We Won't Run
The rain that had pounded down on the moor for the past few sunrises had finally stopped, leaving the windswept grass muddy and wet.
The sky remained a dull gray, in the distance, heavier clouds edged their way closer, promising more downpour. Past a dip in the ground, surrounded by boulders and gorse, a good protection against the cold wind, wiry cats huddled around each other for warmth, despair hanging heavy in the oddly still air.
The cats' ribs showed beneath their ragged, bloody pelts, and farther off, more gravely injured cats lay in bracken nests, some no longer moving.
"What are we going to do?" asked a tabby-and-white queen, her skinny tail wrapped protectively around a small gray kit, whose nose was scratched with dried blood around it.
"ShadowClan isn't going to give up until they slaughter us all!"
"Not if we don't starve first! All these battles have frightened the rabbits away!"
The cats' erupted in a sea of arguments, some saying to keep fighting, others suggesting to leave the Clan to become rogues, to admit their defeat.
ShadowClan had been hunting near their borders for moons now, coming closer and closer to WindClan's territory, until finally, they broke the line and invaded the moors, killing without mercy.
A brown tabby she-cat lay near the Tallstone, the leader of WindClan, Wrenstar.
Pain stabbed her heart when her Clanmates argued, there seemed to be more of that lately than before, which wasn't surprising. They were all cold, wet, hungry, battered, and shattered.
ShadowClan had done this in the past... but it had never been so bad. They're going far enough to break the warrior code. Wrenstar thought, flashes of the ruthless warriors killing hers came back to her mind.
WindClan had lost hope. Wrenstar felt like giving up as well. But a small spark of hope stirred deep in her heart. She knew her Clan was stronger than this, they couldn't give up, no matter how tempting it sounded.
The arguements railed up once again around her, booming loudly across the camp. This needs to stop. They need encouragement.
Wrenstar got stiffly to her paws, and bounded up the Tallstone. "Let all cats old enough to race across the moor gather here for a Clan meeting!" her voice sounded like thunder to her ears, and the cats in camp fell silent, gazing up at her with watery eyes.
"Do you have any ideas, Wrenstar?" asked a few cats, at the same time, and they glanced awkwardly at each other. Wrenstar shook her head. "Unfortantately, no. I know we don't have any plans at the moment, but we aren't leaving the moor. This has been our home for so many seasons!"
"What else are we supposed to do?" asked a black tom, Crowflight, staring up at her with large eyes, a few others murmured agreement.
Wrenstar breathed deeply, the words sticking in her throat. "We will fight, fight until we can't anymore. I know it sounds terrible, but this is what we all promised in our warrior ceremonies. Promise to protect and defend your Clan, even at the cost of your life," Wrenstar recited the words of the ancient ceremony passed down so many moons.
It took all of her strength to keep her voice confident and steady. She was asking so much from her warriors, they had hopes and dreams which would be destoryed.
"Yes! Even at the cost of our lives!" Yowled Blizzardpaw, the extremely loyal apprentice. She had no doubt he'd do just that. A couple warriors nodded agreement, looking bewildered and disgusted this even had to be explained to them.
"But..." started a wiry calico, who kept her gaze shyly - shamefully to the ground. "...What if we don't want to die? I know what we promised, but did we ever think it would ever come to this?" She raised her head when there were a few quiet mutters of grim agreement.
Wrenstar gave a small nod of her head. "I know this is a lot to be asked for, but you knew what you were promising. It doesn't come for every warrior, but it comes for most. When it does come for those, they depart in the most honorable way."
Some of the warrriors who looked uncertain eyes brightened a little. "Wouldn't you die for your Clan if you had to?" Wrenstar continued, finding herself feeling more confident as she saw calmer cats in the clearing below.
"I know the future looks bleak now, but think. If we keep fighting, look towards the future." She nodded to a queen who was heavy with kits. "Duskshade's kits will be playing outside the nursery, playing this war, how WindClan won because they didn't run."
Duskshade lashed her tail, a thoughtful look of peace on her face. "I know that will happen. They will be playing, boasting at their first gathering about how their Clan wasn't defeated."
The dusky brown she-cat turned her gaze onto her Clanmates, hazel eyes strong. "You should believe this too. Think of future WindClan as you fight, the lives that not yet exist, think of what we can - will be"
A group of younger warriors were huddled in deep coversation, giving the rest of the Clan sharp glances. Wrenstar saw excitement in their eyes. What are they up to?
Her attention wavered as another voice spoke up. "But we aren't fed enough, we can't fight when we can't think clearly. ShadowClan in stealing all of our rabbits."
Gingerpaw sprang to his paws, head held high and proud. "We can hunt near the Ion's barn, go up to Highstones if we need to."
Sandpetal gave her apprentice a warm-hearted shove as a few warriors gaped, dumbfounded. "I knew you were a clever little critter when we found you, lost from your twolegs that day. Ion has loads of mice in that barn, she'd be willingy to give us some."
"I can take a patrol out right now!" Frondpelt grinned up at Wrenstar. Wrenstar nodded, giving Gingerpaw a grateful look. "Take Sandpetal, Gingerpaw, Falconcry, and Honeywhisper with you."
The four warriors left, and the WindClan camp bustled with excitement at the thought of fat, warm mice. "Why didn't I think of that?" Larkpaw complained to her denmate. "I could've came up with something better than that kittypet."
Wrenstar silenced her with a sharp glare. "Take that, ShadowClan warrior!" squealed Yewkit, shoving Parsleykit to the ground. "Oooh, I'm dying now! WindClan win! WindClan are the best! Have mercy!"
The kits were even starting to have new energy. Wrenstar herself felt her pelt fizzing with it. All of WindClan was on their paws now, chattering like a nest of sparrows, not biting each others faces off.
"Ooooooh, Wrenstar!" called Hickoryface, waving his striped tail at her. He was in the group of young warriors who were in deep conversation earlier.
Wrenstar leaped down from the Tallstone, ears pricked with interest. "Spit it out, Hickoryface."
Hickoryface gave her a long look. "Look... I know I don't agree with a lot you've done around here, and all..." his green eyes flashed. Hickoryface had been a bit of a rival since Wrenstar was made leader.
But this time his face looked different... oddly supportive...?
"We've come up with a battle plan!" the black and white tom announced. At once, all the other cats pricked their ears, eyes drawn to Hickoryface's group.
Hickoryface began to go into detail about how they will lead ShadowClan to the Lookout. There were loose rocks there, the ShadowClan cats would fall if they didn't pay attention to where their paws were going.
As one group was there, another would be at the tunnel beneath the thunderpath. They would hide in the rabbit burrows, then spring out on single, surprising the rival Clan.
Wrenstar nodded in approval, hope soaring high in her heart. "This sounds like a splendid idea!" her gaze flew across the gathered cats, all were buzzing with excitement.
"I want to go!"
"No, pick me!"
"Can I go?"
"I wanna be a rabbit!"
"We'll strike tonight once we've all had our meals." Wrenstar blinked gratefully at Hickoryface, whose eyes shining eyes met hers. "You will be leading the Lookout patrol. Galeblaze will lead the rabbit burrows. Chose your cats."
Wrenstar turned, making herself louder as she addressed the Clan. "All cats chosen, get some rest. You'll need it."
The cats crowded around Galeblaze and Hickoryface. "Wrenstar, I'd like you on my patrol," Wrenstar heard Hickoryface call to her. "Get some rest."
The day after the battle was brighter than any day over the past moon. Hickoryface and his friends plan worked. The ShadowClan patrol arrived, on the night where the moon was covered by clouds, just as expected.
The rival Clan was shocked when the WindClan warriors came out of the rabbit burrows. Hickoryface's patrol on the Lookout did well too.
The ShadowClan warriors were too clumsy for the steep hill and loose rocks. As the WindClan cats marched to their postions, they came up with another quick idea; the two patrols would drive the ShadowClan cats toward each other, giving them more fighting force. ShadowClan retreated. Wrenstar had made Blizzardpaw and Yellowpaw warriors, now Blizzardmist and Yellowbird.
The new warriors sat in the middle of camp on vigil, their pelts glowing in the moonlight. The rest of the Clan was asleep, for once. Wrenstar let out a great sigh, feeling accomplished. Despite their fears, WindClan didn't give up, they found the answers to their problems. Of course ShadowClan would be back one day soon, but WindClan was ready.
This day would be remembered by future WindClan cats, the day their Clan didn't run, when they faced their greatest fears, Wrenstar knew it would.
I got the idea from ShadowClan and WindClan's battle, just before the first warriors book, where ShadowClan chased WindClan out of the moor, and I was thinking of Tallstar giving a montivational speech to the broken, despaired Clan to strengthen their faith.
Despite feeling helpless, Wrenstar steps up and gives her Clan a speech, lifting their hopes, while cats in the crowd help find answers to their problems. I might make more stories about these characters in the future, too.
I got the idea from listening to a song called King and Lionheart, where some of the lyrics were That we won't run.
Thanks for reading it!