was started?" Dawnpaw asked.
"Berry killed three cats here in two days," Boulderfoot told her. "First was a cat named Yewfoot. Then, her daughter, Grayfoot, was killed, along with Grayfoot's apprentice, who was also named Dawnpaw."
Stoneheart didn't listen as Dawnpaw asked questions about Littleclaw and Marshtail. Before long, the whole story was told- Marshtail's accidental agreement, Berry being pushed off the cliff and joining WindClan, Smokestar's death...
Memories flashed back. Bluepaw, the rogue kit. Smokestar giving him his warrior name. Smokestar's body...
"Stoneheart!" Nightfur yowled. "Are you even listening?"
Stoneheart jerked back to reality. "What?"
"Lead us through the territory!" Nightfur growled.
Stoneheart shook his pelt off of nothing and took his first step into ThunderClan territory.


"C-can you join us?"
"Yes. We want to join you, for now," Stoneheart explained.
Rockstar, the leader of ThunderClan, looked surprised. "Um..."
"For a time. We were banished from ShadowClan..." Stoneheart told the entire story, including his idea.
After a while, Rockstar nodded. "What will ThunderClan get out of this?"
"For a time, great warriors. When ShadowClan sees us at the Gathering they'll want us back, and we can defeat Berry."
Rockstar nodded. "That's a good plan for you four."
Stoneheart glanced at Nightfur. "Just the four of us? He killed a cat in your Clan. He's on the loose again. Rockstar, please..."
Rockstar purred, and his eyes glowed. "I'd be glad to shelter you all."

Chapter 7

Boulder scratched the earth feebly as the shadow loomed over her...
"No!" she yowled. "Please, I'll do anything!"
"This has to happen," the shadow whispered.
"Berry, please..." Boulder whispered.
She gasped and groaned in pain as she pulled her claws out of the ground.
Berry was by her side in a second. "W-what's wrong?"
"Dream..."
Berry mewed, "Come outside and tell me about it."
Boulder reluctantly stood up and followed Berry outside.
"What's wrong?" Berry asked as he sat down.
"I was on the ground..." Boulder began. "There was this shadow. I think it wanted to kill me."
"A shadow... wanted to kill you?" Berry asked dubiously.
"No. It was a cat. But it was dark."
"Oh."
"The shadow was your voice."
Berry flinched.
"What?"
"I think it's about time I told you who I really was." Berry lowered his head. "I'm a murderer."

Chapter 8

"What?" Boulder gasped.
She never knew, Berry realized.
"How- how many?" Boulder managed to ask.
Dawnpaw. Yewfoot. Grayfoot. Hailfoot. Gingerpaw... Berry remembered. Marshtail. "Nine," he mumbled.
"Nine cats?" Boulder gasped.
"Yes."
"That's horrible!" Boulder snarled. "Get away from me!"
"Please," Berry whispered. "I can change."
Boulder hesitated. "Why, Berry? Why would you kill?"
"It's a long story," Berry mumbled.
Boulder sat a distance away. "Tell me."
"I was born to two rogue cats. I think their names were Bale and Gaia," Berry began. "I had a brother named Bone."
"Bone?" Boulder asked.
He nodded and continued. "My sister- Nettle- died at birth. I had to live with the other three.
"At first it was great. There was food where I lived. We ate every day. Bone and I were great friends.
"But then came the day we were old enough to leave Bale and Gaia." Berry shuddered and continued, "Bone and I decided to stay together to support each other.
"When he betrayed me the first time, I was angry, but I forgave him."
"He betrayed you?" Boulder asked quietly. "What did he do?"
"He left. He said that he didn't want to live with me anymore, and that we were old enough to support ourselves.
"I was so angry, so devastated. He was my brother, my littermate. We had never left the other's side during our entire lives. I didn't know how I was going to walk alone.
"After a moon, I discovered that I liked it. We didn't have to compromise our needs. I could do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
"One day, I was hunting, and I saw a makeshift den. I looked inside, and there Bone was, starving to death. I gave him all the prey I had."
Boulder nodded quietly.
"He regained his health and I forgave him. We traveled together for another half-moon, but then we met a beautiful she-cat.
"Her name was Lynx. Bone and I both fell instantly in love, and we competed.
"Bone eventually won her over.
"I killed them both out of jealousy, anger, and remorse."
Boulder gasped.
"I was so mad at myself," Berry mewed hoarsely. "I remember scratching the back of my paws, trying to hurt myself more."
Boulder made a noise of sympathy, but Berry went on.
"I met another pretty she-cat. I followed her. We ended up falling in love.
"We had so much fun together. And then... there was another tom. He fell in love, too.
"I killed him, and mated with the she-cat. We have one kit.
"A tom saw me, and approached me. He asked me to do a favor- kill one cat from a certain group. ShadowClan."
Boulder narrowed her eyes. "You agreed."
Berry nodded. "I did. I killed a she-cat named Yewfoot. I wanted to finish the job, so I killed two other cats- Grayfoot and Dawnpaw."
"Your daughter?" Boulder gasped.
"They had the same name," Berry mewed briskly. "By that time, I was so happy, I felt so confident. I murdered a tom named Hailfoot, and then I manged to kill one of the original tom's cats. Gingerpaw.
"By that time, the Clans were scared. Two cats- Littleclaw and Marshtail- were out to get me. I met them, and eventually hurt Marshtail, badly. I killed off any chance of him becoming a decent cat, because he struggled to get his back fixed.
"They- Littleclaw and the original tom, named Rockstar- pushed me off a cliff."
"Woah," Boulder breathed.
Berry nodded. "WindClan found me and took me in. Airstar fell in love with me. We had three kits..."
Boulder sighed.
"You know the rest," Berry murmured.
He stood to go, but Boulder called, "Wait."
"What?" Berry asked.
"I'll stay," Boulder mewed. "Don't kill me."
Berry purred, "I won't."

Chapter 9

Littleclaw ran, ran, ran...
"Wait!" the voice called.
Littleclaw gasped and ran faster. She had to lose him, lose him...


"You two, join the hunting patrol," Tigertail, the ThunderClan deputy, mewed.
Stoneheart stood up and beckoned to Dawnpaw.
The ThunderClan cats who they were joining looked scornful.


Berry sat and remembered.
Bone.
Bone.
Bone.
Berry clawed the back of his paw.


Littleclaw skidded to a halt, gasping and hating.
Gasping for breath.
Hating her past. Herself.
Hating everything.
Gasp.
Hate.
Gasp.
Hate.
The repetitiveness was almost boring.


Stoneheart followed the two ThunderClan cats through their territory.
"Stoneheart," Dawnpaw whispered, "when can we leave?"
"Tonight, hopefully," Stoneheart whispered. "Let's just hope our plan works."


Berry stopped hating himself for a heartbeat.
Think, he thought, what will make this better?
And there was the truth.
The solution.
The dread.

Chapter 10

Dawnpaw sighed. There was the clearing, and here were the other four Clans.
"I want you four to hide," Rockstar mewed. "You'll know when it's your time to show yourselves."
Dawnpaw glanced at Stoneheart, Nightfur, and Boulderfoot.
"See you," Rockstar mewed.


Littleclaw walked into the Gathering, alone.
Usually she was surrounded by cats that loved her- Nightfur, Stoneheart, Boulderfoot- but now, there was nobody.
Had Berry made every cat hate her, too?


Rockstar leaped up onto the rock where the other leaders stood. Toadstar was already there, as was Fishstar.
"If you don't mind, I would like to speak last," Rockstar murmured.
"We don't mind," Fishstar mewed smoothly, shooting a glance at Toadstar, who had opened his mouth angrily. "I would actually like to speak first."
One cat yowled, "WindClan are here!"
Within heartbeats, Airstar had leaped onto the rock. Her eyes were wide. "I speak first," she demanded.
Fishstar nodded. "Let the Gathering begin!" he yowled.
Rockstar was astonished by the sudden kindness Fishstar was showing towards the other Clans. Was something wrong?
"WindClan are sorry to announce the disappearance of five cats," Airstar meowed.
Heads turned in confusion below Rockstar.
"Berryclaw, Mudpelt, Dawnpaw, Eaglepaw, and Brackenpaw have all disappeared," Airstar yowled. "If any cat knows where they may be, please speak now."
"Mudpelt is a ShadowClan cat!" Toadstar hissed. "You cannot claim him as one of your own."
"It's fine," a hollow voice mewed. "I don't mind, Toadstar." Rockstar stared as Littleclaw stood up. "Actually, I would be happier if he wasn't a ShadowClan cat in the first place."
"He's your son!" Toadstar mewed in a hushed voice.
Littleclaw shrugged. "Who cares? He makes his own decisions, that one does."
Toadstar's eyes clouded as he stepped forward. "Prey is running in ShadowClan," he began. "I have decided to ban all cats that are Berry's kin."
There were gasps.
Fishstar stepped forward quickly, before fighting could break out. "Life is new in RiverClan," he mewed. "Whitetail has had her kits- Waterkit and Cloudykit."
There were small murmurs of congratulations, but Rockstar could still sense that every cat was thinking about Berry.
"I have news," he mewed.
Every cat's head turned.
"Four cats have become members of ThunderClan," Rockstar mewed.
He saw Boulderfoot lead the way, and he, with Stoneheart, Nightfur, and Dawnpaw, revealed themselves to the Clans.
"They are members of ThunderClan now," Rockstar finished. "We welcome all cats."

Chapter 11

Toadstar didn't know what to think.
Rockstar had stolen his cats.
He had banned them.
They were all loved by Littleclaw, his favorite warrior. But how far could he go...?
Rockstar asked snidely, "Do you want them back? They'd be glad to go back."
Toadstar nodded without thinking.
He saw the apprentice, Dawnpaw, look excitedly at Stoneheart.
Stoneheart returned a look filled with a warning.
Littleclaw was staring at him, her eyes filled with gratitude.
Everything was going to be okay.


Dawnpaw leaped to her paws and ran to Littleclaw. "I missed you so much!"
Littleclaw nodded. Her heart was pounding. Will attachment to them change Toadstar's decision?
Stoneheart came more slowly, obviously thinking the same thing.
Toadstar glared at them and turned away.
"It's still my turn to speak," Rockstar mewed after a while.
Littleclaw sat down and looked to the cat who had saved her loved one's lives.
"I'm glad that ShadowClan are reunited," Rockstar began, "but ThunderClan still have troubles."
The air hushed.
"A patrol found a dead cat on the ShadowClan border," Rockstar mewed.
Dawnpaw's eyes widened. Boulderfoot, Nightfur, and Stoneheart all uttered gasps.
Littleclaw's heart began to pound. Is Berry killing again?
"ThunderClan do think that Berry is back," Rockstar mewed. "I'm advising you all now to watch yourselves."

Chapter 12

Berry crept through the darkness, leaving the shrubbery around him still and silent from moons of practice.
His heart was pounding. Have I made the right decision? he asked himself.
He saw them, sitting alone.
Somehow, when he was on top of them, they had turned around.
"What are you doing here?" they asked.
Berry didn't reply. His heart was pounding too hard, and he blocked out their voice.
"This is the hardest thing I've ever done in my life," he whispered.
Then he slit her throat.
Berry screeched in pain. His eyes opened. "No, no, no," he gasped. "No!"
He looked around for a moment, frantically finding a way to escape, escape...
Comfort was not an option now.
Boulder was not there to help him anymore.

Chapter 13

"Another cat," a voice whispered. "Why here?"
Another cat crept from the shadows. "Because he wanted them to be."
They listened to the new cat wail for a heartbeat, then the first cat mewed:
"Should we help them?"
The second cat shook their head. "The question is, should we turn them."
The first cat glanced at their paws. "I think we should leave it up to them."
The second cat nodded. "Of course. But why don't we welcome this cat?" There was a smirk as they continued, "It's only for the best that they're here in the end."
The first cat led the way as the two cats padded quietly to the new one. Their pawsteps made no sound on the ground.
The cat jumped as the two other cats reached them. "Hey! Go away!"
"There is no away here," the first cat mewed. "By the way, my name is Bluepaw."
"Bluepaw," the cat whispered. "What about you?" they asked the other cat.
"Dawnpaw." She spoke with confidence, as Bluepaw had done.
"Why are you here?" Bluepaw asked.
"I was murdered," the cat whispered. "Turned against by the one I thought would never hurt me."
Dawnpaw lowered her head. "I'm so sorry."
"We were murdered, too," Bluepaw ventured, gesturing with his tail to Dawnpaw.
The cat stifled a noise in their throat. "Why?"
"I was murdered by a cat who was trying to save themselves," Bluepaw mewed bluntly. "It turns out they made a huge mistake."
Dawnpaw gulped before she mewed, "I was murdered by the same cat you were," she told the cat.
The cat stiffened. "Berry has killed more cats. I just never thought..."
"That you would meet them?" Dawnpaw finished. "This is StarClan. You meet a lot of dead cats here."
The cat glared at her. "I've noticed that, mouse-brain."
Bluepaw stepped forward nervously. "What's your name?" he asked the cat.
"Boulder," she replied. "My name is Boulder."
Bluepaw nodded. "I welcome you to StarClan, Boulder."
Dawnpaw glared at him. "Usually, rogues don't come here."
"I guess she believed in StarClan," Bluepaw mewed. "Come on, Dawnpaw, give it a break. We're here for a reason, and so is Boulder."
Dawnpaw glared at Boulder for a moment, then mewed, "Fine. We have work to do."
She led Bluepaw away, and the clearing was silent.
Except for a wail.

Chapter 14

Littleclaw stared in shock at Rockstar. He can't murder anymore!
No cat spoke. All four Clans were silent, as silent as the stone that surrounded them.
Finally, Toadstar mewed, "That's impossible. Berry was chased away."
Airstar stared at Toadstar, Fishstar, and Rockstar. "Are you all saying that Berry has killed cats before?"
"Airstar never knew," Stoneheart mumbled. "No way."
A noise came out of Toadstar's mouth before he spoke. "Yes," he croaked. "Berry has killed before."
Airstar looked at her paws. "You're all lying," she snarled eventually. "How could a killer father my three kits?"
"I don't know," Toadstar whispered.
Airstar stared at the leaders. "I need to find my kits," she mewed. "Please grant me that wish."
Toadstar stared at the other two leaders. "Let her."
Fishstar nodded slowly. Rockstar did, too.
"If you smell Airstar on your territory, let her go," Toadstar announced. "Any other WindClan cat will be dealt with normally."
Airstar nodded. "I'll be leaving now," she whispered.
WindClan followed her, and eventually they were out of sight.
"This Gathering has ended," Fishstar announced. "Let there be peace until Berry is killed."
Rockstar and Toadstar nodded and leaped off the rock.
Littleclaw just stared. She had to kill Berry.

Chapter 15

A tap.
A roll.
A rustle.
A screech.
Stoneheart leaped off of Dawnpaw. "What are you wailing about?" he asked.
Dawnpaw sat up. She was panting. "Why did you have to drag me down like that?"
Stoneheart purred.
Dawnpaw heard another noise.
Stoneheart looked at her.
A rustle.
Dawnpaw stepped forward.
A rustle. Louder, longer...
"Mudpelt!" Dawnpaw screeched. She threw herself at him, claws outstretched.
Mudpelt was ready. He dodged her and ran towards Stoneheart.
Dawnpaw forced herself off the ground and she turned. Mudpelt was locked in a battle with his brother.
"You've grown since we play-fought as kits," Stoneheart panted.
"You haven't," Mudpelt snarled. He pushed out with his back legs and Stoneheart skidded across the clearing.
Dawnpaw launched herself into battle. "You don't hurt him!" she spat.
"Oh, yeah?" Mudpelt asked sarcastically, clawing Dawnpaw across the face. "I can hurt you, then."
Dawnpaw responded by biting Mudpelt's tail and dragging her claws down his back.
Mudpelt cried in pain and spun around. There was a scar on his face and blood on his back.
A hiss.
A jump.
Dust...
Dawnpaw was laying, panting, on the dusty ground. Mudpelt had disappeared.
Stoneheart was breathing weird.
"Stoneheart?" Dawnpaw asked quietly. "Stoneheart, are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Stoneheart mewed. His voice sounded normal.
"Where did Mudpelt go?" Dawnpaw asked.
"I don't know..." Stoneheart whispered.
Dawnpaw turned to chase after nothing when Stoneheart called her back.
"What?" Dawnpaw asked.
"A true warrior is defined by the ability to act normal in unusual situations," Stoneheart mewed.
Dawnpaw stared. Then she turned and raced away.
She pounded through the forest. Mudpelt, where is Mudpelt?
There! She sped up and-
"Watch out!" a voice screeched.
Dawnpaw ducked just as a cat flew over her and landed on Mudpelt.
A fight.
A cat was dead.
Mudpelt was dead.
Littleclaw was standing over him.

Chapter 16

Littleclaw drew a gasping breath and it overtook her.
She collapsed to the ground next to the cat she had just killed and moaned.
She was aware of the cat behind her, and she turned on her. "Why didn't you stop me?" she yowled. "You know I didn't want to kill Mudpelt!"
"You did," Dawnpaw mewed levelly. "I could see it in your eyes."
Littleclaw squeezed them tight, blocking out any light. "Now you can't!"
"You're being stupid, Littleclaw," Dawnpaw hissed. "Get over it, it's the past now. It's reality. Live with it or die."
Littleclaw shook her head. "I want it to end... end..."
"Then let it end!" Dawnpaw spat. With that, she was gone.
Littleclaw was the only one left.
She collapsed to the ground and moaned.


"Mudpelt's dead," Dawnpaw mewed when she saw Stoneheart. "Littleclaw's by him, mourning."
Stoneheart's eyes widened. "Are you- no way. Mudpelt can't be dead, he was always the type to put up a fight!"
Dawnpaw shrugged. "Littleclaw was too powerful, I guess."

Chapter 17

Stoneheart's heart began to pound. "What do you mean?"
"What do I mean?" Dawnpaw snorted, trying to lighten the mood. "I mean that Littleclaw killed Mudpelt."
"You didn't do anything to stop it?" Stoneheart felt a surge of undeniable anger, and he fought to control himself.
Dawnpaw shook her head. "I didn't expect it. But it's over now, Stoneheart," she added. "It's happened, and now you have to face the consequences, just like the rest of us. If you're going to be mad at a cat, be mad at the killer."
And, with that, Dawnpaw walked away, leaving Stoneheart standing alone.


Littleclaw took one last look at Mudpelt's body before walking away, leaving it by the ThunderClan border.
She could feel her claws sinking into the marshy ground, but she didn't care. She didn't want to feel anything unless it would make her regret what she had just done.
She didn't feel regret, and that was what Littleclaw was angry about.
What cat willingly murders their son? she asked herself.
StarClan can answer, another voice whispered. It echoed inside Littleclaw's head and faded away.
Littleclaw nodded. "Thank you," she whispered, "whoever you are."


Mudpelt cried out in pain and clawed the ground in front of him.
Why was he dead? Why did Littleclaw kill him?
He had never caused any harm.
He took a chance to look around at his surroundings.
Stars in the distance.
Darkness, trees that all looked the same.
He was in the Dark Forest.

Chapter 18

Marshtail walked.
When will I end? he asked himself. I want to end.
The wish overpowered him. I want myself to be over.
Without his sister, Marshtail was lost. He had killed his father. His mother was lost from his birth.
Was I really meant to be here? Marshtail asked himself.


Dawnpaw slammed her paw down. "Why should I?" she roared.
Stoneheart glanced at his apprentice out of the corner of his eye. "It's only a quarter-moon until you become a warrior, Dawnpaw. Do it, please."
"I am not doing it!" Dawnpaw spat. Anger brewed inside of her. Why in the name of StarClan was Stoneheart making her?
"Go," Stoneheart growled.
Dawnpaw sighed and left the ShadowClan camp.
She smelled him instantly.
Something was wrong.
She raced, her paws kicking up dirt and dust.
And there...
"StarClan's kits..." Dawnpaw whispered.
It was Marshtail.
He was dead.

Chapter 19

Another wail.
Bluepaw sighed. Next to him, Dawnpaw sighed, too.
"Who's here now?" a cat groaned.
"Nobody important, Grayfoot," Bluepaw replied.
"Why are they making that horrible noise, then?" another cat asked.
Grayfoot turned to look at her mother. "No cat has any clue."
A ginger she-cat spoke up. "Then why don't we find out?"
Bluepaw nodded. "Come on, Dawnpaw," he mewed. He beckoned with his tail and stood, rustling the bushes he had been hiding in.
"Good luck," Gingerpaw whispered.
Bluepaw nodded at her, and, with his heart pounding, walked to the source of the wailing.
What he saw made him stop short.
"Marshtail?" he gasped. He hissed and bared his teeth. "What have you done that makes you deserve to be in StarClan?"
"Bluepaw, quiet," Dawnpaw commanded.
Marshtail stared at his paws. "I deserve the Dark Forest," he whispered. His voice cracked as he continued, "I murdered you and Smokestar."
Dawnpaw's eyes darkened. "We know that, Marshtail."
"So banish me," Marshtail whispered.
"I won't," Dawnpaw snarled. "You can go if you wish, but you are free to come here at any time."
Marshtail nodded and stood up. "I'm sorry, Bluepaw," he whispered. "You had a great life ahead of you."
He padded away, and vanished in the mist.

Chapter 20

"You are now a warrior of ShadowClan," Toadstar mewed.
The cats cheered. Toadstar silenced them with a glare.
Dawnpaw's eyes glowed with pride as the small ceremony continued.
Toadstar mewed, "Your name is now Dawnstep."
Dawnstep felt a surge of pride, despite the secrecy of the ceremony. They had to hold it away from any threats, away from Berry.
They were at the Stone Circle, where the Clans Gathered. Toadstar was sitting on the Moonrock, where StarClan resided. This place was sacred to all four Clans, and it was the perfect place for Dawnstep's ceremony- it was where her mother was once every moon. And ShadowClan could come here, too.
Stoneheart came forward to touch his former apprentice's nose. He was purring, and pride glowed in his eyes like the light of the moon.
"Thank you," Dawnstep whispered.
"Toadstar's warrior name was Toadstep," Stoneheart murmured.
Nightpelt nodded. His eyes didn't display any emotion.
Littleclaw and Boulderfoot sat next to each other, tails entwined.
Toadstep's shoulders were tense. "This is a bad idea," Dawnstep heard him growl.
Stoneheart nodded. "Remind me, Toadstar," he mewed loudly, "why exactly we're holding a ceremony here, where any Clan can come and intrude." He stood up, his tail flicking back and forth, his short pelt unruffled in a short gust of wind.
Dawnstep shrugged. "It's okay, Stoneheart," she murmured. "I don't mind."
"I do," he retorted quietly. "I don't want to put our newest warrior in danger."
"You know very well that I'm here because I needed Littleclaw's help," Dawnstep growled.
Stoneheart sighed. "ShadowClan needs you."
"I need ShadowClan, but it doesn't mean I'm ShadowClan's warrior. I'm a warrior, fighting for what I believe in," Dawnstep pointed out mildly.
"Stop arguing with me," Stoneheart growled.
"I don't have to follow your directions anymore," Dawnstep snapped. She stood and looked around the Stone Circle. She let herself stand tall and she mewed, "I'm a warrior."
Nightpelt looked on with pride in his eyes.
Dawnstep felt horrible.

Chapter 21

Littleclaw looked over the cliff, tension growing inside her.
There was WindClan territory, where Airstar was probably organizing her search.
And here she was, on the cliff.
She remembered pushing Berry over. She wished with a pang that he would have stayed, because then nothing like this would have happened.
"Get off our territory," Littleclaw heard behind her.
Rockstar himself.
She turned and replied, "I'm coming up with a battle plan. To beat Berry."
Rockstar sighed. "Do it on ShadowClan territory. Send a patrol if you want our help."
Littleclaw nodded and left.


StarClan was quiet, too quiet. All the cats weren't where they usually were. Things were unsettled now, with Boulder and Berry lurking.
Boulder was devastated. Annoyingly devastated and she had to be calmed throughout the day so she would stay quiet. Or quieter.
Every cat knew there was a problem, every cat wished for a death.
Berry's death.
When Bluepaw had an idea every cat- including Boulder- heartily agreed.
Littleclaw agreed, too.


Littleclaw led Nightfur and Stoneheart through the territory. The moon shone overhead and Littleclaw knew the Gathering was going on.
Perfect.
She flicked her tail and the other two understood. They spread out.
"Go," she whispered to Stoneheart. The gray warrior flew off towards ThunderClan territory.
She flicked her tail towards her other son and nodded her head towards the three sleeping cats.
Three? There were supposed to be four. Berry was supposed to be curled up with a she-cat.
Nightfur took the cue anyway and pounced. Over the bushes he flew, a shadow in the night, and he landed on one of the smaller figures.
"You're under attack!" Littleclaw yowled, pushing her way through the bushes.
Something was wrong.
Berry's eyes were sad, he no longer looked like the evil red tom he had been.
Berry, for once, was... sad.

Chapter 22

"Stop!" Littleclaw demanded.
Stoneheart and Nightfur stopped short, halfway out of the bushes.
"Kill me," Berry moaned pathetically. "Please, Littleclaw."
"No," Littleclaw snapped. "Not when you're like this." Her heart was pounding. Tonight, she aimed to kill Berry. But not in cold blood.
Two apprentice-aged cats stirred in the shadows.
She had to do it now, before she was attacked.
"You've killed far too many," Littleclaw hissed. She lunged forward. "Goodbye, Berry."
She drove her claws into his flesh.


Toadstar finished his announcements, looking around at the gathered cats. "Anything else?" he asked.
"Yes," a voice called from the back.
Pushing his way into the Stone Circle, Stoneheart held his head high.
Dawnstep gasped.
"We found Berry," Stoneheart mewed.
Toadstar saw Littleclaw's back feet before he saw her front feet. She was hauling something.
Toadstar knew what it was before he saw it: Berry's body.
"Berry is dead," Stoneheart announced.


Berry stretched his eyes open. The forest around him was dark.
"Boulder!" he screeched.
She did not come.

Epilogue

Airstar looked upon Berryclaw's body.
"Rest in peace," she murmured, digging her nose into his cold fur. "Rest in peace."


Bluepaw and Dawnpaw looked down upon the Clans, their tails twitching.
"That's that," Bluepaw mewed. Dawnpaw nodded.


Boulder had found him. The right cat for her.
He was a figment of her imagination, but that was okay. Any cat was better than Berry.


Toadstar looked down upon his Clan. "We have been scarred," he told them. "All of us have. This is Berry's doing."
Into the silence, he added, "We will recover. This is the will of ShadowClan. This is the will of all the cats that were killed."


Marshtail screeched. Ever since he had entered the Dark Forest, his back hurt.
It was his punishment. For eternity.


Littleclaw murmured the names to herself: "Dawnpaw, Yewfoot, Grayfoot, Gingerpaw, Bluepaw, Smokestar, Hailfoot, Mudpelt, Marshtail..."
And then, with satisfaction, she added: "Berry."

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