For Intense Blood, Gore and Violence.
Two will bring light into a Fallen World.
For generations, cats considered "Bad-Blooded" were thrown into a prison den at ages as young as three moons and forced to serve ShadeClan, the result of StarClan's treachery. Wild, a young Calico She-cat, has had enough. And she'll do anything in her power to stop Syl, the black-and-brown leader of ShadeClan, Phoenix, the large ginger leader of ShadeClan, Edge, the white leader of ShadeClan and the Leader, a mysterious tom who no cat has ever seen in the flesh before. But how will Wild accomplish this when she is a prisoner herself? She has never been in a battle before, and her ancestors have betrayed her...
Prologue - A Clan of Horrors
I was running.
Running, as fast as my paws would take me. Running, as fast as I could. Away from ShadeClan. Away from Syl. Away from all of the torture pits and corpse piles. To somewhere else... somewhere where there was peace. And no evil.
But then I woke up. I let out a sigh, and rolled onto my backside. Who am I? Wild- prisoner of ShadeClan.
And what is ShadeClan? Death.
I glanced over at Breeze, a huge white tom that was also a Prisoner. My gaze shifted from Breeze, to Leaf, a brown tabby tom, to Melody, a sleek gray she-cat... then to all the others who were sleeping close together to conserve warmth. It was pretty cold, I'd have to admit, but the Guards disliked it when the cats slept in a group. It made them think they were plotting against them, even if they were indestructable.
"Wild?" Breeze whispered.
I looked over at my friend, and purred. Breeze, Leaf and I were a group. A team, if you will. "Yes?" I replied, stretching.
Breeze let out a soft sigh. "Who do you think Syl will take next?"
I shrugged, and looked around the den. I focused on Mouse, who was one of the smartest and quickest cats in the den. I pointed a paw at her.
"Syl normally takes the smart, pretty or strong cats." I pointed out, before settling in a comfortable position.
"Shut up." one of the guards by the entrance, Felix snarled.
I chuckled, and closed my eyes. I couldn't get any sleep, though. Not while Felix and Nightmare were watching. They were two of the many cats in ShadeClan I was intimidated of. I opened my eyes, after a while, giving up on sleep. I stretched again, flinching as I realized I had been awake all night. The sun was shining into the den, which was very rare unless the guards were in a good mood. I purred, noticing that Arie and Streak were guarding the den. Although Arie hated us prisoners, Streak was my dad. And he was one of the few cats that Syl accepted as a Warrior. His head was tilted slightly, allowing the sunlight to enter the den. Suddenly, a warm, juicy scent filled the air. It was feeding time.
Venom, Syl's most trusted Warrior, threw a bunch of skinny mice into the den. Hardly enough to feed even half of us. But luckily, the other prisoners were willing to share their prey. I padded over to Breeze and Leaf, who both had a mouse between their paws.
"Would you two split with me?" I meowed, sighing with relief as they nodded. I ate half of Breeze's mouse, unable to finish the rest. I watched in silence as my friends inhaled their mice, before padding over to an empty corner of the den. It was where we "Hung Out".
Of course, we never could carry out a conversation. All of us lost the will to, as a howl of agony pierced the air. The daily Dawn-Killed.
One of ShadeClan's most horrible, gruesome practices was to kill a cat every night and every day. We were a massive Clan, and no one would miss the extra mouth to feed. Besides the prisoners.
Six cats were killed every day. Two from each section of ShadeClan. The ones killed in the morning were known as 'Dawn-Killed', and the ones at night? 'Dusk-Killed'. I shuddered just thinking about it. So many of my friends- Opal, Smoke, Rose, and many more, had been killed in this manner.
As Breeze, Leaf and I sat in silence, I remembered what my mother had told me one time, when I was too young to be classified as a prisoner. She told me about the time when there were Four Clans... but then they became corrupt and full of evil, forming ShadeClan. I cursed the corrupt cats under my breath. If they hadn't been so foolish, I would still be a Warrior of whatever these Clans were named... not a prisoner.
"You alright, Wild?" Breeze asked curiously, "You're getting rather wet around the face."
I purred. At least I had friends that cared about me. That was one thing that kept me going. I suddenly wondered how long they would last. Whenever Syl noticed certain cats getting close, she'd either order them to mate or kill one. Syl was the bloodthirsty tyrant that ruled this part of ShadeClan. There were four leaders of ShadeClan; Syl, Edge and Phoenix... then there was the Leader. No one, not even the other three leaders, knew the great Leader's name. But they most certainly knew what he looked like.
I snapped out of my dream world, noticing all the cats forming a line. I sighed, and stepped behind Melody. She purred briefly, before Venom began prodding the line along. I had completely forgotten that today was Syl's turn to chose a prisoner for the Leader- no one knew what happened to this cat, but we all knew it was something horrifying. The cats all stopped in a line, and I was between Melody and Stripe. Venom padded past us, scanning the line for the perfect cat to give to the Leader. I gasped as Venom stopped by Ember, and the two padded off. The rest of us were forced back into the den.
"Couldn't Venom choose the cat from in here?" Breeze snarled, pawing at the den floor, "I hate being a prisoner."
I nodded, before laying down between Leaf and Bird. I managed to get about an hour of sleep- which was a real accomplishment. Hardly anyone got any sleep. But then I realized why I had woken up. Between the two guards was a shadow. And I knew from the chain that trailed behind her that this was no ordinary cat.
This was Syl.
She wordlessly made her way past the cats, and past me. I couldn't see anything but her silhouette, and watched as she sat down in front of Breeze. I held in my breath; not wanting to make a sound. She lifted her paw, sunlight washing into the den as she slowly lifted it up, and brought it down.
There was a yowl of alarm. Then a rip.
Chapter One - Forbidden
All I could see was blood. Syl had torn the body into tiny pieces, leaving nothing but a demented corpse and blood. Blood, blood, blood.
"Wild...?" Leaf whispered, afraid Syl would come back. His eyes were wide with terror...
I sighed. "I'm fine, Leaf."
Leaf was scared. Truly, impossibly scared. I couldn't believe it, either. Syl had just killed and torn one of ShadeClan's best fighters apart... even if he was a prisoner. I noticed that Felix and Nightmare were eyeing me suspiciously, and I slunk back into the corner of the prison cave. I dared not anger ShadeClan's Warriors any further.
There was silence. Silence beyond anything you could have ever possibly heard. I couldn't even hear Leaf's short, sharp breaths, or the snarls and growls of Nightmare and Felix. There was not a sound from outside the den as night fell upon the horrible, bloody place that was known as ShadeClan. I shuddered, not used to such silence. There was normally cries of torture and pain from Syl's den, but not tonight. Syl had taken her daily victim today, right in front of our eyes.
Soon the sun rose, and the sounds of daily ShadeClan life filled the camp. The "Good-Blooded" cats were sharing tongues, eating fresh-kill to their heart's content... and then I heard it. The Dawn-Killed. He... or she... yowled and screeched in pain. Then there came the snap as Syl broke a part of the victim's body. It was a gruesome practice, and that was one of the main reasons I hated Syl's guts.
Well, when you compare her practices to those of the other two ShadeClan leaders, Edge and Phoenix, they aren't that bad. In fact, Syl looked like a vacation compared to what those two brutes do.
"Hey, stop daydreaming." snapped Nightmare, her eyes glimmering in the beam of sunlight that washed into the den as Felix stepped back, "Venom is here."
I shuddered; it was Syl's prisoners that had to hunt today. Leaf stepped beside Nightmare, bravely. I couldn't believe he wanted to lead the Hunt today... after all, the best hunters, often the leaders, were chosen as a Dawn-Killed. I stepped behind Leaf, and sighed as the other prisoners lined up behind me. I watched as all the familiar faces came into line. Ice. Speckle. Shard. Echo. Bird. Melody.
"COME ON! LET'S GO!" a voice boomed, interupting my review of faces. Without even looking over to see who it was, I knew it was Venom. He had the most horrifying, scratchy voice, it wasn't funny.
Leaf marched forward, and I followed. Venom, a black cat with icy blue eyes, glared at us, his giant claws unsheathed. We passed so many ShadeClan warriors... Yale, Storm, Glass... I lost count as they brought us to the hunting tunnels.
We made our way through the tunnels, the sound of our pawsteps against the cold rock the only sound we made. Venom stopped us at the ancient gate that kept the prey inside the clearing, and placed his paw on the gates. He said a few words, his voice echoing throughout the tunnel as he spoke. Then, it happened. The gate slowly creaked open, stopping half-way. Venom snarled.
"Three pieces of prey, each. Don't try anything funny, or you'll all be Dusk-Killed." Venom snapped, his voice like a cat clawing against a rock.
Still in silence, Leaf and I, and all the other prisoners, entered the clearing. It was surrounded by unclimbable rock, like the den they kept us in. It even had a ceiling, with a few holes for light. All around me I could hear the prey scurrying around; the sound only stopped when the gate shut.
"Wild? Leaf?" Melody meowed, slowly and cautiously making her way forward.
Leaf turned around... I could see his outline in the shadows. "Yeah? We're over here."
Melody yelped. "Ow! Something bit me!"
"But can I hunt with you guys?"
My eyes eventually got used to the dim light of Syl's hunting tunnels. Leaf, Melody and I caught our three pieces of prey, swiftly and quietly. But to my horror, Leaf decided to catch another one... for himself.
"Leaf!" I snapped, angrily, "You know that they'll find out!"
"And? The worst they can do is kill me." Leaf replied, consuming the last of the mouse.
I rolled my eyes. I wanted to point out they could rip him apart, or slowly torture him to insanity. But I kept my mouth shut, and picked up my prey. We padded in silence, around and around the tunnels, until we heard the familiar yowl from Venom that meant we had to leave.
We ran back to the now-opened gate, and formed a line. Venom was counting us off, making sure every one was there and didn't decide to hide in the tunnels. I held my breath, hoping no one tried it. Because if one prisoner acted up... we all got punished for it.
"Good. You're all here." Venom snapped, before poking Leaf with his sharp claws, "You know the drill, get moving."
If silence was deadly, we'd all be dead. As the line of prisoners made their way through Edge's part of the camp, to Syl's, we made no noise. As usual, it was a dead quiet night. The full moon was reflecting off the stream that separated Edge, Phoenix and Syl's camp... and the towering den that was the Leader's. I shuddered, remembering the small view of the Leader I had seen as a kit; he was a massive black cat. His eyes were so red, you'd think they were made of blood. And worst of all... his claws. Dyed red from blood. I felt a faint breeze as I dropped my prey in the fresh-kill pile, longing for a bite of that warm, juicy mouse I had caught. But we continued on, making our way towards the den. Nightmare and Felix were no longer there, instead replaced by Death and Claw, two of Syl's favorite Warriors. They parted, giving us room to enter. We sat down in our usual spots, watching as the last cat, Snow, entered and the two guards blocked the way out.
The silence was broken by a yowl of pain, that rung through the air. I shuddered, now noticing that Ice had not returned with us. Ice had been tonight's Dusk-Killed. I snarled in disgust, snapping my mouth shut as Death turned and glared at me. It was another sleepless night, full of memories of all the dead cats I had once been friends with, including my parents. I had been only a moon old when Syl had taken Fern away, re-naming me 'Wild'. I couldn't remember my original name, but I was pretty sure it was 'Sky'. I let out a sigh, watching silently for many hours as the moon faded away, and the sun rose in the sky.
I looked up, noticing that the Cave Guards had changed again. As usual, Nightmare and Felix were sitting, chatting by the entrance to the den. But then I noticed something else... a large black-and-brown she-cat was approaching the den, and there was a large chain covered with feathers trailing from her paw.
It was Syl. And whenever she came to the den, there was death. Normally, Syl would send Venom to fetch either the Dawn-Killed or the Dusk-Killed, but occasionally, when someone broke the Clan laws or she felt unusually bloodthirsty, she'd come herself. Nightmare and Felix immediately made an opening for Syl to enter through the den, and she did. Her eyes, her blood-thirsty red eyes scanned the den, and I could have sworn my heart stopped as she glared at Leaf.
"You. Leaf. Wild. Come with me. Now." she ordered, her voice piercing into my soul. I would never forget that moment, the first time I had ever heard Syl speak...
Wordlessly, I followed Syl and Leaf through the camp, into the large den that was surrounded with guards and covered with blood. Syl's guards slid apart, making an entrance into her den. She sat down, on a bed of red moss, which I assumed was covered with blood, and pointed one of her razor sharp claws at two cats, a white tom and a brown tom.
"Sit." she demanded. Leaf sat in front of the white tom, and I sat in front of the brown. The moment I sat, the brown tom wrapped his tail around me, so tightly I couldn't even look over to see if they had done the same to Leaf.
Syl glared at Leaf. "I hear from Venom that yesterday, you ate fresh-kill without permission."
"I... I..." Leaf studdered, fear in his voice.
"You know what the price for breaking a law is," Syl smiled, one of the most frightening things I have ever seen, "And that is death. Wild will watch you die, slowly and painfully."
I assumed the white tom let go of Leaf, as he covered my mouth with his tail. I watched in horror as Syl ever so slowly raked her claws down Leaf's backside. He was paralized with fear, unable to move at all. He opened his mouth to yowl, but nothing came out. After Syl finished, she did the same to Leaf's face. It was horrible. Worse than horrible, watching Leaf slowly become nothing but a mangled corpse. Leaf was dead.
"Now you know what the penalty is for breaking my laws." Syl snapped, flicking her tail, "Go now, tell the others what you have seen."
The two cats let go of me. I darted out of the den, and attempted to escape. It was a horrible attempt, as Felix easily caught me as I ran by. I was tossed back into the den, hissing as I got to my paws. Stupid Felix had cut my shoulder.
"Where's Leaf?" Melody whispered, her eyes as wide as the moon.
I wanted to tell her what I saw, but I could think of no words to describe it. Only one. "D... dead."
The cats gasped, and some began to weep. I wept as well, too shaken to do anything else. I wanted to rip Syl's eyes out. I wanted to do what she did to poor Leaf. But I couldn't. I would easily be ripped to shreads by her guards if I attempted to.
"Prisoners!" snarled Nightmare, ruining the silence, "We have five new prisoners!"
"Great," I muttered under my breath, "Five more lives to ruin."
Five cats trailed into the den, three smaller than the other two. One of the larger cats were a Calico she-cat, the other a brown tom. The smaller three looked identical; two of them grey she-cats, the other a grey tom.
"Introduction." Ordered Felix, poking the Calico she-cat with his long, curved claw.
"I... I'm Mirror. The brown cat is... is... Ink. The two grey she-cats are Relic and Wish. The other is Skull."
I felt so bad for Mirror and her family. They were probably loners, caught by a ShadeClan patrol. If only I could have been there... I could have let them keep their freedom...
"Come sit by me, Mirror." I blurted out, wanting to eat my words as Felix gave me a cold glare.
The she-cat half smiled, and her family came to sit beside me. I licked Skull, flattening a bunch of fur that had been stuck up. The tiny cat meowed, and I guessed that he was only a few moons old. That was just cruel. Mirror glanced over at the entrance to the den, and sighed.
"May I know your name?" Ink meowed, tipping his head in greeting.
I beamed. "I'm Wild... and I've been in ShadeClan for fifteen moons."
Mirror gasped. "Fifteen moons! When do you get released?"
"When they kill you."
I explained how ShadeClan worked, not looking at the faces of the cats. It hurt me just to explain. Once I was finished, Mirror and her family made their way over to the spots in the den that once belonged to Breeze, Leaf, Ice and Ember. Little Skull laid by Mirror, shivering as a cold breeze passed through the den. The poor little kit...
And that was when I decided that I was going to free the Prisoners of ShadeClan... even If I got killed in the process.
Chapter Two - Escape
The sun rose, as usual. The guards glared at us, as usual. All in all, I could tell today was going to be like every other day.
But today, I was going to escape.
There was a grim howl as the Dawn-Killed died, and I shuddered, remembering Leaf's death yesterday. I looked up at the ceiling of the den, wondering who would die today. I looked in front of me, watching Skull and his sisters play. They were the only happy cats in the den, and that was only because they were too young to realize what was going on. Venom tossed the usual prey into the den, and I snatched two mice. Throwing one at the three kits, I watched them devour it as I ate mine. Sadly, I felt no urge to finish my mouse as I remembered Breeze and Leaf.
"Thank you for feeding the kits." Ink meowed, approaching me. I smiled.
I looked over at the guards, and grinned. Today, when they let out the prisoners so Venom can choose the next unlucky cat to go to the Leader's den, I'll escape. I looked over at Mirror, who was eyeing me suspiciously.
"Come here." she meowed, and I obeyed.
Mirror looked over worriedly at Felix and Nightmare, and sighed. She looked into my eyes, and I could tell this was something serious.
"You're planning to leave." she whispered, "I can tell just by looking at you."
I nodded, not taking my eyes off the guards. If they knew I was planning to escape, that would mean a horrible, painful death. Just like Leaf had...
Mirror purred. "I want to help you."
I was astonished. It was a high chance I was going to die during the escape, but now Mirror wanted to help? I shook my head.
"It's too dangerous. You could get killed."
"Look," Mirror whispered, "You were nice to us yesterday. And I want to help you. On one condition..."
I smirked. "What's your condition?"
Mirror's face turned grave. "If I die, you take care of Ink and the kits."
I was going to reply, but I was cut off by Venom's howl. The next cat was to be chosen.
The cats lined up, Bone taking Leaf's place at the front of the line. I squeezed between Bone and Ink, and sighed. Venom and his guards filled the den, and they began prodding the line along, until we arrived at the center of the camp. I was so nervous...
"I think today, i'll choose..." Venom grinned at me, and I gasped.
I didn't hesitate any longer. I turned around, and clawed the face of Venom's guard, before dashing off. Before long, Mirror was at my side as well. And then came the alarmed yowls from the ShadeClan Warriors. I turned around, just for a brief moment, gasping as I noticed Venom was hot on our trail. Every moment he was getting closer and closer...
And he did it. Venom grabbed hold of Mirror with his claws, and her face was suddenly frozen with pain. I stopped, and gasped.
"Come here or she dies." Venom spat.
"No! Keep going, Wild!" Mirror yowled, before being clawed by Venom.
And I wasn't going to let Mirror die in vain. I turned, and ran. Away from Syl, Venom, Felix and Nightmare... away from the Leader... away from all the horrible things that had been a part of my life since I was born fifteen moons ago. I darted along, following the stream that lead out of the camp. Soon, the yowls and howls of ShadeClan were far, far behind me.
I began to slow down, tired from the lack of food and water. I glanced over at the cave that towered over the rest of the camp, and then turned my head to drink from the stream. I was so far away from ShadeClan now! I was free!
But how would I free the others? How many would die before I could? The grim thoughts began clouding the other thoughts, and I let out a sigh. The stars were high in the sky now, and I had just realized that I had been running for nearly half-a-day. The tired feeling suddenly crashed down on me, and I was overcome by sleep. Something I hadn't had for nearly three days. I closed my eyes, and for once, I felt calm. And peaceful.
But that was when I was unaware of what was to come.
"Wild?" a faint voice whispered in my head. My eyes flickered open, and I jumped.
I was not at the stream anymore. I wasn't at ShadeClan, either. I half-expected for this to be one of those really realistic Nightmares I almost always had, where I was running through a really dark forest, but no. There were four trees that were so huge, I couldn't believe it. I was sitting on a rock, with a she-cat in front of me. She had blue-grey fur, and her muzzle was tinted silver.
"Who are you?" I growled, alarmed.
The she-cat smiled, but then her smile faded. "I am Bluestar, the last loyal StarClanner."
"StarClan?" I replied, "That's just tales for kits!"
The she-cat growled, and said nothing. The familiar silence filled the air as I examined my surroundings. Beyond the trees was the place of my nightmares- The forest where I just kept running. And running. And running...
"StarClan betrayed you all so long ago..." Bluestar meowed, her voice weighed with sorrow, "Leaving you in the hands of the cats that call themselves 'ShadeClan'."
"Why do you have such an odd name?" I blurted out, before shutting my mouth. Bluestar purred with amusement.
"The ancient Clans had two-part names. But sadly, that tradition wore out as ShadeClan took over."
I was beginning to get annoyed. This she-cat, who called herself 'Bluestar', was really starting to get on my nerves.
"Can you skip to the point of this dream?" I snapped.
"The point is," Bluestar growled, "I will help you regain the loyalty of StarClan. But at a price."
Bluestar paused for a moment, and I sensed fear in her scent.
"You must do all you can to help the prisoners of ShadeClan."
Before I could reply, Bluestar began to fade. I ran towards her, but she just kept getting smaller as I began to wake up.
"Wild?" a faint voice whispered in my head. My eyes flickered open, but I remained calm. Talk about Deja Vu...
Then I jumped, realizing I was in the real world. And there was a cat beside me.
And although he was scarred beyond belief, and his body looked horrible, I recognized the cat in a heartbeat. And I couldn't believe what I saw.
There he was, in the flesh.
Chapter Three - Clans
I was overcome by joy. Somehow, Leaf was alive. And he was with me. And that was all that mattered. I sprung to my paws, and tackled Leaf playfully, before getting off as he hissed with pain.
"Careful, Wild... It hurts." he groaned, before putting his scarred paws in the stream.
I tipped my head in shame. "Sorry... but how did you...?"
"I never was dead." he replied simply, "They thought I was and threw me in the corpse pile. So I escaped."
I glanced over at the camp, guilt suddenly crashing down on me. Mirror was dead because of me, and I knew it was all completely my fault. I let out a sigh, and put my paws in the stream beside Leaf's.
"A starry cat came to me in my dreams last night." I meowed, groaning as I realized that Leaf probably thought I was insane.
But Leaf did nothing but purr. "Same. She said her name was Bluestar."
I nodded. "And she told me she'd try and help. But I had to do all I could to free the prisoners of ShadeClan."
"Same!" Leaf exclaimed, excitement rising in his voice.
"What should we do?" I asked, my eyes full of excitement. If we could free those prisoners...
Leaf flashed a grin. "We're going to have to fight fire with fire," he meowed, "And we're going to have to make a Clan ourselves."
"What? There's no way I'd ever do the horrible things a Clan does! That's a horrible idea, Leaf!" I exclaimed, my eyes wide.
"No, Wild! Not the ShadeClan type Clan... didn't Bluestar tell you about the real Clans?"
I rolled my eyes. "No, you woke me up."
"The Clans..." Leaf began, his eyes full of excitement, of cheerfulness, "Were peaceful Clans. There was ShadowClan, ThunderClan, RiverClan and WindClan, and they were lead by a noble cat known as a leader."
I shuddered, thinking of the Leaders of ShadeClan. Then I looked up at Leaf, urging him to go on with my eyes.
"The leader's name ended with Star. Bluestar? Get it?" Leaf meowed, "And then there was a deputy. If something were to happen to the Leader, the Deputy would take his or her place. And then..."
I honestly thought that Leaf was going to burst. His eyes were full of pride, happiness, excitement, wonder... even if his face was scarred beyond repair. He was shaking from head to toe out of pure excitement, just like a cat would shake out of fear when Syl approached them.
"There's the Medicine Cat. She or he learns how to use herbs, and heals their clanmates! And then, there's the Warriors. They make up the Clan, and hunt, share tongues, and do noble stuff, not just like the cats in ShadeClan. Apprentices are mentored by the Warriors, and there's kits, and... and..."
"Calm down, Leaf! You're going to faint if you get any more excited!" I exclaimed, licking Leaf's forehead. It tasted like blood.
Leaf and I sat, chatting by the stream. The sound of the water was calming him down, and I managed to clean him up a bit. The stream, when we were done, was blood red. Soon, however, the blood washed away, carried upstream towards the ShadeClan camp. It felt like all my worries were being washed away, like Leaf's dried blood in the river. I suddenly felt pain as I looked at Leaf's body. Patches of fur were missing, scars decorated his body... even the faint smell of rotting flesh was clung to his fur. I let out a sigh, and withdrew my wet paws from the stream.
"I like your idea. About the Clan." I meowed, breaking the silence that had separated us for a while. The sound of the stream wooshing was all I could hear for a few moments, before Leaf looked at me and grinned.
"I think you'd make a great Leader." he replied, before he allowed himself to collapse beside the stream.
I shook my head. "We need some cats first."
Leaf nodded, and looked up at the setting sun. I couldn't believe we had sat by the stream, eating the prey that I presumed he had caught earlier and sharing tongues as we cleaned each other up, for nearly an entire day. I suppose, when you've just re-united with a friend, that's what you have to do.
"I found a group of loners on my way towards the stream," Leaf meowed, "They were quite broken up. Their close friends had left, and I think they..."
He paused, and sighed. "Were caught by ShadeClan."
I dared not reply. I simply laid down beside Leaf, resting my head on the only part of his body that wasn't scarred; his neck. I could hear everything; from his slightest movement to a purr. It felt nice, just being the two of us. I only wished that Breeze could have been with us. Breeze would have known what to do. But, Breeze was dead. I had to learn to accept the past, but I couldn't bring myself to it.
I then closed my eyes, and I slept.
I awoke, after having a dreamless night. I had fallen asleep wondering if Bluestar would visit me, but then I realized she was probably gathering the scattered StarClanners. I rose to my paws, careful not to awaken the sleeping Leaf. I smelt the air, grinning as I realized there was prey somewhere close. I unsheathed my claws, and darted across the shallow stream, allowing the cool water to hit my legs. I easily tracked down a large squirrel, and brought it back. I dropped the prey by Leaf, who immediately woke up, a smile pasted on his scarred face.
"Someone was out hunting!" he exclaimed, before digging into the squirrel. We ate in silence, just the two of us. It was nice, not having to share my prey with five other cats, and for once, I was full.
"So," I meowed, "Where is this group of loners you found?"
Leaf grinned. "I'll show ya!"
Although Leaf was hurt, he was still very fast. Leaf and I darted over the stream, and into the nearby forest where I had caught the Squirrel. We made our way over a Twoleg bridge, that looked very unstable, and through a tunnel that reminded me of Syl and Venom's prey Tunnels. Soon, we arrived at a clearing. But it wasn't surrounded by steep walls like the Prey-Tunnels were, it was simply a clearing. In the center of a clearing was a large den, and a small pile of prey.
"Priscilla?" Leaf meowed as we cautiously padded towards the den, "Wisp? Rock?"
A black tom poked his head out of the den, causing me to jump. For a moment, I thought he was Venom. But no, this tom's blue eyes were soft, and not harsh like Venom's were. The cat purred, and padded out of the den.
"Leaf!" he exclaimed, flicking his tail with delight as he sat down, "I see you've found your friend!"
Leaf introduced me to Wisp, the black cat. He explained how Wisp and Priscilla, his mate, had kindly given him prey and water when he crawled into the clearing, half-dead. Then, Wisp showed me the beautiful, and pregnant Priscilla, a tortoiseshell she-cat with warm green eyes. Her father, Rock, also stayed with them in the den, and he was very old. His white muzzle was hinted grey, and he was almost deaf, as I soon found out.
"Thank you very much for letting us stay here," I meowed to Priscilla, "That is very kind of you."
Priscilla purred. "It's no problem at all, Wild. Now, might you tell me why you two are here?"
I glanced over at Leaf nervously, then took a deep breath. "We want you three to join our Clan."
Wisp looked at me curiously.
"What's a Clan?"
Leaf and I explained how the Clans work, and how they were unlike ShadeClan. Suddenly, Priscilla's eyes widened.
"Leaf..." she whispered, "You told me that Mirror and her family were brought to ShadeClan...?"
I gasped... these cats were friends with Mirror.
"Umm..." I meowed, still nervous, "Mirror... she... she's... dead."
There were howls of disbelief and astonishment from the den. Priscilla suddenly trembled with fear, and began to weep.
"We'll come with you to your Clan." Wisp meowed quietly, "It will offer us protection from this horrible ShadeClan."
And there we had it; our Clan's first three members.
Chapter Four - Dreams
I knew I wasn't in the real world without even opening my eyes. None of the familiar scents were there, and I couldn't smell prey from where I was. I knew, for a fact, that Bluestar had come to visit me again. I then opened my eyes, and grinned as I realized I was right. But this time, there were two cats. Bluestar, and another one. This one was a golden tabby tom, with long hair. He looked magnificent, I had to admit.
"Welcome back to StarClan, Wild." Bluestar meowed, "I have managed to get one cat back to StarClan since I last saw you. Wild, meet Lionheart."
I tipped my head in greeting, getting to my paws. Lionheart purred, and licked his starry fur.
"So this is Wild... the only believer in StarClan." Lionheart said, his voice cool and expressionless. His eyes told me he was angry- not at me, not at Bluestar, but angry at something else.
I was sort of confused. "Only believer? What about Leaf?"
"Two believers, that's not very much. But nevertheless, I'm back. Now, Bluestar, say what you're going to say."
"Yes..." Bluestar meowed, looking at me, "Wild, you've recruited a very good fighter. Now I know that you aren't going to admit it, but you cannot fight. You've never been in a battle, but Wisp has. And if you're going to start a Clan, your going to need to be apprenticed."
I scowled. Being less than a Warrior did not appeal to me.
"I will visit the rest of your Clan members, but I will tell you now, Wild... you must strengthen the old traditions of the Clans. Your Clanmates will have Warrior names, and in your case, Apprentice. Wild, from this day forth until you recieve your Warrior name, I give to you the name Wildpaw."
Wildpaw. Wildpaw. It wasn't that bad of a name, but I was still a bit skeptical of these two cats.
"Your mentor will be Wisp, or as he will be called, Wisplight. You will learn to battle from him, and become as strong as him."
I sat down. "Well, Bluestar, what will the others be called?"
"Priscilla shall be known as Dawnice. Rock shall be known as Rockclaw. Leaf... shall remain as Leaf. We are not ready to give his name yet." Bluestar replied, not taking her eyes of me.
"And one last question." I meowed quickly, "Won't we need a leader?"
Lionheart purred with amusement. "Your leader will come to you, we promise. Now go, Wildpaw, and begin your training."
I had so many more questions to ask. What about our Medicine Cat? What if ShadeClan finds us? How will Wisp... light train me?
But it was too late. I was already waking up.
"Wild? Wild?" I heard Leaf whisper in my ear. I guessed that Bluestar and Lionheart hadn't come to Leaf in his dreams, or he'd probably be calling me Wildpaw.
I got up, still a bit drowsy. I smiled as Wisplight looked over at me, and I was washed with relief as he did the same. I gave Leaf a playful lick, and stretched.
"You can call me Wildpaw now." I meowed, watching Leaf's face light up.
"You're an apprentice? Who's your mentor? What did Bluestar say?" Leaf meowed, sitting down.
I grinned. "Wisplight."
Wisplight padded over to me, and flicked his tail. "Come on, Wildpaw. We need to go train. Bluestar told me to."
I nodded, and we were soon dashing out of the den, Leaf by my side. We wordlessly zipped through the clearing, and into a smaller clearing, which was full of soft dirt.
"This is where Rockclaw trained me to fight," Wisplight explained, and I could tell he still wasn't quite comfortable with using Pri--- Dawnice's father's new name yet.
Leaf sat down by the edge of the clearing, and watched as Wisplight sheathed his claws. I did the same. Within moments, I was learning to do a move that Wisplight called the 'Front Paw Strike'. We trained, and we trained. I was starving by the time Wisplight finally announced that we were done for the night. But then I froze, along with Leaf and Wisplight- I could clearly tell we weren't alone.
"Hello?" Wisplight growled, "Who's there?"
I gasped, watching two familiar cats slink out of the shadows. So many smells were colliding at once- The smell of Wisplight, Leaf, the newcomers... and there was something else I just couldn't put my paw on.
"Move, Crow-food, and you won't get hurt." one of the cats, a massive white tom, snarled. I was trembling with fear, noticing the chain of feathers trailing behind him. This wasn't just a normal ShadeClan Warrior...
This was Edge.
"No." snarled Wisplight firmly, unsheathing his claws. I did the same, although I knew that I stood no chance against Edge and his mysterious bodyguard.
I had never seen Edge before, but I knew for a fact it was him. Not only did the chain give him away, but there was a large black marking across his face. And a scar across his empty left eye socket. It was a pretty disgusting sight, but I was sure If I had said that to his face, he would have killed me right then and there.
Edge and his bodyguard took a step closer, their eyes fixed on me. I was still trembling, but I was standing my ground.
Without warning, Wisplight jumped. He latched on to Edge, and clawed with all his might. I had to help, as the bodyguard was beginning to realize what was going on. So I pounced, mimicking what Wisplight had done. Luckily, I did it right and landed on the bodyguard's back, weighing him down. I raked my claws down his backside, remembering everything about striking and claws that Wisplight had taught me in the previous lesson. With all my might, I bit his neck mercilessly, and I was fighting tooth and claw. For a brief moment I lost my will to fight, watching Edge tower over Wisplight, his paw raised high in the air. And that was when the guard bucked me off, sending me crashing against the ground. It was so painful, I let out a wail of pain. Watching as Edge pushed Wisplight away, he turned to face me.
Then it happened; a streak of gold zipped by, and collided with Edge. It was a golden she-cat! Her eyes, her brown and blue eyes were blazing with fury, and her claws were dealing alot of damage. Edge howled, and threw her off. The two didn't hesitate to flee.
"Th... thank you!" I meowed, getting to my paws. I winced, the pain in my back poking at me.
The golden she-cat nodded, and began to groom herself.
"I know you'll... think I'm... crazy," she meowed between licks, "But... this cat... who called herself... Bluestar... told me to... come here... to join a... Clan."
My heart skipped a beat. "A Clan! That's us!"
The she-cat stopped grooming herself. "Really?"
I nodded, and she sighed with relief.
"I was told this Clan will let me rest in their temporary Camp," the cat meowed, "And Bluestar told me it was urgent."
Wisplight, who I had almost forgotten about, groaned. Leaf was helping him get up, wrapping some kind of white gunk around the cuts on his legs. I looked at the golden she-cat, and tipped my head.
"I'm Wildpaw, and these two are Leaf and Wisplight." I introduced myself, and the others.
"And I'm Goldpool," the she-cat who called herself Goldpool said, "But before Bluestar came to me I was simply known as Gold."
Without another word, the four of us, Wisplight leaning against Goldpool and Leaf, made our way back to the den. I really wished one of us had spoken on the journey back, but all that could be heard was Wisplight hissing as he padded along.
"What happened?" Dawnice yowled, dragging herself out of the den. It was quite clear that she was close to giving birth to kits.
"ShadeClan. That's what." I replied, leading Goldpool into the den.
Goldpool settled on a bed of moss beside Rockclaw, and closed her eyes. I sat there, watching her sleep. But I turned around once or twice to watch Leaf tend to Wisplight. It was amazing, how he had stopped the bleeding. But then I turned back, realizing that it had been a long while since Goldpool fell asleep. I was pretty sure nothing would happen, so I closed my eyes, and slept protectively in front of Goldpool.
"Wake up, Wildpaw." a soft voice whispered in my ear.
I got to my paws, and smiled as I saw Goldpool, sitting calmly beside Leaf, and Dawnice. She was so friendly... so strong... so beautiful... I was jealous, and I knew it.
"Bluestar came to me last night," Goldpool meowed, her eyes fixed on me, "She told me everything, from Ceremonies, to traditions, to responsibilites... and she gave me a new name."
I knew what was coming. Goldpool smiled, and purred.
So Goldstar was the leader that Bluestar had told me about. To be honest, I was relieved. I knew that neither Leaf or Rockclaw were leader material, and Dawnice couldn't lead if she was pregnant. But I was pretty sure that it would be Wispcloud. But now that I thought about it, Goldpool had been the best choice. She was kind, gorgeous and an amazing fighter! I tipped my head in respect for the new leader, and glanced cautiously over my shoulder.
"Bluestar, and her three friends," Goldstar meowed, her eyes glimmering with excitement, reminding me of Leaf, "Granted me four more lives. They said once they gathered more StarClanners, they'd give me four more!"
I smiled. "That's great, Goldstar! It's just..."
I trailed off, closing my eyes as I remembered the attack last night. What if they were to send larger groups? Even if Goldstar had five lives, we didn't stand a chance against some of ShadeClan's best warriors. Felix, Nightmare and Venom could kill a cat in a heartbeat. Edge, Phoenix and Syl could do it in less. I suddenly wondered if the Leader himself would come...
"I'm scared." I admitted, letting out a sigh.
"And Leaf... or should I say, Leafheart, was chosen to become the Clan's Medicine Cat. One of the cats there, who called themself Pebbleheart taught him everything." Goldstar explained, smiling at Leafheart.
Leafheart. I just couldn't get used to it. For nearly ten moons I had addressed him by Leaf, and now he was given a new name. I tipped my head in respect towards Leaf... heart, and I padded towards him.
"Now all that's left is to name our Clan." Goldstar announced, "Any ideas?"
The cats began to yell out Clan names.
"FireClan!" yowled Dawnice.
"FlightClan!" Leafheart meowed.
"LightClan!" Wisplight mewed.
I got up, and grinned. "ForestClan."
The cats nodded, and I could tell they liked the name. Which was good, after all, no Clan is a real Clan without a name. I bet you're wondering why I didn't choose something like 'WildClan' or 'PawClan', right? Well, I chose ForestClan because we had a camp in the forest. Simple as that.
"Very well then," Goldstar meowed, "ForestClan it is."
Chapter Five - Back to ShadeClan
I knew StarClan was coming to me tonight. I was anticipating it, as I wanted to meet the other two cats that Goldstar had mentioned as she woke me up. I opened my eyes, and purred as I saw Bluestar and Lionheart, along with three other cats.
"Welcome back," Bluestar meowed, "Lionheart and I have managed to bring back three more StarClan warriors."
I looked at the first cat, who was a grey tom. Then at the second, who was a massive ginger tom with white paws. And there was a she cat there as well- a silver coloured one.
"Meet Graystripe, Thunderstar and Silverstream." Lionheart meowed, and I nodded in greeting.
Thunderstar, who I assumed was the ginger-and-white tom, sat up tall. He was really big, reminding me of Phoenix. I shuddered, remembering the day the third leader came barging into Syl's part of the camp, two cats by his side. I could hardly remember it, to tell the truth, but I did know that Pheonix was a large, large ginger tom.
"We have an important mission for you today, Wildpaw." Graystripe meowed, his eyes showing no expression, "A very serious one."
"For the next day, you'll find that you are not your Calico self, but you will resemble a black she-cat. The kind that most ShadeClan warriors adore." Bluestar explained. I gasped, realizing what they were hinting for.
Lionheart nodded. "You've seemed to figure it out. Your mission isn't that big, though. During the next day you must infiltrate Edge's section of the camp, and free a group of prisoners. You won't know this, since you grew up with Syl, that Edge keeps small groups of prisoners in seperate dens. You are to free one of them."
I was very unsure. There was no way I'd ever dream of going back to ShadeClan, but if StarClan was asking me to...
"You must return to your camp by Moonhigh tomorrow night," Silverstream meowed, "That is when your fur will return to normal. We can do nothing else for you."
"Alright..." I replied, before shutting my eyes.
I knew today was going to be a rough day.
"Wildpaw!" I heard Dawnice exclaim, "Is that you?"
I let out a sigh, and rolled over. "Yeah. StarClan wants me to get some more followers from ShadeClan. So they changed my fur."
The cats around me let out a yowl of surprise. I completely understood- after all, it wasn't every day a Calico became a black-furred cat. I purred with amusement, and opened my eyes. Leafheart was looking at me worriedly, but I got to my paws and looked into his eyes.
"Everything will be alright. I'll be back by Moonhigh tonight- I swear." I meowed, before dashing away.
It wasn't that hard to get out of the forest. I simply followed the scent trail that Edge had made during his attack last night, and there it was; the stream. After that, it was a piece of prey. I simply had to follow the stream up-stream, and I was soon on ShadeClan territory. The scents I was all too familiar with returned, hitting me smack in the face. Rotting prey. ShadeClan cats. Blood. But then I realized that the smell of ShadeClan cats were getting stronger, stronger and more strong as I approached the camp...
"Stranger! Identify yourself!" yowled a cat. I jumped, and turned around, unsheathing my claws as I noticed it was, in fact, Felix.
I remembered I had to get close to the guards. "I am Moon, and I mean you no harm. Unless you get any closer."
Felix snorted. "I bet you'd make a good ShadeClanner."
I purred, just to make my lies more convincing. I flicked my tail, and sat down. "ShadeClan? I've heard of you."
"Come with me. Syl will decide who to give you to." Felix meowed, getting to his paws.
I followed Felix in silence, towards the ShadeClan camp. I couldn't believe I was going back, but I supposed it was good since I was freeing some of Edge's prisoners. I just hoped that Syl wouldn't decide to keep me for herself, because she'd see right through my disguise. Syl was, in fact, smarter than both Edge or Pheonix. However, she was less brutal and strong.
As we arrived in camp, I was greeted by many of the ShadeClanners. If they had of known I was not 'Moon', but 'Wildpaw', they'd probably rip me to a billion pieces. We made our way past the old prison den, and into Syl's blood-coated one. There she sat, the horrible black and brown she-cat that I hated; Syl.
"Felix...? Who is this?" Syl snarled, her eyes piercing my defenses.
Felix tipped his head in respect for his leader. "This is Moon, and I think she'd make a wonderful ShadeClanner."
I shuddered at that comment. After so many moons of having a deep hatred for ShadeClan, I was suddenly part of the Clan. All because my fur was a differant colour. I nodded, and looked at Syl, hoping my acting was convincing enough for her.
"Very well. Bring her to Edge and tell him I recommend this cat." Syl meowed, her voice dull. She flicked her tail, and turned around.
"Now leave. You are disrupting my peace." she suddenly snarled.
Felix nodded, and he shooed me out of the den. Which was rather rude, since he was the one who invited me in there in the first place. We padded side by side out of camp, across the stream into a part of the camp I had never ventured into before.
Edge, who I recognized as the large white tom who had attacked us in the forest, was sitting in the center of the camp, a mangled corpse at his paws. I wanted to growl, but I kept my mouth shut. Felix brought me up, right beside Edge, not noticing that I was shaking with fear. Edge eyed me suspiciously for a brief moment, then turned to Felix.
"What does Syl want this time?" Edge snarled, digging his claws into the cat at his paws.
Felix took a small pawstep back, his paws covered in blood. "She says this cat would make a wonderful addition to your Warriors."
They aren't fit to be called Warriors. I thought, before nodding. It was so hard to keep a straight face in front of Edge... who makes you want to break down and run away.
"Name." Edge suddenly growled.
I gulped. "M... Moon."
"Moon... not a bad name." Edge made a harumph noise before turning away, "Moon, go see Arachna for your task. She's the ginger she-cat over there."
I looked towards where Edge was pointing with his tail, and noticed the most stunningly beautiful she-cat sitting down beside a bunch of toms. She was probably Edge's mate, because I knew that the prettiest, smartest and strongest cats that don't get killed... are forced to mate with the leaders. I padded over to Arachna, who whirled around and glared at me.
"Another newcomer?" she snarled, "Go watch the prisoners. That's all you have to do. Even a crow-food like you should be able to figure that out."
I held back my claws and a snarl. These cats were really starting to get on my nerves. But instead of hanging around Arachna longer, I padded over to a cat who was sitting by a den, which I presumed was a Prison den. He was a lean brown tabby, and his eyes were the color of the forest trees. Green. He was pretty beautiful... no, I was on a mission. There was no time for games, especially one involving a ShadeClan warrior. I sat down, and glanced over at him. He returned my glance with a cold, hard stare.
"Great. Another newcomer. Just what we need." he snapped, before extending a paw, "I'm Arrow."
I hesitated, but placed my paw on his. "I'm... Moon."
Arrow snorted, and looked at the sky. I froze when I looked up. I had not noticed the sun was set, and the moon was now in the sky. That meant I had less than half-a-day to free the prisoners. I had to come up with a lie, and fast.
"Arrow? That's your name? I just remembered that Edge told me to tell you he wants you!" I exclaimed, hoping that he would buy it.
His eyes widened, and without a word, he was off. That had to be the easiest thing I had ever done in my life. I looked in the den, and saw four cats; two were brown she-cats, the other a gray tabby tom, and the last one, a white tom.
"Come on!" I whispered, watching the cat's faces light up with joy.
They ran out of the den, following me as I darted out of Edge's camp, and across the stream. It was a peaceful journey back to the camp, and everyone was overjoyed for our return.
"T... th... thank you for.. for rescuing us." the white tom meowed.
I shrugged, before looking up at the sky. It was moonhigh, and I glanced down at my paws. The black fur was mostly gone, with the exception of the few black patches I had before my fur changed. I was a Calico again, and grinned at the cats who were staring at me, like I was insane.
"What are your names, cats?" Goldstar meowed, as she scanned the four.
The first brown she cat purred. "My name is Rain."
"I'm Blizzard, and this is Ash," the white tom, Blizzard meowed, flicking his tail at the gray tabby tom beside him.
The last cat, the other brown one, tipped her head.
"I'm Viper." she meowed.
"Very well, then. You four.. have you ever been in a fight before?" Goldstar asked. I could tell she was asking these questions to determine if they should be apprenticed or made into Warriors...
"No..." Rain meowed, "Not me, but the others have been. We had to fight for survival back in..."
Rain shuddered, "The factory."
I was about to ask what this factory was, but Goldstar made a yowl before I could move. I turned, gasping as I realized she had moved to the top of Dawnice and Wisplight's den, and was waiting for the Clan to gather. I padded towards the den, and looked up at Goldstar as she watched the rest of ForestClan gather.
"Cats of ForestClan," Goldstar meowed, her voice loud and clear, "This is our first formal meeting, so I'd like to announce a few things. First of all, I have decided who will act as the Clan's Deputy and Medicine Cat."
Deputy? I wondered, What's that?
"Our deputy, which is like a second-in-command, will be Wisplight. He has just as much authority as I, so listen to him." Goldstar began.
"Second," she continued, "Our medicine Cat will be Leafheart. Wish him luck as he follows the path of StarClan."
Goldstar was right when she had said Bluestar told her everything. I bet Bluestar had visited Leafheart, as well... he was fast asleep in his den. I looked up at Goldstar as she continued.
"And we have three new warriors, and an apprentice. Welcome Viperclaw, Blizzardfur and Ashbranch as full Warriors of the Clan, and welcome Rainpaw as Blizzardfur's new apprentice."
Chapter Six - Warrior
"That's it, Wildpaw!" meowed Wisplight proudly.
I had done it. I had mastered my seventh move, the Belly Rake. I now knew seven moves, which meant it was time for me to become a Warrior.
Now I know that normally an apprentice had to be mentored for at least six moons, but Goldstar was willing to make an exception due to the fact I was now sixteen moons old. I felt pride as Wisplight and I made our way back to the camp, our heads held high. As we entered the newly-built camp, I saw Leafheart treating Rainpaw's wounds from getting caught in a thorn bush. I grinned, and ran into Goldstar's den.
"Wildpaw! Don't tell me you've learned all those moves... have you?" Goldstar meowed, a warm smile on her face. I hastily nodded, and she chuckled.
"Very well, then. We'll have your Warrior Ceremony soon. Now go see Dawnice... she's close to kitting and I want her to have some company." Goldstar purred, before turning away.
As I padded out of the den, and made my way to the newly-built nursery, I wondered what leaders could possibly do for half the day, alone. I purred to myself, entering the den to Dawnice's welcoming smile.
"Congratulations, Wildpaw!" Dawnice meowed, before groaning in pain.
I gasped. "Are you kitting?"
Dawnice burst out with laughter. "Trust me, Wildpaw... I wouldn't just be groaning if I were kitting."
I laughed along with Dawnice, before hearing Goldstar's familiar yowl. I glanced back at Dawnice, who was motioning for me to go see what was going on. I left the den, and darted onto the Highden, sitting beside Goldstar. The leader purred, her golden fur shimmering against the sun that was setting in the distance.
"I, Goldstar, leader of ForestClan, call upon StarClan to look down on this Apprentice. She has worked hard in the last moon, showing pure bravery and strength to her Clan. Wildpaw, do you promise to uphold ForestClan's Code and protect your Clanmates?"
I was frozen. I had no idea what to say, but I was able to nod. Goldstar purred briefly with amusement.
"Then by the powers of StarClan, Wildpaw, from this day forward, you shall be known as Wildsoul. May StarClan light your path." Goldstar announced, her last words clear in my mind. I was no longer Wildpaw. I was Wildsoul.
Pride burst through me as I let Goldstar rest her head on my shoulder. I looked at the crowd, smiling as I spotted Leafheart watching me. He smiled back as Goldstar lifted her head, and I jumped off the Highden. The Clan scattered, Rainpaw and Blizzardfur doing their training. Goldstar sharing tongues with Wisplight. I padded over to Leafheart, and sat down.
"I haven't spoken with you in so long!" I meowed, beginning to groom Leafheart's fur. I heard him purr.
"Well, being a Medicine Cat is a full time job, Wildsoul." Leafheart chuckled, "I've had to look for herbs, tend to Dawnice, clean Rockclaw of his ticks, and help Rainpaw whenever she decides to hunt for Thorn bushes."
I laughed. Then I suddenly remembered my life a moon ago, when I was thinking I would never laugh again. I continued to lick Leafheart's fur, holding back the urge to vomit as I felt the bumps of his scars with my tongue. Leafheart let out a sigh.
"I met Breeze in StarClan." Leafheart suddenly meowed. I stopped licking, and looked at him.
Leafheart turned around. "He said 'Two shall bring light to a fallen world, but not without pain and sorrow.'"
"What does that mean?" I asked, bewildered.
Leafheart shrugged. Wordlessly, he padded away, into his den. I growled. Leafheart had never done that to me... ever.
I let out a soft sigh, and padded towards the entrance to the camp. So many cats had joined us in the past few moons, including a she-cat named Emma. According to Goldstar, Emma was once a cat known as a 'Kittypet', as she had no idea how to fight. I suddenly remembered what Goldstar had said; "When Emma gets old enough to be apprenticed, you shall be her mentor."
I couldn't wait for that. I imagined what it would be like to be a mentor, to train a cat up from a horrible fighter to a great Warrior. I imagined the pride the mentor would feel when their apprentice stood on the Highden, recieving their Warrior name.
Only a moon longer of waiting.
Then I heard it. A yowl from outside the camp. I spun around, and gasped as Ashbranch ran into the camp, collapsing at the entrance. Cats began to crowd around him, before the crowd was separated by Goldstar.
"Who did this to you?" Goldstar demanded, calling Leafheart over.
I watched in dead silence beside Emma and Rainpaw as Leafheart darted over to Ashbranch and began to tend to his horrifying wounds. Ashbranch yipped in pain as Leafheart began to treat him, but eventually summed up the strength to put his head up. He was in pain... I could easily tell. But then I noticed it... the mark I had been all too familiar with for fifteen moons. A small patch of Ashbranch's fur was ripped out in a complicated pattern, which, when you examined it, resembled a pawprint. I knew what Ashbranch was going to say before he even said it.
"ShadeClan." he sputtered, "They've come."
Chapter Seven - Attack
"Larkthroat, Rainpaw, go get Dawnice and move her to Leafheart's den. Protect that den with your lives. Wisplight, help Ashbranch to the den as well. Mistygaze, Blizzardfur, Viperclaw and Wisplight when he's done, you four will go and act as a distraction. The rest of us will go in for the main attack."
Goldstar was shouting out orders so fast, I was getting dizzy. I watched as my Clanmates darted towards their places, and I looked up at Goldstar.
"The minute the distraction leaves, we're going to attack." Goldstar meowed quietly to me.
I froze, and remembered something important.
"Goldstar..." I meowed, "How many lives have they given you yet?"
Goldstar looked at her paws, and let out a soft sigh. "Six."
I was so nervous... my first battle as a Warrior. Leafheart was staring at me from his den, and this time I didn't return it with a smile. I turned to Owlface, who was sitting beside me. Like all of the others, I was nervous. ShadeClan was full of trained Warriors that could kill three of us in a heartbeat. How many would be lost? Even more important, how many would be imprisoned? I shuddered, shaking the thought of being imprisoned out of my head. I sniffed the air, and I could clearing smell the scent of ShadeClan. I watched as the distractions left the camp, and unsheathed my claws. Was I ready for a battle? In my head, I reviewed the battle moves that Wisplight had taught me, but I was only at the fourth when the Warriors began rushing out of the camp.
I stayed near the front, by Goldstar and Embereyes. For a brief moment, I thought that, perhaps, we could do it and defeat ShadeClan. My optimism dropped as I noticed who the ShadeClanners had brought this time.
And it wasn't just Edge and one of his Warriors this time.
I scanned the massive crowd of ShadeClanners, and gasped as I noticed three cats at the front. There was Syl, who stood beside Felix and Venom, her eyes full of murder and bloodlust. My gaze shifted to Phoenix, who stood proudly in the middle, his fur shining in the light of the moon that was just barely rising in the sky. He stood alone, his Warriors behind him. To Phoenix's left was Edge, who was glaring hard at me. Edge had Arachna beside him, which did not surprise me. But then I froze in pure fear as the crowd of ShadeClan cats were separated by a large black cat, his red eyes full of undescribable rage and insanity.
"Wild. Leaf. Give me them and you leave in a single piece." he snarled, his voice sounding like a thousand cats raking their claws down a rock at the same time. I couldn't help but look down at his claws, and I gasped as I realized that this cat was none other than the fearsome Leader.
Goldstar stood proudly in front of me. I wanted to tell her how horrible the Leader was, but it was too late.
"You'll have to kill us all to get to them." she snapped, before unsheathing her claws.
The leader laughed. His booming laugh was even worse than his voice; it was full of mockery, fury and tyranny all at the same time, striking more fear into my heart. I realized I was shaking. Shaking out of pure fear. Trembling, almost.
"Petty cats. You have no idea who I am." the Leader snarled, suddenly dead serious. He glared at Goldstar, before flexing his blood red claws.
Goldstar sneered. "I don't need an introduction to recognize you, Meowsers."
The leader flinched, before roaring in rage.
"I DO NOT RESPOND TO THAT NAME, GOLD!" he roared, not realizing his voice was too loud for the surrounding cats. I gasped, watching in horror as the Leader swung his large paw, right into Edge, sending the white tom hurling across the Training Clearing and crashing into a tree. Edge slumped to the ground, dead.
I couldn't believe Goldstar was still taunting the Leader. She puffed her chest proudly, and grinned.
"Are we going to stand here like a couple of Elders and argue, or are we going to fight?" she challenged, raising her head high.
The Leader's expression did not change. He flexed his claws again, and looked down at Phoenix, who looked puny compared to the gargantuan size of the Leader.
"ShadeClan! Attack!" the Leader boomed, before dashing towards us.
I latched on to Nightmare, who was the closest cat to me. Using the moves I had previously learned, I had brought her down easily. I turned to face Felix, but he was already busy with Goldstar.
Suddenly, I was lifted high into the air. Confused, I squirmed in a feeble attempt to get away. I looked up, gasping as I realized the Leader had me!
I began to weep. Although my vision was blurred, I noticed Syl staring at us, not moving a muscle. What was wrong with her? Wasn't she an unbreakable cat with no emotions? That was the last thing I thought. I was thrown to the ground, too shaken to move a muscle.
I closed my eyes, beginning to feel light-headed. The cats around me became nothing but a blur, and I at last gave up. Closing my eyes, I let the sounds around me fade away... the world of horrors leave me.
I knew what had happened, and I didn't know if it was good or bad.
Was I dead?
Epilogue - Frozen
(This is not Wild... this is another cat. It's up to you to figure out who!)
I was frozen. Staring at her body was one of the worst memories of my life. I tried to turn away, but it was like the body was grabbing on to me, forcing me to stare at it. The battle that waged on around me was nothing, now. It was just Wild and I, in our own little world. I ran over to her, trying to get her to get up. But I knew nothing would work. "No..." I whispered, my voice slowing crawling up to a yowl, not realizing that all the cats around me ceased to battle.
Venom padded over to me, and swiped me across the face. I still did not move. Blood was blurring the vision of my left eye, and it was dripping onto Wild's chest as well. I simply stared up at Venom, and snarled.
"I shall never serve ShadeClan again!" I declared, before getting to my paws. I grabbed Wild's scruff with my teeth, and dragged her. Away from the battle. Away from the enemy. To her home, which would be my home until my death.
Prepare for Gone, the next book in the Trilogy!